The Mindful Cranks

Andy's Podcaster Podcasting Podcast #36

Intro Music

ANDY

It’s Andy’s Podcaster Podcasting Podcast - EPISODE 36

Outside Broadcast from La Jolla Cove. The sound of sea lions, waves and swimmers as Andy relaxes in the shade of some rocks.

ANDY

Hello World. Greetings from La Jolla Cove. As you can hear, the Sea Lions are a bit rowdy today. Just went for a swim and a couple of young ones swam under me, six or so feet below me in the water. One of them rotated mid glide and stared up at me, checking me out. Showing off really. With their ease of movement in comparison to my ponderous and labored floating. I had a snorkel mask on, so I’d have seen it quite clearly if one of them decided to bite a chunk out of me. Not that they are known to do that… well, it’s quite rare anyway, I guess, you maybe hear about a non fatal bite every year or so in Southern California. So, very unlikely but they are big and powerful and they have teeth. And it’s always a bit scary, a bit humbling when your close to a  wild animal. Well, not that La Jolla Cove feels really that wild exactly, I suppose it’s sort of wild-lite, a managed co-existence next to hotels and fancy restaurants… But it is a great intro to the great underwater kingdom of the Pacific, if you ever get the chance to visit, it’s well worth the trip. La Jolla - The Jewel.  Other than the sea lions - I saw a lot of Garibaldis today, — you always see a lot of them - I guess that’s the reason it’s the State fish. If you don’t know the Garibaldi, it’s like a big fat goldfish. A goldfish on steroids. A goldfish that has eaten all the pies. Kind of what you hope your little goldfish will grow into when you win one at the fun fair as a kid, before you get it home and put it in a glass bowl and then flush it down the toilet a month later when it dies… What else did I see out there… a few Bass, various types of Wrasse, and my first Sheephead - the transgender fish - typical Liberal California! Allowing fish to be non-binary. Yeah, Sheephead are all born female and then come breeding time a percentage switch to male and grow the necessary junk to fertilize the eggs. Good stuff. Saw a Leopard Shark the other day - heading down over near the caves. They’re harmless sharks, filter feeders I think. They normally hang out round the corner on the Shore Beach - in front of the Marine Room restaurant. You’ve got to be careful over there - lots of Rays in the water, Ray Leotta, Ray LaMontagne… Trouble Trouble Trouble, The sting is quite nasty if you step on him, so I’m told, you have to shuffle your feet if you’ve got a seat in the first five rows of the concert… So yeah, Great clear water today. The Life guard tower said the Temperature was around 63 but it really didn’t feel that cold. Although all the locals are climbing into their thicker winter wetsuits now. The Wimps. But I’ll be going in through December without a rubber snuggie full of my own warm piss. Thank you very much. As long as Sun shines which it does - in San Diego - and especially in La Jolla, ‘the Jewel’ in the English Translation. Good name from the Spanish Conquistadors. The water sparkles like treasure and the bay was probably a very valuable as a landing spot. They don’t always do well with the naming of things, colonial invaders. Miserable devout bastards - usually - always Saint this, Saint that, probably a product of guilty consciences for waging genocide on local natives. Always got to have god on your side while you invade and drop bombs and kill people and steal things. Invoke the almighty to share the blame…  No I’m not just taking all these coconuts and gold and vast tracks of fertile land for myself - oh no - it’s for God. He wants me to have it, see - it’s all in his name… What do you worship - a giant snake? And you don’t own the land but merely preserve and guard it for future generations? Insane heathens! Accept Jesus or we’ll burn your village and give you plague…. So - you might be thinking - what you’re doing back in San Diego Andy? Yeah - I’m very sorry for no updates for the last few months… The quick explanation is that Jen is on sabbatical - so she’s getting time away from teaching to complete her many research and writing projects and as this was coming on we realized we could rent out our place and then use that money to rent somewhere else for half a year. So we loaded up the car over the summer. Squeezed the kids in on top of all our stuff and hit the road. Nice, long, long road trip, got to do our camping thing - hit a bunch of National Parks and National Monuments -  and since we love and miss San Diego and figured we knew how to do it here, even with all the continuing uncertainty around COVID, we took a chance and have landed back in our old stomping ground. Kids are pretty flexible so we’ve popped them in the local public school. And we’ve downsized but we’ve been able to rent a nice little apartment. And that’s it. I did want to try and record on the road, but even with lots of stops in incredible nature - it was just too much. The driving and the camping and the parenting logistics totally dominated the work part of the brain everyday and then I realized I needed to just take time to be in it and enjoy the experience. So I switched off all my electronics and just stopped and did the thing. The term mindfulness is thrown around a lot these days. And my choices were not in anyway a mindfulness practice, they were more an obvious - and conscious - intention to focus and be in the moment. Which is often about doing nothing and quieting the babble of worry and ego as much as anything. Seeing beauty in a tree, watching your kids throw stones at each other and climb dangerous jagged pieces of volcanic rocks… And yeah. Just being. A real luxury in terms of time spent in, I guess, freedom… So yeah, a  Big trip - and it was a bit hectic sometimes, tracking down remaining oasis of beauty in These United States… after driving through desperate cultural deserts, dying Walmart towns, fast food neon knifing the air on gas station forecourts. And then the beautiful moments -  running down Indiana Dunes into Lake Michigan. Watching the dusk light move around Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Waiting for my six year old to take a dump in corn field in the middle of nowhere. Our main family bucket list is to hit every National Park - But I think Blaise’s secret sub-bucket list might be to take a dump in the most strange