"A perfectly weird zine for your ears" - Boing Boing. "A case study in artistic drive" - Indiewire. A single surprise word seeds a piece of short fiction, a song, a reflection, and (part of) a conversation. Guests including Resmaa Menakem, Neil Gaiman, Mary-Louise Parker, and more. Until 2020, Jason hosted Think Again, with thinkers and creatives including Terry Gilliam, Margaret Atwood, Marlon James, and over 200 more. The show was an iTunes Best of 2015 pick and won praise from Salon, Inc. and The Huffington Post. Jason’s memoir HUMANITY IS TRYING: coming in 2021 from HarperCollins.
DEVOLUTION (w/Tim Minchin)
1:11:16Descend a few rungs on the old evolutionary ladder with us in this, the season 2 finale of Clever Creature. Mordant, multitalented Australian songwriter and actor Tim Minchin, the lyricist of the musicals MATILDA and GROUNDHOG DAY, talks with Jason about creative evolution, cultural devolution, and not taking yourself too seriously. There's short fiction by Jason that takes us to the outer limits of optimism. And a song by the one and only Jerm Boor, a deep soul with a deep voice. Special thanks to Emre Gots for the theme music, to Jerm Boor for the song, and to the ever-evolving (and never devolving) Nathan Gelgud for the episode art.
AUTOTOMY (w/Andre Gregory)
1:22:27“If your castle’s made of sugar, don’t blame the rain when it melts.” Sometimes, you’ve just got to kill your darlings. You're a cuttlefish, say, and something’s got your arm in its jaws? No worries. Just eject it! It’ll grow back later . . . In biology, that’s called “autotomy”. In this episode, legendary theater director Andre Gregory talks to Jason about acts of self-reinvention and past selves left behind. There's short fiction about a utopian Christian community that keeps its peace at a hideous cost. And a rousing techno-barn-burner of a song—a lyrical and musical act of autotomy that defies description. Special thanks to Chris Dunlap for the word of the episode, to Adil Sadak for music and production on the song, to Emre Gots for the theme song, and to Nathan Gelgud for the episode art.
GERMINATE (w/Ross Gay)
1:14:39“He will come back with scars and with stories to tell…” This episode is about new beginnings that lead to surprising outcomes. Poet and essayist Ross Gay talks to Jason about precious things beheld and forgotten. There’s a twisted fairytale about weed farming, big box stores, and grand designs. And Jason goes solo with a tune of prayer and self-forgiveness. From warm, dark places, something new is born. Special thanks to Jamie Mayberry for the word of the episode. To Emre Gots for the theme song. To Adil Sadak for mixing and mastering the song. And to the weirdulous Nathan Gelgud for the episode art.
EMERGENCE (w/Merlin Sheldrake)
1:12:34Word by word, a story emerges. Neuron by neuron, consciousness emerges. The story, song, and conversation of this episode are about that mysterious process whereby things become bigger than the sum of their parts. Cambridge mycologist Merlin Sheldrake talks with Jason about how fungal networks solve complex problems, and how LSD and polyphonic music have helped him understand them. There's fiction by Jason about an unhappy man who finds freedom from the outside in. And a hypnotic instrumental blues whose patterns emerge, evolve, and bloom... Special thanks to Jeffrey Cufaude for the word of the episode, to Adil Sadak for musical wizardry on the song, to Francis Mancini for flute magic, to Emre Gots for the theme song, to Robert MacFarlane for the introduction to Merlin, and to the emergent phenomenon known as Nathan Gelgud for the episode art.
RHYTHM (w/Bia Labate)
1:03:04From the reassuring sound of our mother's heartbeat to our last breath, our lives are bounded by rhythm. In music, poetry, meditation, and prayer, rhythm is the trance that lets the spirit fly. In grounding us, it can free us. And it can sometimes become a dangerous drug, lulling us to sleep. In this episode Jason talks with anthropologist Bia Labate of Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines about the rhythms of ancient indigenous life and of life in the global north as they relate to the use of psychedelics for emotional and spiritual healing. There's a story by Jason about two brothers whose lives are out of sync. And a father-son musical collaboration (the second one this season) about rhythm as a refuge from doubt and self-destruction. Special thanks to Nicole Reed Caskey for the word of the episode, to Adil Sadak for the song production, to Emre Gots for the song of the episode (to which Jason added lyrics and vocals), and for the Clever Creature theme song, and to Nathan Gelgud for the episode art.
