We Live In The Orbit Of Beings Greater Than Us, by Patrick Farnsworth, is one of those books that I find I read with a certain intention. It is not a book you read to read the writer or to read the book, but, like a massive coffee table book on galaxies or impressionist paintings, this book has the feel of a book you would read to discover what is inside and find what interests you.
Most of the text is comprised of segments from interviews Farnsworth has published through his podcast Last Born In The Wilderness (I’ll link below). So you end up reading a great deal that is not Farnsworth. As someone who enjoys reading a beautiful writer and thinker, there is a degree to which this disappointed me. However, what is gained through this is you encounter a diverse range of thinkers and ways of thinking.
What bits of Farnsworth’s own thoughts are wonderful to read, as honest reflections on the ecological situation we find ourselves immersed within. His message of “… we can still, I think, retrieve something of what was lost, even if it won’t “save” us” and “(t)o reiterate, this isn’t about finding hope in the sense of “winning”, but rather orienting ourselves by our sacred responsibilities” embody a sort of eco-absurdism that is very similar to my outlook.
What I found when reading this collection of conversations with specialist interests regarding ecological matters, and Farnsworth’s own thoughts, was what seems to be an attempt in two modes of perceptual-attack and psychic-warfare that I have described in a yet to be published book as aesthetic-terrorism and pan-eroticism (this concept being one I have stolen from Feral Faun). When Farnsworth states “(w)e will not win. Our civilisation is dying, and maybe it should” it is immediately apparent that the intention here is to insight the type of feeling of existential dread that terrorism inspires, on an aesthetic level. Likewise, when Farnsworth states “(r)regardless of what is coming, we must demonstrate our love for the Earth, in all the forms it comes in. Our love is not an abstract, it’s tangible and as real as the air we breathe and the soil beneath our feet” it is immediately apparent that the intention is to inspire feelings of affirmation and care for life as we know it as Extensions of Earth.
The book that this most reminded me of is the collection published by The Dark Mountain Project titled Walking on Lava, though there is a definite pagan quality to Farnsworth’s project that isn’t in the other. Please don’t be put off by the idea that there is a religious quality to the book, as, actually, Farnsworth’s expression of his faith is far more enjoyable than most religious writers, as there is no pushing of myth or dogma – I write this as a fundamentalist agnostic, who is drawn to acosmic-nihilism. This isn’t like reading Buddhistic-anarchists, where you have to jump on board with a whole bunch of concepts like karma to engage with what you are reading, or voodoo-Shaman egoist-communists, where 90% of what you are reading is basically wet fart; Farnsworth’s paganism is more like garnishing for a great meal, when reading this book.
What I appreciate most about We Live In The Orbit Of Beings Greater Than Us is this quality of warm-darkness that I found in reflections Farnsworth makes, like this – “(t)he pain will get greater. And really, what can we do?”
As promised, here is the link –
This is the second of two book reviews I am doing, with both books being about druidry and politics. The first was on Nimue Brown’s book Druidry and the Future.
Radical Druidry by Christopher Scott Thompson is for the most part a collection of suggested ritual practices for druid-magick practitioners to use for their personal practice. As I am personally a non-believer in theurgic-ritual-construction, I am not going to comment on the rituals. More importantly, while I don’t believe in that-type of practice, I don’t know if they work or do not work, and wouldn’t want anyone to disregard the book at this point, as there is a lot to enjoy in Radical Druidry.
For the most part, Thompson is seeking to provide means of healing the alienation that this culture thrives off of – anyone who has read my Feral Consciousness will instantly get my appreciation for this – and the “broken pact” between humanity and the gods, for ecological recovery. Alongside the various rituals that are presented, the reader is encouraged to engage in direct action seek these aims. This is what Thompson means by fighting Druidry, as a forceful and determined effort, greater than the shallowness of mainstream Green politics and neopagan sentiment.
For those unfamiliar with druiduc-theology and myth, there is a lot of interesting story to explore within each chapter, that Thompson draws from. I don’t think you need to be a believer in polytheism to find something valuable from these stories. Thompson provides the reader with his interpretations of them, which would be useful if you are not used to hermeneutic-interpretation.
