Zero Squared #4: The Semiotics of Happiness

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Ashley Frawley is the guest this week. Frawley is a lecturer at Swansea University, her book “The Semiotics of Happiness” is coming out from Bloomsbury in February, and we discuss how happiness was made into a political problem in the UK and how the aim of increasing “happiness” has become a substitute for real progressive politics.

In podcast news, I’m hoping to double my workload. I’ve got a couple Pop the Left conversations in my archive as well as a few other archived interviews meant for Diet Soap, and if I can convince Jim Farris to do it after that long unannounced hiatus I’d like to carry on with the Double Feature Review. So here’s the thing: Zero Squared has a feed over at the Zero Books blog and on iTunes, but if you search for Zero Squared on iTunes you’ll find two feeds, one is the podomatic Diet Soap feed and has a picture of Philip K. Dick with his, cat and the other shows a painting of Jasun Horsley and a guy who looks like Seth Rogen. The guy is me and that feed is the Zero Books blog feed.

So, here’s what’s going to happen…I’m going to phase out the old Diet Soap feed, the one with the picture of Philip K Dick. By April that feed will be gone. Most of you are probably subscribed to that feed. That’s the podomatic feed and for a variety of reasons I think it’s time to leave podomatic behind. However, while I am going to phase out the podomatic feed I’ll be bringing back Diet Soap, Pop the Left and The Double Feature Review over at douglaslain.com. So, if you want to listen to all of it, to Zero Squared and everything else you can subscribe to douglaslain.com through iTunes or some other podcatcher. If you just want to listen to Zero Squared you can subscribe to Seth Rogen picture feed on iTunes or in another podcatcher. Again, my own blog douglaslain.com is where you’ll find every podcast I’ll do. This feed is slowly going away.

Now, while I’m at it I should mention that there is one other podcast you might look for while you’re on iTunes or wherever…actually there are two more. One is the Former People podcast. That used to be hosted on this feed and it features conversations about movies and literature. The other is Symptomatic Redness. That podcast is new and it features my co-host from Pop the Left interviewing theorists and writers from the left.

The music in this episode includes pieces from Nik Walton, you just heard his piece Martha on the Move in the new intro, Dan Lett, and the youtube star Christian Grasslin performing a trumpet loop version of Pharrell Williams’ hit Happy. You’ll also hear a longish excerpt from a American Enterprise Institute talk by Arthur Brooks called “The Secret of Happiness,” David Harvey talking about the Zero Growth economy, and Sam Binkley at the Department of Psychosocial Studies talking on “Happiness as Enterprise,” and finally Jasun Horsley from his liminal corner will be heard, and the music you’re listening to right now is Mark Hosler from Negativland mixing live at the Ghostprint Gallery in Richmond, Virginia.

Zero Squared #2: The Option that No Longer Exists

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John Medhurst is a Trade Unionist and activist and we discuss his book That Option No Longer Exists: Britain 1974-’76. We also consider the possibility that the Labour party’s industrial policy was a real solution to economic crisis of the 70s.

Comment on the murder of the staff of the French comic magazine Charlie Hebdo:

As a radical publisher I am compelled to stand in solidarity with these French comrades and announce that “Je Suis Charlie.” More than that I’d want to point out that standing with liberty means precisely standing with the satirists and whether it’s Stephen Colbert, Stewart Lee, Jonathan Swift, or the Charlie Hebdo twelve the obligation is the same. Drawings of monkeys, prophets, or assholes should not stifle our outrage at religious terrorists any more than the crimes these reactionaries should push us into the arms of Le Pen.

The music and voices you’ll hear in this podcast include an amateur string quartet covering the 1979 hit “Funky Town” by Lipps Incorporated, the voice of Brendan Cooney, Esai Morales performing the Internationale on the piano, and Harry Partch’s “And On The Seventh Day Petals Fell In Petaluma,” and Chris Isto White’s “Six Composition in Pastel”.

Jasun Horsley’s first bout of liminalist musings closes out this episode.

Zero Squared #1: Seen and Not Seen

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Jasun Horsley is the first guest. His book Seen and Not Seen: Confessions of a Movie Autist is coming out from Zero Books at the end of this month.

Also in this episode: the voice of TJ Clark, the music of Dan Lett, the Zero Books manifesto as written by Tariq Goddard, my call for submissions of books written about Marx’s peculiar materialism, and a brief recap of the event that led to my landing in the publisher’s seat and a veiled call for peace.

Credit goes to Lucinda Horan for the Zero Squared logo and to the Art of Flying’s “Song for my Peeps” for providing the introductory music.

Jasun Horsley will be recurring feature of this podcast with updates from what we’re tentatively calling his “Liminalist Corner.”

zero books and diet soap

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Starting in January of 2015 I will be the new publisher for zero books. Despite the drama that precedes me, this is a task I’m taking on with real excitement. Tariq Goddard and his crew have built a great imprint and while I expect that some substantial part of what was zero books will follow Tariq to Repeater, I look forward to making zero my own.

If you’ve got a book on left theory, post-Kantian philosophy, aesthetics, or radical history please go to the zero books submission page and make a pitch.

The news for Diet Soap listeners here is that the old podcast is changing but not quite ending. I’ll be continuing interviewing authors and others on left/philosophical subjects just the same as I’ve always done over the last five years, but from now on many more of those authors will be from zero. Still, I do promise to keep talking about Value theory and Slavoj Zizek as much and as often as possible.

Here are the changes that are coming:

1. I’ll be changing the opening theme music and saying goodbye to the voice of Rick Roderick.

2. I’ll be shying away from sampling pop music in my audio collages and tending to use music in the public domain.

3. I’ll be sticking to a weekly schedule like clockwork.

Here’s what’s staying the same:

The sound of a tape cassette player being opened and closed.

Last note: The Titanic Factoid will not be returning.