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The Harper’s Podcast

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Harper’s Magazine, the oldest general-interest monthly in America, explores the issues that drive our national conversation, through long-form narrative journalism and essays, and such celebrated features as the iconic Harper’s Index. With its emphasis on fine writing and original thought Harper’s provides readers with a unique perspective on politics, society, the environment, and culture. The essays, fiction, and reporting in the magazine’s pages come from promising new voices, as well as some of the most distinguished names in American letters, among them Annie Dillard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jonathan Franzen, Mary Gaitskill, David Foster Wallace, and Tom Wolfe.

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Harper’s Magazine, the oldest general-interest monthly in America, explores the issues that drive our national conversation, through long-form narrative journalism and essays, and such celebrated features as the iconic Harper’s Index. With its emphasis on fine writing and original thought Harper’s provides readers with a unique perspective on politics, society, the environment, and culture. The essays, fiction, and reporting in the magazine’s pages come from promising new voices, as well as some of the most distinguished names in American letters, among them Annie Dillard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jonathan Franzen, Mary Gaitskill, David Foster Wallace, and Tom Wolfe.

iTunes Ratings

56 Ratings
Average Ratings
42
5
2
6
1

Dude...

By schmidtyNIDAHONOHICK - Jul 20 2019
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I’m dope my ace...aka:STRETCH.... -Les Couchon- 💄🐷👠🍒

Ahhhh

By wmbrainiac - Jun 16 2019
Read more
People still read books and talk about ideas. What a balm.

iTunes Ratings

56 Ratings
Average Ratings
42
5
2
6
1

Dude...

By schmidtyNIDAHONOHICK - Jul 20 2019
Read more
I’m dope my ace...aka:STRETCH.... -Les Couchon- 💄🐷👠🍒

Ahhhh

By wmbrainiac - Jun 16 2019
Read more
People still read books and talk about ideas. What a balm.

Listen to:

Cover image of The Harper’s Podcast

The Harper’s Podcast

Updated 5 days ago

Read more

Harper’s Magazine, the oldest general-interest monthly in America, explores the issues that drive our national conversation, through long-form narrative journalism and essays, and such celebrated features as the iconic Harper’s Index. With its emphasis on fine writing and original thought Harper’s provides readers with a unique perspective on politics, society, the environment, and culture. The essays, fiction, and reporting in the magazine’s pages come from promising new voices, as well as some of the most distinguished names in American letters, among them Annie Dillard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jonathan Franzen, Mary Gaitskill, David Foster Wallace, and Tom Wolfe.

Rank #1: The K–12 Takeover

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, philanthropists and New Orleans education reformers saw an unprecedented chance to completely restructure a failing school system. As a result, New Orleans has become the only city in the United States where charter schools have completely replaced public schools. It’s the most dramatic test case for the claims of the self-styled, traditional school choice movement—a nationwide push, led by a slew of major philanthropists and by current secretary of education Betsy DeVos, to privatize education and treat schooling as a business like any other. As Andrea Gabor documents in the November issue of Harper’s Magazine, the experiment is not producing the desired results. The skewed incentives of the portfolio model, which stakes school survival largely on standardized test scores, have caused many schools to treat students like prisoners while deliberately discouraging or underserving children with special needs. In districts where charters and public schools coexist, competitive pressure and poor funding can make public schools dysfunctional “dumping grounds” for harder-to-teach children, victims of a system that values profitability over community needs.

In this episode, web editor Violet Lucca speaks with Andrea Gabor—author of After the Education Wars and the Bloomberg Chair of Business Journalism at Baruch College of the City University of New York—about the reality of school choice, the mind-set of Big Philanthropy, and the often-neglected tipping point at which charter schools begin harming nearby public schools.

Read Gabor’s article here: https://harpers.org/archive/2019/11/the-k-12-takeover-charter-schools-new-orleans/

This episode was produced by Violet Lucca and Andrew Blevins.

Oct 23 2019

36mins

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Rank #2: Like This or Die

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Though we live in a politically factious era, our cultural landscape is dominated by consensus, where even the New York Times publishes top-books lists and must-see-TV listicles in place of measured criticism. What do we lose by squaring art away into tidy monoculture? In his cover story for the April issue, Christian Lorentzen calls upon anyone who enjoys serious literature to push back against feed-based culture: “The edifice of ‘books coverage’ that has been constructed around the work of critics looks a lot like the coverage of television—a tissue of lists, recommendations, profiles, Q&As, online book clubs, lifestyle features, and self-promotional essays by authors of new books—an edifice so slapdash it could be blown away in a week.”

In this week’s episode, Lorentzen talks with web editor Violet Lucca about how digital culture has fallen short of its cultural promise, why fans are drowning out the critics, and the false allure of imposing order upon the infinite world of literature.

Read Lorentzen’s cover story: https://harpers.org/archive/2019/04/like-this-or-die/

Mar 25 2019

39mins

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Rank #3: Living in the Vanguard of Climate Change

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The western United States is experiencing longer-burning, wider ranging, and more deadly fires now than at any point in the past century. The attitude towards fire and fire management in the rural West and Washington, however, has changed little in the last 100 years: Rather than letting it burn, as part of a natural process, firefighters must risk their lives to extinguish it; requiring the use of fire-retardant materials in homebuilding, tree-thinning on at-risk property, or restricting where homes can be built is dismissed as “big government.” In his August cover story “Combustion Engines,” Richard Manning reports from the fires that swept through Montana’s Lolo National Forest last summer and reveals the social and political obstacles to protecting American communities from fire.

In this episode, Manning, a longtime Montana resident and frequent contributor to Harper’s, joined Web Editor Violet Lucca to discuss how we must all adapt to better live with new normal. “The West is just the vanguard,” says Manning. Soon other parts of the world, including the American Northeast, will be facing fire too.

Read Manning’s article: https://harpers.org/archive/2018/08/lolo-peak-rice-ridge-mega-fires/

Jul 13 2018

33mins

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Rank #4: Is Poverty Necessary?

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Common sense seems to dictate that the rise of automation will bring about the economic demise of the working class. But need this be true? This assumption draws on a history of economic thought, from Malthus to Marx, that accepts laws such as the labor theory of value and the iron law of wages—laws that imply poverty as a necessary consequence—as inevitable. In the June issue of Harper’s Magazine, Marilynne Robinson examines this history. Drawing upon Henry George’s Progress and Poverty, she explores economic theories that might support alternate modes of creating and distributing wealth across society. Robinson argues that, rather than being a corollary following from the laws of economics, “the creation of poverty is as fully intentional as the creation of wealth.” If poverty is not necessary but merely a consequence of how our current cultural beliefs and economic systems, how might we alter our notions of who creates value, and who benefits from it, in order to live in a more humane and just society?

In this week’s episode, Christopher Beha, executive editor of Harper’s Magazine and the editor of “Is Poverty Necessary?,” speaks with web editor Violet Lucca about Marilynne Robinson’s self-education in economics, why poverty persists even as nations get richer, and whether a “third way” beyond Marxist theory and classical economics might exist.

Read Robinson’s essay: https://harpers.org/archive/2019/06/is-poverty-necessary-marilynne-robinson/

Jun 05 2019

35mins

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Rank #5: The Family

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The separation of church and state is one of the fundamental principles of American democracy; Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Yet there have been plenty of people who’ve tried to erode that boundary, or at the very least work around it. In the March 2003 issue of Harper’s Magazine, Jeff Sharlet published a story that revealed (some of) the inner workings of one religious organization that has been at the task for decades: the Family. Since 1953, the Family has organized the National Prayer Breakfast—a seemingly innocuous nonpartisan event. Yet this annual celebration has allowed leaders from around the world—including dictators, warlords, foreign agents, and legitimate clergy—to covertly access the halls of power and exert influence. Espousing the ambiguous philosophy of “Jesus plus nothing,” the Family’s willingness to work with powerful but diabolical leaders arises from their interpretation of predestination—if you’re in power, it’s because God said so, and isn’t it better to have the wolf king on your side?

Jeff Sharlet’s reporting on the Family has led to several more articles and two books: The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power and C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy. Netflix and Sharlet recently adapted this reporting into a five-part documentary. Web editor Violet Lucca spoke with Sharlet and director Jesse Moss about adapting this wealth of material into a documentary, the difficulties of getting straight answers out of deeply secretive Family members, and the organization’s ascendant power.

Read Sharlet’s “Jesus Plus Nothing”: https://harpers.org/archive/2003/03/jesus-plus-nothing/

This episode was produced by Violet Lucca and Andrew Blevins.

