2022 Relationships are vital and… confusing. That’s why I asked Dr. Chris Donaghue onto AEWCH 180 to talk about how to navigate them!

23 Feb

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Friends,

Happy New Year! Here’s the fifth episode in my series on How To Live in 2022. The first, AEWCH 175, was with occult scholar Mitch Horowitz; the second, AEWCH 176, is on why reincarnation matters for us now; the third is AEWCH 177 with philosopher Zena Hitz on how and why to be an intellectual; the fourth is AEWCH 178 on using mysticism and the tarot in 2022 with Jessica Dore; and AEWCH 179, the fifth in the series is about living in community and organizations with Dean Spade.

But at the foundation of all our lives is sex – even if we are not inclined to identify with this or that sexuality, it is our origin story – and relationship – whatever kind of relationship I might be in. While world events seem to take up so much of our attention, in some ways the real action is at the level of fantasy, relationship, desire, lust, gratification, doubt, dear, confusion, and pleasure.

So I asked my friend, sex therapist and relational philosopher Dr. Chris Donaghue back onto the show. Chris is the author of Sex Outside the Lines: Authentic Sexuality in a Sexually Dysfunctional Culture and Rebel Love: Break the Rules, Destroy Toxic Habits, and Have the Best Sex of Your Life. Chris has been on the show twice before. Waaaay back on AEWCH 10 and then again on AEWCH 56.

Chris and I have a wide-ranging discussion as per usual on the show. But we both bring our own psychological (in my case psychoanalytic) and spiritual perspectives to bear. I hope this episode is helpful and illuminating.

SHOW NOTES

WHAT BOOK YOU SHOULD READ? I don’t like many pop-psych relationship books, but one I still think about – even though I read it over ten years ago – is David Richo’s How to Be an Adult: A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration. It’s not a perfect blueprint for sex and relationships, but there are so many bits of wisdom and seeds of contemplation in that book that I think it can be helpful for everyone.

WHAT OTHER AEWCH EPISODE YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO? The obvious pairing for this episode is AEWCH 159 with my friend Duncan Trussell. There’s not much to say about it other than it was recorded in the middle of one of the hardest relationship moments of my life. I don’t think it’s “brave” to have recorded it. But I do think, based on the feedback that I received, that it might be helpful for others or at least help diminish loneliness.

WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK INTO FURTHER? One of the greatest tools I pull on when I’m having a relational emergency, I turn to The Work of Byron Katie. It’s a simple but profound tool for slowing down, and encountering the other through your own thinking. Watch some videos of Katie’s work in action, and then take it on yourself in your own life.

MORE ON CHRIS Chris is extremely prolific, so aside from his books (linked above), it might be a bit difficult to know where to start. Thankfully, his website gives tons of links. He also has a great Instagram which offers up thoughts and prompts for you to reflect on each day.

Until next time, be kind and horny with each other.
X
C

Spiritual organizing and solidarity with spirits on AEWCH 179 featuring Dean Spade

9 Feb

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Friends,
Happy New Year! Here’s the fifth and final in the series of episodes on How To Live in 2022. The first, AEWCH 175, was with occult scholar Mitch Horowitz, the second, AEWCH 176, is on why reincarnation matters for us now, the third is AEWCH 177 with philosopher Zena Hitz on how and why to be an intellectual, and the fourth is AEWCH 178 on using mysticism and the tarot in 2022 with Jessica Dore.

All those episodes, though, were geared towards being an individual navigating the world. But what about, uh, other people? Especially since according to Sartre’s much-misinterpreted line, “hell is other people”? How do we enter into much-needed organizing when groups can be so intolerable? And what about when the spiritual is excluded and groups feel cold and even like they have the wrong idea of how the world works?

I asked the amazing author and anarchist activist Dean Spade back to the show to discuss all the above. Dean was last on the show on AEWCH 131, discussing mutual aid, and his book, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next), in the midst of the early pandemic. It remains one of my favorite conversations on the show, ever. On this episode, we talk about what happens in groups and the when politicization leads to dehumanization. We also talk about organizing with the dead and the evolution of consciousness as the origin of hierarchies. It’s good, weird, and deep.

