Excerpts and Thoughts from Charles Eisenstein’s Ascend Podcast Interview
Here are some excerpts from a recent Ascend Podcast interview by Charles Eisenstein. The interviewer mentions how the essay the Coronation has brought up so many important questions, and is one of the best he’s read.
Charles mentions how he likes to talk about “civilization change, systems change, narrative change, and the change in mythology.”
“Now, all of a sudden, the things I’ve been foreseeing are actually happening. The breakdown of normal. The plunge into, what I like to call, the space between stories. Where permanent features of reality are revealed as totally impermanent. And that, things that had seemed real are revealed as just agreement held together by our stories, and our agreements and our meanings.”
“Which casts us into this unknown space, which is very disorienting and frightening for a lot of people — including myself. There’s part of me that kinda wants to go back to the way things were — even as I understand that the way things were, was not the way things should be and like many people, I felt trapped in the way things were. And seeing our society trapped in the way thing were on this downward spiral to ecological destruction, and to social and political decay. It’s not like things were working before this.”
“I won’t say Corona virus has liberated us from normal, because whether it’s in our personal life or our collective life, very often the first response to a breakdown in “normal” is to cling more tightly to it.”
“A lot of what’s happening today is an extension or an intensification of the old “normal.” Like social distancing is nothing new — people are becoming more and more boxed in on their screens, more and more remote from each other, less and less public — for a long time. And now it’s like frozen this new reality in place. Same thing with government surveillance and tracking of people, same thing with fear of germs, the obsession with hygiene and safety. Like all of these trends, the dominance of medical authorities in life, they are not new. But it’s like they’ve crystalized into the fulfillment of the old “normal” and these trends.”
So it’s not like corona virus is liberating us from the trajectory we were on before. But it is making that trajectory visible and putting it our faces and asking us: Do we want to continue down this road that we were unconsciously choosing. It’s making that choice conscious now. And a lot of people more and more since I wrote that essay… More and more people are really questioning all of these things that we’re doing. This lockdown, this quarantine to be safe. Even if they are keeping us safe, there’s a whole debate as you know, that many people reject on its own terms. But even if they are working, is this the life we want.”
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*I can write about the notion of how people are referring to 2020 as the year in which a virus ‘inflicted’ itself upon us and changed things. There would be a “new normal.” This is not an accurate perception. The corona virus (and the response to it) further revealed the trajectory our “old normal” was following. (We were already living in more individualized realties and social distancing, relying more heavily on communicating and interacting with our device. There was already tracking of people, fear of germs, the obsession with hygiene and safety.
This is only “new” to those who weren’t seeing or aware of the themes of the trajectory.
The “new normal” has yet to come. I’m very well aware of this, and I don’t get the sense that many others in my online network are seeing this as such. Oh well, to each their own (reality)
Moving forward I’m going to going to use the blanket term “2020” to refer corona virus and what’s come with it.
During the year 2020, I chose to mostly use the word “pandemic” when referring to the news of the coronavirus or reflections upon how is was affecting people and the world at large.
I want to go back to differentiating from all the varying pandemics that have been afflicting the world.
For me using “2020” will act as a marker in time (well, that is what years, months, and days are) and I’ll likely write more in depth about what I personally mean by “2020” and it’s magnitude of defining moments on a collective level.
(Moving forward I’ll only refer to coronavirus or Covid when specifically talking on points
regarding that specific virus and illness.)
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Interviewer says, “you’ve made some really great points”
Charles mentions how his website got more than 2million views for The Coronation. Way more than anything else he had ever written.
A major media outlet canceled Charles’ scheduled appearance once The Coronation essay was circulating. One outlet claimed that they had to hold off due to his essay being shared on conspiracy sites. He felt it was done with the implication that he must be “on the other side.”
