Tag Archives: philosophy

The problem with environmentalism & conservationism on AEWCH 156 with science writer Michelle Nijhuis!

13 Jul

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Buy Michelle’s book, Beloved Beasts, and all the books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 156 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,

I’m very excited to share this episode with journalist and author of Beloved Beasts: Fighting For Life In An Age of Extinction, Michelle Nijhuis.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • The tensions between environmentalism and conservationism (and why I’m more pro-conservationism)
  • Conservationism as globalization and/or a transformation of space
  • The need to erode the centralization of environmentalism
  • The need for science to be met with the social sciences and humanities
  • The death of the Earth
  • Conservation as a protection of possibility
  • The problem with “deadline mentality”
  • How Michelle talks about climate change with her daughter
  • What a non-materialist climate change would look like
  • The reason why “religion versus science” is almost a straw man argument
  • How the core of cryptozoology has become a mainstream conservationist message

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Michelle, go to her website, which has an extensive listing of her (many!) article. And here’s Michelle’s discussion with Judith Lewis Mernit (about Jonathan Franzen’s essay, “Carbon Capture”) which captures the tensions between environmentalism and biodiversity quite well. Here’s her essay on the book about color that influenced Darwin.

Some episodes of AEWCH on science and the environment:

  • AEWCH 34 on how sex confronts materialism
  • AEWCH 82 on why we need to destroy the concept of nature
  • AEWCH 91 with microbiologist and geoscientist Lynn Margulis
  • AEWCH 113 with Duncan Laurie on the un-science of radionics
  • AEWCH 155 on Occult extinction

• When Michelle was talking about how we are bound to consume the environment, I kept thinking about the Friends theme-esque song “Someone Has To Die” by a band I love, The Maritime.

The Quagga Project is one of many initiatives to re-engineer species back from extinction. Sort of.

John Dupré‘s excellent essay, “Are Whales Fish?” appears in the anthology Folkbiology.

• Here are some notes on how Rachel Carson was deeply influenced by the work of Rudolf Steiner.

• “If we want to attain a living understanding of nature, we must become as living and flexible as nature herself.” -Goethe

Until next time, friends!
CH

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

13 Apr

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HI! 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.

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

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

We don’t need to “re-enchant” anything. Religion scholar Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm on Against Everyone With Conner Habib 141!

16 Feb

LISTEN HERE VIA SOUNDCLOUD OR ON Apple PodcastsSpotifyBreaker AnchorThis 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 Jason’s books or books mentioned on & related to this episode, please go to my book list for AEWCH 141 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

Friends,
I’ve always hated the term “re-enchantment” because it presupposes that the world lost its enchantment, or that somehow we just have to insert a fairy or into the landscape or talk to trees, or worse yet, see the world in terms of the Neil deGrasse Tyson “wonder of science”: the most banal way of seeing anything. Do that and then – voila! – we have a spiritual world again.But the world doesn’t need to be be re-enchanted or merely populated by astrological symbols in the night sky – instead we need to dissolve the kinds of knowing that obfuscate our understanding of the spiritual nature of existence. We encounter, each day, a tangle of bad notions of perception and concepts which get in the way of, more open, more honest experiences. Materialism is a form of bad enchantment; a kind of hex itself.

On the other hand, the idea that we need to purge spirituality from the left is even worse. Figures viewed as foundational to materialist leftist discourse like Hegel and Adorno are tangled up in hermetic traditions, not to mention even Marx’s works were published by initially by spiritualists.

To talk about all of this, I invited professor, religious studies author, and authorJason Ānanda Josephson Storm onto the show. Jason is the author of three books, including The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences, as well as the forthcoming book on how to theorize differently, Metamodernism: The Future of Theory.This is an intense episode – my favorite kind – because we don’t hold back at all, we just go as deep as we want into religion, occultism, academic dishonesty, and consciousness.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • How did the tarot, astrology, and more show up in the left
  • Why the occult is not fascism and why we shouldn’t condemn Lutherans
  • The new materialists and neither new nor materialists, discuss
  • The desperate need for dewitchers and new theorists
  • The problem with trying to intervene in language
  • The way academics will develop “a whole vast edifice about the enchant(ment of) nature and it ends with ‘You should buy a Prius’ basically, and ‘Recycle!’ We already know that, we don’t need English professors to tell us that.”
  • My Bugs Bunny politics
  • Dissolving materialism rather than “re-enchanting the world” (and not hiding in dialectical materialism)
  • Why slapping furniture and saying “see, this is the REAL world!” doesn’t work, and also why Quentin Meillassoux is…not good
  • The failure of academia to keep the humanities valid, and why the theosophists (maybe) did it better
  • Why we can live and develop ways of knowing from that, instead of merely developing knowledge to shape and describe how we live

