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So excited to welcome postmodern historian and rebel intellectual, Thaddeus Russell! Thaddeus is founder of Renegade University, his new education initiative (which I maaaaay be teaching a course for soon!). He's the and author of the excellent, rowdy, boozy book, A Renegade History of the United States.
We kick off our talk by discussing the failures of education, then move right into the major flaw of the left, the right, and more: the abandonment of pleasure. Then onto Thaddeus's favorite (or most popular?) subject, postmodern philosophy.
I love this episode!
IN THIS EP
- The failure of higher education and why I let my students grade themselves.
- How power flows through students and teachers alike.
- The power of having a good professor, and the power of being a good student.
- How the college system of training students translates into boring conversations post-college.
- Give me dumb passionate diner talk over so-called progressive intellectuals any day.
- The sexless, spirituality-less tomb of academia and why Thad viscerally dislikes academics.
- Why does the left expect us to kill and die without pleasure? (And why libertarians are just as bad.)
- Sex as the realization of the individual.
- My theory that capitalists and libertarians are displacing their desire into the market because desire and sex are the primary driving force of history, not labor politics or economics.
- Is smash-civilization neo-primitivism bullshit? (yes)
- Thaddeus and I discuss postmodernism, and our differing viewpoint on whether or not critical theory and postmodernism are the same thing.
- Are the Frankfurt School totalitarians? (I defend these jerks, but hesitantly!)
- The productivity of the closet.
- The terrible sensuality of Nazi art.
- Instead of policing and repressing your desires, follow, honor, and exacerbate them.
- The playfulness of (some) postmodern thinkers.
- James Joyce bridging divisions through literature.
- The annoying perils of academic impostor syndrome.
- How the right demeans its audience by keeping them away from philosophy.
- Why phenomenology makes empirical scientistic materialism sound completely stupid.
- Others exist as an act of love, not an act of science.
- How being open can change people.
In case you missed it, I was on Thaddeus's excellent Unregistered Podcast last year. To hear us talk more, check it out.
Foucault, Foucault, Foucault! Thaddeus talks about him a lot. I note that I'm not a huge fan, but not for the dumb alt-right reasons. Here's a brief intro to Foucault which I think is worthwhile.
Some of the best dissections of discourse and power, which we talk about quite a bit, are found in Conversations with Samuel Delany. If you'd rather read a black queer sci-fi author than a French theorist, this is a good place to go. (Also, Delany and I had a conversation and you can find it here.)
Ward Churchill is a, um, problematic person (there's plenty of info on why in his wiki entry). But as a young academic, before I knew any of that, he was nevertheless important to me. Here's his challenging essay (which became on talk) on 9/11, "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens."
Conner's amazing professors roll call: First mention goes to Jonathan Quick, my James Joyce professor, who was a literary mastermind. He wrote the book Modern Fiction and the Art of Subversion which is high lit crit, but great stuff. I've mentioned Lynn Margulis many times, here's my recent thread on her. Last but by no means least is Don Eric Levine, who taught film theory, helped edit Susan Sontag's On Photography, and inspired "Debaser" by the Pixies.
Thad's professor was Alan Brinkley, prolific text book-writing historian. I don't much about him, but he seems awesome, and you can read about him here.
"To talk about sex, you have to speak in pornography," is a quote I repeat at talks and lectures often. It's me! In case you were wondering. My other quote, which is a sentence in a long project I'm currently writing, is "If you ever want to know how somebody feels about freedom, start talking about sex."
Here's Blue Money by Janet Capron. I'm excited to read it! If you get to it before I do, let me know.
Thaddeus mentions Freud's Civilizations and Its Discontents, and Ludwig von Mises (here's his book, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics). I wish I knew more about Mises, I'm definitely going to read up!
One of my favorite libertarian sex-worker defenders is Elizabeth Nolan Brown. Please follow her on twitter and check out her work!
Thaddeus mentions the problem with the demand of capitalism: Work or die. I did an episode of AEWCH on this, "Work and Die, or, Become the Future Blob" - it's ep 3 of the show, so scroll back on your podcast provider, listen on soundcloud, or you can check it out on youtube here!
Here's Rudolf Steiner on the Essenes as a closed off community, appearing to practice Christianity by closing it off.
To read about how the Frankfurt School intersects with postmodernism, and how Freud and Marx intersect, check out Grand Hotel Abyss by Stuart Jeffries.
I give a little name-drop to Walter Benjamin. He's great. There's an article about the intersection of Benjamin and Adorno here, and it depicts some of their critiques of pop culture (which I often curmudgeonly share).
Susan Sontag wrote a great essay on the danger of beautiful Nazi art. It's called "Fascinating Fascism" and is more prescient than ever.
James Joyce is absolutely brilliant, and the best book about James Joyce, if you want a primer, is The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses. It's also one of my favorite books ever. Joyce is an antidote to our segregation of mind/body, working class/white collar, vulgar/sacred. When you read that, then go read Ulysses.
Follow the amazing Mona Eltahawy on twitter, please, and read her briloiant, powerful book, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs A Sexual Revolution.