The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or by Jared Janes. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.
Jared: Today’s guest is Jim Rutt. I’m Jared Janes, the producer of The Jim Rutt Show. And I’m taking over the hosting privileges momentarily, mostly because we’re going to be talking just about The Jim Rutt Show and it’s always awkward talking to yourself, so I thought I’d lend Jim a hand, here. We also have an announcement that probably is where we should… Is the best place to start. Jim, did you want to talk about what’s in store for the show, what’s going to be changing in the immediate future?
Jim: Oh, yeah. Thanks, Jared. This is a great opportunity to reflect on a little over two years experience with The Jim Rutt Show. And Jared has been my trusty producer for most of that time. And if you like the sound quality, and the show notes and the website and all that, that’s Jared and his team. They’ve done a wonderful job of taking care of us, here on The Jim Rutt Show.
Jim: So yeah, the announcement, after doing about 185 episodes over the last two years, something like that. I’ve decided to ramp back the rate. I kept doing more and more and more, because there are just so many interesting people and so many interesting books and so many interesting articles and papers to read, that by 2021, I was doing two to three episodes a week. One week, I had six scheduled, so I rescheduled one, the other one had to be canceled for various reasons. So I ended up doing four, and that was nuts. And I’ve got some other projects that I need to work on, and so I’ve decided to continue the podcast, but to ramp the rate down.
Jim: And so, instead of two or three a week, I’m aiming for one or two or very occasionally, three per month. And we’ve got some great guests scheduled. Next month, we have Robin Dunbar of the famous Dunbar number signed up, and we have a great chat with him in September. We’re doing a podcast with Heather Heying, and her very interesting book. It was written with her husband who’s also been on the show a number of times, Bret Weinstein, on evolutionary psychology and evolution in general, and how it impacts culture and stuff. That’s going to be very interesting.
Jim: I’m going to do another episode later this week, with Rob Tercek, who’s been a guest on before, and we talked about his book, but this time we’re going to focus narrowly on his very exciting ideas about the future of education. This is some radical stuff.
Jim: And let’s see, in October, I have John Vervaeke on the books. We’re going to do three episodes, I believe. I think it could take three episodes. I’m currently working my way through the Awakening from the Meaning Crisis. It’s 50 hour video series, found it very interesting. And I’ve been writing copious notes, this is completely new for me, I’ve never tried to base a podcast and even more, a podcast’s cluster of episodes around video, rather than the written word. I’m a written word kind of guy, so I’ve developed a workflow with Roam Research, and I found a good source of transcripts that are already done, by somebody. And so I cut and paste from them. I write notes as I’m listening, I stop and go. So, it’s something new for me. That’s on the board.
Jim: And then in, I believe November, we will have Antonio Damasio, the very well-known cognitive scientist, whose newest book will be published in late October, on his newest theories on the fundamental nature of consciousnesses. As regular listeners to the show know, one of my favorite topics.
Jim: So, we’re not ending the podcast, but we’re cutting the rate down very substantially. So if you’re not hearing the dings on your podcast app two or three times a week, it’s not broken. I haven’t died, but we’re just reducing the flow.
Jared: And those are just the full episodes that you have planned, right?
Jim: Correct. And, from time to time, I’ll slip one Currents episode, a shorter, more informal episode in, as things strike my fancy. Or, not. Right? All depends.
Jared: Yep. Yeah, the Currents are… I was onboarding one of the new editors, and they’re asking me about the cadence for the Currents. And I was like, “Well, it’s, it’s completely up to Jim’s fancies and whims. So, it’s completely unpredictable. They’re just surprises that pop up in the queue,” so that’s the way I think of the Currents.
Jim: Yep. I see an article, I see a talking head on TV even, I reached out and found them. And, “Hey, how would you like to be on a podcast?” And a surprising number of people say yes, and that’s where Currents comes from.
Jared: Yeah, I always… I’ve done some of my own podcasts in the past, and I think my favorite thing about them is just that it gives you an excuse to talk to people. And they say yes, all the time. It’s like the unfair advantage of networking, and just having interesting conversations with people.
Jim: Yeah, no doubt about it. One of the really wonderful benefits, in all the things, I certainly enjoy it a whole lot. I love talking to people, always have, and I’ve been able to talk to all kinds of interesting people who I never would have run across in my real life. So-called.
Jared: Well, and now that we have the announcement out of the way, I thought reflecting on the show a little bit, from a broad perspective would be fun. Does that motivation of being able to have fun conversations, does that tie directly into why you started the thing to begin with?
Jim: More or less. I can tell you the real origin story, like any good comic book, the super hero has to have an origin story. The Jim Rutt Show actually started around the Christmas dinner table. I think it was actually between Christmas and New Year’s. My daughter and her husband were down, and some other folks, and we were just sort of chatting about the year. And it was late 2018, and I had spent 2018 writing a number of essays on Medium. You can check them out, Jim Rutt on Medium. Things like Liquid Democracy. One of my favorite ones I wrote was, Regaining Your Cognitive Sovereignty, about my experiment of getting rid of my smartphone. And I describe a lot about the downside of smartphones, quoted a lot of cognitive science research on it, et cetera.
