Tag Archives: philosophy

“Reverb-ing all of human existence.” A conversation with author Maggie Nelson on AEWCH 95!

7 Jan
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Friends,
What a way to start the year, with author, teacher, and intellectual, Maggie Nelson. Maggie Nelson is the author of so many deep and potent books, including The Argonauts, about art and politics and the body, including her partner Harry Dodge’s experiences of gender and culture. She is also the author of two books about her aunt’s murder, The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial and Jane: A Murder, as well an incredible book about violence in art, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning. She was awarded a MacArthur in 2016 and is one of the most important  intellectuals of our time (though perhaps she’d reject that label!). 
This is an extremely wide ranging episode, as I’d expect from a conversation with Maggie, whose books move in and out of hundreds of different thinkers and artists, translating her encounters with them into a new kind of light. I love her writing.
I’m so proud to share this conversation with you.
We talk about (among other things):
  • Passion as an affirmation against materialism
  • Escorting as permission for desire
  • Why frustrated desire might be worse than death
  • The value of losing your self
  • Why a shrug against danger matters
  • Thoreau, Emerson, and being a good artist or a bad prism
  • The shapes and lives of art
  • The uses of occult perspectives
  • The ruse of the anti-social
  • Wittgenstein and the music of the spheres
  • The uses, rituals, and boundaries of seeing violence 
  • Why porn literacy is dumb
  • Bodhisattva vows

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Maggie, you can read some of her poetry here. Here’s a video featuring panel of people (including Maggie) talking about Maggie’s book, The Argonauts. And here is a great conversation between Maggie and her friend (and AEWCH 44 co-guest with Kelly Link!) Jordy Rosenberg in Out Magazine.
• Maggie mentions her partner Harry’s forthcoming book, My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing. You can preorder it now, and it looks great.
• Maggie and I were both provoked and interested in Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era by Paul Preciado (a dream guest for the show!)
• My essay on having sex at rest areas, “Rest Stop Confidential” feels a bit outdated now, but it’s still good, I think.
• John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, is one of the most beautiful books ever written.
EKS• Please look into the work of the amazing critical theorist, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick who Maggie studied with. A good place to start is Epistemology of the Closet or Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire.
• The Rudolf Steiner verse, which you can try reciting inwardly, too, to see how it feels:
More radiant than the Sun
Purer than the snow
Subtler than the ether
Is the Self
The spirit within my heart
I am that Self.
That Self am I.
• The Emerson quote is: “It is not words only that are emblematic; it is things which are emblematic. Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.”
• Helen Keller’s mysticism informed her politics and her work in the world. You can read about in in her book Light In My Darkness.
• Maggie’s quote, “I think I give in the writing, mostly, but also as a teacher, and just by being. I don’t think of it as “giving back” per se. And mentoring doesn’t always mean holding someone’s hand. It’s often just by example… We can be for each other beacons of possibility. Often that’s the most important thing.” set me to thinking so much about being a beacon that I spoke about it at length on Rune Soup 195 with Gordon White. I also talk about speaking poetically on there, as well as on AEWCH 93, with Sara Maria Griffin.
• I haven’t yet read the book Maggie mentioned, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, by Stefano Harney and Frank Moten, but I am going to, now. It sounds so good.
• The dead spiritual teacher I prayed to for guidance after being exposed to violence on the guy’s phone, Daskalos, who I talk about at length with his student (a spiritual teacheDr in his own right), Daniel Joseph, on AEWCH 67.
Narrow Rooms by James Purdy is one of the most extraordinary novels I’ve ever read. Read it.
• A good quote on violence from Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta: “(Violence), by its very nature, to suffocate the best sentiments of man, and to develop all the antisocial qualities, ferocity, hatred, revenge, the spirit of domination and tyranny, contempt of the weak, servility towards the strong.”
• You can look at some of Tala Madani‘s work on the 303 Gallery website, including an excerpt of “The Audience” which Maggie talks about at some length.
• I loved talking with Franco “Bifo” Berardi on AEWCH 83 about the challenge of white noise.
• Maggie brings up the amazing British artist Sara Lucas. You can watch a conversation between the two of them here.
That’s it, folks, but it’s a lot, isn’t it?
Until next time!
XO
CH
TM

“Light Table” by Tala Madani

Do nothing and feel good about it! Philosopher of idleness Brian O’Connor on AEWCH!

