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Society & Culture
Philosophy

Essay Questions

Updated 6 days ago

Society & Culture
Philosophy
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Essay Questions is the podcast in which your hosts, Joe & Josh, read an essay that's interesting to them and/or of historical importance, and then talk about it. Pretty simple, right? Well, we like to think we're using these essays as a starting point for conversations that end up going in strange and surprising directions. Nothing makes us happier than dragging luminaries like Mencken, Orwell, Adorno, and Didion into our own long-standing obsessions with conspiracy theories, the National Security State, media consolidation, high and low culture, and the meaning and purpose of religion. But this isn't a seminar, and we're not scholars or experts. Joe is a comic, Josh is a writer, and for them, this is just fun. So if you love to read but feel like you don't do enough of it, and you think you might enjoy hearing two ordinary guys shoot the s*** about things other than sports, politics, or pop culture, this is the podcast for you. Each episode, we choose a reading that's publicly available and encourage all our listeners to read it beforehand so you can follow along with our conversation. And of course, you can also always contact us with your thoughts, too!

Read more

Essay Questions is the podcast in which your hosts, Joe & Josh, read an essay that's interesting to them and/or of historical importance, and then talk about it. Pretty simple, right? Well, we like to think we're using these essays as a starting point for conversations that end up going in strange and surprising directions. Nothing makes us happier than dragging luminaries like Mencken, Orwell, Adorno, and Didion into our own long-standing obsessions with conspiracy theories, the National Security State, media consolidation, high and low culture, and the meaning and purpose of religion. But this isn't a seminar, and we're not scholars or experts. Joe is a comic, Josh is a writer, and for them, this is just fun. So if you love to read but feel like you don't do enough of it, and you think you might enjoy hearing two ordinary guys shoot the s*** about things other than sports, politics, or pop culture, this is the podcast for you. Each episode, we choose a reading that's publicly available and encourage all our listeners to read it beforehand so you can follow along with our conversation. And of course, you can also always contact us with your thoughts, too!

iTunes Ratings

4 Ratings
Average Ratings
4
0
0
0
0

This is excellent

By definitely not Darin - Apr 26 2018
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I ran into this podcast completely by accident, searching for some obscure critical theorist or something. But Joe and Josh bring intelligence and nuance to all their discussions, of which I've already listened to about ten. These long form conversations are enjoyable, informative, and all around fantastic! Thanks for doing this!

iTunes Ratings

4 Ratings
Average Ratings
4
0
0
0
0

This is excellent

By definitely not Darin - Apr 26 2018
Read more
I ran into this podcast completely by accident, searching for some obscure critical theorist or something. But Joe and Josh bring intelligence and nuance to all their discussions, of which I've already listened to about ten. These long form conversations are enjoyable, informative, and all around fantastic! Thanks for doing this!
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Essay Questions

Latest release on Apr 30, 2018

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 6 days ago

Rank #1: Theodor Adorno: Free Time

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German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno is a key figure in the post-war Frankfurt School of critical theory and one of the top writers every graduate student in North America pretends to have read more extensively than they actually have. Well, we should all stop pretending and hit the books, because Adorno's work on the culture industry, especially the ways in which manufactured "entertainment" actually poison the true experience of leisure, is more relevant now than it was in Adorno's lifetime. In this episode, Joe & Josh serve as temporarily reliable guides to Adorno's prophetic analysis, before being derailed by complaints about their own laziness and their culture-industry-induced preoccupation with conspiracy theories. Capitalism wins again! Still, if you listen carefully, they're clearly on the cusp of Mündigkeit, which might just transform the free time they waste podcasting into freedom proper.

Either way, read the damn essay and make up your own mind: http://xenopraxis.net/readings/adorno_freetime.pdf

Oct 16 2017

1hr 2mins

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Rank #2: George Orwell: Politics and the English Language

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Eric Blair, aka George Orwell, is a strong candidate for greatest English essayist of the twentieth century, and "Politics and the English Language" is his final and most famous statement on propaganda, obfuscation, and how linguistic degeneration as a sign of civilizational decline. You probably got assigned this essay in college and don't remember because you never did the readings. Well, now's your second chance. Follow along with Junior Anti-Sex League enforcers Joe & Josh as they hash out the connection between language and thought, try to figure out when it's OK to change our words to suit modern political sensitivities, and rehearse the same complaints against Fox News and media consolidation that they've been making since 2002. Oh, and inevitably fall through the Trump trapdoor. Orwell would have surely found this episode, um... not ungood at least.

