I have (somewhat) known Ezra Buckley for several years now, via the internet. The immediate quality I noticed was that Buckley gives basically nothing of them that would give any quality of who they are, besides being sympathetic to zenarchy and eco-extremist thought, and loving the idol Tiamat. I’ve experienced a feeling of appreciation for Buckley, for the value that they have shown in my writing and the kindness that they have shown me (via the internet). So I was deeply pleased to learn that I’d been sent this book that they have written.
The first thing that I will say about Xen is that it is not a work of philosophical theory or political propaganda. I encountered no groundbreaking ideas and didn’t feel challenged by the book. (Okay, that is criticism done.)
Xen, from my reading, is partly a zenarchist love poem to Tiamat and partly a piece of grunge-literature style ego-centric autobiography. But really, these different parts cannot be separated.
Xen is non-linear. Xen is liminal.
What I appreciate about Buckley’s book is the sense of desperate and furious will-to-life/power, coupled with a playfulness that is wonderful. I’m sincerely grateful for having been sent the book, both to know something more of Buckley (even if that is the Buckley that Buckley wants to tell) and for the pleasure of reading this work on Xen.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Bob Black had released his recent work The Myth of Human Rights, partly because I had weeks prior purchased a zine copy of his The Abolition of Work and intended to reread it. Black, along with Jarach and Crimethinc, was one of my first encounters with post-left anarchist thought, and at one time I really valued his thought. I have read both works since the publication of the more recent and am going to share (lazily) some of my thoughts on (the myths in) both.
The Myth of Human Rights –
Factual-Realism: Black’s embrace of this (myth/)mode of argument is intensely disappointing. Claims of “objectivity” are incredibly weak attempts at posturing some notion of authority. It seems to go with a form of Humanist theology that I’d have hoped Black wouldn’t turn to.
Humanism: Black misses the first point of destroying the myth of human rights; destroying the concept of “human” species-being. As such, the piece reads like an ode to human-being.
Contradictions = bad: Black positions contradictions as something bad, when being-contradiction – contradiction being difference – is a core aspect of anti-totalitarian praxis. To not contradict the system is to accept this culture. Black’s anti-contradiction logic strikes me as weak, at best.
Conflict-harmony dichotomy: I find this dichotomy to be an entirely false one and Black’s appeal to it instantly reminded me of Hobbes and his anti-wild ideology.
Chomsky Name Calling: Black’s belief in the myth that calling Chomsky names makes him more interesting is just sad. Nothing more can be said on the matter.
Utopian Anarchism: Black appealing to romantic sentiment regarding utopian anarchism is (also) just sad, and (sadly) suggests to me that Black is a disappointed optimist, still hoping wishful thinking might come true.
The Abolition of Work-
Suffering is caused by work and is bad: I find this myth to be both victim posturing politically and ontologically false, as I encounter suffering as a basic aspect of being alive. In both of these ways, I encounter Black as pathetic and moralistic.
At Work People Aren’t Free: Black’s posturing this myth strikes me as utter bad-faith and again victim posturing (again pathetic). I find freedom to be ontologically prior to productive narratives – you can’t escape your freedom Bob!
Life Will Become A Game?: Life is a game Bob. If you’re not having fun, maybe you need to get better at playing it!
Final thought –
Perhaps it is unfair to critique an individual whose obituary has been written before they died, after a stark decline – https://aragorn.anarchyplanet.org/in-defense-of-bob-black/ . I certainly don’t want to deny that Black was one of my early anarchist influences and I will never forget (nor stop loving) the reaction of local members of the SWP and ML party, when I handed them prints of Groucho Marxism, at a local vegan cafe when I was 17. I do feel that to critique – not necessarily to comment on – is to affirm some value in a work (even a lazy critique).
Small chap-book poetry collections are wonderful, certainly to me, and Smash All Clocks, by Calvin Smith, is a wonderful read.
In that way that poetry meets theory (often better than analytics), Smash All Clocks comes across to me as an egoistic-perspectivist work of expressive writings, detailing Smith’s experiences of being alive amidst Leviathan’s auto-cannibalistic collapse. It’s grunge-lit style I found immediately pleasing and the imagery Smith uses left me feeling a sense of appreciation for him.