Aug 15 2019

46mins

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Rank #6: Going To Extremes

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As medical technology continues to extend life spans, very little thought is given to the quality of those added years, or to what someone who is severely infirm but not terminally ill might need to feel fulfilled. In the February issue, Ann Neumann delves into the phenomenon of “mercy killings,” in which a man ends his spouse’s life once an illness has compromised her quality of life, and attempts suicide afterward. Not far from the house she grew up in, Neumann discovered the story of Philip and Becky Benight, two aging people in love who, after pushing against a system of care that disempowered them, decided to end their lives together. Their story is not unique; there are hundreds of so-called mercy killings each year in the United States, but our health care and legal systems have yet to catch up to the needs of the aging.

In this audio essay, Philip Benight talks to Neumann and Violet Lucca, web editor of Harper’s Magazine, about his singular bond to Becky, the various institutions that sought to help but only hurt them, and the legal fallout of their actions.

Read Neumann’s story here: https://harpers.org/archive/2019/02/going-to-extremes-elderly-assisted-suicide-caregivers/

Feb 07 2019

31mins

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Rank #7: How to Start a Nuclear War

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When both war and the military-industrial complex hum unchallenged in the background of American life, it turns out that a fighter pilot, in the right circumstances, has the ability to launch a nuclear attack. Barack Obama’s commitment to “modernize” the US nuclear arsenal over the next twenty-five years at a cost of at least $1.2 trillion failed to generate public outrage; now that Donald Trump is president, the call to reevaluate Cold War procedures has become freshly urgent.

In his August issue story “How to Start a Nuclear War,” Harper’s Washington Editor Andrew Cockburn reveals just how few controls stand between the president and a nuclear launch. Cockburn joins Web Editor Violet Lucca to discuss why we’re still so close to nuclear war—and what it would take to step back from the brink.

Aug 16 2018

37mins

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Rank #8: Thomas Frank: Rendezvous With Oblivion

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The advent of radical centrism; journalists’ fantasy that they are part of the professional elite; the shuttering of local newspapers; the impending extinction of the book editor; your Comp Lit degree from Brown: All are symptoms and causes of the dissolution of American society. In June, the day after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset victory in the Bronx led many (but perhaps too few) to rethink the future of the Democratic Party, and the evening after we’d learned that Trump would be filling his second seat on the Supreme Court, Thomas Frank delves into his freakishly prescient book, Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society. “The con-game is our national pastime,” he says. “And so we come to Donald Trump.”

Sep 20 2018

54mins

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Rank #9: John Cleese and Iain McGilchrist (First Night)

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What do a comic genius and an internationally renowned psychiatrist have in common? Quite a bit, it turns out. So much, in fact, that Harper’s Magazine and Book Culture on Columbus brought John Cleese and Iain McGilchrist together for two nights of conversation. On the first night, McGilchrist interviewed Cleese; on the second, Cleese interviewed McGilchrist. With wit and intelligence, the two men delved into the philosophical and biological underpinnings of how we each understand the world.

Dec 13 2018

1hr 18mins

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Rank #10: They Told Us Not To Say This

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Natalie Holly reads Jenn Alandy Trahan’s short story from the September issue “They Told Us Not to Say This.” Then, Trahan joins Web Editor Violet Lucca for a discussion of her work. Trahan is a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, where she was a 2016–18 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction.

Sep 13 2018

33mins

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Rank #11: Without a Trace

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Each year, millions of people around the globe are displaced, and while many are able to resettle through official channels, millions more are forced to travel through unofficial, unsanctioned, often dangerous paths. When migrants vanish, whose responsibility is it to find them? In his piece for the February issue, Matthew Wolfe follows Javed Hotak as he searches for his brother Masood, who disappeared while attempting to migrate from Afghanistan to Germany. “The families of these migrants are left to mount searches—alone and with minimal resources—of staggering scope and complexity. They must attempt to defy the entropy of a progressively more disordered world—seeking, against long odds, to sew together what has been ripped apart.”

In this episode, web editor Violet Lucca talks with Wolfe, a journalist and graduate student in sociology at NYU, about the “immense, mostly hidden catastrophe” of missing migrants and the people who can’t forget them.

Read the article: https://harpers.org/archive/2019/02/without-a-trace-migrants-afghanistan-turkey-greece-bulgaria/

Jan 17 2019

26mins

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Rank #12: Machine Politics

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There is an exquisite irony about the rise of the internet and personal computing: although they were once hailed as safeguards against authoritarianism, that’s precisely what they now enable. In the January issue, Fred Turner explains how the challenge of these new modes of communication stems from historical narratives. “If we’re going to resist the rise of despotism, we need to understand how this happened and why we didn’t see it coming. We especially need to grapple with the fact that today’s right wing has taken advantage of a decades-long liberal effort to decentralize our media. That effort began at the start of the Second World War, came down to us through the counterculture of the 1960s, and flourishes today in the high-tech hothouse of Silicon Valley.”

For this episode, web editor Violet Lucca talks with Turner, a professor of communication at Stanford University, about how, in an era of disembodiment and disempowerment, we can reimagine collective action and reconfigure digital systems.

Jan 10 2019

45mins

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Rank #13: Humanitarian Wars?

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The oxymoron “humanitarian war” is sometimes used ironically, at other times derisively, and still at others earnestly. In his recent book, excerpted in the April issue of Harper’s Magazine, Rony Brauman, former president of Doctors Without Borders, explores criteria deemed essential to justify violence. “While claiming to protect populations,” Brauman writes, “the United Nations is rehabilitating war—when in fact it was created to prevent it. And in granting itself the right to declare war and to call it ‘just,’ the U.N. is acting as both referee and player, and legalizing the conflation of judges and parties to a conflict.”

In this week’s episode, Brauman is joined on a panel by Harper’s president and publisher John R. MacArthur and Columbia University professor Elazar Barkan. They probe the lessons of Libya, Somalia, and Kosovo; the threshold of violence that demands international involvement; and how the framework of humanitarianism can be co-opted, to disastrous effect, by propaganda.

Read an excerpt of Brauman’s book here: https://harpers.org/archive/2019/04/humanitarian-wars-regis-meyran-rony-brauman/

May 07 2019

1hr 11mins

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Rank #14: Conditions of Impeachment

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The Constitution of the United States is a foundational element of national mythology, an exceptional document for its time that, unlike other constitutions, is still cited in contemporary political discussions. In the October issue of Harper’s Magazine, five lawmakers and legal scholars—Donna Edwards, five​-​term congresswoman from Maryland, serving in the House of Representatives; Mary Anne Franks, President and Legislative and Tech Policy Director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, and author of the new book The Cult of the Constitution; David Law, Charles Nagel Chair of Constitutional Law and Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis, and the Sir Y. K. Pao Chair in Public Law at the University of Hong Kong; Lawrence Lessig, professor at Harvard Law School, specializing in constitutional and comparative constitutional law; Lewis Michael Seidman, professor at Georgetown University Law Center, specializing in constitutional law and criminal justice; and Georgetown Law professor Rosa Brooks—participated in a forum that went beyond speculations about what the framers would want and considered, among other questions, how the Constitution could be changed in an era of partisan polarization, and whether the whole thing should be scrapped and rewritten.

This week’s episode is an excerpt from the forum that did not appear in print, and which begins with a very topical issue: impeachment. The legal scholars and lawmakers discuss the functions and limitations of the Fourteenth Amendment, and how we could think differently about the relationship between the constitutionality and democracy of impeachment.

Read the forum: https://harpers.org/archive/2019/10/constitution-in-crisis/

This episode was produced by Violet Lucca and Andrew Blevins.

Oct 09 2019

43mins

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Rank #15: Downstream

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For many Americans, our relationship with stuff ends when we take it to the curb on trash day. But for millions of items—everything from coat hangers to mattresses—this is the beginning of a second life, one that flows out the Miami River and on to Haiti. In the June issue of Harper’s Magazine, Rowan Moore Gerety explores how this process relies on cheap labor rather than cheap materials, the fine margins of which many Haitians rely on to survive. “Refugees from the northwest have long made up a disproportionate share of the ‘boat people,’” he writes. “Today, it remains Haiti’s poorest and most isolated region, and almost every family that can afford it has sent someone to South Florida in search of a living. For those who stay, fortunes rise and fall with the tide.”

In this week’s episode, Moore Gerety talks with web editor Violet Lucca about how cocaine undergirds the industry, why a once agriculturally rich nation remains so poor, and how this story epitomizes the United States’ approach to territorial control in the Caribbean.