Jim: And I wrote these essays, and I was proud of them. They’re well done, but man, am I a slow writer. And I had to do revision, revision, revision. I have some friends that can just knock something out that’s good in four hours. For me, say, two months is more like it. I was complaining about this, and my daughter and her classic daughterly talking to her dad style says, “Dad, you may struggle with writing, but you are one of the great talkers of all time. King of bullshit.” And I go, “There’s something to be said for that.” “You should have a podcast.” Of course I knew what a podcast was, but being a man of the printed word, I really hadn’t listened to podcasts too much. But, took that idea under advisement. So, those who found The Jim Rutt Show to be annoying, I blame it on my daughter. Right? No, that was actually a really cool suggestion, that she came up with. And I never would have thought it, never would have done it. I guarantee it, if it hadn’t been for that conversation.
Jim: And so that spring, each year in March, I usually try to take stock of my life. I retired from my business career on April 1st, appropriately, date. And so, I use that as an anniversary, to review what I’ve been doing and how do I want to adjust the coming year? And I said, “Yeah, I think I’m kind of tired of writing essays. I think I’m going to think about podcasting.” And so I dug in, as I always do, I thought of it like a venture. I researched what I could find out about the podcast industry. I looked at the technology, I signed up for some of these online, “Learn how to be a podcaster,” courses actually, that were actually fairly interesting and useful. And after about a month, I said, “Yeah, I can do a podcast, God damn it. It doesn’t look like it’s that hard.” Right?
Jim: And by that point in 2019, the services were essentially off the shelf and inexpensive, things like Zencastr, which we used to record the episode we’re using today. Dropbox, where the files can be stored. There’s good, low cost editing software, et cetera. And so I said, “Let’s do it.” And so, I ramped up and start sending emails to people I knew, or even a few I didn’t know. And, as you said, it is pretty amazing how many people say yes to being on a podcast. And so, we launched it. I think I recorded my first episode on June 2nd, 2019.
Jared: Man, time flies.
Jim: Yeah, exactly.
Jared: I’m curious, especially being in a place where you’re doing most of your sense-making in written form, and kind of at its own pace. I know that committing to the schedule that you did, with all the guests and all of the background research and reading and things that you do for prep, put you on this really intense intellectual workout regimen. How do you think about how that impacted your worldview and everything, once the podcast got running?
Jim: Yeah, that’s a great question. Because as I said on the podcast, several times over the couple of years, I spend about 10 hours on average per full length episode. Often read a book, might take three to six or seven or eight, nine hours, 10 hours sometimes, if it’s a really thick, difficult book. And then I often will do side research on the topic, so that I can challenge the guest or support the guest, or point out some things that are related, et cetera. And then I usually spend two hours, exactly, preparing my show notes for the podcast before we go on the air.
Jim: So it is a big time commitment, and it has consumed a fairly large amount of my reading budget. I have historically read about 75 books a year, and probably in the last two years… Not all my podcasts are about books, but a fair percentage of them are, and I’d say particularly in the last year, I’ve moved even more towards book-oriented podcasts. A significant majority of my reading bandwidth has been absorbed into reading for podcasts, and sort of following the ideas from them. But of course, I choose the topics, so it’s not like, “Oh yeah, the teacher made me read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” or something. And, “God damn it, I have to struggle my way through it.”
Jim: So I choose them, but on the other hand, they had a different trajectory than my natural reading would. And it’s hard to describe exactly what the difference is, but it is different. So it did move my reading trajectory in a somewhat different direction, more towards nonfiction, kind of hardcore stuff. Historically, I read about half fiction, half non-fiction.
Jim: Speaking of which, this is interesting, going back… When I wrote the original prospectus for the show, I had two categories, a topics list, that I never actually got to. One was literary fiction. I read a lot of literary fiction, like it a lot, but once I started doing podcasts, the first few were on more technical or social change oriented topics. One happened to be with a fiction writer, but really, more of a social change guy, Cory Doctorow. One of my early podcasts. And a good one, by the way. I said, “I’m not sure how I talk with, to a literary novelist, about. Doesn’t really seem to be what I do.” So I dropped that from the list.
Jim: The other one I had early on, on the list was the Americana music area, an area my wife and I both enjoy a lot. Been to many, many shows over the years, and I thought it’d be a good excuse as we were saying, to reach out to these people and talk to them, some of my musical heroes. But then I said, “What the hell am I going talk to Robert Earl Keen about? I love his music, but…” Or, Jerry Jeff Walker, or somebody like that. And I go, Huh. It doesn’t really seem like what I do.” So I ended up not doing any Americana music until, one of my last episodes with Harvey Reid was interesting, a really phenomenal musician. So, I reached out to him after looking at his book, and his book is really sort of a deep, personal philosophical exploration of the nature of what he calls troubadour music. Singer songwriter, who provides his own accompaniment, et cetera. So it was more about his ideas, that it was about music, so it fit in with what I’d been doing.
