Winter Light


In the contemporary West, the elderly are regarded as somehow “other,” no longer who they used to be, no longer full members of the worlds they once inhabited. Being old is seen as a medical management issue. But old age is not a defective version of what preceded it; it is — like childhood, adolescence,[…]

Speaking with the Dead: An Ethnography of Extrahuman Experience

Published: 05/28/2024

If you tried speaking with a dead person and they gave you a clear response, how would you react? Mediums develop their minds and bodies to communicate messages from the deceased to their living loved ones, and in Speaking with the Dead, anthropologist Matt Tomlinson describes his experiences training as a medium with a Spiritualist[…]

Oblation: Essays, Parables, and Paradoxes


Elements of this book, Oblation: Essays, Parables, and Paradoxes, defy reason. They do so for good reason. Much of what we do, much of what we think, is oblation: sacrifice, offering, to something or someone. The root of “oblation” (Hebrew: korban) is “to draw near” or “to dwell in.” It refers to what is brought[…]

Trouble Songs: A Musicological Poetics

Published: 03/26/2018

Trouble Songs is a hybrid serial work that tracks the appearance of the word “trouble” in 20th- and 21st-century American music. It reads (and sings) songs and poems, with reference to cultural events ranging from the death of a pop singer to the growth of popular resistance movements. The trouble singer invokes the word “trouble” in[…]

Queer Insists (for José Esteban Muñoz)


Published: 12/04/2014

Queer Insists is a memorial essay, a work of mourning, written for the queer theorist and performance scholar José Esteban Muñoz (1967-2013) shortly after his untimely death in December 2013. In a series of fragments, not unlike Roland Barthes’s Mourning Diary, Michael O’Rourke shares memories of Muñoz, the stories and reflections of his friends in[…]