Dreams vs. Reality

Well, I’m still here. I had a goal to try to write a blog post a week, but I’m learning sometimes you have to push projects to the side and be OK with that. I want to keep writing and writing, but it really does take a lot of emotional energy to get through longer pieces. I often feel frustrated by my lack of motivation because I set high goals for myself, knowing deep down I’m setting myself up for failure. I want to excel at one thing, and maybe that will be writing, who knows? But right now I’m not putting enough work in. Its all blood, sweat and tears and sometimes I just don’t have the energy. And sometimes you just feel like a broken record, merely responding to others. This doesn’t suit me, I like to think for myself which is what attracted me to anarchy in the first place. It compelled me to keep searching despite so many dead ends.

madwriter

Its a confusing and unclear time and anybody who claims to have answers is sorely misguided at best and deceptive politicking at worst. This is one of the hardest things for anarchists to come to terms with. As more and more people come to anarchism through the internet, I fear this search for answers will lead many to simply follow established doctrines written by anarchists for a different time, because it provides the directions.

What accounts for this lack of imagination? It seems just too easy to get swallowed up in all the social causes and outrages of the day, especially with the emphasis placed on identity. These anarchists adherence to notions of community as to be laughable betray their true ideologies rooted in Marxism and Maoism and other leftist nonsense. There is a spiritual component missing from anarchy, and our lives. I suggest anarchists think about this. I long for flexible thinking and not the rigid adherence to dogma. We have religiosity without the insight that religion might actually provide, that certain mystics have spoken of. Instead of Saints we now just have secular Gods of almighty Science.

 

saintrita

I am not an anarchist that wants to save humanity. Humanity is one of the greatest causes of the misery in the world. It pulls us away from living freely on our own terms. It forces us to conform, to normalize and control ourselves. It doesn’t allow for negativity, because one must have hope in the future to place so much value on human life. It keeps anarchy safe and inviting. And yet there is nothing really human about the way these people see the world. For them the human is obscene. Violence is abhorred despite being part of homo sapiens existence from time immemorial; unless the violence is done collectively it is denounced.

earliesthomicide

What is the difference between someone who kills for pleasure, frustration or revenge and someone who murders for political gains? Its a strange moral line some people draw in the sand.

 

Notes on the Anarchist as Outsider

Sadly, I am only just now reading Colin Wilson’s amazing book The Outsider. Written in 1956 it is a brilliant piece of writing examining the world of outsiders. I’m still reading it, but when I’m finished this might be what I would call essential reading for anarchists standing at the edges of nihilist and individualist thought. I find this extremely fertile ground for destroying some of the moral certainty that unfortunately gets inserted into many anarchists beliefs, leading to some terribly dogmatic and shallow understanding of our dilemmas.

What can The Outsider teach us? In a chapter titled The Question of Identity, Wilson asks what is identity?

“These men traveling down to the City in the morning, readig their newspapers or staring at advertisements above the opposite seats, they have no doubt of who they are. Inscribe on the placard in place of the advertisement for corn-plasters, Eliot’s lines:

We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

and they would read it with the same mild interest with which they read the rhymed advertisement for razor blades, wondering what on earth the manufacturers will be up to next. Some of them even carry identity cards–force of habit–that would tell you precisely who they are and where they live.

They have aims, these men, some of them very distant aims: a new car in three years, a house at Surbiton in five; but an aim is not an ideal. They are not play-actors. They change their shirts every day, but never their conception of themselves.

These men are in prison: that is the Outsider’s verdict. They are quite contented in prison–caged animals who have never known freedom; but it is prison all the same. And the Outsider? He is in prison too: nearly every Outsider in this book has told us so in a different language; but he knows it. His desire is to escape. But a prison-break is not an easy matter; you must know all about your prison, otherwise you might spend years in tunneling, like the Abbě in The Count of Monte Cristo, and only find yourself in the next cell.”

One of Giovanni Battista's Imaginary Prisons

Countless critiques of identity have been put forward by anarchists, but none go so far as to say we are nothing but future manure. This is not a hopeful message of ultimate victory, and a hope for a better future for mankind, but a sober examination of the brutality of existence that all of us must face, but most deny to the core of their being. Many of the greatest minds, such as those examined by Wilson, had realizations of the futility of life that amounted to feelings of terror and panic.  One example he shares is that of James __ in Varieties of Religious Experience where he describes his mental deterioration:

“Whilst in a state of philosophic pessimism, and general depression of spirits about my prospects, I went one evening into a dressing-room in the twilight…when suddenly there came upon me, without any warning, just as if it came out of the darkness, a horrible fear of my own existence.”

These experiences of the void allow us to see what an anti-humanist anarchism can look like. The outsider is not content with this world, and cannot move within it without going mad. Ultimately, we are outsiders, or should be. Instead of fearing the irrationality of spiritual insight into the soul of man we should fear those who see anarchism as a rational system that must be imposed on the world for the good of mankind.

 

Death and the Community of Lovers

Bataille is notoriously difficult, or at least I’ll keep telling myself that because I often don’t understand shit of what he’s saying. Well, I did fail at every academic endeavor so I just absorb what I can understand, what resonates with me and what is compelling. There’s a reason Bataille is difficult that goes beyond academics: his writing is complex and esoteric. He is talking about things that because of their secretive and experiential nature, often cannot be put into words. Yet it are these very things he and his contemporaries have tackled. Bataille’s observations of social formations aren’t just based on some abstract philosophical theories, although that is definitely part of it. He practiced and experimented wildly with ways of being. Acéphale and the College of Sociology are just two examples.

The story of the Community of Lovers obviously goes beyond Bataille, as it is a conversation between multiple people. His interest was in dissolving the individual, but not into an abstract political formulation. For someone who is influenced by individualist anarchism and egoism, I had to check my assumptions about these “communities of those who are without community.” Or as Maurice Blanchot called them, unavowable communities. These communities aren’t a positive project of building, but intimate experiences between people, particularly death, which produces an excess of emotion, such as anguish. This is different than the blabbering of politicians pandering to whoever is going to get them votes. Using the concepts of the profane and the sacred Bataille separates the Community of Lovers from abstract communities that are based around objects, politics, consumerism, work and bureaucracy.

What can anarchists take from these discussions about the project of Battaille’s community? These questions get to the core of the tension between the individual and the collective. What brings together the Community of Lovers is chance, not the forcing together of beings because of nationality, political ideology and other artificially created identities made to create and build. Embracing the sacred, esoteric nature of this unavowable community destined for failure and unable to be co-opted  also means rejecting the ‘big tent’ way of thinking that is being especially preached for at a time when there is a real fear of fascism throughout the left and unity is stressed. Anarchists should not shy away from being hated, there is no need to proselytize to the masses. Who despises those that would rather be idle? People who preach the profane world of progress. Unfortunately, too many anarchists also believe in the future of humanity. Let all skyscrapers tumble. Onward, to death!

 

 

De Sade and Pasolini: The Obscene Body and Transhumanism

For me, turning away from the world…from the truth of bodies is shameful.

-Georges Bataille

The humanism of the movement known as transhumanism couldn’t be more against the notion of the human, yet they do care about a body: the social body. In the West there is a long history public health campaigns in an effort to keep this body healthy (also political bodies, Chris Hedges famously called the Black Bloc activities a cancer of the Occupy movement), and exploitation films famously got through censors by disguising the transgressions as morality tales. Dwain Esper, the prince of exploitation and a true nod to the barker of the sideshow, knew the ins and outs of how to separate a mark from their money.

Esper’s first feature movie, Seventh Commandment (1932), was a torrid tale of the evils of adultery. It featured documentary footage of a Caesarian birth, dramatic interludes depicting transvestites, and bodies ravaged by syphilis or completely nude. Even though the ultimate message is about staying faithful to one’s partner, a high-ranking official in the Production Code Administration found the film “vile and disgusting”.

sideshowbarker
Step right up, step right up!

Transhumanists, like movie censors, want a sanitized society, for those privileged enough to benefit. Soon there will be no need to defecate or piss or fuck unless you want to do it in virtual reality. Rather than having a sensual tactile relationship to other people and the world around us, these people would rather you eat a pill to fill your belly than a piece of sticky fruit, as if that’s any substitution. In the end is just another ideology that excuses whatever keeps the human species ticking away and the trains running on time.

Both the Marquis de Sade and Pier Paolo Pasolini “sought to discover means to finally detonate the narratives and foundations of social power systems” through their transgressive narratives. Pasolini’s masterpiece Salò is a retelling of de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom set in the mid-1940s at the end of Mussolini’s reign that presents a visual feast of human cruelty. He had direct experience with the visceral brutality of war, his father had been a professional fascist soldier and he had seen the final product of the massacres.

