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Apocalypse now, then, and later, too. I talk with end of the world author, Mark O’Connell on AEWCH!

7 Apr

 

LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud

 

Thank you for your support in this time, friends. This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. If the show is keeping you company in isolation, please give what you can. Contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.

AEWCH105TitleCard

Friends,

 

Obviously this is the end of the world. Or one of them, anyway. It’s our end of the world, at least, so let’s talk about it before the next one comes along. I needed an apocalyptic thinker to talk about. No, not Jor-El, rather someone who’s examined our apocalyptic fantasies and desires and has thought them through. So, I asked the thoughtful, funny, and insightful Mark O’Connell, onto AEWCH.

 

Mark is the author of the timely book, Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back and, very much relatedly, of To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death. They’re both books about how people relate to death, featuring Mark’s conversations with them: doomsday preppers and transhumanists. They’re books told in a Jon Ronson-esque tone, but with a little more theory behind them.

Mark lives less than two kilometers away, but we had to find each other remotely. So, sorry about the sound being different. It’s still good. But our lives are mediated by machinery of all sorts now in pronounced ways. Is the singularity near, or did it already happen, and was it extremely normal and somewhat boring? Anyway, this is a great episode, and I’m so happy to share it with you.

Let’s begin to think about this particular End.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • Why we have fantasies about the end
  • How to keep the sublime and strangeness when we get back from quarantine
  • Is mindfulness preferable? Is it a form of anxiety?
  • The continuity between consciousness, nature, and machines
  • How all apocalypses are not equally apocalyptic
  • Being passive spectators of the pandemic while thinking we’re active participants
  • Why our pandemic anxieties predated the pandemic
  • How and why to organize in quarantine
  • Transhumanists as preppers with money
  • Why doomsday prepping doesn’t work
  • How apocalyptic thinking is embedded in tech culture

SHOW NOTES

• For more of Mark, go to his website, and check out his excellent essay on the relevance of JG Ballard. And here’s a great interview with Mark on Utopian Horizons. Also, I highly recommend reading his books back to back. If you want some help with that, you can get To Be A Machine on Audible.

 

The World Without Us is a fine enough book for facts. The analysis isn’t so great though. Here’s Slavoj Žižek’s critique, in his essay, “Ecology as a New Opium for the Masses“.

 

Screen Shot 2020-04-07 at 2.24.33 PM• Here’s a bit on Freud and the oceanic feeling.

 

• There’s a solo episode about the problem of the concept of nature, AEWCH 82, “Destroy Nature Before It Destroys Us”.

 

• I do love Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. Do watch it.

 

• Read Gordon White‘s heartfelt essay, “A Better World Is No Longer Optional

 

• Here’s “America Is A Sham” by Dan Kois, an essay about how much of American life is bullshit and this pandemic is revealing that.

 

• Here’s my appearance on The Higherside Chats.

 

• I love Peter Bebergal‘s book, Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural, which features the story about the golem and the rabbi.

 

• Now is a great time to listen to AEWCH 67 featuring spiritual teacher and christian esotericist Daniel Joseph. And I still can’t believe that I had Billy Bragg on the show! Here he is on AEWCH 79.

Until next time, friends!
CH

 

Time, space, and our pandemic.

5 Apr

shelfHi friends,

Thought I’d link you to my essay on how the pandemic has changed our experience of time and space, and what that offers us. “The air is filled with birdsong now. It was always there, we just couldn’t hear it.” appeared n The Irish Times Magazine print edition, and is also now online. Here’s an excerpt:

“Suddenly apart, together. We’ve gone indoors, we’ve changed the dimensions of our lives, we’ve slowed down the weeks and agitated the days. It isn’t only the economy or the work day that’s changed since the virus: space feels different, time feels different.

Time inside and time outside aren’t lined up. Time might drag on indoors, and yet the landscape and news beyond the threshold could change, the way it does in winter, when you look out the window to discover the ground covered in white, the snow still coming down, surprising us in the quiet.

