Tag Archives: temporary autonomous zone

Four Freedoms

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Four Freedoms: A Novel by John Crowley.

John Crowley Four Freedoms

Heading into my read of an advance review copy of John Crowley’s forthcoming Four Freedoms, I was unsure what to expect. The publisher’s blurb told me that it was a book about “a disabled man…among a crowd of women” at “the height of World War II.” It didn’t seem obvious that this scenario would be a setting suited to the artful exploration of ideas I had enjoyed in the author’s AEgypt cycle, a set of four novels that develop a complexly interwoven text about the human experience of magic and the magic of human experience. I needn’t have worried.

The Four Freedoms of the title are the ones articulated in FDR’s 1941 State of the Union speech: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear. The fact that the novel is divided into four parts suggests a correspondence, but there’s no obvious one-to-one relationship between those parts and the freedoms. They seem more like the four movements of a symphony, and here is the key to the esoteric dimension of Four Freedoms: the Théorie des quatre mouvements et des destinees generales (1808) of Charles Fourier. Crowley is very coy about this element of the novel—unlike his free admission of the historical and scholarly grist for his mill in AEgypt—he never even mentions Fourier by name, either in the novel or in the afterword that discusses his research sources. Still, the unavoidable fact is that Four Freedoms character Pancho Notzing’s “Bestopianism” is Fourierist though and through: a magical ur-socialism founded in “Passionate Series” generating “Harmony” through the satisfaction of dynamic and heterogeneous desires. Pancho himself is even a biographical cipher for Fourier. Where Fourier was the son of a prosperous cloth merchant and had a career as a traveling salesman, Pancho is retiring from a career as a traveling salesman of luxury cloths.

The Theory of Four Movements is Fourier’s earliest and most bewildering exposition of his system. The movements themselves are enumerated only in a footnote and some brief glossary material, where they are given as social, human, animal, and organic—in descending order. The hierarchy of the Fourierist movements perhaps accounts for the sparing but curious use of the first-person plural in the frame of Four Freedoms. The “we” narrating the novel could be the collective identity of the quasi-phalanx of the Van Damme Aero manufacturing plant, a “Temporary Harmonious Zone”—cousin maybe to Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone.

Both the little society of the Ponca City plant and the greater society of WWII America with its socialized command economy are especially worth readers’ attention at a time when the US is confronted with a need to fundamentally reorganize its material and industrial bases. The historical setting of Four Freedoms is bracingly topical while we confront a “great recession” or even “greater depression” that seems bound to displace what “postwar” generations have been taught to consider the American “way of life.” A gasoline ration of four gallons per week? That was a reality of the home front.

I cried once in the course of reading this book. If it has that effect on anyone else, I wouldn’t necessarily expect it to be at the same place: there’s a lot emotional power distributed through many personal stories over the course of the novel. As I have come to expect from Crowley, his narrative voice is sure—both efficient and beautiful—and his characters are compelling. The plot is largely subordinate to the characters, and tends to fan out from them in individual tributaries of memory, told to one another or simply recalled.

Crowley’s AEgypt (especially as read backwards from the final realizations of Endless Things) can be considered a meditation on “neurodiversity”: the idea that there are many necessarily partial and complementary ways of perceiving and understanding the world. Four Freedoms can be read as a corresponding exploration of physical diversity expressed through sex, age, disability, and race. But this is no moralizing, didactic exercise. I recently had a conversation with a literal fellow traveler on an airplane, regarding the importance of storytelling in the learning process. The stories in Four Freedoms can remind us of the kind of learning we all need to do, and that we will do whenever we remember our diverse radical passions. [via]


Recent Walker Art Center post links to Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone

Recent Walker Art Center post links to Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone at “Freezing Man: Putting a Temporary Autonomous Zone on Ice “.

“Now the Art Shanty Projects have neither the history nor the reach of Burning Man: its attendance is estimated to be over 60,000, while the Art Shanty Projects drew around 2,000 on opening day this year. However, the two events do have some things in common. Both are arguably held in otherwise inhospitable landscapes. Both encourage the idea of encountering art and art experiences outside of the museum and gallery (Burning Man with its Mutant Vehicles and various installations, Art Shanty Projects with their artist-commissioned shanties). And both envision the landscape as a blank canvas or ‘Temporary Autonomous Zone’ of sorts. Even the founder of the Art Shanty Project (and former Bay Area resident), Peter Haakon Thompson, said that he found inspiration in the desolate solace of both the Nevada desert and the frozen lakes of Minnesota. That said, if community is to be understood as the central focus of Burning Man, Art, I would argue, is the focus of the shanties.” [via]

Wanna Burn Something? Calling All Manifesters

Wanna Burn Something? Calling All Manifesters” by Eileen Joy over at In The Middle links to and quotes Hakim Bey‘s Temporary Autonomous Zone.

