College, the American left, and the nature of consciousness: An interview with Matthew Christman

Updated: Jul 6

Matthew Christman is best known for his role as co-host of the popular online leftist podcast Chapo Trap House. However, my fascination with his worldview really grew from the series of rant-style livestream vlogs he began following the collapse of the Bernie campaign during the COVID lockdown last summer. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Christman for a Zoom conversation about the ideas he has been unraveling on his streams, and how they may or may not interface with campus activism.


Originally recorded March 15, 2021.


Mikey: To get started, I was hoping to get a little bit of your background experience when you were in college. Did you go somewhere nearby to where you lived or far away? And how was that environment for you in terms of your own political development?


Matt: I went to a college in Waukesha, Wisconsin that's about an hour or so away from my hometown, and wanted to go farther away, but I had a spinal injury my senior year of high school that kind of stunted a lot of my ambitions, and my parents wanted me to get out and go to school so I didn’t fail to launch, so this was sort of a compromise. It was a small liberal arts school, and I spent most of the time there sort of isolated. Didn't really have a lot of connections to other people, didn't have a lot of friends, and I certainly didn't have very developed politics or anything because there wasn't really a lot of context for me to develop them.


But by my senior year, I was friends with groups of people who were doing some stuff on campus with an underground newspaper, and that was really where I did my first kind of political expression—writing for that.


Mikey: Were you studying anything related to the concepts you talk about now?


Matt: History, English; I had sort of vague humanities concepts. I didn't really know what I wanted to do, like a lot of people, and I sort of figured that I would figure it out as I went along, and it took longer than I had thought at the time that it would. It was mostly just sort of searching without really even knowing what I was looking for.


Mikey: Would you say that sort of connection to that newspaper group you mentioned was that your ‘push in the right direction’ of, “Okay, politics is something that fascinates me,” or did that come even later, like post-college?


Matt: I mean, I was interested in politics from an early age. But I just didn't have very well-defined convictions that could have sort of powered me beyond the generalized sort of horror at world as it was. The Iraq War happened around that time, and the lead up to that war really did sharpen me towards having a more articulated politics because of how horrifying it was and how fraudulent all of the justifications for it seemed on their face and yet none of that mattered, and it was really striking and horrifying to see. And it propelled me to want to articulate something, in the way everyone is in college, really, when you're finding yourself and you're very self-centered in a way, trying to articulate a resistance, a denial of, like, affiliation with the act, even though I was an American.


But of course, without any expectation that I'd be able to stop it, because that kind of political power just wasn't available to anybody at that point, you know, it was the end of history. So mostly it was about creating some sort of space to express yourself in opposition, not necessarily to have any real effect on the outcome.


Mikey: Something that has surprised me about ‘college experience’ is the extent to which a college campus is essentially just a microcosm of broader American political and cultural discourse. Here at BU, we've been doing the free laundry thing, and we've dealt with the student government who have been more concerned with their conduct in their pseudo-congressional role play, we've dealt with who I can only describe as the BU administration's equivalent of the Parliamentarian, who basically told us, like, “yeah, sorry, you've got to play by our rules and like, do it this way” even though, obviously, the rules are arbitrary. We've literally dealt with students, writing, op-eds asking how we're going to pay for it or telling us we'd need to means test a free laundry program.


Can you talk a little bit about how this sort of institution of college in the United States exists, more than anything, to teach the rules of the game of capitalism and funnel people into this sort of indoctrination into our increasingly corporatized culture?


Matt: Yeah. I think it's breaking down now just because the promise that used to exist of the college education is no longer sustainable for people, even for young people to believe in it, but the deal was you go to college and you get to do something—some job that is self-fulfilling, some job that is renumerated—and allows you to live a life of self-actualization.

Of course, you're a kid, so you don't know what that means, but you know that working in a in a manual sense, working with your hands, working in retail, working in a gig economy job, isn't going to do that. You're going to be at the direction of others, you're going to be alienated fully.


It's the promise of unalienated labor, that's what college is. Or has been—I don't know what it is for kids starting at this point—but part of that is learning the values and manners that will allow you to succeed in the fields that offer unalienated labor.


So, you are inculcated with sort of a broad spectrum of social mores that, depending on your area of interest and personality, you absorb some percentage of, and then either ignore or explicitly reject the rest of. And then you go out into the world and try to get that reward [of unalienated labor].


