Love, Death, and the Dream Life

Episode 79 · August 5th, 2020 · 1 hr 4 mins

About this Episode

In this episode of Weird Studies, an improvised analysis of two pop songs -- Nina Simone's version of James Shelton's "Lilac Wine" and Ghostface Killah's visionary "Underwater" -- becomes the occasion for a deep dive to the weird wellspring of artistic creation. In trying to understand these songs and why they love them so much, your hosts touch on themes such as necromancy, decadence, liebestod, visionary experience, the Muslim image of paradise, the necessity of rifts, Norman Mailer's concept of "dream life," and the magical operation that is sampling.

Header image: Boris Kasimov, Wikimedia Commons


James Shelton, "Lilac Wine"
Nina Simone, "Lilac Wine" from the album WIld is the Wind (1966)
Ghostface Killah, "Underwater, from the album Fishscale (2006)
MF Doom, "Orange Blossoms," from the album Special Herbs, Volume 4, 5 & 6
Richard Strauss, [Salome](
Weird Studies, episode 25: David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch
C. G. Jung's practice of active imagination
JF Martel, Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice
Thomas Mann, Death in Venice
Paul Horn, Visions
Alexander Mackendrick (dir.), The Sweet Smell of Success
Les Baxter, American composer
Les Baxter, "Papagayo"
Debussy, [Nocturnes](
Rebecca Leydon, music scholar
Weird Studies episodes 73 and 74, on C. G. Jung's aesthetic vision
Alexander Courage, Theme from Star Trek ("Where No Man Has Gone Before")
Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
Norman Mailer, “Superman Comes to the Supermarket"
James Joyce, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake