Tag Archives: Conner Habib

EVENT: Join me + AEWCH guests Heather Berg & Kathi Weeks for a live discussion on sex work as anti-work!

7 May

Hi friends,

I’ll be on a panel discussing sex work as anti-work politics as part of Seattle’s Red May festival. I’ll be in discussion with AEWCH guests Kathi Weeks and Heather Berg, as well as femi babylon and Cassandra Troyan!

The info is here, and it’s free to sign up!

Also, check out other Red May events with AEWCH guests like Dean Spade, Franco Bifo Berardi, Michael Hardt, and more!

XO
CH

Oh no I’ve said too much/ I haven’t said enough

28 Apr

Friends, what can I say? A few days ago, Against Everyone With Conner Habib got a shout out in the Guardian from one of its listeners: Michael Stipe from R.E.M.

I’m floored by this.

I am really moved and almost overwhelmed by this. This person has had such a huge impact on my life, and has provided such a profound directional force of imagination for me.

More and more, I realize that listeners and supporters of the show represent a very special group of people. You’re listening because you really care about the substance of the show. Not because it’s poppy or familiar or always easy to digest, but because you love meaningful engagement.

Just wanted to share. And to say to you who support the show, thank you for helping make the show possible.

Love.

CH

Desires, dark and light. Carmen Maria Machado on AEWCH 149!

21 Apr

LISTEN HERE VIA SOUNDCLOUD OR ON Apple PodcastsSpotifyBreaker Anchor

FRIENDS: Do you find this podcast meaningful? Support it! 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.
Buy Carmen’s books and the books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 149 on Bookshop.org. Bookshop.org 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,

The French psychoanalyst and philosopher Jacques Lacan once said, “there is no other good than the one that can pay the price of the access to desire.”

There’s a lot about this statement, which is, like a lot of what Lacan said, a riddle – but one thing in it – paying the price of access – so our desires are not accessible? So we must lose something, give something to meet them? To see them? To talk about them?

To discuss all of this, I spoke with Carmen Maria Machado, author of the memoir In The Dream House, the collection of strange tales Her Body And Other Parties, and the graphic novel The Low, Low Woods.

I think what’s really interesting to both of us, and this comes up quite a bit – is how desire functions, how it is somehow always ahead of us, appearing and disappearing like a friend or an enemy on the path in a fairy tale. Sometimes it gives something to us that is useful later on. A key, a sacred object, a weapon. Sometimes it gives us a gift that leads us to being stuck. Like the fairy market where someone accepts the gift of an apple from the goblin, eats it, and wakes up 100 years later, if they wake up at all. Sometimes it has a strange shape, it frightens us.

Why should desires be like this? How do they know us, in a way, before we know ourselves?

This is a conversation that finds proximity to creation, to danger, to repetition, to the abuse that Carmen writes about in her memoir In The Dream House,and to the abuse I wrote about in my essay ,”If You Ever Did Write Anything About Me, I’d Want It To Be About Love“.

How do we talk about the desire and the horror in abusive relationships while still holding the abuser accountable. How do we make the necessary move of accountability while not reducing the complicatedness of the encounter and the relationship?

Again and again, Carmen and I touch on desires and on storytelling – almost like we’re knocking on wood to allow ourselves to go forward in difficult conversation.

What do we sacrifice to know our desires?
What are the prices of following our desires
Of not giving way to them?
Of not giving ground to them?

If all that sounds dark and complex, well, it is. but this is also such a warm and friendly episode. With lots of laughter and curiosity and affinity. 

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

ON THIS EPISODE

  • The way desire  knows itself before you know what it is
  • Why is the fox from Robin Hood so hot
  • Evading the temptation of metaphor when we read
  • The response to the subconscious is determines the genre of writing
  • Horror as spiritual narrative
  • H.P. Lovecraft’s mission of mercy
  • Sexuality as a genre
  • The imagination of the abusive partner after you’ve left them
  • The missing language of understanding for the person who has been abused
  • Why we need to talk about resilience 
  • The importance of meta-devices and melodrama
  • The Law & Order SVU-niverse

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Carmen go to her website (which has a badass picture of her in a chair). Here’s an interview with Carmen that goes horrifically wrong on Electric Lit. Here’s Carmen talking about haunted houses and horror movies on the American Hysteria podcast. And if you’d like to read one of her stories, here’s the early version one we reference the most, “The Husband Stitch“.

