Kate Harris: Fallen Heroes & The Modern Explorer

What does it mean to be an explorer in the modern era? How does one reconcile with the captivating myths told of “Old World” explorers charting uncharted territory with the more cynical truths surrounding their real intentions and actions? In this segment, Kate Harris, author of the memoir ‘Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road,’ attempts to reconcile with these questions about exploration, both in the past and present sense, as well as her yearning to challenge the legitimacy of borders in the geographical sense, but also in the metaphorical sense as well. What borders exist within ourselves, preventing us from exploring the limits of our being and living fully? We discuss her journey to travel the Silk Road with these questions in mind.

“Harris set off by bicycle down a short section of the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel Yule. This trip was just a simulacrum of exploration, she thought, not the thing itself—a little adventure to pass the time until she could launch for outer space. But somewhere in between sneaking illegally across Tibet, studying the history of science and exploration at Oxford, and staring down a microscope for a doctorate at MIT, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is by definition the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Forget charting maps, naming peaks, leaving footprints on another planet: what she yearned for was the feeling of soaring completely out of bounds. And where she'd felt that most intensely was on a bicycle, on a bygone trading route. So Harris quit the laboratory and hit the Silk Road again with Yule, this time determined to bike it from beginning to end.”

Kate Harris is a writer with a grudge against borders and a knack for getting lost. Her essays, travel features, and poetry have appeared in The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, Sierra, CutBank, Arc Poetry Magazine, and The Georgia Review, among other publications, and cited in Best American Essays and Best American Travel Writing. A Rhodes scholar and Morehead-Cain scholar, she was named one of Canada’s top modern-day explorers and in 2012 won the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award. Her journeys edging the limits of nations, science, and sanity have taken her to all seven continents, often by ski or bike. She's been profiled in Guernica, The Globe and Mail, VOGUE Germany, and the short film The Art of Wild. When she isn't wandering the world for work and play, she lives off-grid with her wife and dog in a log cabin in Atlin, British Columbia. 'Lands of Lost Borders' is her first book.

Learn more about Kate Harris and her book at her website: http://kateharris.ca

This is a segment of episode #150 of Last Born In The Wilderness “Lands Of Lost Borders: Fallen Heroes & Explorations Beyond Limits w/ Kate Harris.” Listen to the full episode: http://bit.ly/LBWharris

John Zerzan: Domestication & The Neurotic Species

In this segment, anarchist and primitivist philosopher John Zerzan and I 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.

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

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

This is a segment of episode #149 of Last Born In The Wilderness “Time & Time, Again: The Neuroses Of Domesticated Life w/ John Zerzan.” Listen to the full episode: http://bit.ly/LBWzerzan

John Halstead: The Myth Of The Dying God

In this segment, writer John Halstead expounds on his experience of coming to terms with the stark truth of our present predicament regarding global climate change, as was presented in his first essay (“What If It’s Already Too Late?”: Being an Activist in the Anthropocene’), published by Gods&Radicals, when he asks the question “What if it’s already too late?” We discuss the journey individuals must make when this question appears in their lives, and the various ways we can interpret and process the likely answer to this question. In John’s second essay ‘“Die Early and Often”: Being Attis in the Anthropocene,’ John presents a pagan perspective to the subject of the human-caused ecological crisis unfolding presently, and guides the reader into a mythological understanding of humanity’s role within the grand cycle of life and death, using the archetypes presented in the Myth of the Dying God as a framework to process civilizational collapse and the destructive role humanity has played within the living systems of the planet.

John Halstead is a native of the southern Laurentian bioregion and lives in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago. He is one of the founders of 350 Indiana-Calumet, which works to organize resistance to the fossil fuel industry in the Region. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment”. He strives to live up to the challenge posed by the statement through his writing and activism. John has written for numerous online platforms, including Patheos, Huffington Post, PrayWithYourFeet.org, and at Gods & Radicals. He is Editor-at-Large of HumanisticPaganism.com. John also edited the anthology, Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans. He is also a Shaper of the Earthseed community which can be found at GodisChange.org.

Read the first part of John’s two-part essay: http://bit.ly/2NPPs8y

Read part two here: http://bit.ly/2R7SMd

This is a segment of episode #148 of Last Born In The Wilderness “The Dying God: Learning To Die In The Anthropocene w/ John Halstead.” Listen to the full episode: http://bit.ly/LBWhalstead

Robert Forte: Psychedelics, The Elite, & Our Brave New World

In this segment, longtime psychedelic scholar and researcher Robert Forte discusses his concerns regarding the “psychedelic renaissance” currently underway, in particular as we begin to see a resurgence of public interest (including more positive coverage in the corporate press) of MDMA and other psychedelic compounds in recent years. To understand Robert’s perspective, we touch on the work of Aldous Huxley and his book ‘Brave New World’ and its addendum ‘Brave New World Revisted’ in order to frame our understanding of what is currently taking place within the broader cultural and societal trends regarding the use of psychedelics (and cannabis) for therapeutic, medical, and recreational use. Having a deep respect for psychedelics and their appropriate use, Robert asks that the psychedelic community be aware of and counter the underlying agendas of these forces within our society, in particular when it comes to approaching the subject of the legalization and therapeutic use of these substances in the modern era.

Robert Forte is a scholar and researcher of psychedelic drugs. He first studied with Frank Barron, who started the Psilocybin Project at Harvard with Timothy Leary in 1963. In 1981 he moved to Esalen to study with Stanislav Grof, and then attended the Divinity School, University of Chicago. During this time Forte conducted an independent investigation of MDMA. He obtained his master’s degree under Mircea Eliade and has collaborated with many of the leaders in the field of psychedelics, including R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, Alexander Shulgin, Claudio Naranjo, and many others. Robert is the former director of the Albert Hofmann Foundation, and currently is adjunct faculty at CIIS.

This is a segment of episode #147 of Last Born In The Wilderness “The Devil Is In The Details: Psychedelics & Our Brave New World w/ Robert Forte.” Listen to the full episode: http://bit.ly/LBWforte

Ian Campbell: Self-Directed Learning & The Failure Of Public Schools

Community-oriented educator and co-founder of North Texas Progressive Schools (NTxPS) Ian Campbell discusses the impact democratic decision-making in progressive schooling has in an individual’s social development, and the limitations and traumas that come with public education as it functions today, as well.

Ian Campbell is community-oriented educator and is the co-founder of North Texas Progressive Schools (NTxPS), which promotes progressive education for North Texas families and provides opportunities for collaboration among member schools. School representatives, including students, meet monthly to collaborate on events such as art shows, sports meet-up, field days, and chess tournaments, share resources, as well as spreading awareness of the progressive school movements and education options for families in North Texas. Inspired by the mass organizing efforts of groups as diverse as the Iroquois Confederacy and the mutual aid-based disaster relief done in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and Maria, Ian has grouped up some like-minded individuals and drew up the plans for a network that would make self-directed education a household name as an alternative to traditional public and private schools. A year later, it has grown into a network of eight schools, with several others working closely but unofficially. Learn more about NTxPs and self-directed education: https://self-directedpath.org/ntxps

This is a segment of episode #146 of Last Born In The Wilderness “The Progressive School: Self-Directed Learning, Democracy, & Play w/ Ian Campbell.” Listen to the full episode: http://bit.ly/LBWcampbell

Chris Thomas: Conservation In The Age Of Climate Crisis

Ecologist and author Chris Thomas discusses his view of whether abrupt changes in the global climate system will lead to severe loss of life on this planet, in particular human life — or whether many of the fears regarding this subject are overblown (but still rooted in legitimate understanding of where these global changes can ultimately lead). Chris invites us to look at species loss with a longer view, and understand these trends within perspective of millions of years of biological evolution and ecological change on this planet.

Chris Thomas is an ecologist and evolutionary biologist, interested in the dynamics of biological change in the Anthropocene. He works on the responses of species to climate change, habitat fragmentation, and biological invasions. He is interested in developing conservation strategies appropriate for a period of rapid environmental change. In addition to his scientific publications, Chris has been a co-editor of nine scientific journals and is the author of ‘Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction.’ Learn more about Chris and his book here: http://bit.ly/InheritorsBook

This is a segment of episode #145 of Last Born In The Wilderness “Inheritors Of The Earth: Approaching Conservation In The Anthropocene w/ Chris Thomas.” Listen to the full episode: http://bit.ly/LBWthomas

Kevin Hester & Rob Seimetz: Conversations At The End Of Time

The nature of this discussion with Kevin Hester and Rob Seimetz is to approach the difficulties of accepting the reality of the situation we are in and applying this understanding to our day-to-day existence, with all the complexities and inconsistencies that come with that. As the climate crisis continues to accelerate, and the likelihood of mass human displacement and extinction increases by the year, what does it mean to live and be in this time? The deeper question that comes up in the face of the likely near-term extinction of the human species is: what is this crisis asking of us as individuals and as a collective? How do we act in this time?

In the face of extinction, it is imperative that we act and resist beautifully, with love, in the time that we have, without being attached to the outcome. There is no map to the territory we have entered into, as individuals and as a species. At the very least, we must begin the process of accepting this truth in light of our current predicament, and aid others in their journey to acceptance, as well.

Kevin Hester is the host of Nature Bats Last on the Progressive Radio Network, and lives on Rakino Island, a small island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, New Zealand. Kevin’s website: https://kevinhester.live

Rob Seimetz is the host of Moving Forward on the Progressive Radio Network, contributes frequently to the online publication Counterpunch, and currently lives in Portland, Oregon in the United States. Rob’s website: https://robmovesforward.wordpress.com

This is a segment of episode #144 of Last Born In The Wilderness “At The End: The Conversations We Need To Start Having w/ Kevin Hester & Rob Seimetz.” Listen to the full episode: http://bit.ly/LBWHesterSeimetz

Ben Etherington: Primitivist Transformation & The Utopia Of Pre-History*

In this segment, writer and lecturer Ben Etherington and I discuss Primitivism in contemporary culture and media, using the highest grossing film of all time, James Cameron’s ‘Avatar,’ as the focus of the discussion.

