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You may never have heard of the Austro-Jewish polymath Robert Eisler, but you should have. Eisler knew everybody, went everywhere and made significant contributions to the study of mythology, comparative religion, the Gospels, monetary policy, art history, history of science, psychoanalysis, politics, astrology, history of currency, and value theory. Eisler did it all. This nine-part series will give you all the fascinating and strange detail.

A Very Square Peg: The Strange and Remarkable Life the Polymath Robert Eisle‪r‬ Brian Collins

    • Historia

You may never have heard of the Austro-Jewish polymath Robert Eisler, but you should have. Eisler knew everybody, went everywhere and made significant contributions to the study of mythology, comparative religion, the Gospels, monetary policy, art history, history of science, psychoanalysis, politics, astrology, history of currency, and value theory. Eisler did it all. This nine-part series will give you all the fascinating and strange detail.

    Bonus Episode: A Discussion with Dr. Brian Collins

    Bonus Episode: A Discussion with Dr. Brian Collins

    Today I talked with Dr. Brian Collins, the creator of "A Very Square Peg." We talked about:

    How he discovered Eilser in a used bookstore in Ann Arbor

    How he didn't seem to be able to let go of Eisler once he'd found out about him

    How he researched Eisler, and how Eisler's life revealed itself to him

    How he decided to produce a podcast series about Eisler rather than writing a book about him

    What, after all his work, he thought about Eisler and his remarkable life


    I hope you enjoy the discussion!

    • 55 min
    Episode 9: Vanity of Vanities

    Episode 9: Vanity of Vanities

    In this episode, I look at Eisler’s last days in England, where he found that the Oxford readership he had been promised before being sent to Dachau was taken by someone else, a paper shortage had put a stop to academic publishing, and that foreign Jews without visas were being imprisoned in a British internment camp on the Isle of Man. I also talk with astrology scholar Dr. Nicholas Campion about Eisler’s scathing criticisms of newspaper astrological columns and unpack Eisler’s final scholarly works on folklore, philology, and ethics. This episode officially concludes the story of Robert Eisler, but there will be a tenth and final episode in the near future that reflects on this project and academic podcasting as a whole after I have had time to hear some feedback. On that note, now that you have heard the story, I would love to hear what you think about it!
    Guests: Steven Beller (independent scholar), Nicholas Campion (Principal Lecturer in History at Bath Spa University and Director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture)
    Voice of Robert Eisler: Caleb Crawford
    Additional voices: Brian Evans and Chiara Ridpath
    Music: “Shibbolet Baseda,” recorded by Elyakum Shapirra and His Israeli Orchestra.
    Funding provided by the Ohio University Humanities Research Fund and the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College Internship Program.
    Special thanks to the Warburg Institute and the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.
     
    Bibliography and Further Reading:
    Campion, Nicholas. History of Western Astrology: Volume II, the Medieval and Modern
    Worlds. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.
    Eisler, Robert. Man into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism, and
    Lycanthropy. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1951.
    ———. “The Passion of the Flax.” Folklore 61, no. 3 (1950): 114-133.
    ———.“The Empiric Basis of Moral Obligation.” Ethics 59, no. 2, part 1 (January 1949):
    77-94.
    ———. “Danse Macabre.” Traditio 6 (1948): 187-225.
    ———.The Royal Art of Astrology: With a Frontispiece, Sixteen Plates, Forty-Eight
    Illustrations in the Text and Five Diagrams. London: Herbert Joseph, Ltd., 1946.
    The Mass Observation Archive. http://www.massobs.org.uk/.
    Scholem, Gershom. “How I Came to the Kabbalah,” Commentary 69, no. 5 (May
    1980): 39-53.
    Follow us on Twitter: @averysquarepeg
    Associate Professor Brian Collins is the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University. He can be reached at collinb1@ohio.edu.

