The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast

The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast Podcast

The Partially Examined Life is a podcast by some guys who were at one point set on doing philosophy for a living but then thought better of it. Each episode, we pick a short text and chat about it with some balance between insight and flippancy. You don't have to know any philosophy, or even to have read the text we're talking about to (mostly) follow and (hopefully) enjoy the discussion. For links to the texts we discuss and other info, check out www.partiallyexaminedlife.com. We also feature episodes from other podcasts by our hosts to round out your partially examined life, including Pretty Much Pop (prettymuchpop.com, covering all media), Nakedly Examined Music (nakedlyexaminedmusic.com, deconstructing songs), and (sub)Text (lit, film, psychoanalysis). Learn about more network podcasts at partiallyexaminedlife.com.

Ep. 264: Plato's "Timaeus" on Cosmology (Part One)
On the later Platonic dialogue from around 360 BCE. How is nature put together? Plato speaks through the fictional Timaeus (not Socrates) to give a "likely story" about the universe, physics, and biology involving a Craftsman (Demi-Urge) who created everything based on a pre-existing perfect model (the Forms!). Timaeus derives his whole story from the principle that the world is good, and so the Craftsman must necessarily optimize creation, with any imperfections being introduced only by the necessity invol...

PEL Presents PMP#81: Radio vs. Podcasting w/ Jason Bentley
Jason was music director at KRCW, the LA NPR station, is also a DJ with a lot of experienced interviewing musicians, and now hosts a new podcast, The Backstory. He joins Mark and Erica to discuss the creative and business possibilities of podcasting in comparison to radio, what their futures may hold, and his own journey between the two media. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. Sponsors: Get 15% off your personal safety alarm at ShesBirdie.co...


Ep. 263: Lise Van Boxel's "Warspeak" on Strategies for Valuing (Part One)
On Warspeak: Nietzsche's Victory Over Nihilism (2020) with Dylan, Seth, and guests Michael Grenke and Jeff Black. What's a viable counter-ideal to the asceticism that Nietzsche thought is so pervasive? Lise's book works out strategies for re-valuing that emphasize Nietzsche's positive comments about the feminine and the power of words. Part two of this episode is only going to be available to you if you sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. Get it now or listen to a preview. Sponsors: Get 50% off Th...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: Love and Nostalgia in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall”
Alvy Singer is not, he tells us, a depressive character. It’s just that as a child he always worried that the expanding universe would one day break apart; and as an adult that romantic relationships must always fall apart. With Annie Hall, he thought he had finally found something that would last, in part because she could -- like the audiences of Woody Allen -- endure and make sense of his fragmented neuroticism: by finding it, on occasion, funny, or endearing, or even informative. While Annie’s patient, ...

PREVIEW-Ep. 262: Nietzsche on Self-Denial (Part Two)
More on essay three of Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals on the meaning of ascetic ideals. How does asceticism fit into N's overall morality, and how does he use it to critique scientists? To hear this second part, you'll need to go sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support....


PEL Presents PMP#80: Reliving Groundhog Day (and Palm Springs, Russian Doll, etc.)
Happy Groundhog Day! The '93 film has had dozens of imitators spanning various genres in recent years, but the idea goes back more than a century. Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest Ken Gerber touch on popular and obscure examples examples from film and TV to explore the philosophical themes and storytelling techniques.  For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. Sponsor: Get premium wireless service at $15/month from MintMobile.com/PRETTY....

Ep. 262: Nietzsche on Self-Denial (Part One)
On Friedrich Nietzsche's The Genealogy of Morals (1887), "Third essay: what do ascetic ideals mean?" Self-regulation, where we tamp down certain aspects of our personality, is necessary for disciplined action, but it can clearly go too far. Nietzsche uses this concept of asceticism to analyze both geniuses and the masses. It is a chief tool of the will to power, highly dangerous to human flourishing but also unleashing many new capabilities beyond our animal nature. Does this picture of motivation and great...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: Yielding to Suggestion in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”
On the moors of medieval Scotland, three witches hail the nobleman Macbeth as the future king—despite the fact that King Duncan is very much alive, and Macbeth is not in line to the throne. At the suggestion of power, Macbeth’s mind leaps to murder. Later, he fancies he sees a floating dagger leading him to Duncan, and after more bloodshed, believes he is haunted by the ghost of a friend. Is Macbeth merely a victim of divination, goaded by suggestion and his own imagination? To what extent is every ambition...


PEL Presents NEM#140: Larry Keel: Hillbilly Shredder to Singer-Songwriter
Larry has appeared on 20+ albums since co-founding Magraw Gap in 1990 and then becoming bandleader on '97. He's known for his lightning flat picking and has more recently added a good dose of social commentary and fundamental questioning to his songwriting. We discuss "Mars’ Cry" (and listen to "Try") from American Dream (2020), "Crocodile Man" from One (2019), and "Diamond Break" from Backwoods (2009). Intro: The title track to The Sound (1999). For more, see larrykeel.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music...

PEL Presents PMP#79: The Fargo Formula w/ Tamler Sommers (Very Bad Wizards Crossover)
On the darkly comic '96 film and the 4-season crime show. Mark, Erica, Brian, and Tamler from VBW consider its style, "tundra western" setting, "Minnesota nice", gender issues, stunt casting, absurdism, and more. Yes, there are spoilers, but it barely matters. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. Sponsor: Visit amazon.com/prettyRX for free two-day prescription deliveries (and save money when not using insurance)....

PREVIEW-Ep. 261: Derek Parfit on Personal Identity (Part Two)
More on Parfit's Reasons and Persons (1984), ch. 10-13. In this preview, we consider how Parfit deals with Bernard Williams' materialist thought experiment to show that the whole concept of personal identity doesn't make sense. Also, split brains! To hear this second part, you'll need to go sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support....


Ep. 261: Derek Parfit on Personal Identity (Part One)
On Reasons and Persons (1984), ch. 10-13. What makes a person persist over time? After using various sci-fi examples to test the Lockean (personhood=psychological continuity), physicalist (same brain=same person), and Cartesian (same soul=same person) theories, Parfit concludes that the whole notion is incoherent and isn't actually what we care about when wondering "will I die?" Part two of this episode is only going to be available to you if you sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. Get it now or l...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: Clever Hopes in W. H. Auden’s “September 1, 1939”
W. H. Auden hated this poem. He called it the most dishonest he had ever written, and eventually had it excluded from collections of his poetry. And yet it quickly became one of his most popular poems. And after the attacks of September 11, it was published in several national newspapers and widely discussed. This might seem to be a strange result, given that the poem is not a call-to-arms, but an invitation to self-critique. What explains the enduring appeal of Auden’s September 1, 1939? Was he right to re...

PEL Presents NEM#139: Don Rauf's Life In A Blender
Don started the NY-based Life in a Blender in the late 80s and has put out ten albums of tunes with off-kilter lyrics and increasingly elaborate arrangements. We discuss "The Ocean is a Black and Rolling Tongue" (and listen to "Soul Deliverer") from Satsuma (2020), "Falmouth" from We Already Have Birds That Sing (2014), and "Chicken Dance" from Two Legs Bad (1997). Intro: "Mounds of Flesh" from Welcome to the Jelly Days (1988). For more see lifeinablender.net. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Face...


PEL Presents PMP#77: The Big Screen Experience
What's the post-COVID future of movie theaters? Mark, Erica, and Brian compare past moviegoing habits and reflect on the big-screen vs. small-screen decision. How would we optimize the theatrical experience? We consider films affected like Tenet, Soul, etc. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. Sponsors: Visit ExpressVPN.com/pretty to get three months free....

PREVIEW-Ep. 260: Locke on Moral Psychology
One last take on John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689), covering Book II, ch. 21 and 28. What makes a moral claim true? Do we have free will? What makes us choose the good, or not? In this coda to our long treatment of Locke's opus, we bring together all he has to say about morality, which is strangely modern yet also just strange. This is but a preview, less than a third of what you'll get in the full discussion by signing up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support....

PEL Presents PMP#76: Wonder Women (84 and Others) w/ Vi Burlew
Returning heroine Vi (now a grad student in comics history) joins Erica, Mark, and Brian to put the new film in context, bringing in the weird ideas of WW's creator as shown in the 2017 biopic Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Do the new film's themes actually make sense? We talk political ideals, truth, love, feminist utopias, '70s TV, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. Sponsor: For a free audiobook and 30 days free, visit Au...


Ep. 259: Locke Clarifies Misleading Complex Ideas (Part Two)
More on Book II (ch. 22-33) of John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding.  On relations, then personal identity, with more on substances (spiritual and material), the various ways in which ideas can go wrong, and how mental association can entrench irrationality that disrupts clear thinking. Listen to part one first, or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition, which will also get you the end-of-year PEL Nightcap that you'll hear a preview for here. Please support PEL! Sponsors: Visit HelixSleep....

PEL Presents (sub)Text: The “Human Position” of Suffering in W.H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts”
As war loomed in Europe, the poet W.H. Auden left Britain for the United States. One of the poems he wrote just before leaving is about the nature of human suffering—or as Auden puts it, the “human position” of suffering: for the most part, it happens invisibly, and the procession of ordinary life leaves it unacknowledged. Yet, the representation and transcendence of suffering are tasks important both to religion and the arts. Is suffering’s “human position” something that can be redeemed? Wes and Erin disc...

Ep. 259: Locke Clarifies Misleading Complex Ideas (Part One)
On Book II (ch. 22-33) of John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689). Simple ideas get complex quickly when you put them into words, and can give rise to various philosophical problems that are either easily cleared up when you figure out how the complex idea is built out of simple ideas, or if they can't be so broken down, then we really don't know what we're talking about and should just shut up. Don't wait for part two, get the ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsors: Visi...


Mark Lint's PEL Network Holiday Party 2020: Merry Chatting and Songs
Join the office party, where Mark holds mini conversations on philosophy, art, and life with all PEL and PMP co-hosts, plus Ken Stringfellow, Jenny Hansen, and the members of Mark Lint's Dry Folk, whose 12 tunes are presented in succession with nary a partridge in sight. Will these 12 spirits turn you (or Mark) from errant ways? BYOB!...

PEL Presents PMP#74: Micro Comedy w/ Tiffany Topol
What has the Internet done to comedy? Tiffany, purveyor of social media bits and song parodies, joins Erica, Mark, and Brian to think about new ways of making and consuming comedy over TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media. Maybe given current events we should describe the goal as something other than "going viral"? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. Sponsors: Get 10% off a month's counseling at BetterHelp.com/Pretty...

REISSUE-PEL Ep 37: Locke on Political Power (w/ New Intro)
A 2011 episode on John Locke's Second Treatise on Government (1690), with a fresh introduction connecting it to the present. What makes political power legitimate? Like Hobbes, Locke thought that things are less than ideal without a society to keep people from killing us, so we implicitly sign a social contract giving power to the state. But on Locke's view, nature’s not as bad, so the state is given less power. But how much less? And what does Locke think about tea partying, kids, women, acorns, foreign tr...


PEL Presents PMP#73: Beloved Bad Films w/ Manos' Jackey Neyman Jones
What makes a film transcendently bad? A cult classic, as opposed to merely unwatchable? Child Jackey appeared in 1966's Manos: The Hands of Fate, and she joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss growing up in community theater, being reintroduced to her family movie by MST3K, and the over-confident auteur.  We also touch on Birdemic, Catwoman, The Happening, and Battleship, as well as films about the making of bad films: The Disaster Artist, Best Worst Movie, Ed Wood, and Dolemite Is My Name.  For more, visi...

Ep. 258: Locke on Acquiring Simple Ideas (Part Two)
Continuing on Book II (through ch. 20) of John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689). How do we acquire our ideas of pain and pleasure, duration and motion? We talk primary (shape, size) and secondary (color, sound) qualities, the former of which are supposed to be actually in objects, and the latter just in our mind. Plus, is Locke really an atomist about experience? Start with part one or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition. Sponsors: Organize your Inbox: Save $25 sanebox.com/pel. See ...

PEL Presents NEM#138: Markus Reuter: Composer or Tap Guitar Hero?
Markus began composing as a teen, "found his tribe" in getting connected to King Crimson's Robert Fripp in the early 90s, and has put out 40+ solo and collaborative albums of experimental music since 2000, including work in Stick Men with Crimson's Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto. We discuss "Swoonage" from Truce (2020), "Boon" by Marcus Reuter and the Matangi Quartet from String Quartet No. 1 'Heartland' (2019), and "11-11" by Tuner (Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter) from POLE (2007), and end by listening to...


Ep. 258: Locke on Acquiring Simple Ideas (Part One)
On the first half of Book II of John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689). How do we get our ideas? Simple ideas must come in through perception, but this doesn't just mean the senses; also reflection on our own minds, and this added layer of complexity allows us to bring in memory, concepts, time, and more. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsors: Visit literati.com/life to find your perfect book club. Have your donation matched up to ...

PEL Presents PMP#72: Comic Book Supremacy w/ Fred Van Lente
Fred writes for Marvel and his own Evil Twin Comics, in both non-fiction (e.g. Comic Book History of Animation, Action Philosophers) and stories (e.g. Marvel Zombies, Cowboys vs. Aliens). He even wrote a play about Jack Kirby. He joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss playing in the Marvel sandbox, the role of humor, comic-to-movie transitions, and more. Learn more at fredvanlente.com. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. Sponsor: Get 10% off ...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: Against Specialization in Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler"
Hedda Gabler is not a fan of specialization: not in the professor she has married, and his esoteric scholarly interests; not in domesticity, and the specialized affections required by marriage and motherhood; not in any lover’s infatuated specialization in her; and perhaps not in the form of specialization arguably required by life itself, with its finite and confining possibilities. Is there any way, short of suicide, to transcend such limits? Wes & Erin discuss Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. Subscribe: (sub)Text w...


