Sorcerer’s Apprentice

While TikTok and Tumblr have long been brimming with a newly abundant witch culture, believers in magic also populate a darker, more occultic level of the internet — and John R. King IV, whose long-running blog details his explorations of demonology, is one of its most prominent practitioners. What happens when Kent Russell seeks him out? The result is (sorry) spellbinding.

I pressed King to let me watch him conjure. Show me a scream full of hooves, I said, or a smile spreading across a pool of blackness. He demurred. He had to ascertain what kind of person I was offline before that could happen. So we made plans to meet at the Okanogan Family Faire, a festival where especially dirty hippies encamp alongside militiaman types in a valley on the far side of the Cascades. For several days, they sing and dance and barter goods and services—mostly drugs. King would be offering tarot readings, but for me, he said, he might perform services that would disclose how demons affect everyday lives, my own included. I booked my flight and dusted off my camping gear.

Published: May 11, 2022
Length: 27 minutes (6,982 words)

Night Shifts

“Clearly dreams do something for us,” writes Michael W. Clune. “If not, why would evolution have endowed us with the capacity?” In this essay, Clune explores the fascinating world of dream engineering via a device called the Dormio, which enables a person to shape the images that appear during hypnagogia, the transitional stage between wakefulness and sleep.

After a few days of this, I found I was developing a sense, even a taste, for hypnagogia. Now, when I go to sleep, I watch for it. It’s the moment when thoughts take on a life of their own. Or more accurately, when they resume the life they’ve always led when I’m not there.

Published: Mar 15, 2022
Length: 26 minutes (6,731 words)

Another Green World

“Can the planet’s ecosystems be replicated?”

Published: Jan 17, 2022
Length: 19 minutes (4,996 words)

The Enumerator

“Then, an invitation arrived in my inbox: BE A CENSUS TAKER…At $25 an hour, the work was a potential lifeline. As a journalist, I was intrigued by the possibility of observing the enterprise—’the federal government’s largest and most complex peacetime operation,’ according to the National Research Council—up close. How, I wondered, could the government safely send hundreds of thousands of people to knock on doors across the country in the midst of a pandemic?”

Published: Oct 19, 2021
Length: 22 minutes (5,535 words)

“The Fire Is for the Greedy”

“Nawabshah, home to more than a million people, has the untidy, nondescript feel of just about any other small Pakistani city: tangled power lines, tacky roundabouts, squat buildings. It has one consistent claim to national fame, however: its dry, punishing heat, the suffering of which residents flaunt with pride and masochistic smugness.”

Published: Oct 18, 2021
Length: 7 minutes (1,985 words)

“Put on the Diamonds”

“Anton Chekhov once observed that the worst thing life can do to human beings is to inflict humiliation. Nothing, nothing, nothing in the world can destroy the soul as much as outright humiliation.”

Published: Oct 1, 2021
Length: 15 minutes (3,925 words)

To Be a Field of Poppies

“The elegant science of turning cadavers into compost.”

Author: Lisa Wells
Published: Sep 20, 2021
Length: 24 minutes (6,064 words)

Eating the Whale

“A personal history of meat.”

Published: Aug 18, 2021
Length: 22 minutes (5,739 words)

The Anxiety of Influencers

Educating the TikTok generation.

Published: Jun 9, 2021
Length: 33 minutes (8,366 words)

Lost in Thought

“The psychological risks of meditation.”

Published: Mar 15, 2021
Length: 24 minutes (6,098 words)