T. A. Z.
The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy,
Autonomedia Anti-copyright, 1985, 1991. May be freely
pirated & quoted-- the author & publisher, however, would
like to be informed at:
P. O. Box 568
Brooklyn, NY 11211-0568
Book design & typesetting: Dave Mandl
This HTML version is based heavily on an original conversion
Morrison, with minor corrections and compilation into one
single file done by Marius
Printed in the United States of America
CHAOS: THE BROADSHEETS OF ONTOLOGICAL ANARCHISM
was first published in 1985 by Grim Reaper Press of Weehawken,
New Jersey; a later re-issue was published in Providence, Rhode
Island, and this edition was pirated in Boulder, Colorado. Another
edition was released by Verlag Golem of Providence in 1990, and
pirated in Santa Cruz, California, by We Press. "The Temporary
Autonomous Zone" was performed at the Jack Kerouac School
of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, and on WBAI-FM in New York
City, in 1990.
Thanx to the following publications, current and defunct,
in which some of these pieces appeared (no doubt I've lost or
forgotten many--sorry!): KAOS (London); Ganymede
(London); Pan (Amsterdam); Popular Reality;
Exquisite Corpse (also Stiffest of the Corpse,
City Lights); Anarchy (Columbia, MO); Factsheet
Five; Dharma Combat; OVO; City
Lights Review; Rants and Incendiary Tracts
(Amok); Apocalypse Culture (Amok); Mondo 2000;
The Sporadical; Black Eye; Moorish
Science Monitor; FEH!; Fag Rag;
The Storm!; Panic (Chicago); Bolo
Log (Zurich); Anathema; Seditious Delicious;
Minor Problems (London); AQUA; Prakilpana.
Also, thanx to the following individuals: Jim Fleming; James
Koehnline; Sue Ann Harkey; Sharon Gannon; Dave Mandl; Bob Black;
Robert Anton Wilson; William Burroughs; "P.M."; Joel
Birroco; Adam Parfrey; Brett Rutherford; Jake Rabinowitz; Allen
Ginsberg; Anne Waldman; Frank Torey; Andr&SHY; Codrescu; Dave
Crowbar; Ivan Stang; Nathaniel Tarn; Chris Funkhauser; Steve
Englander; Alex Trotter. --March, 1991
CHAOS: THE BROADSHEETS OF
(Dedicated to Ustad Mahmud Ali Abd al-Khabir)
CHAOS NEVER DIED. Primordial uncarved block, sole worshipful
monster, inert & spontaneous, more ultraviolet than any mythology
(like the shadows before Babylon), the original undifferentiated
oneness-of-being still radiates serene as the black pennants
of Assassins, random & perpetually intoxicated.
Chaos comes before all principles of order & entropy,
it's neither a god nor a maggot, its idiotic desires encompass
& define every possible choreography, all meaningless aethers
& phlogistons: its masks are crystallizations of its own
facelessness, like clouds.
Everything in nature is perfectly real including consciousness,
there's absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only have the
chains of the Law been broken, they never existed; demons never
guarded the stars, the Empire never got started, Eros never grew
No, listen, what happened was this: they lied to you, sold
you ideas of good & evil, gave you distrust of your body
& shame for your prophethood of chaos, invented words of
disgust for your molecular love, mesmerized you with inattention,
bored you with civilization & all its usurious emotions.
There is no becoming, no revolution, no struggle, no path;
already you're the monarch of your own skin--your inviolable
freedom waits to be completed only by the love of other monarchs:
a politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky.
To shed all the illusory rights & hesitations of history
demands the economy of some legendary Stone Age--shamans not
priests, bards not lords, hunters not police, gatherers of paleolithic
laziness, gentle as blood, going naked for a sign or painted
as birds, poised on the wave of explicit presence, the clockless
Agents of chaos cast burning glances at anything or anyone
capable of bearing witness to their condition, their fever of
lux et voluptas. I am awake only in what I love &
desire to the point of terror--everything else is just shrouded
furniture, quotidian anaesthesia, shit-for-brains, sub-reptilian
ennui of totalitarian regimes, banal censorship & useless
Avatars of chaos act as spies, saboteurs, criminals of amour
fou, neither selfless nor selfish, accessible as children, mannered
as barbarians, chafed with obsessions, unemployed, sensually
deranged, wolfangels, mirrors for contemplation, eyes like flowers,
pirates of all signs & meanings.
Here we are crawling the cracks between walls of church state
school & factory, all the paranoid monoliths. Cut off from
the tribe by feral nostalgia we tunnel after lost words, imaginary
The last possible deed is that which defines perception
itself, an invisible golden cord that connects us: illegal dancing
in the courthouse corridors. If I were to kiss you here they'd
call it an act of terrorism--so let's take our pistols to bed
& wake up the city at midnight like drunken bandits celebrating
with a fusillade, the message of the taste of chaos.
WEIRD DANCING IN ALL-NIGHT computer-banking lobbies. Unauthorized
pyrotechnic displays. Land-art, earth-works as bizarre alien
artifacts strewn in State Parks. Burglarize houses but instead
of stealing, leave Poetic-Terrorist objects. Kidnap someone &
make them happy. Pick someone at random & convince them they're
the heir to an enormous, useless & amazing fortune--say 5000
square miles of Antarctica, or an aging circus elephant, or an
orphanage in Bombay, or a collection of alchemical mss. Later
they will come to realize that for a few moments they believed
in something extraordinary, & will perhaps be driven as a
result to seek out some more intense mode of existence.
Bolt up brass commemorative plaques in places (public or private)
where you have experienced a revelation or had a particularly
fulfilling sexual experience, etc.
Go naked for a sign.
Organize a strike in your school or workplace on the grounds
that it does not satisfy your need for indolence & spiritual
Grafitti-art loaned some grace to ugly subways & rigid
public momuments--PT-art can also be created for public places:
poems scrawled in courthouse lavatories, small fetishes abandoned
in parks & restaurants, xerox-art under windshield-wipers
of parked cars, Big Character Slogans pasted on playground walls,
anonymous letters mailed to random or chosen recipients (mail
fraud), pirate radio transmissions, wet cement...
The audience reaction or aesthetic-shock produced by PT ought
to be at least as strong as the emotion of terror-- powerful
disgust, sexual arousal, superstitious awe, sudden intuitive
breakthrough, dada-esque angst--no matter whether the PT is aimed
at one person or many, no matter whether it is "signed"
or anonymous, if it does not change someone's life (aside from
the artist) it fails.
PT is an act in a Theater of Cruelty which has no stage, no
rows of seats, no tickets & no walls. In order to work at
all, PT must categorically be divorced from all conventional
structures for art consumption (galleries, publications, media).
Even the guerilla Situationist tactics of street theater are
perhaps too well known & expected now.
An exquisite seduction carried out not only in the cause of
mutual satisfaction but also as a conscious act in a deliberately
beautiful life--may be the ultimate PT. The PTerrorist behaves
like a confidence-trickster whose aim is not money but CHANGE.
Don't do PT for other artists, do it for people who will not
realize (at least for a few moments) that what you have done
is art. Avoid recognizable art-categories, avoid politics, don't
stick around to argue, don't be sentimental; be ruthless, take
risks, vandalize only what must be defaced, do something
children will remember all their lives--but don't be spontaneous
unless the PT Muse has possessed you.
Dress up. Leave a false name. Be legendary. The best PT is
against the law, but don't get caught. Art as crime; crime as
AMOUR FOU IS NOT a Social Democracy, it is not a Parliament
of Two. The minutes of its secret meetings deal with meanings
too enormous but too precise for prose. Not this, not that--its
Book of Emblems trembles in your hand.
Naturally it shits on schoolmasters & police, but it sneers
at liberationists & ideologues as well--it is not a clean
well-lit room. A topological charlatan laid out its corridors
& abandoned parks, its ambush-decor of luminous black &
membranous maniacal red.
Each of us owns half the map--like two renaissance potentates
we define a new culture with our anathematized mingling of bodies,
merging of liquids--the Imaginal seams of our City-state blur
in our sweat.
Ontological anarchism never came back from its last fishing
trip. So long as no one squeals to the FBI, CHAOS cares nothing
for the future of civilization. Amour fou breeds only by accident--its
primary goal is ingestion of the Galaxy. A conspiracy of transmutation.
Its only concern for the Family lies in the possibility of
incest ("Grow your own!" "Every human a Pharoah!")--O
most sincere of readers, my semblance, my brother/sister!--&
in the masturbation of a child it finds concealed (like a japanese-paper-flower-pill)
the image of the crumbling of the State.
Words belong to those who use them only till someone else
steals them back. The Surrealists disgraced themselves by selling
amour fou to the ghost-machine of Abstraction--they sought in
their unconsciousness only power over others, & in this they
followed de Sade (who wanted "freedom" only for grown-up
whitemen to eviscerate women & children).
Amour fou is saturated with its own aesthetic, it fills itself
to the borders of itself with the trajectories of its own gestures,
it runs on angels' clocks, it is not a fit fate for commissars
& shopkeepers. Its ego evaporates in the mutability of desire,
its communal spirit withers in the selfishness of obsession.
Amour fou involves non-ordinary sexuality the way sorcery
demands non-ordinary consciousness. The anglo-saxon post- Protestant
world channels all its suppressed sensuality into advertising
& splits itself into clashing mobs: hysterical prudes vs
promiscuous clones & former-ex-singles. AF doesn't want to
join anyone's army, it takes no part in the Gender Wars, it is
bored by equal opportunity employment (in fact it refuses to
work for a living), it doesn't complain, doesn't explain, never
votes & never pays taxes.
AF would like to see every bastard ("lovechild")
come to term & birthed--AF thrives on anti-entropic devices--AF
loves to be molested by children--AF is better than prayer, better
than sinsemilla--AF takes its own palmtrees & moon wherever
it goes. AF admires tropicalismo, sabotage, break- dancing, Layla
& Majnun, the smells of gunpowder & sperm.
AF is always illegal, whether it's disguised as a marriage
or a boyscout troop--always drunk, whether on the wine of its
own secretions or the smoke of its own polymorphous virtues.
It is not the derangement of the senses but rather their apotheosis--not
the result of freedom but rather its precondition. Lux et
THE FULL MOON'S UNFATHOMABLE light-path--mid-May midnight
in some State that starts with "I," so two-dimensional
it can scarcely be said to possess any geography at all--the
beams so urgent & tangible you must draw the shades in order
to think in words.
No question of writing to Wild Children. They think
in images--prose is for them a code not yet fully digested &
ossified, just as for us never fully trusted.
You may write about them, so that others who have
lost the silver chain may follow. Or write for them,
making of STORY & EMBLEM a process of seduction into your
own paleolithic memories, a barbaric enticement to liberty (chaos
as CHAOS understands it).
For this otherworld species or "third sex," les
enfants sauvages, fancy & Imagination are still undifferentiated.
Unbridled PLAY: at one & the same time the source of our
Art & of all the race's rarest eros.
To embrace disorder both as wellspring of style & voluptuous
storehouse, a fundamental of our alien & occult civilization,
our conspiratorial esthetic, our lunatic espionage--this is the
action (let's face it) either of an artist of some sort, or of
a ten- or thirteen-year-old.
Children whose clarified senses betray them into a brilliant
sorcery of beautiful pleasure reflect something feral & smutty
in the nature of reality itself: natural ontological anarchists,
angels of chaos--their gestures & body odors broadcast around
them a jungle of presence, a forest of prescience complete with
snakes, ninja weapons, turtles, futuristic shamanism, incredible
mess, piss, ghosts, sunlight, jerking off, birds' nests &
eggs--gleeful aggression against the groan-ups of those Lower
Planes so powerless to englobe either destructive epiphanies
or creation in the form of antics fragile but sharp enough to
And yet the denizens of these inferior jerkwater dimensions
truly believe they control the destinies of Wild Children--&
down here, such vicious beliefs actually sculpt most
of the substance of happenstance.
The only ones who actually wish to share the mischievous
destiny of those savage runaways or minor guerillas rather than
dictate it, the only ones who can understand that cherishing
& unleashing are the same act--these are mostly
artists, anarchists, perverts, heretics, a band apart (as much
from each other as from the world) or able to meet only as wild
children might, locking gazes across a dinnertable while adults
gibber from behind their masks.
Too young for Harley choppers--flunk-outs, break-dancers,
scarcely pubescent poets of flat lost railroad towns--a million
sparks falling from the skyrockets of Rimbaud & Mowgli--slender
terrorists whose gaudy bombs are compacted of polymorphous love
& the precious shards of popular culture--punk gunslingers
dreaming of piercing their ears, animist bicyclists gliding in
the pewter dusk through Welfare streets of accidental flowers--out-of-season
gypsy skinny-dippers, smiling sideways-glancing thieves of power-
totems, small change & panther-bladed knives--we sense them
everywhere--we publish this offer to trade the corruption of
our own lux et gaudium for their perfect gentle filth.
So get this: our realization, our liberation depends on theirs--not
because we ape the Family, those "misers of love" who
hold hostages for a banal future, nor the State which schools
us all to sink beneath the event-horizon of a tedious "usefulness"--no--but
because we & they, the wild ones, are images of
each other, linked & bordered by that silver chain which
defines the pale of sensuality, transgression & vision.
We share the same enemies & our means of triumphant escape
are also the same: a delirious & obsessive play,
powered by the spectral brilliance of the wolves & their
CONSTELLATIONS BY WHICH TO steer the barque of the soul. "If
the moslem understood Islam he would become an idol- worshipper."--Mahmud
Shabestari Eleggua, ugly opener of doors with a hook in his head
& cowrie shells for eyes, black santeria cigar & glass
of rum- -same as Ganesh, elephant-head fat boy of Beginnings
who rides a mouse. The organ which senses the numinous atrophies
with the senses. Those who cannot feel baraka cannot know the
caress of the world.
Hermes Poimandres taught the animation of eidolons, the magic
in-dwelling of icons by spirits--but those who cannot perform
this rite on themselves & on the whole palpable fabric of
material being will inherit only blues, rubbish, decay.
The pagan body becomes a Court of Angels who all perceive
this place--this very grove--as paradise ("If there is a
paradise, surely it is here!"--inscription on a
Mughal garden gate)..
But ontological anarchism is too paleolithic for eschatology-
-things are real, sorcery works, bush-spirits one with the Imagination,
death an unpleasant vagueness--the plot of Ovid's Metamorphoses--an
epic of mutability. The personal mythscape.
Paganism has not yet invented laws--only virtues. No priestcraft,
no theology or metaphysics or morality--but a universal shamanism
in which no one attains real humanity without a vision.
Food money sex sleep sun sand & sinsemilla--love truth
peace freedom & justice. Beauty. Dionysus the drunk boy on
a panther--rank adolescent sweat--Pan goatman slogs through the
solid earth up to his waist as if it were the sea, his skin crusted
with moss & lichen--Eros multiplies himself into a dozen
pastoral naked Iowa farm boys with muddy feet & pond-scum
on their thighs.
Raven, the potlatch trickster, sometimes a boy, old woman,
bird who stole the Moon, pine needles floating on a pond, Heckle/Jeckle
totempole-head, chorus-line of crows with silver eyes dancing
on the woodpile--same as Semar the hunchback albino hermaphrodite
shadow-puppet patron of the Javanese revolution.
Yemaya, bluestar sea-goddess & patroness of queers--same
as Tara, bluegrey aspect of Kali, necklace of skulls, dancing
on Shiva's stiff lingam, licking monsoon clouds with her yard-long
tongue--same as Loro Kidul, jasper-green Javanese sea-goddess
who bestows the power of invulnerability on sultans by tantrik
intercourse in magic towers & caves.
>From one point of view ontological anarchism is extremely
bare, stripped of all qualities & possessions, poor as CHAOS
itself--but from another point of view it pullulates with baroqueness
like the Fucking-Temples of Kathmandu or an alchemical emblem
book--it sprawls on its divan eating loukoum & entertaining
heretical notions, one hand inside its baggy trousers.
The hulls of its pirate ships are lacquered black, the lateen
sails are red, black banners with the device of a winged hourglass.
A South China Sea of the mind, off a jungle-flat coast of
palms, rotten gold temples to unknown bestiary gods, island after
island, the breeze like wet yellow silk on naked skin, navigating
by pantheistic stars, hierophany on hierophany, light upon light
against the luminous & chaotic dark.
ART SABOTAGE STRIVES TO be perfectly exemplary but at the
same time retain an element of opacity--not propaganda but aesthetic
shock--apallingly direct yet also subtly angled-- action-as-metaphor.
Art Sabotage is the dark side of Poetic Terrorism--creation-
through-destruction--but it cannot serve any Party, nor any nihilism,
nor even art itself. Just as the banishment of illusion enhances
awareness, so the demolition of aesthetic blight sweetens the
air of the world of discourse, of the Other. Art Sabotage serves
only consciousness, attentiveness, awakeness.
A-S goes beyond paranoia, beyond deconstruction--the ultimate
criticism--physical attack on offensive art-- aesthetic jihad.
The slightest taint of petty ego-icity or even of personal taste
spoils its purity & vitiates its force. A-S can never seek
power--only release it.
Individual artworks (even the worst) are largely irrelevant-
-A-S seeks to damage institutions which use art to diminish consciousness
& profit by delusion. This or that poet or painter cannot
be condemned for lack of vision--but malign Ideas can be assaulted
through the artifacts they generate. MUZAK is designed to hypnotize
& control--its machinery can be smashed.
Public book burnings--why should rednecks & Customs officials
monopolize this weapon? Novels about children possessed by demons;
the New York Times bestseller list; feminist tracts
against pornography; schoolbooks (especially Social Studies,
Civics, Health); piles of New York Post , Village
Voice & other supermarket papers; choice gleanings
of Xtian publishers; a few Harlequin Romances--a festive atmosphere,
wine-bottles & joints passed around on a clear autumn afternoon.
To throw money away at the Stock Exchange was pretty decent
Poetic Terrorism--but to destroy the money would have
been good Art Sabotage. To seize TV transmission & broadcast
a few pirated minutes of incendiary Chaote art would constitute
a feat of PT--but simply to blow up the transmission tower would
be perfectly adequate Art Sabotage. If certain galleries &
museums deserve an occasional brick through their windows--not
destruction, but a jolt to complacency--then what about BANKS?
Galleries turn beauty into a commodity but banks transmute Imagination
into feces and debt. Wouldn't the world gain a degree of beauty
with each bank that could be made to tremble...or fall? But how?
Art Sabotage should probably stay away from politics (it's so
boring)--but not from banks.
Don't picket--vandalize. Don't protest--deface. When ugliness,
poor design & stupid waste are forced upon you, turn Luddite,
throw your shoe in the works, retaliate. Smash the symbols of
the Empire in the name of nothing but the heart's longing for
ACROSS THE LUSTER OF the desert & into the polychrome
hills, hairless & ochre violet dun & umber, at the top
of a dessicate blue valley travelers find an artificial oasis,
a fortified castle in saracenic style enclosing a hidden garden.
As guests of the Old Man of the Mountain Hassan-i Sabbah they
climb rock-cut steps to the castle. Here the Day of Resurrection
has already come & gone--those within live outside profane
Time, which they hold at bay with daggers & poisons.
Behind crenellations & slit-windowed towers scholars &
fedayeen wake in narrow monolithic cells. Star-maps, astrolabes,
alembics & retorts, piles of open books in a shaft of morning
sunlight--an unsheathed scimitar.
Each of those who enter the realm of the Imam-of-one's-own-
being becomes a sultan of inverted revelation, a monarch
of abrogation & apostasy. In a central chamber scalloped
with light and hung with tapestried arabesques they lean on bolsters
& smoke long chibouks of haschisch scented with opium &
For them the hierarchy of being has compacted to a dimensionless
punctum of the real--for them the chains of Law have been broken--they
end their fasting with wine. For them the outside of everything
is its inside, its true face shines through direct. But the garden
gates are camouflaged with terrorism, mirrors, rumors of assassination,
trompe l'oeil, legends.
Pomegranate, mulberry, persimmon, the erotic melancholy of
cypresses, membrane-pink shirazi roses, braziers of meccan aloes
& benzoin, stiff shafts of ottoman tulips, carpets spread
like make-believe gardens on actual lawns--a pavilion set with
a mosaic of calligrammes--a willow, a stream with watercress--a
fountain crystalled underneath with geometry-- the metaphysical
scandal of bathing odalisques, of wet brown cupbearers hide-&-seeking
in the foliage--"water, greenery, beautiful faces."
By night Hassan-i Sabbah like a civilized wolf in a turban
stretches out on a parapet above the garden & glares at the
sky, conning the asterisms of heresy in the mindless cool desert
air. True, in this myth some aspirant disciples may be ordered
to fling themselves off the ramparts into the black--but also
true that some of them will learn to fly like sorcerers.
The emblem of Alamut holds in the mind, a mandals or
magic circle lost to history but embedded or imprinted in consciousness.
The Old Man flits like a ghost into tents of kings & bedrooms
of theologians, past all locks & guards with forgotten moslem/ninja
techniques, leaves behind bad dreams, stilettos on pillows, puissant
The attar of his propaganda seeps into the criminal dreams
of ontological anarchism, the heraldry of our obsessions displays
the luminous black outlaw banners of the Assassins...all of them
pretenders to the throne of an Imaginal Egypt, an occult space/light
continuum consumed by still-unimagined liberties.
INVENTED BY THE CHINESE but never developed for war--a fine
example of Poetic Terrorism--a weapon used to trigger aesthetic
shock rather than kill--the Chinese hated war & used to go
into mourning when armies were raised--gunpowder more useful
to frighten malign demons, delight children, fill the air with
brave & risky-smelling haze.
Class C Thunder Bombs from Kwantung, bottlerockets, butterflies,
M-80's, sunflowers, "A Forest In Springtime"-- revolution
weather--light your cigarette from the sizzling fuse of a Haymarket-black
bomb--imagine the air full of lamiae & succubi, oppressive
spirits, police-ghosts. Call some kid with a smouldering punk
or kitchen match-- shaman-apostle of summer gunpowder plots--shatter
the heavy night with pinched stars & pumped stars, arsenic
& antimony, sodium & calomel, a blitz of magnesium &
shrill picrate of potash.
Spur-fire (lampblack & saltpetre) portfire & iron
filings-- attack your local bank or ugly church with roman candles
& purple-gold skyrockets, impromptu & anonymous (perhaps
launch from back of pick-up truck..)
Build frame-lattice lancework set-pieces on the roofs of insurance
buildings or schools--a kundalini-snake or Chaos- dragon coiled
barium-green against a background of sodium- oxalate yellow--Don't
Tread On Me--or copulating monsters shooting wads of jizm-fire
at a Baptists old folks home.
Cloud-sculpture, smoke sculpture & flags = Air Art. Earthworks.
Fountains = Water Art. And Fireworks. Don't perform with Rockefeller
grants & police permits for audiences of culture-lovers.
Evanescent incendiary mind-bombs, scary mandalas flaring up on
smug suburban nights, alien green thunderheads of emotional plague
blasted by orgone-blue vajra-rays of lasered feux d'artifice.
Comets that explode with the odor of hashish & radioactive
charcoal--swampghouls & will-o'-the-wisps haunting public
parks--fake St. Elmo's fire flickering over the architecture
of the bourgeoisie--strings of lady-fingers falling on the Legislature
floor--salamander-elementals attack well-known moral reformers.
Blazing shellac, sugar of milk, strontium, pitch, gum water,
gerbs of chinese fire--for a few moments the air is ozone- sharp--drifting
opal cloud of pungent dragon/phoenix smoke. For an instant the
Empire falls, its princes & governors flee to their stygian
muck, plumes of sulphur from elf- flamethrowers burning their
pinched asses as they retreat. The Assassin-child, psyche of
fire, holds sway for one brief dogstar-hot night.
Unseen Chaos (po-te-kitea)
Chaos of utter darkness
Untouched & untouchable
Chaos perches on a sky-mountain: a huge bird like a yellow
bag or red fireball, with six feet & four wings--has no face
but dances & sings.
Or Chaos is a black longhaired dog, blind & deaf, lacking
the five viscera.
Chaos the Abyss comes first, then Earth/Gaia, then Desire/Eros.
From these three proceed two pairs--Erebus & old Night, Aether
& Daylight. Neither Being nor Non-being
neither air nor earth nor space:
what was enclosed? where? under whose protection?
What was water, deep, unfathomable?
Neither death nor immortality, day nor night--
but ONE breathed by itself with no wind.
Nothing else. Darkness swathed in darkness,
The ONE, hidden by void,
felt the generation of heat, came into being
as Desire, first seed of Mind...
Was there an up or down?
There were casters of seed, there were powers:
energy underneath, impulse above.
But who knows for sure?
Tiamat the Chaos-Ocean slowly drops from her womb Silt &
Slime, the Horizons, Sky and watery Wisdom. These offspring grow
noisy & bumptious--she considers their destruction.
But Marduk the wargod of Babylon rises in rebellion against
the Old Hag & her Chaos-monsters, chthonic totems--Worm,
Female Ogre, Great Lion, Mad Dog, Scorpion Man, Howling Storm--dragons
wearing their glory like gods--& Tiamat herself a great sea-serpent.
Marduk accuses her of causing sons to rebel against fathers-
-she loves Mist & Cloud, principles of disorder. Marduk will
be the first to rule, to invent government. In battle he slays
Tiamat & from her body orders the material universe. He inaugurates
the Babylonian Empire--then from gibbets & bloody entrails
of Tiamat's incestuous son he creates the human race to serve
forever the comfort of gods--& their high priests & anointed
Father Zeus & the Olympians wage war against Mother Gaia
& the Titans, those partisans of Chaos, the old ways of hunting
& gathering, of aimless wandering, androgyny & the license
Amon-Ra (Being) sits alone in the primordial Chaos-Ocean of
NUN creating all the other gods by jerking off--but Chaos also
manifests as the dragon Apophis whom Ra must destroy (along with
his state of glory, his shadow & his magic) in order that
the Pharoah may safely rule--a victory ritually re-created daily
in Imperial temples to confound the enemies of the State, of
Chaos is Hun Tun, Emperor of the Center. One day the South
Sea, Emperor Shu, & the North Sea, Emperor Hu (shu hu
= lightning) paid a visit to Hun Tun, who always treated them
well. Wishing to repay his kindness they said, "All beings
have seven orifices for seeing, hearing, eating, shitting, etc.--but
poor old Hun Tun has none! Let's drill some into him!" So
they did--one orifice a day--till on the seventh day, Chaos died.
But...Chaos is also an enormous chicken's egg. Inside it P'an-Ku
is born & grows for 18,000 years--at last the egg opens up,
splits into sky & earth, yang & yin. Now P'an-Ku grows
into a column that holds up the universe--or else he becomes
the universe (breath-->wind, eyes-->sun & moon, blood
& humors-->rivers & seas, hair & lashes-->stars
& planets, sperm-->pearls, marrow-->jade, his fleas-->human
Or else he becomes the man/monster Yellow Emperor. Or else
he becomes Lao Tzu, prophet of Tao. In fact, poor old Hun Tun
is the Tao itself.
"Nature's music has no existence outside things. The
various apertures, pipes, flutes, all living beings together
make up nature. The "I" cannot produce things &
things cannot produce the "I," which is self-existent.
Things are what they are spontaneously, not caused by something
else. Everything is natural & does not know why it is so.
The 10,000 things have 10,000 different states, all in motion
as if there were a True Lord to move them--but if we search for
evidence of this Lord we fail to find any." (Kuo Hsiang)
Every realized consciousness is an "emperor" whose
sole form of rule is to do nothing to disturb the spontaneity
of nature, the Tao. The "sage" is not Chaos itself,
but rather a loyal child of Chaos--one of P'an-Ku's fleas, a
fragment of flesh of Tiamat's monstrous son. "Heaven and
Earth," says Chuang Tzu, "were born at the same time
I was, & the 10,000 things are one with me."
Ontological Anarchism tends to disagree only with the Taoists'
total quietism. In our world Chaos has been overthrown by younger
gods, moralists, phallocrats, banker- priests, fit lords for
serfs. If rebellion proves impossible then at least a kind of
clandestine spiritual jihad might be launched. Let it follow
the war-banners of the anarchist black dragon, Tiamat, Hun Tun.
Chaos never died.
IN PERSIA I SAW that poetry is meant to be set to music &
chanted or sung--for one reason alone--because it works.
A right combination of image & tune plunges the audience
into a hal (something between emotional/aesthetic mood
& trance of hyperawareness), outbursts of weeping, fits of
dancing--measurable physical response to art. For us the link
between poetry & body died with the bardic era--we read under
the influence of a cartesian anaesthetic gas.
In N. India even non-musical recitation provokes noise &
motion, each good couplet applauded, "Wa! Wa!" with
elegant hand-jive, tossing of rupees--whereas we listen to poetry
like some SciFi brain in a jar--at best a wry chuckle or grimace,
vestige of simian rictus--the rest of the body off on some other
In the East poets are sometimes thrown in prison--a sort of
compliment, since it suggests the author has done something at
least as real as theft or rape or revolution. Here poets are
allowed to publish anything at all--a sort of punishment in effect,
prison without walls, without echoes, without palpable existence--shadow-realm
of print, or of abstract thought--world without risk or eros.
So poetry is dead again--& even if the mumia from its
corpse retains some healing properties, auto-resurrection isn't
one of them.
If rulers refuse to consider poems as crimes, then someone
must commit crimes that serve the function of poetry, or texts
that possess the resonance of terrorism. At any cost re-connect
poetry to the body. Not crimes against bodies, but against Ideas
(& Ideas-in-things) which are deadly & suffocating. Not
stupid libertinage but exemplary crimes, aesthetic crimes, crimes
for love. In England some pornographic books are still banned.
Pornography has a measurable physical effect on its readers.
Like propaganda it sometimes changes lives because it uncovers
Our culture produces most of its porn out of body-hatred--
but erotic art in itself makes a better vehicle for enhancement
of being/consciousness/bliss--as in certain oriental works. A
sort of Western tantrik porn might help galvanize the corpse,
make it shine with some of the glamor of crime.
America has freedom of speech because all words are considered
equally vapid. Only images count--the censors love snaps
of death & mutilation but recoil in horror at the sight of
a child masturbating--apparently they experience this as an invasion
of their existential validity, their identification with the
Empire & its subtlest gestures.
No doubt even the most poetic porn would never revive the
faceless corpse to dance & sing (like the Chinese Chaos-
bird)--but...imagine a script for a three-minute film set on
a mythical isle of runaway children who inhabit ruins of old
castles or build totem-huts & junk-assemblage nests--mixture
of animation, special-effects, compugraphix & color tape--
edited tight as a fastfood commercial...
...but weird & naked, feathers & bones, tents sewn
with crystal, black dogs, pigeon-blood--flashes of amber limbs
tangled in sheets--faces in starry masks kissing soft creases
of skin--androgynous pirates, castaway faces of columbines sleeping
on thigh-white flowers--nasty hilarious piss jokes, pet lizards
lapping spilt milk--nude break- dancing--victorian bathtub with
rubber ducks & pink boners-- Alice on ganja...
...atonal punk reggae scored for gamelan, synthesizer, saxophones
& drums--electric boogie lyrics sung by aetherial children's
choir--ontological anarchist lyrics, cross between Hafez &
Pancho Villa, Li Po & Bakunin, Kabir & Tzara- -call it
"CHAOS--the Rock Video!"
No...probably just a dream. Too expensive to produce, &
besides, who would see it? Not the kids it was meant to seduce.
Pirate TV is a futile fantasy, rock merely another commodity--forget
the slick gesamtkunstwerk, then. Leaflet a playground with inflammatory
smutty feuilletons-- pornopropaganda, crackpot samizdat to unchain
Desire from its bondage.
JUSTICE CANNOT BE OBTAINED under any Law--action in accord
with spontaneous nature, action which is just, cannot be defined
by dogma. The crimes advocated in these broadsheets cannot be
committed against self or other but only against the mordant
crystallization of Ideas into structures of poisonous Thrones
That is, not crimes against nature or humanity but crimes
by legal fiat. Sooner or later the uncovering & unveiling
of self/nature transmogrifies a person into a brigand--like stepping
into another world then returning to this one to discover you've
been declared a traitor, heretic, exile. The Law waits for you
to stumble on a mode of being, a soul different from the FDA-approved
purple-stamped standard dead meat--& as soon as you begin
to act in harmony with nature the Law garottes & strangles
you--so don't play the blessed liberal middleclass martyr--accept
the fact that you're a criminal & be prepared to act like
Paradox: to embrace Chaos is not to slide toward entropy but
to emerge into an energy like stars, a pattern of instantaneous
grace--a spontaneous organic order completely different from
the carrion pyramids of sultans, muftis, cadis & grinning
After Chaos comes Eros--the principle of order implicit in
the nothingness of the unqualified One. Love is structure, system,
the only code untainted by slavery & drugged sleep. We must
become crooks & con-men to protect its spiritual beauty in
a bezel of clandestinity, a hidden garden of espionage.
Don't just survive while waiting for someone's revolution
to clear your head, don't sign up for the armies of anorexia
or bulimia--act as if you were already free, calculate the odds,
step out, remember the Code Duello--Smoke Pot/Eat Chicken/Drink
Tea. Every man his own vine & figtree (Circle Seven
Koran, Noble Drew Ali)--carry your Moorish passport with
pride, don't get caught in the crossfire, keep your back covered--but
take the risk, dance before you calcify.
The natural social model for ontological anarchism is the
child-gang or the bank-robbers-band. Money is a lie--this adventure
must be feasible without it--booty & pillage should be spent
before it turns back into dust. Today is Resurrection Day--money
wasted on beauty will be alchemically transmuted into elixir.
As my uncle Melvin used to say, stolen watermelon tastes sweeter.
The world is already re-made according to the heart's desire-
-but civilization owns all the leases & most of the guns.
Our feral angels demand we trespass, for they manifest themselves
only on forbidden grounds. High Way Man. The yoga of stealth,
the lightning raid, the enjoyment of treasure.
THE UNIVERSE WANTS TO PLAY. Those who refuse out of dry spiritual
greed & choose pure contemplation forfeit their humanity--those
who refuse out of dull anguish, those who hesitate, lose their
chance at divinity--those who mold themselves blind masks of
Ideas & thrash around seeking some proof of their own solidity
end by seeing out of dead men's eyes.
Sorcery: the systematic cultivation of enhanced consciousness
or non-ordinary awareness & its deployment in the world of
deeds & objects to bring about desired results.
The incremental openings of perception gradually banish the
false selves, our cacophonous ghosts--the "black magic"
of envy & vendetta backfires because Desire cannot be forced.
Where our knowledge of beauty harmonizes with the ludus naturae,
No, not spoon-bending or horoscopy, not the Golden Dawn or
make-believe shamanism, astral projection or the Satanic Mass--if
it's mumbo jumbo you want go for the real stuff, banking, politics,
social science--not that weak blavatskian crap.
Sorcery works at creating around itself a psychic/physical
space or openings into a space of untrammeled expression-- the
metamorphosis of quotidian place into angelic sphere. This involves
the manipulation of symbols (which are also things) & of
people (who are also symbolic)--the archetypes supply a vocabulary
for this process & therefore are treated as if they were
both real & unreal, like words. Imaginal Yoga.
The sorcerer is a Simple Realist: the world is real--but then
so must consciousness be real since its effects are so tangible.
The dullard finds even wine tasteless but the sorcerer can be
intoxicated by the mere sight of water. Quality of perception
defines the world of intoxication--but to sustain it & expand
it to include others demands activity of a certain kind--sorcery.
Sorcery breaks no law of nature because there is no Natural Law,
only the spontaneity of natura naturans, the tao. Sorcery
violates laws which seek to chain this flow-- priests, kings,
hierophants, mystics, scientists & shopkeepers all brand
the sorcerer enemy for threatening the power of their
charade, the tensile strength of their illusory web.
A poem can act as a spell & vice versa--but sorcery refuses
to be a metaphor for mere literature--it insists that symbols
must cause events as well as private epiphanies. It is not a
critique but a re-making. It rejects all eschatology & metaphysics
of removal, all bleary nostalgia & strident futurismo, in
favor of a paroxysm or seizure of presence.
Incense & crystal, dagger & sword, wand, robes, rum,
cigars, candles, herbs like dried dreams--the virgin boy staring
into a bowl of ink--wine & ganja, meat, yantras & gestures--
rituals of pleasure, the garden of houris & sakis--the sorcerer
climbs these snakes & ladders to a moment which is fully
saturated with its own color, where mountains are mountains &
trees are trees, where the body becomes all time, the beloved
The tactics of ontological anarchism are rooted in this secret
Art--the goals of ontological anarchism appear in its flowering.
Chaos hexes its enemies & rewards its devotees...this strange
yellowing pamphlet, pseudonymous & dust-stained, reveals
all...send away for one split second of eternity.
WHAT THIS TELLS YOU is not prose. It may be pinned to the
board but it's still alive & wriggling. It does not want
to seduce you unless you're extremely young & good-looking
(enclose recent photo).
Hakim Bey lives in a seedy Chinese hotel where the proprietor
nods out over newspaper & scratchy broadcasts of Peking Opera.
The ceiling fan turns like a sluggish dervish- -sweat falls on
the page--the poet's kaftan is rusty, his ovals spill ash on
the rug--his monologues seem disjointed & slightly sinister--outside
shuttered windows the barrio fades into palmtrees, the naive
blue ocean, the philosophy of tropicalismo.
Along a highway somewhere east of Baltimore you pass an Airstream
trailer with a big sign on the lawn SPIRITUAL READINGS &
the image of a crude black hand on a red background. Inside you
notice a display of dream-books, numbers-books, pamphlets on
HooDoo and Santeria, dusty old nudist magazines, a pile of Boy's
Life, treatises on fighting-cocks...& this book, Chaos.
Like words spoken in a dream, portentous, evanescent, changing
into perfumes, birds, colors, forgotten music.
This book distances itself by a certain impassibility of surface,
almost a glassiness. It doesn't wag its tail & it doesn't
snarl but it bites & humps the furniture. It doesn't have
an ISBN number & it doesn't want you for a disciple but it
might kidnap your children.
This book is nervous like coffee or malaria--it sets up a
network of cut-outs & safe drops between itself & its
readers--but it's so baldfaced & literal-minded it practically
encodes itself--it smokes itself into a stupor.
A mask, an automythology, a map without placenames--stiff
as an egyptian wallpainting nevertheless it reaches to caress
someone's face--& suddenly finds itself out in the street,
in a body, embodied in light, walking, awake, almost satisfied.
--NYC, May 1-July 4, 1984
COMMUNIQUES OF THE ASSOCIATION
FOR ONTOLOGICAL ANARCHY
COMMUNIQUE #1 (SPRING 1986)
I. Slogans & Mottos for Subway Graffiti & Other Purposes
(for scrawling or rubberstamping on advertisements:)
THIS IS YOUR TRUE DESIRE
STRIKE FOR INDOLENCE & SPIRITUAL BEAUTY
YOUNG CHILDREN HAVE BEAUTIFUL FEET
THE CHAINS OF LAW HAVE BEEN BROKEN
KIDS' LIB URBAN GUERILLAS
IMAGINARY SHIITE FANATICS
(SODOM FOR THE SODOMITES)
CHAOS NEVER DIED
Some of these are "sincere" slogans of the A.O.A.--others
are meant to rouse public apprehension & misgivings--but
we're not sure which is which. Thanx to Stalin, Anon., Bob Black,
Pir Hassan (upon his mention be peace), F. Nietzsche, Hank Purcell
Jr., "P.M.," & Bro. Abu Jehad al-Salah of the Moorish
Temple of Dagon.
II. Some Poetic-Terrorist Ideas
Still Sadly Languishing in the Realm of "Conceptual Art"
1. Walk into Citibank or Chembank computer customer service
area during busy period, take a shit on the floor, & leave.
2. Chicago May Day '86: organize "religious" procession
for Haymarket "Martyrs"--huge banners with sentimental
portraits, wreathed in flowers & streaming with tinsel &
ribbon, borne by penitenti in black KKKatholic-style hooded gowns--outrageous
campy TV acolytes with incense & holy water sprinkle the
crowd--anarchists w/ash-smeared faces beat themselves with little
flails & whips--a "Pope" in black robes blesses
tiny symbolic coffins reverently carried to Cemetery by weeping
punks. Such a spectacle ought to offend nearly everyone.
3. Paste up in public places a xerox flyer, photo of a beautiful
twelve-year-old boy, naked and masturbating, clearly titled:
THE FACE OF GOD.
4. Mail elaborate & exquisite magickal "blessings"
anonymously to people or groups you admire, e.g. for
their politics or spirituality or physical beauty or success
in crime, etc. Follow the same general procedure as outlined
in Section 5 below, but utilize an aesthetic of good fortune,
bliss or love, as appropriate.
5. Invoke a terrible curse on a malign institution,
such as the New York Post or the MUZAK company.
A technique adapted from Malaysian sorcerers: send the Company
a package containing a bottle, corked and sealed with black wax.
Inside: dead insects, scorpions, lizards or the like; a bag containing
graveyard dirt ("gris-gris" in American HooDoo terminology)
along with other noxious substances; an egg, pierced with iron
nails and pins; and a scroll on which an emblem is drawn (see
(This yantra or veve invokes the Black Djinn,
the Self's dark shadow. Full details obtainable from the A.O.A.)
An accompanying note explains that the hex is sent against the
institution & not against individuals--but unless
the institution itself ceases to be malign, the curse
(like a mirror) will begin to infect the premises with noxious
fortune, a miasma of negativity. Prepare a "news release"
explaining the curse & taking credit for it in the name of
the American Poetry Society. Mail copies of this text to all
employees of the institution & to selected media. The night
before these letters arrive, wheatpaste the institutional premises
with xerox copies of the Black Djinn's emblem, where they will
be seen by all employees arriving for work next morning.
(Thanx to Abu Jehad again, & to Sri Anamananda--the Moorish
Castellan of Belvedere Weather Tower--& other comrades of
the Central Park Autonomous Zone, & Brooklyn Temple Number
The Kallikak Memorial Bolo & Chaos Ashram: A Proposal
NURSING AN OBSESSION FOR Airstream trailers--those classic
miniature dirigibles on wheels--& also the New Jersey Pine
Barrens, huge lost backlands of sandy creeks & tar pines,
cranberry bogs & ghost towns, population around 14 per sq.
mile, dirt roads overgrown with fern, brokenspine cabins &
isolated rusty mobile homes with burnt-out cars in the front
land of the mythical Kallikaks--Piney families studied by
eugenicists in the 1920's to justify sterilization of rural poor.
Some Kallikaks married well, prospered, & waxed bourgeois
thanx to good genes--others however never worked real jobs but
lived off the woods--incest, sodomy, mental deficiencies galore--photos
touched up to make them look vacant & morose--descended from
rogue Indians, Hessian mercenaries, rum smugglers, deserters--Lovecraftian
come to think of it the Kallikaks might well have produced
secret Chaotes, precursor sex radicals, Zerowork prophets. Like
other monotone landscapes (desert, sea, swamp), the Barrens seem
infused with erotic power--not vril or orgone so much as a languid
disorder, almost a sluttishness of Nature, as if the very ground
& water were formed of sexual flesh, membranes, spongy erectile
tissue. We want to squat there, maybe an abandoned hunting/fishing
lodge with old woodstove & privy--or decaying Vacation Cabins
on some disused County Highway--or just a woodlot where we park
2 or 3 Airstreams hidden back in the pines near creek or swimming
hole. Were the Kallikaks onto something good? We'll find out
somewhere boys dream that extraterrestrials will come to rescue
them from their families, perhaps vaporizing the parents with
some alien ray in the process. Oh well. Space Pirate Kidnap Plot
Uncovered--"Alien" Unmasked As Shiite Fanatic Queer
Poet--UFOs Seen Over Pine Barrens--"Lost Boys Will Leave
Earth," Claims So-Called Prophet Of Chaos Hakim Bey
runaway boys, mess & disorder, ecstasy & sloth, skinny-
dipping, childhood as permanent insurrection--collections of
frogs, snails, leaves--pissing in the moonlight--11, 12, 13--old
enough to seize back control of one's own history from parents,
school, Welfare, TV--Come live with us in the Barrens--we'll
cultivate a local brand of seedless rope to finance our luxuries
& contemplation of summer's alchemy--& otherwise produce
nothing but artifacts of Poetic Terrorism & mementos of our
going for aimless rides in the old pickup, fishing & gathering,
lying around in the shade reading comics & eating grapes--this
is our economy. The suchness of things when unchained from the
Law, each molecule an orchid, each atom a pearl to the attentive
consciousness--this is our cult. The Airstream is draped with
Persian rugs, the lawn is profuse with satisfied weeds
the treehouse becomes a wooden spaceship in the nakedness
of July & midnight, half-open to the stars, warm with epicurean
sweat, rushed & then hushed by the breathing of the Pines.
(Dear Bolo Log: You asked for a practical &
feasible utopia--here it is, no mere post-holocaust fantasy,
no castles on the moon of Jupiter--a scheme we could start up
tomorrow--except that every single aspect of it breaks some law,
reveals some absolute taboo in U.S. society, threatens the very
fabric of etc., etc. Too bad. This is our true desire, &
to attain it we must contemplate not only a life of pure art
but also pure crime, pure insurrection. Amen.)
(Thanx to the Grim Reaper & other members of the Si Fan
Temple of Providence for YALU, GANO, SILA, & ideas)
"I NEED ONLY MENTION in passing that there is a curious
reappearance of the Catfish tradition in the popular Godzilla
cycle of films which arose after the nuclear chaos unleashed
upon Japan. In fact, the symbolic details in the evolution of
Godzilla filmic poplore parallel in a quite surprising way the
traditional Japanese and Chinese mythological and folkloric themes
of combat with an ambivalent chaos creature (some of the films,
like Mothra, directly recalling the ancient motifs
of the cosmic egg/gourd/cocoon) that is usually tamed, after
the failure of the civilizational order, through the special
and indirect agency of children."--Girardot, Myth
& Meaning in Early Taoism: The Theme of Chaos (hun- t'un)
In some old Moorish Science Temple (in Chicago or Baltimore)
a friend claimed to have seen a secret altar on which rested
a matched pair of six shooters (in velvet-lined case) & a
black fez. Supposedly initiation to the inner circle
required the neophyte Moor to assassinate at least one cop. ///
What about Louis Lingg? Was he a precursor of Ontological Anarchism?
"I despise you"--one can't help but admiring such sentiments.
But the man dynamited himself aged 22 to cheat the gallows...this
is not exactly our chosen path. /// The IDEA of the POLICE like
hydra grows 100 new heads for each one cut off--and all these
heads are live cops. Slicing off heads gains us nothing,
but only enhances the beast's power till it swallows us. ///
First murder the IDEA--blow up the monument inside us--&
then perhaps...the balance of power will shift. When the last
cop in our brain is gunned down by the last unfulfilled desire--
perhaps even the landscape around us will begin to change...///
Poetic Terrorism proposes this sabotage of archetypes
as the only practical insurrectionary tactic for the present.
But as Shiite Extremists eager for the overthrow (by any means)
of all police, ayatollahs, bankers, executioners, priests, etc.,
we reserve the option of venerating even the "failures"
of radical excess. /// A few days unchained from the Empire of
Lies might well be worth considerable sacrifice; a moment of
exalted realization may outweigh a lifetime of microcephalic
boredom & work. /// But this moment must become ours--and
our ownership of it is seriously compromised if we must commit
suicide to preserve its integrity. So we mix our veneration with
irony--it's not martyrdom itself we propose, but the courage
of the dynamiter, the self-possession of a Chaos-monster, the
attainment of criminal & illegal pleasures.
The End of the World
THE A.O.A. DECLARES ITSELF officially bored with
the End of the World. The canonical version has been used since
1945 to keep us cowering in fear of Mutual Assured Destruction
& in snivelling servitude to our super-hero politicians (the
only ones capable of handling deadly Green Kryptonite)...
What does it mean that we have invented a way to destroy all
life on Earth? Nothing much. We have dreamed this as
an escape from the contemplation of our own individual deaths.
We have made an emblem to serve as the mirror-image of a discarded
immortality. Like demented dictators we swoon at the thought
of taking it all down with us into the Abyss.
The unofficial version of the Apocalypse involves a lascivious
yearning for the End, & for a post-Holocaust Eden where the
Survivalists (or the 144,000 Elect of Revelations)
can indulge themselves in orgies of Dualist hysteria, endless
final confrontations with a seductive evil...
We have seen the ghost of Rene Guenon, cadaverous & topped
with a fez (like Boris Karloff as Ardis Bey in The Mummy)
leading a funereal No Wave Industrial-Noise rock band in loud
buzzing blackfly-chants for the death of Culture & Cosmos:
the elitist fetishism of pathetic nihilists, the Gnostic self-disgust
of "post-sexual" intellectoids.
Are these dreary ballads not simply mirror-images of all those
lies & platitudes about Progress & the Future, beamed
from every loudspeaker, zapped like paranoid brain-waves from
every schoolbook & TV in the world of the Consensus? The
thanatosis of the Hip Millenarians extrudes itself like pus from
the false health of the Consumers' & Workers' Paradises.
Anyone who can read history with both hemispheres of the brain
knows that a world comes to an end every instant--the waves of
time leave washed up behind themselves only dry memories of a
closed & petrified past--imperfect memory, itself already
dying & autumnal. And every instant also gives birth to a
world--despite the cavillings of philosophers & scientists
whose bodies have grown numb--a present in which all impossibilities
are renewed, where regret & premonition fade to nothing in
one presential hologrammatical psychomantric gesture.
The "normative" past or the future heat-death of
the universe mean as little to us as last year's GNP or the withering
away of the State. All Ideal pasts, all futures which have not
yet come to pass, simply obstruct our consciousness of total
Certain sects believe that the world (or "a" world)
has already come to an end. For Jehovah's Witnesses
it happened in 1914 (yes folks, we are living in the Book of
Revelations now). For certain oriental occultists, it
occurred during the Major Conjunction of the Planets in 1962.
Joachim of Fiore proclaimed the Third Age, that of the Holy Spirit,
which replaced those of Father & Son. Hassan II of Alamut
proclaimed the Great Resurrection, the immanentization of the
eschaton, paradise on earth. Profane time came to an end somewhere
in the late Middle Ages. Since then we've been living angelic
time--only most of us don't know it.
Or to take an even more Radical Monist stance: Time never
started at all. Chaos never died. The Empire was never founded.
We are not now & never have been slaves to the past or hostages
to the future.
We suggest that the End of the World be declared a fait
accompli; the exact date is unimportant. The ranters in 1650
knew that the Millenium comes now into each soul that
wakes to itself, to its own centrality & divinity. "Rejoice,
fellow creature," was their greeting. "All is ours!"
I want no part of any other End of the World. A boy smiles
at me in the street. A black crow sits in a pink magnolia tree,
cawing as orgone accumulates & discharges in a split second
over the city...summer begins. I may be your lover...but I spit
on your Millenium.
"Intellectual S/M Is the Fascism of the Eighties--The Avant-Garde
Eats Shit and Likes It"
Recently some confusion about "Chaos" has plagued
the A.O.A. from certain revanchist quarters, forcing us (who
despise polemics) at last to indulge in a Plenary Session devoted
to denunciations ex cathedra, portentous as hell; our
faces burn red with rhetoric, spit flies from our lips, neck
veins bulge with pulpit fervor. We must at last descend to flying
banners with angry slogans (in 1930's type faces) declaring what
Ontological Anarchy is not.
Remember, only in Classical Physics does Chaos have anything
to do with entropy, heat-death, or decay. In our physics (Chaos
Theory), Chaos identifies with tao, beyond both yin- as-entropy
& yang-as-energy, more a principle of continual creation
than of any nihil, void in the sense of potentia,
not exhaustion. (Chaos as the "sum of all orders.")
From this alchemy we quintessentialize an aesthetic theory.
Chaote art may act terrifying, it may even act grand guignol,
but it can never allow itself to be drenched in putrid negativity,
thanatosis, schadenfreude (delight in the misery of others),
crooning over Nazi memorabilia & serial murders. Ontological
Anarchy collects no snuff films & is bored to tears with
dominatrices who spout french philosophy. ("Everything is
hopeless & I knew it before you did, asshole. Nyahh!")
Wilhelm Reich was driven half mad & killed by agents of
the Emotional Plague; maybe half his work derived from sheer
paranoia (UFO conspiracies, homophobia, even his orgasm theory),
BUT on one point we agree wholeheartedly--sexpol: sexual
repression breeds death obsession, which leads to bad politics.
A great deal of avant-garde Art is saturated with Deadly Orgone
Rays (DOR). Ontological Anarchy aims to build aesthetic cloud-busters
(OR-guns) to disperse the miasma of cerebral sado-masochism which
now passes for slick, hip, new, fashionable. Self-mutilating
"performance" artists strike us as banal & stupid--their
art makes everyone more unhappy. What kind of two-bit
conniving horseshit...what kind of cockroach-brained Art creeps
cooked up this apocalypse stew?
Of course the avant-garde seems "smart"--so did
Marinetti & the Futurists, so did Pound & Celine. Compared
to that kind of intelligence we'd choose real stupidity, bucolic
New Age blissed-out inanity--we'd rather be pinheads than queer
for death. But luckily we don't have to scoop out our brains
to attain our own queer brand of satori. All the faculties, all
the senses belong to us as our property--both heart & head,
intellect & spirit, body & soul. Ours is no art of mutilation
but of excess, superabundance, amazement.
The purveyors of pointless gloom are the Death Squads of contemporary
aesthetics--& we are the "disappeared ones." Their
make-believe ballroom of occult 3rd-Reich bric-a-brac & child
murder attracts the manipulators of the Spectacle-- death looks
better on TV than life--& we Chaotes, who preach an insurrectionary
joy, are edged out towards silence.
Needless to say we reject all censorship by Church & State--
but "after the revolution" we would be willing to take
individual & personal responsibility for burning all the
Death Squad snuff-art crap & running them out of town on
a rail. (Criticism becomes direct action in an anarchist
context.) My space has room neither for Jesus &
his lords of the flies nor for Chas. Manson & his literary
admirers. I want no mundane police--I want no cosmic axe-murderers
either; no TV chainsaw massacres, no sensitive poststructuralist
novels about necrophilia.
As it happens, the A.O.A. can scarcely hope to sabotage the
suffocating mechanisms of the State & its ghostly circuitry--but
we just might happen to find ourselves in a position
to do something about lesser manifestations of the DOR plague
such as the Corpse-Eaters of the Lower East Side & other
Art scum. We support artists who use terrifying material
in some "higher cause"--who use loving/sexual material
of any kind, however shocking or illegal--who use their
anger & disgust & their true desires to lurch toward
self-realization & beauty & adventure. "Social Nihilism,"
yes--but not the dead nihilism of gnostic self-disgust. Even
if it's violent & abrasive, anyone with a vestigial 3rd eye
can see the differences between revolutionary pro-life
art & reactionary pro-death art. DOR stinks, & the chaote
nose can sniff it out--just as it knows the perfume of spiritual/sexual
joy, however buried or masked by other darker scents. Even the
Radical Right, for all its horror of flesh & the senses,
occasionally comes up with a moment of perception & consciousness-enhancement--but
the Death Squads, for all their tired lip service to fashionable
revolutionary abstractions, offer us about as much true libertarian
energy as the FBI, FDA, or the double-dip Baptists.
We live in a society which advertises its costliest commodities
with images of death & mutilation, beaming them direct to
the reptilian back-brain of the millions thru alpha-wave-generating
carcinogenic reality-warping devices-- while certain images of
life (such as our favorite, a child masturbating) are banned
& punished with incredible ferocity. It takes no guts at
all to be an Art Sadist, for salacious death lies at the aesthetic
center of our Consensus Paradigm. "Leftists" who like
to dress up & play Police-&-Victim, people who jerk off
to atrocity photos, people who like to think & intellectualize
about splatter art & highfalutin hopelessness & groovy
ghoulishness & other people's misery--such "artists"
are nothing but police-without-power (a perfect definition for
many "revolutionaries" too). We have a black bomb for
these aesthetic fascists--it explodes with sperm & firecrackers,
raucous weeds & piracy, weird Shiite heresies & bubbling
paradise-fountains, complex rhythms, pulsations of life, all
shapeless & exquisite.
