Morning of the Mutants: On the Castrati

Episode 72 · April 29th, 2020 · 1 hr 13 mins

About this Episode

For over two centuries in early modern Italy, boys were selected for their singing talent castrated before the onset of puberty. The goal was to preserve the qualities of their voice even as they grew into manhood. The procedure resulted in other physiological changes which, combined with an unnaturally high voice, made the castrati the most prodigious singers on the continent. As Martha Feldman shows in her book The Castrato, a masterpiece of cultural history, the castrated singer was such a singular figure that he invited comparisons with angels, animals, and kings, attracting adoration and ridicule in equal measures. The castrato was a true liminal being, and as JF and Phil discover in this episode of Weird Studies, an unlikely herald of the present age.


Martha Feldman, The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds

Stanley Kubrick, American filmmaker
Alessandro Moreschi, the last castrato, singing "Ave Maria"
Baruch Spinoza, Ethics
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"
Thomas Ligotti, "Mrs Ligotti's Angel", read by horror writer Jon Padgett
Weird Studies, Episode 48: Thomas Ligotti's Angel
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Genesis P-Orridge, American musician and occultist