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Unpsychology Magazine — where we have come from and where we might be heading…

Unpsychology Magazine is a labour of love. We’ve been working on it since 2014, and have been fortunate enough to have curated an impressive body of ‘mind-related’ art, writing and reflections from our wonderful contributors. As we write, in the Autumn of 2020, there are almost 1000 subscribers, and a growing team of contributors from psychology, art, activism and beyond.

We’ve described Unpsychology as a ‘journal of post-civilised neurodiversity and wild mind’. And we’ve described it as‘responding to themes of psychology, soul-making and ecology.’ We have tried to reflect a diversity of voices — and to set the art and writing within the wider contexts of our fragmenting cultures and the global emergencies we currently face. COVID-19 has highlighted the ‘fragility of the fabric’* of our civilisation like nothing before — but the virus, and the human response to it, is only the tip of the iceberg.

This is not simply to be gloomy or doomy — Unpsychology also seeks to find joy in human (and other-than-human) life — but we are determined not to fall into the traps and fantasies laid by an alternative culture that has become increasingly market-driven, reactive, positivist and individualistic — simply and ironically mirroring and referencing the ‘mainstream’ it rejects.

As often in the past, humankind must turn to its artists and rebels for deeper responses to crisis. Yet, the COVID era has made it crystal clear that meaningful responses cannot be found in wishful thinking, denial and spiritual bypassing. A faux rebellion of sorts is being seen in a new movement of what is being termed ‘conspirituality’, a disturbing social-media fuelled brew of extreme right-wing and libertarian politics and alternative wellness tropes, new-age spirituality and conspiracy narratives.

We may understand where these perspectives emerge from, as people search for certainty and meaning in these troubled times, but such straight-line narratives will never lead to soulful, systemic change. Claiming to be a rebel or a healer is no longer enough — we need to knit together more complex ways of seeing the world, and sense how ‘mind’ is woven through the world. Change and healing emerge from recognising and validating context and form, science and spirit, the personal and the collective and, above all, the human in the ecological.

There is a movement growing here too: one that Unpsychology is eager to be part of, to be curiously exploring and to be weaving with and flowing. This is a conversation concerned with complexity, Warm Data, interdependence, transcontextuality, symbiosis, relationships, equality, justice and ecology. In coming months we will be inviting our growing community of Unpsychologists to take a fresh look at the world with these interlinking perspectives in mind — and to welcome new writers and artists to respond to these themes.

Unpsychology has always been open to exploring these warm, liminal, fluid places in our world and in our psyche. Now we’d like to get warmer, deeper, broader — to really explore how Mind, Psychology, Ecology, Science, Nature, Myth, Soul and Culture are bound together in this inherently relational patterning.

We have no ‘goal’ in mind. Just to know in our hearts, minds and bodies that human animals need to respond more intimately than ever to the world we all live in.

Unpsychology Magazine: issue 7 — Climate, Complexity, Change

Our theme for issue 7 is Climate, Complexity, Change. This is the second edition of Unpsychology Magazine to be focussed on the climate emergency. The first — Climate Minds, published in 2018, before the emergence of Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg’s School strikes movement — was the first of our themed digital magazines and felt important and timely.

Of course, we’ve known for decades that the global climate was spiralling — it’s been in our collective ‘mind’ for 40 years and more. We (Unpsychology editors, Julia and Steve) were involved in the Dark Mountain Project community, that was predicting and responding to ecological and civilisation collapse from 2009 — a movement that found an echo in the Climate Psychology Alliance, set up between 2009 and 2012 and, more recently, Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation paper — also published in 2018.

Now we are coming to further understand that the emergency is not in the climate itself, but the systemic, human responses that have led us to this point in our history. The fractures in the natural systems of the Earth and the cultural systems of humanity have been starkly revealed during the COVID crisis, together with opportunities to shift our ways of seeing and being in the future.

