138 episodes

Professor Phil Ford and writer 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
    • 4.9 • 76 Ratings

Professor Phil Ford and writer 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."

    Off-Week Bonus: On Worlds and Stories, with a Special Announcement

    Off-Week Bonus: On Worlds and Stories, with a Special Announcement

    In this bonus episode, originally released for Listener's Tier Patreon supporters, a discussion of the books Phil and JF are reading leads to a debate about the place of plot, story, and worldbuilding in narrative art. The episode contains information on "Weirding," a new course that the hosts of Weird Studies will be teaching together at Nura Learning, starting in late October. Visit nuralearning.com for more information.

    • 57 min
    Knocking on the Abyssal Door: Live at the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute

    Knocking on the Abyssal Door: Live at the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute

    The historian of religion Jeffrey J. Kripal writes, "The world is one, and the human is two." The line captures the riddle of reality. What is it with our species? Equipped with an intellect able to grok the basic laws that govern the physical universe, we seem unable to wrap our heads around as simple a question as "What is real?". Recorded live before a learned audience at the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute (DISI) in August of 2022, this episode approaches the enigma by teasing the Weird out of the very idea of intellection. If the architects of DISI are right to say that mind, far from being confined to human skulls, enjoys wide distribution across nature, what might such ideas as magic, synchronicity, and prophecy tell us about intelligence and meaning?


    DISI is a three-week interdisciplinary event held each year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The hosts are grateful to Jacob Foster and Erica Cartmill of UCLA for inviting them to speak at the institute.


    **Header image: **Detail of The Ancient of Days by William Blake.


    SHOW NOTES


    Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute (DISI)
    Earlier iteration of Jacob Foster's talk, "Toward a Social Science of the Possible"


    Pauline Oliveros's Tuning Meditation
    Norbert Wiener, American mathematician
    Joshua Ramey, "Contingency Without Unreason: Speculation After Meillassoux"
    E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande
    Aristotle, Physics and Metaphysics
    Jeffrey J. Kripal, "The World is One, and the Human is Two: Tentative Conclusions of a Working Historian of Religion"
    Jeffrey Kripal on Weird Studies: episodes ## and ##
    Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice, "The Cry of the 5th Aethyr"
    The "Unwritten Doctrines" of Plato
    Plato, Republic, "Seventh Letter" & Phaedrus
    Phil's prophetic dream report (Patreon supporters only)
    H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (for description of Azathoth)
    C. G. Jung, Synchroncity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Alchemical Studies & Mysterium Coniunctionis
    Charles Taylor, A Secular Age
    New York Times article on 2022 UFO hearings

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Holiday Memories

    Holiday Memories

    In August, 2022, JF and Phil flew to the UK to attend the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute (DISI) at the University of St. Andrews and the Supernormal Festival in Oxfordshire. In addition to recording two live shows (to be released in the coming weeks), they encountered billiant minds, novel ideas, and arresting works of art that opened new avenues for thought. It's these encounters that anchor this conversation, which branches off to touch ideas such as the elusive ideal of intersciplinarity, Hakim Bey's temporary autonomous zone, the legacy of the 20th-century counterculture, the fate of revolutionary movements, non--human intelligences, and the weirdness of human thought.


    Header Image by RomitaGirl67 via Wikimedia Commons.


    Listen to volume 1 and volume 2 of the Weird Studies soundtrack by Pierre-Yves Martel
    Support us on Patreon
    Find us on Discord
    Get the new T-shirt design from Cotton Bureau!
    Get your Weird Studies merchandise (t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.)
    Visit the Weird Studies Bookshop


    References


    Dial M for Musicology, Interdisciplinarity
    Hakim Bey, The Temporary Autonomous Zone
    Entitled Opinions Podcast
    William Gibson, Foreword to Samuel Delaney’s Dhalgren
    DISI Podcast, Many Minds
    John Krakauer, professor of nuerology and neuroscience
    Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist
    The Great Ape Dictionary, specific database used by Cat Hobaiter

    • 1 hr 16 min
    Luminous Miasma: On Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher"

    Luminous Miasma: On Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher"

    Edgar Allan Poe can be lauded as a major inspiration for many innovative artists, genres, and movements, from horror fiction to the music of Maurice Ravel. He has also been a major inspiration for Weird Studies, particularly his short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." In this episode, JF and Phil try to pinpoint just what it is about this tale that is so compelling, discovering in the process that whatever it is cannot be pinpointed. Instead, the haunting mood of the story emerges from the peculiar arrangement of all its parts, becoming something entirely new.


    Click here for more information on the Supernormal Festival, Aug 12-14, in Oxfordshire, England.


