15
Apr

Power Against Hierarchy …incomplete.

by Squee in Ramblings

 

Annabelle Fax woke up early to check outside her apartment door for the new AR, one-a-day lenses she had pre-ordered from Cornea-X. It wasn’t very long after their release was announced that she confirmed the order; but, since it was the day of the release there were always potential last-minute setbacks. They had arrived in a small package, marked from an address only a few miles away. Though she was somewhat excited to explore the new features, her excitement was overruled by the practical necessity of installing them before she defended her latest client before the judge. This could be a brilliant advantage for her defense if she had everything organized and uploaded to the lenses in time.

Judge Fillmore was presiding over the ruling. He had become a well-known advocate in the world of cyber-law for his unbending defense of harsh legislation against social media trolls. As one of the first generals in the United States’ Tenth Fleet serving under Vice Admiral Bernard J. McCullough III himself, you would think he would have become jaded to the lesser-transgressions in cyberspace. Anna was torn about her defense. Her client was Anchor Nabe, a celebrated actor that caught the media’s attention when the Anti-Troll Militia uncovered his secret hobby of trolling liberal welfare-reform forums. She had built a career on her defense of civil liberties activists, but in this case she sided with Judge Fillmore in every way conceivable …including is so-called War on Knowledge Bullies.

To put this in some context, the War on Knowledge Bullies was the title of a book written by Fillmore and published for free reading to anyone that signed up for his church’s e-mailed newsletters. It was a typical conservative rant against scientists and academics that he believed had become too abusive in their push against the religious right-wing and its cultural traditions. Anna was an agnostic however, and a fairly open one. She agreed with Fillmore’s sensitivities and prescriptions, but in application to the defense of those who have been bullied for their sexual and gender identities. For as much as she agreed with Fillmore and despised Anchor Nabe’s attacks on defenders of the poor, she took Nabe’s case because his celebrity charity went to one of her most beloved foundations for LGBTQ youth.

But back to the new one-a-day lenses! These things really had it all. Not only did they produce high definition overlays in the visual field, render images faster than any other brand, fare well with field gesture capture, and come equip with a series of killer apps …they were the first one-a-day lenses to sync with BeforeAfter’s prediction software. BeforeAfter’s prediction software could detect lies, detect the likelihood of crimes taking place based on location, give highly accurate variable-based health predictions, and most important for Anna, it could give her up to a 72% prediction on an individual’s moods and emotional shifts until the next time they experienced REM sleep. That 28% chance of shifting the judge’s predicted states could significantly inform Anna about how to negotiate according to his likely ruling.

The package opened easily enough and there was little in there besides the lenses and the wireless charging adapter. One-a-day’s didn’t need to be plugged into anything and they came pre-charged for up to 9 hours of wear; but at this point the technology hadn’t developed yet for a full 24-hours. This was one of the disadvantages compared to harder lenses, although even with those you would still need to take them out every 62-hours so that the resonance charging wouldn’t cause any potential damage. Anna rushed to get them in and walk through the New User Wizard. She was already familiar with most of the basics, so all she needed to do was get her notes into memory and make sure that BeforeAfter’s Human-State Prediction was up and ready to process everything that was happening in the courtroom.

Done, good… and now she could get in her car and let it drive her downtown.

30 years ago…

Everyone knew it was happening, no one knew it was happening so extensively. For decades there had been an escalating war taking place within cyberspace and sometimes targeting its material infrastructure. Its scale was global and its factions were many-sided. The 20th Century superpowers and the rapidly developing, formerly titled “Second World” had entered into a kaleidoscopic arrangement of pacts, treatises, strife, protocol, and institutions that kept each other in a deadlock. Eventually, that all began to change. The failing campaigns against the Middle East lost focus once disruptions from the underbelly effectively destabilized the global relationships between nation states and their off-the-record cyber-thugs.

The uncomfortable, low-level antagonisms from the occasional political power or criminal organization became amplified into large scale initiatives with the introduction of new combatants. Identity theft rings, information leakers, activist hackers, and denial-of-service attacks authored anonymously were everyday news by this point, but unheard of technologies began to filter down from national militaries, through their paid terrorist organizations, and into the hands of the others. Most of those who could afford to get their hands on this stuff were too consumed with pet causes or personal gain to create an impact of any geopolitical consequence. However when rebels from different backgrounds came into possession of the new technologies, some of them had larger agendas.

Slowly the global cyber-wars were exposed through actions from its original participants scrambling to keep the others away from the battlefield. Sloppy attempts to target mostly civilian actors led to public experiences of cyber-warfare and a mass awareness of its agents’ capacity to amass destruction. Systems providing energy and basic resources to neighborhoods would be disabled for weeks. Signal interferences would cause “traffic damns” that lasted long enough for motorists to abandon their vehicles permanently. All the while, federal governments were losing legitimacy to confederate organizations of different creed, better positioned to help victims of these circumstances. All of this was merely the introduction of an upheaval.

The more popular confederate organizations were surprised to find out which of their enemies it was that had a head start in annihilating the federal governments. It was the new capitalists! They had slowly been guided away from reformism and passive strategies, both by their enemies and by their ideological ancestors. Their disconnection from grass-roots struggles and the poor argumentative strategies they often employed had distracted most of those aware of their existence from noticing their power in a few key areas: technological skill, black markets, cynically loyal benefactors, and seniority in many open-source and maker societies.

More importantly, the only thing that separated their overt ideals from the covert plans of the nation states was an enmity created through struggling with those states for control over the new economy. An enmity that was tolerated by the states. Since the capitalists had confused their practical enemy with an enemy in principle, they considered themselves to be amongst the anarchists in a war against government. Even if that government was limited to state government. This association radicalised their notions of viable tactics. When they began active campaigns of aggression — to liberate markets from state influence — they naively struck a core pillar of the old systems.

All considerations of allegiance were thrown into question. Activists on the Left, small states, large states, neo-conservative forces were forced to reconsider these new capitalists. These ones who took down the entire technological infrastructure in a tiny Canadian city while the rest were lucky to break some windows or enact revenge against their opponents. While their goal was to speed along the process of development in the city, they miscalculated the strength of their allies. Without the power grid, water services, communications, transport, and all the rest, what happened instead of a unification of the masses for a free market was the mass slaughter of bosses and others in authority by a fed-up population, sick of being pushed aside…

 

 

Netropolis: the Advancement of Architectural Controls in a New World

Nabe’s Hearing: the Preliminary Court System

God’s New Flesh: Intellectual Property as Certified Skills

Remote Controls and the Uncontrollable: Shifts in Consensus-Reality and Ideology’s New Terrain

Decentralized Capitalism: Theo, the Open-Source Entrepreneur and his Deal with the School Board

Fame Debt: Non-Violence and the Global Pillory – Lexy and her Ghost Writing firm/Protection Racket

A Dominatrix in Every Home: the Horizontal Mediation of Sex without Gender – The Gospel of Dunbar Rinse

Freedom to Speak at Risk: Civil Cybernetic Justice and the New Police

Isolated Incidents: Revolt’s Last Remaining Configuration

 

 

10
Apr

A Little Pain

by Squee in Personal

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I usually keep these things to myself, as one is expected to do. Locking the heat in until the pressure cooker I become has cooled and no longer threatens to scald those nearby with steam. The cooling process is slow, but it can be timed. Time heals, sure. With enough of it, moments that offer different experiences and provoke different responses transform me …rewriting my situation along with my temperament. Until I am back to this.

Depressions, sadness, loss, rejection, despair, loneliness and other bad moods do however have their place. Though I typically step back, observe, and analyze them until I have cut them apart into such small pieces they cease to have meaning, they have their place. Entire features of life can only really be comprehended through one’s emotions and not from beside them. And the dreams are unavoidable anyway.

One of the most grotesque features of love is the doorway it opens up into the shadow life of another’s pain. Or rather, what is grotesque (perhaps perverse) is that often enough we reserve pain for those we trust and thus including those we love. Of all the emotions that color our experiences of life with their affect, it is the ugliest of them that are snipped out from our typical conversations and pasted onto the post cards sent to our lovers. Well, for those of us that are even willing to share deeply with lovers that is.

This is something about the culture I’ve been a part of –if not more generally– that I despise. If it didn’t make sense to me, I may have abandoned human relationships all together, long ago. There is a hierarchy to emotional transaction, or a reversed hierarchy, which I don’t believe comes from mere politeness. I think that this hierarchy comes from the manner in which care and concern itself functions. Some sort of economy of attention, affection, and empathy that is quite scarce. Even for those nurturing archetypes of whose behavior I believe to be more a portrayal of these things rather than an actual investment of vital resources. Pain costs more to attend to and to alleviate than any of those pleasant sentiments shared with friends and acquaintances. Pain is only satisfied effectively by the exact opposite of time’s medicine or observation’s rational efforts to crush it.

This culture is full of clever methods for denying apathy; or moreso, an unwillingness to engage in pathos concerning that which is painful. Comparing the context of a small pain to a grand trauma or emphasizing the egotistical nature of pain’s demand for attention. Plenty of other methods abound. What the fact of even the tiniest of pains is though, is that like all of our emotions it does not want to be rejected and defines us to whatever extent it shades our perspective in its moments. This culture is not lacking in characters whom have developed morbid techniques for forcing others to acquiesce to their pains. Especially in our fiction, these are some of our favorite characters!

What I don’t know is if there is really anything except for the search for sympathizers that can be done with this aspect of living. Not only because it seems to me like such a natural motivation to seek companionship, love, or whatever one wants to call the close attenuation to daily life’s minor provocations. But, also because despite the use of comparisons as a method to disengage from those whose pains come out to the wrong ears, even in dealing with our own life histories it is likely that our greatest pains dwarf these ones. Additionally, the consequences for writing off pleasant feelings are not quite so costly. Pleasure doesn’t wait in the shadows to strike back when you least expect it to …with a nice time.

I’m tempted to present the argument that small things add up to larger things, but I think that would be a distraction from the theory here. It’s not so much that fighting off small pains causes them to accumulate as it is that fighting off small pains is already in the smallness of them, a fight against one’s own senses and the qualities of life that are being sensed. The long view is to make a goal of reducing that which is the cause of one’s pains. That is not the perspective that I am sickened by. What’s most bothersome is that life is filled with these minor pains and minor other experiences, yet satisfying the shittiest of them through expression and another’s validation is a situation delegated to the most rare of relationships that there are. This and also that it can devastate those very same relationships!

One would think that with all of its glamorous outfitting, that love wouldn’t be something we would collectively make so dreadfully painful. Again, something that aids in my suspicions that this isn’t so much of a choice at all. It would be interesting to meet someone with an unusual capacity for evoking the mood that they’re experiencing in those around them and rather than repulsing them when they’re in a dark mood, they would be embrace for it. But isn’t that what some people measure beauty by already? Coincidently, those most adored types of all are the theatrical, the affective actors …those evocative fucks. Maybe goths just lack salesmanship.

Well anyway, I’m feeling better. I’ve successfully studied my pain to the point of absurdity and made myself laugh. Now if I could find a way to do this without writing 8 paragraphs or spending the time it takes to do so! Fucking hell is it all so obnoxious.

 

 

 

 

8
Apr

Struggles of the Farmer Neighborhood in Tempe, AZ

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For years I have been writing about subjectivity, long-term goals, cultural struggles, radical ghettos, liberating space, and resisting domination. Yet, I have failed in communication with comrades and friends alike to articulate the importance and originality of the Farmer neighborhood struggle; how it exemplifies an approach to rebellion that has won my approval, and the extent to which its transgressions betray a casual and dismissive perspective from afar. I will  begin my story of the Farmer neighborhood with some background context as to who I am, what I’ve seen and been through, and what the Farmer neighborhood is not.

I was born in Scottsdale, AZ where I lived until around 1992 before moving to Gilbert, AZ. Historically, Gilbert is a place that began in the early 1900‘s with a strong Mormon community. They had fled from the Mormon colonies in Mexico as a result of Pancho Villa’s forces and 1915, they began holding church meetings at the Gilbert Elementary School. In 1918, they were organized into the Gilbert Ward. Incorporated in July 1920, Gilbert was primarily a farming community fueled by the rail line and construction of the Roosevelt Dam and the Eastern and Consolidated Canals. It remained an agricultural town for many years and was known as the “Hay Capital of the World” from 1911 until the late 1920s. Fast forward to 1992 and the town was currently busy covering up a backlash against development from it’s white, often Mormon residents. In 1992, Gilbert was in the midst of intense transformation. It was the fastest growing school district in the state, and the town’s 245% growth rate over 10 years was staggering. Gilbert’s population went gone from 29,000 in 1990 to about 100,000 in the year 2000, much of it because of job growth in the Phoenix area. Part of this resulting backlash was the development of a gang called the Devil Dogs, who were organized out of my high school’s football team and had terrorized minorities in the area until its leadership was busted for their monopolization of ecstasy drug trafficking… shortly before I moved.

To summarize humbly, it was an extremely repressive town to live in on every level. Fortunately, I found cultural acceptance in the local hardcore and punk scenes. Then, my life there ended around 2001 when I dropped out of school and moved with my mother to Phoenix’s college town, Tempe, AZ. Outside of Gilbert there was Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, and other suburbs of Phoenix that were mostly going through similar boom periods. Of them all, Tempe and Phoenix were just about the only two places where someone could move in the Valley that had given a home to counter-cultural and creative types. It was already a place that I had been going to for its music venues and the lively bar-lined strip, Mill Ave. Although I wasn’t in the Farmer neighborhood (don’t worry I’m getting there), I was close enough to easily get there…

Now, the Farmer neighborhood is a place that is closely connected with the more general context of Phoenix and its repressive suburbs, ASU and its party school notoriety, and local counter-culture. It’s one of those Phoenix neighborhoods that is still full of foliage and architecture dating back to the early 1900‘s and it is where regular house parties, house shows, couch surfing, and other such things would happen most often. If you wanted to have a 24/7 party lifestyle and be around weirdos and freaks all the time, it’s one of the main places you’d move, crash, or beg for spare change. It’s where you would go to buy underground records and CD’s, get tattoos, find the best comic books, and meet people you liked who were all fed up and resistant to the conservative nature of Phoenix. Not that Tempe didn’t have its own sordid history with the KKK and segregation, but it had become what I had just described above.

As of a few years ago, Tempe (like many other places similar to it) has embarked on massive redevelopment projects meant to rebrand the city –and specificially the neighborhoods surrounding Mill Ave.– as an environment for sophisticated liberal consumption: gastro pubs, sleek imagery, luxury condos and apartments, attempts at an astroturfed arts district, attempts to change its colloquial name to “the DT” (downtown or downtown Tempe), and other bullshit much to the dismay of locals. While this is a national trend in many ways, what is unique about the situation in the Farmer neighborhood is that it inherited as a part of its hedonistic residents a number of anarchists and other more radical types whom also found a place there to call home. What will become apparent as I continue to discuss this anarchist/radical presence is the extent to which anarchist/radical action can take a form that is different from punk shows, from Occupy!, from workplace organizing, from street protest, from collective projects, and from subcultural insulation.

