The whole folderol and whoop-de-do about the 1960s was that the crypto-fascist bullshit agenda was damn near overthrown by a bunch of 19 and 20 year olds on campuses scattered around the high tech world. The male dominant agenda is so fragile that any competitor is felt as a deadly foe.Terence McKenna
EARTHRITES RADIO BACK ON THE WEB!
Radio Free EarthRites: Music For The Heart Of The World
Turn On – Paste Into – Your Internet Radio Player!
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Heading out for the day…
This edition is dedicated to Morgan & Dale… Elements that are embedded in this entry have long percolated in my head. Thanx to Morgan for reminding me!
Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of the weekend!
The Guy Sez
Toward a Cultural Ecology of Anarchy
Can Dialectics Break Bricks?
Stéphane Mallarmé: Selected Poems
Art Photos: Fritz Langs’ Metropolis
The Guy Sez:
In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.
There is nothing more natural than to consider everything as starting from oneself, chosen as the center of the world; one finds oneself thus capable of condemning the world without even wanting to hear its deceitful chatter.
Young people everywhere have been allowed to choose between love and a garbage disposal unit. Everywhere they have chosen the garbage disposal unit.
Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs.
Toward a Cultural Ecology of Anarchy
From Anarchy and Ecstasy: Visions of Halcyon Days
by John Moore, Aporia Press 1988
The aim of this essay is to subvert, and hence explode, one of the central ordering myths in Western civilization. The subversive action will occur through taking the elements within this myth to their logical conclusion. In the process, I hope to discover the conceptual basis for a new “politics,” or in fact an antipolitics.
The myth selected for this process concerns the act of universal creation and the subsequent fall of humanity. This myth remains of central significance for two reasons. First, it is a common component of the mythic legacy shared by paganism and Christianity, and thus plays a crucial ordering role within Western culture. And, secondly, in addition to offering an account of the structure of the universe and history, it provides an elementary paradigm in defining the nature and significance of obedience and disobedience. It is, then, a totalist explanatory grid, but one which contains within itself elements which can precipitate its collapse.
In order to gain access to this myth, I have decided to focus my analysis on one particular textJohn Milton’s Paradise Lost. This text has been chosen partly for its lucidity, but mainly because it constitutes a major synthesis of the relevant Western myths. In this poem Judaeo-Christian creation myths are explicitly combined with their pagan counterparts. Milton sythesises scriptural interpretations with insights derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, itself a compendium of ancient myths. Moreover, Paradise Lost remains concerned with two interlinked phenomena that are fundamental to our concerns: power and religion.
The events in the poem’s narrative remain familiar, and in the present context not entirely relevant. Satan and his cohorts unsuccessfully attempt to depose God through rebellious military action. As a result, they are expelled from Heaven and consigned to Hell. God creates the Earth, and humanity in particular, in order to fill the void left by the expulsion of the fallen angels. Partly as an act of revenge, and partly as the opening shot in a fresh campaign to dethrone God, Satan enters Eden and tempts Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. As a punishment for this transgression, they are banished from paradise and forced to inhabit a world of sin, temporality, and death.
These events are of secondary significance here. The really important point which emerges from this narrative is the conception of the structure or order of the universe. After the Earth’s creation, the universe is essentially regarded in Manichean terms. Two vast and opposing forcesGod and the Devil, or good and evilfight a battle for universal control, a conflict the outcome of which depends upon enlisting a third element, humanity, into its ranks. The two opposing forces must each win over humanity to its side. Humanity can then be converted into combat troops in the war against the opposing force. Whatever the outcome, however, for humanity the result remains the same. Either victorious force will demand absolute submission and obedience from its former troops.
The significance of this cuneal perspectiveof conceiving the structure of the universe in terms of an inverted trianglecan be seen when we realize that it has been generalized to such an extent that it now comprises the central method of formulating Western reality. The strife is not only between good and evil for the human soul, but (to list just a few examples) between the law and lawlessness for the community; capitalism and communism for the world; ruling class and proletariat for society; the superego and the id for the ego… The list could be extended indefinitely.
