Tag Archives: anthropology

Conner Habib & David Graeber talk supernatural politics on Against Everyone With Conner Habib 99!

11 Feb
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AEWCH99TitleCardFriends,

Few people embody the intersections of this show’s interests quite as much as anthropologist, activist, and writer David Graeber. His field work, writing, and activism represent the best of what AEWCH does: turn an eye to spiritual concerns while taking direct and creative political action. David is a professor at the London School of Economics and the author of an almost overwhelming number of books, including, Fragments Of An Anarchist Anthropology, Debt: The First 5000 Years, On Kings (with Marshall Sahlins), and most recently, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory.

So of course, I’m so happy to have him on the show to discuss, among other things, the supernatural currents that run through and underpin the political realm.
SHOW NOTES
• There’s so much more available from David – introductions to other books, anthologies, he’s edited, and a whole shelf of other books he’s written – so the best way to get a good overview of that is to go to his website. Also, I use some of David’s ideas to discuss the horror film Ready Or Not on the Horror Vanguard podcast, and I think it’s not a bad intro to David’s work.
• Of course, you should check out Marshall Sahlins’s work, and David references his debate with Gananath Obeyesekere.
BM• Grant Morrison’s Bat-Mite appearances are in the amazing Batman arc, The Black Glove which is collected as a graphic novel.
• David’s quote on debt: “Debt is the perversion of a promise, a promise that has been perverted through mathematics and violence. I’m not saying mathematics is bad, but the combination of mathematics and violence is extremely bad. A debt is a promise to give a certain sum of money, in a certain amount of time, under certain conditions. It is a contract that is ultimately enforceable through the threat of force. The problem is that through a genuinely perverse historical alchemy, we’ve come to see such acts of violence as the very essence of morality.”
• One of David’s best known essays is excellently entitled “ON THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF GIANT PUPPETS: broken windows, imaginary jars of urine, and the cosmological role of the police in American culture” and you can read it here.
• “There is a long folk history of this figure, the Badass. He is usually male, and while sometimes earning the quizzical tolerance of women, is almost universally admired by men for two basic virtues: he is Bad, and he is Big. Bad meaning not morally evil, necessarily, more like able to work mischief on a large scale. What is important here is the amplifying of scale, the multiplication of effect.” – Thomas Pynchon, from “Is It O.K. To Be A Luddite?”
Karl Groos was the philosopher and psychologist who David refers to in relation to play, self awareness, and child development, and is the author of The Play Of Man. David explores game and play more deeply in his excellent book, The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy.
• Apparently I misattributed the definition of magic to Dion Fortune! But it’s a common mistake.
• I talk a lot about leaning into subjective ways of speaking, and why it’s important, on AEWCH 93 with Sarah Maria Griffin, and on Rune Soup with Gordon White.
• David is currently at work on a book with David Wengrow, author of What Makes Civilization?: The Ancient Near East and the Future of the West among other books.
• The organization I was Vice President of for two years, The Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, is still going, and I’m so proud of my work with them.
• You must have seen The Witch if you’re a fan of this show, right? Right?
• There was a tension (to put it euphemistically) between anarchist Bob Black and Murray Bookchin. You can check it out here.
• I talk about Wilhelm Reich on AEWCH 59 with Reich scholar James Strick.
Was Lenin a nudist? Well, yeah, probably!
• I haven’t yet read David’s “Radical alterity is just another way of saying “reality”: a reply to Eduardo Viveiros de Castro” but I’m going to as soon as I’m done with the show notes.
Heres The Same Old Song by Russell Means. Means’s essay is not actually an essay, for, as he states at the outset, “The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of ‘legitimate’ thinking; what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken.” 
VDJ• I was hugely influenced by Vine Deloria Jr.’s work, and his attack (seriously, that’s more the word for it than “critique”) on anthropologists remains salient. (And since I love him, here’s a photo of him.)
• Here’s more info on Malidoma Somé, and you can also check out his great book, Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman.
• I talk all about the problems with reducing the witchcraft to political economy, as well as the figure of the dewitcher on AEWCH 98 with Thomas Waters.
• I still like Giordano Bruno, in spite of the, um, persecution we carry out here. And I think he was just talking about the creation of elementals, which I discuss on AEWCH 67 with Daniel Joseph.
• David brings up his interest in Whitheadian concepts of time and space, which are explored, I think, most deeply in Whitehead’s The Concept Of Nature.
Conor McCabe has a great concept of capitalism as an “invasion of the money system” which we talk about on AEWCH 76. (That remains one of my favorite episodes, btw!)

Until next time, friends!
CH

High stakes and giant invisible snakes: Rebel anthropologist and paranormal professor David Shorter on Against Everyone with Conner Habib

9 Feb

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Hello friends!
Here’s episode 20 where I go deeeeeeeep into the woods and tall grass and the reaches of space with Dr. David Shorter. David is the the author of We Will Dance Our Truth: Yaqui History in Yoeme Performances, a healer, and a professor at UCLA, where he teaches courses like “Aliens, Psychics, and Ghosts,” “Meditation for College Students” and more. David is awesome, and we don’t hold back in this conversation, and I’m so happy with it.  This is the first episode in February – and one of three in a row that will be looking at reality claims, objectivity, and postmodernism. All in plain language, hopefully, even if there’s a little inside baseball here and there.

Show notes with further reading here.

*IN THIS EP

  • Spirituality as capitalist consumption
  • How to avoid appropriation but not blind yourself to other cultures
  • Allies and their blind spots
  • Why “I’m not religious but I’m spiritual” doesn’t describe anything
  • Why social justice narratives can become scientistic materialism
  • How do we accept the truth value of different spiritual pathways even though we can’t have access to them?
  • You should be working in the language of the community you’re working in
  • Why do philosophers and activists privilege language so much?
  • We experience the world in content, not language
  • When a snake is a place
  • Why you shouldn’t trust talking butterflies and coyotes, but squirrels that run away from you are cool
  • There are different scientific methods, and some are better than others
  • Why plants don’t come from seeds
  • The scientific method turns the world into objects, and capitalism likes objects
  • Objectification is not dehumanization
  • The spread of English objectifies the mental world (or “objectivate” it)
  • I get mildly cranky about Chapo Traphouse for a sec
  • Why is the Left obsessed with denigrating spirituality and worshipping science with very little power critique
  • How our medical concepts create new diseases
  • Dear indigenous people: “Sorry for everything we’ve ever done to you, now save us.”
  • So-called “alternative” medicine is often just allopathic medicine in disguise
  • How responsible are you for your pain
  • ESTHER HICKS, I AM ENVISIONING YOU ON MY SHOW
  • Health and healing is a language
  • How my Syrian grandmother survived cancer without knowing about it

Here’s David’s website, which has a link to all his articles, his book, and more. Lots of stuff, good stuff, there.

*NOTE: I’m ditching the time signatures, because only a few people use them and they take me literally 2X the episode length to make. So I could be at it four 4 hours just to make those fuckers. If you miss them and are willing to step up and make them for me, let me know!

YDD