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Why do nuns become human traffickers? AEWCH 96: On the atrocities of the Catholic church with journalist Caelainn Hogan.

14 Jan

AGAINST EVERYONE WITH CONNER HABIB 96: CAELAINN HOGAN or

THE CHURCH AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING

AEWCH96TitleCard

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Friends,

It was inevitable that, living in Ireland, I’d have to confront the power and atrocities of the Catholic church. Not because I don’t have a feeling of respect for the church (though I was raised without religion), and not because I’m an atheist (obviously!), but because the pain and suffering the church and its influence have caused Irish people is immeasurable. But I didn’t know where to start, until I came across the work  of journalist Caelainn Hogan, who has written a stunning and profoundly moving book on the mother-and-baby homes in Ireland, which imprisoned women who were pregnant outside of marriage, and took their children away from them. Often, the children died of malnourishment or illness or mistreatment, and were subsequently thrown into mass graves, never to be identified. Many of those who survived are still searching for their families. Caelainn’s book, Republic Of Shame: Stories from Ireland’s Institutions for ‘Fallen Women’, is a book of both sorrow and accountability, as well as a piercing analysis of great power.

This is a haunting episode, as well as one that moves in and out of biopolitics, state control, patriarchy, and religious vision. I’m so happy to share it with you.

On this episode:

  • What are the mother-and-baby homes, how are they different from the Magdalene laundries, and how did they arise
  • When did nuns lose their way and how does that echo the tensions women have with each other generally?
  • What do we do about human trafficking if we don’t want to support a punitive and carceral system?
  • Do we amplify or exploit the suffering of the world by writing about it?
  • Why writing and telling stories isn’t always cathartic.
  • How abuse shatters and reshapes reality.
  • How legal transparency and overcoming shame are linked.
  • How fascism and neoliberalism prop each other up.
  • Why nobody owns a cause.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Caelainn, visit her website, which has links to her writing, including her excellent essays on direct provision in Ireland, as well as love and everyday life in sickness and in health in war-torn Syria.

• I, like many people, confused the mother-and-baby homes for the Magdalene laundries, which you may have heard of first from Joni Mitchell.

• There are conservation efforts to preserve the Irish workhouses, and to not let them fall out of Irish history.

• My episode with Mona Eltahway, muslim feminist activist and writer, AEWCH 50, is now nearly-infamous, so check it out if you haven’t already.

Calvary• Here’s AEWCH 87 guest Una Mullaly linking the mother–and-baby homes to the abortion laws (now modified) in Ireland.

Calavary is, I think, a great movie about some of the tangles we discuss in this episode. It doesn’t address any of them directly, but it shows one side of the religious tensions in Ireland.

• I wrote about shame and how to fight it — as well as Amber Hollibaugh and Edward Carpenter — here.

Here’s the Sally Rooney interview by Eleanor Wachtel on one of my favorite podcasts, Writers and Company.

• The Walter Bejamin line is “The Messiah comes not only as the redeemer, he comes as the subduer of Antichrist.”

• Caelainn’s chilling warning, “the church thinks in centuries rather than in our current time,” will  stay with me.

• Here’s the Eliza Griswold essay, “The New Front Line of the Anti-Abortion Movement” that Caelainn mentioned.

• A great book that examines the conjunction of neoliberalism and fascism is Srećko Horvat‘s Poetry from the Future: Why a Global Liberation Movement Is Our Civilisation’s Last Chance. I urge you all to read it.

Until next time friends,
CH

MABH

“Reverb-ing all of human existence.” A conversation with author Maggie Nelson on AEWCH 95!

7 Jan
LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud 
This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. One thing to bring forward in 2020? Associative economics. Support the artists you like and let’s do as much as possible to cut out corporate sponsorship. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.

