2020: The Year In Death – with Caitlin Doughty and Conner Habib

8 Dec

LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud 

This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.

Want to buy the books mentioned on this ep? For Caitlin’s books, and other books mentioned on or related to this episode, please go to my booklist for AEWCH 134 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

Friends, what a year!

Primarily, I view 2020 as filled with thoughts about death, with considerations of uncertainty and contradictions.And to talk about all of this, I invited my friend, host of Ask A Mortician, author and death activist Caitlin Doughty on the show.Caitlin is one of my closest collaborators.

We’ve done live events together, she’s been on AEWCH two times before (AEWCH 77, and AEWCH 8), we talked before AEWCH existed, and I’ve been on her web series, Ask A Mortician. She’s also author of three amazing books about death around the world, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory , Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: And Other Questions about Dead Bodies, and (my favorite) From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death.

I wanted us to look into this year with as much equanimity as we could muster.

Have you noticed how hard things have been to navigate, not because of a virus per se, but because of a collapse of knowledge? Not only has information changes from day to day this year, but we’re subject to speculative news items presented as facts, questions about the virus are over-amplified scaring the shit out of everyone, case numbers and deaths are presented together creating a sense that every case number is a potential death or that every death is separate from the case numbers, we get lines like the flatten the curve lines that look like palmistry and that do and do not accurately predict futures. Add to that the many theories, the many politicizations, the many fears and anxieties, the many suppressions of information, the many debates.

It’s intense.

This episode goes a ways to help with all that, I think. I hope it grounds you and stirs up compassion for your neighbors, even the ones you wish weren’t your neighbors.

Let’s get through this together (for real!).

ON THIS EPISODE

  • How death positivity could change our view on handling a pandemic
  • The hero narrative in a time of crisis
  • Doing structural work instead of offering critique or sinking into your own anxiety
  • Why we need propositions, not critiques
  • When government officials are hypocritical with regulations, and how to think about that
  • How the crisis has amplified everyone’s worst attributes
  • Why knowledge can’t save us
  • Looking at all our values and striving for coherence
  • What we learned from the AIDS epidemic that applies now
  • Combatting the “if you got sick it’s your fault” mindset without losing sight of how to take care of yourself and others
  • The connectivity of suffering and how that’s going to amplify in the future
  • Why spiritualism and other spiritual beliefs and rituals grow during and after major world events
  • What will happen when we un-repress
  • Why it’s impossible to have the information, much less the answers about our current situation…and what to do about that

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Caitlin, watch her amazing web series, Ask A Mortician, including this great episode on spiritualism. Here’s her website. And support her work via her patreon! Also, make sure you watch her episode of The Midnight Gospel, my buddy Duncan Trussell‘s animated Netflix series!

• Most of the stories about Hart Island have been corrected at this point to reflect the island’s long history of burial – but you might remember images like this one.

• I talked about mutual aid on AEWCH 131 with Dean Spade, critiques vs propositions on AEWCH 123 with Kathi Weeks, and how truly being human is the best antidote to the problems of our world with Doug Rushkoff on AEWCH 125.

RTÉ’s retirement party scandal and Gavin Newsom’s French Laundry party were…fun new stories (insert facepalm emoji or whatever).• I would love if you listened to my latest appearance on the Duncan Trussell Family Hour.

• A great book on spiritualism (and occultism) and how it relates to feminist and other progressive movements is Magia Sexualis by Hugh Urban. Though I’m not sure why it’s so fucking expensive.

• Want to read a great Irish novel about a bunch of corpses talking to each other in a graveyard? Why yes you do, pal.

• My thoughts on how the masturbation scare hoax affected culture are in an essay I wrote years ago for Vice. But you can learn way more about it by reading Thomas W. Laqueur’s excellent book, Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation.

• Here’s the (horrible) video of family members being separated at a funeral.

• If you want a quick breakdown of mRNA vaccines, here’s an article from the European Commission’s research magazine, Horizon.

• I wrote about the time I had to walk away from a cancer diagnosis in my essay, “When You’re Sick You’ll Wait for the Answer, But None Will Come“.

Until next time friends – live and embrace death!
XO
CH

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: