Taboo: Time and Belief in Exotica

Episode 98 · May 12th, 2021 · 1 hr 20 mins

About this Episode

Exotica is a kind of music that was popular in the 1950s, when it was simply known as "mood music." Though somewhat obscure today, the sound of exotica remains immediately recognizable to contemporary ears. Its use of "tribal" beats, ethereal voices, flutes and gongs evoke a world that is no more at home in the modern West than it is anywhere else on earth. With its shameless stereotyping of non-Western cultures and its aestheticization of the other, exotica rightly deserves the criticism it has drawn over the years. But as we shall see in this episode, if you stop there, you just might miss the thing that makes exotica so difficult to expunge from Western culture, and also what makes it a prime example of how the "trash stratum" sometimes becomes the site of strange visions that transcend culture altogether.


Phil Ford, “Taboo: Time and Belief in Exotica”
Future Fossils, Episode 157
Weird Studies, Episode 21: The Trash Stratum
Weird Studies, Episode 79: Love, Death and the Dream Life
Jack Smith, “The Perfect Filmic Appositeness Maria Montez”
Yma Sumac, Peruvian singer
Les Baxter, "The Oasis of Dakhla"
Steely Dan, "I Heard the News"
Stravinsky, Rite of Spring
Les Baxter, “Hong Kong Cable Car”
Jacques Riviere, review of The Rite of Spring
Nenao Sakaki, Japanese poet
Lew Welch, American Beat poet
JF Martel, “Stay with Mystery: Hiroshima Mon Amour, Melancholia, and the truth of extinction”
Jeffrey Kripal, Mutants and Mystics
Captain Beefheart, “Orange Claw Hammer”
Martin Buber, I and Thou