Episode Archives

Not All Propaganda is Art 9: Freedom or Death

Not All Propaganda is Art 9: Freedom or Death

ToE’s Cultural Cold War miniseries concludes with three stories about containment and death. Richard Wright delivers his final lecture on Black Spies in Paris, Dwight Macdonald’s Mass Cult & Mid Cult finally debuts & flops, and Kenneth Tynan discovers the limits of social and cultural protest. 

 

Support ToE and get access to the incredible exclusive bonus companion series to Not All Propaganda is Art by subscribing athttps://theoryofeverything.supercast.com/, or subscribe directly in Apple Podcasts by hitting “Subscribe” right on the show page.

Not All Propaganda is Art 8: Signature Acoustique

Richard Wright died from a mysterious illness on November 28th, 1960. Or was he murdered? Tune in for a new listen to the final chapter of Richard Wright’s life: forged letters, fake terrorist groups, fraudulent doctors and French Radio.

Shownotes: Françoise Vergès writes about decolonialism and French history and thought, Kathleen Gyssels writes about decolonialism & the Moulin d’Andé. Thomas Riegler writes about the Red Hand, Madeleine S’s father was assassinated by the Red Hand, Lauren du Graf wrote about Richard Wright and Jean Paul Sartre, Richard Wright’s  daughter Julia Wright published The Man who Lived Underground in 2021.  Richard Gibson is a BIG BIG LIAR.

Support ToE and get access to the incredible exclusive bonus companion series to Not All Propaganda is Art by subscribing athttps://theoryofeverything.supercast.com/, or subscribe directly in Apple Podcasts by hitting “Subscribe” right on the show page.

Not All Propaganda is Art 7: Manufacturing Dissent

In 1959, Anti-Americanism surged in the UK. England seethed over America’s treatment of its Prime Minister who was smacked down for daring to use diplomacy to resolve the crisis over divided Germany.  In 1959 England also fretted over a new American export: the Beatnik. The British foreign office forcefully responded with a report advocating for “ an increased effort in the field of press, radio and television in the U.K. to say the right kind of things about the Americans.” This is the very moment Kenneth Tynan was commissioned to make a documentary for British Television about American Non-conformism and Dissent. We take a close look at one of the Cold War’s most bizarre and inspired artifacts of Anti Anti-American propaganda.

Shownotes: Laura Bradley writes on Brecht and German theater. Kenneth Tynan’s documentary aired on January 27th, 1960 and then was supposedly erased (it wasn’t).

Support ToE and get access to the incredible exclusive bonus companion series to Not All Propaganda is Art by subscribing at https://theoryofeverything.supercast.com/, or subscribe directly in Apple Podcasts by hitting “Subscribe” right on the show page.


Support ToE and get access to the incredible exclusive bonus companion series to Not All Propaganda is Art by subscribing athttps://theoryofeverything.supercast.com/, or subscribe directly in Apple Podcasts by hitting “Subscribe” right on the show page.

Not All Propaganda is Art 6: The Kitsch Debate

In the summer of 1959, Nixon and Khrushchev argued over a washing machine in a backstage kitchen in Moscow, while American Cold War intellectuals gathered in the Poconos to defend Kitsch. Dwight Macdonald, whose theory of mass culture translated too easily into Anti-Americanism, was barred from participating because this was no ordinary mass culture conference; it was an Anti Anti-Americanism operation. Meanwhile, in London, Dwight Macdonald delivered a mass culture lecture of his own called “America, America,” based on the most famous article Encounter magazine never published.

Shownotes: Jefferson Pooley wrote about Edward Shils and The Remobilization of the Propaganda and Morale Network. Sophie Scott-Brown wrote about Raphael Samuel and the New Left.

Support ToE and get access to the incredible exclusive bonus companion series to Not All Propaganda is Art by subscribing at https://theoryofeverything.supercast.com/, or subscribe directly in Apple Podcasts by hitting “Subscribe” right on the show page.


Support ToE and get access to the incredible exclusive bonus companion series to Not All Propaganda is Art by subscribing athttps://theoryofeverything.supercast.com/, or subscribe directly in Apple Podcasts by hitting “Subscribe” right on the show page.

Not All Propaganda is Art 5: The Play’s the Thing

In the fall of 1958, Kenneth Tynan moved from London to New York and upon arrival, clashed with Hollywood mogul Samuel Goldwyn over socially engaged art and the politics of apolitical culture on live TV. At the same moment New Yorker writer Dwight Macdonald went West to report on “New” Hollywood’s ambitions to create commercially and artistically successful films. We also meet two of Professor Macdonald’s former students from a Mass Culture course he taught at Bard College in 1958. Meanwhile in France, Richard Wright suffers a number of disturbing attacks, prompting him to channel his frustrations into a revealing radio play.