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Carlo Alberto Pasolini

Pasolini wanted Salò to be not just his final film, (which it was to become after his brutal murder), but the final film of all humanity images of the “structures of cruelty and of the sexual origins of human atrocities and massacres that would form a kind of malign legacy, left for any nonhuman species that in the future might want to look upon the memories and obsessions of the human race.” The idea of the “final film” was explored by other directors during the violence saturated world of the late 1960s and 1970s and was much closer to home. The transformation of Times Square is an example. You could look out of your window and see the sordid actions of man. Now anything that unveils the ugliness or base is disguised by commerce. But we know what is behind this illusory mask of civilized people who are so clean.

timesquare1970stimessquarepresent

I recently came across an article written by Olga Khazan about the transhumanist presidential candidate, Zoltan Istvan. Like other transhumanists, he wants to not only extend human life, but eliminate death entirely. Any contagion to the body, including the social body, would be eliminated if Khazan and other transhumanists and tech giants would have their way. We can already see how far surveillance and warfare has come. Of course they will talk about eliminating hunger, poverty and so forth. Transhumanists have yet to reconcile the fact that their utopia is hardly a utopia for the people who still mine the materials for this world, or clothe our shameful naked bodies. Ultimately they want to be human, but without the despair, sickness and the ultimate end of our journey that is a pile of rotting flesh given as a sacrifice to the maggots and worms, and ultimately the earth, that goes with being animal.

cobaltmineslavery
Making the transhumanist dream possible

Istvan was working as a National Geographic reporter in Vietnam when he almost tripped a landmine (another reminder of human atrocity). Instead of serving as a reminder of mankind’s brutality he was so shaken by the experience it invigorated his faith in technology as the savior of mankind (ironically it was another piece of human technology that almost shred him to pieces).

Istvan and other techno-utopians believe death is the “great enemy” of mankind, not just the enemy of the individual. The social body  I believe the great enemy of mankind is itself and societies hubris, this has been proven time and time again and only somebody who fears death and the wild would call it an enemy and not a blessing.

YOKOHAMA,B-2

fuyuko-matsui

“Japanese culture has become too clean. Our five senses are too blunt.” -Fuyuko Matsui

salo1

 

The “New Violence” of Decolonization

“Born out of sheer political expedience, and out of a laziness about doing any homework concerning these groupings and their common or uncommon characteristics, bureaucrats eventually gave these prison-like institutions ‘freedom’, a budget and autonomy of a limited kind. Nobody considered how to de-institutionalize the institutions and to remove their penitentiary flavour. No one provided training in autonomy. Nobody remembered, or wanted to remember, that the inmates-turned-citizens were often people who had been involuntarily moved or exiled to these places, people who had had to be disciplined or punished, or people who had been rounded up by desert patrols and simply placed there for the ‘social engineering’ experiment of assimilation in the deserts and monsoon lands. Most places were not peopled by a communis or communitas. These people were not a voluntary association, with common tribal or linguistic membership and fellowship, or with common historical, political or cultural heritages. They were not communitarian in their membership and were neither cohesive nor socially coherent. Such cohesiveness as many such places had was institutional and imposed, not cultural, spiritual or linguistic.’ -Colin Tatz

In my ongoing research on suicide I came across a book titled “Aboriginal Suicide is Different: A Portrait of Life and Self-Destruction.” Up until then I had only gotten Western takes on suicide due to Durkheim’s massive presence. The author argues that the suicide statistics in Australia do not accurately reflect what is happening in Aboriginal communities and other indigenous groups worldwide who have their own unique factors that lead to the obliteration of the self, due to their unique histories and present social conditions. He rejects the Western notion that suicide is caused by mental illness and sees this as obfuscating the reality of aboriginal lives which are marked by extreme poverty, enduring legacies of racism including the removal of children from Aboriginal homes, lack of access to services, substance abuse and child sexual abuse/neglect.

Mostly what interested me about Tatz’s book was its discussion of decolonization, its negative effects and its role in the suicides. A critical view of decolonization is something you don’t hear much about in radical circles where decolonization is a hot button topic, even dividing groups during the Occupy movement in the Bay Area. On the surface it seems like something few would be opposed to, but its much more than empty platitudes: decolonization is a process that, like colonialism itself, inflicts violence upon native peoples, this time towards people who have already been displaced. Bureaucrats and other officials, in an attempt to right wrongs, actually bring about more distress. In Australia and New Zealand decolonization forced displaced people to “become ‘communities’ in name, regardless of whether or not there was an actual communitas.” One more reason to be skeptical of anybody speaking on behalf of a “community.”

decolonize

I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream

While I have doubts about the efficacy of militant anti-fascist actions in the US, like the one that shut down a certain self-professed internet troll in Berkeley for a myriad of reasons, the response to the riotous events from the liberal mouthpieces merits a response from anarchists that rejects the language of the Left that has always walked hand in hand with the Right. Anarchists would be wise to discard this language because by accepting it is to already violate the most basic unifying principles for us; that we are enemies of Government and State.