and inconvenient places he can find… Corn fields 20 miles from any habitation. Down the bottom of canyons with storms coming on. On crusty rustic boats in the middle of high altitude lakes. Anyway - so yeah - I’m back in San Diego - And I’m very lucky. I know it. Breathing the sea air, getting the positive ions flowing again. Getting back to running again on my favorite beaches. I hope you can find a similar peace and pace wherever you’re at. ‘Cause it’s been a bit crazy these last few years - to say the least right? All the shit, And perhaps you’ve lost someone close like I have. So if you can, I hope you get some self care in. Deep breaths. And it looks like a lot of meditation and mindfulness podcasts have become very popular in the last year. And I tried listening to a bunch of them - to review for you in a big Mindfulness Episode I was planning… but as I was listening I was finding that they weren’t really working for me. A lot of them seemed quite nice but I don’t know phony somehow. So I listened to a bunch of Mindful podcasts - to do one of my mass review shows. Well, actually saying I  listened to them is a bit of a lie - I actually downloaded a lot of them and then discovered that listening and reviewing them was a right fucking chore so they just sat of my phone to be honest. And this word ‘Mindfulness’ has been everywhere these last few years as sort of catch all cure for the very stressful moment we’re in. So I tried a few times to push on - I’d listen to a mediation show - hear various bits about mindfulness from all kinds New Age self anointed guru life hackers - And my interior voice would be shouting FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT - at them in my head - the eternal cynic -  And I found the show that  I was making was just going to be a lot of me making fun of ‘mindfulness’ really and I became conflicted about it since I thought - hey maybe these shows are honestly intended and maybe they are helping some people, and there is a pandemic - these are actual plague days -  amongst all the many other bad things going down - so maybe I just need to wait and table my criticism for a while. And honestly my critique was very unclear at the time. Yes, I have a drive to tell jokes but there’s always more - I want to tie my attempt at comedy to bigger ideas and I guess the bigger idea was that it felt like mindfulness was becoming just another way of shutting down critical thinking and actual rebellion and change. It felt kind of like how a lot of Religion works. An opium. An soothing illusion in your personal narrative. To provide answers that reinforce the status quo and accept your lot. But also maybe not exactly that, or maybe not just that. Because a lot of Mindfulness programs it also claim to be very scientific and secular. So it also kind of felt fake in a different way too, like Performative Enlightenment with a strong whiff of the hideous performative politics of Corporate controlled parties - kneeling in Kente cloth in the House of Representatives to honor George Floyd but then actually doing nothing to reform policing and the justice system in the country - actually growing and expanding police budgets and powers and prisons. So yeah. I hit a wall on the original mindfulness show. Because, also on the flip side - I’m drawn to anything that can help me and everyone, disconnect from insane Capitalist consumption, and the never ending plague of wants and desires in service of consumption. So I was also thinking that anything that can help you and focus on simpler pleasures, has to be good at heart. It’s so easy these days to get swept up in screen time and the news and the daily grind. Staring at the new iphone, wondering what all the fuss is about. A slightly better camera, with which to take pictures to fill up your iCloud and never look at again. Oh and your iCloud needs more room for all these Ansel Adams photos you’re taking of your lunch and kids - for $2.99 a month you can rent more room. But is the iphone 13 really better than the 12 or 11 or the SE or even the 6? Maybe getting to your apps 0.2 seconds faster is not actually necessary. And What if you’re not actually a photographer? Do you need the worlds most advanced camera in your pocket at all times? Seems like a weird created need to me, sounds like what Marx warned us about - when he talked about ‘Imaginary Appetites’. Marx wrote about how Capitalism needs to create high value objects that are ultimately arbitrary and unnecessary. To quote from his essay - Human Requirements and Division of Labor Under the Rule of Private Property - “the extension of property and needs becomes a contriving and ever-calculating subservience to inhuman, sophisticated, unnatural and imaginary appetites.” So we get the constant fashionable purchases the New phones, and the new car when the old one would do, and you need a bigger TV. Got to be able to watch the big game advertisements in high definition. Admittedly, I am just using my phone to record myself on a beach while reading a Marx essay… so yeah, ha, it’s complicated… just got a funny look from a woman over there. Got to be careful talking Marx in public, even on California beaches… It can be like Invasion of the Bodysnatchers in seconds - Donald Sutherland - pointing and screaming - ARRRRRRRRRR - So yeah, the question, as always - how to do better. How do we unhook from the Imaginary Appetites of Capitalism, where it is never enough, we just never have enough, and are literally destroying the planet to feed the needs that allow some of us to place 3 tonnes of rotting pumpkins on our porch every October… So maybe we need something like Mindfulness to begin to detox from the worst aspects of our Capitalist culture. And so I was conflicted in my first attempt to do a mindfulness episode. Maybe there is something good in it and in that case I’d be wrong to just dismiss and mock, Mindfulness like some troll. So I’ve had the Mindfulness episode on hold since - probably middle of last year.  But then - I found this great book called McMindfulness that summarized and then greatly expanded and systematically advanced the few very basic thoughts I’d had about the Mindfulness craze. It was written by a guy called Ron Purser, a professor of Management San Francisco State and shortly after reading the book, I went back to Mindfulness Podcasts and discovered that he has a Podcast of his own… so here we Mindfulness episode back on track…