SHOW NOTES

WHAT BOOK YOU SHOULD READ?
Since the origins of inequality keep coming up on the episode, I recommend the book of (AEWCH 169 & AEWCH 99) guests, David Wengrow and David Graeber, The Dawn of Everything. It’s a great book and now it’s a bestseller. Not saying I had anything to do with that, exactly; just happy to see the success of such a thoughtful book about the stupidity of takes like “we’re hard wired to be hierarchical” and “society is too complex to be egalitarian.” Get it. Read it.

WHAT OTHER AEWCH EPISODE YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO?
A great look at how we all draw from commonwealths – of knowledge, of tactics, strategies, struggles, creative impulses, and sexuality – is on AEWCH 120 with one of my favorite philosophers, Michael Hardt. Michael is the co-author (with Antonio Negri) of some of the most influential political and global theory books of all time, most recently, Assembly. It’s really, really good stuff; a systems thinking approach to leftist politics. Don’t miss it.

WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK INTO FURTHER?
The evolution of consciousness and its many culturally specific iterations is one direction I point to for the origins of inequality. By evolution of consciousness, I don’t just mean the evolution in what we think, but the structures of consciousness – including perception – itself. One philosopher of the evolution of consciousness is Jean Gebser, whose book The Ever-Present Origin remains a potent and detailed mapping of the phenomenon. Here’s the Jean Gebser Society’s site to learn more.

MORE ON DEAN
Firstly, here’s Dean’s website, which has tons of his efforts lined, including his excellent video workshop series, Building Capacity for Mutual Aid Groups. Dean is the founder of the founder of Sylvia Rivera Law Project which works to help create conditions to help people thrive while self-determining their gender identity and expression. Dean is also the author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of the Law, which identifies the many ways in which struggles that look to permission from the state for human rights fall short. You can also watch his documentary about the ways Israel tires to cover up some of its crimes against Palestinians by exploiting LGBT rights: Pinkwashing Exposed.

Until next time, friends – live well, and together!
XO
CH

Seeing into 2022 with the tarot and mystic philosophy: Jessica Dore on AEWCH 178.

26 Jan

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Friends,

Happy New Year! Here’s the fourth in the series of episodes on How To Live in 2022. The first, AEWCH 175, was with occult scholar Mitch Horowitz, the second, AEWCH 176, is on why reincarnation matters for us now, and the third is AEWCH 177 with philosopher Zena Hitz on how and why to be an intellectual. Now, back to the magic.

Divination may not give us “answers” exactly, but it does give us direction. It triggers feeling. It sends us off on adventures. it guards us from taking certain paths and opens others. It’s an important tool for navigating 2022, so I invited Jessica Dore, onto the show. Jessica is a tarot reader, philosopher, and author of Tarot for Change: Using the Cards for Self-Care, Acceptance, and Growth. I was introduced to Jessica’s work through another AEWCH 93 guest, tarot reader/zinemaker/YA author Sara Maria Griffin.

I’m so excited to share this episode with you.

SHOW NOTES

WHAT BOOK YOU SHOULD READ?
With some hesitation, I recommend Meditations on the Tarot by an anonymous author. Why do I offer my hesitation? It is one of the most profound books ever written, and it changes you as you read it. I understand that for some, my caveat will make the book more appealing. But go into it, if you do, with a gesture of love and care.

WHAT OTHER AEWCH EPISODE YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO?
The most obvious choice is also the best: AEWCH 142 with Rachel True. Rachel (whose fame still touches on her role in the cult classic The Craft) created her own tarot deck and tarot reading book. If you’re wondering why Jessica and I aren’t doing the “what is tarot, anyway?” that’s because I spent a good part of the episode with Rachel discussing just that.

WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK INTO FURTHER?
If you’d like to learn more about Valentin Tomberg (the anthroposophist, Catholic esotericist, and author of Meditations on the Tarot), here’s a website about his life and efforts.

MORE ON JESSICA
Aside from buying Tarot for Change, you can keep up with Jessica via her recordings on substack (including the January 2022 offering we discuss on the episode), or via her website. There’s a lot on all her platforms (including twitter).

