Flowers in the Sky

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.

The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.

Although its light is wide and great,

The moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide.

The whole moon and the entire sky

Are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.

Dogen

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Excellent Talk at Powell’s! Nice Gathering after, Pictures tomorrow, and oh yes, excellent Absinthe! Lots of laughs. Wish you were there!

Pax,

Gwyllm

On The Menu:

The Links

The Article: Summer Land – The Periodic Autonomous Zone – HAKIM BEY

Poetry: Ancient Breton Poetry

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The Links:

Is It Raining Aliens?

Dock Ellis Says He Pitched 1970 No-Hitter Under The Influence of LSD

Music Eases Perception Of Chronic Pain

Lovely Stuff…

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Summer Land – The Periodic Autonomous Zone

HAKIM BEY

I would guess that the old life way of transhumancy always proved both enjoyable and practical, at least in small scale economies. Twice a year you get up and move, travel, change your life and even your diet – – a taste of nomadic freedom. But always the same two places. One place is typically more heimlich than the other — the village, the hearth; while the other place is typically wilder than the first, and this one might be called the place of Desire, of Summer.

In the tales of Finn Mac Cumal and his Fenian band we nearly always meet them at this wilder end of the spectrum, the greenwood, the landscape of the hunt which reaches “back” in time to a more golden pre-agricultural age, and also “aslant” in time — to Tir nan Og, the Land of Summer, realm of the Tuatha de Danaan, who are both the Dead and the Fairies. We forget that the Fenians spent only half the year free in the forests. They were like transhumants — they owed the other half of the year to work (military service) for the King. In this respect they resembled the Irish peasants, who until recently practiced pastoral transhumancy. Traces may survive even now. Irish folklore certainly preserves the image of this Summertime freedom; “Nature” always seems somehow interlaced and even confused with “Culture” in Irish tradition (as in the zoomorphic capitals of the Book of Kells), in ways which have often impressed the foreign observer as uniquely Irish.

Elizabethan colonists compared native Irish with native American Indians: — both were perceived as “wild” — and both received the same treatment from the English. Transhumancy gives a people the chance to remain in touch with Nature in its “merrie” aspect (as Morton of Merrymount would have phrased it), even if that people’s economic life is virtually defined by agriculture, peonage, and drudgery. This explains the “radical” aspect of poaching, from Robin Hood to the Black Laws, and also the universal human romanticization of hunting.

This romanticism begins already even in hunter/gatherer societies, where the prestige (and fun) of the hunt provides far less food for the tribe than the (comparative) drudgery of gathering — and the romanticism continues to this day. I think of my two late uncles, who cultivated the country romance of the hunt like characters out of Turgeniev’s Sketchbook. I find it impossible to despise this romanticism, which appears to me so clearly as the last remnant of Paleolithic freedom in a world given over to the gridwork of the plow — and the highway.

In effect Romanticism itself can be said to revolve (if not resolve) around this tension in the Nature/Culture spectrum. The transhumant must be a sort of practical romantic, an “ambulatory schizophrenic” who functions as a personality, “split” between the magnetic poles, and ambulating back and forth according to the weather.

Winter………………………………Summer

village……………………………….mountain or forest

work…………. Pivot:……………..play

agriculture……….festival………..pastoralism/hunt

fireside………(axes of …………. ” bothy” (the hut of greenery)

narrative…………the year) ……..adventure

reverie………………………………desire

etc.

When agriculture reproduces itself, through a process of further rationalization and abstraction, and creates industrial culture, then the split widens beyond breaching. The transhumants lose the basic structure of their economy through enclosure of village commons and loss of “forest rights” or traditional grazing lands. Pure nomads, who provide (as Ibn Khaldun recognized) a necessary dialectic tension in traditional (agricultural) societies, become “redundant” in the Industrial regime — but they do not disappear. The Tinkers and Travelers still roam around Ireland as in the 18th and 19th centuries (and perhaps even in prehistory). But the transhumants are simply doomed. The liminal space they once occupied, in between settlement and nomadry, in between Culture and Nature, has simply been erased.

The psychic space of transhumancy however cannot be so easily disappeared. No sooner does it vanish from the map but it re-appears in Romanticism — in the new-found appreciation for landscape and even wilderness, in “Nature worship” and Naturphilosophie, in tours of the Alps, in the Parks movement, in picnics, in nudist camps, in the Summer cottage, even in the Summer vacation. Nowadays “reformers’ want children to attend school year round, and they criticize the summer vacation of two or three months as an inefficient remnant of an agricultural economy. But from the (romantic) viewpoint of children, summer is sacred to freedom — a temporary (but periodic) autonomous zone. Children are diehard transhumants.

To a certain extent — and from a certain point of view — we now inhabit a “post-industrial” world; and it has been noted that precisely to the extent that this is so, “nomadism” has reappeared. This has its good aspects (as in Deluze and Guattari) and its bad aspects — as for instance in tourism. But what has become of transhumancy in this new context? What situations might we elucidate by seeking out its traces?

A very clear trace or remnant of psychic transhumancy expressed itself in the 1920’2 – 1950′s in America as the summer camp movement. A great many of these camps were inspired by various progressive and radical tendencies — naturism, communism and anarchism, Reicheanism and other psychological schools, oriental mysticism, spiritualism — a plethora of “marginal” forces. The utopian rural commune like Brook Farm was diluted into a low-cost summer vacation for cranks. During the same period countless thousands of “vacation communities” were created, with cabins only a bit less primitive than those of the camps. My family owns one in a decaying lakeside resort-town in Upstate New York, where all the streets are named after Indians, forests, wild animals. These humble communities represent the “individualist” or entrepreneurial version of the summer camp’s communalism; but even now some vestiges of seasonal communitarian spirit survive in them. As for the camps, eventually the majority began to cater to children, those natural citizens of summer. As the price of sheer hedonistic idleness went up and up, soon only the children of the well-to-do could afford camp — and then not even them. One by one the camps began to close, a slow decline over the 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s. Desperate measures are still attempted (“Marxist Computer Slim-down Camp”; neo-pagan gatherings and holistic seminars, etc.) — but by now the Summer Camp almost seems like an anachronism.

Now the Summer Camp may be an extremely watered-down version of the utopia of transhumancy — much less the utopia of utopia! — but I would argue that it is worth defending, or rather, worth re-organizing. If the old economics failed to support it, perhaps a new economics can be envisioned and realized. In fact such a tendency has already appeared. As old Summer Camps go bankrupt and come on the market, a few are acquired by groups who try to preserve them as camps (with perhaps some year-round residents), either as private or semi-private summer “communes”. Some of these neo-camps will simply serve as vacation retreats for the groups who acquire them; but others will need extra funding, and will thus be drawn into experiments in subsistence gardening, craft work, conference-organizing, cultural events, or some other semi-public function. In this latter case we can speak of a neo-transhumancy, since the camp will serve not simply as a space of “leisure” but also as a space of “work” for the primary participants.

Summer “work” appears to the transhumant as a kind of “play” by comparison with village labor. Pastoralism leaves time for some arcadian pleasures unknown to full-time agriculture or industry; and the hunt is pure sport. (Play is the point of the hunt; “game” is a bonus.) In somewhat the same way the neo-summer camp will have to “work” to get by, but its labor will be “self-managed” and “self-owned” to a greater extent than Winter’s wages, and it will be work of a “festal” nature — “recreation”, hopefully in the original sense of the word — or even “creation”. (Artists and craftsfolk make good citizens of Summer.)

If the economy determined the downfall of the old summer camp movement, the state played a role as well: — regulations, restrictions, precautions, insurance requirements, codes, etc., helped raise the real cost of running a camp above the level of feasibility. One might almost begin to suspect that “the State” somehow felt the camp movement as some vague sort of threat. For one thing, camps escape the daily gaze of control, and are removed from the flow of commodities and information. Then too, camps are suspiciously communal, focuses of possible resistance to the alienation and atomization of consumerism and “modern democracy.”

Camps have an erotic subversiveness to them, as every ex-Summer-camper will testify, a wildness and laxness of super-ego, an air of Misrule, of Midsummer Night’s dreams, skinny-dipping, the crush, the languor of July. The camp cannot be reconciled to the ideal of the industrial production of leisure (“holiday package”) and the reproduction and simulation of summer as a theme park, the vacation process, the systematic “emptying-out” of all difference, all authentic desire.

