How to Occupy the Noosphere – TedX

IAN’S NOTE: This talk represents my own personal synthesis from artists, activists, Occupiers, rabble rousers, revolutionaries and evolutionaries that I’ve had the privilege to meet during my short time on this planet. A sincere bow as well to my friends, supporters, and teachers – which I am forever indebted.

I had a lot of fun with this talk. Thanks to the TedX organizers and volunteers, fellow speakers, and all the lovely people of Victoria who made this an amazing event. Please SHARE this video if you’re inspired.

WATCH THIS TALK WITH SUBTITLES: Greek, Spanish, French, and Portuguese

TedX synopsis:

An ardent filmmaker and media activist, Ian MacKenzie is dedicated to capturing and sharing glimpses of emerging human paradigms. MacKenzie’s most recent film, Occupy Love, explores the growing realization that the dominant systems of power are failing to provide us with health, happiness, or meaning. Ian feels the resulting crisis from the 2008 stock market crash has become a catalyst for a profound awakening.

Full Transcript:

The first time I saw this mask was in the 2006 film “V for Vendetta.” The film starred Natalie Portman with a shaved head and Hugo Weaving who played a masked vigilante in dystopian London set in the year 2020.

The character wore this mask to hide his identity, as he sought to attempt a repeat of the Gunpowder plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes, along with fellow conspirators, attempted to blow up the London parliament buildings. The plot failed when an anonymous letter was sent to the authorities, warning them of the attack.

When they searched the catacombs of parliament, they found Guy Fawkes guarding 36 barrels of explosives. He was promptly questioned, tortured, and sentenced to death.

On the day of his execution, as he walked the steps to the gallows, Guy threw himself from the staircase, breaking his neck. Nevertheless, his lifeless body was drawn and quartered – and for hundreds of years, the English would mock his failure, wearing his face every 5th of November.

In 2008, two years after V for Vendetta’s release, the Guy Fawkes mask was adopted by the hacker group Anonymous, as they carried out cyber attacks on corrupt governments and corporations.

In 2011, when the Occupy movement erupted onto the streets of New York, Guy Fawkes was everywhere, appearing in places like Egypt, London, Brazil,and Turkey.

My grandmother calls these masks “kind of creepy.” And it’s true, they hide a sense of chaos, refusing to submit to the acceptable order of the modern world. But for others, the mask represents an icon of popular rebellion, solidarity with peoples’ movements around the world, and a willingness to stand up against injustice.

I wondered: How does the face of a 17th century revolutionary end up as the most recognizable symbol of protest in the 21st?

Kalle Lasn is the founder of Adbusters magazine. Last year, I found myself in his office, speaking about the Occupy movement. Inspired by the occupation of Tahrir Square in Egypt, his team came up with the hashtag #occupywallst and the iconic poster with the ballerina perched atop the bull.

The familiar words emblazoned above “what is our one demand?” and below “Sept 17. Bring Tent.”

Hundreds heeded the call. And proceeded to… you know, OCCUPY.

The gathering dominated the airwaves, an epic drama filled with powerful images and emerging heroes. Everyone had an opinion, yet no one seemed to know: “what do they actually want?”

On Oct 15, the Occupy movement spread, with almost 150 encampments sprouting up around the world, including right here in Victoria.

One month later, at dawn on Nov 15, New York police forcibly evicted the Wall St encampment. A coordinated crackdown followed soon after in cities across North America.

Back at Adbusters with Kalle Lasn, I asked him where the movement should go next.

“It’s a mindbomb,” he told me. “Not a traditional movement.”

A mindbomb is a powerful idea that catches fire and spreads from person to person, culture to culture. He confessed the Occupy movement was a wild idea among many. This one just happened to work, taking him by surprise more than anyone.

You may be familiar with another word to describe a viral idea: the word is “meme.”

Coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in the 1970’s, the term refers to “a unit of cultural transmission” …. that requires the use of replicators to survive and evolve. Memes propagate by spreading through us – from one host to another, each time adapted, modified, and remixed.

According to Kalle Lasn, there’s an invisible war going on and it’s being fought with memes. The battlefield is the noosphere.

In 1911, the Ukrainian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky coined the term “noosphere” to describe the third stage of evolutionary development on the planet.

First there was the geosphere, the layer of minerals around the globe. Then the biosphere, the layer of organic life. And now the “noosphere” – the sphere of human thought that shapes our world.

This is a neurological map of the human brain.

This is a map of the internet.