In every instance, however, certain shared characteristics are perceptible. The God-Satan-Humanity trio, and all their contemporary analogues, in the cuneal paradigm can be represented as the forces of control, counter-control, and the controlled. The control forces create and command a hierarchical power structure. The forces of counter-control, often a disaffected fragment of the control elite strata, attempt to overthrow the ruling control forces. In order to do this, they ostensibly disabuse the controlled, the victims of the control forces, about their controllers. In order to enlist the support of the controlled, the forces of counter-control may promise liberation from control. But this merely constitutes an illusory enticement. The forces of counter-control are not interested in total revolution, but a coup d’etat; they are not interested in eliminating coercion and hierarchy, but merely with displacing the current controllers and seizing power themselves. The controlled, then, remain victims whether they conform or rebel. And this, because of the universal application of the cuneal paradigm, remains the debilitating impasse of the controlled today. Apparently too weak to break the chains of control on their own, they are doomed to remain pawns in an alternating game of eternal conformity or endlessly betrayed revolt. And this will remain the case until the cuneal paradigm is completely subverted and exploded.
In undertaking this task, an antipolitical reading of Paradise Lost provides many of the requisite materials. Why an antipolitical reading? And what exactly is denoted by that term? By antipolitical I do not mean an approach that pretends it has no ideological dimensions. I do, however, mean an approach that is not political. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines politics as the “science and art of government,” and political as “of the State or its government.” Political praxis, in this definition, thus remains the ideology of governance, and as such it remains appropriate to the shared discursive territory of the forces of control and counter-control. In attempting to transcend that territory, therefore, it is necessary to construct an antipolitics, an anarchic praxis that is more germane for those whose aim is the dissolution, not the seizure, of power.
Once intellectually emancipated from the political obsession with domination and order, fresh vistas and unexpected perspectives are immediately disclosed. In this particular instance, the antipolitical methodology discovers, through a heretical reading of Paradise Lost, the superficiality, fragility and comparative recency of the cuneal paradigm. If the text is considered without political blinkers, it can be readily discovered that the universe does not possess a cuneal structure, but (as a minimum) has a quadruplex form.
In Book Two of the poem, Satan, after consulting with his demonic associates, determines to leave Hell and travel to Earth in order to precipitate the fall of humanity. He persuades the porteress to open the gates of Hell, and we are told:
Before thir eyes in sudden view appear
The secrets of the hoarie deep, a dark
Illimitable Ocean without bound,
Without dimension, where length, breadth, highth,
And time and place are lost; where eldest Night
And Chaos, Ancestors of Nature, hold
Eternal Anarchie, amidst the noise
Of endless Warrs, and by confusion stand.
For hot, cold, moist, and dry, four Champions fierce
Strive here for Maistrie, and to Battel bring
Thir embryon Atoms; they around the flag
Of each his faction, in thir several Clanns,
Light-arm’d or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift or slow,
Swarm populous, unnumber’d as the Sands
Of Barca and Cyrene’s torrid soil,
Levied to side with warring Winds, and poise
Thir lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,
Hee rules a moment; Chaos Umpire sits,
And by decision more imbroiles the fray
By which he Reigns; next him high Arbiter
Chance governs all. Into this wild Abyss,
The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave,
Of neither Sea, no Shore, nor Air, nor Fire,
But all these in thir pregnant causes mixt
Confus’dly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th’ Almighty Maker them ordain
His dark materials to create more Worlds,
Into this wild Abyss the warie fiend
Stood on the brink of Hell and look’d a while.
