This “epic” mixed poetry and prose text about an area of upstate New York is organised around seven historical, geographical and aesthetic events that once took place along the euphoniously-named Esopus River, with which the author says he fell in “green love.” Peter Lamborn Wilson provides a literary and philosophical tour-de-force of local history, including the “cartolagic” documentations of the performances he conducted to commemorate and to “re-enchant these landscapes” so threatened by vulgar materialism and ecological devastation.
“Every map has its Night Sky because the Map is not the Territory — & yet it is….
Ordinary maps project ideological inscriptions onto the body of landscape — but a magical map would share essences with that landscape & engage in co-realization with it. Such a map could then act as a pilgrim’s guide to the Profane or— Secular Illumination — a pagan theory of Sacred Earth as cartomantic spell. Looked at this way, even ordinary maps possess an “invisible” or nocturnal dimension, or rather a set of stars & asterisms that replicate or mirror its topography & hydrography in the sleeping sky — ‘As Above, So Below’ — sciences that (as Novalis says) will then have been poeticized.”
Click on the portrait of PLW (pencil on paper by Brooklyn Rail mainman Phong Bui) to read the whole interview.
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…
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.
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
From a 2010 conversation with Hakim Bey (aka Peter Lamborn Wilson) by Hans Ulrich Obrist at e-flux:
“l call it vanishing art, which means that the art comes into existence in the very moment that it disappears. For example, the first piece I did involved throwing gold rings into a river—like the ancient druids used to do. Each of these works is based on a place in the region where I live, and each one is based on a historical event or person that I find inspiring, either because they were mystical or revolutionary, or for some other reason. In each case I find a way to do an artwork that vanishes, either immediately or over the course of a few days. I have plenty of plans for other ways of doing this, but so far I’ve been throwing things into water and burying things. In the future I’ll be burning a lot of things as well. I want to get into pyrotechnics.
“And then in each case, I make a map similar to the one that you have, using collage, which is meant to be a sort of magical manipulation of the toposphere, of the map world, the image of the place. I use photographs and found objects and so forth to make these, and I also keep a box of documentation for each one, with photographs, drafts, essays, poems, souvenirs, and so forth. So even though the art disappears, the map and the box remain behind as a record of the work.
“[This one] originated as a nineteenth century Hudson River navigation chart. The important place there is Esopus Island, which is where Aleister Crowley camped out in 1918. I visited it with William Breeze, who is the official representative of Aleister Crowley’s occult and literary remains. He’s the literary executor, and he’s also the head of the Ordo Templi Orientis, which is the occult lodge that Crowley left behind. So Bill Breeze and I hired a sailboat for the day and went to that island and explored it. We had a nice time, came back, had a nice dinner, and that was pretty much the start of this whole series of works. I realized that I’ve been living up here and studying the local history for ten years, and I don’t know what to do with all this material about this place where I live. I didn’t want to turn it into some stupid guidebook for tourists. I didn’t want to turn it into a stupid academic book for an academic press. So for now I’m putting all this historical and topological knowledge into these works I make in a very private way, just for friends. Maybe sometime I will have an exhibition of the maps. But I would like to wait a year or so, until I’ve really got a good, solid collection before doing something like a gallery show. So next year, God willing, I’m going to do another seven or eight of these works, and that might be enough to start thinking about doing a show. But in the meantime I sort of like the idea that it’s private and secret, driven by word of mouth and magical influences rather than publication or publicity.”
# 1 Mexico City is absolutely. Or was. With a claridad that would’ve seemed glossy as bone except for the fecality of its plutonian fruit. Especially Leonora Carrington – the secret hardness of colonial baroque – its refusal to be reasonable – its crown of owls
#2 Chocolate is Mexico’s great contribution to Surrealism. With unbroken incantations in the voice of a lion prepare (on wild rocks) a soup made of half a pink onion, a bit of perfumed wood, some grains of myrrh, a large branch of green mint, 3 belladonna pills covered with white swiss chocolate, a huge compass rose (plunge in soup for one minute) Just before serving add Chinese “cloud” mushroom which has snail-like antennae & grown on owl dung
#3 As modern Hermeticist she ranks with Fulcanelli a Madame Paracelsa who tells yr fortune in the sense of buried treasure. It seems you yourself have psychic gifts which are only exacerbated by her soups. Molé as Dalí realized surrealizes all dishes via its resemblance to excrement e. g. over boiled lobsters (serve with pink champagne). Shit you can sculpt.
#4 Like gunpowder which was invented solely to exorcize demons – a secret passed along the Silk Road to Roger Bacon who unfortunately leaked the recipe to the uninitiated – Carrington embodies both the siesta & the anti-siesta. A Madam Adam with a handcranked gramophone with a horn lacquered black with gold pinstriping that plays only beeswax cylinders of Erik Satie or Gesualdo. Here alone exile attains an elegance & impassibility known only to stoned Rosicrucians.
