Weird Studies

Weird Studies
A filmmaker and a professor talk art and philosophy at the limits of the thinkable
15: On Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’ - Part Two
May 23 • 64 min
In this second of a two-part conversation on Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 film Stalker, Phil and JF explore the film's prophetic dimension, relating it to Samuel R. Delany's classic science-fiction novel Dhalgren, the cultural revolution of the 1960s, the…
14: On Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’ - Part One
May 15 • 41 min
Journey into the Zone to uncover some of the strange artifacts buried in Tarkovsky's cinematic masterpiece, Stalker (1979). In this first of a two-part conversation, Phil and JF discuss a poem by Tarkovsky's dad, compare the film with the sci-fi novel…
13: The Obscure: On the Philosophy of Heraclitus
May 9 • 81 min
Heraclitus of Ephesus was one of the great pre-Socratic thinkers. Called the Obscure and the Weeping Philosopher, he left behind a collection of fragments so mysterious and pregnant with meaning that they continue to puzzle scholars to this day. In this…
12: The Dark Eye: On the Films of Rodney Ascher
May 2 • 88 min
American filmmaker Rodney Ascher is a master of the weird documentary. Whether he be exploring wild interpretations of a classic horror film in Room 237, bracketing the phenomenon of sleep paralysis in The Nightmare, studying the uncanny power of the…
11: Art is a Haunting Spirit
Apr 25 • 75 min
M. R. James' "The Mezzotint" is one of the most fascinating, and most chilling, examples of the classic ghost story. In this episode, Phil and JF discover what this tale of haunted images and buried secrets tells us about the reality of ideas, the…
Weird Stories: M. R. James’ “The Mezzotint”
Apr 23 • 27 min
M. R. James has been hailed as the unrivalled maser of the classic ghost tale, and his powers are at their zenith in "The Mezzotint," a story that first appeared in his 1904 collection, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. In it, James reimagines the Gothic…
10: Philip K. Dick: Adrift in the Multiverse
Apr 18 • 83 min
In 1977, Philip K. Dick read an essay in France entitled, "If You Find this World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others." In it, he laid out one of the dominant tropes of his fictional oeuvre, the idea of parallel universes. It became clear in the course…
9: On Aleister Crowley and the Idea of Magick
Apr 11 • 76 min
The plan was to discuss the introduction to Aleister Crowley's classic work, Magick in Theory and Practice (1924), a powerful text on the nature and purpose of magical practice. JF and Phil stick to the plan for the first part of the show, and then veer…
8: On Graham Harman’s “The Third Table”
Apr 4 • 72 min
JF and Phil discuss Graham Harman's "The Third Table," a short and accessible introduction to "object-oriented ontology." Phil takes us on a tour of his closet, we discover that JF's kids are better at this weird studies stuff than their old man, and the…
7: The Unspeakable Mystery at the Heart of Boxing
Mar 28 • 65 min
For as long as they've been pounding the crap out of each other for good reasons, humans have also been pounding the crap out of each other for fun. Everywhere, in ever age, elaborate systems, rituals, and traditions have arisen to ring in the practice of…
6: Dungeons & Dragons, or the Reality of Illusions
Mar 21 • 78 min
The Dutch historian Johan Huizinga was one of the first thinkers to define games as exercises in world-making. Every game, he wrote, occurs within a magic circle where the rules of ordinary life are suspended and new laws come into play. No game…
5: Reading Lisa Ruddick’s “When Nothing is Cool”
Mar 13 • 68 min
Phil and JF discuss Lisa Ruddick's "When Nothing is Cool," an essay on the postmodern humanities and its allergy to essences — especially that personal essence we call soul. Maybe the soul is a heap of miscellaneous notions and influences that I paint a…
4: Exploring the Weird with Erik Davis
Mar 7 • 81 min
Scholar, journalist and author Erik Davis joins Phil and JF for a freewheeling conversation on the permutations of the weird, Burning Man, speculative realism, the uncanny, the H. P. Lovecraft/Philip K. Dick syzygy, and how the world has gotten weirder…
3: Ecstasy, Sin, and “The White People”
Feb 21 • 79 min
JF and Phil delve deep into Arthur Machen's fin-de-siècle masterpiece, "The White People," for insight into the nature of ecstasy, the psychology of fairies, the meaning of sin, and the challenge of living without a moral horizon. WORKS CITED OR DISCUSSED…
Weird Stories: Arthur Machen’s “The White People”
Feb 19 • 96 min
Weird Stories is a series of readings for Weird Studies listeners who want to dig deeper into the themes and ideas discussed on the Weird Studies podcast. In his seminal essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature," H. P. Lovecraft named Arthur Machen one of…
2: Garmonbozia
Feb 1 • 86 min
Phil and JF use a word from the Twin Peaks mythos, "garmonbozia," to try to understand what it was that the detonation of atomic bomb brought into the world. We use the fictional world of Twin Peaks as a map to the (so-called) real world and take Philip…
1: Introduction to Weird Studies
Jan 31 • 32 min
Phil and J.F. share stories of sleep paralysis and talk about Charles Fort's sympathy for the damned, Jeff Kripal's phenomenological approach to Fortean weirdness, Dave Hickey's notion of beauty as democracy, and Timothy Morton's hyperobjects.