Until next time, friends!
CH

Reading, thinking, and conversation are noble pursuits and reasons to live. AEWCH 177 featuring Zena Hitz on the value of intellectualism.

20 Jan

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Against Everyone With Conner Habib is funded exclusively by listeners like you. SUPPORT THIS PODCAST via Patreon

Friends,
Happy New Year! Here’s the third in the series of episodes on How To Live in 2022. The first, AEWCH 175, was with occult scholar Mitch Horowitz, and the second, AEWCH 176, is on why reincarnation matters for us now. It’s not just the obviously spiritual that we must bring to bear on how to live now, though. It’s how we spend our time, and what we give our days and thoughts over to. For me, intellectual pursuits – especially literature, film, music, philosophy – are what I long to spend my time on. But I resent, deeply, the idea that they have to be “for” something, even self development. It’s not that they can’t contribute to self development, rather, that they only contribute to self development when we don’t force them into the role. So how could I do an episode on how-and-why-to-be-an-intellectual without forcing it all into functionality? Luckily, public intellectual, teacher, and philosopher Zena Hitz‘s, book, Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life, is hugely clarifying on this. After reading it, I knew I had to speak with her. I hope this conversation is clarifying for you, too.

SHOW NOTES

WHAT BOOK YOU SHOULD READ?
Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others offers a great exploration of how to view art, the news, the world in general, without becoming numb: numb in the way we become numb to what we see again and again, and numb because of the narratives (or lack of them) that surround what we’re regarding. It’s a short book full of declarative and illuminating sentences.

WHAT OTHER AEWCH EPISODE YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO?
A good companion episode for this one is AEWCH 141 with religious scholar Jason Josephson Storm. We talk about knowing beyond academia, beyond postmodernism, beyond the old ways of taking in knowledge… but without discarding the most useful aspects of all the above. We also get really weird about it.

WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK INTO FURTHER?
Since we discuss “spectacle” so much, I think I should direct you to the Situationists, the anarchist art/culture/politics group from 20th Century. One of the best entry points is via Ken Knabb’s super plain but very rich site, Bureau of Public Secrets.

MORE ON ZENA
Buy her book, of course. And visit her website, which is extensive; lots of interviews and thoughts and links and media. You can also look into the great books tutorial series Zena founded, The Catherine Project. And here’s a good talk from Zena at the Thomistic Institute.

Until next time, friends!
CH

Why reincarnation matters – AEWCH 176

11 Jan

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Friends, Happy New Year! Here’s the second in the series of episodes on How To Live in 2022. The first, AEWCH 175, was with occult scholar Mitch Horowitz. There are more secular (or, uh, as secular as we get on this show) episodes coming up, but before we leave for those comforting shores, let’s spend some time with the realm of the dead and the reborn. Why does reincarnation matter, as a reality, as a lens, as standpoint? Here are my reflections on the radical promise of reincarnation and how it can help us navigate our lives. CH

SHIOW NOTES

WHAT BOOK YOU SHOULD READ? Reincarnation and Karma: Two Fundamental Truths of Human Existence by Rudolf Steiner has so much of what’s in this episode, and it’s also a relatively easy one of his to start with.

WHAT OTHER AEWCH EPISODE YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO? There’s a lot of overlap between this episode and AEWCH 150: THE SPIRITUAL POLITICS OF THE DEAD

WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK INTO FURTHER? If you’d like reincarnation from a different angle – evidence presented by science – Dr. Ian Stevenson has done compelling work. Here’s a good place to start instead of diving into his literally voluminous body of research: an interview with him in the New York Times from 1999, “Conversations/Dr. Ian Stevenson; You May Be Reading This In Some Future Past Life”.

How to live in 2022 using the 7 Hermetic Principles – Me + Mitch Horowitz on AEWCH 175

4 Jan

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Friends,

Happy New Year! Welcome to the first episode of 2022, which is also the first episode of a series of episodes on How To Live in 2022. To kick off the year, and the series I’ve invited Mitch Horowitz back on the show to talk about how to live using the 7 Hermetic Principles found in the occult book The Kybalion. Mitch is a paranormal and occult scholar, and a great writer. He’s been on the show before, most recently at the top of 2021 on AEWCH 137 when we talked about why self help matters in the middle of a global crisis.

