Radio Drive & Mental Loops


There’s lots of time to listen to the radio on a 4 hours car commute out of NYC, across the southern Poconos and up I-81 through Central New York to Syracuse. I never wanted to go with Satellite Radio or listen to books on tape. I’m too lazy or too cheap or it’s too easy to zero in on a narrow and familiar band of music and news-opinion. What I like about old radio is the relative diversity — NPR Morning Edition, commercial top 40, independent alternative formats, Amy Goodman’s Manichean Democracy Now, country music, Christian radio, college radio, and the always terrific Diane Rehm Show. Apart from skipping over commercials, I try not to be too judgmental. I think it’s important to rely on other people, in this case the peculiar mix of broadcasters and DJ’s along the way who know a lot more about “x” than I do. Or I listen to something from home, and think through this or that. A contemporary Jewish philosophy that took sound seriously might want to skim quickly the material about music in the Christianity chapter in The Star of Redemption and start with something more meandering, like John Cage, or just skip around on the radio, and get into a groove. I’d recommend Douglas Kahn’s Noise Radio Meat and also The Wireless Imagination. On a 4 hour commute, the main thing is to stay awake and keep moving. Radio helps force attention into lines or loops, some long, some short, some rhythmic, some analytic, and then across quick shifts in tonal and discursive registers.


About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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2 Responses to Radio Drive & Mental Loops

  1. nitzanl says:

    “This American Life” and BBC 3 and 4, all free in Podcasts. Highly recommended. Get your full attention for a strait hour. The image is beautiful.

  2. zjb says:

    thanks, nitzan!…but I actually prefer [1] the more crude and even rank randomness of skipping through different formats on old radio to [2] bubbles of artificially enriched high rent content.

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