There are powerful personal extremely short poems in the collection, such as Hiking and Lost; funnier poems, such as Karen; and pieces that take a more serious tone, full of dissatisfaction, disillusionment and left me with a feeling of dark-affirmation. None of the poems stand out above or beneath any of the others, but they are all, in their own way, individually them.
You might ask why you should bother to read this collection, if all you’ll learn is Smith’s perspective, and it is true, there’s nothing really to learn from the poems other than Smith’s perspective. But reading because you ought to read something is terrible and you will only gain what there is to gain from reading Smash All Clocks if you read it out of a desire to do so.
Personally, I am very grateful to Calvin Smith for sending me his poems and hope he will send me any more collections he eventually writes.
Yesterday I said to Katie that tomorrow/today will be 1 year since Aragorn! died. We then had a short conversation on the subject, where she said that she remembered me not entirely liking A!. I responded by saying that I found him difficult and often didn’t like him, and that he was largely considered with anarchist discourse to be a hostile arsehole; but that there is/was more than that. I went on to say I value/love/miss him, in part for the digital places that anarchists can use and for his thoughts on anarchism-without-a-roadmap, but more so for the moments of care he showed me and for how he supported my writings. I had other individuals who had collaborated with him previously encouraging me not to, but I chose to ignore them, because I felt that working with A!, regardless of what I found dislikeable, was in my well being, which it was, as I feel that I’m unlikely to have become who I am today if it weren’t for his, albeit virtual, presence in my life.
Over the last few months I have regularly thought back to my last video conversation with A! and how it was actually the best we’d ever had. A! told me about some of his early more-situationist inspired writings, plans he had for the coming years and how Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of his favourite films, with us agreeing to watch it together when we met in person. I saw the film in December and I felt a mixture of sadness and joy; sadness that I’d never watch it with my friend and joy for what of him I saw in the film.
There are incidents that I am somewhat aware of through retellings, where A!’s apparent involvement disgusts me. When I think on these I remember that I’ve not always done things I later approve of, am disliked by some for friendships I have had and do not experience myself as a creature who is disgusting!
Whatever criticism and hate I have or will receive for having collaborated with A!, I will likely continue to experience them with feelings of bitterness, for how shallow they often are, and joy to have had some intensity of experience of an individual who was so powerful (and lacking authority).
Radical discourse is sadly dominated by nostalgic-sentiment regarding rebellions and revolutions that happened outside of most of our life experiences and by future-oriented Reality-planning bound to hope-hopelessness advocacy, both of which hold little-to-no here and now meaning or relevance. This is why books like Emma Kathryn’s Reclaiming Ourselves are so valuable, beautiful and something I’d love to see more of.
Rather than Marxist posturing about revolutions or transhumanist wishful thinking about the prospects of future technologies, which are dependent upon the narratives of scientific production and social machinery; Kathryn’s thought across this short collection of thoughts and suggestions are ones that individuals can engage with independently, from their own will-to-life/power. With it’s strong anti-consumerist theme, Kathryn’s thought could be considered anti-consumerist-pagan individualism – not individualism as liberalism, as presented by collectivist ideologues and liberals, but authentic individualism that is not bound to political ideologies.
With her focus on food, medicine and body, there is an environmentalism within Kathryn’s thought that is not grandiose, simple and immediately accessible. In this way, this work can be thought of as a beautiful immediatist handbook – immediatism meaning praxis that is not dependent upon Historising political-machinery.
If you have read my books Mesodma or Feral Life: Meditations on Rewilding and Anarchy then you might have noticed Emma’s name mentioned in both. This is because she edited them for me. Maybe you have not read those books, but recognise her name for it being included within the Night Forest Cell of Radical Poets materials. We also collaborated on a piece published by Gods and Radicals. These past collaborations and our friendship are partly why I am writing this with a feeling of joy for Emma’s newest book.
Gentle, honest and beautiful are all words I would use to describe this text, and I am sincerely grateful that Emma sent me this copy to read and review.
