ENDARKENMENT MANIFESTO by Peter Lamborn Wilson aka Hakim Bey

From ARTHUR MAGAZINE No. 29 (May 2008): Peter Lamborn Wilson’s half-serious proposal for a political movement to uphold and propagate the ideals of Green Hermeticism. Wilson sometimes uses the pen name ‘Hakim Bey.’ He is the author of the Temporary Autonomous Zone concept and manifesto, which, for better or worse, was the original inspiration for the Burning Man festival..

THE ENDARKENMENT MANIFESTO

At least half the year belongs to Endarkenment. Enlightenment is only a special case of Endarkenment—and it has nights of its own.

**

During the day democracy waxes, indiscriminately illuminating all and sundry. But shadowless noon belongs to Pan. And night imposes a “radical aristocracy” in which things shine solely by their own luminescence, or not at all.

**

Obfuscatory, reactionary and superstitious, Endarkenment offers jobs for trolls and sylphs, witches and warlocks. Perhaps only superstition can re-enchant Nature. People who fear and desire nymphs and fauns will think twice before polluting streams or clear-cutting forests.

**

Electricity banished shadows—but shadows are “shades,” souls, the souls of light itself. Even divine light, when it loses its organic and secret darkness, becomes a form of pollution. In prison cells electric lights are never doused; light becomes oppression and source of disease.

**

Superstitions may be untrue but based on deeper truth—that earth is a living being. Science may be true, i.e. effective, while based on a deeper untruth—that matter is dead.

**

The peasants attacking Dr. Frankenstein’s tower with their torches and scythes were the shock troops of Endarkenment, our luddite militia. The original historical Luddites smashed mechanical looms, ancestors of the computer.

**

“Neolithic conservatism” (Paul Goodman’s definition of anarchism) positions itself outside the ponderous inevitability of separation and sameness. Every caveman a Prince Kropotkin, every cavewoman Mrs. Nietzsche. Our Phalanstery would be lit by candles and our Passions avowed via messenger pigeons and hot-air balloons.

**

Imagine what science might be like to day if the State and Kapital had never emerged. Romantic Science proposes an empiricism devoid of disastrous splits between consciousness and Nature; thus it prolongates Neolithic alchemy as if separation and alienation had never occurred: science for life not money, health not war, pleasure not efficiency; Novalis’s “poeticization of science.”

**

Of course technology itself is haunted—a ghost for every machine. The myth of Progress stars its own cast of ghouls and efreets. Consciously or unconsciously (what difference would it make?) we all know we live in techno-dystopia, but we accept it with the deterministic fatalism of beaten serfs, as if it were virtual Natural Law.

**

Technology mimics and thus belittles the miracles of magic. Rationalism has its own Popes and droning litanies, but the spell they cast is one of disenchantment. Or rather: all magic has migrated into money, all power into a technology of titanic totality, a violence against life that stuns and disheartens.

**

Hence the universal fear/desire for the End of the World (or for some world anyway). For the poor Christian Moslem Jewish saps duped by fundamentalist nihilism the Last Day is both horrorshow and Rapture, just as for secular Yuppies global warming is a symbol of terror and meaninglessness and simultaneously a rapturous vision of post-Catastrophe Hobbit-like local-sustainable solar-powered gemutlichkeit. Thus the technopathocracy comes equipped with its own built-in escape-valve fantasy: the Ragnarok of technology itself and the sudden catastrophic restoration of meaning. In fact Capital can capitalize on its own huge unpopularity by commoditizing hope for its End. That’s what the smug shits call a win/win situation.

**

Winter Solstice (Chaos Day in Chinese folklore) is one of Endarkenment’s official holidays, along with Samhain or Halloween, Winter’s first day.

**

Endarkenment stands socially for the Cro-Magnon or “Atlantaean” complex—anarchist because prior to the State—for horticulture and gathering against agriculture and industry—for the right to hunt as against the usurpation of commons by lord or State. Electricity and internal combustion should be turned off along with all States and corporations and their cult of Mammon and Moloch.

**

Despite our ultimate aim we’re willing to step back bit by bit. We might be willing to accept steam power or hydraulics. The last agreeable year for us was 1941, the ideal is about 10,000 BC, but we’re not purists. Endarkenment is a form of impurism, of mixture and shadow.

**

Endarkenment envisages a medicine advanced as it might have been if money and the State had never appeared, medicine for earth, animals and humans, based on Nature, not on promethean technology. Endarkenment is not impressed by medicine that prolongs “life span” by adding several years in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and glued to daytime TV, all at the expense of every penny ever saved by the patient (lit. “sufferer”) plus huge debts for children and heirs. We’re not impressed by gene therapy and plastic surgery for obscene superrich post humans. We prefer an empirical extension of “medieval superstitions” of Old Wives and herbalists, a rectified Paracelsan peoples’ medicine as proposed by Ivan Illich in his book on demedicalization of society. (Illich as Catholic anarchist we consider an Endarkenment saint of some sort.) (Endarkenment is somewhat like “Tory anarchism,” a phrase I’ve seen used earliest in Max Beehbohm and most lately by John Mitchell.) (Other saints: William Blake, William Morris, A.K. Coomaraswamy, John Cowper Powys, Marie Laveau, King Farouk…)

**

Politically Endarkenment proposes anarcho-monarchism, in effect somewhat like Scandinavian monarcho-socialism but more radical, with highly symbolic but powerless monarchs and lots of good ritual, combined with Proudhonian anarcho-federalism and Mutualism. Georges Sorel (author of Reflections on Violence) had some anarcho-monarchist disciples in the Cercle Proudhon (1910-1914) with whom we feel a certain affinity. Endarkenment favors most separatisms and secessions; many small states are better than a few big ones. We’re especially interested in the break-up of the American Empire.

**

Endarkenment also feels some critical admiration for Col. Qadhaffi’s Green Book, and for the Bonnot Gang (Stirnerite Nietzschean bank robbers). In Islamdom it favors “medieval accretions” like sufism and Ismailism against all crypto-modernist hyperorthodoxy and politics of resentment. We also admire the martyred Iranian Shiite/Sufi socialist Ali Shariati, who was praised by Massignon and Foucault.

**

Culturally Endarkenment aims at extreme neo-Romanticism and will therefore be accused of fascism by its enemies on the Left. The answer to this is that (1) we’re anarchists and federalists adamantly opposed to all authoritarian centralisms whether Left or Right. (2) We favor all races, we love both difference and solidarity, not sameness and separation. (3) We reject the myth of Progress and technology—all cultural Futurism—all plans no matter their ideological origin—all uniformity—all conformity whether to organized religion or secular rationalism with its market democracy and endless war.

