Tag Archives: Caitlin Doughty

2020: The Year In Death – with Caitlin Doughty and Conner Habib

8 Dec

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Friends, what a year!

Primarily, I view 2020 as filled with thoughts about death, with considerations of uncertainty and contradictions.And to talk about all of this, I invited my friend, host of Ask A Mortician, author and death activist Caitlin Doughty on the show.Caitlin is one of my closest collaborators.

We’ve done live events together, she’s been on AEWCH two times before (AEWCH 77, and AEWCH 8), we talked before AEWCH existed, and I’ve been on her web series, Ask A Mortician. She’s also author of three amazing books about death around the world, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory , Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: And Other Questions about Dead Bodies, and (my favorite) From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death.

I wanted us to look into this year with as much equanimity as we could muster.

Have you noticed how hard things have been to navigate, not because of a virus per se, but because of a collapse of knowledge? Not only has information changes from day to day this year, but we’re subject to speculative news items presented as facts, questions about the virus are over-amplified scaring the shit out of everyone, case numbers and deaths are presented together creating a sense that every case number is a potential death or that every death is separate from the case numbers, we get lines like the flatten the curve lines that look like palmistry and that do and do not accurately predict futures. Add to that the many theories, the many politicizations, the many fears and anxieties, the many suppressions of information, the many debates.

It’s intense.

This episode goes a ways to help with all that, I think. I hope it grounds you and stirs up compassion for your neighbors, even the ones you wish weren’t your neighbors.

Let’s get through this together (for real!).

ON THIS EPISODE

  • How death positivity could change our view on handling a pandemic
  • The hero narrative in a time of crisis
  • Doing structural work instead of offering critique or sinking into your own anxiety
  • Why we need propositions, not critiques
  • When government officials are hypocritical with regulations, and how to think about that
  • How the crisis has amplified everyone’s worst attributes
  • Why knowledge can’t save us
  • Looking at all our values and striving for coherence
  • What we learned from the AIDS epidemic that applies now
  • Combatting the “if you got sick it’s your fault” mindset without losing sight of how to take care of yourself and others
  • The connectivity of suffering and how that’s going to amplify in the future
  • Why spiritualism and other spiritual beliefs and rituals grow during and after major world events
  • What will happen when we un-repress
  • Why it’s impossible to have the information, much less the answers about our current situation…and what to do about that

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Caitlin, watch her amazing web series, Ask A Mortician, including this great episode on spiritualism. Here’s her website. And support her work via her patreon! Also, make sure you watch her episode of The Midnight Gospel, my buddy Duncan Trussell‘s animated Netflix series!

• Most of the stories about Hart Island have been corrected at this point to reflect the island’s long history of burial – but you might remember images like this one.

• I talked about mutual aid on AEWCH 131 with Dean Spade, critiques vs propositions on AEWCH 123 with Kathi Weeks, and how truly being human is the best antidote to the problems of our world with Doug Rushkoff on AEWCH 125.

RTÉ’s retirement party scandal and Gavin Newsom’s French Laundry party were…fun new stories (insert facepalm emoji or whatever).• I would love if you listened to my latest appearance on the Duncan Trussell Family Hour.

• A great book on spiritualism (and occultism) and how it relates to feminist and other progressive movements is Magia Sexualis by Hugh Urban. Though I’m not sure why it’s so fucking expensive.

• Want to read a great Irish novel about a bunch of corpses talking to each other in a graveyard? Why yes you do, pal.

• My thoughts on how the masturbation scare hoax affected culture are in an essay I wrote years ago for Vice. But you can learn way more about it by reading Thomas W. Laqueur’s excellent book, Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation.

• Here’s the (horrible) video of family members being separated at a funeral.

• If you want a quick breakdown of mRNA vaccines, here’s an article from the European Commission’s research magazine, Horizon.

• I wrote about the time I had to walk away from a cancer diagnosis in my essay, “When You’re Sick You’ll Wait for the Answer, But None Will Come“.

Until next time friends – live and embrace death!
XO
CH

You are going to die. Now what? Me + Caitlin Doughty discuss death, sex, activism, and death & sex activism on AEWCH 77!