Ep. 257: Locke Against Innate Ideas (Part Two)
Continuing on Book I of John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689). We consider Locke's arguments that since there are no universally agreed upon principles, therefore there are no beliefs that we're all born with, or that we all (without the need for experience) immediately recognize as true as soon as we gain the use of reason or are otherwise equipped to understand them. Start with part one. Hear the whole discussion with no ads and get access to our latest Nightcap: Join us at partiallyex...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: Order and Innocence in Melville's "Billy Budd"
Bill Budd is a beautiful man. Not just good looking, but exquisitely good natured, something that costs him no effort and has required no instruction. And yet it is ultimately his beautiful soul and good nature that get Billy killed. Wes & Erin discuss Herman Melville’s final and unfinished work of fiction, and whether a good heart and good intentions are more important than obedience to authority and adherence to civilized norms. Subscribe: (sub)Text won’t always be in the PEL feed, so please subscribe to ...

PEL Presents PMP#70: RISKy Confessional Comedy w/ Kevin Allison
Kevin (The State, RISK!) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about his telling/curation/coaching of confessional stories. Do they have to be funny? True? How does this form relate to essays a la David Sedaris? How personal is too personal (or indicative of PTSD or something)? What's the role of craft in this most populist endeavor? Listen at risk-show.com. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....


Ep. 257: Locke Against Innate Ideas (Part One)
On Book I of John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689). How do we know things? Locke thought all knowledge comes from experience, and this might seem uncontroversial, but what are the alternatives? We consider the idea that there are some ideas we're just born with and don't need to learn. But what's an "idea," and how is it different from a principle? Clearly we have instincts ("knowhow") but is that knowledge? We consider occurrent vs. dispositional nativism, the role of reason, and what Lo...

PEL Presents NEM#136: Mark Bingham: To and In New Orleans
Mark got signed as a teen in 1966, left to play theatrical prog jazz in Indiana during college, had a spell in a "no wave" band in New York, and finally settled down in the '80s as an in demand producer and collaborator in New Orleans, working with groups like R.E.M., Flat Duo Jets, and John Scofield. He's only finished two solo albums but has a ton of archive recordings being released soon, and now plays guitar in a cajun band. We discuss "Pissoffgod.com" from Psalms of Vengeance (2009), "Ash Wednesday and...

PEL Presents PMP#69: Story Songs w/ Rod Picott
Plenty of songs try to tell stories, but do the pop song format and narrative really mix? Songwriter and short story author Rod Picott joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about classics by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, formative nightmares like "Leader of the Pack" and "The Pina Colada Song, borderline cases like "Bohemian Rhapsody," and more. How does this form relate to theater, videos, and commercials? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. Spon...


PREVIEW-Ep. 256: Kropotkin's Anarchist Communism (Part Two)
Mark, Wes, Dylan, Seth get into specific points and textual passages from Peter Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread (1892). In this preview, we start by considering that Kropotkin is right that mutual aid is a natural tendency and so communism is very much feasible, why hasn't it happened already? In the full discussion, we discuss K's version of the "you didn't build that" argument, plus guaranteed minimum income, identity and criminal justice in a stateless world, religion, and more. To hear this second par...

Ep. 256: Kropotkin's Anarchist Communism (Part One)
On Peter Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread (1892). If we want an egalitarian society, do we need the state to accomplish this? Kropotkin says no, that in fact the state inevitably serves the interests of the few, and that if we got rid of it, our natural tendencies to cooperate would allow us through voluntary organizations to keep everyone not only fed and clothed, but able to vigorously pursue callings like science and art. Part two of this episode is only going to be available to you if you sign up at pa...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: The American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby"
We all know this story, in part because it captures a period that will always have a special place in the American imagination. Prosperous and boozy, the Jazz Age seemed like one great party, held to celebrate the end of a terrible world war; the liberating promise of newly ubiquitous technologies, including electricity, the telephone, and the automobile; and a certain image of success as carefree, inexhaustibly gratifying, and available to all who try. And yet perhaps this fantasy is rooted in disillusionm...


PEL Presents NEM#135: Peter Milton Walsh (The Apartments): No Assembly-Line Recording
Peter started The Apartments in Australia in the late '70s and has been its only consistent member. After releasing his first full album in 1985 and being featured on a John Hughes soundtrack, he released four lush, moody albums in the '90s but then retired when family tragedy struck until the late '00s; he's had four releases since 2011. We discuss "What's Beauty to Do?" and "Where You Used to Be" from In And Out Of The Light (2020), then "Sunset Hotel" from Fete Foraine (1996), and finally listen to "Look...

PEL Presents PMP#67: Borat Pod Show! Very Nice! With Aaron David Gleason
Mark, Erica, Brian, and musician/actor Aaron consider the comedy of Sacha Baron Cohen, especially Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, where his co-stars are unwitting dupes and embarrassment is served in large helpings. We talk through the ethical and political issues, why Cohen's targets act how they do, and what this is as humor.  For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....

PREVIEW-Ep. 255: Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" (Part Two)
If you'd like to hear more of the discussion on Sun Tzu that we started in part one, you'll need to go sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. Here are some exchanges from part two, where we continue with Brian Wilson working through the text, considering Sunzi's strategies and assumptions, and how these might (or might not) apply to competing in the business world....


PEL Presents PMP#66: Scary Movies w/ Nathan Shelton
What scares us? Why do people enjoy being scared by films? Are there good horror movies that aren't scary and scary films that are still bad? Mark, Erica, Brian are joined by actor/special effects-guy Nathan Shelton (who runs the Frightmare Theatre Podcast) to present our picks for what scared us as kids, and we consider Halloween, Blair Witch, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Stephen King, and the new wave of art horror. Plus body horror, what scares women, tropophobia, and horror movie music. For...

Ep. 255: Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" (Part One)
On the Chinese military treatise from around the 5th century BCE. How does a philosopher wage war? The best kind of war can be won without fighting. The general qua Taoist sage never moves until circumstances are optimal. We talk virtue ethics and practical strategy; how well can Sunzi's advice be applied to non-martial pursuits? With guest Brian Wilson. Part two of this episode is only going to be available to you if you sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. Get it now or listen to a preview. Spons...

PEL Presents NEM#134: Laraaji’s Free Association Meditations
Jazz multi-instrumentalist Edward Larry Gordon Jr. became Laraaji around the same time he started releasing meditative zither music in the late 70s and was then discovered by Brian Eno, who produced our intro, "The Dance No. 1" from  Ambient 3: Day of Radiance (1980). Laraaji has since had around 40 releases of largely improvised music. We discuss "Hold on to the Vision" (and hear "Shenandoah") from Sun Piano (2020), the single edit of "Introspection" from Bring On the Sun (2017), and "All of a Sudden," a 1...


PEL Presents PMP#65: Cosmic Satire w/ "Bill & Ted" Writer Chris Matheson
Chris Matheson has written many comic movies and has converted religious texts into funnier books, most recently with The Buddha's Story. Mark, Erica, and Brian talk with him about what unifies these projects: Why the big ideas of religion and sci-fi are begging to be made fun of. How does humor relate to fear? Would a society based on Bill and Ted (or Keanu Reeves) actually be desirable? How bad is the evident literal absurdity of many religious texts? Plus, the B & T joke that has not aged well, and much ...

PREVIEW-Ep. 254: Michael Sandel Against Meritocracy (Part Two)
Mark, Wes, Dylan and Seth continue the discussion on The Tyranny of Merit to talk further about how social values can and do change, and whether these changes can be engineered in the way that Sandel seems to want. We interviewed Michael Sandel in part one. To hear this second part, you'll need to go sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. This preview includes a couple of exchanges from near the beginning to give you a flavor of what to expect....

Ep. 254: Michael Sandel Interview: Against Meritocracy (Part One)
On The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good? (2020). Do people get the wealth and status they deserve? And if they did, would that be good? Michael critiques the meritocracy: It's not actually fair, leaves most people feeling humiliated, and makes those on the top arrogant and disconnected. The commitment to meritocracy is shared by both political parties and helps explain our current dysfunction. Part two of this episode is only going to be available to you if you sign up at partiallyexamined...


PEL Presents NEM#133: Jon Hassell (and Rick Cox): Fourth World Improvisation
Jon started playing trumpet with composers like Terry Riley and La Monte Young in the late 60s, has since guested with Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, Ani DiFranco, Ry Cooder, et al, and has released 18 solo albums since 1977. We discuss "Unknown Wish" from Seeing Through Sound: Pentimento Volume 2 (2020), "Manga Scene" from Listening to Pictures: Pentimento Volume 1 (2018), "Toucan Ocean" from Vernal Equinox (1977), and listen to the title track from Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Stree...

PEL Presents PMP#63: Superhero Ethics (and The Boys) w/ Travis Smith
Travis joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss our seemingly endless appetite for super-hero stories. His new book matches up heroes like Batman vs. Spider-Man for ethical comparison: What philosophy should govern the way we try to do good in the world? Also, The Boys, which assumes in the tradition of Watchmen that folks who wield that kind of power probably have something seriously wrong with them. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....

PREVIEW-Ep. 253: Leibniz on the Problem of Evil (Part Two)
If you'd like to hear more of the discussion on Gottfried Leibniz’s Theodicy that we started in part one, you'll need to go sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. This is just a few tantalizing snippets from part two, wherein we talk about the metaphysical status of evil and about the multi-layered character of will....


PEL Presents (sub)Text: Worrying about the Future in Mike Nichols' “The Graduate”
Benjamin Braddock is a little worried about his future. He’s a recent college graduate who moves back in with his upper-middle-class parents and feels smothered by their vapid, materialistic lifestyle. But he begins an affair with a woman from his parents’ circle… And then he falls in love with her daughter. Like Benjamin, we wonder what the future can and should hold for us. Can it be free of the negative trappings of our society and culture, of our parents’ influence, of the past? Wes and Erin discuss Mik...

Ep. 253: Leibniz on the Problem of Evil (Part One)
On Gottfried Leibniz’s Theodicy (1710). Why does God allow so many bad things to happen? Leibniz thought that by the definition of God, whatever He created must be the best of all possible worlds, and his theodicy presents numerous arguments to try to make that less counter-intuitive given how less-than-perfect the world seems to us. Part two of this episode is only going to be available to you if you sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. Get it now or listen to a preview. Sponsor: Open a real estat...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: Slouching Towards Bethlehem in W.B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming”: Part 2
Wes and Erin continue their discussion of W.B. Yeats’ "The Second Coming." In Part 1, they analyzed the first stanza of the poem, in particular Yeats' use of "gyre"; the meaning of the phrases "things fall apart" and "the center cannot hold"; and the conflict between aristocratic and revolutionary values. In Part 2, they discuss -- with a little help from Nietzsche -- the anti-redemption of the second stanza, and the meaning of Yeats' vision of a "rough beast" slouching towards Bethlehem.  Subscribe: (sub)T...


PEL Presents NEM#132: Chris Frantz Looks Back on Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club
On the publication of his memoir, Remain in Love, Chris and your host Mark Linsenmayer discuss "Psycho Killer" and "Warning Signs" by Talking Heads from Talking Heads '77 and More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978), plus "Bamboo Town" and "Who Feelin' It?" by Tom Tom Club from Close to the Bone (1983) and The Good the Bad and the Funky (2000). We conclude with the title track to Tom Tom Club's Downtown Rockers (2012). Plus, Tina Weymouth jumps in at one point! For more see tomtomclub.com. Hear more Naked...

PEL Presents Pretty Much Pop #61: Philosophy of Photography w/ Amir Zaki
Amir the photographic artist and prof (see amirzaki.net) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to consider decision making in picture taking, how our purposes for photography have changed with the advent of new technologies, iconic images, witnessing vs. intervening, capturing the particular vs. the universal, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....

PEL Special: Nightcap Late September 2020
We're releasing JUST THIS ONE Nightcap to the wider public so induce you all to go support us and so gain the ability to hear these free-wheeling, feeling-sharing, email-reading fiestas between every regular episode. This time we gripe about Habermas and reflect on what secondary sources we use. We consider whether to have an episode on anarchism and if we should ever have guests on who are hard-core adherents of the philosophy we're discussing. We reveal which reading we've covered has pleasantly surprised...


PREVIEW-Ep. 252: Habermas on Communication as Sociality (Part Two)
If you'd like to hear more of the discussion on Jürgen Habermas' "Actions, Speech Acts, Linguistically Mediated Interactions, and the Lifeworld" (1998) that we started in part one, you'll need to go sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. We're just sharing a few minutes of part two here to get you all hot and bothered. You're welcome!...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: Things Fall Apart in W.B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming”: Part 1
In 1919, the world seemed to have descended into anarchy. World War I had killed millions and profoundly altered the international order. Four empires, along with their aristocracies, had disintegrated. Russia was in a state of civil war, and Ireland was on the verge of its own. It’s these events that helped inspire William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming,” which famously tells us that “things fall apart,” that “the center cannot hold,” and that a new historical epoch is upon us. Just what rough beast...

PEL Presents PMP#60: Manga 101 w/ Deborah Shamoon
Mark, Erica and Brian (all manga noobs) are joined by Japanese Studies prof. Deborah Shamoon to talk about barriers for Americans to appreciate manga, different manga types (Deborah works on shojo manga, i.e. for girls), Osamu Tezuka (the "god of comics" who created Astro Boy et al), classic vs. new manga, gender portrayals, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....


Ep. 252: Habermas on Communication as Sociality (Part One)
On Jürgen Habermas' "Actions, Speech Acts, Linguistically Mediated Interactions, and the Lifeworld" (1998), with guest John Foster. What's the relation between individuals and society? Habermas says that language has ethics built right into it: I'm trying to get you to agree with me, to engage in a cooperative enterprise of mutual understanding. Part two of this episode is only going to be available to you if you sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. Get it now or listen to a preview. Sponsors: Vis...

