Robert Bonomo is a Gnostic 9-11 Truther who reads Tarot and writes for “deplorable” websites — my kind of alt-media journalist.
photo by: Skeptiko
Alex Tsakiris: Today’s guest is a blogger, novelist, a anarcho-capitalist—we’ll have to ask him about that one— and a part-time Tarot reader with a Gnostic bent… sounds like a great Skeptiko guest already, hey?
Now, if you visit Robert Bonomo’s excellent website, The Cactus Land, you’ll be introduced to the wide ranging interest he has and a lot of his writings, which we’re going to talk about today, but you won’t quite be prepared for today’s interview because we are going to take it in a slightly different direction….
Alex Tsakiris: …I mean, for people who weren’t following it, or are outside the United States, this was not an election of Donald Trump, this was a repudiation of Hillary Clinton and The Establishment…
Robert Bonomo: Oh, yeah. I think totally, it was a vote against mainstream media. It was a vote for a lot of skeptical views, even conspiracy views.
Alex Tsakiris: Exactly.
Robert Bonomo: How many Trump voters do you think are skeptical of the official version of 9/11, for example? Something nobody talks about. Nobody talks about that.
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Alex Tsakiris: Today’s guest is a blogger, novelist, an Anarcho-capitalist—we’ll have to ask him about that one—and a part-time Tarot reader with a Gnostic bent… sounds like a great Skeptiko guess already, hey?
Now, if you visit Robert Bonomo’s excellent website, The Cactus Land, you’ll be introduced to the wide ranging interest he has and a lot of his writings, which we’re going to talk about today, but you won’t quite be prepared for today’s interview because we are going to take it in a slightly different direction. But, more on that in one second.
First off, Robert, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me.
Robert Bonomo: Oh, hi Alex. It’s great to be on the show. I’m a big fan.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, thanks. I think we’re going to have an interesting discussion because as I just mentioned a minute ago, we scheduled this interview a little while ago, and I wasn’t really thinking about politics and current events when I did it, but then as the whole world knows, we had this kind of stunning presidential election here in the U.S. — stunning, no matter what you thought of it, good or bad. And then I started digging into some of the stuff you’ve written and I thought, “Wow. Here’s an opportunity to talk about this election, this historic election, in some new and different ways that I haven’t really heard anyone else talk about.” So, at the last minute I said, “Hey, Robert, do you want to do this kind of election political thing? And I’m not really exactly sure it’s going to go.” And you’re totally down with it, so that’s great.
Robert Bonomo: Yeah, I mean, this election was just fascinating. I mean, it was fun too. I have to say I enjoyed it. I really did enjoy it. A lot of people complained, but I think it’s a key moment in our history, that election night.
Alex Tsakiris: I agree. And before I get into that, because one of the first things I want to do is I want kind of capture that moment, the election night moment for you and for me as kind of a way into this. But, we should probably start with telling folks a little bit more about who you are, so a quick backgrounder on Robert.
Robert Bonomo: Well, I worked in media for many years in advertising, online advertising. I suppose around 2008, with the financial crisis, I kind of switched gears. I’ve always wanted to write, and I started blogging, wrote a few novels, and my whole world view really changed. I think it happened to a lot of people around that time. So I went off in a completely different direction.
I had worked in banking a little bit, and so I got really interested in the whole monetary financial system, and that was really the beginning for me.
Alex Tsakiris: Now, you also—I was reading your bio—you have an MBA, right?
Robert Bonomo: Yeah. I have a Master’s in Management from BU, Boston University.
Alex Tsakiris: Which is going to, I think, play into this story as we get into it. But before that, you were kind of a real typical leftie, right? I mean, you were kind of a…
Robert Bonomo: Oh, total NPR, the New Yorker. I was a happy progressive. The only thing I didn’t have was the Volvo.
Alex Tsakiris: Right. Right.
Robert Bonomo: And yeah, I was thinking about that today, I miss that, in a sense, because I was so sure I was right.
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah.
Robert Bonomo: I mean, I knew what was going on in the world and I knew I was right. It’s an interesting place to be sometimes.
Alex Tsakiris: And now, I was listening to an interview I think you did with Miguel’s show.
Robert Bonomo: Oh, Miguel’s show? Yeah, I love that show.
Alex Tsakiris: You talked about being Post-Partisan, which I think is a great term that I think also factors into this story.