Jim: So, my reading definitely changed, but not in a crazy way. These are books that I might have read or piles of papers I might have read, but probably wouldn’t have, at least maybe two thirds of them if I hadn’t happened to be on this mission.
Jared: Yeah. Before the podcast, were you the person that reads a bunch of books all at the same time? And kind of picks them up, puts them down? Or are you just, get one done, move on. Did it actually change the whole function, or the methods in which you would go through books?
Jim: That’s a good question. I tend to be a one or two book at a time, person. Typically, often I’ll be working on a nonfiction book. And if it’s a hard one, difficult conceptual stuff that you have to read fairly slowly, I’ll mix it in with fiction. Some of the trashy detective stories, rereading Lord of the Rings, for the 29th time.
Jim: I was on a really hard bender of reading for the podcast, I stumbled across a trashy series, one of these post-apocalyptic series called Nuclear Winter. What the hell is the guy’s name? They were not bad. They were certainly readable.
Jared: Yeah. Sometimes I feel like there’s a genre that just speaks to me, in a way that’s really interesting. And whether it’s the most high or sophisticated and nuanced to take or not, there’s still an enjoyment of being immersed in an aesthetic of some sort.
Jim: Yeah, exactly. The willing suspension of disbelief, as my 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Kingsley, always taught us to think about it. And said, “That’s the magic of writing.” You say, “All right.” If you look at a book critically, it’s never perfect, right? There’s logic flaws, and every thriller pisses me off. But if it’s good writing, a willing suspension of disbelief, Bobby Akart, A-K-A-R-T. It turns out he’s written a very large number of post-apocalyptic novels, but there’s a five book series called Nuclear Winter. And they’re very short. You can read more than one a day. I think I was reading about two a day, while I was powering by, my one and a half a day. So that was kind of cotton candy for the mind. I used to love the Spencer series, detective stuff, until the guy died and did no more of those. I do read, from time to time, science fiction. So anyway, I tend to be a two book at a time person, or just one.
Jim: But I’m not a person who’s reading five or six books simultaneously. And I will say that, when I do it for the podcast… Because I had deadlines, right? I had people booked for specific dates. And I’ll confess, sometimes I was finishing the book the morning of the podcast. And so I had to, at times, just really buckle down and focus, focus, focus on getting the books done. I like to get them done two or three days in advance, and most of the time I did. So I could reflect, a little bit, and I could do my notes the day prior to the podcast. And then review the notes, the morning of. That was optimal. But as we know, optimal and reality, aren’t always the same all the time.
Jared: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and it’s funny too, you’re mentioning reading the post-apocalyptic stuff in which, thematically, seems to be pretty resonant with a lot of the collapse scenarios and things that are a common theme on the podcast. Are there any interesting connections there, or is this just kind of a happy coincidence?
Jim: It’s probably not that. It’s not totally random, I’ll say that. I’ve always been interested in discontinuous change. I liked thrillers, long before I was thinking about GameB, or anything else like that, I liked that kind of stuff. And I suppose I like to read these things, because it highlights the large number of different ways in which advanced civilization could collapse. And when we talk about collapse, I like to say again and again and again, or being prepared. Being preppers, people would say, is it’s sort of meaningless to be a prepper or to worry too much about, think about even, collapse. But rather, you need to think about specific trajectories, specific things that happen or could happen. And I call it, a bundle of trajectories. And so, the more of those things you get exposed to, the more you’re thinking about possible ways our society could collapse, how we can prevent that and even if we don’t fully prevent it, how we can make a more speedy recovery, is useful.
Jim: So I encourage people to read post-apocalyptic literature, at least the stuff that’s realistic scenarios. I don’t read, at all, zombie apocalypses or stuff like that. Give me a good pandemic apocalypse that’s more or less realistic. EMP pulses, massive earthquakes, eruption of the Yellowstone caldera. That’s always a good one. Or in the case of Bobby Akart, it was a limited nuclear war, which triggered a rather severe nuclear winter. All possible scenarios that we need to be thinking about.
Jim: And things that we should all be working, as citizens, to reduce the probability. Or to the degree we can reduce the probability, like a massive solar flare, that we build robustness and resilience into things like our electrical grid. So that we can get our civilization rebooted again, and minimize the amount of loss.
Jared: Yeah. And one of the common themes that I hear in a lot of those scenarios too is, unlike the zombie apocalypse, they are ways of talking about how humans organize when the slate has been cleaned or reset, in some fundamental way. And yeah, so I see it as very much in a similar vein as the first principles, bottom up approach of GameB even, when it comes to community organization and things.
Jim: Yeah. But I will confess, the writers tend not to explore that as much as I’d like them to. I might, it’d be fun to write one, because it’s almost always the charismatic older male who tells everybody what to do. And if they don’t, they die. And, it’s really a very Game A perspective, unfortunately. There’s very little thinking about, “All right, how would a team of survivors really work in a non-hierarchical collaborative and cooperative fashion, to maximize their probability of one, first surviving, and then two, rebooting?” And I can’t recall really seeing much of that in the post-apocalyptic literature.
