The Ethics of Technology and the Future: An Interview with Douglas Rushkoff

The Ethics of Technology and the Future: An Interview with Douglas Rushkoff

What follows is a transcript for the podcast: HomeGrown Humans - Douglas Rushkoff - Team Human - Hosted by Jamie Wheal

This episode was with Douglas Rushkoff. Futurist media theorist, prolific author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Team Human and a half a dozen other titles. MIT once called him one of the top 50 most influential intellectuals. And he is a sweet man, a dear friend, and a fascinating interview and conversationalist.

We cover everything from Adolf Hitler and Aleister Crowley in a superhero cage match in a comic book that Doug once wrote to the emergence of crypto fascism among QAnon, among left-wing conspiracies and the new thought plandemic and Jeffrey Epstein all the way to digital memes as occult sigils, the end of the world, Atlas Shrugged in space and the possibilities for team human and what it means when all of us stop running, stop struggling, stop trying to escape where we are and who we are and show up together in the deep now for ourselves, for each other and for the world. Enjoy. 

Topics include:

  1. Prepping for Doomsday
  2. The Issues with Survival Bunkers for Elites
  3. An Examination of Conspiracy
  4. What is Sigil Magic?
  5. Aleister & Adolf: Book by Douglas Rushkoff
  6. What Is the Impact of the Digitization of Sigils as ‘Meme Magic’?
  7. Thoughts on Crypto Fascist Utopianism
  8. Ayahuasca May Have Replaced Sex as the Occult Gateway
  9. The Current Psychedelic Renaissance vs. The 1960s
  10. How Have Psychedelics Come Down to Utilitarianism?
  11. How Has Social Media Digitalized Our Commodity of Transformation? 
  12. How Psychedelics Have Been Used to Try to Get Away, Become or Transform
  13. What Is HomeGrown Humans
  14. The Deep Now
  15. Teaching at City College
  16. Letting Go of What You Have to Pursue Your Passion
  17. Howard Thurman’s Work: Civil Rights
  18. “The Social Dilemma” Documentary
  19. Goodbyes

Prepping for Doomsday

Jamie Wheal: Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist, futurist, professor, academic lecturer, novelist, and I would say quite accurately, one of the preeminent voices of his and my generation. Welcome to HomeGrown Humans.

Douglas Rushkoff: Thanks for having me, it was very sweet.

Jamie Wheal: Yeah, I'm delighted for us to get to talk again. I've been following your work for a long time, I think way back from... I didn't get to read it when you published it but I went back and found it was the Ecstasy Club. So your accounting of some of the formative stages of the rave scene, Program or Be Programmed, which I think was pressing. It was basically making a case that as we've moved into this digital age, we're either consumers or creators of digital content.

That there's a loss between analog and digital, as you take the full complexity of the world and compress it into pristine zeros and ones. I remember reading that a decade ago, giving it to my kids, sharing it with other parents, and now in the age of social dilemma, that documentary that our friend Tristan Harris has just launched, that's gone absolutely viral.

I think you were there a good 10 years early and you were throwing rocks at the Google bus, which at the time was almost calling attention to and pointing out something that had only really just started happening, the extreme gentrification of the Bay area in San Francisco and the very beginnings of the cracks of the Silicon utopianism, but you nailed it and now we're in the thick of it. And most recently with Team Human and you're open-hearted call for a greater rallying cry than just fragmented individual consumerism.

Douglas Rushkoff: And that says it.

Jamie Wheal: That about says it. And so, there's a beautiful overlap, obviously between the title of this series, Homegrown Humans and your most recent work, and even your podcast on NPO 1 of Team Human. And so I think we're really converging in this same neck of the woods and that overlap is strong enough that I actually open my next book with that account of your medium article from a couple of years ago. And I think it ended up getting its title shifted a couple of times but didn't one of them become Survival of the Richest?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: Okay. And you were telling the quite unnerving story. In fact, I'll tell you what? You're here, so how about you tell the story, because I remember reading it and it came out after Evan Osnos' New Yorker article from the year prior, Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich, and then yours was a coder/bridge to where we are now. Just tell us what that experience was.

Douglas Rushkoff: I get asked to speak about things all the time just because of all the digital type books I've written. And I was invited to do a talk about the digital future and I assumed it would be the same old group of bankers and digital investors and whatever, wanting to hear something out in a beautiful resort out in the West. And it turned out, I was in the green room waiting to go on and they bring these five dudes in there and they just sat at the table in the green room and that was the talk.

It was them peppering me with these really binary questions about the future, Bitcoin or Ethereum, virtual reality, augmented reality. Augmented humans or genetic augmentation or nano augmentation. It was all these weird... And then finally one of these guys... Camera tilt right and then there's the one guy in the corner and he's like, "Alaska or New Zealand?" And the whole rest of the hour I spent with them was answering questions about their doomsday scenarios.

I honestly don't know if they were faking each other out by asking questions or if they were actually building them. But it sounded to me, at least at the time, that they were actually building these bunkers. Well, I saw them as the most powerful people in the world because they're billionaires or at least close to it and these are the winners of the digital economy. At the same time, the best they can do is prepare for what they see as the inevitable collapse of civilization.

They're preparing for what they called the event, which meant the biological virus, the electromagnetic pulse, the social unrest or economic crash, or climate change catastrophe that renders life, as we know it, untenable and they'll have to go into these underground eco-farm, or oil tanker out in the middle of the ocean, with some ocean homesteading thing.

And the question they got to that we ended up spending the most time on, it was the most walking dead like scenario question was, how do I maintain control of my security force after my money is not worth anything? So they were talking about-

Jamie Wheal: That's the downside of zeros and ones, isn't it?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: You can unplug them.

Douglas Rushkoff: So do I get a shock collar, or do we use medication, or am I the only person with the combination to the food? And I was half tongue in cheek and team humany way. I said, "Well, if you pay for your head of securities, daughter's bat mitzvah today, they'll be friendly during the apocalypse.

And it was my way of saying, look, rather than envisioning yourself in the negative future, how are you going to... Do nice things now and it will engender the spirit that you want when that happens, but hopefully it will make it so it doesn't have to happen at all.

And for me, the result of that conversation was realizing that these guys are utilizing an insulation equation, that they're looking at, "How much money do I need to earn in order to insulate myself from the reality I'm creating by earning money in that way?" So it seemed like Western civilization in true end stage.

That they want to build a car that could drive fast enough to escape from their own exhaust, just get away from the repercussions of their own externalities. And I realized that the job now is not to help them do that, but to try to convince people to spend their time and energy and resources making the world a place that you don't have to escape from and that that's actually a more efficient process than building your escape pod.

Jamie Wheal: Well, you have to think that. I remember being blown away and humbled by a buddy who was a Marine biologist in school, and he was trying to have a saltwater aquarium. And it turns out that a saltwater aquarium is infinitely harder than getting your gold fish at the county fair and dropping him into a pool and changing the water every day. You're simulating the ocean, and it's high chemistry, you almost need a PhD and you definitely can't phone it in.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: And you're like, "Oh wow, simulating a natural fecund environment is actually impossibly difficult." [crosstalk 00:08:25].

Douglas Rushkoff: I know, it's like the biosphere experiments they did in the 80s and 90s out in Arizona with billions of dollars on earth. In the most friendly environment and you could plan for years and build this thing, it failed. They did it twice and they couldn't get the oxygen balance right. And it's like, if you can't even do that on earth, then how are you going to go do that on Mars? It's a lot to think about.

The Issues with Survival Bunkers for Elites Only

Jamie Wheal: Well, dude, I had an analogue experience to yours just a couple of weekends ago and we just happened to be socially hanging out with some of the PayPal Mafia guys, so the original crew that came up with Peter Thiel and Elon and all those. And we were having this conversation, except it started with the idea of what have you been doing in your spare time?

And it turns out that the #vanlife of people buying old Volkswagens, this and that and bumbling around and to go see America, Jack Kerouac way. They had their own version and it wasn't even like the Mercedes Sprinter van, the bougie upgraded VW bus, it was 40 foot luxury, rockstar motor coaches with private drivers.

And these guys were rolling around in between their fellow ultra high-net-worth buddies' compounds. And just on these movable feasts of these hedonistic bacchanals. And then one of them was like, yeah. But at the and I was asking, I was like, to this very question, don't you think there's things to fix or don't you think there's things to save? Can we do this? Can we rally? And one of them looked at me and he goes, yeah, I'm basically with Elon on this one, I think we're going to Mars.

And then he laid out the rest of his cuts and basically he goes, it's a profoundly American thing we're doing because the founding fathers, they got on their little ships and they sailed for three months across the ocean to found the new world. And we're just going to be on a little spaceship for six months to get to Mars. And then I was like, well, what about governance? What about who gets to come? Who doesn't get to come? All these kinds of things.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: He's like yeah, this is just true in nature. I mean, just all cells have walls and then we're supposed to be talking about a corporate state not even some civil attempt at a civil society, purely a corporate city's libertarian city state run by these fuckers. And I was like, Oh my God, Galt's Gulch is on Mars. This is literally Atlas Shrugged in space.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: And it gave me chills and broke my heart a little bit, kind of crimped my evening because I was like, for fuck's sake, that is a heartless as burglary sociopathic position.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah. And then the thing that they don't ask themselves and I guess this is the main question I'm asking myself now in my work is, right, these guys came over from England and Europe to America with this way of doing things and always looking for the new, new thing and moving West and creating novelty in Western frontier.