As always, be sure to read the original essay before listening: https://faculty.washington.edu/rsoder/EDLPS579/HonorsOrwellPoliticsEnglishLanguage.pdf

Oct 09 2017

1hr 2mins

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Rank #3: (((Mrs. Enoch)))

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Did you hear the one about the Jewish gal who was married to a Nazi? How about the sorrowful dad who disowned his Nazi son after Charlottesville? Or the one about "edgy" podcasters who went from making dark Holocaust jokes to humorlessly advocating for a second Holocaust? Pure comedy. In this episode, (((Joe))) & Josh examine Andrew Marantz's oddly moving New Yorker profile of white nationalist podcaster Mike Enoch - and of his grieving father - and talk social media cocoons, anti-semitic parentheses, and the limits of sympathy. They also begin a conversation, to be continued through the next few episodes, about the origins and persistence of anti-Semitism.

“Birth of a White Supremacist” by Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 2017
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/16/birth-of-a-white-supremacist

Optional:
“Threatening Jewish Prosperity” by Steve Sailer, Taki’s, 2017
http://takimag.com/article/threatening_jewish_prosperity_steve_sailer/print#axzz50zOK3Qyj

“Enemies of My Enemy” by Kevin Macdonald, The Occidental Quarterly, 2004
http://www.kevinmacdonald.net/benderskyrev.htm

Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

Mar 19 2018

1hr 30mins

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Rank #4: Ethno-Statesman

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Once a prominent figure only in the wilderness of right-wing internet culture, Richard Spencer has become the smug public face of the so-called Alt-Right. He can lay at least a partial claim to originating the phrase "alternative right" itself, and he has been the subject of numerous profiles since Trump's election, some of which have been criticized for glamorizing him as "dapper," even dashing. How did this seemingly generic frat-kid type from the Texas suburbs become the public face of American fascism? Graeme Wood's de-mystifying account is especially helpful in providing some answers, given Wood's minor but nonetheless significant personal history with Spencer. In this episode, Joe & Josh delve into that backstory, along with the inevitable question of whether or not we should punch Nazis. 
“His Kampf” by Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, 2017
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/06/his-kampf/524505/
Optional:
“The Alt-Right’s Jewish Godfather” by Jacob Siegel, Tablet, 2016
http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/218712/spencer-gottfried-alt-right
“The Flight 93 Election” by Michael Anton, The Claremont Review, 2016
http://www.claremont.org/crb/basicpage/the-flight-93-election/

Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

Mar 12 2018

1hr 39mins

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Rank #5: Mansplaining the Manosphere

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Manosphere. Men's rights. MGTOW. All dumb names for the same controversial thing. But is it malevolent? Is the connection that so many journalists and analysts have made between these men's movements and the Alt-Right justified? In this episode, Manischewitz & Mendacity red-pill you on Warren Farrell, an early proponent of therapeutic misogyny, with help from a 2015 Mother Jones profile by Mariah Blake. We'll also look at the world of pickup artists and at various attempts to connect the hookup culture with the Decline of Western Civilization. So assume your Alpha Male body posture and call your family court lawyer, we're about to kino escalate Season 2 into the manosphere.