“What is a conspiracy theorist? It’s used as a, basically, a political smear. If you disagree with the official narrative, or admit that there are valid alternatives who are legitimate alternatives that should be even looked at, then you get smeared as a conspiracy theorist. Whether or not you actually believe that there’s a conscious conspiracy to whatever… to poison the planet, to instigate mandatory vaccines, to mind control everybody with 5G, to reduce the population and replace people with robots, whatever…”
“There’s like all of these different variants of an overarching myth… I’m writing a piece, “The Myth of Conspiracy.” Not saying that it is just a myth, but saying that it IS a myth. But a myth isn’t a fantasy, a myth is a powerful story that organizes reality and helps us see things that would otherwise be invisible. This whole conspiracy theory meme — there’s a lot underneath it, that the word “conspiracy theory” doesn’t even get at.”
“When normal breaks down, people are grasping for meaning. They need to make sense of the world. And so there’s all of these alternatives that come in, and say “okay, everything you’ve ever been told is a lie, here’s what’s true.” And someone else comes in and says, “no no no, here’s what’s true.” What they all have in common is some guy or some institution, it’s the same as the mainstream… saying Here’s what’s true, listen to me, trust in my authority, and I understand things. Well, what if they’re all wrong. What if nobody actually knows what’s happening here.”
“That’s one of the tributaries in The Coronation, the essay. Can I really know for sure? What can I know for sure? Yeah, I have my leanings.
I’ve personally practiced holistic and alternative medicine for 30 years. And have seen powerful result, and had experiences that science would ridicule as impossible. Within medicine, without — so there’s that. But do I really know for sure enough to tell people, here’s what’s true. I don’t.”
“I don’t think that lockdown is serving… (that it’s) actually saving lives. And I don’t think that the price of lockdown is worth it. Considering the tens of millions of people facing starvation around the world because of it. Way more than have been affected by Covid. But that’s my opinion. Um, I don’t know for sure. So then I come down to: Well, what do I know for sure? What is the truth that I can source from my body that doesn’t even require that I trust one authority over another.”
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There is an infodemic and there is a viral pandemic. Both of these factors have made it very challenging for accurate informational data and high quality sensemaking in the year 2020.
What it comes down to is to ask oneself: What do I know for sure? What is the truth that I can source?
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We’ve all been there. We’ve had a friend who calls or comes over and is having the worst day. Is feeling low or sick, totally out. She confides in you. And from what she’s saying, it’s clear she’s having a really bad day. After opening up a bit, she goes on to tell you that she wants to change things. Move away, leave her job, break up with her boyfriend. You know there may be some underlying reasons for these things, but you also know, she is not in the best place to make any life altering decisions.
“That day” for this friend in this scenario, is what each of us is experiencing as a year for 2020. Sure, a year is a much longer timeframe and some choices will have to be made. Make decisions when needed. But base them on as much previous data assimilation as you possibly can. The information you’re acquiring this year, while low or confused or in “bad day” mode, is not the best information to base things from. Your sensemaking and ability to assimilate aren’t primed for accuracy, and the sources need to be reviewed. Best to just pull from previous sensemaking. And go to sources that you trust to help you get your bearings, preferably considering your body as one of those sources.
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“Our attitudes toward death and life, and what’s really important. And why has it become so important to us to prolong life, rather than to focus on how we are living. And to postpone death, rather than to ask, “how are we dying?”
The interviewer says that he loves how Charles is asking these questions about “what is truth?”
The interviewer mentioned being asked “what can we agree on about the pandemic?” He said. after months of thinking about it, all he could come up with was “that something is happening”
Charles says, “the Coronavirus phenomenon is definitely inviting people into these deeper questions.”
The interviewer asks Charles, “Things that were becoming visible within society… (regarding the conspiracy aspect of things, from a political and government point of view )… What is playing out is a lot of people have lost trust in that system?”
Charles says, “yes.” The conspiracy popularity… I don’t really want to call them conspiracy theories, because that term is used as a smear to encompass a lot of things that are not actually conspiracy theories. So let me say instead, the popularity of alternative narratives and dissident points of view, dissenting points of view, shows a crisis in trust.