**

Endarkenists “believe in magic” and so must wage their guerrilla through magic rather than compete with the State’s monopoly of techno-violence. Giordano Bruno’s Image Magic is our secret weapon. Projective hieroglyphic hermeneutics. Action at a distance through manipulation of symbols carried out dramaturgically via acts of Poetic Terrorism, surrealist sabotage, Bakunin’s “creative destruction”—but also destructive creativity, invention of hermetico-critical objects, heiroglyphic projections of word/image “spells”—by which more is meant (always) than mere “political art”—rather a magical art with actual dire or beneficial results. Our enemies on the Right might call this political pornography and they’d be (as usual) right. Porn has a measurable physiopsychological effect. We’re looking for something like it, definitely, only bigger, and more like Artaud than Brecht—but not to be mistaken for “Absolute Art” or any other platonic purism—rather an empirical strategic “situationist” art, outside all mass media, truly underground, as befits Endarkenment, like a loosely structured “rhizomatic” Tong or freemasonic conspiracy.

**

The Dark has its own lights or “photisms” as Henry Corbin called them, literally as entoptic/hypnagogic phosphene-like phenomena, and figuratively (or imaginally) as Paracelsan Nature spirits, or in Blakean terms, inner lights. Enlightenment has its shadows, Endarkenment has its Illuminati; and there are no ideas but in persons (in theologic terms, angels). According to legend the Byzantines were busy discussing “the sex of angels” while the Ottomans were besieging the walls of Constantinople. Was this the height of Endarkenment? We share that obsession.

Jan. 1, 2008


Anne Waldman and Peter Lamborn Wilson reading at the Living Theatre – Monday

THE LIVING POETS SERIES
at
The Living Theatre
presents
ANNE WALDMAN
and
PETER LAMBORN WILSON
(aka Hakim Bey)
reading from their works at
The Living Theatre

with music by
STEVEN TAYLOR & TYLER BURBA
21 Clinton Street (between Houston and Stanton Streets)
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4 at 8pm

suggested contribution: $6.00

Peter Lamborn Wilson is an American political writer, essayist, and poet, known for first proposing the concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ), based on a historical review of pirate utopias. He sometimes writes under the name Hakim Bey.The pseudonym is a combination of the Arabic word for ‘wise man’-as well as any “decision-maker” or “ruler”- and a last name common in the Moorish Science Temple. Bey, originally a Turkic word for “chieftain,” traditionally applied to the leaders of small tribal groups. In historical accounts, many Turkish, other Turkic and Persian leaders are titled bey, beg or beigh. They are all the same word with the simple meaning of “leader.” Also in Turkish, Hakim means judge and Bey is a generic word for a gentleman (mister) generally used after a name.

Anne Waldman is an American poet. Waldman was born in Millville, New Jersey and grew up on MacDougal Street in New York City. She received her B.A. from Bennington College in 1966. During the 1960s, along with poets, Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg, Waldman became part of the East Coast poetry scene, giving frequent readings at the The Poetry Projectat St. Mark’s Church. She ran the project from 1966-1978. She has published more than forty books. Waldman became a Buddhist, practicing with the Tibetan Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who later became Ginsberg’s guru. With Allen Ginsberg, she founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poeticsat the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado (Now Naropa University). She is a Distinguished Professor of Poetics at that institution.

http://www.livingtheatre.org/index.html
– 212 792 8050

Peter Lamborn Wilson on secessionism (Arthur No. 16/May 2005)

first published in Arthur No. 16 (May 2005) – available at the Arthur Store

Freedom Now Maybe: The New Secessionism
By Peter Lamborn Wilson

Last November, right after the Election, I attended an odd event in Middlebury, Vermont—a two-day conference devoted to the question of whether Vermont should consider seceding from the USA and declaring itself the “Second Vermont Republic.”

The first Vermont Republic lasted from 1777 to 1791, during which time it recognized neither Britain nor the USA as sovereign. Thanks to Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Rangers the state has an old and still-lively sense of itself as unique and independent-minded, if not downright cranky.

The keynote speeches delivered at Middlebury by SVR founder Prof. Thomas Naylor and activist/historian Kirkpatrick Sale made it clear that any Vermont independence movement would be radical, Green, Populist non-violent and typically “Vermont-socialist.” (The Bread & Puppet Theater is already interested.) SVR’s underlying philosophy is derived from the “Small Is Beautiful” school of Leopold Kohr (his The Breakdown of Nations is the bible), “Buddhist economist” E.F. Schumacher, the UK-based Fourth World Movement, and ultimately from the minarchism of Thoreau and the American tradition of “unterrified Jeffersonians,” extreme democrats and even anarchists.

All this may be considered odd enough. But what really struck me as strange was the mood of the conference. Everyone there was cheerful, optimistic and pugnacious. Everywhere else in America that weekend leftists, liberals and libertarians were plunged in gloom. But in Middlebury the triumph of Bushite Pre-Millenialist idiocy was taken as a sign that the US Empire is about to disintegrate.

The conference voted unanimously to support the aims of the Second Vermont Republic. Delegates stomped and cheered. One woman, whose son was in Iraq with the National Guard, proclaimed herself ready to die for this new cause if necessary. Suddenly it felt kind of like 1968 again. Were all these people crazy?

Four More Years.

You know what I’m talking about already but let me spell it out. Imagine: Four more years of Neo-Con Jihadist slope-browed pseudo-Zionist McImperialism; four more years of stomping on Iraq and Afghanistan and possibly Iran, Syria and North Korea; of deficit spending and debt both national and individual; of ludicrous Red/Blue culture war; of inflation and unemployment; erosion of civil liberties; no tree left behind; more tax breaks for the rich and the corporations; blah blah blah; and to top it off, “JEB IN ’08!”—and another Four More Years.

Some of my friends are moving to Canada where they can join grayhaired draft-dodgers of the Vietnam era and suffer the bitterness of exile along with the compensations of socialized health care and quasi-legal pot. No one dares to dream of staying on and overthrowing the Empire. Not even us grayhaired really believe in The Revolution anymore. But the piffle of tepid reformism (the “left wing” of Skull’n’Bones, so to speak) makes many of us reel with nausea and depression, or anyway terminal boredom. What’s to be done?

Barely anything remains of the alternative economy and society of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Most of the food co-ops are gone, as well as most of the back-to-the-land communes, and the free schools. Low-rent bohemian enclaves have been yupped up, college campuses have grown quiet and dull (except for binge drinking), labor unions have been smashed or corrupted. The “peace movement” can mobilize millions in minutes but mysteriously nothing happens—war goes right ahead on schedule. The only force holding back environmental armageddon sometimes appears to consist of a handful of brave doomed eco-saboteurs. Leftist organization in the US takes place mostly in cyberspace, where nothing happens except more blahblahblah.

Third parties always end up as mere exercises in futilitarianism, hobby groups for the disgruntled, paper tigers sucking up all dissident energy and turning it into a politics of failure. As far as the Democrats—oh please, I can’t.

If not Canada or Holland or something, then what? Do we have to accept some sacred organic link between the landmass called Turtle Island and the regime called the “USA”? Let’s say we happen to love our land and our language, that we want to stay here. Yet somehow we also want to escape from the sleazy guilt feelings involved with citizenship in the Empire of Stupid Greed. Does this make us schizophrenic?

If a single person is possessed by two antagonistic personalities (call them Red and Blue), the usual solution would be a term in the bughouse. But if a whole state has a split personality, it can actually split. Part of it can secede.

Naturally the government is going to tell you this is a crazy notion, and treasonous as well. The Constitution is our holy founding document and can never be revoked. Too bad you were born too late to sign the Social Contract, but that’s how it is. The Civil War decided it once and for all. Thou shalt not secede.

This argument, delivered with a gun to the head, is persuasive and even conclusive. The US government is not going to allow itself to devolve. Only Indians are permitted to have “independent” reservations and only certain genes carry the right to tribal recognition (in other words race still defines political status in US law). If you don’t like it here go back to Russia…uh… or Sweden, or maybe some rogue nation in the Axis of Evil. What are you, a terrorist?

But wait.

Who would have dared to predict in (let’s say) 1984 that the Soviet Empire was about to break up into dozens of independent little countries?

Or—to take an even more astonishing example—who could’ve foreseen that Scotland (a part of Great Britain since 1707) would succeed in achieving independence again after 300 years? (It’s hard to get information on this, but I gather that the miracle was achieved by a strange coalition of Labour and Scots Nationalists.)

In any case devolution of the USSR and UK would not have occurred without prior economic collapse. A rich empire will tend to cohere, a bankrupt one to Decline and even Fall. With hindsight we can see this clearly. But foresight is always skewed by appearances. The US is believed to be the super-wealthy hegemon of the Global Market and land of total affluence, and so we see it that way.

But is it?

What about the deficit spending, that insane waste of war, that deep debt? America actually produces very little except weapons, data and entertainment—no shoes, no umbrellas, no pencils. Globalism demands that whole countries be proletarianized for the benefit of other countries that can then be called bourgeois or ruling-class. But what if Globalism itself has been derailed by US greed and revanchism? What if Europe gets so fed up with the US that it begins to elect leftoid governments that refuse to serve our interests? What if China went “off the dollar” and on to the Euro? What about a major depression in America? Would that make secession look more “realistic” and less crazy?

Under these conditions (…four more years…) the question of legality might become relevant. Is it in fact legal to secede? The SVR says yes, at least in theory. The Civil War did not decide the issue. In 1789 the Constitution looked like a very bad deal to the true revolutionaries and Jeffersonians, then called “Anti-Federalists.” These radicals liked the Articles of Confederation (based on the Iroquois Confederation, according to many historians) which recognized the thirteen states as independent entities. They made many of the same arguments as the Small-Is-Beautiful school—for instance, that only in small autonomous regions can practical direct democracy work fairly and efficiently.

But the Anti-Federalists were out-maneuvered by Alexander Hamilton and the big bankers. Eventually all the states acceded and ratified. However in three states the protocols of ratification included a guarantee of the right to secede—Virginia, Rhode Island and New York. These protocols have never been rescinded or even challenged in law. By the logic of the Constitution itself, a right that belongs to one state must belong to all. Ergo: secession is legal, q.e.d.

Tell it to the judge, you might say. Or quoting the German fascist legal philosopher Karl Schmidt: law is made by power, not reason or precedent. But if the US Empire loses its power to define law, then secession may become “legal” de facto in the act of secession. Civil war may not be necessary—again, see the case of Scotland, or Estonia. “Devolution” happens.

Although the result of secession would be a new state, many anarchists and anti-authoritarians have supported it as a tactic, a good first step toward small-region autonomy. During the Civil War the American anarchist Lysander Spooner shocked people by supporting both abolition of slavery and the right of secession. Proudhon believed in secession and anarcho-federation. Emma Goldman supported the secession of Catalonia from fascist Spain. Nestor Makno fought for a free Ukraine; and so on. In fact secession has a potential appeal across a wide spectrum of political creeds, since anyone can hope to gain power (or at least a voice) in a new small state.

If you don’t care for Vermont-style secession there are plenty of other movements afoot. Capital-L Libertarians (“Republicans who smoke dope,” as Robert Anton Wilson calls them) have organized the New Hampshire Project, hoping to live free or die. Texas has an old and rather wacky independence movement (I once met their “Ambassador to the Court of St. James” in Dublin after he’d been evicted from his London “embassy” for unpaid rent).

Hawaii has a sovereignty movement based on the old native monarchy, overthrown by US forces in 1893; and there are many other tribal separatist causes. Black nationalists and separatists have their visions of utopia. Alaska has a group, and in Maine a “militia” with secessionist ideals has been founded by novelist Caroline Chute (The Beans of Egypt). In New York City, the secessionists want to secede from New York State as well as the USA. And in the process they plan to have some fun.

Being urban cynics unlike the sincere Vermonters, the NYC secessionists don’t necessarily expect to succeed. But the City has always dreamed of independence—a tradition no doubt dating back at least to Dutch resentment of the Brits, and farmers’ hatred of feudal landlords. We New Yorkers (I speak here for at least a dozen people) simply feel that folks with no power have nothing to fear from the “politics of the very worst.” If the Empire’s going to implode, let it. At least we’ll be ready with some sort of Plan B.

In the meantime we expect a bit of political adventure, and some good parties. Maybe eventually the other kind of party, too. A good motto for us would be Fats Waller’s famous saying: “One never knows—do one?”

"We had a war in 1968 and we lost but apparently we haven’t realized it, so instead of retreating we do this ritual of repeating the prayers of the 1960s."

bey_small.jpg

This is a Spring 2005 conversation between Hakim Bey (pseudonym for scholar/poet Peter Lamborn Wilson) and Sasha Miltsov posted online

======

Hakim Bey:…automobiles used to look quite beautiful, some of them. Now, even the cars of the very rich – you can hardly tell them from the cars of the bourgeoisie. They’re all the same boring, puffy-looking cars: No flare, no aerodynamics, no daring art deco. What is a modern “Bugatti”? It’s nothing. Even the Arab sheiks don’t dare to have beautiful cars like before. Why? Nobody knows how to make them? What’s the big deal?

Of course, it’s all just cars. It’s all just disgusting shit, but within that bad technology, which started so nice…

Alexandre Miltsov:It’s just getting worse and worse.