• My essay from 2010 “Looking at Men” describes the clouded shower glass incident.

• McArthur Award-winning writer Kelly Link comes up a lot on this episode. Have you listened to AEWCH 44 with Kelly, Jordy Rosenberg, and me? It’s awesome. Also, here’s Kelly’s essay about the “silent partner.

• Here’s an interview with the great Argentine writer, César Aira.

• It looks like Grant Morrison’s Seaguy is not available on bookshop.org, so here it is from that, uh, other place. 

• If you haven’t read Susan Sontag’s essay, “Against Interpretation,” read it, friends. And if you have read it, read it again. Same goes for H.P. Lovecraft’s essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature“.

• And the Lovecraft quote is, ““The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

• Here’s my essay “If You Ever Did Write Anything About Me, I’d Want It To Be About Love” about the boyfriend who beat me up, which is mentioned at the end of Carmen’s memoir (and through which Carmen and I first communicated).

• I love author Sara Maria Griffin’s appearance on AEWCH 93. It remains one of my very favorite episodes.

• I have not yet read Jeannie Vanasco’s Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was A Girl but I definitely will now. I also (forgive me, Father!) have not yet seen Fleabag. I will, I will, I will!

• Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s movie The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kantis one of the best films ever made. And also watch Lars Von Trier’s Dogville for another sort of disorientation.

Until next time friends, follow your desires!
XO
CH

Make your dream so big that you stop identifying with your struggle. I talk with rapper Vic Mensa on AEWCH 146.

30 Mar

LISTEN HERE VIA SOUNDCLOUD OR ON Apple PodcastsSpotifyBreakerAnchor

FRIENDS: Do you find this podcast meaningful? Support it! 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.

Buy the books mentioned on and related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 146 on bookshop.org. Bookshop.org 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,

Why do we get stuck in revolution?
Around the revolutions in France of 1968 – university students were staging occupations, resisting capitalism, resisting consumerism, resisting shitty art. And their resistance led to general strikes that began to threaten people and institions in power. I don’t have the space to go into detail about those revolutions here, but I want to hone in on one comment on them.

When the university students approached psychoanalyst and philosopher Jacques Lacan to see what he thought, his answer frustrated them. He said, “as revolutionaries, you aspire to new masters.”

What did he mean? Lacan was addressing the way that we become so stuck in the struggle that we identify with it.

It’s a huge challenge to the thought that if we just change social conditions change, everything will be great. That just isn’t so; because we end up cleaving to our struggles and identifying with them, simply changing the social and material conditions doesn’t work.

So what’s the way out? There are a lot of components, but music, poetry, magic, art, sex, conversation, gardening, forgiveness, knowing our neighbors, etc etc. – those are a start. They allow us to create new rhythms in our lives.

I decided to talk about all of this with rapper and activist Vic Mensa – I’m sure a lot of you know Vic already, from his own music as well as his collaborations with Kanye and Chance the Rapper among many others. He’s also the co-founder of the mutual aid organization Save Money, Save Life and their Street Medics program.

We talk about how to disidentify with the enemy and our struggle against that enemy, about meditation, talking with the dead, about music as a restorative space, about the power sexuality in hip hop, and more.

Here’s a spotify playlist of my favorite songs by Vic Mensa (and his two bands) to get you started or to get you in deeper.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • Mutual aid, since no one is coming to save us
  • The fear and failure of revolution 
  • Why someone can be so advanced in one political arena but so stunted in another
  • The importance of identifying with a dream instead of fighting an enemy
  • Dying before you die
  • The time Vic snuck into Stonehenge
  • How music generates emotion
  • Vic’s trip to Palestine
  • The gift of 2020
  • Calling on the dead to make art
  • Writing, fear, and style
  • The writers that compel us to write
  • Irish traditional music and rap and punk and Rage Against The Machine
  • Homophobia in hip hop and punk and the standards we hold
  • The power and threat of sexuality in rap music
  • Dr. Sebi, alternative therapies, and their dangers

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Vic, here he is talking about mental health and wellness with Rachel Hislop. Here he is having a good, extended conversation with Reza Aslan. Here’s the video for his song “FR33DOM” and here’s a performance of the same song, but at the tail end of a performance of “Shelter” with Wyclef Jean and Peter CottonTale.