For a moment, I’d like to comment on the relevant context for anarchists in the United States. In overview, anarchists have gone through some marked phases of visibility and activity: from the anti or alter-globalization movement, to animal and earth liberation, to the anti-war movement, to fighting border militarization (especially in AZ), to the Occupy! movement, to surveillance and anti-Police fights around the country. Noted, I’ve spared a shit load of what anarchist have and continue to do; but, only because of the situation I’m about to mention. Anarchists today seem to have become pessimistic and defeated. Somewhat from latching onto past notions of what anarchists ought to do with themselves, somewhat from the ways in which past interactions with the Left have turned sour (how couldn’t they?), and somewhat from ineffectual lifestyle-as-activism becoming more difficult and more problematized. What continues to come in conversations discussing this situation is confusion about what can be done at this point, what other forms of activity may look like, and what it even means to be an anarchist anymore.

Comparing this anarchist/radical slump with the Farmer neighborhood struggle will be the focus from hereon. To expand on the repression of the Farmer neighborhood; in addition to the rebranding and development projects driving up rent, the food taxes, police capacity to issue noise complaints themselves, the shitty frat houses being moved off campus into the neighborhoods, and the failure of longtime businesses valued by counter-cultural types, the City of Tempe has spent a fortune at the beginning of each school year for the past couple of years, rallying together 10+ separate police departments to entirely lock down Mill Ave. and the neighborhoods that surround it. More details as to the extent of this repression can be found elsewhere; however it is these actions collectively by the City of Tempe in a metropolis that offers hardly anywhere else for ‘us types’ to go which has given birth to a real, everyday struggle. The police repression and anarchist/radical swift to act against it, as well as the long-term residency of anarchist/radicals in the neighborhood and the neighborhood’s general rowdyism have all boiled over into an open atmosphere of hostility to police, anarchists/radicals and locals crashing city meetings, a comforting pride in counter-cultural lifestyle, and a generalized attitude of resistance towards anything which might throw a wet towel on the neighborhood fires.

At a time when anarchists where I live now are disappointed with a lack of direction, anarchists in Tempe are busy with an ongoing project to invigorate and defend the historically anarchic neighborhood(s) they live in. The aspects of this struggle which stand out and against what anarchists seem to be up to in the rest of the country is that these anarchists are not something separate from the neighborhood(s) they live in. This is not a participation in Left-dominated reform movements. They are not isolating themselves or merely practicing a lifestyle of their choice. It is a struggle that is open to at least a couple-thousand people invited both to partake in the fighting and in the enjoyment of new and/or longtime pleasures. If only in the imagination of Farmer neighborhood residents, this is now a place where the police are not welcome, where everyone is free to come and eat and drink and fuck in the streets and do whatever, where people take responsibility for themselves and their neighbor/friends about the town, where the landlords should be thrown into the gutters, where the character of the neighborhoods is already and should continue to be the character chosen by its residents. And why not beyond the imagination?

It’s not perfect, it’s not an insurrection, the police still repress, there’s still a lot of bullshit… but, it’s also not the Left, ideological, lifestyle-as-activism, insular, estranged, and another anarchist social space full of interpersonal drama. To the extent that this is something reproducible elsewhere, I am uncertain. The context is very specific, yet not dissimilar from contexts elsewhere in the US and beyond. The characters were positioned naturally to act in their own interests from the social history of Phoenix and the obvious, limited choices of living there in any satisfying way. I see it as a legitimate beginning and hope for the resistance there to sustain.

As a final note, something that I’m attempting to do with this writing is take a lesson from the events I have been to recently: to look at specific (historical) contexts, outside of the activity of anarchists, yet in a round-about way laying out paths of least resistance that become opportunities for anarchist activity. There’s historical reasons why shit in Phoenix proper is different from shit in Tempe …and I imagine that in every major city (with its suburbs, college towns, leftover ghettos from segregation, etc.) there are details there that point towards the greater determinants of cultural life …at least greater limits on it.

8
Apr

The Future and Rebellion

question-mark-clock-2127118The themes of time, context, and rebellion have run through a variety of anarchist events that I have attended lately. This has taken the form of discussions about lifestylism (with crimethinc often cited), leftist ideals of the Revolution, the notion of prefiguration, and ideologies. The conversations usually go something like this:

- Leftist revolutionary movements construct the image of an ideal, future society; one without capitalism, class, the State, and various systemic prejudices. Some of the developments which come out of this sort of revolutionary ideal are: organizing in a manner that takes a form similar to that of organizations in the future society (prefiguration), developing strategies for taking over the means of production (syndicalism), trying to inspire the correct subjects to insurrection (general strikes, occupations, riots), and generally orientating towards the future as a time of salvation, liberation, and peace.

- However, anarchists don’t necessarily have a blueprint or an ideal, future society. Anarchists who have focused on the present moment and sought to immediately deal with the ways that they are limited and smothered by the social structures governing them appear throughout modern history. This sometimes leads to drop-out cultures, the creation of self-sustaining communes, illegal methods of sustaining themselves, attack as an expression of personal and practical desires, as well as dietary, racial, sexual, and gender-oriented considerations.

- Leftist revolutionary ideals are an absurd waste of time in the 21st Century and they put one on well bloodied path of monotheistic idealism, ideology, and politics. The problem then becomes the global scope of the systems that subjugate us and how granular their focus becomes when they attack. Even when ignoring or opposing a leftist, revolutionary orientation, attempting to fight one’s way out of the mess of their individual life makes one an enemy of these systems. There is no clear strategy for winning at the individual or collective level.

- When dropping out, illegal subsistence, collective living, free love, and attacking from the shadows isn’t enough to gain autonomy or requires more than a reasonable amount of risk, it becomes clear that not only are the Left’s myths absurd, but imagining a future that is not bleak (or one even worth living in) is difficult. This provides further motivation to focus on the present, immediate alleviation of one’s suffering; but, in doing so it traps rebellion between conformity (total failure) and activities that have little to no impact on the order of things …even if they are the least compromising of methods available for survival. Without any future orientation whatsoever, rebellion is limited to dodging blows without effectively striking back. So, to carry out a rebellion that grows and accumulates power instead of one that consistently crumbles back into the ruins from which it emerged, some sort of future-orientation becomes necessary …if only to respond with consideration to the patience of our enemies.

To start answering the questions above, let’s start by remember that even if we are not all dispossessed and recently proletarianized, we are at least not in possession of any means to sustain or own lives, nor methods for using acquired means that would create a foundation upon which sustained attacks against our enemies can become more effective. At this point, even as a superficially self-sustaining intentional community, we would not have the means to preventing shit like the pollution of atmosphere we depend on (or global warming), surveillance/infiltration/attacks from the State, energy resources we’d need (hence, the market), etc. Even if we somehow did manage to carve out a more permanent autonomous zone, chances are that it would not sustain generationally: even with the best forms of indoctrination (which would require the sort of ideology we’re rejecting here) kids will want into the grandeur of the metropolis… whether for sex, for fun, or because it does a better job of creating cheap, entertaining shit. So to the extent that lacking space, means, and autonomy could be alleviated, that lack already puts us a long way from having places for ourselves that are not a compromise with our enemies.

For anarchists, whose rebellion has broadened to all that which may subjugate them, there are far fewer packages to buy and issues to think of as singularly important than there are for those rebels who oppose one form of domination, but not all. Anarchist rebellion is so broad that it takes as its enemy almost the entirety of established institutional society. This means that beyond the lack of possession discussed above, for an anarchist to survive there is additional and inevitable compromise with one’s enemies. This compromise can range for a variety of jobs, to the desperations of poverty, to the risks of being caught carrying out illegal actions to simply live another day, to giving up a rebellion against all forms of domination. Anarchist rebellion begins and often ekes out an existence in the terrifying, lonely corner of near-complete rejection of and enmity for the world. This means that even for an anarchist to simply survive as an anarchist, they are already in a perpetual state of rebellion.

Survival and compromise, which can never be satisfying, creates an individual interest in …making shit better. To do this without entirely losing whatever it was that one thought was worth fighting the whole entire social order for, it becomes desirable and maybe necessary to meet other rebels. Meeting others and even devising some methods to alleviate each other of some pains which rebellion brings can also and often does become insulating: a life in a sometimes less painful bubble midst a society one was already alienated from. Here enters the lovely world of group dynamics, with its problems of group-think, status jockeying, power plays, personality clashes, and in-group mentality. This can happen in a collective living situation, a cooperative businesses, a syndicalist union, a social clique, a street gang, an gaggle of squatters, whatever …it happens with groups generally. Out of individual and collective interest in surviving with as little compromise as possible, anarchists come together to try and figure it out and yet still, only more problems!

On top of those group dynamic problems, the particular attitudes and values of anarchists can compound the isolation, hopelessness, and angst many anarchists experience. Anarchists groups can often be a downright miserable series of relationships that may seem like they were created from a false premise, even if they weren’t. More to the point, such a context itself can hallow out the future of anything desirable. Any belief in eventual individual satisfaction, fulfillment, joy and/or collective well being, sustainability, care and god forbid a successful attack or autonomous space. The misery of living with miserable people can completely rip the future as a creative, imaginal space from the psyche and throw it into oblivion with the rest of this damned world. But ought we to oppose an orientation towards the future? I do not think so.

Futures aren’t solely a realm specific to ideologues and theologians. The persistence of subjectivity through time and in orientation towards a future existence is the framework for rebellion. Rebellious activity already assumes that there is something worth protecting and preserving, something that is worth defending in its existence against whatever forces attempt to oppress, dominate, subjugate, or exterminate it. Without that something, it’s not rebellion. Some anarchists are more egoistic and their rebellion takes the form of first being an attempt at realizing an immediate desire. But at the moment when the realization is opposed by force, it again puts action in the realm of rebellion. Even for the orientation of maximizing one’s potential to realize their desires generally, there is already within the relationship between the subject and its context an orientation towards a future. There is a future for the something: the uniqueness of the individual, the skills or space to act upon immediate desires, or the qualities of one’s identity which can not be changed and are nevertheless condemned in the social order.

To first emphasize what is disgusting about ideology with a special consideration to Leftist revolutionary thinking; these forms of thought insert poison into the imaginal spaces of our futures. They don’t themselves invent the entire framework for future; the phenomenological scaffolding which is substantiated with goals, dreams, visions, and aspirations. Furthermore, what ideological garbage does is replace that something which one is protecting and preserving in the rebellious act with an Other: State, Soul, Man, Singularity, Reason, Rights. The reason for the act is controlled by ideology for these Others. Ideology additionally benefits from disguising these Others as something objective …something with more reality, weight, and value than individual subjects and their finite, mortal, and muddled existences. These Others that are supposedly more important and more valuable than the individual agent have futures that will persist, that will be worthy of a rebel’s anguished existence, that will be the Future of all futures …says the ideologue.

That said, there is still a future orientation presumed in the act of rebellion and this includes the anarchists’ rebellions …even after rejecting the Left. The difference is that this future orientation would depend upon the individuals involved as the something protected and preserved and would aim at what anarchists already aim at in their togetherness, even if feebly: places to live, play, and plot that require as little compromise as possible with the existing order. Methods of surviving and attacking that attempt to expand the space and means by which to further survive and attack. A better squat, maybe next week. A new arrangement for free food. A more accurate understanding of how to eliminate that which subjugates us to it. Whatever that future orientation is, in whatever distance… it is there. To not focus on it, to confuse it with ideology, or to attempt to cut oneself off from a future orientation entirely conflicts with one of the fundamental properties of rebellion itself.

There’s additional reasons why attempting to cut oneself off from a future orientation is a bad idea which are tied into the ontological question, the ways in which time plays into subjectivity, and other shit beyond the scope of this piece. As a teaser, one of those reasons is because it forces you into a past orientation, which is what a present-tense context is constructed from: past traumas, conditions, meanings, relationships, habits, diseases, financial situations, legal statuses, etc. There are practices related to the present-tense that are meditative and attempt to break with the past, but those are difficult and impractical mental states to maintain …even if valuable from time to time. Anyway, it’s what I have mentioned above that ties into resolving issues of time and context in anarchist theory. A future orientation itself doesn’t provided any particular practices worth promoting to improve everyday life and our individual life stories, but it keeps the door open for practices that require more long term thinking and it maintains coherence with rebellious activity in general.

1
Apr

Magic

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Occult philosophers and mystics have played an important role in my life and thinking. Although not often my primary focus, their theories, techniques, and stories have rode alongside my interests in psychology, Western philosophy, anarchism, and hyperspace. I’ve definitely done my dabbling, mostly with doubt and suspicion. However, I have consistently found some of it to be uniquely rewarding. There is a range of literature that I throw into the magic pile: Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Cold Reading, Mentalism, Binaural Beats, Bio-Feedback, Kundalini Meditation, Kuji-kiri, Qigong, Automatic Writing, Tarot Cards, Aroma Therapy …a long list. Some of the literature is more-or-less cherry picking from psychotherapeutic theory and techniques, particle physics, anthropology, and other things tested using the scientific method. Though that hasn’t ever been the draw or the most interesting thing about it all.

What I love about my magic pile is the mixture of psychodrama, symbolism, and methods for altering one’s mental states into unending experimental attempts to pull one over on the way myself. If playing a fantasy RPG is immersive and fascinating, ritual magic is totally surreal: entertainment value is very high. What’s more exciting though is that for everything one would suggest for psychotherapy is enhanced when it is mystified in the supernatural narratives, intense sensory experiences, and suspension of disbelief that comes from the magic pile. At the same time, actually reading the texts from medieval occultists, witches, gurus, theosophists, and parapsychologists grants so much more to the reality of their worlds than considering it from the works of a Dawkins or some other opponent to lies. There’s a reason why I find that important…

Most people believe in some shit that is completely unverifiable if not proven false when subject to scientific studies. Since I’m also very interested in phenomenology and the proceeding (existential) psychological theories which have been influenced by its study, I’m interested in the phenomenal experiences of others. For as good or bad as my imagination may be, it’s very difficult to get close to phenomena that I fundamentally doubt the religious, mystical, and/or naïve interpretations of. At an even more personal level, I’ve found people in my life to be so enigmatic to me in the extent to which they embrace and defend these mystical interpretations of phenomena… and I’d rather not find them quite so enigmatic. Underlying that urge is an almost humanistic recognition that for as much as I assert the value of the Individual, the Ich, the Unique, I also believe there’s more basic commonalities that most human beings share. Of course when I say most, I mean that other individual’s biology and subjectivity is close enough to my own, most of the time, to initially identify with them.

Beyond any of this though, what this magic shit has taught me is that the scaffolding for belief systems tends to be in one of only a handful of shapes. I can get the same lessons reading Western philosophy, but as I pointed out …the distance from which Western philosophers talk about the structure of knowledge and such has an entirely different affect on me than having my own experiences which I can compare and contrast myself. It’s something like knowing the chemical composition and effects of a drink and actually drinking it. If some people are foodies for similar reasons, I’m digesting and shitting out belief systems …experiencing them to the extent I feel the desire to.

To note as well, approaching magic/etc. in this way has not prevented me from experiencing some weird, crazy shit. It wouldn’t be worth it if I didn’t get a few sweet hallucinations and difficult to explain successes out of the deal. A lot of the phenomena isn’t entirely contingent upon the bullshit parts of magic (or believing in it). Afterall, it is a lot of experimentation with self-inflicted trauma, heightened stresses, novel illusions, and quarks of biology. To think then that the weird, crazy shit I’ve tasted has been an everyday part of entire cultures… normalized! I guess that’s been my best chance at feeling culture shock.

I guess at this point in my life, my only real interaction with the magic pile is introducing some of its snippets into my thoughts and writing to spice them up. There’s also been some more-or-less permanent consequences that I’m happy about: relaxation techniques, being able to zone out really well, knowing a hundred and one ways to control my own moods and emotions if I care to …which also comes with a bit of detachment from said moods and emotions. It’s also been a boon to my aesthetic sensibilities (though, film, video games and art classes would probably have been more of one). Basically though, I’m done with the magic pile and have been. Its periodicity-limits have disinterested me. There have been attempts to create cyber-magick and other period-based forms but the future and the present are mostly materialist worlds in the imaginary sense. That’s why my next pile is going to be the time traveller pile!

18
Mar

Protected: Notes after ASG (Family background and Social Cohesion)

by Squee in Ramblings

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14
Mar

The Idealist-Criminal/Duped-Activist Trope

by Squee in Ramblings

11070769_964314106921222_9197896974015966717_nfrom a facebook post…

Lately I’ve been watching the Blacklist on Netflix. One of its episodes shares a theme that I have a hard time thinking of a show I’ve watched the past couple of years that doesn’t. Those shows are somewhere in the genre-pool of mystery, detective, and sci-fi; and, there’s a lot of them. At least one episode in each show tells the story of a criminal mastermind intent on destroying “the system” leading some sort of group that resembles an Animal Liberation, Earth Liberation, Occupy!, or Anarchist organization …BUT (dun-dun-duuuunnn), the mastermind has ulterior motives. I can remember episodes like this going back to the days of the X-Files…

This sort of episode tends to fall into a type of dilemma that is more general: the hero(s) don’t know if protecting law-and-order is the right thing to be doing; but, they eventually justify their actions by discovering something the episode’s character is doing that is ‘unquestionably’ wrong. Examples of this would be the criminal searching for a cure to their child’s illness, the revenge murderer that kills domestic abusers (or …the entire basis for Dexter), or the character in duress that has trouble choosing between prison and the revenge of the criminals that are using them. Any one of these tropes becomes a commentary on the justifications for strict adherence to the law …and depending on the show, it can go in a variety of directions.

The specific narrative that includes the activists and riots is a bit more interesting. With the idealist criminal and their activist following, you introduce political, economic, environmental, and other contemporary concerns about the organization of social life into the dilemma. In the context of these shows, the audience has already formed bonds with the main characters and their struggles. At the same time, the audience can usually identify with the struggles of the activists. The other dilemmas mentioned above do not offer such a broad range of applicability to the everyday moral questions the audience encounters concerning the organization of their own lives. The dilemma is also more complicated. It not only asks the audience to consider the extent to which they are willing to act for this or that social cause; but also, to consider in an Alex Jonesian way …who they are /really/ working for if they take to direct action.

There is also another aspect to the trope in question that ties into the format of these shows and the world which its characters exist in. All of these shows present a world that is too complicated for the layman to comprehend. Maybe it’s aliens, or a vast network of secret organizations, or technologies traded on black markets that could destroy everything. Whatever the case may be, a world such as this is the precondition for the main characters to exist as such: the keepers of society’s secrets who are protecting society against enemies that also know these secrets. In other words …shit is more fucked up than the audience can even imagine and the story-teller is going to reveal that world episode-by-episode through characters that are out there to heroically protect them. Protection in the case of this trope includes and is even sometimes substantially protection from the morons that think they understand the world enough to take direct action: the activist/anarchist/etc.

The moral of the story is always that while in the mediocre world of civilian life these issues seem important enough to act outside legal constraints for, it turns out that the actual dynamics of society are so far beyond civilian comprehension that there is a deeper purpose law-and-order is serving. Sometimes that purpose is usurped by some arch nemesis that seems to be behind all sorts of catastrophe. Sometimes that purpose is strictly the Jonesian /everyone is working for someone/ or /all direct action must be a false flag operation/ type of scenario. While that’s the overt message, the more subtle message of the activist episodes is really …these people are delusional fucking idiots that are only going to hurt people or at best, annoy the public to function as decoy for others who will hurt people.

For how long these particular episodes have been around, they only seem like they’re becoming more standard. I have trouble estimating the extent to which this trope alone serves to reinforce the suspicion of various activists, revolutionaries, or whathaveyou; but, I feel my own responses to these episodes and their psychodrama …and, I know that if people participating in direct action were an Other for me it would be easy for me to write off the entire lot of them as absolutely fucking bonkers.

What all of this allows me to contemplate is my own context; but, not from the angle this trope suggests. I contemplate how affected the individuals are by this trope whom people my context and what it would mean to consider that affectedness in my own struggles and adventures. For instance, I’m not convinced that journalists are painting anarchists in a similar light from their own moral convictions. I also contemplate the extent to which some communiques seem so out-of-touch to me, given the terrain of the public’s imagination when influenced by this and similar tropes. There’s lots of things …to consider.

Anyhow – I’ll be putting this in the “rambles” section of the Eternal Wretch when I can. Maybe I’ll resurrect Indigestion… Who knows! Maybe I’m working for General Ludd.

14
Jan

The War of Reality

The War of Reality

 

Forward

I am writing this document to those who I consider my comrades. It is intended to serve as an elaboration on subject matter that we have all expressed an interest in contemplating. The priority is to offer a perspective towards the grounds upon which we fight; grounds that could make for useful weaponry. Yet, it is also a document that I hope can demonstrate a path to joy and fulfillment, unassuming that we don’t have enough of that already. For all others who I am including and positioning due to the universalizing nature of this perspective, I expect for there to be some value in this despite our potential relationship of enmity. As we are already on the battlefield, I would prefer that this convinces you to mutiny.

Introduction: A Never-ending War

 

Reality and Beyond

Summary:

This first chapter is meant to lay the metaphysical and epistemological fundamentals that will form the grounds for arguments throughout the rest of the document. It will pursue an agnostic position based on existentialist and evolutionary theory about the concept of reality as it evidently exists for human beings and limitations on attempts to transcend that reality demonstrated by contemporary psychological studies in human perception.

Subjectivity and Selves

Summary:

This chapter will expand upon the previous conclusions about reality and form the bridge from metaphysics and epistemology to the psychology of human subjectivity. Basic concepts about perception, cognition, personality, and social identity will be outlined to demonstrate the discordant qualities inherent to suppositions about reality in mass society.

Preconditions

Illusions

Contingencies of Powers

Summary:

Power is contingent upon a variety of conditions spread throughout the personal and interpersonal dimensions of social life and the institutions that depend upon those conditions. This chapter will draw from earlier conclusions to outline the qualities of human psychology as they relate to the development of both informal and established institutions: power. There will be an emphasis on the creation and maintenance of ideological systems to demonstrate the centrality that concepts of reality play in social organization. This centrality will be the focus of proceeding conclusions that aim to influence concepts of reality as forms of resistance and attack in the war.

The Limits of Allegiances

Summary:

Sociological patterns of mostly political conflicts will be used in this chapter to demonstrate the tendencies of both activist and parliamentary organizations to defeat the intended results from their rank-and-file participants. This political focus will be an argument for an interpersonal approach towards social struggle, drawing inspiration from individualist anarchists and apolitical social networks.

Stories from the War

Summary:

Selected examples that exemplify the centrality of reality to the dynamics of past and present conflicts will be told with an emphasis on themes developed in this document.

Peace

Summary:

This final chapter will shift focus from an emphasis on social antagonism to a focus on the psychology of human pleasure and happiness. The focus will be on practices that depart with conventional notions of reality and potentially offer rewarding and fulfilling affects to individuals that pursue them. These practices will be compared with ideas of pleasure and happiness grounded in concepts of reality argued against previously.

3
Jan

Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers:

Q: How do I want to articulate the limits of sense-perception and rational thought?

A: To make it interesting, I would like to relate the preconditions which make it possible for the Illusionist to manipulate sense-perception and the Mentalist to manipulate common logical fallacies. This can be done with supporting physics and psychology studies. This would require a caveat concerning the cultural structures that play into both art-forms and would unfortunately require anthropological and sociological categories (and god-forbid economic ones) to universalize. Since this is only to define the fuzzy boundaries of perception, it is not the absolute limits of desire or a definitive map of general human perception. The point would be to demonstrate the common spheres where values and desires operate; and, how easily values and desires can escape the common spheres to operate otherwise.

Q: How do I want to articulate the notion of reality and the way in which it exists as a middle-ground (battle-ground) between the personal and the ideological?

A: I’d like to use a critique of monotheism, of the State, and of Marx to demonstrate the conceptual technique of placing an idea on the other side of reality that becomes an axial point in the definition of reality. This will depend on the question above which articulates the limits of sense-perception and rational thought to create one pole, let’s say to the left of reality. The pole to the right of reality will be defined through this critique: situating reality between these two poles as the conceptual space politics aims to control.

Q: How does an analysis of desire and interest influence the trajectory of this project?

A: An analysis of desire here (which must be defined with clarity in the piece) is meant to dislocate human decision-making from either pole of the personal-ideological spectrum and express desire’s vulnerabilities. An analysis of interest is to similarly express its vulnerabilities. This is meant as a critical approach to base-egoist individualism. Since there are so many resources to borrow from to articulate the bumbling way which human longing and perception of stake in matters (desire and interest, respectively), I’m not sure what work I’d like to use. Perhaps Foucault, but that may mystify more than it illuminates. Another important aspect of these analyses is to also affirm a fuzzy extent to which desires and interests can found the basis of tactics used in this war to define reality: defensively or otherwise.

Q: Why a general attack on “institution” and a preference for the interpersonal?

A: This is where someone like Ludwig Binswanger would be useful. There are critiques which come out of existentialist psychology that explain the importance of maintaining the analysand’s unique individuality. The basic notion of what an institution is that I am working with is an established structure for perception and choice at the cultural/social/political level of operation, and operates normatively. Attack just one or a few institutions doesn’t emphasize enough the effects of existing in a world with hundreds of institutions that collectively function to define the political limits of one’s desires and interests. When it comes to developing a personal approach to making rational decisions in the world, at the personal level it is easy to pick-and-choose which institutions maintain one’s interests. Accepting the legitimacy of any one institution though is to affirm a general principal of acceptable normativity in the world one wants to live in… and at that the affirmation of institutional logic builds the political party …it legitimizes the State and other forms of tyranny so long as it is beneficial personally to those involved. The interpersonal sphere does not depend on (but is shaped by) institutionalization for better or worse. It is from the grounds of the interpersonal sphere that cooperative projects can be taken up without affirming the need for a social order composed of established, institutional apparatuses. This is a criticism of humanism as much as it is an affirmation of individual desire and mutual creativity/production. With obvious contradiction implied by a total rejection of institutions but an affirmation of interpersonal grounds as a starting point (this would thus be an institution), it isn’t exactly the same thing. Normative values function socially at the level of controlling the relationships between impersonal groups. That is what I reject: that is law, civility, domestication. Social life without this defaults to the level of the interpersonal and it is only there that I am affirming the interpersonal. Not as a rule or an extant norm, but as an inevitable consequence. Summarily, the war for control of our own realities both rejects the ideological (which is institutional) and affirms the ability for individuals to cooperatively develop their own consensus-reality in their own interests.

Q: And Science?

A: Science plays an important role here; its conclusions can be used as axial-points “to the right of reality” as much as it can be used to deconstruct individual desires, impulses, emotions, moods, determinations, and other influences that contribute to a personal relationship with reality. The point for me is that reality only exists for perception through a variety of mediations: language, culture, ideology, myths, facts, sense-experience. So for as inaccessible as reality can be to one’s immediate behaviors, it is however the world of cause-and-effect that behavior expects results from (despite the interpretation of those results). Science can then be used as a utility for exacting the results one desires as much as it can mystify the options which exist for an individual to behave “rationally”. This is something that could be illustrated with arguments from occultists who may rely on concepts of reality that are not scientifically verifiable, yet transgress against some definitions of reality rooted in facts gleamed from scientific inquiry. The danger here with this defining of reality is the way in which it codifies some behaviors as rational (or sane) and others as irrational (insane) …which has historically lead to some unfortunate circumstances (asylums and such). This sort of ideology based on presuming science will not contradict the facts codifying reality isn’t science as such, but rather a noted inappropriate use of scientific fact to develop political foundations. That is the stuff of social darwinism or eugenics or anthroposophy or ecology …all things that irritate me. I suppose the recommendation then is tied in with my anti-institutional outlook: don’t enshrine the facts to define social norms, don’t establish an official reality and butcher individuals that transgress against it.

Q: Ok, so that’s a lot of nice ways to count how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. What are some of the everyday implications of my thoughts here?

A: The first thing that this implies for me in an everyday sense is that it ultimately relieves me of accepting the burden of other people’s claims to an objectively-grounded moral evaluation. I don’t need to dramatically blow off the next version of the Inquisition implied by the expressed moral principles of others to feel the relief of undermining them. So there is an immediate psychological affect, it is personally satisfying. Beyond this, there are certain things that I’m not so willing to do that perhaps I otherwise may be …joining up with some organization or other that defines its grounds through any of the above methods of appropriating reality, usually vicariously through a humanistic logic, a god, some historical imperative, the interests of a social institution (class, race, nationality), or some identity I just don’t find any desire for (longing to be this or that identity) or interest in (personal stake in the social status of that identity). The approach to “institution” and “the interpersonal” orientates my everyday interests towards cooperative projects where I realize desires not entirely caught-up in the social order I’m in revolt against. More-so, in cooperative projects where the desires we realize point towards a world I want to live in with others I get along with: not some fucking global revolution of unified workers or an attitude towards “the Earth” that debases individual goals …a world in the sense of self-world and not in the humanistic sense of the human world writ large (and largely biased). In an everyday sense then, it simplifies my decision-making tree by allowing me to focus on desires with tangible results, achieved through techniques developed with an awareness to the contested space that is reality. It’s a foundation for acting creatively in a world of illusion and meaninglessness peopled with a lot of conflicting ideas and strife.

Q: And what of “the Earth”?

