These are the two most interesting podcast episodes I’ve listened to in the past week.
The Read, “Nineteen Eighty Lyin”
- I’m not a regular The Read listener. I’ve listened to about a dozen episodes, and I’ve listened consecutively (i.e. each week) at a month or two months at a time.
- I don’t understand 50 – 75% of the references on the show, but I still enjoy the segments that completely discuss people and events I don’t understand.
- But if I were to recommend an episode to listen to, even given my own particular inexperience and ignorance, it would be the above. Plus, it connects further to the internet vortex I got into a little while ago.
Reply All, #72, “Dead Is Paul”
The show notes have some basic links to the original tweets and the Marina Joyce videos. This Daily Dot article, Know Your Meme, and r/OutOfTheLoop share further “knowledge” on Harambe, which I saw written as a response to a local Methodist church’s chalkboard question, “Who is your favorite author? Why?” (I responded with Margaret Atwood.)
Expanding and diverging
Intellectual virtues and vices: In the above Philosophy Bites episode, Cassam references Cass Sunstein, and Cassam expands on these ideas in this other essay (that’s for a general, not academic, audience).
Another article in the New York Times debate discusses conspiracy theories as evidence of “mass cultural anxiety.” This reminded me of the following passage from The Virgin Suicides, which connects the economic, environmental, and cultural unease in 1970s suburban Detroit to one of the teenage character’s musings on conspiracy theories of the time:
Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides, page 41
Finally, David Baldacci, a successful novelist, connects conspiracy theories to a kind of myth-making.
The combination of deconstructing internet memes (Harambe, beauty blogging, YouTube sponsorships, videos revealing abuse or violence) and the discussion of how the internet foments conspiracy theories make me think of the ways our shared cultural signifiers can gain so much mass that they become a kind of mythology: the story of a single individual that inappropriately evokes public outrage more than the large numbers of individuals suffering; the story of concrete, visual symbols concealing more abstract and nebulous emotions and societal ills; several stories about the strange shifting between tragedy and comedy.