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Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. I’ve done about 550 of them now. And if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to bat gap comm and go into the past interviews menu where you’ll see them all categorized in several different ways. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers so if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the website. My guest today is Bio A coma lafaye Welcome, buyer. Hi, Rick. I’m going to start by reading BIOS bio. And I gotta read a little bit slowly because he packs a lot of meaning into each of his sentences and I want to make sure you get this. So here we go. A fugitive to manicured the disciplinarity of the future isn’t this funny way wrote this a fugitive to manicured the disciplinarity of the academic speaker and proud diaper changer. Bio leads an earth wide organization the emergence network as its chief curator and director. The organization is set up for the recalibration of our ability to respond to civilizational crisis, a project framed within a feminist ethos and inspired by indigenous cosmologies. He considers this a shared art, exploring the edges of the intelligible dancing with post humanist ideas, dabbling in the mysteries of quantum mechanics, and liberating sermon of an eco feminism text and talking with others about how to host the festival in Brazil, and part of his inner struggle to regain a sense of rootedness to his community. He also hosts a course we will dance with mountains, among other offerings. Bio is a visiting professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, and has taught in universities around the world including Sonoma State University California, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Schumacher College, Devon, Harvard University and covenant University, Nigeria, among others, is a consultant with the UNESCO bio has authored two books, we will tell our own story. And these wild beyond our fences, letters to my daughter on humanities search for home, and as penned forwards to for many others. The Alto has two websites, bile Akuma lafaye.net, which I’m showing on the screen here now. And emergence network.org. So welcome bio.
Bayo Akomolafe: Thank you. Thank you.
Rick Archer: And as I didn’t quite mention this, but you’re from Nigeria originally. Yes, yeah. very affluent and generous country judging from the many emails I’ve received from your countrymen over the years offering me dollars, no strings attached.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, we just want to give it away. We’re looking for who to give it to you.
Rick Archer: It’s wonderful. I’ve never taken up on their offers.
Rick Archer: So I first met you bio at the Science non duality conference last October. And I don’t know whether this was the title of your talk, but you definitely brought out the theme. The times are urgent. We must slow down. And I’ve heard you say that many times. I’ve been walking in the woods for the past week listening to various talks, other interviews you did. And it’s you know, the, the impression I got reminiscing about that title is that boy, the world really took you seriously.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yes, I have. I have that same impression to my publisher. My probably my publisher in Berkeley wrote me and was like, this seems to be the mantra. But the times everyone hates me saying it in my own household. But it does feel like like a record worth playing over and over again.
Rick Archer: They hate you saying it because they’re so tired of hearing you say is that it?
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, they’re so tired of hearing. Oh, on that one again.
Rick Archer: I do that too. I say things over and over again. My wife kind of grown
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, the groaning is what makes it important.
Rick Archer: So I have an interpretation of what I would mean by that phrase, but what do you mean by it?
Bayo Akomolafe: Hmm? The times are urgent, let us slow down. There’s nothing new about that. So when I say that I, I borrow a lot from the people I come from are the Yoruba people in Nigeria. And they have a different idea of the world and what’s happening in the world, their Pantheon, your notions of gods and goddesses, their myth, your stories. It’s, they all feel like precursors to quantum dynamics, and what is happening, and as we speak about the world as an entangled realm of field. So I borrow a lot from Europa, epistemologies, and ways and no of knowing and philosophies. And when I say the time they’re urgent, let us slow down. When I said, I don’t mean it, I found myself being interpreted in very unfortunate ways, like, oh, okay, what you’re saying is like, we need to reduce our speed, maybe do a little bit of yoga, calm down, relax. And I definitely wouldn’t want to rule any of that out. But I don’t mean, it’s not a function of speed, the invitation to slow down is not a function of speed. It’s a function of let me say, awareness. It’s a function of interruptions. It’s a function of noticing and playing hosts to the invited others that are always around us. So there’s a deep notion of time that is involved over here. Imagine, Rick that we were headed down this long road. One idea of slowing down in times of urgency might invite you to release you’re in the your foot on the throttle and just slow down, but you’re still going to the same place just at a slower speed. That’s definitely not helpful. We’re looking for something transversal. The invitation here is to occupy the crossroads in your yerba epistemologies, there is a notion called or Rita and Rita is this idea. I think it has been loosely translated as crossroads. But is it there’s a deeper, more monstrous chimeric notion here, that is understood by Rita, it literally means in a poetic sense where the three roads meet. And it’s not supposed to be just an intersection. It’s supposed to be this place where we emerge from, and one of the principal deities in Yoruba philosophies, his name, his issue, he said, to be the man of orator, he said to be the God of orator, the God that makes everything emerge. The God of climate change the God of COVID-19, I just wrote a horrible monster Frankenstein essay,
Rick Archer: I read about at least half of it.
Bayo Akomolafe: Sorry, I apologize to everyone, I had to put through 22,000 words of an essay, but issue is said to be the person who holds agency in the Crossroads. That anytime we are met by something greater than ourselves, we’re afforded an opportunity to shape shift to become something different, to tap into other temporalities that are streaming through. So it’s not simply a notion of reducing speed. It’s an invitation to be alive to other sensuous happenings around us. And to reframe our questions, and yearnings and imperatives as a result of being in alliance with these multiple others around us.
Rick Archer: The Dalai Lama one time, said, I had a really busy day ahead. So this morning, I meditated two hours instead of one hour, you know, yeah, and that’s kind of the sense in which I understand your phrase. And that is like, let’s say you have a lot of responsibility, you’re really busy, you got a lot going on. Now, if you deprive yourself of sleep, and proper nutrition and proper exercise and you know, the things that you need to be successful in activity, you’re going to be spinning your wheels you know, you’re going to be like doing more but accomplishing less in activity. So you need to slow down as a way to counterbalance the the intensity of the activity you need to counterbalance it with greater silence and then and then you can actually speed up in activity if you need to, and but you’ll have the wherewithal to do it successfully. Right.
Bayo Akomolafe: That is a beautiful way of coming to bring this into to attend And definitely modernity has taught us to speed up. If you want to get there thing go fast. And if you’re not, if you’re not reaching there don’t go faster, you know, you know, do it fast. If we’re losing our sense of control, as we certainly are in these times of deep, it’s more than uncertainty. It’s indeterminacy. It’s like, what do What does next month old forget next month? What is tomorrow hold? What would the world look like tomorrow? Oil, with cars with airplanes with celebrities and entertainment, and sports? What does? What does the world look like going forward? And the idea is, if we lose a sense of control, that we need to double down on our sense of control. So there’s definitely this modern sense this, this search for closure for resolution, the invitation to slow down in times of urgency is not a resolution. It’s a rite of passage, if you will. It’s an I think there are two ways of answering a question, to offer a resolution or to offer bewilderment. So that if you fully understand what I mean, by The Times urgent, let us slow down, then you don’t understand what I mean, by the time the origin let us slow down, because I don’t understand what it means completely. But I do know that it’s prophetic in not in terms of predicting the future, but in terms of expanding up appreciation of the thickness of now, the deep present, that is always around us the conditions that make us possible that modernity has taught us to push aside making visible don’t talk about it. Now, if we meet those strange conditions, what might shift? That’s the question.
Rick Archer: Ah, there’s another phrase you use a lot, which you tribute to African tradition, which is, in order to find your way you must become lost. I think it’s kind of related to what you were just saying. Yeah, maybe you could elaborate on that.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, it’s, me put it this way that I have been flying blind is such a faraway concept. But I’ve been flying to the United States, and to the west, for for some time now. And every time I’m invited to speak or do something, and I’m taking and driven to my place of abode, there always comes a time or sometimes there’s, there’s a moment when we have to ask for directions. And then someone says, it’s a block away and or it’s a mile away or something. I don’t know how to think in those terms. And I remember sharing to one of my hosts in Utah, that I don’t know how to think in terms of blocks, I don’t know what mile looks like, we don’t have those. And it’s not because I don’t have some theoretical understanding of it. But I don’t know how to use those terms. I was brought up in a world where if you were lost in the streets of Lagos, for instance, you would, and you ask for directions, someone wouldn’t tell you, Oh, just go. It’s just two blocks, and a yard or something. You can give them the words, Rick, but they would, they would say, keep going. Just keep going. When you come to a place where you smell some fishy smell, then ask someone else for directions. It’s it’s very qualitative, descriptive, down to earth. It isn’t measured. It’s in the moment, like keep going, keep going when you stop. It’s there’s also a sense of time, that is quite on the ground at the moment because modern Nigeria is superseding indigenous Nigeria, but there is still the resilience of that world. And in that world, if you ask someone to meet you, or rendezvous somewhere as I did when I wanted to meet some Yoruba healers, and shamans, for my PhD years back, I said, we’re going to meet here at 12 o’clock. And I stood there I remember staying there for three hours on the street waiting for this gatekeeper to take me to this community of healers. And he came with his bike with his motorcycle. And I said, I’ve been standing here for three hours, where have you been? He said, it was the right time to come. This was the right time to come. So there’s a sense that you know that time isn’t governed by clocks. And the terrain isn’t entirely subservient to the map that lets the world is more fluid animated and vibrant than our maps. presuppose. modernity is the paradigm of the fixed map. That is, this is exactly how we move. This is where to go. This is the algorithm of progress and rationality. So it rationalizes the smells. The stay here, and wait for someone else to meet you. It rationalizes all those qualitative descriptions. I’m not trying to just create a binary and say one is better than the other. I’m just trying to show the risks of, of cutting out the voices and the invisibles and a wilds, as the city has done as the Enlightenment much has done as modernity is doing. So, to lose your way means to stumble onto other paths that are possible and to meet ourselves as see for the first time. And with regards to what we’re just talking about the Coronavirus, you know, in terms of reasserting our anthropocentric control, and saying we are in charge of the planet, we have to get back to business, we have to go back to the economy, and all of that we have a timeline, we have to get back in me. And the viruses like I have other things in mind. You know, there are other imperatives afoot hear that you have to come to terms with getting lost would mean, meeting the wildness of this agency, without trying to put it in the family way, and insist that it follow our own blueprint for going forward?