‘When we think of the world’s future, we always mean the destination it will reach if it keeps going in the direction we can see it going in now; it does not occur to us that its path is not a straight line but a curve, constantly changing direction,’ wrote the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Now that our visions of the future have gone crooked, we can sympathise with him. He lived for time on the curve of Killary Harbour, and probably could not have predicted that we’d one day treat lines and curves, to chart and flatten, as the fortune tellers of the world. Like the creases on our palms, we stare into them to understand what’s next. Old ways of knowing the world overlap aesthetically with new ones. We say, ‘It’s in our hands.'”

Would you like to read the entire article? Well, here you go.

XO
CH

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The kind of death we want to read about: Conner & crime writer Liz Nugent on the latest AEWCH

31 Mar

L
ISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud • Patreon

This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. If the show is keeping you company in isolation, please give what you can. Contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.

AEWCH104TitleCardFriends,

The last podcast I recorded in person before the worldwide coronavirus pandemic began was still about death. But it’s a sort of death we like to engage with – death in crime and mystery narratives. Interestingly, these sorts of deaths, and our vantage point on them, has become more valuable than ever; because it gives us an opportunity to think about death without the attachment of panic and fear.

And what a great person to talk to about death with: international best-selling crime writer, Liz Nugent!

Liz is the author of four crime novels. I read Lying In Wait, first. It’s a tense and tragic thriller. It evokes Patricia Highsmith and the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, but with a gesture and style all its own. Then I consumed the other three as quickly as I could; I wanted to inhale them, including her latest, Our Little Cruelties.

That book was released just as the pandemic began. And in fact, today (March 31), was set to be her book release party. Since her party was canceled, I hope this serves as a smaller, audio celebration. If you need the company of a page-turned in this moment, you’d be hard pressed to find a better set of novels than Liz’s for that.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • How much we’re supposed to care about death
  • How Liz is about to meet a murderer and see if they have souls or not
  • Dreams of murder and being murdered
  • Jeffrey Dahmer and unhappy childhoods
  • The way we think of bad guys, and who gets away with what
  • Our early thoughts on coronavirus (they hold up okay!)
  • How Liz’s writing is and is not like Patricia Highsmith
  • The tendency to attached tragedy and foreboding to joy and pleasure
  • Career dysmorphia
  • The difficulties of bodies, living and dead
  • What characters are and how we relate to them as writes
  • The uses of shattered narratives
  • Why, when we read novels, we want horrible characters to succeed

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Liz: Read her books! Start with Lying In Wait and move on to Skin Deep, which is interspersed with brilliant stories of Irish island mythology. The best way to get Our Little Cruelties in the US right now is on audiobook (until it’s out in November as a book with the alternate title, Little Cruelties). You can also get Lying In Wait and Unraveling Oliver on audiobook, too! Also, go to Liz’s website. And here’s Liz talking about disabilities on the Rósín Meets… podcast.

• The other mystery writer I’ve had on the show is Sara Gran, who appeared on AEWCH 61. It serves as a good companion to this show; two incredible authors with two completely different approaches to genre.

• I read and appreciated My Friend Dahmer, a graphic novel by one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood friends, Derf Backderf. (The movie is okay too, but the graphic novel is far superior.)

• Who doesn’t love Alice Munroe? My favorite by her, if you need a place to start, is The Love Of A Good Woman.

• Liz mentions The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. I haven’t yet read it, or her debut novel, The Flamethrowers, but I will! They both look great. And I mention From A Low And Quiet Sea, by Donal Ryan, which I have read, and enjoyed very much!

Martha by Rainer Werner Fassbinder is one of the cruelest movies ever made, but it’sMartha also excellent. Watch it. Watch all his movies.

• And read Cal by Bernard MacLaverty, it’s such a wonderful and dark and rich book, even though it’s very short.

• Here’s the intense Nina Simone concert Liz mentioned, which inspired Our Little Cruelties. Wow.