HB:Yeah.

AM:Nowadays, they do “retromobiles”. They take a “Chrysler” like it used to be 50-60 years ago and rebuild it with all the modern gadgets. It looks even more repulsive.

HB:It’s just post-modernism. It’s not good or new design.

AM:What still amazes me in America, even though I’ve lived in Canada for five years, is this tremendous amount of cars everywhere. Public transportation is basically dead. And, as we know, it has been maliciously removed.

HB: It is true. It’sabsolutely true. I don’t own a car – it’s not because I am so virtuous but rather because of circumstances. But I’m glad I don’t own a car – many times when I think about that – it’s horrible. At least I’m not adding to that particular misery. But if I didn’t go into other people’s cars – I would never get anywhere, except on a few rare bus stops.

AM:Since we’re talking about cars, what do you think about the projected “World Oil Peak”? It’s not a big secret that there is no real substitute for oil to run the existing gigantic world-industry. There’s a countless list of things running on and demanding oil; cars, of course, are on the top. So what do you think about oil depletion and all that?

HB:What a lot of people would say, primarily the “techno-optimists”, is that when the oil runs out – the other technologies will become economically feasible. So, they will have to run all the cars on hydrogen, or salad oil, or sunshine. But we will still have cars. It’s a horrible thought but they may be right. They may solve the problem. 

AM: But most probably it’s not going to happen that way. There are no real alternatives. There’s not enough sunshine to power all these cars,there’s not enough salad oil – I mean you need to grow crops to get it – a lot of it! And almost all the good land is already in use. It has been paved over by these gigantic roads – you have Eisenhower Interstate Highway system here. And  the so-called “hydrogen economy” is a myth, of course.

HB: That’s right. I’m just saying that we ought to think about all this from the “techno-fix” point of view. So far, they’ve always come up with something. History leads us to believe that they’ll figure something out. At least, we have to take it into consideration. After all, they have all the money in the world to spend on the most brilliant scientists and technologists.

But it seems that they’re not preparing. And that’s the interesting part. They’re acting as if there’s no tomorrow: they don’t think like American Indians or the Chinese for seven generations – they think for seven minutes. If you’re lucky – 15 minutes! That makes you think that there won’t be any smooth transition, brokered by the usual technological and capitalistic bla-bla. And maybe some crisis will occur, some fracture in this happy story. Should we hope for that or should we be incredibly afraid because of that? It’s hard to say. Anything short of the complete breakdown of civilization – nothing is working anymore – it’s going to be war, plague, horrible. Or can you still believe in a situation where the proponents of “the alternatives” have seized power in time to prevent it from happening? Can we really talk about “seizing power” in a context like that?

AM: Well, yes and no. “Power” is so obscure these days. I mean, “seizing” what? A TV or a radio-station?

HB: Yes, and you can have 2 billion dollars and think that you can change the world, and there’s nothing, no effect at all. Nothing seems to work.

AM: There is a popular and rather naïve belief that when the whole system, the Spectacle, will start to run out of energy – oil, gas and other resources – it will gradually loosen its grip on people’s minds and throats. The Media may still be there, the Capital will be there but they will be weak and disintegrated, and so society will inevitably break down into small autonomous collectives, not controlledby the outside world.

HB: Well, the attitudes are changing but the problem is – and now I can speak about the situation here locally – since I have been living here for 6-7 years, I have some insights – and that is that these attitudes are informed by reformism. They are not informed by a critique of capitalism or even of technology. The Green Party is a good example; basically, it’s a hobby group for losers. Here, by strange circumstances, we have a Green Party village government. I am still glad for that, I guess, but so far they haven’t accomplished anything here, except for some symbolic stuff. And the reason for this, I think, is that people of this reformist tendency are not really interested in building real alternative institutions.

For example, this movement is not taking place through labor unions, or food-cooperatives, or producers-cooperatives; it’s not taking place through free schools or alternative schools. It’s not taking place through autonomous action!

Look at the organic food situation: the big companies have already discovered that the organic food is a market and they’re in it, they’re marketing it. And for most of the consumers of organic food this is not a political issue. It’s a health issue. So they don’t care; if Monsanto is going to sell them health food – they’ll buy it from Monsanto. In other words, these nice impulses, these changing attitudes – some of which are forced on people by economic difficulties, as you pointed out, and some of which are voluntary, assumed out of a lifestyle or even out of consumerist attitude towards the “authentic” and the “organic” and the “alternative”, which after all is a market – it all runs into the sand, all the energy runs into the sand.

People with wonderful attitudes and desires that are good desires; but since there is no comprehensive movement, there’s nothing other than these “positive attitudes” and there’s no way to focus them.

I went to a Peace March yesterday – it was the anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. I swear it was like being back in the 60s again: same clothes, same slogans:

“- What do we want?
– Peace!
– When do we want it?
– Now!”

We’ve been saying this for 40 years and we still haven’t realized that symbolic action and symbolic discourse is NOT Action!

And this is even better: there was a counter-demonstration, and the anti-demonstrators were yelling at us that we were communists! This is like a civil war reenactment; it’s like people in medieval costumes pretending to be knights and ladies. Totally bizarre. I haven’t been going to demonstrations lately, so I thought maybe a few things have changed. But no! It’s just “a blast from the past” – for everybody, including the fascists who thought that they were still living in 1979. Very strange.

And this is it! You go, you have a march, you say: “Not in my name!” And then you go home and watch TV. You don’t then go out and start an alternative institution: a church, a farm, a commune…

AM: A pleasure club.

HB: Or even a pleasure club! Instead, they just go home and watch TV.

AM: And then they go to work and get their salaries from the same people who are waging the war. And the taxes go to war, of course.

HB: Exactly! And of course, you NEED your SUV; you NEED your cellular phone. These are real needs. So all these so-called “green people” around here are sucking up gasoline and cement… Just “not in my backyard” – that’s what they say. They are not going to swear off using cement. They will say: “Move the cement plant to Mexico”. I can’t participate in this pseudo-politics; there is no entry-point for me here.

AM: Back to the “Peace March”: the Iraq war looks like it is going to last long. We don’t really know what’s happening there; there are all sorts of media, mainstream and alternative, producing all sorts of  “news” and speculations. But who in his or her sane mind will trust them? They are the media after all. The notion I have is that it’s going to be a big, long and ugly war for the last remnants of oil and for the control of the Gulf region. What do you think?

HB: I think you’re right or you might as well be right. We might as well plan on what you’ve just said; because it would be foolish to think that they’re going to stop just because we don’t like it. They’ve already proved that it’s not going to happen.