AEWCH95TitleCard

Friends,
What a way to start the year, with author, teacher, and intellectual, Maggie Nelson. Maggie Nelson is the author of so many deep and potent books, including The Argonauts, about art and politics and the body, including her partner Harry Dodge’s experiences of gender and culture. She is also the author of two books about her aunt’s murder, The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial and Jane: A Murder, as well an incredible book about violence in art, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning. She was awarded a MacArthur in 2016 and is one of the most important  intellectuals of our time (though perhaps she’d reject that label!). 
This is an extremely wide ranging episode, as I’d expect from a conversation with Maggie, whose books move in and out of hundreds of different thinkers and artists, translating her encounters with them into a new kind of light. I love her writing.
I’m so proud to share this conversation with you.
We talk about (among other things):
  • Passion as an affirmation against materialism
  • Escorting as permission for desire
  • Why frustrated desire might be worse than death
  • The value of losing your self
  • Why a shrug against danger matters
  • Thoreau, Emerson, and being a good artist or a bad prism
  • The shapes and lives of art
  • The uses of occult perspectives
  • The ruse of the anti-social
  • Wittgenstein and the music of the spheres
  • The uses, rituals, and boundaries of seeing violence 
  • Why porn literacy is dumb
  • Bodhisattva vows

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Maggie, you can read some of her poetry here. Here’s a video featuring panel of people (including Maggie) talking about Maggie’s book, The Argonauts. And here is a great conversation between Maggie and her friend (and AEWCH 44 co-guest with Kelly Link!) Jordy Rosenberg in Out Magazine.
• Maggie mentions her partner Harry’s forthcoming book, My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing. You can preorder it now, and it looks great.
• Maggie and I were both provoked and interested in Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era by Paul Preciado (a dream guest for the show!)
• My essay on having sex at rest areas, “Rest Stop Confidential” feels a bit outdated now, but it’s still good, I think.
• John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, is one of the most beautiful books ever written.
EKS• Please look into the work of the amazing critical theorist, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick who Maggie studied with. A good place to start is Epistemology of the Closet or Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire.
• The Rudolf Steiner verse, which you can try reciting inwardly, too, to see how it feels:
More radiant than the Sun
Purer than the snow
Subtler than the ether
Is the Self
The spirit within my heart
I am that Self.
That Self am I.
• The Emerson quote is: “It is not words only that are emblematic; it is things which are emblematic. Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.”
• Helen Keller’s mysticism informed her politics and her work in the world. You can read about in in her book Light In My Darkness.
• Maggie’s quote, “I think I give in the writing, mostly, but also as a teacher, and just by being. I don’t think of it as “giving back” per se. And mentoring doesn’t always mean holding someone’s hand. It’s often just by example… We can be for each other beacons of possibility. Often that’s the most important thing.” set me to thinking so much about being a beacon that I spoke about it at length on Rune Soup 195 with Gordon White. I also talk about speaking poetically on there, as well as on AEWCH 93, with Sara Maria Griffin.
• I haven’t yet read the book Maggie mentioned, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, by Stefano Harney and Frank Moten, but I am going to, now. It sounds so good.
• The dead spiritual teacher I prayed to for guidance after being exposed to violence on the guy’s phone, Daskalos, who I talk about at length with his student (a spiritual teacheDr in his own right), Daniel Joseph, on AEWCH 67.
Narrow Rooms by James Purdy is one of the most extraordinary novels I’ve ever read. Read it.
• A good quote on violence from Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta: “(Violence), by its very nature, to suffocate the best sentiments of man, and to develop all the antisocial qualities, ferocity, hatred, revenge, the spirit of domination and tyranny, contempt of the weak, servility towards the strong.”
• You can look at some of Tala Madani‘s work on the 303 Gallery website, including an excerpt of “The Audience” which Maggie talks about at some length.
• I loved talking with Franco “Bifo” Berardi on AEWCH 83 about the challenge of white noise.
• Maggie brings up the amazing British artist Sara Lucas. You can watch a conversation between the two of them here.
That’s it, folks, but it’s a lot, isn’t it?
Until next time!
XO
CH
TM

“Light Table” by Tala Madani

WHAT TO LEAVE BEHIND as we move into 2020.

