Lately I've been suffering from the compulsion to wander.

Somewhere Out There
Original Broadcast Date
Joe Frank
Absurd Monologue, 58 minutes
Preceded by: Blues Singer
Followed by: Journal

Philosophy is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Somewhere Out There. It was originally broadcast on January 19, 1997.


About 7 minutes of this episode is original. The other 52 minutes comes from 13 different episodes - a record.

0:00: Joe tells us about his compulsion to wander.[1].

2:20: Joe tells us he travels with no luggage, just an attaché case with 'bandages, lunch meats, a hurricane lamp, geological survey maps, a selection of Venetian glass beads, a halazone tablets, a watermelon, organs for transplant, a field guide to identifying shrubbery, an expanding cuff for a blood pressure meter, a tranquilizing suppository, a strand of unwaxed mint-flavoured dental floss, a small jar of pimentos, a toothpick, some seaweed, a cricket cage, some aloe vera lip gloss, a stick of chewing gum, a page torn from a novel with a smear of chocolate sauce on it, a lock of hair tied with a pink ribbon, false Fabergé eggs, woven rattan images of Renaissance city life, hors d'oeuvres, neatly sliced x-ray film, a set of underarm shields, a collection of antique snuff bottles, the improbable plan for what appears to be a medieval flying machine, a pair of eyeballs on Slinkies, a fright wig, a ballerina's tutu, a seltzer bottle, puff pants, size 47 shoes, some boric acid, a feather duster, fish hooks, a pup tent, powdered snake skin, roach husks, a packet of moleskin wipes, tooth powder, and cloves.'[2] He recommends the book he just wrote, 'The psychopathology of the tramp'.

4:30: Joe's in a railroad station, tries to buy a ticket to Denver; after an absurd exchange he drives. Many absurd events follow.[3]

6:40: Joe describes a recurring dream: he's at a dinner party. A woman is menstruating through her nose. He starts coughing, can't stop.

8:00: 'I recently went to Venice to buy the larynx of a famous tenor - something new I'm into.'[4]

8:20: Joe tells of a new play, 'Fist fight', that ends in a riot.[5]

8:50: 'This morning, I tried to read. But the words crawled off the pages of my book and fell into little piles at my feet…' and more surrealness.

10:30: Joe tells of a Russian sect that worshipped holes, drills a hole to worship.[6]

11:50: Joe prays to the hole.[6]

14:20: Joe tells about rich man who died, his body was taken to Darjeeling to be burnt, but rains put the fire out, then the man revived.[7]

15:30: 'Every day I tear pages from the Bible and take them on my boat to pack fish. In the evening I like to sit by the reflecting pool. There are trees hung with small colored bulbs. I sit at a metal table, sipping white, Portuguese wine: aren't I having fun?

'Shantytowns, squatter settlements, unpaved dusty roads, no wind, green mountains, fishing village, nets drying on poles along the beach.'

16:30: Joe describes how he strains to act naturally, in detail.[8]

17:20: Joe saw a new play at the Hollywood Bowl, scenes based on the Bible, the actors dressed as concentration camp prisoners.[7]

18:40: Joe describes his new way of filming dream sequences: having the actors walk backwards, then reversing the film, shooting it in negative, screening the reverse negative.[9]

18:20: 'A blind power could not create an amoeba…' Joe argues for Creationism.[7]

20:00: 'Recently, I visited the Ringling Brothers' winter home for retired animals, and I watched lions and elephants wearing bathrobes and tattered slippers walking on the beach.'[10]

20:20: 'Do I dare disturb the universe? When I eat a peach, wear white flannel trousers, walk upon the beach, hear mermaids sing, "Each to Each." I doubt it.'[9]

20:50: Joe tells a woman what he wants her to wear, to do.[11]

22:00: 'What's important is what can't be said. We make statements that fail to contain our feelings and our thoughts, which can't be described. We can only speak around subjects. Everything said about something, in fact, takes away from it.'[6]

22:30: Interview on public television with Holocaust survivor.[12]

23:30: Joe talks about how putting an empty frame over wallpaper makes us see it differently.[5]

24:30: Joe narrates some pictures from his childhood.[13]

25:40: Joe talks about how we try to find meaning in life by investigating our ancestry. He says this is futile, because if you go back enough generations you have more ancestors than there were people.[5]

28:20: Joe repeats the prayer to the hole.[6]

34:20: Joe tells the story of a woman who plays like a child when her husband, a judge, is at work. When he catches her at it, he throws all her dolls in the fire. She abreacts. Psychotherapy turns up abuse in her childhood. The judge steals women's nightgowns. An innocent man confesses, then Oedipus-es.[5]

40:40: Joe tells of a man who sits on seats from which an attractive woman has risen, usually on buses and subways. He ends up the business commissioner of the transit corporation.[5]

42:20: Joe tells of a man who likes to be trod upon by women, eventually calls in a bomb scare to a modeling agency, is trod to death.[5]

45:50: 'Have you ever noticed a certain movement under your feet?' Joe observes that we ignore gravity and the motion of the Earth.[14]

47:00: Joe talks about oil refineries and the stuff they make.[15]

48:20: Joe talks about discovering that you have lost your way in life.[16]

49:00: Joe talks about going on pilgrimages, that they have to be hard to be real.[15]

51:40: Joe repeats the prayer to the hole.[6]

56:00: Joe has dream in which he understands everything, forgets when he wakes up.[7]

57:10: 'A tree is no longer frightening when you name it a tree. My name is Joe Frank, but I'm just a living, breathing organism with a peculiar history, wearing clothes and shoes, sitting in a studio in front of a microphone.'[6]

Legacy Synopsis

Compulsion to wander, items for traveling. Well treated concentration camp victims. Barking at a dinner party. Buying the larynx of a famous tenor. A theater production that ends in a riot. A comic bleeds to death. Hole worshipers. A rich man left for dead joins a religious sect. Struggling to appear unconcerned. Scenes from the bible presented by actors dressed as concentration camp inmates. Actors walking backwards shown in reverse in white and black. Denying the big bang and evolution. Retired animals. Describing an Asian dream woman. A childhood slide show. The geometric growth of number of ancestors and the futility of genealogy. A childish woman becomes morbid when her husband destroys her dolls, goes to psychoanalysis. Her husband the judge steals women's clothing. A man obsessed with sitting where women have sat, and on obsessed with being stepped on. Feeling the earth move beneath your feet. Discovering that you've lost your way. Finding the meaning of life in a dream and forgetting it.


Shared material

This episode uses segments from At The Border, Thank You, You're Beautiful, A Landing Strip In The Jungle, Case Studies, Iceland (Part 2), Cocktails Before Dinner, Dreamland, Words, When She's Asleep, She Looks Like An Angel, Pretender, Questions, Pilgrim, and In The Dark (Part 2) - a record - and it still has some original content.


  1. abridged from At The Border
  2. This is the longest of all his lists.
  3. abridged from Thank You, You're Beautiful
  4. originally aired in A Landing Strip In The Jungle
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 originally aired in Case Studies
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Originally aired in At The Border
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 originally aired in Thank You, You're Beautiful
  8. originally aired in Iceland (Part 2)
  9. 9.0 9.1 originally aired in Cocktails Before Dinner
  10. originally aired in Dreamland
  11. originally aired in Words
  12. adapted from When She's Asleep, She Looks Like An Angel
  13. originally aired in Pretender
  14. originally aired in Questions
  15. 15.0 15.1 originally aired in Pilgrim
  16. originally aired in In The Dark (Part 2)