Three more of my favourite podcasts!
It seems everyone and their aunt has a podcast these days. The overabundance of shows to choose from can be daunting and is an example of what Barry Schwartz dubbed The Paradox of Choice - our brains don’t cope well with too many options to choose from. So, to make things a tiny bit easier, here are three more podcasts I absolutely love, this time covering Jungian psychology, absurdist comedy and cultural commentary. As with many of today's more daring and original podcasts, these shows are free to download, but the creators can only continue doing their work because listeners support them financially. Patreon is a common vehicle, but other forms of donation are available. Click on the titles below to go to the websites of the podcasts.
This Jungian Life
Genre: Jungian psychology
Rating: Adult stuff, not because of profanity but because of profundity
Frequency: One episode a week.
Subscription: Free. Option to become a Patreon supporter with perks.
Presented by three experienced Jungian psychotherapists, this podcast is an absolute treasure trove of analytic psychological insight. Debbie, Lisa and Joe choose a theme for each episode and then proceed to explore what the theme means in a therapeutic context, in families and society in general. Themes are sometimes typical Jungian concepts like The Archetype of the Fool, or Intuition or Complexes, but they can also be more broader psychological issues such as Midlife Crisis, Pessimism and The Alchemy of Writing. The open and exploratory nature of their dynamic always guarantees fascinating and insightful discussion, whatever the specific topic, and they have already recorded over 160 episodes! The presenters relate anecdotes from their therapeutic practices, quote Carl Jung, refer to fairy tales and Greek mythology, and each episode ends with them interpreting a dream sent in by a listener. If you’re at all interested in exploring your own unconscious, or understanding cultural phenomena from an analytical psychological perspective, this podcast is definitely for you! I’d recommend listening in a situation in which you’re able to pause the podcast and reflect, or write down your thoughts – it’s often a lot to take in and it can shake the dust off corners of your mind you forgot even existed.
Everything is Alive
Genre: Comedy fiction
Rating: Usually okay for kids, some adult content now and then (with warning).
Frequency: Lots of episodes available, new episodes added sporadically.
Subscription: Free. Part of Radiotopia, a network of highly original independent podcasts.
Explaining how great this podcast is, is like trying to tell someone who has never tasted chocolate, what they are missing. But here goes. The format is simple enough: each episode is an interview with a – normally – inanimate object. The host and interviewer, Ian Chillag, displays admirable patience and compassion in his
efforts to understand what existence is like for such diverse interviewees as Tara, a bar of soap, Chioke, a grain of sand and Adam, a barstool. The result is always surprising and often utterly hilarious, not least because of what the objects don’t know about the world beyond their direct experience. Each episode also features a brief phone call with someone in the real world who is in some way connected to the interviewee. This creates a wondrous juxtaposition between the absurd but often weirdly relatable world of the inanimate object and the mundane reality of, say, a guy who got a misspelled tattoo of Odysseus or a woman who voices announcements on the London Underground. As an additional perk, there are transcripts of the episodes available for download. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys the occasional bite of delightful lunacy.
The Quillette podcast
Genre: Interviews with academics, activists and writers on contemporary cultural topics.
Rating: Mostly grown-up stuff, but suitable (and recommended, IMHO) for teens.
Frequency: Multiple episodes added frequently (at least once a week).
Subscription: Free. Paid subscription gives access to online forum.
This is the podcast companion to the online Quillette Magazine, edited by Australian journalist Claire Lehmann. In this podcast (152 episodes and counting), Jonathan Kay, Claire Lehmann and occasionally other interviewers, talk to scientists, journalists, writers and other public intellectuals who are in the news because of their controversial views on such hot-button issues as gender, race, identity politics, nuclear energy, the pernicious influence of social media and so on. Quillette’s position is decidedly critical of anything that smacks of dogma, be that extreme left, right or religious. As a result, this podcast serves the listener a much-needed rational perspective on issues which often evoke intense, knee-jerk responses but which badly need to be properly examined. What I particularly value about Quillette’s approach, is that they’re not afraid to question widely-shared but often unfounded assumptions. So if you’re interested in stepping outside the debilitating polarisation that surrounds many of today’s most contentious societal issues, then this podcast is certainly worth your attention. Even more so, dare I say, if this description evokes precisely that kind of knee-jerk reaction I just mentioned. But be warned: this podcast may undermine your most cherished opinions and tempt you to change your mind!