What's Too Weird for Wired? My Predictions for 2013
Commissioned by Wired UK to write a 500-word article on my predictions for underground culture in 2013, I wrote a brief piece around the rising transformational tribes that Evolver and Reality Sandwich have been tracking over the last few years. Stripping out most of the esoteric stuff (ie: kundalini awakenings, morphogenic fields, post-Mayan prophecies), I figured the piece would fit in well with a magazine that mainstreamed Burning Man (a-la a 1996 cover story) and tracked Occupy from its inception. Upon reading the piece, my Wired UK editor told me, while he liked the article, “it's probably the most unusual one we have had.”
The editor-in-chief eventually shot down the piece, explaining it was “out of their core range.” In fairness, they gave me a fairly generous kill-fee, but I admittedly felt frustrated about the “core range” bit, since they had asked me to write about underground culture after all. But the strobe-light that flickered through my mind in the following weeks was the editor’s claim that my submission was “the most unusual one” they have ever received. This statement prodded me to question the media, as well as myself.
Of course, the article may just not have been right for them, or I might have simply been another writer not-so-psyched about having his submission rejected, but I still couldn't help wondeirng: Is Wired (or at least Wired UK) not in touch with what’s happening out there? They do present much that is trailblazing, but are they limited to a narrow spectrum of possibily? As much as they follow the rising tides of new hacker activists, teenage Internet tycoons, and advanced luxury gadgetry, are they simply unaware of massive grassroots trends, like the global transformational festival circuit, Transition Town-type movements, holistic centers, even 350.org tours that are sprouting up like multi-colored wildflowers across the cultural landscape?
Or perhaps, I’m just too out there. To be honest, this article is about as “normal” as I can get these days. If I could really write what I’m experiencing, as a healer and a mystical initiate (ie: astral mediumship, entity extraction, multi-dimensional healing), most hipster, techie, fashionista, or art mag outlets would likely think I had lost my mental and spiritual marbles. Perhaps I have fallen too far down the rabbit hole for mainstream acceptance, and will be forced into some type of media exile to the outer reaches of print and web journalism. [Note: I do thank HuffPo for posting some of my less esoteric columns.]
My sense is that there are a lot of people now taking part in this emerging planetary culture who are experiencing a similar confusion as me regarding where they stand – do supposedly pioneering media platforms ready to publish what they say? Are they willing to take risks on what’s new, even if it challenges readers? Or have the group of us eaten too many spiritual, countercultural lotuses and can’t find our way off Beserker Island? Have these divides becometoo big, the gaps to wide to connect between? Or are can writers like me keep our integrity and act as bridges to more mainstream folks?
So, with that lengthy preface, here is the article (note the British wording and focus on the Eurozone). I’d love to hear where you land regarding the "weird factor," and what your predictions might be for 2013, as well.
2013: Decolonisation Zones and the New Planetary Culture
Among the numerous countercultural movements that have rapidly emerged over the past couple of years, such as the Transition Movement, alternative currency networks, and the global festival scene, there looks to be one major trait that will bring them together in 2013: subversive communities are largely giving up on the idea of repairing (or protesting against) corrupted political and corporate systems, and turning instead to building new models of community, art, ritual and sustainability to tackle the looming challenges of peak oil, climate change and financial instability tidal-waving towards us.
The coming year will see a massive expansion of these “decolonisation zones.” Here, participants reprogram from the “death paradigm” of our techno-industrialized society -- which daily pollutes our land, skies, and waterways – and discover an unusual neotribal alchemy where hacker activists collaborate with urban homesteaders, steampunk artists with open-source programmers, renewable energy developers with holistic health workers to create a rare space where sharing and cooperation foster human interaction and generosity rather than the divisive models of competition, greed and fear so endemic to consumerist societies.
In the past, the Burning Man Festival in Nevada served as the Mecca for a growing “future-tribal” culture, where revelers engaged in communal, celebratory rites of passage alongside massive digital art projects and computer-driven beats. This year, you can dissolve the carbon footprint of traveling to the deserts of Nevada and visit the hundreds of regional consciousness festivals exploding in population. Lightning in a Bottle (Los Angeles), Transformus (North Carolina), Bass Coast (Vancouver), and The Philadelphia Experiment might be higher priority than watching the Man go down in flames.
Just as “sustainable” and “organic” have become omnipresent words for the environmentally minded, “reskilling” and “local resilience” are leaping to the top of the list. Initiatives like 350.org, Energy Action Coalition, the International Rainharvest Alliance, and the Transition Network (now in over 400 cities worldwide), will attract those wanting to grow their own food, repair bikes, sew clothes, use renewable energy, and collect water in order to avoid reliance on untrustworthy stock-market-beholden giants like Wal-Mart, Target, Safeway, and Exxon.
While the Occupy Movement may continue to experience diminishing protest turnouts, the slow-money mobilisation -- which develops time banks (now in over 250 towns across the UK), local currencies, barters, swaps, crowdfunding, and gift circles -- will convert more and more citizens bogged down by debt and declining incomes due to a faltering global economy.
Alternative medicine facilities and holistic healing centers will continue their rapid expansion as more people seek help beyond the profit-driven insurance companies and hospitals of the medical industrial complex. In a similar manner that LSD influenced the 60’s, the Amazonian shaman’s healing brew ayahuasca (and its active ingredient “DMT”, which is sometimes synthesized and smoked) will shape the countercultural landscape. As more and more people look toward this medicinal elixir to treat mental and physical illness (as well as seek visionary experiences), this “class a” illegal substance will continue to spread across the US, Canada, and Europe.
The techno-indigenous styles and digital fantastical realms of ayahuasca and DMT are forging a unique genre of art, music, and literature -- “The New Edge” as I have called it in Huffington Post essays -- covering a complex amalgam of mystical initiation (associated with plant medicine ceremonies, yoga, and meditation), new media activism, punk attitude, and eco-fashionista aesthetic. This year, expect visionary painter Alex Grey, psychedelic writer/icon Daniel Pinchbeck, Sacred Economics figurehead Charles Eisenstein, trip-hop DJ Random Rab, and “DMT” film director Mitch Schultz to become living legends in this flourishing underground scene. Where the corporate monoculture offers the youth soul-deflating fantasies of Coke Zero, Transformers 4, and Tommy Hilfiger jeans, these new artists are weaving new dimensions of hope and re-imagined community into our reality.
With 2013 promising another “winterless winter,” further tottering American and Eurozone economies, and the expansion of GMO “Frankenfoods” by swelling agribusinesses like Monsanto, an interconnected ecosystem of permaculture farms, healing centres, reskilling seminars, festivals, and alternative money systems will rise up to take a much-needed stand. Given the rapid rise of this movement, as well as global sea levels, we won’t need to wait long to measure their success.
Talat Jonathan Phillips is the author of “The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic” and a Bioenergetic healer. www.TalatHealing.com