What does that mean to you, Post-Partisan?
Robert Bonomo: Oh, I think that’s the key, because when you’re stuck in the whole left/right dynamic paradigm, you really can’t see the whole picture. And for me, finding Libertarianism, I was able to escape that. So, I can look at the Republican/Democratic dynamic as Coke and Pepsi. You move beyond it. You really transcend it. And I think that’s a lot of people—what happened to a lot of people in this election is that they moved beyond that paradigm, the left/right paradigm. It doesn’t mean anything anymore.
Alex Tsakiris: I definitely agree with you in that sense, and I think that should’ve been the tip-off to anyone when you said it was a fun election cycle because that’s kind of how it was for me. It was interesting. I wasn’t really even that into it. I wasn’t staying on top of it like everyone else, it was just, “Eh, that’s interesting what’s going on,” because I felt so detached from this idea of Republican/Democrat phonies. I was stunned that The Establishment could be overthrown in this way, but more on that in a minute.
So you’re also, let’s say, you’re also a Deplorable.
Robert Bonomo: Right. Totally.
Alex Tsakiris: You fit into the Deplorable. For those who aren’t kind of into the election cycle jargon, Deplorable became this kind of catchphrase because Hillary, in the election, characterized Trump supporters, which you’re not a Trump supporter, but she just—
Robert Bonomo: No.
Alex Tsakiris: —but she just characterized anyone who was kind of against her as just being deplorable. Some of the articles that you’ve written are associated with positions that people in that camp that wanted to throw those stones at anyone who wasn’t with them, would fit into that Deplorable category. Am I mischaracterizing you or what would you say?
Robert Bonomo: Not at all. Not at all. I’m a true Deplorable. I mean, I’ve been published in Infowars. Alex Jones published a lot of my articles, so yeah, I’m a true Deplorable.
Alex Tsakiris: That would certainly make you a Deplorable.
After the election happened, I did get a number of emails from people who listened to Skeptiko regularly, and were like, “Hey, if you want to move, you can,” kind of thing. They had just kind of assumed that I was—I mean, who would be for Trump? I can’t say I was for Trump but, you know, Hillary, I saw, as just a complete extension of the crazy Bush New World Order…
Robert Bonomo: Yeah.
Alex Tsakiris: …red flag doing kind of stuff. There is no way, I just didn’t think it was possible, but I was certainly—I just couldn’t even believe—no matter what comes with Trump, and we don’t know, I think most people who are media folks were just delighted to see that kind of change. That the people really did have the power to make that kind of change because that’s what the election was really about. I mean, people who weren’t following it or outside the United States, this was not an election of Donald Trump, this was a repudiation of Hillary Clinton, of The Establishment telling us what to do, of just kind of making stuff up of all that crazy stuff that has gone on. I mean, the drain the swamp kind of thing carried the day.
Robert Bonomo: Oh, yeah. I think totally, it was a vote against mainstream media. It was a vote for a lot of skeptical views, even conspiracy views.
Alex Tsakiris: Exactly.
Robert Bonomo: How many Trump voters do you think are skeptical of the official version of 9/11, for example?
Alex Tsakiris: Exactly.
Robert Bonomo: Something nobody talks about. Nobody talks about that.
Alex Tsakiris: Totally. Robert, that’s what we are going to title this episode is how Truthers defeated Hillary in the election.
Robert Bonomo: Absolutely.
Alex Tsakiris: Because that’s what it’s really all about to me. That is the full complaint, the 9/11 thing. And it’s so funny now, and I want you to speak to this, is one of the movements now that’s happening in The Establishment media is they’re trying to do this other switch now, this alt-right thing. So what you’ll hear, folks, if you look into this, and just kind of keep your eyes out, you’ll hear this, alt-right, alt-right. Even my wife has said, “Have you heard about these alt-right groups? I saw this just disgusting Neo-Nazi alt-right guy. Alt-right guy.” What they’re trying to equate in your mind is alt-media with alt-right, you know.
Robert Bonomo: Right.
