Audio archive

Click the link to go to a private Soundcloud page where all the audio files can be downloaded.

video archive

Click the link to go to a private Youtube page where all the video files can be found

join us next year

Click the link to find out about next years WAKE.


Jamieson Webster is a NY based psychoanalyst who has written for Artforum, Apology, Cabinet, the Guardian, Playboy, Spike Art Quarterly, the New York Review of Books and the New York Times. She’s the author of numerous books, her most recent being Conversion Disorder: Listening to the Body in Psychoanalysis and is currently working on The Cambridge Introduction to Lacan.

Todd McGowan teaches theory and film at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Capitalism and Desire, Enjoying What We Don’t Have, The Fictional Christopher Nolan and other works.

Barry Taylor is a theologian-philosopher, musician, artist, academic and writer who has spent more than thirty years challenging traditional notions of religion and church and creating alternative communities built on the idea that life is uncertain, the future is unwritten and that none of us has the answer.

Connor Habib is a writer, lecturer, former gay porn performer, and sex workers’ rights advocate who has a podcast that offers up deep conversations on complex ideas in engaging and fun language, covering topics like radical philosophy, the occult, sexual liberation, identity politics, and fringe art.

WAKE | Born Again

On this page you’ll find all of the main talks from WAKE 2019. The theme was Born Again, and we explored what it means to undergo a fundamental transformation in the personal and political realms, and how this connects with the practice of pyrotheology.

The festival includes workshops, breakouts, tours, cabaret, comedy, music and magic. None of which can be captured. But what follows is the main intellectual dimension of the event. The guest speakers were Jamieson Webster, Todd McGowan and Barry Taylor, and there is over 10 hours of content.

waiting with the dead | Peter Rollins

In this short welcome, I talk about why the festival is called WAKE and look at the dialectic nature of the event. I talk about two rumors that the festival aims to keep alive within us. The first is that we must wait with the dead and mourn their passing. The second concerns the hope that new life arises out of this waiting.

Pyrotheology 101 | Peter Rollins

This is a chance to get a basic introduction to my work. Here I talk about the basics of pyrotheology. The material will be old hat to those who have been following him for a while, but great for people who are just kicking off.

God of the Gap | Peter rollins

In the 17th century, Blaise Pascal introduced the term ‘God-shaped hole’ to describe a fundamental sense of lack that defines the existential predicament of human beings. Whether this is manifest subjectively (in a person’s experience) or objectively (in their symptoms), the religious orientation can be described as aimed at ridding us of this experience. Some religions view this lack as an illusion to be dissipated, while others see it as a real gap to be filled. Positions which are alive and well in various secular guises. In this talk, I argue that Pascal did name something fundamental in his expression ‘God-shaped hole’ (something with significance beyond the merely human), and that a religionless conversion involves radically confronting this hole, affirming it, and finding a place within it.


In this talk, I look at Pyrotheology as a theory and technology of fundamental transformation. I dig deep into what it means to undergo the death of God objectively, subjectively and unconsciously, before exploring what is born in the aftermath of this event. This talk explores what it means to undergo a fundamental shift in the way that we desire, a shift that enables us to live in the world without being of the world.


In this talk, I outline how Conversion can be concretely understood within the frame of Pyrotheology and the role of a collective in inviting that fundamental reconfiguration of our desire.


We tend to think of conversion in terms of knowledge.We see the light, become enlightened, and thus begin to think differently. But Todd’s contention is that conversion involves not a shift in our knowledge but a transformation of how we satisfy ourselves. More specifically, it occurs at the moments when we recognize that we already have what we were pursuing. It is this recognition that makes a shift in our mode of satisfaction possible and that can facilitate as assertion of our freedom.


Conversion disorder names a condition in which our bodies manifest a symptom (such as blindness, fatigue, or paralysis) that cannot be explained in medical terms. In psychoanalysis, the symptom can be thought of as a prophet in the wilderness of our psychic lives, naming a fundamental deadlock in our lives, that calls for a radical change. The analyst listens to this communication and helps us bear witness to this message and respond to it. Those with ears to hear discover a desire to change the way we desire, to disorder and reorder our lives. In this talk, Webster explores the shifting meanings of conversion and reflect upon how we listen to the complex speech of our body. 


Wake favorite, Barry Taylor, gives us an autobiographical talk on his own ongoing experience of being ‘born again’, a journey that has taken him touring with AC/DC, to being part of a religious revival in Russia, doing music for porn movies, a sexual brush with the Children of God and the discovery of Death of God theology. Barry could well be the most interesting man in the world.

Q AND QING OF THE A IN THE Q | peter rollins

All questions have certain answers embedded in them, things we take take for granted. In this conversation I take various questions, and attempt to get beneath them.


I’m joined by Jamieson Webster and Todd McGowan to talk about conversion in the sphere of politics, psychoanalysis and theology. By exploring the relation between desire and ideology, we interrogate the apocalyptic promise held out in these three realms: Salvation (in theology), The Cure (in psychoanalysis) and Socialism (in politics).


We recorded one of the breakout sessions. In this one, Barry Taylor talks about Radical Theology and answers questions.

against everyone | Conner habib with Peter Rollins and Todd McGowan

Conner Habib joined us for a live episode of his countercultural podcast. Together with Todd McGowan and myself, we mainly talked about the nature of lack in psychoanalysis and pyrotheology.