And when it fails, which it did, this is a failed nation, this is a failed project right now. They think, Oh, well let's go do it again somewhere else rather than, oh wait a minute, maybe this doesn't work. Maybe we should try to engender a different approach to life.

Jamie Wheal: Yeah. Let me run this by you and see if it tracks for you because my sense was is that we've had like, if meaning 1.0 was organized traditional religion, right? And its promise was salvation, but it was salvation to the elect, right?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: And meaning, meaning 2.0 was basically neoliberalism and it offered inclusion, right? But at the cost of salvation, like we'll give you the phone and the vote and the vaccine and the refrigerator but we won't tell you what it all means. And it seems like we have... Obviously meaning 1.0 started collapsing sooner. That was the rise of the nuns and the collapses in organized religion.

But in the last five years in particular, we've seen this hyper accelerating collapse of the neoliberal promise. And it feels like when both of those collapse and the center cannot hold, we end up with fundamentalism on one side, people doubling down and retrenching on orthodoxies and nihilism on the other and both can give rise to rapture ideologies.

One is old school, the world is doomed, the rapture is coming and my people are saved on the other side so nevermind the collateral damage. And the other is a techno utopian rapture. They got the ones we've just been talking about, which is ecosystemic, geopolitical, climactic collapse. The saved are the brilliant, talented, brightest top 0.01%. And nevermind this planet because we run the numbers and it doesn't pencil out and that's creative disruption for you.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. Well then there's this other group that now I would say is the Trumpian group, but it came through Norman Vincent Peale and the secret and Madame Blavatsky and Frank Baum maybe all the way back to the Masons who helped found [crosstalk 00:00:13:47].

Jamie Wheal: What's Frank Baum role in that I was tracking a little bit of this.

Douglas Rushkoff: Frank Baum was that the theosophist, the follow the yellow brick road, he was the window dresser at Wanamaker's, who then wrote The Wizard of Oz and Wizard of Oz combined Calvinist extreme capitalism with theosophy with Madame Blavatsky and-

Jamie Wheal: I did not know that the theosophical connection that was evolved [crosstalk 00:14:11].

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah. So he was the thinking makes it so, that's why Dorothy, you just close your eyes and click your heels and get what you want and that's what Norman Vincent Peale taught in Power of Positive Thinking. Right to Donald Trump himself, who was sitting in the pews. They went there every Sunday to the Collegiate, whatever church that was.

And so there's this other kind of magical thinking. It's a third pillar and I don't know. I mean, maybe it's just going to burn itself out now, or maybe it's part of fundamentalism but not really, fundamentalists don't believe if you wish it, it is so. They kind of do but I'm looking at... I feel like Trump is not one of them, he appeals to them, but he's trying to do the secret. He's trying to do some right wing version of a Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey kind of-

Jamie Wheal: Yes, as the whole prosperity gospel, like the televangelist preacher woman that he's got on board, that whole subset, that genre of the gospel of wealth and prosperity stuff is thick. Have you seen the-

Douglas Rushkoff: I guess that deep angelical finally because you get the thing you...

Jamie Wheal: Yeah. But to your point about Calvinism, right? It's not Calvinistic. The idea of we no longer need to bow and scrape and we no longer need to demonstrate our good works and our Christian humility. We actually get to live our #bestlife and everything I give out, I get back 10 times so like, cough it up in the collection plate folks.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: You too one day will be as deserving as I. Have you seen the Mighty Gemstones? I think that's what they're called, right?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: Show.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, exactly so just pitch perfect, complimentary on the-

An Examination of Conspiracy 

Jamie Wheal: Yeah, I know. And that's a good business, God is the best product, right? Just the ultimate product.

Well actually I'll tell you what, there's a buddy of mine, Jules Evans. I don't know if you read his conspirituality pieces that have been going around like the Nazi Hippie, the conflation of the far right, the magic of thinking on far right and far left and how it was now meeting in Plandemic and even QAnon conspiracy thinking.

So you just blew through a century and a half of really important references and I'd love you just of go back. Let's just walk viewers and listeners through this, because you mentioned late 19th century, the rise in spiritualism and the advent of new thought.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: It feels endemic to most of the thinking viruses that we're experiencing today, the fuzzy logic, the leaps of faith and the conspiratorial nature of it. So just unpack that for us because it's got such an impact in the Instagram self-help, personal growth, psychedelic transformational community. And now it's weirdly susceptible to additional snippets of code from the crypto, Orion, fascist, accelerationists. And you're like, how the fuck did that happen?

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. Well, part of it is the America, it's so embedded in American code. Growth based corporate capitalism is based on the faith that there will always be a new market, always be more, it has to be because you're going to have to pay back more than you borrowed. It's the promise of central currency and it worked when you had colonialism, when you could take over other countries and enslave their people and steal their resources.

But then what do you do when you run out of places and they start pushing back and they hadn't by then I guess, we were still pretty colonial when these came up, but they gained so much power because they helped stoke consumerism. When Frank Baum was working at Wanamaker's, he was the one who invented the departments and the department store.

That you would have a bridal shop and you would make the bridal shop so complete. You would have these models and mannequins with every frigging bridal thing, the person and they had little bridal purses that they carry and special shoes and veils. And then if you don't have this in the book and have that... So that someone walks in and will feel incomplete without purchasing the whole thing.

You create these worlds and he wrote about this, you create worlds to make the consumer feel inadequate. It's not [crosstalk 00:18:43] just to make them feel like they're in a Disney paradise, but that the only way to truly participate is to get all the things or the men's haberdashery department.

Jamie Wheal: I would imagine like Ethan Allen doing living rooms and bedrooms and that whole thing is in that [crosstalk 00:18:57].

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, so that you can upsell. Wait, well have you thought about what lamps you're putting on those nightstands? I was like, Oh, the lamp, without the lamp it's not really a nightstand. So there's the sense of longing, of wanting. There's a great book by William Leach called Land of Desire where he really ties together these new faith ideas and the birth of American consumerism. And then of course it fits to what you were saying that if you are good with God, then you're going to be able to have this stuff.

That's how you know you're good with God. You've got plenty of good things. I would think Madame Blavatsky and Mary Baker Eddy and those folks would be rolling over in their grave to see where their work was taken. But it's all based in magic, in a cultism and thinking makes it so and oddly enough, I just did a podcast with Grant Morrison, the comics artist and returned to sigil magic just in the last couple of weeks.

Jamie Wheal: He has?

Douglas Rushkoff: I have.

Jamie Wheal: you have?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, it was half as a joke or whatever but after the first debate-

What is Sigil Magic?

Jamie Wheal: Why don't you just describe what sigil magic is to folks.

Douglas Rushkoff: There's a lot of ways but basically it's a magical practice, like in a cult magical practice where you envision a thing and then you can make a little drawing or create a little sign or take the words of a wish and combine them together into a symbol and focus on that in order to conjure the future or the thing that you want.

I mean, it could be a silly thing like, Oh, I want a girlfriend really bad so I'm going to take the letter G, L, F and D and put them together and make a thing and then set it on fire or masturbate over it or put it under my pillow and have a dream. And then hopefully manifest that thing. 

Jamie Wheal: That brings to mind that, I forgot what it was, it was like a Twilight Zone but it was on HBO. I forget what it was called, but it was basically a woman with a pentagram and cornmeal and candles. And she was doing the lottery tickets and she was getting them and she gets the right number, and then the right number, and then the right number and the right number. And then the final number it breaks wrong.

And she's shocked because she's getting so euphoric, just so shocked and it breaks wrong, but then it pans back and it shows that in the apartment right beneath there was a dude doing the same magic, and he had bent the final number. So I had no idea we were going to get into this neck of the woods so quickly in the conversation but I'm glad to because one of the things I noticed in your bibliography was Aleister & Adolf. Was that something that you did way back when? 

Aleister & Adolf: Book by Douglas Rushkoff

Jamie Wheal: Yeah. So yeah, talk to me, was that a graphic novel? What was that?

Douglas Rushkoff: Aleister & Adolf was a graphic novel that... It's funny, I was at a party, a DC comics party at Comic Con and I was there with Grant Morrison and Dean Haspiel and some of the great comics people. And we're sitting there drinking and playing this weird game about ultimate superhero match-ups. So it was like, Jesus against Superman, or whatever or batman versus Genghis Kahn.

And then I said, well what about Aliester Crowley versus Adolf Hitler? And then Grant turns to me and he goes, ooh, you have to do that one. So then I thought, all right, I'm going to do a comic book. That's Hitler versus a Aliester Crowley, the great British cult magician, against Adolf Hitler. And then I started doing historical research and I found out they had met to.

Jamie Wheal: That's what I thought, I was like, didn't that actually almost happen.

Douglas Rushkoff: And it did. And it turned out that Ian Fleming, who was working for the MI6 or five or eight or whatever it is, secrets to her Majesty's secret service. The guy who made up 007, that he was charged with enlisting Crowley to fight in a cult battle against Hitler. And Crawley was the guy who falsified the star charts that were sent to Hitler, the astrology charts to get him to goad him into making certain military moves that were against his best interest.

