Cover art for podcast Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Open Source with Christopher Lydon

50 EpisodesProduced by Christopher LydonWebsite

Christopher Lydon in conversation on arts, ideas and politics

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Time’s Echo

November 22nd, 2023


The question that resurfaces in a time of horror may be what remains when memory is wiped out, when the unspeakable is left unspoken, in someone’s hope, perhaps, that it’ll be forgotten? Where does history live? Jeremy …

Chas Freeman on a Kaleidoscopic Turn

November 9th, 2023


Just a month into the ferociously brutal and reckless war in Israel-Palestine, on what feels like a hinge of history—outcomes wildly uncertain—our refuge is Chas Freeman, the American diplomat, strategist, and …

Upended Assumptions

November 3rd, 2023


In this podcast, two old friends in and out of journalism talk about the Middle East war, which comes to feel more like a contest in war crimes. …

War and Dread

October 19th, 2023


We are listening in the dark, after a catastrophe yet to be contained: more than 1,000 Israeli civilians killed in a terrorist invasion from Gaza two weeks ago, thousands more Palestinians dead in a first round of …

George Eliot’s Marriage Story

October 5th, 2023


The question is marriage. The answer in this podcast is Clare Carlisle’s sparkling book, The Marriage Question: George Eliot’s Double Life. George Eliot, born Marian Evans, was the towering novelist of Middlemarch,

Zadie Smith on The Fraud

September 21st, 2023


Zadie Smith is a writer who matters, twenty years now after White Teeth, her breakthrough novel when she was just out of college. Her new one is …

Henry at Work

September 7th, 2023


It’s Labor Day week, 2023, and Henry David Thoreau is the heart of our conversation. It’s not with him, but it’s driven by his example: American thinking at its best on the matter of how to make a living.

John …

The Cosmic Scholar

August 24th, 2023


Harry Smith was the oddest duck you never heard of in the art underground: an unsightly, often obnoxious genius. Only the artists knew him, but it …

Noam Chomsky: American Socrates

August 10th, 2023

It is said about Noam Chomsky that he has been to the study of language what Isaac Newton was to the study of gravity after the apple hit his head. Chomsky had the “aha!” insight: that the power of language is born in …

The Country of the Blind

July 27th, 2023


In The Country of the Blind, where the writer Andrew Leland is guiding our tour, they do things differently. They have their own identity riddles, their network of heroes and not-so-heroes.

They have their …

Animal Spirits

July 14th, 2023


This is the vitalism episode, with the passionate polymath Jackson Lears. His new book is beyond category, and gripping, too: it’s titled Animal …

Happy Birthday to Us

June 29th, 2023


We’re marking the 20th birthday of podcasting in conversation with Erica Heilman, a prize practitioner. Here we are with Erica in Peacham, Vermont, settled in 1776 in the Northeast Kingdom, up toward Canada. We seek …

Blyth Returns

June 16th, 2023


We’re back in the pub a year later with Mark Blyth, the outspoken political economist at Brown University—which means he works and talks and thinks …

It Ain’t Over

June 1st, 2023


This week: a show from our archive from The Connection days.

“It ain’t over till it’s over.” That’s Yogi Berra’s ageless line, in the title now of a summer hit movie just to prove Yogi was right about pretty much …

A Working Life with Eileen Myles

May 16th, 2023


The line is intoned now as a sort of chapter heading in our literary-artistic history: Eileen Myles grew up in Boston/Cambridge and moved to New York in 1974 to become a poet.

Chris with Eileen Myles.

And …

Failing Intelligence

May 4th, 2023


We’re humbled—we’re also scared—by the power of chatbots like GPT-4 to do pretty much everything that word people have ever done, but faster and maybe more to the point. The twist in this conversation is that our …

Frozen Moments with Ed Koren

April 19th, 2023


Here’s a last burst of wind in our sails, a last gentle guffaw, from a listener we came to adore: the cartoonist Ed Koren. You knew Ed Koren, too, for those furry, quizzical characters he drew and captioned—portraits …

How William James Can Save Your Life

April 6th, 2023


William James, thinker and writer, was known widely in the nineteenth century as the adorable genius who invented American pragmatism. He was a brain scientist, student of war and religion, a philosopher who can feel …

Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus

March 23rd, 2023


There’s nobody quite like Sonny Rollins in the All-American sound and story of jazz. He was a teenager in Harlem in the 1940s when major players …

This Other Eden

March 9th, 2023


Out of the blue a decade ago, Paul Harding won a huge popular following, first, and then the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, for his modern Maine sort …

Norman Mailer Turns 100

February 23rd, 2023


“Don’t forget” is a mantra in our shop: “don’t forget” specially the characters, the moments that made us. Norman Mailer is the spirit-seeker and sometimes reckless truth-teller we are un-forgetting in this podcast. We …

A Radical American Life

February 9th, 2023


Lydia Moland is reminding us that when present company in American public life comes up short, the ancestors of American democracy and spirit are …

Thank You, Patrick Lydon

January 26th, 2023


This is family talk in rural Ireland toward the end of an extraordinary life. My brother Patrick was the youngest of six, the saint among us and always the brightest company. Two winters ago he’d struck an odd note in …

Moonshot Economics

January 12th, 2023


This show first aired on September 16, 2021.