Inasmuch as the State distrusts the camp, the neo-camp will (to that extent) need to cultivate certain forms of invisibility or social camouflage. One possible disguise for the neo-camp however would be to assume the precise guise of an old-fashioned half-bankrupt summer camp. After all, the Summer camp is not illegal, and if your group can meet the insurance requirements, why not fit yourselves into an already-existing archetype? Provided you’re not running a kids’ camp, or an openly-proclaimed Anarcho-Nudist retreat, you might be able to pass yourselves off as just another bunch of harmless make-believe Indians with a month’s vacation to waste.

My defense of the summer (neo-)camp is based on two simple premises: — one, a month or two of relative freedom is better than absolutely none; two, it’s affordable. I’m assuming that your group is not made up of “nomads” or full-time freedom fighters, but of people who need to work for a living or are stuck in a city or ‘burb most of the year — potential transhumnats.

You want something more than a summer vacation – you want a summer community. Splashing in a humble Adirondack lake is more pleasureable to you than Disney World — provided you can do it with the people you like. Sharing the costs makes it possible, but also makes it an adventure in communicativeness and mutual enhancement. Making the place pay for itself or even turn a little off-the-books profit would transform your group into true neo-transhumants, with two economic focuses in your lives. Even if you seek legal status (as a tax-exempt educational center religious retreat, or Summer camp) your proprietorship affords you a certain degree of privacy which — if used discreetly — can exceed all legal bounds in terms of sex, nudity, drugs, or pagan excess. As long as you don’t frighten the horses or challenge local interests, you’re simply another bunch of “Summer people”, and as such expected to be a bit weird.

Of all the versions of the TAZ imagined so far, this “periodic” or seasonal zone is most open to criticism as a social palliative or an “Anarchist Club Med.: It’s saved from mere selfishness however by the necessary fact of its self-organization. Your group must create the zone — you can’t buy it pre-packaged from some tourist agency. The summer camp can’t be the social “Revolution”, true enough. I suppose it could be called a training-camp for the Uprising, but this sounds too earnest and pretentious. I would prefer simply to point to the desperation felt by many for just a taste of autonomy, in the context of a valid romanticism of Nature. Not everyone can be a neo-nomad — but why not at least a neo-transhumant? What if the uprising doesn’t come? Are we never to regain the land of summer even for a month? Never vanish from the grid even for a moment? The summer camp is not the war, not even a strategy — but it is a tactic. And unmediated pleasure, after all, is still its own excuse.

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Ancient Breton Poetry

The Dance of the Sword.

(Ha Korol ar C’Hieze.)

Blood, wine, and glee

Sun, to thee,–

Blood, wine, and glee!

Fire! fire! steel, Oh! steel!

Fire, fire! steel and fire!

Oak! oak, earth, and waves!

Waves, oak, earth and oak!

Glee of dance and song,

And battle-throng,–

Battle, dance, and song!

Fire! fire! steel, etc.

Let the sword blades swing

In a ring,–

Let the sword blades swing!

Fire! fire! steel, etc.

Song of the blue steel,

Death to feel,–

Song of the blue steel!

Fire! fire! steel, etc.

Fight, whereof the sword

Is the Lord,–

Fight of the fell sword!

Fire! fire! steel, etc.

Sword, thou mighty king

Of battle’s ring,–

Sword thou mighty king!

Fire! fire! steel, etc.

With the rainbow’s light

Be thou bright,–

With the rainbow’s light!

Fire! fire! steel, Oh! steel!

Fire, fire! steel and fire!

Oak! oak, earth and waves!

Waves, oak, earth, and oak!

The Lord Nann and the Fairy (Aotron Nann Hag ar Gorrigan)

The good Lord Nann and his fair bride

Were young when wedlock’s knot was tied–

Were young when death did them divide.

But yesterday that lady fair

Two babes as white as snow did bear;

A man-child and a girl they were.

“Now, say what is thy heart’s desire,

For making me a man-child’s sire?

‘Tis thine, whate’er thou may’st require,–

“What food soe’er thee lists to take,

Meat of the woodcock from the lake,

Meat of the wild deer from the brake.”