Alex Tsakiris: So, on this show, we’ve had two alt-media guys, James Corbett and Luke Rudkowski. The other guy that a lot of people know that you mentioned that you write for, Alex Jones on Infowars. If you listen to any of these people, and they’re Truthers, I’ll just take that label right on. They just say 9/11 was an inside job orchestrated by some global players to do some global geopolitical kind of craziness that we can’t even imagine, and that that’s the truth, and that’s what we should know. Anyone who’s a Truther cannot be alt-right; you can’t be alt-right and be a Truther. You can be alt-media but, you know, Alex Jones is not in favor of George Bush, Republican kind of mainstream thing. James Corbett, well, he is even more Anarchist, but all those people who are in the Bush-hating Truthers do not fit this label that they’re trying to be tagged with, which is alt-right. What’s your view on that? Can you talk about that for a minute?
Robert Bonomo: Yeah, this was a really interesting topic. Let’s take James Corbett, for example. James Corbett is a serious Libertarian. Very intelligent guy and philosophically, very Libertarian. There is absolutely nothing racially motivated in what he does. He’s an ideological Libertarian. So to put him in the same bucket as people who are out and out racist, it’s really, really—it’s just dishonest; it’s really dishonest.
And even Alex Jones, you can listen to the Alex Jones show. The Alex Jones show is basically, just kind of in your face, infotainment a little bit, but it’s basically ideologically, Libertarian.
Alex Tsakiris: Right.
Robert Bonomo: So it’s really interesting how Libertarians are being painted as racists when actually, Libertarians are the most, not at all racists. The Progressives, in my opinion, are more racist than the Libertarians.
Alex Tsakiris: Oh well, we could get into that, but you know what? Define for people—you’ve thrown out this term an “Anarcho-capitalist”. Explain to people what that means. Break that down and why you put yourself in that category.
Robert Bonomo: Well, if you look at Libertarianism, I think most folks are familiar with Libertarians. Libertarianism is really— […] are very similar. Libertarians believe in very small government, sometimes almost no government, total privatization. They see the evil in the world as governments.
So, for example, in the 20th Century, who are the biggest murderers of people in the 20th Century? Governments. So, that Libertarian or Anarcho-capitalist view is if we limit the size of government, we will limit the amount of violence in the word.
Alex Tsakiris: The Anarchism thing is still going to be a stumbling block for people, so define what Anarchism really means.
Robert Bonomo: This can be difficult because there are two sides to Anarchism. There is sort of the leftist Anarchism of Bakunin and that’s that part of it, which is more European, but in the American sense, this goes back to Murray Rothbard. Lew Rockwell, for example, would call themselves Anarcho-capitalists, so basically, we believe in free markets and very, very, very small government. It’s not Anarchism in the sense of blowing things up at all. I mean, the fundamental ideas of this type of Anarchism is peace and prosperity, and part of the peace part is limited government because Anarchists or Libertarians, however you want to call them, really believe that the biggest purveyors of violence in the world are governments.
Alex Tsakiris: But with a little bit of an edge, let’s acknowledge—
Robert Bonomo: Oh, yeah.
Alex Tsakiris: —the one line I like, which I think really sums it up and you have to think about it deeply is, people should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.
Robert Bonomo: Absolutely.
Alex Tsakiris: I think there’s a sensibility there that really, really is profound and deep and that is that people give the power to their government. And somehow, what an Anarchist would say, is that we’ve all sip too much of the Kool-Aid to think that it’s the other way around, that oh, no, the government is the government does. The government gives us these rights. And they’re like, “No, we give the government the right to rule and govern and that kind of stuff.”
Robert Bonomo: And Libertarians will often talk about sovereignty, personal sovereignty. The sovereignty of the government comes from the people. So, for example, let me just give you one simple example, gay marriage. Now, the Anarchists’ view of this is when did we ever give the right—give away our personal freedom to marry who we want to marry to give the government? When did this happen? When did I say, “Yes, the government can decide who I can marry?” For the Anarchists, this never happened, so why do we have to wait for the government to tell us who we can marry, for example?
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, that’s a great one.
Robert Bonomo: So […] most Libertarians and Anarcho-capitalists are very progressive, and that’s where with the alt-right, it gets a little dodgy.
Alex Tsakiris: Yes, because it not only gets a little bit dodgy, but it can be completely counter to the ideals and values that you’re talking about because there really is an alt-right, or an extreme right, and there really is some weird stuff going on there, just as there is in the Progressive movement. Being Post-Partisan like you and I are, we’re just really not even that interested in that. It’s just like, “Yeah, people have strange ideas. What are you going to do?”
