Tag Archives: science

Lynn Margulis in conversation with Conner Habib on AEWCH 91.

19 Nov
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Promo
Friends,
This is the most important episode of AEWCH for me. In it I talk with my friend and intellectual mentor, biologist and geoscientist Lynn Margulis. This is, I believe, the last recorded discussion with Lynn before her death from a stroke on November 22, 2011. Lynn was a profound intellect, and, I believe, the most important thinker in the last 50 years.
With James Lovelock, she developed the Gaia theory – that organisms interact with the non-living aspects of the Earth to regulate Earth systems like cloud cover, oceanic salinity, atmospheric gas abundance, and more. She also proved and popularized the notion that organelles in nucleated cells are symbioses of bacterial mergers.
Along with her son Dorion Sagan (from her marriage to Carl Sagan), she developed a new theory of evolution, symbiogenesis, which boldly asserts, and with ample evidence, that new species arise out of symbiotic mergers with bacteria, not through random genetic mutation-meets-natural selection.
The episode is a wide-ranging exploration of Lynn’s work and thought. Because Lynn offer so much, I’ve started this episode off with a lengthy introduction to all her efforts. It’s an intro adapted from the essay I wrote shortly after her death (and it appears in the book Lynn Margulis: The Life And Legacy Of A Scientific Rebel). Feel free to skip past the intro if you’re familiar with her work, or to listen to it as a primer afterward, to get your bearings in the dizzying array of names and scientific concepts on the episode.
On this episode, among many other things:
  • the difference between ecological association and symbiosis
  • why Darwin never mentioned the origin of species
  • why the mainstream pop-science version of evolution is religion, not science
  • “there’s this concept that almost all scientists have that there really is an objective reality, but there’s no evidence whatsoever (for that) because everything observed is through an observer, and that observer tends to be a person…”
  • How all science starts as esoterica
  • How scientific facts are accepted – and not accepted until capitalism approves
  • Is life process or entity
  • Why zoologists have such a hard time understanding evolution
  • “‘Medical science’ is an oxymoron, like ‘military intelligence’.”
  • Why Lynn just wanted to avoid people and read her whole life
  • Emily Dickinson and the Matster
SHOW NOTES
• For more on Lynn, read her countless publications. The two that everyone should read are Symbiotic Planet: A New Look At Evolution and (with Dorion Sagan) Acquiring Genomes: A Theory Of The Origin Of Species. Also, I recommend the text book I had to read for my first course with her, Environmental Evolution – 2nd Edition: Effects of the Origin and Evolution of Life on Planet Earth and her book of essays, Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on the Nature of Nature. A documentary about Lynn’s life and work, Symbiotic Earth, was released in 2017. Here’s Lynn interviewed by geneticist Jay Tischfield and here’s Lynn presenting the Gaia theory to NASA.
• In the episode, we talk several times about the “Homage To Darwin” event, which was organized around Lynn’s year at Oxford. The event featured Lynn, Richard Dawkins, paleobiologist Martin Brasier, biologist Steve Bell, and systems biologist Denis Noble. It’s one of many occasions wherein Lynn revealed the stupidity of Richard Dawkins’s ideas about evolution. It appears in three parts. Part One, Part Two, Part Three. I highly recommend watching all of them.
• Alfred North Whitehead was a profound influence on Lynn’s thinking, especially later in life. She mentions him at the top, and later in the episode, brings up his book The Function Of Reason.
• Lynn says, “We are all Schwendenerists!” means we all accept symbiosis because we accept the truth that lichens are symbiotic organisms. This was discovered by Simon Schwendener, a Swiss botanist.
• Lynn mentions James Watson’s book, DNA: The Secret of Life.
slug
Rosemary and Peter Grant studied the finches on the Galápagos Islands for years.
• An amazing book that expresses clashes between neo-Darwinism and Gaia and symbiogenesis (this is before Lynn and Dorion fully developed the theory of symbiogenesis) is From Gaia to Selfish Genes: Selected Writings in the Life Sciences.
• Would you like to learn about the photosynthetic sea slug? That’s a rehtorical question. Of course you would.
• Here’s a lengthy commentary on the debate between Lynn and Richard Dawkins that gets mentioned a few times in the episode.
• Palentologists Niles Eldrege and Stephen Jay Gould observed and popularized the idea of “punctuated equilibrium” – that most populations of organisms are stable and exhibit little change, until sudden and massive changes occur. This theory is expressed consistently in the fossil record, and in many ways, challenges neo-Darwinian theories of evolution.
• Ludwig Fleck’s book, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact is a precursor to Thomas Kuhn‘s famous concept of a “paradigm shift,” and it’s a great look into how facts are made, how they inhere, and…then what?
• “The Experiment As Mediator Of Object And Subject” by Goethe (yes, Goethe!) changed my life, and it should be evoked again and again until it changes the face of science.
• A mind-blowing short essay on where organisms start and stop is “Where Do Organisms End?”
• We talked about some of this waaaay back on AEWCH 6 with Alex Tsakiris (and my first chat with Alex, “Fight Science With Science“)
• Lynn often raved about Max King’s book Species Evolution: The Role of Chromosome Change which I (still!) have yet to read.
• Lynn’s book of short stories, Luminous Fish, is quite good. I remember being a little scared to read it and then thinking – why did I expect anything less?
• Here’s a small bit on Swiss Emily Dickinson translator Hans Werner Lüscher.
You can expect a bit more on Lynn’s work – particularly on the origins of sex – from me in the near future.
Until next time, friends,
XO
CH
AERWCH91

AEWCH 90: Amanda Palmer + Conner Habib + Everyone. We are all here for each other.

12 Nov
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promo
Friends,
What an honor to go deep into the ways we are all connected with rock star, writer, TED Talker, and activist Amanda Palmer. Amanda is known for many things – her music, her band The Dresden Dolls, her book The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help which was kicked off by her TED talk, “The art of asking” – but all of her accomplishments stress a spirit of giving and vulnerability.
We start with me recounting an event from the week before, when I intervened and stopped a man from committing suicide, and from there, we talk about the many, many ways in which we are all here for each other. This is an episode compassion, which means “to suffer with.” It’s about the jobs that artists have in our world, about the ways we close ourselves off from connection, about art and motherhood, about mutualism in animals, and more.
And yes, we both cry.
I’m so proud to share this episode, friends, and I hope it brings light to you.
Do contribute to Amanda’s patreon. Amanda has done so much for artists, particularly by laying the foundation for grassroots and associative economies.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Amanda, here’s a spotify playlist I’ve made of 10 songs by Amanda (and her band the Dresden Dolls) that I love. Amanda is married to world-renowned fantasy author, Neil Gaiman, and they record an entire event together (it’s great). And here’s a great (and mulled over on my show) Amanda appearance on Tim Ferris’s podcast.
• Here’s my little twitter tribute (in thread form) to Lynn Margulis. Stay tuned to future episodes for more on Lynn and her work.
• Amanda and I interacted for the first time when she was kind enough to repost my exclusive blog post of a speech by Tilda Swinton about art and light. The speech is stunning, and I was lucky enough to get it from Tilda’s friend, author William Middleton.
• Unfortunately, Tatsuo Motokawa’s classic article, “Sushi Science and Hamburger Science” is behind a paywall, but it’s worth reading.
• Here’s travel writer Pico Iyer’s TED Talk, “What ping-pong taught me about life“.
• If you’d like to read a bit on occult theories of how music works, check out AEWCH 45 with occult musician Ben Chasny, and also read The Harmony of the Human Body: Musical Principles in Human Physiology by Armin Husemann.
• Read Amanda’s poem for the brother of the Boston Marathon bomber “A Poem For Dzhokhar

