Author Archives: Aidan Coughlan

About Aidan Coughlan

Podcaster.

#64 – Notes on Jerusalem Syndrome

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The status of Jerusalem is a leading news story, following Donald Trump’s historic announcement that the United States will recognise the Holy City as the capital of Israel. Aidan looked at the contentious issue of Israel and Palestine back in episode five, The Demise of the Two State Solution. The ancient city of Jerusalem, well known for its importance to the Abrahamic religions, is also at the centre of a peculiar religious psychosis, called Jerusalem syndrome. On this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan explores Jerusalem syndrome, a clinical psychiatric condition, defined as a temporary state of sudden and intense religious delusions, which manifest while visiting or living in Jerusalem. Examples of Jerusalem syndrome include that of a man from Austria, who became enraged at hotel staff who would not prepare for him a last supper, and a man from the United States Midwest who was found wandering the city, dressed in a white robe, claiming to be the Apostle Paul. Indeed, many people have become intoxicated with religious devotion in Jerusalem, including Homer Simpson. In a 2010 episode of The Simpsons, the phenomena served as the key plot point, with Homer believing himself to be the Messiah. Aidan also looks at Christopher Hitchens’ verdict on Jerusalem syndrome, which was as unforgiving as one might expect.

References:

Christelle Evans and Jonathan Behar, ‘Jerusalem syndrome’, Student BMJ, 14, 2006. [Subscription required]

Yair Bar-El, Rimona Durst, Gregory Katz, Josef Zislin, Ziva Strauss, Haim Y. Knobler, ‘Jerusalem syndrome’, The British Journal of Psychiatry, 176, 1, 2000.

Homer Simpson isn’t the only would-be ‘Messiah’ in Jerusalem, CNN, 29 March 2010.

Jerusalem Syndrome: the madness that grips foreigners on the streets of the holy city, The Telegraph, 26 March 2016.

Trump Jerusalem move sparks Israeli-Palestinian clashes, BBC news, 7 December 2017.

Recommended reading:

Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great, (New York: Twelve Books, 2007).

Related episode:

The Demise of the Two State Solution

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#63 – Tribalism Aboard the Ship of Theseus

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In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan welcomes back philosopher, Dr. Benedict Beckeld, for a conversation which explores the current political climate, and delves into intriguing questions regarding the self and personal agency. Why has the political climate become so polarised? What is causing this failure of communication? And how do we understand our own personal self – is the self an illusion and do we have the ability to have acted differently in a given situation? Could letting go of an illusory idea of ourselves liberate us to better live, love and learn? Aidan and Benedict discuss tribalism, free speech, political discourse, journalism, truth, relativism, and the deep questions of the self and free will. Aidan and Benedict also both share an example of an unwitting experience in less than honourable journalism – in Benedict’s case, his comments on inner and outer beauty were used in an egregiously misrepresentative manner by an American tabloid newspaper. The episode begins with a summary of the theme from Aidan and Benedict’s previous conversation, episode 12, Western Downfall: Why Trump Won. Benedict explains whether he feels the conditions which led to Donald Trump’s presidency have begun to change or have continued unabated. Dr. Beckeld was born in Sweden to Brazilian and Jewish parents, but emigrated with his family to New York City as a teenager. Dr. Beckeld’s philosophy has thus far focused primarily on matters of aesthetics, ethics, contemporary culture, political philosophy and the philosophy of history. For more information on Dr. Beckeld, you can find him online at http://www.benedictbeckeld.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/benedictbeckeld

Links to items discussed on this show:

Benedict Beckeld web site
Benedict Beckeld on YouTube
Benedict Beckeld, Monism and Inner Beauty, 1 June 2017.
Western Downfall: Why Trump Won

#62 – Best of the Project, Vol 3: Orwell’s Victory

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“During the Spanish civil war”, wrote George Orwell,  “I found myself feeling very strongly that a true history of this war never would or could be written.” Included in this ‘best of’ history compilation, Aidan and Dave Ebsworth explicate the events in Spain and the historical context in which they occurred. Aidan also discusses the Irish Famine with Professor Liam Kennedy, the infamous Parisian Great Cat Massacre with Jared Miracle, the 2003 invasion of Iraq with Sami Ramadani, the Holocaust with Gerald and Trisha Posner, the nineteenth century reimagining of Atlantis with Christopher Hale, the Cold War with Ran Levi, and a great deal more. The Aidan Project remains intact after a year of podcasting – this is the third of a trinity of compilation episodes to mark a year of episodes. Thank you for your support.