• Here’s my friend Caitlin Doughty talking about the Covid deaths at her funeral home and the moment she realized no one was coming to help.

• After talking with Vic, I thought for one second, who needs Lacan when you’ve got The Last Poets? Here’s their song, “N_ggers Are Scared Of Revolution” 

• Want to check out the occultist acupuncturist veterinarian episode? It’s AEWCH 116 with Are Thoressen.

• Here’s my little essay about my encounter with Aleister Crowley’s chair.

• Abby Martin was my first ever AEWCH guest (back when the show was a web series!), and she’s still out there every day, doing amazing work. Here’s her documentary on Gaza, Gaza Fights For Freedom.

• Learn more about Julius Jones, who was wrongfully convicted of murder in Oklahoma when he was 19 years old. He’s still there, and in solitary confinement for most the day, victimized by a racist “criminal justice” system.

• Listened to Body Count’s “Cop Killer” a bunch of times during the 2020 protests.

• Here’s the video for “3 Years Sober” which, um, made a lot of people mad.

• I talked about the “desk killers” with Dan Gretton on AEWCH 128.

• Vic was hanging out with Michael K. Williams who is just… the best. Off of that, I mentioned Alex Vitale, who  I talked with about ending policing waaaay back on AEWCH 29. 

• Here’s the most balanced overview on Dr. Sebi I could find.

Until next time, friends,
XO

64-bit poetry and spells with Stephen Sexton on AEWCH 145!

23 Mar

LISTEN HERE VIA SOUNDCLOUD OR ON Apple PodcastsSpotifyBreaker Anchor

FRIENDS: Do you find this podcast meaningful? Support it! 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.

Stephen’s book about Super Mario World and death, If All The World And Love Were Young is unfortunately not available through bookshop.org yet, but you can get it here. You can get the rest of the books (including Stephen’s first collection, Oils), as well as books related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 145 on bookshop.org.

Friends,

One of my best friends, a poet, once told me that her first word was no. She said that that was a huge part of how she became a poet – that the world wouldn’t stay in place for her without her help. There was something about seeing things differently, about the world opening up for her through a refusal to see it as fixed just by the words that had been handed to her, the explanations, the definitions and lines.

Today’s episode with poet Stephen Sexton, which features his reading of poetry from his book If All the World And Love Were Young about death and Super Mario World – each poem is named after and loosely follows a level in the game – helped me understand just how deeply poetry can go. We also talk about light, and surfaces, and the dead, and the way repetition works. He also reads from his book Oils, and his forthcoming book (out in August!) Cheryl’s Destinies.

We talk about the playing of console games as spells and as a sort of suppressed pornography, about writing an elegy of poems to put grief into a game and turning it into a monument, about the tarot and how to make a time-horse – a bridge between all forms of time – through poetry.

Stephen’s poetry gives you a doorway in, or maybe a green pipe, a portal – to a strange world that is our own world.I know that people who are interested in poetry often sing its praises to the bafflement of those who don’t read it. And I also know that so many people talk about poetry by defending poetry.But it doesn’t need a defense or de-bafflement. It just needs to be heard, read, written, gathered.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • Stephen reads his poems, “Gnarly” “Groovy” “The Death of Horses” Donut Ghost House” “My Second Favourite Locked Room Mystery” “Terror”
  • How to look at the world of console games like a natural historian
  • Should we do and Siamese of Super Mario World
  • Playing video games as magic, or video games as stand-in pornography
  • A poem as a curse
  • Indexes as a map of a writers’ unconscious
  • The ghosts in Super Mario World as an approximation of our relationship to the dead
  • Does writing console us? (Also, I like the word “consolation” and console)
  • Creating a monument to the dead out of Super Mario World
  • Ekphrasis
  • Poetry that folds space and time
  • Can Nintendos understand punctuation
  • The significance of 100 year anniversaries

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Stephen, here’s his lovely acceptance speech when he won the Rooney Prize, Irish’s oldest literary prize. And here he is on a video game podcast

• And – why not? – here’s a walkthrough of Super Mario World, which helps give an interesting window on Stephen’s book and poetry, as well as digital landscape.

