The Podcast for Social Research

In episode 72 of the Podcast for Social Research, Nara Roberta Silva, Rebecca Ariel Porte, Lauren K. Wolfe, Mark DeLucas, and Ajay Singh Chaudhary look back at their 2023 in cultural objects, or their 2023 experiences of objects washed up on present shores from other times, observing as they do how year-end compendia reveal surprising throughlines. A tally, in brief, of their preoccupations include: the itinerant dance party Laylit celebrating Arab/SWANA music, Argentina, 1985 (and why historical contingency is such a problem for theory), paper architecture, Isabella Hammad’s Enter Ghost and global Shakespeares, Naomi Klein’s Doppelgänger and demonic doubles, Ruth Beckermann’s Mutzenbacher (and cis-male hetero-sexuality as at once the most and least visible), Anita Brookner’s novels of mid-life resignation (a revival for aging millennials?), the origins of Fauvism, actually interesting YouTube trends, vinyl records and deliberate listening, and what there is to look forward to in 2024.

Direct download: EOY_full_cast_pod_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:42pm EST

In the final episode for 2023, Isi, Ajay, and Joseph address the vexing nature of End-of-Year lists—and then go through the vexing process of assembling our own! Isi leads us through our year in cinema; Ajay, the year in games; and Joseph, the year in television, culminating in three top picks (and some honorable mentions) for the year in each category. Discussions range from the surprising success of cinematic restorations to films which shape, subvert, and show the optical unconscious; games of visceral pleasure, systemic fascination, and astonishing simplicity; and the politics (and possibilities) in contemporary anime and the anxious and wonderfully character-driven year in television. Proceeding in part through negative examples (Oppenheimer and Final Fantasy XVI receive perhaps the harshest treatments), the cast ultimately records in the world of film: 1. Stop Making Sense (2023, remaster); 2. Killers of the Flower Moon (2023); and 3. May December (2023), with honorable mentions for How to Blow Up a Pipeline (2023) and The Boy and the Heron (2023). In the world of games: 1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023); 2. Armored Core 6 (2023); 3. Super Mario Brothers Wonder (2023) / Pikmin 4 (2023), with honorable mentions for Star Ocean: The Second Story R and a whole slate of tiny games for Panic's "Playdate" lo-fi handheld: Questy Chess, Omaze, Zipper, Casual Birder, among others. In the world of television: 1. Rap Shit (2023); 2. Beef (2023); 3. Attack on Titan (2013-2023), with honorable mentions for the live-action adaptation of One Piece (2023) and our collective 2022 hangover shows: Peaky Blinders (2013-2022) and Ozark (2017-2022). Stay tuned in for talk of the unbearable “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, what makes old action movies so good, unsustainable labor practices in the world of commercial game production, and making a “Breaking Bad” that is actually good. Wishing you all a critically reflective holiday season from PCM!

Direct download: pop_cultural_marxism_231211_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:14pm EST

In episode 67 of Practical Criticism, Rebecca and Ajay surprise each other with songs and compositions drawn exclusively from their respective algorithmically-generated Spotify "Wrapped" playlists! Pieces include Erza Furman's "Can I Sleep in Your Brain"; Linked Horizon's "Guren No Yumiya" (from the Attack on Titan soundtrack); Lucy Dacus's "Night Shift"; The Smashing Pumpkins's "Mayonaise"; Monteverdi's "Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria"; Phish's "Cavern" (from Atlantic City, 10/30/2010); CeeLo Green's cover of "No One's Gonna Love You" by Band of Horses; and Nirvana's "All Apologies." Along the way, the conversation turns to overcoming the All-Roads-Lead-to-Coldplay-Problem of automatic curation, the subtle and the transformative, time changes and genre conventions, unadorned pop and unromanticized classics, the dialectic of sincerity and absurdity, cute aggression and martial pop, fascist aesthetics, narcissistic injury and pathic projection, epics of the ordinary, the strange proliferation of 2-part pop songs, soft edged vs. soft with edges, unleashed elegance, what the machine wants you to listen to, coolness and anomie, the many modalities of anger, musical artifacts and ur-forms, ariosos vs. arias and the nascent opera of the early 17th century, brilliant failures, and, above all, writing soundtracks. Listen to what rises out to shine from the digital (and other) mucks of 2023.

Direct download: practical_criticism_231201_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52am EST

Is a recipe a text? What happens when it’s translated, via cooking, into food? In episode 71 of the Podcast for Social Research, live-recorded at BISR Central, author Rebecca May Johnson joins BISR faculty Sophie Lewis and Rebecca Ariel Porte and Dilettante Army's Sara Clugage to read from her autotheoretical "epic in the kitchen" Small Fires and discuss the ways cooking relates to language, the body, knowledge, politics, power, and thinking. What's creative about cooking from a recipe? What kinds of bonds and connections do recipes create—between both intimates and strangers? Why is Donald Winnicott wrong about sausages (and, can we ever be recipe-less)? Why cook a recipe 1,000 times? When is cooking labor; and when, if ever, is it not? What would it mean to abolish the kitchen?

Direct download: Cooking_is_Thinking_Rebecca_May_Johnson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:37pm EST