MY

• There’s a great book by Walter Kendrick about how the ruins of ancient Pompei turned into porn called The Secret Museum: Pornography in Modern Culture.
• I have yet to listen to Madison Young‘s podcast, but it is SO on the list now.
• A great self help book that I think can help anyone who wants some help is How to Be an Adult: A Handbook for Psychological and Spiritual Integration by David Richo.
• Amanda was reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast and I recommend his book Eating Animals.
• The Roisin that Amanda mentions is Roisin Ingle, who created The Women’s Podcast.
• Actually, the Brian O’Connor episode came out just before this one! It’s AEWCH 89!
• Read Sophie Lewis‘s (dream guest for the show!) Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family for a truly challenging examination of motherhood, pregnancy, and work.
• I wrote about my mother’s death in my essay, “When You’re Sick You’ll Wait For The Answer But None Will Come
• I talk more about detachment and sex work on AEWCH 44 with writers Kelly Link and Jordy Rosenberg.
I’ll leave you here with the lyrics from Amanda’s beautiful song, “A Mother’s Confession” which is on the spotify playlist I made of Amanda’s music.
Our son is four months old his name is Anthony or Ash for short
And he’s too small to do things by himself
We were in LA over Christmas in a rental and we jury-rigged a place
To change his diapers on a shelf
I was peeing in the bathroom and had left him for a second
‘Cause I thought he couldn’t move and he was safe
As I came out I saw him falling in slow motion to the floor
It was probably the worst moment of my life
And then I accidentally stole a thing of chapstick from the safeway
I didn’t see it ’til I got out to the car
I would have usually returned it but I was overwhelmed
And late to take the baby to my cousins which was far away
In my defense, I’d bought like $87 worth of groceries
And the chapstick was a $1.99
I know it wasn’t the right thing to use
My newborn child as an excuse
But it felt like a good reason at the time
And as I pulled out of the parking lot I cried
And as I pulled onto the highway I said right
At least the baby didn’t die right?
At least the baby didn’t die
And then we went to Sarasota
To see Neil’s cousin Helen
For her birthday she just turned ninety-nine
We were also there for Sidney
Who was ninety-four two days before
But he was sick, so mostly it was Ash and Helen time
She survived the Warsaw ghetto
And she always says I love you”
When she sees you ’cause she knows you never know
She’d worked for months while I was pregnant
On a gorgeous handmade blanket
Her almost-hundred-year-old hands crocheting every row
I’d been emailing her pictures of the baby and the blanket
Every day since she had sent it in the mail
But they were of one that someone else had knitted
She was really nice about it
Then I went and shoplifted a pair of ugly sunglasses
From Goodwill (they were on my head
I’d tried them on and left them there)
But that’s not really bad compared to
When we left the baby in the car
At least he wasn’t in there very long
And not directly in the sun
And thank god no-one walking by happened to notice what we’d done
I’m even scared to put these lyrics in a song
But
Everything is relative and everyone’s related
I can’t do that much right now
But take care of this baby
I figure everything’s technically all right
If at least this baby doesn’t die
And then I took a plane to Washington alone
So we could visit Jason Webley who’s his godfather
He’s playing the accordion
I couldn’t wait to see him and share tales of our disasters
Over dinners in his houseboat when I saw I’d lost my passport
So I got a rush appointment at the place where you replace them
And I drove the baby in and on the way I got a speeding ticket
When the cop came to the window I was shaking and I said “I’m sorry”
But you couldn’t hear me that’s how loud the sound of screaming was
Cause he was hungry and I think that I was speeding
Cause I panic when I hear him cry
My god what kind of a mother am i
And as I pulled out of the breakdown lane I cried
And as I pulled out on the highway I said right
At least the baby didn’t die right?
At least the baby didn’t die”
While I was waiting for my passport I was hungry so
I twittered for a coffee in the neighborhood
And there I saw a woman who was sitting at the bar
And it was noon and she was drinking
And she called across the diner to me How old is your baby?”
And she smiled at us nursing
And she said she had a daughter who was grown
And then she paused
And said she also had a son
And when I’d paid and was about to leave
I picked him up and crossed the room and touched her sleeve
I said, Hey, this baby wanted to say hi”
And she held him tight and she started to cry
And I’m sorry that this story’s gotten long
And that everybody’s crying in this song
And then I got back in the car I turned the radio and heater on
And sat there with the baby in the back
And they were talking about Syria and climate change and ISIS
And the candidates’ positions on Iraq
I feel so useless in this universe
I know I could be doing worse
I’m trying hard to stay at peace inside
I know it’s hard to be a parent
But this mess is so gigantic
i wonder if I should have had a child
And as I pulled out of the parking lot I cried
And as I pulled out on the highway I said
right
At least the baby didn’t die
At least the baby didn’t die
EVERYBODY:
At least the baby didn’t die!! right?!
At least the baby didn’t die!!
(i may not make it to the passport place on time!)
At least the baby didn’t die
(and they might revoke my license for a while!!)
At least the baby didn’t die
(and I might get caught for retroactive theft!!)
At least the baby didn’t die
(and I might get turned into the DSS!)
But at least the baby didn’t die
Until next time, friends,
XO
CH
Amanda

photo by Michael Murchie

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

22 Sep

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

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

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

In this ep:

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

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

Love!
CH

M

Me + Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris talk ethics at the end of science on the new AGAINST EVERYONE

25 Aug
So excited to welcome podcaster, author, and skeptic of skeptics Alex Tsakiris! (You may remember Alex from my blog, when I posted our first-ever conversation, “Fight Science with Science” here)
Alex, author of Why Science Is Wrong…about Almost Everythingis best known as host of the mighty Skeptiko podcast, which has hundreds of episodes up, chronicling his journey from skeptic to full-on consciousness explorer. It’s an exhilarating progression, as Alex talks to scientists, mystics, conspiracy theorist, historians, and more. I encourage you to listen to the episodes in sequence. Alex is, in some ways, even more open and exposed than me, displaying all his misfires and new insights, his frustrations and his fascinations.
IN THIS EPISODE WE TALK ABOUT
  • Time management as occultism
  • My first memory was of the spiritual world
  • How Alex decided to start a podcast and why you should too
  • The power of self-doubt, and how to make sure doubt doesn’t overwhelm you
  • Why every discipline should seek to be obsolete
  • Skeptical ethics
  • The disconnection between political beliefs and action
  • The trap of being a spiritual seeker
  • Whether or not Alex is sick of Skeptiko after 300+ episodes
  • Gloria Steinem, CIA agent
  • Social Justice Warriors vs Free Speech Warriors
  • When being victimization becomes a weapon
  • Escaping centrism by disregarding the poles
  • Defending Jon Ronson, Chapo Traphouse, and Camille Paglia
  • When to speak up, and when to remain silent

Making this show my main gig outside of writing is a huge dream for me – so please support the show AND get cool stuff by donating as little as a dollar/month here. Thank you!

Simpsons Guy

New Atheist Bros be like

Conner Habib’s NEW WEB SERIES and PATREON!

23 May

Sex IslandDear everyone,

After years of writing essays, comic books, and stories; making adult scenes; doing activism for sex workers; and talking about the occult and sex around the world; I’m unveiling my very own Patreon and accompanying web series: AGAINST EVERYONE with CONNER HABIB!

My life project is to make the world a better place for being fully human, so that we don’t have to constantly hide parts of ourselves and our interests away. We should be able to be sexual and spiritual, into the sciences and the humanities, into the occult and philosophy. And we should be able to be our full, integrated selves without compartmentalizing everything.
That’s where you, my Patreon, and my new web series, Against Everyone with Conner Habib, come in. Together, we can co-create a culture that’s easier to be a rebel, a punk, a slut, a witch, and an interdisciplinary weirdo in.
Against Everyone with Conner Habib is a web series starting in June that features me giving talks on a wide range of profound, weird, and fringe topics, ranging from the history of the adult industry to the occult secrets of technology; from the mystical, political nature of time and space to the bacterial origins of sex.
It also features me in conversation with some of the leading thinkers and creators of our time. For a list of upcoming topics and guests, visit my Patreon page.
My Patreon supports all my projects, including the series. Sign up now at any level (access starts at just one dollar per month!) and you get all sorts of amazing stuff:
  • Downloadable audio of the series
  • Membership in the Conner Habib Book Club
  • Skype sessions (one-on-one) with me
  • Extra episodes
  • Personalized video postcards sent to your inbox each month
  • Exclusive peaks at projects I’m working on
and lots more!
This is a HUGE step forward for me, and your participation is literally life-changing, and our community will be culture-changing.
Watch the intro video by clicking my face up there, by clicking here, or by watching below. And if you sign up by June 1, you’ll get a personalized thank you photo from me!
So!
Let’s create a new culture. Let’s hang out. Let’s talk about things we care about. Let’s be ourselves. Let’s do everything we’ve ever cared about, all at once.Thanks for all your support and love, my friends,
Conner Habib

Decolonize Your Mind with me in my NEW ONLINE COURSE, Radical Undoing! Here’s the trailer!