Wake up! Breathe! Feel the world's breath against your skin!
Seize the day! Breathe! Breathe!
(Thanx to J. Mander's Four Arguments for the Abolition
of Television; Adam Exit; & the Moorish Cosmopolitan
I. Salon Apocalypse: "Secret Theater"
AS LONG AS NO Stalin breathes down our necks, why not make
some art in the service of...an insurrection?
Never mind if it's "impossible." What else can we
hope to attain but the "impossible"? Should we wait
for someone else to reveal our true desires?
If art has died, or the audience has withered away, then we
find ourselves free of two dead weights. Potentially, everyone
is now some kind of artist--& potentially every audience
has regained its innocence, its ability to become the
art that it experiences.
Provided we can escape from the museums we carry around inside
us, provided we can stop selling ourselves tickets to the galleries
in our own skulls, we can begin to contemplate an art which re-creates
the goal of the sorcerer: changing the structure of reality by
the manipulation of living symbols (in this case, the images
we've been "given" by the organizers of this salon--murder,
war, famine, & greed).
We might now contemplate aesthetic actions which possess some
of the resonance of terrorism (or "cruelty," as Artaud
put it) aimed at the destruction of abstractions rather than
people, at liberation rather than power, pleasure rather than
profit, joy rather than fear. "Poetic Terrorism." Our
chosen images have the potency of darkness--but all images are
masks, & behind these masks lie energies we can turn toward
light & pleasure.
For example, the man who invented aikido was a samurai
who became a pacifist & refused to fight for Japanese imperialism.
He became a hermit, lived on a mountain sitting under a tree..
One day a former fellow-officer came to visit him & accused
him of betrayal, cowardice, etc. The hermit said nothing, but
kept on sitting--& the officer fell into a rage, drew his
sword, & struck. Spontaneously the unarmed master disarmed
the officer & returned his sword. Again & again the officer
tried to kill, using every subtle kata in his repertoire--but
out of his empty mind the hermit each time invented a new way
to disarm him.
The officer of course became his first disciple. Later, they
learned how to dodge bullets. We might contemplate some
form of metadrama meant to capture a taste of this performance,
which gave rise to a wholly new art, a totally non-violent way
of fighting--war without murder, "the sword of life"
rather than death.
A conspiracy of artists, anonymous as any mad bombers, but
aimed toward an act of gratuitous generosity rather than violence--at
the millennium rather than the apocalypse--or rather, aimed at
a present moment of aesthetic shock in the service of
realization & liberation.
Art tells gorgeous lies that come true.
Is it possible to create a SECRET THEATER in which both artist
& audience have completely disappeared--only to re-appear
on another plane, where life & art have become the same thing,
the pure giving of gifts?
(Note: The "Salon Apocalypse" was organized by Sharon
Gannon in July, 1986.)
THE MANICHEES & CATHARS believed that the body can be
spiritualized--or rather, that the body merely contaminates pure
spirit & must be utterly rejected. The Gnostic perfecti
(radical dualists) starved themselves to death to escape the
body & return to the pleroma of pure light. So: to evade
the evils of the flesh--murder, war, famine, greed--paradoxically
only one path remains: murder of one's own body, war on the flesh,
famine unto death, greed for salvation.
The radical monists however (Ismailis, Ranters, Antinomians)
consider that body & spirit are one, that the same spirit
which pervades a black stone also infuses the flesh with its
light; that all lives & all is life.
"Things are what they are spontaneously...everything
is natural...all in motion as if there were a True Lord to move
them--but if we seek for evidence of this lord we fail to find
any." (Kuo Hsiang)
Paradoxically, the monist path also cannot be followed without
some sort of "murder, war, famine, greed": the transformation
of death into life (food, negentropy)--war against the Empire
of Lies--"fasting of the soul," or renunciation of
the Lie, of all that is not life--& greed for life itself,
the absolute power of desire.
Even more: without knowledge of the darkness ("carnal
knowledge") there can exist no knowledge of the light ("gnosis").
The two knowledges are not merely complementary: say rather identical,
like the same note played in different octaves. Heraclitus claims
that reality persists in a state of "war." Only clashing
notes can make harmony. ("Chaos is the sum of all orders.")
Give each of these four terms a different mask of language (to
call the Furies "The Kindly Ones" is not mere euphemism
but a way of uncovering yet more meaning). Masked, ritualized,
realized as art, the terms take on their dark beauty, their "Black
Instead of murder say the hunt, the pure paleolithic
economy of all archaic and non-authoritarian tribal society--"venery,"
both the killing & eating of flesh & the way of Venus,
of desire. Instead of war say insurrection, not the
revolution of classes & powers but of the eternal rebel,
the dark one who uncovers light. Instead of greed say yearning,
unconquerable desire, mad love. And then instead of famine, which
is a kind of mutilation, speak of wholeness, plenty, superabundance,
generosity of the self which spirals outward toward the Other.
Without this dance of masks, nothing will be created. The
oldest mythology makes Eros the firstborn of Chaos. Eros, the
wild one who tames, is the door through which the artist returns
to Chaos, the One, and then re-returns, comes back again, bearing
one of the patterns of beauty. The artist, the hunter, the warrior:
one who is both passionate and balanced, both greedy & altruistic
to the utmost extreme. We must be saved from all salvations which
save us from ourselves, from our animal which is also
our anima, our very lifeforce, as well as our animus,
our animating self-empowerment, which may even manifest as anger
& greed. BABYLON has told us that our flesh is filth--with
this device & the promise of salvation it enslaved us. But--if
the flesh is already "saved," already light--if
even consciousness itself is a kind of flesh, a palpable &
simultaneous living aether--then we need no power to intercede
for us. The wilderness, as Omar says, is paradise even now.
The true proprietorship of murder lies with the Empire,
for only freedom is complete life. War is Babylonian
as well--no free person will die for another's aggrandizement.
Famine comes into existence only with the civilization
of the saviors, the priest-kings--wasn't it Joseph who taught
Pharaoh to speculate in grain futures? Greed--for land,
for symbolic wealth, for power to deform others' souls &
bodies for their own salvation--greed too arises not
from "Nature nature-ing," but from the damming up &
canalization of all energies for the Empire's Glory. Against
all this, the artist possesses the dance of masks, the total
radicalization of language, the invention of a "Poetic Terrorism"
which will strike not at living beings but at malign ideas,
dead-weights on the coffin-lid of our desires. The architecture
of suffocation and paralysis will be blown up. only
by our total celebration of everything-- even darkness.
--Summer Solstice, 1986
Psychic Paleolithism & High Technology: A Position Paper
JUST BECAUSE THE A.O.A. talks about "Paleolithism"
all the time, don't get the idea we intend to bomb ourselves
back to the Stone Age.
We have no interest in going "back to the land"
if the deal includes the boring life of a shit-kicking peasant--nor
do we want "tribalism" if it comes with taboos, fetishes
& malnutrition. We have no quarrel with the concept of culture--including
technology; for us the problem begins with civilization.
What we like about Paleolithic life has been summed up by
the Peoples-Without-Authority School of anthropology: the elegant
laziness of hunter/gatherer society, the 2-hour workday, the
obsession with art, dance, poetry & amorousness, the "democratization
of shamanism," the cultivation of perception--in short,
What we dislike about civilization can be deduced from the
following progression: the "Agricultural Revolution";
the emergence of caste; the City & its cult of hieratic control
("Babylon"); slavery; dogma; imperialism ("Rome").
The suppression of sexuality in "work" under the aegis
of "authority." "The Empire never ended."
A psychic paleolithism based on High-Tech--post-
agricultural, post-industrial, "Zerowork," nomadic
(or "Rootless Cosmopolitan")--a Quantum Paradigm Society--this
constitutes the ideal vision of the future according to Chaos
Theory as well as "Futurology" (in the Robert Anton
Wilson-T. Leary sense of the term).
As for the present: we reject all collaboration with the Civilization
of Anorexia & Bulimia, with people so ashamed of never suffering
that they invent hair shirts for themselves & others--or
those who gorge without compassion & then spew the vomit
of their suppressed guilt in great masochistic bouts of jogging
& dieting. All our pleasures & self-disciplines
belong to us by Nature--we never deny ourselves, we never give
up anything; but some things have given up on us & left us,
because we are too large for them. I am both caveman & starfaring
mutant, con-man & free prince. Once an Indian Chief was invited
to the White House for a banquet. As the food passed round, the
Chief heaped his plate to the max, not once but three times.
At last the honky sitting next to him says, "Chief, heh-heh,
don't you think that's a little too much?" "Ugh,"
the Chief replies, "little too much just right
Nevertheless, certain doctrines of "Futurology"
remain problematic. For example, even if we accept the liberatory
potential of such new technologies as TV, computers, robotics,
Space exploration, etc., we still see a gap between potentiality
& actualization. The banalization of TV, the yuppification
of computers & the militarization of Space suggest that these
technologies in themselves provide no "determined"
guarantee of their liberatory use.
Even if we reject the Nuclear Holocaust as just another Spectacular
Diversion orchestrated to distract our attention from real
problems, we must still admit that "Mutual Assured Destruction"
& "Pure War" tend to dampen our enthusiasm for
certain aspects of the High-Tech Adventure. Ontological Anarchy
retains its affection for Luddism as a tactic: if a given technology,
no matter how admirable in potentia (in the future), is
used to oppress me here & now, then I must either wield the
weapon of sabotage or else seize the means of production (or
perhaps more importantly the means of communication).
There is no humanity without techne--but there is no techne
worth more than my humanity.
We spurn knee-jerk anti-Tech anarchism--for ourselves, at
least (there exist some who enjoy farming, or so one hears)--and
we reject the concept of the Technological Fix as well. For us
all forms of determinism appear equally vapid--we're slaves of
neither our genes nor our machines. What is "natural"
is what we imagine & create. "Nature has no
Life for us belongs neither to the Past--that land of famous
ghosts hoarding their tarnished grave- goods--nor to the Future,
whose bulbbrained mutant citizens guard so jealously the secrets
of immortality, faster-than- light flight, designer genes &
the withering of the State. Aut nunc aut nihil. Each moment
contains an eternity to be penetrated--yet we lose ourselves
in visions seen through corpses' eyes, or in nostalgia for unborn
The attainments of my ancestors & descendants are nothing
more to me than an instructive or amusing tale--I will never
call them my betters, even to excuse my own smallness. I print
for myself a license to steal from them whatever I need--psychic
paleolithism or high-tech--or for that matter the gorgeous detritus
of civilization itself, secrets of the Hidden Masters, pleasures
of frivolous nobility & la vie boheme.
La decadence, Nietzsche to the contrary notwithstanding,
plays as deep a role in Ontological Anarchy as health--we take
what we want of each. Decadent aesthetes do not wage stupid wars
nor submerge their consciousness in microcephalic greed &
resentment. They seek adventure in artistic innovation &
non-ordinary sexuality rather than in the misery of others. The
A.O.A. admires & emulates their sloth, their disdain for
the stupidity of normalcy, their expropriation of aristocratic
sensibilities. For us these qualities harmonize paradoxically
with those of the Old Stone Age & its overflowing health,
ignorance of hierarchy, cultivation of virtu rather than
Law. We demand decadence without sickness, & health
Thus the A.O.A. gives unqualified support to all indigenous
& tribal peoples in their struggle for complete autonomy--&
at the same time, to the wildest, most Spaced-out speculations
& demands of the Futurologists. The paleolithism of the future
(which for us, as mutants, already exists) will be achieved on
a grand scale only through a massive technology of the Imagination,
and a scientific paradigm which reaches beyond Quantum Mechanics
into the realm of Chaos Theory & the hallucinations of Speculative
As Rootless Cosmopolitans we lay claim to all the beauties
of the past, of the orient, of tribal societies--all this must
& can be ours, even the treasuries of the Empire: ours to
share. And at the same time we demand a technology which transcends
agriculture, industry, even the simultaneity of electricity,
a hardware that intersects with the wetware of consciousness,
that embraces the power of quarks, of particles travelling backward
in time, of quasars & parallel universes.
The squabbling ideologues of anarchism & libertarianism
each prescribe some utopia congenial to their various brands
of tunnel-vision, ranging from the peasant commune to the L-5
Space City. We say, let a thousand flowers bloom--with no gardener
to lop off weeds & sports according to some moralizing or
eugenical scheme. The only true conflict is that between the
authority of the tyrant & the authority of the realized self--all
else is illusion, psychological projection, wasted verbiage.
In one sense the sons & daughters of Gaia have never left
the paleolithic; in another sense, all the perfections of the
future are already ours. Only insurrection will "solve"
this paradox--only the uprising against false consciousness in
both ourselves & others will sweep away the technology of
oppression & the poverty of the Spectacle. In this battle
a painted mask or shaman's rattle may prove as vital as the seizing
of a communications satellite or secret computer network.
Our sole criterion for judging a weapon or a tool is its beauty.
The means already are the end, in a certain sense; the
insurrection already is our adventure; Becoming IS Being.
Past & future exist within us & for us, alpha & omega.
There are no other gods before or after us. We are free in TIME--and
will be free in SPACE as well.
(Thanx to Hagbard Celine the Sage of Howth & Environs)
Chaos Theory & the Nuclear Family
SUNDAY IN RIVERSIDE PARK the Fathers fix their sons in place,
nailing them magically to the grass with baleful ensorcelling
stares of milky camaraderie, & force them to throw baseballs
back & forth for hours. The boys almost appear to be small
St Sebastians pierced by arrows of boredom.
The smug rituals of family fun turn each humid Summer meadow
into a Theme Park, each son an unwitting allegory of Father's
wealth, a pale representation 2 or 3 times removed from reality:
the Child as metaphor of Something-or-other.
And here I come as dusk gathers, stoned on mushroom dust,
half convinced that these hundreds of fireflies arise from my
own consciousness--Where have they been all these years? why
so many so suddenly?--each rising in the moment of its incandescence,
describing quick arcs like abstract graphs of the energy in sperm.
"Families! misers of love! How I hate them!" Baseballs
fly aimlessly in vesper light, catches are missed, voices rise
in peevish exhaustion. The children feel sunset encrusting the
last few hours of doled-out freedom, but still the Fathers insist
on stretching the tepid postlude of their patriarchal sacrifice
till dinnertime, till shadows eat the grass.
Among these sons of the gentry one locks gazes with me for
a moment--I transmit telepathically the image of sweet license,
the smell of TIME unlocked from all grids of school, music lessons,
summer camps, family evenings round the tube, Sundays in the
Park with Dad--authentic time, chaotic time.
Now the family is leaving the Park, a little platoon of dissatisfaction.
But that one turns & smiles back at me in complicity--"Message
Received"--& dances away after a firefly, buoyed up
by my desire. The Father barks a mantra which dissipates my power.
The moment passes. The boy is swallowed up in the pattern
of the week--vanishes like a bare-legged pirate or Indian taken
prisoner by missionaries. The Park knows who I am, it stirs under
me like a giant jaguar about to wake for nocturnal meditation.
Sadness still holds it back, but it remains untamed in its deepest
essence: an exquisite disorder at the heart of the city's night.
AGAIN & AGAIN WE hope that attitudinizing corpse has finally
breathed its last rancorous sigh & floated off to its final
pumpkinification. Again & again we imagine the defeat of
that obscene flayed death-trip bogey nailed to the walls of all
our waiting rooms, never again to whine at us for our sins...
but again & again it resurrects itself & comes creeping
back to haunt us like the villain of some nth rate
snuff-porn splatter film--the thousandth re-make of Night
of the Living Dead--trailing its snail-track of whimpering
humiliation...just when you thought it was safe in the unconscious...it's
JAWS for JESUS. Look out! Hardcore Chainsaw Baptists!
and the Leftists, nostalgic for the Omega Point of their dialectical
paradise, welcome each galvanized revival of the putrescent creed
with coos of delight: Let's dance the tango with all those marxist
bishops from Latin America--croon a ballad for the pious Polish
dockworkers--hum spirituals for the latest afro-Methodist presidential
hopeful from the Bible Belt...
The A.O.A. denounces Liberation Theology as a conspiracy of
stalinist nuns--the Whore of Babylon's secret scarlet deal with
red fascism in the tropics. Solidarnosc? The Pope's Own
Labor Union--backed by the AFL/CIO, the Vatican Bank, the Freemason
Lodge Propaganda Due, and the Mafia. And if we ever voted we'd
never waste that empty gesture on some Xtian dog, no matter what
its breed or color.
As for the real Xtians, those bored-again self-lobotomized
bigots, those Mormon babykillers, those Star Warriors of the
Slave Morality, televangelist blackshirts, zombie squads of the
Blessed Virgin Mary (who hovers in a pink cloud over the Bronx
spewing hatred, anathema, roses of vomit on the sexuality of
children, pregnant teenagers & queers)...
As for the genuine death-cultists, ritual cannibals, Armageddon-freaks--the
Xtian Right--we can only pray that the RAPTURE WILL COME &
snatch them all up from behind the steering wheels of their cars,
from their lukewarm game shows & chaste beds, take them all
up into heaven & let us get on with human life.
II. Abortionists & Anti-abortionists
REDNECKS WHO BOMB ABORTION clinics belong in the same grotesque
category of vicious stupidity as bishops who prattle Peace &
yet condemn all human sexuality. Nature has no laws ("only
habits"), & all law is unnatural. Everything
belongs to the sphere of personal/imaginal morality--even murder.
However, according to Chaos Theory, it does not follow that
we are obliged to like & approve of murder--or abortion.
Chaos would enjoy seeing every bastard love-child carried to
term & birthed; sperm & egg alone are mere lovely secretions,
but combined as DNA they become potential consciousness, negentropy,
If "meat is murder!" as the Vegans like to claim,
what pray tell is abortion? Those totemists who danced to the
animals they hunted, who meditated to become one with their living
food & share its tragedy, demonstrated values far more humane
than the average claque of "pro-Choice" feminoid liberals.
In every single "issue" cooked up for "debate"
in the patternbook of the Spectacle, both sides are
invariably full of shit. The "abortion issue" is no
Plenary Session Issues New Denunciations--Purges Expected
TO OFFSET ANY STICKY karma we might have acquired thru our
pulpit-thumping sermonette against Xtians & other end-of-the-
world creeps (see last ish) & just to set the record straight:
the A.O.A. also denounces all born-again knee-jerk atheists
& their frowsy late-Victorian luggage of scientistic vulgar
materialism. ///// We applaud all anti- Xtian sentiment, of course--&
all attacks on all organized religions. But...to hear
some anarchists talk you'd think the sixties never happened and
no one ever dropped LSD. ///// As for the scientists themselves,
the Alice-like madnesses of Quantum & Chaos Theory have driven
the best of them towards taoism & vedanta (not to mention
dada)--& yet if you read The Match or Freedom
you might imagine science was embalmed with Prince Kropotkin--&
"religion" with Bishop Ussher. ///// Of course one
despises the Aquarian brownshirts, the kind of gurus lauded recently
in the New York Times for their contributions to
Big Business, the franchise-granting yuppie zombie cults, the
anorexic metaphysics of New Age banality...but OUR esotericism
remains undefiled by these mediocre money- changers & their
braindead minions. ///// The heretics & antinomian mystics
of Orient & Occident have developed systems based on inner
liberation. Some of these systems are tainted with religious
mysticism & even social reaction--others seem more purely
radical or "psychological"--& some even crystallize
into revolutionary movements (millenarian Levellers, Assassins,
Yellow Turban Taoists, etc.) Whatever their flaws they possess
certain magical weapons which anarchism sorely lacks: (1) A sense
of the meta-rational ("metanoia"), ways to
go beyond laminated thinking into smooth (or nomadic or "chaotic")
thinking & perception; (2) an actual definition of self-realized
or liberated consciousness, a positive description of its structure,
& techniques for approaching it; (3) a coherent archetypal
view of epistemology--that is, a way of knowing (about history,
for example) that utilizes hermeneutic phenomenology to uncover
patterns of meaning (something like the Surrealists'
"Paranoia Criticism"); (4) a teaching on sexuality
(in the "tantrik" aspects of various Paths) that assigns
value to pleasure rather than self-denial, not only for its own
sake but as a vehicle of enhanced awareness or "liberation";
(5) an attitude of celebration, what might be called a "Jubilee
concept," a cancelling of psychic debt thru some inherent
generosity in reality itself; (6) a language (including
gesture, ritual, intentionality) with which to animate &
communicate these five aspects of cognition; and (7) a silence.
///// It's no surprise to discover how many anarchists are ex-Catholics,
defrocked priests or nuns, former altar boys, lapsed born-again
baptists or even ex-Shiite fanatics. Anarchism offers up a black
(& red) Mass to de-ritualize all spook-haunted brains--a
secular exorcism--but then betrays itself by cobbling together
a High Church of its own, all cobwebby with Ethical Humanism,
Free Thought, Muscular Atheism, & crude Fundamentalist Cartesian
Logic. ///// Two decades ago we began the project of becoming
Rootless Cosmopolitans, determined to sift the detritus of all
tribes, cultures & civilizations (including our own) for
viable fragments--& to synthesize from this mess of potsherds
a living system of our own--lest (as Blake warned) we become
slaves to someone else's. ///// If some Javanese sorcerer or
Native American shaman possesses some precious fragment I need
for my own "medicine pouch," should I sneer & quote
Bakunin's line about stringing up priests with bankers' guts?
or should I remember that anarchy knows no dogma, that Chaos
cannot be mapped--& help myself to anything not nailed down?
///// The earliest definitions of anarchy are found in the Chuang
Tzu & other taoist texts; "mystical anarchism"
boasts a hoarier pedigree than the Greco-Rationalist variety.
When Nietzsche spoke of the "Hyperboreans" I think
he foretold us, who have gone beyond the death of God--&
the rebirth of the Goddess--to a realm where spirit & matter
are one. Every manifestation of that hierogamy, every material
thing & every life, becomes not only "sacred" in
itself but also symbolic of its own "divine essence."
///// Atheism is nothing but the opiate of The Masses (or rather,
their self-chosen champions)--& not a very colorful or sexy
drug. If we are to follow Baudelaire's advice & "be
always intoxicated," the A.O.A. would prefer something more
like mushrooms, thank you. Chaos is the oldest of the gods--&
Chaos never died.
Special Holiday Season Food Issue Rant: Turn Off the Lite!
THE ASSOCIATION FOR ONTOLOGICAL ANARCHY calls for a boycott
of all products marketed under the Shibboleth of LITE--beer,
meat, lo-cal candy, cosmetics, music, pre-packaged "lifestyles,"
The concept of LITE (in Situ-jargon) unfolds a complex of
symbolism by which the Spectacle hopes to recuperate all revulsion
against its commodification of desire. "Natural," "organic,"
"healthy" produce is designed for a market sector of
mildly dissatisfied consumers with mild cases of future- shock
& mild yearnings for a tepid authenticity. A niche has been
prepared for you, softly illumined with the illusions
of simplicity, cleanliness, thinness, a dash of asceticism &
self-denial. Of course, it costs a little more...after all, LITEness
was not designed for poor hungry primitivos who still think of
food as nourishment rather than decor. It has to cost
more--otherwise you wouldn't buy it.
The American Middle Class (don't quibble; you know what I
mean) falls naturally into opposite but complementary factions:
the Armies of Anorexia & Bulimia. Clinical cases of these
diseases represent only the psychosomatic froth on a wave of
cultural pathology, deep, diffused & largely unconscious.
The Bulimics are those yupped-out gentry who gorge on margharitas
& VCRs, then purge on LITE food, jogging, or (an)aerobic
jiggling. The Anorexics are the "lifestyle" rebels,
ultra-food-faddists, eaters of algae, joyless, dispirited &
wan--but smug in their puritanical zeal & their designer
hair-shirts. Grotesque junk food simply represents the flip-side
of ghoulish "health food":--nothing tastes like anything
but woodchips or additives--it's all either boring or carcinogenic--or
both--& it's all incredibly stupid.
Food, cooked or raw, cannot escape from symbolism. It is,
& also simultaneously represents that which it is.
All food is soul food; to treat it otherwise is to court indigestion,
both chronic & metaphysical.
But in the airless vault of our civilization, where nearly
every experience is mediated, where reality is strained through
the deadening mesh of consensus-perception, we lose touch with
food as nourishment; we begin to construct for ourselves
personae based on what we consume, treating products
as projections of our yearning for the authentic.
The A.O.A. sometimes envisions CHAOS as a cornucopia of continual
creation, as a sort of geyser of cosmic generosity; therefore
we refrain from advocating any specific diet, lest we offend
against the Sacred Multiplicity & the Divine Subjectivity.
We're not about to hawk you yet another New Age prescription
for perfect health (only the dead are perfectly healthy); we
interest ourselves in life, not "lifestyles."
True lightness we adore, & rich heaviness delights us
in its season. Excess suits us to perfection, moderation pleases
us, & we have learned that hunger can be the finest of all
spices. Everything is light, & the lushest flowers
grow round the privy. We dream of phalanstery tables & bolo'bolo
cafes where every festive collective of diners will share the
individual genius of a Brillat-Savarin (that saint of taste).
Shaykh Abu Sa'id never saved money or even kept it overnight--therefore,
whenever some patron donated a heavy purse to his hospice, the
dervishes celebrated with a gourmet feast; & on other days,
all went hungry. The point was to enjoy both states, full &
LITE parodies spiritual emptiness & illumination, just
as McDonald's travesties the imagery of fullness & celebration.
The human spirit (not to mention hunger) can overcome
& transcend all this fetishism--joy can erupt even at Burger
King, & even LITE beer may hide a dose of Dionysus. But why
should we have to struggle against this garbagy tide of cheap
rip-off ticky-tack, when we could be drinking the wine of paradise
even now under our own vine & fig tree?
Food belongs to the realm of everyday life, the primary arena
for all insurrectionary self-empowerment, all spiritual self-enhancement,
all seizing-back of pleasure, all revolt against the Planetary
Work Machine & its imitation desires. Far be it from us to
dogmatize; the Native American hunter might fuel his happiness
with fried squirrel, the anarcho-taoist with a handful of dried
apricots. Milarepa the Tibetan, after ten years of nettle- soup,
ate a butter cake & achieved enlightenment. The dullard sees
no eros in fine champagne; the sorcerer can fall intoxicated
on a glass of water.
Our culture, choking on its own pollutants, cries out (like
the dying Goethe) for "More LITE!"--as if these polyunsaturated
effluents could somehow assuage our misery, as if their bland
weightless tasteless characterlessness could protect us from
the gathering dark.
No! This last illusion finally strikes us as too cruel. We
are forced against our own slothful inclinations to take a stand
& protest. Boycott! Boycott! TURN OFF THE LITE!
Appendix: Menu For An Anarchist Black Banquet (veg & non-
Caviar & blinis; Hundred year old eggs; Squid & rice
cooked in ink; Eggplants cooked in their skins with black pickled
garlic; Wild rice with black walnuts & black mushrooms; Truffles
in black butter; Venison marinated in port, charcoal grilled,
served on pumpernickel slices & garnished with roast chestnuts.
Black Russians; Guiness-&-champagne; Chinese black tea. Dark
chocolate mousse, Turkish coffee, black grapes, plums, cherries,
Black Magic as Revolutionary Action
PREPARE AN INK OF pure & genuine saffron mixed with rose-
water, adding if possible some blood from a black rooster. In
a quiet room furnish an altar with a bowl of the ink, a pen with
an iron nib, 7 black candles, an incense burner, & some benzoin.
The charm may be written on virgin paper or parchment. Draw the
diagram at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday, facing North. Copy the 7-headed
diagram (see illustration) without lifting the pen from the paper,
in one smooth operation, holding your breath & pressing your
tongue to the roof of your mouth. This is the Barisan Laksamana,
or King of the Djinn. Then draw the Solomon's Seal (a star representing
a 5- headed djinn) & other parts of the diagram. Above Solomon's
Seal write the name of the individual or institution to be cursed.
