Noelle Kocot is the author of seven books, including Phantom Pains of Madness, forthcoming from Wave Books in May 2016. She shares five things she’s reading, watching and thinking about right now. 


1. The Episcopalian religion

I’ve been going to an Episcopal church (Grace Church in Pemberton) for the last two years. I’m interested in the differences between my own religion (Roman Catholicism) and the Episcopalian rituals. For instance, there can be a female priest, and their version of the Nicene Creed, the main profession of faith, does not include praying to saints. The Episcopalians also believe in Luther’s proposition that one is justified by faith, not faith and works, as the Catholics believe. In other words, if one is Episcopal, there is no way to earn one’s salvation.


2. Impractical Jokers

I am an avid watcher of this show, which is a type of reality show involving comedians usually surprising people on the street, but in other venues as well. I find it endlessly interesting and humorous, and I love how much it makes me laugh. On one episode, one of the pranksters was posing as a dental hygienist, and kept referring to an unsuspecting woman’s teeth as ‘toofs’, because that is what he was told to do by the other three jokers through a microphone in his earpiece.


3. Supermarket circulars

I love the way they are so colorful and full of information about what’s on sale.


4. Michel Foucault

I am also very interested in the writings of Michel Foucault – I don’t think he is crazy at all, and I think his ideas really fit the way things are from a social perspective. Right now, Madness and Civilization, an early book, is important to me, and I love it how he says that in this time period, madness cannot talk with reason anymore: ‘All that madness can say of itself is merely reason, though it is itself the negation of reason.’


5. Psalms

I am also very interested in the Psalms in the Bible as poetry – I love what they say, and I think every poet could get something out of them poetically speaking and maybe for life lessons. I think Psalms 91 and 42 are most inspiring to me right now, they’re just so beautiful: ‘Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare / and from the deadly pestilence. / He will cover you with his feathers, / and under his wings you will find refuge.’ (Psalm 91:4). This is not only poetic, to think of the Creator as a big bird, but also quite mysterious.


Photograph © revjdevans

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