And obviously one of the big stories of politics in the last 4–8 years, and certainly since the collapse in 2008, has been the declining upward mobility, or the downward mobility of college graduates relative to previous generations. And that has, I think, sparked a lot of the left-wing activism and the counterculture that you see emerging. But it really is all structured within a generalized decline of expectations among college educated people, who are the most politically activated people within a society because they're in the middle.


They are vulnerable enough to want to be aware of the precariousness of an economic order and want to see a change, but also are unalienated enough in their life and time and sense of self that they feel like they actually could influence things through political action, so they try to act on their own behalf and on behalf of their cohorts, but they're doing it with the vocabulary and values that they acquired, for the most part, in that college experience.


Mikey: Would you say that this characterization of the college experience is compatible with this idea you've gotten, at on your streams, which is basically, if I'm understanding this right, the idea about the left—broadly speaking, whatever the left means in the United States right now—needing to start from these sort of smaller, more grassroots, local community positions, to kind of create the change from the ground up: Is a college campus conducive to that sort of environment despite that characterization, or would you say it's, like you mentioned with your experience, more of a situation of shouting against the current for the sake of counterculture?


Matt: I think that is what the majority of it will be, just because the people who come out of college and the people in college are not in a labor relationship with one another.

[There’s no real labor] solidarity to be built. Everything else is sort of theoretical, really, and is very easily undermined by other theoretical elements and by culture, because there is no daily reaffirmation of relationship. Everything is in the air, because it really is all in our head. It's all theoretical conception of politics because we're not operating off of out of a group interest. It is a collection of self-interests that we can kind of squint at and imagine is a class interest or a group interest, but the slightest pressure, the slightest conflict within a group, the slightest conflict between our perceived self-interest and someone else's, and the whole thing falls apart.


So, I would say that college is probably one of the least conducive places to the building durable, meaningful solidarity. But I think that is changing, just because college is losing its ability to regulate behavior through the carrot and stick because the carrot of that unalienated labor, that unalienated job, is kind of going away. I can't imagine a lot of people going to college at this point have any expectation that they're going to get a “career” out of it. I don't know though, from looking at it. I mean, I'm an adult, and I don't know what kids are thinking. But without that carrot there, maybe it's easier for people to sort of see through the mystifications of the college experience and push through to actual cooperation, but as I said, I haven't been a student for a long time. I don't know.


Mikey: That's interesting. I was thinking about it more in the context of a more closed-off campus bubble in that there's this relationship between students and university administration, which is different from a worker-employer relationship, namely rather than exchanging labor for wages, students exchange money for a service, which essentially makes them a consumer in this dichotomy.


Matt: Yeah.


Mikey: In terms of that characterization of organizing on campus, how should a student effort, with that in mind, vary from and differ from a more traditional workplace union organization effort—if it should at all—or if it's even meaningful to foster this collective thought process?


Matt: Well, the thing is that you can only operate from your own experience. So, if you're in college, for whatever reason you've decided to go to college, then the question before you is always, “what do I do?”, not “what does a theoretical college student do?”

You still have to live every day and you still have to make choices. So, if you are a college student and you are feeling politically activated, then it is incumbent upon you to obey that call within you to be truthful to that demand any way that you can, even if it's not really political organizing. But I think the key is understanding what it is, not not doing anything, not channeling your alienation into self-destruction or self-loathing, but by accepting the limitations of what you can truly accomplish given your position, and then moving forward.

And I feel like that's the thing that, I know when I was young, was very hard to get my head around. You imagine yourself, especially at that age, as the protagonist of reality, and so your activism has to have a historic meaning to it or be viewed with the necessary drama to keep you invested in it. But I think that that mode of politics—that sort of heroic mode of politics—is going away. I hope so. I mean, I just think out of necessity, it is, and people are going to be forced to just accept the limitations of their position first and then act, as opposed to what happens, which is people assume a level of connection, a level of historical importance to their activism and behavior, and then have that run against reality and then be disillusioned, and then at that point decide, “well, I guess politics doesn't mean anything. I guess there's nothing I can do. I guess I'm powerless against the forces of the world.”


And then, self-loathing sets in, and self-destruction. I think if you start from the clear-eyed awareness of the limitations of your position, then you can, in good faith, do what feels like the right thing to do, which is only going to be determined by your specific experience.


Mikey: Would you say that, in general, there's too much of an obsession with doing the ‘most right’ thing in terms of directing people's activism these days?


Matt: Yeah, and I think it's because of, frankly, the narcissism of the culture, and that's not a criticism of anybody. It's the only operative mode—you can only operate from a mode of self-indulgence because that's the only social good that exists to be pursued.

