Hollis Robbins on politics and literature


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I talk to Hollis Robbins, Dean of the Humanities at Sonoma State College, and expert on the intersection between literature and bureaucratic systems. We talk about the idea of a literary canon and its application to software, the literature of the Gold Rush, African-American poetry and how to handle the revolt of the public, with inspiration from Ben Franklin.

[00:00:00] Hollis’ background

[00:01:00] Growing up around startups

[00:02:00] Literature and world creation

[00:03:00] Literature of bureaucratic systems

[00:04:00] The census in literature

[00:05:00] The written word of administration

[00:06:00] The human vs bureaucratic experience

[00:07:00] GPT-3

[00:08:00] Writing facts vs from the heart

[00:09:00] Literature and understanding of human nature

[00:10:00] African-American writing

[00:11:00] What is included in the canon?

[00:12:00] Uncle Tom’s Cabin

[00:13:00] James Baldwin’s criticism of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

[00:14:00] California Gold Rush

[00:15:00] Frederick Douglas’ paper reporting on the gold rush

[00:16:00] Law during the gold rush

[00:17:00] Gays in early San Francisco

[00:18:00] The businesses of the gold rush

[00:19:00] Moby Dick

[00:20:00] How the sausage is made

[00:21:00] 1920s literature

[00:22:00] The internet allowing more narratives

[00:23:00] Experts?

[00:24:00] The revolt of the public

[00:25:00] How governments should react

[00:26:00] Moving to more local government

[00:27:00] Subsidiary decision-making

[00:28:00] How to get involved in local government

[00:29:00] Town hall meetings

[00:30:00] Ben Franklin's autobiography

[00:31:00] Rene Girard

[00:32:00] Hollis meeting with Rene Girard

[00:33:00] The danger of mimesis

[00:34:00] Why competition is good

[00:35:00] Repetitive structure and form

[00:36:00] Craftsmanship and competition

[00:37:00] Rivalry in political thrillers

[00:38:00] The “canon” of software

[00:39:00] Langston Hughes

[00:40:00] Anthologising yourself

[00:41:00] Literary and political influence

[00:42:00] Studying excellence in writing

[00:43:00] Actionable advice

12 episodes