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. It’s a structure that underlies other blockbusters like ‘Dances with Wolves,’ its sci-fi equivalents, and numerous journey-into-the-interior classics (especially the work of Joseph Conrad). Eros is built into this formula. Coition marks the point at which the civilized man gives himself over to the primitive tribe and discovers, or recovers, his primitive self. Primitivist utopias, in short, are fuckable utopias.”

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?

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.’

Read Ben’s essay ‘The New Primitives’ published in the Los Angeles Review of Book: http://bit.ly/NewPrimitives

Read anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan’s response to the essay: http://bit.ly/ZerzanLetter

This is a segment of episode #143 of Last Born In The Wilderness “The New Primitives: The Reverse Teleology Of Primitivist Transformation w/ Ben Etherington.” Listen to the full episode: http://bit.ly/LBWetherington

*Changed the title from what is displayed in the video at the request of Ben.

Tad Hargrave: The Poverty Of White Culture

To be labeled and exist as a “white” person in our current era is to live with certain privileges within the dominant culture of North America — some of which are subtle, and many of which are not subtle at all. It is important to note that along with the privileges that come with existing as a white person in modern North America, to be "white" is also to lack a connection to the land and place white people reside in. Also, to be "white" is to bear unacknowledged wounds -- intergenerational traumas that inevitably stem from being the descendants of people that fled the brutalities of Europe during centuries of land enclosures, colonial expansion, and rapid industrialization. In the process of assimilating to the dominant culture of North America, North Americans of European descent shed themselves of their ethnic and cultural traditions and ties to their homelands, and instead adopted the racial identity and social category of “white.” Of course, I’m speaking in broad generalities when it comes to this subject, but I do think that by understanding the historical trends and events that have brought us to this time and place we are in, we can begin to have an honest conversation about the subject of race, as well as engage in the difficult task of unpacking the concept of “whiteness” and begin reckoning with what we may find in this exploration. Tad Hargrave provides a nuanced and enlightening perspective in our examination of the concept of “whiteness" and superbly wrestles with the complexity of the subject.

Tad Hargrave is a man with an eclectic background. Tad is a founding member of several comedy troupes, dedicated almost two years of his life learning his ancestral language (Scottish Gaelic) in Nova Scotia and Scotland, runs a marketing website “Marketing For Hippies,” worked as the Executive Director of the Canadian branch of Youth for Environmental Sanity (a world renowned youth organization), and writes for the the blog “Healing From Whiteness: Remembering the Larger Story of History” — which is the basis of this discussion. Read more here: https://healingfromwhiteness.blogspot.com

This is a segment of episode #142 of Last Born In The Wilderness “Reckoning With Whiteness: Privilege & The Wounds Of Identity w/ Tad Hargrave.” Listen to the full episode: http://bit.ly/LBWhargrave

Charles Eisenstein: The Dream of the Land & The Purpose of Humanity

In this segment, Charles Eisenstein discusses the themes and ideas presented in his upcoming book ‘Climate: A New Story,’ a book that "flips the script on climate change," making the "case for a wholesale reimagining of the framing, tactics, and goals we employ in our journey to heal from ecological destruction,” in which the global climate crisis ultimately stems from.

Charles points to what the global climate crisis, and the ecological crisis more broadly, is asking of us. Is humanity meant for self-destruction (an evolutionary cul-de-sac), or is this crisis pointing to something else entirely? Can we develop a right relationship and role within the living systems of this planet by beginning the sacred process of healing from the wounds we have wrought on our long journey to this moment? Are we going to continue to live within and act on behalf of a paradigm that disconnects us from the living planet, alienates and disconnects us from each other and the land we live on, and rationalizes the ongoing maintenance of a global economic system that demands infinite growth in order to exist? The climate crisis, and the ecological crisis more broadly, points to the deeper crisis of meaning humanity is coming up against in this time we find ourselves in. The stories we have been telling ourselves about our role on this planet no longer make sense, for very obvious reasons. The abrupt changes in the global climate system speaks to this reality.

Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, speaker, and writer that focuses on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. He is the host of the podcast ‘A New and Ancient Story,’ a podcast that engages in topics that “revolve around concepts of interbeing and ‘technologies of reunion’ — anything drawing from and contributing to a new story, including material, social, psychological, agricultural, healing, and educational ‘technologies.’” He is the author of several books that expound on these topics, including ‘The Yoga of Eating,’ ‘The Ascent of Humanity,’ ’Sacred Economics,’ ’The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible,’ and most recently ‘Climate: A New Story.’ Learn more about Charles and his work at his website: https://charleseisenstein.net

Learn more and purchase ’Climate: A New Story’ here: http://bit.ly/ClimateNewStory

This is a segment of episode #141 of Last Born In The Wilderness “Initiation: A New Story Of Climate w/ Charles Eisenstein.” Listen to the full episode: http://bit.ly/LBWeisenstein