The Lindisfarne Tapes are a collection of conversations with visionary thinkers about culture, society, economy, and technology. The late William Irwin Thompson first convened the Lindisfarne gatherings in the early 1970s, yet the conversations have maintained their relevance, informing a new generation of thinker/activists.
Our colleagues David Fix and Caleb Stone have begun the process of converting the tapes to podcasts for ease of listening. The first 27 are listed below. We shared a few excerpts to give you a sense for the scope of the discussions.
“Ideas can change the world only by some process of incarnation… In other words, unless and until somebody has gotten to work and has produced new technologies and new types of organization, all of the preaching, all of the appeals to people’s goodness, their good sense, their ethical, spiritual qualities, will invariably stay inside the system, and will be powerless to alter it. It will not be altered unless there is an incarnation.”
“It is quite obvious that the present system of so-called modern agriculture, of which we are so immensely proud, has no long-term future. How long it will take to develop, on a big scale, alternative systems is hard to say, but, if the road is long, the only good advice is to get up early, and not waste any more time.”
“When people—young and old—can get involved in forming a food co-op, in tending a garden, in establishing some form of association where they feel they not only have a modicum of control over their private lives, but they have a modicum of control over their social lives, we are doing something that is so profoundly important—over and beyond the fact that we grow our own food, and over and beyond the fact that we conserve energy. What we are conserving literally is the human spirit here.”
“It’s impossible to care for each other more, or differently, than we care for the Earth. This will be obvious enough when it’s considered that the Earth is what we all have in common. It’s what we are made of and what we live from, and therefore we cannot damage it without damaging those with whom we share it. But I believe it goes further and deeper than that. There is an uncanny resemblance between our behavior toward each other and our behavior toward the Earth, between our relation to our own sexuality, and our relation to the reproductivity of the Earth…the willingness to exploit one becomes the willingness to exploit the other.”
Russell Schweickart: Discovering a New Planetary Culture from Outer Space
(as he views the whole Earth for the first time from outer space)
“You identify with Houston and then you identify with Los Angeles and Phoenix and New Orleans and everything. And the next thing you recognize in yourself is that you are identifying with North Africa, you look forward to it, you anticipate it and there it is. That whole process begins to shift, of what you begin to identify with. When you go around the Earth in an hour and a half you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing, and that makes a change. And you look down there and you can’t imagine how many borders and boundaries you crossed again and again and again, and you don’t even see them. And that wake up scene the year before, there you are, hundreds of people killing each other over some imaginary line that you’re not even aware of, that you can’t see and from where you see it, the thing is a whole and it’s so beautiful and you wish you could take people by the hand and say ‘look, look at it from this perspective, look at it, what’s important?’”
“I have this childish desire and quest to incorporate all of reality into myself undistorted—even though I know that’s absurd. That’s what I’m about. I feel that, for me, there is no learning without love. It’s an act of love—trying to know. So I think the whole idea of the planet as Mother means a lot to me, but also the planet as lover, and the idea of embracing the universe.”
“One interesting aspect of this growing decentralism is the large part that’s being played by women. And it has occurred to me that, as, over history, a major role played by women has been as transmitters of culture—instructing the children and the attitudes and the values of their society—then an equally important role for us now lies in the refusal to be transmitters of a culture that we can no longer accept.”
“As Leopold Kohr and the late E.F. Schumacher pointed out, and as the radical back-to-nature movement is finding out, it is the small community—not the single family, not the tiny commune or lone individualist, and certainly not the megalopolis—that for many reasons is the best unit for survival on this earth.”
“As this reign of quantity increasingly establishes itself, we achieve ever increasing uniformity, and life becomes Hell. When, or if, or as the reign of quantity is pushed away and the reign of quality comes, then we move upwards towards unity.”
A full list of Lindisfarne conversations available at Schumacher Center’s Archive.org site can be found here.