    Listen to volume 1 and volume 2 of the Weird Studies soundtrack by Pierre-Yves Martel
    Support us on Patreon
    Find us on Discord
    Get the new T-shirt design from Cotton Bureau!
    Get your Weird Studies merchandise (t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.)
    Visit the Weird Studies Bookshop


    References


    Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher”
    Edgar Allan Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death
    Klangfarbenmelodie, musical technique
    Edgar Allan Poe, "The Poetic Principle"
    Graham Harman, Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy
    Lovecraft without adjectives
    Weird Studies, Development of Circle vs. Spiral: Wheel of fortune, Blade Runner, The Star, Birhane
    Matei Calinescu, The Five Faces of Modernity
    Weird Studies, Episode 101 on ‘In Praise of Shadows’
    Phanes, deity
    James Herbert, The Dark
    Joseph Adamson, “Frye and Poe”
    Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, French anthropologist
    James Machin, Weird Fiction in Britain
    Edgar Allan Poe, “Eureka”

    • 1 hr 33 min
    Demon Workshop: On Victoria Nelson's 'Neighbor George'

    Demon Workshop: On Victoria Nelson's 'Neighbor George'

    The American writer and thinker Victoria Nelson is justly revered by afficionados of the Weird for The Secret Life of Puppets and its follow-up Gothicka. Both are masterful explorations the supernatural as it subsists in the "sub-Zeitgeist" of the modern secular West. In 2021, Strange Attractor Press released Neighbor George, Nelson's first novel. In this episode, JF and Phil discuss this gothic anti-romance with a mind to seeing how it contributes to Nelson's overall project of acquainting us with the eldritch undercurrents of contemporary life.


    Click here for more information on the Supernormal Festival, Aug 12-14, in Oxfordshire, England.


    Listen to volume 1 and volume 2 of the Weird Studies soundtrack by Pierre-Yves Martel
    Support us on Patreon
    Find us on Discord
    Get the new T-shirt design from Cotton Bureau!
    Get your Weird Studies merchandise (t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.)
    Visit the Weird Studies Bookshop


    References


    Victoria Nelson, Neighbor George
    Victoria Nelson, The Secret Life of Puppets
    Victoria Nelson, Gothicka
    Wendy Lesser, American critic
    Ward Sutton Onion cartoons
    Extension, metaphysical concept
    Terry Castle, The Female Thermometer
    Cessation of Miracles, theological belief
    E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic among the Azande
    Greg Anderson, “Retrieving the Lost Worlds of the Past: A Case for the Ontological Turn”
    Orcus Grotto, sculpture
    Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman
    Nathalie Cooke, Margaret Atwood: A Biography
    Weird Studies, Episode 96 on Beauty and the Beast
    M. C. Richards, “Wrestling with the Daemonic”

    • 1 hr 27 min
    Leaving the Mechanical Dollhouse: On Abeba Birhane's "The Impossibility of Automating Ambiguity"

    Leaving the Mechanical Dollhouse: On Abeba Birhane's "The Impossibility of Automating Ambiguity"

    Like Caligula declaring war on Neptune and ordering his troops to charge into the Mediterranean Sea, our technological masters are designing neural networks meant to capture the human soul in all its oceanic complexity. According to the cognitive scientist Abeba Birhane, this is a fool's errand that we undertake at our peril. In her paper "The Impossibility of Automating Ambiguity," she makes the case for the irremediable fluidity, spontaneity, and relationality of people and societies. She argues that ongoing efforts to subsume the human (and the rest of reality) in predictive algorithms is actually narrowing the human experience, as so many of us are excluded from the system while others are compelled to artificially conform to its idea of the human. Far from paving the way to a better world, the tyranny of automation threatens to cut us off from the Real, ensuring an endless perpetuation of the past with all its errors and injustices. Phil and JF discuss Birhane's essay in this episode.


    Header image from via www.vpnsrus.com (cropped). Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.


    Listen to volume 1 and volume 2 of the Weird Studies soundtrack by Pierre-Yves Martel
    Support us on Patreon
    Find us on Discord
    Get the new T-shirt design from Cotton Bureau!
    Get your Weird Studies merchandise (t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.)
    Visit the Weird Studies Bookshop


    REFERENCES


    Abebe Birhane, "The Impossibility of Automating Ambiguity”
    J. F. Martel, “Reality is Analog: Philosophizing with Stranger Things”
    Melissa Adler, Cruising the Library: Perversities in the Organization of Knowledge
    Weird Studies, Episode 75 on 2001: A Space Odyssey
    Weird Studies, Episode 114 on the Wheel of Fortune
    William James, American philosopher
    Midjourney, AI art generator
    Rhine Research Center, parapsychology lab
    George Lewis, “Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives”
    Abebe Birhane, “Descartes was Wrong: A Person is a Person Through Other Persons”
    Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, German philosopher
    J. R. R. Tolkein, “On Fairy-Stories”
    Martin Buber, I and Thou

    • 1 hr 16 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
76 Ratings

76 Ratings

Feltpebble ,

Life Changing

A podcast that doesn’t tell me how to think but encourages me to actually think in the first place.
Honestly, listening to these guys has been a life-altering experience. Because of it I feel both more free and more unnerved than before I found them.

The Upright Man ,

An anchor

Weird Studies has been my go-to podcast for several years now whenever I need a fix of intellectual discussion, rigorous analysis, and, often, outright and unbridled wonder.

I began dipping into it by searching for things I like which they have covered (The Wicker Man, Robert Aickman, etc) and then I just began listening to what they had to say about anything simply because I wanted to hear what they had to say.

If I am honest, I know a lot of what is discussed probably goes over my head; a Weird Studies episode is rarely anything less than a philosophical deep dive, and sometimes I might not follow it all, but what I do follow I feel rewarded, I feel opened, for paying attention.

The 'Weird' is genuinely a comprehensive alternative prism by which to view and interact with the world, outside of the trappings (and traps) of capitalism and, in general, material reality. To have things pass through the Weird is to wake up. And it is a complex, rewardingly frightening journey.

(Also, JF and Phil are two podcast hosts who I only recently discovered look exactly as I imagined they would, so well done on that front too).

Tom Graham 101 ,

Excellent

I’m very happy here in this podcast.

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