A typically provocative interview with Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey), author of the T.A.Z. Manifesto, at The Brooklyn Rail


Click on the portrait of PLW (pencil on paper by Brooklyn Rail mainman Phong Bui) to read the whole interview.

Choice cuts….

PLW on living in Iran in the ’70s:

They asked [playwright Robert Wilson], “We have all this money for you. What do you want to do?” He said, “I want to do a play that lasts for seven days and seven nights.”

On the Arab Spring:

I thought it was absolutely wonderful, it was like a big sigh of relief… But here it is, hardly a year later and already the promise is betrayed. The Islamists and the militarists have taken over again, and you just have to do it all over; that’s pretty depressing and I wouldn’t be surprised if people lost their impetus and weren’t able to keep up the pressure. Now, having said how wonderful I thought it all was, I will point out that…

On the state of America, post-Occupy:

I was beginning to feel that there would never be another American uprising, that the energy was gone, and I have some reasons to think that might be true. I like to point out that the crime rate in America has been declining for a long time, and in my opinion it’s because Americans don’t even have enough gumption to commit crimes anymore: the creative aspect of crime has fallen into decay. As for [Occupy], [an] uprising that takes a principled stand against violence, hats off to them, I admire the idealism, but I don’t think it’s going to accomplish much. I’m sorry to say that, but that is my feeling, despite all the brilliance that’s gone into it…

On uprising:

If you can’t have a revolution at least you can have an uprising. And then there’s this intense life that gets lived for usually no more than 18 months, or sometimes for just a few nights, but at least there can be this T.A.Z. where people live intensely and joyously in each other’s presence: what I call conviviality, living together, which is not to be sneered at.

On technology:

I’ve eliminated certain technologies from my life because I have the luxury to do so. It’s not something I’m prescribing for other people. I don’t have a TV, I don’t have a computer, I don’t have a car. I don’t have a record player, I don’t have a radio in my house. I’m like the Amish. I want it out of my house, but once I’m out of my house I’m probably willing to use these things. You can’t simply cut yourself off completely.

On the triumph of the machines:

We have no viable alternative economic institution that will help us live outside the monster of predatory capital. That doesn’t exist. And it’s the Internet which has facilitated that transition, so I call it the end of the world. On my bad days I believe in it, but on my good days I still try to maintain that history has not really come to an end and that that the possibility still exists that people will wake up and achieve a critique of technology. What is so frigging hard about this? Why are people so hypnotized, why do people think it’s a law of nature that technology has taken over the world to the extent that it has? It’s not natural: It has historical roots, it has economic explanations, and these things can be worked on. They could be changed, but I don’t see any will to it. I don’t see one single Luddite institution. Nobody is working for this. If I were to defend violence I would defend machine smashing over all, which is a total heresy. Nobody smashes machines. They’re sacred.

And so on, with lots more on PLW’s fascinating current art practice. Fantastic stuff, great questions from the Brooklyn Rail team. Read the whole thing here: The Brooklyn Rail

Tips for "revolutionaries not yet born": Jim Feast on ED SANDERS' new work, from The Brooklyn Rail

From a review by Jim Feast in the Brooklyn Rail:


by Ed Sanders
(Libellum, 2008)
ISBN 0-9752993-4-4
Cover by Red Grooms

….Rather than pit a set of good myths against the doped-up hallucinations of the far Right, Sanders offers “revolutionaries not yet born,” a sober, unadorned, unassuming patchwork of pointers, histories and reminiscences, grounded in three humanist principles.

1) People are never unabashed heroes, but they can have moments, episodes, when their higher instincts guide them. Sanders suggests this in his poem “Ginsberg in India.” He mentions things that happened to the Beat poet abroad, but then focuses:

There were many more adventures… But it is the tale of how Allen Ginsberg aided
Someone left for dead on the streets
that to me throws up a giant torch
on his humanity

While Ginsberg, certainly, could exhibit different faces, in this episode (as Sanders powerfully goes on to explain), the poet shows simple compassion.

2) People one deeply respects should be met, not with passive idol worship, but by sharing part of their adventure. Such a thought comes to the fore in reading “Poseidon’s Mane,” in which Sanders recounts a trip with friends to visit Charles Olson. Their meeting moves from a discussion of verse to raving and roistering once Olson presses on them tabs of acid from his huge stash. Memorably, Sanders feels the drug take effect while Olson is driving a car.

I glanced to the front seat and Olson had turned into Poseidon!
literally, the Horse from the Sea!
with kelp in his mane
matted and wet

The night turns into a rollicking, unsettling evening for Sanders (rendered in forceful strokes), and can, to some degree, be read as a cautionary tale. The broader point, shown not only in this instance but in poems recounting different circumstances, such as hearing Ginsberg read at the Living Theater, is Sanders’ open-hearted admonition to be willing to (within reason and for a limited time) share another creative person’s reality as a way of enriching and chastening his own ego-locked views.

3) Perhaps the most important principle in the book is this: the best sustenance for a progressive (who is sure to meet innumerable setbacks) is knowledge of previous struggles and people of conscience. One of the more hard-hitting, terse and touching pieces in the book is “Ode to Rachel Carson,” which describes the environmentalist’s finishing the writing of Silent Spring and “shaping the p.r. battle” to keep the book before the public, all the while dying from an increasingly virulent cancer. Also of this genre is Sanders’ “For Emma Goldman,” a fitting, low-flown (attesting to Sanders’ avoidance of hollow rhetoric), moving tribute to this tribune of justice, whom he characterizes as “known for her brilliant speeches & anarcho-leftist organizational skills.”

God knows (pardon the expression), we need a poetry book of this type, given the rabid intellectual dishonesty that the Christian Right is spewing through the net waves and air waves, as Collins so carefully exposes. Though they are debasing the past, the Right’s zealots are primarily focused on the present, on making the next buck and winning the next election, while Sanders pitches his work into the future where he foresees “a Permanent // cradle-to-grave society of the Sharing Rose // w/ freedom to speak, dream, act & create.”

Read the entire article at the Brooklyn Rail