(Book 2, 11.890-918)
In this passage, Milton combines Christian and pagan elements, the latter explicitly derived from Ovid. But in synthesising these two mythic traditions, he in fact transcends them both. In the Biblical and Ovidian accounts, the divine creative fiat transforms the entire chaos of primordial matter into a structured universe. The divine power is omnific, its creative act does not leave any remainder of chaotic matter. Here, however, Milton supplies a vision of an extant chaos or anarchy. And although his Christian perspective, necessarily a control perspective, obviously limits the pertinence of his representation, some of the remarks he makes are very suggestive.
First, although his imagery remains confined by the political concern with domination, conflict and militarism, it should be noted that, in pointed contrast to Heaven and Hell, there are several personified “rulers” here: eldest Night, Chaos, Anarchy and Chance. Furthermore, as their names indicate, these qualities can hardly be said to rule in any political sense. Chaos and Chance are both characterised as umpires, and by necessity this implies that there are certain codes and rules to be followed. This is not an image of total lawlessness. However, the conjunction of such terms as chaos and chance with the notions of arbitration imply that such rules are not absolute nor imposed, but remain amenable to reform. The contest Chaos and Chance preside over is characterized in military terms, but again this appears a less serious, more ludic, conflict than that between the divine and the demonic forces depicted elsewhere in the poem. While the latter strife remains concerned with the possibilities of eternal subjugation, the warring elements here are involved in a conflict which denies the basis of domination: “To whom these [atoms] most adhere,/Hee rules a moment.” The momentary nature of governance undermines power, and anyway these “subjects” adhere voluntarily, in contrast to the coerced obedience of the control forces.
Secondly, attention should be paid to the structure of the universe as it is revealed in the above passage. Milton characterizes Chaos’s territory as “The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave.” Chaos gave birth, and possibly can bring death, to nature. By nature, Milton designates all creation, including Heaven, Earth and Hell, plus all of their inhabitants. In interpreting this, emphasis should be placed on the word creation. It should be remembered that God (the control force) created both the demons (the forces of counter-control) and humanity (the controlled). They are His creatures, he has called them into being, and determined (indeed preordained) their identities and roleshence His absolute power. But, as this passage renders apparent, He manufactured them from raw materials derived from the primordial territory of Chaos. Essentially, they are composed of chaotic atoms. Metaphorically, then, Chaos could become the grave of nature if the creatures of God began to divest their assigned identities and, through a process of biodegradation, started to remerge with the extant realm of Anarchy. In doing so, they would undergo a total revolutionary transformation; no longer manipulated creations, they would become independent yet collective creators. For we can now see that there are at least four elemental forces within the universe: God-Satan-Humanity-Anarchy; or, the forces of control, counter-control, the controlled, and the uncontrollables. I say at least four because the last component does not possess any unitary coherence. What so appalls Milton about Anarchy is its multiplicity and proliferating capacities. Unlike the other limited and limiting locales, it represents unlimited possibility and potential. It represents a positive anarchy or disorder, rather than the totalitarianism of order, which the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines as “rank, row, class”an inherently hierarchical concept. The positive nature of this anarchy is implicitly recognized by Milton when it is contrasted with Pandaemonium, a term he coined to describe Satan’s capital in Hell. Pandaemonium is the negative aspect of anarchy, anarchy as the site of lawlessness and malificence. Chaos, in contrast, is the positive aspect of anarchy, a site of multiple potentiality.
As Barbara C. Sproul’s anthology Primal Myths: Creating the World indicates, all cosmogoniesnot merely those of the Westremain curiously silent regarding the reasons for the appearance of the control figure, who transforms the anarchic, paradisal and ecologically-integrated “state of nature” into the stratified, oppressive and coercive order of creationthe original State. Marx tried to discern these reasons in the development of material and productive conditions. But Fredy Perlman, in his monumental Against His-story, Against Leviathan!, provides a more convincing explanation. Control figures arise when anarchic communities, immersed in beatific dreams, visions and vocations, inadvertently delegate too much authority to an individual who is temporarily assigned the task of maintaining the (to them) subsidiary and trivial apparatus which sustains material life. The distracted community does not realize until too late that the strong individual gradually accumulates power through continuously performing the disparaged maintenance duties. The individual constructs a hierarchy to facilitate his responsibilities, and this hierarchical institution is eventually employed to enslave the free community. As the institution expands and becomes more impersonal, it gains a momentum of its own and becomes unmanageable, even by its ostensible rulers. Hence, its deistic, absolute powers, which are then projected or displaced onto the cosmos itself.
