Diet Soap Update: Aesthetics fiction former people literature poetry
The guests this week are C Derick Varn and Steven A. Michalkow, the editors of the online literary journal Former People. We discuss modernism, neomodernism, and the impossibility of literature today.
What is Former People? According to their manifesto Former People is about bangs and whimpers. They wrote:
The past is not dead, it is not even past, to invoke Faulkner. And yet the past is obscured with dust, dross, and delusion. This seeming contradiction is but the inevitable process of human progress. The patina of confusion is make-up our world, the present merely being the current lie agreed upon. So too with “modernism”–a word whose archaic and historically limited reference strikes us already as self-parody. “Neo-modernism” seems no better – yet another joke of the post moderns. The kind of joke we now laugh at with no more vigor than in a reflex. “The new modern” – a redundant phrase, and yet on that has relevance to us. The goal of the Former People is to explore the future even as we look upon the past through the glass darkly. We aim not for nostalgia, but to combat the mid-brow and middle mind as well as the flippancy or over-seriousness of so much literary art. The literary arts are always intertwined within the new and the old, the high and the low, the experimental and traditional: we found all this already in the various modernism all over the world despite the pretensions to “modernism’s” difficulty.
We aim to be pluralists in our exploration of things neo-modern. This is not a movement nor is it a pretense to a clear aesthetic criteria as much as a zeitgeist and a de-personalization of the arts. We do not declare war against the philistine or the mid-cultist as that war is already lost–we are but an exploratory remnant that benefits from no want to make money on this endeavor and thus to be obscure or as popular as individual taste allows. We are like the orphaned children of deposed nobility, walking in the aftermath of their advances and retreats; their hundred visions and revisions. We are former people, who acknowledge that perhaps modernism has ended with both bangs and whimpers, and thus perhaps it can be appreciated and renewed as only something of the past truly can be: after all the mortar of future dreams is mixed water and quickener with ashes and pith of dead cities.
C. Derick Varn and Steven A. Michalkow
Diet Soap Update: backwards consciousness raising education left politics Marxism MHI revolution working people
The guest this week is the radical thinker, writer, and editor Anne Jaclard. Anne Jaclard is a long-time activist in the U.S. women’s movement and international solidarity movements and her current work concentrates on the theoretical and practical relationship of philosophy to revolutionary organization and we discussed her paper and lecture ‘Let’s Mobilize the Left to Reject the Dogma that Workers Need their “Consciousness Raised“.’
I want to reiterate my thanks to everyone who donated to the Think the Impossible book and podcast tour through Kickstarter because this weekend you’re sending me back to San Francisco where I’ll be reading or performing as a part of the Writers with Drinks variety show at the Makeout Room along with Kim Stanley Robinson, Tom Barbash, Kim Wong Keltner, Mollena “Mo” Williams, and Tatyana Brown. If you’re in San Francisco I urge you to turn up. The Makeout room is at 3225 22nd. St.
Diet Soap Update: existentialism internet archive kierkegaard philosophy religion walter kaufmann
This week on the Diet Soap podcast the internet archive comes to the rescue. I’d planned on running an interview with Jason Horsley this week, however there were so many technical difficulties (Horsley couldn’t hear me and I had to type my questions to him through Skype’s chat feature) that editing the conversation into something interesting proved to be too time consuming. Instead I’m running a lecture by the late Walter Kaufmann. The lecture is on existentialism, Kierkegaard, and the crisis in religion.
Per wikipedia: Walter Arnold Kaufmann was a German-American philosopher, translator, and poet. A prolific author, he wrote extensively on a broad range of subjects, such as authenticity and death, moral philosophy and existentialism, theism and atheism, Christianity and Judaism, as well as philosophy and literature. He served for over 30 years as a Professor at Princeton University.
It’s Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 and I’m Douglas Lain the host of this podcast. I should point out that Diet Soap was recently picked up for rebroadcast on WPRR, that’s Public Reality Radio in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I want to say hello to listeners in Grand Rapids and if you’re listening to me on the radio there I want to encourage you to contact me. You can use the contact form on douglaslain.com, friend me on Facebook, follow me on twitter, or, if you’re in Portland, you can just sit next to me on the bus. I’m often to be found on the number 19.
Next week there should be a conversation with Anne Jaclard on the subject of Left Activism and consciousness raising and after that I’m hoping to talk to Mark Fisher about Capitalist Realism, to Noëlle Claire McAfee about both her friend Rick Roderick and her book on the unconscious and democracy, and to my son Benjamin about Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and the television program Breaking Bad.
Diet Soap Update Pop the Left update: Great Pretender Left Marxism occupy wallstreet The Spectacular Now tj clark Verso Zizek
This week I’m presenting the latest Pop the Left Special wherein C Derick Varn and I discuss Slavoj Žižek’s little book “The Year of Dreaming Dangerously.” Neither of us found the book to be either coherent or useful. My main complaint would be Žižek’s failure to take Marx’s critique of Capitalist political economy seriously and his abandonment of the Labor Theory of Value. The conclusion we reach is that Žižek is a worthwhile philosopher, but that his philosophy is not a firm foundation for the development of a politics or a movement. What Žižek does deliver is an imperative: “THINK!” It turns out that this imperative will require us to think beyond him.
In this episode you’ll hear clips from the movie trailer for The Spectacular Now, a youtube mash-up of Zizek’s lectures, Zizek at Occupy Wall Street, and a bit of a Diet Soap interview with the art historian TJ Clark.