Recent, Relevant, Random


We don’t have metrics to measure what happens when we read something that changes our life. So this episode is an attempt to deal with that.  We begin with writer Rob Walker who tells us about his “New Old Thing,”  a regular feature he produces for Yahoo Tech. Rob is one of the most thoughtful writers I know and if anyone can wean us from our addiction to the now it will be him. I also get to talk to one of my heros this week: Edwin Frank who is the editor in chief of the NYRB classics imprint. About 10 years ago I read a collection of Platonov stories, a book that definitely changed my life, and I became a life-long devotee of the series. I have always wanted to ask Edwin about his editorial sensibilities and what exactly binds all the books with the well designed multi-coloured spines together. Phyllis Rose is the author of The Shelf.  She “randomly” chose a shelf at the library near her house and read every book on it – then she wrote about the experience. It is a deep funny philosophical treatise on the act of reading itself. I will be gifting this book to my friends for years.

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Guided By Voices

 Philosopher Daniel Heller-Roazen tells us the story of Pythagoras and the fifth hammer and how Kant and Kepler both tried (and failed) to record the universal harmonies Pythagoras once heard. Your host sets out to make some money doing experimental medical testing, and gets the chance to record the voice in his head.toe20image

 

Stages on Life’s Way

A few years ago your host took a pilgrimage to Copenhagen to walk the streets the great Dane Søren Kierkegaard once walked. He wanted to understand  the meaning of Kierkegaard’s religious stage so he decided to ask the experts at the Kierkegaard research center. Also Photographer Dina Litovksy tells us about the history and some of the secrets of the modern bachelorette party. And Michael Holmes tells us about life’s final stage – death.

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A Better Tomorrow

This week we examine the legacy of The Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproducibility by Walter Benjamin.  Media Theorist and Benjamin scholar (and translator) Thomas Levin explains why this essay resonates today and what Benjamin has to tell us about the utopian power of new media. Also Russell Meyer tells us about the Wu-Tang clan’s plan to release a sole copy of their new album and why he has turned to Kickstarter so he can buy it and release it to the world. And your host shares an imaginary story about Hitler and Goebbels encountering Benjamin’s essay during their final days in the bunker.

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The Bootlickers

Andrew Rubin opens up his Archives of Authority to tell us the story of how George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 became global phenomenons. Melissa Gira Grant tells us about her new book Playing the Whore and the complicated relationship between sex workers, Feminists, Journalists, and the Police. And your host turns to ToE correspondent Peter Choyce for advice on how to fight his bike ticket in traffic court.*********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment**********

1984 (the year not the book)

In 1984 your host was twelve years old and like George Orwell’s protagonist Winston Smith, he kept a diary, for the citizens of the future. For this special installment of Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything we travel back in time and give this diary a soundtrack. TV commercials, radio spots, movie clips – all sound from 1984 (the year, not the book). Find out what totalitarianism really sounds like.

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Prêt-à-Portable

 Technology consultant Sarah Slocum loves social media and her Google Glass, she wears them everywhere. But when she walked into Molotov’s, a bar on Haight Street in San Francisco, she discovered that not everyone shares her love for wearable gadgets. Also, your host makes his annual pilgrimage to SXSWi and ends up designing wearables at a surreal Hack Day. We also hear from Shingy, AOL’s Digital Prophet. He says wearables will allow us to have it both ways: we can be both digital and human.  **This episode features elements that were recorded binaurally. If you listen with a pair of headphones or a LiveAudio enabled JAMBOX, you will experience three dimensional sound – it will be like you are there.**

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When You’re Lonely, Life is Very Long

After moving to New York alone, writer Olivia Laing discovered the truth about loneliness. She says it is a gift.  Eric Klinenberg explains why more and more people are choosing to live alone and why cities like New York must invest in housing stock that singletons actually want to live in, the type of housing they have in Scandinavian countries.  In Denmark when someone dies alone, and no-one claims the body, the authorities put an ad in the newspaper calling for Possible Relatives. This is also the title of a photo-book by Danish photographer Tina Enghoff.  She tells us about the pictures she took of the apartments after the dead were removed. Some of these bodies went undiscovered for months.

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F is for Fake

To Bot or Not? That’s the big question for Data Scientist Gilad Lotan. His research suggests we may be damaging our online reputations if we choose not to play the fake follower game. Jason Q Ng, author of the book Blocked on Weibo, tells us why the Chinese government hates fake bots and why they targeted Black PR companies last summer. And your host imagines a future were humans are forced to shower their new Bot Overlords with unwavering attention.*********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment**********