• And here’s AEWCH 86 with the amazing Irish writer, Kevin Barry.

• Okay, I’m being a little unfair about Pay It Forward. If you need a heartening read, read it!

• When I was photographed for the photo below, I thought I was fat and disgusting (seriously!). Body dysmorphia is an intense thing, folks.

• Liz got guidance on
Our Little Cruelties from writer and fashion social editor, Bethany Rutter.

• Watch Anthony Jeselnik’s comedy specials: he refers to them as horror. I think he’s right!

Until next week, friends!
XO
CH

showers copy

Conner Habib & Gordon White talking spirits in a pandemic on the latest AEWCH!

24 Mar

LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud

This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. If the show is keeping you company in isolation, please give what you can.

Contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.

AEWCH103TitleCard
Friends,
In the absolute rush of the news cycle, you may feel claustrophobic, scared, anxious. And you may be forgetting about Alejandro Jodorowksy’s wise words about magic: “Magic in Thought: EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE.”

So now is a time for possibility, not limits. To that end, I invited one of the most expansive and perceptive thinkers I know, author, magician, and Rune Soup host, Gordon White, on to the show. Gordon’s voice is essential in this time, not only because he is a systems thinker, but because he is a systems thinker who considers the non-physical dimension. Gordon and I discuss the potential of this moment, as well as its dangers.

We also talk about the spiritual currents in, informing, and causing some of the events in our moment. And we turn our attention to a potent question for our time: What are spirits?

As Gordon puts it in a non-Godfather voice, coronavirus offers an opportunity for a better world, and the difficulties ahead make it the “opportunity one you can’t refuse.”

Let’s take it up, friends. Let’s start here.
Speaking of the non-physical dimension, this episode is the first one I’ve recorded remotely. It made me feel uncomfortable, but I think we pulled it off!

On this episode

  • What the actual fuck is actually is happening here now
  • The importance of the ground beneath your feet and what’s immediately outside your door
  • Why we need to stop fearing death
  • Why the black death is the pandemic comparison we need
  • Choosing desire in this moment
  • The difference between public conversations and social media conversations
  • The connection between medicine and materialism
  • Angels, and “Be not afraid” as your mantra.
  • How the panic was always here, anyway
  • Why we need to create a new, better, world and simultaneously resist evil
  • What spirts are, anyway – breath? Rivers? Consciousness?
  • Whether or not Gordon and I see spirits
  • Human beings as addresses for spirits
  • Getting in touch with the feeling of “holy”
  • Ghost ships near Malaysia
  • Why the spirit world is not behind a veil
  • On the other hand, why there is a spirit that is a veil

SHOW NOTES

• For Gordon’s 2020 astrology video with Austin Coppick, go here. And for my 2020 episode of Rune Soup with Gordon, go here.

• Gordon is very interested in Armstrong economics. They’re dirty, but very interesting, and, I think, present profound conclusions and a profound picture.

• Rudolf Steiner’s book, The Mission of the Archangel Michael, the Revelation of the Secrets of Man’s Being is good reading for this moment. You can also find an audio version here.

• Interested in the art of Andrew Wyeth? It’s beautiful.

The Shock Doctrine is a book and term from Naomi Klein.

• Here are the twitter TOS changes, which seem to be backed-off from and have a sort of watery enforcement.

• Here’s a bit on Neville Godard’s First Principle, “Be still and know that I am God.”

• The Žižek quote is, “The function of ideology is not to offer us a point of escape from our reality but to offer us the social reality itself as an escape.”

• Here’s a bit on my dear dead friend Jake.

• The Walter Benjamin quote: ” The same threat hangs over both: that of becoming a tool of the ruling classes. In every era the attempt must be made anew to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about to overpower it. The Messiah comes not only as the redeemer, he comes as the subduer of Antichrist.”

• Want to hear more about and with Lynn Margulis? Here’s the last conversation recorded before her death. It’s with me, on AEWCH 91.

