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.
KMO talks with Vincent Horn of Buddhist Geeks about how Buddhist practices are adapting themselves to thrive and be useful in technological society. He sees Buddhism as co-existing in the same space as the DIY and Maker movements where bio-feedback, sophisticated sensors and psychedelics stand side by side with meditation as technologies for hacking one's own consciousness. KMO wraps up with some comments on individualism and community. Music by The Shiz.
KMO attended the 2014 Age of Limits conference, and he invited C-Realm listeners who were in attendance to join him in a recorded conversation that took place at the same time as the main conversation in the round described on the schedule. The setting was a campground in the woods in rural Pennsylvania at nightfall. The conversation began at dusk and ended by lantern light. There is a bit of electromagnetic interference toward the end of the recording, but the content was too good to sacrifice, so please bear with us. At the end of the program, KMO talks with Justin Ritchie of the Extraenvironmentalist podcast about the upcoming Common Bound gathering in Boston, organized by the New Economy Coalition. You can sign up for the pay-as-you-can conference livestream here: http://commonbound.org/blog/livestream-tickets-now-available-its-pay-what-you-can
In the conclusion to KMO's conversation with four C-Realm listeners about Margaret Atwood's dark, speculative vision, Oryx and Crake, they ask, "Where is the government?" How plausible is it that all government functions will have been subsumed by corporations by the middle of this century? What do they use as money? How do they enforce intellectual property regimes? Later, KMO takes up this question with Eric Boyd before offering up his own take on the lingering question from last week's show. "Why make the Crakers at all?"
KMO is joined by four C-Realm listeners to discuss Margaret Atwood's dark work of speculative fiction, Oryx and Crake. KMO and guests consider whether the liberal arts have been degraded and devalued by corporate culture. In the near future of Atwood's vision, science and technology reign supreme, and it is unfashionable to ask about consequences or ethical implications. Do you think that humans are part of nature or a plague upon the planet? If the latter, would you bother trying to design a successor species to replace us, or would it be better just to wipe the slate clean and leave it blank?
On Saturday, May 17th, 2014 KMO interviewed award-winning painter, Donato Giancola, on stage at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition gallery in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Donato is well known for his science fiction and fantasy book covers, and he was giving a demonstration of his painting technique as part of a BWAC show called Outer Limits. KMO asked Donato to share his thoughts on space exploration, robotics, and the effects of information technology on society. When it came time to take questions from the audience, they wanted to hear more about Donato's technique, his influences, the evolution of his artistic style and how he manages his career. Afterwards, KMO shares a bit of conversation about monsters recorded earlier at Donato's Studio. In talking about Donato's respectful representation of women, one audience member made reference to Donato's depiction of the sword and sorcery character, Red Sonja. You can find that image and many more on his website.
KMO speaks with Kelly Coyne and Erik Knuteson, the authors of The Urban Homestead and Making It. Kelly and Erik attended the 2013 Age of Limits conference and have each recently published their recollections and responses to that experience on their blog, Root Simple. They are both glad that they attended the event, but they thought the egregore, the group mind that took shape at the event, was needlessly dark. Kelly thought that the overly specific predictions of near term human extinction from climate change she encountered at the conference said more about psyche of the presenter than about the state of the climate. Erik wasn't thrilled with what he called "Kumbaya moments" which came in the form of fabricated grief rituals. Later, John Michael Greer talks about ways to use ritual to good effect in coming to terms with the long decent of industrial civilization. Music by The Story is Everything.
KMO welcomes Jordan Harbinger of The Art of Charm to the C-Realm Podcast to talk about social engineering, 419 (Spanish Prisoner) email scams, and the fact that charisma, confidence and persuasive abilities can improve with coaching, study and practice. Belief systems that seem to prevent us from living the life we want to lead may be serving us in another way, by excusing our failure to take what steps we can to do better at whatever it is we say we want to do. KMO concludes by talking about the value of yoga and meditation and the pitfalls of traveling to the Amazon to drink ayahuasca. You can hear about Jordan's kidnapping experience here. Music by Fernando Tarango.