Now hold the paper in the benzoin fumes, & invoke the white
& black djinn within yourself:
Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim
O White Djinn, Radiance of Mohammad
king of all spirits within me
O Black Djinn, shadow of myself
AWAY, destroy my enemy
--and if you do not
then be considered a traitor to Allah
--by virtue of the charm
La illaha ill'Allah
Mohammad ar-Rasul Allah
If the curse is to be aimed at an individual oppressor, a
wax doll may be prepared & the charm inserted (see illustration).
Seven needles are then driven downward into the top of the
head, thru the left & right armpits, left & right hips,
& thru the lips or nostrils. Wrap the doll in a white shroud
& bury it in the ground where the enemy is sure to walk over
it, meanwhile enlisting the aid of local earth spirits:
Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim
O Earth Djinn, Dirt-spirit
O Black Djinn living underground
listen, vampire of the soil
I order you to mark & destroy
the body & soul of _____________
Heed my orders
for I am the true & original sorcerer
by virtue of the charm
la illaha ill'Allah
Mohammad ar-Rasul Allah
If however the curse is intended for an institution or company,
assemble the following items: a hard-boiled egg, an iron nail,
& 3 iron pins (stick nail & needles into egg); dried
scorpion, lizard &/or beetles; a small chamois bag containing
graveyard dirt, magnetized iron fillings, asafoetida & sulphur,
& tied with a red ribbon. Sew the charm into yellow silk
& seal it with red wax. Place all these things in a wide-necked
bottle, cork it, & seal it with wax.
The bottle may now be carefully packaged & sent by mail
to the target institution--for example a Xtian televangelist
show, the New York Post, the MUZAK company, a school
or college--along with a copy of the following statement (extra
copies may be mailed to individual employees, &/or posted
surreptitiously around the premises):
Malay Black Djinn Curse
These premises have been cursed by black sorcery. The
curse has been activated according to correct rituals. This institution
is cursed because it has oppressed the Imagination & defiled
the Intellect, degraded the arts toward stupefaction, spiritual
slavery, propaganda for State & Capital, puritanical reaction,
unjust profits, lies & aesthetic blight. The employees of
this institution are now in danger. No ind ividual has been cursed,
but the place itself has been infec ted with ill fortune &
malignancy. Those who do not wake up & quit, or begin sabotaging
the workplace, will gradually fa ll under the effect of this
sorcery. Removing or destroying the implement of sorcery will
do no good. It has been seen i n this place, & this place
is cursed. Reclaim your humanity & revolt in the name of
the Imagination-- or else be judged (in the mirror of this charm)
an enemy of the human race.
We suggest "taking credit" for this action in the
name of some other offensive cultural institution, such as the
American Poetry Society or the Women's Anti-Porn Crusade (give
We also suggest, in order to counter-balance the effect on
yourself of calling up the personal black djinn, that you send
a magical blessing to someone or some group you love
&/or admire. Do this anonymously, & make the gift beautiful.
No precise ritual need be followed, but the imagery should be
allowed to spring from the well of consciousness in an intuitive/spontaneous
meditational state. Use sweet incense, red & white candles,
hard candy, wine, flowers, etc. If possible include real silver,
gold, or jewels in the gift.
This how-to-do-it manual on the Malay Black Djinn Curse has
been prepared according to authentic & complete ritual by
the Cultural Terrorism Committee of the inner Adept Chamber of
the HMOCA ("Third Paradise"). We are Nizari-Ismaili
Esotericists; that is, Shiite heretics & fanatics who trace
our spiritual line to Hassan-i Sabbah through Aladdin Mohammad
III "the Madman," seventh & last Pir of Alamut
(& not through the line of the Aga Khans). We espouse radical
monism & pure antinomianism, & oppose all forms
of law & authority, in the name of Chaos.
At present, for tactical reasons, we do not advocate violence
or sorcery against individuals. We call for actions against institutions
& ideas--art-sabotage & clandestine propaganda
(including ceremonial magic & "tantrik pornography")--and
especially against the poisonous media of the Empire of Lies.
The Black Djinn Curse represents only a first step in the campaign
of Poetic Terrorism which--we trust--will lead to other less
subtle forms of insurrection.
A.O.A. Announces Purges in Chaos Movement
CHAOS THEORY MUST OF course flow impurely. "Lazy
yokel plows a crooked furrow." Any attempt to precipitate
a crystal of ideology would result in flawed rigidities, fossilizations,
armorings & drynesses which we would like to renounce, along
with all "purity." Yes, Chaos revels in a certain abandoned
formlessness not unlike the erotic messiness of those we love
for their shattering of habit & their unveiling of mutability.
Nevertheless this looseness does not imply that Chaos Theory
must accept every leech that attempts to attach itself to our
sacred membranes. Certain definitions or deformations of Chaos
deserve denunciation, & our dedication to divine disorder
need not deter us from trashing the traitors & rip-off artists
& psychic vampires now buzzing around Chaos under the impression
that it's trendy. We propose not an Inquisition in the name of
our definitions, but rather a duel, a brawl, an act
of violence or emotional repugnance, an exorcism. First we'd
like to define & even name our enemies. (1) All those death-heads
& mutilation artists who associate Chaos exclusively with
misery, negativity & a joyless pseudo- libertinism--those
who think "beyond good & evil" means doing evil--the
S/M intellectuals, crooners of the apocalypse--the new Gnostic
Dualists, world-haters & ugly nihilists. (2) All those scientists
selling Chaos either as a force for destruction (e.g. particle-beam
weapons) or as a mechanism for enforcing order, as in the use
of Chaos math in statistical sociology and mob control. An attempt
will be made to discover names and addresses in this category.
(3) All those who appropriate Chaos in the cause of some New
Age scam. Of course we have no objection to your giving
us all your money, but we'll tell you up front: we'll use it
to buy dope or fly to Morocco. You can't sell water by the river;
Chaos is that materia of which the alchemists spoke, which
fools value more highly than gold even tho it may be found on
any dungheap. The chief enemy in this category is Werner Erhardt,
founder of est, who is now bottling "Chaos"
& trying to franchise it to the Yuppoids. Second, we will
list some of our friends, in order to give an idea of the disparate
trends in Chaos Theory we enjoy: Chaotica, the imaginal autonomous
zone discovered by Feral Faun (a.k.a. Feral Ranter); the Academy
of Chaotic Arts of Tundra Wind; Joel Birnoco's magazine KAOS;
Chaos Inc., a newsletter connected to the work of
Ralph Abraham, a leading Chaos scientist; the Church of Eris;
Discordian Zen; the Moorish Orthodox Church; certain clenches
of the Church of the SubGenius; the Sacred Jihad of Our Lady
of Perpetual Chaos; the writers associated with "type-3
anarchism" & journals like Popular Reality;
etc. The battle lines are drawn. Chaos is not entropy, Chaos
is not death, Chaos is not a commodity. Chaos is continual creation.
Chaos never died.
THE ASSOCIATION FOR ONTOLOGICAL ANARCHY gathers in conclave,
black turbans & shimmering robes, sprawled on shirazi carpets
sipping bitter coffee, smoking long chibouk & sibsi. QUESTION:
What's our position on all these recent defections & desertions
from anarchism (esp. in California-Land): condemn or condone?
Purge them or hail them as advance- guard? Gnostic elite...or
Actually, we have a lot of sympathy for the deserters &
their various critiques of anarchISM. Like Sinbad & the Horrible
Old Man, anarchism staggers around with the corpse of a Martyr
magically stuck to its shoulders--haunted by the legacy of failure
& revolutionary masochism--stagnant backwater of lost history.
Between tragic Past & impossible Future, anarchism seems
to lack a Present--as if afraid to ask itself, here & now,
WHAT ARE MY TRUE DESIRES?--& what can I DO before it's too
late?...Yes, imagine yourself confronted by a sorcerer who
stares you down balefully & demands, "What is your True
Desire?" Do you hem & haw, stammer, take refuge in ideological
platitudes? Do you possess both Imagination & Will, can you
both dream & dare--or are you the dupe of an impotent fantasy?
Look in the mirror & try it...(for one of your masks is
the face of a sorcerer)...
The anarchist "movement" today contains virtually
no Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans or children...even tho
in theory such genuinely oppressed groups stand to gain
the most from any anti-authoritarian revolt. Might it be that
anarchISM offers no concrete program whereby the truly deprived
might fulfill (or at least struggle realistically to fulfill)
real needs & desires?
If so, then this failure would explain not only anarchism's
lack of appeal to the poor & marginal, but also the disaffection
& desertions from within its own ranks. Demos, picket-lines
& reprints of 19th century classics don't add up to a vital,
daring conspiracy of self-liberation. If the movement is to grow
rather than shrink, a lot of deadwood will have to be jettisoned
& some risky ideas embraced.
The potential exists. Any day now, vast numbers of americans
are going to realize they're being force-fed a load of reactionary
boring hysterical artificially-flavored crap. Vast chorus
of groans, puking & retching...angry mobs roam the malls,
smashing & looting...etc., etc. The Black Banner could provide
a focus for the outrage & channel it into an insurrection
of the Imagination. We could pick up the struggle where it was
dropped by Situationism in '68 & Autonomia in the seventies,
& carry it to the next stage. We could have revolt in our
times--& in the process, we could realize many of our True
Desires, even if only for a season, a brief Pirate Utopia, a
warped free-zone in the old Space/Time continuum.
If the A.O.A. retains its affiliation with the "movement,"
we do so not merely out of a romantic predilection for lost causes--or
not entirely. Of all "political systems," anarchism
(despite its flaws, & precisely because it is neither political
nor a system) comes closest to our understanding of reality,
ontology, the nature of being. As for the deserters...we agree
with their critiques, but note that they seem to offer no new
powerful alternatives. So for the time being we prefer to concentrate
on changing anarchism from within. Here's our program, comrades:
- Work on the realization that psychic racism has
replaced overt discrimination as one of the most disgusting aspects
of our society. Imaginative participation in other cultures,
esp. those we live with.
- Abandon all ideological purity. Embrace "Type-3"
anarchism (to use Bob Black's pro-tem slogan): neither collectivist
nor individualist. Cleanse the temple of vain idols, get rid
of the Horrible Old Men, the relics & martyrologies.
- Anti-work or "Zerowork" movement extremely important,
including a radical & perhaps violent attack on Education
& the serfdom of children.
- Develop american samizdat network, replace outdated publishing/propaganda
tactics. Pornography & popular entertainment as vehicles
for radical re-education.
- In music the hegemony of the 2/4 & 4/4 beat must be overthrown.
We need a new music, totally insane but life- affirming, rhythmically
subtle yet powerful, & we need it NOW.
- Anarchism must wean itself away from evangelical materialism
& banal 2-dimensional 19th century scientism. "Higher
states of consciousness" are not mere SPOOKS invented by
evil priests. The orient, the occult, the tribal cultures possess
techniques which can be "appropriated" in
true anarchist fashion. Without "higher states of consciousness,"
anarchism ends & dries itself up into a form of misery, a
whining complaint. We need a practical kind of "mystical
anarchism," devoid of all New Age shit-&-shinola, &
inexorably heretical & anti-clerical; avid for all new technologies
of consciousness & metanoia--a democratization of shamanism,
intoxicated & serene.
- Sexuality is under assault, obviously from the Right, more
subtly from the avant-pseud "post-sexuality" movement,
& even more subtly by Spectacular Recuperation in media &
advertising. Time for a major step forward in SexPol awareness,
an explosive reaffirmation of the polymorphic eros--(even &
especially in the face of plague & gloom)--a literal glorification
of the senses, a doctrine of delight. Abandon all world-hatred
- Experiment with new tactics to replace the outdated baggage
of Leftism. Emphasize practical, material & personal benefits
of radical networking. The times do not appear propitious for
violence or militancy, but surely a bit of sabotage & imaginative
disruption is never out of place. Plot & conspire, don't
bitch & moan. The Art World in particular deserves a dose
of "Poetic Terrorism."
- The despatialization of post-Industrial society provides
some benefits (e.g. computer networking) but can also manifest
as a form of oppression (homelessness, gentrification, architectural
depersonalization, the erasure of Nature, etc.) The communes
of the sixties tried to circumvent these forces but failed. The
question of land refuses to go away. How can we separate
the concept of space from the mechanisms of control?
The territorial gangsters, the Nation/States, have hogged the
entire map. Who can invent for us a cartography of autonomy,
who can draw a map that includes our desires?
AnarchISM ultimately implies anarchy--& anarchy is chaos.
Chaos is the principle of continual creation...& Chaos
--A.O.A. Plenary Session
March '87, NYC
BLACK CROWN & BLACK ROSE
Anarcho-Monarchism & Anarcho-Mysticism
IN SLEEP WE DREAM of only two forms of government--anarchy
& monarchy. Primordial root consciousness understands no
politics & never plays fair. A democratic dream? a socialist
Whether my REMs bring verdical near-prophetic visions or mere
Viennese wish-fulfillment, only kings & wild people populate
my night. Monads & nomads.
Pallid day (when nothing shines by its own light) slinks &
insinuates & suggests that we compromise with a sad &
lackluster reality. But in dream we are never ruled except by
love or sorcery, which are the skills of chaotes & sultans.
Among a people who cannot create or play, but can only work,
artists also know no choice but anarchy & monarchy. Like
the dreamer, they must possess & do possess their
own perceptions, & for this they must sacrifice the merely
social to a "tyrannical Muse." Art dies when treated
"fairly." It must enjoy a caveman's wildness or else
have its mouth filled with gold by some prince. Bureaucrats &
sales personnel poison it, professors chew it up, & philosophers
spit it out. Art is a kind of byzantine barbarity fit only for
nobles & heathens. If you had known the sweetness of life
as a poet in the reign of some venal, corrupt, decadent, ineffective
& ridiculous Pasha or Emir, some Qajar shah, some King Farouk,
some Queen of Persia, you would know that this is what every
anarchist must want. How they loved poems & paintings, those
dead luxurious fools, how they absorbed all roses & cool
breezes, tulips & lutes! Hate their cruelty & caprice,
yes--but at least they were human. The bureaucrats, however,
who smear the walls of the mind with odorless filth--so kind,
so gemutlich--who pollute the inner air with numbness--they're
not even worthy of hate. They scarcely exist outside the bloodless
Ideas they serve.
And besides: the dreamer, the artist, the anarchist--do they
not share some tinge of cruel caprice with the most outrageous
of moghuls? Can genuine life occur without some folly, some excess,
some bouts of Heraclitan "strife"? We do not rule--but
we cannot & will not be ruled.
In Russia the Narodnik-Anarchists would sometimes forge a
ukase or manifesto in the name of the Czar; in it the
Autocrat would complain that greedy lords & unfeeling officials
had sealed him in his palace & cut him off from his beloved
people. He would proclaim the end of serfdom & call on peasants
& workers to rise in His Name against the government.
Several times this ploy actually succeeded in sparking revolts.
Why? Because the single absolute ruler acts metaphorically as
a mirror for the unique and utter absoluteness of the self. Each
peasant looked into this glassy legend & beheld his or her
own freedom--an illusion, but one that borrowed its magic from
the logic of the dream.
A similar myth must have inspired the 17th century Ranters
& Antinomians & Fifth Monarchy Men who flocked to the
Jacobite standard with its erudite cabals & bloodproud conspiracies.
The radical mystics were betrayed first by Cromwell & then
by the Restoration--why not, finally, join with flippant cavaliers
& foppish counts, with Rosicrucians & Scottish Rite Masons,
to place an occult messiah on Albion's throne?
Among a people who cannot conceive human society without a
monarch, the desires of radicals may be expressed in monarchical
terms. Among a people who cannot conceive human existence without
a religion, radical desires may speak the language of heresy.
Taoism rejected the whole of Confucian bureaucracy but retained
the image of the Emperor-Sage, who would sit silent on his throne
facing a propitious direction, doing absolutely nothing. In Islam
the Ismailis took the idea of the Imam of the Prophet's Household
& metamorphosed it into the Imam-of- one's-own-being, the
perfected self who is beyond all Law & rule, who is atoned
with the One. And this doctrine led them into revolt against
Islam, to terror & assassination in the name of pure esoteric
self-liberation & total realization.
Classical 19th century anarchism defined itself in the struggle
against crown & church, & therefore on the waking level
it considered itself egalitarian & atheist. This rhetoric
however obscures what really happens: the "king" becomes
the "anarchist," the "priest" a "heretic."
In this strange duet of mutability the politician, the democrat,
the socialist, the rational ideologue can find no place; they
are deaf to the music & lack all sense of rhythm. Terrorist
& monarch are archetypes; these others are mere
Once anarch & king clutched each other's throats &
waltzed a totentanz--a splendid battle. Now, however, both are
relegated to history's trashbin--has-beens, curiosities of a
leisurely & more cultivated past. They whirl around so fast
that they seem to meld together...can they somehow have become
one thing, a Siamese twin, a Janus, a freakish unity? "The
sleep of Reason..." ah! most desirable & desirous monsters!
Ontological Anarchy proclaims flatly, bluntly, & almost
brainlessly: yes, the two are now one. As a single entity the
anarch/king now is reborn; each of us the ruler of our own flesh,
our own creations--and as much of everything else as we can grab
Our actions are justified by fiat & our relations are
shaped by treaties with other autarchs. We make the law for our
own domains--& the chains of the law have been broken. At
present perhaps we survive as mere Pretenders--but even so we
may seize a few instants, a few square feet of reality over which
to impose our absolute will, our royaume. L'etat, c'est
If we are bound by any ethic or morality it must be one which
we ourselves have imagined, fabulously more exalted & more
liberating than the "moralic acid" of puritans &
humanists. "Ye are as gods"--"Thou art That."
The words monarchism & mysticism are
used here in part simply pour epater those egalito-atheist
anarchists who react with pious horror to any mention of pomp
or superstition-mongering. No champagne revolutions for them!
Our brand of anti-authoritarianism, however, thrives on baroque
paradox; it favors states of consciousness, emotion & aesthetics
over all petrified ideologies & dogma; it embraces multitudes
& relishes contradictions. Ontological Anarchy is a hobgoblin
for BIG minds. The translation of the title (& key term)
of Max Stirner's magnum opus as The Ego & Its Own
has led to a subtle misinterpretation of "individualism."
The English-Latin word ego comes freighted & weighed
with freudian & protestant baggage. A careful reading of
Stirner suggests that The Unique & His Own-ness
would better reflect his intentions, given that he never defines
the ego in opposition to libido or id, or in opposition
to "soul" or "spirit." The Unique (der
Einzige) might best be construed simply as the individual
Stirner commits no metaphysics, yet bestows on the Unique
a certain absoluteness. In what way then does this Einzige
differ from the Self of Advaita Vedanta? Tat tvam asi:
Thou (individual Self) art That (absolute Self).
Many believe that mysticism "dissolves the ego."
Rubbish. Only death does that (or such at least is our Sadducean
assumption). Nor does mysticism destroy the "carnal"
or "animal" self--which would also amount to suicide.
What mysticism really tries to surmount is false consciousness,
illusion, Consensus Reality, & all the failures of self that
accompany these ills. True mysticism creates a "self at
peace," a self with power. The highest task of metaphysics
(accomplished for example by Ibn Arabi, Boehme, Ramana Maharshi)
is in a sense to self-destruct, to identify metaphysical &
physical, transcendent & immanent, as ONE. Certain radical
monists have pushed this doctrine far beyond mere pantheism
or religious mysticism. An apprehension of the immanent oneness
of being inspires certain antinomian heresies (the Ranters, the
Assassins) whom we consider our ancestors.
Stirner himself seems deaf to the possible spiritual resonances
of Individualism--& in this he belongs to the 19th century:
born long after the deliquescence of Christendom, but long before
the discovery of the Orient & of the hidden illuminist tradition
in Western alchemy, revolutionary heresy & occult activism.
Stirner quite correctly despised what he knew as "mysticism,"
a mere pietistic sentimentality based on self-abnegation &
world hatred. Nietzsche nailed down the lid on "God"
a few years later. Since then, who has dared to suggest that
Individualism & mysticism might be reconciled & synthesized?
The missing ingredient in Stirner (Nietzsche comes closer)
is a working concept of nonordinary consciousness. The
realization of the unique self (or ubermensch) must reverberate
& expand like waves or spirals or music to embrace direct
experience or intuitive perception of the uniqueness of reality
itself. This realization engulfs & erases all duality, dichotomy,
& dialectic. It carries with itself, like an electric charge,
an intense & wordless sense of value: it "divinizes"
Being/consciousness/bliss (satchitananda) cannot be
dismissed as merely another Stirnerian "spook" or "wheel
in the head." It invokes no exclusively transcendent principle
for which the Einzige must sacrifice his/her own-ness.
It simply states that intense awareness of existence itself results
in "bliss"--or in less loaded language, "valuative
consciousness." The goal of the Unique after all is to possess
everything; the radical monist attains this by identifying
self with perception, like the Chinese inkbrush painter who "becomes
the bamboo," so that "it paints itself."
Despite mysterious hints Stirner drops about a "union
of Unique-ones" & despite Nietzsche's eternal "Yea"
& exaltation of life, their Individualism seems somehow shaped
by a certain coldness toward the other. In part they
cultivated a bracing, cleansing chilliness against the warm suffocation
of 19th century sentimentality & altruism; in part they simply
despised what someone (Mencken?) called "Homo Boobensis."
And yet, reading behind & beneath the layer of ice, we
uncover traces of a fiery doctrine--what Gaston Bachelard might
have called "a Poetics of the Other." The Einzige's
relation with the Other cannot be defined or limited by any institution
or idea. And yet clearly, however paradoxically, the Unique depends
for completeness on the Other, & cannot & will not be
realized in any bitter isolation.
The examples of "wolf children" or enfants sauvages
suggest that a human infant deprived of human company for too
long will never attain conscious humanity--will never acquire
language. The Wild Child perhaps provides a poetic metaphor for
the Unique-one--and yet simultaneously marks the precise point
where Unique & Other must meet, coalesce, unify--or else
fail to attain & possess all of which they are capable.
The Other mirrors the Self--the Other is our witness.
The Other completes the Self--the Other gives us the key to the
perception of oneness-of-being. When we speak of being &
consciousness, we point to the Self; when we speak of bliss we
implicate the Other.
The acquisition of language falls under the sign of Eros--
all communication is essentially erotic, all relations are erotic.
Avicenna & Dante claimed that love moves the very stars &
planets in their courses--the Rg Veda & Hesiod's
Theogony both proclaim Love the first god born after
Chaos. Affections, affinities, aesthetic perceptions, beautiful
creations, conviviality--all the most precious possessions of
the Unique-one arise from the conjunction of Self & Other
in the constellation of Desire.
Here again the project begun by Individualism can be evolved
& revivified by a graft with mysticism--specifically with
tantra. As an esoteric technique divorced from orthodox
Hinduism, tantra provides a symbolic framework ("Net of
Jewels") for the identification of sexual pleasure &
non- ordinary consciousness. All antinomian sects have contained
some "tantrik" aspect, from the families of Love &
Free Brethren & Adamites of Europe to the pederast sufis
of Persia to the Taoist alchemists of China. Even classical anarchism
has enjoyed its tantrik moments: Fourier's Phalansteries; the
"Mystical Anarchism" of G. Ivanov & other fin-de-siÉcle
Russian symbolists; the incestuous erotism of Arzibashaev's Sanine;
the weird combination of Nihilism & Kali-worship which inspired
the Bengali Terrorist Party (to which my tantrik guru Sri Kamanaransan
Biswas had the honor of belonging)...
We, however, propose a much deeper syncretism of anarchy &
tantra than any of these. In fact, we simply suggest that Individual
Anarchism & Radical Monism are to be considered henceforth
one and the same movement.
This hybrid has been called "spiritual materialism,"
a term which burns up all metaphysics in the fire of oneness
of spirit & matter. We also like "Ontological Anarchy"
because it suggests that being itself remains in a state of "divine
Chaos," of all-potentiality, of continual creation.
In this flux only the jiva mukti, or "liberated
individual," is self-realized, and thus monarch or owner
of his perceptions and relations. In this ceaseless flow only
desire offers any principle of order, and thus the only possible
society (as Fourier understood) is that of lovers.
Anarchism is dead, long live anarchy! We no longer need the
baggage of revolutionary masochism or idealist self- sacrifice--or
the frigidity of Individualism with its disdain for conviviality,
of living together--or the vulgar superstitions of 19th
century atheism, scientism, and progressism. All that dead weight!
Frowsy proletarian suitcases, heavy bourgeois steamer-trunks,
boring philosophical portmanteaux--over the side with them!
We want from these systems only their vitality, their life-
forces, daring, intransigence, anger, heedlessness--their power,
their shakti. Before we jettison the rubbish and the carpetbags,
we'll rifle the luggage for billfolds, revolvers, jewels, drugs
and other useful items--keep what we like and trash the rest.
Why not? Are we priests of a cult, to croon over relics and mumble
Monarchism too has something we want--a grace, an ease, a
pride, a superabundance. We'll take these, and dump the woes
of authority & torture in history's garbage bin. Mysticism
has something we need--"self-overcoming," exalted awareness,
reservoirs of psychic potency. These we will expropriate in the
name of our insurrection--and leave the woes of morality &
religion to rot & decompose.
As the Ranters used to say when greeting any "fellow
creature"--from king to cut-purse--"Rejoice! All is
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE KALI
THE KALI YUGA STILL has 200,000 or so years to play--good
news for advocates & avatars of CHAOS, bad news for Brahmins,
Yahwists, bureaucrat-gods & their runningdogs.
I knew Darjeeling hid something for me soon as I heard the
name--dorje ling--Thunderbolt City. In 1969 I arrived
just before the monsoons. Old British hill station, summer hdqrs
for Govt. of Bengal--streets in the form of winding wood staircases,
the Mall with a View of Sikkim & Mt Katchenhunga- -Tibetan
temples & refugees--beautiful yellow-porcelain people called
Lepchas (the real abo's)--Hindus, Moslems, Nepalese & Bhutanese
Buddhists, & decaying Brits who lost their way home in '47,
still running musty banks & tea- shoppes.
Met Ganesh Baba, fat white-bearded saddhu with overly- impeccable
Oxford accent--never saw anyone smoke so much ganja, chillam
after chillam full, then we'd wander the streets while he played
ball with shrieking kids or picked fights in the bazaar, chasing
after terrified clerks with his umbrella, then roaring with laughter.
He introduced me to Sri Kamanaransan Biswas, a tiny wispy
middleage Bengali government clerk in a shabby suit, who offered
to teach me Tantra. Mr Biswas lived in a tiny bungalow perched
on a steep pine-tree misty hillside, where I visited him daily
with pints of cheap brandy for puja & tippling--he encouraged
me to smoke while we talked, since ganja too is sacred to Kali.
Mr Biswas in his wild youth was a member of the Bengali Terrorist
Party, which included both Kali worshippers & heretic Moslem
mystics as well as anarchists & extreme leftists. Ganesh
Baba seemed to approve of this secret past, as if it were a sign
of Mr Biswas's hidden tantrika strength, despite his outward
seedy mild appearance.
We discussed my readings in Sir John Woodruffe ("Arthur
Avalon") each afternoon, I walked there thru cold summer
fogs, Tibetan spirit-traps flapping in the soaked breeze loomed
out of the mist & cedars. We practiced the Tara- mantra and
Tara-mudra (or Yoni-mudra), and studied the Tara- yantra diagram
for magical purposes. Once we visited a temple to the Hindu Mars
(like ours, both planet & war-god) where he bought a finger-ring
made from an iron horseshoe nail & gave it to me. More brandy
Tara: one of the forms of Kali, very similar in attributes:
dwarfish, naked, four-armed with weapons, dancing on dead Shiva,
necklace of skulls or severed heads, tongue dripping blood, skin
a deep blue-grey the precise color of monsoon clouds. Every day
more rain--mud-slides blocking roads. My Border Area Permit expires.