Episodes featured in this compilation

#8 – The Spanish Civil War
#11 – Malicious Assured Destruction: Cold War to Cyber War
#13 – Pokemon Diplomacy and Transnational Culture
#18 – The Tragedy of Iraq
#22 – Project Extra: Money and Death
#24 – The Irish Famine: Tragedy and Propaganda
#25 – Project Extra: Exceptional
#26 – The Great Cat Massacre
#42 – Notes on Dunkirk
#48 – Project Extra: Atlantis Reimagined
#55 – Notes on Monarchy: House of Wax
#58 – Notes on Shame and the Modern Pillory
#59 – Notes on Terror, Treason and Anarchy

Additional episodes mentioned:

#20 – Sleep of Reason: Third Reich and The Vatican
#49 – Notes on Atheism, Hitler and Nazism

#51 – Betrayal: The Rotherham Abuse Scandal
#60 – Best of the Project, Vol 1: Armistice

Additional audio:

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, ‘John Kelly Thinks The Civil War Was About ‘Compromise”, November 2017

#61 – Best of the Project, Vol 2: Donald Trump

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The Aidan Project remains intact after a year of podcasting  – thank you so very much for your support. During 12 months of covering the sublime and, in light of a great deal of madness, no shortage of the ridiculous, it is time to look back and reflect at what has been happening. The theme of this compilation is the remarkable anointing and presidency of Donald Trump. In a tour de force of audio, Aidan presents highlights from episodes which have addressed Trump’s ascendancy and rule. With contributions from a range of guests over the past 12 months, in addition to highlights from a number of Aidan’s solo, ‘Notes on…’ episodes, this ‘best of’ presents discussions on the controversy, intrigue and leadership of the inimitable 45th president of the United States of America. Featured in this edition include political philosopher, Benedict Beckeld, who outlines his theory as to why Trump won the election; malware guru, Ran Levi, who explains the allegations pertaining to Russian meddling during the election cycle; Richard Keeble, Chairman of the Orwell Society, who gives his verdict on “alternative facts”; veteran journalist, Gary Herman, who outlines the challenges of a seemingly post-truth world, and documentary filmmaker, Christopher Hale, who explicates Trump’s disturbing lack of understanding of history. All this and a great deal more in a bumper compilation episode.

Episodes featured in this collection:

#2 – The Man of the Year and The Führer
#10 – George Orwell Versus Alternative Facts
#12 – Western Downfall: Why Trump Won
#16 – On Liberty and Free Speech
#17 – The Fake News Agenda
#38 – Notes on Making America Great Again
#40 – Downloading a President
#41 – Westminster Briefing
#44 – The New Cold War
#46 – The Emergency: Empire, Massacre, Duterte
#47 – Notes on North Korea
#56 – Notes on Patriotism: Taking a Knee
#59 – Notes on Terror, Treason and Anarchy

External audio:

Richard Dawkins interview, Russia Today, June 2017

Related articles:

Donald Trump: Man of Letters
The Berlin Wall and Donald Trump

#60 – Best of the Project, Vol 1: Armistice

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In this edition of the Aidan Project, the podcast marks a year online with the first ‘best of’ episode. This episode features audio from Aidan’s conversations with Dr. Paul Dean for the America’s Great War series of episodes. This special compilation is being released ahead of Armistice Day, 11 November. On November 11 1918, an armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France. It brought an end to the awful hostilities of what was thought to be at the time the war to end all wars. This episode looks at World War One from the battle of the Somme to the peace treaty at Versailles. Aidan’s special guest, Dr. Dean, is a former instructor at, and alumni of, Washington State University, who is an expert on World War One and author of Courage: Roy Blanchard’s Journey in America’s Forgotten War. For more information on Paul, please visit his web site at www.paultdean.com.