5 Nov

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Friends,
Surely self-improvement is not a bad thing, right? Surely we should be doing as much as we can to make ourselves self-actualized beings and get shit done and follow the 7 habits of the 12 secrets of the 4 agreements of highly effective badass people with the secret to living the happiness project of our lives.
Wellllllll…maybe not. 
On this episode of AEWCH, I talk author and philosopher Brian O’Connor about idleness, and how – as Brian says in this episode, not having shitty jobs is not enough. Instead, wanting to be and do better might just be part of the capitalist trap we’re all stuck in. Brian is the author of the excellent and short book Idleness: A Philosophical Essay, a skewering of philosophical arguments against idleness. It’s not a how to be idle book, since that would be pro-self help! Instead, it’s just a good dissolving of all the reasons why we shouldn’t be just kind of lazing around enjoying life.
Since Brian is also a scholar of the great critical theorist Theodor Adorno, we talk a lot about him, too. To supplement our discussion, you should check out Brian’s very very good intro to Adorno called, well, Adorno. Adorno is a key to this discussion about idleness, because he identifies that even in a world without the same wage-labor relationship we have now, we’d still be working our asses off and trapped in the same arrangement we have now.
This episode was a huge challenge to my normal way of thinking, since I am all about self improvement. But it was a friendly challenge, and a powerful one. I learned a lot. Which I guess, um, means I improved.
In this episode:
  • Brian’s struggle with being idle
  • Why Kant got idleness wrong and right
  • Psychoanalysis and ending the perpetual cycle of productivity
  • That time I pissed off my friend when all I wanted to do was compliment her on being so chill
  • Why we lionize our own pain and struggle
  • Whether or not boredom is productive
  • How the military exploits idleness to kill people
  • How mental work and physical labor mirror mental illness and physical pain
  • How Bugs Bunny cartoons should inform our politics
  • Why good jobs are not enough
  • How sex workers can see how their jobs erode work
  • Why everything small thing deserves attention, but that doesn’t mean it’s all good. Also, why object oriented ontology sucks.
  • I nervously present Brian with my theory of phenomenology and occult critical response. But he was very very nice about it.
  • Why libertarians get individualism wrong
PS: Sorry for the breathing into the mic! I think I had Brian’s mic turned up a little too high. Anyway, just imagine him relaxing.
Want to check out the books we talk about and more? Go to the SHOW NOTES.
AH

 

AGAINST EVERYONE WITH CONNER HABIB 62: WHAT IS THE OCCULT? AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

12 Mar

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Friends,

People keep asking me to talk about the occult, so it’s time to define my terms a bit. So for this episode of AEWCH, I wanted to lay out what “the occult” means to me, as well as why it matters. After all, it’s at the foundation of my philosophies, politics, and perspectives, and it’s going to keep coming up.

For me, the occult is a way of being, but why and how? Listen to the episode!

I also offer up a small occult practice you can try out on your own, and talk about the occult development you’ve already undergone, perhaps without knowing it.

As you can imagine with something as elusive as the occult, I only SORT of give a definition. But, good news, I’ll also be offering an introduction to the occult in an upcoming one-off online course, so if this is interesting to you, keep an eye out!

SHOW NOTES are free and available to everyone.

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The State Of Philosophy 2019: Peter Rollins returns to AEWCH!

8 Jan

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Friends!
I’m so excited to welcome my friend – theologian, author, organizer, and Doctor of Philosophy, Peter Rollins – back to the AEWCH to kick off my “The State Of” series of AEWCH in January! For the next few episodes, I’ll be reviewing the state of something in 2019: what’s on the scene now and what to look for in the coming year.

