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Weird Studies

An Arts, Society and Culture podcast
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Episodes of Weird Studies

Modern skeptics pride themselves on being immune to unreason. They present themselves as defenders of rationality, civilization, and good sense against what Freud famously called the "black mud-tide of occultism." But what if skepticism was mor
Joy Williams' third novel, Breaking and Entering, is the story of lovers who break into strangers' homes and live their lives for a time before moving on. First published in 1988, it is a book impossible to describe, a work of singular vision a
In this episode, Weird Studies turns meta, reflecting on the peculiar medium that is podcasting, and how it has shaped the Weird Studies project itself. JF and Phil provide a glimpse into what it feels like to create the show from the inside, w
The Twin Peaks mythos has been with Weird Studies from the very beginning, and it is only fitting that it should have a return. In this episode, Phil and JF are joined by Tamler Sommers, co-host of the podcast Very Bad Wizards (https://www.very
It is said that for several days after the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in the spring of 1967, you could have driven from one U.S. coast to the other without ever going out of range of a local radio broadcast of the album. S
Continuing their series on the tarot, Phil and JF discuss the card nobody wants to see in a reading – The Tower. Featuring lightning bolts, plumes of ominous smoke, and figures plummeting from the windows, the Tower’s meaning at first glance se
"What was he doing, the great god Pan, down in the reeds by the river?" With this question, the Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning opens her famous poem "A Musical Instrument," which explores nature's troubling embrace of savagery and be
In modern physics as in Western theology, darkness and shadows have a purely negative existence. They are merely the absence of light. In mythology and art, however, light and darkness are enjoy a kind of Manichaean equality. Each exists in its
Central to the tradition of cosmic horror is the suggestion that the ultimate truth about our universe is at once knowable and unthinkable, such that one learns it only at the cost of one's sanity and soul. John Carpenter is one of a handful of
In this never-before-released episode recorded in 2019, Phil and JF travel to rural Oregon through the Netflix docu-series, Wild Wild Country. The series, which details the establishment of a spiritual community founded by Bhagwan Rajneesh (lat
Exotica is a kind of music that was popular in the 1950s, when it was simply known as "mood music." Though somewhat obscure today, the sound of exotica remains immediately recognizable to contemporary ears. Its use of "tribal" beats, ethereal
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 endle
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 pat
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
"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 dee
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
With his latest film (http://www.aglitchinthematrixfilm.com), 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 t
In this episode, Phil and JF explore the vast palatial halls of Susanna Clarke's novel Piranesi. Set in an otherworld consisting of endless galleries filled with enigmatic statues, Piranesi is the story of a man who lives alone -- or nearly alo
Weird Studies has so far devoted just one show to Philip K. Dick, and that was way back in April 2018, with episode 10, "Adrift in the Multiverse." Last fall, as another foray into Dickland began to feel urgent, Phil and JF talked about which o
Ishmael Reed's 1972 novel Mumbo Jumbo is a conspiracy thriller, a postmodern experiment, a revolutionary tract, a celebration, and a magical working. It is a novel that, over and above prophetically describing the world we live in, creates a wh
Weird Studies will launch its fourth season on January 6th, 2021. But to celebtrate the end of very strange year, we thought we'd release a conversation which until now was available only to our top-tier Patreon backers. Therein we discuss the
Before Coraline, before American Gods, in the early days of the Sandman series, Neil Gaiman collaborated with Dave McKean on some truly groundbreaking graphic novels: Violent Cases (1987), Signal to Noise (1989), and the work discussed in this
It would be wrong to describe Arthur Machen's Hieroglyphics: A Note Upon Ecstasy in Literature (1902) as a work of nonfiction, since the book features a narrative frame that is as moody and irreal as the best tales penned by this luminary of w
The German polymath E. T. A. Hoffmann is one of the founding figures of what we now call weird literature. In this episode, JF and Phil discuss one of his most memorable tales, "Der Sandmann." Originally published in 1816, it is the story of a
Since its release in 1973, Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man has exerted a profound influence on the development of horror cinema, a rich vein of folk music, and the modern pagan revival more generally. Anthony Shaffer's ingenious screenplay gives
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