All posts by Benjamin

The Apocalypse Cabaret Manifesto – Part 1: What We Know So Far, Goddamit

A little over a year after Brexit and the Trump election, the decay of Western civilization appears to have slowed (only time can tell us for sure) as resistance has mounted. But the fundamental question – what’s going on? Why is the dominant world culture collapsing at arguably the height of its success? – still hasn’t been adequately addressed.

This is vital, not just for it’s own sake – although it really is nice to know why the world seems to be collapsing all around you – but because correctly understanding the problem is the first step in developing an understanding of the potential solutions.

It was clear even at the outset that the victories of Trump and Brexit represented a massive veto of Western culture in the modern period. As I wrote at the time, what connects these things is their fundamental rejection of the modern world view — of modernity (and yes, post-modernity) itself. Such a rejection is not, in and of itself, irrational. On the one hand, yes, modernity has brought unprecedented prosperity and individual freedom into the world, a rising quality of life on a global scale that is simply unprecedented. But at the same time it has, especially in the last 50-odd years, brought a dizzying array of changes to every factor of life, often without warning or buy-in from those effected. This includes some things are easily regarded as positives, advances in: Continue reading The Apocalypse Cabaret Manifesto – Part 1: What We Know So Far, Goddamit

The “I, Robot” Series

In 2018, Burning Man’s theme is “I, Robot,” and on behalf of the Burning Man Philosophical Center I am project editing, and largely writing a year long exploration the potential and danger of automation and Artificial Intelligence for the human condition.

So far, in addition to essays, this has included podcast interviews with Sherry Turkle of MIT, Christoph Salge of the University of Hartfordshire and NYU, Jaron Lanier of Microsoft Research, and Kirk Schneider of Columbia and Saybrook, among others.

I’m also making a concerted effort to include more satire, humor, and play.

I write, as always with Burning Man, as “Caveat Magister.”

Read the whole series here.

The “Art, Money, and the Renaissance” Series

In 2016, Burning Man’s theme was “Da Vinci’s Workshop,” and on behalf of the Burning Man Philosophical Center I project managed, edited, and largely wrote a year long exploration of the relationship between “Art” and “Money,” with the aim of developing new approaches to support art and artists in the modern world.

The series was later turned into an ebook:  “How to Build a Renaissance in Your Backyard.”

I wrote, as always with Burning Man, as “Caveat Magister.”

Read the whole series here.

Ruth Richards – What is Creativity? (A Saybrook Salon)

“Saybrook Salons” were a series of interviews I did with leading faculty members at Saybrook University. My discussions with the founders of Saybrook’s program studying creativity were some of my favorites.

In this interview I spoke with Ruth Richards, author of “Creativity in Everyday Life” about what “creativity” actually is – and how artists don’t have a monopoly on it.

The Apocalypse Cabaret: (Nu-blesse Oblige)

This is part of an episode of my periodic podcast on politics and culture, The Apocalypse Cabaret, produced with Ariel Cruz.

In this episode, Benjamin and Ariel discuss the concept of noblesse oblige in the context of secular modern technocracy and whether or not it, and other civic virtues, can be re-activated in the culture. Also Ariel paraphrases deadeyed ghoul Grover Norquist in a way he would have hated, kickstarting a conversation about the role crisis plays in the generation of urgency and commitment, which are necessary conditions for re-building a sense of community in an age of market driven social atomization.

All Apocalypse Cabaret episodes can be found here.