You can buy the book from this link – https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/christopher-scott-thompson/radical-druidry/ebook/product-582z2z.html?fbclid=IwAR3U6HBNfKiOT7JbDpOet6jDaYTmBbgo9bQ2ungIzWDdhyz4owNHnFGav5o
This is the first of two book reviews I am doing, with both books being focused on druid practices and politics. The second is Christopher Scott Thompson’s Radical Druidry, which I intend to read and review over the next 2 weeks.
Reading Nimue Brown’s self published book Druidry and the Future from a computer screen, with intense focus, didn’t feel like the way this book would be best read. My feeling is that Druidry and the Future is best read in the traditional book format, not as a concentrated effort, but as something to turn to as a medium for reflection.
I have some disagreements, as well as some differences in belief and perspective to Brown, but appreciate the book for much of what I found while reading.
What disagreements/difference I have with Brown’s assertions are basically the same I have with most Green ideology and pagan theology. The notion of Being being cyclically repetitive, that life is one big circle, is one that I cannot get on board with. Even more so, I find liberal-Green-optimism to be in many ways more dangerous than climate-change denial, as it invites more “sustainable” means of abusing living beings. I also doubt humanistic-essentialism, which relies on the idea of constant stable forms that are without change. The main disagreement I have with Brown’s assertions is the framing of invidualism in a way that seems entirely non-animal, while advocating for collectivism, which I find to be entirely machine oriented.
These disagreements and differences are far outshone by what I found harmony with and similarity in experience and perspective.
From the aversions to martyrdoms, to the embrace of mortality and the awareness that civilisations continually collapse, as well as the desire to rebel against being a “cog in the machine”, there is a lot of valuable thought to reflect through in this book. Brown reminds the reader that transcendence doesn’t help us live well, that everything we do immediately impacts the world, that health and joy can be found in being-with trees, and that no one is separate from the world, as the world exists and moves through them, as being-part of landscapes.
With it’s focus on environmental-praxis as being a joyous experience and part of self-care, Druidry and the Future has some valuable thoughts for the reader to reflect upon.
Perhaps the greatest “gain” from upholding the image of a demonic figure and calling out for all to hear “fear this demon, fear this demon”, is that you inspire greater interest in the demonic figure, psychically empower the demonic figure as being worthy of your fear, bring the demonic figure to the attention of potential followers (who are likely to be more interested, given the power you have bestowed upon the figure), and shown your hand as fearful and disempowered. I’ll give some examples. The most significant “achievement” of the war on terrorwas the empowerment of Jihadist-militarist-suicide-bomber ideology, with the subsequent intensification of statist measures. Similarly, the fear Christians have shown towards Satanist imagery and aesthetics has, more than anything else, gifted the idol greater psychic-influence (inspiring many young individuals turn to the trv kvlt Satanist black metal world). Donald Trump’s political popularity is also largely due to his being upheld as an image of fear for the non-Christian, non-conservative, anti-US-agenda subterranean realm of non-white, non-American, lizards.
I have no desire to empower those I find revolting and favour the destruction of idols, both saintly and demonic. It is out of this desire that I write this now. I have previously articulated multiple oppositions, critiques and challenges to green-nationalism, eco-extremism and political-misanthropy, while having received bad-faith accusations of being an ally to these ideologies. Here I am going to articulate a criticism of an attempt to challenge these ideologies, that seems to play directly into their hands. This is written with absolutely no desire to empower green-nationalism, eco-extremism or political-misanthropy, but only with a desire to disempower the image of eco-fascismbeing proliferated amidst radical discourses.
The writers of the collection Against Green Reactionaries have not sought to empower green-nationalists, eco-extremists and political-misanthropes, through their challenge to eco-fascism. Gillis did not seek to grant eco-extremism a pedalstool for the ideology to be upheld, neither did Campbell (or the publication It’s Going Down that Campbell is associated with). But they have. If I were an advocate of ITS’s practices or Anglin’s neo-Nazi ideology, I’d likely feel thankful for the writers of Against Green Reactionaries.
The main gift that this collection gives to these ideologies is that, through an attempt at linear historical-tracing, they have presented an argument to justify the falsity that environmentalism is fascistic and that fascism is eco-centric. This is the focus of the main essay within the collection, written by Bevensee and Reid-Ross, titled Confronting the Rise of Eco-Fascism Means Grappling with Complex Systems. The immediate issue with this essay is how much it is a reductionist work of Reality-construction, with rigidly delineated pathways that seeks to provide a route directly from the hypothesis to the conclusion. It’s construction is meticulous and obviously designed to perform a specific function, but this piece actually does more than its function. What this “more” is, if we are to accept the writers arguments (which I do not), it succeeds in presenting a pathway to direct environmentalists away from anarchist praxis and towards fascism. The potential added capability of this construction they have built is that of a potential means of blowing up bridges between anarchist and environmentalist activities, which would be awful to happen.
After the main essay there are three pieces focused on eco-extremism – 1 piece on the publication of the Atassa journal, written by Gillis, and 2 on ITS, 1 by Campbell and 1 joint statement from multiple Mexican anarchist groups.
Campbell’s piece is easy to sum up in his statement that “[t]he purpose of this piece is to condemn the recent acts of eco-extremists in Mexico …”. Condemnation is the focus of this piece. Condemnation is conceptually linked to the idea of divine punishment, as in the damned being sent to the demonic realm of hell – “God condemns the wicked to hell, for their sins” type positioning. This is precisely where Campbell perpetuates the same type of theological-theatrics that ITS has thrived on, as necro-psychic-capitalists. Through positioning ITS as demonic evil figures, listing what sins have landed them in hell, this piece serves to make ITS attractive to those who idolise the images of demons – like how Satanism has become more attractive to black metal loving kids, who hate their Christian parents and neighbours, precisely through their parents and neighbours condemnation of black metal music.
As I see it, the best way to challenge ITS is to humanise them, as a techno-morphic Reality, switching between virtual-realms and the technologically-mediated means of weaponry they use for their (tame) attacks, that require no animal-bodily (wild) presence. Once humanise, you can deconstruct their efforts and destroy them, as they are largely successful only in presenting opportunities for state-apparatus to strengthen itself.
The piece On No Platform and ITS, by Gillis, is focused on Little Black Cart (my former publisher) and the Atassa journal. It is a polemic that basically argues that Little Black Cart betrayed anarchists by publishing the journal, which includes anti-anarchist and non-anarchist ideas, including ideas that are terrible from an anarchist perspective. Gillis is correct that there is a lot that is terrible and revolting about the content of the Atassa journal. However, I feel that Gillis has missed what Little Black Cart seemed to intend to do, by publishing the journal. As an ideology that manifested out of disenfranchised green-anarchists, an ideology that engages in activities that are worthy of revolt and challenge, it seems more desirable to me to critically engage with eco-extremism, to deconstruct and destroy the ideology in ways that strengthen anarchist ideas and activities. To do this though, eco-extremism needs to be included within the conversation, which is uncomfortable and in many ways terrible to imagine. However, if we want to see the destruction of eco-extremism, we have to get close enough to stick a (metaphorical/discursive) knife in its body, rather than point to it and yell “demon”.
By far the best piece within the collection is the joint statement, entitled ITS, or The Rhetoric of Decay, as this piece excellently destroys the image of ITS. It is a shame that this piece is the final one and so short compared with the others, with so much space being given to pieces that seem to better serve the ideological needs of eco-extremism, green-nationalism and political misanthropy. I am grateful for this piece being published, though I feel that it would be better positioned as the first (or only) piece, as it is a better challenge to the usurpers of environmentalist thought, who would seek to use it for non-earthly politics.
My criticism’s here of the collection Against Green Reactionaries and of eco-extremist ideology draw from the same ideas that I wrote about in chapter 3 of Feral Consciousness, on terrorism supporting state structures, and chapter 5 of Feral Iconoclasm, on the destruction of icons as a means of de-structuring their authority and radical-empowerment. I have included more critiques of eco-extremism in the book I am publishing later this year, titled Feral Life.
