500 episodes

Interviews with Authors about their New Books
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    • 4.2 • 15 Ratings

Interviews with Authors about their New Books
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    Ann Johnson and Johannes Lenhard, "Cultures of Prediction: How Engineering and Science Evolve with Mathematical Tools" (MIT Press, 2024)

    Ann Johnson and Johannes Lenhard, "Cultures of Prediction: How Engineering and Science Evolve with Mathematical Tools" (MIT Press, 2024)

    A probing examination of the dynamic history of predictive methods and values in science and engineering that helps us better understand today's cultures of prediction.
    The ability to make reliable predictions based on robust and replicable methods is a defining feature of the scientific endeavor, allowing engineers to determine whether a building will stand up or where a cannonball will strike. Cultures of Prediction: How Engineering and Science Evolve with Mathematical Tools (MIT Press, 2024), which bridges history and philosophy, uncovers the dynamic history of prediction in science and engineering over four centuries. Ann Johnson and Johannes Lenhard identify four different cultures, or modes, of prediction in the history of science and engineering: rational, empirical, iterative-numerical, and exploratory-iterative. They show how all four develop together and interact with one another while emphasizing that mathematization is not a single unitary process but one that has taken many forms.
    The story is not one of the triumph of abstract mathematics or technology but of how different modes of prediction, complementary concepts of mathematization, and technology coevolved, building what the authors call “cultures of prediction.” The first part of the book examines prediction from early modernity up to the computer age. The second part probes computer-related cultures of prediction, which focus on making things and testing their performance, often in computer simulations. This new orientation challenges basic tenets of the philosophy of science, in which scientific theories and models are predominantly seen as explanatory rather than predictive. It also influences the types of research projects that scientists and engineers undertake, as well as which ones receive support from funding agencies.
    Nikki Stevens, PhD is a critical technology researcher and software engineer. Find more of their work here.
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    Adam B. Seligman and Robert P. Weller, "How Things Count as the Same: Memory, Mimesis, and Metaphor" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Adam B. Seligman and Robert P. Weller, "How Things Count as the Same: Memory, Mimesis, and Metaphor" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    In How Things Count as the Same: Memory, Mimesis, and Metaphor (Oxford UP, 2019), Adam B. Seligman and Robert P. Weller address a seemingly simple question: What counts as the same? Given the myriad differences that divide one individual from another, why do we recognize anyone as somehow sharing a common fate with us? For that matter, how do we live in harmony with groups who may not share the sense of a common fate? Such relationships lie at the heart of the problems of pluralism that increasingly face so much of the world today.
    Note that "counting as" the same differs from "being" the same. Counting as the same is not an empirical question about how much or how little one person shares with another or one event shares with a previous event. Nothing is actually the same. That is why, as humans, we construct sameness all the time. In the process, of course, we also construct difference.
    Creating sameness and difference leaves us with the perennial problem of how to live with difference instead of seeing it as a threat. How Things Count as the Same suggests that there are multiple ways in which we can count things as the same, and that each of them fosters different kinds of group dynamics and different sets of benefits and risks for the creation of plural societies. While there might be many ways to understand how people construct sameness, three stand out as especially important and form the focus of the book's analysis: Memory, Mimesis, and Metaphor.
    Theo Stapleton is a PhD student in Social Anthropology at Cambridge University, whose fieldwork was conducted at the first Chinese Buddhist temple in Tanzania.
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Ann Powers, "Traveling: On the Path of Joni Mitchell" (Dey Street Books, 2024)

    Ann Powers, "Traveling: On the Path of Joni Mitchell" (Dey Street Books, 2024)

    For decades, Joni Mitchell's life and music have enraptured listeners. One of the most celebrated artists of her generation, Mitchell has inspired countless musicians--from peers like James Taylor, to inheritors like Prince and Brandi Carlile--and authors, who have dissected her music and her life in their writing. At the same time, Mitchell has always been a force beckoning us still closer, as--with the other arm--she pushes us away. Given this, music critic Ann Powers wondered if there was another way to draw insights from the life of this singular musician who never stops moving, never stops experimenting.
    In Traveling: On the Path of Joni Mitchell (Dey Street Books, 2024), Powers seeks to understand Mitchell through her myriad journeys. Through extensive interviews with Mitchell's peers and deep archival research, she takes readers to rural Canada, mapping the singer's childhood battle with polio. She charts the course of Mitchell's musical evolution, ranging from early folk to jazz fusion to experimentation with pop synthetics. She follows the winding road of Mitchell's collaborations with other greats, and the loves that emerged along the way, all the way through to the remarkable return of Mitchell to music-making after the 2015 aneurysm that nearly took her life.
    Along this journey, Powers' wide-ranging musings on the artist's life and career reconsider the biographer's role and the way it twines against the reality of a fan. In doing so, Traveling illustrates the shifting nature of biography, and the ultimate contradiction of celebrity: that an icon cannot truly, completely be known to a fan.
    Kaleidoscopic in scope, and intimate in its detail, Traveling is a fresh and fascinating addition to the Joni Mitchell canon, written by a biographer in full command of her gifts who asks as much of herself as of her subject.
    Ann Powers has been a music critic for more than thirty years, working for NPR, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and other publications. In the decade she has worked with NPR, she has written extensively on music and culture and appeared regularly on the All Songs Considered podcast and on news shows including All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Her books include a memoir, Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America; Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music; and Piece by Piece with Tori Amos. Powers lives in Nashville. Ann Powers on Twitter.
    Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music. His forthcoming books are Frank Zappa's America: Music, Satire, & the Battle Against the Christian Right (LSU Press, Spring 2025) and U2: Until the End of the World (Palazzo Editions, Fall 2025). Bradley Morgan on Twitter.
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    • 51 min
    A Psychoanalytic Overview of Racism in America

