New York

Where mysticism went

Composer John Zorn, the JACK Quartet and vocalist Helga Davis join philosopher Simon Critchley in search of contemporary transcendence

It is often said that we live in a time of disenchantment. Once the Sun was the chariot of a god, but today it is a gaseous ball of plasma. Science and rationality have emptied the world of its mystery, opening it up to empirical investigation and quantification. But this story of disenchantment gets it wrong: mysticism never went away. It can be found in the ecstatic, transcendent and ineffable experience of music.

image of Simon Critchley

Simon Critchley


Simon Critchley is the Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. His books include Very Little … Almost Nothing (1997), Infinitely Demanding (2007), The Book of Dead Philosophers (2008) and The Faith of the Faithless (2012). His recent works include a novella, Memory Theatre (2015), a book-length essay, Notes on Suicide (2015), studies on subjects ranging from David Bowie to football, and the podcast series Apply-degger (2020). His most recent books are Tragedy, The Greeks and Us (2019) and Bald (2021). He was the series moderator of The Stone, a philosophy column in The New York Times, and co-editor of The Stone Reader (2016) and is a member of the board of directors of the Onassis Foundation. He is also 50 per cent of an obscure musical combo called Critchley & Simmons.

Simon can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and on his official website.

John Zorn and the JACK Quartet


image of John Zorn

John Zorn

Born and raised in New York City, John Zorn is a composer, performer, artist, universalist and aesthetic philosopher who has forged an independent path through stylistic domains that range from the classical avant-garde to many popular idioms. His work is remarkably diverse and draws inspiration from art, literature, film, theatre, philosophy, alchemy and mysticism as well as music. He learned alchemical synthesis from Harry Smith, structural ontology with Richard Foreman, how to make art out of garbage with Jack Smith, cathartic expression at the jazz club Slugs’ and hermetic intuition from the sculptor Joseph Cornell. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and a William Schuman Award, and holds three honorary doctorates.

John's studio recorded compositions are released by Tzadik and his concert music can be found on his official website.

image of JACK Quartet

JACK Quartet

Performing a program of John Zorn's music

Sigil Magick: A Curious and Detailed Exposition of Sigils, Signs, and Hieroglyphs Peculiar to the Occult Orders, Hermetic Brotherhoods, and Dark Mystery Schools of the Late Middle Ages for string quintet (2020)

Chris Otto – violin

Austin Wulliman – violin

John Pickford Richards – viola

Jay Campbell – cello


Michael Nicolas – cello

image of Michael Nicolas

Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Present Itself as a Science for string sextet (2020)

Chris Otto – violin

Austin Wulliman – violin

John Pickford Richards – viola

Jay Campbell – cello


Yura Lee – viola

Michael Nicolas – cello

image of Yura Lee
image of Helga Davis

Helga Davis


Helga Davis is a vocalist and performance artist, and was the principal actor in the 25th-anniversary international revival of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s seminal opera Einstein on the Beach (1976). She is an artist in residence at National Sawdust and Joe’s Pub, the host of the eponymous podcast Helga on WQXR, the winner of the 2019 Greenfield Prize in composition, a 2019 Alpert Award finalist and the 2018-21 visiting curator for the performing arts at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Helga can be found on Instagram, and her podcast can be accessed on Tune In and Apple Podcasts.

Sam Dresser


Sam Dresser is a senior editor at Aeon+Psyche. He enjoys, to a fault, taking interminable train rides and drinking good Scotch, both of which pair beautifully with what we do at Sophia Club New York: talk about meaningful ideas in a lively, playful way.

Event and ticketing details

Date and time

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

6:30PM ’til late


Concession - $18

Full - $25


The Jane Hotel

113 Jane Street New York 10014

  • Doors open: 6:30pm
  • Performance starts: 7:30pm sharp
  • Bar food and beverages available for purchase throughout evening
  • Access your ticket for the event by clicking View order or Download PDF at the bottom of your ticket email
  • Sophia Club New York events take place in the heritage building at The Jane Hotel. Please note that this venue has a 21+ age requirement, and valid ID must be shown upon entry. If you have accessibility requirements or queries, please get in touch with our support team at
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
The Jane Hotel,
113 Jane Street New York 10014
6:30PM ’til late

The Sophia Club is a new venture from Aeon Media, the publisher of Aeon and Psyche magazines.

Aeon is based in Melbourne, Australia and we respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our Melbourne events take place, the Wurundjeri people of the Woiworung language group of the Kulin Nation.
We value the knowledge traditions and rich practice of philosophy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia, and all First Nations peoples around the world.