Space is the Place: On Sun Ra, Gnosticism, and the Tarot

Episode 60 · November 20th, 2019 · 1 hr 25 mins

About this Episode

Somebody once said, "No prophet is welcome in his own country." Whether this was true in the case of jazz musician and composer Sun Ra depends on whom you ask. With most, the dictum probably bears out. But there are those who can make out certain patterns in Ra's life and work, patterns that place him among the true mystics and prophets. Of course, these people already believe in mysticism and prophecy, but Sun Ra's total devotion to his myth does not leave much wiggle room on this front. He is asking us to choose: believe or disbelieve. And if you go with disbelief, you'll need to explain the sustained coherence and lucidity of his message, and the transformative power of his music. In this episode, Phil and JF take a look at Sun Ra's unforgettable film Space is the Place, interpreting it as a document in the history of esotericism, using gnostic thought and the tarotology as instruments to bring some of his secrets to light.


Sun Ra, Space is the Place
Sun Ra: Brother from Another Planet_
Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus and [Kafka]( (for the concept of minority)
Antoine Faivre, French historian of esotericism
Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences
Eliphas Lévi, French occultist
Edward O. Bland (director) The Cry of Jazz
Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, or, Cosmos and History
Ingmar Bergman, The Seventh Seal
Stanley Kubrick, Dr Strangelove, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice
Jackson Lears, Something for Nothing: Luck in America