PEL Presents PMP#59: David Lynch's Popular Surrealism
Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest Mike Wilson discuss the director's films from Eraserhead to Inland Empire plus Twin Peaks and his recent short films. We get into the appeal and hallmarks of his mainstays--Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway, and Mulholland Drive--and also consider outliers like Dune, The Elephant Man, and The Straight Story. How many of these films actually make sense, and is failing to do so bad? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prett...

Ep. 251: Simone Weil's Ideal Society
On "Theoretical Picture of a Free Society" (1934). What's the ideal living situation for us all, given the peculiarities of human nature? Weil describes fulfillment as coming from being able to picture goals and plans and knowingly put them into effect, so social groups need to maximize that power by being small and cooperative. End song: "Libreville" by Bill Bruford, as interviewed for Nakedly Examined Music #25. Get this episode ad-free with a PEL Citizenship, which also gets you access to our PEL Nightca...


PEL Presents NEM#130: Mark Farner (ex Grand Funk Railroad) Back from the Dead
Mark led Grand Funk Railroad through 13 albums in the 70s and early 80s and has had around eight solo releases. We discuss "Nadean" from For the People (2006), "Not Yet" from Some Kind of Wonderful (1991), and the title track of Born to Die by Grand Funk Railroad. End song: "Take You Out." Intro: "I'm Your Captain" from GFR's Closer to Home (1979). For more see markfarner.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon....

Ep. 250: Simone Weil on Human Needs (Part Three)
Concluding on "The Needs of the Soul" from The Need for Roots (1943). This time we cover punishment, security, risk, private property, collective property, freedom of opinion, and truth. Start with part one or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Supporting PEL will also get you access to our PEL Nightcaps End song: "Even Though the Darkest Clouds" by liar, flower. Mark interviewed KatieJane Garside on Nakedly Examined Music #127. Sponsors: Visit TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/PEL for a free trial of The Great C...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: Truth as Beauty in Keats’ Ode on a "Grecian Urn"
The poet John Keats is famous for the concept of “negative capability,” his description of the ability to tolerate the world’s uncertainty without resorting to easy answers. Literary minds in particular should be more attuned to beauty than facts and reason. In fact, truth in the highest sense is the same thing as beauty, he tells us at the end of his poem Ode on a Grecian Urn. What does that mean? Is it true? Wes and Erin discuss these questions, and how it is that aesthetic judgments can communicate a kin...


PEL Presents PMP#58: "TAYLOR SWIFT RULES!" (Conversation with a Swiftie)
Prompted by the release of new album Folklore and the 2020 documentary Miss Americana, Mark, Erica, and Brian speak with Amber Padgett about her love of Taylor, ranking the albums, why the hate, weird levels of fan engagement, double standards for female artists, and more. Designed to interest fans, haters, and folks curious as to what all the fuss is about. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....

Ep. 250: Simone Weil on Human Needs (Part Two)
Continuing on "The Needs of the Soul" from The Need for Roots (1943). We got started in part one with our need for order, and in this part we add liberty, obedience, responsibility, equality, hierarchy, and honor. We'll conclude with part 3, covering freedom of speech, punishment and more, but you needn't wait: Get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. and you'll also get our Nightcap recordings. Sponsor: Open a real estate portfolio at fundrise.com/PEL and get your first 90 days of advisory fees waived....

PEL Presents PMP#57: Back to the Damn Arena - The Hunger Games Prequel
Remember when The Hunger Games was everywhere? Suzanne Collins returns to Just War Theory lessons with the prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Mark, Erica, and Brian review the new book and look back on the YA novel/film franchise. Does the work critique yet glorify violence at the same time? Will the film version of the new novel be our next Phantom Menace? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....


Ep. 250: Simone Weil on Human Needs (Part One)
On "The Needs of the Soul" from The Need for Roots (1943) and "Meditation on Obedience and Liberty" (1937). What are our needs that should then drive what kind of society would be best for us? Weil says we need liberty yet obedience, equality yet hierarchy, security yet risk... and none of these words mean quite what you'd think. And to start off, why do the many obey the few? Don't wait for Part Two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Support for this discussion came from listen...

PEL Presents PMP#56: Black + Nerd = BLERD w/ Anthony LeBlanc
The Interim Executive Producer of The Second City joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss the scope of black nerd-dom: what nerdy properties provide to those who feel "othered," using sci-fi to talk about race, Black Panther, afrofuturism, black anime fans, Star Trek, Key & Peele, Get Out vs. Us, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. Sponsor: Get 15% off earbuds at BuyRaycon.com/Pretty w/ offer code "Pretty15."...

PEL Presents NEM#128: Roger Joseph Manning Jr.'s Crazy Fun with Arrangements
Roger rose to fame as keyboardist/songwriter for Jellyfish in the early '90s, then formed Imperial Drag, The Moog Cookbook, TV Eyes, backed Beck, and finally released two albums under his own name starting in 2006. He's recently released a solo EP and one with The Likerish Quartet that reunites him with some other members of Jellyfish. We discuss "Lighthouse Spaceship" by The Lickerish Quartet from Threesome, Vol. 1 (2020), "The Turnstile at Heaven’s Gate" from Catnip Dynamite (2008), "Time to Time" by Mali...


PEL Presents (sub)Text: Love and Wit in Shakespeare’s "Much Ado About Nothing"
At the center of every courting ritual, there’s a great unknown. How do we know when we’ve met someone we can love? How do we know the other person is actually who they seem to be? In the beginning, all we have to go on is surface appearances, which amount to a kind of hearsay. The question is how to get beyond them. Wes and Erin discuss Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which seems to suggest that witty banter is more than just good fun, and has an important role to play in getting to know others. The ...

Ep. 249: Dewey on Education and Thought (Part Two)
Continuing on John Dewey's Democracy and Education (1916) ch. 1, 2, 4, and 24 with guest Jonathan Haber. How is education different than mere conditioning, and how does it relate to habits and growth? We discuss how much of what Dewey recommends lines up with liberal education and multiculturalism. Also, can education change taste? Start with part one, or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition, which will also get you our PEL Nightcaps. End song: "Too Far to Turn Around" by The Ides of March; Jim Peterik app...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: Mastery and Repetition in "Groundhog Day"
When egotistical weatherman Phil Connors gets trapped in a time loop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, he gets drunk, steals money, manipulates women, binges on breakfast food, plays God… and finally grows up. The story charts Phil’s development over the course of thousands of repeated February 2nds. Along the way, it raises questions about our own capacity for growth. How do we go about improving ourselves? How can we escape boredom? Achieve fulfillment? Wes and Erin discuss the 1993 film Groundhog Day. Subsc...


PEL Presents PMP#55: Food as Pop w/ Thi Nguyen
Mark, Erica, and Brian are joined by Utah philosophy prof and former food writer C. Thi Nguyen to talk food as art, foodies, elitism, food TV, cooking vs. eating, and how analyzing food is like analyzing games. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....

PEL Presents NEM#126: Jim Peterik Eyes Much More Than the Tiger
Jim has released 30+ albums since 1964 with Ides of March, Survivor, Pride of Lions, et al.  We discuss his new solo single "Empty Arena" and two Ides of March tunes, "Friends Like You" from Play On (2019) feat. Mindi Abair and "L.A. Goodbye," recorded in 1992 but originally from Common Bond (1971). End song: "The Spirit of Chicago," a 1992 recording released on Ideology: Version 11.0. Intro: His biggest hits, the title tracks of Vehicle (1970) and The Eye of the Tiger (1983). For more, see jimpeterik.com. ...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: Expediency and Intimacy in Billy Wilder’s "The Apartment"
You know, it’s that old story of boy meets girl … girl is dating boy’s married boss … girl tries to commit suicide … boy saves girl’s life …. Okay, that sounds pretty dark. But somehow it’s the basis for a classic romantic comedy, Billy Wilder’s 1960 film, The Apartment. The film raises the question of how we distinguish authentic relationships from relationships of utility and convenience. What cultivates human intimacy? What compromises it? When are we just using people? Wes and Erin discuss. Cover art is...


PEL Presents NEM#127: KatieJane Garside Is an Impulse of Chance
KatieJane gained fame fronting British grunge band Daisy Chainsaw, left after their first full album but resumed the project under the name Queenadreena for four albums in the '00s, then partnered with Chris Whittingham in 2007 to live on a boat and play as the stripped-down Ruby Throat for four albums. That band has now become loud again and been re-christened Liar, Flower. We discuss "My Brain is Lit Like an Airport" and hear the title track from Geiger Counter (2020), then look back to "Hu'u" by Ruby Thr...

Ep. 249: Dewey on Education and Thought (Part One)
On John Dewey's How We Think (1910) ch. 1 and Democracy and Education (1916) ch. 1, 2, 4, and 24. What model of human nature should serve as the basis for education policy? Dewey sees learning as growth, and the point of education as to enable indefinite growth. With guest Jonathan Haber. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsors: Visit SJC.edu to learn about St. John's College. Check out the Being Reasonable podcast....

PEL Presents PMP#54: The Genius(?) of Rick and Morty
Mark, Erica, and Brian address critically acclaimed Adult Swim show. What kind of humor is it? Can we take the sci-fi and family drama elements seriously? How smart are the show and its fans? Is Rick a super hero, or Dr. Who? What will this serialized sit-com look like in longevity? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....


Ep. 248: Racism and Policing (Al-Saji, Merleau-Ponty, et al) (Part Two)
Continuing on Alia Al-Saji’s “A Phenomenology of Hesitation” (2014) and other things with guest Phil Hopkins.  Can we restructure our (and the police's) reactions and live with each other? We further explore the psychology of habit and Al-Saji's notion of hesitation. How does it compare to other types of heistation recommended by philosophies and religions? Start with part one, or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Includes a preview of our Citizen Hang. End song: "Every Man's Burden" by Dusty Wright, a...

Ep. 248: Racism and Policing (Al-Saji, Merleau-Ponty, et al) (Part Two)
Continuing on Alia Al-Saji’s “A Phenomenology of Hesitation” (2014) and other things with guest Phil Hopkins.  Can we restructure our (and the police's) reactions and live with each other? We further explore the psychology of habit and Al-Saji's notion of hesitation. How does it compare to other types of heistation recommended by philosophies and religions? Start with part one, or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Includes a preview of our Citizen Hang. End song: "Every Man's Burden" by Dusty Wright, a...

PEL Presents PMP#53: The Hamilton Phenomenon w/ Sam Simahk
Erica, Mark, and Brian are joined by Broadway actor Sam to discuss this unique convergence of musical theater, rap, and historical drama. Does Hamilton deserve its accolades? We cover the re-emergence of stage music as pop music, live vs. filmed vs. film-adapted musicals, creators starring in their shows, race-inclusive casting, and the politics surrounding the show. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....


PEL Presents PMP#53: The Hamilton Phenomenon w/ Sam Simahk
Erica, Mark, and Brian are joined by Broadway actor Sam to discuss this unique convergence of musical theater, rap, and historical drama. Does Hamilton deserve its accolades? We cover the re-emergence of stage music as pop music, live vs. filmed vs. film-adapted musicals, creators starring in their shows, race-inclusive casting, and the politics surrounding the show. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....

Ep. 248: Racism and Policing (Al-Saji, Merleau-Ponty, et al) (Part One)
On Alia Al-Saji’s “A Phenomenology of Hesitation” (2014), bits of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception (1945), and Linda Martín Alcoff’s Visible Identities (2006), plus Alex Vitale's The End of Policing (2017). Is there sub-conscious racism, and how might we root it out and fix our policing problems? Ex-cop Phil Hopkins joins to look at how phenomenology can help. Don't wait for part two, get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsor: Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL...

PEL Presents: PMP#52: The Twilight Zone from Serling to Peele
Something's strange... Is it a dream? If it's a morality tale with a twist ending, you're probably in the Twilight Zone. Brian, Erica, Mark, and guest Ken Gerber are in it this week, discussing the thrice revived TV series. Does the 1959-1963 show hold up? What makes for a good TZ episode, and does Jordan Peele's latest iteration capture the spirit? We talk about episodes new and old, the 1983 film, plus comparisons to Black Mirror and David Lynch. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for t...


Ep. 247: Aristotle on Rhetoric and Emotions (Part Two)
Continuing on the Rhetoric (ca. 335 BCE) book 1, ch. 1–6 and book 2, ch. 1–5, 18–24. We finish up with enthymemes (rhetorical arguments), maxims, and signs. We then move to emotions, where we chiefly talk about anger: Is it always a matter of status injury, or is frustration equally (or more) foundational? Begin with part one, or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! End song: "Reason with the Beast" by Shriekback, whose leader Barry Andrews was interviewed on Nakedly Examined M...

PEL Presents PMP#51: Pictures Telling Stories w/ Joseph Watson
Is it really true that "every picture tells a story"? For Joseph, a Las Vegas artist who illustrates Go, Go GRETA!, narrative is essential, but how does the story an artist has in mind actually convey to the viewer? He joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to tell art stories and touch on Guernica, Where the Wild Things Are, Dr. Seuss, Narnia, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....

Ep. 247: Aristotle on Rhetoric and Emotions (Part One)
On the Rhetoric (ca. 335 BCE) book 1, ch. 1-6 and book 2, ch. 1-5, 18-24. What role does persuasion play in philosophy? Aristotle (contra Plato) argues it can and should be used for good: in law courts, political debates, public speeches. He describes the arguments forms used in rhetoric ("enthymemes") and analyzes the emotions that an audience might have so that speakers know what points are worth dwelling on and how to best argue them. Don't wait for part two! Get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition now...


PEL Presents NEM#125: Victor DeLorenzo (ex Violent Femmes) Starts with Drums
Victor started as a singer/songwriter, drummed with the Femmes for five albums in the '80s, and has since recorded six solo releases and five more with nine thirteen, plus other collaborations, jazz jamming, and work in the theater. We discuss "Invisible Shadows" from Tranceaphone (2020), "Carry Me" from Victor DeLorenzo (2013), "Arco, Pizzicato" by Nineteen Thirteen from The Dream (2016), and listen to "Audrey" from Pancake Day (1996). Intro/outro: "World Without Mercy" by Violent Femmes from The Blind Lea...

REISSUE-PEL Ep 75: Lacan & Derrida Criticize Poe's "The Purloined Letter" (w/ New Intro)
Enjoy this normally paywalled episode from Apr. 2013 about Jacques Lacan’s “Seminar on ‘The Purloined Letter'” (1956) and Jacques Derrida’s “The Purveyor of Truth” (1975). How should philosophers approach literature? Lacan read Edgar Allen Poe’s story about a sleuth who outthinks a devious Minister as an illustration of his model of the psyche, and why we persist in self-destructive patterns. Derrida thought this reading not only imposed a bunch of psychobabble onto the story, but demonstrated that Lacan j...

PEL Presents PMP#50: MJ's Last Dance w/ Seth Paskin
Brian, Erica, Mark, and Seth from The Partially Examined Life interrogate the 10-part ESPN documentary on Michael Jordan's Bulls' six championships. Was it worth ten hours? Does its time-jumping structure work? Is it really hagiography, or is the vision of ultra-competitiveness repulsive? Why are sports amenable to creating cultural icons? Does the doc's success mean many more? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop....


Ep. 246: Susan Sontag on Interpreting Art (Part Two)
Continuing on Sontag's essays “On Style” (1965) and "The Death of Tragedy” (1963). Mark, Wes, Seth and Dylan keep talking about the appropriate distance to retain (or not) to a work of art, which is supposed to be relevant to moral action in the world. We also spell out how this is relevant to our recent episodes on tragedy. Start with Part One or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Mela" by Julie Slick, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #115....

PEL Presents (sub)Text: The “Intelligent Way to Approach Marriage” in Hitchcock’s "Rear Window"
L.B. Jefferies has the perfect girlfriend—beautiful, intelligent, wealthy—but too perfect, he insists, for marriage. And so he spends his time spying on the love lives of his neighbors, and ropes his girlfriend into this project as well. Which, strangely enough, turns out to be a really effective form of couples’ therapy. What’s the connection between voyeurism and what Jefferies calls “the intelligent way to approach marriage”? Wes and Erin discuss Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film Rear Window. Thanks to Cranio...

PEL Presents PMP#49: Conspiracy Theories as Pop w/ Al Baker
Al works for Logically, a company that fights misinformation. He joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to try to discuss the appeal of conspiracy theories, whether their fandom is like other fandoms, the relation between pernicious and fun theories, and theories that end up true. We touch on echo chambers, the role of irony and humor in spreading these theories, how both opponents and proponents claim to be skeptics, Dan Brown Novels, Tom Hanks, the Mel Gibson film Conspiracy Theory, and documentaries like Behind th...


Ep. 246: Susan Sontag on Interpreting Art (Part One)
On Sontag's essays “Against Interpretation” (1964), “On Style” (1965), and "The Death of Tragedy” (1963). What is it to understand a work of art? Sontag objects to critics' need to decode art into its "meaning" or "content," divorcing it from how this content is embodied. She argues that the content vs. form distinction isn't tenable; that the style of a work is an essential part of experiencing it. Sontag thinks we're too analytical, too divorced from our instincts, and a direct encounter with art is essen...

PEL Presents NEM#124: Alev Lenz's Tracts of Blood and Sisterhood
Alev started in Germany with her metal band "Alev" in the early '00s and has released three atmospheric, idea-filled solo albums since 2009 plus several soundtracks and collaborations. We discuss "The Chair" (and at the end listen to "Cigarettes & Blow") from 3 (2019), plus the title track from Two-Headed Girl (2016), "Flowers of Love" from Storytelling Piano Playing Fräulein (2009), and "In this Mouth" by Anoushka Shankar feat Alev Lenz from Love Letters (2020). Intro: "Fall Into Me" from the Black Mirror ...

PEL Presents PMP#48: The Arts in Reality TV w/ Skin Wars' Robin Slonina
Fine art and reality TV are typically rated our highest and lowest forms of entertainment, yet creative competition shows combine them. Robin Slonina, who was a judge on the body painting show Skin Wars, helps Mark, Erica, and Brian figure out the degree to which that format lets the art shine through. We also touch on Work of Art-The Next Great Artist, Face Off, American Idol, Project Runway, cooking shows, art as commodity, public art like the BLM D.C. street mural, paint-offs and other game-show gimmicks...


Ep. 245: Fashion (Derrida, Foucault, Sontag) w/ Shahidha Bari (Part Two)
We conclude with Foucault's "The Ethics of the Concern of the Self As A Practice of Freedom" (1984) and add Susan Sontag's "On Style" (1965). After our guest's departure, we give some concluding remarks about her book Dressed: A Philosophy of Clothes (2020) and Derrida's "The Animal That Therefore I Am" (1999). Start with part one or get the ad-free, unbroken Citizen Edition. Support PEL and be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Dressed. End song: "Clothe Me in Ashes" by K.C. Clifford, interviewed for Na...

Ep. 245: Fashion (Derrida, Foucault) w/ Shahidha Bari (Part One)
On Jacques Derrida's "The Animal That Therefore I Am" (1999), Michel Foucault's "The Ethics of the Concern of the Self As A Practice of Freedom" (1984), and our guest's Dressed: A Philosophy of Clothes (2020). Philosophy devalues appearances, but our changing dominant metaphysics (there is no "underneath" but rather a complex built out of appearance itself) should have changed this. Our guest provided us with readings that elaborate this change, arguing for our continuity with animal nature (Derrida) and th...

Ep. 244: Camus on Strategies for Facing Plague (Part Two)
Continuing on Albert Camus's 1947 novel, covering the old functionary Grand, the criminal (or just paranoid?) Cottard, and more of our narrators Dr. Rieux and his doomed friend Tarrou, plus more on the overall message of the book and how it might relate to our current situation. Start with part one or get the unbroken Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "You Will Kill the One You Love" by Jack Hues, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #122....


Ep. 244: Camus on Strategies for Facing Plague (Part One)
On Albert Camus' existentialist novel The Plague. How shall we face adversity? Camus gives us colorful characters that embody various approaches. Yes, the plague is an extreme situation, but we're all dying all the time anyway, right? Join Mark, Wes, Dylan and Seth to tease out Camus' positions from this bleak yet colorful text. Don't wait for part two; get the unbroken Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL!...

Ep. 243: Aristotle's "Poetics" on Art and Tragedy (Part Two)
Continuing on the Poetics from around 335 BCE, on the structure of plot (every element must be essential!), the moral status of the heroes, Homeric poetry, the difference between tragedy and history, and how Aristotle's formula may or may not apply to modern media. Begin with part one or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Structure of a Tragedy" by Mark Lint. Read about it. Sponsor: Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL for a free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Learning...

Ep. 243: Aristotle's "Poetics" on Art and Tragedy (Part One)
These notes from 335 BCE are still used in screenwriting classes. Aristotle presents a formula for what will move us, derived from Sophocles's tragedies. What is art? The text describes it as memesis (imitation), and tragedy imitates human action in a way that shows us what it is to be human. Aristotle has lots of advice about how to structure a plot optimized to our sensibilities. Join Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth to see if you think he's right. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition ...


PEL Presents PMP#42: Star Trek Lives Long and Prospers (Intermittently)
In light of Star Trek: Picard, Brian, Erica, Mark, and Drew Jackson discuss our most philosophical sci-fi franchise. What makes a Trek story? How do you world-build over generations? How did Picard measure up? Plus Trek vs. Wars and step-children like The Orville and Galaxy Quest. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com....

Ep. 242: Stanley Cavell on Tragedy via King Lear (Part Two)
Continuing on Cavell's essay "The Avoidance of Love: A Reading of King Lear" (1969), shifting away from Lear in particular to a more general discussion of tragedy and Cavell's psychological insights. Begin with Part One or get the ad-free, unbroken Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Out of Your Hands" by Gretchen's Wheel, i.e., Lindsay Murray, as interviewed for Nakedly Examined Music #81. Sponsor: Visit TheGreatCoursesPLUS.com/PEL for a free trial of unlimited learning at $10/month w/ a quarte...


Ep. 241: Political Philosophy and the Pandemic
How should we think politically about the current global crisis? Do extreme circumstances reveal truths of political philosophy or do they reinforce whatever it is we already believe? Mark, Wes, Seth, and Dylan talk about applying philosophical insights to real-life situations rife with unknowns, John Rawls' veil of ignorance and Adam Smith on our interconnectedness, utilitarianism, libertarianism, and more. A source we used was "How Coronavirus Is Shaking Up the Moral Universe" by John Authers. For an ad-f...

PEL Presents (sub)Text: Filial Ingratitude in in Shakespeare’s "King Lear"
Do we owe parents our gratitude for our upbringing? What if they haven’t done such a great job? And anyway, perhaps we inevitably resent all the forces that have shaped the characters that confine and limit us. If so, the quest for filial gratitude is ultimately hopeless. It could even be a kind of madness: a foolish attempt to transcend the same formative forces that we resent in our parents, to be “unaccommodated,” free of the “plague of custom.” Wes and Erin discuss William Shakespeare’s King Lear. Subsc...

Pretty Much Pop #39: TV and Other Plans in Subjunctive Stasis
A discussion of what to watch during lockdown is what happens when you're busy making plans about what to include in a hypothetical discussion of what to watch during lockdown. Join Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk Tiger King, Star Trek, Parks & Recreation, Devs, Zoey's, 13 Reasons Why, Ozark, Westworld, Larry David, endless tributes to the dead, anthology shows, unreleased pilots, and circus arts. Plus Tyler returns to talk Buffy, video games, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content f...


Ep. 240: David Lewis on Possible Worlds and Language Games (Part Two)
On "Scorekeeping in a Language Game" (1979) and "Truth in Fiction" (1978). Lewis's account of possible worlds can be applied to conversation: As we speak, each sentence adds to the "conversational score" (the set of assumptions that enable us to understand each other) while reducing the field of possible worlds that the picture we're painting together could potentially represent. What are the gravitational forces within this kind of scorekeeping? Also, when an author creates a fictive "world," how do facts ...

Ep. 240: David Lewis on Possible Worlds and Language Games (Part Two)
On "Scorekeeping in a Language Game" (1979) and "Truth in Fiction" (1978). Lewis's account of possible worlds can be applied to conversation: As we speak, each sentence adds to the "conversational score" (the set of assumptions that enable us to understand each other) while reducing the field of possible worlds that the picture we're painting together could potentially represent. What are the gravitational forces within this kind of scorekeeping? Also, when an author creates a fictive "world," how do facts ...

Pretty Much Pop #38: Costuming w/ Whitney Anne Adams
How does clothing mesh with other elements to create a mood for a film? Costumer Whitney (Happy Death Day, The Great Gatsby) joins Erica, Mark and Brian to discuss how clothes on screen relate to clothes in life, historic vs. modern vs. genre, when costumes get distracting, her current TV and film costuming picks, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by opencul...


Pretty Much Pop #38: Costuming w/ Whitney Anne Adams
How does clothing mesh with other elements to create a mood for a film? Costumer Whitney (Happy Death Day, The Great Gatsby) joins Erica, Mark and Brian to discuss how clothes on screen relate to clothes in life, historic vs. modern vs. genre, when costumes get distracting, her current TV and film costuming picks, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by opencul...

Ep. 240: David Lewis on Possible Worlds and Language Games (Part One)
On Ch. 4 of Lewis's book Counterfactuals (1973) and the essays “Scorekeeping in a Language Game” (1979) and “Truth in Fiction” (1978). What makes a sentence about possibility true? Lewis things that we need possible worlds that really exist in order to make sense of our modal intuitions. He uses this possible world talk to make sense of conversations and the worlds created by fiction writers. With guest Matt Teichman from Elucidations. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now! Plea...

Pretty Much Pop #37: Everything is LEGO
Why has a children's toy become a brand attached to virtually every media type, partnering with the most ubiquitous franchises, and serving as a pastime for many adult hobbyists who will gut you if you call LEGO a "children's toy." AFOL Brian Hirt talks with co-hosts Erica Spyres and Mark Linsenmayer about creative play vs. following the printed directions, building purists vs. anthropomorphizers, LEGO qua corporate overlord, LEGO media, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for th...


Ep. 239: Montesquieu Invents Political Science (Part Two)
Continuing on The Spirit of the Laws (1748) by Charles Louis de Secondat, aka Baron de Montesquieu. Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth talk more about the "motive force" behind each type of government and the separation of powers. Begin with part 1 or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "King of the Hill" by MINUTEMEN. Listen to Mark interview Mike Watt on Nakedly Examined Music #108. Be sure to check out The Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast....

PEL Presents: PMP#36: Criticism w/ Noah Berlatsky
Do we need professional critics regulating our entertainment intake? Noah writes for The Washington Post, NBC News, The Guardian, Slate, Vox, The Atlantic, etc., and he now joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about the function of criticism, criticism as art, and the joy of negativity. We talk 1917, Midsommar, Marvel vs. Scorsese, Yesterday, Bob Dylan, Twilight, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partial...

Ep. 239: Montesquieu Invents Political Science (Part One)
On The Spirit of the Laws (1748) by Charles Louis de Secondat, aka Baron de Montesquieu. What keeps a society functioning? Montesquieu, though of course not the first political philosopher, was perhaps the first to systematically explore correlations between characteristics of a government, its people, its climate, dominant industries, religion, and other factors. Some of his ideas directly influenced the American Constitution, and some of them are very very weird. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-...


Pretty Much Pop #35: Video Game Storytelling w/ Don Marshall
Do you play video games for the plot? Mark, Erica, and Brian are joined by former video game professional (current TV development exec) Donald E. Marshall to talk through types of video game narrative, ways of weaving story into a game, balancing gameplay and storytelling, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com....