Jared: Yeah. Maybe something… The sci fi seems to be often about the reorganization, thinking of society in a different way.
Jim: Yeah, Ursula Le Guin is a classic one, who did some beautiful writing back in the day, on things like that. And of course, one of my old favorites, it’s a weird hybrid. Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, and Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. I always say, it’s amazing that the same guy wrote both of those two books. One, kind of the literary… At least, back in my day, back in the ’60s and ’70s, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress was the libertarian favorite, and Stranger in a Strange Land was the hippie favorite. How could he have written the favorite novels of the libertarians and hippies? But he did.
Jared: Ooh. Yeah. That’s maybe the mark of a real thinker, when you can be seen as, on two poles. Very distant from one side or another. Yeah.
Jared: I’m curious… Well, and this is interesting. I didn’t think we’d go here, but this idea of fiction and just the role of fiction, and thinking about what’s going on with today’s culture, and stuff like that. I feel like there’s not a lot of conversations around that. Is that, at least in the GameB, since making whatever web, it doesn’t seem like a really common thing these days. You think we could benefit from looking at, towards some fiction, to be a little bit more imaginative?
Jim: Yeah, I think so. I’ve always read fiction, and I’ve always thought it had a good influence on opening your perspectives. What fiction did I read recently, of quality fiction? Week before last, I read War and Peace, Tolstoy’s War and Peace. 1100 pages of stuff. And there were a lot of ideas in there, that caused one to think about, how one would design a society. Or what are the attributes of a society that help make it work and not work? And then of course, what he was drawing was a whole series of things that don’t work, or are bad. Like, the very hierarchical, semi-feudal state that Russia was in at the time, which the time of the novel was 1805 through 1820, approximately. And then you had the military dictatorship of Napoleon, on the other side, as the other alternative. And so, it was a sort of an exploration of social operating systems and their results in constant warfare, that were good object lessons on things that one would not want, in a good social operating system.
Jim: But again, the writing was beautiful. Just one of these classics that, the joke about it is, “Everybody talks about it, but nobody reads it.” And I’d suggest it’s actually worth reading, and Tolstoy is a very easy writer. Short sentences, short paragraphs, short chapters. Very clear. It’s actually very enjoyable. I blasted right through it, just as if it were a good pieces of genre writing. But unfortunately, when we talk about fiction in general, I’m old enough to remember when fiction writers were some of the more famous people in our society. Think about John Updike, Saul Bellow, Ernest Hemingway even, was alive when I was a little kid. And many others. And these were people who were literally featured in People Magazine.
Jim: And before that, it was even more so, back in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. Theodore Dreiser, and Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner. I mean, these were top tier celebrities, essentially. I can’t think of any novelist of the serious literary sort that, you ask a person on the sidewalk, you’d have more than one chance in a hundred they ever heard of them.
Jared: Yeah. Hmm. Yeah. It seems to be… Well, we have our CEOs and entrepreneurs and TikTok stars, or something. This is what’s replaced our fictional visionaries.
Jim: And we have the genre people. People know the James Pattersons of the world, et cetera, but they… Could you even name a top literary novelist, today? When in the 1960s, such people were literally known by… Even my parents, working class folks, they did read books. But they certainly knew who Hemingway was, and Faulkner and people like that. That would certainly not be the case, today. And of course, it’s a lot like movie making. Movies now also collapsed to… Yes, there are still good indie movies being made. You’ve got streaming services, you can find them, but the stuff that’s in the movie theaters is just comic book shit, basically. Right?
Jim: I guess there must be a market for it, because they keep on making it, and it ain’t cheap. That’s high production values, but in terms of, are there famous directors like Billy [Wild 00:23:01], like there was in the day. Or John Ford? Nah, not so much, right?
Jared: Yeah. It seems that there are a lot fewer and far between, maybe partially it’s just the fractured nature, the fractal nature of culture these days is that, broad appeal is that much more of a rare thing. The first thing that I could think of is, if there’s anybody right now from a filmmaking perspective, that might fall into that category it would be… And maybe this isn’t broad, just because I’m a nerd. It would be Denis Villeneuve, who’s about to come out with Dune, and did Blade Runner, and things. But yeah, not a huge cultural agreement around that, I bet. I bet if I brought up that name, a lot of people would have no idea who the hell I was talking about.
Jim: And I’m one of them, right? I certainly know Dune, and I know Blade Runner. But I thought [inaudible 00:23:46] Ridley Scott did Blade Runner.
Jared: He did. Yeah. Scott did the original Blade Runner. Villeneuve just did that remake later, Blade Runner 2049 or whatever, and Arrival. Arrival, as you were talking about, fiction writers that I feel like should have some of the references. Ted Chang, have you read any of his stuff?
Jim: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.
Jared: Because that’s what, Arrival was based off of one of his short stories. And yeah, that was actually something new and interesting. And yeah, but now we’re going back to Dune. Just repurposing things, repurposing culture, that seems to be the moment we’re in, right now.
