Johann is the author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections — both of which are largely about the traumas created by trying to live in a pathogenic society. He’s a brilliant writer and conversationalist. In the first part of this podcast, we’re in his hotel room in Beverly Hills (Thanks, Rupert Murdock!). The second part is in my car, headed south on the 405. I had a great time hanging with Johann, and hope you enjoy it, too.
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Notes by Chris Mullholland
(00:00) Similarities b/w Chris (C) and Johann’s POV/Johann bio/Amazon affiliate link a go/amped about episode with Bruce Damer.
(11:00)- Played out w Simon Van Gend’s “Watermelons” from the album ‘Suffer Well’.
Interview Part 1 (15:05-1:02:28)
(15:05) Intro to Johann Hari (J)/accent suggests race in the US and class in the UK
(21:50) People miserable in expensive hotels/Prof. Richard Wilkinson’s theory of social distance
(23:10) J’s latest book, ‘Lost Connections’/Prof. Robert Sapolsky and causes of depression in humans.
(27:23) Inequality goes up, depression follows/Amish and low levels of depression.
(28:48) Rebecca Solnit’s “Paradise Built in Hell”/lives of meaning and meaninglessness
(30:12) Social mobility in the UK vs in the US
(31:17) Dramatic increase of rates of depression is the topic of J’s “Lost Connections”
(31:58) J’s experience w depression/”take these pills”
(33:00) The stories society (we) tells as opposed to the (hard/real) truths to discover
(35:23) Both of J’s books deal w “pathogenic society”/obesity as proxy/social and spiritual crisis = social and spiritual answer
(40:05) Dr Sam Everington and loneliness/reconnection w groups and the natural world
(44:00) C suggests the mismatch b/w our evolution and current lifestyles
(45:50) Ambition/”junk values”/intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation/babies know the big Maccers Golden Arches
(51:45) J’s intrinsic motive for ‘Chasing the Scream’/J rekons C is an intrinsic interviewer/the honest balance b/w intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
(59:10) External advertising banned in Sao Paulo
(59:38) Donald Trump and extrinsic values
(101:19) J’s spiel about “Lost Connections”
End Part 1 (1:02:28)
(1:02:28) C’s interlude/another tune from Simon van Gend, “Dream Boats”
Interview Part 2 ( 1:08:30-1:53:26) ‘the car times’ (the 405)
(1:08:30) Disconnection from the natural world/having a view of natural scenery and the mental and physical health of people in prisons and hospitals.
(1:11:30) The natural world and addiction/psychedelics, subjective intensity and curative properties/societal change
(1:16:55) Johann’s practical advice/the individual struggle/Kotti housing project/cafe anal/seemingly disparate communities coming together
(1:27:28) Home=village vs home=apartment
(1:29:42) What can people do? Change society (more than just individual change)
(1:31:23) Andrew Sullivan/rights of minorities and the struggle/the pessimism of our ability to change is a symptom of our society
(1:34:17) Optimistic? Pessimistic?
(1:37:52) C’s superorganism (institution) argument/depression is the indigestion of society (don’t medicate it away!)
(1:43:49) A social and spiritual crisis needs a social and spiritual response/Dr Brett Ford and happiness in Japan, Russia, Taiwan and the US
(1:49:12) The ipad and the reality
(1:49:40) Internet rehab centre
(1:51:21) Graceland is a North Korean shrine to Elvis
End of Interview (1:53:26) Elvis didn’t write any songs.
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