In this episode, John, B, and Emily gather for a discussion about the ontology of blackness in Frank B. Wilderson III’s book Red, White, and Black: Cinema and the Structure of US Antagonisms, and in particular his analysis of the film Monster’s Ball. Bear with us as we again (attempt to) flex our critical theory chops in the visual text genre! We spend time unpacking Wilderson’s ontology, and his important distinction between the grammar of alienation and exploitation in emancipatory discourses versus the ontology of suffering of slavery. How is this distinction related to those of conflict/antagonism and identity/ontology, and to (the unspeakability of) ethics? We talk through his extensive interrogation of the dissonance between the narrative structure of the film and its strategies of cinematic form, discuss whether the film implicitly recognizes the limitations of its own grammar of suffering, and analyze the film’s (in)famous sex scene. Our conversation ends by answering new co-host James Padilioni Jr.’s question about freedom.
Also in this episode, a complex Tumblr Friend advice question about the academia’s co-optation of radical theorizing, and some more One or Several Wolves dream analysis about the job market (except this time with more Kelis). It is clearly a common trend among our dreamer-listeners. Enjoy!
Thanks to Eric T. for suggesting 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. This episode’s music by Jordan Cass and by B.
- Find the book on Amazon
- Review from Culture & Media
- Frank B. Wilderson III‘s website
- Listen to Frank Wilderson on KDVS “New Jazz Day” (June 20, 2010)
- NYTimes review of Monster’s Ball; Monster’s Ball on IMDb
- The infamous sex scene
- Our earlier episode on Afro-pessimism and Black optimism