Chasing Beauty
Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
by Adam, Christopher Lydon
2w ago
We’re on a hometown spree along the famous Fenway in the heart of Boston. Fenway Park is where the Red Sox play, John Updike’s “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark.” Fenway Court, built around the same time just a few blocks away, is a jewel box, a treasure house of high art, an American palazzo and museum like none other, a matching monument to quirky Boston’s eccentricity and its beauty. Courtyard, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. (Photo: Sean Dungan. www.gardnermuseum.org.) We owe Natalie Dykstra for her new biography of Isabella Stewart Gardner—who designed Fenway Court, inch by inc ..read more
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Nicholson Baker Finds a Likeness
Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
by Adam, Christopher Lydon
1M ago
We’re taking a drawing lesson with Nicholson Baker—yes, the multifarious writers’ writer Nick Baker; the COVID lab leak detective; the pacifist historian of World War II in his book Human Smoke; he’s also the cherubic pornographer in Vox, about phone sex; and he’s the podcaster and performer of his own protest songs. He is a marvel, and his big new book is a life-changer, titled Finding a Likeness: How I Got Somewhat Better at Art. Listeners will hear him drawing and growing in the making of this book. And here at our site, you can see him drawing Chris (videographer: Mary McGrath). Below: C ..read more
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Campus Uproar
Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
by Adam, Christopher Lydon
1M ago
We’re sampling the uproar rising from American campuses: it’s a full blown, leaderless movement by now, in an established American tradition, but still contested, still finding its way, looking for its pattern. Columbia and USC have cancelled graduation ceremonies. Many more schools are threatening suspensions or worse if students don’t remove their encampments. In our neighborhood, Harvard Yard is encamped, closed to people without Harvard ID. Harvard students are catch-as-catch-can. Zachary Samalin and Sophia Azeb. We are dropping in conversationally on faculty players we know on either sid ..read more
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American Disorder
Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
by Adam, Christopher Lydon
2M ago
The key battle taking place in this American crisis year of 2024 is happening in our heads, according to the master historian Richard Slotkin. He’s here to tell us all that we’re in a 40-year culture war and an identity crisis by now. It’s all about drawing on legendary figures like Daniel Boone and Frederick Douglass, Betsy Ross and Rosa Parks, Robert E. Lee and G.I. Joe for a composite self-portrait of the country. Richard Slotkin. Richard Slotkin says we’re in a contest of origin stories, in search of a common national myth. His book is A Great Disorder: National Myth and the Battle for Am ..read more
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Lessons from Hannah Arendt
Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
by Adam, Christopher Lydon
2M ago
We’re calling on Hannah Arendt for the twenty-first century—could she teach us how to think our way out of the authoritarian nightmare? Arendt wrote the book for all time on Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. And then she famously covered the trial in Israel of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi minister of death. Her study of the origins of totalitarianism keeps her current fifty years after her death and, pointedly, in our own rancorous presidential campaign of 2024. Hannah Arendt. Lyndsey Stonebridge. In this podcast, the surprise turns on finding a profound humanity and hope, believe it o ..read more
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Taylor Swift’s Tortured Poets
Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
by Adam, Christopher Lydon
3M ago
We’re going to school on Taylor Swift, in the Harvard course. And all we know is, as her song says, we’re enchanted to meet her. Taylor Swift comes out of literature but she’s more than a poet, or a pop star. Maybe the word is “enchanter” for the artist who gets it all into a song, who knows the fusion power of sharp words with the right minimum of melody. Stephanie Burt and M.J. Cunniff. We’re anticipating Taylor Swift’s next album, her “Tortured Poets Department,” coming in April. Stephanie Burt and M.J. Cunniff have made a hit course of it all for Harvard undergraduates. Professor Burt has ..read more
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Against Despair
Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
by Adam, Christopher Lydon
4M ago
The subject, in a word, is despair, both public and private. The poets and spiritual seekers Christian Wiman and his wife Danielle Chapman are back to goad us, each with a new book. Their project is staring into the abyss, in the Nietzsche formula, to see if the abyss stares back, or talks back. And I think it does. Christian Wiman and Danielle Chapman. Listeners, you be the judge. Christian Wiman’s new book is Zero at the Bone: Fifty Entries Against Despair. It’s more interesting because the woman who broke his life open in love, most of 20 years ago, is in on the conversation. And it’s more ..read more
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The Rebel’s Clinic
Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
by Adam, Christopher Lydon
4M ago
Frantz Fanon is our interest in this podcast. The man had charisma across the board in a short life and a long afterlife. A black man from the Caribbean, he went to France, first as a soldier to help free the French from Germany, then to become a medical doctor and a psychiatrist, and then to North Africa to serve a revolution against France in Algeria. Along the way, he wrote about politics with the touch of a poet. Adam Shatz. To this day, when the world talks about healing itself, Frantz Fanon hovers and gets quoted among the giants of modern thought about race and justice, about post-colo ..read more
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Algorithmic Anxiety
Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
by Adam, Christopher Lydon
5M ago
The question is how digital tech picks and chooses the content that comes to your phones and your brain, or, as Kyle Chayka puts it in a brave new book Filterworld: “how algorithms flattened culture.” What is the chance that devices that know your likes and dislikes better than you do are ever going to surprise you or teach you? What’s the tilt, over time, of an information system that’s tuned to the smiley face? Kyle Chayka with Chris. The joke version is that the algorithm walks into the bar and the bartender asks, “What would you like?” And of course, the algorithm answers, without thinkin ..read more
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The Humbling of Harvard
Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
by Adam, Christopher Lydon
5M ago
Oldest and far the richest among American universities, Harvard is the apex, in some sense, of American intellectualism, and it will be a long time figuring out just how it lost a big game it didn’t seem to know it was playing: a high-stakes free for all, it turned out to be, with poisonous words like plagiarism and anti-Semitism threaded through the media coverage and then in airborne ad banners and other blunt instruments. Diana Eck and Randall Kennedy. Suddenly, the president of Harvard—a black woman, as chance would have it—resigned her job under pressure, as if to confirm that something ..read more
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