From Plato to quantum physics, Walter Benjamin to experimental poetry, Frantz Fanon to the history of political radicalism, The Podcast for Social Research is a crucial part of our mission to forge new, organic paths for intellectual work in the twenty-first century: an ongoing, interdisciplinary series featuring members of the Institute, and occasional guests, conversing about a wide variety of intellectual issues, some perennial, some newly pressing. Each episode centers on a different topic and is accompanied by a bibliography of annotations and citations that encourages further curiosity and underscores the conversation’s place in a larger web of cultural conversations.
Practical Criticism No.47—Nirvana
In episode 47 of the Podcast for Social Research’s “Practical Criticism” series, Ajay Singh Chaudhary plays Nirvana for Rebecca Ariel Porte. They talk pop avant-gardes, Kurt Cobain’s voice, exhausted croons, experiments in sound, experiments in masculinity, depression and melancholy, Burton’s anatomy of melancholy, developing variation, word play, disillusion and disaffection, and Nirvana's Gen X musical legacy in the sonic avant-garde and depressive realism of the (largely feminine and queer) singer-songer writers of today. Songs include: "Smells Like Teen Spirit"; "The Priest They Called Him" by Kurt Cobian and William S. Burroughs; "Pennyroyal Tea"; "All Apologies" and Mitski's "Your Best American Girl."
P.S. Our (Millennial) editor Cora would like to note that Mitski is indeed a proper Millennial, not Gen Z as indicated in the episode.
PPS. Omitted further thoughts on the class nature of Nirvana hopefully forthcoming. You can read Ajay on generational and class politics in "OK, OK, Boomer: The Critical Theory of Contemporary Angst."
Practical Criticism No. 48—Björk
In episode 48 of the Podcast for Social Research's "Practical Criticism" series, Rebecca Ariel Porte plays Björk for Ajay Singh Chaudhary. They converse about pop avant-gardes, Bruegel's *Land of Cockaigne,* utopian fantasies of Iceland, islands and the insular, the state of emergency, music designed to be remixed, protean pop personae, female friendship, nascent solidarities, music as muse, and why Björk is more like Taylor Swift than you'd think.
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 48: Christine Smallwood's The Life of the Mind
In the 48th episode of the Podcast for Social Research, BISR faculty (and co-founder) Christine Smallwood joins Abby Kluchin, Rebecca Ariel Porte, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Michael Stevenson, and Suzanne Schneider for a wide-ranging discussion of her acclaimed debut novel The Life of the Mind. In a two-part conversation, Christine sits down first with Abby to discuss the novel's characters, themes, and influences (George Eliot, Thomas Mann, Melanie Klein, and, perhaps unconsciously, Antonio Gramsci and Walter Benjamin), before joining Rebecca, Ajay, Michael, and Suzy to ponder what it means today, with the academy in crisis, to live a "life of the mind." Questions considered include: What is depressive realism? How does the central character Dorothy relate to both professional and bodily failure? Why, in a book titled The Life of the Mind, does much of the writing concern the body? What distinguishes “overthinking” from critique? Can reading and thinking make us better people? And if not, how can we understand the “necessary luxury” of living, at least partly, a life of the mind?
Practical Criticism No. 41—One Big Country Song
In episode 41 of the Podcast for Social Research's "Practical Criticism" series, Ajay Singh Chaudhary plays Locash for Rebecca Ariel Porte, who has no idea what the object of the week will be. They discuss pop country, meta-country, bro country, bubblegum country, crossover appeal, national imaginaries, projections of unity and masculinity, David Allan Coe, Lady A, the culture industry, Nashville songwriting, clean and dirty production, cliché, and dorito engineering.
Practical Criticism No. 11—Claude Debussy
In this episode of the Podcast for Social Research’s “Practical Criticism” series, Ajay plays Debussy’s “Jardins sous la pluie” for Rebecca, to whom the object of the week is, as usual, a surprise. Their conversation ranges over virtuosity, empty and full, tone painting, modern music, play, omission, peopling the world of your solitude, Shakespeare’s Richard II, Adorno, and Proust.
n.b. This episode indirectly cites the excellent pandemic playlist that Jacob Gordon is in the process of compiling.
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 47: Who Needs A World View? Raymond Geuss in Conversation
Who needs a world view? Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Michael Stevenson, and Rebecca Ariel Porte welcome world-renowned philosopher Raymond Geuss for a wide-ranging discussion of Geuss’s most recent book. They explore Geuss’s understanding of what a world view is; the history and habit of the worldview in Western philosophical, political, and aesthetic thought, the problems and pathologies of certain kinds of systemic thinking; and alternative conceptions for thinking and philosophizing. Conversation also ranges over Geuss's engagement with Critical Theory, and the thought and legacy of the late philosopher Sydney Morgenbesser, teacher to Geuss and spiritual godfather, of a sort, to BISR.
Audio quality keeps me from listening...
Such a shame...was so looking forward to this podcast...can’t listen due to poor quality audio.
Tried to listen to capitalism episode. Couldn’t hear you very well. I’m sure the content it interesting. I didn’t have the patience to find out.