So it was a whole and real thing. And plus Crawley was doing actual sigil magic. In other words, he was creating spells and writing diagrams and special poems. He's the guy that came up with the V is for victory hand signal, which was supposed to be the counter sigil to Adolf Hitler's Sieg Heil hand. It was scissor beats paper. It was a fun thing but... So then I-`

Jamie Wheal: So wait, you're saying that he came up with that and then somehow that got to Churchill?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, In plumbing was the go-between. And he would write these victory poems and come up with all this stuff. But yeah, V is for victory was a Crowley sigil and had to do with the V and the woman's vagina. And it was all this-

Jamie Wheal: Of course it did

Douglas Rushkoff: Everything he does does. But yeah, it was a highly advanced use of a symbol or an imagery and he did all this... There's a lot of writing on what he meant by it. And it fits into these bigger charts and things and he wrote poems, that England will not fail and a bunch of stuff, but yeah, he was involved in that. So I wrote a graphic novel really a.

... wrote a graphic novel really where I had it be George Patton sends this young army Lieutenant to enlist Crowley, because I made it about the sort of American who falls into the Crowley world. But the idea there was that Crowley's techniques end up as American corporate advertising, that this sigil magic, creating a sigil is creating-

Jamie Wheal: Yeah, it's just a logo type. Yeah.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. It's a logo type, and I was really looking at what happens when these logos migrate to the internet and we give them life, when the logos become AI's and can then continue the sigil, continue the magic, but without human intervention anymore. Where will that go?

Jamie Wheal: So did you hear, on that thread, of World War II, and kind of non-ordinary or a cultish warfare. Sri Aurobindo down in India, and I think in conjunction with Blavatsky, they were sort of dueling it out with the Nazis in the astral realm. At least nominally, that was their experience and what they were intentionally doing.

I always thought, "How would you think of this thought experiment?" Because it's very easy to succumb to new thought thinking, grandiosity of impact, like, "We are pulling the strings on the highest level." I always thought a thought experiment would be like, "Well, Sri Aurobindo versus Allan Tiering, cracking enigma. Both were in the realm of the imaginal. Both were conceptualizing things that didn't yet exist, and both were instantiating on behalf of the cause. Who did more, and do we have any unconscious biases towards the romantic, the Oriental? You know what I mean? I mean that in science terminology, but that versus just straight up ingenuity and brilliance that tiering is.

What Is the Impact of the Digitization of Sigils as ‘Meme Magic’?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, and as you speak, I wonder if the modern ethereal realm is the meme space of Twitter and Facebook, if that's where you launch a sigil. So it becomes so much more tangible and visible, and then the other other question I keep wanting to ask, and maybe it's because other people have finally come on board, right? There's the social dilemma people who are talking about the ill effects of Facebook and all. Are we overestimating all this? In other words, is Facebook and Twitter just our excuse for being fucking shitty, horrible people believing crappy things? Did the kids who launched Pepe the frog really have a cult power over the American psychology?

Jamie Wheal: Well, I wanted to ask you about that one in particular actually, because is it George Lakoff? Who is the fellow that did that?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, about framing and stuff and [inaudible 00:30:47] framing.

Jamie Wheal: I mean, yes, that is Lakoff, and then there's the different fellow that I'm thinking of, but it's very close. But he basically wrote Trump and meta magic, or Trump and meme magic. It's a, it's a fascinating book. I think he's at London School of Economics. He's somewhere over in the UK, but deeply schooled in the occult, and did a breakdown of 2016 election and how the Pepe the frog, and basically the chaos magicians and the Ebola, the Italian sort of fascist mystics, and this whole neck of the woods. It may not be that there's a truly mustache twittling villain or cabal, and on the other hand to what you said. The digitization of sigils in meme magic and the ability to instantiate, even if it's ironic and one removed, ideas, impulses, suggestions that might've been, abominable, heresy, extreme racism, extreme anti-Semitism, extreme misogyny. Take your pick. But always plausibly deniable, and yet still effectively psychoactive. What do you say?

Douglas Rushkoff: I know.

Jamie Wheal: Right?

Douglas Rushkoff: Exactly, just because you say wink, wink, nudge, nudge before and after it, doesn't mean the substance-

Jamie Wheal: Oh hey, just kidding. This doesn't mean anything, but it kind of does now, right?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, I know. It's scary, and they can take that clip and now say you're a white supremacist, right?

Jamie Wheal: Yeah, exactly. Which is a little bit like looking at Beyonce and Jay-Z videos for signs of Illuminati.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right, because you'll find them. They're everywhere.

Jamie Wheal: Yeah. So what is your sense of that?

Douglas Rushkoff: [crosstalk 00:32:27] they're everywhere or are they everywhere because they're everywhere? One never knows, but I look at Qanon now, and I understand some of the impetus for that. The neo-liberal cabal, and Epstein was a bad person, and all that. But when I look at Qanon and as a Jew, I understand that most of Qanon comes from protocols of the elders of Zion, which was a 1800s czarist, Russian piece of propaganda saying that Jews kill Christian virgins for the blood Passover and stick it in their matzoh. Now the Qanon thing is that the pederasts kill the children and take some vital brain fluid or something.

Jamie Wheal: [inaudible 00:33:11].

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: It's awesome.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah. I thought you develop black and white photography with that, but that'...

Jamie Wheal: Or didn't Paul Simon? Do you know something about that?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, exactly. But no, apparently it's something. But it's so lifted from that, and then I wonder, "Well, is that really amplified by our technologies and all, or would they have gotten it anyway?" You know?

Jamie Wheal: That was actually-

Douglas Rushkoff: We'll never know.

Jamie Wheal: There was a question. Who was it? Caveat Magister, who was one of the kind of trickster old God of [inaudible 00:05:42], right? So he very much comes out of the cacophony society, and a lot of that kind of theatrical punk, which I that's that entire movement's saving grace, by the way. I think if it had been purely a psychedelic hippie dance rave thing, it would have crawled up its own asshole and died at least a decade ago.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: But the punk rock trickster element. The moment anybody's getting a little too pious, anybody's getting a little too self satisfied or certain, just blow it all up.

Douglas Rushkoff: In some ways, that's what saved the sixties for me, is that you had Paul Krassner and Robert Anton Wilson doing Operation Mindfuck. That you have Abby Hoffman going to the Pentagon and holding hands, and trying to raise the Pentagon, or threatening that they're putting acid in the Washington DC water supply. Operation Mindfuck was about de-stabilizing consensus reality, getting people to wonder for just a second.

Jamie Wheal: Yes.

Douglas Rushkoff: Krasner's the guy that said he published in the realist. He published that after Kennedy was shot, Jackie Oh was on Air Force One. When they were flying the body back from Texas, and she walked in on LBJ, Lyndon Johnson penetrating the exit wound in JFK skull, right? It was the first fake news, and people didn't know if it's real or not because it played into some of the rumors about that Lyndon Johnson used to show his Johnson a lot, because he apparently had a very big penis, and he was outrageous, and that it was part of a cabal, or he was part of the group in the CIA that killed JFK.

He meant it both as a joke and satire, but he also intentionally meant to destabilize our grasp on reality, as a way of tweaking us and breaking us free, right?

Jamie Wheal: Yes, yes.

Douglas Rushkoff: It's giving us a little bit of an acid trip, and now it feels like it's the right that knows how to do that. The leftists, we've gotten so fucking serious with all of our [crosstalk 00:35:44].

Jamie Wheal: Sincere.

Douglas Rushkoff: And I understand the word police. In any kind of a left wing event, I'm so careful not to social signal either, but not to say anything that could be construed as anything. It's hard. Even saying, "I don't want to say anything that's construed as anything," could be construed as now I'm IDW or something. It's like-

Jamie Wheal: Silence is violence, man.

Douglas Rushkoff: It really... Right, it's hard. Everything is violence and I'm so not violent, and I'm really trying not to be. Then whatever I mean... My intention doesn't mean anything anymore. Now it's like, "Well, you stepped on the ant, buddy. I don't care if you tried to avoid him. You stepped on the ant and now he's dead." But I didn't even step on an ant.

Jamie Wheal: There's author response. There's reader response. There's textuality. There's all things from good tools of post-modern literary criticism.

Douglas Rushkoff: It's what I learned in college.

Jamie Wheal: Exactly. They're just out the window. They're completely out the window.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: If you've misread me and I am the author of the work, whether it's a tweet or it's a podcast or it's whatever, you can say, "This is how it landed for me. Awesome." You can say, "These are what the words actually logically said," and then if you give a shit, you can actually inquire into authorial intent, but somewhere between all those, we get to consensual context bound truth.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: But people now are just saying, "I took it this way. Boom."

Douglas Rushkoff: I don't know. I actually spoke with Helen Pluckrose about this. She wrote a book with someone even more famous than her. I've got the book there, a book called Cynical Theories. It's looking at how postmodernism went from being an art critique to being a critical theory, to being a social theory. Then when you apply it to real world stuff, you end up in this kind of ontologically, relativistic haze, where whatever I'm perceiving to be is what is, and you lose touch with conditions on the ground. So universal social justice goes away, and all you have left is the individual intersectional justice that are all kind of competing with each other. For me, I think what happened to both the right and the left, and this is still new thinking so it might be wrong, but it's cybernetics is what fucked it all up for them.

