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Returning guest Matt Cardin is a writer of fiction and nonfiction whose focus on numinous horror place him in the literary lineage as Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood. His new book, What the Daemon Said, collects two decades' worth of meditations on literature, cinema, mysticism, philosophy, and the weird. He joins Phil and JF to talk about a r…
 
On May 23, 2022, Meredith Michael joined JF and Phil for a live recording at Illuminated Brew Works, a craft brewery in Chicago, Illinois.The occasion was the launch of Weird Studies Black IPA, the fruit of a collaboration with IBW brewmaster Brian Buckman and his team of beer alchemists. The game plan was to talk about potions, but the final conve…
 
For several episodes now, Phil and JF have been circling what St. John of the Cross called the Dark Night of the Soul, that moment in the spiritual journey where all falls a way and an abyss seems to crack open beneath our feet. When it came time to go there in earnest, they could think of no better guide than Duncan Barford, host of the excellent …
 
Every off-week, JF and Phil record a bonus episode for Patreon supporters. The conversations on that stream are shorter, less formal, and more improvisitory than those of the flagship show. To give the wider public a glimpse of this hidden dimension of the WS universe, we decided to make this week's "audio extra" available to everyone. As it happen…
 
The Star is one of the most iconic of the major trumps of the traditional tarot deck. It is also one of the most ambiguous. A woman is shown emptying two urns of water onto the parched ground. She is flanked by nascent plant life. Shining above her are those nocturnal luminaries whose "eternal silence" so frightened the philosopher Blaise Pascal at…
 
In this episode, each of your hosts bullies the other into watching a movie he would normally not touch with a bargepole. Phil has been (unsuccessfully) trying to get JF to watch Vincente Minnelli's 1953 musical comedy The Band Wagon and JF has been (also unsuccessfully) trying to get Phil to watch Panos Cosmatos's 2018 psychedelic horror film Mand…
 
Though it is seldom acknowledged in the weirdosphere, there is a difference between weirdness and mystery. Most the time, the Weird confronts us with a problem, an impersonal epistemic obstacle which we can always hope would go away if we just closed our eyes and whistled past it with our hands in our pockets. Mystery, however, is always personal. …
 
Over the last several centuries, there has been one thing on which science and religion have generally agreed, and that is the fixity of the laws under which the universe came to be. At the moment of the Big Bang or the dawn of the First Day, the underlying principles that govern reality were already set, and they have never changed. But what if th…
 
In this episode, Phil and JF are joined by music scholar and Weird Studies assistant Meredith Michael to discuss two strange and unsettling short stories: J.G. Ballard's "The Gioconda of the Twilight Noon" (1964) and Ursula K. Le Guin's "She Unnames Them" (1985). Their plan was to talk about three stories, but they never got to Phil's pick, which w…
 
The topic of games and play has fascinated JF and Phil since the launch of Weird Studies. Way back in 2018, they recorded back-to-back episodes on tabletop roleplaying games and fighting sports, and more recently, they did a two-parter on Hermann Hesse's The Glass Bead Game, a philosophical novel suggesting that all human culture tends toward play.…
 
In his 1978 bestseller The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins described humans as "survival machines" whose sole purpose is the replication of genes. All of culture needed to be understood as a side-effect, if not an epiphenomenon, of that defining function. Four years after Dawkins' book was published, Warner Brothers released Blade Runner, an adaptati…
 
Soft, soothing, and understated as a rule, ambient music may seem the least weird of all musical genres. Not so, say JF and Phil, who devote this episode to Brian Eno's Ambient 1: Music for Airports, the 1978 album in whose liner notes the term "ambient music" first appeared. In this conversation, your hosts explore the aesthetic, metaphysical, and…
 
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 com…
 
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-mi…
 
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 wo…
 
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:…
 
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. …
 
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