• “The light by which we see things is only a symbol. At the point of seeing the light, we lose it. Pur loss of the light is what we see as light.” – Massimo Scaligero

• I love that Stephen refers to Mario as a “single person in an overwhelming world.”• Have you read Annie Dillard’s great essay “Seeing” ?

• Remember Game Genie? My favorite digital djinn. Here’s how it worked.

• I had poet Zachary Schomburg on waaaay back on AEWCH 40. It’s still one of my favorite episodes. And be sure to read his essay, “Poetry As Violence” is one of my favorite essays about poems ever. It’s stunning.

• Also, here’s AEWCH 91, probably the most special episode to me; it’s the episode I made with my mentor Lynn Margulis.

• No comment on the below.

• For two examples of ekphrasis, here’s Auden’s beautiful poem, “Musee des Beaux Arts“. And John Burnside’s beautiful poem about Brueghel’s “Hunters in the Snow” is in his book Black Cat Bone, which is a lovely and dark book of poetry all around.

• Stephen’s forthcoming book, Cheryl’s Destinies – which features Yeats in conversation with Billy Corgan – inspired me to listen to Smashing Pumpkins again. Anyway, here’s one of their biggest hits, “Today” from Siamese Dream.• Go here for more on Peter Doig, plus a lot of his paintings.

• I really love the movie Older Than Ireland, so watch the trailer and then watch the movie!

Until next time friends, reach for the star,
CH

Back to the Future: Philosopher Srećko Horvat returns to AEWCH to talk with me about climate, capitalism, and reincarnation.

2 Mar

LISTEN HERE VIA SOUNDCLOUD OR ON Apple PodcastsSpotifyBreaker AnchorPatreon
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.Want to buy the books mentioned on this ep? Srećko’s latest book is available here. To buy his other books, or books mentioned on/related to this episode, please go to my booklist for AEWCH 143 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too. (And once After the Apocalypse is available via bookshop.org, I’ll add it to the list!)

Friends,

A few conundrums:How do we deal with the fact that we keep envisioning a destructive future, yet so few of us are acting to stop it?

When we talk about systems that (like capitalism and patriarchy, for example) that are oppressing us, do we mean they’re…like…spiritual forces? Invisible vague laws of social nature? What?And how is being separated from so many people we love affecting our notion of space and relationship?

To answer these questions, and in what I hope becomes an annual tradition, I invited philosopher, author, and activist Srećko Horvat back on the show. You might remember out first conversation, about a year ago, was on AEWCH 107, just at the start of the global crisis in 2020. Well, obviously, things haven’t resolved themselves since then, and it’s because we haven’t taken steps bold and miraculous enough.Srećko is not a class reductionist nor an identity politics thinker, but instead, (like Michael Hardt on AEWCH 120) Srećko brings together strands of ,any different aspects of being human – philosophy, art, music, poetry, activism, economics, politics, and more – and tries to survey our current, future, and past predicaments. His new book After The Apocalypse brings his multi-layered perspective to the apocalypse, which, Srećko reminds us, has already happened:

People huddled in tents in their houses in freezing Texas evenings. Empty streets. Lines for groceries at Tesco, where the food is all wrapped in plastic. Borders closed. The threat of disease at every turn. Riots against murder by the authorities. This is what it feels like to be in an apocalypse.

So what about after? Can there be an after?

The answer is yes, but it will take a liberation of time and space and a reinvention of the political, economic, and cultural realms.So… let’s get to it.

PS: After the Apocalypse has a playlist, which I’ve replicated as much as I could on spotify. Here’s the playlist for the book.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • What we mean when we talk about capitalism doing things
  • The destruction and seizing of time
  • Why reincarnation matters
  • How to deal with knowing an end is approaching but still needing to live in the now
  • Does “climate change” help us take action? And how are climate change and failed communism related?
  • Why science can’t save us (and in fact can do a lot of harm)
  • The return of the power of the state, and the public health utopia
  • Silence as a commons
  • The need for mutual aid
  • What the world should have, but refused to learn, from the HIV crisis
  • How to liberate “problematic” thinkers
  • The importance of working with the dead
  • How do we use the tools we have without reinforcing the terrible structures the tools come from

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Srećko, here’s his lecture, “The Virus Mythologies,” where he breaks down the signs and signifiers And for a quick summary of his other work, you can read Subversion!. Here’s Srećko in conversation with Brian Eno about his book, Poetry From The Future. And here’s Srećko more recently (in January 2021) discussing the tangle of issues we’re in with his collaborator, Alfie Brown.