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Jason, here’s his Williams College website (with lots of info). Here he is talking to Vanessa Sinclair on the excellent Rendering Unconscious podcast.

• Here’s me with anti-productivity philosopher Brian O’Connor on AEWCH 89, where we also talk quite a bit (and positively!) about Adorno. And I talked about a lot of these themes from a completely different angle on AEWCH 137 with Mitch Horowitz!

• I have to say I have some hesitations about Jason’s claim that occultism was not central to the Nazi project or Hitler’s mission! I think there’s a very strong link, although I agree that it’s “overplayed” in many ways. See Hitler: The Occult Messiah, by Gerald Suster for a counterpoint. Suster’s book also 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!

Paranormal America (Second Edition): Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture is an excellent study (with TONS of data) on paranormal beliefs in the US.

• Witchcraft never disappeared in the UK, and I talk about it with Thomas Waters on AEWCH 98. You should also check out his truly excellent book, Cursed Britain

• The mountain that is there and is not there comes from Zen teacher Qingyuan Weixin: “Before I had studied Chan / Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains and rivers as rivers when I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and rivers are not rivers. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it’s just that I see mountains once again as mountains and rivers once again as rivers.”

Until next time!
CH

“Do not trust those who analyze magic. They are usually magicians in search of revenge.” – Bruno Latour

The paranormal is real. Reality is paranormal. Paranormal investigator John E.L. Tenney on AEWCH!

1 Dec

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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 the books mentioned and some related to what we discuss, please go to my booklist for AEWCH 133 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

Friends,

How to start this episode with paranormal researcher and author John E.L. Tenney?
He’s been working in the field of unexplained phenomenon for decades now, he’s the author of multiple books, has appeared on just about every paranormal/ghosthunting show, and gives lectures around the world on high and low strangeness. Well, I detail our crazy first meeting at the top of the episode, so you’ll hear it there.But also, I just want to say here, that something we learn from John, and why he is the perfect guest for this show is: When you see an “abnormal” thing that betrays the paranormal reality we live in, instead of trying to compartmentalize, think about what that aberration might mean for reality. And at the same time, work to make your personality ready for interpreting it.
The thing about John is that through him, you experience a different quality of life, a different way of living. His example reminds you how strange the normal world is. How if we just take life on its own terms, we find ourselves surrounded by a whirl of intensity – bizarre, alive, exciting, and frightening in the best way possible.So excited to share this with you, friends.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • The usefulness of a failed paranormal investigation
  • Why documentaries about me and John would be boring
  • Why are people afraid of ghosts, and should they be?
  • Are ghosts erotic? Do we see them with the Svadhishthana or Muladhara chakras?
  • The way people talk about paranormal stuff at conventions now vs how they used to decades ago.
  • Does tech capture images/sounds of ghosts? If so, are they more powerful than our sense? Than physics?
  • Why making yourself ready to see ghosts matters.
  • Trump as an atheist President.
  • Why Flat-Earthers are right, and why Richard Dawkins is wrong about…well, most stuff.
  • Breaking away from myths and cycles + why I hate Star Wars and Lord of the Rings (no I am not sorry).
  • Why Moses had to turn his head from God.
  • The tension between being a trusted shaman at the end of the lane and witch who gets burned by villagers.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on John, visit his great website, Weird Lectures. John’s got a lot of books out (and you can find most of them on the bookshop.org page above), but the best look into his way of seeing paranormal investigation is Theoretical Weirdo. Here’s John talking to literally the most normal person in the world on Fox News.