30 or 40 years ago, I don’t think people would’ve questioned the medical and political authorities the way that we do now. Like, we’ve been lied too… some establish types will bemoan this, the distrust of the public, and ‘why don’t they listen to the doctors and the health authorities, what’s wrong with those people, why won’t they listen to teacher’ as if it’s the fault of the public for not trusting politicians, corporations, government organizations. Well, actually that distrust has been well-earned through decades and decades of lying, corruption and the failure of government to really serve the public interest.”
A generation or two ago there was pretty deep trust in government.
Charles refers back to his grandfather’s time. There was an attitude of: ‘We’re all in this together’ and ‘the government is looking out for our interest.’
“He was completely enrolled in the legitimacy of the government, of the system as it was. That kind of trust, and you know, there’s always been those who were marginalized and oppressed, and were never part of that establishment, who have distrusted government all along. In my country it would be a lot of black people. But now, that kind of buy-in has withered away, because we’ve been manipulated for so long.”
“I could give many examples. You know, the weapons of mass destruction fiasco… Iran-contra, things like that. But also just the failure of government to serve the public interest and the public will. Like, look at the concentration of wealth, the unfair distribution of wealth that has intensified through my entire lifetime. The impoverishment of the middle and working class, the shriveling of the social safety net so that it doesn’t catch as many people. The inability of government to afford repair to maintain our infrastructure. Just like this general downgrade of life. Why is that happening?
Is it because machines don’t work anymore? Is it because technology has regressed? Why do we feel poorer now? Why are we more miserable? Why are we less healthy? Some enormous percentage of, I can’t remember, it’s like 42% of children have some kind of chronic health condition. You know, from autism to early-onset diabetes, to some kind of auto-immunity, allergies, asthma, etc, etc. Something like 1 in 5 woman suffer from clinical depression in this country. We can talk about obesity, we can talk about addiction. This is not a society that’s working. There’s so much less faith in the system, and in the promise of that system, and in the whole mythology that life is getting better and better.
So we are primed to reject what we’re being told right now. Or out of fear we could, um, trust Big Brother. It’s an interesting moment.
18:30 Interviewer asks “Do you feel that the crisis that is going on in the planet is sort of highlighting the fragile aspects of society from a psychological and a physical perspective?
Charles answers, “One thing is just how vulnerable and scared we are.
Charles says, “I asked my mother. You know the last big pandemic was in 1968, it was called the Hong Kong flu. And depending on which sources you read it killed between 1 and 4 million people on earth, at a time when the population was about half what it is right now. So that is, again, like an order of magnitude more than have died from coronavirus. But there was no panic about it. There were no quarantines, there were no lockdowns, there was no social distancing, there was really no fear. In fact, right at the tail end of it, one of the biggest gatherings in history, ever to happen in the western world took place in Woodstock, NY. At Woodstock, people were not practicing social distancing, they were not wearing masks. In fact many of them weren’t wearing anything at all. Like people were all together in this mass.
There just wasn’t this level of fear. So what this is showing us is how, not just how vulnerable we are to a disease, which is mostly harming people who are already sick. But also, umm, how easily cowed we are. How easily we accept the fear messages that are coming in, and how easily we comply with these draconian measures to lock us down and quarantine us and take away our freedoms — freedom of assembly, freedom of religion… even freedom of speech. Some of the things I’m saying here might actually get this interview censored.
“I’m not sure what it’s showing us exactly, ’cause this has not played out yet. And I’m already seeing signs, actually, of a counter-reaction. Where people are like, ‘hold on here. Maybe I’m not scared anymore.’”
Interviewer says, “Yeah, definitely, 100%. I mean, that’s what people are doing. I think the more that these questions are brought forward in people’s minds… this goes to the bigger question… the bigger question that this gets to is the fear of death.”
The interviewer says, “The more you start diving into your own psychology of your own self, you start to realize there is maybe more to this world than it’s sort of being made out to be.” Recalls Charles asking a question in his essay along the lines of “How much of life do we want to sacrifice in order to alter our security.” And he thinks this is a great question because it’s clear to see what’s gong on in the world today now that we’re giving away a lot of our freedoms in order of security. Could you speak a bit about that?”