103 episodes

Professor Phil Ford and writer/filmmaker J. F. Martel host a series of conversations on art and philosophy, dwelling on ideas that are hard to think and art that opens up rifts in what we are pleased to call "reality."

Weird Studies Phil Ford and J. F. Martel

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 53 Ratings

Professor Phil Ford and writer/filmmaker J. F. Martel host a series of conversations on art and philosophy, dwelling on ideas that are hard to think and art that opens up rifts in what we are pleased to call "reality."

    Art in the Age of Artifice

    Art in the Age of Artifice

    The question of art has been of central concern for JF and Phil since Weird Studies began in 2018. What is art? What can it do that other things can't do? How is it connected to religion, psyche, and our current historical moment? Is the endless torrent of advertisements, entertainment, memes, and porn in which seem hopelessly immersed a manifestation of art or of something else entirely? In this exploration of the main ideas in JF's book Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice, your hosts focus on these burning questions in hopes that the answers might shed light on our collective predicament and the paths that lead out of it.

    Photo by Petar Milošević via Wikimedia Commons


    JF's upcoming course on the nature and power of art, starting May 10th, 2021

    JF Martel, Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice

    Weird Studies, Episode 84 on the Empress card
    Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
    Werner Herzog, Cave of Forgotten Dreams
    Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey
    Adam Savage, Special effects designer
    Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
    Kabbalistic emanationist cosmology
    Henry Corbin’s concept of the “imaginal”
    Henry Shakespeare, The Tempest
    Tibetan book of the Dead
    James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
    James Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and The Soul of the World
    Phil Ford, “Battlefield medicine”
    Jaques Ellul, idea of “technique”
    Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists
    Paul Tillich, Dynamics of Faith

    • 1 hr 25 min
    Beautiful Beast: On Jean Cocteau's 'La Belle et la Bête'

    Beautiful Beast: On Jean Cocteau's 'La Belle et la Bête'

    Jean Cocteau's visionary rendition of Madame de Beaumont's fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast," itself the retelling of a story that may be several millennia old, is the topic of this Weird Studies episode, which proposes a journey down lunar paths to the crossroads where love and death intersect. Drawing on Surrealism, myth, and the occult, Cocteau's 1946 film transcends the limitations of media to become a living poem, a thing that is also a place, a place that is also a mind. This conversation touches on the genius of the child, the mysteries of Eros, the monstrosity of consciousness, and the sorcery of cinema.

    Photo by Ivan Jevtic on Unsplash

    Click here to register for JF's upcoming course on art.


    Jean Cocteau (dir.), La Belle et la Bête

    Jaques Maritain, Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry
    Sergei Diaghilev, Russian impresario
    Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (dir.), Beauty and the Beast
    David Thomson, Have You Seen?
    Bram Stoker, Dracula
    Johannes Vermeer, Dutch painter
    Philip Glass, La Belle et la Bête (opera)
    Game of Thrones, Television series
    Weird Studies, Episode 84 on the Empress Card
    Weird Studies, Episode 94 on the Moon Card

    • 1 hr 20 min
    Demon Seed: On Doris Lessing's 'The Fifth Child'

    Demon Seed: On Doris Lessing's 'The Fifth Child'

    Doris Lessing's uncategorizable oeuvre reached strange new heights in 1988 with the publication of her short novel The Fifth Child. The story couldn't be simpler. In the England of the 1970s, a couple determined to live out a dream that many of their generation have rejected -- the big family in the old house with the pretty garden -- conceive a child that may or may not be human. From that moment on, the boy, their fifth, becomes the alien force that will tear their dream to pieces. Profoundly ambiguous and unsettling, The Fifth Child is a weird novel that raises questions about parenthood, family, and the impenetrable depths of nature.

    Header Image: The Changeling by Henry Fuseli (1780)

    Additional music: "Fast Bossa Nova: Falling Stars" by Dee Yan-Key


    Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child
    Doris Lessing, Shikasta
    M. R. James, weird fiction author
    Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire
    Weird Studies, Episode 67 on “Hellier”
    Victoria Nelson, The Secret Life of Puppets
    David Icke, conspiracy theorist
    Deros, underground beings from the fiction of Richard Sharpe Shaver
    Hieronymus Bosch, Dutch Renaissance painter
    Weird Studies, Episode 86 on “The Sandman”
    Slavoj Žižek, The Puppet and the Dwarf
    Louis Sass, “The Land of Unreality: On the Phenomenology of the Schizophrenic Break”
    Louis Sass, Madness and Modernism
    Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life
    Richard Thorpe (dir.), The Wizard of Oz
    Frank L. Baum, The Wizard of Oz
    Weird Studies, bonus episode on Adventure Time
    James Hillman, The Soul’s Code
    Doris Lessing, Ben in the World
    Roman Pulanski (dir.), Rosemary’s Baby
    Richard Donner (dir.), The Omen
    Donald Cammell (dir.), Demon Seed

    • 1 hr 25 min
    All is Mysterious: On the Moon Card in the Tarot

    All is Mysterious: On the Moon Card in the Tarot

    "Here is a weird, deceptive life." Thus does Aleister Crowley describe the meaning of one of the most sinister and spectral cards in the tarot. In this episode, Phil and JF continue their ongoing series on the twenty-two major trumps with a deep dive into the hopelessly enigmatic world of Arcanum XVIII: The Moon. After a brief chat about Voltron and professional wrestling, your hosts start on the lunar path beset by traps and illusions, in hopes that their half-blind perambulation will lead to startling insights.