So: what is the Kybalion? What are the 7 Heremetic Principes? And how do the Principles help us live?

Of course, this is Against Everyone With Conner Habib, so we also get deeply philosophical (so, uh, apologies for my rant on Dune, homeopathy, and water) as we talk about the principles. Listen, take them in, and comment below. And also, check out the new show notes format below!

SHOW NOTES

TWO FAVORITE MOMENTS
From Mitch (re: the Heremetic Principle of Vibration): “If you say the word ‘please’ it can be a cordial request or sarcasm, it all depends on the tone… When we read something on digital media, we are hearing it… This is killing us, this sarcasm… We’re writing it so it keeps us at a kind of remove, but the consequences are felt, they are absolutely felt. We are killing ourselves as a human species with the continuous use of attack speech…”

From me: “A paradox is a polarity that sees itself.”

WHAT BOOK YOU SHOULD READ?
Well, it’s pretty obvious: You should read the The Kybalion. It’s a great and quick, but profound read.

WHAT OTHER AEWCH EPISODE YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO?
It’s an older episode that’s not available on most podcast platforms but you can still listen here AEWCH 34 (or it’s still on Stitcher). It’s a solo episode called ARE BODIES OUR SELVES or HOW SEX CONFRONTS MATERIALISM.

WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK INTO FURTHER?
I love that Mitch brought up the profound impact the works of the Russian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff has had on his life. This site has a great review of Gurdjieff’s teachings, as well as their practical application.

MORE ON MITCH
Support Mitch’s Patreon here. I’m a patron of his patreon so I can say from experience, you get so much from pledging there – lots of writing, musings, and more. For more on Mitch, listen to our episode at the top of 2021, and his discussion with Duncan Trussell. His film with director Ronni Thomas, The Kybalion is out out January 11, and The Kybalion Study Guide by Mitch, which is the film’s companion book is available now.

Until next time, friends!
CH

What happened to us in 2021? I talk with Ask A Mortician host Caitlin Doughty about the year that’s about to die.

22 Dec

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SUPPORT THIS PODCAST
Against Everyone With Conner Habib is free for everyone, but it only exists via of support of listeners. If you like this show, if it has meaning for you, support it by using Patreon! Thank you so, so much.

Buy Caitlin’s books and all the books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 174 on bookshop.org! The site sources from independent bookstores in the US, not a big corporate shipping warehouse where the workers are treated like machines. Plus when you click through here to order, the show gets a small affiliate kickback!

Friends,

On the final episode of AEWCH in 2021, I turn to my friend, the queen of endings herself: death expert, Ask A Mortician Host, and Caitlin Doughty We look back on the year about to die, and see what died (and should die with it). We also take stock of where we stand now as we face the year ahead.Thank you so much for listening all year, and I’m looking forward to the adventure ahead.

SHOW NOTES

• Caitlin has been on the show multiple times, but the last time was AEWCH 134, and that was the last time we hung out in person too (aw). And here’s Caitlin’s patreon.

• The series of episodes on love were:

• Here’s the video Caitlin released when the death toll skyrocketed in Los Angeles, where her funeral home is.

• And here’s AEWCH 143 & 107 guest Srećko Horvat talking with Richard Sennett.

See you in 2022, friends!
CH

The card for 2021.

On my favorite Irish mystic, John Moriarty. AEWCH 173: Republic of Birds.

14 Dec

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SUPPORT THIS PODCAST
Against Everyone With Conner Habib is free for everyone, but it only exists via of support of listeners. If you like this show, if it has meaning for you, support it by using Patreon! Thank you so, so much.To buy all of John’s books, go to Lilliput Press, who deliver all over the world. Or you can buy them via my booklist for AEWCH 173 from bookshop.org. A lot of them are on. backorder, but if you order them, they’ll get to you! And I get a small kickback when you order from there.

