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The Great Humbling S1E1 'Mapping Lava'

The Great Humbling

Release Date: 04/04/2020

The Great Humbling S3E8 'Now...breathe!' show art The Great Humbling S3E8 'Now...breathe!'

The Great Humbling

We wrap up series 3 with some ruminations and reflections on the breathing space post-lockdown, what becomes visible beyond hope, how the dark forests of the internet are perhaps the place to be, and we explore cancel culture and the literature of white liberalism...

The Great Humbling S3E7 'Get on your knees!' show art The Great Humbling S3E7 'Get on your knees!'

The Great Humbling

Dougald and Ed sink to their knees on the prayer mat, digging into the biological, behavioural, spiritual and political of 'taking the knee' and exploring the absence of blessings, prayer, libations and offerings. Is there a place for 'speaking to the friend' beyond the theology of organised religiion? This episode does not contain Madonna or Bon Jovi

The Great Humbling S3E6 'Small yourself up!' show art The Great Humbling S3E6 'Small yourself up!'

The Great Humbling

From Jamaican buses, via Antarctica to policing our own privileges and contributions, this is an adventure through the ways in which our perceptions and attitudes towards scale (and speed) can spin us into awkward and uncomfortable spaces and situations. How do we hold our heads and hearts in the multiple layers of expectation and experience?

The Great Humbling S3E5 'See Double!' show art The Great Humbling S3E5 'See Double!'

The Great Humbling

The one where Dougald and Ed explore 'double vision' via the usual unlikely mix of Thundercats, William Blake, Karl Polanyi, Jay Griffiths, Vanessa Andreotti and Robert Frost - how do we maintain our layered consciousness, how does one become an 'accidental futurist' and what might a 'double movement' for the future feel like?

The Great Humbling S3E4 'Do shrooms!' show art The Great Humbling S3E4 'Do shrooms!'

The Great Humbling

We explore the 'entangled' life of mushrooms, from Merlin Sheldrake through David Abram's sleight of hand magic, via Alan Garner, Dougald's Fly Agaric birthday cake (when he was 5!), and then into Michael Pollan's 'How to change your mind', plus our own personal psychedelic adventures, and the grounded, therapeutic possibilities of mushrooms as medicine...

The Great Humbling S3E3 'Be like water!' show art The Great Humbling S3E3 'Be like water!'

The Great Humbling

From Cindy Crabb's 'Doris' via Bruce Lee and the Hong Kong protests, Ed and Dougald explore all things watery, including the clogged canals of the internet, the Fermi paradox in Chinese sci-fi, Csikszentmihalyi's 'Flow' and wild swimming with Roger Deakin's 'Waterlog', with some Vanessa Andreotti and Mary Oliver also whetting the appetites...

The Great Humbling S3E2 'Move your ass!' show art The Great Humbling S3E2 'Move your ass!'

The Great Humbling

In which Dougald and Ed talk about their own 'new moves' to a Swedish shoemakers and an old wooden Norfolk water mill and rove into a rich conversation about movement, migration, refugees and racism - what does it mean to 'move', and perhaps it's as much about moving your heart as your ass?

The Great Humbling S3E1 'Keep it foolish!' show art The Great Humbling S3E1 'Keep it foolish!'

The Great Humbling

Welcome to Series 3 of The Great Humbling - 'New Moves' which kicks off on April Fool's Day with 'Keep it foolish!' in which Dougald and Ed explore the many shades of foolishness, from knavery to the wise fool, the five subtley different types of Hebrew fool and how perhaps only if we are prepared to admit and reveal our foolishness to one another we can stop pretending?

The Great Humbling S2E8 'State of Limbo' show art The Great Humbling S2E8 'State of Limbo'

The Great Humbling

We rove from the limbo as a 'lowered bar', through the spiritual transition from death to life and Haitian voodoo tricksters. We talk about refugi, monasticism and creating your own Rivendell in dark times. We're as usual full of inspiring thoughtful quotes and references to bring to a conclusion Season 2. We'll be back, Humbler than before, in 2021.

