ONTOLOGICAL ANARCHY IN A NUTSHELL.

by Hakim Bey

Since absolutely nothing can be predicated with any real certainty as to the ìtrue nature of thingsî, all projects (as Nietzsche says) can only be ìfounded on nothing.î And yet there must be a projectó if only because we ourselves resist being categorized as ìnothing.î Out of nothing we will make something: the Uprising, the revolt against everything which proclaims: ìThe Nature of Things is such-&-such.î We disagree, we are unnatural, we are less than nothing in the eyes of the Law ó Divine Law, Natural Law, or Social Law ó take your pick. Out of nothing we will imagine our values, and by this act of invention we shall live.

As we meditate on the nothing we notice that although it cannot be defined, nevertheless paradoxically we can say something about it (even if only metaphorically): ó it appears to be a ìchaos.î Both as ancient myth and as ìnew scienceî, chaos lies at the heart of our project. The great serpent (Tiamat, Python, Leviathan), Hesiodís primal Chaos, presides over the vast long dreaming of the Paleolithic ó before all kings, priests, agents of Order, History, Hierarchy, Law. ìNothingî begins to take on a face ó the smooth, featureless egg-or gourd-visage of Mr. Hun-Tun, chaos-as-becoming, chaos-as-excess, the generous outpouring of nothing into something.

In effect, chaos is life. All mess, all riot of color, all protoplasmic urgency, all movement ó is chaos. From this point of view, Order appears as death, cessation, crystallization, alien silence.

Anarchists have been claiming for years that ìanarchy is not chaos.î Even anarchism seems to want a natural law, an inner and innate morality in matter, an entelechy or purpose-of-being. (No better than Christians in this respect, or so Nietzsche believed ó radical only in the depth of their resentment.) Anarchism says that ìthe state should be abolishedî only to institute a new more radical form of order in its place. Ontological Anarchy however replies that no ìstateî can ìexistî in chaos, that all ontological claims are spurious except the claim of chaos (which however is undetermined), and therefore that governance of any sort is impossible. ìChaos never died.î Any form of ìorderî which we have not imagined and produced directly and spontaneously in sheer ìexistential freedomî for our own celebratory purposes ó is an illusion.

Of course, illusions can kill. Images of punishment haunt the sleep of Order. Ontological Anarchy proposes that we wake up, and create our own day ó even in the shadow of the State, that pustulant giant who sleeps, and whose dreams of Order metastasize as spasms of spectacular violence.

The only force significant enough to facilitate our act of creation seems to be desire, or as Charles Fourier called it, ìPassion.î Just as Chaos and Eros (along with Earth and Old Night) are Hesiodís first deities, so too no human endeavor occurs outside their cosmogeneous circle of attraction.

The logic of Passion leads to the conclusion that all ìstatesî are impossible, all ìordersî illusory, except those of desire. No being, only becoming ó hence the only viable government is that of love, or ìattraction.î Civilization merely hides from itself ó behind a thin static scrim of rationality ó the truth that only desire creates values. And so the values of Civilization are based on the denial of desire.

Capitalism, which claims to produce Order by means of the reproduction of desire, in fact originates in the production of scarcity, and can only reproduce itself in unfulfillment, negation, and alienation. As the Spectacle disintegrates (like a malfunctioning VR program) it reveals the fleshless bones of the Commodity. Like those tranced travelers in Irish fairy tales who visit the Otherworld and seem to dine on supernatural delicacies, we wake in a bleary dawn with ashes in our mouths.

Individual vs. Group ó Self vs. Other ó a false dichotomy propagated through the Media of Control, and above all through language. Hermes ó the Angel ó the medium is the Messenger. All forms of communicativeness should be angelic ó language itself should be angelic ó a kind of divine chaos. Instead it is infected with a self-replicating virus, an infinite crystal of separation, the grammar which prevents us from killing Nobodaddy once and for all.

Self and Other complement and complete one another. There is no Absolute Category, no Ego, no Society ó but only a chaotically complex web of relation ó and the ìStrange Attractorî, attraction itself, which evokes resonances and patterns in the flow of becoming.

Values arise from this turbulence, values which are based on abundance rather than scarcity, the gift rather than the commodity, and on the synergistic and mutual enhancement of individual and group; ó values which are in every way the opposite of the morality and ethics of Civilization, because they have to do with life rather than death.

ìFreedom is a psycho-kinetic skillî ó not an abstract noun. A process, not a ìstateî ó a movement, not a form of governance. The Land of the Dead knows that perfect Order from which the organic and animate shrink in horror ó which explains why the Civilization of Slippage is more than half in love with easeful death. From Babylon and Egypt to the 20th Century, the architecture of Power can never quite be distinguished from the tumuli of the necropolis.

