The Liminalist # 98: The Art of Dying (or: Cosmologies to Confuse, with James Kunstler)

Return conversation with James Howard Kunstler, on creating cosmologies to justify behaviors, the new urbanist movement, landscape urbanism, the architectural cutting edge, cosmologies to confuse, architecture that makes people feel bad, melting designs, zero capacity for adaptive re-use, the sunset of the techno-industrial age,  the illusion of permanent progress, the enlightenment watershed, imposing empiricism, how to lie with statistics, social-traffic engineering, the natural life cycle, battle against entropy, deep thinking on death, Kunstler’s 60s, cobalt poisoning, getting accustomed to death, the body’s art of dying, Yogi Bear’s philosophy of baseball, the flow state, everyday exigencies, the Walmart on Mars, punishing hyper-complexity, imagining the collapse, Trump’s inauguration, a coup d’état, World Made By Hand novels, changing governments, US balkanization, prophetic fiction, tuning into the collective consciousness, an emergent organism, ether deliveries, mimetic violence and social destabilization, escalating murder rates, a cattle cave of perps, comic book warriors, the social impotence of males, the corporate violence of racketeering, a culture of anything goes & nothing maters, the snowflake phenomenon, gender groups, an engine of oppression, the US red guard, the pleasure of coercion, the main game on campus, diversity deans, the sin of coercion, social media & the reinforcement of bad behaviors, social justice warriors as LARPers, the death of comedy, multicultural programming, civil rights disappointment, the failure of common culture, dishonesty & anxiety, Jonathan Haidt, social justice warriors as religious movement, sacred object-dictums, the power of the victim.

Here’s my edit of Part Two with Jim Kunstler:

Podcast:  Download (Duration: 1:06:54 — 61.9MB)

Jim edited it down a bit including removing my usual pauses with the result that I sound weirdly hyped up. Here’s his version at his website.

Songs:  “The Kommema and his Religion,” “Of the Lakes,”by SunWalker; “Ayahuasca” by Party People in the Can; “Working Title,” by Damien Jurado.

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  1. Hauptmann
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like entering dotage for Jim was distinctly marked by a cavernous and foreboding rock formation on a forbidding island encased by roiling sea and guarded by demons , ie , an American hospital. At least they changed the oil, greased and tuned the intriguing fella for the final stage of the journey .
    Amidst the ncreasing Entropy of the Long Emergency ! I am struck by the contrast of the retreat of the left into ” you cant think or say anything” , and the right into ” you can think and say whatever you want aka The Donald”.
    Both the same beast in different drag i suspect .

  2. The Margrave of Wend
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Coincidentally , i was just reading this very apt passage in “Cloud Atlas”
    “certainly , the vast disneyarium was a hauntng frame for those lost, rainy landscapes. Giants strode the screen , lit by sunlite captured through a lens when your grandfathers grandfather , Archivist ,was kicking in his natural womb. Time is the speed at which the past decays , but disneys enable a brief resurrection. Those since fallen buildings , those long eroded faces. Your present , not we is the true illusion , they seem to say. For fifty minutes, for the first time since my ascension , i forgot myself , utterly. Ineluctably”.

  3. Bob Smith
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Any word on part 2 still being released today? It’s getting late and i hate to be impatient but these two podcasters colliding is a momentous occasion when it happens!

  4. Penelope
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Curious description of Trump’s latest behavior – I pay little attention to the current media/theater – but it’s becoming obvious to me Trump is here to play the ‘Viking berserker’. I’ve even seen a t-shirt with Trump depicted as the devil with horns…… but actually closer to the mythical viking horn cap. Trump had claimed to be part Swedish.

  5. Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I’ve only just been introduced to your blog from Mr Kunstler’s podcast and totally in resonance. While I agree, am fascinated by, and otherwise inalienment (not a typo) to the standard male socialization I would like to inquire?
    While I’ve heard much anecdotally about the atmosphere on campuses and have seen the social media feeds, finding it disturbing on its face, I have to ask whether there has there been an honest appraisal of white supremacy as the basis of North American culture and law? In particular by an non-white authority? Perhaps an interview with Prof. Gerold Horne,
    I do admire Prof. Kunstler’s views and take them to heart but, to be blunt, he talks like a white guy on issues of race (called “not PC” to escape some sort of racial reality?), which of course he is. As am I. It’s a very difficult thing for us white guys to see, like much of what you have discussed with him.

    BTW I have one of those Celtic, Cro-Magnon, throwbacks in my men’s circle and he’s pretty nearly shut me out of any kind of conversation and he’s not on a college campus, he’s a “therapist”. OMG LOL Serious!

    Good luck with getting Prof. Horne. I hope you can pursue it. I look forward to the possibility.

    • Travis
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      James Howard kunstler is not a professor. With regards to “he comes is as a whit guy” he is a white guy you silly bird. Which as someone who is trying to appear as not being racist (even at the expense of missing the point of said comment because of an over sensitive trigger (racism witch hunt)) which, btw, saying someone comes off as a “white guy” is a bit racist. Don’t you think?

      • Rocky
        Posted February 5, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Mr Kunstler is Jewish and so would not identify as ‘white.’

