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KMO: On Digital Disconnect, Epochalism and Critical Junctures

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
9th September 2013


As host of the weekly C-Realm podcast, KMO holds a singular position, acting as facilitator for a wide range of perspectives on economics, consciousness, resource depletion, techno-utopianism, climate change, etc. KMO’s own evolving worldview combines all of the above into a very unique and nuanced analysis that informs the underlying, and not always evident, C-Realm narrative. This particular episode turns the tables somewhat, featuring KMO reading his own presentation on epochalism from his recent summer tour. This is essential listening for any observer of contemporary trends in play.

Listen to the full episode

From the show description: “KMO reads the text of his Manifesting In Meat Space couch-surfing tour in which he encourages the Friends of the C-Realm to distinguish between epochal changes, which typically do not manifest themselves neatly within the span of a single human lifetime, and what Robert McChesney calls “critical junctures” which do present opportunities to implement lasting societal change in a short period. The energy industry hype about “Saudi America” may be gibberish, but that doesn’t make a Mad Max-style fast collapse of industrial civilization because of peak oil a realistic prospect. KMO concludes with a warning against using righteous indignation to galvanize resistance against unjust power hierarchies.”

This presentation was given during the crowdfunded 2013 C-Realm “Manifesting in Meatspace” tour, where “KMO brings the content of the C-Realm Podcast out of audio cyberspace and into the realm of eye contact, handshakes and body language.” C-Realm listener Scott Mauer´s account of one of the presentations by KMO can be found here.

Transcribed excerpts

On Digital Disconnect:

“As repeat C-Realm guest, Bruce Damer explained in his 2004 essay called A Gigantic Unplanned Experiment… on You, “the human brain seems to be wired to operate at two speeds: cognitive (fast gear) and emotive (slow gear). You can make logistical calculations in milliseconds and hand-eye coordinated movements in just a little longer, this is what millions of years evolving in trees and then later on the savanna evolved you to be able to do. But emotional and body memory take much longer to sink in, and is slower to be recalled. Recalled emotion and the sense of the body give you all those important intuitive skills for healthy group social behavior, body and spirit health, and connection to other living beings. As we increasingly become creatures of cognition and stimulus-response, emotion and the sense of the body are being factored out of our life equation.

It is a terrible irony that as beings we are perfectly built for this experiment. Brain researchers are only now documenting this two-speed system and tracking the decline of test subjects’ emotional and body memory markers. When people get into states of low emotional and body-sense, and substitute cognitive and speed-sense they enter into a dangerous realm described by these researchers as “emotional neutrality.”

On Epochs and Critical Junctures:

“I want to be perfectly clear about the fact really terrible things and really marvelous and unprecedented things have happened in the past and that they will continue to happen in the future. The way that we inhabit the landscape and the way we organize our societies has changed dramatically over time, and it will continue to change, but the types of sweeping overnight changes that Singularitarians expect or that people who anticipate that any day now the US federal government is going to announce that we have been in contact with extraterrestrials for decades and that the ETs are about to share their technology with us or that we are about to experience an epochal change in human consciousness due to cosmic alignments and the transition to the age of Aquarius; these are not the sorts of changes that we can reasonably expect to see in the near future. While I take the implications of peak oil seriously, I’m starting to consider the fast collapse from peak oil to be yet another version of the unrealistic epochal change that sweeps away the current reality in an instant and delivers us into a fully furnished new world.  If we remain fixated on visions of epochal changes like the ones I just mentioned, then we’re likely to completely miss the actual trends that really do create extreme disruption on the time scale of an individual human lifetime.”

On notions of “fast food” revolution concurrent with epochal thinking:

“The prospect of a long, difficult, arduous process of struggling against powerful entrenched interests and trying to achieve incremental improvement with participation in the political process, isn’t nearly as sexy or appealing as the idea of a revolution that sweeps away corruption and injustice and replaces the current system overnight. The vision of political revolution deserves to go into the same mental category as the Rapture, the Singularity, and the fast and permanent collapse of industrial civilization from a global pandemic, solar storms, or peak oil.

Revolutions do happen, and we may see one in our lifetimes. When the revolutionary moment is upon us, it will happen, and full participation in life will mean full engagement with the revolution. That said it would be foolish to wait for the revolution to provide you with that missing feeling of camaraderie, common purpose and shared destiny. By the time the revolution gets here, you may be too tired to recognize it or even care. Even worse than pining for the revolution would be trying to will it into existence through sheer moral outrage. Revolutions lead to score-settling and power struggles between former brothers in arms. There are more pikes wanting heads than there are tyrants.

You may be tempted to use anger to motivate you and galvanize your troops. This is the path to the Dark Side. Rage always feels righteous, but it has an agenda of its own, and it’s not an agenda you would agree to serve in moments of calm self-examination.”

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