28.3.20

Phenomenology of The Disaster: (3) On the Economics of The Disaster

BOULDER, CO – It goes without saying that there is an economic aspect of The Disaster that many of us are experiencing as a financial threat and terror, another of the sharp pains of being in survival mode. I expect that this tension will lead a majority of us to think about the open cultural question of what authentic livelihood is, and, obviously, simply to question the disastrous, economic status quo we’ve undergone up until now.

When the public fears economic ‘depression’, austerity, insecurity, the collapse of markets, endemic poverty, what are they really fearing? Pull away the facades and curtains, the smoke-and-mirrors, the computer graphics, and what actually is feared? It is the small group of financially powerful Americans, the heirs and heiresses, owners, tycoons, oligarchs, financial wizards whose constant reinvention of investment markets ensnares the masses’ capital before ultimately gambling it away (followed by bailouts), in lockstep with political cycles. The public also subconsciously fears those cultural elites who proliferate gratuitous consumer products and unleash related barrages of marketing – they are ruthless panderers of addictive, frivolous themes.

This overall scheme by Wall Street and consumerism writ large is a weird psychological and intellectual cruelty against the humanity of Americans (and people around the globe). It is macro gas-lighting, which seeks to normalize the very existence of the conservative economic establishment and its baked-in greed.

The establishment’s main lie is that society must be built upon a financial foundation, that we should develop cultural experiences upon the edifices of commercial activities – and, an adjacent lie is that society must be built upon private property, gun ownership, and business, because this somehow ensures basic civility, individual liberty, law and order, while it prevents anarchy or authoritarians.

We have been brainwashed by these deceptions into feeling that certain cultural fulcrums, eternal nemeses, are natural and unavoidable: conservative versus liberal, white collar versus blue collar, rich versus poor, professionals versus workers, and so on. While there are certainly dualisms and contradictions experienced throughout culture, these conventional opposing pairs above show how even our ideological encampments are entrenched according to economic notions – whereas those camps may have plenty of alignment on issues other than the (poorly-understood) economy.

Obviously, if society is forced to take cultural and spiritual guidance from the outdated Capitalism of post-WWII American individualists, or the 1%, then our social contract will get sicker, and need critical care. The current Covid-19 crisis is exposing the underlying health issues, so to speak, of our entire socio-cultural matrix including the parasitic economic ‘system’.

The good news is – philosophical experiences also exist, including the Arts. More good news: we can gather around the interest areas of pure thinking and experiencing the Quickening together, as an Audience of this unfolding interest in what is most important, overall, philosophically.



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26.3.20

Phenomenology of The Disaster: (2) The Shared Audience

BOULDER, CO – I won’t presume to know about mainstream experiences of The Disaster, including shelter-in-place orders in, for example, Suburbia, mega cities, or rural areas. So it makes sense to get very specific about the kind of experience that I, and others with my background, location, and interests, are encountering. Those kinds of basic experience form the basis of our communal online audience (which I call The Audience).

I conceive of such an Audience as orbiting an interest area rather than attaching to an individual, a personality. Therefore each contribution addresses that Audience without its contributor trying to possess those people’s attention or coerce the sphere somehow.

As I’ll point out again and again: nowadays audience members and distinct, named ‘audiences’ are like leagues of interlocutors, rather than mere receivers of content that is more or less entertaining.

Who Are We?


So, who are We as this online Audience, here and now, of people who are perusing, reading, and writing daemiangarett.com and its little Web ecosphere? (I can tell you up front: it's a small number as of April 2020.)

LOCATION: At least presently, any prospective worldwide Audience will extend and expand upon who we are together in a specific local community, naturally. (Nevertheless, I am interested in the ontology of purely ‘hyperlocal’ communities online also.)

WHERE: In my case, this means living in a semi-rural city of about a hundred thousand that is less than an hour from a metropolis of almost three million.

ROLES: Given that kind of earthbound location, our We-the-Audience sphere is comprised of philosopher-artists (generously defined, according to the serious tenets of Philosophy but not necessarily from academic and/or Fine Art backgrounds).