• The paranormal investigators who introduced me to Tenney were the brilliant Dana & Greg Newkirk, who I talked with about haunted objects on AEWCH 46.

• I mentioned the occult technology radionics – and I did a whole episode about it back on AEWCH 113, featuring an old conversation I had with radionics pioneer Duncan Laurie. I’ve included the image below so you see some radionics devices.

• Would you like to mess yourself up considering space and time (and how it may or may not relate to ghosts, for that matter)? Well, read quasi-fascist (dang) occultist Massimo Scaligero’s The Secrets of Space and Time.

• Here’s John’s short essay on doomsday and desire.

Take Shelter is an incredible film, and if you haven’t seen it, you really should.

Norman Davidson‘s quote is:

“If you want to have any idea about the connection between astronomy, that is, the heavenly body themselves, and astrology, that is the influences on the human being, then you must understand that, in reality, the earth is still and flat, and the sun and the heavens circle the earth…”

• I’m trying to find some good collections of Isaac Asimov essays, but can’t! If you know a widely-available one, please post in comments below!

• I talk a bit more about the connection between The Great God Pan and our moment of “pan demons/pandemic” on the latest Duncan Trussell Family Hour. And I had a great time talking about the guy who coined fractalnoia, Doug Rushkoff, on AEWCH 125. And there’s so much about the value of dewitchers in our culture on AEWCH 98 with Thomas Waters.

Until next time, friends, keep your world happily haunted.
XO
CH

Why we need a new concept of time & space to create political change. Listen to me & Srećko Horvat on AEWCH 107!

21 Apr

AGAINST EVERYONE WITH CONNER HABIB 107: SREĆKO HORVAT or DEMYTHOLOGIZING (AND RE-MYTHOLOGIZING) THE CRISIS

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Thank you for your support in this time, friends. This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. If the show is keeping you company in isolation, please give what you can. Contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!
Thank you so, so much.

Want to buy books mention on this ep? Go to my list for AEWCH 107 on Bookshop.org. It will help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

AEWCH107TitleCard

Friends,

We’re surrounded by terms that sound new, but that aren’t new. “Social distancing.” “The new normal.” And actions that seem new but are not new. Elevated police presence. Government overreach. Pandemic.

But these are old narratives that have been changed slightly to seem new. They’re mythic. So I invited one of the most important thinkers of our time to sort through what is new, what is old, and what is needed in our moment.

Srećko Horvat is an author, political organizer, and philosopher. Of his many profound and politically potent books, my favorite (and the one you should start with) is Poetry From The Future: Why a Global Liberation Movement Is Our Civilisations Last Chance. It’s a hopeful but evenhanded book about the possibility of interconnected movements in a world where neoliberal capitalism has won
.
He’s one of the cofounders of the Democracy In Europe Movement 2025, or DiEM2025 – a broad-based coalition of thinkers, rebels, and political theorists committed to creating a true leftist alternative in European politics, particularly in response to the disintegration of the EU.

Srećko is also currently giving live mini lectures, Q&As through the DiEM25 channel, and hosting conversations with luminaries as diverse as Noam Chomsky, Slavoj Žižek, and Seinfeld co-creator Larry Charles. (And on the 24th, he’ll be speaking with Franco Bifo Berardi!)

I’m so excited to share this conversation with you. It’s one that combines the political, the spiritual, and the philosophical, with activism. It identifies and creates new directions for us to move in during this crisis, and after.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • How and why we were dreaming about the global pandemic before it happened, and how we assisted it in happening
  • Why the esoteric, the occult, and border science matter now; and how the right seizes on them because the left is ignorant
  • the “libidinal” economy and why the left needs to take it up instead of opting for class reductionism
  • Why a leftist project needs to include a reappraisal of time and space (and why it matters now more than ever)
  • The fundamental fantasies of the left, the right, and the center
  • The generation of political will through meditation, poetry, reading, creating, gardening, and more
  • Why people are turning to plants in the global crisis
  • The possibility of money losing value over time
  • How to think about the value of laziness
  • The difference between mythic art and occult art
  • Why we should and should not applaud healthcare workers
  • The importance of using your own language
  • The necessity of new and strange directions for our activism
  • Meeting the stranger and loving the Other (and dating the Other, too)
  • Why lust matters, and how it’s connected to love

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.