Related tweets:

Episodes featured in this edition:

Episode 14, America’s Great War: Part One
Episode 23, America’s Great War: Part Two

Further listening:

Project Extra: Exceptional – Paul Dean discusses ‘American Exceptionalism’

#59 – Notes on Terror, Treason and Anarchy

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In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan talks about the infamous Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes in popular culture, and the definition of terrorism. In 1605, Catholic dissidents in England attempted to mount an insurrection by first murdering King James I of England and Scotland, along with other notables, in a planned explosion of the Houses of Parliament. Robert Catesby led the audacious scheme to topple the Protestant hierarchy, but it is Fawkes who is most associated with the events of that dramatic 5 November near-miss. Moreover, the subsequent adoption of an abstract idea of Guy Fawkes as somehow playfully representing anarchism and anti-fascism is deeply ironic. The Fawkes mask is a feature of modern popular culture that is far removed from the intention Parliament had when it sought to commemorate the uncovering of the plot with an officially sanctioned annual observance. Parliament desired to remember 5 November as a deliverance from evil, but this message has since been diluted, if not quite altogether lost. In the modern age, ‘Bonfire Night’, ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ or ‘Fireworks Night’ is more notable for theatrical pyrotechnic displays and sickly candy-floss than as a reminder of what would have been an appalling atrocity. Aidan also comments on the definition of ‘terrorism’ in the wake of the Islamist terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan on 31 October.

Remember, remember
The Fifth of November
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot

Traditional 17th century rhyme

Related tweets

Further reading

Richard Dawkins, ‘I love fireworks, BUT…’, Richard Dawkins web site, https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/11/i-love-fireworks-but/, 5 November 2014.

‘Terrorism’, Oxford Dictionary web site, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/terrorism

‘V for Vendetta’, IMDB web site, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434409/.

Bibliography

Lewis Call, ‘A is for Anarchy, V is for Vendetta: Images of Guy Fawkes and the Creation of Postmodern Anarchism’, Anarchist Studies, 16, 2, 2008, pp.154-172.

Antonia Fraser, Faith and Treason, (New York: Random House, 1997).

 

#58 – Notes on Shame and the Modern Pillory

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Shaming is a form of social control. When a person violates the established norms of their community, the group may respond by condemning, avoiding and ostracizing the ‘guilty’ person. In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan examines public shaming in 18C London – where the guilty were placed in the pillory and pelted with various objects, including dead cats – and compares this to social media shaming. Is the treatment meted out on Twitter in 2017 little better than a 1717 stint in the pillory? Why do people join in to attack people they barely know or, more importantly, why do people attack others for ‘offences’ that are often spurious, subjective or not even understood? Aidan looks at one of the most famous cases of social media shaming, the only positive aspect of which was that no dead cats were hurled at the offender. The inherent danger in assisting with frantic social media shaming is that of potentially trivialising something real or exaggerating something trivial. There are, of course, many reasons to be genuinely outraged; Aidan is arguing that by rising up to engage in purely-reactionary shaming, the sphere of honest public discourse is suffering as a result.

Bibliography [by appearance]

Robert Shoemaker, The London Mob: Violence and Disorder in Eighteenth-Century England, (London: Hambledon Continuum, 2004).

‘The price of public shaming in the Internet age’, CNN web site, 16 April 2015, http://www.edition.cnn.com/2015/04/16/living/feat-public-shaming-ronson/index.html

‘A Terrible Shame. Enforcing moral norms without the law is no way to create a virtuous society’, Slate web site, 9 April 2015, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/view_from_chicago/2015/04/internet_shaming_the_legal_history_of_shame_and_its_costs_and_benefits.html

‘How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life’, New York Times web site, 12 February 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html