The Great Humbling S2E7 'State of Jeopardy' show art The Great Humbling S2E7 'State of Jeopardy'

The Great Humbling

In the week before the US election we finally do an episode where we talk about American politics and how it fits into this larger conversation about what it means if we’re living in a time of great humbling...

More Episodes

How will they look in hindsight, these strange times we are living through? Is this a midlife crisis on humanity's road to the Star Trek future – or the point at which that story of the future unravelled and we came to see how much it had left out? What if our current crises are neither an obstacle to be overcome, nor the end of the world, but a necessary humbling?

In the early weeks of the Coronavirus crisis and the extraordinary rupture of the everyday that it represents, Ed Gillespie and Dougald Hine set out to explore what it means to be humbled.

In this first episode, we start with Milton Friedman's line: 'Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.”

And we trace out five key stories, five trajectories that were already lying around and that people are already drawing on to make sense of this extraordinary moment in which we find ourselves:

  1. ‘Back to Normal’ – this is just a pause, when can we return to business as usual?
  2. ‘New Normal’ – the adaptations forced by this crisis are fast-forwarding us into a new state, but will it be utopian or dystopian?
  3. ‘Disaster Communism’ – with economies in freefall, governments stumble into policies that would have been unthinkably radical just weeks ago – so are we all socialists now, enthusiasticly or reluctantly?
  4. ‘Disruptive Progress’ – is this part of a mid-life crisis on humanity’s inevitable ascent?
  5. ‘Softening the Fall’ – were we on our way 'down to earth' anyway, so that this crisis becomes a moment in which to get real about what that could mean?

This is a back-of-an-envelope map, a snapshot of our overlapping thoughts just now and a way into a longer conversation we want to have. We hope you enjoy it.

Time Codes:

00:00    Introducing the series

03:16    Stories as maps. Is it too soon to tell the story of this crisis? Will it still be too soon when it starts to be too late? Feeling our way into this – what does it mean to be ‘mapping lava’?

10:03    Five stories on a back-of-an-envelope map – and why 'apocalypse' doesn't mean the end of the world.

12:24    The ‘Back to Normal’ story. Is this the default position of power? What is the link between ‘longing’ and seeking distraction? Will or can this civilisation learn anything from this crisis? How does fear influence our decision making in a time of non-linear risk?

23:27    The ‘New Normal’ story. Are we rapidly accelerating into a world shaped by the winners of this crisis: Amazon, Facebook, Zoom & supermarket deliveries? Does the future depend on who runs the platforms? If we don't return to old norms (e.g. business travel), does this point to a virtualised global economy, or a more radical relocalisation?

33:01    ‘Disaster Communism’ is this a ‘Shock Doctrine’ for the left? Are our politicians, as Paul Mason suggests, all socialists now, either enthusiastically or reluctantly? What do we know we don’t know? How will a centralised ‘Statism’ rub alongside a more ‘Mutualist’ grassroots renaissance? How will the precariat influence what happens next?

42:06    ‘Disruptive Progress’ is this just a bump in the road towards either a Mad Max or Star Trek future for humanity? Are we having a civilisational mid-life crisis? Is a reboot the solution?

48.50    ‘Softening the Fall’ how aware have we been of rises and falls historically? Can you recognise a paradigm shift when in the middle of one?


  • ‘The Great Humbling’ – Ed Gillespie puts the Coronavirus crisis in the larger context we want to explore in this series
  • 'The Price of Life' – first thoughts on the nature of this pandemic from Dougald Hine
  • 'Finnegas' – Paul Kingsnorth's essay for Emergence Magazine
  • Paul Mason's newsletter, ‘The Waves’ 
  • 'How to Beat Coronavirus Capitalism' – YouTube video of a Haymarket Books online teach-in with Naomi Klein, Astra Taylor and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
  • The Rebel Wisdom YouTube channel – see their recent conversations with Jordan Hall and Daniel Schmachtenberger

Keep in touch

Find us on our Facebook page, send us your reflections and responses – and we'll be back soon with another episode of The Great Humbling.

Ed & Dougald