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013_ Interview: context, consciousness, contingency

07 December, 2020 - 6 min read

013_ Interview: context, consciousness, contingency

Howdy, hope this message finds you well and thank you for tapping into this episode of _bandwidth: coast to coast.

An idea that I will continue to build upon as the series gains momentum, is given the sheer pace of information and data being created, curated and transmitted, it is within the absences of information where many of the most important events and issues are taking place.

With everyone getting a tailored message from an algorithm, their chosen news authority, or social media account, what we each pay attention to seems to increasingly get smaller as it gets more fractured within.

Just think for a quick moment, most people at the time this episode is broadcasted are spending most of their news time on politics and Coronavirus.

Regardless of where you stand on the spectrum of perspectives one can take for those two topics, or the convergence of the two, we’re all for the most part sucked into those two vortexes.

If it’s deep state conspiracies, defaming other stances, shouting to the wind about the absurdity of the other side — it seems like all the air is sucked out of the room for anything else. The truth though, is that the world still spins merrily along none the wiser of what gets our attention most.

Such is to say, in all the attention given to the big waves of the moment, what is slipping through the larger and larger cracks?

My aim with this series, is to try and shed light on some of those slips. One of which, happened this September.

Starting a few months ago and culminating in October, the Trump Administration announced a normalization of relations between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.

Such an event under a typical news cycle that has gone the way of the dodo, would have been headline news with much time on those national Sunday Morning news shows.

But today as we’re going vertical on the attention exponent, I can’t say that I came across any thorough and sustained analysis of it.

A trend, I worry will continue as time goes on, regardless of the administration who’s chief responsibility it may be. I thought it all the more important to put a base coat on the Israel / Palestine conundrum and what these new talks mean for it, and the future.

My guest today is a foremost expert in the middle east, who literally wrote the book on The Israel and Palestine Conflict, Dr. James Gelvin, Professor of Middle Eastern history at UCLA.

This is chalk full of fascinating ways of viewing the world, including how revolutions start with the Context on the ground, the set and setting if you will.

Before flowing through the Consciousness of the individuals, getting shaped by what is occurring with them at that moment.

Are they hungry? Did they have to move because of turbulence? Do they have options economically and socially? Is the culture shifting- hell, what is the cultural novelty that is shaping the individual’s consciousness?

Ultimately, this comes through an act of Contingency. Not what was the original course of events that was likely to occur, but what acts will now occur and what will that lead to?

Context, consciousness, contingency. A framework that I encourage you to take away and ponder. It’s useful in any number of situations, from our own lives and those petty little frustrations that lead us to make different contingencies, through the latest wave in the news.

But before I let you go on listening to someone far more knowledgeable than I, I want to highlight another particular section of the interview, where James points out an incredible and simple Truth.

All nationalism is true, all nationalism is false, and that nations themselves are thoughtful creations.

Whether it’s the state of modern day Turkey, or the nationalism held by those at a world cup match, it’s all a figment of the consciousness in which it is expressed through.

Nationalism is false, because it only exists so long as we allow it to exist, none of its assertions are actually true. Which is also what then makes it true, because by acting out nationalist ideas or passively allowing them to exist, makes them exist.

It’s a shared value that’s created, carefully crafted into being.

Nationalism, as is many banal things we take for granted, are human inventions. The qualities, events and conundrums that emerge from it are further human in characteristics.

As James points out, the modern state of Israel is within a geolocation that is NOT the traditional kingdom of David.

Just as the geolocation that the people of Palestine are cornered into isn’t their traditional ancestral land. They’re actually opposite one another.

Yet, the hold each has upon where their feet reside, is as real as their ability to walk across it. Just as the cultural ties they each feel are as real as the threat of violence they both have to consider as a result of them.

I really cherish the ability to talk with such experts as Professor Gelvin, because I’m frequently finding such a delightful change of thought upon leaving the interview, almost as if I’m discovering a new room in my house I’ve yet to be in.

In this episode, we talk through the founding of the state of Israel, the rich and ancient culture of the region known as Palestine, before detouring into the state of the Middle East as a whole, if the Arab spring has run dry, how the middle east is the most food insecure region in the world, how neo-liberal policies create much civil and economic unrest, before coming back around and giving a speed course on Israel’s regional policies, wars, what is the Oslo accords, why are they dead and why should we care.

I’ve listened to this a few times, and I keep coming back with a new line of thought.

And without further adieu, my interview with the author of many articles I encourage you to check out, The Israel and Palestine conflict, The middle east: what everyone needs to know, along with several other books and publications, Professor James Gelvin.

Thank you for listening, enjoy!


This was an excerpt from the intro essay to _bandwidth: coast to coast

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