• The book Gordon mentions that influenced Gary Lachman, is The Master And His Emmissary, by Iain McGilchrist.

• “There exists nothing other than the spiritual world. What we call the sensory world is the evil in the spiritual world, and what we call evil is only a necessary moment in our eternal development.” – Kafka

• “Breathe deep, seek peace.” – Dinotopia

Until next week, friends!
CH
CW

Join me every night for a streaming lecture and Q&A – Nobodies Together: The Virus Sermons

17 Mar
NT

Friends,

I know a lot of you are experiencing a sense of instability, uncertainty, and are affected by…well, ALL of this COVID-ity. I also know you might be curious or interested in what’s happening in our world; or maybe even just bored with the same conversations and statistical-based analysis+news over and over.

So I’ve decided to offer a series of short lectures and Q&A every night (except Tuesday) called

Nobodies Together: The Virus Sermons

Each night, I’ll give a short, informal “sermon” on a topic related to the coronavirus pandemic that’s not often discussed, with hopes of sending our minds in new directions, and away from the claustrophobia of the news cycle. These will be followed by a sort Q&A where I’ll read and respond to your questions.

Topics will include
  • Recreating the (better) world after the pandemic
  • The contradictions of what’s being asked of us, and how to deal with them
  • The socio/political/economic crises that set the stage
  • The spiritual dimensions of illness
  • What the hell is happening, anyway
  • Coronavirus conspiracies and what to make of them
  • Sex and touch now that we’re all home alone
  • Why our attitudes towards death matter
  • How to use past trauma to deal with current events
  • Dispelling anxiety
  • Why magic matters now (if, indeed, it does)
  • Physical and mental health tips
and more! I’ll also have an occasional special guest in live conversation.

HOW IT WORKS

1. I’ll be live streaming once a day, every day (except Tuesdays!) at 6PM GMT – (Check your local time zone to sync up! I know that seems obvious but we have different daylight savings times in Ireland than the rest of the world, so the time might be a little trickier right now).
The sermons are
free for all patrons at all levels. If you’re not a patron, SIGN UP HERE at ANY LEVEL. There’s also more info posted there if you need it.

2. Check on patreon for the link to the sermon, which will go up every day in the morning, Dublin time (GMT).
Simply click on the link and follow the prompts. Please try to show up on time, but don’t worry if you can’t., just come anyway.
Please
do not share the links, and if you are watching with someone who is not a patron, please ask them to sign up, at any level, for my patreon here. Obviously I want to be present for as many people as possible in this time, but I also want to prioritize my supportive community and also take care of myself and my own needs.

WHAT ELSE?
  • Each sermon and Q&A will last 20-30 minutes, and be followed by a Q&A. If there’s a ton of people and a ton of energy on the topic, maybe we’ll go longer.
  • The “room” limited to 100 people, if this becomes an issue, I’ll upgrade to a larger streaming room.
  • These events will require a bit of work from me each day, so they will NOT be available as recordings, and the topics will NOT be announced beforehand. Just show up and stay in the surprise of a new conversation.
  • There is a chat function so you can talk to each other during, and I encourage you all to exchange contact info as desired, so that you can form a communicative network.
  • I’ll do these as long as we’re stuck in our houses, as long as the anxiety is hanging out with us, and/or as long as I can keep up. If I decide to stop, I’ll give you a big heads up.
I’m so excited to offer this to you, and to meet with you, and to say fuck it to “social distancing.” We may need physical distancing, but social distancing is the last thing we need. We need relating, relationship, connection. Talk with you all soon.
Love,

CH

Pornography is an archive of desire. I talk with Dr. Kate Lister (AKA Whores of Yore) about it, and what sex IS, anyway, on AEWCH 102!

10 Mar
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.

AEWCH102TitleCardAGAINST EVERYONE WITH CONNER HABIB 102: KATE LISTER (@WhoresOfYore) or THE ARCHIVE OF DESIRES

Friends,

As this episode goes out, there’s a hysteria about touching one another. Not just kissing, not just holding, not just sex, but even shaking hands, even being within a few feet of somebody. But touch, and the ways we touch, have always been troubled by definitions and rules handed to us by others and the metaphors we’ve inherited.