Robert Bonomo: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Alex Tsakiris: You know, the other angle of this that I wanted to play into it because we touched on it in this—I resonate with the fact that you’re an MBA and you were in the world of business. And to me, when I talk to someone who’s really been in the business world, and I was, I had an MBA as well, and had a company and was involved in that stuff, it’s a whole different world view that until you get out of it, you don’t even realize that you’re in it. You’re so immersed in it, and it just totally so makes sense, and you’ll find so many people that you respect and admire who are in there that then when you get out and you hear some of the things that people say about business people, capitalists, and stuff like that, you’re like, “What frame of reference do you have?”
So, I thought we should talk about that, and one way we could do it, and this is a character that you brought up in the email that I think you could talk about probably, at some length, because I think a lot of people don’t even know who he is, or at the very least, have a distorted view of who he is, and that’s Steve Bannon.
Robert Bonomo: Yeah. Steve Bannon is a fascinating guy and ideologically—now, Steve Bannon, I wouldn’t call him a Libertarian.
Alex Tsakiris: No. No, he’s not. He’s not, no. So, I’m not from a business standpoint because—first of all, who is Steve Bannon? Who was he during the election? Who is he going forward? And then we’ll talk a little bit about his background and that kind of stuff.
Robert Bonomo: So Steve Bannon, right now, is the Chief Strategist for the Trump Administration, so he’s ideologically, the most important person in this Administration.
Alex Tsakiris: And one of the first people Trump announced as having this high level official position, so obviously, an important pick.
Robert Bonomo: Very important.
Alex Tsakiris: And what was he doing before that and before he was running Trump’s campaign?
Robert Bonomo: Steve Bannon ran Breitbart News.
Alex Tsakiris: Tell the folks who Breitbart is.
Robert Bonomo: Breitbart would be—how could we say—very conservative, very edgy, and maybe even touching the alt-right, but not quite. It’s very provocative news, but very kind of in your face and interesting. But I would say if you compare it to say something like Infowars, it’s a lot more mainstream that Infowars is. It’s a really interesting site.
Alex Tsakiris: Edgy, in your face, and again, a lot of stuff that the Deplorables would find a real home there.
Robert Bonomo: They love Breitbart. Deplorables love Breitbart. It’s like the New York Times of Deplorables.
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, right. But here’s the part that I think that makes it so interesting, is Bannon is completely demonized by the mainstream media. I mean, there isn’t any gray to this guy. He is Neo-Nazi, homophobic, definitely anti-woman in every way that you could kind of do it, and all these things. If you go and really look and say, “Gosh, that’s just unbelievable that this guy could rise to such a position of power. Who is he really?” Oh, well, he’s a Harvard MBA. He has significant experience in Hollywood as a deal maker, which again, if you have any kind of sensibility of business, you’re dealing with a whole wide variety of people in Hollywood and the in the movie business, very, very tough business. For someone to succeed in that, you can’t exactly be this kind of—it’s just crazy, it’s crazy to think that that kind of person could be this closet Neo-Nazi, kind of white supremacist.
Robert Bonomo: Oh yeah, absolutely not.
Alex Tsakiris: It just doesn’t fit, right?
Robert Bonomo: Steve Bannon worked for Goldman Sachs.
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, Goldman Sachs. You could say a lot of bad things about Goldman Sachs, but yeah, it’s—
Robert Bonomo: A lot of smart people at Goldman Sachs, hardworking smart people. You’re not going to meet too many idiots who have worked for Goldman Sachs, that’s for sure.
You know, I think if folks are interested in Steve Bannon, watch some of his films. He has a film I like a lot called Generation Zero. He actually made these films. He directed them. They’re documentaries, not very expensive, but you can feel his ideology. He’s very much into that idea of the Fourth Turning, are you familiar with that?
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, but tell folks a little bit about Fourth Turning.
Robert Bonomo: The Strauss-Howe theory, it’s a generational theory, so basically, it explains history generationally, as a cycle. So, for example, we have the Great Generation, then you have the Silent Generation, then you have the Boomers, and then you have Generation X, and now we’re starting again. So, according to this theory—also, it’s an economics-based theory, so it follows the seasons, spring, summer, fall. According to this theory, we’re in winter now, and winter is basically debt. We’re just overwhelmed by debt and we have to clear this debt. And Bannon is very into these ideas. He’s a very interesting guy, extremely intelligent, but very, well, in your face ideologically. I like Steve Bannon a lot.