    • 59 min
    Episode 8: A Very Difficult Man to Kill

    Episode 8: A Very Difficult Man to Kill

    Following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in March of 1938, Robert Eisler wrote to Oxford asking about being appointed to the Wilde Readership in Comparative and Natural Religion, thereby gaining a way out of Nazi-controlled Europe. On the day after Hitler held a rally at the Heldenplatz in Vienna attended by 200,000 Austrian supporters, a letter came expressing regret that Oxford was unable to offer any assistance. Desperate to find an escape, Eisler wrote to friends all over Europe and America, asking for help. Finally, Gilbert Murray, Eisler’s old friend from his days with the League of Nations, stepped in and secured him the Oxford readership, which he was to have taken in October and held for three years. But on May 20th, Eisler was arrested and spent the next fifteen months in Dachau and Buchenwald, where he would see the things that inspired him to write Man into Wolf. I talk about the events of 1938 with Steven Beller and we also examine the case of a high-ranking S.S. officer who was expelled for plagiarizing Eisler’s work on Jesus.
    Guests: Steven Beller (independent scholar)
    Voice of Robert Eisler: Caleb Crawford
    Additional voices: Brian Evans and Chiara Ridpath
    Music: “Shibbolet Baseda,” recorded by Elyakum Shapirra and His Israeli Orchestra.
    Funding provided by the Ohio University Humanities Research Fund and the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College Internship Program.
    Special thanks to the Warburg Institute.
    Bibliography and Further Reading
    Eisler, Robert. Man into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism, and Lycanthropy. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1951.
    ———.“The Empiric Basis of Moral Obligation.” Ethics 59, no. 2, part 1 (January 1949):
    77-94.
    Hackett, David A. The Buchenwald Report. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995.
    Heschel, Susannah. The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.
    Jacob, Heinrich E. Six Thousand Years of Bread: Its Holy and Unholy History. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2007.
    Wachsmann, Nikolaus. KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2015.
    Follow us on Twitter: @averysquarepeg
    Associate Professor Brian Collins is the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University. He can be reached at collinb1@ohio.edu.

    • 41 min
    Episode 7: The Christ Vision

    Episode 7: The Christ Vision

    Robert Whitehead of London, a self-described “Business Man” who was “no Churchman and not a Jesus worshipper, much as I admire him,” wrote to Robert Eisler on New Year’s Eve of 1929, asking “if it is a frequent occurrence that men see The Christ; and are there occasions known when the visions are free from religiosity and at the same time full of life and power?” These questions came in light of Whitehead’s dramatic experience when he had seen a blazing vision of Christ in his home. In letters between the two men over the next few years, Eisler gave a startling psychoanalytic interpretation of the dream, which he eventually published. In this episode, I talk about Eisler’s only known attempt to psychoanalyze anyone else with psychoanalyst and religion scholar Marsha Hewitt.
    Guest: Marsha Hewitt (Trinity College, University of Toronto)
    Voice of Robert Eisler: Logan Crum
    Additional voices: Logan Marshall
    Music: “Shibbolet Baseda,” recorded by Elyakum Shapirra and His Israeli Orchestra.
    Funding provided by the Ohio University Humanities Research Fund and the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College Internship Program.
    Special thanks to the Warburg Institute.
    Bibliography and Further Reading
    Eisler, Robert. The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist According to Flavius Josephus’ Recently Rediscovered ‘Capture of Jerusalem’ and Other Jewish and Christian Sources. London: Methuen & Co, 1931.
    ———. “Eine Jesusvision des. 20 Jahrhunderts psychologisch untersucht.” Zeitschrift für Religionspsychologie 11 (1938): 14-41.
    Follow us on Twitter: @averysquarepeg
    Associate Professor Brian Collins is the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University. He can be reached at collinb1@ohio.edu.

    • 1 tim.
    Episode 6: Negative Interest

    Episode 6: Negative Interest

    Warning: Economics. In this episode, we begin with Eisler’s testimony before the skeptical Senators of the Committee on Banking and Currency in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 1934, in which he proposed that the nation adopt a dual currency system to control inflation and end the Great Depression. I (a non-economist) talk about what this means with noted economist Miles Kimball, who has recently brought renewed attention to Eisler’s plan in his own work. We also learn about Eisler’s theory of who actually wrote what we call the Gospel of John, talk with Steven Wasserstrom about Eisler’s brief involvement with Carl Jung and the Eranos Conference, and interpret a “dream poem” that Eisler recorded at his mother’s house in 1936.
    Guests: Guests: Miles Kimball (The University of Colorado-Boulder), Steven Wasserstrom (Reed College).
    Voice of Robert Eisler: Caleb Crawford
    Additional voices: Brian Evans
    Music: “Shibbolet Baseda,” recorded by Elyakum Shapirra and His Israeli Orchestra.
    Funding provided by the Ohio University Humanities Research Fund and the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College Internship Program.
    Special thanks to the Warburg Institute.