A version of this process appears in Paradise Lost. Chaos has not been a conscious or militant force, and hence has remained vulnerable to incursions by the divine. This becomes apparent when Chaos describes the structure of the universe to Satan:
I upon my Frontieres here
Keep residence; if all I can will serve,
That little which is left so to defend,
Enroacht on still through our intestine broiles
Weakening the Scepter of old Night; first Hell
Your dungeon stretching far and wide beneath;
Now lately Heaven and Earth, another World
Hung ore my Realm, link’d in a golden Chain
To that side Heav’n from where your Legions fell.
(Book 4, 11.998-1006)
Chaos, absorbed in internal excitements, has failed to prevent the annexation of its territories by the control forces. Such is the disarray that Milton refers to Chaos as a “brok’n foe” (Book 2, 1.1039). And, in fact, even the permission given to Satan to pass through the realm to Earth effectuates a further loss of territory. In the wake of Satan’s track, Sin and Death build an overarching bridge that will allow demons easier access to Earth. And this, of course, occurs with God’s assent. The forces of control in this text are so powerful that even revolt by the counter-control force (Satan) is countenanced and permitted. Rebellion of the counter-control type is not inimical to the control forces: it is allowed because it actually reinforces the power structure.
From an antipolitical perspective, the implications are clear. On the one hand, anarchy must be rejuvenated and become conscious and vigilant. Liberation from all forms of coercion and hierarchy, including its formulation in the cuneal paradigm, can be achieved only through an attentive and sagacious anarchy. On the other hand, techniques must be developed whereby the controlled can experience the psychosocial biodegradation process, with its liberating cathartic effects, and hence regain their forfeited heritage as uncontrollablesthe real paradise lost. Through these two complementary processes, it should be possible to achieve the social ecology that is so desperately needed. But how are these processes to be initiated? Obviously, that is an enormous subject, and one that clearly remains beyond the scope of this essay. However, I will attempt to offer some suggestions which could perhaps be developed.
At the beginning, I indicated that Paradise Lost was important because of its concern with power and religion. So far, I have used the text as a way of exploring notions of power and control, particularly in respect to politics and order. Now, however, I wish to shift my attention to the topic of religion. In the foregoing, I have considered God as a political construct. He emerged as the ultimate totalitarian control force, and on those grounds can and should be utterly repudiated. But this leaves us with a problem, and one which has largely been ignored in anarchist theory: namely, the problem of confronting the ultimate questions of human existence. These are, of course, often characterized as religious or metaphysical issues, and hence not of interest to an atheistic revolutionary movement. Inadvertently, perhaps, anarchist theorists have encouraged this attitude. Bakunin’s God and the State, for example, comprises a thorough analysis of the socio-political function of God. It correctly repudiates the idea of God, but leaves nothing in its place. “Religious” issues constitute a vacuum at the centre of anarchism which limits its appeal and cogency.
In this essay, I have argued for a total shift of allegiance. As opponents of control, we should not assume an adversarial position (like the forces of counter-control), nor identify ourselves with the oppressed (the controlled); rather, we should situate ourselves within the matrix of anarchy, and become uncontrollables. Only then can we develop a liberatory praxis, which simultaneously promotes the disintegration of the entire control complex, and facilitates others to reintegrate within the creative potentialities of anarchy. We should be neither demonic, nor humanist, but anarchic. Our divine principle should not be deistic power, or demonic, Dionysian energies, or human community, but positive and creative chaos (a natural “order” which the advocates of order designate as disorder). Chaos is homologous with ecological order, and social ecology constitutes the specifically human component within that order. It is from this position that we must approach those existential problems that remain so troubling.