KMO welcomes independent research and writer, David Bollier, to the C-Realm to discus the themes in his new book, Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons. First, they dispense with Garret Hardin's so-called "Tragedy of the Commons," which purports to demonstrate why it is impossible for people to self-manage a shared resource but which actually demonstrates just how focused academic economics is on validating its own core principles and projecting them onto the world. Later, David talks about the human genome as a commons which is currently being enclosed by corporations who are claiming sections of human DNA as their intellectual property. At the end of the program, KMO reads and responds to listener feedback. Music by The Shiz.
KMO and Olga caught a ride home from the Psymposium 2014 conference with Joshua Wickerham of the Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council, and the three of them stopped in Connecticut to have lunch with Joshua's good friend, contemplative scientist Katherine MacLean. The conversation covers a lot of ground, including the place of meditation in preparing for the abyss of human suffering that would result from the collapse or severe contraction of industrial civilization, the potential dangers of meditation, finding how to be of service from a place of emptiness and using psychedelics to train oneself to be okay with chaos and groundlessness. Music by The Go Set.
KMO welcomes Driftglass, who is the co-host, along with his wife, Blue Gal, of The Professional Left Podcast, to the C-Realm to discuss science fiction and politics. Driftglass provides examples of SF literature from the middle of the 20th Century which were both prescient and dystopian and which stand as counter-examples to David Graeber's claim that the science fiction of that period encouraged people to envision a Utopian future in which technology released the vast majority of the population of the burden of alienated labor. Driftglass unpacks his counter-intuitive assertion that there is no Tea Party and counters the claim, ubiquitous in the corporate media, that the Democrats and Republicans are equally culpable for the sorry state of play in American politics. Music by Lon Milo Duquette.
KMO welcomes Chad Hill, the author of the Hipcrime Vocab blog, to the C-Realm Podcast to carry on the conversation about the future. SF media has transitioned away from Utopian visions of people and societies liberated from drudgery and conflict by advanced technology and good governance to wallowing in depictions of dysfunctional futures. What's up with that? KMO and Chad wrestle with these questions and ponder how we might find our way to a resource-based economy like we see on Star Trek. Music by Not Waving But Drowning.
KMO welcomes Frank Aragona of the Agroinnovations podcast back to the C-Realm to discuss a Guardian article by Nafeez Ahmed that is based on a NASA-funded report that details how growing inequality might bring about the fall of our globalized industrial civilization. They also discuss an article in The Economist which offers competing explanations for why global warming seems to have slowed. Frank details the land grabs in Africa by which powerful nations attempting to feed their populations by securing the use of agricultural land in impoverished African nations. It's all a result, Frank explains, of the human appropriation of net primary production. For more on that topic, read Frank's blog post on The Photosynthetic Ceiling. Music by Not Waving But Drowning. Check out their Facebook page.
KMO talks with Kevin Carson, author of The Homebrew Industrial Revolution about the technologies that seem poised to end the dominance of capital-intensive production methodologies and brake the stranglehold that capitalists and the government minions hold over our lives. Author Jeremy Rifkin describes the current state of human affairs as the transition from the Second to the Third Industrial Revolution. Going forward, says Rifkin, capitalism will be a much diminished force in human affairs. KMO and Olga will be attending an event called Psymposium, April 12 and 13, 2014. Music by East Forest.
This week's episode of the C-Realm Podcast begins with a discussion of David Graeber's 2012 essay, Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit. KMO shares a portion of the conversation with Eric Boyd from C-Realm Vault Podcast episode 082 about some possible reasons why SF visions of moon bases, robotic maids and flying cars never came true. After that, KMO talks with G. Paul Blundell of Acorn Community about running large, complex operations without hierarchy, exploitation or coercion. Paul argues that renouncing hierarchy does not mean abandoning the benefits of coordinated action involving millions of people. The episode ends with a reading from a post to the blog The Hipcrime Vocab. Music by The Little Stevies. You can learn more about the two upcoming Communities Conference events in Brooklyn here and here. Please "like" Jeff Wilburn's Facebook page for his voiceover business VOXREX LLC.
KMO welcomes filmmaker Joshua Bregman to the C-Realm to discuss why contemporary science fiction, on the screen at least if not on the page, is stuck in a dystopian quagmire. What happened to the utopian vision of Star Trek? Perhaps Francis Fukuyama and Margaret Thatcher were right. Perhaps representative democracy and markets are the highest expression of human civilization and that there is nowhere to go from here but down. Music by The Little Stevies.