“I think of the sacred as being an interruption in scheduled programming. It’s like an inconvenience. It’s a category violation.” Sophie Strand
E147 – Re-imagined Education, Cybernetic Flow and Bewilderment with Sophie Strand and Bayo Akomolafe
Researching The Sacred
Listen to the conversation:
About this interview:
How can we reimagine and reorient our curiosity during civilisational crisis?
“I think of the sacred as being an interruption in scheduled programming. It’s like an inconvenience. It’s a category violation.” Sophie Strand In this episode Amisha brings together Sophie Strand and Bayo Akomolafe.
Sophie is a writer, who focuses on the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and ecology. She believes strongly that all thinking happens interstitially between beings, ideas, differences, mythical gradients. Bayo is a poet, philosopher, psychologist, professor and chief-curator of the Emergence Network. He curates this earth-wide project for the re-calibration of our ability to respond to civilisational crisis.
Sophie and Bayo unfold a playful conversation taking us on a wild journey of how we might research the sacred, investigate that which interconnects us and re/imagine education. They consider that our troubling times call for us to become prolific in indeterminate research that takes it away from academia and humanist claws; forms of research that allow for playful, tactile and intimate spaces, where our bodies are ecological experiments and investigations into past ecosystems, where we might allow furniture to do research and allow for the fact that the weather is doing research with our bodies.
Emerging from their intimate enquiries is a call for animist reorientation that fundamentally questions our conditioned point of view and serves as an invitation to marvel at the invisible, the uncertainties and the deep questions it raises. Inviting people into spaces to share food is an ‘outrageous’ and simple invitation where new enquiries can sprout from our bewilderment. They encourage us to understand our bodies as psychedelic, sensory portals that do not need medicines to encourage our ecological awakeness.
We learn that every decision is an opportunity to risk doing the most interesting thing. Blossoming our curiosity will open up our understanding of the sacred as an emergency and simultaneously as an emergence, where we may understand ourselves as patterns rather than matter. This alternative opens spaces where we can re-orient, articulate hope, and think about the future as computational, algorithmic, cybernetic flows beyond us during civilisational crisis.
“I think of the sacred as the amniotic incompleteness of things. The idea that the world is never fully capturable, never fully legible or intelligible. And that this idea that the sacred is fugitive. Maybe God’s whispers, when we expect the thunder and the lightning at the top of the mountain, that somewhere within this tenuous creaturely, fragile path that we’re making through the world together, the sacred is at the very tip of this, like a nice end pathway that we are making together.” Bayo Akomolafe
This conversation was made in partnership with ‘The Re-imagining Education Conference (REC) 2.0′, which invites new connections and deepening relationships that will transform higher education within and beyond academia. REC 2.0 is hosted by the Ecoversities Alliance with learners and communities from a plurality of worldviews, backgrounds and experiences. The conference was asking the question: How do we reframe and sustain learning environments that honour diverse knowledge ecologies and cosmologies in a rapidly changing world?
Bayo Akomolafe is a poet, philosopher, psychologist, professor and chief-curator of the Emergence Network. He curates this earth-wide project for the re-calibration of our ability to respond to civilisational crisis – a project framed within a feminist ethos and inspired by indigenous cosmologies. Bayo has authored books such as ‘These Wilds Beyond our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity’s Search for Home’ and co-authored ‘We Will Tell Our Own Story: The Lions of Africa Speak!’. Bayo hopes to inspire a diffractive network of sharing – a slowing down, an ethics of entanglement, an activism of inquiry, a ‘politics of surprise’…one that does not treat the crises of our times as exterior to ‘us’ or the ‘solutions’ that conventional activism offers as discrete or separate from the problems that we seek to nullify. He is currently hosting a course ‘We Will Dance with Mountains: Let us Make Sanctuary’, a ceremonial inquiry, collective sense-making, and prophetic exile where we might unlearn mastery, become fugitive, and slow down in times of urgency.
Sophie Strand is a writer based in the Hudson Valley who focuses on the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and ecology. But it would probably be more authentic to call her a neo-troubadour animist with a propensity to spin yarns that inevitably turn into love stories. Give her a salamander and a stone and she’ll write you a love story. Sophie was raised by house cats, puff balls, possums, raccoons, and an opinionated, crippled goose. In every neighborhood she’s ever lived in she has been known as “the walker”. She believes strongly that all thinking happens interstitially – between beings, ideas, differences, mythical gradients. Her first book of essays The Flowering Wand: Lunar Kings, Lichenized Lovers, Transpecies Magicians, and Rhizomatic Harpists Heal the Masculine is forthcoming in 2022 from Inner Traditions. Her eco-feminist historical fiction reimagining of the gospels The Madonna Secret will also be published by Inner Traditions. Her books of poetry include Love Song to a Blue God (Oread Press) and Those Other Flowers to Come (Dancing Girl Press) and The Approach (The Swan). Her poems and essays have been published by Art PAPERS, The Dark Mountain Project, Poetry.org, Unearthed, Braided Way, Creatrix, Your Impossible Voice, The Doris, Persephone’s Daughters, and Entropy. She has recently finished a work of historical fiction, The Madonna Secret, that offers an eco-feminist revision of the gospels. She is currently researching her next epic, a mythopoetic exploration of ecology and queerness in the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde.
To connect or work with Bayo, visit bayoakomolafe.net
To connect or work with Sophie, visit sophiestrand.com
To connect or work with Ecoversities Alliance, visit ecoversities.org
To connect or work with Amisha, visit amisha.co.uk
artwork main image: Eliseo H. Zubiri artwork video: Hilma AF Klint
Links from this episode:
Sophie Strand . Instagram
Sophie Strand . Facebook
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