So cybernetics, what Norbert Wiener wrote about in the 1950s that was going to happen. Once you had computers and robots getting feedback, you have feedback and iteration. When you have systems that are getting feedback, it gets really hard to tell what's the cause and what's the effect. Who's doing what to whom? What's the subject, and what's the object? It's back to reception theory that the audience is active by how they choose to interpret it. But once it's digital, and it's feeding back so fast, am I tweeting to you? Or are you tweeting to me? Am I reacting to your tweet? Or are you co-tweeting? What's happening here?

Jamie Wheal: Yeah. What was the prime mover?

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: We can't ever track it back to the prime mover, right.

Douglas Rushkoff: So there's no call and response. It's all just response, response, response, response. I think that's part of what's gotten us untethered.

Jamie Wheal: So basically [crosstalk 00:38:53]

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, but maybe there never was a prime mover. Maybe this is the way it really was, and it's just been a convenient fiction that, "Oh, this guy's in charge. We're following him, you know?"

Jamie Wheal: [crosstalk 00:39:03] yeah, yeah. Goodness gracious. So it feels to me like there's something resembling almost like an intertwingulariy right now, where there's not a singularity. Everybody's mytho poetics are smashing and crashing into each other, canceling each other out, doubling the amplitude in other places and we've got red pilling in the Matrix, which for 20 years was a symbol of Gnostic initiation, and is now a misogynist troll rallying cry. You've got-

Douglas Rushkoff: Well, it's black pilling. Isn't those guys black pill, or is it a different color? I thought black pilling is what they do. We do red pilling. They do black pilling.

Jamie Wheal: Oh, fascinating. Well, I mean, I know-

Douglas Rushkoff: That's only my little crowd. >y crowd says that red pilling is still cool, like Matrix, see through the thing. But black pilling is Qanon pilling.

Jamie Wheal: Oh, beautiful. Well, not beautiful. Did I just say in an excerptable soundbite that Qanon was beautiful? I think I just did, and then I just did it again.

So to your point about... Is this a thing? Is this really a thing?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, but for however damaging it is, Qanon is the first genuinely successful interactive fiction. Nobody knew how to do it, how to do an online novel, and this is what you do. You do a punchlist kind of thing. You do drops and your audience creates the narrative out of it. It's beautiful, and it has promoted a collaboration. Qanon people do what we learned in improv class. They do yes, and. Yes, and. You know what I mean? They never negate. It's like, "Right. So COVID came to get to let us put up 5G towers, and it's caused by 5G, and [inaudible 00:40:54] paid for it, and the Chinese did it, and Bill Gates is a pederist and that," and it's like, "Wow," and even if they're all internally inconsistent, it doesn't even matter.

Jamie Wheal: No, I mean, Black Mirror Bandersnatch has got nothing on this, as far as just forked self or co generated narrative.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, yeah. But it is. I mean, if it weren't so frightened and hateful, it's a state-of-the-art internet social experiment.

Thoughts on Crypto Fascist Utopianism

Jamie Wheal: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, yeah. So I want to talk with you, because one of the most interesting threads that you've piqued my curiosity on, because we're talking about mythologies we're talking about these stories and almost all of them, regardless of political persuasion, kind of follow the same format. They're like, "Things are really bad now, folks," and there's some explanation for the fall, how we got here, and then there's a promised land, and if we do our thing together, then we all get to the promised land, and that can be blockchain. That can be psychedelic Renaissance. That can also be Qanon, outing all the pedos. It can be whatever it is. Communism followed it, as did the Judeo-Christian thing. So it's deep root structure of Western thought, is the Alpha-Omega utopian play.

I've heard you speak I think quite passionately about maybe even some of your time back in the day with Terence McKenna, some of the dialogues you guys had about TimeWave Zero, the [inaudible 00:42:33] and these things. I used to maybe be curious about that and other people were super passionate, but now you're beginning to view that with some skepticism.

Let's talk about crypto fascist utopianism, and what are we seeing these days? Because it feels like some of the best laid plans. There's a lot of enthusiasm right now, and they don't necessarily all pencil out, if you've studied the history. So what are your thoughts on that? Because I think the last time we got to chat, you were actively disabusing those triumphalist narratives for something that felt much more localized, much more decentralized, and ultimately, much more humanized.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. I mean, I always had problems with Terrance's narrative, because he would talk about the bottleneck at the end of time. I mean, I even critique this in my 1993 book, Siberia. He talked about the bottleneck at the end of time. That TimeWave zero happens, and he's got it all mapped out, and we have all this really increasing novelty, and then there's this bottleneck before we reach the strange attractor at the end of time. It seemed to me that he was saying that... I mean, he kind of was saying that only people who've had a sufficient DMT experience are going to make it through, and that most people are not. I was like, "That's elitist. That's terrible," and he goes, "No, it's not. It's just the way it is. It's just what is, you know? If you don't know how to navigate this, you won't be able to make it through, you know?"

Jamie Wheal: Okay. So that feels energetically identical to the conversation I had two weekends ago with one of those high net worth tech billionaires. He was just kind of, it is what it is. That was that sort of almost objectivism. Separate them from the chaff. Of course, we want the best and the brightest to reseed and regrow this thing. Because again, back to our notion of how Qanon and pandemic really brought far right far left back together across the backyard fence of cookiness, this is what I mean about the crypto fascist thing. You can have folks on the left and the right weirdly actually aspiring to something that is exclusive, that is elitist, and fundamentally sociopathic.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right, which is why at Bohemian Grove, you would see Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton. You know what I mean? You'd see Jerry Garcia and Sasha Shogun were at Bohemia Grove as well. So what is that? This is a place, for people who don't know, where the ultra fascist American dictator types and billionaires would dance around in the woods of California. It's sort of like that.

Jamie Wheal: Or as Nixon famously said is there's 70 year old plutocrat Republicans with this strange preponderance of 20 and 30 something beautifully chiseled thespians, with no women. Nixon on the Watergate tapes is like, "That is the faggiest goddamn place I've ever seen," which could another element of the esoterica, right? I mean, the Templars got routed for buggery.

Douglas Rushkoff: Oh really?

Jamie Wheal: Yeah.

Douglas Rushkoff: Oh, the Knight's Templars? Oh.

Jamie Wheal: Yeah. That was their number one charge, man.

Douglas Rushkoff: Oh, well.

Jamie Wheal: So how does that fit with Qanon and Jeffrey Epstein?

Douglas Rushkoff: [crosstalk 00:46:04] to do. Of all things to outlaw, you know?

Jamie Wheal: [crosstalk 00:46:10] good friends.

Douglas Rushkoff: Especially if it wasn't outlawed, you might not have all this sort of tech bro insanity either. They'd just be happily buggering. Oh, well. But yeah, it was just a strange... I hadn't thought of it that way. I always assumed they just hired hookers. Eyes wide shut, these naked girls with feathers and things, but yeah. That makes sense. I always wondered if Nixon was really in on this stuff, or he's just some Quaker who got mixed up in politics?

Jamie Wheal: Yes, who had a few character flaws, and a will to power that made them all worse. Just put a crowbar in there, and went for it.

Ayahuasca May Have Replaced Sex as the Occult Gateway

Jamie Wheal: Well I mean, okay. So I didn't know where this conversation was going, but I sense that there's a little portal we could open up right here, based on everything we've just discussed, which is you were talking about eyes wide shut at the Bohemian Grove, right? We were joking about Aleister Crowley, and we were exploring again, I would suppose the mystical fascist impulses that kind of linger around all this.

I've always wondered, is there a unified feel of basically esoteric occult sex magic? 

Douglas Rushkoff:  I feel like Ayahuasca may have, in some ways, replaced sex as the occult gateway. And when I look at the folks.

Jamie Wheal: Say more. Okay, that's an awesome thesis statement.

Douglas Rushkoff: Well, I look at the commercialization of Ayahuasca. There's companies now who are getting involved in mushrooms and pot and Ayahuasca.

Jamie Wheal: [inaudible 00:54:37] Pathways just went public this month, and that's a [inaudible 00:54:40] backed project, yeah. 

Douglas Rushkoff: There go, there you go. So then, my friends who are in the Ayahuasca movement as it were, the people who go down to Peru and do these things they're sounding [crosstalk 00:54:56]

Jamie Wheal: Or Williams Bay.

Douglas Rushkoff: I don't know that much about it, but they sound a lot like I did in 1993, when Wired Magazine came to claim the internet as a NASDAQ phenomenon, rather than a Mondo 2000 phenomenon, right? The internet was-

Jamie Wheal: Meaning versus at libertarian de-centralized beginnings into something that has corporate and market significance and impact.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, they're not even libertarian beginnings. It's psychedelic beginnings. It didn't look like anyone was going to make money with this stuff. This was going to just wire up the guy in mind, and-

Jamie Wheal: It was [inaudible 00:55:30] stuff. Yeah.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, it was a wild thing, and then they come along and say it's money. Same with Iowaska and psychedelics. I always saw them as a way of breaking capitalism and breaking intention, and the quest for gain and growth and all that exponentialism that doesn't make any sense out there. But then I started talking to people about Sasha Shogun and his real work at Bohemia Grove. So Sasha Shogun was a psychedelics chemist, who-

... Bohemia Grove. So Sasha Shulgin was a psychedelics chemist, who was also a member of Bohemia Grove, and that, no, he was not trying to help civilization. What he was trying to do, apparently, was to develop a psychedelic that would have the psychedelic effects, but without the spiritual learning. So that you don't-

Jamie Wheal: Sasha was actually doing that?

