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Episode 11: The Fragile Absolute with Doug Lain Part 2

Doug Lain this weeks guest
Doug Lain this weeks guest
Doug Lain is the publisher of Zero Books and the Author of Bash Bash Revolution

 

 

Have you had enough of Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek yet? Never?!? Me Neither, these are important theorists of our time – we may recognize that we are living in the age of the analogue of Nietzsche and Marx and so on and so on although it’s not entirely obvious that that’s the case. Either way, in this episode we travel a little further down the road to knowledge and wisdom. This is part two of a discussion I had back a few weeks ago now with Douglas Lain. Doug is an amazing person and has taken the responsibility of running an imprint on successfully. I really think that you should be reading at the very least, Capital Realism by Mark Fischer and Kill All Normies by Angela Nagle.

Too often echo chambers form on the internet. Podcast’s, blogs, forums, facebook groups can get lumped into a “category.” For Zero Books or for that matter Sam Harris, SRSLY Wrong or Ben Shapiro this is intentional. But for others like School Sucks, the Peace Revolution and even Gnostic Media or Red Ice Radio (at some point in the now distant past for both shows) there is a drive towards wisdom. A curiosity towards understanding the nature of the discourse without having to immediately label it capital L LEFT or capital R RIGHT.

If you were to draw a venn diagram of Zizek and Peterson that juicy middle section would draw the eye. They have a lot more in common than they have in terms of differences. Yet, they are at opposite ends of the spectrum politically. When Doug and I sat down to talk in January of 2018, the heat of the three or four years of polarization in American politics was as hot as it still is in February of 2018 and probably March, April, May of 2018.

I don’t want to be called a Nazi and I don’t want to be labelled as an SJW or a snow flake. I just want to follow the bizarre path the Truth takes through all of this. So again, I want to mention that Doug is a Marxist, Critical Theorist with a Left leaning imprint that publishes Critical Theory. But that is one dimension of who he is, he is a father of four a husband someone who occasional digs up interesting life histories from the obituaries. Politically I am nothing like him and everything like him, always already becoming a Marxist, always already a free market Libertarian.

As complexity continues to domainant the very social interactions that are possible. You hearing my voice now, the ability to tweet at celebrities and cause twitter carnage, the ability for freshman undergraduates to form political coalitions that result in professors losing their jobs…

Any honesty in dialogue is now obscured by the lens of perception. In this episode, part two, as in all the episodes I want to smash together opposing ideas to see what sticks out. Listen to what is being said by each of the voices you are about to hear. Consider their view points philosophically, but most importantly be free to disagree with your heroes. It’s not enough to be able to think for yourself anymore, you have to be able to look your predecessors in the face and say FUCK YOU.

So to that extent FUCK YOU DOUG LAIN. I can’t wait to have you back on the show.

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Episode 10: The Fragile Absolute Part 1 with Doug Lain

Žižek vs Peterson round 1
Žižek vs Peterson round 1
Žižek and Peterson are controversial figures. Doug and I discuss them.

 

Žižek is a Lacanian helgalian or a helgalian Lacanian, I can’t work out which, he is also a continental philosopher, not just because of the work he draws upon but also because of the geographical location from which he was raised and emerged. The Lacanian aspect opens up the Freudian/neo Freudian split which includes everyone from Klein to Rank to even Wilhelm Reich, whilst the Helgalian aspect opens up the Kantian, Nietzschean spectrum which includes Sartre, Derrida Foucault through to Adorno and Fromm. On top of that he is a Marxist, if we can add another dimension to this matrix, but he is radical and violent in his radicalism so perhaps more correctly he is a Stalinist. This is such a diverse and unique mix that brings out such a controversial figure in the media that is somehow at the same time hypnotic. Certainly, he is not a one-dimensional celebrity like a will Smith or John Wayne or even to some extent a Jordan Peterson. So, the question for you Doug, in all this is, is there a difference between Žižek as the philosopher and Žižek as the celebrity. In other words, is something lost in his writings by his very stature in society?

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Episode 09: Game Theory, Set Theory and Trump’s Nuclear Bombs.

Nuclear war is despair personified
Nuclear war is despair personified
Is Trump pushing us closer to Nuclear war?

