Summary: The C-Realm is a weekly, interview-based program which features discussions on topics ranging from a possible technological singularity, to entheogenic exploration, the re-localization of community and agriculture, and the competing narratives by which we define ourselves and navigate our world.
This episode features two conversations recorded at the kitchen table with people whom Erik Davis introduced to KMO and Olga. First up is stage magician Ferdinando Buscema who describes a memento mori ritual he has constructed for himself using playing cards. Later, KMO talks with Spiros Antonopoulos, a yoga teacher and seasoned psychonaut, about DMT, ayahuasca and what they may be able to tell us about ourselves and our life's purpose.
KMO welcomes Pentamental co-host John Maguire to the C-Realm to talk explicitly about consciousness. The conversation ranges from quantum physics and its relationship with fuzzy New Age belief systems to poker and epistemological humility. A final homage to the late Joe Bageant leads into a brief clip from a recent conversation about global geopolitics and the consequences of the triumph of the "bozo billionaire" variety of libertarian politics in the United States. Check out Background Briefing to hear the entire conversation between host Ian Masters and his guest, Alfred W. McCoy.
KMO attended the 2015 Left Forum, and while he found the presenters to be, on the whole, quite knowledgeable, he was, once again, struck by their flat presentations and lack of communicative polish. What's up with that? In this episode of the C-Realm Podcast, KMO talks with Doug Lain about possible explanations for why the left seems to lag so far behind the right in crafting an engaging, accessible message. Following a clip from The Professional Left podcast, they consider whether it might have something to do with the generous support that the political right extends to their grassroots spokespeople and the lack of support for emerging voices on the left.
KMO attended the 2015 Left Forum gathering and recorded a panel discussion about the geopolitics of energy by Michael Klare, Micheal Schwartz and Daniel Volman. Ever since the world became dependent on petroleum for industrial and military expansion, the major powers have struggled for access to and control over the major sources of oil. Initially, this struggle was dominated by the major European powers, especially Britain, France, and Germany, but after World War II the United States entered the fray. Washington's determination to control the oil from the Middle East led to the introduction of a major U.S. military presence in the region and periodic military intervention. When other areas, including Africa and the Caspian Sea basin, became important oil producers, U.S. military involvement was extended to these areas as well. Now China is becoming heavily dependent on imported oil and it, too, is joining the global struggle for energy; Russia, although self-sufficient in energy, seeks to control the export of oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea area. As U.S.-Russian-Chinese relations become more contentious, energy geopolitics will play an increasingly pivotal role in world affairs. This panel will explore the growing contention among global powers for access to and control of Middle East oil and natural gas, and the connections of these struggles to resource competition in other regions. Comedy by One Easy Bread Recipe Each Week.
KMO welcomes the Archdruid, John Michael Greer, back to the C-Realm to talk about the two novels he published last year. The first is Twilight's Last Gleaming, a geo-political thriller with a twist. That novel grow out of a 5-part series of blog posts. After the break, the conversation turns to JMG's other 2014 novel, Star's Reach: A Novel of the Deindustrial Future. The novel is set in a world shaped by that the exhaustion of fossil fuels, and JMG describes the social forms that have replaced our familiar institutions and ways of inhabiting the North American continent after centuries of climate change. Music by Jesse Miller.
KMO and Olga welcome Holly Grigg-Spall, author of Sweetening the Pill: How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control, to the C-Realm Podcast to talk about the psychopharmacology of the Pill. Guided by the mechanistic mentality of industrial culture, we imagine that drugs act on discrete components of our minds or bodies. We imagine that a pill can turn off our reproductive system without affecting our thoughts, our behaviors, our preferences or our understanding of who we are. Many feminists see the Pill as an icon of female liberation and cannot accept that a pro-choice feminist like Holly has good reason to scrutinize the pill and to ask whose needs it serves. Music by Lindsay Katt.
KMO talks with yoga teacher and oral history archivist Susan Kraft about listening and mindfulness. KMO echos some skepticism articulated by Evgeny Morozov around the popularity of practices and applications designed to facilitate "mindfulness." While Morozov isn't even convinced that "mindfulness" means much of anything, Jeffery B. Rubin argues that techniques developed to help monks deal with the causes of suffering prevalent in the time of the Buddha don't necessarily answer to all of the needs of "cognitively oversaturated lay people in the West in the 21st century who want to raise self-esteem, heal emotional traumas or be more productive in a frenzied world." Susan agrees that mindfulness practice is not a universal panacea for the ills of the information age, but it remains a useful tool among many that people can use to improve the quality of their experience. Music by East Forest.