Rick Archer: Yeah, essentially, what I, what I get from what you’re saying is that, you know, on the one hand, there’s kind of a value in preciseness and schedules and you know, GPS, and if you get on, if you’re going to take a flight to the west, you need to get to the airport at a certain time, and that there’s all kinds of preciseness built into the air traffic control system that you might not live if it weren’t there. And you know, the way planes navigate, so all that is figured out to the enth degree. But what happens is, because of the relentless focus on boundaries, people lose their unboundedness, they lose their sense of, of the indeterminant, or, you know, the field of all possibilities, as Deepak Chopra likes to call it. And so that gets overshadowed. And so, you know, my sense is that what we should aspire for, if we want to put it that way, is a kind of a balance of the two where one could function in the field of preciseness and boundaries and schedules, and that if need be, and yet at the same time, not be gripped by that sort of be free of that and kind of playing in a field of, of unboundedness are of all possibilities simultaneously. And that takes a certain amount of familiarity with both a certain amount of integration.
Bayo Akomolafe: I’m, that feels like a good idea. Except that I don’t know, any particular material possibility, where where shadows are not going to be proliferated in creating a world in this way. The Myth of Socratic balance, maybe we can strike a middle, you know, and and take a little bit of this world and take a little bit of that world and everything will be fine and dandy integration hides the fact that integration also needs conditions to be alive and those conditions to thrive, will shut out other conditions from being noticed. Indians put it in a different way. They say name the color, blind, the eye, the very act of definition is an act of violence. And immediately I define a color to be blue. And Niels Bohr understood this when he described his concept of complementarity. Immediately you define the particle to be a particle, you’ve your Peritus has excluded the possibility of a wave collapse happening, the wave function be noted. And immediately you notice, or the aperitif measures a wave, then particle is impossible. So this idea that the world works by exclusion, exclusionary dynamics, if you define it this way, something that’s lost, the cost, the yearning for integration, or for arriving at a world that works perfectly, you know, that takes a little bit of every world and just puts it together, I think, which is is a is a variation and iteration of the modern yearning, a little bit of this and that and make everything good.
Rick Archer: But what if you could have more of both, and yet, so in other words, they could both grow simultaneously without without compromising one another.
Bayo Akomolafe: From my own experience, and my historical understanding of attempts to do that, it hasn’t worked out well. I’m, I’m a subject of the so called Global South, and the very discourse of universalism, the very discourse, that it’s possible to arrive at this numinous, fundamental essential ground where everything works well, and we can plant seeds and incense integrate everything together, take a little bit of this culture and that and integrate it in this in this petri dish of, of moments and gestures and wisdoms. This inclusive tendency always tended to exclude more. And it tended to deny, to bury to invisibIe lies, to excavate, to dispossessed and to displace. That’s the history of the Anthropocene. So I’m from people that we know it in our bones, we may not know it in theory, and we may not know it in, in high sounding philosophical concepts. But we do know it in our bones in a way that there is something about the way the world is shaped right now, that is not to be trusted. It’s not cynicism, and if even cynicism is Oh, is a weariness that is like a wisdom that comes from intergenerational trauma. If we continue to pretend as if we could just march forward into the light, then we forget our own history, we forget our own bodies, we forget our own wisdoms and our own ancestry. So, my own my own take on that is the world is the world is a masquerade like Chinua Achebe would say it, you have to dance with it, to understand it, or to meet it, and how you dance with it creates the world in return. And the world creates you in return. And something is always caught out.
Rick Archer: I guess what I’m alluding to is the notion and this whole show is about, yeah, you know, spiritual development. And, yeah, and that my understanding of that is, although obviously, as this show is an example of, there are so many different flavors and varieties of that. But one essential, or fundamental thing is the sort of the, the discovery of our core value our core essence. In India, they call it Atman. Or, you know, it’s called various things in various cultures. And if you try to just sort of, you know, like, for instance, some people are into intersexuality, we’re all the religions kind of get get together and kind of, you know, but without sort of access to that core value, it’s, I don’t know, it’s, it’s, it’s like neglecting the roots of a tree and just trying to mingle their leaves or something like that. There. But if you could somehow enliven that core value in the awareness of peep of all the diversities of people, they would have that in common, and it wouldn’t. It wouldn’t blur their diversities, it would actually enrich them. So that for instance, indigenous cultures, which have been kind of blitzed over by, by the invasion of, you know, modern cultures, could be resuscitated can be revived and could enjoy their their traditional values. Well, at the same time not having to forego the practical aspects of the useful aspects of the more Western scientific cultures.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, yeah, I get that I hear you, brother. That the place I speak from is, is a deeply troubled, fragile, humble and modest space of it’s a weak ontology. It’s it’s, if you will, and the invitation of this, of what I speak about, and what I teach about is, the deep invitation there is to is to be humble about what we think we know. Yeah. to approach the world with the, with the slowness, and with the reverence that it demands, and it requires, there’s no there’s no, I, I definitely I’m of the opinion that maybe some kind of economic, political spiritual system where we can integrate multiple diverse cultures are possible. I’m definitely, I mean, if we could live in that kind of society today, I would definitely be up for moving there. However, I don’t think it’s up to us. So the things that I speak about, you know, you know, when I, when I signaled the very large field of post humanism is to say that we are part of the world and to say we are part of the world doesn’t mean we’re just incited contained by it. It means that our bodies, the ways we imagine our yearnings, our hopes, our systems of justice, our concepts of the next all entangled in things that exceed us. Even the ground what scientists are now calling the deep biosphere. You know, they found this, this sub Alton, subterranean sorry, subterranean world beneath us. That disappoints the idea that the ground is fixed, and we’re standing on it, you know, it disappoints the very core essence of fundamentalism, that there is a core ground, and we can stand on it, because there’s this microbial universe there. And it’s monstrous. And it’s ongoing and emergent. So I like to signal the emergence, the emergent, and by pointing to our humans are not central. And so our ideas of how the world ought to be, you know, is not left up to us to decide how to go, you know, forward, it has never been, we never created capitalism, or socialism. Those are systems that are complex and complicated. It didn’t take a committee coming together to put these ideas together, it took years and years of evolution and evolution, microbial activity, things beyond us. So that to say, to even speak about tomorrow is to my elders will invoke a sense of modesty, like, you need to know how to prostrate before you put out a blueprint before the universe. So I that’s what I’ll say to that. That sounds
Rick Archer: good. It reminds me of something they said about the moon landing, it was that no one knows how we got to the moon. It was this collective effort. And no one person could hold all the necessary information in their heads about oh, yeah, I know exactly how we all did it. It was more like, you know, everybody was involved. And each each person had their part in the enterprise. And somehow it all came together in a coordinated way. And we got to the moon, right,
Bayo Akomolafe: right. Right, which which which troubles the idea that if only we have the right intention, then things will go right. If only we have the right philosophy, the right political will the right teachers, the right things we put out there, then things will go right after all, the Yoruba people and this again, I’m I’m jumping to us things I’m learning about my culture. You see, Rick, I didn’t say this at the beginning, but I, I was thoroughly educated, to be thoroughly educated is to be educated out of context. So don’t speak your language learn English. So I’m an I’m, I’m a I’m a perpetual prisoner, incarcerated in my English language, and I am still trying to learn my own Yoruba language. But the Yoruba people have a greeting, like if you came into my house, and you met me eating, I would say to you, Rick, Archer Elacin. Now and why Joan means come and eat with me. It’s a greeting. If you actually came to greet with me, I would be outraged and shocked that you actually follow through with the invitation
Rick Archer: you’re not supposed to.
Bayo Akomolafe: Know. You’re not supposed to. Like it’s not it’s just a way of acknowledging come and eat the food is great. But if you actually came and said, Oh, I’m gonna wash my hands, that’s looking good. I would be like, What are you doing? Um, so the, you know, how they say the, it’s the intention that counts, or you’re about people, the intention is not what counts. It’s the performance is a performance that counts. So I just use that as a finger as a metaphor to notice that, you know, this idea that if we have the right intentions, and then we can carry it out, you know, by this direct correspondence with reality outside of our subjective experiences than the world to be fine, but it’s never worked that way. Because we don’t have a direct experience or direct relationship with reality. It’s all bleak. It’s a in some sense accident. Did I freeze or did you freeze?
Rick Archer: Oh, you froze? I heard what you said. Yeah. Okay. Well, if I ever come to your house, I’ll bring a bag lunch, cuz I
Bayo Akomolafe: know I would make a meal for you.
Rick Archer: Well, my next thought, based on what we’ve been saying, in base, what you said a few minutes ago, is that you know, although we, it’s it’s like no one has a no one is omniscient. No one has a complete, complete, comprehensive understanding of what’s going on or what has happened or what’s going to happen or anything else. We all have our little pieces of the puzzle, and we’re all contributing in whatever way we see get we’re capable of. And you know, you say no one invented socialism or this or that. Who was it? Sir Isaac Newton said, If I’ve accomplished anything, it’s because I stood on the shoulders of giants. So it seems to me that, you know, none of us have the complete picture. We all have parts of it and we’re all doing the best we can to contribute and things Move along, it’s in a much in a ways that we can’t foresee, there’s no like, I have some things I want to ask you about that point. But I’ll let you respond to that one before we go on,
Bayo Akomolafe: about having pieces of the puzzle. You know, I don’t I don’t even know that there is, I come from a very deeply Christian tradition, I don’t identify as Christian today. But I, I was brought up a Christian, and the image of God was always the strong, resonant theme in, in my faith, you know, the image of God were made in the likeness of God. And I always imagined a selfie, not always the selfie that wasn’t quite out when I was growing up in my faith. But I started to imagine the image of God as a selfie, as a very anthropocentric selfie with the image of man, front and center. But in, you know, what you asked about the pieces of the puzzle. With my own understanding of how the image of God is being composted, today, it’s been dissolved by the world around us, I feel that that image, that piece of the puzzle metaphor, doesn’t quite, it doesn’t quite come to the complexity of, of, of the world of the universe, that there is not, it’s not that we even have pieces of the puzzle, definite, discrete pieces, that if only I brought my piece with Rick’s piece, you know, then we have a cumulative effect, and then potentially, all of us will have this complete picture of what exactly the world is going on right now. Even if I don’t,
Rick Archer: because even all of our 7 billion pieces put together I don’t think would come anywhere near completeness. But it’s just it’s something you know, it’s just not definitely not everything.
