Journalism

Talking with Kevin

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Kevin Furnas was a Western shaman from San Francisco who had been training with ayahuasca and other plant medicines for over a decade. He dieted extensively with plants at the Sachamama Ethnobotanical Gardens retreat outside Iquitos for nearly two years, receiving knowledge and wisdom from the plant doctors directly. He was an ayahuasquero and vegetalista in the Amazonian tradition, performing healing ceremonies with ayahuasca and other plants.


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'A Long List of Zeros' by Miles Allinson

For seven months I worked in London at a large art auction house. For a long time now I have been trying to write something biting, an indictment of the industry which might express my dormant rage, my hypocrisy, and which might include a few privileged insights into that world. I keep failing.

Yesterday I found this image, a work by the Turkish artist Tunc Ali Cam which reignited my desire to put down just a few things about my experience. I was reminded of the Russians, for one, who came to buy back the glittering, hideous objects Communism made illegitmate, the pre-20th century 'bling', the palace decorations. These oppulent artifacts are able to sit, in such a context, comfortably and without apparent contradiction beside the revolutionary posters and paintings they were once so directly opposed by.


Nyéléni - The World Forum for Food Sovereignty > by Joel Catchlove

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April 2007

On the dusty shores of Lake Sélingué, Mali, West Africa, amid mud brick huts and donkey carts, peasants, family farmers, fisherfolk, nomads, pastoralists, indigenous and forest peoples, rural workers, migrants and consumers from across the world laid down a challenge. From their many languages and regions emerged a global call for food sovereignty.


Still Seeking> by Rak Razam

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50 years ago a New York banker’s trailblazing story of participating in a holy, age-old ritual in the mountains of Mexico with Indians who “chew strange growths that produce visions” was published, sparking off the psychedelic revolution of the 60s and a new horizon for neuroscience today


May 13, 1957, during the height of the post-war Eisenhower years, an article written by the influential banker and amateur mycologist R. Gordon Wasson, 'Seeking the Magic Mushroom', was published in Life magazine, part of the Time-Life stable. In homes across the nation, everyday Americans weathering the poles of luxury capitalist growth and communist menace were rocked by the strange article, part anthropology and part-adventure narrative, that introduced proof of a hitherto speculative practice by indigenous Mexican Indians, who "chew strange growths that produce visions". A serpent was set loose in suburbia. The chain of events Wasson’s story unleashed popularised knowledge of altered states of mind and, some say, was the first spark of what was to become the psychedelic revolution. Now, fifty years later, Westerners are still seeking the ‘magic’ mushroom, as the time-honored sacrament of Mesoamericans comes out of the fields and into the medical fold as a valuable tool in the burgeoning field of neuroscience.

'Free Media v Free Beer' by Andrew Lowenthal

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The free beer Richard Stallman loathes is everywhere. Media companies are currently falling over themselves to produce the new hive for user generated content. The names have rapidly become common place - YouTube, MySpace, Flickr - and their affect has been enormous, dramatically changing the production and distribution of media globally. Free beer pours from the taps of these new hubs of participatory media as they clamor to get you in the door. But free beer, as Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman has always emphasised, is not the same as freedom.

The Free Software Foundation has a stock standard one liner about what free software is and is not: "free as in free speech, not as in free beer". That is free software is not about price, but liberty. Free software is software that may be freely shared and modified, generally on the basis that those modifications also be made available to others. The defining document for free software is the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL).

Free software is the philosophical Genesis of a much broader set of practices that seek to empower the user and challenge the limitations of the proprietary model in the realm of software, culture, media, politics, science and more. The model and ethics of free software production can be ported to a range of other realms. I will explore two activist media and software projects that attempt to embody free software principals and challenge the proprietary model.

They are;

EngageMedia.org - an Australian based free software project and video sharing site for social and environmental justice film from Southeast Asia, Australia and the Pacific.
* Transmission.cc - a new global network of social change online video projects co-founded by EngageMedia.

But first.....

WHAT'S NOT FREE ABOUT FREE MEDIA?


