#182 | Death Of A Healer: The Ayahuasca Industry & The Shadow Of Colonial Violence w/ Kevin Tucker

In this episode, I speak with Kevin Tucker, author of ‘The Cull of Personality: Ayahuasca, Colonialism and the Death of a Healer’ — the subject of this episode. The book takes a deep dive into the reality of the ayahuasca eco-tourism industry, and places it within the centuries-long history of colonialism and resource extraction in the Amazon Region, in particular Peru, where much of narrative of this book is centered.

The book begins with the description of the murder of 81-year-old Indigenous rights activist and healer Olivia Arevalo, a member of the Shipibo-Conibo people in Peru, by Sebastian Woodroffe, a Canadian man seeking to extract the methods of the Shipibo-Conibo practice of administering the psychedelic brew ayahuasca for healing purposes. On April 19 of last year, Arevalo was killed in her home in the Ucayali region in Peru. Records show Woodroffe purchased a gun from a local police officer, and was the individual that confronted Arevalo at her home, subsequently leading to her death. Several days after this occurred, Woodroffe was subsequently lynched by several members of the community, after his image was posted around the region by relatives of Arevalo. Woodroffe’s lynching was documented in a shaky cellphone video, which ultimately led to this story gaining international media coverage after it was share online.* It was the death of Woodroffe, not Arevalo, that led to this becoming an international story.

These events, while often discussed and framed in isolation by the Western press, fits within a far larger and richer context — expressed vividly in ‘The Cull of Personality.’ The extractivist and appropriative nature of the ayahuasca industry that has emerged and grown over the past several decades is embedded within the centuries-long colonization and exploitation of the Amazon Forest and its Indigenous inhabitants. In whatever form it comes in, Indigenous societies have been deeply traumatized through hundreds of years of enslavement, mutilation, and torture. How does the commodification and appropriation of Indigenous healing practices by Westerners in the modern era fit into the long and bloody history of the conquest of the Incan Empire in the 16th century, the vulcanization of rubber in the 19th century, as well as the subsequent enslavement of the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon under a debt-peonage system in order to extract rubber for Western markets? We answer this question in this episode.

Kevin Tucker is a primal anarchist, writer, and publisher. Kevin is the author of  numerous books, including ‘The Cull of Personality,’ ‘Gathered Remains,’ ‘For Wildness and Anarchy.’ He the host of Primal Anarchy podcast, the co-founder of the Black and Green Network and Black and Green Press, and is the founder and co-editor of 'Wild Resistance: A Journal of Primal Anarchy.'

* http://bit.ly/2TTkrni

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about Kevin's work: https://www.kevintucker.org

- Purchase ‘The Cull of Personality’: http://bit.ly/CullOfPersonality

- Listen to the Primal Anarchy podcast: https://primalanarchy.org

- Subscribe to the journal ‘Wild Resistance’: https://www.wildresistance.org

- Audio featured in the introduction can be found through these links: https://youtu.be/m28Kslrs9is / https://youtu.be/xyFI4wgdd0E / https://youtu.be/VE4AlwWcYwA

#149 | Time & Time, Again: The Neuroses Of Domesticated Life w/ John Zerzan

In this episode, I speak with anarchist and primitivist writer and philosopher John Zerzan. We discuss his deep analysis of the roots of Time as we understand it to be in the modern sense (explored in a collection of essays titled ‘Time & Time Again’), the roots of agriculture and the domestication of life, the detrimental impact this transition has had on human health and physical development, the neuroses of mass society (alienation, depression, anxiety, etc.), the wholesale disappearance of community, and the threat technological advancement poses for complex life on the planet.

As mentioned above, we begin the discussion by examining the concept of Time, as expressed in John’s collection of essays ‘Time & Time Again,’ published by Detritus Books. As John writes in his essay ‘Time and its Discontents’: “The further we go in time the worse it gets. We inhabit an age of the disintegration of experience, according to Adorno. The pressure of time, like that of its essential progenitor, division of labor, fragments and disperses all before it.”❂ Everything, as John points to his writing, becomes subject to the will and tyranny of Time, a process that continually disempowers us in the service of technological advancement and economic growth — ideological constructs that serves the continuation and legitimization of “Civilization” more broadly, regardless of the detrimental impacts this structure has on human life and the complex living systems of this planet.