    A Psychoanalytic Overview of Racism in America

    The first podcast in this series was inspired by a documentary film made in 2014 called “Black Analysts Speak” as well as some of the findings in the Holmes Commission on Racial Equality in American Psychoanalysis published in 2023. It also considered the reasons why racism has persisted so long in America including perspectives from a psychoanalytic vantage point. Mechanism of defense, particularly projective identification was discussed as one specific reason why change has been slow. The host and co-host also talked about the some of the reasons why it is important for white people to listen to the Black experience. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s book, Where do we go from here, Chaos or Community was also considered because of its relevance today.
    Dr. Karyne E. Messina is a psychologist and child, adolescent and adult psychoanalyst. In addition to maintaining a full-time private practice in Chevy Chase, Maryland, she is on the medical staff of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland which is part of Johns Hopkins Medicine. She is a podcast host for the New Books Network and chair of the Department of Psychoanalytic Education’s (DPE) Scholarship and Writing section which is part of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsA). She is a member of the AI Council of APsA (CAI). She has also written and edited six books. Her topics focus on applying psychoanalytic ideas to real-world issues we all face in our complex world.
    Dr. Felecia Powell-Williams is a child and adolescent supervising psychoanalyst at the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies in Houston, Texas, where she also holds the position of President of Board of Directors. Dr. Felecia Powell-Williams is also a faculty member in the Child and Adult Training Programs. In addition, she provides clinical supervision for the State of Texas licensing board, as well as supervision as a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor with the Association for Play Therapy. She is also the chair of the Department of Psychoanalytic Education’s (DPE) Diversity section which is part of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsA).
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    • 48 min
    Anna Abraham, "The Creative Brain: Myths and Truths" (MIT Press, 2024)

    Anna Abraham, "The Creative Brain: Myths and Truths" (MIT Press, 2024)

    A nuanced, science-based understanding of the creative mind that dispels the pervasive myths we hold about the human brain—but also uncovers the truth at their cores. What is the relationship between creativity and madness? Creativity and intelligence? Do psychedelics truly enhance creativity? How should we understand the left and right hemispheres of the brain? Is the left brain, in fact, the seat of reasoning and the right brain the seat of creativity? 
    These are just some of the questions Anna Abraham, a renowned expert of human creativity and the imagination, explores in The Creative Brain: Myths and Truths (MIT Press, 2024), a fascinating deep dive into the origins of the seven most common beliefs about the human brain. Rather than endorse or debunk these myths, Abraham traces them back to their origins to explain just how they started and why they spread—and what at their core is the truth. Drawing on theoretical and empirical work in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, Abraham offers an examination of human creativity that reveals the true complexity underlying our conventional beliefs about the brain. 
    The chapters in the book explore the myth of the right brain as the hemisphere responsible for creativity; the relationship between madness and creativity, psychedelics and creativity, atypical brains and creativity, and intelligence and creativity; the various functions of dopamine; and lastly, the default mode revolution, which theorized that the brain regions most likely to be involved in the creative process are those areas of the brain that are most active during rest or mind-wandering. An accessible and engaging read, The Creative Brain gets to the heart of how our creative minds work and why some people are more creative than others, offering illuminating insights into what on its surface seems to be an endlessly magical phenomenon.
    Jeff Adler is an ex-linguist and occasional contributor to New Books Network!
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Living with Digital Surveillance in China

    Living with Digital Surveillance in China

    How do Chinese citizens make sense of digital surveillance and live with it? What narratives do they come up with to deal with the daily and all-encompassing reality of life in China? What mental tactics do they apply to dissociate themselves from surveillance? Ariane Ollier-Malaterre explores these questions in her book Living with Digital Surveillance in China (Routledge, 2023).
    Ariane Ollier-Malaterre, Professor of Management and Canada Research Chair on Digital Regulation at Work and in Life at the Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada talks with Joanne Kaui about her research that investigates Chinese citizens’ imaginaries about surveillance and privacy from within the Chinese socio-political system.
    Based on in-depth qualitative research interviews, detailed diary notes, and extensive documentation, Ariane Ollier-Malaterre attempts to ‘de-Westernise’ the internet and surveillance literature. In the book, she shows how the research participants weave a cohesive system of anguishing narratives on China’s moral shortcomings and redeeming narratives on the government and technology as civilizing forces.
    Although many participants cast digital surveillance as indispensable in China, their misgivings, objections, and the mental tactics they employ to dissociate themselves from surveillance convey the mental and emotional weight associated with such surveillance exposure.
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    • 31 min

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