Perhaps, there is nothing that can be done (or will be done) that will change the trajectory of climate change that was set off many years ago, and sustained by hundreds of years of expansionist and extractivist colonialist economies? The political will to do so seems insufficient at best and, in places like the Amazon and the US, the crisis is still being accelerated in deliberate ways for reasons of political and economic expediency. The poles are melting (or, as we write this Autumn, not even freezing) and so we face an uncertain future — one that will now be part of our minds and our human cultures for as long as our species survives on this planet.

This Climate, Complexity, Change themed edition of Unpsychology will be published in Spring 2020 as a digital and online anthology and will, as usual, be offered free of charge to ensure maximum circulation of the ideas, writing and artwork. This issue will be published as a free downloadable e-book. We will complement this with online responses in writing, audio, video recording and art around the theme.

We invite submissions that respond to the theme as creatively as possible and which delve deeply into the issues of climate breakdown, complexity and change — whether this be to systems, individuals or to the wider ecologies we all exist within.

This call is for:

  • writers, visual artists and activists — who we encourage to tap into their complex, systemic and multitudinous selves…
  • musicians, composers, dancers, singers and all those curious about the songs and music of the global breakdown;
  • therapists, practitioners and soul-workers working with themes of climate anxiety, trauma and complexity in human psychological and spiritual therapeutic work;
  • work that addresses the deep, psychological implications of social and ecological connection, equality, inclusion and social cohesion as related to the climate emergency and related crises.

We prefer work that is entirely original and hasn’t been published or submitted elsewhere — we really want to encourage new frames for thinking about and responding to these themes — but if you have an existing project or perspective you think would fit this issue of Unpsychology, get in touch and have a chat with one of us.

The contexts for this call-out are numerous and inter-connecting:

Foremost amongst them is the Climate Emergency — the unprecedented challenge to the human and other-than-human world that underpins all our work in the Unpsychology community…

And others like:

…the truths and wisdoms that emerge from Gregory Bateson’s Ecology of Mind and Nora Bateson’s Warm Data and Trancontextuality…

…the webs and ecological systems that hold the contexts that underpin the emergency…

…the ideas that emerge from Warm Data and interdependent, relational ways of seeing…

…the ways that colonialism, racism and genocide are inextricably woven with extraction and exploitation of resources…

…the climate mind and where it will be heading in a post-COVID world…

…the central place of climate justice in the responses to climate breakdown…

…the psychological (and un-psychological) edges of Extinction Rebellion, Dark Mountain and other nodes of climate activism and creation…

…the ecological Earth activism of indigenous communities and their allies…

…eco-feminism and eco-psychology intersections with the climate movement…

…the psychology and climate politics of food, veganism and the emergence of Animal Rebellion…

…the Sixth Mass Extinction…

…the effects of climate breakdown on the human and other-than-human…

…the grief, anxiety and despair that emerges…

…the joy, freedom and soulmaking that emerges…

…the voices of trees, animals, oceans, rivers, mountains and the humans who love them…

…or combinations of all or some of these…

…or anything else that comes to mind…

These can be settings and frameworks for essays, poetry, stories, artwork, music and video — and any combination of these.

The deadline for submissions is 30th December 2020. Submit writing in Word or Pages. Artwork as high quality jpeg. Contact Steve or Julia at submissions@unpsychology.org with any queries.

Note: We value our authors and artists, and know ourselves how difficult it is to get creative work out there. Unpsychology is a self–funded independent publication, and so we haven’t got the resources to pay people for their work at this time. However, your work will be profiled on social media, and you will be invited to be involved in launch events (COVID dependant, of course!). In addition, everyone who has their work published will receive a digital pack of goodies from Raw Mixture Publishing and Unpsychology Magazine.

* “The pattern of ordinary life, in which so much stays the same from one day to the next, disguises the fragility of its fabric” — The Dark Mountain Manifesto, 2009: https://dark-mountain.net/about/manifesto/
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