16 Jul

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Friends,
It’s time to talk about death and activism and death activism, and oh yeah, Marianne Williamson and stuff. There is no one better to discuss all this with that my good friend Caitlin Doughty. Caitlin is the host of the wildly popular youtube series, Ask A Mortician and her work has served as a foundation of the death positive movement, which is seeking to change our relationship to death in our culture.
She’s also the author of the death memoir, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory; as well as her book about death rites, From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death; and the forthcoming book about death for kids, Will The Cat Eat My Eyeballs: Big Questions fromTiny Mortals about Death.
When Caitlin and I spoke way back on AEWCH 8, we mostly discussed death in a theoretical way. This time, I bring to her the recent death of my friend, to work through some of the feelings and intensities I went through in mourning and gratitude.
We also spend a lot of time discussing being advocates and activists, and what challenges that brings. It’s a very personal episode and very different conversation than Caitlin’s used to having on a podcast!
On this ep:
  • what we’d like to do more of before we die
  • how to pre-mourn our own deaths by confronting our anxieties
  • HIV “bug chasing”
  • externalizing death drives vs turning them on yourself, and how that’s gendered
  • why we should destroy heterosexuality
  • the Dalia Lama and cultural conflict
  • the problems have a healthy relationship with death can bring
  • how a breakup gets a ton of conversations with friends, but a death tends to only get one
  • Pompei volcano sex deaths
  • why we need to acknowledge what sex positivity and feminism have brought to us
  • mediating social media exhaustion
  • the relief of others taking up the same causes you have
  • why I want to have more underground people on the show
  • the problem with only having one face for a given cause
  • what doing activism is for

SHOW NOTES are always free.

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NEW ONLINE EVENT: GOD SEX DEATH featuring CONNER HABIB with CAITLIN DOUGHTY & PETER ROLLINS on 1/20!

1 Jan

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God Sex Death is an online course that takes on three fundamental aspects of being human, featuring short lectures, conversation, and Q & A with three of today’s innovative figures in conversation: Theologian Peter Rollins, Sexpert Conner Habib, and Mortician Caitlin Doughty.

But there’s a catch! Rather than talking about the topics they know best, they’ll each be taking on each other’s area of expertise.

This is a course that examines the intersections of human experience like no other. What does someone who knows so much about death have to say about sex? What does someone schooled in the profane have to offer on the sacred? And what can an expert in the eternal illuminate about the end of everything?

After each short presentation, we’ll talk with each other and then turn the questions over to YOU. We’ll be answer all your nagging God Sex Death questions!

Can’t attend the day of? Not to worry, a standard ticket gets you exclusive access to a recording of the whole thing for 90 days!

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician, the bestselling author of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory and From Here To Eternity: Traveling The World To Find The Good Death. She’s also the host of the YouTube series Ask A Mortician, where she answers every question conceivable about death. From “What’s the most horrible way to die?” To “What happens to whale carcasses?”

Conner Habib is the host of the podcast Against Everyone with Conner Habib, and an internationally recognized expert on pornography, sexuality, and culture. His essays appear in Salon, Vice, CR Fashion Book, and more. He gives lectures at universities and organizations around the world, and he’s probably the only person alive who’s won awards for teaching, writing, and performing in porn.

Peter Rollins is the author of multiple books, including The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction, Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine. Each year in Belfast, Peter hosts Wake, a five day festival that explores the nature of belief, God, doubt, and politics. Peter hosts the podcast The Fundamentalists, on which he is made fun of weekly by comedian Elliot Morgan.

CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS

There are three different tickets types.

Standard: You’ll get access to the course, the Q&A, and the recording of the course for 90 days. 15.00

Plus: You’ll get everything above and you’ll also get: The exclusive God, Sex Death Reading List curated by Caitlin, Conner, and Peter. Each of us will recommend one book on each of the topics. 20.00

Gold: You’ll get everything from the Standard and Plus tickets and: Three Exclusive 2019 God Sex Death Tips Videos from Caitlin, Conner, and Peter! That’s right, you’ll get three separate videos (one from each speakers, each speaking about their area of expertise), giving you a tip on how to explore, think about, and think more deeply about God, sex, and death! These are short videos with a personal feel ONLY available to Gold ticket holders, telling you how to go deeper into each topic! 30.00

HOW DOES IT WORK?

A few days before the course starts, you’ll receive a link to the live webinar and instructions on what to do when you get to the site.

It’s simple, and all you need is your computer, the internet, and a few clicks to get started!

Plus and Gold ticket holders will get their benefits within 48 hours of the conclusion of the course!

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For groups of three or more, please contact me for group registration rates!

Your Death Is Your Project: Conner Habib + Caitlin Doughty!

22 Sep

I couldn’t be more excited to bring you this episode with death expert, bestselling author, and mortician, Caitlin Doughty!

Caitlin is the author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory as well as her new book about death rites, From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death.

She’s also the host of the wildly popular youtube series, Ask A Mortician which is one of the foundation stones of the death positive movement, which is seeking to change our relationship to death in our culture.