“Oh, the meat of the deer is dainty food!

To eat thereof would do me good,

But I grudge to send thee to the wood.”

The Lord of Nann, when this he heard,

Hath gripp’d his oak spear with never a word;

His bonny black horse he hath leap’d upon,

And forth to the greenwood hath he gone.

By the skirts of the wood as he did go,

He was ware of a hind as white as snow.

Oh, fast she ran, and fast he rode,

That the earth it shook where his horse-hoofs trode.

Oh, fast he rode, and fast she ran,

That the sweat to drop from his brow began–

That the sweat on his horse’s flank stood white;

So he rode and rode till the fall o’ the night.

When he came to a stream that fed a lawn,

Hard by the grot of a Corrigaun.

The grass grew thick by the streamlet’s brink,

And he lighted down off his horse to drink.

The Corrigaun sat by the fountain fair,

A-combing her long and yellow hair.

A-combing her hair with a comb of gold,–

(Not poor, I trow, are those maidens cold).–

“Now who’s the bold wight that dares come here

To trouble my fairy fountain clear?

Either thou straight shall wed with me,

Or pine for four long years and three;

Or dead in three days’ space shall be.”

“I will not wed with thee, I ween,

For wedded man a year I’ve been;

“Nor yet for seven years will I pine,

Nor die in three days for spell of thine;

“For spell of thine I will not die,

But when it pleaseth God on high.

“But here, and now, I’d leave my life,

Ere take a Corrigaun to wife.

*

“O mother, mothe! for love of me,

Now make my bed, and speedily,

For I am sick as a man can be.

“Oh, never the tale to my lady tell;

Three days and ye’ll hear my passing bell;

The Corrigaun hath cast her spell.”

Three days they pass’d, three days were sped,

To her mother-in-law the ladye said:

“Now tell me, madam, now tell me, pray,

Wherefore the death-bells toll to-day?

“Why chaunt the priests in the street below,

All clad in their vestments white as snow?”

“A strange poor man, who harbour’d here,

He died last night, my daughter dear.”

“But tell me, madam, my lord, your son

My husband-whither is he gone?”

“But to the town, my child, he’s gone;

And at your side he’ll be back anon.”

“What gown for my churching were’t best to wear,

My gown of grain, or of watchet fair?”

“The fashion of late, my child, hath grown,

That women for churching black should don.”

As through the churchyard porch she stept,

She saw the grave where her husband slept

“Who of our blood is lately dead,

That our ground is new raked and spread?”

The truth I may no more forbear,

My son–your own poor lord–lies there!”

She threw herself on her knees amain,

And from her knees neer rose again.

That night they laid her, dead and cold,

Beside her lord, beneath the mould

When, lo! –a marvel to behold!–

Next morn from the grave two oak-trees fair,

Shot lusty boughs high up in air;

And in their boughs–oh wondrous sight!–

Two happy doves, all snowy white–

That sang, as ever the morn did rise,

And then flew up–into the skies!

————

Alain the Fox

The bearded fox is yelping, yelp, yelping through the glades;

Woe to the foreign rabbits! His eyes are two keen blades.

His teeth are keen; his feet are swift; his nails are red with blood.

Alain the fox is yelping war: yelp, yelping in the wood.

The Bretons making sharp their arms of terror I did see,

It was on cuirasses of Gaul, not stones of Brittany.

The Bretons reaping did I see, upon the fields of war;

It was not notched reaping-hooks, but swords of steel they bore.

They reapt no wheat of our own land, they reaped not our rye;

But the beardless ears, the beardless ears of Gaul and Saxony.

I saw upon the threshing-floor the Bretons threshing corn:

I saw the beaten chaff fly out from beardless ears off-torn.

It was not with their wooden flails the Bretons thresht the wheat;

But with their iron boar-spears and with their horses’ feet.

I heard the cry when threshing’s done, the joy-cry onward borne

Far, far from Mont-Saint-Michel to the valleys of Elorn:

From the abbey of Saint Gildas far on to the Land’s-End rocks.

In Brittany’s four corners give a glory to the Fox!

From age to age give glory to the Fox a thousand times!