Mr Biswas & I descend the slick wet Himalayas by jeep &
train down to his ancestral city, Siliguri in the flat Bengali
plains where the Ganges fingers into a sodden viridescent delta.
We visit his wife in the hospital. Last year a flood drowned
Siliguri killing tens of thousands. Cholera broke out, the city's
a wreck, algae-stained & ruined, the hospital's halls still
caked with slime, blood, vomit, the liquids of death. She sits
silent on her bed glaring unblinking at hideous fates. Dark side
of the goddess. He gives me a colored lithograph of Tara which
miraculously floated above the water & was saved.
That night we attend some ceremony at the local Kali-temple,
a modest half-ruined little roadside shrine--torchlight the only
illumination--chanting & drums with strange, almost African
syncopation, totally unclassical, primordial & yet insanely
complex. We drink, we smoke. Alone in the cemetery, next to a
half-burnt corpse, I'm initiated into Tara Tantra. Next day,
feverish & spaced-out, I say farewell & set out for Assam,
to the great temple of Shakti's yoni in Gauhati, just
in time for the annual festival. Assam is forbidden territory
& I have no permit. Midnight in Gauhati I sneak off the train,
back down the tracks thru rain & mud up to my knees &
total darkness, blunder at last into the city & find a bug-ridden
hotel. Sick as a dog by this time. No sleep.
In the morning, bus up to the temple on a nearby mountain.
Huge towers, pullulating deities, courtyards, outbuildings--
hundreds of thousands of pilgrims--weird saddhus down from their
ice-caves squatting on tiger skins & chanting. Sheep &
doves are being slaughtered by the thousands, a real hecatomb--(not
another white sahib in sight)--gutters running inch-deep in blood--curve-bladed
Kali-swords chop chop chop, dead heads plocking onto the slippery
When Shiva chopped Shakti into 53 pieces & scattered them
over the whole Ganges basin, her cunt fell here. Some friendly
priests speak English & help me find the cave where Yoni's
on display. By this time I know I'm seriously sick, but determined
to finish the ritual. A herd of pilgrims (all at least one head
shorter than me) literally engulfs me like an undertow-wave at
the beach, & hurls me suspended down suffocating winding
troglodyte stairs into claustrophobic womb-cave where I swirl
nauseated & hallucinating toward a shapeless cone meteorite
smeared in centuries of ghee & ochre. The herd parts for
me, allows me to throw a garland of jasmine over the yoni.
A week later in Kathmandu I enter the German Missionary Hospital
(for a month) with hepatitis. A small price to pay for all that
knowledge--the liver of some retired colonel from a Kipling story!--but
I know her, I know Kali. Yes absolutely the archetype
of all that horror, yet for those who know, she becomes the generous
mother. Later in a cave in the jungle above Rishikish I meditated
on Tara for several days (with mantra, yantra, mudra, incense,
& flowers) & returned to the serenity of Darjeeling,
its beneficent visions.
Her age must contain horrors, for most of us cannot understand
her or reach beyond the necklace of skulls to the garland of
jasmine, knowing in what sense they are the same. To
go thru CHAOS, to ride it like a tiger, to embrace it (even sexually)
& absorb some of its shakti, its life-juice--this is the
Path of Kali Yuga. Creative nihilism. For those who follow it
she promises enlightenment & even wealth, a share of her
The sexuality & violence serve as metaphors in a poem
which acts directly on consciousness through the Image-ination--or
else in the correct circumstances they can be openly deployed
& enjoyed, embued with a sense of the holiness of every
thing from ecstasy & wine to garbage & corpses.
Those who ignore her or see her outside themselves risk destruction.
Those who worship her as ishta-devata, or divine self,
taste her Age of Iron as if it were gold, knowing the alchemy
of her presence.
AGAINST THE REPRODUCTION OF DEATH
ONE OF THE SIGNS of that End Time so many seem to anticipate
would consist of a fascination with all the most negative &
hateful detritus of that Time, a fascination felt by the very
class of thinkers who consider themselves most perspicacious
about the so-called apocalypse they warn us to beware. I'm speaking
of people I know very well--those of the "spiritual right"
(such as the neo-Guenonians with their obsession for signs of
decadence)--& those of the post- philosophical left, the
detached essayists of death, connoisseurs of the arts of mutilation.
For both these sets, all possible action in the world is smeared
out onto one level plain--all become equally meaningless. For
the Traditionalist, nothing matters but to prepare the soul for
death (not only its own but the whole world's as well). For the
"cultural critic" nothing matters but the game of identifying
yet one more reason for despair, analyzing it, adding it to the
Now the End of the World is an abstraction because it has
never happened. It has no existence in the real world. It will
cease to be an abstraction only when it happens--if it happens.
(I do not claim to know "God's mind" on the subject-
-nor to possess any scientific knowledge about a still non- existent
future). I see only a mental image & its emotional ramifications;
as such I identify it as a kind of ghostly virus, a spook-sickness
in myself which ought to be expunged rather than hypochondriacally
coddled & indulged. I have come to despise the "End
of the World" as an ideological icon held over my head by
religion, state, & cultural milieu alike, as a reason for
I understand why the religious & political "powers"
would want to keep me quaking in my shoes. Since only they
offer even a chance of evading ragnarok (thru prayer,
thru democracy, thru communism, etc.), I will sheepishly follow
their dictates & dare nothing on my own. The case of the
enlightened intellectuals, however, seems more puzzling at first.
What power do they derive from this telling-the- beads
of fear & gloom, sadism & hatred?
Essentially they gain smartness. Any attack on them
must appear stupid, since they alone are clear-eyed enough to
recognize the truth, they alone daring enough to show it
forth in defiance of rude shit-kicking censors & liberal
wimps. If I attack them as part of the very problem they claim
to be discussing objectively, I will be seen as a bumpkin, a
prude, a pollyanna. If I admit my hatred for the artifacts
of their perception (books, artworks, performances) then I may
be dismissed as merely squeamish (& so of course psychologically
repressed), or else at the very least lacking in seriousness.
Many people assume that because I sometimes express myself
as an anarchist boy-lover, I must also be "interested"
in other ultra-postmodern ideas like serial child-murder, fascist
ideology, or the photographs of Joel P. Witkin. They assume only
two sides to any issue--the hip side & the unhip side. A
marxist who objected to all this death-cultishness as anti-progressive
would be thought as foolish as a Xtian fundamentalist who believed
I maintain that (as usual) many sides exist to this issue
rather than only two. Two-sided issues (creationism vs darwinism,
"choice" vs "pro-life," etc.) are all without
exception delusions, spectacular lies.
My position is this: I am all too well aware of the "intelligence"
which prevents action. I myself possess it in abundance. Every
once in a while however I have managed to behave as if I were
stupid enough to try to change my life. Sometimes I've used dangerous
stupifiants like religion, marijuana, chaos, the love of boys.
On a few occasions I have attained some degree of success--&
I say this not to boast but rather to bear witness. By overthrowing
the inner icons of the End of the World & the Futility of
all mundane endeavor, I have (rarely) broken through into a state
which (by comparison with all I'd known) appeared to be one of
health. The images of death & mutilation which fascinate
our artists & intellectuals appear to me--in the remembered
light of these experiences--tragically inappropriate to the real
potential of existence & of discourse about existence.
Existence itself may be considered an abyss possessed of no
meaning. I do not read this as a pessimistic statement.
If it be true, then I can see in it nothing else but a declaration
of autonomy for my imagination & will--& for the most
beautiful act they can conceive with which to bestow
meaning upon existence.
Why should I emblemize this freedom with an act such as murder
(as did the existentialists) or with any of the ghoulish tastes
of the eighties? Death can only kill me once- -till then I am
free to express & experience (as much as I can)
a life & an art of life based on self-valuating "peak
experiences," as well as "conviviality" (which
also possesses its own reward).
The obsessive replication of Death-imagery (& its reproduction
or even commodification) gets in the way of this project
just as obstructively as censorship or media- brainwashing. It
sets up negative feedback loops--it is bad juju. It helps no
one conquer fear of death, but merely inculcates a morbid
fear in place of the healthy fear all sentient creatures feel
at the smell of their own mortality.
This is not to absolve the world of its ugliness, or to deny
that truly fearful things exist in it. But some of these things
can be overcome--on the condition that we build an aesthetic
on the overcoming rather than the fear.
I recently attended a gay dance/poetry performance of uncompromising
hipness: the one black dancer in the troupe had to pretend to
fuck a dead sheep.
Part of my self-induced stupidity, I confess, is to believe
(& even feel) that art can change me, & change others.
That's why I write pornography & propaganda--to cause change.
Art can never mean as much as a love affair, perhaps, or an insurrection.
But...to a certain extent...it works.
Even if I'd given up all hope in art, however, all expectation
of exaltation, I would still refuse to put up with art that merely
exacerbates my misery, or indulges in schadenfreude, "delight
in the misery of others." I turn away from certain art as
a dog would turn away howling from the corpse of its companion.
I'd like to renounce the sophistication which would permit me
to sniff it with detached curiosity as yet another example of
Only the dead are truly smart, truly cool. Nothing touches
them. While I live, however, I side with bumbling suffering crooked
life, with anger rather than boredom, with sweet lust, hunger
& carelessness...against the icy avant-guard & its fashionable
premonitions of the sepulcher.
(For Harry Smith)
AT THE SURREALIST FILM show, someone asked Stan Brakhage about
the media's use of surrealism (MTV, etc.); he answered that it
was a "damn shame." Well, maybe it is & maybe it
isn't (does popular kultur ipso facto lack all inspiration?)--but
granting that on some level the media's appropriation of surrealism
is a damn shame, are we to believe that there was nothing in
surrealism that allowed this theft to occur?
The return of the repressed means the return of the paleolithic--not
a return to the Old Stone Age, but a spiralling around
on a new level of the gyre. (After all, 99.9999% of human experience
is of hunting/gathering, with agriculture & industry a mere
oil slick on the deep well of non-history.) Paleolithic equals
pre-Work ("original leisure society"). Post-Work (Zerowork)
equals "Psychic Paleolithism."
All projects for the "liberation of desire" (Surrealism)
which remain enmeshed in the matrix of Work can only lead to
the commodification of desire. The Neolithic begins with desire
for commodities (agricultural surplus), moves on to the production
of desire (industry), & ends with the implosion of desire
(advertising). The Surrealist liberation of desire, for all its
aesthetic accomplishments, remains no more than a subset of production--hence
the wholesaling of Surrealism to the Communist Party & its
Work-ist ideology (not to mention attendant misogyny & homophobia).
Modern leisure, in turn, is simply a subset of Work (hence its
commodification)--so it is no accident that when Surrealism closed
up shop, the only customers at the garage sale were ad execs.
Advertising, using Surrealism's colonization of the unconscious
to create desire, leads to the final implosion of Surrealism.
It's not just a "damn shame & a disgrace," not
a simple appropriation. Surrealism was made for advertising,
for commodification. Surrealism is in fact a betrayal of desire.
And yet, out of this abyss of meaning, desire still rises,
innocent as a new-hatched phoenix. Early Berlin dada (which rejected
the return of the art-object) for all its faults provides a better
model for dealing with the implosion of the social than Surrealism
could ever do--an anarchist model, or perhaps (in anthro-jargon)
a non-authoritarian model, a destruction of all ideology, of
all chains of law. As the structure of Work/Leisure crumbles
into emptiness, as all forms of control vanish in the dissolution
of meaning, the Neolithic seems bound to vanish as well, with
all its temples & granaries & police, to be replaced
by some return of hunting/gathering on the psychic level--a re-
nomadization. Everything's imploding & disappearing--the
oedipal family, education, even the unconscious itself (as Andr&SHY;
Codrescu says). Let's not mistake this for Armageddon (let's
resist the seduction of apocalypse, the eschatological con)--it's
not the world coming to an end-- only the empty husks
of the social, catching fire & disappearing.
Surrealism must be junked along with all the other beautiful
bric-a-brac of agricultural priestcraft & vapid control-
systems. No one knows what's coming, what misery, what spirit
of wildness, what joy--but the last thing we need on our voyage
is another set of commissars--popes of our dreams- -daddies.
Down with Surrealism...
--Naropa, July 9, 1988
FOR A CONGRESS OF WEIRD RELIGIONS
WE'VE LEARNED TO DISTRUST the verb to be, the word
is--let's say rather: note the striking resemblance
between the concept SATORI & the concept REVOLUTION OF EVERYDAY
LIFE--in both cases: a perception of the "ordinary"
with extraordinary consequences for consciousness & action.
We can't use the phrase "is like" because both concepts
(like all concepts, all words for that matter) come crusted with
accretions--each burdened with all its psycho-cultural baggage,
like guests who arrive suspiciously overly well- supplied for
So allow me the old-fashioned Beat-Zennish use of satori,
while simultaneously emphasizing--in the case of the Situationist
slogan--that one of the roots of its dialectic can be traced
to dada & Surrealism's notion of the "marvelous"
erupting from (or into) a life which only seems suffocated
by the banal, by the miseries of abstraction & alienation.
I define my terms by making them more vague, precisely in order
to avoid the orthodoxies of both Buddhism & Situationism,
to evade their ideologico- semantic traps--those broken-down
language machines! Rather, I propose we ravage them for parts,
an act of cultural bricolage. "Revolution" means just
another turn of the crank- -while religious orthodoxy of any
sort leads logically to a veritable government of cranks. Let's
not idolize satori by imagining it the monopoly of mystic monks,
or as contingent on any moral code; & rather than fetishize
the Leftism of '68 we prefer Stirner's term "insurrection"
or "uprising," which escapes the built-in implications
of a mere change of authority.
This constellation of concepts involves "breaking rules"
of ordered perception to arrive at direct experiencing, somewhat
analogous to the process whereby chaos spontaneously resolves
into fractal nonlinear orders, or the way in which "wild"
creative energy resolves as play & poesis. "Spontaneous
order" out of "chaos" in turn evokes the anarchist
Taoism of the Chuang Tzu. Zen may be accused of
lacking awareness of the "revolutionary" implications
of satori, while the Situationists can be criticized for ignoring
a certain "spirituality" inherent in the self- realization
& conviviality their cause demands. By identifying satori
with the r. of e.d.l. we're performing a bit of a shotgun marriage
fully as remarkable as the Surrealists' famous mating of an umbrella
& sewing machine or whatever it was. Miscegenation. The race-mixing
advocated by Nietzsche, who was attracted, no doubt, by the sexiness
of the half-caste.
I'm tempted to try to describe the way satori "is"
like the r. of e.d.l.--but I can't. Or to put it another way:
nearly all I write revolves around this theme; I would have to
repeat nearly everything in order to elucidate this single point.
Instead, as an appendix, I offer one more curious coincidence
or interpenetration of 2 terms, one from Situationism again &
the other this time from sufism. The d&SHY;rive or "drift"
was conceived as an exercise in deliberate revolutionizing of
everyday life--a sort of aimless wandering thru city streets,
a visionary urban nomadism involving an openness to "culture
as nature" (if I grasp the idea correctly)--which by its
sheer duration would inculcate in the drifters a propensity to
experience the marvelous; not always in its beneficent form perhaps,
but hopefully always productive of insight--whether thru architecture,
the erotic, adventure, drink & drugs, danger, inspiration,
whatever--into the intensity of unmediated perception & experience.
The parallel term in sufism would be "journeying to the
far horizons" or simply "journeying," a spiritual
exercise which combines the urban & nomadic energies of Islam
into a single trajectory, sometimes called "the Caravan
of Summer." The dervish vows to travel at a certain velocity,
perhaps spending no more than 7 nights or 40 nights in one city,
accepting whatever comes, moving wherever signs & coincidences
or simply whims may lead, heading from power- spot to power-spot,
conscious of "sacred geography," of itinerary as meaning,
of topology as symbology. Here's another constellation: Ibn Khaldun,
On the Road (both Jack Kerouac's & Jack London's),
the form of the picaresque novel in general, Baron Munchausen,
wanderjahr, Marco Polo, boys in a suburban summer forest,
Arthurian knights out questing for trouble, queers out cruising
for boys, pub-crawling with Melville, Poe, Baudelaire--or canoeing
with Thoreau in Maine...travel as the antithesis of tourism,
space rather than time. Art project: the construction
of a "map" bearing a 1:1 ratio to the "territory"
explored. Political project: the construction of shifting "autonomous
zones" within an invisible nomadic network (like the Rainbow
Gatherings). Spiritual project: the creation or discovery of
pilgrimages in which the concept "shrine" has been
replaced (or esotericized) by the concept "peak experience."
What I'm trying to do here (as usual) is to provide a sound
irrational basis, a strange philosophy if you like, for what
I call the Free Religions, including the Psychedelic & Discordian
currents, non-hierarchical neo-paganism, antinomian heresies,
chaos & Kaos Magik, revolutionary HooDoo, "unchurched"
& anarchist Christians, Magical Judaism, the Moorish Orthodox
Church, Church of the SubGenius, the Faeries, radical Taoists,
beer mystics, people of the Herb, etc., etc.
Contrary to the expectations of 19th century radicals, religion
has not gone away--perhaps we'd be better off if it had--but
has instead increased in power, seemingly in proportion to the
global increase in the realm of technology & rational control.
Both fundamentalism & the New Age derive some force from
deep & widespread dissatisfaction with the System that works
against all perception of the marvelousness of everyday life--call
it Babylon or the Spectacle, Capital or Empire, Society of Simulation
or of soulless mechanism--what you wish. But these two religious
forces divert the very desire for the authentic toward overpowering
& oppressive new abstractions (morality in the case of fundamentalism,
commodification in the case of the New Age), & for this reason
can quite properly be called "reactionary."
Just as cultural radicals will seek to infiltrate & subvert
the popular media, & just as political radicals will perform
similar functions in the spheres of Work, Family, & other
social organizations, so there exists a need for radicals to
penetrate the institution of religion itself rather than merely
continue to mouth 19th century platitudes about atheistic materialism.
It's going to happen anyway--better to approach it with consciousness,
with grace & style.
Having once lived near the Hdqrs of the World Council of Churches,
I like the possibility of a Free Churches parody version--parody
being one of our chief strategies (or call it d&SHY;tournement
or deconstruction or creative destruction)- -a sort of loose
network (I dislike that word; let's call it a "webwork"
instead) of weird cults & individuals providing conversation
& services for each other, out of which might begin to emerge
a trend or tendency or "current" (in magical terms)
strong enough to wreak some psychic havoc on the Fundies &
New Agers, even the ayatollahs & the Papacy, convivial enough
for us to disagree with each other & yet still give great
parties--or conclaves, or ecumenical councils, or World Congresses--which
we anticipate with glee.
The Free Religions may offer some of the only possible spiritual
alternatives to televangelist stormtroopers & pinhead crystal-channelers
(not to mention the established religions), & will thus become
more & more important, more & more vital in a future
where the demand for the eruption of the marvelous into the ordinary
will become the most ringing, poignant & tumultuous of all
political demands--a future which will begin (wait a minute,
lemme check my clock)...7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...NOW.
SUBTERRANEAN REGIONS OF THE continent excavated in cyclopaean
caverns, cathedralspace fractal networks, labyrinthine gargantuan
tunnels, slow black underground rivers, unmoving stygian lakes,
pure & slightly luminiferous, slim waterfalls plunging down
watersmooth rock, cataracting round petrified forests of stalactites
& stalagmites in spelunker-bewildering blind-fish complexity
& unfathomable vastness...Who dug this hollow earth beneath
the ice foreseen by Poe, by certain paranoid German occultists,
Shaverian UFO freaks? Was Earth once colonized in the time of
Gondwana or MU by some Elder Race? their reptilian skeletons
still mouldering in the farthest secret mazes of the cavern system?
Sluggish backwaters, dead-end canals, stagnant pools far from
the centers of civilization like Little America, Transport City,
or Nan Chi Han, down in the dark recesses and boondocks of the
Antarctic caves, fungus & albino fern. We suspect them of
mutations, amphibian webbed fingers and toes, degenerate habits--
Kallikaks of the Hollow Earth, Lovecraftian renegades, hermits,
skulking incestuous smugglers, runaway criminals, anarchists
forced into hiding after the Entropy Wars, fugitives from Genetic
Puritanism, dissident Chinese Tongs & Yellow Turban fanatics,
lascar cave-pirates, pale shiftless whitetrash from the prolewarrens
of the industrial domes along Thwait's Tongue & the Walgreen
Coast & Edsel-Ford-Land- -the Trogs have kept alive for over
200 years the folk- memory of the Autonomous Zone, the myth that
someday it will appear again...Taoism, libertine philosophy,
Indonesian sorcery, cult of the Cave Mother (or Mothers), identified
by some scholars with the Javanese sea/moon goddess Loro Kidul,
by others with a minor deity of the South Pole Star Sect, the
"Jade Goddess"...manuscripts (written in Bahasa Ingliss
the pidgin dialect of the deep caves) contain mangled quotations
from Nietzsche & Chuang Tzu...Trade consists of occasional
precious gems and cultivation of white poppy, fungus, over a
dozen different species of "magic" mushrooms...Shallow
Lake Erebus, 5 miles across, dotted with stalagmitic islets choked
with fern & kudzu & black dwarf pine, held in a cave
so vast it sometimes creates its own weather...The town belongs
officially to Little America but most of the inhabitants are
Trogs living off the Shiftless Dole--& the deep-cave tribal
country lies just across the Lake. Riffraff, artists, drug addicts,
sorcerers, smugglers, remittance-men & perverts live in crumbling
basalt-&- synthplast hotels half-encrusted with pale green
vines, along the lakefront, an avenue of squalid cafes, gem emporia
guarded by armed ninjas, chinese krill-noodle shops, the crystal-tinselled
hall for slow fusion-gamelan dancers, boys practicing their mudras
on sleepy electronic dark blue afternoons to the rippling of
synthgongs and metallophones...& below the pier perhaps a
few desultory bathers along the black beach, genuine low-budget
tourists gawking at the shrine behind the bazaar where pallid
old Trog pamongs tranced out on fungus drool & roll up their
eyes, breathe in the fumes of heavy incense, everything seems
suddenly menacingly bright, flickering with significance...a
few cases of webbed fingers but the rumors of ritual promiscuity
are true enough. I was living in a Trog fishing village across
the lake from Erebus in a rented room above the baitshop...rural
sloth & degenerate superstitious rites of sensual abandon,
the larval & unhealthy mysteries of the chthonic mutant downtrodden
Trogs, lazy shiftless no-count hicks...Little America, so christian
& free of mutation, eugenic & orderly, where ev- eryone
lives jacked into the fleshless realm of ancient software &
holography, so euclidean, newtonian, clean & patriotic--L.A.
will never understand this innocent filth- sorcery, this "spiritual
materialism," this slavery to the volcanic desires of secret
cave-boy gangs like laughing flowers jetting with dynamo erections
pulsing up pure life curved taut as bows, & the smell of
water, pond-scum, nightblooming white flowers, jasmine &
datura, urine, children's wet hair, sperm & mud...possessed
by cave- spirits, perhaps ghosts of ancient aliens now wandering
as demons seeking to renew long-lost pleasures of flesh &
substance. Or else the Zone has already been reborn, already
a nexus of autonomy, a spreading virus of chaos in its most exuberant
clandestine form, white toadstools springing up on the spots
where Trog boys have masturbated alone in the dark...
NIETZSCHE & THE DERVISHES
RENDAN, "THE CLEVER ONES." The sufis use
a technical term rend (adj. rendi, pl. rendan)
to designate one "clever enough to drink wine in secret
without getting caught": the dervish version of "Permissible
Dissimulation" (taqiyya, whereby Shiites are permitted
to lie about their true affiliation to avoid persecution as well
as advance the purpose of their propaganda).
On the plane of the "Path," the rend conceals
his spiritual state (hal) in order to contain it, work
on it alchemically, enhance it. This "cleverness" explains
much of the secrecy of the Orders, altho it remains true that
many dervishes do literally break the rules of Islam (shariah),
offend tradition (sunnah), and flout the customs of their
society--all of which gives them reason for real secrecy.
Ignoring the case of the "criminal" who uses sufism
as a mask--or rather not sufism per se but dervish-ism,
almost a synonym in Persia for laid-back manners & by extension
a social laxness, a style of genial and poor but elegant amorality--the
above definition can still be considered in a literal as well
as metaphorical sense. That is: some sufis do break the Law while
still allowing that the Law exists & will continue to exist;
& they do so from spiritual motives, as an exercise of will
Nietzsche says somewhere that the free spirit will not agitate
for the rules to be dropped or even reformed, since it is only
by breaking the rules that he realizes his will to power. One
must prove (to oneself if no one else) an ability to overcome
the rules of the herd, to make one's own law & yet not fall
prey to the rancor & resentment of inferior souls which define
law & custom in ANY society. One needs, in effect, an individual
equivalent of war in order to achieve the becoming of the free
spirit--one needs an inert stupidity against which to measure
one's own movement & intelligence.
Anarchists sometimes posit an ideal society without law. The
few anarchist experiments which succeeded briefly (the Makhnovists,
Catalan) failed to survive the conditions of war which permitted
their existence in the first place--so we have no way of knowing
empirically if such an experiment could outlive the onset of
Some anarchists, however, like our late friend the Italian
Stirnerite "Brand," took part in all sorts of uprisings
and revolutions, even communist and socialist ones, because they
found in the moment of insurrection itself the kind of freedom
they sought. Thus while utopianism has so far always failed,
the individualist or existentialist anarchists have succeeded
inasmuch as they have attained (however briefly) the realization
of their will to power in war.
Nietzsche's animadversions against "anarchists"
are always aimed at the egalitarian-communist narodnik martyr
types, whose idealism he saw as yet one more survival of post-Xtian
moralism--altho he sometimes praises them for at least having
the courage to revolt against majoritarian authority. He never
mentions Stirner, but I believe he would have classified the
Individualist rebel with the higher types of "criminals,"
who represented for him (as for Dostoyevsky) humans far superior
to the herd, even if tragically flawed by their obsessiveness
and perhaps hidden motivations of revenge.
The Nietzschean overman, if he existed, would have to share
to some degree in this "criminality" even if he had
overcome all obsessions and compulsions, if only because his
law could never agree with the law of the masses, of state &
society. His need for "war" (whether literal or metaphorical)
might even persuade him to take part in revolt, whether it assumed
the form of insurrection or only of a proud bohemianism.
For him a "society without law" might have value
only so long as it could measure its own freedom against the
subjection of others, against their jealousy & hatred. The
lawless & short-lived "pirate utopias" of Madagascar
& the Caribbean, D'Annunzio's Republic of Fiume, the Ukraine
or Barcelona--these would attract him because they promised the
turmoil of becoming & even "failure" rather than
the bucolic somnolence of a "perfected" (& hence
dead) anarchist society.
In the absence of such opportunities, this free spirit would
disdain wasting time on agitation for reform, on protest, on
visionary dreaming, on all kinds of "revolutionary martyrdom"--in
short, on most contemporary anarchist activity. To be rendi,
to drink wine in secret & not get caught, to accept the rules
in order to break them & thus attain the spiritual lift or
energy-rush of danger & adventure, the private epiphany of
overcoming all interior police while tricking all outward authority--this
might be a goal worthy of such a spirit, & this might be
his definition of crime.
(Incidentally, I think this reading helps explain N's insistence
on the MASK, on the secretive nature of the proto- overman, which
disturbs even intelligent but somewhat liberal commentators like
Kaufman. Artists, for all that N loves them, are criticized for
telling secrets. Perhaps he failed to consider that--paraphrasing
A. Ginsberg--this is our way of becoming "great";
and also that--paraphrasing Yeats--even the truest secret becomes
yet another mask.)
As for the anarchist movement today: would we like just once
to stand on ground where laws are abolished & the last priest
is strung up with the guts of the last bureaucrat? Yeah sure.
But we're not holding our breath. There are certain causes (to
quote the Neech again) that one fails to quite abandon, if only
because of the sheer insipidity of all their enemies. Oscar Wilde
might have said that one cannot be a gentleman without being
something of an anarchist--a necessary paradox, like N's "radical
This is not just a matter of spiritual dandyism, but also
of existential commitment to an underlying spontaneity, to a
philosophical "tao." For all its waste of energy, in
its very formlessness, anarchism alone of all the ISMs approaches
that one type of form which alone can interest us today,
that strange attractor, the shape of chaos--which (one
last quote) one must have within oneself, if one is to give birth
to a dancing star.