 

Today we take a sober look at a method for analysis when it comes to complex political strategy. Should Trump’s administration go full bore ahead with War against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? Is Kim Jun Il a wild man or does he have a sound strategy in place? Well this is a podcast, so we cannot answer those questions directly, but through a brief and hopefully entertaining sojourn through Game Theory, we can begin to comprehend the best approach of both sides and especially of ourselves if the conflict escalates any further.

Game Theory has been a breakthrough in economics and mathematics but is versatile. Although it took far too long for John Nash to be awarded the Nobel prize, Russell Crowe’s portrayal of a haunted man goes a long way to highlighting some of the challenges that Nash faced. We can argue for years to come about whether Game Theory was his great original idea or if perhaps his later work has more theoretic huts par. We can’t however, argue over the practical use of Game Theory and its importance in understanding no-cooperative competitive environments.

But Game Theory can only go so far alone, and to fully embrace the power of mathematical models it helps to understand another crazy man, Georg Cantor. His ability to grapple with infinity eventually led to the breakthrough of set theory and that will serve as the second story in today’s episode. Much like game theory, exposure to set theory is useful in developing cognitive mechanisms for contemplating complex concepts.

 

 

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Episode 06: Thinking Laterally about the Sun

STory 01: Lateral Thinking – Story 02: Is the sun hot?

What is the Sun? How does it work? Does it’s temparture change how we interact with it? How can we understanding our own ability to understand in the process of problem solving? There are many perspectives available to us at any one particular time, but the ability to recognise the abundance of potentialities is not always readily apparent. Enter Edward De Bono, author of (among other things) Lateral Thinking. By extending our horizons beyond convential wisdom and engaging our critical and creative minds, suddenly questions such as how a factory on the lake can be downstream from itself, or is the sun actually hot? Go from being patently absurd to being interesting thought experiments.

In Episode 06 we delve deep into the concept of Lateral Thinking and ask one of the weirdest questions we’ve asked to date: “Is the Sun actually hot?”

I explain my absense and detail you on some changes that have taken place. I also tease you as to what is coming down the line.

This is a rather lengthy episode and I am particularly proud of the montage in the second story.  So buckle up for the journey is a strange and multifaceted one, but full of thrills and wonder. Be fear free, maintain an open mind and embrace the weird.

Welcome to Episode 06 and welcome back to the weird!

 

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Tangent General Episode 04

TG Episode 04

TANGENT GENERAL EPISODE 04:

Welcome to the Weird!!

Welcome to Episode 04 of the Tangent General Podcast.
This week’s episode is late, but don’t fear, the wait is worth it. In the two stories presented here today I will guide you through some of the more mysterious and interesting phenomenon that are in the atmosphere.

 

 

 

STORY 01: THE DEVILS TONGUE FLICKS BACKWARD

Is Rock and Roll the Devil’s music? Are there hidden messages in famous rock songs when you play them backwards? What do you make of the strange phenomenon of backmasking? Is it just an auditory illusion or is there something to it.

923 WHAT THE FUCK

What is 923? Is the rapture coming on 23 September 2017? Did the Bethlehem star return on 23 September 2013? Can we even use the Gregorian Calendar to measure time in these events? Did king Harrod die in 4BC or was that a typo? What do you make of the mystery that lies within the strange biblical text of revelations? We will delve deep into this and discover whether there is something to this strange date of 923…

Two stories with quasi-religious overtones this week.

PLEASE SUPPORT TG!

Please leave a review on iTunes so that other’s like your self can find the show.

Visit: www.tangentgeneral.com

Support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=6348445

Thank you for your generous support and feedback so far. This show is growing and your contributions have greatly helped.

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

Do you listen to the Tangent General Podcast? If you do, please comment on this episode and let me know who you are and where you listen to the show. What have you enjoyed in the first four episodes so far? What do you want me to talk about in future episodes? Are you enjoying the format? Where do you listen to the show?

Drop me a line, write a comment or send an email. Let me know what brought you to the TG!

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TG Episode 03 – Life’s a Bitch!

Life is a bitch

Life’s a Bitch and then you die.

Fight Nihilism! Episode three contains one story only. In this story I take you from the depths of despair that is Nihilism and Cynicism through to the motivated hope of a transcendental goal. Without struggle there is no hope, but struggle is arduous and can produce cynical perspectives. Our job is to find the hope that is there and to resist the draw to cynicism.