• I wrote about Wittgenstein’s quote – “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.” – and how it relates to the current crisis for The Irish Times.

• I talk with economics researcher and author Conor McCabe on AEWCH 76 about the entangled relationship between money and time (it’s one of my favorite episodes!). And I talked all about the way the vision of the Earth changed when we landed on the Moon waaaay back on AEWCH 5.

• Some of Günther Anders’s work is available online in translation here.

• Here’s a story on the the Tallaght wetlands. I can’t find the information on the murder investigation there, but I did read it shortly after the wetlands were destroyed. If you find an essay on it, send it along!

• I haven’t yet seen The Midnight Sky, but, okay, Clooney and sci fi. And here’s the trailer for the other movie Srećko mentioned, Space Sweepers.

• Here’s Walter Benjamin’s Theses On A Philosophy Of History. It’s, for me, one of the most influential theoretical works. From the essay: “The only writer of history with the gift of setting alight the sparks of hope in the past, is the one who is convinced of this: that not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious.”

• Bill Gates’s crazy plan to block the Sun is underway. Steiner’s warning (from 1913, I believe) is a bit complex if you don’t know the anthroposophical lexicon, but: “…the Ahrimanic beings strive to ensoul the living limestone with a kind of astral rain… If the Ahrimanic beings could realize their hopes the whole of humanity would gradually be dissolved into the earth…”

• I still can’t believe I got to speak with Fugazi/Minor Threat frontman and Dischord Records founder Ian MacKaye on AEWCH 119. Really.

• Oh, Snapcase, the hardcore dreamboats. Here’s probably their most famous song, “Caboose,” and here’s their spotify page.

• A short, smart, (and still somewhat objectionable) response to philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s take on the pandemic in the Irish Times.

• Here’s a little on the Human Interference Task Force.

Until next time (get it?)
XO
CH

Tarot as poetry, anatomy, anxiety. Rachel True and I talk about the cards on AEWCH 142!

23 Feb

LISTEN HERE VIA SOUNDCLOUD OR ON Apple PodcastsSpotifyBreaker AnchorPatreon

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.Want to buy the books mentioned on this ep? To buy Rachel’s book and deck, or other books mentioned on & related to this episode, please go to my booklist for AEWCH 142 at bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

Friends,
The state of anxiety is always running, isn’t it? Here in Ireland, just as this is going up, there’s another Covid regulations briefing, and for a week now – as with every week before a briefing – the entire country has been filled with anxious speculation. And beyond the announcement itself, what about AFTER this set of regulations? What about this summer? Holidays? Haircuts? When will I be able to go to a concert? Will this ever end? Are we going to be trapped in neoliberal locked-in hell forever?Anxiety is a relationship to the future. And it’s one that’s felt in our bodies.In other words, anxiety is a form of fortune telling.
That means in a time of high anxiety, most people are ALREADY trying to tell the future. Why not use a system to help?I asked my friend, author, tarot reader, and actress Rachel True onto the show to talk about all this and more.
Many people of course know Rachel from her appearance in the 1996 cult film The Craft, about a coven of teen witches. But now that her book and tarot deck are out — True Heart Intuitive Tarot and Guidebook — she’s become increasingly know for her intense tarot readings and her potent intuition.This episode really goes through tarot on multiple levels – so it’s a great for whatever your level of interest and knowledge is.
We start by talking about tarot in culture. Tarot in politics. Tarot in black communities.Then we discuss what tarot is – so there’s a philosophical level there. How does it work? Rachel has an idea of tarot as a story, and I talk about the deck as a being and the cards as aspects of its anatomy.
Then we move deeper into the specific about her deck and her book. The deck is colorful, beautiful, and filled with people who aren’t just white alabaster figures. I’ve included some pictures of the cards we talk about down below here. She also reads a story from the book that comes with the deck – a book which has a personal story from Rachel’s life relating to each of the major arcana in the deck. And finally, we give some thoughts and tips on reading

