How do we believe in things without killing each other? I talk to Peter Rollins & Elliott Morgan of The Fundamentalists podcast on AEWCH 135!

16 Dec

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Friends,
As the year comes to an end, we find ourselves surrounded by people holding seemingly incommensurable sets of beliefs and ideas – and those sets of beliefs and ideas are being held onto more tightly, not less, as the ship seems to be aimless. While some of you might be finding a sense of relief in the changing of the guard in the US, and the presence of a vaccine, many others feel agitated by both.
2020 was the year that one community, one group of people trying to dominate and humiliate the other, seemed to rule.At the same time, we’ve seen these amazing outpourings of mutual aid, of togetherness, of new demands for the structures that are supposed to be serving us. I wanted to understand all of this, I wanted to have a conversation about belief and politics, and the unknown.
So I invited my friends Peter Rollins and Elliott Morgan to the show. You might know Elliott as part of the YouTube comedy group The Valleyfolk, or from his standup; and Peter from his work as a psychoanalytic theologian, or his previous appearances on AEWCH 14, AEWCH 55, and AEWCH 70 (with Todd McGowan); but I was interested in having them on together because they’re cohosts of the philosophy and psychoanalysis chat show, The Fundamentalists. On each episode, Elliott brings his everyday but perceptive concerns about the world, and Peter pulls them apart with psychoanalysis.
This is, I think a special conversation because of that belief piece, that ideology piece – because we all have different pathways through belief in our lives, from Peter’s sport of strange revelation upon seeing an exorcism take place after leaving the theater – he’d just seen Gremlins 2 – with his friend, to Elliott’s church experiences with something called the Holy Laughter Revival, to mine growing up without much religion and then finding my life infused with occult philosophy.We also each have different psychological structures, which we discuss on this show.And we each have different intellectual mentors and perspectives. Lately, Elliott has taken up Jungian psychology, which stands in some opposition to Peter’s Lacanian/Hegelian view, and both in some opposition to my occult view deeply informed by Rudolf Steiner.
So we spend a lot of this episode fleshing out some of those differences and nuances – how current events, how thinking, how the unconscious, and more, can be seen from each perspective.Gradually, throughout the episode, you get a sense of a sort of peace process. Not because Peter and Elliott and I were i some sort of deep conflict to begin with, but because the ideas and ways of living and structures of psyche meet each other and rest with each other without violent disagreement. The show presents three people, not trying to resolve contradictions and certainly not trying to win out, but rather simply taking an interest in one another.

In some ways, it offers an antidote to clinging to belief on the mast of the sinking ship of our politics, economy, and culture.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • Our journeys through belief
  • Different sorts of exorcisms and possessions
  • The interpretations of the concept of the lack in psychoanalysis
  • Why didn’t going to school for science make Elliott an atheist?
  • What the unconscious looks like for Freud, Jung, and Steiner
  • How each of – Peter, Elliott, and I – us fall into a psychoanalytic structure, and what those structures are
  • How to avoid turning anxiety into violence
  • How communism and liberalism have dovetailed with each other into a big mess
  • Comedy creating stability
  • The way love and knowledge meet to become violence in our time

SHOW NOTES

• For more on The Fundamentalists, my recommended episodes are “Success,” “Socialism,” “Fascism,” and “New Normal.” But you can really just start anywhere.

• Right off the bat we get Gremlins 2 and Alabama Snake references, which I feel like is a call to watch both.

• John E.L. Tenney went to a Catholic exorcism and we talked about it on AEWCH 133.

• Here’s a short video on the Holy Laughter Revival, and it is…well…funny!

Jodorowsky’s Dune is one of my favorite movies about magic and art. (Below are character sketches for the film by Moebius.)

• I love AEWCH 116 with Are Thoresen about nothingness and Christ.

• Here’s a brisk intro to Franz Mesmer.

• Here’s the episode of The Fundamentalists about hot takes and the global pandemic.

• The Duncan Trussell Family Hour I talk about re: my prediction of the occluding force is here. And the other episode I mention is here.

• Slavoj Žižek comes up a bit, and if you’re looking for a good book to start with that relates to the topics here, I would say The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity is as good as any.

Until next time, friends,
XO
CH

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