“Mad Men: Inside the Men’s Rights Movement” by Mariah Blake, Mother Jones, 2015
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/warren-farrell-mens-rights-movement-feminism-misogyny-trolls/

Optional:
“Sexual Utopia in Power” by F. Roger Devil, The Occidental Quarterly, 2006
https://www.toqonline.com/archives/v6n2/DevlinTOQV6N2.pdf
“From Pickup Artist to Pariah,” by Rachel Monroe, The Cut, 2016
https://www.thecut.com/2016/01/jared-rutledge-pickup-artist-c-v-r.html

Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

Mar 05 2018

1hr 28mins

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Rank #6: Mad as Hell, and Taking it to the Internet

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Liberals and leftists hated Andrew Breitbart in life and cursed him in death. "F*ck him," wrote Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone immediately after Breitbart's death was announced in March 2012. "I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead." But even Taibbi had to concede that Breitbart's public humiliation of then-Senator, not-yet-pariah Anthony Weiner was a triumph of crass showmanship and perverse humor. But how to separate Breitbart the brand from Breitbart the man? Did his rage-fueled drive to build new, online conservative media help open the sewers for the Alt-Right? What would he think, were he still alive, about the site that still bears his name and the ugly trajectory it's followed in the past few years? Joe & Josh explore these questions by looking back at Rebecca Mead's 2010 profile of Breitbart, in which he's revealed as a petty visionary who screams a lot.

“Rage Machine” by Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 2010
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/05/24/rage-machine

Optional:
“Finding Your Inner Gorilla” by Brianna Rennix and Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs, 2017
https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/01/finding-your-inner-gorilla

“Alt-White” by Joseph Bernstein, BuzzFeed, 2017
https://www.buzzfeed.com/josephbernstein/heres-how-breitbart-and-milo-smuggled-white-nationalism

Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

Feb 26 2018

1hr 11mins

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Rank #7: A Normies Guide to Season 2

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In this full-length introduction to Season Two, Joe & Josh explain why they've devoted this next batch of episodes to discussing the Alt-Right, that tangle of ugly political and cultural phenomena that has been explained, attacked, and analyzed to death by all quarters of the media in the past two years. What else is there to say by now? Starting with their reactions to Angela Nagle's widely (and rightly) praised book Kill All Normies, your hosts try to defend their choice of theme and their selection of essays and ask what, if anything, this toxic counter-culture can tell us about American life in the 21st century.

Feb 12 2018

1hr 8mins

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Rank #8: Season One: Wrap-Up

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BONUS! Joe & Josh do a newly-recorded season wrap up. We talk about what we did well, what we could have done better, and what's on tap for next season. Thanks for listening!

Dec 11 2017

24mins

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Rank #9: Andrew O'Hagan: Who's the Alpha Male Now, Bitches?

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The normalization of mass shootings is perhaps the most horrifying aspect of modern American life - which is saying something. In this episode, Joe & Josh delve into the minds of of the men and boys who commit such crimes, with the help of Andrew O'Hagan's masterful synthesis of their self-serious, self-pitying manifestos, "Who's the Alpha Male Now, Bitches?" O'Hagan manages an admirable literary analysis of these beta male killers and their violent alpha fantasies without either glamorizing or dehumanizing the miserable bastards. Writing in 2015, O'Hagan refuses to harp on the usual suspects of violent media or American gun culture, seeking instead the common denominators in the killers' inner lives and examining cases outside the U.S. that got less attention in the American press. This episode was recorded well before the tragedies in Las Vegas or Sutherland Springs, but sadly, O'Hagan's essay only seems more spot-on now. Read it here, and also subscribe to the LRB already: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n20/andrew-ohagan/whos-the-alpha-male-now-bitches
Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

Dec 04 2017

1hr 18mins

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Rank #10: Richard Hofstadter: The Paranoid Style in American Politics

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Populist anger. Viral conspiracy theories. "Fake news." Anti-immigrant fear and loathing. Belief that an alien religion threatens to destroy our way of life. To say that "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" by Richard Hofstadter is just as relevant today as when first published in 1964 is a painfully obvious truth. As low-level minions of the Illuminati, sinister Hebrew/Papist conspirators Joe & Josh do what they can to undermine American liberties and the Protestant values that underpin them by convincing you it's all in your head. Sort of. Join them as they walk through Hofstadter's history of a fear-mongering racket that will seemingly never die, discuss how the paranoid style has changed - and remained the same - since the 1960s, and explain why the conspiracy theories THEY believe are the exceptions that are actually true. Get the original essay here, sheeple: https://harpers.org/archive/1964/11/the-paranoid-style-in-american-politics/

Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

Nov 27 2017

1hr 15mins

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