Bayo Akomolafe: I mean, my piece might eat up your piece that my, my eat well, and or your piece might eat up 1 million pieces, and, and secrete different pieces that are that seem to be a different for a different puzzle that hasn’t been invented yet. And I see that that’s how what we routinely call nature works. That that nature is in this harmonious ground where everything is tidy, or potentially tidy, if only we got the pieces together, nature eats itself. It spits out things it vomits things and those things, somehow sprout legs and then give birth to, you know, other things. You know, I was reading about evolution and evolution know, Charles Darwin, imagine that it was a linear progression, working by natural selection. But there’s also the what biologists are noticing, noticing today, that it’s not just a match from simplicity, to sophistication, some organisms are actually abandoning sophistication, you know, to their Devo. I don’t know if it evolving. I think the evolving would be the word between your and your and I reckon invents that devolves devolving, they’re letting go of their sophistication in order to survive. And you might think, oh, maybe survival is the implicit ethos or the central narrative of life. But then you read about microbial suicides when when unicellular organisms literally take their own lives, not being not not as a not as a strategy to save the larger body. Because they’re unicellular. They just veg out for themselves. But as an act they literally off themselves. And and it tells me we have no clue what is happening. And it’s not that it’s not in a Heisenberg in sense that we we it’s a matter of uncertainty. We don’t have all the information. It’s more in the Borean sense that what is happening is like 1 million over zero. It’s indeterminate. We don’t have a clue. But it’s not just that we don’t have a clue that there is nothing to have a clue about. The thing we’re supposed to have a clue about is still emerging. The world and universe is still a teenager sorting itself out.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Several thoughts on that boy, everything you say just stimulates these. That is well, God you mentioned you were a Christian not so much anymore. What is your how if we’re going to use the word God let’s define it. What how do you define it?
Bayo Akomolafe: I worship my wife most of the time.
Rick Archer: But you wiped it out the universe. I presume?
Bayo Akomolafe: It no I don’t need to create it. That’s too pompous for me. I’m not into creators Then, and all of that, I mean to people that I mean two ideas, well crafted sentences. The beauty of a of a recently changed diaper, you know, oh, well, a well made dosa do each doses.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Had some forget last night actually.
Bayo Akomolafe: Excellent. That’s a god right there. So I mean, I abandoned the abandoned. While abandonment is not entirely possible in an entangled world, there is still there are still insurgent fugitive parts of me if I could speak that way that that wants to trust in, in the idea of Atelier logical imagination of the universe, that universe is imbued with purpose, that maybe there are some Santa Claus and figure sitting above the sphere of matter and direct thing sometimes, you know, when he’s in a good mood. And yet, I wouldn’t describe myself I, I totally reject the either or blackmail that I am either an atheist or faced, you know, or I’m either this or or maybe there’s, I’m an agnostic or something. I don’t think that identity is so simple. And this has come from someone that has studied psych recovering psychologist that has spent some time dealing with identity of studying identity, I didn’t think identity so simple, that we can simply come to terms with what we are, if that even makes sense. So I would say that the God for me right now is is is the yet to come, is the yet to be is the emergent is the ongoingness of reality. Of the matter reality is the ongoing mattering of matter is how one of my mentors would put it Karen Bharat Yeah.
Rick Archer: Do you know do you know, Tim freak?
Bayo Akomolafe: And no, it doesn’t mean he
Rick Archer: wasn’t a sound last year. But he often comes. He says something similar to that he feels that sort of God is sort of coming into being more and more as the universe evolves. And St. Teresa of Avila said, it appears that that God Himself is on the journey. Yeah, my sense is that everything we look at our fingertip, you know, and imagine that there must be, I don’t know how many billions of cells in our finger are in our fingertip. And each one of those cells is unbelievably complex. They say it’s more complex than, than a modern city. Yeah, and, and yet, it’s able to repair itself replicate itself, there’s all kinds of marvelous things happening inside of it. And, you know, when I kind of consider that and consider that that’s the way it is everywhere, you can’t imagine any place in the universe that doesn’t, that isn’t just scintillating with all sorts of laws of nature, which, then it’s really hard to conceive of things being random and meaningless. And accidental. So, you know, my sense is that in every God is not a Santa Claus figure hovering over things and, you know, keeping track of whether you’re naughty or nice. It’s more sort of all pervading intelligence, which is kind of hiding in plain sight, anything we consider, you know, piece of paper here, something like that, if you analyze what you’re actually looking at, you’re looking at this miraculous display of all pervading intelligence are or, you know, not nothing random or accidental about it. There’s all kinds of marvelous anyway, you get where I’m going, but, yeah, so there’s that I could say more, but I’ll send it back to you. Yeah.
Bayo Akomolafe: There you are speaking about the virus and how it exposes what viruses do well, at least this specific virus is to is to infiltrate our bodies, through cracks through porous membrane through whatever means that it can and to and to use our own, you know, body production to produce itself that is, it sets it sets us against ourselves. They’re smart
Rick Archer: buggers, and they hop on there
Bayo Akomolafe: without a visa without glass and they’re everywhere. And and they and you know, the idea there is that they, they proliferate our many other nurses, like they set us beside ourselves. It’s there’s almost like a maddening effect there. And I say that because I feel I feel there’s almost a messianic quality to that, you know, to, to meet yourself, to see yourself to see the way you think. To see the touch the architecture of your, of your philosophy is is something messianic, it’s ecstatic. It’s it’s what people attribute to psychedelic experiences. I reckon I haven’t had one myself. Do I think I have small doses when I write?
Rick Archer: You probably do. I mean, it gets the serotonin going and everything you know, exactly what’s a tea or whatever that is, and
Bayo Akomolafe: whatever is imbued, yeah, DMT you know, so. So I feel that I feel that maybe like you say, like, so eloquently described it, like God is probably this ongoing, yes of things God is yet to come. I would even say Catherine Keller, who’s just your logician has been writing about what she calls apophatic entanglement. And what that very nice, picky, yummy phrase means is that God is God is the word pantheism. God is a lovely universe, but exceeds, exceeds all of that exceeds the universe. So that he’s not reduced. I say he because that’s my question we can save Yeah. Yeah. Tisha, he it is not reducible to the Peritus to the assemblage, it exceeds the assembly, so that even maybe, meaninglessness is also part of the is something we should pay attention to. There’s a tribe in Australia that says there are 99 senses. We thought there were five No, there are 99 senses. But making sense of the world is just one of those senses, I am intrigued by the idea that the world exceeds meaning meaningfulness. It exceeds rationality, that facts vibrates at the speed of mystery, that there will never be a time I would be able to completely embrace even all of us together, we’ll never be, you’ll never be a time we can completely embrace us nonhumans trees, microbes will never be able to embrace what this means. And that’s because what this means is also what this does not mean. I’m rambling here,
Rick Archer: I’m getting it. Yeah. And I would say that, even if we can get down to that level of being our pure intelligence from which everything arises, it’s not necessarily going to percolate up into human intellect in a way that the human intellect will fully grasp it. It’ll be it’ll be something we can live and kind of know, innately or deeply, but we won’t be able to articulate it or, you know, compartmentalize it into our teeny tiny little human faculties.
Bayo Akomolafe: Did you watch the movie arrival?
Rick Archer: Yes. I love that movie. You do? I watched it twice. I think I’ve watched that was the one where those those sept seven legged? Gotta punch? Yeah, I love that. It really gives me goosebumps.
Bayo Akomolafe: It gives me goosebumps all the time with interstellar and you know, I’m a sci fi. The beautiful thing about that, and the short stories even better to me? Well, it’s, they’re kind of on the same level. But the idea of, you know, these alien beings, knowing time and space in a way that we we possibly will never be able to do do that. Because we’re formed differently. Our eyes are in front of our heads. So we see, we possibly see time it flowing from past to present or future. But these Hepta pods, I believe the records that
Rick Archer: are set up was set, because they were said seven legs. And anyway, go ahead. I think it doesn’t matter.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, I can’t remember that. They are, you know, they kind of have eyes everywhere. You know, it’s there. They’re not, you’re not quite forward facing. So the way they conceive of time is bodily and corporately different from the way that those humans thought and it’s not like one is superior. It’s just a different, a different configuration of the world that is fully manifested a different will filter of future future seems to presuppose that there’s something beyond the future, or that is coming through the future. I think there. Yes, I understand that you do understand that you do. So. I would say the future is the creator, that the future is creating reality that just like the Peritus is, is making cuts between whether this energy is a particle or a wave. What we call the future may not just be this representative Berea between you know what it is it may actually be what is that what is is always different. differencing as what is his name? Some French philosopher put it I can’t remember his name now.
Rick Archer: I’m not so cool. That’s somebody else probably more contemporary
Bayo Akomolafe: I forget it from Algeria. name escapes me now. Derrida All right. So so the the Yeah, and maybe I should even go as far as invoking aliens and sci fi pictures, the brittle starfish. You know, as Karen Berra described this in one beautiful essay she wrote is literally an eye. It’s an eye it’s not it doesn’t have eyes, it’s an eye, the whole the whole starfish, the whole fish it is an eye. It’s literally an eye without a brain that is able to make evasive maneuvers to you know, to run away from predators and all of that which baffles scientists it doesn’t have a central nervous system. And yet it’s it doesn’t have a brain but yet it is. It’s diffused its intelligence is by fuse. I wonder how a brittle starfish acts? Not experiences. I wonder how it constructs performs reality. I wonder how reality is to better starfish. I wonder how reality is to fly? A little fly? Swimming, you know, in the thickness of nothingness?