One of the major difficulties here remains the lack of an adequate vocabulary. Intrinsically, religionwhich the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines as “human recognition of superhuman controlling power and especially of a personal God entitled to obedience”remains anathema to anarchists. The two elements of this formulation, the emphasis on a superior control force and on unthinking obedience, are clearly unacceptable. All the more so in religions such as Christianity, which not only advocate dangerous delusions such as faith (i.e., belief in and prostration before an authority, without any proof of its existence), but also induce obscenities like worship, pietism, sanctimoniousness, sin, mortification, and the ultimate act of obedience, martyrdom. Given this legacy, the repudiation of religion hardly appears surprising. Nevertheless, the necessity remains for proponents of anarchy to reclaim what, for want of a better word, and despite its antipathetic connotations, can only be termed spirituality. This is necessary if anarchy is to become the integral praxis so manifestly required.
Certain aspects of this spirituality have been explored and designated as an ecological sensibility by Murray Bookchin in The Ecology of Freedom. My concerns in this essay, however, are rather more limited and specific. I am interested in delineating some spiritual techniques which may aid and promote an anarchic revolution. We require, not theology, nor even liberation theology, but a spiritual therapeutics that prefigures and participates in the social shift toward anarchy. Such emancipatory techniques can, I believe, be adapted from the praxis of Zen.
As Fredy Perlman indicates, most religions were, to varying degrees, originally liberation movements. But during the struggle for liberation, their initial ideals were distorted and recuperated to such an extent that they eventually became indistinguishable from the totalitarian ideologies of their oppressors. At the centre of every religion, however, there remains a residue of the original libertarian ideals, which occasionally returns to haunt the doctrine’s predominant authoritarian exponents. For example, Jesus’s non-violent resistance and derogation of private property periodically resurfaces to the consternation of Christian hierarchies. The crucial point here, however, is that in Zen these contradictions are intensified, quite deliberately I believe, to the point of absurdity. In contrast to their religious counterparts, the founders of Zen, presumably cognizant of the bureaucratic tendencies of such doctrines, implanted three techniques at the centre of their praxis which flatly confute the authoritarian debasement and the ensuing scholarly or commercialized industry. Their prognosis proved to be correct, and like its analogues, Zen was deluged by the hierarchical complex. However, submersed as they may be, the basic techniques fulfilled their founders’ desires, and managed to withstand the flood. They remain to be rediscovered and adapted to contemporary needs and circumstances. And, moreover, in terms of the challenges to authority they pose, each of these techniques remains broadly compatible, and can be modified to attune, with anarchic praxis. Just because they have been used to reinforce quietism and passivity in the past does not mean that they cannot now become part of the movement toward total social revolution.
Three techniques are used in order to break dependency at all levelson authority figures, on the authority of doctrines, on the authority of thought itselfand thereby to induce illumination. Taken together, these techniques constitute a potent array of methods for undermining control structures.
The three techniques referred to above are zazen, the koan, and the mentor-neophyte relationship. They all share a common aim, the enlightenment or illumination of an individual, and are linked by the common means of eliminating, at various levels, dependence upon authority.
