The Pit and the Pyramid, or, How to Beat the Philosopher's Blues

Episode 80 · August 19th, 2020 · 1 hr 17 mins

About this Episode

Your hosts' exploration of mysticism and vision in pop music continues with two powerful pieces of popular music: Radiohead's "Pyramid Song" from the 2001 album Amnesiac, and Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf's "Ballad of the Sad Young Men," from the 1959 Broadway musical The Nervous Set. Synchronicity rears its head as the dialogue reveals how these two gems, selected by JF and Phil with no expectation that they might form a set, begin to glow when placed side by side, amplifying and focussing each other's eldritch light. This episode touches on Neoplatonic myths of spiritual ascent, African-American spirituals, Plato's realm of Forms, Gnosticism, dream visitations by the dearly departed, the travails of the Beat generation, the objectivity of hope, the implosion of America, and that particularly modern condition of the soul which Phil calls the "Philosopher's Blues."


Radiohead, "Pyramid Song"
Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf, "The Ballad of the Sad Young Men"

Edgar Allan Poe, "The Pit and the Pendulum"
Charles Mingus, Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus
Plato, Phaedrus
Plato, Republic
Plato's Unwritten Doctrines
The Secret History of Western Esotericism Podcast, episode 69: "Plutarch's Myths of Cosmic Ascent"
William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
Pierre Hadot, French philosopher
Algis Uzdavynis, Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth: From Ancient Egypt to Neoplatonism
Charles Taylor, Canadian philosopher
Phil Ford, "The Philosopher’s Blues" (Weird Studies Patreon exclusive)
Peter Sloterdijk, German philosopher
Ferdinand de Saussure, French linguist
JF Martel, Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice
JF Martel, "Stay With Mystery: Hiroshima Mon Amour, Melancholia, and the Truth of Extinction" in Canadian Notes & Queries, issue 106: Winter 2020, edited by Sharon English and Patricia Robertson
Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction
Jay Landesman and Theodore J. Flicker, The Nervous Set, musical
Phil Ford, Dig: Sound and Music in Hip Culture
Jay Landesman, American publisher and writer
Marshall McLuhan, "The Psychopathology of 'Time & Life'"
Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man
William Butler Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantium"
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
Mike Duncan (Twitter)
Jeff Chang, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Karl Marx, Capital: Volume I