299: Consciousness Cafe


KMO welcomes Jitendra Darling of Occupy Cafe to the C-Realm Podcast to talk about the tension in the Occupy movement between people who advocate direct action in resisting the status quo and those who insist on a strictly non-violent approach to social transformation. Just before the musical interlude, Jitendra briefly summarizes why he thinks the Ego gets a bad rap. In the second half of the conversation, the topic turns to Foster Gamble’s movie, Thrive, and Jitendra responds to criticisms of the film from Rob Hopkins, John Michael Greer, and Charles Eisenstein.

Music by Kimi Lundie.

  • Islandnotes

    Talk of “technology” as a homogeneous component, does a disservice to differentiation of a tool as something that extends our limbs, etc., from one that sucks us into its systems. (This probably derives from M. McLuhan’s observations in addition to my own.) In other words, to evaluate technology’s value to us (as human beings) as opposed to technology’s capacity to dehumanize us (as servomechanisms to information systems) would seem to be a pretty important distinction to make, no?

    • http://c-realm.com KMO

      I’m not sure if the distinction between “technology that extends our limbs” and “technology that sucks us into its systems” is a distinction with a difference. Consider the automobile, the cell phone, and the internet. I use all three, and each one certainly extends my capabilities, but each one definitely pulls me into it’s system as well. I’ve spent a few moments trying to think of a technology that doesn’t pull me into it’s system. Hand tools came to mind first, but if I have to buy them, then they pull me into the market. If they contain metal, like the head of a shovel, then they pull me into a system that includes mining and all of the technologies employed in mining, fabrication, and transportation. I can pull a limb off a tree and use it as a club. That certainly extends my limbs, and it doesn’t seem to pull me into its system any more than I’m already embedded in the web of organic life, but I have a lot more need for transportation and communication than I do for make-shift melee weapons. Thank goodness.

      • Timber

        “I’m not sure if the distinction between ‘technology that extends our limbs’ and ‘technology that sucks us into its systems’ is a distinction with a difference.”

        Agriculture and pastoralism would be two pre-iron age technologies that extended our capabilities and ensnared us in their systems, for better or for worse.

    • Jitendra

      I understand your desire to distinguish technologies that extend one’s limbs in contrast to those that seem to ensnare us in a system which feels anathema to our sensibilities.

      Per KMO’s response, that’s a really difficult distinction to delineate without perhaps harkening back to pre-iron age mechanisms (don’t know if there’s a precursor post stone age).  Wryness aside, that’s why I stress, and I know I didn’t say it directly in this conversation with KMO, that any and every system ultimately defaults, in its effect, to the dominant level of consciousness driving it. 

      So that leaves me being less concerned with resisting, modulating or moderating technology and far more interested in transforming the consciousness that is operating the technologies, and at a deeper level driving the systems that arise as a co-function of technology and consciousness.  Technology is the quantifier, allowing us faster, smaller further, etc. while consciousness is the qualifier, determining just vs. unjust, doing harm vs. insuring safety, syntropic (value producing) vs. entropic (value reducing).

      I tip toward Charles Eisenstein with regard to consciousness leading, though I agree with Foster, that one shouldn’t sit on their hands at this time while priming one’s navel for expanded awareness.  Both/and.

      Dehumanization is a human attitude and therefore a function of the human.  All technology reduces to being a human tool.  A blade can nourish or kill. The trick inside of complex systems is tracking the the lineage of choice.  At certain levels, our choices of assertion and omission become obscure to point where we believe we have none.  But then, this conversation re: choice enters a wormhole to be explored on an entirely new day.

      • Islandnotes

        Perhaps the push by information capitalism to put junior’s face in front of an “educational” screen of digital display would make my point clearer. The “system” in such cases is very much one that melds with the kid’s nervous system. The folks using this stuff are partially acting as reproductive gonads for this business model. That’s qualitatively profoundly different from your shovel pulling you into mining systems, etc. I don’t consider it a stretch to posit human sense-informed expression as often oppositional to digital computer manipulation. (Yes, there are a million degrees of spectral nuance between such antipodes. Make’s for a killer radio-dial for sure!) And, as this relates to our capacities to participate in human ways, this would seem significant to our supposed recognition of de-centralization through community participation and so on. Lastly, and hopefully not to sound cynical, but this ‘consciousness leads before the tech application’ falls short for me, particularly as a school teacher who’s seen …data mechanisms prioritized in 12 year-old’s world views to the affect of reaming their natural human tendency to learn through their physical (human) engagement with their environment. Would it be even more cynical to call someone out on this who delivers prescriptions for “higher consciousness”? (Hope not, ’cause I dig your respective and perhaps prescient observations.)