So, it's incredibly unrealistic to expect any person coming into adulthood to have any other frame of reference for the world around them. So that leads people to an aggrandized sense of themselves, and I think that that aggrandizement is—it's not the only obstacle obviously to effective activism in any given sense—but it is a significant one because it creates this situation where you have a reality in front of you and you have options in front of you and [you become oblivious toward the] greater conflict and the greater forces and your position relative to them. And then your analysis of what to do in the moment gets clouded up with something that you are truly not in charge of, and not really connected to, and can't affect. And people don't want to accept that because it makes them feel small, but it's really the only way that you can be liberated from the neuroses of hyperawareness and the overactive superego that gets put into your brain when you go to college.


Mikey: Is this something you have to develop outside of the college bubble, or is there some sort of college path that kids can take in how they apply themselves, or choose a career or a life path most conducive to socialist organizing, or does that matter a lot less than people tend to think?


Matt: Well, you can't start from the assumption of “I'm going to make the socialist revolution.” You have to start from, “what am I good at? Where are my talents? Where are my actual passions?” because those things, they feel like passions, and they are things that you feel passionately, but they're also abstracted from your daily life. They cannot be the guide of your behavior. They can only be a thing that you could move towards from a base of presence in your life. And that requires starting not from “How am I going to make the socialist revolution happen?”, but “Okay. I am a socialist. I do believe that we need to create durable, communal relationships that can resist this atomizing, deeply polarizing force of capital upon us, but I am also X, Y, and Z.” Because one of the big problems that happens is that people become socialists and they define themselves a socialist, and then they decide that means that they have to be a socialist, but that's not really a job in America.


The closest thing to it is a media person who talks about socialism, that's how I ended up doing it, that's how most of the people who ended up in that first wave of like post-Bernie online leftists were, everyone was moving towards the ball of theorist and spokesman because it's what corresponded to their idea of a socialist, but that doesn't correspond to everyone's like actual skillset or position in life.


And that is where you have to reason from. You're in college, you should be finding out what it is you're good at and care about in a moment-by-moment basis, because yes, of course you care about politics, but that can't be the thing because it's not real. I know people have a hard time with that, but it really is made up.


Obviously, it's a real thing, but to your daily life, it is an idea in your head, and you have to move towards it from the ground. You can't grab at it from the top. And I mean, I'm saying all of this from experience of having made this mistake over and over and over again, and having been paralyzed by the neuroses of trying to constantly make a consonance between my beliefs and my actions where I'm ignoring what's around me in order to correspond to something that is ideal and an ideal in my head.


Mikey: Essentially getting at this idea that you can call yourself a socialist all you want, but being a socialist, whatever that means, is not the act of having political opinions. If you don't apply it to some, some grounding hobby or skill set or genuine interest within your life, you're not doing politics.


Matt: And most importantly relationships to other people. That's the hardest part.


Mikey: Right. It has to be outward. It can't be an identity.


Matt: It can’t be an identity, and the internet is it's very facile and seductive because it gives you the illusion of actually expressing it.


Because I think we all understand at some level, of course you’re not going to [solve any of these] things, but going online looks like doing something. So, a lot of people are able to essentially lie to themselves by saying, “yes, yes, yes, I understand socialism is praxis, but I'm online making these arguments and I'm doing these posts and I'm using these symbols.” And I mean, that is, in a technical sense, doing something, but it is so close to nothing that it doesn't count, in my opinion. And what counts is what you're doing in your life. And that should be driven by love, which I think is, in a social context, defined as socialism to me.


And I think that socialism as an identity and a thing you can simulate, either online or in an activist milieu of fellow cosplayers, is self-interested. That's not operating out of any sort of real affection for humanity or the world, but a desire to set yourself apart from people who are not as enlightened as you are. And again, I'm talking about myself when I say these things. I'm not accusing anyone of anything I have not deeply indulged in.


Mikey: I was about to bring this up, this, this sort of seduction that people experience in being attracted toward online politics, where what we're seeing now is most young people, the peak of their political expression is putting like, “yeah, I'm a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist” in their Twitter bio or posting the correct flavor of the week Instagram infographic on their feed.


How did we get to this point, and what actions can be taken to help detach the younger generation, uh, from the allure of the online political spectacle?


Matt: I mean, I don't think you can attach anybody else. You can only detach yourself.


Mikey: Well, doesn't that kind of go against the thing about practicing things outwardly?


