Fri, 31 March 2023
In episode six of (Pop) Cultural Marxism, Isi and Ajay consider the cultural imperative du jour, "Let People Enjoy Things"—and offer an alternative: not letting people enjoy things. What underlies the collective impulse to not criticize? What is the purpose of criticism? And how does the injunction to not criticize misunderstand the relationship between the self and representation? Are critics cheerless? Why are we anxious for our art (are blockbuster movies so fragile)? Why, in this moment, are we seemingly so driven to seek out cultural experiences that console? Isn't critical engagement in itself a pleasure? As Isi and Ajay explore the anti-critical impulse (with a detour into the present and future of the Oscars), they take up objects ranging from Best Picture winner Everything Everywhere All at Once (and the—rather ardent—discourse surrounding it) to Florian Sigl's The Magic Flute, Kate Wagner's Baffler essay "Don't Let People Enjoy Things," Franz Kafka's retranslated diaries, the video game Like a Dragon: Ishin!, A.O. Scott's New York Times exit interview, aesthetic debates reaching back to Adorno, Benjamin, and Lukács, and much else besides.
Fri, 24 March 2023
Faculty Spotlight: Andy Battle on Capitalism and Urbanization, Eric Adams, Cop City, and the Right to the City
In episode four of Faculty Spotlight, hosts Mark and Lauren interview Andy Battle, BISR faculty and urban historian. The three discuss: why cities are so radicalizing--and alienating; the deep connection between capitalism and urbanization; how "private welfare states" drive up the cost up the cost (sometimes prohibitively) of building infrastructure; what Henri Lefebvre means by the "Right to the City"; Eric Adams (and his parallels with Trump); dance culture (and "dis-alienation"); and Cop City, the "outside agitator," and why "policing is what's left when you can't or won't...address the problems" that fundamentally beset us.
Fri, 17 March 2023
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 61.5, Shortcast: Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
In this shortcast, recorded live before a screening of Chantal Akerman's "love film for my mother," BISR's William Clark, Paige Sweet, and Isi Litke offer a sweeping overview of the film’s technical innovations, thematic stakes, and its film-historical context. Their talk touches on Akerman’s deft hybrid of experimental and narrative traditions, formal techniques as narrative strategies, the domestic terrain of diminished sovereignty, the uncanny activation of everyday objects, ten static minutes of making meatloaf, haunted houses, whether unleashed aggression might result in repose, and what sort of genre conventions this endurance test of a film may be partaking in after all.
Fri, 3 March 2023
In episode 61 of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live at BISR Central, BISR faculty Joseph Earl Thomas and Paige Sweet sit down for an intimate conversation about the peculiar and often unsparing perceptions children have of adult worlds and the writerly innovations at play in the endeavor of representing their experience of it. Their wide-ranging talk touches on everything from strategies of self-narration to means of soliciting a reader’s agency, how to tell a life-story out of order, whether animals can understand us, flat versus hyperbolic language (and their differential effects when narrating Black life in particular), comprehending things in bits (as opposed to the epiphanic moment), whether the norms to which adults acquiescence are in fact inevitable, plus an extremely capacious (materially and emotionally) kitchen sink. Before the discussion, Joseph reads an excerpt from his aptly and provocatively titled coming-of-age memoir Sink, a much-lauded and vividly told story of need, desire, imagination, and the manifold objects of adolescent attachment.