414: Recognizing Our Dark Mirror

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C-Realm_414_coverKMO 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.

  • AlexSmith77

    No doubt we are in deep doo-doo. Especially now that the Antarctic glaciers are melting in an “unstoppable” way. Maybe Nature will find ingenious ways to limit our numbers and our ability to wreck things. But I’m not convinced humans will go extinct any time soon – or that we should give up trying!
    - Alex Smith, Radio Ecoshock

  • Cloudwalking Owl

    My personal take on all of this is similar to Kelly’s. I think that our society has given up on the traditional ways of motivating people—religious faith and patriotic duty—and left nothing in their place except a flaccid ideal of “do your own thing”. I don’t suggest that we should go back to the old ways of religion and ideology, but I do think that Kelly’s interest in Stoicism leads the way. IMHO the doomsters are people who have lost hope because they have no internal compass. The only option that I can see is something like the old “practical philosophies” of Rome, Greece and the Orient: Stoicism, Skepticism, Daoism, etc. The question that KMO raised with regard to Dune in a previous podcast, namely, “do tough times breed tough people?”, is tremendously apropos. I would suggest that the doomsters are weak people who are succoumbing instead of fighting. Sad.

    • lidia17

      Huh. I find this strange because, for the most part, I see people’s “internal compasses” leading them astray. I’m glad I don’t have the internal compass of a Mother Teresa or your average used-car salesman. “Ways of motivating people” (religion, patriotism) have usually been used to the detriment of folks more often than not.

      What I find in all of the hopium is absurdity. There is frequently a call for “answers!”. No one will consider the possibility that the answer might be “no”. That’s all. No.

      I thought it interesting that KMO and JMG sounded audibly relieved that McPherson in particular was not going to be there to harsh their “kinder, gentler collapse” mellow. As they promote the concept that accurate collapse prediction is subject to the shape of the beholder’s druthers, they seem to retain themselves immune from this process.

      • Cloudwalking Owl

        Well, I think you’ve used a very ambiguous term “internal compasses” that confuses what I was trying to express, namely two specific terms “faith” and “patriotic duty”. I don’t think anyone would say that used car salesmen are motived by either of those. In addition, I don’t think that resolving to build your life around Stoicism is in any way, shape or form indulging in “hopium”.

        I’m sure that both KMO and Kelly have thought about “NO” a great deal. In fact, I think it is kinda insulting to suggest that they are flippantly dismissing this idea out of hand. But, looking into critiques of Guy McPherson, it seems to me that he really doesn’t have a handle on the real science of climate change (check out Fractal Planet’s critique, for example.) If anything, I think an excellent case is that McPherson is a hopeless addict of “despairium”.

        Please do not fall into the critical thinking failure known as the “false dichotomy”. Not believing in near term extinction is not the same thing as being either a climate change denier or having a Polly-Anna belief in techno fixes. It is possible to be firmly committed to opposing capitalism and the current ark of human society, yet still not believe in near-term extinction. I know that I do.

        • lidia17

          Cloudwalking Owl, *you* used the term “internal compass”—I merely repeated it.

          I still fail to see the benefit in being motivated by “faith” or “patriotic duty”, as those two things are particularly obvious false constructs designed to manipulate people to act against their own interests.

          I’ve read Fractal Planet’s critique.. he fails to address the element of time and also IIRC does the sleight of hand which conflates NTE of all life and NTHE (McPherson doesn’t maintain that all life will be wiped out in the near term afaik).

          I wasn’t referring specifically to Kelly or to KMO when I talked about hopium—I was just ping-ponging off of your negative portrayal of “doomsters” who had “lost hope” because of their “lack of internal compass”. That is what you said.

          I’d like a clarification: what is it exactly that I should “have hope” *about*?.. I’m not really sure what the word even means and I don’t really operate on that level. To me, hope is an irrational expectation that things will turn out differently from the direction they are headed. What’s interesting is that there’s a whole religion, apparently with
          many hundreds of millions of adherents, that revolves around the absence
          of hope.

          If, one the other hand, one’s internal compass does lead one to have hope, how does that materially change the processes underway? It doesn’t.

          I was trained as a scientist, so when I read what Guy presents from the peer-reviewed literature, his same conclusions are inescapable. It’s not about being an addict or seeking out despair. I was having a perfectly fine life until this set of facts came up on my radar screen. I have an “internal compass” that points, to the shaky extent it is able, towards the truth. Is it true that global warming is accelerating at an exponential rate? Yes. Can it be stopped? No. Will it make the planet uninhabitable within a few decades? Everything I can see points to yes. There’s no use hand-wringing over it, and I have no truck, either, with Carolyn Baker and her forced and self-serving maudlin rituals.

          During the show, Mr. Greer sneered at Dr. McPherson as not a “real climate scientist”, and they were gonna get themelves a “real climate scientist” to tell them what they wanted to hear instead, so that the conference this year would be less gloomy. McPherson has never claimed to be a climate scientist; he is quite transparently presenting a wealth of material already published by “real cilmate scientists”. And is being a professor of evolutionary biology somehow so irrelevant to the topic of extinctions that he must refrain from comment? McPherson’s detractors never seem to argue the science, just the personal emotional baggage they assume comes with his statements. Something similar happened to me on another site, where it was assumed I must have a history of child abuse in order to believe that the world might be short-lived!

          I’ll repeat the reason for my having commented at all: “As KMO and JMG promote the concept that accurate collapse prediction is subject to the shape of the beholder’s druthers, they seem to retain themselves immune from this process.” They didn’t like the previous, more pessimistic, AoL vibe and are pleased by the prospect that this year’s conference have a different complexion. This was the entire point of that segment, and I just happen to have found it ironic. I wish I didn’t have to belabor the point as it seems quite obvious.

          That said, I remain a big fan of KMO. I hope the conference was a success for the presenters and participants, and I am eager to hear what material he brings back.

          Kind regards,
          Lidia

        • lidia17

          oops, see below…

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  • coyoteyogi

    After listening to this podcast I look forward to being able to use the word ‘egregore’ in a sentence. I enjoyed the podcast and the guests take on the Age of Limits event. Do living environments slowly degrade or do they collapse in a series of steps? I suspect there is some truth in JMG’s somewhat smug comment that the participants got into their SUVs and drove home to their middle class lives of privilege. Yes cook from scratch, yes grow food, yes create and sustain community but also notice and mourn. Not one monarch butterfly on our milkweed last fall, nor a single swallowtail. The variety and numbers of pollinating insects feasting on our sunflowers was a fraction of what was there only three years ago. But in the end, NTE is not something you can plan for or live by. I know that Guy Mcpherson urges people to live a “life of excellence” which sounds similar to the goals of Root Simple. He lives on a homestead with gardens and fruit trees, super insulated house, solar panels and all the rest. Contradictions and conundrums galore.