31 Dec
LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud
This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. One thing to bring forward in 2020? Associative economics. Support the artists you like and let’s do as much as possible to cut out corporate sponsorship. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.
AEWCH94TitleCard
Friends,
Let’s close out the year.
Let’s get rid of the political gestures that have overstayed our welcome.
Once, they used to serve us, now, they’re rotting in us, damaging our souls.
On this episode of AEWCH I talk about what we need to leave behind in the 2010s so that we can bring the good forward.
I view this episode of one of three where I talk about the importance of how we orient ourselves towards 2020.
The third of which is my upcoming appearance on Gordon White‘s amazing magic podcast, Rune Soup.
This episode began as a series of tweets, which you can find here.
Thanks for listening.
Looking forward!
CH

Why we need the dark imagination. Me + Sarah Maria Griffin on AEWCH 93

10 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.
AEWCH93TitleCardFriends,
Let’s enter the mystery together: You, me, and dark science fiction writer Sarah Maria Griffin. Let’s talk about violence and evil and owls. Let’s think about David Lynch’s uncanny power, and how magic works, how horror works. Let’s approach the paranormal, the dreadful, the uncommon.
Sarah is the author of multiple books, most recently the excellent novel, Other Words For Smoke, about a brother and sister encounter the sinister and strange forces in their aunt’s house. The book just won the Eason Teen/Young Adult Book of the Year 2019 here in Ireland. Her previous novel, Spare And Found Parts chronicles a post-apocalyptic world with a hopeful girl at its center, trying to move humanity forward while her machine heart ticks away.
Sarah and I had a profound and potent conversation, and after we finished the episode, we continued to talk about the entire world, and love, and fortune. And then all the lights on my block switched off. Now that’s a powerful connection!
This is one of my favorite episodes of AEWCH ever. As Sarah says at the end, we “move immediately past…small talk.” Couldn’t ask for anything more.
So excited to share it with you!
We discuss:
  • Magic, the paranormal and why they’re so troubling for people
  • Twin Peaks as evil and threat and occult power
  • Horror is No-One-Believes-You, Fantasy is We-All-Knew-This-Was-Real-Even-Though-You’re-Just-Learning-About-It
  • Why investigating mystery can fuck you up
  • Not-knowing as an act of compassion
  • Sarah’s leap in style and vulnerability in writing
  • Following desire and characters
  • The unendingness of Hell
  • Why questions are always appropriate tools
  • The tarot as anatomy (and why it gives us unsolicited dick pics sometimes)
  • What a world of caring about subjectivity looks like (and why Freud got that right)
  • Why there is no metric for violation or resilience
  • Fiction as a generator of compassion and empathy
  • The importance of speaking poetically
SHOW NOTES
• For more on Sarah, read her entertaining and thoughtful one-year memoir, Not Lost: A Story About Leaving Home. Here are here contributions to the legendary Irish lit magazine, The Stinging Fly. And here’s Sarah talking about empathy.
TP• I’m sure you’ve all seen Twin Peaks, but have you seen the newest season? It’s utterly terrifying and completely challenging. It is a true act of occult intensity. The episode we talk a lot about it Part 8. 
• Sarah mentions the eclectic and wonder-filled story collection Her Body And Other Parties by the great Carmen Maria Machado. She also gives a shout out to Leslie Jamison’s poignant collection of essays, The Empathy Exams.
James Tate was a Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning poet. He was an infrequent but happy friend of mine, as well. He died in 2015.
• If you’re American, you’ve probably heard of the spooky immersive theater experience, Sleep No More. If not, check it out.
• I really love the episode I did with experimental punk musician and author Tim Kinsella – AEWCH 43. He’s a hero of mine, and I feel blessed to have had the conversation. I posted a playlist on spotify of Tim’s music to go along with that episodes. It demonstrates his breadth and strangeness and inventiveness as an artist.
KD• A couple of first lines come quick on each other’s heels. First, I mention the first line of Sarah’s novel, Spare And Found Parts: “Just under the surface of the waves where the ocean met the land, a hand without a body reached for someone to grab it.” And then I mention the chilling first line of Kathryn Davis’s novel, Hell. “Something is wrong in the house.”
• Want to read Alejandro Jodorowsky on the tarot? Read his book on it, co-authored with Marianne Costa.
• I mention, briefly, a man who was harassing Sarah and other women in Ireland, and how she was compassionate in her response. For a quick summary of what happened, here’s an article in the Irish Times about it.
• There’s a great book by anthroposophist and inkling Owen Barfield on the move away from poetics and towards flat literalism. It’s titled Poetic Diction: A Study In Meaning.
Until next time,
XO
CH
lungfish

Against Everyone With Conner Habib 92: On The Origins Of Sex

5 Dec

AEWCH92TitleCard

AGAINST EVERYONE WITH CONNER HABIB 92
THE ORIGINS OF SEX or LIFE SUPERLIVES

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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.