Friends,

I’m so proud to share with you a comprehensive introduction and exploration of Irish mystic philosopher John Moriarty‘s work. The episode is a recording of the event I curated at the National Concert Hall, Republic of Birds (part of the same event series I curated that AEWCH 170 – on utopia with Una Mullally and Andrea Horan – was part of: Utopia at the National Concert Hall).

The episode starts with me reading the chapter “Shaman” from John’s incredible book, Invoking Ireland. Then three guests speak:

First, human rights lawyer and activist Simone George. – whose incredible 2018 TED Talk with her partner Mark Pollock is a testament to the depths of love and grief. Simone offers up how John helped her through the trials of the time and in communicating with and moving through with Mark’s paralysis. It’s a profound meditation on the body and freedom and care.

Then Mary McGillicuddy – who offers the best intro to John I’ve ever heard – of course she does, she’s the author of John Moriarty: Not the Whole Story – it’s an amazing meditation on John’s work. One of my favorite moments is when she weaves in John’s idea of the “Diamond Dimension” and “silver branch perception”:

“No matter how evil,” John wrote, “in no matter how many lifetimes I might have been, I continue at the core of my soul to be as pure as a drop of water on a lotus leaf…at the core of his being the devil is still an angel…”

Finally, Dónal Ó Céilleachair co-director (with Julius Ziz) of Dreamtime Revisted, which you can rent streaming here, and founder of Anú Pictures. Donal’s offering gets cut off by the recording, but we managed to get at least one of his keen perspectives in, and it’s a good one.

Until next time, friends,
CH

Witches in space. No, really. Alkistis Dimech & Peter Grey of Scarlet Imprint on AEWCH!

8 Dec

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SUPPORT THIS PODCAST
Against Everyone With Conner Habib is free for everyone, but it only exists via of support of listeners. If you like this show, if it has meaning for you, support it by using Patreon! Thank you so, so much.

Friends,

Will there be witches in space?

Sorry, it’s just that I’ve been thinking about the spirituality of the future; particularly the occultism, the witchcraft, and the magic of the future. Why is it that we’ll do future forecasts on everything from economics to Marvel movies to elections, but we won’t orient spirituality to the future?Or if we do, it’s in a resistance-y sort of way: where spirituality is merely pitted against the erosion of meaning?To talk about this, I sat down in front of a roaring fire in Cornwall with Peter Grey and Alkistis Dimech: authors, performers, witches, and owners of the occult publishing company, Scarlet Imprint. Last time, on AEWCH 127, we talked about the apocalypse. Now we’re talking about what comes after the apocalypse, and where spirit fits.

And yes, there will be witches in space.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Peter and Alkistis, listen to AEWCH 127 and also look through the show notes there! Here’s Peter on a recent episode of Rune Soup talking about his latest book The Two Antichrists, which looks at the magical engagement of L. Ron Hubbard and John Whiteside (Jack) Parsons. Since last we spoke, Alkistis and Peter have deleted their twitter, but they still have an Instagram. You can buy all Scarlet Imprint books on their website.

You can buy any of the other books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 172 on bookshop.org! The site sources from independent bookstores in the US, not a big corporate shipping warehouse where the workers are treated like machines. Plus when you click through here to order, the show gets a small affiliate kickback!

• I wrote a short essay on how lockdowns altered our perceptions of time and space for The Irish Times. And I talked about the nature of space and time way back on AEWCH 5.

• Alkistis mentions French writer/philosopher of desire Pierre Klossowski.• I talk with occultist accupuncturist veterinarian Are Thoresen about the nothingness of Christ on AEWCH 116. And I also talked with Scott Elliot Hicks about creating a heart for Ahriman on AEWCH 122. The two episodes are two of my very favorite episodes of the show.

• Peter mentions Doug Rushkoff, who was on AEWCH 125. And in response, I mention one of my favorite philosophers, Michel Serres (who also writes about folding time in his writing).

• ISIL cannon and cloudbuster. Technology can offer us more than war.

• I’ve mentioned Alenka Zupančič many times on the show, so maybe now it’s time for you all to read her profound book on nothingness, What Is Sex.

• Oh by the way, Jack Parsons is tied into the Twin Peaks universe.