Support Tangent General!

Visit: www.tangentgeneral.com and support our patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=6348445

Consider writing a review on iTunes and share this podcast with your friends and family.

 

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TANGENT GENERAL – Episode One

Episode One is now out on sound cloud.

In celebration of this being the First official episode of Tangent General – you get access to the full show notes!

Show Notes: (please note, the script and the recording differ slightly)

 

Dreaming of a split self as a solipsist…

[Fade in – Edie Bricker and New Bohemians What I am]

From Yik Yak: Slept for 12 hours last night, woke up today with strange void feeling. Not sure if I am just imagining the world or if I even exists.

Have you ever dreamt you were awake only to wake and realize you were asleep? Have you ever woken and begun your day, gotten out of bed, walked around in your bathroom or kitchen and then suddenly found something was off? A light switch didn’t work or the clock read jibberish… Then with a paralyzing shock, the ceiling comes into view and you become aware that none of your actions actually took place. You had dreamt the entire scene and perhaps worse still there is a lingering sense of annoyance that you now need to retrace your steps. Retrace must be in inverted commas here though, because of course you didn’t actually do those things. At least, you didn’t do them as yourself in this reality. So, who did do those things? Or what reality were they done in?

 

Can you feel that, that’s the worms crawling out of the can I just opened? How do we analyze this situation? We can take the Thomas Sheridan route – wherein he suggests that indeed those things took place, you just weren’t in a reality you recognized during your usual waking hours. Then there’s the Freudian approach which would highlight the manifest as being a projection of anxiety connected to the anticipation of the day ahead.

Then there’s the path I am going to take… I read you a post about dreaming just before and this is a launching off point for a thought experiment. Can we ever determine if we exist independently of others or are we merely a product of our own imagination?

[Clip 02 – The N9nes Trailer.]

Self and Non-self? What is the boundary between our conception of Self and the world we live in? The boundary is the space where Self begins and ends and what is between is what we call identity. We have discussed this boundary before as being the limits of our comprehension of language. Yet what happens when that boundary is hard to define? The schizophrenic idea that the self becomes blended indistinguishable from the non-self. This highlights a fascinating point, that is the boundaries of our awareness can be blurred. What happens when they become blurred though? What happens when they become indistinguishable? Is that the point of believing we are simply imagining the entire world and our existence in it? Is that the point of solipsism?

Is solipsism then merely a desperate grab for Self in a non-self universe? All becomes I, because otherwise I don’t exist! And what happens if you let go of Self; do you cease to exist or do you become enlightened?

[clip 03 – Diet Soap 153 clip a] [Postmodern juke box Dream On] [Sam Harris – What is Self?] [Christopher Hitchens Solopsism]

 

 

 

Hide and Seek in the Modern Forest…

 

[Fade In – The Might Be Giants – Birdhouse in your soul]

Nyctohylophobia is the fear of the forest at night. According to www.fearof.net the fear of dark wooded areas can bring on many symptoms, names a full-blown panic attach that is characterized by the following: 1) Hyperventilation, 2) sweaty hands, 3) Desire to flee, run or hide, or even cry, scream etc. Most Nyctohylophobics try to avoid events such as picnics, camping, hiking etc. owing to their fear.

Have you even been afraid of the dark? Have you even needed to sleep with the light on? For me, it was about a decade ago when I went to see an outdoor showing of Wolfcreek at the Royal Botanical Gardens in the heart of Melbourne. The atmosphere that night was eerie to say the least, the film (an adaptation of the Peter Falconio Murder and the Bungalo State Forest Killings by Ivan Malat) was dark, pitch black oozing from the cavety where the antogonist’s heart should have been beating. We’ll return to the Wolf symbology later, but for a moment, let’s examine what it is to feel fear.

In 2006, Zygmunt Bauman introduced his thesis on Liquid Fear by musing on the nature of fear itself. Wholly intangible, utterly unknown and completely anxiety inducing. He wrote the following on page 3:

The experience of living in Sixteenth-Century Europe – the time and place when and where our modern era was about to be born – was crisply, and famously, summed up by Lucien Febvre in just four words: ‘Fear Always and Everywhere.’ Febvre connect that ubiquitousness of fear to darkness, which started just on the otherside of the hut door and wrapped the whole world beyond the farm fence; in the darkness anything may happen, but there is no telling what will. Darkness is not the cause of the danger, but is the natural habitat of uncertainty – and so of fear.