Pretty Much Pop #35: Video Game Storytelling w/ Don Marshall
Do you play video games for the plot? Mark, Erica, and Brian are joined by former video game professional (current TV development exec) Donald E. Marshall to talk through types of video game narrative, ways of weaving story into a game, balancing gameplay and storytelling, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com....

Ep. 238: Lingering Questions
Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth summarize thoughts about our recent series on social construction, gender and sex, and Judith Butler's notion of "grievable lives." Should we stop covering so much contemporary work and/or political topics? End song: "The Size of Luv" by Mark Lint from Mark Lint's Dry Folk (2018). Sponsor: Get your first month of hair loss prevention medication free at keeps.com/pel. Get this and every episode ad-free with a PEL Membership. Please support the podcast!...


NEM#117: Chris McQueen (FORQ, Snarky Puppy): Like Fusion, But Cool
Chris has played guitar for Snarky Puppy since it started in 2004, has led rock bands and explored acoustic guitar duets. We discuss "M-Theory" by FORQ from Four (2019), the title track to Western Theatre by Matt Read and Chris McQueen (2019), and "Coven" by Snarky Puppy from Immigrance (2019), and end with "Strut" by Foe Destroyer from their self-titled album (2013). Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon to get the ad-free feed. Sponsor: Visit betterhelp.com/nem fo...

Ep. 237: Walter Benjamin Analyzes Violence (Part Two)
Continuing on Benjamin's "Critique of Violence" (1921). Mark, Wes, and Seth keep trying to figure out this difficult essay. Is Benjamin really advocating a workers' revolution to end the state, or just reflecting on a hypothetical to explore the limits of the concept of violence? According to Judith Butler's interpretation of the essay, the takeaway is the alternative to motivation through force, i.e. speech, which Benjamin (in other essays) gives some religious significance, but the way he actually conclud...

Pretty Much Pop #34: Escape Rooms and Other Puzzlers w/ Adal Rifai
You know "the comic" and "the tragic," but what kind of entertainment is "the puzzling?" Improviser/podcaster Adal Rifai joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss escape rooms, riddles and puns, group problem solving, puzzles in films and video games, lateral vs. algorithmic thinking, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com....


Ep. 237: Walter Benjamin Analyzes Violence (Part One)
On "Critique of Violence" (1921). What is violence? Benjamin gives us a taxonomy: law-creating, law-preserving, mythological, and divine. Then he deconstructs his own distinctions to demonstrate that all state power is rotten through its being founded on and continually re-established by violence or the threat of it. Don't wait for part two. Get the full ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsor: Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL for a free month of unlimited learning with The Great Courses P...

NEM#116: hackedepicciotto: Nomadic Cinematographers
Einstürzende Neubauten's Alexander Hacke and artist/singer Danielle de Picciotto have released seven albums of experimental music together since 2011, the last four as hackedepicciotto. We discuss "The Banishing" and "Third From the Sun" from The Current (2019) and "Propehcy" from Menetekel (2017), plus intro music is "Let There Be Joy" from Joy (2018). We conclude by listening to "Survivors" from Danielle's solo album Deliverance (2019). For more, see hackedepicciotto.de. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. ...

NEM#116: hackedepicciotto: Nomadic Cinematographers
Einstürzende Neubauten's Alexander Hacke and artist/singer Danielle de Picciotto have released seven albums of experimental music together since 2011, the last four as hackedepicciotto. We discuss "The Banishing" and "Third From the Sun" from The Current (2019) and "Propehcy" from Menetekel (2017), plus intro music is "Let There Be Joy" from Joy (2018). We conclude by listening to "Survivors" from Danielle's solo album Deliverance (2019). For more, see hackedepicciotto.de. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. ...


PEL Presents PMP#33: The Heroine's Journey w/ Vi Burlew
How has Joseph Campbell's "hero's journey" as famously leveraged for Star Wars evolved with more female action heroes in film? Vi Burlew joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk not only about Rey, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, and Mulan, but also bring in Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, Little Women, Jane Eyre, Working Girl, and of course Road House. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the P...

Ep. 236: Judith Butler Interview: "The Force of Nonviolence"
On The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind (2020). What is it to be nonviolent in political activity? Most ethics allow for self-defense, but Judith has a problem with defining "self" as well as "violence," and offers a full critique of the individualism that underlies typical Western approaches to both ethics and politics. Mark, Seth, and Wes interview Judith about these issues and the connection to Gender Trouble. End song: "Dancing with Death," discussed on Nakedly Examined Music #111 with Mar...

PEL Presents: PMP#32: Judging "The Good Place"
Mark, Erica, and Brian discuss Michael Schur's NBC TV show. Is it good? Does it actually teach moral philosophy? We talk sit-com tropes, TV finales, the show's convoluted structure, the puzzle of heaven, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com....


PEL Presents: PMP#32: Judging "The Good Place"
Mark, Erica, and Brian discuss Michael Schur's NBC TV show. Is it good? Does it actually teach moral philosophy? We talk sit-com tropes, TV finales, the show's convoluted structure, the puzzle of heaven, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com....

Ep. 235: Judith Butler's "Gender Trouble" (Part Three)
Concluding "Gender Trouble" (1990), with just Mark, Wes, and Seth going carefully through pt I, sec v: "Identity, Set, and the Metaphysics of Substance," and pt III, sec iv: "Subversive Bodily Acts: Bodily Inscriptions, Performative Subversions." Start with part one or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "I'm a Boy" by Lys Guillorn as interviewed for Nakedly Examined Music #44. Please support the fight against leukemia at partiallyexaminedlife.com/cancer....

NEM#115: Julie Slick: Pedal Art Visualizer
Julie joined the Adrian Belew Power Trio in 2006 and released two solo albums starting in 2010. She then joined another bassist, Marco Machera for four albums, the last three as Echotest. Why two basses? Because Julie uses tech to change the sound of her bass to allow her to cover an orchestra's worth of parts. We discuss "Ladies' Legs at the Temperature Hotel" and "No, You Are Dead/The Gate of Light" by Echotest from Daughter of Ocean (2019), plus "Pi" from her solo album Terroir (2012), and listen to "Sup...


Pretty Much Pop #31: Robin Williams' Celebrity Struggles w/ Dave Itzkoff
Dave the New York Times culture reporter joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to consider issues raised by his 2018 biography Robin: What is with our f'ed up relation to celebrity, and what are strategies that celebrities use to deal with that asymmetric relationship to the world? Plus, Joaquin Phoenix, interview technique, the value of interviews, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life networ...

Pretty Much Pop #31: Robin Williams' Celebrity Struggles w/ Dave Itzkoff
Dave the New York Times culture reporter joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to consider issues raised by his 2018 biography Robin: What is with our f'ed up relation to celebrity, and what are strategies that celebrities use to deal with that asymmetric relationship to the world? Plus, Joaquin Phoenix, interview technique, the value of interviews, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life networ...

Ep. 235: Judith Butler's "Gender Trouble" (Part Two)
More Gender Trouble (1990) with Jennifer Hansen. We get into the metaphysics of substance (is gender an attribute that a person has, or is there a better way to describe the situation?), performatives, Beauvoir vs. Irigaray on femininity, and the available mechanisms for changing gender norms. Start with Part One or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now so that you don't have to wait for Part Three. Please support PEL! Sponsor: Visit feals.com/PEL for premium CBD; become a member and get 50% off and fre...


PEL Presents (sub)Text: Marital Economics in Jane Austen’s "Pride and Prejudice"
An advantageous marriage is Elizabeth Bennet’s only potential escape from a foolish mother, a disinterested father, three very silly sisters, and a house that’s entailed away to her idiotic cousin Mr. Collins. But she turns down fabulously wealthy Mr. Darcy because he’s prideful—and maybe a little prejudiced. But then, so is she. How do we know if two people are well-suited to each other? What makes a successful match? Is Mr. Collins actually the perfect man? Wes and Erin discuss Jane Austen’s Pride and Pre...

Pretty Much Pop #30: Why Every Film Will Win the Oscar! (A Debate)
The 2020 Academy Awards are imminent (or maybe past, if you're hearing this later; it's fine!). Mark, Erica, and Brian, each argue in favor of three of the best picture nominees: that it should win, or maybe just will win. What is it to be an Oscar winner as opposed to the type of film that people actually like? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com....

Ep. 235: Judith Butler's "Gender Trouble" (Part One)
On Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990). Is gender socially constructed, and if so, how? Butler describes gender not as an essential quality of a person, but as "performed," as habits of acting in certain ways in accordance with customs. Her idea of social construction is so totalizing that even biological sex itself is constructed. With guest Jennifer Hansen. This is part 1 of 3, but you don't need to wait. Get the full Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL!...


NEM#114: Michaela Anne's Hyper-Reflective Country
Michaela has released four albums of carefully styled, lyrically rich country since 2011.  From her latest, Desert Dove (2019), we discuss the title track, plus you'll hear "By Our Design" as the intro and "Somebody New" as the closer. We also discuss "Worrying Mind" from Bright Lights and the Fame (2016) and "Is This What Mama Meant" from Ease My Mind (2014). For more, see michaelaanne.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon to get the ad-free feed....

PEL Presents PMP#29: Martin Scorsese the Auteur w/ Colin Marshall
We consider The Irishman in the context of Scorsese's body of work and the styles and themes that his films tend to exhibit. Writer/podcaster Colin Marshall joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about connecting with Scorsese's sensibility and their status as "art films." Plus S's use of music, comments on Marvel, CGI age alternation, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and i...

Ep. 234: Beauvoir on Romance in "The Second Sex" (Part Two)
Concluding Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949): "The Woman in Love" and "Myths" with guest Jennifer Hansen. We continue on the ailments of women under patriarchy as well as the existential problems that we're all subject to. Are we doomed to isolation, or does existentialism allow for intimacy? Is marriage in "bad faith"? We also talk narcissism, abjection, and the film Marriage Story. Start with part 1 or get the Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Easier than Leaving" by Michaela Anne, ...


Pretty Much Pop #28: The Alpha Female Trope w/ Margaret Colin
What's the deal with images of powerful women in media? The trope of the tough-as-nails boss-lady who may or may not have a heart of gold has evolved a lot over the years, but it's difficult to portray such a character unobjectionably. Margaret was a lead in Independence Day and The Devil's Own, is a mainstay on Broadway, and has appeared on TV roles like the mother of the Gossip Girl and as an unscrupulous newscaster on the final seasons of VEEP. She leads Mark, Erica, and Brian through an instructive tour...

Ep. 234: Beauvoir on Romance in "The Second Sex" (Part One)
On Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949): "The Woman in Love" and "Myths" with guest Jennifer Hansen. What is love under patriarchy? We all want to achieve solidity in another's eyes, but the Othered woman wants to live through the man, and the man sees the woman as his rejected corporeal character. Party time! Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-free, unbroken Citizen Edition now! Please support PEL! Sponsors: Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL for a free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Lea...

NEM#113: Bid (Monochrome Set): All-Permissive British New Wave Forever!
The Monochrome Set has under the leadership of Bid released 15 albums of eccentric British pop since 1980, and he's had another nine as Scartlet's Well. His songs often employ a '60s dance vibe, literary lyrics, and a try-anything approach to arrangements. We discuss "Eux Tous" from Fabula Mendax (2019), "Walking with the Beast" from Dante's Casino (1990), "Adeste Fidelis" from Love Zombies (1980), and conclude listening to the title track of Spaces Everywhere (2015). Intro: "Eine Symphonie Des Grauens" (a ...


PEL Presents PMP#27: For the Love of Star Wars
Mark, Erica, and Brian talk about the unique place these films have in the brains of people of a certain age, how we grappled with the prequels, and why we feel the need to fill in and argue about the details. We focus primarily on The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com....

Ep. 233: Plato's "Protagoras" on Virtue (Part Two)
Continuing on the dialogue, where Socrates argues that Protagoras doesn't actually know what virtue is, because he thinks that the various virtues (especially courage) are distinct, a claim that Socrates refutes in several (logically suspect) ways. Start with part one, or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Make It Clear" by Feelies; hear Glenn Mercer on Nakedly Examined Music #41....

PEL Presents PMP#26: We Watch "Watchmen" w/ David Pizarro (Very Bad Wizards)
Covering Alan Moore's 1986 graphic novel, the new HBO series and the 2009 film. Mark, Erica, and Brian are joined by David, psych prof at Cornell and host of Very Bad Wizards. How does Moore's style translate to the screen? How well did the show handle politics? Should there be a second season? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com....


Ep. 233: Plato's "Protagoras" on Virtue (Part One)
On the Platonic dialogue written around 380 BCE about an encounter between Socrates and one of the leading Sophists of his day. What is virtue ("the political art" according to Protagoras), and can it be taught? What are the relations of the various virtues to each other? Do they really amount ultimately to one and the same thing, i.e. wisdom? In this entertaining dialogue, Socrates and Protagoras swap positions, and Socrates seems to parody the Sophists' style. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-fre...

Pretty Much Pop #25: Sports as Pop w/ Sportscaster Dave Revsine
How is spectator sports different from other types of entertainment? Dave (lead studio host for the Big Ten Network and former ESPN anchor) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss the various sources of appeal, team identification, existing in a sports-filled world as a non-fan, watching vs. playing, human interest stories, sports films, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network a...

Ep. 232: Simone De Beauvoir's "The Second Sex" (Part Two)
Continuing Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949) with guest Jennifer Hansen. How does one become a Subject and how do women traditionally get shut out of this process? We get into Vol. 2, "Lived Experience" where Beauvoir details how this drama unfolds in various stages of life. Also, religion, logic, the relation of biology to situation, and more. How do we modernize Beauvoir's critique given the evolution in women's positions since the book was written? Start with part one or get the full, ad-free Ci...


Ep. 232: Simone De Beauvoir's "The Second Sex" (Part One)
On Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949): the intro, conclusion, “Woman’s Situation and Character” and parts of “Lived Experience," with guest Jennifer Hansen. According to Beauvoir, Woman is historically conceived of by society (and herself) as "Other," as not a Subject who creates and makes decisions. Her life is pre-determined, revolving around marriage and child-bearing, and is so deformed by this situation. Don't wait for part two; get the unbroken Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsor:...

