Connecting New Media and the Political Unconscious

In two podcasts this week I have had the delightful opportunity to talk with colleagues from two distinct worlds about themes ranging from the political unconscious to new media.

Early this week Brad Rourke, whom I know through our mutual association with the Kettering Foundation, engaged me in a conversation on the subject of his own work, new media and civic life, picking up some of the themes in my previous post, Discerning Media. We made a couple of key points: (1) the distinction between professional media and citizen media is less helpful than the distinction between journalism (which one doesn’t need to get paid for to do) that engages the public in its work and news coverage that does not; and (2) perhaps the larger problem we face is that we live in a political culture that offers few spaces and ways for people to shape their own collective future and hence little incentive for people to seek out good journalism. Here’s a link to the podcast.

This morning fellow philosopher Chris Long of Penn State University uploaded a podcast of a conversation we had on my last book, Democracy and the Political Unconscious, the day after the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy held a panel discussion of the book. Chris has been using new media to explore what he calls Socratic Politics and to engage his students in a much deeper pedagogy that uses blogging and other new media formats extensively. Go here to hear our conversation that ranges from the phenomena of trauma and the war on terror to the role of new media in overcoming brutality and strengthening democracy. Also check around on his blog to get a virtual glimpse of his 24/7 class on ancient Greek philosophy.

Both Brad and Chris exemplify how to use new media to not only do one’s own work better but to strengthen public life.  It’s an honor to have both these conversations “go public” this week.

Digital Dialogue on Democracy and the Political Unconscious

My book Democracy and the Political Unconscious is the subject of a podcast by Christopher Long’s  Socratic Politics in Digital Dialogue:
Cultivating a Politics of Dialogue in a Digital Age.

In episode 8 of the Digital Dialogue, I am joined by Shannon Sullivan, Professor of Philosophy, Women’s Studies and African and African American Studies here at Penn State. Shannon is also the Head of the Department of Philosophy.

She has written extensively on American pragmatism, psychoanalysis, feminist philosophy and critical race theory, including two excellent books, Living Across and Through Skins: Transactional Bodies, Pragmatism and Feminism and Revealing Whiteness: The Unconscious Habits of Racial Privilege.

She joins me on the Digital Dialogue to discuss the recently publish book by Noëlle McAfee entitled Democracy and the Political Unconscious.

We focus on three specific issues:
  1. McAfee’s understanding of the public sphere as a “semiotic happening” (p. 132)
  2. The meaning of the political unconscious.
  3. The notion of a political posture McAfee introduces briefly ( p. 84).
In the course of the discussion, we touch upon McAfee’s recognition that social media opens important possibilities for political community.
Also in the podcast they discuss how the book helps explain what’s going on in this past week’s town hall “discussions” on health care.  Check back in a day or so for a post from me on this.  For the podcast, go here.