It’s hard not to notice that we’re flunking tests, right and left, and running out of strategies against global-size troubles. COVID, we said, was our test for the age of …

Mann the Magician

January 5th, 2023


This show originally aired on September 23, 2021.

Thomas Mann was one of those cultural giants the world doesn’t seem to make anymore—artists …

Liner Notes for the Revolution

December 29th, 2022


This show was originally broadcast on July 15, 2021.

We know their songs, not so much what they were going through, those Black women artists who …

Thoroughly Modern Mozart

December 22nd, 2022


This show first aired on September 30, 2021.

Who else could be said to make you smarter, just listening to the sound of his music? Only Mozart, …

Prudent Statecraft

December 15th, 2022


John Quincy Adams was the model president in the early republic who declared that the United States “goes not abroad in search of monsters to …

The Maelstrom of Geopolitics

December 9th, 2022


A briefing session this hour from our strategic special branch, which is to say: the mind of Chas Freeman in the maelstrom of geopolitics. If …

Silent Spring, 60 Years Later

December 1st, 2022


How’s to rescue the Earth from us people? Rachel Carson’s way – 60 years ago – was to write a book, and call it Silent Spring. She’d been a shy but …

Origin Stories

November 24th, 2022


This show was originally broadcast on December 5, 2019.

Origin stories can be educated guesses, or leaps of collective imagination as to who we …


November 17th, 2022


Our unipolar moment may be remembered as the United States’ turn as “king of the hill,” two decades or so between the collapse of the Soviet Union …

The New Right

November 11th, 2022


The hatching of a New Right Republican party, under fire, is the substance of this radio hour. It was simpler in Gilbert and Sullivan when the song …


November 4th, 2022


Finally, there’s a word for it: the polycrisis, to describe the multiple messes we’re in. Our guest the historian Adam Tooze says it’s a polycrisis …

A Just Cause

October 27th, 2022


Talking time around the war in Ukraine may be approaching. This radio hour may be a moment in that trend: reaching out for strong views we hadn’t heard, in head-on disagreement about the morality and the meanings of …

Taiwan, the World-Class Puzzle

October 21st, 2022


Next on the global agenda comes Taiwan, the island off China once known as Formosa, meaning shapely, beautiful. Today it’s a puzzle with moving …

Humane Wartime

October 13th, 2022


Try a simple riddle, about the time and climate we Americans are living in, today: Do we call it (a) wartime or (b) peacetime? Tense time, for sure, and there’s war in the headlines. But we’re not at war, not declared …

The Historians’ Diagnosis

October 6th, 2022


The conversation about a world in disarray feels urgent, elusive, etherized. Who will name this crisis and the roots of it: war, tribalism, maldistributed money, and pain, exceptionalism for rich people, maybe, for a …

Cruel Britannia

September 29th, 2022


This show first aired on May 19, 2022.

George Orwell said, “It’s so easy to be witty about the British Empire.” As in the throwaway line that English people had conquered the world in a fit of absentmindedness. No …

Lovecraft Country

September 22nd, 2022


This show was first broadcast on October 31, 2019.

H. P. Lovecraft’s frightful horror fiction—dated between Edgar Allan Poe’s and Stephen King’s—is …

We’ll Always Have Casablanca

September 15th, 2022


This show was first broadcast on April 1, 2021.

You must remember this, the song says. In fact, it’s hard to forget at Oscar time every April, that Casablanca, the Best Picture of 1942, was an all-time pinnacle of …

Studs Terkel’s Feeling Tone

September 9th, 2022


This show first aired on May 31, 2018.

The Studs Terkel edge on the radio was, first of all, picking guests who would sound more interesting 50, 60 …

DFW, FTW: Life In the Internet Age

September 1st, 2022


This show is a rerun.

This week sees the opening of The End of the Tour, an updated My Dinner with Andre about David Foster Wallace’s book tour in 1996 for his immeasurable novel, Infinite Jest.

On that tour Wallace …

The Soviet Symphonist

August 25th, 2022


This show originally aired on August 9, 2018.

The Shostakovich story — man and music in the apocalypse of world war and Cold War — seems to get more …

Orwell’s Roses

August 18th, 2022


This show first aired on November 11, 2021.

George Orwell rests now with the immortal English writers. But why? For impact and influence, you …

A New History of Humanity

August 11th, 2022


This show first aired on December 2, 2021.

Giant questions this hour, and a slew of fresh answers: Where do we humans come from? Who are we, after all? Where are we going? Was our pre-history a Garden of Eden, or a …

Lenny at 100

August 4th, 2022


This show originally aired on December 20, 2018.

A tribute to Leonard Bernstein with Nigel Simeone, Jamie Bernstein, and Augusta Read Thomas.

Leonard …

Van Morrison’s Cosmic Accident

July 28th, 2022


This show first aired on March 29, 2018. 

In the annals of rock music albums, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is one of a kind. In an earthy medium, it’s a masterpiece of abstraction.  Indecipherable. Irresistible. …

Walden & the Natural World of Transcendentalism

July 21st, 2022


This show originally aired on July 6, 2017.

Henry David Thoreau, our specimen of American genius in nature, wrote famously short, and long. …

Write Like the Russians

July 14th, 2022


This episode was first broadcast on February 18, 2021.

The invitation this hour, or maybe the dream, is to learn how to write short stories with …

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