“…This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars — and yet they have done it themselves.” ~ Nietzsche
“This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.” ~ Eliot
It was extremely disheartening to watch Milo Yiannapolous on “Real Time with Bill Maher” last week. From what I could gather, Mister Yiannapolous’s argument is as follows: “I have reconciled being Catholic and homosexual and anyone who has not reconciled these seemingly dissonant paradigms must be stupid. In fact, everyone but me and a few other people who agree with me are stupid. And by the way, the Alt-Right isn’t full of homophobic Nazis who would Crazyglue homosexuals’ rectums shut or throw them alive off of buildings like ISIS does.”
Like Donald Trump, Yiannapolous offers his opinions freely as if they were self-evident truths. But if you listen closely you will find that he is not partaking in the conversation. In fact, he is not partaking in any conversation that does not involve his own reflection telling him how pretty and smart he is. His slim charisma spews vitriol but advances no argument; he is a fledgling dictator buttressing his dubious beliefs with insults. Young Milo does not know how to listen. Thus, he cannot be part of the conversation for he does not even know what the conversation is about. But one thing is certain: if he were listening then he might have reflected back to him the fact name-calling is a far cry from solution finding.
Thankfully, this week we are offered myriad solutions from the genius writer Daniel Pinchbeck. His poignant new book “How Soon Is a Now?” is extremely necessary at this time of name-calling and marginalization. This inspiring, visionary manifesto – featuring thoughtful prefaces from Russell Brand and Sting – offers an antidote to the grim negativity of dogmatists such as Yiannapolous and Trump currently gripping our planet.
Pinchbeck proposes that we can break through our current blockages, activate our social imagination, and create a post-capitalist, post-work utopia. Overcoming limited greed and self-interest, we can design a resilient global civilization that works for everyone and not just the 1%. Pinchbeck believes that we have the technical ability to live harmoniously in a new paradigm and it is only our social systems and fractured ideologies that stand in our way of accepting our role as responsible stewards of Gaia.
Pinchbeck considers the ecological and geopolitical crises that confront humanity as “rites of passage,” initiations, that will force us to evolve rapidly if we want to survive. The book then traverses this theoretical idea to propose the hands-on changes we must make to our technical systems – industrial, energetic, and agricultural – as well as our political and economic systems.
Surprisingly, Pinchbeck is optimistic that we can not only avert a catastrophic rupturing of the earth’s ecology, but in the process of doing so create a world that is far more equitable, peaceful, and harmonious. Even at a time when we are losing as much as 10% of the planet’s biodiversity every fifteen years as climate change accelerates, Pinchbeck claims that we are not powerless. Instead we should reframe this challenge to see ourselves as protagonists in a cliffhanger, a story just as amazing as “Star Wars” or “The Matrix.”
Pinchbeck is most well known for his iconoclastic 2002 book “Breaking Open the Head,” which helped reintroduce the subject of consciousness-raising into the mainstream and preceded a renaissance in the study of several ancient medicines. His second book, “2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl” was a controversial New York Times bestseller that explored the prophetic knowledge of traditional and indigenous cultures around the world – in particular, the classic Mayan civilization in the Yucatan, and the Hopi in Arizona. A philosophical and metaphysical epic, “2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl” argued we were indeed in the crucible of an intense global transformation – as the Hopi describe it, a passage between worlds.
In a sense, “How Soon Is Now?” completes a trilogy and offers solutions to help us transition from a dying culture to a fresh one, and hopefully with a whimper and not a bang. However, for this to transpire, Pinchbeck proposes we may have to force a collective transcendence of our current state of being, a new understand of humanity and its relation to the planet and well as how humans relate to each other: most people are trapped in a limited, egoic level of consciousness, focused on material rewards and comforts; the next paradigm could be win-win, rather than Trump and Yiannapolous’ zero-sum win-lose paradigm.
“How Soon Is Now?” is replete with references to the work of other thinkers and visionaries such as Buckminster Fuller to Hannah Arendt, Karl Marx, David Graeber, Rebecca Solnit, Naomi Klein, Antonio Negri, Albert Camus, and many more. For the sake of our planet and our species I do hope that people such as Yiannapolous and Trump start looking for solutions and stop imposing their moribund dogmas on others.
Yes, I realize that Yiannapolous would deem me “stupid.” I find people who are not offering solutions boring.