Friends,

To keep going with the themes of symbiosis from AEWCH 91, I thought I’d  present my short essay series on the origins of sex, Life Superlives, as an episode. The gist of it is this – what are the bacterial origins of sex, and what can we learn about our lives today from these scientific origin stories?

Rather than present show notes as usual, I’ve reproduced the original essays here, along with a bibliography below.

Enjoy this solo episode! Back to the conversations next week.

XO
CH

Sun1. Sex in the Gaze of the Sun

For all the problems that accompany sex in our lives — shame and fear, jealous lovers, unplanned pregnancies, STIs — one might be surprised that, according to the scientific narrative, sex began as a healing act which diverted crisis.

Once upon a time, billions of years ago, the Sun’s violent and ultraviolet rays cascaded over an ozone-less Earth, greeting the only lifeforms with harsh light. These were the bacteria; prokaryotes, so named for their lack of nuclei (pro = before, karyon = nut or core).

These beings arose only to dissolve in the radiated presence of light.  They already had a way to repair themselves, or life would have never survived its bright beginning. Their DNA — the double-stranded molecule that many of us know about but that scientists still have trouble understanding — had begun to replicate itself through a series of gestures from various enzymes. If one part of a DNA strand was damaged, it was amputated by an enzyme that could cut the DNA bonds apart (a nuclease), and then another enzyme arrived to create wholeness and heal the void.

In the gaze of the Sun, the tiny prokaryotic innards were often too damaged to recombinate on their own. So these beings reached, in the mordial soup, for the ejected DNA of their dead kin, the floating pieces of bodies amongst them. They used their own enzymes in conjunction with the dead to repair themselves.

This was the beginning of sex for living organisms.

It was a co-mingling of partners. The Sun was there first. It aroused the prokaryotes, initiated sex, and then the presence of the dead infused the living with a new possibility for life.

Experiments today that replicate ultraviolet early-Earth intensities prompt similar responses in bacteria.

Life’s first sexual partner was a star.

That also means that by evolutionary implication, our first sexual partner was a star. The ancestors of all our ancestors undulated across the Earth, under a pulsing sexual sphere.

As children, we stare at the Sun, and it blots out our perception. As adults, we know better. When we look at the Sun, we turn away, flushed. It remains a flirtatious, sexual glance cast upon an unbearably beautiful face.

PromoImage2. The Orgy Against Identity

Life threads through the world, not just living, but superliving, creating more life and more possibilities for what life can be. Every individual has within itself the potential to change, utterly, all potentials.

First, bacteria and the Sun embraced over vast distances, and created sex. After sex was created, different forms of sex were possible.

Bacterial sex can take the form of gene-swapping on a “lateral” level. In other words, genes flow freely from bacterium to bacterium, breaking from an initial host and finding their way into another.

If this happened in humans, “…a man with red hair and freckles might wake up, after a swim with a brunette and her dog, with brown hair and floppy ears.”

Because of their freely exchanged genes, bacteria are engaged in the largest and most continuous orgy of all time.

Or maybe it’s microscopic self-love. It depends on how you define bacterial species:

“(Since) all strains of bacteria can potentially share all bacterial genes, then  strictly speaking, there are no true species in the bacterial world. All bacteria are one  organism, one entity capable of genetic engineering on a planetary or global scale.”

Look closely at the world, and you will see that life defies scale: Are the tiniest organisms really just the largest organism alive, spreading across the planet and into its pores, a giant body with infinite organs? Life superlives.

In another form of bacterial sex, conjugation, a “donor” bacterium transfers genetic material into a “recipient.” The ordinary terms are biological sex — “male” and “female” — are useless in the underlying current of life: hen the donor transfers its genetic material to the recipient, it loses its donor characteristics, and the recipient receives them. Bacteria fuck their identities into each other.

