Past Shows

Mutually Assured Madness

At the brink of who knows what with North Korea, we seem to be back on the scary ledge as in the old Cold War cartoon: enemy rock-climbers hanging off a cliff by the same ...

Let Us Now Praise John Ashbery

John Ashbery seemed to lower, not raise, his voice when he spoke his poems. “Hammer and tongs, as it were, tended to drive ideas and meanings away,” he thought.  “They only come back in when ...

The Plague of Fascism in America

It’s plague time in America. We’ve reacquainted ourselves with the wannabe centurions of white supremacy: their faces, their weapons, their torches. We have a new notion of what homegrown American fascism could look like in the ...

Harder, Better, Faster, CRISPR

The dawn of a new age flashed across the news this summer – dateline Oregon: scientists from the US, China and South Korea together had tweaked the genes of a living human embryo to correct ...

This is Your Brain on Trump

If you can believe your eyes, and ears, your screens, your Twitter feed, this is your mind, your country, our very public American life, “on Trump.”  There is no following this story, this confounding condition, this ...

Billy Bragg’s Guide to the Music of Dissent

Billy Bragg has been the premier troubadour for British radicalism for more than thirty years: a democratic socialist with a guitar and a steadfast commitment to fighting fascism, racism, and homophobia.He was the voice of the ...

The Concord Circle & the Birth of American Philosophy

Henry David Thoreau on his 200th birthday has invited us back to his woodsy, watery old town of Concord, Massachusetts where crystalline American prose was born and grew up.  “The biggest little place in America,” ...

Walden & the Natural World of Transcendentalism

Henry David Thoreau, our specimen of American genius in nature, wrote famously short, and long.  “Simplify,” in a one-word sentence of good advice.  But then 2-million words on 7-thousand pages in his quotable lifetime journal. ...

Etcetera

April 3, 2014

Reading Chekhov V: “The Teacher of Literature”

We're reading and gabbing about a Chekhov story called "The Teacher of Literature," published in 1894; Chekhov was 34 years old. It's a story about a young man in love, at a crisis in his young marriage. I'd put this...
November 25, 2015

Colm Tóibín’s Working on his Sentences

This is provincial Ireland, a place of long winters but not freezing winters. There’s drizzle as much as there’s rain. You’re trying to find a style just to bring things down to size, maybe bring ...
April 10, 2014

Are We Numb to Nukes?

We’re thinking our way through a plausible nuclear emergency with Elaine Scarry who reminds you – we’ve got a weapons monarchy in this democracy. How can we call it a democracy, the rule of the people, when there’s one man’s...
June 2, 2015

Whitman at War

The best of American poets and the worst of American wars met head-on 150 years ago this summer in Walt Whitman’s Drum-Taps, his reflections on nursing the wounded and dying soldiers of Union and Confederacy. ...
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For our podcast, George Scialabba is speaking about philosophy, life, and his decades-long bout with depression on the occasion of an article he wrote for The Baffler magazine, “The Endlessly Examined Life.” | Hear More
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