10 Jan

Resistance is not enough. In a seemingly hopeless culture, we need to decolonize our minds and undo our cultural mindfuck to create a new world. Here’s the trailer for my upcoming live online course + Q&A, Radical Undoing: Decolonize Your Mind with Sex, Science, the Occult, and Philosophy! Watch the trailer and/or read the info below, and sign up!

In this course, we’ll tear down our programming piece by piece by uncovering the oppressive elements in our sexualities, views of science, thoughts on spirituality, and ideas about what’s possible…

…and then we’ll reveal new and better pathways for each; transforming our inner lives; and creating new possibilities for ourselves and, by extension, the world we live in.

Join me in this one-session-only, live, online workshop + Q&A on how to rework your inner life into a more sexual, radical, spiritual, and contemplative position, so you can see, act in, and create change in the world differently.

Together, we will:

  • Look at the links between sex and power, and how having a better attitude about sex, as well as how you have sex, can affect our culture
  • Uncover the hidden history of evolutionary biology and show how our current ideas of selfish genes, natural competition, and random genetic mutation are really just capitalist economics in disguise
  • Examine how radical art, including pornography, can dislodge old, harmful thoughts that are holding us back
  • Reexamine nature and challenge both the industrial exploitation of nature and shallow environmentalism
  • Show how indigenous studies and the philosophy of radical anthropology rightly defy current modes of resistance and demand more of us
  • Find the value of the occult and magick in the context of changing the world and banishing the old institutions of power
  • Find the radical core of postmodern philosophies and critical theory, and how to make it actionable, dynamic, and alive in your mind and the world

The course will be a fun, accessible, irreverent lecture, followed by a Q&A where we can all engage. And If you can’t attend the day of, or if you want to watch the lecture again, you’ll have exclusive ticket holder access to a recording of the course for 90 days.

On a personal note: this class is going to draw on everything I’ve learned in my 39 years of being, studying science, practicing the occult, being a sex worker, and more. With so many people depressed about the inauguration of a new President, so let’s make ourselves ready for the world. Let’s change ourselves, radically undo our inner oppressive and repressive aspects, decolonize our minds, and then bring all that back to bear on our culture.

Can’t attend the day or time of the event? No problem – every ticket gets you exclusive 90-day access to a recording of the entire session!

Here we go.

Chaos Magician + Renegade Anthroposophist = Podcast

5 Jan

IMG_4011Happy to announce I’m the first guest of 2017 on one of my favorite podcasts, Rune Soup, hosted by author and occultist, Gordon White. (If you want to skip past this stuff, just scroll down to the podcast.)

I found Gordon through a series of synchronicities: Last year, I spoke to an occulty friend of mine in San Francisco after three years of not communicating (nothing bad, we just sort of dropped out of each other’s lives). “Conner, you’ve got to read this book called The Chaos Protocols! It’s a completely new take on the economic climate and how to engage with money and the world we live in now,” he said. Or something to that effect.

I trust my friend’s taste, but to be honest, I did what I often do when people recommend stuff to me – I  thought, “Sure, sure. Another magick book. I’ll get to it in 2052.”

Later that day, I turned on a podcast that I love and am often happily frustrated by, Skeptiko, hosted by Alex Tsakiris (you may remember my conversation about scientific knowledge with Alex from December 2014). The guest? None other than Gordon White. It was a great interview.

Okay, okay, I’ll look this guy up. When I checked twitter, I saw that we followed each other. Huh? I had no memory of following him, nor of him following me. He must have just tweeted something awesome and I instinctively hit the Follow button. A few months later, I’d read The Chaos Ptotocols (it’s excellent, as are his other books, Star.Ships and Pieces of Eight) appeared on Episode 24 of his podcast, Rune Soup (which is also the name of his excellent occult-meets-politics website), and was becoming fast friends with Gordon.

My second appearance is even better than the first, in my opinion. We talk about 2017, gwwhy you shouldn’t despair, what the state of the world can mean for us spiritually, why it’s important to decolonize our thoughts, the power of forgiveness, and more. It’s all part of my work this year to radiate empowerment to you, dear reader, dear viewer, dear friend. This includes my upcoming online course, Radical Undoing: Decolonize Your Mind with Sex, Science, the Occult, and Philosophy (sign up!); which I talk about on the podcast.

Let’s become the prisms through which inspiration, imagination, and creative engagement refract and illuminate.

Here’s the podcast! Enjoy!