--Spring Equinox, 1989
RESOLUTION FOR THE 1990's:
BOYCOTT COP CULTURE!!!
IF ONE FICTIONAL FIGURE can be said to have dominated the
popcult of the eighties, it was the Cop. Fuckin' police ev- erywhere
you turned, worse than real life. What an incredible bore.
Powerful Cops--protecting the meek and humble--at the expense
of a half-dozen or so articles of the Bill of Rights- -"Dirty
Harry." Nice human cops, coping with human perversity, coming
out sweet 'n' sour, you know, gruff & knowing but still soft
inside--Hill Street Blues--most evil TV show ever.
Wiseass black cops scoring witty racist remarks against hick
white cops, who nevertheless come to love each other--Eddie Murphy,
Class Traitor. For that masochist thrill we got wicked bent cops
who threaten to topple our Kozy Konsensus Reality from within
like Giger- designed tapeworms, but naturally get blown away
just in the nick of time by the Last Honest Cop, Robocop, ideal
amalgam of prosthesis and sentimentality.
We've been obsessed with cops since the beginning--but the
rozzers of yore played bumbling fools, Keystone Kops, Car
54 Where Are You, booby-bobbies set up for Fatty Arbuckle
or Buster Keaton to squash & deflate. But in the ideal drama
of the eighties, the "little man" who once scattered
bluebottles by the hundred with that anarchist's bomb, innocently
used to light a cigarette--the Tramp, the victim with the sudden
power of the pure heart--no longer has a place at the center
of narrative. Once "we" were that hobo, that quasi-surrealist
chaote hero who wins thru wu- wei over the ludicrous minions
of a despised & irrelevant Order. But now "we"
are reduced to the status of victims without power,
or else criminals. "We" no longer occupy that central
role; no longer the heros of our own stories, we've been marginalized
& replaced by the Other, the Cop.
Thus the Cop Show has only three characters--victim, criminal,
and policeperson--but the first two fail to be fully human--only
the pig is real. Oddly enough, human society in the
eighties (as seen in the other media) sometimes appeared to consist
of the same three cliche/archetypes. First the victims, the whining
minorities bitching about "rights"--and who pray tell
did not belong to a "minority" in the eighties?
Shit, even cops complained about their "rights" being
abused. Then the criminals: largely non-white (despite the obligatory
& hallucinatory "integration" of the media), largely
poor (or else obscenely rich, hence even more alien), largely
perverse (i.e. the forbidden mirrors of "our" desires).
I've heard that one out of four households in America is robbed
every year, & that every year nearly half a million of us
are arrested just for smoking pot. In the face of such statistics
(even assuming they're "damned lies") one wonders who
is NOT either victim or criminal in our police-state-of-consciousness.
The fuzz must mediate for all of us, however fuzzy the
interface-- they're only warrior-priests, however profane. America's
Most Wanted--the most successful TV game show of the eighties--opened
up for all of us the role of Amateur Cop, hitherto merely a media
fantasy of middleclass resentment & revenge. Naturally the
truelife Cop hates no one so much as the vigilante--look what
happens to poor &/or non-white neighborhood self-protection
groups like the Muslims who tried to eliminate crack dealing
in Brooklyn: the cops busted the Muslims, the pushers went free.
Real vigilantes threaten the monopoly of enforcement, lÉse
majest&SHY;, more abominable than incest or murder. But media(ted)
vigilantes function perfectly within the CopState; in fact, it
would be more accurate to think of them as unpaid (not
even a set of matched luggage!) informers: telemetric
snitches, electro-stoolies, ratfinks- for-a-day.
What is it that "America most wants"? Does this
phrase refer to criminals--or to crimes, to objects of desire
in their real presence, unrepresented, unmediated, literally
stolen & appropriated? America most wants...to fuck off work,
ditch the spouse, do drugs (because only drugs make you feel
as good as the people in TV ads appear to be), have sex with
nubile jailbait, sodomy, burglary, hell yes. What unmediated
pleasures are NOT illegal? Even outdoor barbecues violate smoke
ordinances nowadays. The simplest enjoyments turn us against
some law; finally pleasure becomes too stress- inducing, and
only TV remains--and the pleasure of revenge, vicarious betrayal,
the sick thrill of the tattletale. America can't have what it
most wants, so it has America's Most Wanted instead.
A nation of schoolyard toadies sucking up to an elite of schoolyard
Of course the program still suffers from a few strange reality-glitches:
for example, the dramatized segments are enacted cinema verit&SHY;
style by actors; some viewers are so stupid they believe
they're seeing actual footage of real crimes. Hence the actors
are being continually harassed & even arrested, along with
(or instead of) the real criminals whose mugshots are flashed
after each little documentoid. How quaint, eh? No one really
experiences anything--everyone reduced to the status of ghosts--media-images
break off & float away from any contact with actual everyday
life-- PhoneSex--CyberSex. Final transcendence of the body: cybergnosis.
The media cops, like televangelical forerunners, prepare us
for the advent, final coming or Rapture of the police state:
the "Wars" on sex and drugs: total control totally
leached of all content; a map with no coordinates in any known
space; far beyond mere Spectacle; sheer ecstasy ("standing-
outside-the-body"); obscene simulacrum; meaningless violent
spasms elevated to the last principle of governance. Image of
a country consumed by images of self-hatred, war between the
schizoid halves of a split personality, Super-Ego vs the Id Kid,
for the heavyweight championship of an abandoned landscape, burnt,
polluted, empty, desolate, unreal. Just as the murder-mystery
is always an exercise in sadism, so the cop-fiction always involves
the contemplation of control. The image of the inspector
or detective measures the image of "our" lack of autonomous
substance, our transparency before the gaze of authority. Our
perversity, our helplessness. Whether we imagine them as "good"
or "evil," our obsessive invocation of the eidolons
of the Cops reveals the extent to which we have accepted the
manichaean worldview they symbolize. Millions of tiny cops swarm
everywhere, like the qlippoth, larval hungry ghosts--they fill
the screen, as in Keaton's famous two-reeler, overwhelming the
foreground, an Antarctic where nothing moves but hordes of sinister
We propose an esoteric hermeneutical exegesis of the Surrealist
slogan "Mort aux vaches!" We take it to refer
not to the deaths of individual cops ("cows" in the
argot of the period)--mere leftist revenge fantasy--petty reverse
sadism--but rather to the death of the image of the
flic, the inner Control & its myriad reflections
in the NoPlace Place of the media--the "gray room"
as Burroughs calls it. Self-censorship, fear of one's own desires,
"conscience" as the interiorized voice of consensus-
authority. To assassinate these "security forces" would
indeed release floods of libidinal energy, but not the violent
running-amok predicted by the theory of Law 'n' Order.
Nietzschean "self-overcoming" provides the principle
of organization for the free spirit (as also for anarchist society,
at least in theory). In the police-state personality, libidinal
energy is dammed & diverted toward self-repression; any threat
to Control results in spasms of violence. In the free-spirit
personality, energy flows unimpeded & therefore turbulently
but gently--its chaos finds its strange attractor, allowing new
spontaneous orders to emerge.
In this sense, then, we call for a boycott of the image of
the Cop, & a moratorium on its production in art. In this
MORT AUX VACHES!
"...this time however I come as the victorious Dionysus,
who will turn the world into a holiday...Not that I have much
--Nietzsche (from his last "insane" letter to Cosima
THE SEA-ROVERS AND CORSAIRS of the 18th century created an
"information network" that spanned the globe: primitive
and devoted primarily to grim business, the net nevertheless
functioned admirably. Scattered throughout the net were islands,
remote hideouts where ships could be watered and provisioned,
booty traded for luxuries and necessities. Some of these islands
supported "intentional communities," whole mini-societies
living consciously outside the law and determined to keep it
up, even if only for a short but merry life.
Some years ago I looked through a lot of secondary material
on piracy hoping to find a study of these enclaves--but it appeared
as if no historian has yet found them worthy of analysis. (William
Burroughs has mentioned the subject, as did the late British
anarchist Larry Law--but no systematic research has been carried
out.) I retreated to primary sources and constructed my own theory,
some aspects of which will be discussed in this essay. I called
the settlements "Pirate Utopias."
Recently Bruce Sterling, one of the leading exponents of Cyberpunk
science fiction, published a near-future romance based on the
assumption that the decay of political systems will lead to a
decentralized proliferation of experiments in living: giant worker-owned
corporations, independent enclaves devoted to "data piracy,"
Green-Social-Democrat enclaves, Zerowork enclaves, anarchist
liberated zones, etc. The information economy which supports
this diversity is called the Net; the enclaves (and the book's
title) are Islands in the Net.
The medieval Assassins founded a "State" which consisted
of a network of remote mountain valleys and castles, separated
by thousands of miles, strategically invulnerable to invasion,
connected by the information flow of secret agents, at war with
all governments, and devoted only to knowledge. Modern technology,
culminating in the spy satellite, makes this kind of autonomy
a romantic dream. No more pirate islands! In the future the same
technology-- freed from all political control--could make possible
an entire world of autonomous zones. But for now the
concept remains precisely science fiction--pure speculation.
Are we who live in the present doomed never to experience
autonomy, never to stand for one moment on a bit of land ruled
only by freedom? Are we reduced either to nostalgia for the past
or nostalgia for the future? Must we wait until the entire world
is freed of political control before even one of us can claim
to know freedom? Logic and emotion unite to condemn such a supposition.
Reason demands that one cannot struggle for what one does not
know; and the heart revolts at a universe so cruel as to visit
such injustices on our generation alone of humankind.
To say that "I will not be free till all humans (or all
sentient creatures) are free" is simply to cave in to a
kind of nirvana-stupor, to abdicate our humanity, to define ourselves
I believe that by extrapolating from past and future stories
about "islands in the net" we may collect evidence
to suggest that a certain kind of "free enclave" is
not only possible in our time but also existent. All my research
and speculation has crystallized around the concept of the TEMPORARY
AUTONOMOUS ZONE (hereafter abbreviated TAZ). Despite its synthesizing
force for my own thinking, however, I don't intend the TAZ to
be taken as more than an essay ("attempt"),
a suggestion, almost a poetic fancy. Despite the occasional Ranterish
enthusiasm of my language I am not trying to construct political
dogma. In fact I have deliberately refrained from defining the
TAZ--I circle around the subject, firing off exploratory beams.
In the end the TAZ is almost self-explanatory. If the phrase
became current it would be understood without difficulty...understood
Waiting for the Revolution
HOW IS IT THAT "the world turned upside-down" always
manages to Right itself? Why does reaction always follow
revolution, like seasons in Hell?
Uprising, or the Latin form insurrection,
are words used by historians to label failed revolutions--movements
which do not match the expected curve, the consensus-approved
trajectory: revolution, reaction, betrayal, the founding of a
stronger and even more oppressive State--the turning of the wheel,
the return of history again and again to its highest form: jackboot
on the face of humanity forever.
By failing to follow this curve, the up-rising suggests
the possibility of a movement outside and beyond the Hegelian
spiral of that "progress" which is secretly nothing
more than a vicious circle. Surgo--rise up, surge. Insurgo--rise
up, raise oneself up. A bootstrap operation. A goodbye to that
wretched parody of the karmic round, historical revolutionary
futility. The slogan "Revolution!" has mutated from
tocsin to toxin, a malign pseudo-Gnostic fate-trap, a nightmare
where no matter how we struggle we never escape that evil Aeon,
that incubus the State, one State after another, every "heaven"
ruled by yet one more evil angel.
If History IS "Time," as it claims to be, then the
uprising is a moment that springs up and out of Time, violates
the "law" of History. If the State IS History, as it
claims to be, then the insurrection is the forbidden moment,
an unforgivable denial of the dialectic--shimmying up the pole
and out of the smokehole, a shaman's maneuver carried out at
an "impossible angle" to the universe. History says
the Revolution attains "permanence," or at least duration,
while the uprising is "temporary." In this sense an
uprising is like a "peak experience" as opposed to
the standard of "ordinary" consciousness and experience.
Like festivals, uprisings cannot happen every day--otherwise
they would not be "nonordinary." But such moments of
intensity give shape and meaning to the entirety of a life. The
shaman returns--you can't stay up on the roof forever-- but things
have changed, shifts and integrations have occurred--a difference
You will argue that this is a counsel of despair. What of
the anarchist dream, the Stateless state, the Commune, the autonomous
zone with duration, a free society, a free culture?
Are we to abandon that hope in return for some existentialist
acte gratuit? The point is not to change consciousness
but to change the world.
I accept this as a fair criticism. I'd make two rejoinders
nevertheless; first, revolution has never yet resulted
in achieving this dream. The vision comes to life in the moment
of uprising--but as soon as "the Revolution" triumphs
and the State returns, the dream and the ideal are already
betrayed. I have not given up hope or even expectation of change--but
I distrust the word Revolution. Second, even if we replace
the revolutionary approach with a concept of insurrection
blossoming spontaneously into anarchist culture, our own
particular historical situation is not propitious for such a
vast undertaking. Absolutely nothing but a futile martyrdom could
possibly result now from a head- on collision with the terminal
State, the megacorporate information State, the empire of Spectacle
and Simulation. Its guns are all pointed at us, while our meager
weaponry finds nothing to aim at but a hysteresis, a rigid vacuity,
a Spook capable of smothering every spark in an ectoplasm of
information, a society of capitulation ruled by the image of
the Cop and the absorbant eye of the TV screen.
In short, we're not touting the TAZ as an exclusive end in
itself, replacing all other forms of organization, tactics, and
goals. We recommend it because it can provide the quality of
enhancement associated with the uprising without necessarily
leading to violence and martyrdom. The TAZ is like an uprising
which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation
which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and
then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before
the State can crush it. Because the State is concerned primarily
with Simulation rather than substance, the TAZ can "occupy"
these areas clandestinely and carry on its festal purposes for
quite a while in relative peace. Perhaps certain small TAZs have
lasted whole lifetimes because they went unnoticed, like hillbilly
enclaves--because they never intersected with the Spectacle,
never appeared outside that real life which is invisible to the
agents of Simulation.
Babylon takes its abstractions for realities; precisely within
this margin of error the TAZ can come into existence. Getting
the TAZ started may involve tactics of violence and defense,
but its greatest strength lies in its invisibility--the State
cannot recognize it because History has no definition of it.
As soon as the TAZ is named (represented, mediated), it must
vanish, it will vanish, leaving behind it an empty husk,
only to spring up again somewhere else, once again invisible
because undefinable in terms of the Spectacle. The TAZ is thus
a perfect tactic for an era in which the State is omnipresent
and all-powerful and yet simultaneously riddled with cracks and
vacancies. And because the TAZ is a microcosm of that "anarchist
dream" of a free culture, I can think of no better tactic
by which to work toward that goal while at the same time experiencing
some of its benefits here and now.
In sum, realism demands not only that we give up waiting
for "the Revolution" but also that we give up wanting
it. "Uprising," yes--as often as possible and even
at the risk of violence. The spasming of the Simulated
State will be "spectacular," but in most cases the
best and most radical tactic will be to refuse to engage in spectacular
violence, to withdraw from the area of simulation, to
The TAZ is an encampment of guerilla ontologists: strike and
run away. Keep moving the entire tribe, even if it's only data
in the Web. The TAZ must be capable of defense; but both the
"strike" and the "defense" should, if possible,
evade the violence of the State, which is no longer a meaningful
violence. The strike is made at structures of control, essentially
at ideas; the defense is "invisibility," a martial
art, and "invulnerability"--an "occult"
art within the martial arts. The "nomadic war machine"
conquers without being noticed and moves on before the map can
be adjusted. As to the future--Only the autonomous can plan
autonomy, organize for it, create it. It's a bootstrap operation.
The first step is somewhat akin to satori--the realization
that the TAZ begins with a simple act of realization.
(Note: See Appendix C, quote by Renzo Novatore)
The Psychotopology of
THE CONCEPT OF THE TAZ arises first out of a critique of Revolution,
and an appreciation of the Insurrection. The former labels the
latter a failure; but for us uprising represents a far
more interesting possibility, from the standard of a psychology
of liberation, than all the "successful" revolutions
of bourgeoisie, communists, fascists, etc.
The second generating force behind the TAZ springs from the
historical development I call "the closure of the map."
The last bit of Earth unclaimed by any nation-state was eaten
up in 1899. Ours is the first century without terra incognita,
without a frontier. Nationality is the highest principle of world
governance--not one speck of rock in the South Seas can be left
open, not one remote valley, not even the Moon and planets.
This is the apotheosis of "territorial gangsterism."
Not one square inch of Earth goes unpoliced or untaxed...in theory.
The "map" is a political abstract grid, a gigantic
con enforced by the carrot/stick conditioning of the "Expert"
State, until for most of us the map becomes the territory-
-no longer "Turtle Island," but "the USA."
And yet because the map is an abstraction it cannot cover Earth
with 1:1 accuracy. Within the fractal complexities of actual
geography the map can see only dimensional grids. Hidden enfolded
immensities escape the measuring rod. The map is not accurate;
the map cannot be accurate.
So--Revolution is closed, but insurgency is open. For the
time being we concentrate our force on temporary "power
surges," avoiding all entanglements with "permanent
And--the map is closed, but the autonomous zone is open. Metaphorically
it unfolds within the fractal dimensions invisible to the cartography
of Control. And here we should introduce the concept of psychotopology
(and -topography) as an alternative "science" to that
of the State's surveying and mapmaking and "psychic imperialism."
Only psychotopography can draw 1:1 maps of reality because only
the human mind provides sufficient complexity to model the real.
But a 1:1 map cannot "control" its territory because
it is virtually identical with its territory. It can only be
used to suggest, in a sense gesture towards,
certain features. We are looking for "spaces" (geographic,
social, cultural, imaginal) with potential to flower as autonomous
zones--and we are looking for times in which these spaces are
relatively open, either through neglect on the part of the State
or because they have somehow escaped notice by the mapmakers,
or for whatever reason. Psychotopology is the art of dowsing
for potential TAZs.
The closures of Revolution and of the map, however, are only
the negative sources of the TAZ; much remains to be said of its
positive inspirations. Reaction alone cannot provide the energy
needed to "manifest" a TAZ. An uprising must be for
something as well.
1. First, we can speak of a natural anthropology of the TAZ.
The nuclear family is the base unit of consensus society, but
not of the TAZ. ("Families!--how I hate them! the misers
of love!"--Gide) The nuclear family, with its attendant
"oedipal miseries," appears to have been a Neolithic
invention, a response to the "agricultural revolution"
with its imposed scarcity and its imposed hierarchy. The Paleolithic
model is at once more primal and more radical: the band.
The typical hunter/gatherer nomadic or semi- nomadic band consists
of about 50 people. Within larger tribal societies the band-structure
is fulfilled by clans within the tribe, or by sodalities such
as initiatic or secret societies, hunt or war societies, gender
societies, "children's republics," and so on. If the
nuclear family is produced by scarcity (and results in miserliness),
the band is produced by abundance--and results in prodigality.
The family is closed, by genetics, by the male's possession
of women and children, by the hierarchic totality of agricultural/industrial
society. The band is open--not to everyone, of course,
but to the affinity group, the initiates sworn to a bond of love.
The band is not part of a larger hierarchy, but rather part of
a horizontal pattern of custom, extended kinship, contract and
alliance, spiritual affinities, etc. (American Indian society
preserves certain aspects of this structure even now.)
In our own post-Spectacular Society of Simulation many forces
are working--largely invisibly--to phase out the nuclear family
and bring back the band. Breakdowns in the structure of Work
resonate in the shattered "stability" of the unit-home
and unit-family. One's "band" nowadays includes friends,
ex-spouses and lovers, people met at different jobs and pow-wows,
affinity groups, special interest networks, mail networks, etc.
The nuclear family becomes more and more obviously a trap,
a cultural sinkhole, a neurotic secret implosion of split atoms--and
the obvious counter-strategy emerges spontaneously in the almost
unconscious rediscovery of the more archaic and yet more post-industrial
possibility of the band.
2. The TAZ as festival. Stephen Pearl Andrews once
offered, as an image of anarchist society, the dinner party,
in which all structure of authority dissolves in conviviality
and celebration (see Appendix C). Here we might also invoke Fourier
and his concept of the senses as the basis of social becoming--"touch-rut"
and "gastrosophy," and his paean to the neglected implications
of smell and taste. The ancient concepts of jubilee and saturnalia
originate in an intuition that certain events lie outside the
scope of "profane time," the measuring-rod of the State
and of History. These holidays literally occupied gaps in the
calendar--intercalary intervals. By the Middle Ages,
nearly a third of the year was given over to holidays. Perhaps
the riots against calendar reform had less to do with the "eleven
lost days" than with a sense that imperial science was conspiring
to close up these gaps in the calendar where the people's freedoms
had accumulated--a coup d'etat, a mapping of the year, a seizure
of time itself, turning the organic cosmos into a clockwork universe.
The death of the festival.
Participants in insurrection invariably note its festive aspects,
even in the midst of armed struggle, danger, and risk. The uprising
is like a saturnalia which has slipped loose (or been forced
to vanish) from its intercalary interval and is now at liberty
to pop up anywhere or when. Freed of time and place, it nevertheless
possesses a nose for the ripeness of events, and an affinity
for the genius loci; the science of psychotopology indicates
"flows of forces" and "spots of power" (to
borrow occultist metaphors) which localize the TAZ spatio-temporally,
or at least help to define its relation to moment and locale.
The media invite us to "come celebrate the moments of
your life" with the spurious unification of commodity and
spectacle, the famous non-event of pure representation.
In response to this obscenity we have, on the one hand, the spectrum
of refusal (chronicled by the Situationists, John Zerzan,
Bob Black et al.)--and on the other hand, the emergence
of a festal culture removed and even hidden from the
would-be managers of our leisure. "Fight for the right to
party" is in fact not a parody of the radical struggle but
a new manifestation of it, appropriate to an age which offers
TVs and telephones as ways to "reach out and touch"
other human beings, ways to "Be There!"
Pearl Andrews was right: the dinner party is already "the
seed of the new society taking shape within the shell of the
old" (IWW Preamble). The sixties-style "tribal gathering,"
the forest conclave of eco-saboteurs, the idyllic Beltane of
the neo-pagans, anarchist conferences, gay faery circles...Harlem
rent parties of the twenties, nightclubs, banquets, old-time
libertarian picnics--we should realize that all these are already
"liberated zones" of a sort, or at least potential
TAZs. Whether open only to a few friends, like a dinner party,
or to thousands of celebrants, like a Be-In, the party is always
"open" because it is not "ordered"; it may
be planned, but unless it "happens" it's a
failure. The element of spontaneity is crucial.
The essence of the party: face-to-face, a group of humans
synergize their efforts to realize mutual desires, whether for
good food and cheer, dance, conversation, the arts of life; perhaps
even for erotic pleasure, or to create a communal artwork, or
to attain the very transport of bliss-- in short, a "union
of egoists" (as Stirner put it) in its simplest form--or
else, in Kropotkin's terms, a basic biological drive to "mutual
aid." (Here we should also mention Bataille's "economy
of excess" and his theory of potlatch culture.)
3. Vital in shaping TAZ reality is the concept of psychic
nomadism (or as we jokingly call it, "rootless cosmopolitanism").
Aspects of this phenomenon have been discussed by Deleuze and
Guattari in Nomadology and the War Machine, by Lyotard
in Driftworks and by various authors in the "Oasis"
issue of Semiotext(e). We use the term "psychic
nomadism" here rather than "urban nomadism," "nomadology,"
"driftwork," etc., simply in order to garner all these
concepts into a single loose complex, to be studied in light
of the coming- into-being of the TAZ. "The death of God,"
in some ways a de-centering of the entire "European"
project, opened a multi-perspectived post- ideological worldview
able to move "rootlessly" from philosophy to tribal
myth, from natural science to Taoism-- able to see for the first
time through eyes like some golden insect's, each facet giving
a view of an entirely other world.
But this vision was attained at the expense of inhabiting
an epoch where speed and "commodity fetishism" have
created a tyrannical false unity which tends to blur all cultural
diversity and individuality, so that "one place is as good
as another." This paradox creates "gypsies," psychic
travellers driven by desire or curiosity, wanderers with shallow
loyalties (in fact disloyal to the "European Project"
which has lost all its charm and vitality), not tied down to
any particular time and place, in search of diversity and adventure...This
description covers not only the X-class artists and intellectuals
but also migrant laborers, refugees, the "homeless,"
tourists, the RV and mobile-home culture--also people who "travel"
via the Net, but may never leave their own rooms (or those like
Thoreau who "have travelled much--in Concord"); and
finally it includes "everybody," all of us, living
through our automobiles, our vacations, our TVs, books, movies,
telephones, changing jobs, changing "lifestyles," religions,
diets, etc., etc.
Psychic nomadism as a tactic, what Deleuze &
Guattari metaphorically call "the war machine," shifts
the paradox from a passive to an active and perhaps even "violent"
mode. "God"'s last throes and deathbed rattles have
been going on for such a long time--in the form of Capitalism,
Fascism, and Communism, for example--that there's still a lot
of "creative destruction" to be carried out by post-Bakuninist
post-Nietzschean commandos or apaches (literally "enemies")
of the old Consensus. These nomads practice the razzia,
they are corsairs, they are viruses; they have both need and
desire for TAZs, camps of black tents under the desert stars,
interzones, hidden fortified oases along secret caravan routes,
"liberated" bits of jungle and bad-land, no-go areas,
black markets, and underground bazaars.
These nomads chart their courses by strange stars, which might
be luminous clusters of data in cyberspace, or perhaps hallucinations.
Lay down a map of the land; over that, set a map of political
change; over that, a map of the Net, especially the counter-Net
with its emphasis on clandestine information-flow and logistics--and
finally, over all, the 1:1 map of the creative imagination, aesthetics,
values. The resultant grid comes to life, animated by unexpected
eddies and surges of energy, coagulations of light, secret tunnels,
The Net and the Web
THE NEXT FACTOR CONTRIBUTING to the TAZ is so vast and ambiguous
that it needs a section unto itself.
We've spoken of the Net, which can be defined as
the totality of all information and communication transfer. Some
of these transfers are privileged and limited to various elites,
which gives the Net a hierarchic aspect. Other transactions are
open to all--so the Net has a horizontal or non-hierarchic aspect
as well. Military and Intelligence data are restricted, as are
banking and currency information and the like. But for the most
part the telephone, the postal system, public data banks, etc.
are accessible to everyone and anyone. Thus within the Net
there has begun to emerge a shadowy sort of counter-Net,
which we will call the Web (as if the Net were a fishing-net
and the Web were spider-webs woven through the interstices and
broken sections of the Net). Generally we'll use the term Web
to refer to the alternate horizontal open structure of info-
exchange, the non-hierarchic network, and reserve the term counter-Net
to indicate clandestine illegal and rebellious use of the Web,
including actual data-piracy and other forms of leeching off
the Net itself. Net, Web, and counter-Net are all parts of the
same whole pattern-complex--they blur into each other at innumerable
points. The terms are not meant to define areas but to suggest
(Digression: Before you condemn the Web or counter-Net for
its "parasitism," which can never be a truly revolutionary
force, ask yourself what "production" consists of in
the Age of Simulation. What is the "productive class"?
Perhaps you'll be forced to admit that these terms seem to have
lost their meaning. In any case the answers to such questions
are so complex that the TAZ tends to ignore them altogether and
simply picks up what it can use. "Culture is our
Nature"-- and we are the thieving magpies, or the hunter/gatherers
of the world of CommTech.)
The present forms of the unofficial Web are, one must suppose,
still rather primitive: the marginal zine network, the BBS networks,
pirated software, hacking, phone- phreaking, some influence in
print and radio, almost none in the other big media--no TV stations,
no satellites, no fiber- optics, no cable, etc., etc. However
the Net itself presents a pattern of changing/evolving relations
between subjects ("users") and objects ("data").