Both structures are remarkably similar – the first depicting a single human consciousness, the other is our global consciousness.

This is the rapper Psy creator of the smash hit “Gagnam Style.” On Dec 21, 2012, which some considered to be the day of the Apocalypse, or the Rapture, the video for Gagnam Style crossed 1 billion views, making it the most popular Youtube video ever.

Millions of people around the world mimicked the dance. And no, I’m not going to do it here. But I ask you to consider: Gagnam Style is a powerful meme.

#Occupy Wall St is a meme – but a certain type of meme: a mindbomb.

It was a moment sparked by the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Spain, but remixed into something different. This was difficult for many reporters to understand. In fact, it took the Rolling Stone 40 days into the occupation before they finally got it. The reporter wrote “If there is such a thing as going on strike from one’s own culture, this is it.”

I visited Wall St in October 2011 and what I found surprised me. I saw a thriving human space, filled with music and dialogue, meditation, food and art, sparkle fingers, and beauty in all its forms. I saw a willingness for people to sit down and look each other … face to face.

Here’s one of my favourite signs: “I love humanity, let’s figure this shit out together!”

Yes, I also saw shadow, and unresolved pain and wounding. I saw general assemblies derailed, sadness, and I saw anger.

Through it all – I recognized the mindbomb: The problems facing our world are vast and complex – from climate change, to economic instability, to environmental collapse. No one knows how to fix things, not our politicians, our scientists or our business elites. The dominant culture has no landing gear.

The mainstream view of human nature says that you are an independent being in an indifferent universe, driven to maximize your own self-interest, and ultimately, you’re out for yourself. It’s no wonder most people feel paralyzed, overwhelmed, or indifferent. After all, if the problem lies at the very core of our DNA, that humans are flawed, then what is the point of trying to save us?

Occupy Wall St told a different story. Let me say clearly:

There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with humans.

On the contrary, Occupy Wall St’s message is that our challenges are cultural.

We are the 99% and we can choose to create a world that works for the 100%.

This is love. It is not a feeling. Love is an action.

Love is what I saw in Occupy Wall St and in the movements that have emerged since. From the Maple Spring, to Idle No More, to Occupy Gezi and beyond. We are prototyping a new collective organism that wants to be born.

But we’re not there yet.

Now, let us try an experiment.

If we had one shot, what is the ultimate mindbomb we could craft and release into the noosphere?

You lovely people sitting here in the audience…I thank you for your attention. But we both know the real potential for this talk is after it’s posted online. Therefore, I am speaking to you – yes, you watching this on your computer, tablet, or phone.

The most powerful way to transmit memes is through story. So let me tell you a story.

Billions of years ago there is only darkness. Then, in a single moment, the entire universe explodes into light. Stars, planets, galaxies. And after an incredibly long time… sentient life emerges.

Bacteria. Troglodytes. Dinosaurs. Mammals. Me & You.

Over thousands of years we build our societies, we weave our cultures, we tell our stories. There are peoples who keep within the bounds of life…and peoples who push beyond them.

Fire. Swords. Ploughs. Steam engines. Airplanes. Computers. The Internet.

And finally today. Climate change is happening. The sixth great extinction is underway. All of Life hangs in the balance.

If I can offer a single mindbomb synthesized from the front lines of the emerging paradigm, it would be this:

This was not a mistake. Life wanted humans in the world. But while this moment was inevitable, our survival is not.

You are here for a reason. The very fact of your existence is proof enough. You have a necessary and important gift to offer the world.

Now is the time to be courageous. Now is the time to offer your gifts in service.

If you don’t know what your gifts are, keep exploring.

Follow your bliss. Follow your fear, your uncertainty, and even, follow your heartbreak.

From the new paradigm, recognize that we are all interdependent. Every one of us reflects the fractal nature of the whole. You do not have to “save the world” alone.

Treat every action as significant and tap into the acausal process of change. This is the realm of synchronicity, where the events of your life will align according to a mysterious intelligence.

This is the emergence. Love is the mindbomb.

Now… let’s occupy the noosphere together.

Thank you.

Want more inspiring articles/videos like this?
Subscribe to my newsletter "Dispatches from the Future."
Subscribe to my FREE monthly newsletter "Dispatches from the Future." No spam.
Once per month. No spam.

More on this topic: Occupy

  • Interview: Behind the journey of Occupy Love
  • This is where the world breaks down
  • Behind the lens at Occupy Vancouver – Interview with Jonathan Dy
  • Marilee Krogel

    I enjoyed most of what he said, but when he brought up the Big Bang theory, he lost me, and then went on to cite climate change/global warming as being our fear. Do more documentaries and research. You’ll discover where we truly came from and the truth about the climate too! Keep searching Ian MacKenzie!