Rick Archer: I wonder this stuff too. I guess we’re both crazy. But I’m, I’m always thinking about that kind of thing. There was what was it? Thomas Nagel wrote some article called Yeah, what is it like to be a bat or something like that. And you know, I use that word, filter. Another word we might use is sense organs of the infinite. As I see it, the if the infinite is infinite, then it’s not separate from apparent concrete forms and object. So they are they are the infinite, having taken a form through which the infinite can experience itself, at least partially. And I think the interesting thing about human beings is that they have the neurological sophistication, if you will, to clarify themselves as filters to the point where the infinite can recognize itself in its full value through the instrumentality of that particular form. That’s what enlightenment would be. In the traditional sense,
Bayo Akomolafe: right? I understand that I respect these traditions. And they certainly have informed and part of my journey. I am, I’m certainly given to the word you mentioned the partial that, like, when you talk about the infinity, infinity, I would ask her into which infinity, you know, for instance, versus in math, you know,
Rick Archer: yeah, right. Affinity, okay, add one to it, you have you have something.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, but that’s it, you can have an infinity of even numbers, which is separate from the infinity of just not numbers. And, and these infinities cross each other out all the time. And that’s how the mathematical equations and calculations are possible. And in yet, you know, this idea that we can only know things partially, is quite, is deeply I, you know, I’m deeply attracted to that. And I’m deeply attracted to the idea that if we’re part of a, if we’re part of a world that exceeds us, then I don’t know that we can fully inscribe the ongoing as of that world, and a single template. And, and maybe the invitation there is to continually shape shift as we always do, which is, which is something that doesn’t even depend on intention, which is something that is ongoing, you know, we we’re constantly changing shape. Right now, in our social distancing lockdown protocols. We are changing shape in molecular ways. We are becoming different. I’m interested in that. Yeah,
Rick Archer: me too. And I think I agree with you if I understand you, and I’m reminded of that verse in the Bible about seeing through a glass darkly. And then eventually, yeah, the glass gets clear. So yeah, yeah, you know, so I don’t but but to extend that metaphor, I don’t think there’s any limit to the clarification of the glass. You know, it’s not it’s never going to be 100% clear because it’s that that’s like saying 100% educated or there’s always something more Some greater evolution or growth in some dimension that can take place.
Bayo Akomolafe: I hear you, I hear the I think our our, you know, this is this is where the beauty of contrast in difference gets to show up. So I do sense that you do have this understanding of reality and spirituality that is premised on a world that is clear, beautiful prior to emergence, if you will, and we can we potentially capable of experiencing this? Well, yeah,
Rick Archer: but prior to emergence, it’s not a world. So the trick is for the emergence to take place, and then for that world, if you want to call it that, for that, for that fundamental intelligence, or divine consciousness or whatever want to call to become a living reality, rather than just an unmanifest one.
Bayo Akomolafe: Right. So I, I think, I think, I think I’m, I think I get that and, and I, I, I would have fully I want to hold that beautiful portrait of reality close. Because I’m, I’m constantly warned that if you’re if you find yourself in a place where you’re right all the time, then be wary, be very wary of a world where you’re the center where you figured everything out.
Rick Archer: I hope you’re not implying that you think I have no, no, no, no, no, I
Bayo Akomolafe: don’t I’m but I’m, I hold this close as a wound that I never wants to heal. It keeps me open to the, the ongoing acts of things. And and, and so when I when I hear this, I know that it it’s corporately significant to my own emergence for you to State things this way. I may not figure it out in me in the immediate, but I can sense the beauty, the truth and the value in that.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, obviously, however, I state things or however any of us states things. It’s just one way of stating things based upon our own particular experience and background. Right. And we’re dealing with kind of abstract concepts here. But we’re, we’re trying to get a handle I mean, it coming down to her. Yeah, but whatever works for but to try to convey. Presumably, well, in case the kind of words we’re using, we’re sort of trying to get a handle on what the reality might actually be. But we’re, we’re really blind men feeling the elephant.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, I like the blind man. Like the elephant. Yeah. Oh, it’s all the favorite story of mine. Yeah, truth is out there. Many memories rushing back to mind now. And then I you know, I want to juxtapose that with the, the soft, almost feminine, without decentralizing what the feminine means. Wisdom starts that in invite a fallen apart. A place of surrender, a place of curiosity and a closed place of opening. And I don’t mean that in. I don’t want to perform some kind of a spiritual bypass here. And and to escape the grounded, troubling, emergent, and painful Ness, the painfulness of becoming and the painfulness of being alive, especially in these times. I don’t want to circumvent all of that, with words, I want to, I want to say that, you know, all of this is in service of that, if we cannot think together think with each other, and even acknowledge a place where we can say, Hmm, that’s different from the way that I think about things. But it’s still valuable. It’s beautiful, you know, yeah. If we can come to that kind of place, then I think, you know, maybe we’re in a we’re in deeper trouble that we know. Yeah,
Rick Archer: sometimes people accuse me of sort of using this platform to just emphasize my particular agenda or my particular perspective, but my experience is that I really feel enriched by every in every interview, it’s and also the preparation for it. I feel like you know, one of those amoebas that you might have watched in our high school video where it kind of sees a particle food and engulfs it and kind of digest it and then it starts going after another particle of food. So you’re just you’re a particle of food from me, talking to you, it’s like enlivens parts of my brain that were had always been asleep, you know?
Bayo Akomolafe: Right, right. Yeah, it same, the same is definitely true for me. It’s true for me too. I never want to come to a place where ha, that’s it, which is the reason why, which is one of the reasons why I, I was I started to grow scared of my faith. Because the certainty, the certainty the exclusivism, and the very finality of heaven. Yeah. It’s scary to me. Where, where it’s, everything is good. And it’s done. And there’s nothing else. There’s nothing else there that can be said or done. There’s no controversy. There’s no conspiracy. It’s all. It’s all. Good. You know. And I guess that finality is unnerving for me. Because maybe one of reasons I don’t know what the reason is probably I don’t know how to live there. None of us do. We live in worlds that are constantly wounded. And the woundedness is the aliveness. And that’s all we have experienced with
Rick Archer: it probably get really bored having to listen to heart music for all eternity. Yeah.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, yeah. And floating on clouds. So what next thing you do there forever? And then you just sign in for the day? And the next morning? You come sing as well? I don’t I don’t Yeah, I don’t know. That’s appealing to me.
Rick Archer: You’re you’re in Chennai, India. And of course, the Indian tradition, Heaven is not considered eternal. It’s considered a sort of a, a waystation, where you kind of cash in on your good karma, but you can’t, it’s not permanent.
Bayo Akomolafe: I like the impermanence in other traditions, which is reason why sometimes I speak from Buddhist Zen Buddhist spaces, in a diffractive way, never in a way that considers that this is some final space. And this is what in a proselytizing way like, this is exactly what you should believe. Because belief exceeds us as well. So, so, yeah, I enjoy the impermanence. The temporary the temporary Enos and the elusiveness of truth, to finally embrace truth is to miss out on something is to miss a spot.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you know, one thing I’ve found helpful, just as a way of thinking, is to regard everything is a hypothesis, everything any religion has ever said, or any, you know, political idea or anything else. It’s like, I don’t have to accept it as truth. But I don’t have to reject it as non true. either. I can take it as something that, you know, maybe worthy of exploration. And different things have different degrees of worthiness, you can’t explore everything, you’ll have so much time. So you have to kind of sort things out a bit and say, Well, you know, that really, that notion seems really far fetched, and I’m not gonna waste time on it. This one seems to have more credibility, maybe that would be something to explore. But, you know, the whole idea of believing anything, always rubs me the wrong way.
Bayo Akomolafe: Right. Which is reason why sometimes say that I don’t believe in belief. Exactly. And, and what I mean by that is not to discountenance belief altogether. But to say that belief is not entirely a cognitive or cognitive thing, it’s not mere, it’s not entirely ideational it’s material as well, I mean, you probably know a lot or know something about the gods brain. What? God God, the gods, the gods brand, God GT. Right. That we, we think that this is where thinking happens, but it turns out that there’s a lot of thinking that happens here, that are bacteria and, and even viruses, you know, that there is this microbial activism, that is actually influencing our motivations, the way we think the way we believe. And, and, you know, it’s not just that we, it’s unique to you, it’s, it’s, it’s also the performance of the environment. So we can draw connections with that with our particular beliefs, not deterministic linkages, but at least lively connections, with the ways that I show up in the world. And the ways that my mother birthed me into the world. I mean, just coming out of the matrix is to be gifted with this microbial gift, you know, and I’m given all this bacteria and not shapes the way that I I performed the world and I will be in the world it there. I mean, they’ve learned how their look, I mean, scientists are learning how bacteria is part of intergenerational trauma as part of memory making. Wow. So that, you know, in a sense, myself is not entirely my own. My belief are not entirely my own. It’s shared its diffracted across space time. And this disappoints the idea that Rick’s belief is entirely Rick’s belief. It might be the performance of Rick, in that particular chair. I don’t know how long and intimate an affair you’ve had with that chair, you know, having heard that you, you’ve done this 500 600 times, I don’t know if that chair doesn’t have something to do with the kinds of questions you ask. And the kind of wave you’re showing up in the world. There’s even a book called epistemic situationism. Big sounding words, but the concepts are quite simple, that we think our character, personality, beliefs are all emerging from here from us from this cells, boundaried cells, it turns out, that furniture around us the hardness or softness of furniture, could determine how judges interact with people who show up in the court of law, they’ve actually done psychology experiments, that judges would can be more lenient, if the, if the furniture is soft, and actually less lenient, if the furniture is hard. That disappoints the notion that myself is, you know, discrete, which is reason why I say, you know, even belief, even there’s there, I think we limit ourselves too much when we say it’s, it’s an option between truth or non truth. I think there’s a third fugitive option, and that’s play, and that we’re playing in the world and the world is a playful, orgasmic. You know, inflection of its own self.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Imagine if a judge were sitting on a bed of nails, he would say, Okay, this trial is over, you’re in a jail, court court dismissed.
Bayo Akomolafe: That might, you know, it’s that that’s definitely obvious. You know, if someone is in on the gruesome suit, in a gruesome situation, you would expect that person to experience the world in harsh ways or deal harsh sentences. But what this guy found is situational things that we wouldn’t put as part of the equation. Like it, like the color of that vase in, you know, behind you, that have on toward perverse effects on your philosophy.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, you know, they don’t they choose colors inside of airplanes very carefully. I think they found that if, if the yellow it contributed to nausea. So you know, all this stuff has an influence on us subliminally. Yeah.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah. Yes. So So where does the human stop? And where does the nonhuman begin? Where does belief stop? And where does unbelief begin? Where does your particular philosophy stop? And then mind begin? What if they’re all interacting with each other in ways that we cannot voice or render intelligible?
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s another thought to throw in here along the same lines is, which is the idea of collective consciousness that our individual consciousness is not isolated, that it’s part of a greater field. And that like, just as individual cells in our body are not isolated, they’re kind of interconnected with all the other trillions of cells in our bodies. And so we’re kind of like that as human beings and they’re, they’re kind of hierarchies or clusters, but you can say family consciousness community conscious state national world consciousness. We’re all sort of like one big jellyfish with, you know, it, we’re individual cells, but we’re all sort of involved in what all the other cells are going through.
Bayo Akomolafe: Right, I could speak to Jung Yeon, you know, concepts and archetypes and the collective unconscious. My problem with it has as, as probably always been the anthropocentrism. How it presumes consciousness to be the property of humans. Primarily on and I’m, and this is probably the subject of a larger conversation, but the very idea of consciousness itself is troubling to me. But yes, oh, ah, well, let me see if I could put words to that. The the consciousness
Rick Archer: This is another one that we have to define if we’re gonna use it, you know, different things. But
Bayo Akomolafe: I know, I know, it blasts open to many things, and I’m just being I’m streaming multiple pathways of entry, and they don’t seem to have a logical end point for it to finish this conversation. But I might get to it in time. That but to your point, there you know, psychologists also have been contributing around the concept of the social unconscious that we share images, ideas, you know, amongst us that that you might feel is unique. We don’t know how it got to us. But there seems to be this shared sense of community. It’s not an unconscious thing. It’s subconscious, or is non conscious, not entirely unconscious. For instance, if I asked you the question, What’s the color of a triangle?
Rick Archer: I’d have to take some LSD in order to answer that, I think,
Bayo Akomolafe: well, most people would say red. And people Yeah, people presume that. When they imagine the, the triangle, it always comes is sometimes mostly comes in reds. And I think that’s because they have this maybe the stop sign, you know,
Rick Archer: hexagon or something? I don’t I know, did you see that? That guy at Sand. Last year, he was a doctor and he had synesthesia. And for him, every number had a color. And if you if you turn the number sideways, it becomes different, something different than the color changes. That was very interesting.
Bayo Akomolafe: Right? Right. Yeah, I heard about that talk. I wasn’t there. But yes, the concept isn’t new to me. And it’s fascinating that the world can be tasted, that maybe particular ideologies have particular flavors, I am definitely of the spicy kind.
Rick Archer: But anyway, you were saying you have trouble with the idea of consciousness. Now, we didn’t quite get to why you had trouble with that.
Bayo Akomolafe: I, um, I think there is a, let me put it this way that it’s, it’s between. And I could trace out this this exodus from language that began with in the 90s in the academic world, with an invitation to recognize that the world around us isn’t dead and mute. Khan is not dead and mute is not dead on mute. Right, it that, you know, the way consciousness has, has been popularly articulated is it’s, it’s stuck. It’s this property, whether it’s emergent in the sense of Daniel, Dennett, danitz, you know, yeah, whether it’s emergent or an epiphenomenon, or the cluster stuff, you know, of neurons acting together, all of that, you know, just, it just there just seems to be this sublimation, this attempt to rush into an abstract virtual space that nullifies the contributions of the non human around us that does not notice that the world is also intentional. instigators of intelligent acting, let me put it in this way is in the 70s, you know, the computer system was taken up, you know, blowing up and I wasn’t born in 70s. But I heard and, and it became a useful metaphor to frame the studies of memory. Hence, our language around memory today sounds very computer like short term memory, long term memory forgetting decay, recall, all of that seems to suggest that memory is justice thing, you know, that a factory place of that deals with data, where, where the data is memory. But that started to become troubling as we started to notice the creativity of memory that something more than recall was happening. It’s nothing like the competent system that just regurgitates what you gave it. Like when we actually perform memory when we remember, there’s a lot of creativity that is involved, we’re actively creating memories, we’re anticipating the world. It’s not just a recording of the past, we’re framing the so called Future. So that’s the way I think language and those concepts actually hide away. And in my view, the concept of consciousness hides away the the contributions of Gods bacteria and viruses and leaves and chairs and furniture around us.
Rick Archer: You mentioned panentheism earlier and then you refer to Daniel Dennett just now and that kind of hint hinted at pan psychism, which is the notion that you know, the material stuff has a certain amount of consciousness, but Pantheon ism, that pantheism would be the idea that everything is consciousness and that things well, that that, that you can say that the brain arises from consciousness rather than the Then consciousness from the brain, and therefore everything is alive. In some sense, even rocks and stars and everything else, they all are consciousness sort of arising or manifesting as a certain form without, and still being utterly imbued with consciousness through and through. Anyway, in that notion, the whole universe is one living being, and everything in it is just sort of expressions of itself interaction.
Bayo Akomolafe: Right, so, so I’m just a distinction, I think you’re you’ve already noticed this distinction from pantheism and panentheism. Right, and pantheism, God is in everything. And then pantheism is, yeah, but God is not entirely reducible to everything, right? God exceeds the everything that you everything, you know, I think of these, these philosophies as strategies, you know, strategies of approaching the, the grand and unspeakable majesty of the world around us. And I think it would be hurting your them, and I don’t want to put them into instrumentalist way, but it’d be hurting their beauty, or dismissing the beauty of these articulations. If we say, Is it true, or is it not true? I think there are other ways of approaching what these approaches are, for instance, Pan psychism, I’m not, I don’t want to say is it true or not true? I think what it invites is, can we approach a stone as a living being, you know, in the way that Jesus said, You know, if you don’t praise God, then these stones will cry out. In I like the idea that stones will give them the opportunity, they will take our place. And they do take our place eventually, don’t they? When we when we die and become Dustin become lithic figures? Um, yes. So pan psychism. Pan in theism. You’re very attractive to me at this point in time. Because I’m, I feel one of the things we need to get around is that we are not at the center of the story. And this is coming back to some matters that are afoot. We’re not central to the world story. And performing our sensuality has troubling repercussions. If we continue to cage animal for instance, and performance of our food industry, then we might just be the ones who are incarcerated.
Rick Archer: Yeah, very good point. Yeah. All right. Um, a question came in let’s, let’s shift our gears a little bit here. This is from Tyrrel. Somewhere in the US. Tyrrel asked my questions for both Rick and by what do you think about the views and messages coming from Neo non duelists like Tony Parsons, and Jim Newman, the me is absent in all of us. And therefore, he says there is freedom of choice to make a difference. I think what those guys say is there’s not freedom of choice, because there’s no chooser. So I don’t know if you’re familiar with those guys, but basically, they say there is no self and then the notion that there is one is just a mistake, or and therefore, we have no free will. And also, you know such notions as reincarnation are absurd, because there’s nothing or no one to reincarnate. Or any other kind of thing that might suggest the continuation of some personhood after the body dies just as is bogus, because there is no one home. That’s what those guys say. Anyway. Yeah. Thoughts on that?
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah. It seems to be a variation of some Nandu. And non duality, or multiple non dualism is my first time ever hearing of Tony Parsons. Yes, he’s
Rick Archer: British. And Newman, I don’t know. I think liberalism is American. But anyway,
Bayo Akomolafe: there there are, there’s a few called new material isms need there are multiple new material isms, and all that is object oriented ontologies. And they seem to speak about a world that is that dismisses the notion of a free willed discrete agent. While I, I would subscribe to the idea that the self isn’t as resolved, or as fixed or as absolute as modernity and its indexing work would have us believe it is. I wouldn’t say there is no self. Therefore, again, I’m coming from an emergent ontology. So that even if I say today that there is no God, I’m still almost required to say God is a possibility code is yet to come. Maybe a self is yet to come. Maybe a self is being made maybe what the boundaries of what is self mean. The boundaries of selves, you know, aren’t the Same boundaries were used to. But also, there’s another point that is quite nuanced, salient here that I want to speak to. And that is the and that is how ideas that are seemingly opposed to each other are actually the same ideas entangled by negative relations. For instance, free will and determinism seem to be Republicans and Democrats. No, that’s a bad metaphor. Republicans and Democrats are basically the same one party. So that’s a horrible metaphor. I can’t think of one now but you get the picture. That
Rick Archer: sharks and jets if you’re familiar with West sights, destruction, what sharks and jets that’s from West Side Story,
Bayo Akomolafe: okay, I don’t know that. Musical, but that, that, that if, if the, if the world is what well, freewill says, we’re free, because we’re free willed, We have souls and all of that. And determinism says that we are not free were the Soul of the World is the logical, deterministic, predictable and ultimately, potentially controllable laws of the universe. That’s where we should look at so it’s not within his without, I would say it’s between you know, it’s it’s the soul is between emergent. Why I say they’re the same idea is that they both treat matter as dead. We wouldn’t need to have a freewill if matter freewill is basically an escape from the deadening and mute, the deadening notion of matter. That matter is deterministic. But we don’t experience ourselves as determined, therefore, we are transcendent over the material world. So we’re free willed agents. Determinism doesn’t know what to do with that, but it still does the same work of deadening matter. It says matter is deterministic. I think if we relieved matter, if we released matter from its incarceration in this deadening Eurocentric enlightenment philosophy that matter is still and we can define matter with precision, then we might say the matter, there’s no such thing as matter, there’s only a matter ring, I have put a Gironda there, there’s only an ongoing, Esther, there is no matter, there is only materializations. And that would, that would do away with with the issue of whether we’re free willed or deterministic, it would just mean that we’re entangled in a world where choice is not simply a matter of intentions, it’s a matter of ecologies.
