Tag Archives: politics

The victims of witchcraft & the witchcraft of victims. Dr. Thomas Waters joins me on the latest episode of AEWCH!

4 Feb
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Friends,
I’ve been preoccupied with the way we’ve been preventing witchcraft, the occult, and magic from entering into serious philosophical and political (especially leftist political) discourse for a long time. Previously, witchcraft was the subject of ridicule. Now it’s claimed by Marxists, feminists, and others, as proof of their own theorizing. I’m happy that magic and the occult are being brought into discourse, but always in a way that seems to dismiss the phenomenon itself. So I invited Thomas Waters, author of the incredible Cursed Britain: A History of Witchcraft and Black Magic in Modern Times to talk about all of this. His book is the nail in the coffin of magical revisionism.
Thomas’s book looks at witchcraft from the 1800s to the present day in the UK and its colonies, but most importantly, it does so from a victim’s point of view. In other words, it starts with a serious angle, and stays with it. Along the way, you meet a host of weird and powerful figures, as well as tragedies, atrocities, and absurdities. And our conversation follows a similarly varied path. This is definitely one of my favorite episodes, and it serves as a companion to my conversational, informal episode “The Left Vs Witches.”
Most importantly, I think, we discuss the need for people who can thoughtfully interpret instances of witchcraft and magic in our time. The disappearance of these “dewitcher” figures has left us lost. These dewitchers use witchcraft as a way of seeing, and can teach that way of seeing to us.
I was happy, also, to get Thomas to express how his research into witchcraft changed him, and I’m sure he was happy to get me to talk about challenges to my academic research project.
Oh, and Thomas recites Wordsworth’s “Song For The Spinning Wheel” in the most soothing and mystery-filled voice!
In this episode
  • Witchcraft, belief, and placebo
  • The ways we dismiss witchcraft even as we admit it into “serious” conversation
  • Witchcraft as a first and last resort
  • Why witchcraft is not simply a tool of the disenfranchised but of people in power, too
  • The importance of dewitchers as people who sort through the bullshit & truth, the safety & dangers of witchcraft
  • Witchcraft as a way of reading, as a way of seeing
  • How disbelief in magic is colonialism
  • Why Thomas became interested in witchcraft
SHOW NOTES
• For more on Thomas, visit his page at Imperial College, which features links to articles and other projects. And if the episode wasn’t convincing enough, read this thoughtful review of Cursed Britain in the Times Literary Supplement.
• I mention the fact-filled (though perhaps theoretically unsatisfying) book Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture written and edited by Bader, Mencken, and Baker. It’s definitely worth reading.
• A great and harsh article on the appropriation of witchcraft for feminist revisionism is by Diane Purkis – “Managing Our Darkest Hatreds And Fears: Witchcraft From The Middle Ages To Brett Kavanaugh”
• I talk about capitalism, time, and magic on AEWCH 76 with Conor McCabe.
• Thomas mentions the book Witches and Neighbors: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft by Robin Briggs, and it sounds great.
• Yes, she was linked to a secret police force.
• I highly recommend reading On Kings by David Graeber and Marshall Sahlins.
DF• My favorite (and the most fun!) book on the Satanic Panic in the US is called, appropriately, Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s. It’s filled with photos, drawings, and is a great read-a-bit-a-day book. 
• If you don’t follow Hookland on twitter, I suggest you check them out ASAP. They’re great.
• Thomas writes a lot about Dion Fortune’s book Psychic Self-Defense, but I think the best place to start with Fortune’s work is either The Esoteric Orders and Their Work or The Secrets Of Dr. Taverner (which is fiction but based on Fortune’s own life). Both books are excellent introductory books to the occult.
• I haven’t yet visited the Museum of Witchcraft, and I really really really want to. Anyway, until I get there, maybe you can go and I can live vicariously through you?
AEWCH 46 with paranormal researchers Greg & Dana Newkirk remains one of my favorite episodes of the show.
• And check out The AntiWitchby Jeanne Favret-Saada for a good ethnography of dewitchers. And her first book, which Thomas gives a rave review to, is Deadly Words: Witchcraft in the Bocage.
Running with the Fairies: Towards a Transpersonal Anthropology of Religion by Dennis Gaffin is a compassionate and fun ethnography on the fairy faith in Northern Ireland.
Until next time, witches,
XO
CH

WHAT TO LEAVE BEHIND as we move into 2020.