John and I also discuss the root of the pervasive neuroses, destructive addictive behaviors, and outbursts of violence in modern society — all of which stem from the alienation produced by the community-destroying elements present in civilized life today. Through John’s examination of anthropological evidence of humanity’s pre-historic past, we can understand that much of what we take for granted to be “normal” human behavior and development is really, in the scope of things, a rather recent product of the logic of technological and economic progress inherent in capitalist development — the most recent phase in global civilization’s aim to expand and protract itself into every aspect of the human experience on this planet. What can we learn from this examination of human life before the rise of symbolic thought and agriculture? We discuss this and more in this episode.

John Zerzan is an American anarchist and primitivist philosopher and author. His works criticize agricultural civilization as inherently oppressive, and advocate drawing upon the ways of life of hunter-gatherers as an inspiration for what a free society should look like. Some subjects of his criticism include domestication, language, symbolic thought and the concept of time. His most recent books are ‘A People's History of Civilization’ and ‘Time and Time Again,’ both released this year (2018).✧

❂ Source: http://bit.ly/TimeDiscontents

✧Source: http://bit.ly/WikiZerzan

Episode Notes:

- Learn about John’s work at his website: http://johnzerzan.net

- Purchase ‘Time & Time Again’ from Detritus Books: http://bit.ly/TTAgain

- Purchase ‘A People’s History of Civilization’ from Feral House: http://bit.ly/APHCiv

- Listen to John’s weekly produced ‘Anarchy Radio’: http://bit.ly/AnarchyRadio

- The song featured in this episode is ‘Carbon 7 (161)’ by Jlin from the album Black Origami.

#143 | The New Primitives: The Reverse Teleology Of Primitivist Transformation w/ Ben Etherington

Our guest for this episode is Ben Etherington — author of 'Literary Primitivism' and the long-form essay, published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, titled 'The New Primitives' — the themes of which we discuss in this episode. In this discussion, Ben lays out a nuanced examination of Primitivism — a “mode of aesthetic idealization that either emulates or aspires to recreate ‘primitive’ experience.”☽ 

In modern Western societies, the primitivist ideal is expressed though various means — a few examples being contemporary dietary fads like the “Paleo Diet,” fitness regimens like barefoot/minimalist running, radical anti-civilizational and anti- technological political philosophies (e.g. the works of anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan and the manifesto of the UNABOMBER Theodore Kaczynski) — as well as in popular films, literature, and art. Primitivist themes and aesthetics run through several popular films, most notably in James Cameron’s blockbuster film ’Avatar.’ To quote from Ben’s essay: “The plot of the film follows the tested formula of primitivist transformation. A man of civilization, in this case the paraplegic US marine Jake Sully, is sent to colonize the primitive lands beyond civilization’s perimeter only himself to ‘go primitive’ after learning of their innocent beauty and recognizing the barbarism of his own destructive civilization.”✛ 

Ben, in this essay and in this discussion, understands Primitivism as a reverse teleology: “Marx’s communist society or the techno-utopias of Silicon Valley are premised on transcendence. When workers own the factories or robots do the menial labor, humans will be free to pursue their inmost desires. For primitivists, humans have previously achieved this state, and our urgent project is to restore it. We are to move forward into our past; or, equally, backward into our future.”✛

What does this theme of “primitivist transformation” tell us about our current set of living arrangements in the “modern” world? What does this longing for more “primitive” forms of living and being mean within the broader scope of historical development, especially as we enter into the late stage of capitalist development on this planet?  We delve into this rich subject in this episode.

Ben Etherington is senior lecturer in postcolonial and world literary studies in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and a member of the Writing and Society Research Centre. He holds honours degrees in Musicology and English from the University of Western Australia. He was awarded a General Sir John Monash Award to undertake an MPhil and PhD in English at the University of Cambridge, where he was later a Faculty of English research fellow. His publications include ‘Literary Primitivism’, the ‘Cambridge Companion to World Literature,’ and ‘Unsettled Poetics: Contemporary Australian and South African Poetry.’☯︎

☽ Source: http://bit.ly/Primitivism
✛ Source: http://bit.ly/NewPrimitives
☯︎ Source: http://bit.ly/LARBbio


Episode Notes:

- Read Ben’s essay ‘The New Primitives’ here: http://bit.ly/NewPrimitives

- John Zerzan’s response: http://bit.ly/ZerzanLetter

- Learn about and purchase Ben’s book ‘Literary Primitivism’ here: http://bit.ly/LiteraryPrimitivism

- The songs featured in this episode are “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and “Apocalypse Dreams” by Tame Impala from the album Lonerism.