Douglas Rushkoff: It depends who you talk to. It depends who you talk to. Some of the folks-

Jamie Wheal: And that as his own sovereign choice? Or was that as a contractor for some agency or entity?

Douglas Rushkoff: I guess as a contractor for some agency or entity. And then, he didn't go with the script. And that's why he had to release that book. PiHKAL was him then releasing the data to us. So I think he had some deal with the devil. And then, it was like, "Oh my gosh, this is a deal with the devil." He probably had a reckoning. And then, they made all the things he was trying to construct illegal. So he's like, "Okay, I'll just teach everybody how to make it. I'll just publish the cookbook instead, so that the information gets out there." But it feels like there's this holy grail that they'll take Ayahuasca, and somehow microdose it in some way that it makes us better workers, it gives us more utility value, it lets us handle more stress.

Jamie Wheal: It's just the year of our forward, and here's your summer. Yeah.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. But it will be carefully regulated, so you don't actually get the breakthrough. Because if you get the breakthrough, then you're going to engage in anomalous behavior. Then you're going to have the real insight.

Jamie Wheal: Engage in anomalous behavior. That's awesome. So look, you've got a unique perspective because you were there at ground zero with the original rave scene and that transformational culture. If LSD was to the hippie movement in the Age of Aquarius in the '60s, you could make a pretty clear case that MDMA in the late '80s to early '90s, and especially in the warehouse and underground scene. Long before-

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

The Current Psychedelic Renaissance vs. The 1960s

Jamie Wheal:  ... Electric Daisy Carnival and commodifications of that. You were there then. You're here now. What do you see, are the similarities and the differences between these movements? Between today's psychedelic renaissance, and what you were witness and participant to, back then?

Douglas Rushkoff: It's interesting. The 1960s psychedelic movement was partly the anti-war movement, and partly the civil rights movement. They were all part of the same thing. If you took acid, you loved black people and realized that they're... I don't even know if this is politically correct today, but you realize they're equal to white people. That they're fully human, and we can love them and be with them. And you realize that the war was a bad thing and you really didn't want to go. And that sucks. It's violent and shitty. And that we're destroying the planet.

So there was a lot of politics wrapped up in psychedelics of the 1960s. The 1980s and '90s psychedelic revival was self-consciously apolitical. It was like, they looked at the punk movement that just happened, and it seemed so oppositional. And the idea was, we were going to do it with no agenda. It was going to be pure. We're just going to go, and we're going to rave. And you're not black, you're not white, you're not gay, you're not straight. We're all just people in this one great organism, with no agenda, other than to touch the aliens or to unite. Whatever. It was-

Jamie Wheal: Was there some alien iconography in the mix?

Douglas Rushkoff: Depend which rave you went to. But yeah, there were different rave tribes. So there were rave tribes that were really just into make contact. Make contact-

Jamie Wheal: And did it depend on substances? Because I've never heard anything about MDMA having correlations to interdimensional-

Douglas Rushkoff: Alien stuff?

Jamie Wheal: Yeah.

Douglas Rushkoff: Oh yeah. A lot of alien stuff.

Jamie Wheal: Oh, no way.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah. Yeah. There was alien stuff. There was Hinduey stuff that would come into it, a lot of them. And then, there was the whole Gaian Fractal thing. Those were for me. And then, there's the lovey-dovey, return to childhood, pacifier stuff. But yeah, there were different themes that came through. But UFO's were a big one. There were a lot of raves I was at, where the whole crowd, you have a thousand people, are all kind of reaching up, trying to draw down-

Jamie Wheal: Holy shit. No way.

Douglas Rushkoff: ... a fucking UFO, or whatever it is. The interdimensional UFO. But yeah. There was a lot of the contact-

Jamie Wheal: The hyperobject at the end of time.

How Have Psychedelics Come Down to Utilitarianism?

Douglas Rushkoff: Exactly. The hyperobject, which might be some Terence McKenna machine elf. Is that a UFO? Is that an alien? Whatever. It's all the same. Something else. So there was that, but it's interesting. But now, I feel like the psychedelic movement has succumbed to utilitarianism. So there's micro dosing, which will make me a better programmer. There's Ayahuasca.

Jamie Wheal: Therapeutic dosing, that'll heal my childhood wound. Yeah.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. Or you do it with a therapist to get this thing. And if you see frigging Eric Schmidt going down to Burning Man or to South America, how could Eric Schmidt go and do Ayahuasca or something, and come back and still want to run a surveillance state? Right? How does that happen? And again, it's the same question I asked myself in 1981, when I saw kids in an ACDC parking lot, doing acid and cracking beer bottles on their head, is when I realized, oh, it's not the the drug.

Jamie Wheal: A hammer is just a tool, like that Chestnut. Yeah. Fuck.

Douglas Rushkoff: But it was a big realization for me, that the drugs are not intrinsically spiritually positive. They're not.

Jamie Wheal: Well, yeah. What's his face? Who's the dude who ran the entire MK-Ultra acid project? He was the one... He was the head of that, who was the one who... Then their Fort Detrich guy jumped, or got pushed out of the New York window, right-

Douglas Rushkoff: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: ... when he was about to blow the whistle. So his boss, who I will have to go back and look at his name, he dropped acid over 200 times.

Douglas Rushkoff: And still was an evil shit.

Jamie Wheal: Psychotic. And had Whitey Bulger... Somehow, Whitey Bulger ends up in this story. And while he was either just a free monster, or in the prison already, they dosed him multiple times.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. So it goes back to set and setting. And that's when Leary was right. It's, these are sacraments, but they're only going to work if you bring something to them. Same with the internet. If you bring surveillance corporate capitalism to the net, you're going to end up in this psychotic state that we're in now as a civilization. Having lived 25 years on a psychedelic substrate. I mean, duh. So this is where we're at. And that's why even the kids, and sweet though they may be, the kids from inside those companies who want to rescue us now that they've addicted us to this stuff. The social dilemma kids. It's like, yeah, but if you're really going to do that, then you've got to open your heart and open your ears to the other techniques. You don't double down. Oh, look, we've used this technology to program people into these horrible spaces and horrible mindsets. So let's use these technologies to program people into happy mindsets. Into better ones. It's like, no, stop programming people.

Jamie Wheal: Just back away. Back away from the control panel.

Douglas Rushkoff: Back off buddy.

Exactly. Take your hands off the control... Get your hands off.

How Has Social Media Digitalized Our Commodity of Transformation? 

Jamie Wheal: Fucking ay. Yeah. Well, so I want to actually, I want to come back and stitch a couple of these threads together because there was this fellow Caveat Magister, he's one of the old school Cacophony Society tricksters of the Burning Man scene. And he wrote a piece a year or two ago saying, Burning Man is ruined. And it was pitch-perfect. Because he's like, "That's what everybody always fucking says." So he was demolishing that whole lament. Right? And he was doing, he was saying, "It was ruined when we moved from the beach to the desert. It was ruined when we couldn't drive our cars and shoot guns."

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: "It was ruined when the EDM, when the Goa trance dancers rolled in." And he goes, "And it was ruined when the Instagram yogis, and influencers, and models, rolled in." Right? So he does this beautiful thing. And he basically just said, classic-

Douglas Rushkoff: It's always. We're in a perpetual state of ruin.

Jamie Wheal: Discordianism, what [crosstalk 01:04:30]. Right? Which I love.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: But this is what I wanted. When you were talking about memes, and you were talking about digital sigils, and you were talking about this, and Ayahuasca being our current itching crisis opportunity-

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: ... doorway. To me, there is something qualitatively different about the invasion of the Instagram experience. Because you basically have self as selfie, digital narcissism, creeping into an experience that was fundamentally antinomian and fundamentally deconstructive of egoic identities. So there were avatars. You could be in costume... You could be your playa name, just like Comic-Con. Right? You could occupy and inhabit an alter ego. You could step outside of these things. And all of those other things, including sound camps and EDM, and all this kind of stuff. They were nonetheless additive to the ecstatic and communal experience.

Whereas Instagram to me, it feels qualitatively different. And what I've noticed is that it's a lot more like Vonnegut's Ice-Nine, because it is basically super ego reconstituting itself out in front of even the best efforts to undo ego. So the capital peak is near Aspen in Colorado. And it's got this knife edge ridge to a summit. And some ass heads, five years ago, shot themselves on their GoPros or their phones, shimmying along the ridge, and then sitting on the summit. Tons of people watch it. And now, Aspen Search and Rescue is overwhelmed, because in one, May, they had 15 people peel off that fucking thing. Because they saw it on YouTube. And they're like, "This is throw. This is mirror. This is go to the wild sublime." Boom. People are just saying, "Oh, I've seen it on TV. I can too. And I want my glory shot." The stories of dumb fucks falling off cliffs, getting their selfies is not dime and dozen.

So you're like, okay, so the natural sublime, off. Even the geotagging of, here's this beautiful field of meadows, or here's this gorgeous waterfall. Instagram is ruining the back country.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. 

Jamie Wheal: Because now, secret spots are now getting mobbed because everybody wants them as their backdrop. We know people that have gone down to Peru for Ayahuasca ceremonies, and doing these breathy, heartfelt, almost Blair Witch in the jungle posts. Like, "I've just had my mind blown open, and I've just been riding the anaconda. Come back, click on the links in the comments below. See you next week at our retreat in Bali." And you're like, "Oh, fuck." And the same thing with Burning Man, where sunrises used to be absolute redemption church for the blessed. I would imagine, very much like the best of your rave experiences.