Pretty Much Pop #24: Christmas Viewing: What's Canon?
Join Mark, Erica, and Brian for a special "snake draft," where we take turns picking the holiday films and TV specials that we think are (or should be) part of America's yearly viewing traditions. Compare your intuitions about what is classic or seminal or over-rated with ours! For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com. We're posting this early and ad-free ...

Pretty Much Pop #23: The Singer Not the Song w/ Ken Stringfellow
Do you just embrace the pure sound of music or does context matter to you, i.e. the artist's intentions and body of work? Ken Stringfellow (Posies, R.E.M., Big Star) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about what grabs us about music, it it gets to your ears, singers vs. songwriters, the concept "genius," and how this attitude towards music translates to our intake of other media (e.g. favorite film directors). For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuch...


Ep. 231: Descartes's "Discourse" on Wisdom and Certainty (Part Two)
Continuing on Descartes’s Discourse on Method, looking closely at part 4 (his proto-Meditations) and his "provisional" Stoic ethics. Listen to part one first or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "My Real Fantasy" By Joe Louis Walker, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #110. Sponsors: Get 20% off at nativedeodorant.com (code PEL), 20% off at hempfusion.com (code PEL), and give effectively through givewell.org/PEL....

Pretty Much Pop #22: Untangling Time Travel
Time travel rules in The Terminator franchise are notoriously inconsistent. Can we change the future or not? Mark, Erica, and Brian are joined by Ken Gerber to talk through time travel rules and plots, covering the randomness of Dr. Who, being your own grandfather, time travel comedies, time loops, freezing time, historical tourism, and more.  For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and i...

Ep. 231: Descartes's "Discourse" on Wisdom and Certainty (Part One)
On René Descartes’s Discourse on Method (1637), an overview of his work that distills his method, outlines his famous Meditations, presents a provisional (Stoic) ethics, and considers whether he wants to be a public intellectual. This is all meant as a preface to scientific publications on geometry, optics, and meteors. Don't wait for part two; get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsors: $10 off at skylightframe.com (code PEL), get a free trial of unlimited learning at thegr...


(sub)Text: A Discussion of Todd Phillips' Film "Joker"
Wes Alwan and William Sharp (psychoanalyst and professor at Northeastern) discuss the film at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis.  Why has this film done so well? It offers no spectacle, and good doesn't triumph. It is psychologically true and expertly performed. The audience can enjoy tragedy and identify deeply with a social outcast and villain. The film successfully exploits the relationship between humor and violence, and comedy and tragedy. Listen to more (sub)Text....

Pretty Much Pop #21: Role-Playing Video Games
What constitutes a video RPG? Is there any actual role-playing involved? Our editor Tyler Hislop rejoins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss those video games that are supposed to make you feel like your choices matter, with comparisons to MMO RPGs, table-top role-playing, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com. Sponsor: Visit skillshare.com/pret...

Ep. 230: Bruno Latour on Science, Culture, and Modernity (Part Two)
Continuing on Latour's We Have Never Been Modern (1993) with guest Lynda Olman. Latour rejects the idea of objective truth totally apart from perceivers, so is he an idealist? We lay out the "Constitution" of modernity that keeps science and politics separate, how it makes it difficult for us to address issues like climate change, and what Latour thinks should replace it. Start with part 1 or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Mono No Aware" by Guy Sigsworth, as discussed ...


Ep. 230: Bruno Latour on Science, Culture, and Modernity (Part Two)
Continuing on Latour's We Have Never Been Modern (1993) with guest Lynda Olman. Latour rejects the idea of objective truth totally apart from perceivers, so is he an idealist? We lay out the "Constitution" of modernity that keeps science and politics separate, how it makes it difficult for us to address issues like climate change, and what Latour thinks should replace it. Start with part 1 or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Mono No Aware" by Guy Sigsworth, as discussed ...

Ep. 230: Bruno Latour on Science, Culture, and Modernity (Part One)
On Latour's We Have Never Been Modern (1993) with guest Lynda Olman. What's the "modern" ideology of science, and is there something we should critique about it? Latour wants us to think about science not abstractly through the eternal truths it supposedly discovers, but through the concrete practices of scientists. He investigates the Modern Constitution by which science and politics are kept conceptually separate, a myth that he claims we've never fully bought into. Don't wait for part two; get your unbro...

Ep. 230: Bruno Latour on Science, Culture, and Modernity (Part One)
On Latour's We Have Never Been Modern (1993) with guest Lynda Olman. What's the "modern" ideology of science, and is there something we should critique about it? Latour wants us to think about science not abstractly through the eternal truths it supposedly discovers, but through the concrete practices of scientists. He investigates the Modern Constitution by which science and politics are kept conceptually separate, a myth that he claims we've never fully bought into. Don't wait for part two; get your unbro...


NEM#110: Joe Louis Walker's Blues Soup
Joe has played alongside B.B. King, Ron Wood, and even back to Hendrix, Hooker, and Monk. As a solo artist he's put out around two dozen albums since 1986. He's a blues man but mixes in gospel, soul, rock, and many other styles. We discuss the title track of Hellfire (2012), "Keep the Faith" from Hornet's Nest (2013), the title track from The Gift (1988), and listen to "Soldier for Jesus" from Viva Las Vegas Live (2019). Intro: "Don't Play Games" from Cold Is the Night (1986). For more, see joelouiswalker.c...

NEM#110: Joe Louis Walker's Blues Soup
Joe has played alongside B.B. King, Ron Wood, and even back to Hendrix, Hooker, and Monk. As a solo artist he's put out around two dozen albums since 1986. He's a blues man but mixes in gospel, soul, rock, and many other styles. We discuss the title track of Hellfire (2012), "Keep the Faith" from Hornet's Nest (2013), the title track from The Gift (1988), and listen to "Soldier for Jesus" from Viva Las Vegas Live (2019). Intro: "Don't Play Games" from Cold Is the Night (1986). For more, see joelouiswalker.c...

Pretty Much Pop #20: Improv Comedy w/ Tim Sniffen
What role does improv comedy play in popular culture? It's deployed by certain film directors (e.g. Christopher Guest), in some of the TV work of Larry David, Robin Williams, et al. But only a rare show like "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" makes it obvious. Is this art form doomed to live on the fringes of entertainment? Mark, Erica, and Brian are joined by Tim Sniffen to discuss different types of improv, how it relates to other arts, its self-help angle, Second City, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com...


Ep. 229: Descartes's Rules for Thinking (Part Three)
Concluding René Descartes's Rules for Direction of the Mind (1628). We finish rule 12 through the end, talking about simples, the faculties of intuition and judgment, perception and imagination, necessary vs. contingent truths, and how to do Cartesian science, including what constitutes a "perfectly understood problem." Start with part one, or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Perfect Design" by Ian Moore, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #94. Sponsors: Get 20% of...

Ep. 229: Descartes's Rules for Thinking (Part Three)
Concluding René Descartes's Rules for Direction of the Mind (1628). We finish rule 12 through the end, talking about simples, the faculties of intuition and judgment, perception and imagination, necessary vs. contingent truths, and how to do Cartesian science, including what constitutes a "perfectly understood problem." Start with part one, or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Perfect Design" by Ian Moore, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #94. Sponsors: Get 20% of...

Pretty Much Pop #19: Race and the Target Audience w/ Rodney Ramsey
Are YOU the target audience of what you watch? While shows used to be aimed at a white majority or "niche group," now much media aims itself seemingly at everyone. Rodney Comedian/actor/writer/producer Rodney joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss the experience of watching outside your demographic, whether identifying with characters requires physical commonalities, "black voice," and the evolving TV landscape. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuc...


Pretty Much Pop #19: Race and the Target Audience w/ Rodney Ramsey
Are YOU the target audience of what you watch? While shows used to be aimed at a white majority or "niche group," now much media aims itself seemingly at everyone. Rodney Comedian/actor/writer/producer Rodney joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss the experience of watching outside your demographic, whether identifying with characters requires physical commonalities, "black voice," and the evolving TV landscape. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuc...

Ep. 229: Descartes's Rules for Thinking (Part Two)
Continuing on René Descartes's Rules for Direction of the Mind (1628), covering rules 7 through the first part of the lengthy rule 12. We try to figure out what he means by "enumeration;" the faculties of imagination, sense and memory; the virtues of perspicacity and sagacity; his psychology of the senses, the "common sense" where all sense data comes together, and the understanding; how Descartes recommends we do scientific investigation; why syllogisms stink; and whether some people are just better at phi...

Ep. 229: Descartes's Rules for Thinking (Part Two)
Continuing on René Descartes's Rules for Direction of the Mind (1628), covering rules 7 through the first part of the lengthy rule 12. We try to figure out what he means by "enumeration;" the faculties of imagination, sense and memory; the virtues of perspicacity and sagacity; his psychology of the senses, the "common sense" where all sense data comes together, and the understanding; how Descartes recommends we do scientific investigation; why syllogisms stink; and whether some people are just better at phi...


NEM#109: Producer Guy Sigsworth (Seal, Björk, etc.) Goes Solo
Guy has been a highly sought-after British producer/keyboardist since the early '90s and is just now releasing his debut album, STET. We discuss "Mono No Aware" and "Dorian" from that album and "Unravel" from Björk's Homogenic (1997). End song: "Let's Go" by Frou Frou from Details (2002). Intro: "Crazy," co-written with Seal from his debut album (1991). Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon. Sponsor: Visit masterclass.com/EXAMINED for 15% off a MasterClass All-Acces...

NEM#109: Producer Guy Sigsworth (Seal, Björk, etc.) Goes Solo
Guy has been a highly sought-after British producer/keyboardist since the early '90s and is just now releasing his debut album, STET. We discuss "Mono No Aware" and "Dorian" from that album and "Unravel" from Björk's Homogenic (1997). End song: "Let's Go" by Frou Frou from Details (2002). Intro: "Crazy," co-written with Seal from his debut album (1991). Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon. Sponsor: Visit masterclass.com/EXAMINED for 15% off a MasterClass All-Acces...

PEL Presents PMP#18: Stephen King's Media Empire
Is the most popular writer of our time actually a good writer? Or maybe he used to be good? While you've been thinking about those questions, King already wrote another book, so ha! Mark, Erica, and Brian share their experiences with and opinions about King's oeuvre and the films and shows that have come out of it. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life network and is curated by openculture.com....


Ep. 229: Descartes's Rules for Thinking (Part One)
On René Descartes's Rules for Direction of the Mind (1628). Is there a careful way to approach problems that will ensure that you'll always be right? What if you just never assert anything you can't be sure of? This is Descartes's strategy, modeled on mathematics. We likewise carefully move step-by-step through this text. This is part 1 of 3; get the whole discussion now via the Citizen Edition now? Please support PEL! Sponsor: Visit HempFusion.com for CBD supplements and use code PEL at check-out for 20% o...

PEL Presents PMP#17: Comedy as Philosophy w/ Daniel Lobell
Are stand-up comedians the Modern Day Philosophers? This is the premise of Daniel's podcast, but really, only some comedians express original claims; many just tell jokes. Are those exceptional comics philosophizing? Does telling the whole, tragic truth rule out being funny? Daniel, Mark, Erica, and Brian consider Carlin, Gadsby, Chappelle, and others. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podc...

Ep. 228: Social Construction of Race (Appiah, Mills) (Part Two)
Continuing on Kwame Anthony Appiah's "Race, Culture, Identity: Misunderstood Connections" (1994), Charles Mills's "But What Are You Really?, The Metaphysics of Race" (1998), and Neven Sesardic's "Race: A Social Destruction of a Biological Concept" (2010) with guest Coleman Hughes. Racial classifications vary geographically, therefore race is socially constructed. Given this, can we retain the positive aspects of group-identification without hierarchies and what Appiah calls "imperialism of identity?" Start ...


NEM#108: Mike Watt's Punk Operas
Ace bassist Mike started with punk legends MINUTEMEN in the early '80s, broke into the majors with fireHOSE going into the 90s, and was so beloved by the alternative music scene that his first solo album in '94 was star-studded, with Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl in the supporting tour. Mike has released three concept albums over the years and has collaborated on dozes of projects as well as backing Iggy Pop in the reformed Stooges. We discuss "Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs" by Minutemen from What Makes a ...

Pretty Much Pop #16: 25 Years After FRIENDS
Mark, Erica, and Brian examine the conventions, techniques, and staying power of the beloved '90s sitcom. Are we supposed to identify with, or idolize, or merely like these people? What makes the formula work, did it sustain itself over its 10-year run, was it successfully replicated, and what parts haven't aged well? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openc...

Pretty Much Pop #16: 25 Years After FRIENDS
Mark, Erica, and Brian examine the conventions, techniques, and staying power of the beloved '90s sitcom. Are we supposed to identify with, or idolize, or merely like these people? What makes the formula work, did it sustain itself over its 10-year run, was it successfully replicated, and what parts haven't aged well? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openc...


Ep. 228: Social Construction of Race (Appiah, Mills) (Part One)
On Kwame Anthony Appiah's "Race, Culture, Identity: Misunderstood Connections" (1994), Charles Mills's "But What Are You Really?, The Metaphysics of Race" (1998), and Neven Sesardic's "Race: A Social Destruction of a Biological Concept" (2010). With guest Coleman Hughes. Don't wait for part two; get your full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsors: NativeDeodorant.com (code PEL for 20% off), $15/month wireless at mintmobile.com/PEL, HempFusion.com (code PEL for 20% off/free shipping)....

