Zero Squared #37: Dangerous Literature

Tom Sperlinger is the author of Romeo and Juliet in Palestine and he returns this week to discuss teaching Dangerous Literature. This is part one of a two part conversation. This week we focus on the question of polemics in fiction and modernism, and next week we’ll take a close look at Kafka’s unfinished novel The Trial.

Sperlinger recently taught a course on “Dangerous Books.” Here’s an excerpt from the course description:

Can works of literature only reflect society, or might they be a catalyst for reform? If a book has an urgent political message, can it also become a lasting work of art? Why might a work of literature be considered dangerous? In what circumstances are books banned? And conversely, what does this tell us about the power of literature, including in consciousness-raising or as a form of protest or resistance?

In this episode you’ll hear the voice of Norman Mailer again, a reading of Philip K. Dick’s letter warning the FBI about the conspiracy of Stanislaw Lem, the music of John Cage, the voice of BS Johnson, the music of the X-Ray Spex, an excerpt from Negativland’s 1980 album entitled Negativland, and Sad Cat Walk by Dan Lett.

Zero Squared #35: Nuclear Power and Climate Change

Leigh Phillips is a science writer and EU affairs journalist. His writing has appeared in Nature, the Guardian, Scientific American, and the Daily Telegraph and this week we continue our conversation about his book Austerity Ecology and the Collapse Porn Addicts  which is coming from Zero Books in October.

According to Phillips: modernity is not the cause of climate change and the wider biocrisis, rather it’s the solution. There is no uncorrupted nature to return to and instead of shutting down and retreating into the brush we need to rethink and revise the basis for our own development.

In combative and puckish style, science journalist Leigh Phillips marshals evidence from climate science, ecology, paleoanthropology, agronomy, microbiology, psychology, history, the philosophy of mathematics, and heterodox economics to argue that progressives must rediscover their historic, Promethean ambitions and counter this reactionary neo-Malthusian ideology that not only retards human flourishing, but won’t save the planet anyway.

In this episode you’ll hear from Tim and Eric, Charles Manson, National Lampoon, Doctor Roger Summons, the youtube star Walter Jahn, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. You’ll also hear music of Dan Lett.

Diet Soap #182: What Art is For

The Artist Michael Reinsch is the guest this week as we discuss contemporary art, concepts, meaning, nihilism, and what it’s like to kiss a strange man for money. Michael Reinsch’s installation at the Place Gallery successfully blurred the boundary between art and life, and I was glad to get to talk to him about that distinction and the aim of his work.

I’d like to thank my subscribers who donate monthly. That would be John L, Andrew M, Jacob L, and Ted F. And let people listening know you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and at Also, I’ve started up writing for Thought Catalog again and I’ll provide links to two essays about the philosophy of Arrested Development in this week’s show notes. (Link 1. Link 2)

If you’re a fan of Diet Soap why not leave a review on iTunes?

There are many sound clips in this episode. There are clips of Marcel Duchamp and Robert Hughes, a comedy routine from Coyle and Sharpe, Laurie Anderson’s Bright Red, and Michael Reinsch himself set in C.

Another conversation with Jason Horsley regarding his book Prisoner of Infinity is online this week. Check out the links to the right on his blog.


Diet Soap Podcast #178: Samuel Roth, Infamous Modernist

The guest this week is Jay Gertzman and we discuss his book Samuel Roth, Infamous Modernist. Samuel Roth was a literary pirate, a purveyor of smut, and a champion of high modernism. For instance Roth published the dirty bits from James Joyce’s Ulysses as a serial in his literary journal Two Worlds Monthly.

It’s Wednesday, April 24th, 2013. I’m Douglas Lain the host of the podcast, and this week the secret word is “masturbation” and here’s an excerpt from Samuel Roth on the subject.

Diet Soap relies on donations, but rather than make my usual plea for help through paypal I’m actually going to tell you to hold off. I’m about to run a Kickstarter campaign to fund a US Diet Soap tour under the banner “Think the Impossible.” In fact, I just finished editing the Kickstarter video a few days ago and if you’d like to watch the video all you need do to get a sneak peek is join the Diet Soap International Facebook group. It’s much more an exploration of the ideas of Henri Lefebvre through a decidedly Hegelian lens than it is a straight forward call for funds, so I encourage everyone who is listening to check it out. Also, if you like Diet Soap but can’t afford a donation, why not share the podcast with a friend or write a review of the show on iTunes.

There is some smut in this episode of Diet Soap. For example, at the end, you’ll hear a bit of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy. You’ll hear a bit more than this:

…shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down Jo me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

The music you’re listening to right now is an instrumental cover of the Violent Femmes Blister in The Sun as covered by the Vitamin String Quartet but in just a moment you’ll be listening to Gertzman and I discuss Samuel Roth, Infamous Modernist.