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Conscient Podcast: e143 defeatism – what are not ready to see?

This content is also available in / Ce contenu est également disponible sur: Français

I felt defeated by the ecological crisis, and by myself, so I created an episode about defeatism hoping to defeat my defeatism


(bell and voice)

Note: [ ] = filtered voice

I got up this morning feeling defeated. 

[ I got up this morning feeling…]

You might know this feeling of … powerlessness. 

[This feeling of…]

You know, producing more podcast episodes, like this one, exploring art and the ecological crisis. It does seem rather… pointless.

[Producing more podcasts… ]

I sometimes feel like the best thing I can do for our troubled world is to be quiet and do no harm.… 

[To be quiet and do no harm]

Rebecca Solnit, We can’t afford to be climate doomers (female voice) :

Some days I think that if we lose the climate battle, it’ll be due in no small part to this defeatism among the comfortable in the global north, while people in frontline communities continue to fight like hell for survival. Which is why fighting defeatism is also climate work.

[Which is why]

Am I one of those comfortable people in the global north struggling with defeatism? 

[am I a… defeatist? ]

Yes. I am. I produce this weekly podcast in safe, luxurious conditions while the majority world fights like hell for survival. While the majority world suffers like hell the consequences of my generation’s excess. 

[the majority world fights like hell …]

I’m a hypocrite. I’m complicit. My work is pretentious and …

[I’m a defeatist]

So, what does defeatism sound like anyway?

Well, it probably sounds like this. A privileged male voice talking about his feelings about defeatism.

[ what does defeatist sound like? ]

Britt Wray, Generation Dread (female voice)

Some people believe that it is already too late to prevent societal collapse. They speak about the “earth as hospice,” and suggest we use what time we have left to summon the courage to face the music, as the ship we’re all on sinks.’ …

[facing the music, as the ship we’re all on…]

In my August conscient blog I wrote that : 

I see no point shuffling the deck chairs. We have already hit the metaphoric iceberg and the good ship modernity is sinking. 

So, where do we go from here?  

How does one defeat defeatism? 

[where do we go from here? ]

In the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Moving with Storms report I was reminded of the seven steps forward and-or aside, in particular this teaching about honesty and courage to see what you don’t want to see:

Commit to expanding your capacity to sit with what is real, difficult, and painful, within and around you. In what ways are your projections, idealizations, expectations, hopes, fears, and fragilities preventing you from approaching aspects of the Climate and Nature Emergency that are unpleasant for you and/or that challenge your sense of reality and/or self-image? What are you not willing or ready to see and how does this unwillingness impair your ability to respond to the Climate and Nature Emergency ?

[ What are you not ready to see? ]



Warm thanks to Kelly Langgard for lending me her voice to read the Rebecca Solnit and Britt Wray quotes (Kelly’s voice is also featured in e142 consent). Thanks to Rebecca and Britt for use of their words and to the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective for use of an excerpt from the Moving with Storms report. 

This episode was created while I was in residence during the summer of 2023 at the Centre de production DAÏMÔN in Gatineau Québec as part of the fourth edition of Radio-Hull.

With thanks to the Centre de production DAÏMÔN production team: Manon, Coco, Philippe and Simon and DAÏMÔN’s funders and partners. 

I am grateful and accountable to the earth and the human labour that provided me with the privilege of producing this episode. (including all the toxic materials and extractive processes behind the computers, recorders, transportation and infrastructure that make this podcast possible).

My gesture of reciprocity for this episode is to Post Carbon Institute.

The post e143 defeatism – what are not ready to see? appeared first on conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.

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About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term “conscient” is defined as “being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations”. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my (2016-2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

season 1 (may – october 2020) : environmental awareness and action Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie”s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

season 2 (march – august 2021 ) : reality and ecological grief Season 2 (March 2021 ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that “I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, “the state of things as they actually exist”, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way”. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

season 3 (october 2021 – february 2022 ) : radical listening Season 3 was about radical listening : listening deeply without passing judgment, knowing the truth and filtering out the noise and opening attention to reality and responding to what needs to be done. The format is similar the first podcast format I did in 2016 with the simplesoundscapes project, which was to ‘speak my mind’ and ‘think out loud’. I start this season with a ‘soundscape composition’, e63 a case study (part 1) and e64 a case study (part 2), a bilingual speculative fiction radio play, set in an undergraduate university history seminar course called ‘History of 2021 in Canada’. It concluded with a soundscape composition ‘Winter Diary Revisited’.

season 4 (1 january – 31 december 2023) : sounding modernity


I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I”m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation :

acknowledgement of eco-responsibility

I acknowledge that the production of the conscient podcast / balado conscient produces carbon. I try to minimize this carbon footprint by being as efficient as possible, including using GreenGeeks as my web server and acquiring carbon offsets for my equipment and travel activities from BullFrog Power and Less.

a word about privilege and bias.

While recording episode 19 “reality”, I heard elements of “privilege” in my voice that I had not noticed before. It sounded a bit like “ecological mansplaining”. I realize that, in spite of good intentions, I need to work my way through issues of privilege (of all kinds) and unconscious bias the way I did through ecological anxiety and grief during the fall of 2020. My re-education is ongoing.

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