Ep. 228: Social Construction of Race (Appiah, Mills) (Part One)
On Kwame Anthony Appiah's "Race, Culture, Identity: Misunderstood Connections" (1994), Charles Mills's "But What Are You Really?, The Metaphysics of Race" (1998), and Neven Sesardic's "Race: A Social Destruction of a Biological Concept" (2010). With guest Coleman Hughes. Don't wait for part two; get your full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsors: NativeDeodorant.com (code PEL for 20% off), $15/month wireless at mintmobile.com/PEL, HempFusion.com (code PEL for 20% off/free shipping)....

Pretty Much Pop #15: Opera as Pop
Opera used to be a central part of European pop culture, Pavarotti was as big a pop star as they come. But still, it's now the quintessential art-form of the wealthy and snobbish. What gives? Guest Sean Spyres from Springfield Regional Opera joins his sister Erica along with Mark and Brian to discuss opera's place in culture (including its film appearances), how it's different from music theater, the challenges it faces and how it might become more relevant. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus con...


Ep. 227: What Is Social Construction? (Hacking, Berger) (Part Two)
Continuing Ian Hacking’s The Social Construction of What (1999) and Peter Berger's “Religion and World Construction" (1967). We break down Hacking's typology of construction arguments: Are they exploring where our ideas came from or trying to change things? Are they trying to state facts about nature vs. nurture or essentially political solicitations for us to reconceptualize in healthier ways? Plus, more about the supposed divide between science wars and the culture wars and Berger's picture of the nomos (...

NEM#107: Barry Andrews (Shriekback): Objectifications of Groove
Barry started in '77 playing keys with XTC and after two albums started his own band Shriekback in '81, with whom he's had 14 releases plus some solo albums. He's known for inventive soundscapes placed over solid grooves and philosophical lyrics delivered in a low chant. We discuss three Shriekback tunes: "Such, Such Are the Joys" from Why Anything? Why This? (2018), "Amaryllis in the Sprawl" from Glory Bumps (2007), and "Stimulate the Beaded Hamster"/"Pond Life" from Naked Apes and Pond Life (2000). We con...

NEM#107: Barry Andrews (Shriekback): Objectifications of Groove
Barry started in '77 playing keys with XTC and after two albums started his own band Shriekback in '81, with whom he's had 14 releases plus some solo albums. He's known for inventive soundscapes placed over solid grooves and philosophical lyrics delivered in a low chant. We discuss three Shriekback tunes: "Such, Such Are the Joys" from Why Anything? Why This? (2018), "Amaryllis in the Sprawl" from Glory Bumps (2007), and "Stimulate the Beaded Hamster"/"Pond Life" from Naked Apes and Pond Life (2000). We con...


Pretty Much Pop #14: UFOs on TV with Investigative Journalist Paul Beban
TV news reporter Paul Beban (ABC, Al Jazeera, Yahoo, and now featured on the Discovery Network's Contact) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss the appeal of UFO narratives. Do you have to believe to be entertained? What's the connection to humor, religion, and anti-government venom? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com....

Pretty Much Pop #14: UFOs on TV with Investigative Journalist Paul Beban
TV news reporter Paul Beban (ABC, Al Jazeera, Yahoo, and now featured on the Discovery Network's Contact) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss the appeal of UFO narratives. Do you have to believe to be entertained? What's the connection to humor, religion, and anti-government venom? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com....

Ep. 227: What Is Social Construction? (Hacking, Berger) (Part One)
On Ian Hacking’s The Social Construction of What (1999) and Peter Berger's “Religion and World Construction" (1967). Guest Coleman Hughes from Dilemma joins us to survey the types of social construction arguments: the "culture wars" (e.g. race, gender) and the "science wars" (scientific findings are not read off the world but emerge from history). Something can be constructed, yet still be an objective truth we have to deal with. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad free Citizen Edition now. Please sup...


NEM#106: John Colpitts (aka Kid Millions/Man Forever): Heavy Meditations
John founded the Brooklyn space-rock cooperative Oneida in the mid 90s and has put out 13 albums with them plus four as his solo project Man Forever and several others as collaborations or as Kid Millions. We discuss two tracks by Man Forever from Play What They Want (2017): "You Were Never Here" and "Twin Torches" (feat. Laurie Anderson), then Oneida's "All in Due Time" from Romance (2018), and listen to "Nine Years of Facing a Wall" by Fox Millions Duo from Biting Through (2019). Intro: "Sheets of Easter"...

Pretty Much Pop #13: TV Revivals Revived!
Revivals (not to be confused with reboots) can bring us back to the comfort of old friends, who are now really old. But is reviving a show really ever a good idea? Mark, Erica, and Brian consider some successes, failures, and hypotheticals. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com....

Ep. 226: Francis Bacon Invents Science (Part Two)
Continuing on Sir Francis Bacon's New Organon (1620). We cover more of Bacon's "idols" and how Bacon divides religion from science (and what this means politically). We then move on to book 2, including Bacon's novel update of the term "form," and take a look at Bacon's method of doing science by filling out tables before actually doing experiments. Start with part one or get the full, unbroken Citizen Edition. Please support PEL, like, get Patreon's feed for a mere $1/month. End song: "Stuck in a Cave" by ...


Ep. 226: Francis Bacon Invents Science (Part Two)
Continuing on Sir Francis Bacon's New Organon (1620). We cover more of Bacon's "idols" and how Bacon divides religion from science (and what this means politically). We then move on to book 2, including Bacon's novel update of the term "form," and take a look at Bacon's method of doing science by filling out tables before actually doing experiments. Start with part one or get the full, unbroken Citizen Edition. Please support PEL, like, get Patreon's feed for a mere $1/month. End song: "Stuck in a Cave" by ...

PEL Presents PMP#12: Once Upon a Tarantino Film w/ Wes Alwan
Wes joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood in the context of Tarantino's other films. We consider T's strange sense of pacing, his comic violence, his historical revisionism, and casting choices. Is this a brilliant film or a fundamentally misguided idea badly in need of an editor? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is...

Ep. 226: Francis Bacon Invents Science (Part One)
On Sir Francis Bacon's New Organon (1620). Bacon claims to have developed a new toolset that will open up nature to inquiry in a way that wasn't possible for ancient and modern natural philosophy. Mark, Wes, and Dylan consider how much what Bacon describes resembles modern scientific method, talk through Bacon's "four idols" that interfere with impartial inquiry, and consider how Bacon's method fits in with his larger political-ethical-religious views. Don't wait for part two; get the full, unbroken Citizen...


NEM#105: Wayne Hussey (The Mission): Salad Daze to Mission Accomplished
Wayne started in the late 70s, was on the first Dead or Alive Album, made his name as guitarist for The Sisters of Mercy's first full album, then led The Mission UK from 1986 through 11 albums plus two solo albums and some collaborations. We discuss "Wither on the Vine" from Songs of Candlelight & Razorblades (2014), then two Mission songs: "Phantom Pain" from Another Fall from Grace (2016) and "Tower of Strength" from Children (1987). We conclude by listening to a 2016 solo single "My Love Will Protect You...

NEM#105: Wayne Hussey (The Mission): Salad Daze to Mission Accomplished
Wayne started in the late 70s, was on the first Dead or Alive Album, made his name as guitarist for The Sisters of Mercy's first full album, then led The Mission UK from 1986 through 11 albums plus two solo albums and some collaborations. We discuss "Wither on the Vine" from Songs of Candlelight & Razorblades (2014), then two Mission songs: "Phantom Pain" from Another Fall from Grace (2016) and "Tower of Strength" from Children (1987). We conclude by listening to a 2016 solo single "My Love Will Protect You...

Pretty Much Pop #11: The Live Music Experience
Dave Hamilton (from Gig Gab) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to weigh concert-going (and theater-going) against the technological alternatives. Why are tickets so pricey? Do tribute bands fulfill our needs? Should audiences ideally be on drugs? These are but a few of the questions we breeze through. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com....


Pretty Much Pop #11: The Live Music Experience
Dave Hamilton (from Gig Gab) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to weigh concert-going (and theater-going) against the technological alternatives. Why are tickets so pricey? Do tribute bands fulfill our needs? Should audiences ideally be on drugs? These are but a few of the questions we breeze through. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com....

Ep. 225: Simone Weil on War and Oppression (Part Two)
Continuing on Simone Weil's essays "The Iliad, or the Poem of Force" (1939) and "Analysis of Oppression" (1934) with guest Corey Mohler. We talk about the self-contradictions of power, why oppression and war are so intractable, and her positive solution (what there is of it here). Weil cuts through our left-right political dichotomy in a way that might interest you. Plus, why the Iliad is so great. Start with part one or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Throw Down the Sw...

Pretty Much Pop #10: The Handmaid's Tale
Mark, Erica, and Brian take on both Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel plus the TV series, getting into the transition from page to screen, taking the work as political speech vs. art, Atwood's phenomenology and neologisms (prayvaganza!), plus the roles of race and (lack of) comic relief in the story. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com....


Ep. 225: Simone Weil on War and Oppression (Part One)
On Simone Weil's essays "The Iliad, or the Poem of Force" (1939) and "Analysis of Oppression" (1934). How do circumstances oppress and dehumanize us? Weil describes the mechanisms that keep people at war and maintain oppression even through revolutions as inherent to the logic of power. With guest Corey Mohler. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL!...

NEM#104: Dave Schramm: The Return of the Schramms
Dave was the original guitarist for Yo La Tengo in the mid '80s and left to lead The Schramms for six albums plus two solo albums while being an in-demand guitarist supporting artists like Freedy Johnston, Richard Buckner, Kate Jacobs and Chris Stamey. We discuss three Schramms songs, "Faith is a Dusty Word" from Omnidirectional (2019), "I'll Believe" from 100 Questions (2000), and "Wild Innocence" from Dizzy Spell (1996), and conclude by listening to another Omnidirectional tune, "The Day When." Intro: "Th...

Pretty Much Pop #9: Cartoons with Dee Bradley Baker (Clone Wars, American Dad)
Are cartoons an inherently juvenile art form? A guilty pleasure when viewed by adults? Dee, whose voice can be heard in substantial portion of today's cartoons (especially animal/monster noises like Boots in the new big-screen adaptation of Dora the Explorer or Momo and Appa in The Last Airbender), defends cartoons as providing primal delights of humor, justice, and narrative meaning. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode, and more episodes in advance, at patreon.com/prettym...


Ep. 224: Kierkegaard Critiques The Present Age (Part Two)
Continuing on "The Present Age" (1846), plus Hubert Dreyfus’s "Nihilism on the Information Highway: Anonymity vs. Commitment in the Present Age" (2004) with guest John Ganz. Does K's critique actually apply to our present age? We address K's view of humor, romance, authenticity, actual community vs. "the public," the leveling that occurs without anyone specific actually doing it, and the virtue of silence. Start with part one or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Wry O...

PEL Presents PMP#8: Spider-Man: Far From Home (and Elsewhere)
Mark, Erica, and Brian discuss the function of super-hero films and how this new one fits in. Do we need "realism" in such stories? When does a premise like this get too old to keep recycling? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode, and more episodes in advance, at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com....

Ep. 224: Kierkegaard Critiques The Present Age (Part One)
On Soren Kierkegaard's essay "The Present Age" (1846) and Hubert Dreyfus’s "Nihilism on the Information Highway: Anonymity vs. Commitment in the Present Age" (2004). What's wrong with our society? Kierkegaard saw the advent of the press and gossip culture as engendering a systematic passivity and shallowness in his fellows, and Dreyfus thinks this is an even more apt description of the Internet Age. With guest John Ganz. Don't wait for part 2; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! S...


Ep. 224: Kierkegaard Critiques The Present Age (Part One)
On Soren Kierkegaard's essay "The Present Age" (1846) and Hubert Dreyfus’s "Nihilism on the Information Highway: Anonymity vs. Commitment in the Present Age" (2004). What's wrong with our society? Kierkegaard saw the advent of the press and gossip culture as engendering a systematic passivity and shallowness in his fellows, and Dreyfus thinks this is an even more apt description of the Internet Age. With guest John Ganz. Don't wait for part 2; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! S...

Pretty Much Pop #7: Native Representation with Jonathan Joss (King of the Hill, Parks & Rec)
Jonathan built his career playing 19th century Indians on horseback, was John Redcorn III in King of the Hill, Chief Ken Hotate in Parks and Recreation, was featured in The Magnificent Seven and True Grit, and is currently playing Sitting Bull in Annie Get Your Gun (also featuring Erica) in Sag Harbor.  He talks about Hollywood's record portraying indigenous Americans, his own struggles to get native views reflected in the works he's participated in and the differences between acting on stage vs. film and T...

Ep. 223: Guest Ned Block on Consciousness (Part Two)
We talk with Ned about a second Blockheads (2019) article, Michael Tyle's “Homunculi Heads and Silicon Chips: The Importance of History to Phenomenology," which provides a variation off of the David Chalmers fading qualia argument, and then Mark, Seth, Dylan, and Wes continue exploring the details uncovered by our interview after Ned leaves. Listen to part one first, or get the ad-free, unbroken Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Your So Dark Sleep/Goodbye" by The Black Watch, as interviewed on...


NEM#103: Homer Flynn on The Residents' 50 Years
The Residents were formed in 1969 and have released around 50 albums of theatrical, experimental music with humor and humanity. They're great to freak people out with. The band is anonymous; Homer is the head of their management arm, The Cryptic Corporation. We discuss "Good Vibes" from Intruders (2019), "Blue Rosebuds," from Duck Stab (1978) and the live Shadowland (2014), "Kiss of Flesh" from God in Three Persons (1988), and we listen to "If Only" from the Hardy Fox tribute album The Godfather of Odd (201...

Pretty Much Pop #6: Adults Playing Video Games
Ian Maio (who's worked in e-sports marketing) joins Erica, Brian and Mark to talk about why adults play video games, types of gamers, gaming disorders, gamer shaming, inclusivity, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode, and more episodes in advance, at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com. Please go check out Modern Day Philosophers at moderndayphilosophers.net and See You on...