So it’s time – isn’t it time? – to talk more about the ways we view touch, the ways we view intimacy and sex, and pornography. So I invited the amazing Dr. Kate Lister, a sex historian known for her hugely popular twitter account Whores Of Yore, and now for her excellent book, A Curious History Of Sex . Both the twitter account and the book are grand compendiums of sex in history and theory. Also? Very, very funny.

We talk a lot about the history of sexual imagery, the ways we touch each other, and, in perhaps the most challenging of all questions – What sex is. It’s not as obvious as you think!

This is the second of a pair of episodes that are deep dives into sex and intimacy, the first of which was AEWCH 101, “The Trouble With Consent” featuring Katherine Angel.
And it’s a deep, penetrating, hot episode. Enjoy it in yer ears!


ON THIS EPISODE

  • The way we all experience one aspect of our sexual awakening through pornography + Kate’s first experience and mine (which I compare to John in the Bible)
  • How anti-porn activism is a rehash of childhood misunderstandings of sex
  • How the language we use today can’t contain the way we looked at sex in the past
  • Porn is there because we want it, it’s not merely that we want it because it’s there
  • Taxidermy in old porn shoots?
  • Attempts to control consent by people and institutions in power, and how sex workers take some of that back
  • The way “wokeness” can interfere with seeing sex and power dynamics clearly
  • Pornography as political protest and why those pictures of Trump and Putin making out aren’t JUST homophobia
  • What sex is, anyway?And does desire always collapse into nothingness?
  • How we don’t understand our desires

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Kate, just follow Whores Of Yore on twitter, and also go to her website, which is a huge archive of sexual information, including in-depth historical essays about sex by Kate and others. Also, here’s a good, brief interview with her.

• One of my earliest essays on porn was “By The Time You’ve Seen It’s Too Late” in which I compare seeing porn to The Evil Dead.

• Would you like to learn more about the 28,000 year old stone penis? Of course you would. And here’s a bit on Jill Cook of the British Museum, asserting that we had sex before we understood that it made babies.

• Do fetuses masturbate? Well, probably? Maybe?

• There’s a great book about the invention of pornography called The Secret Museum: Pornography In Modern Culture. It’s by Walter Kendrick, and well worth reading. Another great book on the same subject is The Invention of Pornography, 1500-1800: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity edited by Lynn Hunt (this is the book I mention later that has lots of information about pornography as political protest).

• I talk a lot about the need for conversations about resilience with Sara Maria Griffin on AEWCH 93.

• Here’s a short article on Christine Helliwell talking to Dayak women in Borneo about the different concept of sex and assault.

A conversation between Heather Berg and I about sex work and the wage-labor relationship is here.

I am a whore. Find something else to fight about.” –Nell Gwynn, after two men were fighting after one called her a whore.

• Did you miss Hole drummer Patty Schemel on AEWCH 60? Don’t.

• I talk about the origins of sex on AEWCH 92, which is called…wait for it…The Origins Of Sex!

• And there;s a book about a very different thing with the same title – The Origins Of Sex: A History Of The First Sexual Revolution by Faramerz Dabhoiwala. It’s great.

• I’ve brought up What Is Sex? by Alenka Zupančič many times on the show. If you’re interested in a dense psychoanlytical investigation of sex, check it out. And also I talk about Wilhelm Reich on this bonus episode, and on AEWCH 59 with Reich James Strick.

• Kate mentions Joan Price, and I think her work with desire and aging is worth checking out.

• I wrote an essay on my (homo)sexual awakening waaaay back in 2010 (the essay, not the awakening); it’s called “Looking At Men.”

• A book I love on the sex lives of animals (well THAT’S a way to open a sentence) is Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice To All Creation by Olivia Judson.