The nature of these relations has been exhaustively explored,
from McLuhan to Virilio. It would take pages and pages to "prove"
what by now "everyone knows." Rather than rehash it
all, I am interested in asking how these evolving relations suggest
modes of implementation for the TAZ.
The TAZ has a temporary but actual location in time and a
temporary but actual location in space. But clearly it must also
have "location" in the Web, and this location
is of a different sort, not actual but virtual, not immediate
but instantaneous. The Web not only provides logistical support
for the TAZ, it also helps to bring it into being; crudely speaking
one might say that the TAZ "exists" in information-
space as well as in the "real world." The Web can compact
a great deal of time, as data, into an infinitesimal "space."
We have noted that the TAZ, because it is temporary, must necessarily
lack some of the advantages of a freedom which experiences duration
and a more-or-less fixed locale. But the Web can provide
a kind of substitute for some of this duration and locale--it
can inform the TAZ, from its inception, with vast amounts
of compacted time and space which have been "subtilized"
At this moment in the evolution of the Web, and considering
our demands for the "face-to-face" and the sensual,
we must consider the Web primarily as a support system, capable
of carrying information from one TAZ to another, of defending
the TAZ, rendering it "invisible" or giving it teeth,
as the situation might demand. But more than that: If the TAZ
is a nomad camp, then the Web helps provide the epics, songs,
genealogies and legends of the tribe; it provides the secret
caravan routes and raiding trails which make up the flowlines
of tribal economy; it even contains some of the very
roads they will follow, some of the very dreams they will experience
as signs and portents.
The Web does not depend for its existence on any computer
technology. Word-of-mouth, mail, the marginal zine network, "phone
trees," and the like already suffice to construct an information
webwork. The key is not the brand or level of tech involved,
but the openness and horizontality of the structure. Nevertheless,
the whole concept of the Net implies the use of computers.
In the SciFi imagination the Net is headed for the condition
of Cyberspace (as in Tron or Neuromancer)
and the pseudo-telepathy of "virtual reality." As a
Cyberpunk fan I can't help but envision "reality hacking"
playing a major role in the creation of TAZs. Like Gibson and
Sterling I am assuming that the official Net will never succeed
in shutting down the Web or the counter-Net--that data-piracy,
unauthorized transmissions and the free flow of information can
never be frozen. (In fact, as I understand it, chaos theory predicts
that any universal Control-system is impossible.)
However, leaving aside all mere speculation about the future,
we must face a very serious question about the Web and the tech
it involves. The TAZ desires above all to avoid mediation,
to experience its existence as immediate. The very essence
of the affair is "breast-to-breast" as the sufis say,
or face-to-face. But, BUT: the very essence of the Web is mediation.
Machines here are our ambassadors--the flesh is irrelevant except
as a terminal, with all the sinister connotations of
The TAZ may perhaps best find its own space by wrapping its
head around two seemingly contradictory attitudes toward Hi-
Tech and its apotheosis the Net: (1) what we might call the Fifth
Estate/Neo-Paleolithic Post-Situ Ultra-Green position, which
construes itself as a luddite argument against mediation and
against the Net; and (2) the Cyberpunk utopianists, futuro-libertarians,
Reality Hackers and their allies who see the Net as a step forward
in evolution, and who assume that any possible ill effects of
mediation can be overcome--at least, once we've liberated the
means of production.
The TAZ agrees with the hackers because it wants to come into
being--in part--through the Net, even through the mediation of
the Net. But it also agrees with the greens because it retains
intense awareness of itself as body and feels only revulsion
for CyberGnosis, the attempt to transcend the body through
instantaneity and simulation. The TAZ tends to view the Tech/anti-Tech
dichotomy as misleading, like most dichotomies, in which apparent
opposites turn out to be falsifications or even hallucinations
caused by semantics. This is a way of saying that the TAZ wants
to live in this world, not in the idea of another world,
some visionary world born of false unification (all
green OR all metal) which can only be more pie in the
sky by-&-by (or as Alice put it, "Jam yesterday
or jam tomorrow, but never jam today").
The TAZ is "utopian" in the sense that it envisions
an intensification of everyday life, or as the Surrealists
might have said, life's penetration by the Marvelous. But it
cannot be utopian in the actual meaning of the word, nowhere,
or NoPlace Place. The TAZ is somewhere. It lies at the
intersection of many forces, like some pagan power- spot at the
junction of mysterious ley-lines, visible to the adept in seemingly
unrelated bits of terrain, landscape, flows of air, water, animals.
But now the lines are not all etched in time and space. Some
of them exist only "within" the Web, even though they
also intersect with real times and places. Perhaps some of the
lines are "non-ordinary" in the sense that no convention
for quantifying them exists. These lines might better be studied
in the light of chaos science than of sociology, statistics,
economics, etc. The patterns of force which bring the TAZ into
being have something in common with those chaotic "Strange
Attractors" which exist, so to speak, between the
The TAZ by its very nature seizes every available means to
realize itself--it will come to life whether in a cave or an
L-5 Space City--but above all it will live, now, or as soon as
possible, in however suspect or ramshackle a form, spontaneously,
without regard for ideology or even anti- ideology. It will use
the computer because the computer exists, but it will also use
powers which are so completely unrelated to alienation or simulation
that they guarantee a certain psychic paleolithism to
the TAZ, a primordial-shamanic spirit which will "infect"
even the Net itself (the true meaning of Cyberpunk as I read
it). Because the TAZ is an intensification, a surplus, an excess,
a potlatch, life spending itself in living rather than merely
surviving (that snivelling shibboleth of the eighties),
it cannot be defined either by Tech or anti-Tech. It contradicts
itself like a true despiser of hobgoblins, because it wills itself
to be, at any cost in damage to "perfection," to the
immobility of the final.
In the Mandelbrot Set and its computer-graphic realization
we watch--in a fractal universe--maps which are embedded and
in fact hidden within maps within maps etc. to the limits of
computational power. What is it for, this map which
in a sense bears a 1:1 relation with a fractal dimension? What
can one do with it, other than admire its psychedelic elegance?
If we were to imagine an information map--a cartographic
projection of the Net in its entirety--we would have to include
in it the features of chaos, which have already begun to appear,
for example, in the operations of complex parallel processing,
telecommunications, transfers of electronic "money,"
viruses, guerilla hacking and so on.
Each of these "areas" of chaos could be represented
by topographs similar to the Mandelbrot Set, such that the "peninsulas"
are embedded or hidden within the map--such that they seem to
"disappear." This "writing"--parts of which
vanish, parts of which efface themselves--represents the very
process by which the Net is already compromised, incomplete to
its own view, ultimately un-Controllable. In other words, the
M Set, or something like it, might prove to be useful in "plotting"
(in all senses of the word) the emergence of the counterNet as
a chaotic process, a "creative evolution" in Prigogine's
term. If nothing else the M Set serves as a metaphor
for a "mapping" of the TAZ's interface with the Net
as a disappearance of information. Every "catastrophe"
in the Net is a node of power for the Web, the counter-Net. The
Net will be damaged by chaos, while the Web may thrive on it.
Whether through simple data-piracy, or else by a more complex
development of actual rapport with chaos, the Web- hacker, the
cybernetician of the TAZ, will find ways to take advantage of
perturbations, crashes, and breakdowns in the Net (ways to make
information out of "entropy"). As a bricoleur, a scavenger
of information shards, smuggler, blackmailer, perhaps even cyberterrorist,
the TAZ-hacker will work for the evolution of clandestine fractal
connections. These connections, and the different information
that flows among and between them, will form "power outlets"
for the coming-into-being of the TAZ itself- -as if one were
to steal electricity from the energy- monopoly to light an abandoned
house for squatters.
Thus the Web, in order to produce situations conducive to
the TAZ, will parasitize the Net--but we can also conceive of
this strategy as an attempt to build toward the construction
of an alternative and autonomous Net, "free" and no
longer parasitic, which will serve as the basis for a "new
society emerging from the shell of the old." The counter-Net
and the TAZ can be considered, practically speaking, as ends
in themselves--but theoretically they can also be viewed as forms
of struggle toward a different reality.
Having said this we must still admit to some qualms about
computers, some still unanswered questions, especially about
the Personal Computer.
The story of computer networks, BBSs and various other experiments
in electro-democracy has so far been one of hobbyism
for the most part. Many anarchists and libertarians have deep
faith in the PC as a weapon of liberation and self-liberation--but
no real gains to show, no palpable liberty.
I have little interest in some hypothetical emergent entrepreneurial
class of self-employed data/word processors who will soon be
able to carry on a vast cottage industry or piecemeal shitwork
for various corporations and bureaucracies. Moreover it takes
no ESP to foresee that this "class" will develop its
underclass--a sort of lumpen yuppetariat: housewives,
for example, who will provide their families with "second
incomes" by turning their own homes into electro-sweatshops,
little Work-tyrannies where the "boss" is a computer
Also I am not impressed by the sort of information and services
proffered by contemporary "radical" networks. Somewhere--one
is told--there exists an "information economy." Maybe
so; but the info being traded over the "alternative"
BBSs seems to consist entirely of chitchat and techie-talk. Is
this an economy? or merely a pastime for enthusiasts? OK, PCs
have created yet another "print revolution"--OK, marginal
webworks are evolving--OK, I can now carry on six phone conversations
at once. But what difference has this made in my ordinary life?
Frankly, I already had plenty of data to enrich my perceptions,
what with books, movies, TV, theater, telephones, the U.S. Postal
Service, altered states of consciousness, and so on. Do I really
need a PC in order to obtain yet more such data? You offer me
secret information? Well...perhaps I'm tempted--but
still I demand marvelous secrets, not just unlisted
telephone numbers or the trivia of cops and politicians. Most
of all I want computers to provide me with information linked
to real goods--"the good things in life,"
as the IWW Preamble puts it. And here, since I'm accusing the
hackers and BBSers of irritating intellectual vagueness, I must
myself descend from the baroque clouds of Theory & Critique
and explain what I mean by "real goods."
Let's say that for both political and personal reasons I desire
good food, better than I can obtain from Capitalism-- unpolluted
food still blessed with strong and natural flavors. To complicate
the game imagine that the food I crave is illegal--raw milk perhaps,
or the exquisite Cuban fruit mamey, which cannot be imported
fresh into the U.S. because its seed is hallucinogenic (or so
I'm told). I am not a farmer. Let's pretend I'm an importer of
rare perfumes and aphrodisiacs, and sharpen the play by assuming
most of my stock is also illegal. Or maybe I only want to trade
word processing services for organic turnips, but refuse to report
the transaction to the IRS (as required by law, believe it or
not). Or maybe I want to meet other humans for consensual but
illegal acts of mutual pleasure (this has actually been tried,
but all the hard-sex BBSs have been busted--and what use is an
underground with lousy security?). In short, assume
that I'm fed up with mere information, the ghost in the machine.
According to you, computers should already be quite capable of
facilitating my desires for food, drugs, sex, tax evasion. So
what's the matter? Why isn't it happening?
The TAZ has occurred, is occurring, and will occur with or
without the computer. But for the TAZ to reach its full potential
it must become less a matter of spontaneous combustion and more
a matter of "islands in the Net." The Net, or rather
the counter-Net, assumes the promise of an integral aspect of
the TAZ, an addition that will multiply its potential, a "quantum
jump" (odd how this expression has come to mean a big
leap) in complexity and significance. The TAZ must now exist
within a world of pure space, the world of the senses. Liminal,
even evanescent, the TAZ must combine information and desire
in order to fulfill its adventure (its "happening"),
in order to fill itself to the borders of its destiny, to saturate
itself with its own becoming.
Perhaps the Neo-Paleolithic School are correct when they assert
that all forms of alienation and mediation must be destroyed
or abandoned before our goals can be realized--or perhaps true
anarchy will be realized only in Outer Space, as some futuro-libertarians
assert. But the TAZ does not concern itself very much with "was"
or "will be." The TAZ is interested in results, successful
raids on consensus reality, breakthroughs into more intense and
more abundant life. If the computer cannot be used in this project,
then the computer will have to be overcome. My intuition however
suggests that the counter-Net is already coming into being, perhaps
already exists--but I cannot prove it. I've based the theory
of the TAZ in large part on this intuition. Of course the Web
also involves non-computerized networks of exchange such as samizdat,
the black market, etc.--but the full potential of non-hierarchic
information networking logically leads to the computer as the
tool par excellence. Now I'm waiting for the hackers to prove
I'm right, that my intuition is valid. Where are my turnips?
"Gone to Croatan"
WE HAVE NO DESIRE to define the TAZ or to elaborate dogmas
about how it must be created. Our contention is rather
that it has been created, will be created, and is being created.
Therefore it would prove more valuable and interesting to look
at some TAZs past and present, and to speculate about future
manifestations; by evoking a few prototypes we may be able to
gauge the potential scope of the complex, and perhaps even get
a glimpse of an "archetype." Rather than attempt any
sort of encyclopaedism we'll adopt a scatter-shot technique,
a mosaic of glimpses, beginning quite arbitrarily with the 16th-17th
centuries and the settlement of the New World.
The opening of the "new" world was conceived from
the start as an occultist operation. The magus John
Dee, spiritual advisor to Elizabeth I, seems to have invented
the concept of "magical imperialism" and infected an
entire generation with it. Halkyut and Raleigh fell under his
spell, and Raleigh used his connections with the "School
of Night"--a cabal of advanced thinkers, aristocrats, and
adepts--to further the causes of exploration, colonization and
mapmaking. The Tempest was a propaganda-piece for
the new ideology, and the Roanoke Colony was its first showcase
The alchemical view of the New World associated it with materia
prima or hyle, the "state of Nature," innocence
and all-possibility ("Virgin-ia"), a chaos or inchoateness
which the adept would transmute into "gold," that is,
into spiritual perfection as well as material abundance.
But this alchemical vision is also informed in part by an actual
fascination with the inchoate, a sneaking sympathy for it, a
feeling of yearning for its formless form which took the symbol
of the "Indian" for its focus: "Man" in
the state of nature, uncorrupted by "government." Caliban,
the Wild Man, is lodged like a virus in the very machine of Occult
Imperialism; the forest/animal/humans are invested from the very
start with the magic power of the marginal, despised and outcaste.
On the one hand Caliban is ugly, and Nature a "howling wilderness"--on
the other, Caliban is noble and unchained, and Nature an Eden.
This split in European consciousness predates the Romantic/Classical
dichotomy; it's rooted in Renaissance High Magic. The discovery
of America (Eldorado, the Fountain of Youth) crystallized it;
and it precipitated in actual schemes for colonization.
We were taught in elementary school that the first settlements
in Roanoke failed; the colonists disappeared, leaving behind
them only the cryptic message "Gone To Croatan." Later
reports of "grey-eyed Indians" were dismissed as legend.
What really happened, the textbook implied, was that the Indians
massacred the defenseless settlers. However, "Croatan"
was not some Eldorado; it was the name of a neighboring tribe
of friendly Indians. Apparently the settlement was simply moved
back from the coast into the Great Dismal Swamp and absorbed
into the tribe. And the grey-eyed Indians were real--they're
still there, and they still call themselves Croatans.
So--the very first colony in the New World chose to renounce
its contract with Prospero (Dee/Raleigh/Empire) and go over to
the Wild Men with Caliban. They dropped out. They became "Indians,"
"went native," opted for chaos over the appalling miseries
of serfing for the plutocrats and intellectuals of London.
As America came into being where once there had been "Turtle
Island," Croatan remained embedded in its collective psyche.
Out beyond the frontier, the state of Nature (i.e. no State)
still prevailed--and within the consciousness of the settlers
the option of wildness always lurked, the temptation to give
up on Church, farmwork, literacy, taxes-- all the burdens of
civilization--and "go to Croatan" in some way or another.
Moreover, as the Revolution in England was betrayed, first by
Cromwell and then by Restoration, waves of Protestant radicals
fled or were transported to the New World (which had now become
a prison, a place of exile). Antinomians, Familists,
rogue Quakers, Levellers, Diggers, and Ranters were now introduced
to the occult shadow of wildness, and rushed to embrace it.
Anne Hutchinson and her friends were only the best known (i.e.
the most upper-class) of the Antinomians--having had the bad
luck to be caught up in Bay Colony politics--but a much more
radical wing of the movement clearly existed. The incidents Hawthorne
relates in "The Maypole of Merry Mount" are thoroughly
historical; apparently the extremists had decided to renounce
Christianity altogether and revert to paganism. If they had succeeded
in uniting with their Indian allies the result might have been
an Antinomian/Celtic/Algonquin syncretic religion, a sort of
17th century North American Santeria.
Sectarians were able to thrive better under the looser and
more corrupt administrations in the Caribbean, where rival European
interests had left many islands deserted or even unclaimed. Barbados
and Jamaica in particular must have been settled by many extremists,
and I believe that Levellerish and Ranterish influences contributed
to the Buccaneer "utopia" on Tortuga. Here for the
first time, thanks to Esquemelin, we can study a successful New
World proto-TAZ in some depth. Fleeing from hideous "benefits"
of Imperialism such as slavery, serfdom, racism and intolerance,
from the tortures of impressment and the living death of the
plantations, the Buccaneers adopted Indian ways, intermarried
with Caribs, accepted blacks and Spaniards as equals, rejected
all nationality, elected their captains democratically, and reverted
to the "state of Nature." Having declared themselves
"at war with all the world," they sailed forth to plunder
under mutual contracts called "Articles" which were
so egalitarian that every member received a full share and the
Captain usually only 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 shares. Flogging and punishments
were forbidden-- quarrels were settled by vote or by the code
It is simply wrong to brand the pirates as mere sea-going
highwaymen or even proto-capitalists, as some historians have
done. In a sense they were "social bandits," although
their base communities were not traditional peasant societies
but "utopias" created almost ex nihilo in terra incognita,
enclaves of total liberty occupying empty spaces on the map.
After the fall of Tortuga, the Buccaneer ideal remained alive
all through the "Golden Age" of Piracy (ca. 1660-1720),
and resulted in land-settlements in Belize, for example, which
was founded by Buccaneers. Then, as the scene shifted to Madagascar--an
island still unclaimed by any imperial power and ruled only by
a patchwork of native kings (chiefs) eager for pirate allies--the
Pirate Utopia reached its highest form.
Defoe's account of Captain Mission and the founding of Libertatia
may be, as some historians claim, a literary hoax meant to propagandize
for radical Whig theory--but it was embedded in The General
History of the Pyrates (1724-28), most of which is still
accepted as true and accurate. Moreover the story of Capt. Mission
was not criticized when the book appeared and many old Madagascar
hands still survived. They seem to have believed it,
no doubt because they had experienced pirate enclaves very much
like Libertatia. Once again, rescued slaves, natives, and even
traditional enemies such as the Portuguese were all invited to
join as equals. (Liberating slave ships was a major preoccupation.)
Land was held in common, representatives elected for short terms,
booty shared; doctrines of liberty were preached far more radical
than even those of Common Sense.
Libertatia hoped to endure, and Mission died in its defense.
But most of the pirate utopias were meant to be temporary; in
fact the corsairs' true "republics" were their ships,
which sailed under Articles. The shore enclaves usually had no
law at all. The last classic example, Nassau in the Bahamas,
a beachfront resort of shacks and tents devoted to wine, women
(and probably boys too, to judge by Birge's Sodomy and
Piracy), song (the pirates were inordinately fond of music
and used to hire on bands for entire cruises), and wretched excess,
vanished overnight when the British fleet appeared in the Bay.
Blackbeard and "Calico Jack" Rackham and his crew of
pirate women moved on to wilder shores and nastier fates, while
others meekly accepted the Pardon and reformed. But the Buccaneer
tradition lasted, both in Madagascar where the mixed-blood children
of the pirates began to carve out kingdoms of their own, and
in the Caribbean, where escaped slaves as well as mixed black/white/red
groups were able to thrive in the mountains and backlands as
"Maroons." The Maroon community in Jamaica still retained
a degree of autonomy and many of the old folkways when Zora Neale
Hurston visited there in the 1920's (see Tell My Horse).
The Maroons of Suriname still practice African "paganism."
Throughout the 18th century, North America also produced a
number of drop-out "tri-racial isolate communities."
(This clinical-sounding term was invented by the Eugenics Movement,
which produced the first scientific studies of these communities.
Unfortunately the "science" merely served as an excuse
for hatred of racial "mongrels" and the poor, and the
"solution to the problem" was usually forced sterilization.)
The nuclei invariably consisted of runaway slaves and serfs,
"criminals" (i.e. the very poor), "prostitutes"
(i.e. white women who married non-whites), and members of various
native tribes. In some cases, such as the Seminole and Cherokee,
the traditional tribal structure absorbed the newcomers; in other
cases, new tribes were formed. Thus we have the Maroons of the
Great Dismal Swamp, who persisted through the 18th and 19th centuries,
adopting runaway slaves, functioning as a way station on the
Underground Railway, and serving as a religious and ideological
center for slave rebellions. The religion was HooDoo, a mixture
of African, native, and Christian elements, and according to
the historian H. Leaming-Bey the elders of the faith and the
leaders of the Great Dismal Maroons were known as "the Seven
Finger High Glister."
The Ramapaughs of northern New Jersey (incorrectly known as
the "Jackson Whites") present another romantic and
archetypal genealogy: freed slaves of the Dutch poltroons, various
Delaware and Algonquin clans, the usual "prostitutes,"
the "Hessians" (a catch-phrase for lost British mercenaries,
drop-out Loyalists, etc.), and local bands of social bandits
such as Claudius Smith's.
An African-Islamic origin is claimed by some of the groups,
such as the Moors of Delaware and the Ben Ishmaels, who migrated
from Kentucky to Ohio in the mid-18th century. The Ishmaels practiced
polygamy, never drank alcohol, made their living as minstrels,
intermarried with Indians and adopted their customs, and were
so devoted to nomadism that they built their houses on wheels.
Their annual migration triangulated on frontier towns with names
like Mecca and Medina. In the 19th century some of them espoused
anarchist ideals, and they were targeted by the Eugenicists for
a particularly vicious pogrom of salvation-by-extermination.
Some of the earliest Eugenics laws were passed in their honor.
As a tribe they "disappeared" in the 1920's, but probably
swelled the ranks of early "Black Islamic" sects such
as the Moorish Science Temple. I myself grew up on legends of
the "Kallikaks" of the nearby New Jersey Pine Barrens
(and of course on Lovecraft, a rabid racist who was fascinated
by the isolate communities). The legends turned out to be folk-memories
of the slanders of the Eugenicists, whose U.S. headquarters were
in Vineland, NJ, and who undertook the usual "reforms"
against "miscegenation" and "feeblemindedness"
in the Barrens (including the publication of photographs of the
Kallikaks, crudely and obviously retouched to make them look
like monsters of misbreeding).
The "isolate communities"--at least, those which
have retained their identity into the 20th century--consistently
refuse to be absorbed into either mainstream culture or the black
"subculture" into which modern sociologists prefer
to categorize them. In the 1970's, inspired by the Native American
renaissance, a number of groups--including the Moors and the
Ramapaughs--applied to the B.I.A. for recognition as Indian
tribes. They received support from native activists but
were refused official status. If they'd won, after all, it might
have set a dangerous precedent for drop-outs of all sorts, from
"white Peyotists" and hippies to black nationalists,
aryans, anarchists and libertarians-- a "reservation"
for anyone and everyone! The "European Project" cannot
recognize the existence of the Wild Man-- green chaos is still
too much of a threat to the imperial dream of order.
Essentially the Moors and Ramapaughs rejected the "diachronic"
or historical explanation of their origins in favor of a "synchronic"
self-identity based on a "myth" of Indian adoption.
Or to put it another way, they named themselves "Indians."
If everyone who wished "to be an Indian" could accomplish
this by an act of self- naming, imagine what a departure to Croatan
would take place. That old occult shadow still haunts the remnants
of our forests (which, by the way, have greatly increased in
the Northeast since the 18-19th century as vast tracts of farmland
return to scrub. Thoreau on his deathbed dreamed of the return
of "...Indians...forests...": the return of the repressed).
The Moors and Ramapaughs of course have good materialist reasons
to think of themselves as Indians--after all, they have Indian
ancestors--but if we view their self-naming in "mythic"
as well as historical terms we'll learn more of relevance to
our quest for the TAZ. Within tribal societies there exist what
some anthropologists call mannenbunden: totemic societies
devoted to an identity with "Nature" in the act of
shapeshifting, of becoming the totem-animal (werewolves,
jaguar shamans, leopard men, cat-witches, etc.). In the context
of an entire colonial society (as Taussig points out in Shamanism,
Colonialism and the Wild Man) the shapeshifting power
is seen as inhering in the native culture as a whole-- thus the
most repressed sector of the society acquires a paradoxical power
through the myth of its occult knowledge, which is feared and
desired by the colonist. Of course the natives really do have
certain occult knowledge; but in response to Imperial perception
of native culture as a kind of "spiritual wild(er)ness,"
the natives come to see themselves more and more consciously
in that role. Even as they are marginalized, the Margin
takes on an aura of magic. Before the whiteman, they were simply
tribes of people--now, they are "guardians of Nature,"
inhabitants of the "state of Nature." Finally the colonist
himself is seduced by this "myth." Whenever an American
wants to drop out or back into Nature, invariably he "becomes
an Indian." The Massachusetts radical democrats (spiritual
descendents of the radical Protestants) who organized the Tea
Party, and who literally believed that governments could be abolished
(the whole Berkshire region declared itself in a "state
of Nature"!), disguised themselves as "Mohawks."
Thus the colonists, who suddenly saw themselves marginalized
vis-·- vis the motherland, adopted the role of the marginalized
natives, thereby (in a sense) seeking to participate in their
occult power, their mythic radiance. From the Mountain Men to
the Boy Scouts, the dream of "becoming an Indian" flows
beneath myriad strands of American history, culture and consciousness.
The sexual imagery connected to "tri-racial" groups
also bears out this hypothesis. "Natives" of course
are always immoral, but racial renegades and drop-outs must be
downright polymorphous-perverse. The Buccaneers were buggers,
the Maroons and Mountain Men were miscegenists, the "Jukes
and Kallikaks" indulged in fornication and incest (leading
to mutations such as polydactyly), the children ran around naked
and masturbated openly, etc., etc. Reverting to a "state
of Nature" paradoxically seems to allow for the practice
of every "unnatural" act; or so it would appear
if we believe the Puritans and Eugenicists. And since many people
in repressed moralistic racist societies secretly desire exactly
these licentious acts, they project them outwards onto the marginalized,
and thereby convince themselves that they themselves remain civilized
and pure. And in fact some marginalized communities do really
reject consensus morality--the pirates certainly did!--and no
doubt actually act out some of civilization's repressed desires.
(Wouldn't you?) Becoming "wild" is always
an erotic act, an act of nakedness.
Before leaving the subject of the "tri-racial isolates,"
I'd like to recall Nietzsche's enthusiasm for "race mixing."
Impressed by the vigor and beauty of hybrid cultures, he offered
miscegenation not only as a solution to the problem of race but
also as the principle for a new humanity freed of ethnic and
national chauvinism--a precursor to the "psychic nomad,"
perhaps. Nietzsche's dream still seems as remote now as it did
to him. Chauvinism still rules OK. Mixed cultures remain submerged.
But the autonomous zones of the Buccaneers and Maroons, Ishmaels
and Moors, Ramapaughs and "Kallikaks" remain, or their
stories remain, as indications of what Nietzsche might have called
"the Will to Power as Disappearance." We must return
to this theme.
Music as an Organizational Principle
MEANWHILE, HOWEVER, WE TURN to the history of classical anarchism
in the light of the TAZ concept.
Before the "closure of the map," a good deal of
anti- authoritarian energy went into "escapist" communes
such as Modern Times, the various Phalansteries, and so on. Interestingly,
some of them were not intended to last "forever," but
only as long as the project proved fulfilling. By Socialist/Utopian
standards these experiments were "failures," and therefore
we know little about them.