31 Dec
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This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. One thing to bring forward in 2020? Associative economics. Support the artists you like and let’s do as much as possible to cut out corporate sponsorship. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.
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Friends,
Let’s close out the year.
Let’s get rid of the political gestures that have overstayed our welcome.
Once, they used to serve us, now, they’re rotting in us, damaging our souls.
On this episode of AEWCH I talk about what we need to leave behind in the 2010s so that we can bring the good forward.
I view this episode of one of three where I talk about the importance of how we orient ourselves towards 2020.
The third of which is my upcoming appearance on Gordon White‘s amazing magic podcast, Rune Soup.
This episode began as a series of tweets, which you can find here.
Thanks for listening.
Looking forward!
CH

Rel@tionships: Writer and digital lit theorist Joanna Walsh on AEWCH 84

24 Sep
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AEWCH84TitleCardFriends,
We have so many inherited metaphors about love, relating, and intimacy, that even the thought of new narratives about them makes us uncomfortable. Well, good. Let’s be uncomfortable. To that end, I spoke with writer and literary & digital theorist Joanna Walsh, whose work explores the contours (and corners and failed uploads)( of love and intimacy, and relationships.
When I read Joanna’s book of stories Vertigo, a few years back, I knew I wanted to talk with her. Joanna’s fiction has an intense and even at times relentless quality of repetition, of observation. It’s the sort of fiction that gives you the sense that you are not just engaged with the efforts of a great writer, but a great thinker too. The conversation is, as usual, wide-ranging, but we stay close to the idea of how we relate to one another and why our old ideas of relating are not enough to describe our experiences.
Talking with Joanna is a dizzying experience because she is so brilliant, so learned, and able to articulate so many profound truths in clear, concise language. I’m honored to have gotten the chance to spend time with her. Three good places to start: her book of short stories, (which she reads from), her novel, Break.up: A Novel In Essays, and her book of pornographic fairy tales Grow A Pair.
We discuss
  • How intimacy is formed
  • How the I is composed by others
  • Tension in fairy tales
  • Why we have sex to masturbate
  • Theorists with bad ethics
  • Experimental writing as a way of relating
  • “Emotional logic problems”
  • Living in tension
  • The emotions women are “supposed” to feel in their assigned roles
  • The occult bodies and technological intervention
  • What the internet gives, what the internet takes away
  • Watching porn in clips instead of a whole movie
  • Who we are in our normal lives (and how that contains our creative and erotic life)
And in addition to the conversation, Joanna also reads her entrancing story, “Vagues”!

 

Breathing in the end of the world – Franco “Bifo” Berardi on Against Everyone With Conner Habib

17 Sep
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Friends,
I’m so happy to share my conversation with the radical philosopher, Franco “Bifo” Berardi.
I think it is not only a good conversation, but a truly productive one. My deepest hope is that it is helpful for you.
Bifo is one of the most important and creative thinkers of our time; I find many of Bifo’s thoughts in line with the occult philosophies of the Western esoteric traditions I’ve spent so long studying, and for me, that is so enlivening. That is to say, when two people or traditions come up with similar conclusions from totally different angles, we must (as Special Agent Dale Cooper says) pay strict attention.
Bifo is the author of many books, including what I view as his two most important books, Breathing: Chaos and Poetry and Heroes: Mass Murder and Suicide (which is a much easier read, and deeply informed my own thinking on the issue, which I discussed on AEWCH 11: SHOOT TO LIVE). He was the founder of Radio Alice, a radical broadcast station in Italy, as well as the anti-authoritarian activist group, Autonomia.
The discussion is wide ranging and, I think, extremely potent. It’s a commingling of occult, anarchist, socialist, and artistic ideas.
We discuss:
  • How rhythms dissolve political oppression
  • Capitalism as a dynamic of change, acceleration, and expansion that cannot understand limit
  • Why information and possibilities are not enough; we need the ability (“potency”) to transform them into reality
  • Why solidarity is dead and we are trapped in competition
  • Why poetry, sex, and magic matter now more than ever
  • The failure of communism, and why we need it anyway
  • Moving away from politics and towards therapy
  • How poetry is our doorway towards a new world
  • Why the “post-truth” world is an opportunity
  • Reincarnation: the only narrative that can remake the future
  • The shattering of the critical mind
  • Why (and how) we must accept all conspiracy theories
  • The spectating unconscious (and how it wishes for Trump)
  • Why everyone’s suffering belongs to everyone
  • What Trump’s victory gives to us
  • How sex work erodes work
  • Why no one should ever be paid for their labor

Lots of great SHOW NOTES here.

