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September 13, 2016: Vivantology and Non-Violence: Introduction


Good morning everybody. This is your host, Kevin Boileau, at EPIS Radio, fighting his way through the studio to emerge as himself and the host of this show.  I’m here. It’s September 13, 2016, and it is 11:30 in the morning, Central Time, in the U.S. of A.


I’m pleased to announce that we’ve started production of two volumes of radio conversations concerning design, architecture, innovative thinking in self structure related to design, and I’m looking forward to our production staff fighting their way to the finish line of those two volumes.


I’m pleased to announce that today, which is September the 13th, 2016, we’re starting a whole new block of shows on some new concepts, very creative concepts, the most creative, innovative, and it’s a frontier, and in a frontier, anything goes. Certainly, in brainstorming and considering and thinking, and that’s the beauty of doing this sort of media. Frankly, you know, when you sit down and write a book or something like that, there’s a certain thinking process that goes on, even if it’s deeply theoretical, or if it’s literature, obviously, very creative. There’s something unique about radio, that you listen to yourself talk and (then) talk with another person, possibly interview somebody. It is a really different experience. I’m bringing attention to it because we’re embarking on some new thinking, right, wrong, good, bad, or otherwise, and the thinking comes out of a book we published last year—I think it was last year—called Vivantonomy: A Transhumanist Phenomenology of the Self, which is in our ZeroPoint series, 2015.


I’ve been told that we have a couple of other books that we’re getting ready to release some time in the next six months. One is called Killbox. Of course, we have our 2016 journal. We have a book on the work of Henry Elkin, a great existentially-oriented psychoanalyst, so we’re looking forward to having those books released somewhere toward the end of the year, January-ish, something like that. So, stay tuned, enjoy the fall, and we will have those books released.


So, in “vivantonomy,” which is the naming of life, the denomination of life, we take issue with and quarrel with a certain kind of way of being in the world that comes from the Enlightenment. It is an aggressive, acquisitive self-structure. It’s how we relate to ourselves, how we relate to others, how we relate to the Earth, how we relate to things in the relationship between being and having, how we treat all other human beings, and by and large, there is a greedy, possessive element to it.


We’re just, by the way, just setting some ideas today. This is going to be 40 shows and possibly 50, so we’re going to ramble a little bit in the beginning so as not to unduly sediment the road ahead, but we do want to bring forward certain important ideas. One of them is [the concept of] human anthropology. What I mean by that is how are humans, human? How are we being humans? How does that manifest in how we treat those around us? I believe Nazarita Goldhammer is on her way in a limousine to the studio and if the limousine shows up in time I’m going to get her on the show and we’ll start dialoguing with her about these concepts.


The title of the show is Vivantology, which means the “logos of life.” So obviously very related to the naming of life, is the logos of life. Logos is how things work, how we can understand things, a basis for meaning. It obviously involves naming, and so it’s called Vivantology and Non-Violence. We want to take on a long-term dialogue about this human anthropology, the effects of this human anthropology on other sentient beings, including other humans and other primates, other animals, all living beings, all living things, all living systems, and we want to start introducing in this dialogue the concept of non-violence, both violence and non-violence, which is a very interesting topic. We must define violence. We must define non-violence.


Let me give you a couple of preliminary thoughts. More and more people in my experience are concerned that human beings are destroying the planet. We have tons of evidence now about how [there is] in some cases irremediable pollution, where we have destroyed waterways. They’re unsafe. You can’t even be on them let alone use them. We have very clear quantitative evidence about numbers of species that have recently gone extinct. They’re gone. There are no more. There are no more members of certain species. There are many other species that are critically endangered because of human encroachment. It’s not because of anything the animals are doing. It’s because of what we’re doing. Some people argue that we’re in the sixth great extinction. There are debates about whether this is true and there are debates about the degree, but some people believe that up to 75% of the current species will go extinct within the next century or less time. We see this now with African elephants. It will be a miracle to save them. It may be that saving them means that there will be a couple of thousand in one or two highly protected, quarantined parks in Africa. That’s it. It’s unbelievable. The grizzly bear population is very small, the wolf population is very small, the world population of tigers is very small, on and on, and from time to time we will give some of these facts because they’re important and you can’t argue with them.