Let me try to be an “anti-pessimist” here and point out that if you are right, and I think you are, this will also involve a continuation of this unbelievable deficit spending and going into debt that we are practicing here in the US, both on the personal and the national level. And it must eventually lead to an economic collapse, as far as I can see. For one thing, Europe is going to be driven a little bit further to the left by anti-Americanism, so you will get more things like the mayor of Paris or the Spanish government happening -kind of nostalgic social-democratic, but still no longer interested in playing the global game with America as the sole superpower.

In fact, the whole ten years of globalism and neo-liberalism are already over. We are at a new stage now. That is why the anti-globalist movement suddenly seems so dead and irrelevant.

Going further with the scenario: A couple of other major things can happen, like China shifting its economic activities from the dollar to the euro and OPEC is, of course, practically out, and so forth.

So America is isolated economically: we don’t produce anything here anymore – we can’t be self-sufficient in terms of industry. We don’t make shoes here; we don’t make umbrellas, pencils. We make entertainment and information. We don’t even make the fucking computers! We produce the ideas that occupy the computers. That’s why artists are so important right now – it’s one of the few things that we actually produce. So the arts are hot, some artists are successful – this whole area around here is full of artists, and they drove the real estate prices up. So, now you can’t move into this county for less then 250,000 dollars. Thanks to the artists! You wonder why people get angry at artists – it’s not our fault – we’re just looking for low rent but the real-estate developers are following us, sniffing our butts wherever we go to find out where the next beautiful cheap real-estate is going to be…

So on with the scenario: in 1984 if somebody had asked “would the Soviet Union break up”, everybody would go “ha-ha-ha” – nonsense; it will never happen! In 1984, if people asked whether the United Kingdom would break up, if Scotland would be independent again – “Oho-ho-ho! – This would be a joke!” Just 20 years ago, it would be a total joke. Well, it happened  – and to Yugoslavia too. So, it could happen here. Things move so quickly. It’s possible that with the neo-liberal period already over, we’re now into something new –
the American Empire, and maybe that will only last for 8 years -10 years.

That’s why recently I have taken an interest in the idea of separatism and secession. Because, I think that the only optimistic or anti-pessimistic way of reading the American future is to see the breakup of the American Empire, meaning a political breakup, just like in the USSR. And, as you know very well, this is a mixed blessing – to put it mildly. But there is one advantage to it, and that is that you get a small social unit that you can deal with – maybe, if you’re lucky.

It can very well happen in America, and people have already started to talk about it. I’m writing articles trying to push that idea. If I’m wrong – I’ll be wrong. To me it’s just a tactic, because from an anarchist point of view, secession is good because you get a smaller unit to deal with and eventually – this is straight Proudhon – you will break it down into autonomous regions, and then you confederate them in an anarcho-federalist union, completely voluntarily and based on popular democracy with revocable delegates. And as he put, it is necessary to organize for production and if necessary defense. This is an anarchist ideal, and secession could be a step towards it. As we know, it can also end up in a fascist nightmare. This is a dangerous idea, I admit, but I don’t see any other interesting political possibility for America.

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Green Hermeticism

Green Hermeticism: Alchemy and Ecology


Peter Lamborn Wilson, Christopher Bamford, Kevin Townley
Introduction by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan
ISBN: 9781584200499
Book (Paperback)
Lindisfarne Books
$25.00
6 x 9 inches
224 pages
September 2007

“In Alchemy, there is an injunction to quicken, or revive, the dead, which is illustrated by a dead tree growing verdant again. That is exactly what this wonderful and rare work does in awakening human consciousness to its Divine potential and Ultimate Destiny. Art thus helps Nature to achieve its ideal Perfection. The authors must be congratulated for their insightful words. I wholeheartedly recommend reading it again and again, and again.” —Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, author Alchemy: The Secret Art and The Golden Game: Alchemical Engravings of the Seventeenth Century

“Environmental solutions today are largely technical, but the planetary crisis is also a crisis of soul—or better yet, of the Imagination. Too tricky for religion, too poetic for reductionist science, Green Hermeticism reheats a prophetic imagination still in love with the material world—a new alchemy of ancient nature.” —Erik Davis, author, The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape

“Just when you felt numb and disenfranchised, thinking the world had become bleak and dead, along comes this rare, much needed book to remind us that there is still some sanity, depth, and creative energy percolating up from the heart of Reality. Thank God (and the Goddess Nature) for this smart and inspiring breath of fresh air! Green Hermeticism is where the wasteland ends—and where the world becomes re-enchanted with genuine living thought that goes beyond superficialities. It’s a rare pleasure to be in the presence of living minds who actually know something wonderful and have not been deadened by the opiates of capital or the tenure track. Very highly recommended.” —David Fideler,publisher (Phanes Press) editor (Alexandria), author of Jesus Christ, Sun of God and translator of Love’s Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition (with Sabrineh Fideler)

“The publication of Green Hermeticism has the sense we so rarely get, of a genuine moment in cultural history. It is not just the eloquence of its authors’ knowledge and arguments or that they are showing us, once again, the depth and range and beauty of alchemy, and the Hermetic tradition, and what Peter Lamborn Wilson calls Romantic Science. Nor is it even the links they establish between the Hermetic tradition and ecology, and the value of a science that perceives the world as alive rather than a machine. What makes this work significant is the sense that it shows us how we can use these ideas and knowledge to create a genuine counter to destruction and despair, an alchemy of our politics as well as of our spirit.” —Rachel Pollack, author of 78 Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot

“Green Hermeticism reminds us that the art of the Great Work is to enter more deeply into the dynamic and practical wisdom of the universe, which is our laboratory, where work and prayer combine. When we engage with the All, we know ourselves to be one kindred with all in the viriditas—God’s greening power—where body, soul, and spirit honor each other.” —Caitlín & John Matthews, authors of Walkers Between the Worlds: The Western Mysteries from Shaman to Magus

Hermeticism, or alchemy, is the ancient, primordial mystery science of nature through which people in all times and places have, for the sake of world evolution, sought to unite Heaven and Earth—divinity, cosmos, earth, and humanity, as a single whole. Selfless, intimate, dedicated to healing and harmony, Hermeticism has accompanied and sustained every religious epoch and revelation. It may be found in all historical cultures, from the traditions of India and China in the East to the Judeo-Christian West. It could even be said that Hermeticism is the primal cosmological revelation and the common ground of all spiritual traditions.

Nevertheless, in the great revival of mystical, esoteric traditions and practices during the last century, Hermetic tradition—in fact, Nature herself—has been largely ignored. Today, when the Earth seems most under attack, Green Hermeticism is especially appropriate. The book explores not only the ancient Masters’ inner science, but also their science of Nature.