[Fade in – The Village (2004) Trailer]

The Villages of the sixteenth century Europe were surround by dense, dark and often disturbing wooded areas and forests. A legacy of which has been masterfully carried on in Videogames such as The Legend of Zelda. Within the Village there was a familiarity, a sense of comfort in the surrounding, but just beyond was a clear and devastating physical realm of fear and uncertainty. What lurked in the forest? What existed on the other side of that farm fence?

Was it King Arthur and his knights? What it Robin Hood, perhaps even Shrek?

Did it Matter?

Our ancestors were confronted by this dimension and it pervades our modern conception, at least symbolically speaking, of fear. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the tale of Little Red Riding Hood.

[Fade In – Red Riding Hood (2011) trailer]

Here again we return to the notion of the Wolf. If the forest represents the fear then the Wolf symbolizes the danger. Yet to read too much into this, is to skip 5 grueling centuries of important human history. I will thus argue here, that in the context of Sixteenth Century Europe (Before Australia, Before America, Before the Belgian Congo) the Wolf lurking was a very real, very imminent danger for the villagers. In his essay chapter Walking With Wolves, Kerenza Ghosh writes (p. 123):

In Europe during the Middle Ages, wolves vastly outnumbered any other predator living in close proximity to human beings. As well as attacking farm animals, wolves were known occasionally to spread rabies and kill solo travelers. Their abundance combined with folk superstition led to widespread fear that bordered on hysteria.

This hysteria became brutal and stretched over nearly 600 years. As Ghosh continues (p.124):

As early as the tenth century, King Edgar of England imposed an annual tribute of 3,000 wolves on the King of Wales, and in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the English Kings Richard I, John and Henry III granted land to individuals who endeavored to keep the number of Wolves under control. Throughout the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the hysteria intensified: wolves were persecuted, tortured and brutally slaughtered in Church initiated programs, and the Inquisition condemned hundreds of people to be burnt at the stake as werewolves.

The wolf may have even more literal and figurative important in the United States of America though given that it is the spirit animal for the many of the indigenous population. Further, the wolf is (apocryphally perhaps) intimately connected to our embrace of fire arms. Some say that the gun was what tipped the balance of power and dominance between humans and wolves.

Now today, with the proliferation of guns and the results of 600 years of hysteria, wolves are very much at risk and considerable efforts have been needed to maintain populations. Take for instance the protection measures used in Yellowstone Park (Not to be confused with the brutal environmental policies of the WWF and Agenda 21). The irony that, of course that Canines are descendant from wolves, is not lost here.

If the dog is our best friend representing at a macro level how cooperation is a clear survival strategy then one reason the wolf is so feared may be our projections of the darkness in humanity upon a wild, cunning animal capable of savagery.

Here it is then that we begin to traverse, through the symbolism of the wolf as derived from its actual presence, from the literal to the figurative. So, in a figurative sense the wolf is the danger lurking in the forest – today endangered and literally out gunned. But what is the figurative meaning of the symbol of the forest?

[Fade In –  Blair Witch (2016) trailer]

No doubt, as we have been discussing the forest as a symbol of uncertainty, an embodiment of fear. Yet decoding such a complex symbol is difficult at best. I shall now offer just two interpretations. According to woodlands.co.uk who quote J.C. Cooper:

Entering the dark forest or the Enchanted forest is a threshold symbol: the soul entering the perils of the unknown; the realm of death; the secrets of nature, or the spiritual world in which man (and woman) must penetrate to find meaning.

Penetration is a very masculine verb here so once again there is an acute irony that little red riding hood is the archetype of “man” “penetrating” the forest in search of meaning.

Nonetheless, at one level at least, the forest is a symbol of psychic awareness. Teaming with life, friendly and dangerous, it is unpredictable and largely unknown. However, umich.edu have a slightly different take on what the forest may symbolize. They argue:

The forest has great connection with the symbolism of the mother, it is a place where life thrives. However, it must also be noted that it can be seen as a contrast with the city and the comfort of home. The forest harbours all kinds of dangers and demons, enemies and diseases. The home of outlaws. Since it is outside the cultivation, it is outside reason and intelligence.