And meanwhile, you've got tech bro fuckwits coming in with their rented model girlfriends-

Douglas Rushkoff: And servants.

Jamie Wheal: ... and $20,000 worth of costuming. Definitely, you didn't buy this on Etsy or make this at home.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: And they're conspicuously dust-free, like they'd been camping in an RV. They get there for sunrise and they have a professional photographer in tow. And you're like, "This isn't Barbarians at the Gate. This isn't even money changers at the temple." It feels like the digitization of even the commodity of transformation is now so pronounced and so fast-acting, that we can't get ahead of the Ice-Nine. It's consuming ourselves even faster than we can get away from ourselves.

Douglas Rushkoff: Unless...

Jamie Wheal: Unless? Tell me the unless.

How Psychedelics Have Been Used to Try to Get Away, Become or Transform

Douglas Rushkoff: It was silly from the beginning. Unless it's like, okay, even nine people are going to get in their cars and drive all the way to the middle of the desert, and do this thing that they should be capable of doing in real life. It was like, part of the problem with rave, was people would dance. Dance until four or five, six in the morning. And then, they'd come down and still be fucking assholes to each other the next day. They weren't fundamentally transformed. And it was part of what, another one of the arguments I had with Terrence, was whether taking psychedelics was irreparably duo. In other words, that it creates, there's my state, or at least non-Buddhist. So it means that I am here now. Oh, I'm going to take this so that I'm not here now. I want to change what's happening in order to... I want to now be something else.

Jamie Wheal: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Douglas Rushkoff: And I understand you're allowed to get up and say, "I'm sitting here. I want to get up and sit over there." So you could say, "Okay, I'm here. So I'm going to take this pill, so I'm over there." But you know what I mean? There's a bit of-

Jamie Wheal: Well, yeah. There's that. There's that original dissatisfaction with my life, or the world, or this present moment as it is. There's the reification of the thing that I believe will get me to someplace else, so that the fixation on the medicine, or the compound, or whatever it would be. And then, there's also, let's say both of those are true and it works. And so, you're washed clean for a moment. You have your halo effect, slash afterglow. You come back into the world like, "I'm just going to love everybody up. I'm going to change the world." New thought. Right? Now my mind has changed. I'm going to change my reality. Reality is generally a little more recalcitrant. And we start banging up against the density of it all-

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: ... And the fallibility of ourselves and other humans. And so, at some point, you run out of your afterglow. And then, to your Buddhist point, there's the subtle subject like, oh, we are all one. Right? This is all love. And then, the subtle subject-object split comes back into the garden, which is, I'm clean, or awake, or enlightened, or filled with love. And this, this shit, these are the haters. This is dirty. And then, you need the prophylactic shield. I actually need to protect myself from this dirty, impure world. Whether it's with my meditation. Whether it's with my echo totally fucking tapes. Whether it's my next-

Douglas Rushkoff: Or my fucking billionaire bunker.

Jamie Wheal: Yeah. My billionaire bunker. Any of these things. And I need to double down on those practices, which cuts you back to the top of the slide of spiritual materialism-

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

What Is HomeGrown Humans?

Jamie Wheal: ... And choking trunk. Those kind of stuff. So this to me, is that's the rub. But I feel like you're already exploring the resolution on the other side with this notion of Team Human. With this notion of Wizzywig humans.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. Right.

Jamie Wheal: This is it. So talk about that.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. It is what it is, which I know is a catchphrase in the Trump era. But what if it is what it is. And that's not so bad.

Jamie Wheal: Yes. So now, how do we do that? So if we say, and then by the way, that is the essential thesis of HomeGrown Humans, which is, can we, and Frank Bound, can we go home away home? Can we realize-

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: ... there's no place like home? Can we show up fully without holding back, or seeking to be someplace else? And bear witness to this day.

Douglas Rushkoff: That's what I say in the end of Team Human. And again, I quote Torah for this. But whenever one of the patriarchs, or one of the heroes, or whatever, is called by God, he says, "Abraham." The character always says, "Hineni," which means in Hebrew, it means here I am. Here I am. And it's like, if God calls you, he knows where you are. You don't say, "Here I am." Of course he sees you. He just called at you. You don't say, "Here I am." But what they're saying, I think is, I'm going to rise to the occasion of the now. I am going to... I am... Here I am. And it's the hardest thing. It's the scariest thing for anybody to do, to admit fully that they are just fucking here. This is-

Jamie Wheal: Okay. So here's the thing. So now, to me, that... I agree. That moment, to the Old Testament, it feels like Jonah. Right? He's like, "I'm busy. I got shit to do. Don't give me a job. In fact, I don't even know the people in Nineveh. I'm a big deal back home."

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: And it's like, here's the mandate. And Abe Maslow famously talked about that. The Jonah complex. The fear of our own greatness. In that sense of, could I keep this up? Is this sustainable? And what would the neighbors think? What's it going... Thanksgiving is going to be awkward as fuck. Right? So how do we do this? Because you've, I think, rightly pointed out the limitations of psychedelic utopianism. Allah, Terrence McKenna. You've pointed out the criticality of set and setting, and the, what do we do Monday morning? It doesn't matter how peace and groovy we were at Studio 54. Right? And you've talked about this. What's the right word? I suppose, imminent humanism. Don't try and get away. Don't try and become. Don't try and transform. Let's do this thing.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. And if you do that, not to just sell it, but you do that, then you fall into the infinite moment. And there's nothing to get. There's no... You know what I mean? Then you could die in the next second and it doesn't matter. Because if you really do it, which of course, none of us... Well, maybe some awakened dude can, or woman can, but the more the extent to which you can do it, is the extent to which you're actually living. You're embodying your own experience of life. It's an aside but it's-

The Deep Now

Jamie Wheal: Okay. So this is gorgeous. So that moment, you talked about bearing witness to the deep now.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: Like coming undone in time now, on the one hand. And this is the challenge with the Dorothy and Frank Bound. Right? Like home away home, there's no place like home. On the one hand, she had to get the fuck out of Dodge to realize that Kansas is rad. Right? So how do we... So you're on the one hand saying, "Just be here, now." Right? The whole Ramdass thing. And on the other hand, holding that subject-object perspective, for me not to just get beaten down by the density, the grind, the monotony, and the constraints of this mortal coil. How do we do that? Do we... Does the hero have to leave home in order to find it? And in which case, how do we get as many people around that loop as possible, as fast as possible? Or is that in itself, back to what you say, is well intention misguided? Or is there a love stick, you can tap people on the heads with, to say you have everything you need? Let's start here. What's your sense of that?

Douglas Rushkoff: Well. My sense is, if we are capable of doing it as a civilization, then individuals won't have to keep doing it anymore.

Jamie Wheal: Okay. So this is the deemphasizing of mixed spirituality of that toxic combination of capitalism and eastern mysticism, and saying, "Actually, no. There's social structures. There's political controls. There's policy. There's-"

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah. And the individual would always go on the hero's journey, since Sir Galleons tales, and before. There's the hero's journey, and you come back around. And we, as a civilization, have an opportunity to see... Oh, wait a minute. We got all the way west to the edge of California. And now, we can either do the hero's journey again and go to fucking Mars. Or as western civilization, go Chinese and go, "Oh. Oh, wait a minute." It's, the subject isn't here. The landscape is what matters. It's the ground that we're in. We are all part of this one thing. I feel like in the West, we still don't know what soil is. We still think soil is dirt with some living things crawling around in it. Where soil is this living matrix. And once you understand what soil is, you realize, oh my God, we are actually part of the soil too.

Jamie Wheal: Okay. So now, let's put this into real life and historicity.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: Which is how... So that notion, and for folks that didn't fully get your reference, to that notion of a lot of Japanese and Chinese landscape paintings, and those things, where there's those iconic waves, or mountains, or other things. That they're absent, the Western European subjects. Right?

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: They are figuring ground. They are the ground. Right?

Douglas Rushkoff: And it's because their language worked differently. They didn't use an alphabet. So they didn't end up as noun verb.

Jamie Wheal: Yeah.

Douglas Rushkoff: Subject-object, as we are in the West. If you show a painting to an Eastern person, a picture of a cow in a pasture, they'll not remember what the animal was. They'll say, "This is a picture of a, of a pasture." And the American will say, "It's a picture of a cow." And it's like, no, those are two different perspectives on reality.

Jamie Wheal: Yeah. And then, so if that notion is, hey, we get to the edge of the West, just like Don Draper does at the end of Mad Men. And I'd like to buy the world a Coke at Iceland, where you're like, he has this semi-unity experience at the center of human potential, and turns it into the biggest jingle of all time. You're like, ipso facto, QED.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: You're done. So how might we come back to ourselves? Right? Come back to that beautiful moment that you hinted at. That acceptance and emotion into the now. Becoming, allowing ourselves to notice ground. Right? And not just frenetic figures. At the same time that the ground is shifting beneath our feet. How do we pull this off in potentially increasingly volatile and de-stabilizing conditions that aren't infinite, that don't feel timeless, that feel like triage?

Douglas Rushkoff: Well, this is part of the stuff that gets me in a little trouble sometimes with the more Rebel Wisdom crowd. But this is where I feel like the social justice crowd gets it. In other words, that it's this very sweet, but misguided pursuit as white, western, well-meaning, male spiritual intellectuals, that we really, really, really, really do want to just figure it out.

