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Conscient Podcast: e111 traps – what are the traps in your life?

Note : Une version en français de cet article est disponible sur : Français

(bell, breath and occasional balloon sounds)

Me : Have you ever had the feeling that you were being observed?

Observer : I’m observing you. 

Me: Who are you and what are you observing? 

Observer: Ah, well, I’m a part of you and  I’m observing the traps that you fall into.

Me:  Traps?

Observer : Do you remember the Facing Human Wrongs course you took during the summer of 2022

Me: Ya.

Observer: The one about navigating paradoxes and complexities of social and global change and all those trappings along the way?

Me: Ya, I remember. Easier said than done, though.

Observer: Yup

Me: So. What are you observing? 

Observer : Well, what can I say? I notice that you’ve fallen into a trap called ‘exit fixation’ which is where people feel a strong urge to walk out on an existing commitment. For example, when someone realises that the path they are on is full of paradoxes, contradictions, and complicities. Often their first response is to find an immediate exit in hopes of a more fulfilling and/or more innocent alternative or maybe even  an ideal community with whom to continue this work. 

Me: Like an escape?

Observer: Ya, something like that

Me: BTW where are those balloon sounds coming from?

Observer : Oh, that’s from your imagination

Me: Hum. It sounds like …

Observer: (laughter) It could be anything…

Me: OK. Anyway, what else do you see?

Observer: Well. I also see a trap called proselytizing which happens when people try to teach and convince others that a particular issue of interest should be the most important thing for everyone. 

Me: Wait a second, I do that all the time as a climate activist and with my art and ecology podcast and… 

Observer :(interrupting) of course you do and well you should – no worries – but, the danger is that your work could be perceived as an effort to assert ‘moral high ground’ and while this trap may be driven by a genuine passion for an issue, and you certainly are passionate about your work, it has the potential to impose onto others in a way that does not respect their own un/learning journey, and often actually has the opposite effect, pushing people away rather than inviting them in. 

Me: Ok. Ya, I see. Let me think about that.

Observer: Sure and when this trap occurs, it can be useful to ask, you know, why do I need to teach or convince or inspire others about my learning experience? Where is this perceived need stemming from?  And if you really feel you need to bring something to the attention of others, maybe you can ask yourself: What is the most pedagogically responsible and effective thing to do so that your message can land?

Me: Ok. What else? 

Observer:  I also see some virtue signalling and self-righteousness trappings, which is when you assert yourself  as having the best, most righteous, most critical, most insightful, most creative, most valid or, the most marginalised perspective. 

Observer: This approach tends to be focused on wanting to be seen in a certain way by others or by oneself, and may be motivated by a desire to minimize or deny one’s complicity in harm. 

Me: Maybe subconsciously, but it’s a catch 22, isn’it ?

Observer: (interrupting) More like a labyrinth or a dilemma that you need to sit with… You remember when Donna Haraway says that we need to ‘stay with the trouble’. Something like that. (silence) ok. one last trap?

Me: Sure

Observer: This is a tough one for you. 

Me: Hum…

Observer: Hey I need you to be strong here buddy, OK?

Me: Ya ya ya I’m listening.

Observer: It’s called spiritual bypassing and it happens when spiritual ideas or practices are used to sidestep, avoid, or escape sitting with analyses of historical and systemic violence and the difficulties of one’s complicity in historic and systemic harm. Do you know what I mean? 

Me: Yes, I think I do but I don’t think I do this.

Observer: (interrupting) maybe not consciously but spiritual bypassing often manifests itself alongside with cultural appropriation which is something you think about every time you record a soundscape with that microphone of yours, right?  

Me: I see what you mean. You’re quite a good observer. 

Observer:  Thank you, but right back at you. Think of me as a guardian angel.

Me: Or the devil… 

Observer: Whatever (laughter) Now one of the dangers with spiritual bypassing is to project interpretations of ‘oneness’ that erase the realities of historical and systemic inequalities, and interpretations of ‘Enlightenment’ that tend to reinforce exceptionalism and you tend to do that…

Me: Yes, sure, I do, but it’s all part of being an artist.. 

Observer: (interrupting) True but that does not necessarily make it right, does it? Something to think about…

Me: (interrupting) That’s a lot to think about, to learn and unlearn.

Observer:  what are the traps in your life? 


This episode is longer than the usual 5 minutes (7 minutes) because that’s how long it took to tell this story.

This episode  comes from learnings I received from taking the Facing Human Wrongs course during the summer of 2022 with support from Azul Carolina Duque.

The sound of balloon came to me while I was deflating a balloon while creating sound for a theatre production called Why Worry About their Future, produced by my colleague Sanita Fejzić, as part of the undercurrents festival here in Ottawa, when I realised that the sound of air being released from a balloon was the right sound to accompany this 2 person play. 

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 the South American Indigenous Network Emergency Fund (second donation).

The post e111 traps – what are the traps in your life? 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.


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 :

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