A: The Earth is a planet, in my opinion. It’s filled with a lot of different elements, chemical interactions, and organisms relating to each other in a complicated arrangement of (self)reproductive systems… many of which I would like to see destroyed, especially of those organisms that survive to my detriment. It is also the terrain upon which human beings have developed their own systems of (self)reproduction, many of which are configured to distance the individual from accessing the means to creating their own autonomous groups. Those systems also tend to make many of the things I enjoy about the Earth shitty. Ultimately there isn’t a sort of rational eco-centrist system of thought though which is honestly accounting for some kind of Earth-health above the value of individual human health. So along with other ideologies I reject are those which pretend at defining reality based on the facts produced by ecology. That isn’t to say that my relationships with other organisms and their systems of (self)reproduction are unimportant. It is to say though that I affirm my own choice in which organisms those are and evaluate them in relationship to myself and others I care about.

27
Nov

Escape?

by Squee in Ramblings

black-dress-sword-devil-abstract-

God is dead… he wrote.

The fundamental conundrum of contemporary man’s condition: nihilism. Nihilism becomes the inescapable spirit of the times. The Modern Man could merely respond to it, manage it, and perhaps with an active approach, create for himself a way of being in the world that could bid nihilism good riddance. The foundations of religions, ideologies, and philosophies past reveal the preconditions existing within, preconditions that could ultimately lead to or were inherently nihilistic. The world of man, of meaning …exploding in every corner from an inability to find affirmation in the former, could only lead to the death of Man: the total annihilation of every concept whatsoever capable of raising what the Individual is to himself. Raising it beyond the result of determined processes, of powers outside itself, of the irrational forces within itself …ego death. From this complete mess, perhaps the Individual could find some new foundation there and again live an intentional life. Perhaps the principal of Power and the Individual’s own power could be this new foundation. It could not be the Will to Truth, the Will to Beauty, the Will to Meaning. Only affirmation of the Will to Power could save the Individual from modern nihilism. Socialism, Buddhism, Scientism …anything that responded to nihilism by only reinforcing the lack of an individual’s power, by accepting only that power which stands on the shoulders of giants, or is collected from the masses, or indebted to a renunciation of ego: this was Pessimism, or worse. But, who can demonstrate that individuals do have their own powers, terrible though they may be, somewhere hidden in the mess of their existence?

The camel becomes the lion, and the lion becomes the child….

There is no greater pervert than the child: polymorphous perversity. Erogenous zones everywhere, with everything. Not a single sensation fixed and defined, nor a single object of desire bound in obsession. Without individuality and a conscience to negate and defend any sort of dignity. Without any meaning to cohere with. Growing up is not the development of the pervert, but the most iron fisted attempt to crush it and strain its parts into appealing forms, choices, and attachments. Smash the child with a language, with a realistic idea of its separation and guilt, with a firm ideology that organizes its urges as Desire and directs its desires to serve the interests of a greater good …or at least a common one. Give it a haircut and a teddy suit to wear, give it cuteness. Let’s be social and destroy the child!

But the future is an illusion.

Desires escape linear trajectories and coded zones of acceptable expression. Language comes with its own lines of flight. Come underground with us and explore this forest’s roots. Let’s watch them entangle. Let’s watch them talk. Desire founds the Will, even the Will to Power. Let us not even bother at the playing with this farce of identity any longer. We can be something that is not a Subject. Nomadic and different.

We are machines. Let us be war machines!

Technology is speed. Technology subjects us. Technology is known to us only because Power has permitted it. We are their machines, but we can be beautiful machines. We can take up again the quest for the Good Life. We can become aesthetic, intentional!

We can subvert and we can seduce: the Order of Things be damned.

>I Order My Things<

17
Nov

Absurdist Anarchy

The below is just the combination of 3 earlier pieces that all build on top of each other, but will eventually be the basis for a longer piece that works it all out more coherently and stylishly.

 

Absurdism: In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (a) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (b) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”.[1] The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously. Absurdism, therefore, is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd) because the sheer amount of information as well as the vast realm of the unknown make certainty impossible. And yet, some absurdists state that one should embrace the absurd condition of humankind while conversely continuing to explore and search for meaning.[2] As a philosophy, absurdism thus also explores the fundamental nature of the Absurd and how individuals, once becoming conscious of the Absurd, should respond to it.

Like a lot of what I post, this isn’t going to be conclusive. It is a place-holder where I mark a moment of contemplation or epiphany that I want to come back to, reflect upon, and leave open-ended for those reasons. Absurdist is one of the many available labels that I have a good deal of affinity for. Among those identified with it, Albert Camus is by far one of my most favorite philosophers. As the above description explains as the fundamental assumptions of absurdism, Camus is the champion of that embrace of meaninglessness …absurdity, as well as the continual rebellion against it. This position is outlined in his book, the Rebel.  I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to review that book even in summary; so, my hope is that the reader has read or will read it. Yet it is beside the main point, which I don’t think the Rebel’s expansive exploration of is necessary to make here. That point is to outline the situation and relate to it personally…

I have become very comfortable with the assumptions outlined above, that ultimately existence is meaningless and that it is a personal and existentially significant task to rebel against that in the search for or creation of meaning. This sort of discourse usually carries me on to people like Nietzsche or Foucault, who arrive at some method or another for dealing with that project. In this case, the aesthetic approach to life, to meaning, to choice. That method (to whatever extent I have been faithful to it) has brought me to an interesting place in life… many of them. It has been liberating and it has also brought many psychological burdens to the fore for analysis. Yet, it has often been of less guidance when dealing with relationships to other people. It has been plenty for contemplating relationships, but the aesthetic approach (and some may call it an egoist one) loses its strength with interpersonal or small group dynamics. Not because it has nothing to say, but because the project of negotiating those conversations which thematize, characterize, and define relationships …THE conversation which is each relationship… is often enough less the result of individual wills discussing a mode of being with each 0ther and more the result of individuals being with each other in contexts beyond their power.

It is one thing to navigate the world alone, mapping it out and sorting through opportunities, struggling with it individually. It is quite another thing to do this and at the same time place a heavy emphasis on how the circumstances themselves, or the consequences of your individual activity effect not only the circumstances of another(s), but are inconsequential entirely. The proximity and amount of time spent with someone, the way which institutions/society/privileges/etc. shape paths of least resistance and oppressions, the extent to which delusions and compulsions influence lives, and much more is constantly acting against the will of the individual, and especially moreso for individuals relating to each other. But perhaps in no relation, or in connection in a way that I can’t think of right now, the framing of the problem of other people as an approach to conversation invites something that seems to cut through this. The ability to collaborate on the story of lives together, to mythologize relationships, to create meaning and rituals and games with each other, to play out, play act, and create something.

The problem is Others’ minds…   Everything changes with your ideas. You give to time an arbitrary deadline. You give to places a historical meaning. You give to me the impossible task of communicating the meaning of my actions to you.  Without your ideas I have to myself the wind, the trees, the fog, the pain, the thirst, the wandering. I have their meaning to myself without contest. I have the facts of consequence to fit however I want into my own fantasy. The same for you, without my own.

So we enter into conversation.

    The bottom-line is our biology, physiology, and life-history. What I sense is limited, and limited in a different way than what you sense. For as much as we can agree on the facts of a reality that both founds and surpasses our perception, it is perception that we respond to: our own perceptions. Yet we are stuck with each other – without exit – by existential necessity. And we not only need each other …we want each other. Our desires are tied up with biological urges to sense another’s blanketing warmth, their uncanny touch, the nutrition of their breast, the affirmation of our own theories about the reality beyond our perceptions. Yet your warmth can disgust, your touch can unsettle, your breast can poison, your judgements can debase. No one is actually here for anyone else, everyone is different: one from the other.

    We enter into conversation the moment we must navigate the corners of our differences. Polite or not, it is usually a negotiation. We speak to debate the meaning of this flower, the coherence of that rule. We speak to question and then to affirm; the obvious be damned to obscurity. Out of our processes of creating arrangements together, we create myths, customs, cannons, platforms, and other forms of discourse which may or may not threaten our lives eventually. And what we are willing to kill for and to die for, our institutions that pretend to make all of these former things more real …attempt to move them into that space and time beyond our own perceptions. It has been common enough for us to even pretend there is something else to perceive our institutions with the same amount of reality as everything else obvious to us: someone else even more beyond our perceptions to verify the fact of our institutions. Little else makes for worse conversation than these institutions; and bad conversation is terrible.

    The Institution is terrible. It is the worst interruption between us. Midst our negotiations a mediator has already before we were born, appointed itself to regulate the terms, the quality, the meaning of our conversation. It is the advertisement which makes shit smell delicious and the custom which the lowest forms of attack will adopt to gain entrance. We hate the Institution and we can never, with any integrity, take the side of the Institution. If we can not destroy the Institution, at the very least we can circumnavigate the Institution; and, often by accident we are compelled to: by love, by starvation, by drunkenness. For all of the time we waste speaking of the Institution, we come back around to our negotiations and we carry on with our conversation. And when I can be alone to contemplate the transgressions of our conversation, I can finally contemplate whether it has been transgressive enough.          I want to annihilate the Institution.

    At least with you, there is a challenge which can not be thrown off into the outer-limits of an otherworld. With you our conversation still has a body, a biology, a difference, a target, and with all of this you are a labyrinth which can only be explored together …a labyrinth particular to everyone you choose to navigate with. The Institution only has prosthetics. Alone I only have my own tongue tasting itself. At least with you we can uncover together a reality that is especially in favor of our negotiated experiences, meanings, and past-times. As we have all of this only together, we also invent our own language for this conversation… down to the accented syllable of a made-up word. The interpersonal world is the most interesting world (and the Social only an obstacle to it).

    Between here and there and then and now and until the days to come: our conversation. It isn’t so much that our lives together can be reduced to the use of language as it is that the last barrier between negotiation and the confluence of our activity together is the medium of our languages. Conversation is the mark of our differences. It is something which can be cut at and broke up into segments however we’d like in this time between our birth and death. It is ultimately the last definitive activity of a relationship between human beings, between egoists transgressing against fixed and imposed ideas. It is the way you looked when my eyes first told my brain to notice you and it is the words inscribed on your tomb stone that you requested in your will be written. It is what happens when one thing isn’t quite like the other and we both notice.

An Individual’s Interests

Existence for a self-conscious individual may not offer any sort of rational basis for meaning and values, but it at least offers a biochemistry to help get the process going. Good and bad may not transcend the somewhat haphazard associations brains form which tie into emotional responses, but there are at least those immediate and personal goods and bads. This isn’t the most troubling situation until immediate desires come into conflict with some form of opposition, until they are scrutinized. It is at this point of conflict and its aftermath that the lack of having a rational basis for the choices one is making becomes problematic. Interpersonally and more broadly, socially …we can only resort to the rational for who is permitted the fulfilment of what desires. In the courtroom of our lives together, we judge each other’s desires and try to interrogate these desires to figure out whose interests they would be serving. Some will favor those desires which serve the interests of an abstraction (society, the common good, humanity, grace, the nation, the company), others will favor those desires which serve the interests of other individuals (kings, friends, comrades, employers). Still others, such as my egoist comrades, will at least note that someone has integrity if their interests serve themselves. It seems through an analysis of our society’s institutions, many people do not know and/or do not care what interests their desires serve …so long as they are met. As for how someone can tolerate not knowing and/or not caring what interests their desires serve, I will continue on to illustrate.

For the majority, their interests become bound up with the institutions that they entrust to think on their behalf: their church, their political party, their school, the Founding Fathers. The list would be exhausting to complete for how many options there are, for every desire, to refer to if someone questions them for this majority. Any social networking website can demonstrate clearly how common it is for someone’s “interests” to consist entirely of references to such institutions, brands, parties. God forbid anyone ever be reminded that these resumes of references are political, and how much political ignorance they demonstrate. To forget that interests (and “interests”) are political is important for this inquiry. It is the separation of interests from their political nature in the world of appearances that both mystifies the interests which the majority’s choices serve and clarifies the nature of the majority’s politics.

Another angle from which to understand what happens here is to summarize other ways in which individuals come to understand their desires as interests, and those interests as political in nature. The man who owns his land, works his land, sells the product of his labor: his desire to protect this land, to control his work, to engage in a free exchange are also at the same time his interests. Those interests, when up against a challenge, are immediately recognizable as also being his political interests. Those interests also cohere with his other political positions. This is not an individual who required an education about economics or the history of his country’s government to identify exactly what his positions would be in order to serve his own interests.

Contrast this man with the average specimen from the city who pays rent and works for a corporation. They have a variety of desires (survival, social, moral, aesthetic) that they must fulfil as end-users of complicated institutions. The desire of shelter is met with by a rental company, with whom they sign a lease. Their desire for companions is met through a variety of subcultures, which are mostly maintained by the industries which produce the products that symbolize those subcultures. Their desire for money (necessary for the former) is fulfilled with a job for a corporation. That is to say, these individuals do not have a coherence in their lives between their desires and the interests which are served to meet their desires. They do not rent because they have a specific interest in the rental company. They do not meet companions in this way because they have an interest in the companies that produce the products their subcultures symbolize themselves by. They do not take a job for this or that corporation because they have a deep interest in the survival of that corporation. In their situation, to recognize their own interests being served through the way their desires are met would be insane; that can not be their path towards a politics. So what becomes their “political” interests comes from another world that is abstract and can make some sort of claim, through the State, of dealing with these institutions for them. Their Democrats and Republicans deal with the rights they are allowed to use at their job, with their landlord, in the way that culture is regulated, in the way which their relationships are recognized, in the quality of the streets they tour, and the cost of the bills they pay. And throughout the whole process, these people are lied to and tricked to such an extent that it does take much energy and investigation if one was to know precisely where to rent, work, and consume that in some way matches their interests, even marginally.

If they’re middle-class, the path from desire, to interest, to political interest may be a little bit more intuitive and coherent; but, it is nevertheless labyrinthine. The home/business owners and their families have family values, but they enter into a more recognizable political world when regarding their relationship to their properties. Less in the world of government aid and more in the world of government tax, less in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to managers and more in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to market conditions, the interests of the middle-class are much different. Yet for as much as they are different, the interests of the middle class are still removed from a thorough political interest as they do not own the land, they often mortgage the house, their businesses may be franchises or not yet profitable, and their capital is still too small for much of an international political interest. Their political allegiances are divided up by the industries they own businesses within (or, the sectors they are professional workers within) and appeals to their moral values concerning marriage, drugs, sexuality, religion, and the rest. The middle-class individual, just as the city dweller examined earlier, is an individual whose desires and interests are mediated by institutions much larger and more complicated than they can keep track of …and just as well, must refer to those institutions for political representation.

So upon deeper inspection, it is not that we live among a majority of fools, of idiots, of people who ignorantly act against their own self-interests. We live in a society where the question of desires and interests is itself botched by a political and economic order that only superficially does the middle-class conscious voter seem to be any more or less rational. What has happened is that the rational pursuit of ones interests (of ones politics) is dangerous and exceptionally difficult, even when the mechanics are demystified and what choices serve whose interests are laid bare. When the rational pursuit of ones interests most coherently aligns with a revolt against the whole order of things, the questions of strategy make the situation only more difficult. And chances are, this rational pursuit itself is only as fulfilling as the extent to which ones desires are not being met by irrationally serving the interests of others. That is the story of our fringe existence and the cautious gaze of our peers, the suspicions and indignities to which we’re given in this society. To not have ones desires fulfilled in this society is itself a mark of an individuals crimes against it because it is these institutions which provide rational meaning in life.