    Bibliography and Further Reading
    Buiter, Willem H. “Is Numérairology the Future of Monetary Economics? Unbundling Numéraire and Medium of Exchange Through a Virtual Currency and a Shadow Exchange Rate.” NBER Working Papers 12839. National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., 2007. DOI:10.3386/w12839.
    Buiter, Willem H. and Panigirtzoglou, Nikolaos. “Overcoming the Zero Bound: Gesell vs. Eisler. Discussion of Mitsuhiro Fukao’s “The Effects of ‘Gesell’ (Currency) Taxes in Promoting Japan’s Economic Recovery.” International Economics and Economic Policy 2, no. 2/3 (2005): 189-200.
    Eisler, Robert. The Enigma of the Fourth Gospel. London: Methuen & Co., 1938.
    ———. Stable Money: The Remedy for the Economic World Crisis: A Programme of Financial Reconstruction for the International Conference. London: The Search Publishing Co., Ltd., 1932.
    ———. This Money Maze: A Way Out of the Economic World Crisis. London: The Search Publishing Co., Ltd., 1931.
    ———. Das Geld: Seine geschichtliche Entstehung und gesellschaftliche Bedeutung. Munich: Diatypie, 1924.
    Eisler, Robert and Alec Wilson. The Money Machine: A Simple Introduction to the Eisler Plan. London: The Search Publishing Co., Ltd., 1933.
    Gold Reserve Act of 1934: Hearings Before the Committee on Banking and Currency, United States Senate, Seventy-Third Congress, Second Session on S. 2366: A Bill to Protect the Currency System of the United States, to Provide for the Better Use of the Monetary Gold Stock of the United States, and for Other Purposes, Revised January 19-23, 1934. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1934
    Hakl, Hans Thomas. Eranos: An Alternative Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013.
    Keynes, John Maynard, Paul R. Krugman, and Robert Jacob Alexander Skidelsky. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
    Kimball, Miles. “Pro Gauti Eggertsson.” Confessions of a Supply Side Liberal. June 27, 2016. Last Accessed July 7, 2020.
    Wasserstrom, Steven M. Religion after Religion: Gershom Scholem, Mircea Eliade, and Henry Corbin at Eranos. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.
    Follow us on Twitter: @averysquarepeg
    Associate Professor Brian Collins is the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University. He can be reached at collinb1@ohio.edu.

    • 47 min
    Episode 5: The Slavonic Josephus

    Episode 5: The Slavonic Josephus

    In this episode, we focus on one of Eisler’s most controversial works, a reconstruction of the 1st-century Roman Jewish historian Josephus’ account of the events surrounding the death of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist, including a new physical description of Jesus that apparently prompted the Christ to appear to followers in America to prove he did not look like Eisler said he did. Also, Eisler gets into a bitter back-and-forth with Solomon Zeitlin in the pages of the Jewish Quarterly Review and one Christian scholar dedicates an entire book to discrediting the methods of Eisler and other “learned Jews."
    Voice of Robert Eisler: Caleb Crawford
    Additional voices: Brian Evans
    Music: “Shibbolet Baseda,” recorded by Elyakum Shapirra and His Israeli Orchestra.
    Funding provided by the Ohio University Humanities Research Fund and the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College Internship Program.
    Special thanks to the Warburg Institute.
    Bibliography and Further Reading
    --Eisler, Robert. The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist According to Flavius Josephus’ Recently Rediscovered ‘Capture of Jerusalem’ and Other Jewish and Christian Sources. London: Methuen & Co., 1931.
    --Freud, Sigmund, and Joseph Sandler. On Freud's “Analysis Terminable and Interminable.” London: Karnac, 2013.
    --Goodman, Martin. Josephus’s The Jewish War: A Biography. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019.
    --Hoenig, Sidney B. 1971. Solomon Zeitlin: Scholar Laureate: An Annotated Bibliography, 1915-1970, with Appreciations of His Writings. New York: Bitzaron, 1971.
    --Jacks, J. W. The Historic Christ: An Examination of Dr. Robert Eisler’s Theory According to the Slavonic Version of Josephus and Other Sources. Clarke, 1933.
    --Josephus, Flavius, Henry Leeming, Katherine Leeming, and Nikita Aleksandrovič Meščerskij, Josephus' Jewish War and Its Slavonic Version: A Synoptic Comparison of the English Translation by H. St. J. Thackeray with the Critical Edition by N. A. Meščerskij of the Slavonic Version in the Vilna Manuscript Translated into English by H. Leeming and L. Osinkina. Leiden: Brill, 2003.
    --Ruderman, David B. “Three Reviewers and the Academic Style of the Jewish Quarterly Reviewat Midcentury.” The Jewish Quarterly Review 100, no. 4 (2010): 556-71. Accessed July 6, 2020. www.jstor.org/stable/25781004.
    Follow us on Twitter: @averysquarepeg
    Associate Professor Brian Collins is the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University. He can be reached at collinb1@ohio.edu.

    • 40 min

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