During spring and summer 2006, Pir Zia Khan convened a series of gatherings to begin to unfold the contemporary meaning of ancient, sacred science for our time. Green Hermeticism is a partial record of that meeting. Peter Lamborn Wilson, explores the many ramifications of the alternative worldview offered by Hermeticism; Christopher Bamford provides a broad historical overview of the tradition from the Ancient Mysteries to contemporary manifestations of the alchemical tradition; while Kevin Townley brings a practical dimension to the gathering teaching the preparation of herbal elixirs and demonstrating that cosmology and philosophy can become a truly healing path for the Earth.

Green Hermeticism is necessary reading for anyone seeking a spiritual and cultural path for the healing of the current ecological and cultural crisis.

Peter Lamborn Wilson (b.1945) is a scholar of Sufism and Western Hermeticism and (under the pseudonym “Hakim Bey”) a well-known radical-anarchist social thinker. His books include Sacred Drift: Essays on the Margins of Islam (City Lights, 1993) and Escape from the Nineteenth Century and Other Essays (Autonomedia, 1998).

Christopher Bamford is the editor in chief of SteinerBooks and its imprints. A Fellow of the Lindisfarne Association, he has lectured, taught, and written widely on Western spiritual and esoteric traditions and is the author of The Voice of the Eagle: The Heart of Celtic Christianity and An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West. He has also translated and edited numerous books, including Celtic Christianity, Homage to Pythagoras, and The Noble Traveller (all published by Lindisfarne Books). HarperSanFrancisco included an essay by Mr. Bamford in its anthology Best Spiritual Writing 2000.

Kevin Townley has been a lifelong student of Western Hermeticism. Early on in his studies, he was drawn to the writings of Dr. Paul Foster Case and has been a member of the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.) for eleven years. Kevin is currently the Vice President of LPN- USA, an esoteric organization dedicated to the study and practice of Qabalah and Laboratory Alchemy. His studies have led him around the world seeking original Rosicrucian and alchemical texts, as well as individuals who practice this royal art. He is the author of The Cube of Space: Container of Creation (Archive Press, 1993) and Meditations on the Cube of Space (Archer Books, 2002).

Pir Zia Inayat-Khan is the spiritual leader of the Sufi Order International (established by Hazrat Inayat Khan in London, 1917) and founding director of the Suluk Academy, an esoteric school in upstate New York. His initiatory heritage integrates the sacred transmissions of the Chishti, Suhrawardi, Qadiri, and Naqshbandi lineages within a post-denominational, inter-spiritual goal. Pir Zia holds a master’s degree in religion from Duke University.

The Luddite critique.

From the Brooklyn Rail

An Anarchist in the Hudson Valley
in conversation: Peter Lamborn Wilson
with Jennifer Bleyer
July 2004

It’s been nearly ten years since Peter Lamborn Wilson–nee Hakim Bey–looked at the pitiably state-bound, rule-bound world around him and asked: “Are we who live in the present doomed never to experience autonomy, never to stand for one moment on a bit of land ruled only by freedom?” In a slim, rattling volume called Temporary Autonomous Zone, Wilson intoned that, in fact, freedom is already here. Autonomy exists in time, he said, rather than space. It’s in times of wildness, revelry, abandon and revolution that for even just one brief jail-breaking moment, as sweet as honey to the tongue, one is freed of all political and social control.

Wilson rightly became celebrated as a kind of urban prophet. It was an identity to add the others he bears seamlessly and without contradiction: anarchist, poet, public intellectual, psychedelic explorer, artist, social critic, Sufi mystic. Six years ago he moved upstate from the East Village to New Paltz, New York. The setting is different, but the ideas have only deepened–notably his critique of global capital and “technological determination.” In his green wood-frame house, trees rustling overhead and birds chirping outside, we drank tea and talked.

Jennifer Bleyer: You left New York City six years ago and moved upstate to New Paltz. There’s a lot of art happening here and in the Hudson Valley in general, which seems pretty cool.

Peter Lamborn Wilson: The fact of it happening anywhere makes it more interesting than a kick in the face. But the fact of the matter is that America doesn’t produce anything anymore. A couple of years ago, we passed the halfway mark from being a so-called productive economy to a services economy. What are services? You tell me. Whatever it means, we don’t make pencils. We don’t make cement. We don’t make ladies garments or roll cigars. We don’t even manufacture computers. In other words, we don’t make anything,, especially not around here. There are a few cement factories left up in Greene County, but basically, industry died here in the fifties. It was a long slow death, certainly over by the seventies. There was a depression, so artists, who are certainly blameless in this, discovered low real estate prices and low rents, and they started to move up here. And the gap between the artists and the real estate developers has gotten very small in our modern times, down to where it’s almost nothing.

So for a few years the artists and their friends came up here and got bargains and moved in, and now artists’ studios in Beacon sell for a quarter-million dollars. And we’re talking about a one-room building on a half-acre lot. You want a house? Half-a-million. Do you know any artists who can afford that? The point is that there’s a lot of boosterism for the arts in the Hudson Valley because there’s no other economy. It’s either that or “green tourism,” which in my mind is a disgusting term and something that I don’t want to see promoted in any way. It’s a commodification of nature, turning nature into a source of profit for the managerial caste in the Hudson Valley. That’s not the solution I’m interested in.

We have all these knee-jerk phrases that in the sixties sounded like communist revolution, and now are just corpses in the mouths of real estate developers. “Sustainable development”–that means very expensive houses for vaguely ecologically conscious idiots from New York. It has nothing to do with a sustainable economy or permaculture. They talk about agriculture, they get all weepy about it, but they won’t do anything for the family farms because family farms use pesticides and fertilizers, which is a terrible sin in the minds of these people. So they’re perfectly happy to see the old farms close down and build McMansions, as long as they’re green McMansions, of course, with maybe a little solar power so they can boast about how they are almost off the grid. This is just yuppie poseurism. It’s fashionable to be green, but it’s not at all fashionable to wonder about the actual working class and farming people and families that you’re dispossessing. This is a class war situation, and the artists are unfortunately not on the right side of the battle. If we would just honestly look at what function we’re serving in this economy, I’m afraid we would see that we’re basically shills for real estate developers.

Bleyer: Which is really the case in Beacon, I suppose.

Wilson: Oh, absolutely. Dead Hudson Valley industrial towns reinventing themselves as prole-free zones and calling it art. Now, everyone I know is involved in the arts, and I’m involved in the arts, so what I’m saying here is a bit of a mea culpa. I don’t think that we can consider ourselves guiltless and not implicated in all this because we’re creative and artsy and have leftist emotions. Where are our actual alternative institution-building energies? Where are our food co-ops? Where’s our support for the Mexican migrant agricultural workers? Most people here are not interested in that.

Bleyer: So where should people who consider themselves radical be directing their energies?