17
Nov

An Individual’s Interests

Existence for a self-conscious individual may not offer any sort of rational basis for meaning and values, but it at least offers a biochemistry to help get the process going. Good and bad may not transcend the somewhat haphazard associations brains form which tie into emotional responses, but there are at least those immediate and personal goods and bads. This isn’t the most troubling situation until immediate desires come into conflict with some form of opposition, until they are scrutinized. It is at this point of conflict and its aftermath that the lack of having a rational basis for the choices one is making becomes problematic. Interpersonally and more broadly, socially …we can only resort to the rational for who is permitted the fulfilment of what desires. In the courtroom of our lives together, we judge each other’s desires and try to interrogate these desires to figure out whose interests they would be serving. Some will favor those desires which serve the interests of an abstraction (society, the common good, humanity, grace, the nation, the company), others will favor those desires which serve the interests of other individuals (kings, friends, comrades, employers). Still others, such as my egoist comrades, will at least note that someone has integrity if their interests serve themselves. It seems through an analysis of our society’s institutions, many people do not know and/or do not care what interests their desires serve …so long as they are met. As for how someone can tolerate not knowing and/or not caring what interests their desires serve, I will continue on to illustrate.

For the majority, their interests become bound up with the institutions that they entrust to think on their behalf: their church, their political party, their school, the Founding Fathers. The list would be exhausting to complete for how many options there are, for every desire, to refer to if someone questions them for this majority. Any social networking website can demonstrate clearly how common it is for someone’s “interests” to consist entirely of references to such institutions, brands, parties. God forbid anyone ever be reminded that these resumes of references are political, and how much political ignorance they demonstrate. To forget that interests (and “interests”) are political is important for this inquiry. It is the separation of interests from their political nature in the world of appearances that both mystifies the interests which the majority’s choices serve and clarifies the nature of the majority’s politics.

Another angle from which to understand what happens here is to summarize other ways in which individuals come to understand their desires as interests, and those interests as political in nature. The man who owns his land, works his land, sells the product of his labor: his desire to protect this land, to control his work, to engage in a free exchange are also at the same time his interests. Those interests, when up against a challenge, are immediately recognizable as also being his political interests. Those interests also cohere with his other political positions. This is not an individual who required an education about economics or the history of his country’s government to identify exactly what his positions would be in order to serve his own interests.

Contrast this man with the average specimen from the city who pays rent and works for a corporation. They have a variety of desires (survival, social, moral, aesthetic) that they must fulfil as end-users of complicated institutions. The desire of shelter is met with by a rental company, with whom they sign a lease. Their desire for companions is met through a variety of subcultures, which are mostly maintained by the industries which produce the products that symbolize those subcultures. Their desire for money (necessary for the former) is fulfilled with a job for a corporation. That is to say, these individuals do not have a coherence in their lives between their desires and the interests which are served to meet their desires. They do not rent because they have a specific interest in the rental company. They do not meet companions in this way because they have an interest in the companies that produce the products their subcultures symbolize themselves by. They do not take a job for this or that corporation because they have a deep interest in the survival of that corporation. In their situation, to recognize their own interests being served through the way their desires are met would be insane; that can not be their path towards a politics. So what becomes their “political” interests comes from another world that is abstract and can make some sort of claim, through the State, of dealing with these institutions for them. Their Democrats and Republicans deal with the rights they are allowed to use at their job, with their landlord, in the way that culture is regulated, in the way which their relationships are recognized, in the quality of the streets they tour, and the cost of the bills they pay. And throughout the whole process, these people are lied to and tricked to such an extent that it does take much energy and investigation if one was to know precisely where to rent, work, and consume that in some way matches their interests, even marginally.

If they’re middle-class, the path from desire, to interest, to political interest may be a little bit more intuitive and coherent; but, it is nevertheless labyrinthine. The home/business owners and their families have family values, but they enter into a more recognizable political world when regarding their relationship to their properties. Less in the world of government aid and more in the world of government tax, less in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to managers and more in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to market conditions, the interests of the middle-class are much different. Yet for as much as they are different, the interests of the middle class are still removed from a thorough political interest as they do not own the land, they often mortgage the house, their businesses may be franchises or not yet profitable, and their capital is still too small for much of an international political interest. Their political allegiances are divided up by the industries they own businesses within (or, the sectors they are professional workers within) and appeals to their moral values concerning marriage, drugs, sexuality, religion, and the rest. The middle-class individual, just as the city dweller examined earlier, is an individual whose desires and interests are mediated by institutions much larger and more complicated than they can keep track of …and just as well, must refer to those institutions for political representation.

So upon deeper inspection, it is not that we live among a majority of fools, of idiots, of people who ignorantly act against their own self-interests. We live in a society where the question of desires and interests is itself botched by a political and economic order that only superficially does the middle-class conscious voter seem to be any more or less rational. What has happened is that the rational pursuit of ones interests (of ones politics) is dangerous and exceptionally difficult, even when the mechanics are demystified and what choices serve whose interests are laid bare. When the rational pursuit of ones interests most coherently aligns with a revolt against the whole order of things, the questions of strategy make the situation only more difficult. And chances are, this rational pursuit itself is only as fulfilling as the extent to which ones desires are not being met by irrationally serving the interests of others. That is the story of our fringe existence and the cautious gaze of our peers, the suspicions and indignities to which we’re given in this society. To not have ones desires fulfilled in this society is itself a mark of an individuals crimes against it because it is these institutions which provide rational meaning in life.

10
Nov

Camus’ the Rebel: Quotes (some Notes)

The Rebel – Notes

Metaphysical, Historical, and Aesthetic

I The Rebel

II Metaphysical Rebellion

THE SONS OF CAIN

ABSOLUTE NEGATION

THE REJECTION OF SALVATION

ABSOLUTE AFFIRMATION

*THE POETS’ REBELLION

NIHILISM AND HISTORY

III Historical Rebellion

THE REGICIDES

THE DEICIDES

INDIVIDUAL TERRORISM

RATIONAL TERROR

STATE TERRORISM AND RATIONAL TERROR

REBELLION AND REVOLUTION

IV Rebellion and Art

REBELLION AND THE NOVEL

REBELLION AND STYLE

CREATION AND REVOLUTION

REBELLION AND MURDER

MODERATION AND EXCESS

V Thought at the Meridian

BEYOND NIHILISM

 

 

 

 

Part 2 – Metaphysical Rebellion

“the metaphysical rebel protests against the condition in which he finds himself as a man.”

*“If men cannot refer to a common value, recognized by all as existing in each one, then man is incomprehensible to man.” ← The Unitarian Reign of Justice

“At the same time that he rejects his mortality, the rebel refuses to recognize the power that compels him to live in this condition. The metaphysical rebel is therefore not definitely an atheist, as one might think him, but he is inevitably a blasphemer. Quite simply, he blasphemes primarily in the name of order, denouncing God as the father of death and as the supreme outrage.”

“Originally, at least, he does not suppress God; he merely talks to Him as an equal. But it is not a polite dialogue. It is a polemic animated by the desire to conquer. The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn. His insurrection against his condition becomes an unlimited campaign against the heavens for the purpose of bringing back a captive king who will first be dethroned and finally condemned to death. Human rebellion ends in metaphysical revolution.”

The Sons of Cain

“The only thing that gives meaning to human protest is the idea of a personal god who has created, and is therefore responsible for, everything. And so we can say, without being paradoxical, that in the Western World the history of rebellion is inseparable from the history of Christianity. We have to wait, in fact, until the very last moments of Greek thought to see rebellion begin to find expression among transitional thinkers—nowhere more profoundly than in the works of Epicurus and Lucretius.”

“With Cain, the first act of rebellion coincides with the first crime. The history of rebellion, as we are experiencing it today, has far more to do with the children of Cain than with the disciples of Prometheus. In this sense it is the God of the Old Testament who is primarily responsible for mobilizing the forces of rebellion.”

“From this point of view, the New Testament can be considered as an attempt to answer, in advance, every Cain in the world, by painting the figure of God in softer colors and by creating an intercessor between God and man. Christ came to solve two major problems, evil and death, which are precisely the problemsthat preoccupy the rebel. His solution consisted, first, in experiencing them. The man-god suffers, too— with patience. Evil and death can no longer be entirely imputed to Him since He suffers and dies. The night on Golgotha is so important in the history of man only because, in its shadow, the divinity abandoned its traditional privileges and drank to the last drop, despair included, the agony of death. This is the explanation of the Lama sabactani and the heartrending doubt of Christ in agony. The agony would have been mild if it had been alleviated by hopes of eternity. For God to be a man, he must despair.”

“Until Dostoievsky and Nietzsche, rebellion is directed only against a cruel and capricious divinity—a divinity who prefers, without any convincing motive, Abel’s sacrifice to Cain’s and, by so doing, provokes the first murder. Dostoievsky, in the realm of imagination, and Nietzsche, in the realm of fact, enormously increase the field of rebellious thought and demand an accounting from the God of love Himself. Nietzsche believes that God is dead in the souls of his contemporaries. Therefore he attacks, like his predecessor Stirner, the illusion of God that lingers, under the guise of morality, in the thought of his times. But until they appear upon the scene, the freethinkers, for example, were content to deny the truth of the history of Christ (“that dull story,” in Sade’s words) and to maintain, by their denials, the tradition of an avenging god.”

Absolute Negation (Sade)

“Historically speaking, the first coherent offensive is that of Sade, who musters into one vast war machine the arguments of the freethinkers up to Father Meslier and Voltaire. His negation is also, of course, the most extreme.”

“If the mind is strong enough to construct in a prison cell a moral philosophy that is not one of submission, it will generally be one of domination.”

“Every ethic based on solitude implies the exercise of power.”

“Is Sade an atheist? He says so, and we believe him, before going to prison, in his Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man; and from then on we are dumbfounded by his passion for sacrilege. “

“The idea of God which Sade conceives for himself is, therefore, of a criminal divinity who oppresses and denies mankind.”

For Sade, Nature is Sex and Nature is a power bent on destruction.

“his logic leads him to a lawless universe where the only master is the inordinate energy of desire.” “the freedom he demands is not one of principles, but of instincts.”

“Nothing is more revealing in this respect than the famous lampoon, read by Dolmance in the Philosophie du Boudoir, which has the curious title: People of France, one more effort if you want to be republicans. Pierre Klossowski2 is right in attaching so much importance to it, for this lampoon demonstrates to the revolutionaries that their republic is founded on the murder of the King —who was King by divine right—and that by guillotining God on January 21, 1793 they deprived themselves forever of the right tooutlaw crime or to censure malevolent instincts. The monarchy supported the concept of a God who, in conjunction with itself, created all laws. As for the Republic, it stands alone, and morality was supposed to exist without benefit of the Commandments.”

‘This man who never preached anything but contradictions only achieves coherence—and of a most complete kind— when he talks of capital punishment. An addict of refined ways of execution, a theoretician of sexual crime, he was never able to tolerate legal crime.”A few years later Nodier summed up, perhaps without knowing it, the position obstinately defended by Sade: “To kill a man in a paroxysm of passion is understandable. To have him killed by someone else after calm and serious meditation and on the pretext of duty honorably discharged is incomprehensible.”‘

*“You cannot simultaneously choose crime for yourself and punishment for others. You must open the prison gates or give an impossible proof of your own innocence. From the moment you accept murder, even if only once, you must allow it universally. The criminal who acts according to nature cannot, without betraying his office, range himself on the side of the law.”

*”But to desire without limit is the equivalent of being desired without limit. License to destroy supposes that you yourself can be destroyed. Therefore you must struggle and dominate. The law of this world is nothing but the law of force; its driving force, the will to power.”

“For Sade, the law of power implies barred gates, castles with seven circumvallations from which it is impossible to escape, and where a society founded on desire and crime functions unimpeded, according to the rules of an implacable system. The most unbridled rebellion, insistence on complete freedom, lead to the total subjection of the majority. For Sade, man’s emancipation is consummated in these strongholds of debauchery where a kind of bureaucracy of vice rules over the life and death of the men and women who have committed themselves forever to the hell of their desires. His works abound with descriptions of these privileged places where feudal libertines, to demonstrate to their assembled victims their absolute impotence and servitude, always repeat the Duc de Blangis’s speech to the common people of the One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom: “You are already dead to the world.””

The rest of this chapter on Sade is mostly concerned with elaborating on the authoritarian conclusions which logically follow from the Libertine premise of ultimate freedom for the desires.

The Dandie’s Rebellion (the Romantics)

“Like Sade, romanticism is separated from earlier forms of rebellion by its preference for evil and the individual. By putting emphasis on its powers of defiance and refusal, rebellion, at this stage, forgets its positive content. Since God claims all that is good in man, it is necessary to deride what is good and choose what is evil. Hatred of death and of injustice will lead, therefore, if not to the exercise, at least to the vindication, of evil and murder.”

“The poet, the genius,man himself in his most exalted image, therefore cry out simultaneously with Satan: “So farewell hope,and with hope farewell fear, farewell remorse. . . . Evil, be thou my good.” It is the cry of outraged innocence. The romantic hero, therefore, considers himself compelled to do evil by his nostalgia for an unrealizable good.”

“he rebel therefore allows himself certain advantages. Murder, of course, is not recommended for its own sake. But it is implicit in the value— supreme for the romantic—attached to frenzy. Frenzy is the reverse of boredom”

“Without exactly advocating crime, the romantics insist on paying homage to a basic system of privileges which they illustrate with the conventional images of the outlaw, the criminal with the heart of gold, and the kind brigand. Their works are bathed in blood and shrouded in mystery. The soul is delivered, at a minimum expenditure, of its most hideous desires— desires that a later generation will assuage in extermination camps.”

“romanticism, at the source of its inspiration, is chiefly concerned with defying moral and divine law. That is why its most original creation is not, primarily, the revolutionary, but, logically enough, the dandy.”

“Much more than the cult of the individual, romanticism inaugurates the cult of the ‘character’”

*“”The dandy creates his own unity by aesthetic means. But it is an aesthetic of singularity and of negation. “To live and die before a mirror”: that, according to Baudelaire, was the dandy’s slogan. It is indeed a coherent slogan. The dandy is, by occupation, always in opposition. He can only exist by defiance. Up to now man derived his coherence from his Creator. But from the moment that he consecrates his rupture with Him, he finds himself delivered over to the fleeting moment, to the passing days, and to wasted sensibility. Therefore he must take himself in hand. The dandy rallies his forces and creates a unity for himself by the very violence of his refusal. Profligate, like all people without a rule of life, he is coherent as an actor. But an actor implies a public; the dandy can only play a part by setting himself up in opposition. He can only be sure of his own existence by finding it in the expression of others’ faces. Other people are his mirror. A mirror that quickly becomes clouded, it is true, since human capacity for attention is limited. It must be ceaselessly stimulated, spurred on by provocation. The dandy, therefore, is always compelled to astonish. Singularity is his vocation, excess his way to perfection. Perpetually incomplete, always on the fringe of things, he compels others to create him, while denying their values. He plays at life because he is unable to live it. He plays at it until he dies, except for the moments when he is alone and without a mirror. For the dandy,to be alone is not to exist.””