To put it crudely then, the forest symbolizes the first impression a young man has gazing at a vagina in the flesh for the very first time. Or really perhaps the pubic hair covering the vagina. During his first sexual experience. Now I don’t know if I completely buy that reading.

If is a very specific reading that applies only to straight men and I wonder if the hairs on the anus provoke the same reaction for gay men. Do women, upon seeing a lover’s vagina for the very first time share this combination of anxiety and excitement that this symbolic reading suggests?

Further to this, another irony emerges when we conceptualize the forest as mother. For at a literal level at least that makes the womb the safe, comfortable village and the world in general the dark uncertain dangerous forest!

Returning briefly then to something I have begun this tale with, Bauman offers a deep insight into why the forest or the woods is still a highly relevant symbol to contemporary society.

I mentioned before that the forest itself was the embodiment of fear. In the Middle Ages this was apriori, a rather obvious statement. Yet today, modern industrial technologically driven societies have largely banished from view the forest as a physical location. Is that a comment about fast food companies tearing down the amazon to breed cattle in large quantities? You decide. Perhaps it is, but more importantly this is a comment that captures the very lack of physical borders in our modern world. Where are you right now? Do you know where that is in relation to where this was recorded?

This lack of boundaries, borders and especially forests is crucial in understanding how fear has manifested itself in today’s world. So I will leave the argument with a question and a statement. The statement is from Bauman and it introduces the concept of derivative fear. The question is this: Where is your forest?

Bauman (2006, pp. 3-4) introduces the concept of derivative fear developed from Langrange’s work on recycled fears. Derivative fear is thus a second-degree paranoia that like direct anxiety influences our behavior and decision making. Bauman elaborates as follows:

Derivative fear is a steady frame of mind that is best described as the sentiment of being susceptible to danger; a feeling of insecurity (the world is full of dangers that may strike at any time with little or no warning) and vulnerability (in the event of the danger striking there will be little chance of escape or successful defense; the assumption of vulnerability to dangers depends more on a lack of trust in the defenses available than on the volume or nature of actual threats). A person who has interiorized such a vision of the world that includes insecurity and vulnerability will routinely, even in the absence of genuine threat, resort to the responses proper to a point-blank meeting with danger; ‘derivative fear’ acquires a self-propelling capacity

[Fade In – Rumsfeld Known Knowns]

 

 

 

 

Dreaming of a split self as a solipsist Hide and Seek in the Modern Forest

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Pilot Episode of Tangent General

 

This is the first offering of a new venture for the Tangent General.

He speaks in the third person, he discusses weird things, he edits like his mad – but that is the beauty of the Tangent general, you can’t hold him down or box him in.

This pilot episode has come under the name – Notes from Oz. The name “Notes from Oz” is specific for shorts completed for the Always Record Team @ www.thesyncbook.com. Future Episodes will come under the name “Tangent General”. This episode also has a count down at the very beginning – but this has been kiboshed as it didn’t really add to the general sense the General was going for.

The pilot show is a method of starting to construct the framework through which season one can begin. There will be continuous work on the show from week to week and the soundscape process will develop over time. Parts of the pilot show were written in 2013, I have been working hard to develop a format for the podcast that I would enjoy since then. The two story format is something that emerged from the notion of holding attention. The human attention span is limited and anything longer than 6 minutes or 16 words is pushing the boundaries of that attention span. As a corollary of the podcast itself, I am working on a series of articles that I will post with some regularity on the website. Over time the general themes of the Tangent General will begin to emerge.

Instead of a studio, I have an “ideas laboratory.” This is a tip of my hat to radiolab, for they have developed a format that I deeply enjoy. There are many influence though that have contributed to the Tangent General’s concepts and likes and dislikes. These shall be explored somewhat implicitly in future shows.

A Quick Run down of the show –

Opening

No introduction

Story 1: Thinking about Language and Talking

Story 2: Blade Running Down the Lost Highway.

And that’s it. So please enjoy, leave a comment and let me know what you think and what you did and didn’t like.

 

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