Alex Tsakiris: I think he’s interesting too. Politically, I couldn’t really align myself with him because he is on the right, clearly, and he’s kind of proudly—
Robert Bonomo: Oh, yes.
Alex Tsakiris: —on the right. He’s not this kind of Post-Partisan kind of guy that you and I are, but I think what I’m kind of bringing out to highlight there is that I think you and I get him. You know, you like him, and I like some of his stuff because he just has this business sensibility that we’re hoping that Trump will bring to this too, where they’re just kind of looking past a lot of the nonsense that you learn to do in business and just say, “Okay, what are we really focused on here? How do we get the outcome that we want and not go to prison,” which is kind of what business people are really—
Robert Bonomo: And one of the things he said that was really interesting with interest rates—we have negative interest rates—has there ever been a better time just to borrow a ton of money at negative interest rates and build stuff? I mean, it’s basic economics.
Alex Tsakiris: Exactly. Exactly. It’s the kind of common sense thinking that you just—you know, Obama, who was a CIA creation, and we could get into that whole conspiracy, but Obama was a CIA extension of the Bush CIA mob that kind of ran things. Maybe not whether you think he’s a good guy or a bad guy, he just wasn’t equipped to think at that level. Just not trained in that way, nor was Hillary. I mean, that’s just different—
Robert Bonomo: One thing that’s really interesting about Obama, what’s the largest organization he ever managed before he became President?
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah. Yeah.
Robert Bonomo: I often wondered.
Alex Tsakiris: Wasn’t it something like street group in Chicago of running protests.
Robert Bonomo: And volunteers? He met any volunteers?
Alex Tsakiris: Oh, yeah. Right. Right.
Robert Bonomo: Well, let’s just take Hillary, for example, the most qualified person ever to run for President, that was the meme. How was her foreign policy as Secretary of State? I mean, how did that play out? Has anyone gone to Libya on vacation recently?
Alex Tsakiris: Don’t even go there—I don’t think you can go there. There’s no way to really pull that apart and not wind up in this kind of land of tossing stuff back and forth.
Robert Bonomo: But, I mean, it goes back to the fact that we really are losing our points of reference and I really think that’s important. You remember when we were kids and we watched Walter Cronkite, for example? Well, maybe you liked him, maybe you didn’t like him, but my parents and the people I was around, we all pretty much believed whatever he said. If he said this happened, generally, we believed it. But we’re at a point now where we have no points of reference.
Alex Tsakiris: I don’t know that that’s a bad thing. I mean, you could argue the opposite, which is that the long tail alt-media, which has never been in fuller force and fuller power than it is now, gives me the ability to kind of sample everything because Uncle Walter wasn’t so great either, and Dan Rather, who followed him.
Remember this, Robert, when Dan Rather says, “President Kennedy has been shot and I saw the film and there it is, his head falling forward. His head falling forward.” He’s lying. He’s part of the whole game. It was easier back then to manipulate the news because all you had to do was manipulate one or two people at the top and you got the story out.
Robert Bonomo: But it’s just that a culture is an operating system. It’s not about the truth, it’s about buying into the collective myth. It’s very important that we all believe certain things and that lets the culture work, but when we all pull back and say we don’t believe it anymore, it’s a little scary because our culture has really stopped working.
Alex Tsakiris: See, I don’t share that opinion because of 9/11, and 9/11 makes it impossible to really buy into the culture that we thought we had. You can get that from other places too, and this show, I talk so much about biological robots in a meaningless universe and the craziness of the consciousness paradigm, and then the more you dig in you go, this is a complete farce and it’s all built on sand, and I don’t understand how it’s propped up. Well, I think the same translates over to 9/11 when you say no, wait a minute, Robert, we are in a post-9/11 world. Someone brought down those towers—
Robert Bonomo: Yes. Yes.
Alex Tsakiris: —in a way that we don’t understand and that changes everything. Forget about the New York Times, forget about CNN, forget about—no, don’t forget about Infowars because they reported it from the beginning and got it right, for God sakes; I don’t know how that guy does it. But, that changes everything.
Robert Bonomo: What I kind of mean is that I really think this is the culmination of that whole 9/11. I mean, it took a while for that to cook.
