blog – june 2023

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Welcome to the june 2023 conscient blog where I share my learnings and unlearnings for the month of may, presented in chronological order. 

may 1 : 7 steps back and 7 steps forward

I was reminded of the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective’s ‘7 steps back and 7 steps forward’ teaching :

  1. Step back from your self-image: 
  2. Step back from your generational cohort:
  3. Step back from the universalization of your social/cultural/economic parameters of normality
  4. Step back from your immediate context and time
  5. Step back from familiar patterns of relationship-building and problem-solving that you have been socialized into
  6. Step back from the normalized pattern of elevating humanity above the rest of nature:
  7. Step back from the impulse to find quick fixes and expand your capacity not to be immobilized by uncertainty, complicity and complexity: and resilience for the long haul

Which, thankfully, are accompanied by 7 steps forward (and/or aside):

  1. Step forward with honesty and courage to see what you don’t want to see
  2. Step forward with humility to find strength in openness and vulnerability
  3. Step forward with self-reflexivity so that you can read yourself and learn to read the room
  4. Step forward with self-discipline to do the work on yourself so that you don’t become work for other people
  5. Step forward with maturity to do what is needed rather than what you want to do
  6. Step forward with expanding discernment and attention 
  7. Step forward with adaptability, flexibility, stamina and resilience for the long haul

may 2 : wisdom received

A friend reminded me that in some Indigenous worldviews ‘the past, present and future are always walking together’ and that ‘every small action and exchange was, is, and will be transformational’. I am thankful.

may 3 : writing ‘sleeplessness – what keeps you up at night?

I’ve been writing an episode to be recited at night for some time. I was trying to write an interesting script but ended up improvising a walk at dawn that has some rough edges but is in the spirit of this project : exploring what modernity sounds and feels like, in this case, the rumble of industry in east vancouver and the sound of ice melting in the arctic 1000 km to the north. This episode will be published June 25. 

may 14 : recording ‘e123 maps – what possibilities do you not yet know?’

I recorded e123 today (published June 4). It’s a sad episode about what I ‘think’ might happen in the future. I know most people don’t want to listen to this kind of speculation but if even one person is helped by it, it is worthwhile. It ends like this :

I’m done with drawing maps and speculating with thoughts and ideas. Instead, I’m going to listen to the intelligence of my body, to the intelligence of non-human beings around me, to other forms of knowledge and beings that are emerging, and see where that takes me. What possibilities do you not yet know?

may 15 : a comment about  the absence of the climate emergency in arts organizations 

A friend told me about an arts conference taking place in Quēbec City. I looked up the website. People are flying in from around the country. The program looks interesting, however I could not find any  mention of the climate emergency in either the program content or logistics (such as encouraging carbon offsets). Business as usual, it seems. The climate emergency does not seem to exist for this community. Sadly, this is quite common (and devastating). We have not yet integrated the most basic language about our biggest existential threat. On a more positive note, I noted the presence of indigenous land acknowledgements and decolonization discourse, which I applaud. 

may 16, 2023 : sounds to be revealed

A friend writes:

So grateful to have been able to listen and stay close to your work. It’s wonderful to witness, feel and sense into the different layers and movements over the course of the episode and throughout the arc of the season so far. It’s almost as if the story of Sounding Modernity is being stitched by the sounds, walks and episodes and shape-shifting it into this surprising creature (sometimes scary, sometimes funny, sometimes visible, sometimes fictional…). I wonder how else the story of Sounding Modernity will further weave itself (both in/out of control) as you continue to loosen even more of your grips on it, slowly and gently. I like how humor mixes with pain and poetry mixes with interviews, and ocean mixes with toilet shitty waters. The playful and surprising diversity is fun. It’s even clear that you are both struggling and having so much fun, which adds honesty and trust in wanting to go with you on the inquiry. As you approach the middle of your journey, what might be needed at this time to invite further and what might be ready to be released into new soils? May more sounds reveal/be revealed.

My response:

You’re right that Sounding Modernity has been a pastiche (or a stitching) of sounds, walks and monologues that have shape-shifted into some surprising creatures and experiments, each exploring a point of pain or joy that I hope others can relate toYour point about how Sounding Modernity might unfold in/out of control is a good one as I approach the midpoint in the project on July 1. I’m coming to terms with its failings, surprises and unanticipated unlearnings. The isolation in particular has been bewildering.  I think I have already ‘lost my grip on it’, in a good way. I have essentially given up on it being a ‘exploration of the sounds of modernity’ – which was quite pretentious anyway – but rather, as you suggest, has become a portrait of my struggles and discoveries through the sounds of modernity. 