Wilson: I think that a radical life is not something that depends on Internet connections or websites or demos or even on politics, like having Green mayors. This may sound dull to people who think that having a really hot website is a revolutionary act. Or that getting a million people to come out and wave symbolic signs at a symbolic march is a political act. If it doesn’t involve alternative economic institution building, it’s not. As an anarchist, I’ve had this critique for years, and experience has only deepened it. Here, there are people who are very concerned with trying to preserve whatever natural beauty and farmland exists in this region, and my heart’s with them. But I think it’s done by and large without any consciousness that this is already a privileged enclave. We’re saying that this is our backyard and we don’t want any cement factories. However, we’re not saying that we volunteer to do without cement. What we’re saying is cement is fine, as long as the factories are in Mexico.

Bleyer: Or in Sullivan County.

Wilson: Or Sullivan County. Although Sullivan County is fast reinventing itself, too.

Bleyer: You mentioned hot websites. I’m curious about your thoughts on the web now, because ten years ago you seemed optimistic about its potential.

Wilson: Well, I wouldn’t say I was an optimist. I was curious and attempted an anti-pessimist view. I went to about 25 conferences in Europe in seven years, and in all that time, I never had a computer or was on the Internet myself. I never have been. So I went to these conferences as the voice of caution, the one guy who doesn’t own a computer. Little by little, my talks at these conferences would become more and more Luddite, sounding the knell of warning about mechanization of consciousness and alienation and separation. There was a time when everything was so confused and chaotic that it was easy to believe that this technology would be an exception to all the other technologies, and instead of enslaving us, it would liberate us. I never actually believed that, but I was willing to talk to people who did. Now I’m not willing to talk to them anymore. I have no interest in this dialogue. It’s finished. The Internet revealed itself as the perfect mirror image of global capital. It has no borders? Neither does global capital. Governments can’t control it? Neither can they control global capital. Nor do they want to. They’ve given up trying, and now they basically serve as the mercenary armed forces for the corporate interstate–the 200 or 300 megacorporations that actually run the world. Fine. But let’s not call this radical politics, and let’s not call this liberation, and let’s not talk about cyberfeminism or virtual community. Basically, I’m a Luddite. Certain technologies hurt the commonality, as they used to say in the early 19th century. Any machinery that was hurtful to the commonality, they took their sledgehammers out and tried to smash. Direct action. That’s the Luddite critique–you do it with a sledgehammer. What it means now to live as a Luddite seems to me to involve a strict attention to what technologies one allows into one’s life.

Bleyer: And I guess the Internet has really come to be the pinnacle of this hurtful technology, in our age.

Wilson: Yes. You’re slumped in front of a screen, in the same physical situation as a TV watcher, you’ve just added a typewriter. And you’re “interactive.” What does that mean? It does not mean community. It’s catatonic schizophrenia. So blah blah blah, communicate communicate, data data data. It doesn’t mean anything more than catatonics babbling and drooling in a mental institution. Why can’t we stop? How is it that five years ago there were no cell phones, and now everyone needs a cell phone? You can pick up any book by any half-brained post-Marxist jerkoff and read about how capitalism creates false needs. Yet we allow it to go on.

Bleyer: But isn’t there something to be said for the subversive use of technologies?

Wilson: We believed that in the ’80s. The idea was that alternative media would allow us the space in which to organize other things. Even in the ’80s I said I’m waiting for my turkey and my turnips. I want some material benefits from the Internet. I want to see somebody set up a barter network where I could trade poetry for turnips. Or not even poetry–lawn cutting, whatever. I want to see the Internet used to spread the Ithaca dollar system around America so that every community could start using alternative labor dollars. It is not happening. And so I wonder, why isn’t it happening? And finally the Luddite philosophy becomes clear. We create the machines and therefore we think we control them, but then the machines create us, so we can create new machines, which then can create us. It’s a feedback situation between humanity and technology. There is some truth to the idea of technological determination, especially when you’re unconscious, drifting around like a sleepwalker. Especially when you’ve given up believing in anti-capitalism because they’ve convinced you that the free market is a natural law, and we just have to accept that and hope for a free market with a friendly smiling face. Smiley-faced fascism. I see so many people working for that as if it were a real cause. “If we have to have capitalism, let’s make it green capitalism.” There’s no such thing. It’s a hallucination of the worst sort, because it isn’t even a pleasurable one. It’s a nightmare.

Bleyer: I’m curious if you think we’re hallucinating more now than ever before–if the psychic energy for liberation is gone.

Wilson: The answer would have to be extremely complex, because I don’t have any snappy aphorisms to explain this. You might say that it wouldn’t matter if every government in the world was taken over by screaming green socialists tomorrow morning, they couldn’t reverse the damage. I don’t know. It seems clear that in human society, despite the best intentions, technology has alienated people to such an extent that they mistake technological and symbolic action for social/political action. This is the commodity stance. You buy a certain product, and you’ve made a political statement. You buy a car that runs on salad oil. It’s still a car! Or make a documentary. Where did we cross that line where we forgot that making a documentary about how everyone would like to have a food co-op is not the same as having a food co-op? I think some people have lost that distinction. Now, about art in the service of the revolution: There is no art in the service of the revolution, because if there’s no revolution, there’s no art in its service. So to say that you’re an artist but you’re progressive is a schizo position. We have only capital, so all art is either in its service or it fails. Those are the two alternatives. If it’s successful, it’s in the service of capital. I don’t care what the content is. The content could be Malcolm X crucified on a bed of lettuce. It doesn’t matter.

Bleyer: But what about the growing protest movement of the past five years, which really does seem significant?

Wilson: You mean people who are building puppets and going around the world being radical tourists?

Bleyer: The perhaps one million people coming to the streets of New York to protest the RNC in August, for example.

Wilson: Well, make it two million. It can be like the biggest anti-war marches ever held, they were forgotten five minutes later. All they’re doing is assuaging their conscience a little. At best, it’s symbolic discourse and it never goes beyond that. Especially in North America. It’s not going to save the world to dump Bush and these people are deluded.

Bleyer: What do you think about Burning Man and other events that are in essence Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) but don’t necessarily dismantle the power structures of global capital?

Wilson: I’ve never been to Burning Man, but that’s just accidental, because I’ve given up travel. As far as I can tell it’s a lovely thing. I call those things “periodic autonomous zones.” The thing about the TAZ is I didn’t invent it, I just gave it a name. I think it’s a sociological reality that groups of people will come together to maximize some concept of freedom that they share as naturally as breathing. When all the potential for the emergence for a TAZ is maximized, either because you’ve helped to maximize it or because your local situation has arrived at a certain point where it becomes possible, you’ll do it. Like I’ve said before, a TAZ is anywhere from two to several thousand people, who for as little as two or three hours or for as much as a couple of years manage to keep that mood going. And it’s incredibly vital. It’s vital that every human being should have some such experience, or else they’ll never know that another world is possible. So Burning Man is a kind of periodic autonomous zone. As soon as the first hint of commercialization or tiredness appears, then I would think the best thing to do is to close it down. Move on, reappear somewhere else. And ultimately, I do believe that another world is possible and that permanent changes could be made. But that’s different. That’s a revolution.

