Monthly Archives: February 2016

Thank you: Bunny for your patronage…




Professor Metal wishes to acknowledge the loyal listenership, dutiful patronage, and general Good standing of citizen Bunny. Your tireless endeavor to promote the cause of his glorious rule has not gone unnoticed. Today we celebrate the part you play in keeping the podcast free for all citizens and the treasonous dogs at bay. Thank you!

(Don’t you wish it was your name being venerated as a hero of the cause? Then step up and support the show on our patreon page.)

The Celebrant


Firework streaks in night sky, celebration background


By Sean Kehr

As many of you may already be aware February has been our little podcast’s anniversary. This has caused me to be a bit introspective about the nature of what we’re doing and my involvement with philosophy as a whole. While philosophy has been a rich and engaging field of study for me it isn’t always an easy path to follow. It seems in our modern world of productivity and technology the philosopher is seen as one part anachronism and one part court jester. The philosophical community is viewed as a relic of a bygone era and the practitioners within it as foolish or lazy. Despite this I have found no greater joy than the satisfaction after a hard-won debate with those fellow seekers willing to truly lay their beliefs on the line. It is not the satisfaction of winning that’s so rewards me but instead the satisfaction at overcoming the struggle. I have won arguments and lost them, I have been taught and taught others, but what is universal is that when we are fully engaged in the deeply harrowing work of puzzling out the mysteries of some problem or another the moment of understanding comes as a blaze of wonder leaving me awestruck at the beauty hidden within the intricacies of my world. It’s not unlike an explorer who sees for the first time a new land filled with strange features to explore. To me this experience and the breadth of its effect on my view of the world has been more richly rewarding than any other path I could have followed. And as I have said to be introspective on such a profound part of one’s life is to wonder how one has come to that place.

All of my life I have been an inquisitive person wondering about the world around me and so perhaps on some level I was always headed toward philosophy but the turning point of most note was most likely when at the age of 15 I received a copy of Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil” from a well-intentioned neighbor. I considered Jim Morrison a bit of a personal hero and in an attempt to counter that the neighbor gave me a copy of a book of poems from Morrison and mentioned that he had been into Nietzsche’s work so along with it he offered the copy of Beyond Good and Evil. I had no idea what it was but the title was ominous enough and the publisher had clearly gone to no effort whatsoever to avoid that feeling in the chosen cover design. The way he talked about it this book it may as well have been the Necronomicon. I have thought back to this event many times and wondered if he was merely naive or actively trying to bait a trap perfectly aligned to snare a teenage boys interest but in either case it had worked. If he was truly that naive his plan to spook me with the dark and foreboding tone of Nietzsche’s work had backfired and I was hooked.

This brings me to the real point I wish to discuss which is Nietzsche and the way he is seen in our time. Much like that neighbor it seems most people view this man as a kind of nihilistic, anti-social, madman reserved for only the most depressed and angry readers. This sense of his place is the zeitgeist is only reinforced by the associations he receives both historically and by the malcontents who love to quote him. And who could blame them he is infinitely quotable, a wordsmith of the highest caliber capable of packing in more mystery and truth per word than most would ever manage in whole volumes, but this is not the Nietzsche I know. The philosopher, philologist, psychologist, and wandering sage I have come to know over the many years of our interaction is no figure of ill repute but in fact the Celebrant.

It’s hard to see Nietzsche as a celebrant if we focus only on the quotable Nietzsche of popular fame. With such fine examples as “That which does not kill us makes us stronger” and “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” and the masterstroke “God is Dead” its nearly inevitable that most people would view him as a pessimist at best. It is however a very different man who I have found so inspirational a man who wanted us to live life and not let the moments that make us who we are and can be slip away. I see the man I admire so in a different set of quotes, some nearly as famous as the preceding set are infamous. I would like to share some of them and my interpretations of them with you.

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.”

Here we see the spirit of celebration that for me is true of the works in question. Live your life and do not let the weight of it keep you from enjoying it instead take joy in the struggle and make what you do a part of your joy. This is perhaps one of the most powerful messages I can think of from this great mans work and also perhaps one of the hardest to do because Nietzsche is not asking us to celebrate when it is easy and we are happy but when we are lowest and most in need of the celebratory spirit. If your burdens can not be carried with joy in our hearts then we may as well lay them down because no doing in all the world is worth sacrificing joy for.

