Welcome to jonahdempcy.com

You've found the homepage of Jonah S. Dempcy. Here you will find a catalog of recorded music, along with essays in such areas as Jungian psychology and continental philosophy.


jonah pic1 HomeMy name is Jonah Dempcy. I’m a technologist and writer living in Seattle, Washington. I’m passionate about areas of thought like service design, depth psychology and critical theory. Being entirely self-taught, I strongly believe in the value of self-education and the ability of technology to help all of us become autodidacts and polymaths. I most look up to R. Buckminster Fuller for his dedication to solving problems for all of humanity. I enjoy working on startups, making music and writing, among other pastimes.


The Global Center for Advanced Studies

GCAS logo HomeIn Fall 2013 I began volunteering as Web Development Coordinator at the Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS). They’re doing some really incredible work revolutionizing how critical theory and other subjects in the humanities are taught and engaged with.


Techstars Seattle Class of 2013

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Jonah Dempcy (l) and Techstars mentor Aviel Ginzburg (r).

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Techstars mentor Rebecca Lovell (l) and Jonah Dempcy (r)

In August 2013 I attended Techstars Seattle, a 3-month startup accelerator program. I am indebted to the expert guidance of director Andy Sack and  the incredible mentors, who graciously donate their time and energy showing a ragtag bunch of entrepreneurial spirits the ropes each year. Besides all of the technical guidance, I was just inspired to learn ways of being. Everyone was so generous and supportive. The caring and expressions of gentle humanity I witnessed during the program touched me deeply. Also I just had a great time. What a blast!


Jazz Piano

Impromptu solo piano performance of On Green Dolphin St. recorded in summer 2013.

Film: The Absolute of Pure Difference

In March of 2013, I released a film/video essay. In it, I show clips from films and television commercials, talking about philosophical and psychological concepts primarily developed from the theories of Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Lacan and C.G. Jung.

absolute of pure difference HomeThe film is split between two parts: “The Archetypal” and “The Sacred and the Profane.” The first section explores the archetypal dimension of film and how films capture the haecceity, feeling-tone or spirit-of-the-moment of a “quality of time.” This qualitative time is a different level of temporality than chronological time — it’s what Deleuze calls ainological time (following Jung’s work on Aion). The second half of the film follows Deleuze’s definition of art as resistance to the separation of the sacred and the profane, incorporating Jung’s work on alchemy, gnosticism and Christian mysticism. 



In the spring and summer of 2013, I had a lot of time to write and put a few essays online.

Selected Papers:
Jonah Dempcy – Shadow Projection and Scapegoating in Contemporary Academic Discourse (2013)
In this paper I set out to identify shadow projection and scapegoating in discussions of contemporary critical theory, philosophy and related areas. Particularly, I propose the Jungian idea that shadow projection is a way of giving advice to someone else that is really meant for yourself. This advice is delivered in a way that is palatable to one’s ego, which avoids terrible ego wounds. It is similar to Lacan’s notion of the subjective position where one speaks from: I can talk about “you” while really referring to myself; I can give you advice which is what I really need to hear but cannot bear to face. 

Jonah Dempcy – On the Phenomenon of the Harlem Shake Meme (2013)

A few ideas about the pre- and post-drop phases of the Harlem Shake meme corresponding to the two temporalities, chronological and ainological time (or waking and dream time), and the invasion of the conscious by the unconscious or invasion of the “daytime” Apollonian Oedipal world by the “nighttime” Dionysian dreamworld.


Music: Jonah Dempcy – Dark Soul

Music: Jonah Dempcy – Here To Stay

Music: Jonah Dempcy – Broken Beats Unbreak My Heart

Music: Jonah Dempcy – All I Have Is Time


Music: Revolution Void – Let 1,000 Flowers Bloom

This double CD spans 100 minutes and many genres including minimal techno, future garage and soundtrack music. Additionally, it contains pastiches and homages to such artists as Flying Lotus and Daft Punk.

Music: Revolution Void – Invisible Walls


Music: Silver Server – Get Down

Music: Silver Server – Nobody

Music: Jonah Dempcy – Personal Space


Music: Jonah Dempcy – All’s Fair in Love of Wax

This album was originally released under the short-lived moniker The Insider in 2009. Most of the songs were recorded in 2008, and then I took the masters with me down to Mexico for a month in February 2009 and made notes about what I wanted to change. When I got back to Seattle, I finished up the album. The idea here is just to pay homage to instrumental hiphop and sample-based music. In particular, DJ Shadow blew my mind when I was 13 years old, knowing that the music was completely sample-based. It just opened up so many possibilities to me. I didn’t follow the DJ-Shadow style completely on this album — there are some sequenced synth parts and so on. But most of the tracks consist primarily of WAVs sampled from old funk records and sources like that. The name is a reference to the issue of copyright. In my opinion, if you’re creating something new from old material out of love for that material rather than for an intentional financial gain by copying that material verbatim, then it’s fair use. I strongly support the right of artists to sample other musicians. Now, I have had a song of mine appear for sale on Amazon.com on a DJ mix listed as another artist. In that case, someone was making money selling a song I released for free and just using that song, verbatim in its entirety. That’s different. But if you love a song, and sample it and turn it into something new, that’s beautiful, man. When I heard the Chrome Sparks tune Marijuana (2012) and then my friend played me Idris Muhammad Could Heaven Ever Be Like This (1977), well, that just filled me with joy — what an amazing song the original is, and also how Jeremy Malvin (a.k.a. Chrome Sparks) was able to make such a different song out of the sample while still channeling some of that same vibe. I just love the magic of sampling. It reminds me of the magic of film, in a way. I’ve always been a huge film buff and if I can channel a little bit of an uncanny David Lynch feeling or a surreal Fellini thing, I’m happy. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy sampling so much, because it takes other moments in time which each have their own uniqueness (the medieval philosophical term for this is haecceity, pronounced “hexity”). It’s the same enjoyment I get out of film, the ability to splice together different feeling-tones or unique qualities of time that have been captured. That’s also why I like recording in general, found sound, field recordings, all that. But there is something about sampling old records — it’s like field recording back in time, like even just getting the ambience of the room from back then is cool to me. I’ll sometimes just sample bits of vinyl noise or reverb and use them to add texture. I once heard of an artist who recorded the reverberations after famous recordings, as if capturing the silence of the room allowed one some special access to the jenes-sais-quoi of that moment in time. This may all be superstition, but I get a similar feeling going through recorded music archives. I get downright giddy finding new (old) sounds to play with.