  6. Posted January 25, 2017 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Dear Jasun,
    Once again enjoyed your podcasts with Jim ( yours and his). I met Jim way back in his early years on the urban planning circuit and have followed his blog since his Long Emergency- Jim is not a professor or academic ( former journalist), but he speaks with credibility on most topics. I spoke with Jim yesterday and he was less happy with your edit than his, but I think they weighed equally on the positive side. Two keepers for me: your wife’s take on doomers…” they are always cheerful because they face facts”…and yours…” the body knows things that the mind doesn’t”, and this works both ways. Always a pleasure to listen-look forward to our exchange in February.

  7. Travis
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Jasun. You and kunstler waxing is pure poetry. This is just the jumping jive that gets me jumping and jiving. Priceless stuff.
    I want to posit a couple coins here; with regards to what has happened so suddenly to mainstream collective culture, directly, and all “other” culture indirectly, with regards to the social media culture spilling out into physical, etc., is the ‘facebooking of culture’.
    First (arbitrary first) with media such as MySpace, but more profoundly Facebook.
    As most folks know, it is a place to tread lightly. People are compelled to publicly expose all/most of their shallow, and deep feelings, fears, hates, likes, baby pictures, yadda…
    This obviously makes one quite in the defense of any possible criticism.
    This also compelles people to speak and think very superficiousy about everyone else.
    Then, to me, all this hypersensitivity and lack of an ability for critical thinking is some kind of social disease and things such as Facebook exist as a dirty needle.
    Wanna get highhhh??-
    The other coin I drop (my comment’s worth is now at two cents) is a mixing of terms that I think capsulates nicely some to most of the current mainstream culture outlook on life. In America anyways; nihilistic narcissism. Meaning all meaning is meaningless therefore get mine. Rolls of the tongue a little smoother than “everything’s permitted, and nothing matters”. ~JHK
    Thanks again! Good show lads!

  8. Travis
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    …thank you Jasun *AND Jim

  9. Gregg
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    A few decades ago some wildlife managers decided to repopulate a former elephant habitat. They transferred some young elephants a couple of hundred miles or so away from their former habitat. The adolescent males started behaving badly. They were attacking other animals and in some cases killing or seriously injuring them. The solution turned out to be moving a few older bull elephants to the new habitat. The older males simply would not tolerate the bad behavior and it very quickly ended.

  10. Steve
    Posted January 28, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Hey, Jasun, (still) really enjoying your podcast. Is there a way to contribute to funding your work that doesn’t involve PayPal? Would like to help out, but I’m no fan of PayPal. Thanks again.

    • Jasun
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      dollar bill in the mail?

      • Steve
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        Ah, I like it, but that would require a mailing address. I was thinking of a more direct means via Visa/MC on your site, the way purchases are made with online merchants, but that probably adds complication and cost on your end. Or Patreon. Something like this.

        • Jasun
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

          Corbett also uses Paypal. I tried Patreon but really didnt like it, at all. They made it crazy hard to access the funds.

          I also dislike Paypal, but it’s the lure of the convenient, and there are only so many hours in a life.

          There’s a list of alternatives here:

          I could try one of those. Or just email me & I give you a PO Box address.

          • Rocky
            Posted February 5, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

            I hope you re-consider Patreon as it was quite easy for me to give a generous monthly donation to Mr. Kunstler as I enjoyed listening to him immensely.

  11. Isaac
    Posted April 5, 2017 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    His comments on Harvard’s negative influence on architecture were interesting, but I think James Kunstler is pushing false cosmologies when he agrees with your idea that the natural cycle is for things is to degrade (and that progress can’t last forever). Yes, a single human’s body degrades, but has humanity itself degraded? Certainly not in population size or ability to live in difficult places. Have animals on earth become more complex or less complex? Even after catastrophes that caused mass extinction, life in its various forms has continued to thrive and become more diverse and complex. To suggest the entire population is doomed to the life cycle of a single individual implies that humanity and all life should degrade and go totally extinct at some point, but over billions of years single celled organisms have formed into more complex organisms, even to us humans with are wildly complex brains.

    Plasma cosmology – a more scientific and verifiable theory than the utter nonsense of the big bang theory (which is supported by the mainstream for the same reason that Harvard architecture standards are) – suggests that ever increasing complexity is the true nature of the universe. There are many studies that prove the second law of thermodynamics (entropy), while true in closed, stable systems like an engine, does not apply in all situations, especially in ones with lots of empty space.

    Suggesting that we are all doomed by entropy is actually a perfect example of how cosmologies can affect our thinking and provoke unnecessary anxiety. If we believe the universe is always expanding and becoming more complex we will think differently than if we believe the universe is doomed to entropy (or a big crunch or big freeze). The Big Bang theory says the universe is 14 billion years old, yet there are superclusters of galaxies that would take 100s of billions of years to form. There is no evidence of dark matter, it was invented to make Big bang theorists equations work, without, their equations don’t work. So they look for it, hoping to prove their equations – that’s not science.

    This idea of ever expanding complexity supports endless human progress. If we accept stagnation we will end up like the dark ages. This idea of never ending progress is probably hard for environmentalists to agree with, but I don’t think the ideas need to be against each other. We can make progress without totally destroying the earth, it will just take more cleverness.

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