In this episode, Emily, James, and John enter the Worrisome World-Making of Disney (™) via How to Read Donald Duck, a 1971 Chilean Marxist critique of the American imperial-capitalist project of Disney, republished in 2018. Our trio approaches the book in form and content, and they discuss its social opposition through state censorship — whether as literal book-burning under the Pinochet regime or the banal violence of copyright infringement litigation in the United States — as well as praise the clarity of its cultural studies analysis of the Donald Duck comic strip (1938-1995). The comic, let us remind you, depicted the bourgeois imaginaries of the ne’er-do-well Donald Duck; his miserly ol’ Uncle Scrooge McDuck; everyone’s pal Daisy; our favorite triplets Huey, Dewey, and Louis; and all the aspiring burghers of Duckburg…and the realms beyond.
Does the “fantasia” and “magic of Disney” truly serve to mystify the processes of primitive accumulation? Is Scrooge McDuck’s Monroe-Doctrine, Robber-baron aesthetic the farcical return of Hobbes’ Leviathan? What might the fetishization of gold teach children about the value of labor? Why are there only uncles and aunts in Duckburg? What happened to production, reproduction, labor, class, and social antagonism? What does Donald Duck make invisible, and what does it seek to make natural? Is Donald Trump Scrooge? Is the Marvel Cinematic Universe the bourgeois ideology machine of our time?
Bonus: Find out why you should be simultaneously terrified of the acronym E.P.C.O.T. and grateful Walt Disney’s delusions of grandeur sank right back into the swampy Florida glades from which they sprung. Double bonus: critical mallard studies.
Always Already Medici Club patron Jason H requested we discuss this book, thank you Jason! Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Patreon here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommons; always already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.
This week Emily, Rachel, and John read Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak‘s collection of essays In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics. We focus on three essays in particular: “Feminism and Critical Theory,” “The Politics of Interpretations,” and “Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography,” discussing Spivak’s methodological approach to literary theory, the politics of textuality, her use of the word “evidence” in each essay to uncover different elements of the challenges–and politics–of literary interpretation, and her critiques of Marx, Julia Kristeva, Edward Said and Partha Chatterjee, among many others. The conversation also ponders over the different (?) kinds of readings Spivak engages in the essays, and what they mean for doing ‘theory.’ In My Tumblr Friend from Canada, we answer two questions from one of our listeners, dealing with advice for graduate school and, yes, our favorite music. Listen and share your thoughts!
Thanks to listener Hanna for suggesting we read this text. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. Get the mp3 of the episode here. RSS feed here. Thanks to Leah Dion and to B for the music.
John is without Rachel and B, so he brings in some very special guests for this Václav Havel bonanza. First, Jeff Graves – a former co-host with John on a podcast of yore – joins to discuss Havel’s essay Power of the Powerless and play The Garden Party. They discuss ideology as it relates to performativity, everyday life and the constitution of reality, how Havel illustrates ideology in the play, how much reappropriation of Marx there is in the essay, and Havel’s notion of power. There’s also a dramatic reading from the play, and John & Jeff bring back old segments and schticks from their podcast past. Then, John interviews Sara Lyons – a NYC-based theatre artist and director – to talk about the performance of The Garden Party she directed. Their conversation explores the challenges of directing this play, what it tells us about the relationship between identity, social structures, and language, the gender politics of a feminist artist engaging not-particularly-feminist work, and more. Jeff comes back for the final segment, where he and John give advice on New Year’s Eve Parties (belated advice in this instance), friendship jealousy and nostalgia, and holiday presents you don’t like.
Requests for texts for us to discuss? Advice questions for the show? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Like our Facebook page. Get the mp3 here. RSS feed here. This episode’s music by B and by Jordan Cass.
Official Vaclav Havel website (in English or Czech)
Join B, John, and guest-host Emily Crandall in a (sign)nificant conversation about Universalism, Particularism, and the Question of Identity and Why Do Empty Signifiers Matter to Politics? by Ernesto Laclau on political identities, universals, particulars, and the role of empty signifiers in democratic politics. The group analyzes the relationship between the universal and particular, where identity comes from, agency and subjectivity, and what it would mean to use Laclau to think about gender identities. At points contentious, but always reflective, the group takes on multiple methods of interpreting these two chapters from Emancipation(s) –whether it be rejection of Laclau’s dismissal of post-modernism’s embrace of pure particulars, or B putting on a pouty face about Lacanianism and semiotics.
The episode also includes Part 2 of John’s interview with Amy Schiller on her recentpieces, discussing philanthropy, neoliberalism, and time-traveling with Luce Irigaray. We give advice on revise-and-resubmits to academic journals and work through B’s promising but tricky dating life.
Requests for texts for us to discuss? Advice questions to submit? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Like our Facebook page. Download the mp3 here. RSS feed here. This episode’s music by B Aultman.