“Agents of chaos cast burning glances at anything or anyone capable of bearing witness to their condition, their fever of lux et voluptas.” — Hakim Bey, Temporary Autonomous Zone

The post itself is an announcement about a project by punctum books, an interesting and independent open-access publisher, to publish the proceedings from “BURN AFTER READING: TINY MANIFESTOS FOR A POST/MEDIEVAL STUDIES” a conference session sponsored by the postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies. In addition to the already existing manifestos planned from the session participants, there is, in the post, an open invitation to others who may wish to contribute additional tiny manifestos about the field of post/medieval and premodern studies.

“It is now the intention of punctum books to publish these “tiny” manifestos as part of a double-volume with the proceedings of GW-MEMSI’s sponsored panel at this year’s 2013 Kalamazoo Congress on THE FUTURE WE WANT featuring this line-up:

· Field Change / Discipline Change: Asa Simon Mittman, Anne Harris (for The Material Collective)
·Institutional Change / Paradigm Change: Aranye Fradenburg, Eileen Joy
·Time Change / Mode Change: Will Stockton, Allan Mitchell
·World Change / Sea Change: Lowell Duckert, Steve Mentz
·Voice Change / Language Change: Chris Piuma, Jonathan Hsy
·Collective Change / Mood Change: Julie Orlemanski, Julian Yates

Per this blog post, I would like to invite everyone and anyone to consider contributing to the “tiny” half of this volume by sending punctum books (punctumbooks@gmail.com) a 2-3-page typed/double-spaced RANT relative to your beef(s) about the “state of the field” and/or to your impassioned vision for a field-to-be (we’re talking premodern studies here, of any temporal bent from Year Zero to 1800).” [via]

Check out the full post for more details, and an example of what they are seeking.

Hakim Bey and Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone are linked to in the notes for Solipsistic Nation No. 268: Secret Archives of the Vatican

Hakim Bey and Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone are linked to in the notes for Solipsistic Nation No. 268: Secret Archives of the Vatican, a podcast interview with Vince Millett of the Broken Drum Records artist Secret Archives of the Vatican.

 

Recent Chicago Reader post links to Hakim Bey’s TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism

Recent Chicago Reader post at “A conversation with seapunks” links to Hakim Bey‘s TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism while discussing a new microgenre of music and culture, and poses an abrupt critique of the typical implementation of and culture around temporary autonomous zones.

“I find the sort of spontaneous community building that seapunk embodies not only fascinating but also genuinely inspiring. (It’s like seeing Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone come to life, except without a bunch of tedious, quasi-intellectual Burning Man stereotypes involved.) I also have a predisposition toward ravey shit and I’m a professional Internet junkie, so there’s that too.” [via]

Recent Traditionalists blog post links to Hakim Bey and Ontological Anarchy

Recent Traditionalists blog post at “Anarchist Traditionalism: Hakim Bey” links to Hakim Bey and Ontological Anarchy and is a bit of analysis related to the previously mentioned interview with Peter Lamborn Wilson at “In Conversation with Hakim Bey“.

“Arthur Versluis’s recent interview (see below) with the American anarchist Peter Lamborn Wilson, who also writes as Hakim Bey, suggests that Lamborn Wilson’s anarchism is a leftist form of Political ‘Soft’ Traditionalism.” [via]

“Although some critics of Lamborn Wilson dismiss his work as no more than an attempt to justify his own practice of ‘man-boy love,’ in my view that work is too substantial and influential to be so dismissed.

In the Versluis interview, Lamborn Wilson makes clear that what he now values in Traditionalism is its critique of modernity, not its ‘proposal’ for responding to modernity. As an anarchist, Lamborn Wilson gives the state–and especially the all-powerful contemporary state–a prime position in his own critique of modernity. His own proposals lead in a number of directions, none of them revolutionary in the normal sense, given his perception that the state always manages to co-opt revolutions. He stresses that his proposals should be taken in a poetic as much as a literal sense. The most famous of them is the Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ),’an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerrilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it’ (TAZ, quoted in Sellars 2011).” [via]

In Conversation with Hakim Bey

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]

 



Hakim Bey, Esopus maps #2, 2010, mixed media.

 

“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]

Beyond Zuccatti

An interesting analysis of foundational place the Temporary Autonomous Zone of Hakim Bey has within the the Occupy movement can be found in “BEYOND ZUCCOTTI” a recent post over at Global Guerrillas.

“Over the last couple of months, Occupy had gone beyond a reliance on a specific place like Zuccotti. It developed a recipe for how to set up a temporary autonomous zone (what’s often called a TAZ).