Look closely, again, at the world. You will see the slippage of identity.

dali3. Carnal Incarnations

Life was born, and it superlived.

Early organisms brushed up against each other, and when they did, they consumed each other. But not always. Encounter after encounter between them gave rise to a new form of union: symbiosis.

Here’s an example. Imagine a tiny, ancient oxygen-respiring bacterium. Small, but hungry, it was  was a fierce predator. Now imagine a larger, blobbier organism – a thermoplasm, contracting and expanding itself through its shapeless life. The two come together again and again, usually leading to the thermoplasm being invaded and eaten from the inside out by its smaller relative. But not every invasion killed the thermoplasm, and soon – how? We don’t know – the invader organism was taken up by the invaded, incorporated into its being. Permanently.

The thermoplasm could now resist the death-bringing properties of oxygen, and the bacterium found rest from the hunt.

Symbiosis is the ultimate procreative sex act. Two beings merge and form a third. Not a separate being, but a reincarnation of both selves.

Symbiosis is the origin of all multicellular organisms, and likely one of the main motivators of the rise of new species.

Symbiosis is sex, super-sexing.

This creative act is the foundation of human life. Let me explain.

Many protoctists (usually mislabeled “protozoans” – there is no “zoo” in them, since they aren’t animals) like the thermoplasm, reproduce through cell division, also called mitosis, in which an organism copies its own DNA and then pulls itself in two. A startling feature of mitosis is that, even though it’s called cell “division,” it doesn’t actually divide the number or chromosomes, structures in the cell that bear many of the cell’s genes.

In the procreative variety of sex that humans have, sperm and egg cells merge to create a new being. Sperm cells and egg cells have only half the chromosomes compared to the other cells in human beings. When sperm and egg meet, each carries a complimentary half of those chromosomes. This is how sperm and egg meet and form a new being. Rather than dividing (mitosis) humans are created by compliment (meiosis).

Our cells have forms that are meant to meet. They await each other. In other words, human beings are formed through a sort of predestined symbiosis.

Look at your hands, now. They are composed of cells upon cells, grouped together in the whorls and arches of your skin, the bones beneath, the connecting tendons. Your hands are a gathering of cells. And those cells are the ancient agreements of bacteria.

Sex is us. It’s what makes our cells, it’s what made us capable of making new forms of sex and new beings.

And it’s more than just us.

From its inception, sex has been a meeting of forces far beyond bodies and desires.

LC4. Sex Before Life

We end this series with a story from before the beginning.

Once upon a time,

biology tells us,

Before bacteria…

Before the superliving hypersex of symbiosis…

Before life…

the Earth was teeming with bonds of sugars, phosphates, and nitrogenous substances.

These bonds, or ribonucleic acid (RNA), huddled into themselves, and stretched their ways throughout the surface of the planet.

For these molecules, language was form. When they encounter each other, they strained to understand each other through strange acts of translation. They wrapped themselves up into each other, and this act of language, this braiding of being, created new forms.

A mysterious correspondence: an exchange of material, packed with meaning. This was the exuberant world full of RNA, and this was the birth of sex.

This story provides us with a new and sideways answer to the old question of chicken and egg. Did two chickens having sex make the fertilized egg from which another chicken sprung?

Or did the first chicken spring from a pre-existing egg?

When we look into the origins of sex, we discover an unexpected truth.

Q. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

A. Sex.

Sources

Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of  Microbial Evolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. What Is Sex? New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.

Serres, Michel. Variations on the Body. Minneapolis: Univocal, 2012.

Lynn Margulis in conversation with Conner Habib on AEWCH 91.