TRANSITION (w/Ajahn Amaro)
1:22:25At first glance, the word of this episode is impossibly, mind-bogglingly big. "Transition" applies to everything. There's nothing in the known universe (or anywhere else, for that matter, I'd bet) that isn't, at some level, in a state of change. But as always, god, the devil, and everything in between is in the details . . . This week, Ajahn Amaro, a Buddhist monk of 45 years in the Thai Forest tradition talks to Jason about his transition from skeptical rebel to rule-bound monk. There's a story by Jason about coming of age in the racist, classist suburbs of '80's Washington, D.C. And, with music by Adil Sadak and lyrics/vocals by Jason, a tune full of unexpected musical transitions, rocking way harder than anything this show has seen before. Special thanks to Weusi Baraka for the word of the episode, to Adil Sadak for the music and song production, to Emre Gots for the Clever Creature theme song, and to Nathan Gelgud for the episode art.
CROWN SHYNESS (w/Aimee Nezhukumatathil)
1:34:52“The higher up I go, the less I need to know…” “Crown shyness” is social distancing for treetops. It’s a botanical mystery, the fact that certain trees give each other space in the canopy. Are they sharing sunlight? Protecting each other from disease and infestation? Perhaps they just prefer to be alone… A story, a song, thoughts, and a conversation about growth and separation. The poet and essayist Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of WORLD OF WONDERS on love and the natural world. A short story from Jason about academic warfare. And a breathtakingly beautiful song by Jerm Boor. Special thanks to Robert MacFarlane for the word of the episode, to Jerm for the exquisite song, to my son Emre Gots for Clever Creature’s theme song, and to Nathan Gelgud for the episode art. Thanks also to all the wonderful musicians on Crown-Shy: Demetra Markis - vocals, Daniel Schoenfled - button accordion, Mark Ogren - trombone
BODY (w/Resmaa Menakem)
48:59“I was so in love with images, I forgot the native art…” A story, a song, thoughts, and a conversation about what goes on underneath the words and the skin. Somatic therapist Resmaa Menakem, author of MY GRANDMOTHER’S HANDS, on racialized trauma in black, white, and police bodies. A short story from Jason about a birthday party gone so wrong, it’s almost right. And a love song to…can you guess it? Can you guess it? Special thanks to Eric Sanders for the word of the episode, to Helix Lamont for the song’s music, to my son Emre Gots for the theme song, and to Nathan Gelgud for the episode art. Take Resmaa Menakem’s free courses in Cultural Somatics
THAW (w/Neil Gaiman)
1:00:09“I never saw a sun so bright as on that day…” Season Two of the podcast Indiewire calls "a case study in artistic drive" opens with a word of power, this spring especially, as the world anxiously, hopefully starts to open back up again. SANDMAN and AMERICAN GODS author Neil Gaiman on the on the strange comfort of scary (fictional) places and of having your whole year’s schedule cancelled by COVID. Short fiction by Jason Gots about finding Joy on the map and deciding not to stay there. And a father-son musical collaboration. Special thanks to Jenny Doh for the word of the episode, to my 13 year old son Emre Gots for the song of the episode (the main guitar part is all him) and for the theme song. And to Nathan Gelgud for the episode art.
Trailer: Coming 5/12/21 — Clever Creature, Season Two
2:07The show Indiewire called "a case study in artistic drive" is back with nine wild, open new episodes featuring short fiction, conversation, and original songs. Each is an "experimental variety show" based on a single world having something to do with the natural world. Writer and podcaster Jason Gots talks with fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, poet and essayist Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Cambridge Mycologist Merlin Sheldrake, somatic therapist Resmaa Menakem, singer-songwriter Tim Minchin, Buddhist monk of 45 years Ajahn Amaro, anthropologist Bia Labate—founder of Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicine, theater director Andre Gregory, and poet and essayist Ross Gay. Every two weeks on Wednesdays, from 5/12/21 to 9/1/21