When it comes to “sustainability”, and our collective production, distribution and consumption of resources, the question is always one of standards of living. What standard of living constitutes basic human rights? We have yet to agree.
When an African village runs out of food, it’s a crisis. When a major American city loses electricity for a week, it’s a crisis. The African village has never had electricity.
There will always be a relativistic tension for this standard, but history bends toward justice, and what we’re witnessing now could best be characterized as a narrow ideological tunnel between two generations of understanding re: human rights.
We now know that is technically possible to ensure a specific level of dignity for all people on this planet. Food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, child care, education, all can be guaranteed at reasonably good quality for all human beings with current technology and logistical capabilities. The catch is that all of today’s technology and logistics have emerged from the ideological rats-nest that is human history.
To put it in perspective: yesterday we were illiterate farmers being ordered by the God-King to go and kill the other illiterate farmers on the other side of the hills by impaling them on spiked poles. Today, we are (more or less) relating peacefully as *global* citizens. This is an absolute miracle, but you can’t have the latter without going through the former. You can’t get to a modern, globally-interconnected polite society without first moving through 50,000 years of superstition, dictatorship and brutal empires. The jewel is in the lotus, which only grows in the filth.
Modern life is a house of cards made up of Kafka-esque contradictions. Global politics and economics are merely the sum of our “good enough for now” decisions, a series of decisions that traces directly back to impaling each other on spiked poles. Again, the technology and logistics are now in our hands. The only barriers that prevent the implementation of second-generation human rights are ideological barriers.
Obviously tomorrow morning we can’t just collectively wake up and decide all at once to end all wars, and by tomorrow afternoon have converted the logistics of all militaries to building farms, hospitals and schools. We can’t do this because we are caught in the momentum of ideologies with ancient origins and convoluted, dysfunctional legacies. These entanglements take the passing of time and the passing of generations to resolve into true global peace and brotherhood, and so far, that’s exactly what’s happening. We’re killing each other a LOT less, and we’re having a LOT less babies. As far as living standards go, we’ve never had it so good.
However, at the end of the day, scarcity is a real thing. Not everyone can sit in the front row of the Rolling Stones concert. We don’t have an unlimited supply of 60-year aged whiskey. Not everyone gets to live in Hawaii. Scarcity can either be a manufactured illusion or an undeniable fact.
But once the ideological boundaries are dissolved, the act of providing the “basics” for all human beings is certainly possible if we define a rather modest bare-minimum living standard. We simply cannot have 7 billion human beings with the current living standard of a middle-class American family. This is the standard that needs to be redefined more than anything. However, “living standard” does not always equal “quality of life”, and Americans would probably be happier if we produced and consumed less.
If you’re using a computer or smartphone in the United States right now, the absurdly abundant living standard you currently enjoy and take for granted is 100% a product of the current system of petroleum capitalism. It’s also the product of brutal empire, genocide, rampant injustice, and ultimately, people impaling each other on spiked poles. But here we are on our computers and smartphones having serious debates about a global paradigm shift into peace and mutual prosperity. The jewel is in the lotus, which only grows in the filth. The jewel of human liberation is in the lotus of global society, which only grows in the filth of empire.
Photo by Death to Stock
I’m Chaotic Neutral in my opinion re: “technology”. I fucking love the internet and social media and phones and all of it. It’s all magical and it excites me how fast the innovation is moving, despite the dangers and pitfalls.
So why is it that I’m the biggest internet/connectivity nerd I know, and yet I would never dream of whipping out my phone just because I’ve hit a lull in a conversation?
I spend more time plugged in than most people, as it’s a central pillar of my professional life, so I deeply cherish in-person hang-outs times.
If I’m going to check the feeds, and bask in the endless rushing geysers of content, I’m going to do it in the peaceful solitude of my studio, with a fat bowl and a glass of bourbon, into the late hours.
I’m not going to grab at the glass-rectangle-dopamine-dispenser just because there’s a few seconds of silence, or I can’t find a conversational segway, or the two friends I’m with happen to be geeking out for a minute on something I don’t care that much about.
But I see it all the time in friends and acquaintances. What is the deal?
Conversation is an art form. The simple act of being together is a holy ritual. If I’m hanging out with you, my phone stays in my pocket, unless we need to look up something or whatever.
