Introducing Litmus Media Host: Calum Glendinning-Clark

By Litmus Media

A few questions with Divergent host, Calum Glendinning-Clark.

Can you elaborate on your use of the word Divergent?
I mean the most obvious thing about it is the alliteration of disability, but also it is a play on the noun of ability, and the negation of that noun ‘dis-ability’. Which to me, seemed to fall short on describing an almost endless spectrum of experiences that are all unique. Disability is not a dirty word but with the obvious negation of the ‘noun’ able creates an experience of the world that ‘other’ from what is able. I like how divergent when describing disability is a direct play on words too. I mean to be divergent, dissimilar, unalike etc means you need something to be dissimilar from, right? So, by using that word you are immediately bringing attention to ‘normality’, and there is no such thing as normal. It’s a backwards play on the assertion of the norm disability gives with the noun ‘ability’. Another level is how disability puts the interaction with the world as an individual experience, as either being able or unable. Whereas divergent brings more attention to the fact that there is something to be different from and what is that? Is it really about ‘ability’ or is it about the normative cast or structure that demands the body to be and function in a particular way? I like this because then instead of looking at that individual we have to look at a collective experience of how the structures, the built environment, the political world, economics and so on, dictate and create something that someone might be divergent from. This then takes the language away from the individuals ‘ability’ and looks to the world that demands that ‘ability’. Divergent sits in between the contraries of ‘able’ and ‘not able’ by instead looking to a spectrum of physical, psycho-social and socio-economic experiences.

What's your favourite youtube video? Why?
For the last three days I’ve been rinsing Jeremy Rifkin talks and lectures on ‘the third industrial revolution’ where he talks about capitilsim succeeding by cretating the ultimate paradox ‘zero marginal cost’, basically stuff for close to free. I keep going back to it because I think as well as not destroying the planet with oil and fossil fuels imagine if everyone had access to housing (subsidised through savings and sustainable items through 3d printing), transport (self driving vehicles that operate like public transport but scan the environment for analyitical data like those robots at the supermarket now), energy (renewable and sustainable energy generate for free by sun, wind and water) education and information (already happening with community development of things like Wikipedia) at a zero marginal cost. I don’t think this Is the utopian solution it sounds like but definitely brings the conversation more to access which I like.

Tell us about your rescue greyhound.
My rescue greyhounds name is Tia. She is 11 and was a racer for a lot of her life so she’s been brought up to either be racing or live in a cage. She loves humans and is super friendly but is very afraid of other dogs but she just got her greyhound color. I hope I can train her better because I can’t let her off lead yet to go outside for a pee, so when I need to take her out I need to do a couple of laps of the house to wake up legs up because of the paralysis and put shoes on because my toes are curled under because of spasticity. But also I think it’s so cool when you see dogs just wondering around following the person they live with. I’d love to take her to the beach off lead.

Can you talk about some of the books that you've been reading in 2020?
So at the moment I am reading ‘the soul at work, from alienation to autonomy’ by Franco “bifo” Berandi on my favourite publication semiotext(e), which talks about the implications of ‘capitalism on the ‘soul’, and uses the soul as something tangible as a kind of collective consciousness of experience going back to workers rights movments in the 60’s and 70’s. An amazing one I read was ‘the body keeps the score’ by Bessel Van Der Kolk which is about the shortcomings of the DSM5 and mainstream psychiatry and advocates for trauma informed practices. Lots of physiology books around my recovery ‘from the ground up a human powered framework for spinal cord injury recovery’ will probably be something I never stop going back too. And then for relaxing short stories by Edgar Allan poe, I love the pit and the pendulum. Also excerts from ‘Hatred of Capitilism’ a compilation by semiotext ( e). Then journal articles and essays but that’s more from reading lists friends send me from work or university and stuff.

Alongside your podcasting work you're also a journalist and a writer. Can you tell us about some of the writers that inspired you?
Oh, wow who inspired me? Well my all-time favourites are Chris Kraus, Simone Weil, Sammuel Beckett, Jean Genet not that those are particularly unusual or anything but then it would really obvious stuff that influenced me in my late teens like James Joyce, Silvia Plath, William S Burroughs oh and Bertrand Russel the problems of philosophy hit pretty hard when I was 17. I like lots of theory though too like Gillies Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Judith Butler, Walter Benjamin. There’s a book I love I wrote about before called ‘the production of presence, what meaning cannot convey by Ulrich Gumbrecht. That one is great. But I guess its more of the ideas that stay with me and ways of reading and seeing more so than particular quotes or excerpts or anything. My memory isn’t that great.

If you could share a meal with one of your guests from Divergent, what would you cook for them/share with them?
I’d love to go to the fish and chip shop in Stonehaven in the north east of Scotland near where I was born with Emily, my friend who is in episode one. My gran lives there and they have ‘the worlds best fish and chip shop’ and ‘the birth place of the deep friend mars bar’. Emily said they really want to go to Scotland but also they’re vegetarian and I don’t think the north east of Scotland is particularly sensitive to that. Maybe can get a meali pudding and chips.

You can listen to Divergent, here.