It’s really interesting, if you look at 1999, we had two interesting films come out, The Matrix and The Truman Show. And then in 2001, we have 9/11. I think it took about 15 years for all of this to kind of sink in and this is the culmination of we stopped believing. But you’re right, 9/11 is the key moment, without a doubt, but it took me a few years to really, really look at 9/11 and say, “You know, this doesn’t seem right.” In the beginning I wanted to believe the official story, I really did. I mean, it’s difficult, it’s really difficult to make that break and it took people a lot of time, but I think this is the culmination of it.
Alex Tsakiris: I picked up this little tidbit from one of the interviews you did that I was listening to and I immediately had to go Google this because I just couldn’t quite believe it, and then just couldn’t quite wrap my arms around it, but tell people about The Matrix and about Neo’s passport.
Robert Bonomo: I saw this on YouTube and I didn’t believe it either. There’s a scene in The Matrix where they bring Neo in and the bad guy is opening his dossier, and you can see his passport, and his passport—
Alex Tsakiris: You can’t see it thought. You can’t see it, right? I mean, no one would see it. I don’t know how anyone found this.
Robert Bonomo: Yeah. Yeah.
Alex Tsakiris: It’s one frame in the film.
Robert Bonomo: Exactly. You can’t see it if you’re watching the film, but somebody must’ve stopped the frame and focused in on it, and if you really, really look, it shows that it was September 11th, 2001, his passport expires. Now, I didn’t believe this. I said this must be some hoax, but I actually went back and watched the film, and yeah, it kind of looks like it is. It’s truly bizarre.
Alex Tsakiris: It is bizarre.
Robert Bonomo: It’s really bizarre. We talk about synchronicities, there’ something there. Something is happening. Talking about Miguel Conner, the whole Gnostic idea is really starting to come back because The Matrix is a Gnostic film, and 9/11 is a Gnostic mythic event.
Alex Tsakiris: Talk about that. How would you characterize 9/11 from an esoteric Gnostic mythical perspective?
Robert Bonomo: Yeah, and I’ve thought about this a lot. I’m sure a lot of your listeners are familiar with the whole simulation idea. Are we living in a computer simulation? Now, Nick Bostrom wrote that paper that came out in 2003, and that idea is that we’re living in a simulation. The real reality is beyond this reality. When people watch 9/11, we see planes hit a building and we see the buildings come down, but a lot of people don’t believe it.
Now, this is a touchy subject because I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but the fact that we watch it and we don’t believe it is a Gnostic event. The reality that we see is not the true reality.
Alex Tsakiris: The other Gnostic sensibility is that we are in opposition to this force that is beyond our imagination, and yet, is right there kind of in front of us kind of thing. If you wanted to have a better example of the ultimate kind of power that you’re up against, 9/11, you just can’t get bigger than that, in terms of that event and those buildings just dustifying in front of your eyes in a way that’s completely unexplainable. I mean, if you want to break it down to a concrete physical level, we have no idea how those buildings could possibly come down. I mean, controlled demolition doesn’t explain it. Judy Wood is out there with her theory, trying to say it was some kind of advanced weapon, which again, just takes a million different directions.
Robert Bonomo: Exactly. Just one more thing about the Gnostic point of view. In a Gnostic world view, the God of the Bible, Yahweh, the God who controls this world, he’s not a very good God. He’s not a nice God.
Alex Tsakiris: He’s the bad guy. He’s creating the illusion. He’s creating the Matrix.
Robert Bonomo: Exactly. And in our current world view where religion is not that important, God is a little bit the state; it’s the world order. We grow [up] thinking oh, it’s good. We wave to the flag, the military, blah, blah, blah. If all of a sudden we start to think that this controlling power is actually killing us, that’s a very Gnostic feeling to that. And with the whole simulation idea, this is becoming almost mainstream.
I mean, did you see Elon Musk the other day, or a couple months ago, when he talked about there’s a very good chance we’re living in a simulation?
Alex Tsakiris: Yes. Yes.
Robert Bonomo: So, instead of having this God Yahweh, we have some guy on another planet with some pizza boxes, playing a computer game and knocking down buildings.