• I start off with a nod to the eruption of Mount Tamboura – to learn more about that catastrophic time, read The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History by William Klingman.

• I deeply appreciate Slavoj Žižek’s book, about the values of religion, The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity.
• Unfortunately, I cannot recommend Eric Kurlander’s book, Hitler’s Monsters, which is filled with misinformation and (willful?) misinterpretation. The main issue is that Kurlander, like many “historians” of the occult, although Kurlander certainly knows exoteric history, he does not understand the occult. That said, I can recommend a better book on the same subject, Hitler: The Occult Messiah, by Gerald Suster. Suster’s book also 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! At the very least, read them both.

• If you’d like to hear more about psychologist and border science inventor Wilhelm Reich, and his challenging relationship with the left, check out AEWCH 59, where I talk with Reich scholar James Strick. And if you do want to hear about me talking Wilhelm Reich, here you go.

Here’s a bit on Subcomadante Galeono (known to many as Subcomadante Marcos, but who changed his name to honor the dead) and the Zapatistas.

• Marx uses the vampire metaphor a few times in his work, but none more famously than, ““Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.” (In Capital)

• 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.”

• And Srećko mentions Carlo Rovelli, whose work I have yet to read. But I think I’ll start with the one he suggests, The Order Of Time.

• To hear more about the problem with doomsday preppers, check out AEWCH 105 with Mark O’Connell.

Barthes-216x300• So much about the theorist Roland Barthes on this show. Including, here, How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces. Also, his classic, Mythologies. His book Sade/Loyola/Fourier is difficult to find, but here’s my essay on Fourier, and you can find excerpts of his book in A Barthes Reader (which was edited by Susan Sontag!).

• Here’s Michel Foucault’s essay, “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias.”

• The prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy;  O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console; To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love.  

For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

See you in the future, friends.
CH
WB

You can’t consent to consent. A challenging discussion on the new Against Everyone With Conner Habib, featuring author Katherine Angel!

3 Mar


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AEWCH101TITLECARDFriends,

I’ve been writing and giving talks about sex for over a decade now, and I often find it difficult to have truly stimulating conversation about it. I knew that having author and public intellectual Katherine Angel on the show would change that. Katherine is the author of the stunning work of vignettes on sex and fear and domination, Unmastered : A Book On Desire, Most Difficult To Tell, and Daddy Issues, which questions patriarchy by looking squarely at women’s relationships with their fathers. Her book, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again, will be out next year, and I’ll definitely have her on then too.

Katherine and I go at sex and especially consent at so many different angles, uncovering all the problems in the way we discuss it. As it turns out, there are quite a few problems there, and I am so happy to have had this challenging conversation, and to share it with you.

(PS: sorry about the popping in the sound. Your contribution is going to pay for a few pop filters!)

ON THIS EPISODE
  • How not knowing what we want needs to be a part of sexuality
  • Why psychoanalysis is important for our conversation about consent
  • Why every sexual encounter between two people is actually a threesome with whoever created the framework of consent
  • Why consent is not a good foundation for sexual ethics
  • How nonconsensual labor frameworks (ie needing to have a job) generate harassment and make sex the culprit
  • How we always place the burden of clear expression on women
  • How overemphasizing consent denies us our full humanity
  • Why Katie Roiphie and Laura Kipnis don’t get it
  • Why listening to people is so important whether or not they were utterly violated, and even whether or not we believe or accept that they were.
  • Words and pornography
  • The false assumption that men are having “real” orgasms in porn, whereas the women are having “fake” ones
  • How arousal is protective and the body doesn’t express the truth anymore than the mind.
  • Why we need Freud now more than ever
  • The erotic fantasy of banning pornography
  • Why desires have their own boundaries
SHOW NOTES
• More on Katherine: Katherine teaches at University of London, and her book, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again will be out next year. Here’s an excerpt from it, “Sex And Self Knowledge: Beyond Consent”. And here’s Katherine speaking about #MeToo at the Freud Museum.