Zazen is a form of meditation wherein an individual, in time with respiratory rhythms, mentally recites a meaningless word. By repeatedly concentrating in this way, the flow of everyday thought ceases, and the individual is flooded with spiritual illumination and a sense of unity with the universe. At a later phase, thought may be reintroduced in zazen, but only in order to play across the surface of the inner grace (the metaphors used here are of course woefully inadequate). Zazen seeks to stem the logos (significantly the initiator of hierarchical creation in many cosmogonies) and break the authority of meaning through an amphigoric word. Here then, surely, we can discover several points of convergence with anarchic praxisparticularly in terms of the biodegradation process mentioned earlier. Zazen disrupts the psychology of dependence and points toward autonomy. Moreover, this autonomy remains intimately interlinked with a sense of ecological community. In turn, this cracks open the character armour, and allows glimpses into an anarchic future, a universe of free interaction within a reintegrated ecological complex. Zazen staunches the cacophony of internalized coercions and constraints, even those which appear to be self-generated, and thereby transcends the conventional parameters of the self. The sunburst of satori loosens what Perlman terms the Leviathanic integuments. Bliss results, but also the consciousness that this cannot remain a permanent, or for some hardly become a possible, state under the current socio-economic system. There could be no clearer cachet of anarchy. In order to encourage this consciousness, however, it remains necessary to reclaim and recontextualize zazen in ways which will allow people to reorientate themselves in this way. Obviously, as long as such techniques remain enmeshed within the domain of authoritarian religion and mysticism, they cannot become resources in the struggle for total liberation.
Many of the above remarks are also applicable to the two remaining techniques.
A koan is a conundrum, a paradoxical phrase which an individual is assigned to “work on.” Once again, although this time from a different angle, the aim is to explode dependence on logic, rationality, intellect and ultimately meaning, by allowing a person to discover their limitations. A koan cannot be “solved” through ratiocination, and the realization of this, coupled with continued concentration on the text, leads to a moment of insight comparable to that achieved through zazen.
The mentor-neophyte relationship is also designed to eliminate dependence on authority structures, unlike the parallel religious relationship between guru and proselyte, which merely transfers existing dependency. Its characteristic feature remains the so-called direct method, which rejects verbalizationeven the most enigmaticand attempts to break through the orderliness of reason to basic convivial impulses. Zen manifests itself in spontaneous acts, but evaporates once interpretation tries to discern meaning or significance within any action. Regaining the experiences of life’s instantaneousness constitutes its essence. The direct method attempts to propel the neophyte into the flow of life and unmediated experience. Language and ideation are too slow to grasp such instantaneity. Hence, the neophyte must be somehow shocked into abandoning interpretation and other inculcated forms of standardized response. Occasionally, these shock tactics assume the form of tempered violence, but more commonly they consist of unexpected responses and behaviour. When a neophyte asks for elucidation on a profound doctrinal opint, for example, a master may “reply” by undertaking a simple everyday task or leaving the room. Such actions are intended to have a demonstrative, rather than symbolic, effect. Indeed, if the neophyte attempts to interpret the meaning of the action, the momentof direct existential contact and the spiritual illumination which accompanies ithas already been lost, and dependency will continue. However, should the neophyte respond by spontaneously participating in the playful stratagem instigated by the master, the cycle of dependency will be broken. The former no longer needs to rely upon the latter for guidance, for after continued practice the two effectively become equals. The moment of “coming alive,” or becoming existentially sensitive, achieved through the direct method, gradually develops into a perpetual sensibility, and sparkles through passages recording meetings between Zen masters.
In the Zen tradition, these three techniques are used in order to break dependency at all levelson authority figures, on the authority of doctrines, on the authority of thought itselfand thereby to induce illumination. Taken together, these techniques constitute a potent array of methods for undermining control structures. And given that in the Zen tradition they are often coupled with the repudiation of private property, this is clearly something that proponents of anarchy cannot afford to dismiss lightly. This remains particularly true when the parallels between Zen and anarchic praxis are rendered apparent. Zen posits a series of techniques which suggest that all doctrine/ideology is irrelevant. And just as anarchy attempts to relieve us of politics and ideology, leaving the core of independent yet collective creativity, so Zen tries to relieve us of etiolated thought and internalized propaganda, leaving the core of limited experience. And it is at this point, that Zen makes its most significant contribution to the resolution of the existential problems mentioned earlier. Unlike authoritarian religions, which emphasise faith, Zen suggests its irrelevancy. The experience of nirvana may be evidence of an afterlife, or it may be pleasurable sensations caused by electrical impulses on the cortex, or it may be something altogether different. But these are all retrospective judgments, they are not available within the lived experience of nirvana. The information conveyed in that experience is of a totally different order. Faith, like political ideology, remains irrelevant at this level; it does not matter what you believe, the associated experiences of nirvana and anarchy provide the touchstone.
Zen techniques, adapted and recontextualized within anarchic praxis, possess an immense liberatory potential. Of course, they are not sufficient in themselves to precipitate the total revolution toward anarchy. All I have proposed here needs to be complimented by the ideas of theorists like Bookchin and Perlman, and the practice of communities in the process of liberating themselves. Nevertheless, Zen techniques can play an important part. We should not undervalue inner liberation as an accompaniment to social revolutioneven as a spur to social revolution through its exeplary function. One of Emily Dickinson’s deliberately unpunctuated poems reads:
The mob within the heart
Police cannot suppress
The riot given at the first
Is authorized as peace
Uncertified of scene
Or signified of sound
But growing like a hurricane
In a congenial ground.
This poem constitutes a microcosm compared to Milton’s macrocosm. Both consider liberated activity, Milton within universal Anarchy, Dickinson within an individual’s inner anarchy. But whereas the former poet rather negatively depicted a contracting territory, the latter positively represents an expansion of chaos. This expansion begins from within the individual, but an individual whose cramped and unitary self has developed into a plural, unrestrained and riotous mob, which the policewhether psychic or socialcannot suppress. As in Paradise Lost, the keynote remains free and independently-determined activity: there is no authorization, no certification, and no signification. It is as if anarchy has cancelled all social authority, and Zen has cancelled all internalized authority. Hence, we proceed to the anarchic, global and natural energy of the hurricane, already decimating the hierarchical order, and preparing more congenial ground in the individual, social and ecological environments. Dickinson’s untitled poem, not Milton’s pale sequel to his account of the Fall, should be entitled Paradise Regained.
But if Dickinson situates the action of her text “within the heart,” her concerns centre almost entirely on the exterior, in the environments convulsed by a proliferating anarchic energy. The poem does not indicate how it feels to be inside anarchy, to be possessed by a holistic sensibility and a capacity for revelations within the matrix of total liberation. In short, the inferiority of a spiritual conditiona condition characterized by its sense of beatific communityremains unexplained. But for proponents of anarchy, such an exploration becomes a vital necessity. Intimations of the myriad delights available within a renewed earthly paradise could inspire the controlled to discard their assigned identities. And amongst these delights the most fundamental remains the paradisal consciousness itself. The significance of a recontextualized Zen becomes apparent at precisely this juncture. Appropriately reorientated, its techniques could provide individuals with a gloriously expanded consciousness, a prefigurative vision of a social future of permanent revelry and jubilee.
Many have recently talked about the politics of desire. And Raoul Vaneigem has proposed a “politics” of pleasure. Can we now consider an antipolitics of ecstasy and bliss?
From Anarchy and Ecstasy: Visions of Halcyon Days
by John Moore, Aporia Press 1988
Can Dialectics Break Bricks?
Stéphane Mallarmé: Selected Poems
The flesh is sad, Alas! and Ive read all the books.
Lets go! Far off. Lets go! I sense
That the birds, intoxicated, fly
Deep into unknown spume and sky!
Nothing not even old gardens mirrored by eyes
Can restrain this heart that drenches itself in the sea
O nights, or the abandoned light of my lamp,
On the void of paper, that whiteness defends,
No, not even the young woman feeding her child.
I shall go! Steamer, straining at your ropes
Lift your anchor towards an exotic rawness!
A Boredom, made desolate by cruel hope
Still believes in the last goodbye of handkerchiefs!
And perhaps the masts, inviting lightning,
Are those the gale bends over shipwrecks,
Lost, without masts, without masts, no fertile islands…
But, oh my heart, listen to the sailors chant!
Funeral Libation (At Gautiers Tomb)
O fatal emblem, you, of our happiness!