In his underappreciated essay Create Dangerously, Albert Camus stated that “to create today is to create dangerously” and few works truly live up to this statement, in this chasm of friendly face mass-produced easily-consumable banality of tame-shit that passes for creativity, than Ramon Elani’s work Wyrd Against The Modern World. This work is nothing less than an act of rebellious dangerous creativity, which few individuals today have the strength and bravery to put forward.
The world of radical pagan thought, which has sadly seen too much of “hex your boss” and “Marxist = liberation theology”, is thoroughly enriched through this book. Wyrd Against The Modern World is a brutal, beautiful and frankly iconoclastic work of sober, pessimistic environmentalism, with all the qualities of wild, untame rebellion that that would desirably inspire. Elani’s writing here is a flame full of life and fury, seeking to burn down the ideologies that we can consider “the modern world”.
Much of the book is dedicated to Elani’s thoughts regarding what climate change is. Through his pagan philosophy, Elani presents climate change as being –
“… climate change as the return of the repressed”
“Climate catastrophe is kathodos, a journey into the unknowable and into mind-shattering terror.”
“… climate change represents a necessary restoration of cosmic balance”
“… climate change as hierophany”
“Climate change is nothing other than the forces of Tiamat embodied …”
“… climate change as a baptism and ritual purification”
To Elani, climate change is the fury of the gods seeking to destroy civilisation, to liberate the world, as an act of self-liberation.
While I experienced an intense appreciation for Elani’s thoughts regarding the attempts to preserve the myth of control and that myths destruction, as well as his rejection of mechanistic causality; I do not share Elani’s perspective regarding fate, as a mode of determinism that renounces freedom. Some of Elani’s thoughts on fate are –
“We must return to the true path, the path of wyrd, of fate.”
“The ultimate gift of climate change is the reacknowledgment that wyrd, fate rules all.”
“… nothing can withstand its fate and that fate is always experienced cyclically.”
“There is no freedom, all things are subordinate to powers beyond them.”
“Enslave yourself to the gods, to your dreams, to love, to fate, to the earth.”
“To be free is to be lost.”
“No, true freedom is found in utter surrender and obedience to the voice of the sacred within yourself.”
“There is only one path now.”
Rather than experiencing this disagreement as something to reject in Elani’s thought, I encounter this as an opportunity for me to affirm my perspective through differentiation. In this way, Elani’s determinism for me is an opportunity for me to reflect upon my ontological anarchist perspective and why I feel a desire for diversity in thought.
Much of the book is comprised of an exploration of the ideas of Jung, Jeffers and Lawrence, and with this there is an unspoken affirmation of the poet over the theorist in Elani’s thought. This is another truly wonderful aspect of the book, as environmental discourse is certainly lacking in poetry!
On their thoughts combined, Elani states this –
Each in his way also saw that the path toward regeneration, whether or not it came about as a result of catastrophic collapse, lay in the natural world and the gods and spirits that dwell within it. For each of them, our only hope is to return to nature and the natural path, which we here call wyrd, which we followed for the vast majority of our time on earth as a species. So we too will say as plainly as we can that our only hope for survival lies in a return to the land and the gods, in the restoration of the old ways, old ways of thinking and living, in the dismantling of causality as a conceptual apparatus. Following Lawrence, Jung, and Jeffers, let us put aside materialism and dance the old dances and obey the hidden wisdom that is found in our pulsing blood, travel within the self to find the lost part of ourselves in the dark woods of the unconscious, and reconsecrate our bonds of allegiance to the inhuman source of all life and beauty. In the immediate future, this path, the path of wyrd, leads us back to the land and the home.
Home is the locus and focus of Elani’s philosophy –
“Make the home the center of your life.”
“If we do not make a space within us and our lives for the gods and spirits to dwell, can we be surprised when we do not find them?”
“Let the home become a site of defiance, a bold denial of industrial society. Let the home be made into a bulwark against the modern world.”
The book drifts between terrifying and beautiful descriptive imagery, reflecting Elani’s skills as a poet and the intensity to which his dark thoughts are affirmations of life, as an experience that is both terrifying and beautiful. Some examples of this are –
“In the burning sun, the savage storm, and the rising sea are the grim faces and voices of the gods and spirits that modernity so proudly put aside.”
“It is regenerative because it is destructive.”
