Tag Archives: phenomenology

The metamorphosis of reality. I talk with anthropologist Stuart McLean on AEWCH 148!

13 Apr

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The book we talk about most on this episode, Fictionalizing Anthropology, is currently out of stock at my favorite indie book distributor, Bookshop.org, but you can get it relatively quickly from Amazon by clicking here. Buy Stuart’s other amazing books and the books mentioned on and related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 148 via 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 other day, world-renowned physicist Michio Kaku tweeted “For 2,000 years, philosophers and scientists have searched for a paradigm, a theme, an equation to describe the entire universe. This week, The God Equation goes on sale, describing the greatest quest in the history of science. Have we finally found the theory of everything?”

I think even posing this sort of question reveals – if I’m going to be nice about it – a profound misguidedness.

Everything?

When we talk about reality, we are, of course talking about the world of objects, of planets, of material and motion. Maybe of time, of the microscopic and macroscopic. But we know that isn’t everything. What about the theory of everything that includes myth, stories, fiction, thoughts, feelings, the imagined world, the spiritual intensities of our lives, narratives, characters these – are all part of the picture of realityI suppose you could say, even though Michio didn’t put a space between “every” and “thing” that he Is truly just referring to “things” – the measurable and quantifiable. But that also takes a lot for granted, including the myths of quantity and measure.

Will such a theory tell us about hungry grass – cursed spots in Ireland where to trod on them means to be struck with eternal and deep hunger? Will it tell us about spirits? About the huldulfolk and elves who wander out of snowstorms and into vision in Iceland? Will it tell us about centaurs and how they would be imagined in the first place?

Even if you hold that these are just stories, will it tell us about stories? And will it tell you about why you consider some things to be “stories” and other things as “real?” What gets included in “everything” what gets excluded?

I talk about all this and more with anthropologist and writer Stuart McLean, author, of Fictionalizing Anthropology: Encounters and Fabulations at the Edges of the Human as well as The Event and Its Terrors: Ireland, Famine, and Modernity . We talk about the need to ask fundamental questions about creativity – the creativity of the world itself, of the cosmos – and how symbiosis and metamorphosis become key principles in that. We discuss how, when we start asking questions of what’s real and what’s not real, and how we’d know the difference between the two, anyway, strange things start to happen. And we talk about anthropology’s role and opportunity in all of that.I am still reeling from this conversation – we jump right in and don’t let up for the whole episode.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • The importance of combination and metamorphosis
  • The role of aberrant movement and emergence in creation
  • Can anything be “new?”
  • How we create the world by continuously adding to it
  • Magic as seizing the formative force of the cosmos
  • The two way street of cultural conflict and why seeing how the colonizer changes through their own oppression is vital
  • Do words evoke presences or are they powerful on their own
  • How narratives of national trauma assist the nation state
  • How do we walk away from scientistic ways completely
  • How to think about extinction if we don’t accept that death is the end
  • The time I saw a skeleton walking down the street

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Stuart, here’s his website. Here’s his essay, “Stories and Cosmogonies: Imagining Creativity Beyond “Nature” and “Culture” which we discuss on the show. Here’s his University of Minnesota faculty page. Here’s his short essay on the “bog people” discovered in Ireland and Scotland.

• For a view of combination and metamorphosis from a biological perspective, check out the amazing book Chimeras and Consciousness: Evolution of the Sensory Self co-edited by my mentor Lynn Margulis, whose last recorded conversation appears on AEWCH 91.

• For more on the Donald Williamson discovery/scandal, read the amazing book, The Mystery of Metamorphosis: A Scientific Detective Story by Frank Ryan.

• Here are some of Anarqáq’s drawings for Knud Rasmussen:

• I talk with Thomas Waters about witchcraft and ethics and academia on AEWCH 98.

Cold Iron: Aspects of the Occupational Lore of Irish Fishermen by Bairbre Ní Fhloinn is such an incredible book. It’s a little hard to get in the states from book distributors, so I’ve included here a link to the publisher’s page.

• Stories of “hungry grass” have been collected by Irish Folklore Commission, here’s one of them.• Here’s an article on the road that was rerouted to accommodate a fairy bush in Ireland.

• I talk about the de-spiritualized nature of the un-mystery school of academia with • Here’s more on the performance artist Stuart mentions on the episode and in his writing, Kwok Mang Ho, or “The Frog King.”

• I think the song “Someone Has To Die” by the Maritime, with its jangling Friends-theme-song vibe captures the stuff Stuart was saying about extinction creating possibility quite well.

• I talk about how genuine in-community love can be a tool of hating the other on the first episode of the year, AEWCH 136.

• Stuart’s great question: “How to align an experimental understanding of knowledge production and an experimental writing practice with a no less experimental ontology of world making? What kind of anthropology would that be? What kind of world would that be?

Until next time, friends, create!
CH

AGAINST EVERYONE WITH CONNER HABIB 62: WHAT IS THE OCCULT? AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

12 Mar

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Friends,

People keep asking me to talk about the occult, so it’s time to define my terms a bit. So for this episode of AEWCH, I wanted to lay out what “the occult” means to me, as well as why it matters. After all, it’s at the foundation of my philosophies, politics, and perspectives, and it’s going to keep coming up.

For me, the occult is a way of being, but why and how? Listen to the episode!

I also offer up a small occult practice you can try out on your own, and talk about the occult development you’ve already undergone, perhaps without knowing it.

As you can imagine with something as elusive as the occult, I only SORT of give a definition. But, good news, I’ll also be offering an introduction to the occult in an upcoming one-off online course, so if this is interesting to you, keep an eye out!

SHOW NOTES are free and available to everyone.

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