Peter and I talk about what’s going on in the philosophical world and focus a bit on the big movement towards psychoanalytic philosophy (and why it matters!), how identity politics fail us, why Jung doesn’t work, Jordan Peterson as anti-philosopher, why postmodern philosophy is threatening to the right (and left!), the ways people dismiss philosophy from the right (and left!), how there are no philosophical communities, the rise of Peter Sloterdijk, why Judas is like the socks you get on Christmas, and more!

Lots to link to and read in the SHOW NOTES

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Fighting oppression is the most human thing of all: George Ciccariello-Maher on AEWCH + A special thank you episode!

20 Nov

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Friends,

Very happy to have the incisive and forcefully anti-capitalist presence of George Ciccariello-Maher – scholar, activist, writer, Marxist – on AEWCH this week.

We break down what dialectics are, if you’re unfamiliar. Then we talk about the Cuban revolution, why liberal centrists are a total failure, how we can’t expect to resolve every contradiction, why Marxism needs anti-imperialism, how inner struggle translates into action, how a skewed focus on our wounds can stop us from doing what needs to be done in the world, why solidarity requires struggle, Hegel vs the individual (AKA Geo vs Conner), whether or not everything is political, the value of Stormy Daniels, how struggle exists outside of capitalism, and what we can actually DO with all this theory.

SHOW NOTES are free and available here.

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BONUS!

I’ve posted an extra audio-only thank you episode for all my listeners and patrons.

I talk about how the podcast came to be (it was half Abby Martin and half tarot reading, believing it or not), why porn performers make almost no money, and what’s to come with both AEWCH and my patreon!

Here you go:

The occult power of music: Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) on Against Everyone with Conner Habib!

18 Oct
AGAINST EVERYONE with CONNER HABIB 45: BEN CHASY (SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE) or OCCULT VIBRATIONS

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Friends,

One of my favorite musicians, Ben Chasny (AKA Six Organs of Admittance) joins me on AEWCH to discuss the occult properties and relationships of tones, chords, and intervals. We don’t just discuss them, Ben plays them, and we see what happens; in particular we use Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on music (starting at 32:00) and the evolution of consciousness to lead us. Also, on the four occult bodies, feeling the music versus allowing music to grow out of itself, why we need to listen to and through the entire body, Billy Idol and Francoise Hardy, Deleuze and repetition in songs, Ben’s Hexadic system for composing, and why music makes us feel the way it makes us feel.

There are four (yes, four!) musical performances on this episode. Here are the songs and when they happen:

Journey Through Sankuan Pass: 59:20

Pilar: 1:18:10

Elk River: 1:20:30

Word for Two: 1:22:30

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9 Oct

AGAINST EVERYONE WITH CONNER HABIB 44: KELLY LINK & JORDY ROSENBERG

or A VAMPIRE IS A THEORY

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Friends,
This is one of my very favorite conversations – I can’t believe I had the opportunity to speak with MacArthur fellow Kelly Link and brilliant new novelist Jordy Rosenberg! We had the conversation just a few days before Link’s MacArthur Award was announced, and just a few days after Jordy’s book was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Award!
Kelly Link is one of the 2018 MacArthur fellows. She’s the author of four collection of short stories, Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, Pretty Monsters, and Get In Trouble. She’s also the co-editor and co-owner (with her husband Gavin Grant) of Small Beer Press and the literary magazine Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.
Jordy Rosenberg is the author of the absolutely excellent anti-capitlism, anti-authoritarian, love story, Confessions of the Fox. and of the nonfiction book, Critical Enthusiasm: Capital Accumulation and the Transformation of Religious Passion.
How fantastic elements in fiction can fall into reinforcing political power; how capitalism works like magic; how we turn social forces into entities; when characters becomes concepts and vice versa; autotheory; scent, senses, and pleasure in fiction; Mandy and zombies; murder; disassociation as a strategy; the evolution of consciousness through novels; and a whooooole lot of literature.
XO CH