19 Nov
LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud • YouTube
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.
Promo
Friends,
This is the most important episode of AEWCH for me. In it I talk with my friend and intellectual mentor, biologist and geoscientist Lynn Margulis. This is, I believe, the last recorded discussion with Lynn before her death from a stroke on November 22, 2011. Lynn was a profound intellect, and, I believe, the most important thinker in the last 50 years.
With James Lovelock, she developed the Gaia theory – that organisms interact with the non-living aspects of the Earth to regulate Earth systems like cloud cover, oceanic salinity, atmospheric gas abundance, and more. She also proved and popularized the notion that organelles in nucleated cells are symbioses of bacterial mergers.
Along with her son Dorion Sagan (from her marriage to Carl Sagan), she developed a new theory of evolution, symbiogenesis, which boldly asserts, and with ample evidence, that new species arise out of symbiotic mergers with bacteria, not through random genetic mutation-meets-natural selection.
The episode is a wide-ranging exploration of Lynn’s work and thought. Because Lynn offer so much, I’ve started this episode off with a lengthy introduction to all her efforts. It’s an intro adapted from the essay I wrote shortly after her death (and it appears in the book Lynn Margulis: The Life And Legacy Of A Scientific Rebel). Feel free to skip past the intro if you’re familiar with her work, or to listen to it as a primer afterward, to get your bearings in the dizzying array of names and scientific concepts on the episode.
On this episode, among many other things:
  • the difference between ecological association and symbiosis
  • why Darwin never mentioned the origin of species
  • why the mainstream pop-science version of evolution is religion, not science
  • “there’s this concept that almost all scientists have that there really is an objective reality, but there’s no evidence whatsoever (for that) because everything observed is through an observer, and that observer tends to be a person…”
  • How all science starts as esoterica
  • How scientific facts are accepted – and not accepted until capitalism approves
  • Is life process or entity
  • Why zoologists have such a hard time understanding evolution
  • “‘Medical science’ is an oxymoron, like ‘military intelligence’.”
  • Why Lynn just wanted to avoid people and read her whole life
  • Emily Dickinson and the Matster
SHOW NOTES
• For more on Lynn, read her countless publications. The two that everyone should read are Symbiotic Planet: A New Look At Evolution and (with Dorion Sagan) Acquiring Genomes: A Theory Of The Origin Of Species. Also, I recommend the text book I had to read for my first course with her, Environmental Evolution – 2nd Edition: Effects of the Origin and Evolution of Life on Planet Earth and her book of essays, Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on the Nature of Nature. A documentary about Lynn’s life and work, Symbiotic Earth, was released in 2017. Here’s Lynn interviewed by geneticist Jay Tischfield and here’s Lynn presenting the Gaia theory to NASA.
• In the episode, we talk several times about the “Homage To Darwin” event, which was organized around Lynn’s year at Oxford. The event featured Lynn, Richard Dawkins, paleobiologist Martin Brasier, biologist Steve Bell, and systems biologist Denis Noble. It’s one of many occasions wherein Lynn revealed the stupidity of Richard Dawkins’s ideas about evolution. It appears in three parts. Part One, Part Two, Part Three. I highly recommend watching all of them.
• Alfred North Whitehead was a profound influence on Lynn’s thinking, especially later in life. She mentions him at the top, and later in the episode, brings up his book The Function Of Reason.
• Lynn says, “We are all Schwendenerists!” means we all accept symbiosis because we accept the truth that lichens are symbiotic organisms. This was discovered by Simon Schwendener, a Swiss botanist.
• Lynn mentions James Watson’s book, DNA: The Secret of Life.
slug
Rosemary and Peter Grant studied the finches on the Galápagos Islands for years.
• An amazing book that expresses clashes between neo-Darwinism and Gaia and symbiogenesis (this is before Lynn and Dorion fully developed the theory of symbiogenesis) is From Gaia to Selfish Genes: Selected Writings in the Life Sciences.
• Would you like to learn about the photosynthetic sea slug? That’s a rehtorical question. Of course you would.
• Here’s a lengthy commentary on the debate between Lynn and Richard Dawkins that gets mentioned a few times in the episode.
• Palentologists Niles Eldrege and Stephen Jay Gould observed and popularized the idea of “punctuated equilibrium” – that most populations of organisms are stable and exhibit little change, until sudden and massive changes occur. This theory is expressed consistently in the fossil record, and in many ways, challenges neo-Darwinian theories of evolution.
• Ludwig Fleck’s book, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact is a precursor to Thomas Kuhn‘s famous concept of a “paradigm shift,” and it’s a great look into how facts are made, how they inhere, and…then what?
• “The Experiment As Mediator Of Object And Subject” by Goethe (yes, Goethe!) changed my life, and it should be evoked again and again until it changes the face of science.
• A mind-blowing short essay on where organisms start and stop is “Where Do Organisms End?”
• We talked about some of this waaaay back on AEWCH 6 with Alex Tsakiris (and my first chat with Alex, “Fight Science With Science“)
• Lynn often raved about Max King’s book Species Evolution: The Role of Chromosome Change which I (still!) have yet to read.
• Lynn’s book of short stories, Luminous Fish, is quite good. I remember being a little scared to read it and then thinking – why did I expect anything less?
• Here’s a small bit on Swiss Emily Dickinson translator Hans Werner Lüscher.
You can expect a bit more on Lynn’s work – particularly on the origins of sex – from me in the near future.
Until next time, friends,
XO
CH
AERWCH91

