Fri, 24 February 2023
In episode 5 of (Pop) Cultural Marxism, Isi and Ajay dive deep into the spectacle of James Cameron’s latest blockbuster Avatar: The Way of Water, touching on questions of cinematic language, the ironic celebration of nature through its destructions, papyrus fonts, visual and narrative incoherence, Final Fantasy (and being unfair to it), Ridley Scott, Moby Dick, Heidegger’s question concerning technology, Prehistoric Planet, windmills, colonialism, György Lukács, Eiji Otsuka, Sontag's “Fascinating Fascism,” dubs vs. subs, 64-bit water, underwater motion capture, the shock doctrine, the movie's mildly eugenic obsession with sexualized (yet sexless) bodily perfection, James Cameron's legacy in crafting so much of the style of contemporary "cinematic universe" form, even the bizarre Manhattan mall where Isi and Ajay watched the movie. And, of course, lots and lots of water.
Direct download: PCM_AVATAR_corrected.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12pm EDT
Fri, 17 February 2023
In episode 60 of the podcast, recorded live at Goethe-Institut New York, BISR's Ajay Singh Chaudhary joins translator Tess Lewis, political theorist Corey Robin, and novelist Jessi Jezewska Stevens for a wide-ranging discussion of Ernst Jünger’s 1939 novel On the Marble Cliffs, now out from NYRB in a new translation by Lewis. Prompted by the question, “Why read Jünger today?,” their talk explores the various “tangled” scenes of Jünger reception—from his contemporaries (excoriated by Thomas Mann and Walter Benjamin) to his apologists (defended for his denunciation of the Nazis—if only for their vulgarity) to patent aesthetic and thematic parallels in contemporary anime and manga. Is it possible, or worthwhile, to read Jünger in the context of the contemporary right and its concern with its own worldview losing traction in a changing world? Is Jünger literary aristocracy—or, rather, a kind of literary adolescent? And, what is it like to translate something that you feel at odds with?
Direct download: JungerEventGoethe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:05pm EDT
Sat, 11 February 2023
In episode 59 of the podcast, on the occasion of Valentine's Day, we are celebrating the many friendships that BISR has fostered over the years. You’ll hear the stories of four friendships – and one marriage – all of which began at a BISR class or event. First, Paige Sweet and Joseph Earl Thomas, fellow faculty who met at a student meetup, share their intellectual and creative affinities. After that, student Sasha Kruger and faculty Amrita Ghosh describe the after-class chat that sparked an enduring, transcontinental friendship. Next, faculty members Rebecca Ariel Porte and Danya Glabau will discuss an intellectual friendship that dates back to BISR’s early days. Faculty Lygia Sabbag Fares and student Susie Hoeller follow, talking about friendship even in the midst of political non-alignment. And lastly, faculty Audrey Nicolaides and the brains behind BISR’s website Josh Johnson (both former students) tell the story of their first encounter at an early BISR course back in 2012, the several inauspicious dates that followed, and, eventually, their wedding, officiated by BISR's executive director, Ajay Singh Chaudhary.
Direct download: BISR_Buddies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:07am EDT
Fri, 3 February 2023
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 58: The Kafka Diaries—A Reading and Conversation with Translator Ross Benjamin
In episode 58 of the Podcast for Social Research, award-winning translator Ross Benjamin sits down with BISR’s Christine Smallwood, Rebecca Ariel Porte, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, and Lauren K. Wolfe to discuss—on the occasion of his new translation of the fully reconstructed, uncensored diaries—Kafka’s long, often fraught, sometimes tendentious publication and reception history. Loosely organized along three axes—Kafka and literature, Kafka and translation, Kafka and Theory—their talk touches on Kafka’s creatures, proliferating anxiety, his vexed relationship with tradition (and how to carve out a space for protest), the fantasy of a translator’s omniscience (and disabusing oneself of the same), Benjamin’s “Task of the Translator,” Kafka as stimulus to prodigious theoretical invention, the call center as the surreal bureaucracy of this century, how to read and write with unfinished texts, and much else besides.
Direct download: The_Kafka_Diaries.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:11pm EDT