Nomadism, and the Uprising, provide us with possible models for an ìeveryday lifeî of Ontological Anarchy. The crystalline perfections of Civilization and Revolution cease to interest us when we have experienced them both as forms of War, variations on that tired old Babylonian Con, the myth of Scarcity. Like the Bedouin we choose an architecture of skins ó and an earth full of places of disappearance. Like the Commune, we choose a liquid space of celebration and risk rather than the icy waste of the Prism (or Prison) of Work, the economy of Lost Time, the rictus of nostalgia for a synthetic future.

A utopian poetics helps us to know our desires. The mirror of Utopia provides us with a kind of critical theory which no mere practical politics nor systematic philosophy can hope to evolve. But we have no time for theory which merely limits itself to the contemplation of utopia as ìno-place placeî while bewailing the ìimpossibility of desire.î The penetration of everyday life by the marvelous ó the creation of ìsituationsî ó belongs to the ìmaterial bodily principleî, and to the imagination, and to the living fabric of the present.

The individual who realizes this immediacy can widen the circle of pleasure to some extent, simply by waking from the hypnosis of the ìSpooksî (as Stirner called all abstractions); and yet more can be accomplished by ìcrimeî; and still more by the doubling of the Self in sexuality. From Stirnerís ìUnion of Self-Owning Onesî we proceed to Nietzscheís circle of ìFree Spiritsî and thence to Fourierís ìPassional Seriesî, doubling and re- doubling ourselves even as the Other multiplies itself in the eros of the group.

The activity of such a group will come to replace Art as we poor PoMo bastards know it. Gratuitous creativity, or ìplayî, and the exchange of gifts, will cause the withering-away of Art as the reproduction of commodities. ìDada epistemologyî will meltingly erase all separation, and give rebirth to a psychic paleolithism in which life and beauty can no longer be distinguished. Art in this sense has been camouflaged and repressed throughout the whole of High History, but has never entirely vanished from our lives. One favorite example: ó the quilting bee ó a spontaneous patterning carried out by a non-hierarchic creative collective to produce a unique and useful and beautiful object, typically as a gift for someone connected to the circle.

The task of Immediatist organization can be summed up as the widening of this circle. The greater the portion of my life that can be wrenched from the Work/Consume/Die cycle, and (re)turned over to the economy of the ìbeeî, the greater my chance for pleasure. One runs a certain risk in thus thwarting the vampiric energies of institutions. But risk itself makes up part of the direct experience of pleasure, a fact noted in all insurrectionary moments ó all moments of waking-up ó of intense adventurous enjoyments: ó the festal aspect of the Uprising, the insurrectionary nature of the Festival.

But between the lonely awakening of the individual, and the synergetic anamnesis of the insurrectionary collectivity, there stretches out a whole spectrum of social forms with some potential for our ìprojectî. Some last no longer than a chance meeting between two kindred spirits who might enlarge each other by their brief and mysterious encounter; others are like holidays, still other like pirate utopias. None seems to last very long ó but so what? Religions and States boasts of their permanence ó which, we know, is just jive… ; what they mean is death.

We do not require ìRevolutionaryî institutions. ìAfter the Revolutionî we would still continue to drift, to evade the instant sclerosis of a politics of revenge, and instead seek out the excessive, the strange ó which for us has become the sole possible norm. If we join or support certain ìrevolutionaryî movements now, weíd certainly be the first to ìbetrayî them if they ìcame to powerî. Power, after all, is for us ó not some fucking vanguard party. In The Temporary Autonomous Zone (Autonomedia, NY, 1991) there was a discussion of ìthe will to power as disappearanceî, emphasizing the evasive nature and ambiguity of the moment of ìfreedomî. In the present series of texts [Immediatism, 1994, AK Press, originally presented as Radio Sermonettes on an FM station in New York, and published under that title by the anarchist Libertarian Book Club], the focus shifts to the idea of a praxis of re-appearance, and thus to the problem of organization. An attempt at a theory of the aesthetics of the group ó rather than a sociology or politique ó has been expressed here as a game for free spirits, rather than as a blueprint for an institution. The group as medium, or as mechanism of alienation, has been replaced here by the Immediatist group, devoted to the overcoming of separation. This book might be called a thought-experiment on festal sodality ó it has no higher ambitions. Above all, it does not pretend to know ìwhat must be doneî ó the delusion of would-be commissars and gurus. It wants no disciples ó it would prefer to be burned ó immolation not emulation! In fact it has almost no interest in ìdialogueî at all, and would prefer rather to attract co-conspirators than readers. It loves to talk, but only because talk is a kind of celebration rather than a kind of work.

And only intoxication stands between this book ó and silence.

Pirated from the anti-copyrighted book Immediatism (1994) by Hakim Bey. AK Press, Edinburgh and San Francisco.

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About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was, amongst other things, a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print publications and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I wrote a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in JTHomesteader.com with Stephanie Smith.

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