But weep ye for the rhymer, though he recollect his rhymes!

For he that sang this song the first since then hath never sung :

Ah me, alas! Unhappy man! The Gauls cut out his tongue.

But though no more he hath a tongue, a heart is always his:

He has both hand and heart to shoot his arrowy melodies.

—–

Bran (The Crow.)

Wounded full sore is Bran the knight ;

For he was at Kerloan fight;

At Kerloan fight, by wild seashore

Was Bran-Vor’s grandson wounded sore;

And, though we gained the victory,

Was captive borne beyond the sea.

He when he came beyond the sea,

In the close keep wept bitterly.

“They leap at home with joyous cry

While, woe is me, in bed I lie.

Could I but find a messenger,

Who to my mother news would bear!”

They quickly found a messenger

His best thus gave the warrior:

“Heed thou to dress in other guise,

My messenger, dress beggar-wise!

Take thou my ring, my ring of gold,

That she thy news as truth may hold!

Unto my country straightway go,

It to my lady mother show!

Should she come free her son from hold,

A flag of white do thou unfold!I

But if with thee she come not back,

Unfurl, ah me, a pennon black!

So, when to Leon-land he came,

At supper table sat the dame,

At table with her family,

The harpers playing as should be.

“Dame of the castle, hail! I bring

From Bran your son this golden ring,

His golden ring and letter too;

Read it, oh read it, straightway through!

“Ye harpers, cease ye, play no more,

For with great grief my heart is sore!

My son (cease harpers, play no more!)

In prison, and I did not know!

Prepare to-night a ship for me!

To-morrow I go across the sea.”

The morning of the next, next day

The Lord Bran questioned, as he lay:

“Sentinel, sentinel, soothly say!

Seest thou no vessel on its way?”

“My lord the knight, I nought espy

Except the great sea and the sky.”

The Lord Bran askt him yet once more,

Whenas the day’s course half was o’er;

“Sentinel, sentinel, soothly say!

Seest thou no vessel on its way?”

“I can see nothing, my lord the knight,

Except the sea-birds i’ their flight.”

The Lord Bran askt him yet again,

Whenas the day was on the wane;

“Sentinel, sentinel, soothly say!

Seest thou no vessel on its way?”

Then that false sentinel, the while

Smiling a mischief-working smile;

“I see afar a misty form–

A ship sore beaten by the storm.”

“The flag? Quick give the answer back!

The banner? Is it white or black?”

“Far as I see, ’tis black, Sir knight,

I swear it by the coal’s red light.”

When this the sorrowing knight had heard

Again he never spoke a word;

But turn’d aside his visage wan;

And then the fever fit began.

Now of the townsmen askt the dame,

When at the last to shore she came,

“What is the news here, townsmen, tell!

That thus I hear them toll the bell?”

An aged man the lady heard,

And thus he answer’d to her word:

“We in the prison held a knight;

And he hath died here in the night.”

Scarcely to end his words were brought,

When the high tower that lady sought;

Shedding salt tears and running fast,

Her white hair scatter’d in the blast,

So that the townsmen wonderingly

Full sorely marvell’d her to see;

Whenas they saw a lady strange,

Through their streets so sadly range

Each one in thought did musing stand;

“Who is the lady, from what land?”

Soon as the donjon’s foot she reacht,

The porter that poor dame beseecht;

“Ope, quickly ope, the gate for me!

My son! My son! Him would I see!”

Slowly the great gate open drew;

Herself upon her son she threw,

Close in her arms his corpse to strain,

The lady never rose again.

There is a tree, that doth look o’er

From Kerloan’s battle-field to th’ shore;

An oak. Before great Evan’s face

The Saxons fled in that same place.

Upon that oak in clear moonlight,

Together come the birds at night;

Black birds and white, but sea birds all;

On each one’s brow a blood-stain small,

With them a raven gray and old;

With her a crow comes young and bold.

Both with soil’d wings, both wearied are;

They come beyond the seas from far:

And the birds sing so lovelily

That silence comes on the great sea.

All sing in concert sweet and low

Except the raven and the crow.

Once was the crow heard murmuring:

“Sing, little birds, ye well may sing!

Sing, for this is your own countrie!

Ye died not far from Brittany!”

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