Diet Soap Podcast #208: Egyptian Impasse/After the Impossible

The guest this week is the philosophy professor and no good commie David Blacker. Blacker is the author of the book “The Falling Rate of Learning” from Zero Books, but this week we discuss his vacation to Cairo Egypt and why he hates anarchists. Blacker is a regular guest and I was glad to talk to him again.

I want to thank John L, John Spillane, Andy M, and Jacob L for their recurring donations to the podcast and to thank Jake C for making a one time donation to the podcast. And urge everyone who enjoys Diet Soap to consider pressing on the paypal buttons and dietsoap.podomatic.com. You can also follow me on twitter, friend me on Facebook, send me an email through my website which is doulgaslain.com.

As some of you may have heard I have started writing a book called “How to Watch Star Trek” for Blacker’s publisher Zero Books, and I hope to share excerpts from the book as I go along. I also hope to talk to Andrew Kliman, Daniel Coffeen, Andy Marshall, Jason Horsley, and Margaret Kimberley in the weeks to come and maybe even talk to some new people as well. I’d really like to interview the author Jonathan Crary whose book 24/7 describes my life, for instance, and I also hope to land an interview with the editor at Verso who recently released a collection of Althusser’s essays. There will also be more film podcasts from Former People and a new possibly recurring movie podcast with my friend Jim Farris.

The music you’re listening to right now is Steve Martin’s King Tut as performed by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, but in just a moment you’ll be listening to David Blacker and I discuss An Egyptian Impasse/After the Impossible.

Diet Soap Podcast #199: A Situationist Ideology?

C Derick Varn returns this week and we discuss the Situationist International or the SI. What you’ll hear is not a theoretical explanation of the SI nor less an introduction to the history of the SI, but rather some personal reflections on how we first encountered the SI and what the SI has come to be within the Spectacle. To misquote Guy Debord:

In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. And everything, even revolutionary theories, is reduced to fodder for snarky Facebook posts and monotonous podcasts where two guys drone on with their half baked impressions.

I want to thank everyone for listening to this podcast and communicating with me on Facebook, on twitter, and through my blog that’s douglaslain.com. Also I want to thank Shane S, Bob M, Caytlin G, and Michael P, Jason P and Michael P for donating to the podcast. And if you want to donate you can find the donate buttons at dietsoap.podomatic.com.

At the end of this episode you’ll find a ten minute excerpt from what was a 40 minute reading of my short story “The Dead Celebrity” from my short story collection Last Week’s Apocalypse. Nicholas Techosky is the narraotr.

You can find the rest of this story and nine more hours from that collection on audible, and I hope to get Nicholas on the podcast soon to talk about acting and voice acting.dietsoap199

Diet Soap Podcast #189: Chomsky vs. Žižek

The guest this week is a university lecturer, a poet, and my co-host on Pop the Left. I tapped C Derick Varn to come on so we could discuss the recent Chomsky/Zizek feud. For those of you who haven’t been following the debate let me expose you to it:

Noam Chomsky on Zizek: What you’re referring to is what’s called “theory.” And when I said I’m not interested in theory, what I meant is, I’m not interested in posturing–using fancy terms like polysyllables and pretending you have a theory when you have no theory whatsoever. So there’s no theory in any of this stuff, not in the sense of theory that anyone is familiar with in the sciences or any other serious field. Try to find in all of the work you mentioned some principles from which you can deduce conclusions, empirically testable propositions where it all goes beyond the level of something you can explain in five minutes to a twelve-year-old. See if you can find that when the fancy words are decoded. I can’t. So I’m not interested in that kind of posturing. Žižek is an extreme example of it. I don’t see anything to what he’s saying. Jacques Lacan I actually knew. I kind of liked him. We had meetings every once in awhile. But quite frankly I thought he was a total charlatan. He was just posturing for the television cameras in the way many Paris intellectuals do. Why this is influential, I haven’t the slightest idea. I don’t see anything there that should be influential.

Slavoj Zizek on Chomsky: What is that about, again, the academy and Chomsky and so on? Well with all deep respect that I do have for Chomsky, my first point is that Chomsky, who always emphasizes how one has to be empirical, accurate, not just some crazy Lacanian speculations and so on… well I don’t think I know a guy who was so often empirically wrong in his descriptions in his whatever! Let’s look… I remember when he defended this demonstration of Khmer Rouge. And he wrote a couple of texts claiming: No, this is Western propaganda. Khmer Rouge are not as horrible as that.” And when later he was compelled to admit that Khmer Rouge were not the nicest guys in the Universe and so on, his defense was quite shocking for me. It was that “No, with the data that we had at that point, I was right. At that point we didn’t yet know enough, so… you know.” But I totally reject this line of reasoning.

For example, concerning Stalinism. The point is not that you have to know, you have photo evidence of gulag or whatever. My God you just have to listen to the public discourse of Stalinism, of Khmer Rouge, to get it that something terrifyingly pathological is going on there. For example, Khmer Rouge: Even if we have no data about their prisons and so on, isn’t it in a perverse way almost fascinating to have a regime which in the first two years (’75 to ’77) behaved towards itself, treated itself, as illegal? You know the regime was nameless. It was called “Angka,” an organization — not communist party of Cambodia — an organization. Leaders were nameless. If you ask “Who is my leader?” your head was chopped off immediately and so on.

You can find follow-ups from both of these thinkers here.

I want to reiterate my thanks to everyone who donated to the Think the Impossible book and podcast tour through Kickstarter. I’d love to meet people who have been listening to this podcast, and if you’re hearing this now and you live in NYC, Chicago, or San Francisco I do hope you’ll turn up to these events.

There are several sound clips in this episode. You’ll mostly hear from Chomsky and Zizek, but there is also a clip from the National Geographic special Brain Games Apollo Robbins and perhaps a few other voices as well.

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Pop the Left #2: Sexy Anarchists vs Marxist Eggheads

This week on the Diet Soap channel: Pop the Left #2

Pop the Left is currently a special program done irregularly with C Derick Varn (a University Lecturer living in Jeonju) and Nicholas Pell (a freelancer writer and cynic living in LA) and this episode features a conversation with Varn as we dissect just why Anarchists are so different, so appealing, while Marxists look like they’ve spent the evening coughing into their overgrown beards and forgetting to clip their fingernails.

The other question we ask is why is it that Anarchists and Marxists alike can’t really think past Capitalism.

However, the weird thing is that by the end of this second episode we’ve stumbled into our unconscious and end up in a seemingly never ending stream of penises…I mean Freudian slips.

Enjoy!pop2