Zero Squared #74: Conceptual Militancy

Mike Watson is an art theorist and curator based in Italy. He writes regularly for Frieze, Art Review and Radical Philosophy and his book Towards a Conceptual Militancy is currently out from Zero Books.This week we discuss his book, Marcel Duchamp, and the idea of freedom in a world of objects.

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In this episode you’ll hear clips from a Situationist documentary called Call it Sleep, an interview with Marcel Duchamp, Pharrell Williams interviewing Jeff Koons, an excerpt from the BBC’s television movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Negativland.

Zero Squared: A New Year’s Special

This special January 2nd, 2016 episode of Zero Squared explores why Critical Theorists deploy the word “problematic” and what they are REALLY saying when they talk about your fave.

Clips in this episode/collage include KMO from the C-Realm, John Berger, The Wireless Philosopher on the Problem of Perception, Michel Foucault Beyond Good and Evil (1993), music from the Truman Show, Laci Green, Tori the Queer, Evan Edinger, Noam Chomsky, Robin Williams, and clips the film A Day in the Afterlive of Philip K Dick.

Here’s an excerpt from the collage:

What’s problematic in today’s Critical Theory? That is, what is it that motivates the critical theorist to call something “problematic?”
According to the Philosophy dictionary online (that’s www.philosophy-dictionary dot org) something is a “problematic judgement” when it involves “the consciousness of the mere possibility” or, when it does not contain the consciousness of actuality or necessity.

To clarify, something is a problematic judgement, when it is subjective. In Hegel’s Science of Logic he labels the problematic as “assertoric.” This just means that it is an assertion given by a particular subject. Hegel’s logic is quite complicated, but the claim here is that when one asserts something, like “twerking is bad” one is asserting more than a particular fact about one’s own subjective experience. One is also making a claim about a universal notion.
To make this clearer still, something is problematic or problematized when it can seen to be self-generated and thereby self-interested rather than objective or necessary.
Again, the problem in the term “problematic” is the subjectivity of experience. A claim is problematic when its relationship to a universal notion or an objective fact has not been determined.
We might wonder then why it is that so many people use the term “problematic” a bit differently.

Diet Soap Podcast #220: Karl Marx’s Reluctant Idealism

Karl Marx and Hegel are the subjects this week as I talk to my friend Andy Marshall about Marx’s Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy in general. This conversation comes on the heels of a Facebook row with C Derick Varn wherein Varn took the widely accepted position that Marx was a materialist and Hegel was an idealist, while I argued that Marx was too enamored with Hegel’s dialectical logic and the unity of subject and object to really escape the Platonic Realm entirely.

I’d like to thank Andy Marshall, Penny R, Reagan S, and Shane S, for their generous one time donations to the Diet Soap podcast, and to thank Andy Marshall, Ted F, John Spillane, Jacob L, and John L for their recurring donations. I urge regular listeners to the podcast to find the paypal buttons at dietsoap.podomatic.com. Also, the podcast is available via iTunes and I urge people who enjoy this show to consider leaving a review at iTunes in lieu of a donation.

In the words of the Marxist Humanist Raya Dunayevskaya Marx’s humanism was neither a rejection of idealism nor an acceptance of materialism, but the truth of both, and therefore a new unity.

Diet Soap Podcast #204: Breaking Bad All the Way

The guest this week is Mark Fisher. Fisher is the author of the book Capitalist Realism and Ghosts of My Life (writings on depression, hauntology and lost futures). Fisher is also the author of an essay on the hit television show Breaking Bad for the New Humanist magazine and it’s this essay which will be the subject of this week’s podcast.

I want to thank my subscribers Jacob L and Andy M for their recurring donations and remind you that if you’d like to support the podcast you can find the paypal buttons at dietsoap.podomatic.com.

To set up this interview I thought I’d paste in an excerpt from Mark Fisher’s essay:

Who needs religion when you have television? On soap operas, unlike in life, villainous characters almost always face their comeuppance. TV cops may now be required to have “complicated” private lives and dubious personal ethics, but we’re seldom in any serious doubt about the difference between good and evil, and on which side of the line the maverick cop ultimately falls. The persistence of the fantasy that justice is guaranteed – a religious fantasy – wouldn’t have surprised the great thinkers of modernity. Theorists such as Spinoza, Kant, Nietzsche and Marx argued that atheism was extremely difficult to practise. It’s all very well professing a lack of belief in God, but it’s much harder to give up the habits of thought which assume providence, divine justice and a secure distinction between good and evil.