Jamie Wheal: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Douglas Rushkoff: We really want to figure it out, and bring it back and then tell them, "Oh, this is all we have to do." And I think this is something that is not figured out, that this is something that is experienced in through a different comportment, that we have to comport ourselves differently in a moment to moment way in our daily lives. We can't scale this. We can't communicate it. We can only do it person to person to person, through live embodied encounter.

Jamie Wheal: Beautiful. Beautiful. Now, let me juxtapose, because this is my inquiry too, and this is why I so appreciate getting to talk with you about it, because you've been, I think you've been blazing the trail. You've been signposting where this heads, and I think you started taking a stand for this several years sooner, than I think many people did. There was obviously some of the deep ecologists and other folks who were ringing these bells-

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: ... but not in the noisy, frothy, last decade, for sure. And I'm thinking, there's two books that I've been coming across recently in my own research. On one is Tyson Yunkaporta's Sand Talk. Right?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: So, a beautiful book by an Aboriginal academic in Australia. And your critique and his are very similar, which is just beware of the clever chatty white guys, looking to map, solve, scale, do all of these things. Slow the fuck down. And yawn. It's the power of story. It's the power of our song lines. It's the power of the dreaming, which is where we find the pulse. The rocks are alive and far more patient than we are. So there's that on the one side, which feels much like yours. And then, I'm reading a book. I think the name, I think the guy's name is Jonathan Lear. He's at University of Chicago, and he wrote a book called Radical Hope. And it was basically a case study of the Crow Indian nation, and Chief Plenty Coups. 1870s, '80s, moved to reservation life. And he talks about this break in their narrative. He said, "Basically, after we moved to the reservations, nothing happened." He told about hunting, and raiding, and horse stealing, and wars and battles, until... And then, he said, "[inaudible 00:25:09] this, this end."

And he talked about this notion, that radical hope is when the collapse of your culture, the collapse of the frame, the thick culture within which you make meaning, is also going away, and that you are no longer able to win, or accomplish, or ascend, or achieve, take your pick of happy outcomes, because your old world is literally no more. And that radical hope is the decontextualized abiding belief in good returning in some way in the future, around a new formulation. Around a new crystal structure, that we don't yet know. Now, when I heard Yunkaporta's piece in Sand Talk, he's obviously charismatic, profoundly engaging. You're like, "Yes. Yes. That's so awesome." But then I'm like... But then, on the other hand, my grad work was in indigenous studies. The US, Steam, this movie. It's tragic. And those folks who just do the localized thing, those folks who do just do the human thing, get steamrolled every single goddamned time in history.

Douglas Rushkoff: Gets fucking clobbered. I know. And I was thinking about that too. It was like, the Ottoman Empire had a currency that was a millet based currency, that was circular.

Jamie Wheal: Oh wow.

Douglas Rushkoff: So it didn't require growth. So they didn't need to colonize other places. Where the western late medieval and early Renaissance currencies were all interest-based. So they had to go out and colonize other places in order to feed the growth requirement of their economies. And I started to think, well, the economies that are okay, and circular, and optimized for the velocity of money, and promoting the human spirit, and harmony with nature, they're not going to have weapons. They're not going to have good Kung Fu.

Jamie Wheal: Yeah.

Douglas Rushkoff: They're going to get clobbered by the ones who are putting, who are enslaving their people, and putting all their resources into militaries. So it's like, shit, that's a problem. And [crosstalk 01:23:23]-

Jamie Wheal: Shit, that's a problem.

Douglas Rushkoff: Nice people, right? They get clobbered, unless where's Yoda? Where's the force? Where's Kane? Where's the Kung Fu? Where's my Shaolin training, or something?

Jamie Wheal: My Rocky training montage, to beat the Russian. We've got to do something.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. Or you end up... So, and I understand... Or you end up like Israel, which gets founded on these principles of peace in [inaudible 00:27:48]. But it's basically Krav Maga on every corner. Right? They've ended up being really a surly people. Is that the only way to survive in this world?

Jamie Wheal: Come on. This is it-

Douglas Rushkoff: And is that the only way to survive in this world?

Jamie Wheal: This is it. We cannot punt right now. So this is the question and you've written the follow-up, right. You wrote a follow-up to your piece about the hedge fund guys and the survival of the super rich. Lately, post quarantine. And you're talking about the creative class fleeing the city in droves and heading to the Hamptons or the Berkshires or the Hudson Valley. And you're saying, "Hey, I think we need to take our stand. I think we actually should stay put. We should stop running." So what's that relationship? We've got Atlas Shrugged in space, which is, we are absolutely fucking off and we're taking the best, brightest and most beautiful with us because that's who we want as the seed bed for future.

Douglas Rushkoff: That's who we want to fuck up there.

Jamie Wheal: There's always that, right. Then there's the Ned Stark's of the world. Do the honorable thing, but you might not have your head connected to your body in the morning.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: Right? And then there's this gradient and then perhaps march to the streets on behalf of our brothers and sisters. Have your security guards by my daughter's bar mitzvah. There's the least of my brothers, put down our nets, go be fishers of men. Let's do the right social justice, civil rights movement on behalf of us all. How do we pass that? How do we choose? Because obviously going down... I'm always interested in, "When do you get swept up in the tides? And do you know enough to get above the high watermark? Right, there's that. And the other is when do you give away all your leverage? Certainly in our world, right.

You just even said, "I'm about to say something. And sometimes I get heat for it over here, but okay. I'm just going to say it," right. At what point do you give up your position as theorist writer, thought leader and you show up to get shot with rubber bullets and tear gas, because it's important to take a stand for that thing simply as a person. Now you've given up all your leverage. You're just one more body in the street. And at some point you need to be that fucking body in the street. How do you make sense of that? 

Teaching at City College

Douglas Rushkoff: It's hard. I remember my dad told me, "Never do the lottery." He says if you think of yourself as any smarter than average, don't do the lottery because you're just throwing your lot in with stupid people. So don't do it. If you think of yourself as smarter than average, should you still march with the masses? Of course. Of course, because it's your body that's out there. It's not their bodies, it's your body. So it's funny, but I have a different temperament, right.

So I didn't go to teach at MIT or Princeton or something. I'm teaching at city college. It's important to me to be teaching first generation Americans and kids who's the first people in their family to every consider going to college. Not to ivory tower myself, but to make it... If I'm going to teach, I want it to be a part of connecting to the real world rather than... I'm already disconnected enough. But it was funny. It was the earliest [crosstalk 01:27:33]

Jamie Wheal: I just want to make sure. That's a sincere moment and not a humble brag, but just for anybody listening, Douglas has an impeccable academic pedigree. MIT identified him as one of the top 50 most influential intellectuals. So you're turning away... That's not a rationalization of the best job you could get. That was actually a principled decision on your part to teach and connect with those communities of students.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. And it's a privilege. It's more of a privilege. And once you understand, "Oh my gosh." When I taught adjunct at NYU, which I know is not the best school in the world, but it's still pretty elite. And I'm in there, I'm teaching these kids. And one of the kids who disagreed with me, said, "Well, why should we believe you? You ended up a teacher." I was like, "Oh my God, what fucking entitled values does this kid have? Oh my God." I was like, "All right, fine. You're right. You're right. I'm wrong. I'm just a teacher. You're going to get to go be a stockbroker or something and contribute to the end of the world." But the first part of what you were saying though before, to the protest is what... I forgot exactly.

Letting Go of What You Have to Pursue Your Passion

Jamie Wheal: To me, it's the putting down your nuts and go and be fishers of men. It's that Cohen. At what point do you give up the place you have? Investment, leverage, success, all those things and you just go wandering off to pursue the thread of what you must.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right. And another way of asking that question is where do you draw your line? So it's easy to march in solidarity with the worker, while you have a 401k retirement plan, that's invested in the very companies that you're protesting against. So what's that? If you're really going to live it, then you can't have an S&P 500 index fund, that if you've got a $100,000 in an S&P index fund, chances are... I guess to me, it still sounds like a lot of money. But the idea that, that 100,000 is doing more damage sitting there, than you can correct going and marching. You can take that money out of there and put it in local businesses or in supporting real people and real places. You're doing a whole different thing.

And I think that a lot of people are trying to create this balance between how much security do I need to feel safe enough to then go and do what I realize is essential work. And I feel like we're running out of time and space to keep being as hypocritical as so many of us are. Is it, "Yes. I'm tweeting for social justice on a phone that's polluting the world and that they used slaves to mine for the metals." And even Fairphone, the project of Bas van Abel in Holland, he couldn't even make a phone that didn't have slavery parts in it.

He calls it now Fairer phone. Fairer, rather than Fairphone because he couldn't do it, even as an art project because you can't get the stuff. So at a certain point, just if we lived meticulously, or slowly every day live slightly more meticulously, it would do a heck of a lot. And I understand there's also the... One of the problems with that argument is that we as individuals, aren't really doing most of the damage. It's these giant companies that are doing it, but-

Jamie Wheal: All right, so final question. Is this salvageable?

Douglas Rushkoff: The other answer, though to that... The other answer to that question where I thought you were going with it was, "How do we move through the world when there's all these bullies out there?" And I'm starting to wonder if Jesus understood it. Now Jesus had two main innovations for the Jews. One, he was saying, it was almost like-

Jamie Wheal: Beards and sandals. You've got to give him that.