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'Booty Dancing and Petroleum Dreaming' by Tim Parish

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Booty Dancing and Petroleum Dreaming
Verb | 10:35am, Fri 23 Sep 2005 | Gunbalunya, Arnhem Land

Bam bam bam chk bam bam bam bam bam chk (repeat).The eighties hardcore techno track ‘Here’s Johnny’ pumps from the Blue Light Disco’s sound system of the youth centre as we enter through the roller doors. In front of us, the concrete dance floor is packed with waste-high kids bumping and grinding their little bums to the beat. The girls stand with their feet firmly planted on the ground, ass out, hands on knees in controlled motions. Some of the boys are more radical, busting out electric waves and robot breakdancing moves.


'We Are With You Fidel' by James Halford

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(The names in the following piece have been changed)

In a 2000 interview, former UNESCO director, Federico Mayor asked Fidel Castro what he believed would occur in Cuba after his death. The leader maintained that the present system would continue without disruption.

¨I did not inherit a position, and I am not a king. Therefore, I do not need to prepare a successor… There will be no trauma, or the need for any kind of transition.¨ Naturally, Castro´s position and the official position are one, however, in the same breath, the President also downplayed his own importance within the Cuban political apparatus.

¨When a genuine revolution has been consolidated and when ideas and consciousness have begun to bear fruit, no human is indispensable, no matter how important his or her contribution may have been. There is no cult of personality in Cuba.¨ Any person who has spent even a few hours in the country will know that the final statement is either a lie, or a monumental delusion.


Plan_Plant_Planet> by Terence McKenna

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illustration: by Gwyllm Llwydd http://www.earthrites.org

 

Our present global crisis is more profound than any previous historical crises; hence our solutions must be equally drastic. I propose that we should adopt the plant as the organizational model for life in the twenty-first century, just as the computer seems to be the dominant mental/social model of the late twentieth century, and the steam engine was the guiding image of the nineteenth century.

This means reaching back in time to models that were successful fifteen thousand to twenty thousand years ago. When this is done it becomes possible to see plants as food, shelter, clothing, and sources of education and religion.

The process begins by declaring legitimate what we have denied for so long. Let us declare nature to be legitimate. All plants should be declared legal, and all animals for that matter. The notion of illegal plants and animals is obnoxious and ridiculous.

Re-establishing channels of direct communication with the planetary Other, the mind behind nature, through the use of hallucinogenic plants is the best hope for dissolving the steep walls of cultural inflexibility that appear to be channeling us toward true ruin. We need a new set of lenses to see our way into the world. When the medieval world shifted its worldview, secularized European society sought salvation in the revivifying of classical Greek and Roman approaches to law, philosophy, aesthetics, city planning, and agriculture. Our dilemma will cast us further back into time in search for models and answers.


Niggers of the New World Order> by Diane Conn Darling

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Neo-Pagans are a motley lot. Some go out of their way to act and appear bizarre. These people marginalise themselves, make our faith appear ridiculous, and make it difficult for the rest of us to be up front about our own religious practices. So we keep our heads down, hold down normal jobs and only reveal our true faith to those who are not obligated by their own faiths to condemn and despise us. Meanwhile we meet together in celebration and support and are quietly becoming a growing light in the world.

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Exorcisms, Conjurations & Social Change> by Levin A. Diatschenko

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In Eliphas Levi’s classic work on Western magic, Transcendental Magic, Its Doctrine and Ritual, he explains some basic rules for conjurations. Paraphrasing Trithemius, who in magic was the master of Cornelius Agrippa, Levi says, “To evoke a spirit is to enter into the dominant thought of that spirit, and if we raise ourselves morally higher along the same line, we shall draw the spirit away with us, and it will certainly serve us.” To this Levi adds, “To conjure is to oppose the resistance of a current and a chain to an isolated spirit – cum jurare, to swear together, that is, to make a common act of faith. The greater the strength and enthusiasm of this faith, the more efficacious is the conjuration.”


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