So, in prior work we have pointed out something about how human beings are with each other, and that’s aggressive. You would do well to think about your own aggression, how it comes from your own anxiety and your own fear, and really think about why you are aggressive, and whether there is a better way. What goes along with aggression is violence. We can talk about aggression in sociology and aggression in psychoanalysis. We can talk about violence, which is the related term, violence. You could be aggressive to various degrees of violence. But what’s happening now is we’re seeing more and more evidence of violence in this way of life. [Also, there are] devastating effects of human violence on other humans, there are unbelievable levels of violence. Don’t we want to survive? Why would we be killing each other if we want to survive and flourish? It makes no sense.


The violence towards domesticated animals (animals that we have brought in from the wild, and then in some cases perpetrate harm on them) is to such a degree that is almost unimaginable. But there are subtle forms of violence, such as structural violence, hidden violence, and the violence that we become attuned to. It is like we become desensitized. So, for example, it’s legal to trap animals in heinous ways that cause an extraordinary amount of suffering. [It is] unbelievable. If you have any idea how much it hurts to be caught in a trap, and then when the trapper comes along they’re often very abusive and shameful towards that scared, trapped animal before they kill it, before they murder it. Another sentient being.


So, there’s something happening in the human pathology, there’s something going on in who we are as a species being. For some people, there’s a concern that this is getting worse, and a concern that we might end up being violent to such a degree that there will be a tipping point that we reach. Once you cross a tipping point, that means chances of recovering from it are almost zero. That’s the concern. I want to talk to Nazarita Goldhammer a little bit about violence. There’s going to be plenty of time to talk about non-violence and strategies to get there. We’re going to have many months to carry on that conversation. But let’s open a conversation about violence and what it means to be violent. Nazarita, are you on the show?


NG: I am. Can you hear me okay?


KB: I can hear you just fine. How about you, can you hear me okay?


NG: Yes.


KB: Fantastic. Okay. Fantastic. So here you are on the show, we talked about non-violent design recently. We’ve had conversations about human anthropology recently, and I’d like to get some of your initial thoughts about violence, non-violence, vivantology, how a science of life or a science of vivantology, a philosophy of life, really pushes up against the ways that we’ve been operating in the world for a long time. I’d like to ask you to explain to our listeners if you would some of your perspectives on this possessive, acquisitive, greedy self that we’ve developed out of the Enlightenment that gets so focused on taking, wrestling away, keeping, squirreling away. There’s a deep, competitive way of being, and I’d really like to hear your thoughts on that as we go forward in the conversation.


NG: Okay. This is, there’s a lot that I’ve been thinking of lately. It concerns humans. [the question] of which race I am, their duality perception, and their limited perception, like designing a relationship in aggression. What I’ve been thinking about lately is that it’s interesting that humans will destroy their own neighborhood, they’ll destroy their own food source, and if they were rational they would go destroy some other area. They wouldn’t destroy their backyard, but we tend to destroy our own backyard and then blame it on someone else. So, I’m looking at this kind of way that we are that we think that we’re trapped in a dualistic, nihilistic egotistical existence, where we think it’s okay to have destruction within our words, within our actions, within our relationships because there might be for the immediate gain. I’ve been reading a lot on water and grains and the way that people use water around the world. I was recently really struck by how people will destroy their own water table, their own source of water to make money in the moment, knowing that the consequences of that, in a very short time, [will be] to cause suffering. But it didn’t matter, because they would be suffering with everybody else [and] they were okay with destroying the immediate present to make a profit knowing that they were going to suffer. So, this really struck me, it struck me in terms of how humans think. For example, designing an environment. Sometimes people will do everything beautiful in their living room, but the back rooms are trash, [as if] there’s nothing good in them. They don’t care, but the public eye sees the living room and therefore they put all their money into this one part of their house to show other people that they’re good and yet the rest of their house is in shambles.