What is a TAZ? A location that is outside of the control of the nation-state and global marketplace. Specifically, in the context of Occupy, the TAZ is

  • the modern equivalent of a nomadic village (a mobile, temporary community)
  • community that is self-governed (typically democratically)
  • a counter cultural hot spot (from music to visual arts to deep discussion)
  • a media hub and wireless communications network
  • a source of limited amounts of shelter/power/prepared food/etc.
  • simple security and a means of defense (this will get more elaborate)
  • a launching point for protest

What does all of this mean?

Here are some conclusions. I’ll refine this list as we progress.

  • The TAZ will be attractive to younger people (from the unique atmosphere to the element of danger involved).
  • Much of the technology that is being developed for the Occupy TAZ (energy, communications, etc.) is useful for building resilient communities
  • If passive TAZ defense tech/techniques are developed and deployed, these communities will be very difficult to eradicate

There are also a number of interesting links to other posts at that blog to further explore the nature of TAZ as a part of resistance, such as GLOBAL GUERRILLAS AND TEMPORARY AUTONOMOUS ZONES and The Occupy API and Open Source Protest

In the comments to that blog post, there’s mention of the need for some kind of permanent solution, which of course reminds me of some of the other resources at the library, such as The Periodic Autonomous Zone and Permanent TAZs to name just two. You may want to check out more at Hakim Bey and Ontological Anarchy.

The Occupy Movement and Millennial Politics

Mention of the philosophical connection between the Temporary Autonomous Zone of Hakim Bey and the Occupy movement can be found in “The Real Battle of St Paul’s Cathedral: The Occupy Movement and Millennial Politics” a recent post over at Christianity & Contemporary Politics.

“But there is also a striking contrast between those who gathered at St Paul’s Cross in 1066 and those who are encamped around it today. In 1066 there was a clear enemy and a clear set of demands. Many complain that the Occupy movement lacks any such clear programme. Yet this is to misunderstand the nature of the Occupy movement for whom the process is the programme. Demands are formulated but these are secondary. What matters is the transformative experience of participation.

What is created around the Cathedral and in other Occupy sites can be characterised as ‘temporary autonomous zones’ or TAZ’s. These TAZ’s are meant to give people an experience of direct democracy, including not only the experience of autonomy, but also of the free exchange of ideas and a spontaneous social order in a space free from control by capitalist corporations or state authorities. The primary point of focus is the daily General Assembly where all matters are decided, anything can be proposed and anyone can take part.” [via]

The Situationists and the Occupation Movements

Ken Knabb has posted a new essay “The Situationists and the Occupation Movements” over at The Bureau of Public Secrets. If you’ve been following my posts about the attention that the Hakim Bey and Ontological Anarchy section and specifically T. A. Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism have been getting, this is an essay that may also be of interest. In a previous post, I pointed out that the Situationists should also be considered as a resource and an inspiration for the Occupy movement, not just, to extend that a bit, for Parkour and Dark City; and, here’s a great essay that speaks to that very connection.

“One of the most notable characteristics of the “Occupy” movement is that it is just what it claims to be: leaderless and antihierarchical. Certain people have of course played significant roles in laying the groundwork for Occupy Wall Street and the other occupations, and others may have ended up playing significant roles in dealing with various tasks in committees or in coming up with ideas that are good enough to be adopted by the assemblies. But as far as I can tell, none of these people have claimed that such slightly disproportionate contributions mean that they should have any greater say than anyone else. Certain famous people have rallied to the movement and some of them have been invited to speak to the assemblies, but they have generally been quite aware that the participants are in charge and that nobody is telling them what to do.

This puts the media in an awkward and unaccustomed position. They are used to relating with leaders. Since they have not been able to find any, they are forced to look a little deeper, to investigate for themselves and see if they can discover who or what may be behind all this. Since the initial concept and publicity for Occupy Wall Street came from the Canadian group and magazine Adbusters, the following passage from an interview with Adbusters editor and co-founder Kalle Lasn (Salon.com, October 4) has been widely noticed:

We are not just inspired by what happened in the Arab Spring recently, we are students of the Situationist movement. Those are the people who gave birth to what many people think was the first global revolution back in 1968 when some uprisings in Paris suddenly inspired uprisings all over the world. All of a sudden universities and cities were exploding. This was done by a small group of people, the Situationists, who were like the philosophical backbone of the movement. One of the key guys was Guy Debord, who wrote The Society of the Spectacle. The idea is that if you have a very powerful meme — a very powerful idea — and the moment is ripe, then that is enough to ignite a revolution. This is the background that we come out of.

Lasn’s description is a rather over-simplified version of what the situationists were about, but the Adbusters at least have the merit of adopting or adapting some of the situationist methods for active subversive use (which is of course what those methods were designed for), in contrast to those who relate to the situationists as passive spectators.”

I encourage you to check out the rest of that essay.