Current reading & listening

Just a quick post to catch you up on where I’m getting my brain food from — a few newsletter and podcast recommendations.

I’m getting less and less of my information from social media, and more and more from Substack newsletters — a no doubt widespread symptom of the exodus from the site formerly known as Twitter, and the general rolling disillusionment with such sites. Here’s my Substack picks:

  • I’ve only paid attention to Daniel Pinchbeck‘s work in passing for a while, but over the pandemic I grew to rate him as a very valuable voice in the psychedelic / New Age world. He seriously considered the problems with governmental and corporate responses to Covid without losing his mind, which ranks as quite an achievement in that sphere. How he dealt with his #MeToo moment stands in stark contrast to the nosedive of his former ally Russell Brand, and I’ve appreciated the way he’s wrangled with his feelings, his Jewish heritage, and the horrific evidence in the recent Gaza-Israel conflict. I often diverge from his views but feel the subcultures we share are better off for his public thinking.
  • Burning Shore brings miscellaneous updates and deeply entertaining missives from weirdo stalwart and essential cultural commentator Erik Davis.
  • I found John Ganz’s Twitter account as the Ukraine invasion unfolded, and still regularly read his Unpopular Front newsletter. He occasionally lets online spats embroil him too much, but he’s usually self-consciously witty about it all. Some great material tracking fascism past and present.
  • A Traveller in the Evening is William Blake aficionado Andy Wilson’s base for mining Blake and his fellow travellers for insight into the end of the old order and the ecological crisis.

I’ve been reading too many books to go into, but I’ll just give a brief special mention here to Daniel W. Smith’s Essays on Deleuze. I’ve been trying to get my head around Deleuze’s ideas recently, and Smith’s essays felt like a quantum leap in my grasp of them.

Absorbing philosophy has been a major theme of my podcast listening / YouTube viewing of late. Why Theory, Acid Horizon, and the Machinic Unconscious Happy Hour are all good in their way. For me each always has a good few missable episodes, but they’re all valuable for finding your way around philosophy and critical theory. Wes Cecil — like good ol’ Rick Roderick — has some very useful general material, and is entertaining. And I recently discovered a YouTube channel which contains an incredibly prolific, highly engaging, and pretty deep and well-rounded Nietzsche podcast — recommended.

Needless to say, ContraPoints is still as brilliant as they are sporadic. I never thought I’d enjoy listening to someone talk about Twilight for three hours. And the Weird Studies guys keep hitting the mark.

When I want something more conversational or playful, I settle down with the wonderful Blindboy or the irrepressible Lydia Lunch. Both kept me company during lockdowns and both are freaky treasures of the podcast world.

Last but not least, I’ve hugely enjoyed Jeremy Gilbert and Tim Lawrence’s extensive trawl through the decades and across the world in search of a spirit they celebrate as being crystallised in David Mancuso’s acid-drenched Loft, in New York in the early ’70s: Love is the Message. A feast of politics, culture and hedonic release.

Well, so much for reading and listening. I should write more… Watch this space.