Music - Rise of the Black Centipede - Mario Rom’s Interzone

Andy

It’s… Review… Time…

ANDY

Today I’m reviewing The Mindful Cranks from Ron Purser. This is a podcast series that covers all aspects of Mindfulness, in particular the development of the Mindfulness Industry over the past decade, but it also looks at it’s origins in Buddhism and how it relates the dharma - what they consider to be - the nature of reality as taught by the Buddha with his four noble truths in Nepal some time around - 500 BCE. The show is very much building from the great book I just mentioned - McMindfulness - Subtitle ‘How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality’ and the author’s own beliefs as a Buddhist and ordained Dharma instructor in a Zen Buddhist order. The show is an interview show with Ron talking to various guests and friends and he’s joined sometimes by co-host David Forbes a professor in School Counseling at Brooklyn College. And they chat to academics, authors and teachers who have something interesting to add to the conversation about mindfulness. Its a really interesting journey Ron is on, Zen Buddhist and Business Management Professor - maybe the book and the podcast are born from the clash of these two segments of his life? And the discussions he broadcasts are always, intelligent and interesting brain fodder. The blurb from his website actually puts it best - like this - “Our guests are leading edge scholars, authors, teachers, practitioners and activists that share a mutual interest in civic mindfulness and socially engaged contemplative methods.  A wide range of diverse perspectives–including critical theory, critical pedagogy, ethnography, Foucauldian governmentality, feminism, hermeneutics, critical race theory, critical management studies, socially engaged Buddhism, political economy–provide the “cranky” intellectual tools for socially engaged contemplative change.” FOUCAULDIAN GOVERNMENTIALITY! well that’s easy for them to say. - Yeah But don’t let heavy terms like that put you off. The conversations in the show aren’t heavy academic posturing but come across more as good faith attempts to really get to underling truths. I suppose towards the buddha’s eightfold path to enlightenment - with the sixth or seventh step being ‘right thinking’ - so if anything - in these podcast episodes -  there’s a real drive in the discussions to unmask jargon and step beyond intellectual gamesmanship. Many conversations chew over how words and jargon are used to mask, hide and distract from reality, an unjust reality that creates suffering and harms the planet and ourselves. It’s a good mission.

Some of the episodes I’ve enjoyed - include - guests Adrian Daub - Questioning Silicon Valley- and talking about his book ‘What Tech Calls Thinking’, then there was activist Paula Haddock on Mindfulness for Social Change. There was a great chat with Laurence Cox on the fascinating history of an Irish Buddhist Monk who faced down the British Empire called Dhammaloka. And there’s loads of others - Mathew Ingram, Christopher Titmus, philosopher Evan Thompson. All quite brilliant people you might not have heard of because you’re probably not an academic and the books they write are quite niche and we’re all so silo-ed in our own little worlds and its frankly easier to binge watch a hundred hours of TV than it is to step beyond the corporate approved Malcom Gladwell’s whose siren song of critical thinking is a capitalist friendly hymn sheet that tries to offer the Happy Ending to our ever churning late stage capitalist tragedy. Yeah, I think we’re ready to step beyond Malcolm bloody Stop and Frisk - Gladwell. There are other clever academics out there and just as easy to read these days. Start with mcMindfulness, listen to this podcast go from there.