What I’m saying is I will never be like “welp I don’t know what to say/do next so I’m just going to make a tactical retreat into my little rectangle here”
Photo by Death to Stock
I invite you to follow my cinematographical and pictographical whims by following me on Instagram.
Here’s a video of my latest altar flip:
I was a guest on The Something Something Podcast.
Had a great time nerding out with hosts Kitty Brown and Michael John Simpson.
“Joining us again is bad-ass Sith master assassin, Kitty Brown. This week’s guest is artist, animator, writer, and creative director at Abine, Inc., Brian Duffy. We sat down to talk about first world problems, chaos magick, Inside Amy Schumer: 12 Angry Men, the concept of spoilers, Star Wars canon vs. EU, interplanetary vs. intraplanetary culture, sex vs. violence, internet security, universal connectivity, and tarot.”
Click here to listen to the episode
A delightful conversation of which I had the privilege to instigate and participate at Lightning in a Bottle 2013.
“Are technology and spirituality mutually exclusive? Is there a middle ground between New Age Luddites and Materialist Atheists? Are we capable of transcending religious tradition and inventing DIY magical systems in the age of computers? Have our smartphones become our animal totems? Is the internet a new Dreamtime? In this talk, 2012 author Daniel Pinchbeck, Evolver LA’s Brian Duffy, and Evolver Baltimore’s Robin Gunkel will examine the diverse trends that seem to be accelerating us towards an unprecedented symbiosis between natural and artificial, between material and immaterial.”
Click here to listen to the talk, recorded by The Do LaB
“What happens next?”
The crisp and well-folded seam between the aeons was pressed tight by a fierce diamond ruler whose length outgrew all the counted galaxies laid end-to-end like a string of infinite precious pearls. The world finally collapsed away like a pop-up book, all the stories and places nested together into a perfect flatness. It made a pleasing sound as I lowered it snugly into its slipcase and gently placed it back onto that great and terrible shelf.
Continue reading The Library
We’re starved of the “true purpose” of culture, which was for the culture of our families to give us a sense of context and relationship between our individual lives and the transcendent interconnectedness of nature.
So many of us are starved of this power, and in desperation some of us twitch and grasp to cling to the baubles and strings hanging from any culture that even suggests a whisper of knowledge of this force that our immediate families, by no fault of their own, never even knew existed.
And thank God for music being the fail-safe to reconnect us to that force. The wordless magnetism of the holy in nature can call to us from a drum and a throat, or it can call to us through a drum machine and a synthesizer. It calls through the ancient rhythms of pre-history thumping in our hearts, and it calls through the fresh melodies composed on a dusty laptop in the hours before taking the stage.
But those orphan seekers of the holy in nature, as they stumble towards the dance floor to drink deep with their parched throats, will risk, in their blinking stupor, trampling upon anyone who was already there, healthily interfacing with the holy in nature, or even worse, the seekers will claim to be the discoverers of the holy in nature, holding it aloft as not a divine obligation, but another trophy for the shelf of the new-aesthetic-craving ego, and risk carrying on to further starvation and further trampling.
Photo by David Pricco
It’s been 5 years since I set up an altar in my bedroom and decided I was going to use it to figure out what spirituality meant to me.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Continue reading An Introduction to Sacred Space and Ritual Magic
Humberto Braga’s latest article, How and Why “Conscious” Festivals Need to Change, has been causing a stir recently. He assembles many of the popular criticisms of Burning Man and “Festival Culture” at large, claiming that there is a dangerous hypocrisy at work, that transformational festivals are inadequate because they apparently have not produced any meaningful political change, and could in fact be reinforcing the sinister political agenda of mainstream culture.
Continue reading How Burning Man and Festival Culture Make Change Personal
This is my first poem. It spilled out of me after a Holotropic Breathwork session had caught an echo of a shattering experience I had meditating in front of my altar some months prior.
Later that year, at Burning Man 2011, my first year of attendance, I scrawled the poem on a pillar at the Temple of Transformation.
Several years later, while googling one of the lines to see if anyone else happened to have used it before, I stumbled across this website.
Continue reading The Deafening Crack of the Immaculate Black Thunderbolt