I will think about your good question:

  • What might be needed at this time to invite further and what might be ready to be released into new soils?

I continue to believe that word of mouth ‘(if you like what you hear, please share’) is the best way to promote this kind of project. I’ve let go of much of my ego and hubris from the project and hope that some listeners are in a similar headspace and can benefit from my meanderings. Thanks also for your advice about ‘revealing sounds’. One of my learnings  from the project is a better grip on the ethics of recording (e.g. how some sounds are not appropriate to be recorded or shared). I’m excited about exploring ethical methodologies and positioninalities further in part 2 of this project.

may 17, 2023 : A Primordial Covenant of Relationship, A Talk by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

I had another night of sleeplessness (see May 3 above) but this time I was kept awake by positive thoughts and inspiration. I’ve been following the good work of emergence magazine for a while now. Their work mirrors my own concerns and is of the highest artistic calibre. Listening to a speech by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee gave on May 12, 2023 at the St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in London blew me away and brought me peace. The presentation style reminded me of a buddhist teacher during a dharma talk, with long silences between concise words of wisdom and insight. Poetic, clear and grounded. Vaughan-Lee presentation was about : 

What it looks like to live in an unfolding apocalyptic reality and the creative possibilities that are waiting to be embodied. In this time of deep uncertainty, he reminds us of the ancient, primordial covenant of relationship with the living world that can give us a ground to stand on, and the sacred nature of creation that is always there, waiting for us to return to it.’

I recommend this speech, to read or listen to, or both. 

The speech ends this way:

There is a poem and a prayer that’s in one of the essays in this edition that I’d like to share to end the talk. It’s very beautiful. It’s very simple. And while it speaks of beauty to me, it also speaks of remembrance. It’s an old Diné practice, poem, prayer:

In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty all around me I walk
With beauty within me I walk
In beauty it is finished.

may 19, 2023 : mode 0 (denial)

I have the pleasure of corresponding with writers and philosophers about this project. One exchange with Dr. David Maggs was about ingrained habits:

I think the arts are deeply ingrained in modernity and not able to pull themselves, or anyone else, out of this quagmire. Many are embracing practices like land acknowledgments and social equity policies, which is good. Some are creating work about underlying causes but most have not even started on mode 1 (eg cg tools, etc). Some are actually in mode 0 (denial).

Personally, I’m focusing on emergency preparedness and survival now where the arts could play a critical role (Dr. Jen Rae spoke about this at SCALE  on June 1) but it’s uncharted territory and NOT fun. More like how the arts will help people die with dignity.

may 20, 2023: future episodes

I’m producing episodes now into July and August and soon this ‘air time’ will be over. A friend asked me ‘what next with your podcast?’ I said that I did not know but if I continue it would only be content that I am passionate about and in my own way (without concern for whether it attracts an audience). I noted that my learning journey is only beginning in terms of peeling off the first layers of my unlearning and that I hope I have the privilege to continue. I also mentioned that I believe in this kind of personal exploration because I have benefitted from listening to others’ journeys this way. 

may 21, 2023 : lightness

I wrote to a friend (in reference to The Valley by Jane Sibbery):

I feel like I’m leaving the ‘art world’ little by little now (my work is done) and diving fully and unconditionally into release and reconnect mode, guided by instinct, ‘wondering what in the world will the world bring today’. I felt this lightness yesterday doing qi gong, a remapping of relations, energy and perspectives ‘guided by the love of the light on the land and the blackbird’s cry’.

may 31, 2023 : hopelessness without recklessness 

I attended a brilliant series of lectures about the climate and nature crisis by retired professors at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Learning of the University of British Columbia. Prof Frank Tester’s comments in particular resonated with me: 

  • All of our relations is a big problem
  • Climate change is a social and cultural issue and the source is overconsumption.
  • We need to rethink how we make sense. 
  • Social justice and equity are at the heart of these issues 
  • Universities are part of the problem 
  • Our future looks bleak unless we change rapidly and radically
  • The arts have a critical role to play


I hear discourse like Dr Tester’s everywhere I go : radical change or die. One can only conclude that since we’re not changing (fast enough), we’re going to die (as a species).

What to do? 

Peter Wall Institute Acting Director Vanessa Andreotti suggested that we transfer more knowledge from elders to younger generations, which is critical, in particular for the transmission of indigenous knowledge and ways of being.

I was reminded today of the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective’s SMDA Compass teaching about how to walk a tightrope between desperate hope and reckless hopelessness.

It’s a fine line … but these days I’ve have fallen into a deep cavern of hopelessness but not (yet) recklessly.


There’s more, there’s always more, like but that’s enough for now.

Thanks for reading and listening. 

See you in July.





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