120 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
    • 4.9 • 291 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."

    On the Wheel of Fortune, the Tenth Card of the Tarot

    On the Wheel of Fortune, the Tenth Card of the Tarot

    Season five kicks off with a new installment in the ongoing series on the Tarot's twenty-two major arcana. This time, your hosts overcome the trials that fortune has dealt them -- a hangover in the case of Phil, a sleepless night for JF -- to discuss the Wheel of Fortune. Not surprisingly, the conversation is a mess, albeit a beautiful one that comes full circle in the end, tying up all its loose ends in something like a bow (or a coiled serpent). Topics include the challenges of improvised philosophical discussion, the importance of exposing oneself to difficult ideas, the serpentine nature of immanentist discourse, and the doctrine of the Fall. As usual, the anomymously-authored Meditations on the Tarot gets pride of place, although occult luminaries such as Alejandro Jodorowsky, Aleister Crowley, and Pat Sajak make notable appearances.


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    REFERENCES


    Our Known Friend, Meditations on the Tarot
    Pints with Aquinas
    Jaroslav Hašek, Czech author
    Lon Milo Duquette, Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot
    True Detective, tv show
    Thomas Ligotti, Conspiracy Against the Human Race
    Henri Bergson, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion
    Alexander Jodorowsky, The Way of Tarot
    Jessica Hundley et. al., Tarot. Library of Esoterica
    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French priest and scientist
    Herman Hesse, The Glass Bead Game
    Bruno Latour, French philosopher
    David Bentley Hart interview

    • 1 hr 34 min
    Framing the Invisible, with Shannon Taggart

    Framing the Invisible, with Shannon Taggart

    Shannon Taggart's book Seance is a landmark in art photography and the history of psychical research. Taggart spent years photographing practitioners of spiritualism in the U.S. and Europe in an effort to capture the mysteries of mediumship, ectoplasm, and spirit photography. In this episode, she joins JF and Phil for a conversation on the often-misunderstood tradition of spiritualism, the investigation of the paranormal, and the real magic of photography. If the technological medium is the message, then perhaps the spiritual medium is the messenger.


    Support us on Patreon:
    Find us on Discord
    Get your Weird Studies merchandise (t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.)
    Visit the Weird Studies Bookshop
    Buy the Weird Studies soundtrack


    **REFERENCES


    *Shannon Taggart, Séance *
    Read the introduction to the book here
    Visual companion page for this episode


    Shannon and her work are featured in Peter Bebergal's excellent book, Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural


    Weird Studies, Episode 24 with Lionel Snell
    Lionel Snell, “The Charlatan and the Magus”
    George P. Hansen, The Trickster and the Paranormal
    Diane Arbus, American photographer
    Warner Herzog (dir.), Cave of Forgotten Dreams
    Jeffrey Mishlove, Interview with James Tunney on Francis Bacon
    Eva C, French medium
    Andrew Jackson Davis, American spiritualist
    Henry Alcott, American Theosophist


    For further reading on women, spiritualism, and the art of the invisible:
    Ann Braude, Radical Spirits
    Guggenheim, Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future
    Special Guest: Shannon Taggart.

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Readings from the 'Book of Probes': The Mysticism of Marshall McLuhan

    Readings from the 'Book of Probes': The Mysticism of Marshall McLuhan

    The Book of Probes contains a assortment of aphorisms and maxims from the work of the Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, each one set to evocative imagery by American graphic designer David Carson. McLuhan called the utterances collected in this book "probes," that is, pieces of conceptual gadgetry designed not to disclose facts about the world so much as blaze new pathways leading to the invisible background of our time. In this episode, Phil and JF use an online number generator to discuss a random yet uncannily cohesive selection of of McLuhanian probes.


    REFERENCES


    Marshall Mcluhan and David Carson, The Book of Probes


    Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
    Marshall Mcluhan, The Mechanical Bride
    Aristotle, System of causation
    G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
    Eric A. Havelock, Preface to Plato
    Weird Studies, Episode 71 on Marshall Mcluhan
    Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy
    Christiaan Wouter Custers, A Philosophy of Madness
    Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense
    Marshall Mcluhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy
    Harry Partch, American composer
    Marc Augé, Non-Places
    Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
    Denis Villeneuve (dir.), Arrival
    Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
    Harry G. Frankfurt, On B******t

    • 1 hr 29 min
    What Is Best in Life: On "Conan the Barbarian"

    What Is Best in Life: On "Conan the Barbarian"

    A wish-fulfilment fantasy for pubescent boys of all ages, or a subtle disquisition on the ethics of a sorcerous world? John Milius' Conan the Barbarian (1982) manages to be both, although one may be easy to overlook. In this episode, JF and Phil leave the heights of Hesse's The Glass Bead Game with a headlong dive to the trash stratum. Their wager: that Conan the Barbarian, a film without a hint of irony, is a spiritual statement that is equal parts empowering and disquieting, and a prime of example of how fantasy is sometimes the straightest way to the heart of reality.