Jim: Yeah. That’s… And maybe in the GameB world, we can get back towards interesting and deep art. Of course, people say, “Ah, just a God damn old boomer.” I just finished watching a very interesting documentary series on Apple TV, called 1971: The Year Music Changed Everything. And, eight episodes of amazing footage, it was worth it for the footage alone. But, music was seriously part of building the counterculture, at that time. And it was reaching its peak. And these were grungy people, none of them were good looking and smooth. With a few exceptions. But they were people who were taking their music and their impact on the world seriously.
Jim: Now it’s all drum machines, and… Beautiful people with fancy haircuts and tight clothes, and gym tuned legs and all this sort of stuff. And it’s just like, the empire struck back. The music scene was radical and I mean, literally counter-cultural in a serious way. And now, it’s entire… Seems, as far as I can tell, I’m sure there must be some indie corners, like Americana and certain areas of hip hop, et cetera. But in general, what we think of as pop music today, is sort of banal commercial shit, driven by the almighty dollar.
Jared: Yeah. It’s a weird world. But yeah, the other strange thing at the same time is that, to your point, there are a bunch of indie places that are… In culture and all of the different artistic ventures, whether it’s music or movies and things like that, and because of the accessibility and connected nature, there’s a lot of indie artists who make a living off of it. They’re not famous, they’re not pop stars and they’re not cultural icons or things like that. But yeah, I think there’s probably a broader diversity of independent creators and artists and things like that, who are able to make a living with a modest audience of some sort. But you got to dig to find them, and get really, go deep down the subcultural rabbit holes, to find them. It seems like.
Jim: Yeah. Yep. And then, sometimes that’s a good thing. Although musicians have been heavily hard hit, by the changes in the world. There used to be thousands of musicians who could make a living touring and selling CDs, or albums before that. Now, there’s really no market for CDs, the amount of money from streaming services and downloads from iTunes or something, is a sixth or a tenth of typically what it was, when people were selling CDs. And I know a lot of musicians, actually, and they all lament the fact that their main ways of making a living were gutted by the electronic revolution. Though, I suppose on the flip side, it now costs almost nothing to produce your own records, or your own tune. So if you could figure out how to zeitgeist surf, and find a market, you no longer need a studio contract and thousand dollar an hour studio time, and pressing 5000 copies and all that sort of stuff. And you can literally cut a production quality track yourself, if you’re willing to spend a little time on learning the tools. So, it’s probably a different world, but it’s much more fragmented and such.
Jared: Oh, yeah. It’s a lot more chaotic, that’s for sure.
Jim: Yep. And that says, and it’s… Actually, talk about what the world needs. Better curation. I would love to be able to find really good music, for instance, very contemporary music. I mean, outside my genres, which I know all the players in, or most of them. But there must be genres, even, I don’t even know about. But how would I know about that? It used to be, you read Rolling Stone to hear about the new genres, but I’m sure they’re not in Rolling Stone, anymore.
Jared: Yeah. You have niche blogs, and Twitter profiles. Yeah. It seems… I’ve dipped my toe in some of the indie music scenes, and try to keep up, to listen to new stuff. It’s hard, though, it takes a lot of deliberate effort. There’s not a lot of ready-made curation, that’s for sure.
Jim: Sounds like there’s a market there. Sort of a… I don’t know what I’m trying to think about, here. Something like the old… Life Magazine, right? They were the curators of 1962. Now, of course, there was so much less of everything that they perhaps could do it. And the Overton window, the level of ideas that people were considering in 1962, was extremely narrow. Unlike today, where ideas are from one extreme to another in multiple dimensions.
Jim: But hey, you young entrepreneurs out there. Think about a sampler. A sampler. Or, through reviews, is another example. A sampler of ultra high quality stuff, from the fringes.
Jared: Yeah, that’d be good.
Jim: Eh, that’s not a bad idea.
Jared: Well, interestingly, I think this modern thing of the influencer, the internet influencer, these individual personalities end up putting their stamp of approval on certain fashion and music and other trends, and things like that. Where they probably do act like a subtle form of curation, but it’s just utterly personalized to, “This is what I like,” as opposed to pulling in a broader person.
Jim: That’s a good point. The role of the internet influencer. Yeah. I read something rather scary that, apparently the number two job, after medical doctor, when you ask a 14 year old what they want to be when they grow up is, internet influencer.
Jim: It’s understandable. I mean, you have a lot of cultural power. And if you’re at the top, presumably, you make a pile of money. Right?
Jared: Yeah, yeah.
Jim: And you sit around in your jammies, and just do your thing.
Jared: Yep. Well, unfortunately I think the real interesting… I mean, there’s always people who figure out how to game the system and the only thing they do, is be an influencer, which is such an absurd kind of thing.
Jim: And then, they get paid to be an influencer…
Jim: … doing product placements. And that shit ought to be illegal. I don’t know. Probably not be illegal, but it’s certainly immoral. It’s like pollution of the meme space.