HOW: Moreover, we are philosopher-artists who had been caught in the poverty trap to some extent (including perhaps having exacerbated it also) prior to the arrival The Disaster. Now, however, we are intent to pursue real livelihood during shelter-in-place orders.

(By the way, this is the profile of interest and background that I’m using to focus what is published on daemiangarett.com.)

EXPECTATIONS: I don’t expect readers to match my minute circumstances (mainly location, financial insecurity, behavioral austerity, bootstrapped entrepreneurship, living with housemates). But I would hope that those who are relatively affluent can gain more understanding of the experience of ‘survival mode’, of getting caught in the ‘poverty trap’. (I’m putting certain words in quotes because they are loaded terms that deserve re-definitions – see links.)

I would like to expect that readers do love the altered state of pure thinking, and the bliss of understanding (which is the ultimate impetus of ‘actions’), also the euphoria of new ideas and perceptions.

What could be more fun than real, transcendent thinking and imagining?

In my view, however, there is nothing better than finally relaxing, in the most deep way, the ontological or Being-oriented way.  In fact, I will be arguing that ‘philosophical experiences’ are the actual, but underrated source of any artistic amazement and pleasure, and, that this kind of experience necessarily is in complementarity with the full ontological relax.

TOPICAL: For the present, within the scope of ‘The Phenomenology of The Disaster’ posts, readers who comprise the Audience are interested, as it were, in the upshots of this National Emergency: its upshots insofar as this is a threat of destruction, which will be followed by regeneration and re-creation – particularly of families, communities, the economy, the healthcare system, work and labor, the social contract, and so forth.

As such, this Disaster holds the gift of providing a new space, fecund ground, for starting the inevitable, radical revision of existential fundamentals including our ideas of Humanism, of the Western Enlightenment itself, our American Constitution – especially now that the Anthropocene is in full swing, and replete with new forms of The Disaster like climate change, AI, and pandemic viruses.

What Time Is It?


Two observations were recurring while I took a break to lay in the sun in the backyard: First, this shelter-in-place status quo (announced last night where I live) is an epic break in normality, a fissure in familiarity, and it thereby provides a superb opportunity to think.

Real or pure thinking is not replaying stale memories or reinscribing beliefs. Viable thinking has the quality of freshness: to think is surprising, exhilarating, strengthening. So, shelter-in-place is a perfect time to think, first and foremost – and, it is the ideal time to think about what is most important.

Second, regarding the man in the Oval Office at the present time, who acts like a sociopathic narcissist constantly defending his own incompetence: he has become a living propaganda and brainwashing channel (deploying rhetorical sleight-of-hand tricks like repeating key opinions ad nauseum, feigning the look of sage premeditation before each variation). – But, meanwhile we can notice how he provides the perfect example of the opposite of real thinking, the opposite of understanding what is most important to think about (let alone ‘to do’, or ‘to act upon’).



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23.3.20

Phenomenology of The Disaster: Introduction

BOULDER, CO – We’re over a week into the extended, indefinite period of the first National Emergency over public health that I have experienced. This morbid new normal is coinciding with inevitable tsunamis of angst, reflection, and creativity worldwide – the phenomenology of this response is my main interest, as an existential journalist and non-attached philosopher.

* Key terms link to on-site elaborations in new windows.

For many people, creative impulses will emerge through home-bound and neighborhood reporting, and authoring a plethora of communiques, using Web-connected devices. Surely, there will be a global deluge of novel uses of technology, first-person narratives, and home crafts in the wakes of this pandemic’s shocks.

The desolation unique to a global plague must coincide with brave reflection, and creativity, and this can happen in fundamental respects because it is The Disaster. The bonds between fear, death, suffering, the suddenly stripped-down circumstances of our lives, our transcendent experiences, and the Arts are getting re-clarified – and fortunately.

But our interest in those hopeful connections – more precisely in the real upshots of this lamentable situation – may seem to conflict with the epic pain of a glocal catastrophe. Even our own perceptions and interpretations of The Disaster are getting mediated across great distances by sensationalist or trumped-up news, the moodiness of deserted public spaces, and the myopia of feeling ‘stuck’ at home. That is, unless one directly experiences the front lines or knows stricken people. For most of us, however, this is the first war that must be fought by becoming hermits.