KMO welcomes Doug Lain, the new publisher ar Zero Books, back to the C-Realm Podcast. Doug talks about his transition from solo podcaster to his current role, and then Jasun Horsley joins the conversation. Zero Books will publish Jasun's most recent book, Seen and Not Seen: Confessions of a Movie Autist, at the end of January 2015. The conversation twists and contorts and covers the topics of autism, popular media, independent media, and the struggle to earn a living while doing creatively satisfying work and servicing hypertrophied egos. Music by Telozkope.
KMO took last Wednesday off, but now he's back at it. This first C-Realm Podcast of 2015 features no guest, but KMO borrows from various sources to give a rundown of the tensions in New York City between the police, the mayor and citizens of various allegiances, ethnicities and political convictions. He also dips into the plot of the Cory Doctorow short story, The Things that Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away. What are the prospects for maintaining civil liberties in an increasingly intrusive, high-tech surveillance state? Music by Jesse Miller.
For this final C-Realm Podcast episode for the year 2014, KMO and Eric Boyd look back on the events of the year. From the personal to the geo-political, it has been an eventful and satisfying year for each of them. The conversation ranges from the difficulty in quantifying the benefits of a regular yoga practice to the effects of low oil prices on politics and the deployment of alternative energy technologies. Eric thinks that the progress of Moore's Law may be faltering, and yet breakthroughs in artificial intelligence keep on coming. KMO ends with a brief discussion of the C-Realm webcomic. Music by The Shiz.
Author and conference organizer, J. P. Harpignies, recently interviewed utopian SF author, Kim Stanley Robinson, on stage at a Bioneers gathering. KMO took a recorder over to JP's place to continue the conversation. They look at the value of utopian thought and ambition as well as the dangers. KMO and JP agree that the idea that Earth is just the cradle of humanity and that we are meant to leave it to establish an interstellar civilization is a dangerous conceit. KMO ends with a reading from JP's new book, Animal Encounters. Music by Jay Kauffman.
KMO talks with hacktivist and organic chat client Willow Bl00. Willow has just returned from working on a variety of projects in Tanzania, Kenya and Peru where she focused on issues ranging from the use of technology to ameliorate the suffering caused by heat waves and providing for the needs of climate and conflict refugees to keeping the emerging practice of participatory mapping from degenerating into yet another means of extracting wealth from poor nations. The episode ends with a description of The History Manifesto, a project co-authored by Willow's roommate, Jo Guldi. Music by Ta Phrum Duh Bush.
On the way back from a visit to Southern Vermont, KMO and Olga stopped in Troy, NY, a small city that has seen good times and bad. They met fellow podcaster, Duncan Crary, at the Lucas Confectionary to talk about why Duncan believes that Troy is staging a real deal comeback. Vic Christopher, co-owner of a suite of businesses housed in a cluster of historic buildings he rescued from demolition, describes what drives him to help re-create Troy's vibrant downtown scene. Later, Duncan leads KMO and Olga on a walking tour of the streets. Duncan also details the controversy over the original authorship of the poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” which was first published anonymously in The Troy Sentinel and begins with the famous line, "'Twas the night before Christmas..." You can watch the Trial live here. Music by Jeneric (AKA The Parlor)
KMO attended the 2014 Digital Labor conference at the New School in NYC where Prof. Henry Warwick delivered a presentation called The Enclosure of the Internet. The next day, KMO sat down to talk with Henry about the themes of his presentation, and in the process they cover a variety of topics including Henry's rejection of the idea that the Internet can be re-formed along communist, socialist or otherwise emancipatory lines. He also takes aim at techno-utopian leftists who seem oblivious to how current capitalist elites are preparing to reproduce the unjust social relationships of the present in a post-industrial future. This episode also features a short interview with Orpheus Reed of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA about getting the timing right on the coming revolution recorded at the Climate March in Manhattan in September.
KMO and Olga welcome Joshua Wickerham of the Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council back to the C-Realm to talk about the state of drug policy reform and changing cultural narratives. The recent mid-term elections in the United States demonstrated that even with conservative politicians emerging victorious, drug policy reform is still moving forward, though it would seem that London Mayor, Boris Johnson, didn't get the memo. The program ends with a recording of McKenzie Wark presenting his paper Digital Labor and the Anthropocene at the #DL14 conference. Music by Not Waving But Drowning.