ON THIS EPISODE

  • Why is tarot so visible now, again?
  • Tarot readers, psychics, astrologers as a class of workers
  • Anxiety as soothsaying
  • Rachel’s heritage and how that affected her spirituality
  • The folk and magic traditions in my house when I was a kid
  • Nietzsche’s role in Rachel’s tarot deck
  • Why neither Rachel not I use reversals when we read tarot
  • The story that unfolds in each tarot spread
  • Tarot as anatomy, tarot as poetry
  • That time Rachel became the Strength tarot card, complete with lion
  • What times to use which decks and other tips on reading
  • How does one choose images for their own decks at all? And how many symbols are too many?
  • The importance of (non-simplistic!) representation in tarot

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Rachel, support her patreon and get her live streamed readings! Here’s a short video of Rachel doing readings for Jezebel. And here’s a long interview with Rachel (in two parts!) with author Mat Auryn.

• Rachel fully designed her deck, and the illustrator she worked with was the incredible Stephanie Singleton.

• There’s a lot of overlap with the previous episode, AEWCH 141 with religion scholar Jason Josephson Storm on how we don’t need to “re-enchant” the world.

I remember Miss Cleo. Do you?

• Here’s more on Byron Katie and her life changing path, The Work.

• Do you know our friend Alec Mapa (maybe best known from his role on Ugly Betty)? Here’s his one-man show, Baby Daddy, about adopting a son with his partner. It’s very sweet and funny.

• Apparently the phrase, “I hate to write, but I love having written” is not a Dorothy Parker quote, but probably (so far as this author can find) a Frank Norris quote.

• Also, if your curiosity is piqued about the Juvenalia podcast featuring AEWCH 93 guest (and tarot reader!) Sarah Maria Griffin, please do listen and subscribe and also support their patreon!

Until next time, pals,
CH

Why being able to think about a cat means we can change the world: consciousness, psychoanalysis, and spirituality on AEWCH 139 with Michael Lipson!

26 Jan

LISTEN HERE VIA SOUNDCLOUD OR ON Apple PodcastsSpotifyOvercast 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.

Want to buy the books mentioned on this ep? For Michael’s books you should order directly from Steiner Books, for the other books mentioned on or related to this episode, please go to my booklist for AEWCH 139 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

Friends,
I sometimes think about the concept of world change, of political and economic change is getting ahead of ourselves. Why? Because we haven’t even begun to consider ourselves, consider what it means to be human, what thought is, what thinking is, and what consciousness is.
If we can’t hold a single thought, how can we create new structures for us to live in and dissolve the old?And it’s not helpful that everyone, from capitalists to communists to anarchists, generally think that questions of consciousness are fine to leap past and into creating theoretical abstractions to change the world.
Everything – everything – is tethered to the experience of thought and thinking.Don’t think so? Well, where did that thought come from? Have a theory about how thinking and thought is not the groundswell of existence? Well, where did that come from? Even the thought that consciousness is an illusion comes from thinking, of course. So there’s no way to get outside of thinking.
My idea has been: let’s start building from that, let’s get into the experience of consciousness and let our political, economic, and cultural work come from there.
I wanted to talk about this, and I wanted to talk about it early in this new year of incredible opportunity and trouble. So I asked therapist and author Michael Lipson on the show. Michael is the author of Stairway of Surprise: Six Steps to a Creative Life and Group Meditation. For nearly a decade, he worked with children with HIV and AIDS in New York City. Now he has his own practice and runs group meditation meetings each week via michaellipson.org.
We discuss so much on this episode, and I’m so excited to share it with you.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • The way belief in materialism destroys freedom
  • Why solipsism is correct, but unrefined
  • Our everyday knowledge as an obstacle to seeing things as they are
  • Dissolving materialism is a spiritual path
  • That time I saw the pizza-being (Um, what?) – but don’t take my word for it!
  • The difference between spiritual substance and spiritual state
  • How to redeem the spiritual over Zoom
  • Why absorption matters
  • How psychoanalysis without spirituality necessitates law, and how its focus on childhood is a description of karma
  • The importance of contained nothingness
  • Certainties, bad and good
  • Creativity as the antidote to angry certainty
  • Psychotherapy in motion (literally)
  • Despair as a sign for hopefulness

SHOW NOTES

• Most of Michael’s work can be found on his website, including his short series of essays/meditation prompts on Simone Weil. And here’s Michael in conversation with author Allison Burnett is here.• The Nature Institute in New York state is where I managed to finally, permanently, alter my thinking from object-thinking to metamorphic-thinking.