“What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.’”

Here we are asked to imagine that our lives are to be lived again to this moment in eternal recurrence and asked if we would be overjoyed at the prospect or despair at the pain we must endure again. The point of this is to remind us that if we do not live in joy as a means to overcome hardship we are merely subjecting ourselves to hardship not growing in spite of it. Again we are counseled to celebrate even in the most painful of circumstance the very fact of our existence.

“I tell you: one must still have chaos within oneself, to give birth to a dancing star.”

This is probably the finest moment I can think of to highlight the celebrant in Nietzsche. We are living beings and as such we can not be stagnate but instead must always be growing or wilting and it is in our living essence that we find the inspiration to create. Without it we can not be great and it exists in the places we most often shun the darkness, the pain, the unexpected, and the unknown. This is most likely the reason why so few people ever really get to know Nietzsche. On the surface many of his sayings are dark, or gloomy, or angry, or judging, but it is these dark places where beauty can flourish and have its greatest impact. Imagine a garden where many beautiful flowers have been grown and yet there remain shaded areas filled with weeds. It is not the flowerbed we must attend to improve the garden and yet without the chaos of the world outside the garden we will never discover any new flowers there. In knowing and becoming comfortable dealing with our dark places and chaos we learn new and wonderful things and can turn that darkness into something beautiful.

I wont go on as there are too many moments from his work to handle in this format but I encourage anyone reading this to take a second look at this figure of some controversy with new eyes. I have been moved by the power of what Nietzsche has had to say and believe he has more to teach us in our modern world than any other philosopher. I should be careful to note however than while I hold his work in the greatest of esteem that doesn’t mean he’s infallible. There are many areas I disagree with Nietzsche on but they pale in comparison to what he can teach us about living the good life. But perhaps I might leave you with one more quote to ponder as it relates to what we have discussed and the endeavor we at the Philosophical Chain Gang are engaged in

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”

~Friedrich Nietzsche

Thanks for a great first year everyone

Ep 30: Misinformation in the Information Age; Are You Caught in a World Wide Web of Lies?

Welcome one and all to Professor Metal’s Irate Debate and Calamitous Commentary with the Philosophical Chain Gang

Today’s Episode is Misinformation in the Information Age: Are You Caught in a World Wide Web of Lies?

The Philosophers talk about how we determine our willingness to believe information

The Philosophers work together to find a working definition for the term Critical Thinking

Ryver explains confirmation bias

Sean and Ryver discuss the problems found in the massive amounts of information media in modern culture, as well as a few possible ways of verifying some of these sources

Bruce expands on some of the means of source verification

Sean explains the philosophical position of skepticism and epistemic goals

Bruce talks about how extreme skepticism can lead to relatively implausible conclusions

Ryver and Bruce break down this concept in terms of the JFK assassination and stress the importance of being willing to admit and/or accept ignorance as to the facts of the matter

Sean explains conspiracy theories in terms of memetics

Bruce posits that part of the draw of conspiracy theories is that there is some comfort in having someone to blame for major tragedies rather than them having no clear villain save for, at best, incompetence

Sean expands on these ideas

The Philosophers talk about the draw of conspiracy theories on a psychological level

Sean and Ryver talks about how all the ideas presented thus far pertain to Marketing

Bruce and Sean talk about the industries that get away with outright falsehood in advertising, such as “supplements” and homeopathic treatments

The Philosophers talk about how the “As Seen on TV” products prey on our natural tendencies toward believing things

Bruce explains the signal-to-noise ratio and how this pertains to the fact that all opinions, no matter how outlandish or thoroughly falsified, can be found somewhere on the internet

The Philosophers talk about the pitfalls of information homogeneity and whether or not having the gatekeepers of old were better than what we have now

Bruce expands on the epistemic goals that Sean raised earlier

Sean explains the idea and benefits of lateral media transmission

Bruce talks about the importance of set goal posts for skepticism and looking in to our own bias

Bruce takes the last word to explain the Illuminati. Bruce also explains that if the Illuminati existed, which they do not, they would be the good guys, as well as the history of the Bavarian Illuminati, which did exist.

And as always please give us your honest review on iTunes and Stitcher. It helps us make the show better with every one we get to read.