Matt: No, the practice is of your relationship to others. Like you treat other people from love, you accept them for who they are, and you try to help them in any way that you can. What I mean is, if you fix yourself on trying to disenchant other people, even if you're doing it because you think it's in their best interest, you're not going to have much success because everybody has their own system of belief and their own fantasy structure that fuses them to a spectacle, and you can't make them change their attitudes.


Now, if you're a part of an activist group and there's a lot of people who are in the spectacle and you feel like it is counterproductive, if you feel like you can do something useful in that group, then you kind of just have to accept it and just refuse to go along with it.


If it's overwhelming and you can't do anything productive, then find some other people who—What I mean is, you need to be, in every moment, open so that if other people are at a similar point and are similarly disabused by this LARPing festival, that you can cooperate with them. And that if there are other people who are in a movement that you feel like is necessary, even if they are doing it, you can participate with the right reasons, and the knowledge that you have of where you're operating from can be what propels you, and then you will not be necessarily caught up in a war of personality or propaganda to try to peel people away from another idea. And of course, this is what I mean by that.


This is only referring to people like working in there, because obviously my whole deal is I'm telling people what to do, you know, but I'm doing it from my isolated chamber and not on a college campus. I'm not interacting with a bunch of students and fellow young people every day. And I'm not finding my profession or finding my skillset. If I was doing that, and I didn't when I had the chance, but if I could do it now and knowing what I know now, or feeling what I feel now, I would want to strip away the idea that I'm going to be able to really actually change anything, because that's not why you do what you do. You do what you do, because you love people.


Mikey: So, the core message there is “love thy neighbor, even if thy neighbor is cringe.”


Matt: Yeah, exactly. I mean, everybody’s cringing all over the place. Like this stuff that I'm talking about, if you have decided that this is impossible and that this is cope, then it's all cringe, but we're all cringing at all times and we have to have the ability to forgive ourselves in each other for our cringe, because that's what living is.


Mikey: To go back to the student-administration relationship stuff, an interesting specific case is the role that student athletes should play in on-campus organization process, seeing as sports programs are usually the most lucrative operations to a school. Everyone wants to watch the big game. How should people like student athletes be incorporated if students are trying to organize themselves against the administration?


Matt: Right. Well, depending on the university, it's a Division I school, those students are being exploited, they're not getting paid for the labor that they do. So, in a way that regular college students aren't, they are workers. They actually are workers who are providing a profit for the university that they don't get any of, as opposed to the students who have a more consumer-based relationship to the institution because they're paying. So I'd say that the labor angle is the one there. Again, I'm not on a college campus, but that seems to me to be where it would be


Mikey: Sort of connecting to that, is there meaningful action that students can take to support faculty and staff who are striking or organizing for a union on campus?


Matt: It would have to depend on the specific situation, I couldn't say. What I'm trying to get away from in all of this stuff is from generalized prescriptivism, because everybody has to choose what's in front of them, you know?


And that's something that I can't speak to. But I would say that if there's a unionizing effort that is seeking support, that it be offered. If it’s a strike being carried out by the faculty or staff, then because they’re organizing, then they have a strategy and they know what they want. I would ask them what they want, because they're the ones that are striking.


Mikey: Yeah, that makes sense. So, obviously I've talked a lot about sort of this college campus bubble as its own discreet piece really, but college towns are usually deeply segregated and constantly more and more gentrified.


How can this college bubble be broken to, going back to what you were saying about grounding yourself in your local community practicing outwardly, to bridge the divide between more affluent, whiter transient college kids and the local community of which they have essentially colonized into?


Matt: That's a tough one. I'd say one of the biggest structural impediments to any kind of, of, of coordinated left activism in this country is the cultural and geographic spacial divide between the college educated in general, with specifically those politically active college educated people, and people without college degrees, who have worked or are much more likely, obviously, to be hyper-exploited under capitalism, but also less likely to translate their alienation into a political vocabulary.


And traditionally it's been relationships between the idle but underemployed educated and the overworked less politically engaged working class that has generated actual functional, durable challenges, in not just this country, but in every capitalist society, and the break between those, I was one of the biggest hindrances we have. And if I had an answer for that, I would be going everywhere with a fucking bell trying to get it figured out. I don't know, because we don't live our lives as workers, or as subjects of capitalism. We live them as consumers. We live them as identity matrixes that are fixed demographically. We don't interact outside of those groups that much. And so, breaking through that is an incredibly difficult task. I would say, once again, the only real advice I could give, not knowing a specific situation is when you were dealing with people from the town, if you're a college student to try as much as you can to treat them like a fucking human being. And that's the first step towards anything that might come afterwards.