When escape beyond the frontier proved impossible, the era
of revolutionary urban Communes began in Europe. The Communes
of Paris, Lyons and Marseilles did not survive long enough to
take on any characteristics of permanence, and one wonders if
they were meant to. From our point of view the chief matter of
fascination is the spirit of the Communes. During and
after these years anarchists took up the practice of revolutionary
nomadism, drifting from uprising to uprising, looking to keep
alive in themselves the intensity of spirit they experienced
in the moment of insurrection. In fact, certain anarchists of
the Stirnerite/Nietzschean strain came to look on this activity
as an end in itself, a way of always occupying an autonomous
zone, the interzone which opens up in the midst or wake
of war and revolution (cf. Pynchon's "zone" in Gravity's
Rainbow). They declared that if any socialist revolution
succeeded, they'd be the first to turn against it. Short
of universal anarchy they had no intention of ever stopping.
In Russia in 1917 they greeted the free Soviets with joy: this
was their goal. But as soon as the Bolsheviks betrayed the Revolution,
the individualist anarchists were the first to go back on the
warpath. After Kronstadt, of course, all anarchists
condemned the "Soviet Union" (a contradiction in terms)
and moved on in search of new insurrections.
Makhno's Ukraine and anarchist Spain were meant to have duration,
and despite the exigencies of continual war both succeeded to
a certain extent: not that they lasted a "long time,"
but they were successfully organized and could have persisted
if not for outside aggression. Therefore, from among the experiments
of the inter-War period I'll concentrate instead on the madcap
Republic of Fiume, which is much less well known, and was not
meant to endure. Gabriele D'Annunzio, Decadent poet, artist,
musician, aesthete, womanizer, pioneer daredevil aeronautist,
black magician, genius and cad, emerged from World War I as a
hero with a small army at his beck and command: the "Arditi."
At a loss for adventure, he decided to capture the city of Fiume
from Yugoslavia and give it to Italy. After a necromantic
ceremony with his mistress in a cemetery in Venice he set out
to conquer Fiume, and succeeded without any trouble to speak
of. But Italy turned down his generous offer; the Prime Minister
called him a fool.
In a huff, D'Annunzio decided to declare independence and
see how long he could get away with it. He and one of his anarchist
friends wrote the Constitution, which declared music to be
the central principle of the State. The Navy (made up of
deserters and Milanese anarchist maritime unionists) named themselves
the Uscochi, after the long- vanished pirates who once
lived on local offshore islands and preyed on Venetian and Ottoman
shipping. The modern Uscochi succeeded in some wild coups: several
rich Italian merchant vessels suddenly gave the Republic a future:
money in the coffers! Artists, bohemians, adventurers, anarchists
(D'Annunzio corresponded with Malatesta), fugitives and Stateless
refugees, homosexuals, military dandies (the uniform was black
with pirate skull-&-crossbones--later stolen by the SS),
and crank reformers of every stripe (including Buddhists, Theosophists
and Vedantists) began to show up at Fiume in droves. The party
never stopped. Every morning D'Annunzio read poetry and manifestos
from his balcony; every evening a concert, then fireworks. This
made up the entire activity of the government. Eighteen months
later, when the wine and money had run out and the Italian fleet
finally showed up and lobbed a few shells at the Municipal
Palace, no one had the energy to resist.
D'Annunzio, like many Italian anarchists, later veered toward
fascism--in fact, Mussolini (the ex-Syndicalist) himself seduced
the poet along that route. By the time D'Annunzio realized his
error it was too late: he was too old and sick. But Il Duce had
him killed anyway--pushed off a balcony--and turned him into
a "martyr." As for Fiume, though it lacked the seriousness
of the free Ukraine or Barcelona, it can probably teach us more
about certain aspects of our quest. It was in some ways the last
of the pirate utopias (or the only modern example)--in other
ways, perhaps, it was very nearly the first modern TAZ.
I believe that if we compare Fiume with the Paris uprising
of 1968 (also the Italian urban insurrections of the early seventies),
as well as with the American countercultural communes and their
anarcho-New Left influences, we should notice certain similarities,
such as:--the importance of aesthetic theory (cf. the Situationists)--also,
what might be called "pirate economics," living high
off the surplus of social overproduction--even the popularity
of colorful military uniforms--and the concept of music
as revolutionary social change--and finally their shared air
of impermanence, of being ready to move on, shape-shift, re-
locate to other universities, mountaintops, ghettos, factories,
safe houses, abandoned farms--or even other planes of reality.
No one was trying to impose yet another Revolutionary Dictatorship,
either at Fiume, Paris, or Millbrook. Either the world would
change, or it wouldn't. Meanwhile keep on the move and live
The Munich Soviet (or "Council Republic") of 1919
exhibited certain features of the TAZ, even though--like most
revolutions--its stated goals were not exactly "temporary."
Gustav Landauer's participation as Minister of Culture along
with Silvio Gesell as Minister of Economics and other anti- authoritarian
and extreme libertarian socialists such as the poet/playwrights
Erich Mªhsam and Ernst Toller, and Ret Marut (the novelist
B. Traven), gave the Soviet a distinct anarchist flavor. Landauer,
who had spent years of isolation working on his grand synthesis
of Nietzsche, Proudhon, Kropotkin, Stirner, Meister Eckhardt,
the radical mystics, and the Romantic volk-philosophers,
knew from the start that the Soviet was doomed; he hoped only
that it would last long enough to be understood. Kurt
Eisner, the martyred founder of the Soviet, believed quite literally
that poets and poetry should form the basis of the revolution.
Plans were launched to devote a large piece of Bavaria to an
experiment in anarcho-socialist economy and community. Landauer
drew up proposals for a Free School system and a People's Theater.
Support for the Soviet was more or less confined to the poorest
working-class and bohemian neighborhoods of Munich, and to groups
like the Wandervogel (the neo-Romantic youth movement), Jewish
radicals (like Buber), the Expressionists, and other marginals.
Thus historians dismiss it as the "Coffeehouse Republic"
and belittle its significance in comparison with Marxist and
Spartacist participation in Germany's post-War revolution(s).
Outmaneuvered by the Communists and eventually murdered by soldiers
under the influence of the occult/fascist Thule Society, Landauer
deserves to be remembered as a saint. Yet even anarchists nowadays
tend to misunderstand and condemn him for "selling out"
to a "socialist government." If the Soviet had lasted
even a year, we would weep at the mention of its beauty--but
before even the first flowers of that Spring had wilted, the
geist and the spirit of poetry were crushed, and we have
forgotten. Imagine what it must have been to breathe the air
of a city in which the Minister of Culture has just predicted
that schoolchildren will soon be memorizing the works of Walt
Whitman. Ah for a time machine...
The Will to Power as Disappearance
FOUCAULT, BAUDRILLARD, ET AL. have discussed various
modes of "disappearance" at great length. Here I wish
to suggest that the TAZ is in some sense a tactic of disappearance.
When the Theorists speak of the disappearance of the Social they
mean in part the impossibility of the "Social Revolution,"
and in part the impossibility of "the State"-- the
abyss of power, the end of the discourse of power. The anarchist
question in this case should then be: Why bother to
confront a "power" which has lost all meaning and become
sheer Simulation? Such confrontations will only result in dangerous
and ugly spasms of violence by the emptyheaded shit-for-brains
who've inherited the keys to all the armories and prisons. (Perhaps
this is a crude american misunderstanding of sublime and subtle
Franco-Germanic Theory. If so, fine; whoever said understanding
was needed to make use of an idea?)
As I read it, disappearance seems to be a very logical radical
option for our time, not at all a disaster or death for the radical
project. Unlike the morbid deathfreak nihilistic interpretation
of Theory, mine intends to mine it for useful strategies
in the always-ongoing "revolution of everyday life":
the struggle that cannot cease even with the last failure of
political or social revolution because nothing except the end
of the world can bring an end to everyday life, nor to our aspirations
for the good things, for the Marvelous. And as Nietzsche
said, if the world could come to an end, logically it
would have done so; it has not, so it does not. And
so, as one of the sufis said, no matter how many draughts of
forbidden wine we drink, we will carry this raging thirst into
Zerzan and Black have independently noted certain "elements
of Refusal" (Zerzan's term) which perhaps can be seen as
somehow symptomatic of a radical culture of disappearance, partly
unconscious but partly conscious, which influences far more people
than any leftist or anarchist idea. These gestures are
made against institutions, and in that sense are "negative"--but
each negative gesture also suggests a "positive" tactic
to replace rather than merely refuse the despised institution.
For example, the negative gesture against schooling
is "voluntary illiteracy." Since I do not share the
liberal worship of literacy for the sake of social ameliorization,
I cannot quite share the gasps of dismay heard everywhere at
this phenomenon: I sympathize with children who refuse books
along with the garbage in the books. There are however positive
alternatives which make use of the same energy of disappearance.
Home-schooling and craft-apprenticeship, like truancy, result
in an absence from the prison of school. Hacking is another form
of "education" with certain features of "invisibility."
A mass-scale negative gesture against politics consists simply
of not voting. "Apathy" (i.e. a healthy boredom with
the weary Spectacle) keeps over half the nation from the polls;
anarchism never accomplished as much! (Nor did anarchism have
anything to do with the failure of the recent Census.) Again,
there are positive parallels: "networking" as an alternative
to politics is practiced at many levels of society, and non-hierarchic
organization has attained popularity even outside the anarchist
movement, simply because it works. (ACT UP and Earth
First! are two examples. Alcoholics Anonymous, oddly enough,
Refusal of Work can take the forms of absenteeism,
on-job drunkenness, sabotage, and sheer inattention--but it can
also give rise to new modes of rebellion: more self- employment,
participation in the "black" economy and "lavoro
nero," welfare scams and other criminal options, pot
farming, etc.--all more or less "invisible" activities
compared to traditional leftist confrontational tactics such
as the general strike.
Refusal of the Church? Well, the "negative gesture"
here probably consists of...watching television. But the positive
alternatives include all sorts of non-authoritarian forms of
spirituality, from "unchurched" Christianity to neo-
paganism. The "Free Religions" as I like to call them--
small, self-created, half-serious/half-fun cults influenced by
such currents as Discordianism and anarcho-Taoism--are to be
found all over marginal America, and provide a growing "fourth
way" outside the mainstream churches, the televangelical
bigots, and New Age vapidity and consumerism. It might also be
said that the chief refusal of orthodoxy consists of the construction
of "private moralities" in the Nietzschean sense: the
spirituality of "free spirits."
The negative refusal of Home is "homelessness,"
which most consider a form of victimization, not wishing to be
forced into nomadology. But "homelessness"
can in a sense be a virtue, an adventure--so it appears, at least,
to the huge international movement of the squatters, our modern
The negative refusal of the Family is clearly divorce,
or some other symptom of "breakdown." The positive
alternative springs from the realization that life can be happier
without the nuclear family, whereupon a hundred flowers bloom--from
single parentage to group marriage to erotic affinity group.
The "European Project" fights a major rearguard action
in defense of "Family"--oedipal misery lies at the
heart of Control. Alternatives exist--but they must remain in
hiding, especially since the War against Sex of the 1980's and
What is the refusal of Art? The "negative gesture"
is not to be found in the silly nihilism of an "Art Strike"
or the defacing of some famous painting--it is to be seen in
the almost universal glassy-eyed boredom that creeps over most
people at the very mention of the word. But what would the "positive
gesture" consist of? Is it possible to imagine an aesthetics
that does not engage, that removes itself from History
and even from the Market? or at least tends to do so?
which wants to replace representation with presence?
How does presence make itself felt even in (or through) representation?
"Chaos Linguistics" traces a presence which is continually
disappearing from all orderings of language and meaning- systems;
an elusive presence, evanescent, latif ("subtle,"
a term in sufi alchemy)--the Strange Attractor around which memes
accrue, chaotically forming new and spontaneous orders. Here
we have an aesthetics of the borderland between chaos and order,
the margin, the area of "catastrophe" where the breakdown
of the system can equal enlightenment. (Note: for an explanation
of "Chaos Linguistics" see Appendix A, then please
read this paragraph again.)
The disappearance of the artist IS "the suppression and
realization of art," in Situationist terms. But from where
do we vanish? And are we ever seen or heard of again? We go to
Croatan--what's our fate? All our art consists of a goodbye note
to history--"Gone To Croatan"--but where is it, and
what will we do there?
First: We're not talking here about literally vanishing from
the world and its future:--no escape backward in time to paleolithic
"original leisure society"--no forever utopia, no backmountain
hideaway, no island; also, no post- Revolutionary utopia--most
likely no Revolution at all!-- also, no VONU, no anarchist Space
Stations--nor do we accept a "Baudrillardian disappearance"
into the silence of an ironic hyperconformity. I have no quarrel
with any Rimbauds who escape Art for whatever Abyssinia they
can find. But we can't build an aesthetics, even an aesthetics
of disappearance, on the simple act of never coming back.
By saying we're not an avant-garde and that there is no avant-
garde, we've written our "Gone To Croatan"--the question
then becomes, how to envision "everyday life" in Croatan?
particularly if we cannot say that Croatan exists in Time (Stone
Age or Post-Revolution) or Space, either as utopia or as some
forgotten midwestern town or as Abyssinia? Where and when is
the world of unmediated creativity? If it can exist,
it does exist--but perhaps only as a sort of alternate
reality which we so far have not learned to perceive. Where would
we look for the seeds--the weeds cracking through our sidewalks--from
this other world into our world? the clues, the right directions
for searching? a finger pointing at the moon?
I believe, or would at least like to propose, that the only
solution to the "suppression and realization" of Art
lies in the emergence of the TAZ. I would strongly reject the
criticism that the TAZ itself is "nothing but" a work
of art, although it may have some of the trappings. I do suggest
that the TAZ is the only possible "time" and "place"
for art to happen for the sheer pleasure of creative play, and
as an actual contribution to the forces which allow the TAZ to
cohere and manifest.
Art in the World of Art has become a commodity; but deeper
than that lies the problem of re-presentation itself,
and the refusal of all mediation. In the TAZ art as
a commodity will simply become impossible; it will instead be
a condition of life. Mediation is harder to overcome, but the
removal of all barriers between artists and "users"
of art will tend toward a condition in which (as A.K. Coomaraswamy
described it) "the artist is not a special sort of person,
but every person is a special sort of artist."
In sum: disappearance is not necessarily a "catastrophe"--
except in the mathematical sense of "a sudden topological
change." All the positive gestures sketched here
seem to involve various degrees of invisibility rather than traditional
revolutionary confrontation. The "New Left" never really
believed in its own existence till it saw itself on the Evening
News. The New Autonomy, by contrast, will either infiltrate the
media and subvert "it" from within--or else never be
"seen" at all. The TAZ exists not only beyond Control
but also beyond definition, beyond gazing and naming as acts
of enslaving, beyond the understanding of the State, beyond the
State's ability to see.
Ratholes in the Babylon of Information
THE TAZ AS A CONSCIOUS radical tactic will emerge under certain
- Psychological liberation. That is, we must realize (make
real) the moments and spaces in which freedom is not only possible
but actual. We must know in what ways we are genuinely
oppressed, and also in what ways we are self- repressed or ensnared
in a fantasy in which ideas oppress us. WORK, for example,
is a far more actual source of misery for most of us than legislative
politics. Alienation is far more dangerous for us than toothless
outdated dying ideologies. Mental addiction to "ideals"--which
in fact turn out to be mere projections of our resentment and
sensations of victimization--will never further our project.
The TAZ is not a harbinger of some pie-in-the-sky Social Utopia
to which we must sacrifice our lives that our children's children
may breathe a bit of free air. The TAZ must be the scene of our
present autonomy, but it can only exist on the condition that
we already know ourselves as free beings.
- The counter-Net must expand. At present it reflects
more abstraction than actuality. Zines and BBSs exchange information,
which is part of the necessary groundwork of the TAZ, but very
little of this information relates to concrete goods and services
necessary for the autonomous life. We do not live in CyberSpace;
to dream that we do is to fall into CyberGnosis, the false transcendence
of the body. The TAZ is a physical place and we are either in
it or not. All the senses must be involved. The Web is like a
new sense in some ways, but it must be added to the
others-- the others must not be subtracted from it, as in some
horrible parody of the mystic trance. Without the Web, the full
realization of the TAZ-complex would be impossible. But the Web
is not the end in itself. It's a weapon.
- The apparatus of Control--the "State"--must (or
so we must assume) continue to deliquesce and petrify simultaneously,
must progress on its present course in which hysterical rigidity
comes more and more to mask a vacuity, an abyss of power. As
power "disappears," our will to power must be disappearance.
We've already dealt with the question of whether the TAZ can
be viewed "merely" as a work of art. But you will also
demand to know whether it is more than a poor rat-hole in the
Babylon of Information, or rather a maze of tunnels, more and
more connected, but devoted only to the economic dead-end of
piratical parasitism? I'll answer that I'd rather be a rat in
the wall than a rat in the cage--but I'll also insist that the
TAZ transcends these categories.
A world in which the TAZ succeeded in putting down roots
might resemble the world envisioned by "P.M." in his
fantasy novel bolo'bolo. Perhaps the TAZ is a "proto-bolo."
But inasmuch as the TAZ exists now, it stands for much
more than the mundanity of negativity or countercultural drop-out-
ism. We've mentioned the festal aspect of the moment which
is unControlled, and which adheres in spontaneous self- ordering,
however brief. It is "epiphanic"--a peak experience
on the social as well as individual scale.
Liberation is realized struggle--this is the essence
of Nietzsche's "self-overcoming." The present thesis
might also take for a sign Nietzsche's wandering. It
is the precursor of the drift, in the Situ sense of
the derive and Lyotard's definition of driftwork.
We can foresee a whole new geography, a kind of pilgrimage-map
in which holy sites are replaced by peak experiences and TAZs:
a real science of psychotopography, perhaps to be called
"geo-autonomy" or "anarchomancy."
The TAZ involves a kind of ferality, a growth from
tameness to wild(er)ness, a "return" which is also
a step forward. It also demands a "yoga" of chaos,
a project of "higher" orderings (of consciousness or
simply of life) which are approached by "surfing the wave-front
of chaos," of complex dynamism. The TAZ is an art of life
in continual rising up, wild but gentle--a seducer not a rapist,
a smuggler rather than a bloody pirate, a dancer not an eschatologist.
Let us admit that we have attended parties where for one brief
night a republic of gratified desires was attained. Shall we
not confess that the politics of that night have more reality
and force for us than those of, say, the entire U.S. Government?
Some of the "parties" we've mentioned lasted for two
or three years. Is this something worth imagining, worth
fighting for? Let us study invisibility, webworking, psychic
nomadism--and who knows what we might attain?
--Spring Equinox, 1990
Appendix A. Chaos Linguistics
NOT YET A SCIENCE but a proposition: That certain problems
in linguistics might be solved by viewing language as a complex
dynamical system or "Chaos field."
Of all the responses to Saussure's linguistics, two have special
interest here: the first, "antilinguistics," can be
traced--in the modern period--from Rimbaud's departure for Abyssinia;
to Nietzsche's "I fear that while we still have grammar
we have not yet killed God"; to dada; to Korzybski's "the
Map is not the Territory"; to Burroughs' cut-ups and "breakthrough
in the Gray Room"; to Zerzan's attack on language itself
as representation and mediation.
The second, Chomskyan Linguistics, with its belief in "universal
grammar" and its tree diagrams, represents (I believe) an
attempt to "save" language by discovering "hidden
invariables," much in the same way certain scientists are
trying to "save" physics from the "irrationality"
of quantum mechanics. Although as an anarchist Chomsky might
have been expected to side with the nihilists, in fact his beautiful
theory has more in common with platonism or sufism than with
anarchism. Traditional metaphysics describes language as pure
light shining through the colored glass of the archetypes; Chomsky
speaks of "innate" grammars. Words are leaves, branches
are sentences, mother tongues are limbs, language families are
trunks, and the roots are in "heaven"...or the DNA.
I call this "hermetalinguistics"--hermetic and metaphysical.
Nihilism (or "HeavyMetalinguistics" in honor of Burroughs)
seems to me to have brought language to a dead end and threatened
to render it "impossible" (a great feat, but a depressing
one)- -while Chomsky holds out the promise and hope of a last-
minute revelation, which I find equally difficult to accept.
I too would like to "save" language, but without recourse
to any "Spooks," or supposed rules about God, dice,
and the Universe.
Returning to Saussure, and his posthumously published notes
on anagrams in Latin poetry, we find certain hints of a process
which somehow escapes the sign/signifier dynamic. Saussure was
confronted with the suggestion of some sort of "meta"-linguistics
which happens within language rather than being imposed
as a categorical imperative from "outside." As soon
as language begins to play, as in the acrostic poems he examined,
it seems to resonate with self- amplifying complexity. Saussure
tried to quantify the anagrams but his figures kept running away
from him (as if perhaps nonlinear equations were involved). Also,
he began to find the anagrams everywhere, even in Latin
prose. He began to wonder if he were hallucinating--or if anagrams
were a natural unconscious process of parole. He abandoned
I wonder: if enough of this sort of data were crunched through
a computer, would we begin to be able to model language in terms
of complex dynamical systems? Grammars then would not be "innate,"
but would emerge from chaos as spontaneously evolving "higher
orders," in Prigogine's sense of "creative evolution."
Grammars could be thought of as "Strange Attractors,"
like the hidden pattern which "caused" the anagrams--patterns
which are "real" but have "existence" only
in terms of the sub-patterns they manifest. If meaning
is elusive, perhaps it is because consciousness itself, and therefore
language, is fractal.
I find this theory more satisfyingly anarchistic than either
anti-linguistics or Chomskyanism. It suggests that language can
overcome representation and mediation, not because it is innate,
but because it is chaos. It would suggest that all dadaistic
experimentation (Feyerabend described his school of scientific
epistemology as "anarchist dada") in sound poetry,
gesture, cut-up, beast languages, etc.--all this was aimed neither
at discovering nor destroying meaning, but at creating
it. Nihilism points out gloomily that language "arbitrarily"
creates meaning. Chaos Linguistics happily agrees, but adds that
language can overcome language, that language can create freedom
out of semantic tyranny's confusion and decay.
Appendix B. Applied Hedonics
THE BONNOT GANG WERE vegetarians and drank only water. They
came to a bad (tho' picturesque) end. Vegetables and water, in
themselves excellent things--pure zen really--shouldn't be consumed
as martyrdom but as an epiphany. Self-denial as radical praxis,
the Leveller impulse, tastes of millenarian gloom--and this current
on the Left shares an historical wellspring with the neo-puritan
fundamentalism and moralic reaction of our decade. The New Ascesis,
whether practiced by anorexic health-cranks, thin-lipped police
sociologists, downtown straight-edge nihilists, cornpone fascist
baptists, socialist torpedoes, drug-free Republicans...in every
case the motive force is the same: resentment.
In the face of contemporary pecksniffian anaesthesia we'll
erect a whole gallery of forebears, heros who carried on the
struggle against bad consciousness but still knew how to party,
a genial gene pool, a rare and difficult category to define,
great minds not just for Truth but for the truth of pleasure,
serious but not sober, whose sunny disposition makes them not
sluggish but sharp, brilliant but not tormented. Imagine a Nietzsche
with good digestion. Not the tepid Epicureans nor the bloated
Sybarites. Sort of a spiritual hedonism, an actual Path of Pleasure,
vision of a good life which is both noble and possible,
rooted in a sense of the magnificent over-abundance of reality.
Shaykh Abu Sa'id of Khorassan
Aga Khan III
Sir Richard Burton
add your own favorites
Appendix C. Extra Quotes
As for us, He has appointed the job of permanent unemployment.
If he wanted us to work, after all,
He would not have created this wine.
With a skinfull of this, Sir,
would you rush out to commit economics?
--Jalaloddin Rumi, Diwan-e Shams
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A flask of Wine, A Book of Verse--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
Ah, my Beloved, fill the cup that clears
To-day of past Regrets and future Fears--
Tomorrow?--Why, Tomorrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.
Ah, Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits--and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!
History, materialism, monism, positivism, and all the "isms"
of this world are old and rusty tools which I don't need or mind
anymore. My principle is life, my end is death. I wish to live
my life intensely for to embrace my life tragically.
You are waiting for the revolution? My own began a long time
ago! When you will be ready (God, what an endless wait!) I won't
mind going along with you for awhile. But when you'll stop, I
shall continue on my insane and triumphal way toward the great
and sublime conquest of the nothing! Any society that you build
will have its limits. And outside the limits of any society the
unruly and heroic tramps will wander, with their wild & virgin
thoughts--they who cannot live without planning ever new and
dreadful outbursts of rebellion!
I shall be among them!
And after me, as before me, there will be those saying to
their fellows: "So turn to yourselves rather than to your
Gods or to your idols. Find what hides in yourselves; bring it
to light; show yourselves!"
Because every person; who, searching his own inwardness, extracts
what was mysteriously hidden therein; is a shadow eclipsing any
form of society which can exist under the sun! All societies
tremble when the scornful aristocracy of the tramps, the inaccessibles,
the uniques, the rulers over the ideal, and the conquerors of
the nothing resolutely advances.
So, come on iconoclasts, forward!
"Already the foreboding sky grows dark and silent!"
--Renzo Novatore Arcola, January, 1920
Daniel Defoe, writing under the pen name Captain Charles Johnson,
wrote what became the first standard historical text on pirates,
A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most
Notorious Pirates. According to Patrick Pringle's Jolly
Roger, pirate recruitment was most effective among the
unemployed, escaped bondsmen, and transported criminals. The
high seas made for an instantaneous levelling of class inequalities.
Defoe relates that a pirate named Captain Bellamy made this speech
to the captain of a merchant vessel he had taken as a prize.
The captain of the merchant vessel had just declined an invitation
to join the pirates.
I am sorry they won't let you have your sloop again, for I
scorn to do any one a mischief, when it is not to my advantage;
damn the sloop, we must sink her, and she might be of use to
you. Though you are a sneaking puppy, and so are all those who
will submit to be governed by laws which rich men have made for
their own security; for the cowardly whelps have not the courage
otherwise to defend what they get by knavery; but damn ye altogether:
damn them for a pack of crafty rascals, and you, who serve them,
for a parcel of hen-hearted numbskulls. They vilify us, the scoundrels
do, when there is only this difference, they rob the poor under
the cover of law, forsooth, and we plunder the rich under the
protection of our own courage. Had you not better make then one
of us, than sneak after these villains for employment?
When the captain replied that his conscience would not let
him break the laws of God and man, the pirate Bellamy continued:
You are a devilish conscience rascal, I am a free prince,
and I have as much authority to make war on the whole world,
as he who has a hundred sail of ships at sea, and an army of
100,000 men in the field; and this my conscience tells me: but
there is no arguing with such snivelling puppies, who allow superiors
to kick them about deck at pleasure.
THE DINNER PARTY
The highest type of human society in the existing social order
is found in the parlor. In the elegant and refined reunions of
the aristocratic classes there is none of the impertinent interference
of legislation. The Individuality of each is fully admitted.
Intercourse, therefore, is perfectly free. Conversation is continuous,
brilliant, and varied. Groups are formed according to attraction.
They are continuously broken up, and re-formed through the operation
of the same subtile and all-pervading influence. Mutual deference
pervades all classes, and the most perfect harmony, ever yet
attained, in complex human relations, prevails under precisely
those circumstances which Legislators and Statesmen dread as
the conditions of inevitable anarchy and confusion. If there
are laws of etiquette at all, they are mere suggestions of principles
admitted into and judged of for himself or herself, by each individual
Is it conceivable that in all the future progress of humanity,
with all the innumerable elements of development which the present
age is unfolding, society generally, and in all its relations,
will not attain as high a grade of perfection as certain portions
of society, in certain special relations, have already attained?
Suppose the intercourse of the parlor to be regulated by specific
legislation. Let the time which each gentleman shall be allowed
to speak to each lady be fixed by law; the position in which
they should sit or stand be precisely regulated; the subjects
which they shall be allowed to speak of, and the tone of voice
and accompanying gestures with which each may be treated, carefully
defined, all under pretext of preventing disorder and encroachment
upon each other's privileges and rights, then can any thing be
conceived better calculated or more certain to convert social
intercourse into intolerable slavery and hopeless confusion?
--S. Pearl Andrews The Science of Society