Help keep the show going and the moon safe by supporting us on Patreon

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The 1st Anniversary Special

Welcome one and all to a very special Anniversary episode of Professor Metal’s Irate Debate and Calamitous Commentary with The Philosophical Chain Gang

The Philosophers introduce the creation of the episode, and discuss the origins of The Philosophical Chain Gang

The Philosophers talk about the gritty reboot of a wide variety of movies, from Batman to The Big Lebowski.

Ryver discusses the appeal of the old Batman TV Series and the cultural changes that lead to it

Bruce presents his problem with Michael Keaton as Batman

The Philosophers discuss the career arc of Tim Burton

Professor Metal talks about his hopes for Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and why the dream could never be

Ryver presents the existential terror not quite hidden with the Gene Wilder version of this movie

Bruce discusses the tone of the movie as relates to the source material

Sean and Ryver expand on the horror aspect of the movie

The Philosophers discuss the seemingly predetermined nature of the children’s selection, and the possible moral tale that accompanies each character

The Philosophical Chain Gang discusses Charlie and The Chocolate Factory as an allegory for a variety of biblical scenarios

And as always please give us your honest review on iTunes and Stitcher. It helps us make the show better with every one we get to read.

Help keep the show going and the moon safe by supporting us on Patreon

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Ep 29: Art and Subsidization; Who’s Paying the Piper? Part 2

Welcome one and all to Professor Metal’s Irate Debate and Calamitous Commentary with The Philosophical Chain Gang

Today’s Episode is Art and Subsidization: Who is paying the Piper? Episode 2

Sean and Ryver talk about the possible consequences of over-saturation of art funding

Bruce and Sean discuss how this relates to the subjective value of art

The Philosophers examine the idea of art that is not appreciated during the time or life of the author

Sean and Ryver talk about the category of movies known as “Cult Classics”

Bruce explains the idea of how a movie is determined to be successful

Ryver talks about the difference in standards amongst movie directors

Sean discusses how we approach movies as both an entertainment medium and art form

Bruce proposes an issue with the distinction between entertainment and art

Ryver addresses the issues concerning these categories

Sean interjects that there are also dark sides to the art community

Ryver expands on art dealership as an example of this dark side

Sean and Ryver discuss the paintings of dubious provenance stemming from World War II

The Philosophers talk about the use of art as a way to make large sums of money whilst doing no actual creation of content

Ryver and Bruce address the associated value of media such as music or movies, specifically as relates to piracy

The Philosophers bring up artists that literally create their own money, such an Banksy and Emperor Norton

Sean transitions into a discussion of how the digital revolution has effected art world

Bruce talks about how the value becomes what appreciation of the art is worth when there is no physical medium

Ryver expands on this by discussing the role of crowd-funding plays as a replacement for the historical system of patronage

Sean explains why and how Patreon makes it possible for artists to be supported for whom systems such as hermitage would not work particularly well for

Ryver explains what Data-moshing is, and how this relates to what is called remix culture

Sean expands on this to explain glitch art

Bruce and Sean talk about how this is both similar to and distinct from physical art media

Ryver goes on to discuss how a similar model to crowd-funding is used in creation, both in remix culture and in more traditional art media

Sean questions whether or not the artist involved in remix culture are themselves creating the art or, if monetary gain is to be made, if it should be made by the original artists

The Philosophers discuss this question as an examination of how one could divide up these things, and whether or not some societies that have rules in place concerning this have handled it well

Sean brings up a slightly more old-school way of taking someone’s art and making it your own: Forgery

Bruce posits that there is no money going to the original artist at that point, and that it largely does not matter if the value of the art is appreciation of the piece of art in questions

Ryver counters with the idea that the value of the art itself stems from the authenticity of the piece as much as the piece itself

Sean takes the last word to discuss funding projects that we feel are important to the world, such as Professor Metal’s Irate Debate and Calamitous Commentary with The Philosophical Chain Gang, and how this funding can help each of us improve our lives as both intellectual and emotional beings. He also discusses the benefits of art to share experiences, such as what the artist has experienced that the viewer may wish to understand without needing to actually experience them, such as the horrors of war.

And as always please give us your honest review on iTunes and Stitcher. It helps us make the show better with every one we get to read.

Help keep the show going and the moon safe by supporting us on Patreon

Help keep us from disappearing by engaging us on the social media platform of your choice: