From the “Need to Be Desired” to the “Right to Be Desired”: The Deeper Response to Existential Risk
This short introduction is taken from a spontaneous live talk given on the weekly broadcast of One Mountain, Many Paths. These are unedited and unplugged excerpts of Dr. Gafni’s talk created by his students.
Reading “Dont’ Look Up” as a Text of Culture
This week we are diving into two new sets of scenes from the movie Don’t Look Up, to begin to understand where there are unconscious but critical weavings of key dimensions of what needs to be a New Story.
We’re engaging in the spiritual/political practice of reading the movie Don’t Look Up as a text of culture, which is the same spiritual practice as sensemaking.
We weave together different themes so we can actually catch a hidden genre — a hidden mystical note, a hidden wisdom — that the moviemakers were almost undoubtedly unaware of. But that doesn’t matter, because the movie speaks by itself.
Facing Existential and Catastrophic Risk
Barbara Marx Hubbard and Dr. Marc Gafni are asking the same question:
How do we respond to existential risk when we don’t have a story equal to our power? When our power has the capacity to end Reality as we know it? How to respond to this moment poised between utopia and dystopia, at this time between worlds and time between stories?
What Barbara Marx Hubbard & Dr. Marc Gafni understood is that the only factor that irrevocably changes the vector of history itself is story. The story we tell ourselves about who we are, that’s everything.
It either sinks all boats or raises all boats. It either evolves or devolves the source code of consciousness and culture.
So in order to respond to existential risk, we have to tell a better story; we have to take charge of the story.
Don’t Look Up is a movie with many flaws. It’s been savagely attacked in the press, and enthusiastically watched. We are looking at the movie as a portal. The movie is a piece of art. And what is most important in the movie hasn’t been discussed at all in any of the large conversations around it.
We’re looking at the bigger issue of existential risk, which is rooted in the failure to tell a New Story. This is a failure in which Don’t Look Up actually participates. In other words, Don’t Look Up doesn’t offer a new narrative; it doesn’t offer a New Story. It doesn’t articulate the need for a New Story.
By a New Story, we don’t mean a new made-up story. We don’t mean conjecture or a fanciful story. We also don’t mean a story of dogmatic fundamentalist certainty.
With a New Story we mean, a story that integrates the leading-edge insights of premodern, modern, and postmodern culture and the leading-edge validated insights in all the wisdom streams, woven together synergistically into a new whole, greater than the sum of the parts, that actually becomes a universal grammar of value.
That universal grammar doesn’t homogenize us, it is a context for our diversity. It’s a context that generates a Planetary Awakening in Love through Unique Self Symphonies.
The movie doesn’t get anywhere near that. But what the movie does, almost unconsciously, is allude to pieces of the story.
In this episode below, Dr. Marc Gafni is going to look at different sets of scenes specifically. Even though the movie can’t quite get there, we clearly begin to understand where there are unconscious but critical weavings of key dimensions of what needs to be a New Story.
It’s only the telling of a New Story — a New Story of intrinsic value, embedded in First Principles and First Values — that will allow us to create a Universal Grammar of Value, which will allow us to co-ordinate as a planet with collective action.
The “Wanna Make Out?” Scene: The Hidden Narrative of Desire in the Movie Don’t Look Up
In this fifteen-second clip Yule and Kate are lying on the rooftop:
Yule: “Wanna make out?”
Kate: “Yeah, why not?”
Yule: “Can you not say ‘Why not?’ It makes me feel like you don’t want it. It’s shitty.”
Kate: “Sure, whatever.”
Yule: “That’s better.”
Then Yule turns over and reaches for Kate.
What a beautiful scene! Here they are, days and hours before what could be death. And death always discloses life. Death and life are opposites that can’t live without each other.
This “desire scene” is taking place in the shadow of death. It seems like a casual scene. No one comments on the scene anyplace. It’s just a 15-second scene. These throwaway scenes are actually everything. The scene is about desire in the shadow of the valley of death.
So why is desire so important in the shadow of death?
Reality is Desire; desire is part of the essential quality of Reality.
Desire is not this strange thing that arises in the human being, which undermines our sense of being a social self, or being enlightened, or being a good citizen. That’s how we relate to desire. Actually, we need a new narrative of desire, in which we realize that Desire is the nature of Reality. It’s the intrinsic value of Reality, awake and alive in me.
The desire that arises in us participates in the field of desire. So as we’re standing before death — as the shadow of death begins to be cast over our life, the skull grins at the banquet — Yule and Kate are on this rooftop, and he says, “wanna make out?” She says, “Yeah, why not?” He says, “No, that’s shitty!”
This exchange is critical.
Yule is saying, “I need you to want it.” But he’s not saying this in an egoic way. It’s not a kind of male macho ego I need you to want it. No, it’s not like that at all. Yule’s beautiful.
He is saying: “give me the gift of your desire.”
Because eternity lives in the ephemeral moment of desire, and what seems to be that transitory moment of desire is the Eros of all of eternity.
Reality is Desire. The desire that arises in each of us, participates in the field of desire.
In that moment of desire between Yule and Kate, in which she experiences his desire and he experiences that she wants it, in that moment they’ve transcended death. It’s why an orgasm is called a little death. Because in orgasm we cry out Oh, God, meaning Oh, eternity! That transcends death. It trans-ends, it ends the trance of death. We actually have an experience in desire of the eternity that resides in the moment, and we can actually feel the infinite value of this moment.
This moment of the intrinsic dignity of desire is hugely important. It is the moment in which all questions disappear.
Need and desire are intimately related. When there’s an authentic need that has integrity, then that need becomes a right. So desire is an authentic need. And we have a need to desire.
We need to desire and we need to be desired. These are authentic needs, and therefore they’re also authentic essential rights. Every human being has a right to desire and a right to be desired.
“She’s Coming Back,” “Mom” Scenes: The Hidden Narrative of Being Welcome in the Universe
The second set of clips is about the relationship between Jason and his mother.
Death presses us into life. Jason, when he’s before the shadow of the valley of death, speaks for all of humanity denuded of the mother. He says three times in three different scenes: She’s coming back. She’s coming back. She’s coming back. Mom! At the end of the movie, he comes out of the destruction, and the first thing he screams is Mom!
The experience of Mother is the experience of “I’m welcome in the Universe. There’s a welcome home sign in the Universe.” It’s the experience that we belong here. It’s the experience that value is real.
It’s the experience that it’s not a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, day after day.
It’s the reclaiming of She. Mother is Eros. Mother is Desire. Mother is the intrinsic value that lies at the core of Reality. Mother is the knowing that it all matters, that nothing’s left out, that you don’t have to search for meaning. Let’s stop searching for meaning, it’s right here. It’s in every exchange, it’s in every conversation, it’s in every love story, it’s in every gesture. It’s not that there’s a paucity of meaning, it’s actually there’s a plentitude of meaning. Every single moment is infinitely meaningful.
Watch this week’s episode to learn more about the intrinsic dignity of desire and the intrinsic meaning of Kosmos.
This short introduction is taken from a spontaneous live talk given on the weekly broadcast of One Mountain, Many Paths, which Dr. Marc Gafni co-founded together with his evolutionary partner Barbara Marx Hubbard. These are unedited and unplugged excerpts of Dr. Gafni’s talk created by his students. Thus, the style of this story is the spoken word and not a formal essay. We recommend you to watch the featured clip and watch Dr. Gafni’s teaching on this topic below.