AEWCH 90: Amanda Palmer + Conner Habib + Everyone. We are all here for each other.

12 Nov
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Support Against Everyone With Conner Habib
on Patreon!
The show is funded exclusively by listeners like you, so I’m asking, will you support it? Thank you so, so much.
promo
Friends,
What an honor to go deep into the ways we are all connected with rock star, writer, TED Talker, and activist Amanda Palmer. Amanda is known for many things – her music, her band The Dresden Dolls, her book The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help which was kicked off by her TED talk, “The art of asking” – but all of her accomplishments stress a spirit of giving and vulnerability.
We start with me recounting an event from the week before, when I intervened and stopped a man from committing suicide, and from there, we talk about the many, many ways in which we are all here for each other. This is an episode compassion, which means “to suffer with.” It’s about the jobs that artists have in our world, about the ways we close ourselves off from connection, about art and motherhood, about mutualism in animals, and more.
And yes, we both cry.
I’m so proud to share this episode, friends, and I hope it brings light to you.
Do contribute to Amanda’s patreon. Amanda has done so much for artists, particularly by laying the foundation for grassroots and associative economies.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Amanda, here’s a spotify playlist I’ve made of 10 songs by Amanda (and her band the Dresden Dolls) that I love. Amanda is married to world-renowned fantasy author, Neil Gaiman, and they record an entire event together (it’s great). And here’s a great (and mulled over on my show) Amanda appearance on Tim Ferris’s podcast.
• Here’s my little twitter tribute (in thread form) to Lynn Margulis. Stay tuned to future episodes for more on Lynn and her work.
• Amanda and I interacted for the first time when she was kind enough to repost my exclusive blog post of a speech by Tilda Swinton about art and light. The speech is stunning, and I was lucky enough to get it from Tilda’s friend, author William Middleton.
• Unfortunately, Tatsuo Motokawa’s classic article, “Sushi Science and Hamburger Science” is behind a paywall, but it’s worth reading.
• Here’s travel writer Pico Iyer’s TED Talk, “What ping-pong taught me about life“.
• If you’d like to read a bit on occult theories of how music works, check out AEWCH 45 with occult musician Ben Chasny, and also read The Harmony of the Human Body: Musical Principles in Human Physiology by Armin Husemann.
• Read Amanda’s poem for the brother of the Boston Marathon bomber “A Poem For Dzhokhar

