2 Sep 2015, 7:14am
Zero Squared
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Zero Squared #34: Defending Modernity

zerosquared34

Leigh Phillips is a science writer and EU affairs journalist. His writing has appeared in Nature, the Guardian, Scientific American, and the Daily Telegraph. His book Austerity Ecology and the Collapse Porn Addicts is coming from Zero Books in October.

According to Phillips: modernity is not the cause of climate change and the wider biocrisis. It is indeed capitalism that is the source of our environmental woes, but capitalism as a mode of production, not the fuzzy understanding of capitalism of Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Derrick Jensen, Paul Kingsnorth and their anarcho-liberal epigones as a sort of globalist corporate malfeasance. 

In this episode you’ll hear from Derrick Jensen, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Stephen Fry reading from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We’ll also flip down and up the dial on mainstream ecological paranoia,hear a clip from Negativland and listen to The Grateful Dead’s instrumental hit Cold Rain and Snow.

Zero Squared #33: A Weird Line of Flight?

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Daniel Coffeen looks around for freedom in a world of networked conformity. He holds a PhD in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley where he taught adjunct for many years, but now Coffeen works independently, writing about contemporary art, film, language, Deleuze, perception, Uni, capitalism, emergent shapes, pleasure, new media, and tequila. He founded the once-exquisite ArtandCulture.com and makes money by naming products, writing copy, and branding companies.

In Coffeen’s recent blog post entitled In Praise of the Weird he writes:

Weird is surprising in that it neither goes with nor against the grain. It doesn’t try to break the mold; it casts new molds. Or, perhaps, doesn’t care about molds at all but rather enjoys meandering — the schizo stroll. Weird slices through discourse, categories, and common sense. It scrambles — not for the sake of scrambling but because it operates and lives in a world you cannot yet imagine.

In this episode you’ll hear clips from Looney Tunes cartoons, Adventure Time, Brian Eno’s Music for Film, the US version of The Office, Timothy Leary describing his mind mirror, a Facebook television advertisement, an instructional video for the internet circa 1992,and Rod Stewart’s 1969 hit Handbags and the Gladrags which is also the theme for the theme for the UK version of The Office.

Zero Squared #32: Vade Mecum

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Richard Skinner’s collection of essays Vade Mecum is the topic of dicussion this week as the author discusses Eric Satie, Werner Herzog, John Cage, and the interdisciplinary life of a man of letters. Skinner is a novelist whose works include The Red Dancer, The Mirror, and now Vade Mecum.

From the jacket:

Vade Mecum brings together Richard Skinner’s best essays, reviews and interviews from 1992-2014. There are close critical engagements with writers (Kazuo Ishiguro, Italo Calvino, Shakespeare’s The Tempest) and composers (Erik Satie, Iannis Xenakis, Luc Ferrari), meditations on films and filmmakers (Antonioni, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Chinatown) and idiosyncratic reflections on Werner Herzog’s Of Walking in Ice and Steely Dan.

In this episode you’ll also hear the voice of John Cage, the music of Boards of Canada, a collage about expressionism and the avant garde, Werner Herzog describing Klaus Kinski to David Letterman, The Dell Vikings “Come Go With Me,” a brief reading from Vade Mecum on the subject of Italo Calvino’s cities, and Erik Satie’s Vexations.

Zero Squared #31: Dialectic of Defeat

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Russell Jacoby’s Dialectic of Defeat: Contours of Western Marxism is the subject this week and C Derick Varn is the guest. Varn is a poet, teacher, theorist and a reader at Zero Books. This is the second time we’ve spoken about Jacoby’s book. We’re taking it one chapter at a time.

Russell Jacoby asks us to reexamine a loser of Marxism: the unorthodox Marxism of Western Europe. The author begins with a polemical attack on ‘conformist’ or orthodox Marxism, in which he includes structuralist schools. He argues that a cult of success and science drained this Marxism of its critical impulse and that the successes of the Russian and Chinese revolutions encouraged a mechanical and fruitless mimicry. He then turns to a Western alternative that neither succumbed to the spell of success nor obliterated the individual in the name of science. In the nineteenth century, this Western Marxism already diverged from Russian Marxism in its interpretation of Hegel and its evaluation of Engels’ orthodox Marxism. The author follows the evolution of this minority tradition and its opposition to authoritarian forms of political theory and practice.

In this episode you’ll here a list of moder political philosophers set to Life is a Rock by Reunion, Frederic Jameson set to music from the Manson Family Opera, an excerpt from an old episode of Diet Soap wherein I discuss Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit with my son Benjamin, and Glenn Gould playing Bach’s Partita #2.