What makes the US the leader of the “free world”? The illusory (see Free Speech Zones) freedom Americans enjoy, we enjoy because others are enslaved, exploited and terrorized. Freedom is a deceptive term. The truly free are exterminated. Freedom of Speech, is an essential part of the marketing of the idea that we are free in the first place, as Freedom of Choice is for Capitalism, and Europe is often juxtaposed against “backward” countries that carry harsh penalties for speaking against the ruling elite.

free-speech-zone

Predictably, over the last couple of days, opinion pieces from both sides of the aisle came out saying the same thing; that the violent, destructive chaos perpetrated by so-called anarchists was wrong because it is a violation of the very first amendment of the US Constitution. It is here that a lot of anarchists fall into the trap of making the same arguments, even if those arguments are couched in radical rhetoric.

Anarchists should feel comfortable espousing views that make people uncomfortable, including those liberals in anarchist clothing. But lately a lot of people see nothing wrong with the beautiful idea becoming part of the spectacle, reproducing the same riot porn, while simultaneously trying to be more palatable to the masses in an attempt to recruit. Instead of putting energy into anarchist campaigns, including long term projects and infrastructure, many desire joining the Left, the same Left that will then denounce them for their extremist views, or for violating the constitution that grants us our “freedoms”.

One defense of “the Bloc” that caught my eye posted on Its Going Down briefly identifies the contradiction of defending Freedom of Speech yet being against the legal institutions that construct this Freedom, but goes on to say that anarchists should not only get on board with the communists (note who must follow who), but go so far to say that we must create a unified front with liberals and other leftists to defeat fascism because “the ethical obligation to win is ours.” The article does not say what counts for winning, but implies that simply by shouting our displeasure in one voice we will defeat fascism. We’ve seen this all before.

They go on to make this ridiculous assertion:

“We must seek solidarity with one another. True, there are many ways to resist the rise of fascism in the U.S. But two major steps in fighting that existential threat is for liberals to stop undercutting the left and agreeing with the fascists at every step and for everyone to stop relying on the Constitution to protect our society.”

Protect this society? You mean like the Constitution itself? Nothing like this should ever come out of the mouth of an anarchist! I certainly don’t consider this article to put forward an anarchist position, but anarchists are surely reading it. They admit here that fascism is an existential threat, not yet materialized. There is an uncritical rush to band with our enemies and accept the status quo out of fear of this unknown terror in the name of protecting this society, the very society we wish to devour. We must have a more nuanced view of these actions, because politics is messy enough, but its about to get even messier.

 

 

A Proper Welcome

I have come to realize I have a very frantic mind. Perhaps this is why cities are so anxiety provoking for me. Or anywhere for that matter. Its impossible to escape the noise of humanity screeching in my ear and drowning out everything joyful. So at any given time I am drawn to something, but it usually doesn’t last long enough for me to give it 100%. I am envious of people who are able to dedicate themselves to something, although that something for me has been anarchy I suppose because its been my passion for so long now and is a major guiding force for me.

I made this blog to explore pessimism, because the times we live in are of course insanely bleak, either in a mundane way or a life shattering way, (like the Inferno there are many layers to this Hell), and share a few thoughts on what it means to be human, another animal on this planet but strangely different (not in a good way) and possibilities of what strange, absurd, beautiful and terrifying things lay ahead.

If pessimism is the umbrella, there are many things to explore underneath. I have a love for horror and will probably discuss this as well, through means of writers such as Eugene Thacker and Thomas Ligotti. Along these lines I’ll be exploring violence, taboos, outsiders and other things we’d rather not look at and definitely not see within ourselves.

Another vein I want to engage with is stories, whether its folklore or stories in the media these stories inevitably shape our lives. What do our stories look like? What is the Cult of Infinity?

And of course there will be lots of discussion of what an anarchism grounded in pessimism, influenced by the cynics and others who have questioned what they have been conditioned to believe about Man and his centrality in the universe.

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