Episode 3 of the Podcast for Social Research: Introduction and Notations | The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research
Episode 3 of the Podcast for Social Research: Introduction and Notations

This is the third episode of our podcast series, “The Podcast for Social Research.” This week we talk a bit about our first class, a bit more about Kamila Shamsie’s essay “The Storytellers of Empire,” and quite a lot about Evgeny Morozov’s essay “The Death of the Cyberflaneur,” Walter Benjamin, the Internet, subjectivity and a heck of a lot in between.  For more information on the podcast series, please see the Introduction and Notations to Episode 1. As with last time, please see our Notations section after the jump for some references, time stamps and topics. Enjoy!

(You can download here by right-clicking and “save as” or look us up on iTunes)


Part I: 00:00:00 – (Music: “Stillwell Ave.” by El Diablo Robotico)

00:00:27 – Introductions and Discussion of Our First Classes, Cocktail Hours, etc.

‘Scales falling from eyes’ 

00:02:45 – A Short Reflection on Normativity (and Anonymity) 

00:03:45 – On Abortion, Ensoulment, and Empiricism 

00:04:45 – On Our Course Schedule

“Dreams and Hysteria: An Introduction to Freud”
“Bad Mothers”

00:06:55 – On Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Teen Drama

Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter
Henry James
George Eliot.
 Adam Bede
Easy A (2010) dir. Will Gluck
Degrassi Junior High (1987-1989) prod. Kit Hood and Linda Schuyler
Heathers (1988) dir. Michael Lehmann

00:10:30 – On Geography, Literature,Morality, War

Kamila Shamsie. “The Storytellers of Empire”
John Hersey. Hiroshima
John Hersey. A Bell for Adano
Muhammad Zia ul-Haq
Junot Diaz. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Joseph O’Neill. Netherland
John Updike. Terrorist
Johnathan Franzen. The Twenty-Seventh City
Kamila Shamsie. Kartography

00:23:15 – On Consciousness, Identity, Ontology, Representation

Edward Said. Orientalism
Journal of the American Academy of Religion
, Volume 68, Issue 4 “Who Speaks for Hinduism?” (Ed. Note: Sadly, pay-walled.)
Mary Daly 

00:30:55 – Break! (Music “Better off alone” by Sunny Ali and the Kid)

00:31:45 – Part II: On “The Death of the Cyberflaneur”, Benjamin, the Internet, the Arcades and Subjectivity 

Evgeny Morozov. “The Death of the Cyberflaneur”
Walter Benjamin. The Arcades Project (Trans. Eiland and Mclaughlin, Ed. Tiedemann)
“Apps” and the “Walled-Garden”
Geocities, Angelfire, Usenet, Prodigy, Lykos
L. Ron. Hubbard. Dianetics
Walter Benjamin. Selected Writings

00:38:10 – On Benjamin, The Arcades, The Flaneur

Charles Baudelaire. Les Fleurs du Mal
Napoleon III (Louis Napoleon)
On the origin of the name of the band “The Arcade Fire” [Ed. Note: No relation to the Arcades Project] Karl Marx. Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
Walter Benjamin. “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (also in different versions and translations in Illuminations and Selected Writings)
Walter Benjamin. One Way Street
Sandwich Board Man

00:48:40 – On the Desirability of the Flaneur, ‘Cyber-wandering’, the Internet

Susan Buck-Morss. “The Flaneur, the Sandwichman, and the Whore: The Politics of Loitering”
Walter Benjamin. “The Storyteller”
Walter Benjamin. The Arcades Project, Convolute E: “Haussmanization, Barricade Fighting” [Ed. Note: I can’t believe I didn’t bring the direct reference up after this was mentioned.]

01:02:45 – Everyone Agrees!