  • http://ianmack.com/ Ian MacKenzie

    thanks for commenting marilee, though it’s less helpful (and slightly condescending) without including any further insight into your perspective. would you care to share any further resources/links?

  • Marilee Krogel

    Yeah, sorry Ian, in reading over my comment, I was condescending. Didn’t mean it to sound that way. You seem like a well educated and intelligent person, so it surprises me that you believe in the Big Bang and the scam of global warming. You must be aware of all the theories out there on us coming from other worlds. There is a lot on the internet about it. It only makes sense too when you consider so much of our history is not explained by the big bang theory or any other theory we are having pushed upon us. As for climate change, if there wasn’t so much geoengineering/chemtrails going on, our planet wouldn’t be heating up as much as it is. Geoengineering, under the guise of stopping global warming, is doing the opposite. All the metal particulates are keeping the hot air in, instead of allowing the air to escape. Do you know geoengineering is also responsible for creating larger holes in our ozone? There is so much on the internet that covers this, there is no point in providing just one link. All the information is out there. http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/ to start.

  • Bret Warshawsky

    We are building a Noospheric communications technology to interconnect heart-led souls and kindred spirits so we can all help one another manifest our dreams. We are connecting with amazing people/communities and would love to share our dream with you and see if there is a way to collaborate with you. One of the areas we certainly need co-creators to work with is communication/art/film- here’s a personal video we did quickly that introduces our vision and heart. Also working on developing a novel crowd sourcing campaign that would involve collaboration between communities. I have some ideas for the team here but looking for help on that side of things as well.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLehwNI_6NU

  • Adam Andros

    Did he say “Troglodytes”? :)

  • http://thinkahol.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/a-philosophical-orientation-toward-solving-our-collective-problems-as-a-species/ thinkahol

    You’re not very convincing Marilee, and assuming everyone should already believe what you do is alienating.

    Big Bang Theory isn’t a scam, and is well supported and understood by physicists.

    Global warming isn’t a hoax, there is as much scientific consensus on its causes as there is for cigarettes causing cancer. Particulates have well documented effects, creating a greenhouse effect isn’t one of them (just the opposite actually).

    Chemtrails are real and fucked up, but you’ve built a false narrative.

    And there is absolutely no evidence that there is any significant biological difference between humans and the rest of life that would indicate independent origins. In fact we’re more closely related genetically to chimps than African elephants are to Asian elephants.

    Not everything you see/read on the internet is true, it’s actually basically all complete shit with small kernels of truth, but unless you’re going to make the commitment to become an expert you should think twice about being so dismissive of what experts in a given field say.

  • Marilee Krogel

    yes, the experts that are on the payroll of the elite. yes, believe them. you’re bought and paid for.

  • http://thinkahol.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/a-philosophical-orientation-toward-solving-our-collective-problems-as-a-species/ thinkahol

    you don’t really understand how science works do you? That’s right assume everyone who disagrees with you is an agent of the elite, because questioning our beliefs is bad.

    Mind you the world is ending because of the elites, but scientific evidence is all we actually need to show it:

    http://www.thenation.com/article/177614/coming-instant-planetary-emergency

  • Marilee Krogel
  • Marilee Krogel

    i might add too that the Great Global Warming Swindle documentary is the most thorough explanation of what a scam it really is. I suggest watching that for sure.

  • deborah j barnes

    Reading comments-as to how we are here , the beliefs are in constant flux and as we evolve we shall learn more of the “more.” (part of expanding consciousness in relation to Gaiad Theory) But how we act now with the (sum) knowledge we have..this is most important. I so agree that Love is the the real solution, the how to enable the flow, needs work! New stories for a new paradigm is one way -this from J Campbell in last talks with B Moyer- i said yes to the stories and….new project started So yes, we can heal and live as new and yes Love is the way to unity. I started bringing ecosystem thinking to play with quantum physic possibilities and ended up with Gaiad Theory all to help my hero find her way back to love in -Journey to the Center of Being. Healing mythic inheritance is part of her journey (and my own, as beliefs are often false, viral and contagious) . Some days i wonder how the story will manifest as is larger than former works Today you reminded me that we are not alone in this new dance. “We can and must do better than this ” Dr Suess So yay, thanks for speaking up and showing up right on time!