So Ron Purser is a long time practicing Buddhist and I think some of his vitriol against modern Mindfulness practice - as it’s used by Corporations to enhance their bottom line - does come across as religious sectarian purity. Kind of in a way like you get some devout Christian’s disdain the sheer hypocrisy of Mainstream Christian Evangelism. But that makes him a star in my book. In fact anyone who uses the religious narratives in their heads to actively try and right the wrongs of society should be platformed well above the devout sheep who use their Gods to feel good about themselves. Mindful Cranks - good stuff - give it try - take a break from Rhino Neck - when he starts talking about MMA or talking Alien Artifacts or whatever. Fire up this Podcast and learn about the origins of Mindfulness and how it’s become co-opted by charlatans, five stars, 2 thumbs up, some classic crank - ‘Get off my lawn’ a DharmaRaja - and all the marbles… “In Buddhist tradition, the Second Form of Ignorance is the superimposition of that which is false over that which is true.”

Music - Rise of the Black Centipede - Mario Rom’s Interzone

SIRI

3.00 AM

Mindful Nihilist poem sound jam, featuring ‘Brazil’ by Antonio Carlos jobim - Clips from John Kabot Zinn’s masterclass commercial and the Dalai Lama’s horrible and ignorant echoing of far right extremist rhetoric in 2018 ‘Europe belongs to the Europeans…’  and Cosmic Kids Zen Den!

The MINDFUL NIHILIST

This is Wisdom 2.0

Watch the gap and mind how you go

The Mindful Nihilist is in very good health

The Mindful Nihilist was born into stable wealth

The Mindful Nihilist sits on a yoga mat pretending to concentrate on their breathing

The Mindful Nihilist watches and judges you awkwardly leaving

The Mindful Nihilist believes poverty is a personal failure

The Mindful Nihilist cannot find an orange robe tailor

The Mindful Nihilist is taking a joyful dump in an ocean of bliss

The Mindful Nihilist sells a lip balm on Etsy called ‘The Buddha’s Kiss’

The Mindful Nihilist dismisses stress as the result of personal lies

The Mindful Nihilist reaping a harvest of happy thoughts as the world dies

The Mindful Nihilist has new teeth with gold fillings

The Mindful Nihilist just paid cash for their nature retreat in Billings

The Mindful Nihilist knows the future of the earth is bleak

The Mindful Nihilist wants the refugees to search inside themselves for the home they seek

The Mindful Nihilist doesn’t have to suffer fools

Because the Mindful Nihilist went to all the finest schools

The Mindful Nihilist knows empathy is not his strong suit

The Mindful Nihilist is reducing his carbon jack boot

The Mindful Nihilist lets the number crunchers crunch

The Mindful Nihilist has gone back to brunch

The Mindful Nihilist has cops remove the homeless from around their ocean place

The Mindful Nihilist whispers noble half truths through a new plastic face

The Mindful Nihilist is super smug and doesn’t preach

The Mindful Nihilist is conspicuously enjoying the fuck out of this peach

The Mindful Nihilist is thankful for all of the worker bees

The Mindful Nihilist looks the other way while they send back the refugees

The Mindful Nihilist is drunk on a glass half full of John Cabot Zinn

The Mindful Nihilist bounces past the homeless with an enigmatic grin

The Mindful Nihilist wraps a gift of nothing in a box and ties the perfect bow,

The Mindful Nihilist lives in a nonjudgemental chasm that preserves the Status Quo 

This is Wisdom 2.0

Watch the gap and mind how you go

ANDY 

That’s a wrap!

Music - Everything is Permitted - Mario Rom’s Interzone

Andy

That’s a wrap… hope you enjoyed the show, please take a second to give me a five star review in whatever app you use to listen… And If you really want to help, click the link and buy me a coffee for a few bucks and help me spread the word… And remember - just be the pond, a nebulous collection of liquids, taking all of the shit of the world and just letting it be. Having the flotsam and jetsam, float by your water face in peace. And under no account are you to rock the boat… Have a great week, wherever you may be… BBBBBBBYE

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