01:02:57 – On the Dark Side of the Internet, Authoritarianism, Resistance

01:05:15 – On Social Media, Individuality, Art, Crowdsourcing, Subscription, Stultification, Stasis, Nostalgia

Patton Oswald. “Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die”
Satantango (1994) dir. Bela Tarr
War Horse (2011) dir. Steven Spielberg 
Jenny Disky. “Short Cuts”
Tim Shafer

01:19:05 – On Benjamin, Methodology, Technology

Walter Benjamin. The Origins of German Tragic Drama

01:21:30 – On the Death of the Cyberflaneur, Resistance, Subjectivity

Evgeny Morozov. The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom
Net Neutrality 
Malcolm Gladwell. “Small Change”
Malcolm Gladwell. “Does Egypt Need Twitter?”
“You can’t stop the signal” / “You can’t stop the signal” / “You can’t stop the signal”  [Ed. Note: a bit of creative juxtaposition] Martin Heidegger. The Question Concerning Technology
LOLCats and Cats on the Internet

01:29:10 – On Public Intellectual Discourse, Subjectivity, Time

“The Stone”
Derrida had a cat named “Logos”
“The Sandwichman is the last incarnation of the Flaneur.” Benjamin. The Arcades Project, Convolute M. [Ed. Note: Benjamin does write this line but it should be read dialectically with the critique of the flaneur. This line is part of the critique of the idea that the flaneur was ever really as he was depicted.] kottke.org  
Arts and Letters Daily
Andrew Sullivan
Walter Benjamin. “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire”

Technical Details: Recorded on a Samson CO1U into an msi PC running the beta version of the freeware program Audacity 1.3.13 while consuming enjoyable, yet moderate, amounts of Buffalo Trace bourbon, Full Sail Session Lager, Coke Zero, and good old-fashioned New York City tap water.


3 Comments to Episode 3 of the Podcast for Social Research: Introduction and Notations

  1. Ben Parker says:

    I agree with Christine that we can’t just recruit dead thinkers into whatever nowadays position we hold…but it doesn’t seem true, what she says about Walter Benjamin, that we can’t know what he would think about the internet, because we only have his thoughts on particular other forms of media technology (the newspaper, film).

    Ajay is right: what Benjamin would say is “we must approach the internet dialectically, i.e. in terms of its potential functional transformation for the class struggle.”

    This is the argument of the essay “The Author as Producer,” and *however that might look* when applied to the internet, it wouldn’t be strictly negative/condemnatory.

  2. bisrdirector says:

    Christine made an excellent point thought about precisely this question in our conversation, namely that all technologies are not equal. I would add that this is one of the reasons that Critical Theory takes a perhaps even darker turn post WWII. For some the technology of the death camp and for others the technology of the atom bomb represent a moment in which in fact dialectics reach a kind of negative first principle. There is no dialectic of the atom bomb. Perhaps there could be of nuclear technology as a whole. But all of the “rational” reasons one could make for the atom bomb (either the complete embrace of war to end war, or of mutually assured destruction, etc.) represent a perfect example of what Adorno and Horkheimer described in the Dialectic of Enlightenment, Reason overcoming reason (and reasoners.) The irrational victory of Reason.

    Now, I would quibble (as I did in our conversation!) about whether the internet and social media have achieved atom bomb status! On those technologies, I feel personally that we can hold on to some of Benjamin’s messianic possibilities in those cases. But Christine’s corrective was merely to point out that distinctions can (and must) be made.

    I am really glad you brought up “The Author as Producer” as you are right its crucial to this conversation and raises a lot of questions in regard to ‘flanerie’, Benjamin’s normative position on writing and especially his critique of “empathy” (some of the best flaneurs produce “empathetic” writing which actually reflects a kind of extreme narcissism, the potential author (and subsequent reader) say something like, ‘now that i’ve observed, imagined and depicted your suffering and felt bad about it, i don’t actually have to do anything about it.’ the act of of ’empathisizing’ alone is largely meaningless, it just reminds the empathizer (is that even a word) of how good of a person they are…something along those lines.)
    – Ajay

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