    REFERENCES


    John Milus (dir.), Conan the Barbarian (1982)
    Richard Fleischer (dir.), Conan the Destroyer (1984)
    Robert E. Howard, American writer, author of the Conan stories
    Jack Smith, "On the Perfect Filmic Appositeness of Maria Montez"
    Weird Studies #3: Ecstasy, Sin, and "The White People"
    H. P. Lovecraft, "Supernatural Horror in Literature"
    Fritz Leiber, American writer
    Weird Studies #95: Demon Seed: On Doris Lessing's The Fifth Child
    Dungeons & Dragons
    Weird Studies #20: The Trash Stratum (part 1, part 2)
    Masaki Kobayashi (dir.), Kwaidan
    Jerry Zucker (dir.), Ghost (1990)
    Roget's Thesarus of English Words and Phrases
    Maria Montez, Dominican-American actress

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Monks of the Cultural Apocalypse: 'The Glass Bead Game,' Part Two

    Monks of the Cultural Apocalypse: 'The Glass Bead Game,' Part Two

    In the current "attention economy," which has resulted in plummeting literacy rates and the almost wanton neglect of various cultural practices, what significance does culture even have? Why seek to preserve something our age has decided doesn't have to exist? Perhaps Hermann Hesse's The Glass Bead Game can be read as an answer to those questions. The order of monastic scholars in the novel exists mainly to remember what others were happy to consign to oblivion. In this episode, Phil and JF discuss Hesse's ideas on the order and its sacred game in terms of how they might help us meet the challenge facing anyone who believes the value of culture can't be expressed in dollars and cents.


    REFERENCES


    Herman Hesse, The Glass Bead Game
    Pope Benedict XVI, former head of the Catholic church
    J.S. Bach, Well Tempered Clavier, Rosalyn Tureck interpretation and Glenn Gould interpretation
    Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
    Chauvet Cave
    Peter Bebergal Strange Frequencies
    Andy Goldsworthy, British artist
    Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists
    William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light

    • 1 hr 13 min
    Infinite Play: On 'The Glass Bead Game,' by Hermann Hesse

    Infinite Play: On 'The Glass Bead Game,' by Hermann Hesse

    JF and Phil have been talking about doing a show on The Glass Bead Game since Weird Studies' earliest beginnings. It is a science-fiction novel that alights on some of the key ideas that run through the podcast: the dichotomy of work and play, the limits and affordances of institutional life, the obscure boundary where certainty gives way to mystery... Throughout his literary career, Hesse wrote about people trying to square their inner and outer selves, their life in the spirit and their life in the world. The Glass Bead Game brings this central concern to a properly ambiguous and heartbreaking conclusion. But the novel is more than a brilliant work of philosophical or psychological literature. It is also an act of prophecy -- one that seems intended for us now.


    Header image by Liz West, via Wikimedia Commons.


    REFERENCES


    Herman Hesse, The Glass Bead Game


    Paul Hindemith, German composer
    Morris Berman, The Twilight of American Culture
    Alfred Korzybski, concept of Time Binding
    Christopher Nolan, Memento
    William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light
    Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
    David Tracy, The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism
    Jeremy Johnson, Seeing Through the World: Jean Gebser and Integral Consciousness
    Teilhard de Chardin, French theologian
    Mathesis
    Joshua Ramey, The Hermetic Deleuze
    Weird Studies, Episode 22 with Joshua Ramey
    Joseph Needham, British historian of Chinese culture
    James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games

    • 1 hr 20 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
291 Ratings

291 Ratings

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Fredosphere ,

Mind Expanding

My only regret is these episodes are as long as they are--because they fill my brain to the bursting. So many stimulating ideas! What a great podcast.

Ivyenow ,

Erudite, good hearted & transcendent at times

Thanks, your talks are saving me this year. First show I’ve patreoned and worth it. The content is phenomenal.

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