MY

• There’s a great book by Walter Kendrick about how the ruins of ancient Pompei turned into porn called The Secret Museum: Pornography in Modern Culture.
• I have yet to listen to Madison Young‘s podcast, but it is SO on the list now.
• A great self help book that I think can help anyone who wants some help is How to Be an Adult: A Handbook for Psychological and Spiritual Integration by David Richo.
• Amanda was reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast and I recommend his book Eating Animals.
• The Roisin that Amanda mentions is Roisin Ingle, who created The Women’s Podcast.
• Actually, the Brian O’Connor episode came out just before this one! It’s AEWCH 89!
• Read Sophie Lewis‘s (dream guest for the show!) Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family for a truly challenging examination of motherhood, pregnancy, and work.
• I wrote about my mother’s death in my essay, “When You’re Sick You’ll Wait For The Answer But None Will Come
• I talk more about detachment and sex work on AEWCH 44 with writers Kelly Link and Jordy Rosenberg.
I’ll leave you here with the lyrics from Amanda’s beautiful song, “A Mother’s Confession” which is on the spotify playlist I made of Amanda’s music.
Our son is four months old his name is Anthony or Ash for short
And he’s too small to do things by himself
We were in LA over Christmas in a rental and we jury-rigged a place
To change his diapers on a shelf
I was peeing in the bathroom and had left him for a second
‘Cause I thought he couldn’t move and he was safe
As I came out I saw him falling in slow motion to the floor
It was probably the worst moment of my life
And then I accidentally stole a thing of chapstick from the safeway
I didn’t see it ’til I got out to the car
I would have usually returned it but I was overwhelmed
And late to take the baby to my cousins which was far away
In my defense, I’d bought like $87 worth of groceries
And the chapstick was a $1.99
I know it wasn’t the right thing to use
My newborn child as an excuse
But it felt like a good reason at the time
And as I pulled out of the parking lot I cried
And as I pulled onto the highway I said right
At least the baby didn’t die right?
At least the baby didn’t die
And then we went to Sarasota
To see Neil’s cousin Helen
For her birthday she just turned ninety-nine
We were also there for Sidney
Who was ninety-four two days before
But he was sick, so mostly it was Ash and Helen time
She survived the Warsaw ghetto
And she always says I love you”
When she sees you ’cause she knows you never know
She’d worked for months while I was pregnant
On a gorgeous handmade blanket
Her almost-hundred-year-old hands crocheting every row
I’d been emailing her pictures of the baby and the blanket
Every day since she had sent it in the mail
But they were of one that someone else had knitted
She was really nice about it
Then I went and shoplifted a pair of ugly sunglasses
From Goodwill (they were on my head
I’d tried them on and left them there)
But that’s not really bad compared to
When we left the baby in the car
At least he wasn’t in there very long
And not directly in the sun
And thank god no-one walking by happened to notice what we’d done
I’m even scared to put these lyrics in a song
But
Everything is relative and everyone’s related
I can’t do that much right now
But take care of this baby
I figure everything’s technically all right
If at least this baby doesn’t die
And then I took a plane to Washington alone
So we could visit Jason Webley who’s his godfather
He’s playing the accordion
I couldn’t wait to see him and share tales of our disasters
Over dinners in his houseboat when I saw I’d lost my passport
So I got a rush appointment at the place where you replace them
And I drove the baby in and on the way I got a speeding ticket
When the cop came to the window I was shaking and I said “I’m sorry”
But you couldn’t hear me that’s how loud the sound of screaming was
Cause he was hungry and I think that I was speeding
Cause I panic when I hear him cry
My god what kind of a mother am i
And as I pulled out of the breakdown lane I cried
And as I pulled out on the highway I said right
At least the baby didn’t die right?
At least the baby didn’t die”
While I was waiting for my passport I was hungry so
I twittered for a coffee in the neighborhood
And there I saw a woman who was sitting at the bar
And it was noon and she was drinking
And she called across the diner to me How old is your baby?”
And she smiled at us nursing
And she said she had a daughter who was grown
And then she paused
And said she also had a son
And when I’d paid and was about to leave
I picked him up and crossed the room and touched her sleeve
I said, Hey, this baby wanted to say hi”
And she held him tight and she started to cry
And I’m sorry that this story’s gotten long
And that everybody’s crying in this song
And then I got back in the car I turned the radio and heater on
And sat there with the baby in the back
And they were talking about Syria and climate change and ISIS
And the candidates’ positions on Iraq
I feel so useless in this universe
I know I could be doing worse
I’m trying hard to stay at peace inside
I know it’s hard to be a parent
But this mess is so gigantic
i wonder if I should have had a child
And as I pulled out of the parking lot I cried
And as I pulled out on the highway I said
right
At least the baby didn’t die
At least the baby didn’t die
EVERYBODY:
At least the baby didn’t die!! right?!
At least the baby didn’t die!!
(i may not make it to the passport place on time!)
At least the baby didn’t die
(and they might revoke my license for a while!!)
At least the baby didn’t die
(and I might get caught for retroactive theft!!)
At least the baby didn’t die
(and I might get turned into the DSS!)
But at least the baby didn’t die
Until next time, friends,
XO
CH
Amanda

photo by Michael Murchie