The Work of Byron Katie changed my life, too.

• Emily Dickinson wrote, “A letter always feels to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend. Indebted in our talk to attitude and accent, there seems a spectral power in thought that walks alone.” Here’s more on her letters.

• One of my first conversations at the top of the global crisis – and consequently, one of the first I did remotely – was with writer and theorist Mark O’Connell on AEWCH 105 about apocalypse, of course.

• A bit on Śūnyatā, or emptiness, in Buddhism.

• You can learn more about David Spangler’s work of incarnational spirituality and work with elemental beings via his organization, The Lorian Association.

• I talk about the problem of certainty in 2021 on AEWCH 136 and about nothingness on AEWCH 116 with Are Thoressen.

• “Who pours out like a spring, knowing knows him: and leads him delighted through the bright creation, that often ends with the start, and begins with the end.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

• Here’s Rudolf Steiner’s quote on faithfulness:“Let your loyalty to another human being come about in this way:  there will be moments — quickly passing by — when he will seem to you filled and illumined by the true, primal image of his spirit.
Then can come, yes, will come, long stretches of time when your fellow-being seems clouded, even darkened.  But learn at these times to say to yourself:  The spirit will strengthen me; I will remember the true, unchanging image that I once saw.  Nothing at all — neither deception nor disguise — can take it away from me.Struggle again and again for the true picture that you saw.  The struggle itself is your faithfulness.
And in those efforts to be faithful and to trust, a human being will come close to another as if with an angel’s power of protection.” (by the way, I had Duncan Trussell read this waaaay back on AEWCH 16!)

• Want another podcast to listen to? I love the The Fundamentalist Podcast, featuring Peter Rollins and Elliot Morgan from AEWCH 135!

Until next time, friends,
X
C

There are ghosts.

19 Jan

LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercast

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.Want to buy the books mentioned on this ep? For Edward’s books, and other books mentioned on or related to this episode, please go to my booklist for AEWCH 138 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

Friends,
Why are we drawn to ghosts but frightened of them? Why do we feel compelled to take them seriously on some level, but on the other hand dismiss them? And why do some places just feel haunted?

In a time of the dead, in a time when dying is so present for so many, what new attitudes towards death and its spectres will arise?

I had a great time traversing this spooky territory with Edward Parnell, author of the haunted and excellent nonfiction travelogue-meets-literary-criticism-meets-memoir Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country, and the gothic novel The Listeners.

To give you a little indication of his style, I asked Edward to start the episode with a very brief reading from Ghostland, then we’re into the conversation.And I start with two ghost stories of my own to indicate different ways that ghosts can lead us down strange and mysterious paths both as individuals and culturally.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • What is the aesthetic of the ghost story?
  • The way the Satanic panic severed the connection to ghost stories in the US vs in the UK.
  • How the transparency of history creates the resonance of ghosts.
  • New horror stories reflecting the way spirituality permeates culture.
  • The many ways which we dismiss the existence of ghosts.
  • The presence of fairies in Ireland vs the ghost of ghosts in the UK.
  • The middle class resistance to ghosts.
  • Imperialism vs ghosts.
  • Why do we turn away from grief?
  • The creeping fear of UK short ghost/weird fiction.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Ed, go to his website (where you can find, among other things, his essay on the fear of falling). And here he is talking about Stephen King’s Pet Semetary on The Constant Reader Podcast. And here’s a short interview with him on the Folk Horror Revival website.

• The PSA announcement “Lonely Water” is…no joke…pretty scary! You can watch it here. And here’s the main figure in it. Watch out kids, if you don’t drown, you’ll live in fear of drowning your entire life.

• Here’s a great list of all the “video nasties” Edward mentioned, including The Driller Killer.• There’s a great book on what was going on in philosophy around the same time as many of the writers mentioned in Ghostland, by Wolfram Eilenberger entitled Time of the Magicians: Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the Decade That Reinvented Philosophy.

“Babes in the Woods” by Mary Black is kind of an eerie song!

• We mention Roger Clarke’s thesis about class and ghosts, which you can find in longer form in his book, Ghosts: A Natural History.

• Would you like to learn more about the bone crypt at Holy Trinity Church? Why of course you would.• For another AEWCH episode about changing attitudes towards the spiritual, check out AEWCH 98 with Thomas Waters on which we talk all about witchcraft (it’s one of my favorites).