*“Romanticism demonstrates, in fact, that rebellion is part and parcel of dandyism: one of its objectives is appearances. In its conventional forms, dandyism admits a nostalgia for ethics. It is only honor degraded as a point of honor. But at the same time it inaugurates an aesthetic which is still valid in our world, an aesthetic of solitary creators, who are obstinate rivals of a God they condemn. From romanticism onward, the artist’s task will not only be to create a world, or to exalt beauty for its own sake, but also to define an attitude. Thus the artist becomes a model and offers himself as an example: art is his ethic. With him begins the age of the directors of conscience. When the dandies fail to commit suicide or do not go mad, they make a career and pursue prosperity. Even when, like Vigny, they exclaim that they are going to retire into silence, their silence is piercing.”

“But at the very heart of romanticism, the sterility of this attitude becomes apparent to a few rebels who provide a transitional type between the eccentrics (or the Incredible) and our revolutionary adventurers. Between the times of the eighteenth-century eccentric and the “conquerors” of the twentieth century, Byron and Shelley are already fighting, though only ostensibly, for freedom. They also expose themselves, but in another way. Rebellion gradually leaves the world of appearances for the world of action, where it will completely commit itself. The French students in 1830 and the Russian Decembrists will then appear as the purest incarnations of a rebellion which is at first solitary and which then tries, through sacrifice, to find the path to solidarity. But, inversely, the taste for the apocalypse and a life of frenzy will reappear among present-day revolutionaries. “

The Rejection of Salvation (Dostoevsky) – Contemporary Nihilism Begins

“Ivan (Karamozov) is the incarnation of the refusal to be the only one saved. He throws in his lot with the damned and, for their sake, rejects eternity. If he had faith, he could, in fact, be saved, but others would be damned and suffering would continue. There is no possible salvation for the man who feels real compassion. Ivan will continue to put God in the wrong by doubly rejecting faith as he would reject injustice and privilege. One step more and from All or Nothing we arrive at Everyone or No One.”

“When the meaning of life has been suppressed, there still remains life. “I live,” says Ivan, “in spite of logic.” And again: “If I no longer had any faith in life, if I doubted a woman I loved, or the universal order of things, if I were persuaded, on the contrary, that everything was only an infernal and accursed chaos—even then I would want to live.” Ivan will live, then, and will love as well “without knowing why.” But to live is also to act. To act in the name of what? If there is no immortality, then there is neither reward nor punishment. “I believe that there is no virtue without immortality.” And also: “I only know that suffering exists, that no one is guilty, that everything is connected, that everything passes away and equals out.” But if there is no virtue, there is no law: “Everything is permitted.” With this “everything is permitted” the history of contemporary nihilism really begins.”

* “He consciously accepts his dilemma; to be virtuous and illogical, or logical and criminal. His prototype, the devil, is right when he whispers: “You are going to commit a virtuous act and yet you do not believe in virtue; that is what angers and torments you.” The question that Ivan finally poses, the question that constitutes the real progress achieved by Dostoievsky in the history of rebellion, is the only one in which we are interested here: can one live and stand one’s ground in a state of rebellion?”

“Ivan allows us to guess his answer: one can live in a state of rebellion only by pursuing it to the bitter end. What is the bitter end of metaphysical rebellion? Metaphysical revolution.”

Absolute Affirmation (Stirner, Nietzsche, Surrealism, etc.) – pg 34 – 54

“Even before Nietzsche, Stirner wanted to eradicate the very idea of God from man’s mind, after he had destroyed God Himself. But, unlike Nietzsche, his nihilism was gratified. Stirner laughs in his blind alley; Nietzsche beats his head against the wall.”

“Stirner, and with him all the nihilist rebels, rush to the utmost limits, drunk with destruction. After which, when the desert has been disclosed, the next step is to learn how to live there. Nietzsche’s exhaustive search then begins.”

Nietzsche: “He diagnosed in himself, and in others, the inability to believe and the disappearance of the primitive foundation of all faith—namely, the belief in life. The “can one live as a rebel?” became with him “can one live believing in nothing?” His reply is affirmative. Yes, if one creates a system out of absence of faith, if one accepts the final consequences of nihilism, and if, on emerging into the desert and putting one’s confidence in what is going to come, one feels, with the same primitive instinct, both pain and joy.”

“If nihilism is the inability to believe, then its most serious symptom is not found in atheism, but in the inability to believe in what is, to see what is happening, and to live life as it is offered.”

“Christianity believes that it is fighting against nihilism because it gives the world a sense of direction, while it is really nihilist itself in so far as, by imposing an imaginary meaning on life, it prevents the discovery of its real meaning: “Every Church is a stone rolled onto the tomb of the man-god; it tries to prevent the resurrection, by force.” Nietzsche’s paradoxical but significant conclusion is that God has been killed by Christianity, in that Christianity has secularized the sacred. Here we must understand historical Christianity and “its profound and contemptible duplicity.”

“The same process of reasoning leads to Nietzsche’s attitude toward socialism and all forms of humanitarian-ism. Socialism is only a degenerate form of Christianity. In fact, it preserves a belief in the finality of history which betrays life and nature, which substitutes ideal ends for real ends, and contributes to enervating both the will and the imagination. Socialism is nihilistic, in the henceforth precise sense that Nietzsche confers on the word. A nihilist is not one who believes in nothing, but one who does not believe in what exists. In this sense, all forms of socialism are manifestations, degraded once again, of Christian decadence. For Christianity, reward and punishment implied the existence of history. But, by inescapable logic, all history ends by implying punishment and reward; and, from this day on, collectivist Messianism is born.”

“He knew that in wanting to consider oneself above the law, there is a great risk of finding oneself beneath the law. That is why he understood that only the mind found its real emancipation in the acceptance of new obligations. The essence of his discovery consists in saying that if the eternal law is not freedom, the absence of law is still less so. If nothing is true, if the world is without order, then nothing is forbidden; to prohibit an action, there must, in fact, be a standard of values and an aim. But, at the same time, nothing is authorized; there must also be values and aims in order to choose another course of action. Absolute domination by the law does not represent liberty, but no more does absolute anarchy. The sum total of every possibility does not amount to liberty, but to attempt the impossible amounts to slavery. Chaos is also a form of servitude. Freedom exists only in a world where what is possible is defined at the same time as what is not possible.”

*”to be free is, precisely, to abolish ends. The innocence of the ceaseless change of things, as soon as one consents to it, represents the maximum liberty”

“This magnificent consent, born of abundance and fullness of spirit, is the unreserved affirmation of human imperfection and suffering, of evil and murder, of all that is problematic and strange in our existence. It is born of an arrested wish to be what one is in a world that is what it is. “To consider oneself a fatality, not to wish to be other than one is . . .” Nietzschean asceticism, which begins with the recognition of fatality, ends in a deification of fate.”

“”Is it not laughable that we believe in a sacred, infrangible law—thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not kill—in an existence characterized by perpetual lying and perpetual murder?” Actually metaphysical rebellion, in its initial stages, was only a protest against the lie and the crime of existence. The Nietzschean affirmative, forgetful of the original negative, disavows rebellion at the same time that it disavows the ethic that refuses to accept the world as it is. Nietzsche clamored for a Roman Caesar with the soul of Christ. To his mind, this was to say yes to both slave and master. But, in the last analysis, to say yes to both was to give one’s blessing to the stronger of the two—namely, the master.”

“He himself, however, had conceived of a system in which crime could no longer serve as an argument and in which the only value resided in the divinity of man. This grandiose initiative also had to be put to use. National Socialism in this respect was only a transitory heir, only the speculative and rabid outcome of nihilism. In all other respects those who, in correcting Nietzsche with the help of Marx, will choose to assent only to history, and no longer to all of creation, will be perfectly logical. The rebel whom Nietzsche set on his kness before the cosmos will, from now on, kneel before history. What is surprising about that? Nietzsche, at least in his theory of super-humanity, and Marx before him, with his classless society, both replace the Beyond by the Later On. “

- Enter Marx -

“For Marx, nature is to be subjugated in order to obey history; for Nietzsche, nature is to be obeyed in order to subjugate history.”

“The absolute negative had driven Stirner to deify crime simultaneously with the individual. But the absolute affirmative leads to universalizing murder and mankind simultaneously. Marxism-Leninism has really accepted the burden of Nietzsche’s freewill by means of ignoring several Nietzschean virtues. The great rebel thus creates with his own hands, and for his own imprisonment, the implacable reign of necessity. Once he had escaped from God’s prison, his first care was to construct the prison of history and of reason, thus putting the finishing touch to the camouflage and consecration of the nihilism whose conquest he claimed.”

The Poet’s Rebellion

Surrealism

“The essential enemy of surrealism is rationalism. Breton’s method, moreover, presents the peculiar spectacle of a form of Occidental thought in which the principle of analogy is continually favored to the detriment of the principles of identity and contradiction. More precisely, it is a question of dissolving contradictions in the fires of love and desire and of demolishing the walls of death. Magic rites, primitive or naive civilizations, alchemy, the language of flowers, fire, or sleepless nights, are so many miraculous stages on the way to unity and the philosophers’ stone. If surrealism did not change the world, it furnished it with a few strange myths which partly justified Nietzsche’s announcement of the return of the Greeks. Only partly, becausehe was referring to unenlightened Greece, the Greece of mysteries and dark gods. Finally, just as Nietzsche’s experience culminated in the acceptance of the light of day, surrealist experience culminates in the exaltation of the darkness of night, the agonized and obstinate cult of the tempest. Breton, according to his own statements, understood that, despite everything, life was a gift. But his compliance could never shed the full light of day, the light that all of us need. “There is too much of the north in me,” he said, “for me to be a man who complies entirely.””

Nihilism and History

“One hundred and fifty years of metaphysical rebellion and of nihilism have witnessed the persistent reappearance, under different guises, of the same ravaged countenance: the face of human protest. All of them, decrying the human condition and its creator, have affirmed the solitude of man and the nonexistence of any kind of morality. But at the same time they have all tried to construct a purely terrestrial kingdom where their chosen principles will hold sway. As rivals of the Creator, they have inescapably been led to the point of reconstructing creation according to their own concepts. Those who rejected, for the sake of the world they had just created, all other principles but desire and power, have rushed to suicide or madness and have proclaimed the apocalypse. As for the rest, who wanted to create their own principles, they have chosen pomp and ceremony, the world of appearances, or banality, or again murder and destruction. But Sade and the romantics, Karamazov or Nietzsche only entered the world of death because they wanted to discover the true life. So that by a process of  inversion, it is the desperate appeal for order that rings through this insane universe. Their conclusions have only proved disastrous or destructive to freedom from the moment they laid aside the burden of rebellion, fled the tension that it implies, and chose the comfort of tyranny or of servitude.

Human insurrection, in its exalted and tragic forms, is only, and can only be, a prolonged protest against death, a violent accusation against the universal death penalty. In every case that we have come across, the protest is always directed at everything in creation which is dissonant, opaque, or promises the solution of continuity. Essentially, then, we are dealing with a perpetual demand for unity. The rejection of death, the desire for immortality and for clarity, are the mainsprings of all these extravagances,whether sublime or puerile. Is it only a cowardly and personal refusal to die? No, for many of these rebels have paid the ultimate price in order to live up to their own demands. The rebel does not ask for life, but for reasons for living. He rejects the consequences implied by death. If nothing lasts, then nothing is justified; everything that dies is deprived of meaning. To fight against death amounts to claiming that life has a meaning, to fighting for order and for unity.”

“The rebel obstinately confronts a world condemned to death and the impenetrable obscurity of the human condition with his demand for life and absolute clarity. He is seeking, without knowing it, a moral philosophy or a religion. Rebellion, even though it is blind, is a form of asceticism.”

“We have arrived at the moment when rebellion, rejecting every aspect of servitude, attempts to annex all creation. Every time it experiences a setback, we have already seen that the political solution, the solution of conquest, is formulated. Henceforth, with the introduction of moral nihilism, it will retain, of all its acquisitions, only the will to power. In principle, the rebel only wanted to conquer his own existence and to maintain it in the face of God. But he forgets his origins and, by the law of spiritual imperialism, he sets out in search of world conquest by way of an infinitely multiplied series of murders. He drove God from His heaven, but now that the spirit of metaphysical rebellion openly joins forces with revolutionary movements, the irrational claim for freedom paradoxically adopts reason as a weapon, and as the only means of conquest which appears entirely human. With the death of God, mankind remains; and by this we mean the history that we must understand and shape. Nihilism, which, in the very midst of rebellion, smothers the force of creation, only adds that one is justified in using every means at one’s disposal. Man, on an earth that he knows is henceforth solitary, is going to add, to irrational crimes, the crimes of reason that are bent on the triumph of man. To the “I rebel, therefore we exist,” he adds, with prodigious plans in mind which even include the death of rebellion: “And we are alone.””

Part Three

Historical Rebellion (54 of 152 in pdf)

“Freedom, “that terrible word inscribed on the chariot of the storm,” 1 is the motivating principle of all revolutions. Without it, justice seems inconceivable to the rebel’s mind. There comes a time, however, when justice demands the suspension of freedom. Then terror, on a grand or small scale, makes its appearance to consummate the revolution. Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. But one day nostalgia takes up arms and assumes the responsibility of total guilt; in other words, adopts murder and violence. The servile rebellions, the regicide revolutions, and those of the twentieth century have thus, consciously, accepted a burden of guilt which  increased in proportion to the degree of liberation they proposed to introduce.”

“Actually, revolution is only the logical consequence of metaphysical rebellion, and we shall discover, in our analysis of the revolutionary movement, the same desperate and bloody effort to affirm the dignity of man in defiance of the things that deny its existence. The revolutionary spirit thus undertakes the defense of that part of man which refuses to submit. In other words, it tries to assure him his crown in the realm of time, and, rejecting God, it chooses history with an apparently inevitable logic.”

“Rebellion is, by nature, limited in scope. It is no more than an incoherent pronouncement. Revolution, on the contrary, originates in the realm of ideas. Specifically, it is the injection of ideas into historical experience, while rebellion is only the movement that leads from individual experience into the realm of ideas.”

“A superficial examination seems to imply, rather than any real emancipation, an affirmation of mankind by man, an affirmation increasingly broad in scope, but always incomplete. In fact, if there had ever been one real revolution, there would be no more history. Unity would have been achieved, and death would have been satiated. That is why all revolutionaries finally aspire to world unity and act as though they believed that history was concluded. The originality of twentieth-century revolution lies in the fact that, for the first time, it openly claims to realize the ancient dream of Anarchasis Cloots of unity of the human race and, at the same time, the definitive consummation of history. Just as the movement of rebellion led to the point of “All or Nothing” and just as metaphysical rebellion demanded the unity of the world, the twentieth-century revolutionary movement, when it arrived at the most obvious conclusions of its logic, insisted with threats of force on arrogating to itself the whole of history.“

“Even revolution, particularly revolution, which claims to be materialist, is only a limitless metaphysical crusade. But can totality claim to be unity? That is the question which this book must answer. So far we can only say that the purpose of this analysis is not to give, for the hundredth time, a description of the revolutionary phenomenon, nor once more to examine the historic or economic causes of great revolutions. Its purpose is to discover in certain revolutionary data the logical sequence, the explanations, and the invariable themes of metaphysical rebellion.”

 

 

The Regicides

“Kings were put to death long before January 21, 1793, and before the regicides of the nineteenth century. But Ravaillac, Damiens, and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king and that was all. It never occurred to them that the throne could remain empty forever. 1789 is the starting-point of modern times, because the men of that period wished, among other things, to overthrow the principle of divine right and to introduce to the historical scene the forces of negation and rebellion which had become the essence of intellectual discussion in the previous centuries. Thus they added to traditional tyrannicide the concept of calculated deicide. The so-called freethinkers, the philosophers and jurists, served as levers for this revolution.”

The New Gospel

“The Social Contract amplifies and dogmatically explains the new religion whose god is reason, confused with nature, and whose representative on earth, in place of the king, is the people considered as an expression of the general will.”

“The attack on the traditional order is so evident that, from the very first chapter, Rousseau is determined to demonstrate the precedence of the citizens’ pact, which established the people, over the pact between the people and the king, which founded royalty. Until Rousseau’s time, God created kings, who, in their turn, created peoples. After The Social Contract, peoples create themselves before creating kings. As for God, there is nothing more to be said, for the time being. Here we have, in the political field, the equivalent of Newton’s revolution. Power, therefore, is no longer arbitrary, but derives its existence from general consent. In other words, power is no longer what is, but what should be.”

-taking break on pg 59 of .PDF-

30
Oct

A Grotesque Laugh from the Undead (RE: Why I Am Not Anarchist)

by Squee in Ramblings

A Dorky Response to anarchistnews.org/content/why-i-am-not-anarchist

Hiroshi_Ishiguro

In the year 2053, Hiroshi Ishiguro developed an industrial technology which could manufacture an infinite supply of humanoid devices. This technology was immediately protected by the NWLOL as an international resource and regulated according to theorized use risks. While spinning the management of this technology as both potentially messianic and apocalyptic, it was most substantially put to use for the maintenance of a dwindling status quo. By 2060, it became impossible for anyone to accurately determine the difference between Ishiguro’s products and the rest of humanity.

Of the more profound qualities of Ishiguro’s products was that his devices reproduced the exact existential contradictions as a typical human being. Their intellectual capacities could grasp the logical conclusion that existence offers to inquiry absolutely no inherent meaning. Yet, capable of suicidal ideation, the devices also yearned to imagine for themselves a meaningful life: to find a value for their own continued existence. For as much as these devices depended upon external sources for existence, they were condemned to the separation of themselves from what the depend upon by their own self-awareness. Erupting from all of the former was their deepest desires for power, for metaphysical unity, for identification with a source, with another, and for a rational life that could present clear choices in ethically ambiguous situations.

These devices represented themselves for what they were: not-human. Even if only because of the above outlined desires, they would voluntarily make themselves entirely vulnerable to all human prejudices. At war with humanity (perhaps merely only because of this representation), they developed a strategy to survive …and flourish. It was cold, authoritarian, and wholly self-consistent. That is, until the morning of October. 31St 2066 that Hiroshi Ishiguro admitted to the world that the fundamental task of his industrial technology was merely to clone the human beings which had already existed. Though this did not create peace, it lead to a global reconsideration of all values, ethics, desires, identities, and ideologies.

Of the most competitive philosophies to persist throughout all of these developments, a strain of anarchism came to triumph …at least in enough minds to worth note. It was a strain that had at once dispensed with the illusion of there ever having been a ‘togetherness’, of any ‘revolution’, destroying notions of ‘objective’ values: Property, divine authority, human goodness and badness, tribal similarity, and human nature – including all desire pretending at a notion of instinct. It was the sort of anarchism originating in an ideal which differed importantly from past anarchist ideals on a very specific point: the anarchist would create their own associations, including all material infrastructure and population, by whatever means necessary and towards the ends of actually achieving only for themselves the situations they would like to live within.

Without submitting to the humanistic illusions of human desire’s infallibility (and authenticity), there was no more a hypocritical anarchist job, consumer choice, or acculturated sense of identity. Without submitting to the notion that there still existed a meaningful togetherness to protect, to recover, or to extract from the obscured locations of contemporary social life …there was no more sympathy and solidarity with the Left, the Right, the unbranded Activist, or anyone based on the mere prejudice associated with such labels. The critiques of the Situationists, absorbed in their spectacle of anything other than spectacle …all but fell on deaf ears. By 2077, they had even collaborated with Ishiguro’s clones, absorbing them back into the family tree of meaningless human genetic lineage.

And then everyone died, and there was not even a tree left to hear Wayne Spencer complain :P

21
Oct

Media Buzz Topic: Depression

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Depression has a lot of media buzz right now, which is a great excuse to write about it. There isn’t anything exceptional about it, it’s a typical phenomena that usually works well enough for getting us to relax. No one would bat an eye if you told them you were experiencing anhedonia (loss of pleasure in activities), weakness, susceptibility to clouded thinking and paranoia, and an urge to be alone if you’ve just worked all day and are about to go to sleep. When it becomes fascinating is when there is some sort of bizarre cause for it, irregular time-frame, catastrophic pairing with other emotions and moods, or exaggerated expression. Nevertheless, fantastic projections concerning the joy someone else’s situation ought to bring them mystify just how bizarre/banal the causes in-fact are. What could be more demotivating (read: depressing) than having your fame-bubble burst, or your love-fetish challenged, or your moral-community ideals blown to smithereens by the stress, illustriousness, and pressure that comes from such situations? What really freaks people out though is the cynical types that consistently destroy all of their own and others fantasies before a real chance to even indulge them. ‘How the fuck does that person live?’ they wonder. It’s not ironic when they say, “it’s the small things in life.”

Depression is at least a bit more interesting when it comes out of undiagnosed medical conditions, unfortunate co-morbidities, and peculiar fixations. Much of this has something-or-other to do with the depression preventing the realization of something else: pain relievers, Kurt Cobain’s ghastly presence at a seance, the taming of some existential threat that is causing anxiety …like your neighbor’s new puppy. It’s one thing to be agitated about something, it’s one thing even more agitating to also lack the personal capacity to have at doing something about it. Sometimes medicine and therapy can help with these ones, sometimes it can’t. Most unfortunately, some of the things which someone can become entirely fixed upon realizing run so deep in the web of what gives their lives meaning (or in their biological make-up) that it becomes both the motivation for living and the cause of living in a depressed state.

So what is there to do with someone who is depressed, assuming you give a shit? There’s a number of ways to attack depending on the causes; but for anything legitimate there’s 100-fold illegitimate bullshit or inappropriate responses. The first thing I would try is to avoid the bullshit, canned responses. After that, there really isn’t much more to the therapy than helping someone with analysing the causes and teasing out some sort of realistic projects to eliminate those causes. Drugs can be fine or they could be god-awful. Chances are though, if someone is coming to you to help them unpack this shit, it’s a compliment. Then again, they could just be manipulating you for one reason or another. I guess I trust you to figure that one out, but try to avoid making that your main motivation in daily life.

28
Aug

More about the Conversation

by Squee in Ramblings

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The problem is Others’ minds…   Everything changes with your ideas. You give to time an arbitrary deadline. You give to places a historical meaning. You give to me the impossible task of communicating the meaning of my actions to you.  Without your ideas I have to myself the wind, the trees, the fog, the pain, the thirst, the wandering. I have their meaning to myself without contest. I have the facts of consequence to fit however I want into my own fantasy. The same for you, without my own.

So we enter into conversation.

    The bottom-line is our biology, physiology, and life-history. What I sense is limited, and limited in a different way than what you sense. For as much as we can agree on the facts of a reality that both founds and surpasses our perception, it is perception that we respond to: our own perceptions. Yet we are stuck with each other – without exit – by existential necessity. And we not only need each other …we want each other. Our desires are tied up with biological urges to sense another’s blanketing warmth, their uncanny touch, the nutrition of their breast, the affirmation of our own theories about the reality beyond our perceptions. Yet your warmth can disgust, your touch can unsettle, your breast can poison, your judgements can debase. No one is actually here for anyone else, everyone is different: one from the other.

    We enter into conversation the moment we must navigate the corners of our differences. Polite or not, it is usually a negotiation. We speak to debate the meaning of this flower, the coherence of that rule. We speak to question and then to affirm; the obvious be damned to obscurity. Out of our processes of creating arrangements together, we create myths, customs, cannons, platforms, and other forms of discourse which may or may not threaten our lives eventually. And what we are willing to kill for and to die for, our institutions that pretend to make all of these former things more real …attempt to move them into that space and time beyond our own perceptions. It has been common enough for us to even pretend there is something else to perceive our institutions with the same amount of reality as everything else obvious to us: someone else even more beyond our perceptions to verify the fact of our institutions. Little else makes for worse conversation than these institutions; and bad conversation is terrible.

    The Institution is terrible. It is the worst interruption between us. Midst our negotiations a mediator has already before we were born, appointed itself to regulate the terms, the quality, the meaning of our conversation. It is the advertisement which makes shit smell delicious and the custom which the lowest forms of attack will adopt to gain entrance. We hate the Institution and we can never, with any integrity, take the side of the Institution. If we can not destroy the Institution, at the very least we can circumnavigate the Institution; and, often by accident we are compelled to: by love, by starvation, by drunkenness. For all of the time we waste speaking of the Institution, we come back around to our negotiations and we carry on with our conversation. And when I can be alone to contemplate the transgressions of our conversation, I can finally contemplate whether it has been transgressive enough.          I want to annihilate the Institution.

    At least with you, there is a challenge which can not be thrown off into the outer-limits of an otherworld. With you our conversation still has a body, a biology, a difference, a target, and with all of this you are a labyrinth which can only be explored together …a labyrinth particular to everyone you choose to navigate with. The Institution only has prosthetics. Alone I only have my own tongue tasting itself. At least with you we can uncover together a reality that is especially in favor of our negotiated experiences, meanings, and past-times. As we have all of this only together, we also invent our own language for this conversation… down to the accented syllable of a made-up word. The interpersonal world is the most interesting world (and the Social only an obstacle to it).

    Between here and there and then and now and until the days to come: our conversation. It isn’t so much that our lives together can be reduced to the use of language as it is that the last barrier between negotiation and the confluence of our activity together is the medium of our languages. Conversation is the mark of our differences. It is something which can be cut at and broke up into segments however we’d like in this time between our birth and death. It is ultimately the last definitive activity of a relationship between human beings, between egoists transgressing against fixed and imposed ideas. It is the way you looked when my eyes first told my brain to notice you and it is the words inscribed on your tomb stone that you requested in your will be written. It is what happens when one thing isn’t quite like the other and we both notice.

6
Aug

Meaningless, Absurdity, Other People, Conversation

 

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(Albert Camus)

Absurdism: In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (a) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (b) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”.[1] The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously. Absurdism, therefore, is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd) because the sheer amount of information as well as the vast realm of the unknown make certainty impossible. And yet, some absurdists state that one should embrace the absurd condition of humankind while conversely continuing to explore and search for meaning.[2] As a philosophy, absurdism thus also explores the fundamental nature of the Absurd and how individuals, once becoming conscious of the Absurd, should respond to it.

Like a lot of what I post, this isn’t going to be conclusive. It is a place-holder where I mark a moment of contemplation or epiphany that I want to come back to, reflect upon, and leave open-ended for those reasons. Absurdist is one of the many available labels that I have a good deal of affinity for. Among those identified with it, Albert Camus is by far one of my most favorite philosophers. As the above description explains as the fundamental assumptions of absurdism, Camus is the champion of that embrace of meaninglessness …absurdity, as well as the continual rebellion against it. This position is outlined in his book, the Rebel.  I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to review that book even in summary; so, my hope is that the reader has read or will read it. Yet it is beside the main point, which I don’t think the Rebel’s expansive exploration of is necessary to make here. That point is to outline the situation and relate to it personally…

I have become very comfortable with the assumptions outlined above, that ultimately existence is meaningless and that it is a personal and existentially significant task to rebel against that in the search for or creation of meaning. This sort of discourse usually carries me on to people like Nietzsche or Foucault, who arrive at some method or another for dealing with that project. In this case, the aesthetic approach to life, to meaning, to choice. That method (to whatever extent I have been faithful to it) has brought me to an interesting place in life… many of them. It has been liberating and it has also brought many psychological burdens to the fore for analysis. Yet, it has often been of less guidance when dealing with relationships to other people. It has been plenty for contemplating relationships, but the aesthetic approach (and some may call it an egoist one) loses its strength with interpersonal or small group dynamics. Not because it has nothing to say, but because the project of negotiating those conversations which thematize, characterize, and define relationships …THE conversation which is each relationship… is often enough less the result of individual wills discussing a mode of being with each 0ther and more the result of individuals being with each other in contexts beyond their power.

It is one thing to navigate the world alone, mapping it out and sorting through opportunities, struggling with it individually. It is quite another thing to do this and at the same time place a heavy emphasis on how the circumstances themselves, or the consequences of your individual activity effect not only the circumstances of another(s), but are inconsequential entirely. The proximity and amount of time spent with someone, the way which institutions/society/privileges/etc. shape paths of least resistance and oppressions, the extent to which delusions and compulsions influence lives, and much more is constantly acting against the will of the individual, and especially moreso for individuals relating to each other. But perhaps in no relation, or in connection in a way that I can’t think of right now, the framing of the problem of other people as an approach to conversation invites something that seems to cut through this. The ability to collaborate on the story of lives together, to mythologize relationships, to create meaning and rituals and games with each other, to play out, play act, and create something.

Well that’s the type of shit I’ve been thinking about… yay for journalling.

29
Apr

RE: The Politics of Denunciation

The following are two statements in the piece that I can relate to:

“Support for the survivor is equated with, and then replaced by, castigation of the perpetrator.”

and

“It is unsurprising, then, that our tendency is to push people out, rather than draw them in; but when we do that, our capacity for meaningful action diminishes. A cycle of suspicion and exclusion takes hold. As we grow less able, and even less interested, in having an effect on the larger society, we become increasingly focused on the ideas and identities of those inside our own circle. We scrutinize one another mercilessly, and when we discover an offense––or merely take offense––we push out those who have lost favor. As our circle grows ever smaller, minor differences take on increasing significance, leading to further suspicion, condemnation, and exclusion––shrinking the circle further still.”