As I stated in my essay An Eco-Pessimist Revolt Against Fascism, I will not gift any environmentalist space to fascism, because I find fascism to be entirely the enemy of environmentalist thought and action. The more individuals seek to tie ecological-praxis with fascism, even from an anti-fascist perspective, the more they grant space to fascism that I have no desire to see it gain. I do no know what would be worse, anarchists to denounce environmentalist praxis out of it being tied to fascism by anti-fascists or environmentalists embracing fascism out of belief that fascism shares values with environmentalism. Both seem terrible. My concern is that one or both of these will be the main achievement of individuals, like the writers included in Again Green Reactionaries, who grant eco-fascismsuch attention as to make it real – as ideation eventually reaches production.
As I have been accused of this before, when refusing to embrace this concept that ultimately only serves to build bridges between fascism and environmentalism, I will state here that this is not “only semantics” – though there is a semiotic-linguistic aspect to my argument. Language affects perception; this much is obvious. Like it or not – perception matters. My desire is only to challenge these ideologies that I have no tolerance towards and part of that involves destroying any signs that seek to point environmentalist down the pathway towards fascism or anarchists away from environmentalism.
Something happened to me this morning that I’d like to share here. It was not a huge incident, but the course of events has left me reflecting on various matters.
I had just been walking through the town nearest to where I live. I live very much out of the way, in a comfortably anti-social setting, miles away from the town. So I haven’t been seeing regularly much of the Covid-19 procedures going on internally. It was weird, all the shepherding, but something weirder happened as I was walking away from the town.
Living a pretty anti-social life, I rarely get into any fights with anyone. Even when I was more social, violence encounters with other human individuals where quite inoften, outside of work. I used to have a day job working with some extremely violent individuals, so dealing with aggression and having to defend myself is not totally unusual to me. But for a long enough period, I have not needed to think about it too much.
Today though, I noticed a man and a woman walking the opposite direction to me. He had a very particular look that reminded me immediately of people I had met regularly through my father’s Narcotics Anonymous practice, as a recovering crack and heroin addict. I mean this with absolutely no offense intended, but the name I have for this look is “heroin junkie sickly” – that painfully skinny and sullen look, with an absolutely aggressive energy to the individual. She had a black eye, puffy cheeks and looked as if she had used as a punching bag.
My immediate feeling was “oh shit!”, with a sinking feeling in my chest. I am revolted by patriarchy and by domestic abusers, for both personal and (anti-)political reasons. I looked at her and then to him and then back to her, very quickly, then noticed her looking back at me. She said to me, in a tone full of venom and aggression “what are you staring at?”, which was immediately followed by him shouting something that basically amounted to “you want some!” and taking a step towards me, to start a fight.
The woman’s response to his advance towards me was one of fright. She put her arms around him and pulled him away, to prevent him from moving towards me. Now, I’m not a big guy and I’m not an overly skilled fighter, but with this guys sickly look and lack of physique, I was and am pretty sure that, if I couldn’t have restrained him, a couple of hard shots to his softer areas and a clap on both his ears to disorient him would have been enough to stop him being a threat. I reacted to his advance by stopping walking, looking at him with stone cold indifference and showing no fear or aggression. I had seen that she did not want me to see her as being wounded in the ways that she was and I had seen that he knew that I knew and understood, and I can see that his reaction to my having seen her was because he knew that I knew and understood, and was terrified of being seen for the abusive filth he has clearly been.
As they walked on, I walked on. This lasted only a few seconds, but was an intense moment.
I got to thinking and reflecting on what happened. What was most noticeable for me was how actively she sought to be with him in that moment, as if my noticing her was a threat to their apparently abusive relationship and her seeking to protect him in that moment, either from me or from the consequences of him getting into trouble for having attacked me. If I tried, I could not “save her”, as she wanted to be with him, I do not want to place her in the position of being a victim if she feels that she is surviving and I have no authority to dictate whether or not she should be somewhere safer, regardless of my disgust towards abuse. This is a somewhat saddening feeling, but one that I feel acceptance towards.
What was also noticeable to me was how much power I held as an individual in that space. Just through my sight, I affected that man so intensely that he experienced me as such a threat that he needed to react aggressively. Why? Because abusers hate to be seen for being abusers, as abuse is a cowardly and pathetic act. I’m glad that my sight inspired such anxiety and insecurity in this man.
I am undoubtedly making an assumption here, that her condition was the result of domestic abuse, with his reaction being a reaction to my noticing, but this feels like a reasonable assumption to make, under the circumstances.