Bleyer: You lived abroad for about 12 years, mostly in the Islamic world. What’s your perception of Islamic fundamentalists, “terrorists” and otherwise?

Wilson: Certainly, these Islamic fundamentalists are of no interest intellectually. They have no ideas, they’re not anti-capitalist; they love technology and money. Ideologically, they’re not offering any alternatives to anything. By and large, they’re an imagistic froth that has very little to do with most people’s experience of Islam. In their manifestations as tiny terrorist groups, they don’t have much of a social role, only as symbolic figureheads, and that’s why their actual support in the Muslim world is rather shallow. Right now it depends largely on the fact that the Bushies have made the name of America stink forever in the nostrils of the world. When I was traveling in the East, I was always amazed at the unearned reservoir of goodwill toward Americans. It existed everywhere. Now I reckon they’d throw rocks at you.

Bleyer: And do you think that’s irreparable?

Wilson: Almost irreparable. Even the Vietnam War, which was still going on when I began my travels, never aroused this much hatred and unpopularity.

Bleyer: Is there anything you could see altering the current course of the American empire?

Wilson: Yes. If all our emotion for resistance could somehow pull us together instead of apart. This is the brilliant thing they’ve managed to do–set us all at each other’s throats. If I think of the anarchist movement, we spend all our time screaming at each other over various sub-sectarian impurities we perceive in each other’s writing. That is what anarchist activity now boils down to. But it’s not entirely our fault–when there’s no movement, there’s no movement. But a new coherence could appear. Frankly, I think it would have to be of a spiritual nature. It would have to involve a kind of fanaticism that would involve real sacrifice–sacrifice of comforts, sacrifice of cell phones, sacrifice of this privileged life in the belly of the beast that we all acquiesce in. There’s a lot of symbolic discourse, but no action. I suppose that could come back, which is why I’m ready to cut slack for spiritual movements, which have nothing necessarily to do with religion.

Bleyer: I’m curious about this intersection between the political and spiritual.

Wilson: There are those of us who are usually called spiritualist anarchists. I’m willing to accept that label if I can have other labels as well. It’s a well-known fact that there’s no secular Luddite community anywhere. The only Luddite communities are Anabaptists–Amish, Mennonite, seventh day Baptists, all those kind of Germano-Anabaptist groups that originate in Pennsylvania. I guess it’s religious fanaticism. Well, we need some equivalent of that. I can only see that coming from what people would identify as a spiritual movement. Nowadays it would probably have to have a neo-pagan shamanic quality to it, but I think it would also have to keep the door open to people in the established religions who are rethinking their positions, including some Catholics. It would have to be very inclusive, non-dogmatic, and not involve any central cult of authority. It would have to be a spontaneous crystallization of all the pagan-LSD stuff we’ve been going through since the sixties. It will have to crystallize and provide this psychic power for self-sacrifice.

Bleyer: Are you still a Sufi?

Wilson: That’s a hard question to answer. No, I’m not a practicing Muslim. I don’t spend a lot of time saying my beads, but I don’t consider myself utterly broken away from all that. In fact, I have very good friends and allies within the Sufi movement.

Bleyer: Who among other anarchist thinkers do you admire?

Wilson: Rene Riesel in France is an admirable character. He’s faced with a jail sentence now in France for a heavily militant action–destroying genetically manipulated crops and possibly other things as well. Some of his followers are engaged in blowing up electric power lines. And Jose Bove, the farmer from the south of France, has done a lot of interesting stuff.

Bleyer: What are you studying now?

Wilson: I’m very interested in early Romanticism now. To me, the Romantics were the first people to consciously deal with these issues. Some of the most interesting aspects of this come from the early Romantic movement in Germany around 1795. The early German Romantics have been forgotten as a source for our movement, especially from an artistic point of view. They informed all the art movements since then, the ones that tried to do what Hegelians call the “suppression and realization of art”–suppressing art as an elitist consumption activity of the wealthy, suppressing it as something that alienates other people who aren’t artists and makes them less important or less significant, and somehow universalizing it. That’s the realization or art, so that somehow or another everyone is an artist or some sort, fully free and encouraged to be as creative as possible. There’s no privileged position to the art that ends up in galleries or museums. That would be the suppression and realization of art, and that was basically a Romantic program and a program of every avant-garde art movement since then. They’ve all begun by saying, “We hate art as alienation, we want to restore it somehow to the kind of universal experience that we sense, for example, among a tribe of pygmies, where everyone is a singer and no one leads the singing.” That goal has been there for every single art movement since Romanticism.

Bleyer: What have you experienced personally of TAZ realities, lately?

Wilson: A lot of people tell me that they have enjoyed or benefited from my work, for which I’m naturally very pleased. But in a lot of cases they have very different tastes than I do. I’m a sixties guy. I don’t like industrial music or even rock ‘n’ roll. I am willing to accept rock ‘n’ roll as an orgiastic music, but I think it’s disgusting that I have to have orgiastic music spewed at me from every single orifice of modern civilization, all the time, nonstop, to make me buy more products and lose my intellectual acuity and start shopping. I also don’t like the drugs that they use–I prefer mushrooms and pot. I don’t enjoy raves. The ravers were among my biggest readers–they’re now getting a little old themselves. Personally, I don’t enjoy those parties. This is a matter of taste. I’m happy that they’re happy, but I don’t want to go to the party. I’m not 20-years-old anymore, I get tired. But fine for them. Terrific. I wish they would rethink all this techno stuff–they didn’t get that part of my writing. I think it would be very interesting if they took some of my ideas about immediatism and the bee. Small groups should do art for each other, and stay out of the media as much as possible, and this will eventually cause a buzz and make people want to be part of it. I’m waiting–maybe before I die there will be a hip Luddite movement. I’ll probably like their parties and go to them. But it’s not happening. Most of the people interested in TAZ tend to be very techno-oriented. But as I say, if they’re having a good time, God bless them. Allah bless them. Goddess bless them. Just bless them. I think that’s terrific. It’s important to have those TAZ experiences. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t know what there is to struggle for.

Wilson’s books are available from Autonomedia, http://www.autonomedia.org. His next book of essays, Lost Histories, will be out this fall.

Jennifer Bleyer is a journalist and activist who lives in Fort Greene. She is the founder and former editor of Heeb Magazine.