#5 To live absolutely. A tricky trajectory between clinical dementia & the sloppy lace curtain Irish kitchen gemütlichkeit that usually passes (present company excepted of course) for life outside literature & even for true love. Or else it’s the altitude — mushrooms & chocolate — under the asphalt the bloodsoaked landfill — cactus cowskulls & drunken fusillades of flowers.
Sunday Oct 18th at 7pm
Woodstock Mountain Poetry Festival
Colony Cafe Woodstock (22 Rock City Rd)
Shivastan Press presents the “Small Press Revolution!”
book release & readings for “wildflowers- a Woodstock mountain poetry anthology”
featuring Lee Ann Brown, Donald Lev, Janine Pommy Vega, Andy Clausen, MJ Lamontagne
(+ special guests! – hopefully Ed Sanders)
followed by a celebration of the new release of “Atlantis Manifesto”
featuring Robert Kelly & Peter Lamborn Wilson.
hosted by Publisher Shiv Mirabito, info 679 8777
admission only $5
“Come to Prayer – prayers are better than sleep” Dawn Azzah “But the sleep of the Knowers is worth more than the prayers of the merely pious” Hadith
Most poets have secret arts and even ‘professions’ that are not part of the official biography. The author of the book I’m about to ‘review,’ to take an example, is (I have heard from a reliable source) an excellent billiards player. One wouldn’t want to encounter him casually at a pool table, no. For my part, those who know me well will, on occasion, show me their palm and ask for a reading. Apparently a line beneath my right index finger indicates a propensity of this sort, or so I was told in Bombay. And why not, a line is a line, a line of verse or a line stretched across the mortal palm.
Earth needs more parking lots the way you need more patches of asphalt grafted to your face & genitalia
(fr. SHOE DREAM)
Esoterically, the chakras open, it is said, intuition reads through the labyrinth (of lines). Is this so different than reading a text? And the billiard player—is his first thought best thought to be doubted? The archer and his arrow, the pool player and his cue. We take the cue from Hakim Bey, aka Peter Lamborn Wilson, a national treasure, hidden, of course, but thankfully through publications of this sort and the dedication of publishers Autonomedia and Garden of Delights, in view.
In the back room of an occult bookstore near the Pantheon a groupuscule called ZARATHUSTRAS REVENGE concocted the bomb plot but the infernal device turned out to b a dud but regret is at least an emotion. I was there & I am still there a ghost to myself.
Last May, Arthur published the Endarkenment Manifesto, Peter Lamborn Wilson’s “half-serious proposal for a political movement to uphold and propagate the ideals of Green Hermeticism.” So naturally we’re pleased to hear of the WWF’s new Earth Hour campaign…
World Wildlife Fund is asking individuals, businesses, governments and organizations around the world to turn off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour – March 28, 2009, 8:30 pm local time—to make a global statement of concern about climate change and to demonstrate commitment to finding solutions.
Lights out means a lot less light pollution, which means many of us will get to experience real darkness, and see the stars, for the first time in ages from our own homes. In other words, we’ll get to experience the night as it has been routinely experienced by homo sapiens for 99 percent of the time that they’ve been roaming the planet. Should be a real (cosmic) eye opener: the heavens, unveiled.
Continuing on the theme: how ’bout, say, a day without driving?
The Libertarian Book Club/Anarchist Forum presents…
Tuesday, December 16, at 7:00pm
PETER LAMBORN WILSON’s CHAOS DAY of 2008 THE MAGIC OF MONEY AND THE FUTURE OF CAPITALISM
“The History of Money since Sumeria to its Apotheosis as Pure Imagination in the 21st Century”
Peter Lamborn Wilson on finance as a form of gnosticism, a long historical view of the current crisis, and the prospects for resistance and revolution in the 21st century.
The event will take place at The Living Theatre, 21 Clinton Street, Manhattan (just south of Houston St) (212-792-8050). Coming from uptown, take the F or V train to “2nd Avenue” (exit front of train on 1st Ave, walk east along Houston and turn right on Clinton) or coming from downtown, take the F, V, M or Z train to “Delancey – Essex” and walk east on Delancey three blocks and turn left on Clinton for 2 and a half blocks.
Everybody is welcome and invited to come and to have their say.
There is no set fee for the presentation, but a contribution to aid the LBC is suggested.
If you have questions, contact the Libertarian Book Club/Anarchist Forum, 212-475-7180 or e-mail: roberterler (at) erols.com
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.
Texts by Peter Lamborn Wilson published in Arthur:
The Endarkenment Manifesto (Arthur No. 29, May 2008) Wilson’s half-serious proposal for a political movement to uphold and propagate the ideals of Green Hermeticism–the “coherent spiritual movement that constitutes the only imaginable alternative to unending degradation of Earth and humanity.”