Read Moore Gerety’s article here: https://harpers.org/archive/2019/06/downstream-haiti-american-junk/

May 15 2019

33mins

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Rank #16: From the People Who Brought You the Weekend

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Hailed as a major victory for conservatives seeking to reduce collective-bargaining rights, the recent Supreme Court ruling in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31 has further emphasized the precarious position occupied by American unions. Formerly ranked in the top tier of nations for collective-bargaining rights by the International Trade Union Confederation, the United States is currently in the fourth of five tiers, alongside Argentina and Peru. As mainstream political support for labor causes has dried up and hard-won protections gotten rolled back, traditional methods of labor activism have been constrained, leaving workers all the more vulnerable to exploitation. In his September cover story “Labor’s Last Stand,” Garret Keizer explores how the labor movement, from union representatives, to grassroots activists, is fighting to secure “a place at the table” for American workers.

In this episode, author and Harper’s contributing editor Keizer joined Web Editor Violet Lucca to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by today’s workforce (unionized or not), and the future of the American labor movement.

Sep 06 2018

48mins

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Rank #17: The Gatekeepers

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Although many august publications have survived the shift to digital, they have retained many of the problems in how print outlets make assignments and edit their writers’ work—particularly when it comes to race. In the December issue, Mychal Denzel Smith writes, “There is power lost when the oppressor serves as interlocutor. This is not new. Navigating the constraints of white supremacy while establishing a self-definition outside of it is what being black in America has always meant. Slave narratives are powerful firsthand accounts of the horrors of slavery and important assertions of black humanity. But each one, whether Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass or Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, is compromised by the fact that its intended audience was almost exclusively white. It was never the enslaved who needed to hear about the brutality of enslavement.”

In this episode, web editor Violet Lucca is joined by Smith, the author of Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education and a fellow at the Nation Institute, to consider the structural problems of the news media, and how they mirror larger problems in society.

Dec 20 2018

39mins

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Rank #18: The Tragedy Of Ted Cruz

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In one of the most closely watched races of this midterm election cycle, Ted Cruz narrowly defeated Beto O’Rourke to gain reelection to the Senate for a second term. Unpopular among Democrats and Republicans alike, Cruz has been a target of national derision since his election on a Tea Party platform in 2012. In “The Tragedy of Ted Cruz,” published in the November issue of Harper’s Magazine, Ana Marie Cox goes in search of the Texas senator, hoping, perhaps in vain, to find some common ground with the man for whom she has an unlikely “soft spot.” Cox joins web editor Violet Lucca to discuss her article, Cruz’s self-made caricature, what she thinks drives the senator, and whether some of the mockery of Cruz and his family goes too far.

This episode also deals with the aftermath of the midterm elections: Cox and Lucca discuss their hopes for the future of progressive politics post-Beto, both in Texas and across the country, the roles the media and politicians like Cruz have played in amplifying white nationalist voices, and whether there are any Republicans left to temper Trump’s impulses.

Read Ana’s story here: https://harpers.org/archive/2018/11/the-tragedy-of-ted-cruz/

Nov 08 2018

47mins

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Rank #19: Good Bad Bad Good

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At this year’s Emmys, the biggest names in television presented their usual awards, while the show itself represented an industry in flux. The hostless proceedings saw record low ratings even as new television shows and streaming services continue to infinitely expand. In the October issue of Harper’s Magazine, Adam Wilson considers the market and technological forces that gave rise to the “Golden Age of television,” and how it has subsequently led to “Peak TV.” Wilson asks how shifts in the consumption habits of the small number of viewers who watch “prestige” television (rather than comedies on the Big Three networks) have changed the ways the major players do business—and whether they truly have.

In this episode, Harper’s web editor Violet Lucca talks with Wilson, the author of three books, including the forthcoming novel Sensation Machines, about the questionable label of prestige television, experimentation in visual narrative media, and the shifting nature of stardom—i.e., what it’s like to get tweeted at by Lizzo.

Read Wilson’s essay: https://harpers.org/archive/2019/10/good-bad-bad-good-golden-age-of-television/

This episode was produced by Violet Lucca and Andrew Blevins.

Oct 02 2019

44mins

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Rank #20: John Cleese and Iain McGilcrest (Second Night)

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What do a comic genius and an internationally renowned psychiatrist have in common? Quite a bit, it turns out. So much, in fact, that Harper’s Magazine and Book Culture on Columbus brought John Cleese and Iain McGilchrist together for two nights of conversation. On the first night, McGilchrist interviewed Cleese; on the second, Cleese interviewed McGilchrist. With wit and intelligence, the two men delved into the philosophical and biological underpinnings of how we each understand the world.

Dec 13 2018

1hr 13mins

Play