(Pop) Cultural Marxism, Episode 6: Everyone Enjoying Everything All the Time
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 office writings, 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.
The Podcast for Social Research
From Plato to quantum physics, Walter Benjamin to experimental poetry, Frantz Fanon to the history of political radicalism, The Podcast for Social Research is a crucial part of our mission to forge new, organic paths for intellectual work in the twenty-first century: an ongoing, interdisciplinary series featuring members of the Institute, and occasional guests, conversing about a wide variety of intellectual issues, some perennial, some newly pressing. Each episode centers on a different topic and is accompanied by a bibliography of annotations and citations that encourages further curiosity and underscores the conversation’s place in a larger web of cultural conversations.
We enjoy producing the high quality and in-depth content that appears on the podcast, but it also takes time and resources. If you appreciate what you hear, consider supporting the podcast!
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 […]
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 […]
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 61: Narrating Black Life—Joseph Earl Thomas’s “Sink”
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. […]
(Pop) Cultural Marxism, Episode 5: Avatar: Cinema’s Watery Grave
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 […]
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 60: Tangled Legacies—Jünger’s Marble Cliffs
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 […]
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 59: BISR Buddies
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 […]
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 58: The Kafka Diaries
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 […]
Faculty Spotlight: Bruce King
In episode three of Faculty Spotlight, Lauren K. Wolfe and Mark DeLucas interview BISR classicist Bruce King. The three discuss: what brought Bruce to the classics; the charisma of his teachers (and the poverty of their ideas); queering the canon; the trouble with the Odyssey; coming to love Latin (and why he’s keeping Horace to […]
(Pop) Cultural Marxism, Episode 4: 2022 Cultural Year in Review
In episode four of (Pop) Cultural Marxism, Ajay, Isi, and Joseph review the year 2022 in pop culture via the prism of five topics and trends: “open world” (and cinematic universe) fatigue (for example, Assassin’s Creed: Vahalla, Sonic Frontiers); the plague of remakes and cultural nostalgia (Top Gun Maverick, Wednesday, Interview with the Vampire); cultural […]