Jared: Yeah. They just need like, a scarlet letter on them. Like, “This person is just a product.” But yeah, the interesting influencers I think, are always the ones who have done something well, and really mastered some sort of domain or expression or art, or something like that. And, yeah. You got to keep it a little bit more real, in some sense. Not so sold out.
Jim: Well I guess, us niche podcasters are internet influencers, in our own little way. I mean, my guests have told me that appearing on my show, sold a fair number of books for them. Many more so than going on bookstore tours, and stuff like that. So, we’re influencers in our own little narrow way, but I don’t think either of us are going to have seven million followers on TikTok, anytime soon.
Jared: Oh God, that sounds terrible. I wouldn’t want it if I could have it.
Jared: I did have a couple other things that I wanted to jump into. One of them, just reflecting broadly on the podcast. And this could be very specific about episodes or guests, or just general themes or things that… What stands out for you, when you think about the podcast over the past 190 episodes? Or whatever it was. What’s the thing that’s the most, maybe the most pride or most interest, or just most passion that comes up, when you think about that?
Jim: Well, in terms of pride, of passion. The fact that I stuck with the theme of the podcast. Real thinking about deep ideas. I really do think we’re able to deliver on that. There are, of course, a few exceptions. But most of the conversations were really pretty deep. I really got into it with people, in a positive way. And again, one of the decisions I made on the fly as we go, is to mostly keep it positive. Did not invite guests on for the purposes of arguing with them. Even when I brought people on that, I knew I would be arguing with them. We established some guidelines in advance, to minimize it. “All right, just keep it on the upbeat.”
Jim: But we went deep. And again, many of the guests told me offline, afterwards. That, “Wow, that was really a deep foray.” Some of the scientists even said, “It made me think about new things in my research program.” So, I think we did achieve that. Of, not being superficial and trying to engage the material as intensely as I could. Some areas I knew more about, or had more interest in, and could engage more intensely, and some less. But I felt very good that I didn’t fake it, and that I really got down to it.
Jim: The other interesting thing is, how it happened to fall out into the categories that we talked about. Originally I had technology, science, literary fiction, and Americana music. Well, it turned out, literary fiction and Americana music, mostly went out the window. And science and technology kind of got much more emphasis. And then the third one that came in was, what I guess I would call, radical social change. And those have turned out to be many of the most interesting episodes, and certainly had the highest listenership. Things in the GameB space, and political metamodernism, some of the more innovative projects in the blockchain world, regenerative ecology.
Jim: We had a number of people in from the regenerative ecology world on, sort of, “How are we going to save the world from our own madness?” I think that ended up actually, probably, being my number one category. Though I still have lots of artificial intelligence stuff, a lot of complexity science people from the Santa Fe Institute and adjacent spaces. But yeah, that was also interesting, how those three topics, science, technology and radical social change became the really three foci. I tried to tie some lines between them, which I think I was at least somewhat successful at doing.
Jared: Yeah, no. For sure. Well, and it’s interesting. Earlier, you talked about how you’re a good talker. Your daughter said, “You’re a good talker. You should do this podcast.” I was thinking, “Well, talking is one thing,” but when things are working, when I’m listening to an episode where you actually are kind of resonating with the person and appreciating each other’s experience, world views, and things like that, and doing some actual exploration. I think it would fall into that category that Tyson Yunkaporta would put as, it’s a yarn. You’ve got to see this organic thing develop, which is this conversation and this exploration.
Jared: And to your point on some of the scientists and things, and people that came on, that had a very specific areas of expertise, I feel like those kinds of conversations, of genuine exploration and curiosity and appreciation, too. And kindness, right? Like, the moment that you’re attacking somebody is the moment that everybody’s going to start getting defensive. The yarn becomes a knot, a rat’s nest of tangled messes. So, yeah. I don’t know. Just as an outside observer, I think that disposition, that curiosity and kindness is kind of essential to having really interesting conversations, and exploring new topics. Because people have to feel like they’re not having to defend something, or something like that.
Jim: Yeah. I think you’ve caught that, because that was certainly my intent. I can’t think of any harsh arguments that I got into, with anybody. In fact, a few people I had that had some controversy or some shit in their past, or whatever. I told them, right up front in the email conversation, before they agreed to come on. “I don’t play gotcha. I’m not interested in this, that, and the other thing somebody might play gotcha with. I’m here to talk about your ideas and their implications.”
Jim: And people appreciate that. That’s very interesting, you mentioned Tyson Yunkaporta. He was certainly one of my favorite shows. I know we’re not supposed to love one child more than any other, right? And they all, every single episode, I’m proud of. Not a single bummer, in the list. But my four or five conversations with Tyson Yunkaporta, are way up there amongst some of my favorite shows.
Jared: Yeah, me too.
Jim: What an interesting person he is, and his book, Sand Talk. If you haven’t read Sand Talk, people, Jim tells you, go read Sand Talk, by Tyson Yunkaporta.