In this ep:

  • Taking death rites out of the “News of the Weird” category: 5:30
  • If we can’t think it’s okay for someone to interact with the mummy of their mother, how will we work on our politics? 11:20
  • Conner Sees His Dead Mother, or But can we really respect people’s experiences or is it just lip service? 13:25
  • Resisting creating a metaphysic around death…or forcing yours on someone else: 19:15
  • The potential of the strange psychological, spiritual event of death: 21:40
  • How death is our life’s project: 23.50.
  • What’s Your Death Fantasy? (And why?): 27:50
  • Lacan, Bataille, and how thinking about what the dead want tells us about the living: 34:55
  • Grieving is a physical process: 39:05
  • The boundary reveals itself as the connection: 40:25
  • How death makes us available to others in a new way: 42:20
  • Death is the engine that moves life forward: 48:00
  • The origins of sex: 49:00
  • And here’s where we get irritated about the singularity. And go on about it for quite a bit: 52:30

You can get full show notes with links to books we talk about, some info on previous Caitlin/Conner collaborations, and more by going to my patreon, where you can also support the show!

Love!
CH

M

Good Chaos

14 Jul

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Caitlin Doughty, Yours Truly, Gordon White

My event in LA with Gordon White, Chaotic Good: Why We Need the Occult Now (More Than Ever), was a big success on many levels.
It sold out, so that was a pretty great marker of its success, financially. But also, it was a marker of the necessity of and longing for occult-related events.

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La société du spectacle

Beyond those basic levels, it was intense. The audience members were all just…vibing. There were powerful occultists there (Poke Runyon sat in the front row, jeez), and beginners, and skeptics (including our amazing moderator, Caitlin Doughty), and political folks and artists. Everyone was just listening, taking it all in, and during the Q&A expressing their own version or whatever resonated. It was a spell against loneliness if nothing else. Whatever happened content-wise, I knew that we’d done a good thing together in just being with each other, in gathering all these weirdos who have imaginations that are big enough to take on reality itself.

Byron Katie says “We talk to figure out what we want to say.” I agree. And sometimes, we even say what we want to say and want what we want. When I give public talks, sometimes ideas come from me that I didn’t know were there. What I want to say just appears.

And the work of refining a thought so that others can hear it and understand it is an act of agility, so I find myself (especially in Q&A) turning to my heart as I speak. What will I say that is understandable here? What will connect these people – who are giving me the honor of their silence and the negative space of their hearing – to this idea and to me?

It makes me a better person to speak publicly and answer questions, because I have to imagine what other people are like, what they feel, and what they think. Even though I’m speaking, we’re inhabiting each other.

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“I drink of my sisters and I ask for the ability to not hate those who hate me. Especially racist pieces of bleach-blonde shit like Laura Lizzie.”

Rachel True (from The Craft!) gave tarot readings, and tarot, beyond its more obvious powers, commands a listening-to. When you get a reading, you listen in a different way. The tarot has a conversation with your thoughts, and your embedded-ness in time.

Of course, the conversations after I got off the stage had their own lives too. One-on-one conversation is one of our most powerful tools. I always say conversation and sex are the same order of being: They are free; they can go in any direction; they may be happy or unhappy or exciting or boring; whatever the outcome, it doesn’t mean you won’t engage again with the same person; they’re different from person to person, and more. Chaotic good.

It reminds me of Rudolf Steiner’s stirring comment that “Conversation is the new Eucharist.” Body and blood and sacrament.

Sit with that, if you want. Let it ring out in you. Remember when you speak to another person, you’re encountering a completely unique nexus of universal forces.

Gordon talks about a bit of this on the new episode of Rune Soup, which you can/shouldlisten to here.

If you couldn’t attend the event not to worry, the entire thing is being transcribed into an ebook with new intros by Gordon and I.

Hopefully the book will be not only interesting, but make you feel like you’re at the event, in conversation.

A big part of my conversation now is happening through my Patreon page, which is linked to my new web series. Please do sign up on Patreon to support my work and livelihood, and to interact with me. Thank you, new pioneers.

Love,

CH

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The Little Death and the Big One, Too: Me + Death Expert Caitlin Doughty

19 Jan

mecLife starts with sex and ends with death, and the middle is basically just lots of thoughts about both. These are fundamental aspects of being human, yet serious considerations of either are too often left out of our politics, our revolutions, and even our most passionate efforts to recreate our world.

So, okay, I invited my friend, the death expert Caitlin Doughty, over to talk. Caitlin is a trailblazer in the death positive movement, a mortician, and author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory.

First we filmed a quick, fun video for her channel – Our 3 tips for how to have a better relationship with death and with sex in 2017.

But Caitlin and I wanted to keep going. So we had this longer and more in-depth discussion, which you can watch below. We talked about how we can use sex and death in our politics and activism, how to conceive of your own death, sexually radical thinkers like sex magician Paschal Beverly Randolph and utopianist Charles Fourier,some guy named Donald Trump, Darwin’s Worms, and more.

This video is part of my yearlong effort to radiate a sense action, excitement, and creativity in the world we live in now. This month, it culminates in my online course, Radical Undoing: Decolonize Your Mind with Sex, Science, the Occult, and Philosophy, which you can sign up for here!

Follow Caitlin on twitter, and buy her book. And also, expect more from us together in the future!

mec