• Katherine mentions Joseph Fischel’s book, Screw Consent: A Better Politics of Sexual Justice , which I am eager to read (and I’m also excited to have Joseph on the show!). Another good book on consent is Consent: Sexual Rights and the Transformation of American Liberalism by Pamela Haag.

• And here’s the Melissa Gira Grant essay on #MeToo – “The Unsexy Truth About Harassment.
• I’ve written about all the themes presented here before in the essay, “A Culture That’s Sick About Sex Will Never Be Able To Stop Harassment And Abuse“.

• A little write up of my talk about consent at Tufts University, moderated by Kareem Khubchandani.

• The Leo Bersani quote is “There is a big secret about sex: most people don’t like it.”

• Katherine gives a shout out to Laurie Brotto and her book, Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire.

AEWCH 34 about how arousal and desire are not the same thing, and how sex confronts materialism.

• The first time I talked about Wittgenstein’s theories and porn was way back on AEWCH 10 with Dr. Chris Donaghue.

• For more on how children experience violation when they’re sexually assaulted, read Susan Clancy’s profound book, The Trauma Myth: The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children and Its Aftermath.

• Go forth and read Darwin’s Worms by Adam Phillips. I’ve mentioned it many times as a great book. Ancd also? What Is Sex? by Alenka Zupančič.

• I can’t vouch for Carnal Resonance: Affect and Online Pornography by Susanna Paasonen yet, but I’m definitely going to read it if Katherine thinks it’s worthwhile. And here’s a link to Amia Srinivasan‘s article, “Does Anyone Have The Right To Sex?

That’s it for now, friends.
Until next time, may you follow your desires!
CH

“Reverb-ing all of human existence.” A conversation with author Maggie Nelson on AEWCH 95!

7 Jan

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Friends,
What a way to start the year, with author, teacher, and intellectual, Maggie Nelson. Maggie Nelson is the author of so many deep and potent books, including The Argonauts, about art and politics and the body, including her partner Harry Dodge’s experiences of gender and culture. She is also the author of two books about her aunt’s murder, The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial and Jane: A Murder, as well an incredible book about violence in art, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning. She was awarded a MacArthur in 2016 and is one of the most important  intellectuals of our time (though perhaps she’d reject that label!). 
This is an extremely wide ranging episode, as I’d expect from a conversation with Maggie, whose books move in and out of hundreds of different thinkers and artists, translating her encounters with them into a new kind of light. I love her writing.
I’m so proud to share this conversation with you.
We talk about (among other things):
  • Passion as an affirmation against materialism
  • Escorting as permission for desire
  • Why frustrated desire might be worse than death
  • The value of losing your self
  • Why a shrug against danger matters
  • Thoreau, Emerson, and being a good artist or a bad prism
  • The shapes and lives of art
  • The uses of occult perspectives
  • The ruse of the anti-social
  • Wittgenstein and the music of the spheres
  • The uses, rituals, and boundaries of seeing violence 
  • Why porn literacy is dumb
  • Bodhisattva vows