Douglas Rushkoff: One, he was saying... The Jews were all about ethics and trying to create enough rules and regulations to try to make their law, the Talmud, granular enough to deal with all the ethical situations of the world. And Jesus basically said, "Look, however long you work, however much you try, it's a beautiful effort. You're never going to get it all. At some point, you've got to just love. You've got to just feel it." And the right action will spontaneously happen in the moment. You can't litigate every situation. And the other thing was he was a radical pacifist. A radical pacifist. So I've got neighbors who are already purchasing shotguns and stuff because they're scared of civil war.

Jamie Wheal: And typically liberal progressives versus-

Douglas Rushkoff: Liberal progressives who are scared of white guys in trucks come in with whatever, chains and stuff. Or maybe getting mistaken for bad white by black people in trucks or marching or something. They're just scared of civil unrest and protecting their family and their food supply. And I was thinking, "Well, I'm trying to imagine a scenario where if I learned to use a gun." Then I was thinking, "Well, I still have nunchucks somewhere in the attic that I had from college."

Jamie Wheal: I've got bow hunting skills. I've got nunchucks skills.

Douglas Rushkoff: I think I have a throwing star somewhere too. I never learned, but I can learn to throw my throwing star.

Jamie Wheal: You can just brandish it menacingly. That could be enough.

Douglas Rushkoff: Exactly. My throwing star or my nunchucks.

Jamie Wheal: I'll cut you.

Douglas Rushkoff: I hit myself with the nunchucks whenever I try to use them. So it's not a good... But the appropriate answer is... And that's when I realized, I think I'm a pacifist when it comes down to it. I think that's where... And I've got to read up on it, but it seems to me, pacifism is just, "If you're going to do violence to me, you're going to do violence to me. There is no."

Jamie Wheal: Yeah. Well, have you come across... It's fascinating that you're ending here and bringing this up as we close, because that's literally how I'm ending my book. It's weird and I'm massively ambivalent about 2000 years of Orthodox Christianity, but the notion of the teachings of the Nazarene and how that shows up is profoundly psychoactive. And seems like as good a fit as anything we've come across in a world in perpetual suffering. And Leonard Cohen, he's a BuJew, Zen Jew. And he's got, "There's a crack in everything. That's where the light gets in."

Pema Chodron's a Tibetan Buddhist, and talks about, "To be alive is to be continually thrown out of the nest." You've got Chung Z in China, joy bathing. You've got Wabi-sabi in Japanese. Everywhere around the world is this pervasive notion of... It's Hemingway, "The world breaks everyone. And some of us are stronger in the broken places." That feels perennial and universal and tapping that... So do you know Howard Thurman and have you come across his work as a civil rights leader?

Douglas Rushkoff: No.

Howard Thurman’s Work: Civil Rights

Jamie Wheal: Okay, so check this out. So I only knew him because he has this beautiful inspirational quote that says, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go and do that. Because what the world needs is more of us who have come alive." So it's a slam dunk, inspirational quote. I think Oprah even ended up using it for a Harvard graduation address. And all I knew is that civil rights leader, Howard Thurman. But then Rick Doblin, the founder of MAPS and I were having a conversation like this last week. And he told me that the Good Friday experiment, right the 1962 or 64 psilocybin seminarians for the Good Friday service, Howard Thurman delivered the sermon.

So I was like, "No fucking way. You've got to be kidding me." So he was the Dean at BU, and that was the same time MLK was there. And Howard Thurman was a nature mystic who was born at the turn of the century in Florida. He grew up around... He talked to oak trees and hung out on the ocean. His grandmother, who was his guiding light, spent her first 25 years as a slave. And they had this radical underground Christianity where the preacher would come once a year to the plantation and would say, "All of you are childs of God." And that lighter, the grandmother, passed to him. He then went to India in 35. He was the first African-American emissary to meet with Gandhi.

He and Gandhi mind-meld. Gandhi downloads the whole idea of Satyagraha. Thurman is the one who brings it back to the States and injects it into the notion of sacred non-violence right, into the civil rights movement. Until Thurman came back with that transmission, non-violence had been a tactic, "Don't piss off the Bill Connors of the world, or we'll get our asses beat." It wasn't, "We're taking this irrevocable stand." Which sounds like the very one you're laying out. And so I went back to the MAPS archives, dug up Thurman's sermon from the Good Friday thing. And he tells this, that the law... He's hypnotic and he trained with Quakers, so he has these crazy long pauses. It's the opposite of the Baptist oratory that Obama picked up from King and that whole... It is different.

And he's just this transmission of this baritone voice. And he tells the story of speaking to Jesus the Galilean. And he's like, "Come down off the cross." And then Jesus tells him, "I can't come down until every man and woman and child comes to take me down. Until then, I'll stay up here." And he ends with this repetitious, hypnotic he's like, "So remember," he goes, "There's a lonely solitary cross on that hill and go and tell everyone, there's a man on the cross. There's a man on the cross." And it just feels like where we are. And we've got stand each other up and help take each other down.

Douglas Rushkoff: Easy as that.

Jamie Wheal: Fucks sake. Jesus Christ, how do we do that? I think sigils. A boatload of [inaudible 01:38:28] .

Douglas Rushkoff: I think it's comportment. I think it's feeling responsible for every other person. Everybody here, they're all on their own cross.

Jamie Wheal: Yeah.

"The Social Dilemma” Documentary

Douglas Rushkoff: Person to person, moment to moment. And the other big thing for our community, I think, and I really learned this lesson hard a couple of weeks ago, is having no possession for any of it. It was a great exercise for me to see a movie on Netflix with people speaking language from my books.

Jamie Wheal: No way. Was there a documentary or something?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah. This documentary, The Social Dilemma. And my first response was, "Oh my God, they're ripping off my stuff. They're ripping off my stuff." And it was like, "Wow, what a childish response." 10 minutes later, my response is, "These are the first guys I've been able to chip off from the machine. These are my first converts. I don't care if they know it's me."

Jamie Wheal: Oh, no way. So they were using concepts or terms that you had coined.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah.

Jamie Wheal: But it was unselfconscious. It was vernacular to them.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah. I think either that, or they can't give credit. Now their website is called Team Humanity, right because my project's Team Human. So they named it Team Humanity and I'm not going to be pissed off at that." What it means is I succeeded. It doesn't matter, especially when I'm dead. If anybody knows that I had the idea, "Oh, I'm not going to let the world get saved because they didn't give me credit for my contribution." Instead, see it as a celebration and realize, especially these dudes. These dudes need to feel like they've come up with it. They are all about having-

Jamie Wheal: Full disclosure. I was in those conversation and I was like, "It should absolutely be fucking Team Human and get on the phone to Doug, because we should just make this." And the same thing with this Homegrown Humans. We can only language or brand the concept so many different ways. We should really start connecting.

Douglas Rushkoff: I know. Well, I told them when they called me to say, "We're going to do this thing called Team Humanity. You shouldn't feel bad." I said, "Why don't you just take Team Human? Join Team Human or let me be on your thing. It's one thing." And it's like, "No, but they've got special qualifications." But it's okay. Whatever they want, whatever they want, as long as they're on the team.

Jamie Wheal: Exactly. And that to me, it feels like let a thousand fires burn. We don't know how we're going to get through this. And notion of the paradox is, is that bespoke solutions, whether that's for addiction or transcendence or innovation, those don't work because it's too personality dependent. It's very hard to repeat. So on the one hand, you can't just do the custom one-off. And on the other hand, tops-down centralized is a shit show. So we have to have things that are locally adaptable and flexible, but at least don't start from scratch and you don't have to reinvent Godel's theorem. Monkeys at a typewriter. We can't rely on monkeys at a typewriter. We've got to give them something to start with. We've got to at least give them Mad Libs. And on the other hand, be wary of centralization. And whether that's Stalinist tops-down obvious or it's philanthrocapitalism.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: Nobody's that smart, not even Bezos or Gates. So how can we do this together?

Douglas Rushkoff: Exactly. 


Jamie Wheal: Well, Doug man, listen I could talk to you forever.

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah. I'm so glad you reached out. We have similar goals, similar styles, different styles. It's interesting, but there's a great complimentary sets of knowledge and practice here.

Jamie Wheal: Yeah. I did not realize that you also went so deep into the weird and the occult. That is just awesome because that shit you don't always get to share. You've got to keep that on the down-low. Your freak flag can only fly so high so often.

Douglas Rushkoff: It's too late for me to worry about that now. I'm going to be like 60 in another couple of years. So, whatever.

Jamie Wheal: That's awesome.

Douglas Rushkoff: I don't know how much time we have left on the planet either.

Jamie Wheal: That governed me. I was officially out of fucks writing this book. My wife was, "This is your book proposal? Are you insane?" This could totally just end my career. I get that. But on the other hand, there's no way I could be on my death bed, not having said these fucking things.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Jamie Wheal: So you might as well say them once. There's a notion of serializing your wisdom. And in my fourth book from now, I'll lay that other nugget. And you're like, "Fuck it. Just crowbar them all in. And we'll see what happens next."

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, I'm going to keep my ammo dry. It's like, "No, no. That's okay. Just spend it.

Jamie Wheal: Exactly.

Douglas Rushkoff: There'll be more, it's like manna from heaven, right. It'll replenish.



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