        • Islandnotes

          Can’t help but add this anecdote: Today, while teaching my high school students, it occurred to me that in some twenty years of doing this, one invariably see’s the different classes evoking their unique ‘zeitgeists’ if you will, and this surely develops from the techniques being practiced in their respective classrooms, and largely conducted by their respective teachers. (Heh, I was going to posit this as an illustration that the ‘techniques’ practiced, bring about the consciousness-mojo, and so on. And yet, as I write this, I realize that the teacher’s consciousness of how they conduct their classroom certainly supersedes and determines the techniques employed. But for what it’s worth, my morphing thesis seems to imply (to me anyway) that the: “which begets which?”-rap is really sort of moot. Still yet, I think that Jitendra’s supposition of consciousness-driving-technology ought to be called out as dubious — certainly not the enlightened way, as he implies. (Or perhaps, “…that and 4 and half dollars will buy you a gallon of gas!” might as apt as any.)

          • staticwarp

            the idea that i get from jitendra’s response is that if you can positively change the consciousness of those humans driving the information capitalism that, as you mentioned, is eagerly programming new generations of unknowingly destructive consumers, then you can change the intent behind that technology. to me, the idea of consciousness-driving-technology is not dubious; indeed our technologies could not be advanced in any direction without our conscious thoughts, not just yet anyway.

            jitendra wrote: “that leaves me being less concerned with resisting, modulating or
            moderating technology and far more interested in transforming the
            consciousness that is operating the technologies, and at a deeper level
            driving the systems that arise as a co-function of technology and

            i dont think i could put it any more clearly than that.

  • Blow_In

    For those that are direct action oriented, your anger is understandable, but if it turns into hatred you will be damaged by it. “You become what you hate.” (1)

    KMO, I would like to hear more women’s voices on your shows. Especially post menopausal women.

    (1) From The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment. 

    • http://c-realm.com KMO

      Hi Blow_In,

      The Lazy’s Man’s Guide to Enlightenment was my field manual in my “cheating” days in Kansas City when I would spend time planted in front of the statue of Quan Yin at the Nelson. No resistance.

      Every now and again, I’ll get a comment about the “sausage fest” nature of the C-Realm Podcast, but the demographic composition of the guest roster is as much a function of who accepts my invitation as who gets invited. Just this week I sent an invitation to Professor Barbara Rossing of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. 


      No answer. I’ve tried repeatedly to get Barbara Ehrenreich on the program. Not so much as a “No, thank you,” in response. Maybe my mistake is in inviting Barbaras. 

      If you have a particular potential guest in mind, please don’t hesitate to make the recommendation.

      Stay well.


      • Blow_In

        “sausage fest” never heard that one before. Perfect  for taking the piss out of the lads when they are in the man cave watching other lads on the telly doing things with balls.

  • Evan

    The notion that direct action “discredits the movement” is an obscure one that raises many questions for me. Who does it discredit the movement to? How does it discredit the movement? If it does discredit the movement, is it really a movement at all and/or is it a movement that has any hope of making a change? Jitendra states that education must come before any action, I have met literally thousands of direct action activists in Australia and Europe who are all very aware of the the way the works, the power dynamics, the money system, environmental collapse etc. To suggest that people jump to direct action with no knowledge of what is wrong is quite insulting to all those people who are willing to put their actual freedom on the line to make a difference. Direct Action comes as a tactic to people who understand the limits to “non-violence”  when you are dealing with forces that hold the monopoly on violence. 

    Ward Churchill has in my opinion the best analysis on “violent” vs “non-violent” actions and would make an excellent guest as a follow up to this conversation. 

    • smokejumper

      Ward Churchill …  hmmm… maybe with a twenty foot pole?  careful with that one… interesting and provacative, hell yes…  a loose cannon — definitely!!  playing with fire for sure….  one mean coyote!

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