Ep. 223: Guest Ned Block on Consciousness (Part One)
The climax and denouement of our summer philosophy of mind series: Ned Block visits to fill in the gaps about functionalism and attributing consciousness to machines and discuss essays from Blockheads (2019), focusing here on Brian McLaughlin’s “Could an Android be Sentient?” Don't wait for part 2! Get the ad-free, unbroken Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Please go check out Modern Day Philosophers at moderndayphilosophers.net and See You On The Other Side at othersidepodcast.com. Also, subscribe t...


NEM#102: John Andrew Fredrick (The Black Watch): Literary Anglophilia
John has released 17 albums and 5 EPs of guitar-based post-punk as the Black Watch since 1988. He's also an English professor who's published 5 books.   We discuss "Eustacia's Dream" from Magic Johnson (2019), "Emily, Are You Sleeping?" from Led Zeppelin Five (2011), "Inner City Garden" from The Hypnotizing Sea (2005), and premiere "Much of a Muchness" from the forthcoming Crying All the Time EP. For more, see johnandrewfredrick.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on...

Pretty Much Pop #5: True Crime with Lucy Lawless
Lucy Lawless (Xena the Warrior Princess, currently starring in My Life Is Murder) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to think about the true crime genre, of both the documentary and dramatized variety. What's the appeal? Why do women in particular gravitate to it? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode, and more episodes in advance, at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com....

Ep. 222: Debating Functionalism (Block, Chalmers) (Part Two)
Continuing on Ned Block's "Troubles with Functionalism" (1978) and David Chalmers's "Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia" (1995). What would it be like to be halfway between person and machine? If you think the machine can't have consciousness, then Chalmers thinks that there's no sensible way to describe such an experience, ergo the machine (if functionally equivalent to the person) must have consciousness after all. Listen to part one first, or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please su...


Pretty Much Pop #4: "Chernobyl" and the Art of Suffering
Mark, Erica, and Brian consider the HBO mini-series, plus "based on a true story" and why do we enjoy witnessing suffering? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode, and more episodes in advance, at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com....

Ep. 222: Debating Functionalism (Block, Chalmers) (Part One)
On Ned Block's "Troubles with Functionalism" (1978) and David Chalmers's "Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia" (1995). If mental states are functional states, there couldn't be zombies. Yet Block claims that there could be zombies: for example, a functional duplicate of you whose components are actually citizens of China obeying algorithmic rules. Even if the resulting system acts like you, it obviously isn't conscious. Chalmers argues that you'd then need to explain the experiences of a creature h...

Room 20 Podcast Promo by The Partially Examined Life
A sample of a cool, new podcast you might like, relevant to our current philosophy of mind series. Look for the Room 20 podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Room 20 is a podcast by wondery.com, a sponsor of The Partially Examined Life....


NEM#101: Helen Money (Alison Chesley): Rock Cellist
Alison was studying classical music when she joined Jason Narducy in 1994 in a duet that grew into two Verbow albums. She's since recorded four solo cello albums and been a guest musician on over 100 albums, playing with Bob Mould, Superchunk, Anthrax, Broken Social Scene, etc. We discuss "Become Zero" and "Vanished Star" from Become Zero (2016), then "Beautiful Friends" from Arriving Angels (2013) and listen to "For My Father" by Jarboe/Helen Money (2015). Intro: "New History" by Verbow from White Out (200...

PEL Presents PMP#3: CONFORM w/ Yakov Smirnoff
Is media trying to brainwash us into being ALL THE SAME? Are the excesses of the mob scaring us into conformity? Mark, Erica, and Brian muse on cultural homogenization and are joined by comedian Dr. Yakov Smirnoff to talk about growing up in a repressive society and the shadow of political correctness over comedy. For more about this podcast, see prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode, and more episodes in advance, at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is curated by openculture.com and ...

Ep. 221: Functionalist Theories of Mind (Putnam, Armstrong) (Part Two)
Continuing on functionalism with David M. Armstrong’s "The Causal Theory of the Mind" (1981). Your four hosts start afresh the day after Part One on Putnam to discuss this version of functionalism that is supposed to clear the way for the scientific identification of mental states with brain states. Mental states are defined by their causal relations with other states and with behavior, and the content of a mental state is exhausted by its intentional object, e.g. the content of a perception is the thing y...


Pretty Much Pop #2: Binge Watching
What counts as binge watching? Why do we do it? Is it bad for us? Mark, Erica, and Brian think about what we get out of binge watching, whether it’s bad for us, what kind of shows taste better in bulk than others, and much more. For more about this podcast, see prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode, and more episodes in advance, at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is curated by openculture.com and The Partially Examined Life Podcast Network....

Ep. 221: Functionalist Theories of Mind (Putnam, Armstrong) (Part One)
On Hilary Putnam's "The Nature of Mental States" (1973). What is the mind? Functionalist theories identify the mental with not with the brain exactly, but with something the brain does. So some other creature without a brain (maybe a computer) might be able to do that same thing if it could duplicate the structure of what our brains do. Is this a satisfying account of the mind? Don't wait for part 2! Get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsors: Visit omnifocus.com for a free tria...

PEL Presents PMP#1: Pop Culture vs. High Culture
What is pop culture? Does it make sense to distinguish it from high culture, or can something be both? Welcome to this new pop culture podcast hosted by Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt. This episode also features Tyler Hislop, our editor. For more, see prettymuchpop.com. Get involved from the start at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. We'll solicit your input for our episodes, release them early for supporters, and provide bonus content with every episode; there's already some waiting for you now. P...


Ep. 220: 10-Year Retrospective of The Partially Examined Life
Mark, Seth, Dylan, and Wes reflect on the changing state of podcasting and public philosophy over the last decade, how our goals and interests have changed since we started we started. Why don't colleges pay their faculty to educate the public through regular, broadcasted conversations like ours? If you think we're snarky, take a look at actual philosophy faculty! Should we continue to do more literature, poetry, and other topics that are not strictly philosophy? Also, the stalled state of the PEL book. Tha...

Ep. 219: The Harder Problem of Consciousness (Block & Papineau)
On Ned Block's "The Harder Problem of Consciousness" (2002) and David Papineau's "Could There Be a Science of Consciousness?" (2003). What would give us sufficient reason to believe that a non-human was conscious? Block thinks this is a harder problem that we might suspect. We can't know for sure exactly what consciousness in us is, so we can't know for sure what such a being might require (a brain? certain patterns of behavior?) for them to be enough like us that we could safely apply our own experience of...

Ep. 218: The Hard Problem of Consciousness (Chalmers et al) (Part Two)
Continuing on "Consciousness and Its Place in Nature" by David Chalmers (2003). We finish Chalmers's account of the types of physicialism, then move on to dualism (including epiphenomenalism), and finally dally with panpsychism, the specialty of our guest, Gregory Miller from the Panpsycast. Listen to part 1 first or listen to the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Georgia Hard" by Robbie Fulks, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #36. Sponsor: Visit the St. John's Colleg...


NEM#100: Dan Stuart Faces Truth and Writes Fiction in Mexico
Dan fronted Arizona cow-punk band Green on Red from 1979 to 1992, releasing seven albums and three EPs, and has since released four solo albums and some collaborations, growing increasingly literary, with two of his recent albums accompanied by novels. We discuss two tracks from The Unfortunate Demise of Marlowe Billings (2018): "A Killer Now" and "Sky Harbor," plus "La Passionaria" from Can o’ Worms (1995), We conclude by listening to "Who Knows" by The Slummers from Love of the Amateur (2010). Intro/outro...

Ep. 218: The Hard Problem of Consciousness (Chalmers et al) (Part One)
On "Consciousness and Its Place in Nature" by David Chalmers (2003), with special guest Gregory Miller from the Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast. Can we explain human experience using the terms of brain physiology? Chalmers thinks not, and lays out the arguments against this and the range of positions philosophers have taken in response to these objections.  Continues on part two, or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsor: Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL for a free trial of Th...

REISSUE-PEL Ep 21: Mind: Turing/Ryle/Nagel/Searle/Dennett (w 2019 Intro)
Discussing articles by Alan Turing, Gilbert Ryle, Thomas Nagel, John Searle, and Dan Dennett. What is this mind stuff, and how can it "be" the brain? Can computers think? What is it like to be a bat? With guest Marco Wise. Plus a new intro by Mark, Wes, and Seth reflecting back on this 2010 discussion, which we're re-releasing to help you prepare for our upcoming episodes in this area. End Song: "No Mind" by Mark Lint and the Fake Johnson Trio (1998). Become a PEL Citizen or $5 Patreon supporter for more en...


(sub)Text #1: Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”: Poesis as Revenge Forsaken
At last, the full, public release of this discussion between Wes Alwan and Bill Youmans covering Shakespeare's 1611 play about revenge, forgiveness, and authorship. Or maybe it's about exploitation, or how we react to changes in status, or perhaps how a liberal education can give you magical powers! Listen and decide for yourself!...

Episode 217: Discussing Calderón's "Life Is a Dream"
On the 1636 comedy by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, considering destiny (Christian vs. Ancient Greek), skepticism, meta-theater, and the ethic of honor. Listen to our performance first. With guests Bill Youmans and Erica Spyres. End song: "Pulling Apart" by Jonathan Segel. Hear him on Nakedly Examined Music #38. Please fill out our bonus material survey at partiallyexaminedlife.com/bonus. Please support PEL! Sponsors: Visit TheGreatCoursesPLUS.com/PEL for a free month of online learning. Visit the St. John's ...

Glimpse: Machiavellian Politics (for Partially Examined Life #14)
Does politics have to be Machiavellian? Do you have to be ruthless to succeed? Given our treatment of Game of Thrones and Life Is a Dream, and the way in which end-justifying-the-means logic plays endlessly in our real-life political situation, it's time we looked back on our episode 14 on Machiavelli. Mark Linsenmayer reviewed that episode and recorded a little essay about practicing Machiavellian politics to get you back in this spirit....


NEM#99: Globelamp (Elizabeth LeFay): Raw, Psychedelic Folk
Elizabeth got her start in the psych-punk band Meowtain in Olympia, WA, emerged as Globelamp in 2011 with an EP, was briefly a touring member of Foxygen, and has put out three albums since 2014. We discuss "Everything's a Spiral" and listen to "Black Tar" from Romantic Cancer (2018), "Controversial/Confrontational" from The Orange Glow (2015), and "Warrior" from Star Dust (2014). Intro: "Hex" from Meowtain (2012). For more, see facebook.com/globelamp. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page...

PEL Audioplayers: "Life Is a Dream" by Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Your hosts are joined by real actors to do an unrehearsed read of Calderón's 1636 comedy La Vida Es Sueño, using Stanley Appelbaum's 2002 translation. Ep. 217 will cover the philosophical issues the play raises. Recorded in NYC on 4/7: Talene Monahon (Rosaura), David Epstein (Segismundo), Bill Youmans (Clotaldo), Erica Spyres (Estrella), Chris Martin (Basilio), Mark Linsenmayer (Clarín), Seth Paskin (Astolfo), Dylan Casey (soldier 1 and servant 1), and Wes Alwan (soldier 2 and servant 2). Music by Jonathan ...

PREVIEW-Ep 216 Game of Thrones' Fantasy Politics (Part Two)
Get teased re. Mark and Wes's post-finale, spoiler-filled continuation of the discussion of the show. How does its conclusion affect its overall political message? Does it make sense to be performing feminist critiques on a show based on the premise of people murdering each other for power? To hear the full discussion, become a PEL Citizen or $5 Patreon supporter. For more about these options see partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. Listen to our part one first, of course....


Episode 216: Game of Thrones' Fantasy Politics
Discussing the TV show (2011-2019) based on the books by George R.R. Martin. What's the role of a mass-consumed fantasy series in today's society? Is it our "fantasy" to have all these horrible things happen to us? Is this an edifying prompt to engage in public moral thinking, or a spectacular distraction of the kind that those Marxist theorists keep warning us about? We get into the function of fantasy and how a more "realistic" show plays with that, the extent to which we're supposed to identify with the ...

NEM#98: Phil Judd Entertains Himself
Phil founded New Zealand's Split Enz with Tim Finn in 1972, recorded a seminal punk single with Suburban Reptiles, had an Australian #1 hit with The Swingers, then moved to solo and soundtrack work until 2006, since which he's recorded five thickly textured solo albums including extensive one-man-band work. We discuss the title track from Flightless Bird (2019), "Kite Flying Day" from Play It Strange (2014), and "Lamplight" by Schnell Fenster from The Sound of Trees (1988). We conclude by listening to "No O...

Episode 215: Brave New World: PEL Live 10th Anniversary Show
On Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopian novel, recorded at Manhattan's Caveat on 4/6/19, with audience participation. If we harness the power of society to employ available technologies to really focus on making people happy, what would the result be? This is Huxley's thought experiment, but is it in all respects a dystopia, and is it a fair test of the ideal of social improvement or merely of a flawed view of human nature? You can watch this episode instead. End song: "Brave New World" by Mark Lint. Read about i...


Episode 214: More Nietzsche's Zarathustra (Part Two)
Concluding Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885). What's the wise way to live? We start in earnest into part three, treating the "spirit of gravity" where socially-imposed values cover over your uniqueness, omni-satisfaction vs. being choosy, "Old and New Tablets" where Nietzsche explores various ethical and meta-ethical issues (e.g. is self-overcoming a matter of one-time self-actualization or is it continual?), and more on the Overman and eternal recurrence. Listen to part one first, or get ...

NEM#97: Taking Danny Seraphine Back to Chicago
Danny drummed with Chicago from its founding in 1967 through 1990 and wrote several songs for the band during the mid-late 70s, often with David "Hawk" Wolinski. We discuss "Little One" (and our intro music, "Take Me Back to Chicago") from Chicago XI (1977), "Street Player" from Chicago 13 (1979), and "Devil's Sweet" from Chicago VII (1974). End song: "The Real World" by California Transit Authority from Sacred Ground (2013). For more, see dannyseraphine.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Faceb...