    Image by Damien Deltenre via Wikimedia Commons.


    Roland Barthes, Mythologies
    Anonymous, Meditations on the Tarot
    Colin Wilson, The Occult
    Eliphas Levi,_ French esotericist
    Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo
    Weird Studies, [Episode 86 on The Sandman](weirdstudies.com/86)
    Plato, Republic
    Antoine Faivre, scholar of esoteric studies
    Wouter Hanegraaff, historian of philosophy
    Alastair Crowley, Book of Thoth
    Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution
    Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis
    Peter Kingsley, historian of philosophy
    St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul
    J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
    Weird Studies, Episode 93 on Charles Taylor
    Algis Uždavinys, Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Living and Dying in a Secular Age: On Charles Taylor and Disenchantment

    Living and Dying in a Secular Age: On Charles Taylor and Disenchantment

    In A Secular Age, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor tries to come to grips with the seismic development that transformed the world after the Renaissance, namely the secularization of the society and soul of Western humanity. What does it mean to live in an age where religion, once the very matrix of social existence, is relegated to the realm of private and personal choice? What defines secularity? Are modern people really as "irrelegious" as we make them out to be? In this episode, JF and Phil squarely train their sights on a question that continues to haunt them, with Taylor as their Virgil in what amounts to a descent into the ordinary inferno of modern unknowing.

    Header Image by Pahudson, via Wikimedia Commons


    Pierre-Yves Martel's Bandcamp page

    Charles Taylor, A Secular Age
    Charles Taylor, The Malaise of Modernity
    Weird Studies, ep 71: The Medium is the Message
    Penn & Teller, B******t
    René Descartes, Meditations
    Theodore Roszak, The Making of a Counter-Culture
    Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
    Jacques Ellul, The New Demons
    David Foster Wallace's essay on David Letterman
    Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
    Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics
    Karl Jaspers, The Origin and Goal of History

    • 1 hr 27 min
    Glitch in the Matrix: A Conversation with Rodney Ascher

    Glitch in the Matrix: A Conversation with Rodney Ascher

    With his latest film, a meditation on what it means to believe we live in a computer simulation, Rodney Ascher has once again placed himself among the most innovative and visionary filmmakers working in the documentary form today. While the "Simulation Hypothesis" has been a hot topic ever since The Matrix came out in 1997, it is Ascher's ability to suspend judgement, training his camera on the experience of believers rather than the value of their beliefs, that makes A Glitch in the Matrix such a unique and significant exploration, a strange work of "phantom phenomenology."

    Weird Studies listeners will recall that Phil and JF devoted an episode to Ascher's films -- most notably Room 237 and The Nightmare -- back in the early days of the podcast. In this episode, Rodney Ascher joins them to discuss his cinematic vision, his take on the weird, and his thoughts on what is real and why it matters.


    [Rodney Ascher](www.rodneyascher.com), American filmmaker
    -- [A Glitch in the Matrix](www.aglitchinthematrixfilm.com)

    Jay Weidner's theories on Kubrick
    Buddhist idea of the the Arising and Passing Away
    [Dungeons & Dragons](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons%26_Dragons), tabletop roleplaying game
    James Machin, _Weird Fiction in Britain 1880-1939
    Magic Eye pictures
    Parmenides, Greek philosopher
    Wachowskis, The Matrix
    Alan Moore, "Superman: For the Man Who Has Everything"
    Conway's Game of Life
    Joshua Clover, The Matrix (BFI Film Classics)
    Jonathan Snipes, American composer
    Clipping, experimental hip hop band
    "Shining" romantic comedy recut
    Michael Curtiz (dir.), Casblanca
    John Boorman (dir.), [Point Blank](https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062138/?ref=fn_al_tt_2)_
    Louis Sass, Madness and Modernism: Insanity in the Light of Modern Art, Literature, and Thought
    Special Guest: Rodney Ascher.

    • 1 hr 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
53 Ratings

53 Ratings

Dedpanman ,


If you enjoy intellectual converstations about the weird - fringe topics - and the stranger avenues of pop culture - this is it. From Mothman, to Colin Wilson, to Kubrick, to Raiders of the Lost Ark - these guys are all over the place - and I love them for it. Disccussions run deep and dark and are frequently thought-provoking. I thought I was the only one who thought about this kind of stuff - but I never had anyone to talk to about it. Now I can listen to these guys and yell my two cents worth at the speakers! The missing piece of my life now found. Keep up the excellent work. Check it out.

Humble Agnostic ,

Outstanding Podcast!

Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen in on. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on all things weird!

CohenF ,

A New Favourite

Insightful dialogue and critique. Tackling “the weird” from such interesting and intelligent perspectives. Thankful to have discovered this podcast!

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