• Finally, check out Ed’s photo of the rocking horse in author Lucy Boston‘s house. Why are rocking horses this scary? 

Why self help matters in 2021. I talk with self help scholar and teacher Mitch Horowitz on AEWCH 137!

12 Jan

LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSouncloud 

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.

Want to buy the books mentioned on this ep? For Mitch’s books, and other books mentioned on or related to this episode, please go to my booklist for AEWCH 137 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

Friends,

As 2021 begins, we’re faced with a simple question which you might not have thought of, and it’s a simple question…what do you want? What do you want the world to look like?

While everyone else is stuck in the crazed call out of news items and resistance to what they’re afraid of, what do we actually want to aim for?

My friend Gordon White has observed that “optimism is a spell,” and I agree. 

And?

I think we need to extend that further — envisioning the world as you want draws optimism into the personal world. It gives you the impetus and even the tools and substances to build with. In that vein, it’s also important to think about how you want your year to go.

It’s an impertinent question, almost, isn’t it? With some pagan-horned douchebag on the Capitol steps and the lockdowns and the conflicts, you might think: How dare you want to improve your life this year!

But how can you be effective if you don’t center your vision and center your desires? And how will you even know what you’re against and what you’re not against if you don’t put your desires first?

To flesh out all of this, I asked my friend Mitch Horowitz, new age/occult/self help scholar & writer, back onto the show. I talked to Mitch waaay back on AEWCH 30, and I was so nervous: he was one of the first guests I had on who I didn’t already know well. We had a great time, even if the episode is mostly just me talking. This conversation goes much deeper – and it’s because both Mitch and I have become more and more involved in the ideas we’re passionate about and the experiences we’ve had since then, and it’s really great.

We end up discussing why self help matters now more than ever; what Mitch’s cosmology is; and (at length) leftist attacks on new age, spirituality, and occultism: bad faith arguments that ultimately reveal a leftist desire to lose the battle.

So proud to share this, the first AEWCH guest episode of 2021, with you to set the tone for the year.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • The need to be right as original sin.
  • “We say we want to be listened to, but actually we want to be obeyed.”
  • How can focus on improving our personal lives in such a crazy polarized time?
  • Developing new habits right the fuck now.
  • The spiritual value of cleaning.
  • Why pleasure and happiness matters in discovering your spiritual and social quest.
  • Is it okay to have personal desires in the face of spiritual necessity?
  • “Lord, make me chaste—but not yet.” – Augustine
  • Was the Buddha wrong?
  • Get away from cruel people. And don’t be one!
  • Deleting facebook (WHY HAVE YOU NOT DONE THIS).
  • That time Steve Bannon called Mitch.
  • Leftist hit jobs on occultism.
  • Asking yourself: I/We/Cosmos.
  • What’s Mitch’s cosmology, anyway?

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Mitch, support his patreon. He gets posts so much stuff for his patrons, including his 10 Day Miracle Challenge. And visit the bookshop.org list; he’s edited and introduced countless books, but I’ve included the ones that he’s authored and the ones in which his voice is most prominent. 

• I was so excited to talk with anti-work feminist Kathi Weeks on AEWCH 123. What an honor!

• Such a shame that Franz Bardon’s major works aren’t as readily available as they used to be. That said, you can learn about this important, lesser-known occultist here.

The New Life Foundation is dedicated to the work of Vernon Howard, and there’s plenty on their site about him.

• Byron Katie’s system, The Work, has been instrumental in making me a better person.

• “There can be no doubt that the follower of anthroposophy is by definition an opponent of National Socialism, or at the very least, must remain an outsider to National Socialism.” – Heinrich Himmler

• Here’s a little article on Annie Besant and Gandhi.

• And here’ s Hitler: The Occult Messiah, by Gerald Suster. Suster’s book has some mistakes, but he at least takes the occult seriously as something other than just religious mind-control and stupidity. That said, it’s a very difficult book to get! 

• ON THE OTHER HAND, here’s Shane Burley’s detailing of the opposite of all this…what happens when a rightwing movement hijacks new age/self help tropes.

Camphill communities are some of the most beautiful and loving organizations for people with disabilities and the elderly. If you don’t know much about them, check them out.

Until next time, friends: Do what you want!
CH