Mikey: So again, it's coming back to this sort of core idea that you could read all the theory you want, you could drop the word dialectical in every other sentence, but none of this matters if you're not actually placing yourself in situations in the community that are grounding you in the material world, right?


Matt: Yes. And building connections to other people who maybe they wouldn't have thought of this as a political question or wouldn't have thought of themselves as having the ability to affect it, but because of experiences with people who actually care and aren't just trying to make a point or absolve themselves of personal responsibility because they feel guilty, that maybe something could be built on that.


Mikey: Do you think those sort of things are more likely to spring up from something like the Bernie campaign or from random small things emerging like, “oh, it turns out this was the one the whole time”?


Matt: I think that, yeah, it's going to be whatever political framework comes to try to rescue humanity from its total obliteration by the market, is not going to emerge from a spectacle of politics. It's going to emerge from the actions of the ground. But because we don't know where those are or what they could be, we just have to assume that they could be anywhere and they could be in front of us at every moment, so we have to treat every moment like it's an opportunity for that because it could be.


Freewill is essentially ignorance. Freewill boils down to the limitation of our capacity to observe the conditions of our actions and the world around us, which means that we can't know why things are happening. So that means we don't know what's going to happen, and that means we have to pick. We have to choose without knowing. We have to take a leap of faith. That's free will. That's love, at least in my mind. That's the only thing that could serve as a durable, meaningful motivator in the choice of action one takes. And that means that even if nothing happens, even if there is no defeat of capitalism, even if we all get rolled up, you still have to live, and you don't know that that's going to happen, so you have to treat everything as possible and every situation that you're in and every person you meet as another possible block, another possible spark.


Mikey: There's obviously a lot of talk and reference to John Brown in the online left community and people saying “oh, we need a new John Brown” or a “modern day John Brown” or whatever. And obviously they're talking about some sort of revolution, but I don't think that's the real sense of why we need a John Brown type person.


It's this idea that we need someone who has pure and absolute commitment to their convictions and unwavering faith. When, the reality is like, to reference his characterization in Cloudsplitter at least, the modern American, no matter how much they post about it is much more of an Owen Brown type figure.


Matt: Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah, everybody's Owen Brown and they want to be John.


Mikey: But they also don’t.


Matt: Well, that's the thing. They want to be John out of selfish reasons. They want to be John because then they would be a good person. Modern left/liberal morality is really just the fulfillment of the Puritan idea, where you have replaced connection to other people as the motive force of your morality with a neurotic fixation on your own worthiness. And that's the Owen Brown experience that we're all stuck with.


And because we're self-interested at base, as much as we covet that position as being John Brown or being the absolute embodiment of human virtue, that would require a feeling that we can't reproduce, which would then also lead to a willingness to sacrifice that we also cannot reproduce.


Mikey: Obviously for John Brown it was a faith in his religious convictions, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that for some sort of modern hope for mankind. Something you've been getting at on your streams is your own sort of spiritual journey. How essential would you say that is to the future of the left, that people find their own sort of spiritual meaning behind their existence or what they do?


Matt: Yeah. I think it's searching for feeling. We all get belched out into this world that we live in hyper-mediated, hyper-intellectualized, our interactions with the world more and more defined not by human connections, but by the pseudo connections of the internet, which is basically just an extension of our minds, not any kind of interaction, because we're only interacting with the internet that we create. So, we're picking and choosing, we're tunneling through it on our own self-interested volition. We're not actually interacting with anybody else. We're only looking at ourselves. We're only interacting with people who we choose to interact with that can reify our egos.

So, what that does is it makes us believe that we can reason ourselves to a course of action that will be revolutionary, and that we’ll be successful in this application, and that we can reason ourselves to a version of ourselves who is not soul sick. But you can't, because it's sterile, because those feelings come not from thought. They could be translated into words or thoughts that can be held to yourself when you're by yourself, or maybe translate it to somebody else who can kind of get what you're saying and it can affect their behavior, but the real deal is something that is ineffable. It is an emotion that cannot be translated, even in the words that you can understand.


And those feelings can only come from lived experience. That means living in the world, in your body, connecting to other people, and feeling the connection between you and every other person in the world and every other person you see. And that connection, if it becomes strong enough, extends beyond the people you interact with to people as a concept and to the world as a concept, because love is just a recognition of unity. But that can only come from being in the presence of others, it cannot come from being in your head, which is what being online is.


