The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism
By Hakim Bey
SPECIAL HALLOWEEN COMMUNIQUE 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 filings, 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 individual has been cursed, but the place itself has been infected 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 full address).
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.
SPECIAL COMMUNIQUE 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 upfront: 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 Erhard, 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 traitors?
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 & shame.
- 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 never died.
–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 dream? Impossible.
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 functionaries.
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 & hold.
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 moi.
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 self.
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” the self.
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 our martyrologies?
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 ours!”
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE KALI YUGA
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 & ganja.
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 cobblestones.
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 temporal power.
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 catalogue.
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 doing nothing.
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 it immoral.
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 post-industrial decomposition.
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.
RINGING DENUNCIATION OF SURREALISM
(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 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 the weekend.
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 drive 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 dtournement 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 (himmah).
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 peace.
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 aristocratism.”
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, 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 bullies.
Of course the program still suffers from a few strange reality-glitches: for example, the dramatized segments are enacted cinema verit 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 blue penguins.
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 sense…
MORT AUX VACHES!