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I have been a self-declared but unpaid existential journalist for over a decade. I become accustomed to perpetual culture shock following doctoral studies in Philosophy that continued with expat life in India, where I experienced endemic forms of The Disaster as it manifests uniquely there.

Here in the States, I have hazarded the contemporary ‘poverty trap’ – with the attitude of a researcher – by supporting myself doing freelance and gig work. Prior to this National Emergency, I had observed the highest levels of wealth inequality I have seen in this country. It tempts us to think that managed poverty itself has been the goal of much of the socio-cultural matrix since the end of WWII:
A society overrun and dominated by the commercial and financial and industrial sectors organized as corporations, following the hegemony of the military-industrial-complex.
This has been disastrous for a long time already. The affront to Humanism and the Western Enlightenment is perhaps the most aggressively dissembled catastrophe, which, nonetheless is getting exposed in dramatic, mind-blowing ways by this material crisis called Covid-19.

So in the barest terms, my point of view – for full disclosure and context here – presently consists of financial insecurity, and therefore behavioral austerity, while under shelter-in-place. I am writing this series ‘Phenomenology of The Disaster’ especially for others in that situation; however, it is suggested reading for those who are financially buffered from this Disaster as well.

Strangely, with the anticipation of the creativity and expression emanating from the recent shelter-in-place orders (but after distinct waves of grieving and shock) I’m experiencing my own surge of creative activity – and its psychology is nuanced. In fact, the more one senses and perceives this rampant virus, the more meanings, experiences, and interpretations inevitably will orbit it. Yet, what is this ‘it’ in itself, in raw terms?

Let’s look at the Covid-19 epidemic (The Disaster) dispassionately, and perhaps even in childlike terms as we perceive it directly, as it is, and in its repercussions and ramifications. We must conduct a thorough phenomenology of The Disaster (in this case, manifesting as Covid-19), along with the epistemic and ontological analyses.

Tragedy and Upshots


There are all kinds of upshots of the Covid-19 crisis, and dangers, that we will perceive only as it unfolds. One captivating new reality involves people staying home, and, the blackout of commercial, brick-and-mortar America. It’s almost like the quietude of Christmas Day prolonged indefinitely. People sequestered, after dealing with the loss of income, will be forced into ongoing leisure.

This is a test for society. Will most people get creative, and at least learn to use tech tools for virtual community? – or, how many will escape into binge-watching screen content, sink into depression, or begin careers in addiction?

Let’s assume that a substantial amount of people, of households, do approach their confinements creatively, recognizing that one upshot of shelter-in-place is experiencing leisure in the home. This is just the bare phenomenon – there is bound to be a large number of people who cannot experience ‘leisure’ during this Disaster, for any of infinite reasons.

We should always keep in mind the full range of people who are confronting this health and societal emergency. We will pay attention to the socio-economic dilemmas of workers exempted from shelter-in-place, to be the workforce for Emergency Services including grocery-store and pharmacy clerks.

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The technical arena of working at home through The Disaster includes producing Internet-connected media and using home equipment (such as for making and editing videos). This presents an interesting moment in the creative process that brings in the experience of publishing to a global audience, which could be said to induce an altered state of consciousness. Specifically, it is some kind of alteration of our individualistic cultural programming, like a radical openness to the Other, albeit buffered by technology and mimesis.

This openness, together with the intrinsic possibility in Internet media to embrace all of humanity as audience/interlocutor, could be understood, at least, as not the same character of consciousness as found with hard, obsolete, American individualism.

One of the goals of this series, Phenomenology of The Disaster, is to create and bolster a conceptual bridge between the increasingly common personal experience of broadcasting to Earth as a human being (which includes doing Internet-based work), and, the prospect, and advent, of something I refer to as The Livelihood Economy – also the subject of a white paper I am crowdfunding and writing.

The next piece in this series discusses a certain understanding of The Audience who potentially engages with interests such as these: The Audience that comprises a phenomenological forum exploring our angst, reflection, and creativity at the very start of an era of pandemics.



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