Jared: Yeah. And talking about novel exploration. The two of you, him coming from this very natural relationship with the environment, and culture and spirituality, and all of this stuff that he’s bringing into there. But him being able to use technical language, and make some correlations to complexity science and things like that. The difference between you two, and your genuine, actual perspectives is what made that conversation so interesting. And yeah, it wasn’t a fight. You guys weren’t… It wasn’t science versus indigenous wisdom. It was, how are they actually in relationship, and how do they relate to each other?
Jared: Those are some of my favorites of… The first thing that came to my mind, when I was thinking about all the episodes that really stood out it was Tyson’s series, as well. So, we must be on the same wavelength.
Jim: They were great. And I learned a hell of a lot. It opened my eyes, and I think it opened his. In fact, he and I are engaged now in a scientific collaboration where we’re going to use… With the permission of the tribal elders, and they he went and got that, amazingly. We’re going to implement… Well, actually, I shouldn’t say. But it’s a evolutionary computation exercise, that uses some indigenous ideas. And I probably shouldn’t give the secret away of the paper, but Tyson and I just really hit it off. I don’t know. It’s just something about he and I, we like to joke, “Hey, we’re like brothers from different mothers.”
Jared: Totally, totally. I get that vibe.
Jim: Yeah. It was really, really fun.
Jim: Another one of my favorite episodes, I’m going to reach out to him soon and see if he’s got something new, is Nick Chater’s episode on The Mind is Flat. I’m not sure he was correct. He might be, he might be. But he radically challenges all the conventional wisdom about depth psychology, and all this stuff going inside your head, and such. And he says, “We’re way shallower than we like to think. We’re basically our memories, plus a confabulation machine. And that’s it.” And I’ve referenced that a dozen times at least, in other podcasts, challenging deep depth psychology perspectives from folks. And say, “Hey, have you read Nick Chater’s book, The Mind is Flat? That might change your thinking a little bit.” And as I said, I’m still not a hundred percent convinced, but he makes a pretty good argument. And so, that was so fun, because it was so non conventional wisdom, shall we say.
Jared: Especially from our modern context, in the sense that, our culture seems to be permeated by psychotherapeutic perspective. That’s almost like the water that we swim in. Everybody knows a little bit about subconscious and baggage and trauma, and everything. So, yeah. I always appreciate being able to break out of that frame and be like, “Wait a second. Does this really have to be everywhere? Let’s look at it a little bit more fundamentally.”
Jim: Yeah. His, of course, is the ultra skeptical perspective. That was on that episode 75, Nick Chater, for those of you who want to check it out. That was certainly a really fun episode, which has come back again and again.
Jim: Another one that I just really loved, it was one of my favorite topics, is Doug Erwin on EP 116, where we dug into the Cambrian explosion, which is when essentially, all multicellular life… It’s a slight overstatement, but almost all the phyla of life that we know today, came into existence in an extraordinarily short period of time, like five million years, in this very specific window called the Cambrian explosion. That was an amazing conversation, because it also allowed us to talk about the nature of evolution, the invention of neurons and all kinds of wild stuff. And, Doug Erwin being a guy from both the Santa Fe Institute and the Smithsonian Institute, is an extraordinarily well-prepared guy to have that discussion with. So, that was another one that was just really, really good.
Jared: Yeah. I remember that one, vaguely. I’m going to have to, now that we’re talking through some of these, I’m like, “I’m going to have to go listen to that episode again. A refresher would be really fun.”
Jared: I’m curious, you said that you and Tyson have actually ended up working on projects, since the podcast. Is there any other collaborations or projects, or things that have come up, that were first initiated, or maybe even just aided by, or given a boost from any of the podcast episodes or guests?
Jim: I developed a good working relationship with Gregg Henriques, who I did a couple of podcasts with, and we’re working on some stuff. And he’s helping me on actually, more to the point, than… I think I’m helping him a little bit, on some of the things he’s working on. Certainly deepened my relationship with some other folks, like Simon DeDeo and Max Borders. And Michel Bauwens actually, [Michael Bauwens 00:41:36], Michel Bauwens and I are working on something together, now that I think about it.
Jim: So yeah, there’s been a number of ongoing things that have, initiating, and I’ve been advising The Consilience Project, which some of our guests have been associated with, the most well-known Daniel Schmachtenberger, but also Zak Stein. And Samo Burja, all three of them are key contributors to The Consilience Project, and I’m an advisor to that project. And so, there’s another connection. Yeah, so it certainly richened my network of people and projects and stuff.
Jared: Yeah. It’s funny, because so many of the things that I ended up focusing on… So, I ended a podcast of my own, it was a little over a year ago now. Or something like that. But I’m just starting to realize like, “Man, I really miss all of the connections,” and all of the kind of unplanned creative stuff and relationships and things like that, that had come from it. It was not as obvious when it was running, but yeah. And I’m glad you’re continuing on, too, not completely closing things down.
Jim: Yeah, and going down this list, damn. Rich Bartlett is involved with, around the edges in some proto B work we’re doing. I continue to communicate with Mark Burgess, on various things. Yeah. It’s been remarkable. It’s actually not, I hadn’t really focused on so much, how much it has added to my network of collaboration, ideas sharing, and project doing. It’s been quite a good upgrade.