My feeling in writing this is to convey this very message – don’t look away, as your sight holds power.
An individual cannot read the same Lightning Storm Mind: Pre-Ancientist Meditations twice, because it is not the same book and they are not the same individual.
Written by Max Cafard and published by Autonomedia, it is a disordered collection of disordered fragments, exploring the ideas in the fragments left by the philosopher Heraclitus, through an approach that Cafard calls anarchography – “anarchography is the writing of the universal, the particular and, not least of all, the singular.”
The philosophical approach Cafard uses is one of speculative surrealism, or object disoriented ontology, where surrealism is considered a surge of Real – “Reality was really bad, while it lasted” “after the death of reality comes life. Life, not the reality of life”. I feel a deep appreciation for this approach Cafard uses, as his encouraging the reader to “… vomit up Reality and live” is very similar to the ideas in my Feral books.
Cafard situates Heraclitus as a destructive rebel philosopher (perhaps an ontological anarchist?) – “our ancestor, in his assault on reality, laid the foundationless foundations of surreality. or perhaps he deliberately mislaid them. the “sur” in surrealism implies “getting beyond,” or “evading” the clutches of realism. It should be read as both “above” and “below,” in addition to every other direction of escape from the oppressive Pernicious Prison of reality”. Through his readings of Heraclitus, Cafard presents an eco-(ontological-)anarchist philosophy that is a beautiful challenge towards the “Dissectarianism” ideology that embodies the reductionism of mass-extinction dehabitation culture – “Civilization will never give up its War on terra.” “our ancestor announced the undawning nightmare of Civilization.” “our ancestor, with Pre-ancientist eyes, saw history as a nightmare into which all are trying desperately to unawaken. our ancestor’s pre-ancientist project is nothing more than our reconciliation with the awakened eye of the Child.” “everyone since who has not opted out of reality, that is, everyone immersed in history, has been in interminable treatment for an incorrigible case of ancientism. We the Civilized.” “So we come to the end of the road, the end of the rope, called Civilization. The end of history. The Kingdom of ends. The end of Kingdoms” “Civilization is Unconscious Catastrophe becoming Self-Conscious. Slowly. Catastrophically slowly.”
Cafard also uses Heraclitus’s thought to challenge some of the weaker ideas within ecological thought – “it is not only the waters of the same river that are always different. The same river is itself also never the same. There is no “river-structure” that endures. There are no engineers of Corpses who can build a “river-structure” to protect its watery essence from the flow of the “new waters.”” “our ancestor understood that nature breaks all of her own laws. Where one seeks “rhythmic alternation” one often finds arhythmic non-alternation. Not all poles are opposites and not all opposites are poles. Nature’s orderly disorder is a discordant harmony. The image of harmony imposed on the surface of things disguises the anarchic harmony at the heart of things”. Through Cafard’s thoughts on Heraclitus, the reader receives an insight into the living world that is not as shallow as social ecology, as mythical as deep ecology, or as object-oriented-ontological as dark ecology, but is a process-ecology, that is far less perceptually-tame (perhaps madness), but more honest with its relentless uncertainty.
There are a few areas where I disagree with Cafard. I agree with him that “We all have a ghost Problem”, but his claim that “hauntology is destiny” I find to bad faith and a disappointing blocking in the rebellious flows of his thought – as it stinks of Historical-civilisational absolutism. For similar reasons, when Cafard claims “(t)he only re-course is to re-start the flows: dialectic and revolution”, I find myself disappointed – my sympathy towards Cratylus’ intensification of Heraclitus’ thought is more inclined towards the position that (the spoken) dialectics ultimately collapse into (pre-linguistic) ineffability; and the progressivism of revolutionary praxis seems to me to be the violation of the pre-ancient. These are only small moments of disagreement, but felt worth commenting on them, given how brilliant the rest of the collection is.
Anyone who has appreciated my Feral Consciousness and/or Feral Iconoclasm would sincerely appreciate the pre-ancientistmediatations Cafard presents to the reader. Of course, they will not be reading the same Lightning Storm Mind as I have and they will not be the same individual after reading it. The depth of its beauty is matched by how devastating it is.
“… only fools, the non-wise, succumb to the illusion of control”