What have you been building for 7 years?
The website Planetshifter.com. Metaphors abound: Social template; a spiritual reservoir; a cocoon. A source book of eco-alchemy and new archetypes. Questions. Tons of questions. Perhaps an extended family? The new mythology.
Your work with sound is weird. What is the goal?
Shake up reality and make text poetry audio and frantic. I like the joist from a sound sample to a new metaphor and message. I deploy sounds to penetrate and explore the fuzzy under belly between our conscious and the subconscious. Sounds empower and entwine the emerging archetypes of our time. Sound forces are largely misunderstood and under-utilized in our post-radio, pre-packaged file streaming Sonos.
Why do you insist on calling this the "Chaos Era?"
What would you call it? The rich eat, the poor are starving; the military boys can't wait to drop their expensive bombs on North Korea; there is a cartoon President in the White House. Do you believe in climate change (yet)? Here come the hurricanes. There goes your shoreline.
Do you think people really want to know about the new mythology! Do you think that they really understand the old one?
I admit that this program of mine is a tough sell at times. My holistic, post-Campbellian connections and permaculture / transition / Nature integrations are complex. Given that many of the old guard mythologists are happy to stick with the old myths, and their colleagues, discussion and change are slow to come.
What makes mythology so important? Why not just answer one of those State Farm interview emails and sell insurance?
We need to co-write new universal family rituals, eco-traditions and urban stories that teach us new values and ways to live together. Part of the warning for the Chaos Era is that we do not have these new myths and we are drowning in corporate taglines, silly songs from Nashville and Napa yoga vacations.
Your distaste for super heroes and the endless stream of "mythic cartoons" from a re-tread-heavy Hollywood is a key theme in your new mythology. Why?
The super-powered struggles from the Superman and Wonder Woman commercial entertainment sector just do not rise to the level of mythic teaching. Too much tits and ass, too many profit-based sequels; far too little imagination and global relevance.
Why is the community now a better hero force than the individual?
In a word, corruption. Money and frame have crumpled the individual to posters and talk shows, all for profit. I say we by-pass the movie stars and lieutenant generals and empower the whole neighborhood or town to be the example. Really, what do we have to lose?
How can you claim that permaculture is about farming with Nature and then catapult it to a higher consciousness with new symbols, archetypes and traditions?
I love a good paradox. I mean that the promise of permaculture lies in with its agricultural mandate but in its community focus and new values. Both are only projections at present and will require a huge change in planetary consciousness.
How much Nature are you actually experiencing each day? Is the landscaping regime in front of your condo building fulfilling this need?
I trek into the trees in the hills above my town everyday with my headphones. We cruise the local reservoir on weekends. I am on Mother Nature's side. She weaves her songs of whale love and mountain glow in web sites and coffee table picture books. I collect images and save them for my work. But do I take Nature for granted now? Good question.
Burlingame? Do you actually practice what you preach in your town? What problems and solutions have you worked on there in the name of "localization?"
I came to the Peninsula from Oakland. Two very different psyches; worlds. I think it's easy to criticize a place like Burlingame with its rampant commercialism, bi-polar shopping districts, and lack of diversity, to name a few complaints. I just weighed in on the Broadway Ave. re-design squabble on Nextdoor.com and I have called-out the City on several pedestrian issues and the investigated the pending California Ave roundabout project. Burlingame is not destined to be a permaculture oasis.
How are you like your father?
He instilled his integrity and common-sense motto in me early and supported my Eagle Scout experience. He was always supportive in my manic-depressive years, never giving up on me. My father and I love Nature and traveling. To this day, I have a buck in my wallet, per his charge. We both love to smile and say hello to strangers and neighbors alike!
You were raised in the Episcopal pew then migrated to the Quakers post-collage. What did you learn from both?
I learned how to get through a boring and unenlightening routine at Church and to enjoy just the opposite at the Friend's Meeting House!
Another idea that you are developing is "Perm-Tech." What is the product, the message, the solution, the vision?
This is a new hybrid concept of mine. I understand that permaculture has tools (i.e. - rakes to bulldozers) but could benefit from a melding of green tech, regenerative agriculture and Nature design. Enter Sun2Soil, a nutria-membrane that I am testing for local community gardens and food forests. Perm-Tech brings in more hands and ideas through appropriate technologies. This is one dream of mine.
You are willing to try new things and fail. How do you look at risk? Outcomes?
Because I have a wondrous tool set and global communication platform in Planetshifter.com, I often throw ideas against the "iWall" and see who comes 'round. I value risk, evaluation and failure very much - both are ingrained in my experiences and values.
How can you tell if something is sacred? Can you share it?
I look for others to show this quality; this is primary. Sacred relates to trust. I know that Nature is sacred and that it can be shared with others. I want some part of my work in mythology to be sacred to the world community.
If social media is less about community building and more about pornography and sales data and venting, why do you do it so much?
Social media certainly feeds my ego and fantasies for change at times and offers a cursory level of status and teaching. Often the combination of "Facebook and G+" seem to be a pretend community.
Basically, you believe that Capitalism is sending the earth and its "customers" to a horrible death if left unchallenged. Can permaculture help prevent the pending global crash?
I see permaculture as a promising but fractured, top-down movement with little taste for hard-core politics or rebellion. As always, key changes ahead will be value-based and spiritual. Are the survivalists on the right course? Best take care of your family and neighbors first and plant a garden, quick.
Willi Paul is Principal of Willi Paul Studio and founder-publisher of Planetshifter.com Magazine. He contributes interviews, articles, new myths and workshops in the sustainability, permaculture, transition, sacred nature, new alchemy and mythology spaces. Connect with him on Facebook, LinkedIn and DPA.com. Read all of Willi’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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