Greeting, pale with libation and madness,
Dont think to some hope of magic corridors I offer
My empty cup, where a monster of gold suffers,
Your apparition cannot satisfy me:
Since I myself entombed you in porphyry.
The rite decrees our hands must quench the torch
Against the iron mass of your tombs porch:
None at this simple ceremony should forget,
Those chosen to sing the absence of the poet,
That this monument encloses him entire.
Were it not that his arts glory, full of fire
Till the dark communal moment all of ash,
Returns as proud evenings glow lights the glass,
To the fires of the pure mortal sun!
Marvellous, total, solitary, so that one
Trembles to breathe with mans false pride.
This haggard crowd! We are, it cries,
Our future ghosts, their sad opacity.
But with walls blazoned, mourning, empty,
Ive scorned the lucid horror of a tear,
When, deaf to the sacred verse he does not fear,
One of those passers-by, mute, blind, proud,
Transmutes himself, a guest in his vague shroud,
Into the virgin hero of posthumous waiting.
A vast void carried through the fogs drifting,
By the angry wind of words he did not say,
Nothing, to this Man abolished yesterday:
What is Earth, O you, memories of horizons?
Shrieks the dream: and, a voice whose clarity lessens,
Space, has for its toy this cry: I do not know!
The Master, with eye profound, as he goes,
Pacified the restless miracle of Eden,
Who alone woke, in his voices final frisson,
The mystery of a name for the Lily and the Rose.
Is there anything of this destiny left, or no?
O all of you, forget your darkened faith.
Glorious, eternal genius has no shade.
I, moved by your desire, wish to see
Him, who vanished yesterday in the Ideal
Work that for us the garden of this star creates,
As a solemn agitation in the air, that stays
Honouring this quiet disaster, a stir
Of words, drunken, red, a cup thats clear,
That, rain and diamonds, the crystal gaze
Fixed on these flowers of which none fade,
Isolates in the hour and the light of day!
Thats all thats left already of our true play,
When the pure poets gesture, humble, vast
Must deny the dream, the enemy of his trust:
So that, on the morning of his exalted stay,
When ancient death is for him as for Gautier,
The un-opening of sacred eyes, the being-still,
The solid tomb may rise, and ornament this hill,
The sepulchre where lies the power to blight,
And miserly silence and the massive night.
Hyperbole! From my memory
Triumphantly cant you
Rise today, like sorcery
From an iron-bound book or two:
Since, through science, I inscribe
The hymn of hearts so spiritual
In my work of patience, inside
Atlas, herbal, ritual.
We walked our face
(We were two, I maintain)
Over the many charms of place,
Comparing them, Sister, to yours again.
The era of authoritys troubled
When without design, we say
Of this south that our double
Consciousness has in play
That its site, bed of a hundred irises,
They know if it truly existed,
Bears no name the golden breath
Of the trumpet of summer cited.
Yes, on an isle the air charges
With sight and not with visions
Every flower showed itself larger
Without entering our discussions.
Such flowers, immense, that every one
Usually had as adornment
A clear contour, a lacuna done
To separate it from the garden.
Glories of long-held desire, Ideas
Were all exalted in me, to see
The Iris family appear
Rising to this new duty,
But this sister sensible and fond
Carried her look no further
Than to smile, and as if to understand
I give her my ancient care.
Oh! Let the contentious spirit know
At this hour when we are silent
The stalks of multiple lilies grow
Far too tall for our reason
And not as the riverbank weeps
When its tedious game tells lies
In wishing abundance would reach
Into my young surprise
On hearing the whole sky and the map
Behind my steps, endlessly called to witness,
Even the ebbing wave, that
This country never existed.
The child already learned in roads,
Resigns her ecstasy
Says the word: Anastasius!
Born for parchments eternity,
Before a tomb could laugh
In any clime, her ancestor,
For bearing that name: Pulcheria!
Hidden by the too-high lily-flower.