There’s an interview with Hakim Bey from Dec, 2010 over at e-flux. There’s also some examples of Hakim Bey mixed media artwork illustrating the interview, and Hakim Bey talks about these pieces of art.
“I always wanted to be a writer, an artist, or possibly a cartoonist. Or a pirate. Those were my ambitions. But I didn’t have enough talent for cartooning. And I’ve discovered that art is very hard to do when you’re not sitting in one place. I don’t know if everybody finds this to be true. But when I took up a life of travel in the 1960s, I gave up art because writing is so much easier to do when you’re traveling. But I always felt equally called to all of these things. It’s a question of fate. Fate made me a writer more than anything else.” [via]
“There’s nothing more satisfying than working with your hands. So basically I devised this idea to do what I call 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.” [via]
“The one that I sent you 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.” [via]
“There are big epiphanies and small epiphanies. I could mention the time I was crossing Hammersmith Bridge in London late at night on my way back from a friend’s dinner party and I had a vision of the lost Imam of Shi’ism hovering in the air over the bridge in the rain. The vision told me to end my association with orthodox Islam and become a heretic, which I then did. And I’ve been a heretic ever since. That would be a moment of epiphany. But this doesn’t necessarily relate so much to my writing and art as it does to the totality of my inner world, if you know what I mean.” [via]
“Well, I always say that we have to be careful about our terms here. If we’re defining religion as institutional religion—with all the problems that come with institutions going tenfold for religion—then we have to be very, very careful to be clear about what we’re talking about. If we’re talking about spirituality, as we like to say in our hippie way, then we’re having another conversation, one that isn’t necessarily about religion. Or maybe we’re having another conversation altogether. As an anarchist, I’ve always been a spiritual anarchist, and naturally this annoys my more left-wing type anarchist friends who are all, of course, good atheists. But, it’s an old tradition, after all. Maybe the oldest. If you look at the tribal societies that people like Pierre Clastres or Marshall Sahlins visited and wrote about, you find people who live without authority, but you never, ever find that they don’t have spirituality. They always have a spiritual view of things. Take shamanism, which is a broad and hard-to-define term, but it is not religion, because it has no dogma. It doesn’t have priests. It doesn’t have temples. It doesn’t have taxes that you have to pay. It doesn’t make rules about sexuality, or maybe it does, but not the same kind that a religion makes. And in any case, those rules would only apply to the shaman and not to anybody else in the tribe. So, that’s to say that there’s a big difference between free spirituality on the one hand and its betrayal in organized religion on the other hand.” [via]
“I have to admit that, like everybody else in the 1980s, I was much more optimistic about these things. And in some of my writing I may have given the impression that I would become some sort of cyber libertarian. I have many friends in that camp, but then as time went on, I became more of a Luddite. I believe that technology should not consist of an attack on the social. And if you think about the symptom that everybody talks about, the loss of privacy, or even the redefinition of what privacy could possibly be, well, I see this as an actual attack on society. And it’s interesting that it comes at the same time as Thatcher saying that there is no such thing as society. It’s an ideological move against the social. And it’s not for the glorification of the individual, either. To me, the individual also loses in this formula. But it’s primarily meant to break society down into individual consumer entities, because that’s what money wants. Capital itself wants everyone to have everything. It doesn’t want you to share your car with anyone, it wants each person to have their own. And by the way, the US has achieved this—we now have one car for every adult in the country. Capital wants everybody to have to own everything, and to share nothing. And the social result of this is ghastly. It’s scary, frightening. For me it’s apocalyptic.” [via]
“I’ve always said that I didn’t invent the TAZ. I just noticed that it existed. It’s always existed. For some reason, most people have to believe that what they’re doing is going to last forever in order to find the enthusiasm to do anything at all. The only thing that changed was thinking of the temporary itself as a possible good, instead of an obstacle. A good dinner party is a Temporary Autonomous Zone. Nobody tells you what to do at a good dinner party. Nobody gives orders. Nobody collects taxes. It’s an experience of giving and being given to, of filling the body and emptying the mind, having good conversation and good wine and so forth. This is already a TAZ, but you have to conceptualize it that way for it to be that way. It’s simply a matter of consciousness. But once you find that consciousness, the forms of organization begin to open up. You begin to see all the different forms of organization that this could take. It could be anything from a picnic by the riverside to a community that lasts for two years. Where is it actually happening? Well, I have to say that the current moment at the end of this decade is, to me, one of the low energy points of history. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I feel that it’s actually hard to find a good TAZ now. And it’s more important than ever to do so. One reason being that communism is no longer. We now live in the world of the triumph of capital. And in this world, it would seem that the TAZ is, perhaps, the last possible revolutionary form. I hope that’s not true, but it may be. Either way, the idea is certainly more important now than it was around 1989 when I dreamed the idea up in the first place.” [via]
“Obviously one of the worst predictions you can make is that things continue as they are, only becoming more and more intensified, like a J. G. Ballard-type future where the whole universe is one big shopping mall. That would be the worst. Any catastrophe might be a relief compared to that. But on the other hand, catastrophes are bad for you and me, and we don’t want to get caught in one. It might be good for history, but would be awful for individuals, especially artists, who never had that much going for them in the first place. I’m not one of these people waiting for the big ecological catastrophe. I don’t want to see it happen. I’m still hopeful. And in the end, what else can you do? You have to have, as Ernst Bloch said, revolutionary hope.” [via]