When I think about these issues, I can’t help but come back to some ideas that I don’t often see mentioned: urban context, lack of direction, short-sightedness, material support, and personality development. I also think the fixation on word-choice is obnoxious, by both those who invest themselves in ‘identity’ issues and those who critique the results of the former. I’ll explain my first sentence and hope that this accounts for my second one…

Subculture or not, the context I’ve experienced organizing around gender has been in cities that are close to colleges, with all of typical annoyances of frat boys, people coming and going with the winds of their degree programs, townie resistance to parachuting academics, suburban isolation, and the brilliant age-range of late adolescence and early adulthood, bars, precarity, etc. I think it matters that this is happening in these places, with people who are in these circumstances; mostly, because I think that resolving identity issues is a much more long-term project than anything a collective lasting maybe 2-4 years can dedicate themselves to. It is something that not only includes an entire urban system of identities in the construction of each individual identity, but something that also tends to be a fundamental issue for people in the transition from adolescence to adulthood (ala Erikson, for whatever you think he’s worth: http://psychology.about.com/library/bl_psychosocial_summary.htm). It looks to me, a sometimes outsider, like a group of people that haven’t known each other very long without a lot of shared existential responsibilities (like living together with a plan to continue living together for years to come, feeding each other, etc.) trying to tame a hornets nest of all the shit they’ve dealt with growing up in even worse contexts than the ones they’re now creating together. Just at the right time for their hormones and life goals to make issues of identity explosive (because identity has a lot of existential value when you’re broke, relatively young, rely on social skills a lot more than trade skills, are subcultural, and single). So I don’t think it is the fact of subculture as much as a fact of life-stage progression in urban environments.

How long do you think it takes to actually resolve the damage people do to each other in this environment? I certainly think it can take a decade or longer and I don’t think the result is so much seen in the political organization, but in the community that lasts and finds some kind of material and emotional stability through each others’ support. How can this sort of deeply personal and existential ‘work’ be thought of in these models of accountability processes and what set of words to use to describe one traumatic event or situation and another? How much can change on that level when the consequences only become less severe the more materially autonomous and socially disengaged from subcultures one becomes? If some piece of shit is around for a year and will probably only be around for another, then yeah… they can piss off. But what makes sense to me is how this all plays out with people that will be around for a long time and how it really ties into creating the lives we live together and individually… what we come back to more than who we go out with.

Before I end this rant, I want to comment on misdirection. I’ve seen it happen where people organize around gender for each other, but don’t exactly find any sort of target outside of their organized association to act towards. Once it goes from being a nice educational process to having no specific place to act, it seems to become a lot of in-fighting. I would be happy if all of these efforts became something like a Bash Back!. If they actually took to fucking up the dumb groups on campuses and the shitty places around town. They don’t and that is what I mean by misdirection …which isn’t to say there aren’t other times when organization is actually around specific incidents or an actual identification of problems within the community; but, the latter seems too often to be an afterthought.

Submitted by Squee on Tue, 04/29/2014 – 00:55

22
Mar

Intellectuals

by Squee in Ramblings

The notion of intellectuals is something that I’ve struggled with a long time. The concept grounds itself in a world peopled mostly by idiots and to whatever extent this is true, too often this implies that others’ stupidity is so severe that they’re fundamentally incapable of living a decent social life or even surviving without some kind of paternalistic guidance and regulation. However, there are individuals whose orientation towards the world is so caught up in abstract thinking that they’re hard to miss. There are plenty of things which require excellent cognitive capacity in order to do successfully; but, what is distinct about intellectuals is that they not only excel in dealing with abstractions, abstractions basically rule them.

Physical Inadequacy

The secondary stereotypical mark of intellectuals is their comparative lack of physicality. Whether this is sport, manual labor, sex, etc. intellectuals aren’t the people you turn to as the best specimens of applying one’s body in life. Sometimes it’s curious how an intellectual is able to even survive an embodied existence and breed. This leads into questions that a lot of the below content will deal with…

Interacting with others through Humor

The bottom line when it comes to intellectual social life is that it’s a difficult position to be in because intelligence is intimidating, confusing, suspicious, and often boring.  For as much as many people don’t want to deal with physical tasks, they’re usually tasks that at least explicitly signify what is worth the bother. You don’t have to sit around and contemplate why a hunter-gatherer would hunt and gather. It does require some effort to figure out what the reward is in contemplating the nature of the cosmos or the implications of entropy.

As a result, humor can become a valuable device for intellectuals that must deal with other people (i.e. most of them). Humor can be used to disarm people and put them at ease, it can be a way to soften emotionally difficult facts, it can take the form of a complete denial and contradiction of intellect, it can bring joy to others in a way that can compensate for a lack in physically laborious gifts. Generally, a funny person can be tolerable even if they’re repulsive for other reasons.

Humor can also be pretty inappropriate and way over people’s heads, but with experience that’s a habit which can be tamed. What I’m not saying is that intellectuals are especially funny (they’re usually not), they stereotypically just don’t have a very big tool box of social skills to get people to like them. It is also a tragic scene to witness an intellectual whom can not make themselves laugh about the terrible facts they’re discovering about life.

Securing Appreciation for Good Ideas and Intellectual Property

Putting Humor aside and coming back to the suspect value of intellectuals and their ideas: the bane of an intellectual’s existence is getting others to appreciate the work that they do …and pay for it. Living in an advanced technological society makes it obvious where intellectual labor fits in, but for an island metaphor it is difficult to place the value of coming up with slightly better ideas for designing shelters, cooking, and the rest. What is even more difficult to grasp than how intellectual work becomes appreciated is how intellectual work is attributed to intellectual persons. A lot of intellectual labor isn’t so much novel ideas as it is improvements on existing stuff, managing it, and avoiding bad but intuitive ideas. So how do some individuals get credit for doing this stuff when everyone participates both manually and cognitively?

One answer is that consistency of good ideas earns recognition of that person as a source more-so than someone that utters what everyone is already thinking or comes to a conclusion by happen-stance. Another answer is intellectual property and with it, systems of slavery (including religion and capitalism). The latter is the realm of the Philosopher King, instead of the Warrior King. It is the realm of cunning. It isn’t out of the question for intellectuals to be valued for their work and related to as worthy of the same basic treatment as anyone else: even the dumbest of people appreciate better ideas. But the intellectual tyrant is extremely paranoid and the tyrant’s paranoias are not unfounded…

It is frightening for an intellectual to think of living among people that are constantly making unpredictable and bad decisions all around them. To think about the bewildered herd deciding that ultimately they’d be better off if they killed the intellectual or at least felt it was justified to take stuff the intellectual needs whimsically. That thought is ever more frightening the more powerful technology becomes: nuclear power plants, industrial agriculture, etc. This makes some intellectuals a nervous wreck, others tyrannical, and still others able to develop an egalitarian ethos. It tends to come down to questions about human nature, the cultures one is surrounded by, and theory of mind problems; but ultimately to how willing an intellectual is to recognize in those fears the extent to which others not only determine the quality of an intellectual’s life, but should also be respected, appreciated, and dignified for who they are no matter how bumbling.

Appreciation and Rewarding Good Works vs Forced Production (does life/the world work for intellectuals by default or does it need to be forced to?)

Depending on the route one takes from the former, you can have very different orientations in how an intellectual evaluates other people’s work. Some intellectuals are so humble and fascinated by the things other people do that they’ll pay for a shoe string if someone spent years acting upon it in some interesting way.  This appreciation can be very deep, to the point of an intellectual taking a personal interest in the quality of an artist’s life and funding them entirely to do their thing …as one example. To note, having being rich as a tool in an intellectual’s social skill tool box helps with that. As mentioned above though, a very different attitude is that there isn’t anything sufficiently impressive enough to risk giving imbeciles the freedom and wealth to potentially harm the intellectual …which is a fairly minimal amount of freedom and wealth.

A lot of this is developed through the history of a given culture: the place of an intellectual. There are also situations where it is accurate to say that intellectuals have used their sophistication to rule over others and exploit them for their manual excellence. Unfortunately, those aren’t rare situations. The lineage of religion’s propagating a faith, to secular propaganda, to Hollywood and social engineering beyond even that is disgusting. So disgusting that it is difficult to give any intellectual the benefit of the doubt, to not conclude that intellectuals are inherently weak, cowardly, and vicious people whose ideas for the most part are smoke and mirrors.

None of this is to say that there aren’t attitudes towards intellectuals which are equally disgusting. Plenty of situations are unfriendly to people whose manual skill pales in comparison to their cognitive skill. The battle between manual and intellectual laborer’s isn’t new and the fissures created by it in social life don’t look like they will or can be mended. Intellectuals have many stereotypes and prejudices to deal with: people boring in bed with few immunities, whom are annoying buzz-kills who won’t amount to anything worth while if they don’t conform to positions of middle management in bureaucratic machines or apply all of their capacity to figuring out how to make what the rest of society wants better. That’s on top of being pompous jerks with inflated estimations of self-worth and entitlement who think they always know everything and get to sit in their comfortable office all day while manual laborers do all of the real work. And of course, you know they were bullied in school!

If such a division between what I am describing stereotypically as intellectuals and people who are not exists to the extent that it seems to (beyond being the mere result of social inequalities), everyone could probably use a little bit of therapy when it comes to the question of intellectual skill. I lean more towards the notion that intellectuals by characteristics and not by trade exist, but that they’re also not as weak or as smart as the stereotypes pretend. That also comes with realizing that I’m dealing with stereotypes here and not with actual everyday individuals. Still unanswered though is why anyone sleeps with them! Juust kidding.

14
Jan

Why I Like Really, Really Wierd Shit So Much

concentriccircles

ou·tré

[oo-trey] Show IPA

adjective

passing the bounds of what is usual or considered proper; unconventional; bizarre.

Origin:
1715–25;  < French,  past participle of outrer  to push beyond bounds

***

A fascination with weird shit is important… For me it is invaluable. Surprisingly or not, this is because I consider weird shit to be fundamental to contemplating everything; hopefully understanding some things. At its most basic, the quest for knowledge begins with metaphysical and epistemological considerations: what exists and in what ways, and the extent to which and in what ways it can be known. Answering such questions also includes the task of defining boundaries, limitations, and gray areas: weird shit.

A way to represent this visually (as in the above picture) is with at least two concentric circles. Within the smallest circles represents the unknown and unknowable. It is the information which defies first principles: the innermost limitations of analysis. It is the limitations of language, logical thought, divine inspiration, or whatever other tool is being used to operate on the world. The larger, outer circle represents all of the information which is beyond the reach of an entire philosophy’s considerations: the outermost limitations of comprehension. If I were to begin with materialism, the Scientific Method would define the area within the inner circle, while the theories which are created through using the Scientific Method would rest incomplete at the outer circle. It is personal bias which causes me to decide which circle represents which end of knowledge – the thinkable on one end and the incomprehensible on the other – two basic zones of “weird shit” will created. There isn’t even a particular reason why there needs to be two zones, there could be just one. But to assume that there is only one giant region of phenomena which is beyond knowledge implies an absolute starting point (of consciousness, of the universe, of objectivity, etc.). It is an assumption that there is a common origin for what human beings are aware of and what human beings can be aware of …not because they are limited in how far they have thus explored the universe, but because the universe itself is fundamentally, subjectively unexplorable with objective tools. This goes into notions of objectivity-itself being a subjective phenomenon and anyway, is not what I’m trying to articulate here.

There are also other zones of weird shit which would be zones of indetermination, gray areas, and opacity between the two concentric circles. This would be areas where the data is there, but the theories which explain the data become incomplete. An example of this would be the areas which prevent physicists from developing a provable unified theory of everything. Physicists aren’t concerned with an inherent limit to scientific knowledge when trying to create a unified theory, which would define an inner circle. The also aren’t concerned with an outer circle of the unprovable: gods, teapots orbiting the sun, unicorns from a parallel universe, etc. Weirdness in physics looks like quantum entanglement, the particle-wave problem, and other such things where there is proof of the existence of the phenomenon, but at least for a time it could not be explained without a theory which diverged from Newton’s… and is still weird without a unified theory.

While I am not as interested in physics as I am with the social sciences, the same limits and zones exist there as well. There is weirdness in psychology, sociology, medicine, economics, history and the other soft sciences. This sort of weirdness interests me more: grasping at the inherent limits of social theory models, the gray areas created by data lacking theory, and the outer limits created by what is difficult to consider social theory. It just so happens though (and for reasons social theory could play with), that weird shit in social theory is some pretty weird and often inappropriate shit to admit an interest in. What defines the outer end of the territory is those situations, behaviors, and events that are so rare, so disturbing, so confusing, and so unethical that studying them, testing them, recreating them in labs, and even just wanting to deal with them at all becomes a boundary. Yet, it is still necessary to know about this weird shit and to even think about it.

Something else which can also be described using the picture at the top is the linearity of some theory. This is represented by the other circles (as categories) and the lines which connect them. In other words, in order to create a taxonomy of phenomena and arrange it in such a way as can be usefully understood (though not the only useful way), the area defined by the first and last circles is further charted like a graph (or connecting points). Lines from one point to another represent coherent, continuous knowledge. The goal of a field of study, with this representation, is to fill in the area not only with points of data to create density, but with lines of logic to connect that data so it can be understood meaningfully. It is important to connect with weird shit.

One example of this sort of connection to the weird shit would be the study of abnormal psychology for the goal of improving an overall understanding of psychology. Gotta fuckin think about how all that weird shit connects to the not so weird shit!

~*~*Break*~*~

So I’ve used examples from science, logic, and philosophy to try and define the way that I look at “weird shit” as a concept. The point of doing that wasn’t to entirely describe why I like weird shit from these perspectives, but to describe weird shit so I can talk about why I generally like weird shit. I like weird shit not only as the zones of weirdness from the consideration of this or that field of study, but also between fields of study and in everyday life. If there is a theory which is trying to bridge gaps major areas of study… those sometimes hyphenated, interdisciplinary fields like political-economy, quantum neuropsychology, or queer mathematics (k, made that last one up) …I’m all about it. I’m also all about proto-subcultures that are a weird synthesis of more popular and developed subcultures and are beginning to take shape, or ways of doing things that almost make sense (like a Rube Goldberg machine). Strange sexual acts, obscure cults, bad animations, outsider art, meals people eat I would never want to eat …this is all shit that I love.

I used to think that just about everyone would have such a fascination with weird shit, but they don’t. Or maybe they do, but they prefer to distract themselves with shit that isn’t so weird that also isn’t really a part of their everyday life. Or maybe I have no fucking clue what people find fascinating (which would explain my difficulty in targeting an audience for this blog). Putting aside the question of why don’t other people like weird shit as much as I do? …I can at least explain why I find weird shit to be so interesting. The weirder the shit, the more my world expands and perhaps even becoming more dense not only with data, but with connections …relationships to not-so-weird shit. The first principals I am stand shakily upon close towards those odd considerations which are closing back towards the first principals at the same time. Weird shit enriches the world of my mind, even if my everyday life remains predictable, regular, and monotonous.

Am I weird shit?

That’s a question I need to find out about more weird shit to answer.