I believe that this is like everything else that we do. We want a source of food, we want to enjoy. There are people who, like me, don’t eat meat. I’m a vegan, but I know that people will enjoy meat for now, knowing that it is destroying the world and destroying the water tables, the grasslands. It’s killing other species, but they tend to enjoy what they have now, knowing that they will suffer in the future with everybody else for their own actions. I hope this gives you a view of what I’ve been thinking. I’m thinking of two things, and others. There’s a big story out now that porpoises obviously have a very complex language that “scientists” are discovering, and the reason that they didn’t discover it before is because they studied porpoises that were enclosed and of course they had nothing to say to each other because they were trapped but they found that they have complex communication with each other. Not just communicating about something, but normal, everyday talking conversations. It reminded me that there are humans who think that humans are the pinnacle of highest intelligence and growth and they just disparage animals and there are other people who think animals are the highest level of compassion and beauty but they disparage humans. I think that we must really start looking at (it’s called an equalization of our views) like why do we want to destroy the future with what we do now, like what is our motive to do that, why are we drawn to do that for immediate gain? We will destroy all possibility of the future and that’s intriguing.


KB: Well, excellent. Thank you. That’s an excellent start. A couple of other notions here, in a preliminary way, are to think about what’s sometimes called the autonomous self. [This is] because we’re really focused on self-structure, aren’t we? Isn’t that where we’re really focused here? Sure, because as people, it is how we wire ourselves. How we continue to rewire our plastic brains through culture and through individual decision-making that determines a kind of self and determines a kind of strategic decision-making positions, how we go, how we deal with things, how we deal with conflict. So, we have created this self that in the Enlightenment that is a kind of autonomous self who supposedly can think and make decisions, act upon the world and shape the world, and constitute meaning. The problem with that is it comes with a lot of negative qualities, baggage as it were. You end up with a social political system that valorizes competition, valorizes alienation, valorizes private property.


I’ll give you an example of that. The American appetite for hamburgers is so great that cattle ranchers can do almost anything they want to produce beef. That means they can, through various procedures, kill anything that comes on their land that threatens their beef production, whether that is a wolf, a coyote, or even wild horses. We’ve learned that the BLM, the U.S. government, has authorized, they’ve now authorized it, to kill 45,000 wild horses that were rounded up, 45,000, that they kidnapped, who they took away from their families. A lot of them died, and they’ve been holding them in pens, large pens, and they didn’t know what to do with them. They’ve never known what to do with them, from the get-go. Some of them have been illegally sold to slaughter, but they have taken these people, they’re horse people, from their lands where they’ve been for millions of years, and they’ve rounded them up because cattle ranchers want to ranch in these areas, so they want to lease land from the BLM, and they don’t want the horses there. That means these beautiful wild horses are going to be killed. It’s a perfect example of how human, this human, alienated, competitive, possessory human, destroys to get. We’re seeing it right now. I want my hamburger and I’m willing to pay for it, and then the cattle rancher goes out and produces it and they kill. They slaughter their cattle.


But the way it’s going, we’re going to see larger and larger and larger, mega, farms for cattle. We will never be able to keep up with it. The mathematics shows that we will not be able to feed the American population on a beef diet. We can’t do it. It won’t work. So, I predict that what’s going to happen is we’re going to keep producing more and more cattle, more and more beef. We’re going to kill anything that gets in its way, whether it be grizzly bear, wolf, horses. There’s going to be a lot of annihilation of other species, and of course the annihilation of all the cattle. We’re going to create an enormous amount of pollution through slaughterhouses. We already have. But it’s going to increase, it’s going to be an unbelievable amount of pollution that ends up in the waterways from slaughterhouses.


This is a perfect example of a violent way of life that comes about from a certain kind of human being. Of course, there have been theorists who have argued that we can change, that we don’t need to be that way, that we can see violence for what it is, that we can transcend that kind of acquisitive, ego-based, selfish, self-structure. It’s a selfish self-structure. We see theorists like Levinas, Buber, in some cases the very late Sartre, Gabriel Marcel, and these guys are not the only ones, but they’re very important thinkers [making these common points]., What we’re starting to understand is that we don’t live in a bubble, we don’t live in a vacuum, and that has been eye-opening for some people.


