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Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything
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Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything

Author: Benjamen Walker & Radiotopia

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Personally connecting the dots. All of them. Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything is a proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.
200 Episodes
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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. Show notes: Matthew Tynan reads Kenneth Tynan’s 1960 speech, Michael Billington wrote a 1960 Parody of Kenneth Tynan, Jefferson Pooley recaps Personal Influence and Daphne Park explains how she got Lumumba killed. 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.
]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 is writing about 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 at https://theoryofeverything.supercast.com/, or subscribe directly in Apple Podcasts by hitting “Subscribe” right on the show page.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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 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.
The new ToE series Propaganda is Art has a companion podcast called Propaganda Notes & Sources, think audio footnotes! Each episode in Not All Propaganda is Art gets its own corresponding episode of Propaganda Notes & Sources. Your host goes through the script for each episode and cites all the corresponding original sources he consulted, and the archives he visited while reporting this series. Like all great footnotes, these go deep and contain many digressions and new stories. This is a teaser of episode one. Support the Theory of Everything  and get access to the exclusive companion series by subscribing at https://theoryofeverything.supercast.com/, or subscribe directly in Apple Podcasts by hitting “Subscribe” right on the show page.
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!
Today we live inside data systems that contain, surveil, and judge us. In his new book, the Hank Show, author and journalist McKenzie Funk provides us with a totally unique origin story of our world: A guy named Hank Asher. We talk with McKenzie Funk about the  former Florida conto painter, drug-running pilot, alleged CIA asset, and  pioneering computer programmer known as the father of data fusion. McKenzie Funk has written many stories about the dangers of computer systems that can get us wrong, but the story of Hank Asher has turned him on to a danger even more alarming. What chance do we have when the computers know everything about us? 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.
Two very different tales about making stuff up about the CIA. Your host shares the story of Sylvia Press, who in the 1950s, wrote a revenge novel after she was fired during the McCarthy purges. And author Jefferson Morley tells us about the time CIA director Richard Helms tried to create an American James Bond with the help of future Watergate burglar E Howard Hunt. Get Jefferson Morley’s amazing new book: Scorpion's Dance. Sylvia Press’s novel The Care of Devils is harder to find.
Citizens armed only with Molotov cocktails battle with Russian tanks on the streets of… Budapest.  In November of 1956 Russian troops invaded Hungary. The revolution was crushed and thousands of Hungarians fled. Will history repeat itself? We talk with Réka Pigniczky about her memory project, a film series dedicated to the Hungarian revolution. Also: Branko Marcetic compares America’s response to the events of 1956 with our current posturing over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. ps. Your host will be visiting Hungary this August to report on 1956 for our upcoming 8 part mini series, get in touch if you have any Budapest tips
The life of musician Connie Converse easily reduces down to one of those Hemingway length sad stories: Before Dylan there was Connie Converse and then she disappeared. In his new book “To Anyone Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music, and Mystery of Connie Converse” Howard Fishman gives us the complete tale. We meet up with Howard and learn why this incredible musician just couldn’t catch a break in 1950s New York City, and why he is devoted to her life and art. You can get a copy of Howard’s amazing book wherever books are sold or use this link
How to look at America

How to look at America

2023-05-3124:48

We hear from two photographers who are masters at showing us what is hard to see, and always has been hard to see, in America.
Venice (Ukraine redux)

Venice (Ukraine redux)

2023-05-1625:33

The war/invasion/fighting is still going. We revisit our program on NFTs, art and war. Your host visits the 59th International Art Biennale in Venice, the world’s most important art fair and the first since the global pandemic. Plus Digital Ukranians, Sound Art, and NFTs.
One of the episodes in my False Alarm! Series from 2018 imagined a future where Elon Musk stepped up to help with the News. That Algorithmic Oligarchic joke is no longer funny. On 4.20.2023 Elon Musk followed through on his threat and brought Twitter to heel. From 2018: A handful of tech barons now own the news but only one can rule the fake news. A chat with the comedy team behind the CBC’sThis is That satirical news show turns into breaking news about Elon Musk.
Back in 2018 your host met Stormy Daniels as part of his 15 part investigation into America’s disinformation complex. You can find that series here. On this historic day, as we learn that no American floats above the law, we turn back to this historic TOE moment, a remix of False Alarm, featuring a profile of the artist Lynn Hershman Leeson, a conversation with writer Susan Jacoby and Benjamen Walker’s meeting with Stormy Daniels!
A remixed complete version of our two part Watergate series from last year:  Journalists may write the first draft of history but Hollywood prints the legends and the myths. The 1976 film All the President’s Men remains our most authoritative account of Watergate. The film is also responsible for the myth of Deep Throat. Your host follows the myth… from 1976 to the present.  Plus a reporter from the Washington Post newsroom who never made it into All the President’s Men yet did more to safeguard the free press and American democracy than Woodstein ever did.
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Comments (22)

Andre D'Elena

War Bonds? The original nationalist NFT.

May 21st
Reply

David Morales

12:30 Capitalism isn't the problem. Real estate speculation is. You don't do anything but make money.

Oct 27th
Reply

David Morales

16:50 The revenge of the revenge of the real... we don't have competent government structures because of the very people who don't believe in the competence that a governance creates...

Oct 27th
Reply

Jman G

No wonder this country is going to shit.

Mar 28th
Reply

Jman G

Excellent podcast but grasping at straws if youre trying to compare Trump to Hitler. As a Centrist, i would actually like an objective look at Trump rather than kneejerk reactions from emotions. Such as the MSM and Left have been portraying for the last four years.

Jan 19th
Reply

jersey2777

I 💜💜this episode! beautiful & thank you!

Nov 12th
Reply (1)

Clau Schwa

W H Y should I want to know ANYTHING ELSE about Israel?

Oct 8th
Reply

Clau Schwa

this is the funniest thing I've listened to in about a year. people who call themselves anacho capitalists are the gods' gift to comedy.

May 11th
Reply

Chia Xiao Ling

Affected deeply by story in the bunker. Well done

Apr 28th
Reply

Nomads King

I'm sorry I'm not Andy my name is no messaging this is my podcast I'm sorry Eddie pissed you off and if you're interested we are collecting turkeys change and everything so help the homeless and less fortunate children my address is 78 more Rich Road Lake Grove New York 11755 so Phil please to contact me anytime you feel though that's what I'm here for have a good night

Oct 16th
Reply

Laura Lavallee

been married for 24 years and have a deep loneliness that is worse than if I were to be alone and single

Sep 8th
Reply (1)

Joel

really hard to take Benjamin seriously with the over-pronunciation of the word "the" as "thee." As in "the most (whatever) in THEE world." it's "the," as in "th-UH." https://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/the.htm

Aug 3rd
Reply (4)

Mark Oster

thanks so much for

Jul 24th
Reply

Rane dae

I'm trying to figure out if this podcast is fiction or reality. The Time Traveling Trump podcast has me completely stumped and I want to believe!

Apr 4th
Reply (2)