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Maggie, you can read some of her poetry here. Here’s a video featuring panel of people (including Maggie) talking about Maggie’s book, The Argonauts. And here is a great conversation between Maggie and her friend (and AEWCH 44 co-guest with Kelly Link!) Jordy Rosenberg in Out Magazine.
• Maggie mentions her partner Harry’s forthcoming book, My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing. You can preorder it now, and it looks great.
• Maggie and I were both provoked and interested in Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era by Paul Preciado (a dream guest for the show!)
• My essay on having sex at rest areas, “Rest Stop Confidential” feels a bit outdated now, but it’s still good, I think.
• John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, is one of the most beautiful books ever written.
EKS• Please look into the work of the amazing critical theorist, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick who Maggie studied with. A good place to start is Epistemology of the Closet or Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire.
• The Rudolf Steiner verse, which you can try reciting inwardly, too, to see how it feels:
More radiant than the Sun
Purer than the snow
Subtler than the ether
Is the Self
The spirit within my heart
I am that Self.
That Self am I.
• The Emerson quote is: “It is not words only that are emblematic; it is things which are emblematic. Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.”
• Helen Keller’s mysticism informed her politics and her work in the world. You can read about in in her book Light In My Darkness.
• Maggie’s quote, “I think I give in the writing, mostly, but also as a teacher, and just by being. I don’t think of it as “giving back” per se. And mentoring doesn’t always mean holding someone’s hand. It’s often just by example… We can be for each other beacons of possibility. Often that’s the most important thing.” set me to thinking so much about being a beacon that I spoke about it at length on Rune Soup 195 with Gordon White. I also talk about speaking poetically on there, as well as on AEWCH 93, with Sara Maria Griffin.
• I haven’t yet read the book Maggie mentioned, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, by Stefano Harney and Frank Moten, but I am going to, now. It sounds so good.
• The dead spiritual teacher I prayed to for guidance after being exposed to violence on the guy’s phone, Daskalos, who I talk about at length with his student (a spiritual teacheDr in his own right), Daniel Joseph, on AEWCH 67.
Narrow Rooms by James Purdy is one of the most extraordinary novels I’ve ever read. Read it.
• A good quote on violence from Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta: “(Violence), by its very nature, to suffocate the best sentiments of man, and to develop all the antisocial qualities, ferocity, hatred, revenge, the spirit of domination and tyranny, contempt of the weak, servility towards the strong.”
• You can look at some of Tala Madani‘s work on the 303 Gallery website, including an excerpt of “The Audience” which Maggie talks about at some length.
• I loved talking with Franco “Bifo” Berardi on AEWCH 83 about the challenge of white noise.
• Maggie brings up the amazing British artist Sara Lucas. You can watch a conversation between the two of them here.
That’s it, folks, but it’s a lot, isn’t it?
Until next time!
XO
CH

TM

“Light Table” by Tala Madani

Do nothing and feel good about it! Philosopher of idleness Brian O’Connor on AEWCH!

5 Nov

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Friends,
Surely self-improvement is not a bad thing, right? Surely we should be doing as much as we can to make ourselves self-actualized beings and get shit done and follow the 7 habits of the 12 secrets of the 4 agreements of highly effective badass people with the secret to living the happiness project of our lives.
Wellllllll…maybe not. 
On this episode of AEWCH, I talk author and philosopher Brian O’Connor about idleness, and how – as Brian says in this episode, not having shitty jobs is not enough. Instead, wanting to be and do better might just be part of the capitalist trap we’re all stuck in. Brian is the author of the excellent and short book Idleness: A Philosophical Essay, a skewering of philosophical arguments against idleness. It’s not a how to be idle book, since that would be pro-self help! Instead, it’s just a good dissolving of all the reasons why we shouldn’t be just kind of lazing around enjoying life.
Since Brian is also a scholar of the great critical theorist Theodor Adorno, we talk a lot about him, too. To supplement our discussion, you should check out Brian’s very very good intro to Adorno called, well, Adorno. Adorno is a key to this discussion about idleness, because he identifies that even in a world without the same wage-labor relationship we have now, we’d still be working our asses off and trapped in the same arrangement we have now.
This episode was a huge challenge to my normal way of thinking, since I am all about self improvement. But it was a friendly challenge, and a powerful one. I learned a lot. Which I guess, um, means I improved.
In this episode:
  • Brian’s struggle with being idle
  • Why Kant got idleness wrong and right
  • Psychoanalysis and ending the perpetual cycle of productivity
  • That time I pissed off my friend when all I wanted to do was compliment her on being so chill
  • Why we lionize our own pain and struggle
  • Whether or not boredom is productive
  • How the military exploits idleness to kill people
  • How mental work and physical labor mirror mental illness and physical pain
  • How Bugs Bunny cartoons should inform our politics
  • Why good jobs are not enough
  • How sex workers can see how their jobs erode work
  • Why everything small thing deserves attention, but that doesn’t mean it’s all good. Also, why object oriented ontology sucks.
  • I nervously present Brian with my theory of phenomenology and occult critical response. But he was very very nice about it.
  • Why libertarians get individualism wrong
PS: Sorry for the breathing into the mic! I think I had Brian’s mic turned up a little too high. Anyway, just imagine him relaxing.
Want to check out the books we talk about and more? Go to the SHOW NOTES.
AH

 

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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