I’m one of those persons. I’m shocked at what we do. I’m starting to accept it so that I can help deal with it and help change. But what we have is people living in a bubble where they don’t realize what we’re doing. Then [there are] the very few of us who are starting to get glimpses of these horrendous outputs that we’re producing. It is a large task. But the truth is we can change the self. We can transcend the ego. We can correct a certain anthropological mistake, we can finally admit that capitalism doesn’t work. It really doesn’t.


Capitalism is a structure that is inciting really bad behavior. I mean, people raise dogs, they breed dogs from the time they’re puppies, as soon as they’re old enough to breed they breed them, and breed them, and breed them. Then they throw them into the garbage, for money. [They do this with] pit bulls or blood lions in South Africa [that they breed] to shoot. They breed lions to kill. Some people would say the way that we are being selves is going to result in our ultimate destruction and the destruction of everything else, along with it, and perhaps before. I think the issue about beef is one of them. We just simply can’t keep up with it. It takes too much water and too many resources to raise one cattle unit, just one. It doesn’t feed that many people. So, we’re spending more to produce than we get out of it. It’s a loss. I guess that’s the right way to put it. There’s a loss, an economic loss. So, we all know that if we’re constantly spending more than we make that eventually there’s going to be a tipping point, and then it’s all over. But some people just don’t realize that. You must, therefore, stay out of that tipping point. [This is] because once you’re there, even if business becomes good, you must just stop, move, and do something new.


So, we argue in our book Vivantonomy for a new kind of, a new standing of solidarity, and a new kind of responsibility. I just wanted to point out that there are fewer than 50,000 [wild] horses that exist in the United States. I just wanted to mention that, because what this means is if we kill the 45,000 that we’ve already imprisoned, we only have 5,000 left. What that means is the population is so low that we might not be able to protect it. I’m just now reading something here about Oregon mustangs, they were captured last Wednesday in a roundup. They’ll never run free again, they’ll never see their families again, and it’s unconscionable. It’s absolutely unconscionable.


I’ll give you another example. It’s part of this example. So, part of what the BLM was going to do was to implement a humane plan to sterilize these horses, but what they did instead was to create a way of sterilizing the horses. I’m going to describe it to you because this is an example of violence. What they do is a veterinarian reaches into a female horse’s vagina with a knife and makes an incision in the vaginal wall and manually twists and severs the ovaries with a tool with a chain on the end of it, which obviously causes bleeding and infection. This is unbelievable. We’re doing all of this to get rid of anything that would get in the way of cattle.


This is unbelievable to me. I mean there are 50,000 wild horses, and I’m harping on this because there are many, many examples of this, but it’s good to stay with one, because we’re doing this. It’s good to stay on this example because [it is important]. Sally Jewell is the Secretary of the Interior. Her phone number is (202) 208-3100. You could call her, actually, and tell her what you think. This is unbelievable [what the BLM is planning.] But we’re doing this across the board. [For example,] there are other people who want to build great big condos all around the Grand Canyon. Now, if we do that, we will kill 99% of the animals who live there. No question about it. We will end up polluting, we will end up polluting one of the most beautiful places in the world. This is unacceptable.


So Nazarita, and here’s another thing that’s going on in Korea and other countries: [In China] they’re breeding teacup puppies where they can almost fit in your hand, so that people can carry them to work and put them in their purses, and they’re now cutting them out by C-section before they’re even mature. They’re doing everything they can to make them these little designer dogs. This is madness, it’s utter madness, but this is what we’re doing. In our book Vivantonomy, Nazarita Goldhammer and I started developing several related concepts. One of them is solidarity, a new kind of a solidarity to where we don’t just have solidarity with our best friend, or with a spouse or a family or a community. [Instead], we have solidarity with life. In other words, we are so loyal to life, and we always promote life in such a way that we create this other concept. It’s a new level of responsibility, and it means that we become responsible for the responsibility of the other. That means not hurting somebody, not excommunicating them, not killing them, not being violent to them, but taking the responsibility to teach them. Teach them, train them, to help them learn things that they need to know. These interrelated concepts of solidarity and responsibility are very important for the development of a new anthropology that’s based on vivantology. So, I’m going to ask Nazarita Goldhammer if she would to dialogue with me a little bit about solidarity and a new kind of solidarity and this new level of responsibility. Nazarita?