Shownotes: Tamara Walker is the author of Beyond the Shores, Hugh Wilford wrote The Mighty Wurlitzer, Tom Benjamin and Frances Hodes were both students of Dwight Macdonald at Bard College in 1958 and Dan Sinclair is the author of  Courteous Enemy.

Support ToE and get access to the incredible exclusive bonus companion series to Not All Propaganda is Art by subscribing at https://theoryofeverything.supercast.com/, or subscribe directly in Apple Podcasts by hitting “Subscribe” right on the show page.

Not All Propaganda is Art 4: Propagande Noire

In 1956, Richard Wright spoke of islands of free men at the first Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Paris. James Baldwin critiqued the event for Encounter, the CIA’s propaganda magazine. We take a close listen to the original recordings. 

Shownotes: Merve Fejzula and Cedric Tolliver both wrote about the 1956 Congrès des écrivains et artistes noirs. Darryl Pinckney wrote on Norman Mailer and Denis Leroux wrote on Antoine Bonnemaison

Support ToE and get access to the incredible exclusive bonus companion series to Not All Propaganda is Art by subscribing at https://theoryofeverything.supercast.com/, or subscribe directly in Apple Podcasts by hitting “Subscribe” right on the show page.

Not All Propaganda is Art 3: The Man Who Was Thursday’s Children

In 1956 London Theater critic Kenneth Tynan helped launch a youth movement committed to exposing social and political issues on stage, on screen and in literature. We take a close look at the operators and opportunists behind England’s Angry Young Men.

Shownotes: Michael Billington wrote for the Guardian, Celia Brayfield wrote Rebel Writers, Clare Bucknell wrote The Treasuries Laura Bradley writes on Brecht.

Not All Propaganda is Art 2: Outsider Influence

In 1956, New Yorker writer Dwight Macdonald joined Encounter, a magazine secretly backed by American and British security agencies. He arrived in London just as British Influencers turned a young Existentialist named Colin Wilson into England’s answer to Jean-Paul Sartre. Meanwhile, the CIA incited a youth rebellion in communist Hungary. We investigate the covert propaganda behind Operation Free Youth Action and Operation Anti-Sartre and the Outsider’s influence on Macdonald’s famous critique of Mass and Middlebrow Culture.

Shownotes: Carole Ann Gill  is the author of Carole Ann, Sarah Roth wrote on Operation Focus, Hugh Wilford is the author of The Mighty Wurlitzer, Jelena Ćulibrk writes on IRD and Newsreels, Gary Lachman is the author of Beyond the Robot, Alfred Betschart writes on Sartre, Stefan Collini is the author of Absent Minds, Geoffrey Wheatcroft is the author of Absent Friends.

UK recording assistance from Hannah Uguru

Excerpt from Dec 6, 1956 Radio Free Europe report by Samuel S. Walker

Not All Propaganda is Art 1: Operation Younger Brother

Introducing a new ToE series Not All Propaganda is Art

In the 1950s the CIA weaponized culture to capture hearts and minds in Europe and Africa. We meet three writers (Richard Wright, Kenneth Tynan, and Dwight Macdonald) who got caught up in this battle both as collaborators and targets between the years of 1956 – 1960. We also meet a propagandist responsible for the CIA’s cinematic version of 1984 (Operation Big Brother) and “books that don’t smack of propaganda” aimed at European Intellectuals – including James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son.

Shownotes: Françoise Vergès is the author of A decolonial Feminism, James Campbell is the author of Paris Interzone and Talking at the Gates, Jelena Ćulibrk writes on IRD and Newsreels, Tony Shaw writes on British Cinema and the Cold War,

Support this show and get access to the exclusive companion series (audio footnotes!) by subscribing at https://theoryofeverything.supercast.com/, or subscribe directly in Apple Podcasts by hitting “Subscribe” right on the show page.

Wrong Way with Joanne McNeil

One of my favorite technology critics has just published a novel about Self Driving Cars (or fake Self Driving Cars). We talk about her new book, and the hidden human worker nestled in our technological revolution. I can’t recommend Wrong Way enough!

Note: The TOE limited series “Not all Art is Propaganda” will be debuting January 2024! I know its been a long wait, but we are nearing the finish line and I can’t wait to share it with you.