  • Josef Davies-Coates

    Guy Fawkes was not a revolutionary, he was basically working for the Pope and wanted England to go back to being a Catholic state. There was nothing revolutionary about him (in contrast to the character in V for Vendetta where this version of the mask is from)

  • pauladkin

    Thanks Ian, this is a very well synthesized narrative describing a very real and urgent awakening. Personally, however, I found your final conclusion weakened by the appearance of the “love” word. I think in reformulating reality the term “love” is a dangerous term, as it is one that has far too many subjective meanings and has been abused by power already far too often. Love can be as destructive as it can be creative, and our anti-human history is full of terrible crimes created out of love, or love of God, or love of the nation or love of any kind of ideology. In this way love loses its very meaning and power, becoming a tool in itself for ideological manipulations. In order to occupy the Noosphere positively and creatively “love” is not enough. It has to be a directed love: love of humanity in the world as a first priority.

    Paul Adkin http://pauladkin.wordpress.com

  • maplebob23

    How much of a royalty did Warner Bros. get for the Guy Fawkes mask?

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Yes, the “official” mask design from the film is owned by Warner Bros. There are many knock-offs made by others around the world. I sense a critique in your comment – if you offer more of your perspective I could offer a reply.

  • http://ianmack.com/ Ian MacKenzie

    Yes. I really enjoyed saying it.

  • http://ianmack.com/ Ian MacKenzie

    My invoking of the Guy Fawkes story was not to posit him as an “evolutionary” but rather, an example of how memes are adapted, shared, and manifested.

  • http://ianmack.com/ Ian MacKenzie

    Thanks Paul. Your critique of using “Love” is fair – though part of my mission is to recast true love as inseparable from “Interdependence.” What would our programs, platforms, and structures look like if they embodied interdependence. This goes far beyond only love of humanity – this is love of Life itself.

  • Josef Davies-Coates

    Yeah sure fair enough, my comment was just in response to where it says “How does the face of a 17th century revolutionary end up as the most recognizable symbol of protest in the 21st?” above and nothing else – I’ve not even watched the video yet! :-P

  • Josef Davies-Coates

    PS just actually watched the video. Aside from that small point, not giving enough emphasis to how occupy itself was a meme caught from Spain etc (although thankfully you do mention it), and pronouncing noosphere as no-es-phere instead of noo-sphere, really great work, thank you! :-D

  • http://ianmack.com/ Ian MacKenzie

    thanks josef – you may be interested in checking out the feature doc I co-produced Occupy Love. We follow the thread from Tunisia, to Egypt to Spain, and beyond http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cTBlGcZCeA

  • http://ianmack.com/ Ian MacKenzie

    It’s true, Warner Bros does get a royalty for the official sales of the mask. I don’t find this so much an irony, more of a weakness. Like Michael Moore said in “The Corporation,” corporations are willing to sell pretty much anything, even if it’s ultimately detrimental to themselves. Using the existing structures to transform culture/society is also a much more elegant way of shifting toward a future that works for all life.

  • Guest

    Warner Brothers said, “Go out, where Guy Fawkes masques, protest something you don’t understand, and pay us for the masques.”

    And you did.

    Michael Moore is a corporation who treats his own employees like crap. Whatever he has to say, I don’t care. His only good movie is Team America.

  • maplebob23

    Warner Brothers said, “Go out, wear Guy Fawkes masques, protest something you don’t understand, and pay us for the right to wear our masques.”

    And you did.

    As for Micheal Moore, he is a corporation who treats his own employees like crap. If he has something to say, I don’t care. His only good movie is Team America.

  • Heinrich Rocholl

    Hi Ian, i contibuted german subtitles to your inspiring video. Thank from my soul for standing up for Love. I fully agree with your message and am awakening into every moment that is .I offer You support for reaching a broader audience in subtitling more of what you want to share with the world. Let me know if this or anthing else can be of help. I am open. B) Lovehugs offered From Heinrich Rocholl Germany Saxony

  • Heinrich Rocholl

    I dont see the new possibility of german subtitles on this page/ next to the facebook link. I Invite you to add this window. thanks Heinrich

  • http://ianmack.com/ Ian MacKenzie

    Thanks Heinrich. I’m not able to actually embed the subtitles in the youtube video since it’s via the TedX site, though you can re-embed the video using the code off amara http://www.amara.org/en/videos/5wgHNA2s5Wya/info/how-to-occupy-the-noosphere-ian-mackenzie-at-tedxvictoria-2013/