NG: Yep. Yep. Yep. Solidarity and responsibility for the other. Those are deep, profound, important words that should have meaning to everyone. They should trigger some deep place inside of us that gives us a way to go forward as better humans, better people who are solid with each other that fight for things that are not right. I think we must start with something that says why do you have a view that you have? Where is your view from? Do you believe that you need to eat protein to be healthy? Do you believe that you have animal protein to be healthy? Where is that view from? There’s another view that came out in the news, today, this morning, and it’s how the sugar industry made some damning evidence of heart disease, linking sugar to heart disease disappear, and to blame it solely on saturated fats.


I know if you ask most Americans what they believe [about this] is that saturated fat is the cause of heart disease. Maybe sugar is linked to diabetes. Maybe, you know I think so, but they won’t really link it to heart disease because the sugar industry covered up this evidence and more importantly, they paid the researchers to skew the evidence. The person who was in charge of the skewed evidence became part of the food pyramid for the nation which everybody [now] believes. That’s why and when you’re really looking at what is your real belief, what do you think of solidarity, what do you think of the responsibility for the other?


Do you think “Oh, you know they’re Italian, I’m not responsible for them Italians, I’m only responsible for my ethnic group. That ethnic group is on their own. I’m not responsible for animals because God gave us mastery over all of them to use as we will, so we have to really look at beliefs, at desires, the way that we process information and we have to ask: “Where does this come from? Do we have beauty strips in our minds that we don’t really want to look at where something comes from?”


I just want to point out that there’s a big movement of humane treatment of animals so that we can eat them.  [Food industries are promoting the ideologies of] no hormones, no bad preservatives, [for example with] chicken. But what that means the person who raises the chickens can’t sell them in that way, cannot give any antibiotics so chickens [who] are sick and they can’t help them because people don’t want to buy antibiotic-filled chicken. So, I think we need to really look at the way we’re using the earth, [how]we’re using animals, [how] we’re using each other, and see that we are [in a mode of] anti-solidarity and we need to change that. We need to really look at what [is in] our hearts, really know what is really the future of our world. If we don’t change now I believe that we’re heading for the tipping point as you like to say and which is true and that we will never recover from, we will annihilate ourselves and everything else on the planet. We now have opportunities to choose what we’ll do.


KB: Let’s focus then on that responsibility that Nazarita Goldhammer is pointing out. We have just about three minutes left. I want to just talk about that responsibility and clarify that. In American jurisprudence, responsibility has always been that you can do whatever you want with your life if it’s lawful, if it’s not directly impeding on a legal interest of another person. Beyond that, responsibility may come from your ethnic group, your family, your culture, your religion, some other place, which is more informal. There’s no jail penalty if you violate it. You might be in trouble with your church or your family, and sometimes that can be severe, but in American jurisprudence we let people do whatever they want to do. We don’t have a notion of what I would call a strong version or a proactive, deep version of responsibility. We are advocating in our work a much deeper level of responsibility that is proactive, which means number one, I must be responsible for everybody else’s responsibility. I must make sure that everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do. That means I must reach out. I need to talk to people. I need to engage in critical dialogue with them in a kind way but [also] to challenge them. [I must] challenge, perhaps, their lack of the exercise of responsibility. I must challenge myself. It’s a way of deepening your self-structure, and the way we do that is by constantly challenging ourselves and rethinking the ways we approach others, rethinking the way we approach the world in general, and developing a new kind of self. Frankly, it’s a new kind of self.


What’s happening around us—and this is no joke—the amount of extermination and violence and eradication of life is huge. That’s part of what we’re going to be talking about over the next ten months, perhaps even a whole year, because what could be more important. We’ll see you next week. We’re going to talk about the six axioms presented in Vivantonomy just to get some concepts out on the table.


This is Kevin Boileau, your host at EPIS Radio, signing off and wishing you all a good week.


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