Rick Archer: Nice. My answer to Tyrrel, which I think relates to yours is that what the Neo Advaita guys tend to do is they take a polar ice position and, and make it sort of the only position that that’s possible, they make an absolute, they make an absolute out of the sort of what they see as the most fundamental or ultimate nature or level of reality. But in fact, reality is both absolute and relative, and it’s multi dimensional. So, you know, it’s true on to say that everything that nothing exists, and nothing ever happened. It’s also true to say that things are happening, and they’re all divinely inspired and perfect. And it’s also true to say that things are happening. And there’s all kinds of problems that we need to fix. And, you know, so you can sort of make, as you’re just saying, you can make these sort of contradictory statements in the same breath, that are both true, or that are each true on their own level, but are not necessarily true on all levels. And of course, the non duelists would come back and say, there are no levels. It’s all you know, just oneness. But, you know, I beg to differ. They’re living a life in which all kinds of chemicals and physical laws and all sorts of things are at play. And those things have levels and physicists would concur.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, I would, I would. I’m very wary of notions of oneness there are there. For me there are racial connotations, even the it’s, we’re all one. And this oneness seems to be it kind of erases differences. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Well, we are we are it depends on how we’re talking about it.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, exactly. Depends on how we talk about it depends on how we share that conceptual space. But in my experience, which is of course not to be taken as fundamental. It’s, it’s it’s been, I experienced that invitation to oneness. As forget, forget these troubling realities that come with embodiment that come with your own particular emotions. embodied and corporeal experiences, forget all of that we are all one and and it seems to be an escape into this space that is a denial, which is why the, I think in the United States, the cultural term of a spiritual bypass is hot. You know, it’s steaming, it’s electrifying, because it’s a warning and a cautionary ethic that don’t, don’t use your spiritualizing words or wisdoms to efface my experience to deny my specificity, or my particularity, or oneness that does not allow for indeterminacy for multiple others in our life to we can remember output. So she says it’s not a oneness or to oneness. It’s not a dualism, or, or a monad. It’s indeterminacy means indeterminacy. It’s not yet determined. We, and it’s not that we don’t know what it is, it’s not yet there to even be known.
Rick Archer: I hardly agree with you. I mean, I’ve actually heard non dual people say things you say, Well, what about the starving children? What about climate change? And they say, there are no children, there is no climate. They’re just kind of taking this absurd position that
Bayo Akomolafe: I can’t I can’t take that position. Yeah. I mean,
Rick Archer: I want to shift gears and get into something in scoring with you. I mean, not that this isn’t interesting. But I often think about how interesting it is that any, if you look back through history, yeah. The people living in a particular age, didn’t have a clue as to what was coming. You know, the people living in the time of the Civil War, had no idea of what you know, airplanes would be or, you know, the people living in the Great Depression had no idea what the 1950s would be the people in the 50s had no idea what the computer age and the age of the internet would be, and so on and so forth. We can go on and on like that. And, you know, and this will never stop. So here we are, are all in a kind of a lockdown due to the Coronavirus. We didn’t see that coming a few months ago, although people many, you know, educated people said, it’s coming. You know, certainly there’s a there’s a talk from Bill Gates from five years ago who said, I think the greatest danger is a pandemic, and it’s gonna happen. Some people accused him of starting it, but that’s ridiculous. And so here we are, and I don’t think either of us could predict what’s coming next. But I do feel that, regardless of what it is 10 years from now, 20 years from now, things will be different in ways we can’t imagine. So do you kind of think that way yourself sometimes. And just I don’t know, if you try to come up with HG Wells type predictions as to what might happen. But I do kind of play that that game or dance that dance of how strange it is that we get locked into assuming that life as we experience it is kind of the way it’s always going to be.
Bayo Akomolafe: Right? Well, we are anticipate three creatures, there’s no way you can divorce anticipation, from biology, right down to amoebas. And bacteria. They move in the world in terms of how they anticipate the environment. So anticipation is biological in many senses. Its political, its spiritual, its societal. So there’s a sense in which we are all making anticipations right now. But I do. Resist the end. In fact, some of the heavy work that I do with others around the world right now is to resist the urge to rush into certainty, you know, to rush into the prison houses of confidence that this is exactly and you shared with our our brothers and sisters listening, that I do some work with UNESCO, which was a planet eons ago, in in terms of where we are right
Rick Archer: now. But what does that acronym stand for? Again? I’m nations education and
Bayo Akomolafe: culture is Scientific and Cultural Organization. Okay. Yeah. is headquartered in Paris. And I consult with them do research with them. I speak they invite me to speak it causes a lot of trouble. But they keep inviting me I don’t know. The work I do with them is centered around a concept called features literacy. So this is interesting.
Rick Archer: Incidentally, a lot of these people seem to like trouble because they invite Greta Thornburg to come and speak to them to this, like, you know, the end of Switzerland and so on. But anyway, continue, but they’re like tricksters and troublemakers.
Bayo Akomolafe: All Greta Thornburg will probably fit into their ideological she might chastise him for not doing enough, but she will definitely fit into their ideological space. I certainly don’t Like, you’re looking for a sense of confidence about what the world should be and what we should be planning to do next. I’m certainly inviting along with others. I’m certainly not alone in doing this. I’m inviting incitements and fugitive breakouts from the plantation and plantation philosophies and politics. And what do I mean by that? This work that I do with them, called futures literacy, which is envisioned by a friend of mine called Real Mila is, is kind of a perversion of trends analysis. So if you’re working the OECD, or in the UN, most economists there would put together an analysis of the next 20 years, like we’re doing with climate change discourse right now. It by 2030, we expect the ship to hit the fan. And if we’re not doing our work right now, then there’s some trouble going to happen. So these people come together and put an end to do some futurist work. And they analyze and give you sell you some documents that say 50 years, and I’m not trying to disparage your work, important as it is. But features literacy is a noticing that how we are in the present actually shapes our understanding, and our anticipation of the future, that we use the future in particular ways we actually use the future in the present. So coming to notice how we use the future might open us up to the, to the lively realities that are around us right now in the present, or we’re blind to, it’s just like going to a restaurant and for decades, and they only served you baked beans and sausages. And the and the reason they only served you that is because you didn’t look below, you didn’t look below somewhere some part of the menu that said there’s all these other things that are available for you. You felt this is all that was available. The features literacy is about ontological expansion. It’s about noticing how Twitter could in fact, have on anticipated effects on governance in America, as it is right now. It does have it does right now, or education. So I’m, I’m reluctant to, to plan the future or make predictions. I think the prophetic is a different place. It’s not a prediction making space, it’s a place of sitting with the trouble of the now. And doing the work there that allows us to like the Hepta pods in arrival allows us to notice with tentacles, other things that we kind of inadequate, inadvertently shifted or occluded from view that fell into our blind spot, you know, seen as always diffractive in order to see we have to all blind in certain ways, like seen as a form of blindness, if you will. So what are we putting out? What are we shifting away? What are we occluding in order to see the world in particular ways? That’s the kind of work I feel called to do. I call it post activism. It’s it’s not about getting to somewhere fast. It’s about slowing down long enough to be met by other bodies and other agencies. Yeah.
Rick Archer: So you mentioned blind spots, and what are we not seeing? And so and so do you sort of try try without trying to prognosticate about what might be happening 1020 years from now? Are you trying to say that you’re trying to see what’s happening right now that we’re oblivious to? Is that what you’re saying? Yes,
Bayo Akomolafe: yes. Certainly, that’s what my extended, extensive, monstrous essay is about that. There are there ways we’re framing this trouble that circumvents the crisis. So I’m making a distinction between the problem and the crisis that don’t lose sight. In order to see clearly the problem, don’t lose sight of the crisis. This extends beyond this is not this is more than just a story about a virus and insurgent virus that we need to kill or Exterminate. This is a story about webmap markets. This is a story about anthropocentrism. This is this story about the Anthropocene. It is a story about this finger of the human that is a colonial project that acts that extends way beyond modern times and down to the times when the ice started to melt. And we started to become sedentary and started to build settlements. This is a an expansive project and maybe this virus is more than just a thing. You know, it’s more than just that’s another effort of modernity to reduce the ineffable to reductionistic bite sized elements that we can instrumentalize and attack. But this virus is not just the and infinite decimal thing. It’s it’s more than that it’s more it’s, it’s a call to the wilds in some sense, you know, it’s a, it’s a call to parts of ourselves that we’ve incapacitated. So just to make this to frame this in more politically palpable terms so that people out there will not think this is too abstract. We might at this moment be thinking, let’s get back to normal, you know, especially with scientists, 50 groups or more trying to develop vaccines. Now, vaccines are now becoming the holders of our hope, or renormalization, for re resuscitation of the normal. I feel that, that maybe this is the time for us to do other kinds of things to do other kinds of weird things. And I think they probably were not going to be possible except this pandemic struck? Yeah. I don’t think there’s any way we could have retreated, shut down the entire economic system. If we didn’t have the instigation of this virus, something else is happening. That is weird.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I agree. And people have made videos and written things, saying that, you know, this virus guy attributing a sort of divine intervention to the virus, saying that, you know, it’s making us look at things and recognize things that we were ignoring, such as homelessness, or the prison system in the United States, which is so packed with people so overcrowded, or, you know, economic inequity, or any number of other things like that. They’re saying, Alright, there’s a, there’s a sort of an intelligence to this virus that is causing us to stop and sit and look at that stuff. And so getting back to normal, would be abhorrent to that way of thinking, because we need to change all those things I just mentioned, and many more, we don’t want to get back to normal, we want to get back to a new normal, if you will, which sees a lot of those situations profoundly changed.
Bayo Akomolafe: So a question that comes from that is, can we do that? And can we and and, and this is this is the part where we need to take a deep breath, and then come to terms with how we have tried historically, to do things that we intend to do, we have many well intentioned projects. But somehow, it didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to go. Like, like,
Rick Archer: I guess, lead plans of mice and men remember that?
Bayo Akomolafe: Very, thank you, brother for supplying these for supply and delivery. Again, the poetry to help my articulation here. I mean, even the green politics of today, you know, the recycling ethics, you know, throw it here, throw it, there are three kinds of bins. We don’t do we don’t mostly do that where I come from. And that’s because we are at the receiving end of the righteousness of the West. And I say it in this way that everything is meticulous when I travel in the West, unknown to many people. It’s not recycled into this. Willy Wonka like economy where everything it comes back to you as candies. No, it actually takes it down. Now, all that don’t all that waste and rubbish goes to Donna goes to Senegal goes to nations in Africa and becomes our playground. Hundreds and hundreds of billions of waste goes to our lands, I certainly live near one growing up. And that becomes our playground. But that’s hushed. Modernity knows how to stamp labels on things. And so don’t inquire about what’s underneath. Just trust the logo, the brand, the bright colors. So the question is, can we and this is where a space of slowing down occurs or is important. Because I think how we think about the next how we dream about what could happen is instigated by where we are right now. Rather, our imaginations are not free wields things are connected with where we are we don’t know how to imagine independent of the systems that have created us that have shaped us over time. I like to say that thinking outside the box is exactly how boxes think. Right? Like it that we’re constantly reproducing troubling realities because we think we have it all in check. But we don’t
Rick Archer: you know our friend Charles Eisenstein has this friend that has this phrase, the better world our hearts know as possible. Aha, and I’ve interviewed him on this show. And you of course, I’ve had some lovely conversations with him.
Bayo Akomolafe: On patients we’ve wrestled on beaches in Brazil. Literally on I won
Rick Archer: the wrestler younger Yeah,
Bayo Akomolafe: he’s he’s so skinny, I’m beatable, eminently beatable and I hope he hears it’s one wrestling match coming up,
Rick Archer: he’ll take it as a challenge, I’m sure. Um, but um, I mean, I forget what Charles, how our child Charles articulated that phrase, you know, the better world our hearts know as possible. Maybe you can refresh my memory, but also
Bayo Akomolafe: beautiful world our hearts know as possible. Yeah more beautiful.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So how do you? I mean, what what would your idea of a more beautiful world be? And do you consider it possible?
Bayo Akomolafe: I don’t know. I seriously, I seriously don’t know. I I could speak about maybe the one that is high upon my list is the cancellation of nation states.
Rick Archer: As always, we become one big country so to speak.
Bayo Akomolafe: So there you go. I don’t know. I don’t know. So but
Rick Archer: what would that mean cancellation of nation states? They don’t know.
Bayo Akomolafe: The porosity, you know, I know. I could definitely pretend to be confident about these half baked ideas about what a more beautiful world could look like. I could say it may be premised on gift economies probably has something to do with the resuscitation of indigenous realities, diversification. Maybe we counsel fiat currency altogether? Maybe health looks like something different. But I a wiser economy is not entirely graspable? You know, from where I sit, it’s, it’s the collusion of me. And tables, and probably psychedelic mothers and other things around us. It’s i The, the sense I want to leave people with is that these imaginations are not either we rush off unilaterally in trying to create or imagine a beautiful world. And then we’re stuck in the same loop. Since the 1970s, we’ve been talking about this is the final boss stop, if we don’t do something about ecological loss and environmental damage, the next decade is not possible since 1970, when the first Earth Day happened. And we’ve been in this cyclical loop, you know, saying this is the end, this is the end, this is the end, and now it’s 2030. We’re just reproducing the same realities telling ourselves we’re doing something new. Now, when we get into this troubling cyclical loop, what do we do? And this is where I might have ideas, but I’m willing to compost them, I’m willing to come to a place where I say, I don’t know, I don’t know what the world looks like, 50 years from now. Or maybe it’s not entirely up to me, maybe I would be able to know what to want, what to yearn for, if I’ve done some kind of work with myself, but that’s a different conversation.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, this is kind of how we started this conversation, talking about how we have, how much influence do we actually have on the way things are gonna go? And, and how, and how do we even know what not only what it will be, but what it should be? You know? So, it’s interesting, I kind of feel like, I also have no idea what it will be specifically, or where it should be, specifically. But I kind of feel like, even if we don’t know, the specifics, we can, you know, we can make efforts which help to bring about a better a more beautiful world, as Charles would phrase it. And maybe our efforts don’t seem directly related always to what that world will ultimately be. But I think the, the intention has a lot of value to it, the desire, the width, maybe one way of putting it as I thought of this earlier, when you were speaking, that, ultimately there is a, this gets to my kind of more God oriented way of viewing the world. But I think that there’s a sort of a, an orchestration of the universe that takes place and an orchestration of, of our, our society or human society, which goes be well, just as the orchestration of the universe is certainly out of our hands, but even our society is somewhat out of our hands is it there’s a flow to it. If you think of it as a river, and we How am I trying to say this, the more we can align with the flow of the river. By that I mean, the more we can align our individual consciousness with the sort of more universal consciousness that’s running the show, the more instrumental we can be in helping bring about the the evolution of everything and I think ultimately, that’s what the universe if it has an agenda, its evolution, its growth to greater and greater expression of the value and consciousness in through individual forms. And probably half of what I just said there doesn’t jibe with your way of thinking, Oh, no, it gives you something to chew on.
Bayo Akomolafe: Oh, yeah, yeah. So So I, like I said earlier, it’s, it’s my questions or when I need the beautiful, the multitudinous and amazing ecologies of ideas and thoughts out there. It’s not to say, is this true or not true? It’s that how is this constructed? And what does this enable my brother or my sister to see? And to be in touch with that I’m not in touch with because I am performing with my microbial cousins, different kinds of reality? What does this allow me to be in touch with? What are the strategies here said or unvoiced? So So yes, I do. You know, the, the idea that there is that there is a universal background, running the show, and we have to, we create an epistemology of alignment, that we want to align with this flow, and be at one with it so that they can be harmony in the world. And I think that there is something beautiful about that. Um, at the same time, I think you’re all the strategies that I’m resonant with, at the time, and they come from the my own embodiment, as a person, I think knowledge is always embodied and situated. No one knows from a universal God’s eye point of view. And, and so to, to, to hear that and receive it is my challenge. It’s my gift, it’s my privilege at this point in time. At the same time, I want to notice that, you know, I feel that there is an invitation for us, again, this is back to the beginning to, to, to shape shift to become something different. And we don’t entirely know how to do this, it’s not entirely left to us, we are really constantly at a crossroads. Not that we are in a highway, and then we suddenly come to a crossroads. Life itself is a is an ongoing Crossroads event. This one is just more more visible. And like, I always like to say that one when you come when when you’ve been moving forward down a path and you come to a crossroads, then you haven’t been moving forward after all, because the Crossroads is like reaches back into the past and reshapes everything you’ve been doing. And it seems like you haven’t been moving forward, because you’re now at the crossroads. And the definition of Ford has changed. That for me means that we need to do some work of meeting our many others or many siblings of kin around the world, and holding space for us to melt to be composted. So that we can probably see each other differently and see what to yearn for what to plan for, and have potentially wiser economies potentially more beautiful worlds. The reason I always hesitate to rush into repeating a phrase like the more beautiful words our hearts know as possible, is because the definition of beautiful for a while has been hurtful. To people like me, it is certainly beautiful to adventure into the new world and to, to build rationalistic systems and cities and all of that. And it came from this Newtonian Cartesian paradigm that saw beauty and elegance in a world that was infinitely describable, potentially describable by trained minds. And then he defined science in a way that remove the histories of work and knowledge in and, and wisdom thing that has been done for centuries. And said, all of that is rubbish, in the light of what we now know to be scientific truth. So you can understand my hesitation when I hear a phrase like, even though I think I know where Charles is coming from the world our hearts know as possible, whose hearts and whose vision of the beautiful. So this is not an attempt to reproduce problematic dualisms It’s an invitation to notice dualism is not the other or the opposite of difference. What do we do with our differences? of opinion of bodies? How do we meet each other in this troubling place without effacing or erasing those histories?
Rick Archer: Well, when I think of one of the one of the most beautiful places in our world is that say the tropical rainforest. And one of the reasons it’s so beautiful is that there’s such such fecundity such a diversity of life, so many different kinds of plants and animals and flowers and sounds and, and all that stuff. So my understanding of a more beautiful world would certainly not be one where everything is the same. It would be all the diversity is would even be more vibrant than they are. But there would be sort of an underlying unity which would harmonize things so the diversity could flourish even more, and yet yet not be in conflict with itself.
Bayo Akomolafe: Here’s a question brother and and I pulled it as a question, largely rhetorical, non proselytizing in good faith. That maybe I could frame it as something that I’ve thought of and wrestled with. I sometimes think that harmony yearns for disruption, that oneness yearns for to ness and to Nithya. And for oneness, like, like, like, like, when many people speak about nature, for instance, they presuppose this realm or site of infinite harmonies that we humans disrupted and so we have to get back to nature. And, and I feel that that disappoints or belittles the amount of violence that makes nature in nature. This biologist on the harrowing would say that nature is a is a is a disruption of its own self. Like what nature is, it hasn’t been figured out, it’s still being figured out, even to itself, that and so harmony needs disruption to be completely harmonious. And disruption needs harmony to be disruption, if you will, that we cannot have one without the other. So that if, and I will, and this is what this was, this was one of the nuggets of wisdom that allowed me to linger beyond the fence is of my received faith, that if Christianity could succeed, to proselytize the universe and convert everything to Christianity, including stones, it would have lost Christianity. But that that, that Christianity needs the boundaries of difference to say, this is not this is not what I am. This is this is, this is us here. But if it should defeat everything else, it won’t be Christianity that sprouts and flourishes it will be something strange, something that Christianity as framed currently would not be able to recognize. Hence, you know, the text like Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. Yeah, it’s it’s, it’s, it’s that messianic openings are not introductions of harmony. They’re introductions of disruption. And that disruption is an opening a portal, not to a chance, you know, some higher order level of being with a different configuration of potentially different configuration with its own shadows, with its own light, and with his own shadows, and that the twain shall forever be married couples, constantly bickering and fighting. And we will never get to the end of that.
Rick Archer: I think that what you’re saying may actually have its roots in something very fundamental, the creation, just as physics can trace the roots of various phenomena to deeper and deeper levels, and laws and forces and fields and so on, right? You know, and eventually they get down to four forces, and then they unify a couple of those and, you know, get down to the three, and they’re searching for one fundamental field that from which everything would emerge. I think that, that one way of explaining it or understanding it is that if consciousness is not just a epiphenomena of brain functioning, but as is a fundamental field out of which everything emerges, then how does that happen? Well, you know, if it’s the fundamental field, then at that level, there’s nothing for it to be conscious of, it’s the only thing down there so it becomes conscious of itself. But in so doing it sets up a dichotomy are actually a three fold thing of observer observed and process of observation. So there’s this there’s this three Enos and then that bifurcates further into more and more diversity, but how could it be diverse or three when it’s really just unified? So, it as you said, you know, unification seeks diversity and diversity seeks unification. So, it sort of you know, oscillates between unity in diversity and unity diversity with an infinite frequency and that infinite frequency gives rise to the the infinite dynamism of creation, that we see in all the explosive, you know, phenomena of universe both, you know, right on level of stars and galaxies and on the level of relationships and then right human interactions and all the rest. Yeah, I mean,
Bayo Akomolafe: I mean, such a beautiful a question that in Apart from that beautiful, very powerful offering there, Rick is, is also, you know, where do we draw the levels? Where do we draw the lines and say this is a level, and this is a lower level, and this is an even lower level. And and I say that because I’m definitely no expert physicist or experts. If someone comes to you with a card and says, expert in quantum quantum mechanic is probably a snake oil salesman or something?
Rick Archer: Well, I’m not either, but we know that in quantum mechanics, electrons take discrete jumps, you know, to varying levels of excitation, they don’t just sort of go incrementally. by degrees, they jump Yeah, from one level to another. So perhaps, perhaps levels are never quite, maybe as it gets more manifest and diverse levels are not so discrete. But at that level, they tend to be
Bayo Akomolafe: My point exactly, is to notice discontinuities, and how these quantum leaps, unsettle and call into question, the ideas of hierarchy, for instance, this binarization between the quantum world and the classical world, the world of big things, and the world of little things is called into question by the indeterminacy that is noticed in you know, in quantum physics, but you to say that these categories are our preset, predetermined pre relational, is to perform the same kind of modernizing, indexing categorizing effects that we now find so problematic. So my own particular readings of it, and I certainly am not need to do some more reading. And more listening to people who spend their times in labs, theorizing about that is is is to notice, the discontinuities, the the breaking away from the, from the algorithms that says something so small, is lesser in quality, or quantity or ontology than something so big. So So I guess where I’m going with this is, is I’m not so sure about a world that is preset and pre relational. And that means that I feel invited to dive in, to play and to play with others, and to see what I might become, and to bring it back home to where was where we dived in from and where I might become, and to notice, first of all, what I am already made of, or what all the politics and ideologies and philosophies that have kind of constituted me. And maybe to do some kind of work that allows me to find the others needs the others in the process. I called Making sanctuary. There’s no time to discuss that. Now. That brings us into a place of noticing the others around us, you know? Yeah. Yeah.
Rick Archer: A nice little comment just came in from Dan in London, he said, bio basically just encapsulated the philosophy of yin and yang that he seemed to derive through his own deduction. Amazing.
Bayo Akomolafe: I Do I Do I detect the tone of sarcasm.
Rick Archer: No, I know. That is a very sweet and sincere felony.
Bayo Akomolafe: I’m just kidding. Greetings, Dan.
Rick Archer: Dan is actually the guy who forwards the questions to me during interviews, okay. lives over in London. Okay, anyway, I think you tickled his fancy there. He liked what you said. Yeah. So yeah, you’d be a fun guy to take across continental drive where there’s something I can talk to you for hours, but um, you know, we’re reaching up near the two hour point. Yeah. So is there anything that you want to conclude with or make sure you know, anything that we haven’t covered the think we ought to throw in here before we before we wrap it up?
Bayo Akomolafe: It’s always good to who was it that said, uh, I think with Gandalf, and Lord, Lord of the Rings, instead, every good story deserves embellishment. Right, and that is so you’re about that is such a Yoruba thing to say, because we’re such a performative culture. I feel like ending with a story. It’s only going to take two minutes. Sure. It’s a story of, of the tortoise, who is a trickster figure in my own land. His name is EJ Akbar. And the tortoise is this cunning wily trickster. I think America has a coyote
Rick Archer: there. We do wily coyote we call him you know, the road.
Bayo Akomolafe: Well, BP beyond BP and Looney Tunes I think there’s a There’s coyote and Raven, and I’ve heard of this too, in the Native American tradition in American traditions. So we have churches, and there’s a story about tortoise, arguing with the gods, and basically saying, I can potentially know everything. I can come up with a unified theory of everything. And I’m going to do just that. And so he decides to do that he, it takes for himself a calabash. And I’ve told this story multiple times, it’s like a goal for me, a gourd, the neck, the neck, and then he ties a string around it and hangs it in front of him. And then he goes on this Google, Google elevation of data trip, basically trying to date data rise everything, he asks a lion, what makes you wrong? How is it to come to roar and the lion, the lion shares his data with the therapist and the artist, takes this bit of wisdom, stuffs us into the infinite gourd and continues on his research. Journey. He goes to when he goes to men, he goes to fire, he goes to cloud, he goes to rain, he goes to every part of reality, don’t ask me how I think of it as a story. And then what do you do when you have this wealth of knowledge, you store it, you, you hide it away, you keep it this treasure. And so he decides to hide it in the most noble of trees, which is the Iroko tree in Nigeria, very spiritual, very noble, scary tree, a sight for spirits. It’s tall. Now the thing with the turkeys, as you of course know is that he’s very, he’s quite abbreviated. And so he cannot wrap his limbs around the tree. And so he tries again and again to climb up to climb up the tree and hide it among the fruits there. Meanwhile, he’s doing this for almost half a day. And a grasshopper, this stupid list of animals is looking at him through the grass, and just laughing away, he jumps out and meets the turtles and says, I’m so sorry for chuckling and being rude. But I couldn’t help but notice how many times you’ve tried to climb this tree to hide your wisdom. You know, maybe maybe you could do this, maybe you could just put the gourd on your back. And I’ll see if that doesn’t help any hops away. And the turtles realizes how dumb he has been all this while and he puts the gourd on his back on his shell. And he climbs the tree. It’s easier this time. And it gets to the top and realizes how the font, the whole idea of trying to encapsulate the world in a neat way is. And so he gives up on his trip. And he opens the Calabash and releases the wisdom back into the world. And that is, according to my people. Why we are knowledgeable today because our churches was magnanimous enough to release our wisdoms back to us. But there’s a hidden wisdom there as well. And the it’s not quite hidden anymore. The wisdom is that our attempts to encapsulate to, to, to wrap around the world to embrace it in one in a scheme in a in a, in a form of language, or words or ideology will always be met by something outside that disrupts that, that that that wisdom journey. And so the invitation is again, to, to hold space for the gods to hold space for the inscrutable to hold space for the perverse to hold space for the trauma of knowing that we will never arrive. And there is no such thing as arrival. There’s only approach. And that is what I’ll end with.
Rick Archer: That’s beautifully put. I’m not even going to try to restate that in my own words, because I think your words are good enough and very nice. So thanks bio really enjoyed this.
Bayo Akomolafe: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Rick Archer: And thanks to those who have been listening or watching. If this is new to you this this show, then feel free to check out all the past ones. And also you can go to bat gap comm and sign up to be notified of upcoming ones. Whenever one is released. I’ll send you an email. You also see a page where all the ones that are already scheduled are listed. And there’s some other interesting things on the site there if you just explore the menus. So we’ll see where all this goes. It’s an interesting time we live in and who knows. I don’t know. It’s just fascinating to watch it all unfold. I’ve felt for decades that there’s going to be a time like this. I didn’t know what it would be exactly or how it would come about but a time when because we obviously were just sort of not getting it You know, and they’re needed. There are so many entrenched things that really needed to get shaken up. But I didn’t know how that was going to happen. But it seems like it’s happening now. And yeah, we’ll see what what it all looks like when the dust settles if it ever does. You know,
Bayo Akomolafe: again, you read that that is such a beautiful thing to say, you know, again, if not for a virus, imagine some people actually planned this time. Imagine how impossible it would have been if we planned it on our own agency alone. It had to be something outside of us, if you will. A virus that made us slow down.
Rick Archer: Yeah, like, like you said in your essay, Andrew Yang was saying, let’s give everybody $1,000 a month. Pie in the sky.
Bayo Akomolafe: Yeah, no, no. Let’s do that.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Alright. So thanks. Bye. We’ll be around if we ever have another physical sand. I’ll see you there hopefully. Yeah, yeah. And yeah, thanks for your time.
Bayo Akomolafe: Thank you very much.