• Here’s Gordon White and I talking on Grimerica back in 2017 about the emergence of new spiritualities.

Until next time friends, illuminate the dark passages,
CH

Visionary creator of the Gaia theory, James Lovelock on AEWCH 171.

23 Nov

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SUPPORT THIS PODCAST
Against Everyone With Conner Habib is free for everyone, but it only exists via of support of listeners. If you like this show, if it has meaning for you, support it by using Patreon! Thank you so, so much.

Buy Jim’s books and all the books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 171 on bookshop.org! The site sources from independent bookstores in the US, not a big corporate shipping warehouse where the workers are treated like machines. Plus when you click through here to order, the show gets a small affiliate kickback!

Friends,

What an honor to finally meet scientific genius James Lovelock. I write “finally” because James has been a huge part of my life and education and way of thinking, though I’ve never met him. His major theoretical contribution, the Gaia theory, was co-developed with my main mentor, Lynn Margulis. In fact, you can view this as a companion episode to AEWCH 91 with Lynn Margulis (it’s the last recorded conversation with her before her death), who developed the Gaia theory with Jim. And I’ve released this episode to coincide with Lynn’s death, in 2011 – 10 years ago to the day, just one day before I’m releasing this episode with Jim.

So…what is Gaia?

Gaia is the work of the relational loops of push and pull between bacteria, other organisms, and the environment. The clouds, the atmospheric gasses, the pH and salinity of the ocean, and other Earth systems express the “dialogue” between the organisms and the Earth.  This dialogue is Gaia Theory.  Particularly relevant to these relational (often called “feedback”) loops are the smallest living beings, the bacteria.  In this dialogue, the information yielded from and received by the bacteria and environment is absolutely crucial to the existence of life on this planet. Remove the bacteria and everything dies. The world becomes a Mars or a Venus, overtaken by harshness or billowing clouds so thick that everything is obscured.

The theory was long-resisted especially by biologists, even though the science behind Gaia, particularly that found in Lovelock’s formulations, is complex and detailed, not guesswork.Lovelock named it after his friend – novelist William Golding’s – suggestion: Gaia. While many people – especially journalists, it seems, try to trace resistance to Gaia theory to its mystical and religious sounding name, the truth is, Gaia is just hard for people to understand because it requires interdisciplinary and systems thinking.

A bit on the difficulty below, but before that, let me not skip past the arrogance and laziness of a lot of people in the scientific community who just said it was just magical thinking – many without actually reading the research that Lovelock had done.

To counter this, Jim came up with an understandable and accessible metaphor in the form of a computer program called Daisyworld.  Daisyworld is not the “proof” of Gaia but a powerful model and metaphor: Lovelock and his colleague Andrew Watson devised the program to see if living and environmental factors could theoretically interact without intention.  This was a rebuff to the many criticisms that Gaia had to act through some sort of new age benevolence.In Daisyworld, there are black daisies, which absorb the sun’s heat, and white daisies, which reflect heat.  Both flowers grow and produce offspring, and both have the same thresholds for life and growth — they cannot grow at a low temperature and die at too high a temperature.  The black daisies, which absorb heat, grow faster in cooler conditions; since the heat accumulates in their petals. White daisies, which reflect the heat, need warmer conditions to produce more offspring and thrive. The sun that shines on Daisyworld is dynamic.  It grows in luminosity over millions of years. Here is Lynn Margulis, quoted at length to make clear the results:“Without any extraneous assumptions, without sex or evolution, without mystical presuppositions of planetary consciousness, the daisies of Daisyworld cool their world despite their warming sun. As the sun increases in luminosity, the black daisies grow, expanding their surface area, absorbing heat, and heating up their surroundings. As the black daisies heat up more of the surrounding land surface, the surface itself warms, permitting even more population growth.  The positive feedback continues until daisy growth has so heated the surroundings that white daisies began to crowd out the black ones.  Being less absorbent and more reflective, the white daisies begin to cool down the planet…Despite the ever-hotter sun, the planet maintains a long plateau of stable temperatures.”