Jared: Yeah. Well, and it has the heart, too. Again… Well, I’m the spiritual guy, because I guess, I was on an old episode as well. Talking about spirituality. I’m always the woo-woo one, in the crew. But yeah, I always feel like when I talk about your podcast to people who have no idea who you are, or something like that. They’re like, “Oh, you produce a podcast, what for?” And I kind of give them the Cliff Notes of Jim Rutt. And I said that, “He’s a straight shooter with a big heart.” And the big heart is, I think, one of the things that’s the most endearing. And maybe it doesn’t get a ton of attention, but I think it’s key to the success of the show.
Jim: I appreciate that. Well, we got one announcement to make, even though I famously say, when I hear the word metaphysics, I reach for my pistol. And I call spirituality the other S word. Guess who started doing a program of meditation, three days ago?
Jared: Oh, shit.
Jim: Yo. As I was working my way through Vervaeke’s Awakening from the Meaning Crisis, it became clear he was about to start talking about mindfulness. And I said, “Well, I really oughten to just listen to him talk about it, I’ll just do it.” And so, I asked some folks what they thought was a good, specifically mindfulness meditation book, pamphlet app. And amazingly, five out of five said, Sam Harris’s Waking Up. and of course, I felt comfortable with Sam Harris, him also being a bloody atheist like myself. And a real cognitive scientist, as opposed to a one who plays a cognitive scientist on TV, occasionally. Myself.
Jim: And I said, “Okay, probably Sam Harris doesn’t offend me in principle, he’s not likely to get a bunch of woo-woo shit and divas and celestial spheres and all that kind of [crosstalk 00:44:54]… And I downloaded his app and I’ll tell you, it’s God damn good. Three days in a row. Boom, boom, boom. I look forward to doing it every morning. And, I signed up for his 28 day startup course, and basically one meditation thing and then a discussion by him about sort of the meaning and importance of this particular thing, and related thing. But so, I give it so far, an A. After three days.
Jared: Nice, nice.
Jim: So guess what? I’m going to be a spiritual warrior, folks out there, soon. So watch out, if this shit really does give you super powers, I’ll be even more super powerful than I was before.
Jared: That’s good. Yeah. Well, I’m a big fan of Sam, as well. His book, that has the S word in it. I can’t remember what it was called. What was it? Something and spirituality. We’ll put it in the show notes, but yeah, Sam’s book was hugely influential for me, going from being a very… Seeing meditation as a kind of performance enhancement drug, kind of like a little boost that I could do every day, for a few minutes. To actually getting interested in like, “Well, what’s the deep end, here?” So, yeah. I don’t know. I would definitely not be a teacher and everything, if it weren’t for Sam initially pushing me off on the path. So yeah, the way he communicates is very approachable from a Western perspective, and rationality isn’t some sort of bad word, or something like that. So I always appreciate his perspectives, as well.
Jim: Yeah. So anyway, that’s another new announcement. One of the new things I’m doing, with my copious spare time, now that I’m not doing two or three podcasts a week.
Jared: So Salty Jim is going to turn into Enlightened Jim, now.
Jim: [foreign language 00:46:32]. I think, I don’t know what [foreign language 00:46:34] is. I think that’s Hindu, isn’t it?
Jared: Yeah. [foreign language 00:46:38], it’s everywhere. Yeah.
Jim: Oh, okay.
Jared: It’s all over the place.
Jim: You can see me do… Attempting to do a lotus position. No, I don’t think so.
Jared: Yeah. Lotus. Oof. Yeah. Not meant for the Western body.
Jim: Yeah. Especially not fat old dudes like myself. With bad joints.
Jared: Yeah. Well, skinny dudes like myself don’t do the lotus, either. So don’t feel bad.
Jim: All right. That’s a good thing to hear. That’s a good thing to hear.
Jared: Well, yeah. I don’t know if I had anything else on my list. This was a fun little meander through the past, and future of the podcast. Anything left that you wanted to cover, before we wrap up here?
Jim: No, not really. I think we did hit everything, and had fun. And I want to thank you for suggesting this, this was actually a great idea, and I’ve enjoyed doing it. And I will continue to enjoy working with you, you have been a very important part of the podcast. It would not be nearly as good, without both your technical work as an audio editor. Also, just as a collaborator and a comrade, and a person to run ideas by. And we just had a really good experience working together, for the last year and a half or so. It’s almost two years, now.
Jared: It is, likewise. Yeah. I’ve loved working on the podcast. And you were kind of the landing pad out of corporate America, for me. So also, just very pivotal at me learning how to be more self-sufficient, and I have a bunch of other projects happening and everything, but it was all built on the foundation of Jim Rutt Show. So, a lot of gratitude and, yeah. Excited to see how things continue to evolve.
Jim: Alrighty. Well, why don’t we wrap her there?
Jared: All right. Take care.
Production services and audio editing by Jared Janes Consulting, Music by Tom Muller at modernspacemusic.com.