Alex Tsakiris: You know who else came out and said it is Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is the ordained successor to Carl Sagan, and I just think it’s a joke. I mean, we did a whole show on it. I mean, you can relate to it, in one way, it’s like for a mainstream science person to make that connection, and Elon Musk is just this guy, he’s just saying stuff just to sell more batteries and that kind of stuff. Who cares.
But, for a materialist to kind of go there, it struck me two ways: One, is he doesn’t understand what he’s giving up there. I mean, he’s just given up the family jewels, in terms of materialism, right? Because if he really thought through, and this sounds kind of arrogant on my part, but it’s true. There can be no materialism if the simulation hypothesis is anywhere close to true. He’s signing off on the implications of quantum physics and the observer effect that lead us to the inevitable and obvious conclusion that consciousness is real, and consciousness has to be factored in from the beginning. So, that’s the number one thing that I find stunning.
But the other thing is that these can’t understand the difference between a metaphor—
Robert Bonomo: Exactly. Exactly.
Alex Tsakiris: If the simulation thing is true, in any sense, it’s metaphorically true, at some larger level that we can’t even contemplate. It’s not true in the sense that it’s happening on some big computer. I mean, it’s not like that.
Robert Bonomo: That’s so important. The confusion we have as a culture between myth and history, we confuse them all the time. There’s a mythic reality, which comes from consciousness.
Alex Tsakiris: Right.
Robert Bonomo: And then there’s history, which are things that happened, and we confuse them constantly. Constantly. If you can separate, like you said, this is a myth, the simulation thing is a beautiful myth. It’s an interesting myth, but it’s not a reality. But it is interesting what you said about consciousness is if consciousness is fundamental, fundamental like gravity, it blows that whole thing up, but like you say, these are materialists. We need myths. We can’t live without a myth, and this myth fits them. It can become their religion.
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, I don’t think they’ve thought that through. The only intellectually defensible position is the one that they’ve had for a while, which is consciousness is an illusion. It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd. You can tell it to a six-year-old and they wouldn’t believe it, but it’s the only real position that you can kind of hold onto and have it logically fit together and make sense, you know? So then they kind of gravitated towards the panpsychism thing, we’ll just spread a little bit around here and there. Oh, it’s consciousness just spread out all over the place, that’s why you can’t see it, that explains it, yeah, and that doesn’t work.
And the simulation thing also, it’s just passing the buck. It’s like oh, the consciousness thing, well, it’s created up there in the clouds. It’s like okay, how does that really solve your problem now? Where is it above the cloud kind of thing? What does that really mean? And all those kind of things.
Robert Bonomo: And it’s interesting, why are they so terrified of consciousness? They’ll do anything to get away from just accepting it. We need myths to live, for example, in that zombie article.
Alex Tsakiris: So, let me say this, and I want you to spend some time now and talk about your books and your various writings that people can find on thecactusland.com. Excellent website and one of the first pages you’ll see there is an article that you published February 23rd of 2015, We’re All Zombies, and it’s really excellent. It’s extremely entertaining and extremely thought-provoking, some really funny in accessible ways thought. So tell folks a little bit about We’re All Zombies.
Robert Bonomo: Yeah, I’m kind of fascinated with the whole zombie meme because you see these people who, from a mythical standpoint, rise from the dead. As in the Christian world view, people die in their bodies physically, they rise from the dead. But they have this hunger—
Alex Tsakiris: Insatiable appetite.
Robert Bonomo: —an insatiable appetite, and that’s a little bit, I think, a reflection of our culture because our culture and our myths are not satisfying us, so we keep consuming, consuming, consuming.
Alex Tsakiris: Mindlessly.
Robert Bonomo: Completely mindlessly, and at the bottom of it is the materialism because we are not machines. You can’t just feed us and we’ll be happy, we need something else. We need myths. We actually need religion. In a strange sense, we need to be connected to something transcendental, it’s part of being human, and we don’t have that right now, so in a sense, we are zombies. We consume, we have all sorts of stuff, but there’s a hunger in us.
It’s a very interesting topic in that we have to find a new myth, but we’re not there yet, so we’re a world without a myth and it’s a very strange place. Joseph Campbell talked a lot about this, that it is a strange moment in history where we really don’t have a powerful myth, so a lot of people are falling back on ethnic identity, sexual identity, gender identity, racial identity; it becomes a bit of a myth. The climate, for example, climate changes—we’re looking for something, but it’s not satiating us. We’re not being filled.