Mikey: One of the roadblocks to that kind of thinking that you've touched on in the streams before is this idea that either every American subject essentially thinks they're the only person that really exists and they live their life from that perspective or that they will somehow live forever.


Matt: Yeah. We all, no matter what we think, feel that we are the only people in the world, because our basic understanding is that we are separated from the world. And if you're separated from the world, then your consciousness is the universe. There's nothing else. Nothing interacts with it, because how could it? Because we are contained and separated consciousnesses, but that consciousness can be directed away from sort of a sterile intellectualization of one separateness and towards a felt connection, but the conditions of modern life in America, specifically, and everywhere as capitalism continues accelerating, deny that connection and deny the possibility of that connection.


And so, we are all kind of grasping for what a lot of the time we think of is liberation for everybody, but it's really just a fantasy of our own immortality. If not physical immortality, like the transhumanist libertarians, then a legacy of immortality by being the people who overthrew capitalism or were integral in doing so.


Mikey: Is this difficulty grasping finite mortality something that is imposed by modern capitalist society, or is it a natural human roadblock to this sort of project?


Matt: Like anything it's a degree. I think as soon as you have settled agricultural societies with divisions of labor and with the hoarding of surplus production and time by one group over another, you have a culturally reproduced, ritualized separation. But it accelerates over time. Technology, the ability for us to control at a distance the actions of others if we're in charge, allows us to pull away over time further and further from the world so that we're moving towards the event horizon of a separation. That’s why our biggest capitalists are all fixated on going to Mars and getting in spaceships and having robots, because they know that a humanity that is fully technologically separated from the world is one that cannot live on the world, because it's a fucking biological system. It's a living thing that we're part of. And they are reaching at an escape velocity away from that.


It's always there, but capitalism has made it much, much worse, but the technology that separates spatially has also given us a more intellectualized, intimate understanding of other people as real—people who are outside of our ethnic group or tribe or culture—an understanding that there is such a thing as a human being that is a transcendent category that includes everybody, and we are part of. And the socialist future, the teleological endpoint of communism, is where that technology is taken not to the point of reinforcing difference to the point of annihilation, but redirected towards a communal emotional understanding that is now powered by technology so that we're not using technology to extract surplus, but we're using technology to distribute surplus equally.


Because why would we want to hoard it? It wouldn't make sense. It would be absurd. And that's terrifying for people to imagine, because they imagine their individuality being robbed of them, but there has to be some reduction in their individuality because it's literally destructive. Given our level of technological excess, the degree of individuality that we exist with is genuinely carcinogenic to earth.


Mikey: So essentially the idea being that you need to shift from this perspective of “okay, I'm going to put my brain on a hard drive and get around this whole dying thing” to realizing, to put it bluntly, “It's not about you, you are but a single part of this universal world spirit that is all of us.”


Matt: Yes, absolutely. You're not dying. Dying is an illusion. Nothing's dying. Everything that is you will still be here. You will still be part of the universe. Every action you've committed will echo, every atom that has ever made you up will be here, and the actual act of dying—and I'm very convinced of this—is not of some horrifying tunneling towards oblivion. I think it is for a while, and the length of that time is how alienated you are from it, but as you reach towards the actual moment of death, I think the sensation stops being of the end of a fictional ego, but of a genuine reunion.


And so, if the universe is real and you're part of it, then death is really just a transition of energy and it is nothing to be afraid of. And I never understood that. I spent most of my life terrified of death as a crippling hypochondriac. It's really been the last year or so that I have come to an emotional understanding that I never could have gotten intellectually.


What I was afraid of was essentially a thing that isn't real. I was afraid of a thing happening that cannot happen, which is a hell of horror at the prospect of oblivion. I think that instead of shutting off, which is the way I think a lot of alienated secular people imagine death as being, it is a light turning on and in that light is everything.


That's heaven, that’s nirvana, that's the reunion of all. It is genuinely irrational to be afraid of.


Mikey: So essentially, it's the ultimate dissolution of the self-interested ego and it is the purest form of what you've been getting at, which is becoming an outward force, and merging with the collective, but on a universal scale.


Yeah.


Matt: Yeah. What we're trying to do on earth—what we should be trying to do anyway, if we understood our position in it properly—trying to bring about on earth as much as that sensation of connection and intimacy with the planet that we lost by civilizing it. Not destroying civilization and going back to tribalism because that just rebuilds the cycle, but transcending the cycle by using technology to create a new relationship to the people in the world around them that robs them of the ability to flee, because they're not going to want to flee, because it will not even occur to them emotionally that there is anything to be to flee from.



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