Until next time,

XO

DG

The moral of the story is… How Aesop confronts empire, with Carlo Gébler on AEWCH 78!

30 Jul
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Friends,
How exciting to welcome fiction writer, memoirist, and Aesop scholar Carlo Gébler to AEWCH to discuss how Aesop’s fables present insight into fighting empire, how the powerful tell their stories, and more!
Carlo is a staple here in the Irish literary landscape. The son of famed Irish author Edna O’Brien and famed/infamous Irish author Ernest Gébler, Carlo was named after Karl Marx and has taught writing for years, including in prisons. He’s written nearly 30 books for adults and children plus plays in total. His latest book, Aesop’s Fables: The Cruelty of the Gods, which is beautifully (and intensely!) illustrated by Gavin Weston, retells 190 (!) of Aesop’s tales, adding humor and amplifying the brutality of each one.
But, as you’ll hear on the episode, Carlo isn’t just retelling these tales for entertainment (though they are extremely entertaining), he sees in them strategies for resistance and hints at how power works. And Carlo reads a few of Aesop’s fables, including “The Clever Lamb and the Wolf”, “The Frogs Who Demanded A King”, “The Flute Playing Wolf and the Dancing Kid”, and my favorite, “The Fox and the Farmer”.
Until next week,
XO
CH
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WHY DO I HAVE A PODCAST ANYWAY? or WHY YOUR DESIRES MATTER, a short actual blog post.

13 Jun

CH

Someone asked me today what makes me think my voice should be public. 

Why should I have a podcast? What makes me important?

Here’s why.

One good question to ask people to confront capitalism is: What would you like your day to look like? 

Instead of being stuck in the never ending current of work-or-die, what would you be doing? 

What do you enjoy thinking about? Spending your time on?

Think on this.

As for me, I essentially love three things: Books, fucking, and conversation.

Doing those things are what I want to spend my time on, what I want my days to look like.

So I decided to make those three things my life.

But simply taking care of yourself or wistfully envisioning fun shit is not enough.

When you respond, to actually resist the superstructures that run and destroy our lives, you have to strive to make your envisioned day one that’s available for others as well.

In other words, in imagining what you would like your day to look like, you are also pinpointing how the material conditions of your life must change to have it.

And then you can apply that to others’ lives as well. You are generating focus for activism and struggle.

If you have on the ground activism with no dream of vision, you’ll only replace problems with slightly different, just-as-bad problems.

If you have the dream with no struggle, you’ll be the dog in that meme with the burning house saying it’s fine.

And your neighbors will be burning too.

So I read and write and share it publicly. I fuck publicly. I have conversations publicly.

I’d be doing all these things on my own anyway, but the public aspect is about helping push culture towards a place where those things are easier for everyone.

I don’t have a sense of whether or not my presence in the public and what I do is justified because I’m some so-smart-dude who deserves, like all so-smart-dudes, to have a podcast. 

I do it because it’s an extension of my politics.

At the heart of public presence should be a determined set of ethics and morals, and they should be individual and personal ethics and morals, deeply felt, and turned outward as an act of compassion.

XO
CH

Let’s imagine utopia together! You, me, and Duncan Trussell commune on AEWCH 66!

9 Apr
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PATRONS GET ACCESS TO THE FULL YOUTUBE VERSION HERE

CHDT

Friends,
So excited to welcome back Duncan Trussell! If you’re not acquainted with Duncan, he’s a comedian, mystic, and host of the wildly popular and eclectic podcast, The Duncan Trussell Family Hour! And it’s a great episode, as we strive to think through how to get to utopia!
But it’s not just a conversation around utopia; Duncan and I get very practical tips for it, including talking to the dead, forgiving debts, shifting world events with our thoughts, communing with color and geometry, and more.
We also discuss:
  • The pride and pitfalls of feeling unique.
  • Whether or not our creative efforts are ours.
  • When and when not to be possessed and whether or not Daniel Day Lewis was.
  • The death of everything but you and me.
  • The difference between supernature and subnature.
  • How we are addresses for spirits to meet at.
  • Why Duncan is a sock-swinging maniac.
  • Economy as the opposite of the Sun.
  • Collective entanglement.
  • RuPaul and guardian angels.
  • Duncan’s privilege and increasing awareness of it.
  • How to deal with the fact that you’re thriving when others are suffering.
  • Undoing the karma of the world.
Want to talk about utopia with me and a community of dynamic AEWCH listeners? Sign up for my patreon at the $10 level and join the Against Everyone Salon in May, where we’ll be talking about Utopia (click here for details)!
And for show notes, click here!