Many additional factors have been added into subsequent Daisyworld models. Because people were still skeptical, “cheats” – factorss that could have thrown the model off – were introduced; and even with the cheats, Daisyworld has always displayed a deep relationship between species selection and planetary temperature regulation.After Daisyworld, much less the mountains of observable evidence gathered afterward, the environment could no longer be seen as a tyrant, lording over selection; it was now a co-evolving field.  And by implication all the organisms on the planet are connected by this vast system of regulation and dynamism. Gaian processes are real and observable (and sometimes referred to as “biogeochemistry”, a term more acceptable to mainstream science).

Because of this, Gaia theory is an intense examination of natural selection, since Gaia’s processes of regulation are the “natural selectors.”  The push and pull of the biota (the total sum of all organisms) and the inorganic — their weaving and separations, their gestures of relationship — set the framework of regulation.  There is no need to be vague about “fitness” and just what the environment “selects” with Gaia in the picture. Gaia’s processes of regulations are what is at play here.We should resist funneling this into a “purpose” in a new age way – whether it’s the scientistic new age of neo-Darwinists misunderstanding Gaia as a living organism. Or the standard new age (think the Gaia network) line that Gaia is a “goddess” trying to contain Gaia’s complexity in a simple and inadequate metaphor.

Lynn Margulis expressed her solution to the error once by saying, “Gaia is not merely an organism.”

Gaia is beyond stale conception. It is more magnificent and active than we can imagine. Gaia is object and process. Gaia houses geosystems and the beings – people – who thought up the organizing principles behind those geosystems. It houses volcanos and every book, every word on volcanos ever written, and at the same time is those volcanos.  It is where our greatest loves live, and where every human heartbeat has ever rhythmically pulsed.

And if Gaia is conscious, it possesses a consciousness of a different magnitude, probably of a different order all together. People like Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne are just ill-equipped to understand complexity like that because it not only doesn’t fit in with their linear and reductive understanding of life, it also exposes their understanding as false.So: We are part of Gaia, and Gaia lives through us. This also has huge implications for “climate change” which Jim has been writing about now for years. If we are part of Gaia, that means our decision-making and our thought processes are also part of it. Which ultimately in a way means that morality – the way we approach Gaia – is a selection pressure.Morality is not shaped by evolution so much as it shapes it now.

But just to be clear Jim’s picture of climate change is much more complex even than the one we’re constantly presented with with charts and graphs and a dose of guilt constantly. Jim does lay the blame on humans in a way, but sometimes in surprising ways – it’s not just industrialism that has caused all of the problems before us, but our very exhalations are a massive part of climate change. Furthermore, there are factors beyond our control – the sun heating up contributes, as well as other geosystems.

Rather than feel guilty and helpless, we should recognize ourselves as part of Gaian processes. And where he goes from there in his latest book, Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence, is controversial and also moving: computer-beings are evolving into life as a result of our actions. And rather than being here to destroy us, these computer-beings will help Gaian homeorhesis along as well, since it will be in their best interest to regulate the climate along Gaian lines.It’s a challenging but ultimately positive view of technology that dismissed the reductiveness of “singularity” thinking and also anti-tech sentiment. It’s one that echoes statements made by occultist Rudolf Steiner – who I talk about with Jim on the episode (including Steiner’s influence on Rachel Carson, who used one of Jim’s inventions) – about a hundred years ago, around the time of Jim’s birth. Yes, he’s 102 now!

What an honor to speak with Jim after years of being influenced by his work.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Jim, there’s a whole lot on his website. And you can read his excellent memoir, Homage to Gaia. And one of my favorite books on Gaia is from MIT Press: From Gaia to Selfish Genes. And here’s a site devoted to Daisyworld. The Economist article on Gaia that Jim mentions is behind a paywall, but worth checking into.

• For a bit on Moore’s law (and why Jim says it no longer applies) wikipedia is probably the easiest intro.

• “If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

• I talk about code and alienation on AEWCH 144 with religious studies and UFO scholar Diana Walsh Pasulka.

• Evolutionary biologist Ford Doolittle was once a fierce opponent of the Gaia theory and has recently relented.

Until next time, friends,
CH