The Composer Richard Wagner and the Birth of the Movies
Play episode · 16 min

The German composer Richard Wagner had an enormous influence not only on modern music but on artists of all stripes, and on political culture as well. His use of folkloric material to create modern epics won him the admiration of thinkers like W. E. B. Du Bois, and made him popular in Hollywood since the birth of film. Alex Ross, whose new book is called “Wagnerism,” tells David Remnick that Du Bois “might have seen ‘Black Panther’ as a kind of Wagnerian project.” And yet Wagner’s music was used to heroically represent the Ku Klux Klan in “The Birth of a Nation.” In fact, the composer’s strident anti-Semitism fed into the rise of Nazism in Germany. The many aspects of Wagner’s influence were often contradictory. “So much baggage arrives with him,” Ross says, but “we aren’t necessarily imprisoned by what the man himself thought.” The composer himself “starts to disappear” as his influence diffuses through society. “He becomes a mirror for what other people are thinking and feeling. And we have that right, we have that power with art. If there’s something about it we reject, we can—without forgetting or overlooking that darker aspect—remake it in our own image.” 

Worldly
Worldly
Vox
Nigeria’s bad cop ring, Thailand’s playboy king
Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about two huge ongoing protest movements: demonstrations against police violence in Nigeria and against monarchical privilege in Thailand. The team breaks down the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the violent police unit at the heart of the Nigerian protests, and talk about the problems with policing in that country in general and in international context. Then they discuss the student-led protests in Thailand — kicked off by authoritarian repression in the name of Thailand’s very strange king — and put it context of the general struggle for democracy in the Southeast Asian country. References: Deutsche Welle has a great video on Nigeria’s protests. One of the big problems with SARS is that its officers don’t get paid much. Multiple academic studies point to the lack of community policing as a major problem in Nigeria. The Conversation has a smart piece on why ending SARS won’t lead to much better policing in Nigeria. Here’s that Charles Tilley study Zack mentioned. Amnesty International has a report detailing alleged human rights abuses by SARS. New Mandala explains the 10 demands Thai protesters have of their government. Vox profiles Thailand’s playboy king. The BBC has helpful information on how the protests got started. A Thai professor explains to Bloomberg what makes these Thai protests so different. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
45 min
Science Friday
Science Friday
Science Friday and WNYC Studios
U.S. COVID Spikes, Blockchain Chicken Farm, Book Club: Chicanafuturism. Oct 16, 2020, Part 2
Across The Country, A Spike In Coronavirus Cases Over 217,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S., and many states are seeing an upswing in case numbers as we head into fall. In rural Wyoming, there have been over 8,100 cases, with 57 deaths to date. More populated Wisconsin has seen over 167,000 cases—and recently crossed the grim threshold of 1,500 deaths due to the disease. Both states have reported more hospitalizations, with Wisconsin this week opening a field hospital to help deal with the increased demand for medical care and pressure on hospitals. In this State of Science segment, Ira talks with Bob Beck, news director at Wyoming Public Radio, and Will Cushman, associate editor for WisContext, about how their communities are responding to the pandemic. Blockchain And Big Tech In China’s Countryside Many of us are familiar with blockchain: the decentralized, anonymous ledger system. In the U.S., blockchain is usually talked about in terms of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But in China, chicken farmers are using blockchain to monitor food safety. There are hundreds of million people living in the Chinese countryside. Chinese tech companies are investing in all sorts of projects in the country’s rural areas—from villages built around e-commerce to internet gaming sites getting into the pork industry. In Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China’s Countryside, author Xiaowei Wang traveled through China to investigate how this technology is shaping the people and countryside. Science Friday Book Club: Conjuring An Alternate History Of Colonization It’s week three of the SciFri Book Club’s exploration of New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color. This week’s story is ‘Burn the Ships,’ by author Alberto Yáñez. It’s set in a world that could be the Cortés-conquered Aztec Empire of 1520—but in this fictional version, the Spanish conquerors have modern guns, radios, railroads, and even scientific developments like vaccines. And as the Indigenous people are contained and slaughtered in camps, they use powerful magic to animate their dead against the invaders. SciFri producer Christie Taylor, Journal of Science Fiction managing editor Aisha Matthews and University of California Santa Cruz professor Catherine S. Ramirez talk about how a story about the past can still be science fiction, and introduce Chicanafuturism—a literary cousin of the Afrofuturism we discussed in last week’s conversation about Andrea Hairston’s story ‘Dumb House.’
47 min
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