• I mention the Katherine Angel episode, but you should really get and read her amazing book, Unmastered.

Until next time, friends, don’t give up on your desires!
CH
NG

You can’t consent to consent. A challenging discussion on the new Against Everyone With Conner Habib, featuring author Katherine Angel!

3 Mar


LISTEN
HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercast • Souncloud

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.

AEWCH101TITLECARDFriends,

I’ve been writing and giving talks about sex for over a decade now, and I often find it difficult to have truly stimulating conversation about it. I knew that having author and public intellectual Katherine Angel on the show would change that. Katherine is the author of the stunning work of vignettes on sex and fear and domination, Unmastered : A Book On Desire, Most Difficult To Tell, and Daddy Issues, which questions patriarchy by looking squarely at women’s relationships with their fathers. Her book, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again, will be out next year, and I’ll definitely have her on then too.

Katherine and I go at sex and especially consent at so many different angles, uncovering all the problems in the way we discuss it. As it turns out, there are quite a few problems there, and I am so happy to have had this challenging conversation, and to share it with you.

(PS: sorry about the popping in the sound. Your contribution is going to pay for a few pop filters!)

ON THIS EPISODE
  • How not knowing what we want needs to be a part of sexuality
  • Why psychoanalysis is important for our conversation about consent
  • Why every sexual encounter between two people is actually a threesome with whoever created the framework of consent
  • Why consent is not a good foundation for sexual ethics
  • How nonconsensual labor frameworks (ie needing to have a job) generate harassment and make sex the culprit
  • How we always place the burden of clear expression on women
  • How overemphasizing consent denies us our full humanity
  • Why Katie Roiphie and Laura Kipnis don’t get it
  • Why listening to people is so important whether or not they were utterly violated, and even whether or not we believe or accept that they were.
  • Words and pornography
  • The false assumption that men are having “real” orgasms in porn, whereas the women are having “fake” ones
  • How arousal is protective and the body doesn’t express the truth anymore than the mind.
  • Why we need Freud now more than ever
  • The erotic fantasy of banning pornography
  • Why desires have their own boundaries
SHOW NOTES
• More on Katherine: Katherine teaches at University of London, and her book, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again will be out next year. Here’s an excerpt from it, “Sex And Self Knowledge: Beyond Consent”. And here’s Katherine speaking about #MeToo at the Freud Museum.

• Katherine mentions Joseph Fischel’s book, Screw Consent: A Better Politics of Sexual Justice , which I am eager to read (and I’m also excited to have Joseph on the show!). Another good book on consent is Consent: Sexual Rights and the Transformation of American Liberalism by Pamela Haag.

• And here’s the Melissa Gira Grant essay on #MeToo – “The Unsexy Truth About Harassment.
• I’ve written about all the themes presented here before in the essay, “A Culture That’s Sick About Sex Will Never Be Able To Stop Harassment And Abuse“.

• A little write up of my talk about consent at Tufts University, moderated by Kareem Khubchandani.

• The Leo Bersani quote is “There is a big secret about sex: most people don’t like it.”

• Katherine gives a shout out to Laurie Brotto and her book, Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire.

AEWCH 34 about how arousal and desire are not the same thing, and how sex confronts materialism.

• The first time I talked about Wittgenstein’s theories and porn was way back on AEWCH 10 with Dr. Chris Donaghue.

• For more on how children experience violation when they’re sexually assaulted, read Susan Clancy’s profound book, The Trauma Myth: The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children and Its Aftermath.

• Go forth and read Darwin’s Worms by Adam Phillips. I’ve mentioned it many times as a great book. Ancd also? What Is Sex? by Alenka Zupančič.

• I can’t vouch for Carnal Resonance: Affect and Online Pornography by Susanna Paasonen yet, but I’m definitely going to read it if Katherine thinks it’s worthwhile. And here’s a link to Amia Srinivasan‘s article, “Does Anyone Have The Right To Sex?

That’s it for now, friends.
Until next time, may you follow your desires!
CH