“There is strength in the mountain, there is peace in the grace of the bird that soars through the clouds above us.”
Regardless of any (minor and arguably not important) disagreements or differences in perspective I have with his philosophy in this book, more than anything else I want to thank Elani for writing this and having the courage to share his insights with such honesty, with the awareness that bad-faith readings will likely seek to distort his thought.
Today Facebook reminded me of the Things that are Morgue and his “Hyperianism” (math worshiping gnostic-type body/life renouncing arse-water thought) –
There’s more reasons to be revolted by Morgue’s rhetoric than what I’m going to note here. If I had any appreciation for him I might critique with more detail, but I don’t want to advertise his thought too much here. If you wish to discover more then you can go on YouTube and listen to him Teach for yourself (please don’t buy his book and provide him any financial support)!
The first aspect that I will note here is how Morgue presents himself as a Teacher – he positions himself as possessing knowledge that “you” need and he can provide you. This is an immediate effort in disempowerment and bad faith, that seeks to render the listener feeling as there is something fundamentally wrong with them, through the notion that their bodily-sense experience (that is “them”) is not to be trusted – I.e. “you can’t trust yourself, but you must believe me to acquire truth”. This gets coated verbally in seemingly anti-authoritarian thought, critiquing states, media and similar institutions, which mask the technological-scientism and Teacher position Morgue takes, as yet another form of authoritarian rhetoric masking as liberation-thought. Morgue repeatedly spouts that he wants people to think for themselves, but this means “think like me”, as an effort in positioning mathematical-Gnosticism and scientific-Realism as Truth.
The other aspect of Morgue’s thought that I will note here as utterly revolting is that of it being body/life renouncing. Within all his pretty (empty) words about “higher consciousnesses” and transcendence there is an ideological push to reject the world as flesh and body that is being-Earth. This anti-environmentalism is ultimately a form of suicide-bomberism, which seeks to annihilate life in search of heaven – a vile, pathetic and cowardly form of thought! Also known as Gnosticism, this form of ideology embodies much of what my thought is largely an attempt to destroy. Below are 2 pages from my Feral Iconoclasm, on Gnosticism –
Not wanting to think about Morgue and Hyperianism any more, I will end this here.
As when reading any work of psychoanalytic theory, throughout reading The Ego and its Hyperstate I had one question going through my mind – does Eliot want to fuck my mother? But jokes aside, this text is not a standard work of psychoanalytic theory. For one thing, not being as cold as others I have read in that school, I did not have to put on my (Freudian) slippers! (No more dreadful jokes, I promise).
This book is Rosenstock’s interpretation and analysis of the social-ontology of self-interest. As the subtitle states, the book is an analysis of self-interest that uses psychoanalytic theory and a dialectical approach. Dreams, Lovecraft, popular cinema and Alice in Wonderland are all part of the picture the reader finds within the text. Through these images and others, Rosenstock seeks to construct a bridge between Freudian thought and Stirner-type ideological egoism – or at least appears to seek this.
The main analytic gift Rosenstock gives is his concept of the Hyperstate, epitomised by the Absolute Hyperstate, which is defined as – “The articulations of the past create the self-interest of the present. The dreams of the future return to redefine the identities and orders of the past. This is The Absolute Hyperstate.”. But this work is more than a single concept! Rosenstock’s real gift to the reader is another addition to the world of radical mental-health thought, to join Félix Guattari, Roberto Freire, Otto Gross and others not willing to conform to industrial-mainstreams – something desperately needed in a world dominated by CBT and psychiatrists pushing pills.
If you want an introduction to his concept of dialectical egoism before you read the book, check out this piece on Rosenstock’s blog https://wp.me/pakZfP-7y
As for any critical points I could raise, I will state 2 here. The first is the top-down position of the analyst-as-authority (in-the-know), which is undoubtedly a product of the ideology and methodology of psychoanalysis Rosenstock embraces. The second is that Rosenstock is obviously attempting to construct some-Thing through this work, as system-building, which leaves me somewhat skeptical. However, neither of these criticisms, which are applicable to most of radical discourse, are reason enough to erase the value this text holds.
The book is likely best suited to readers interested in radical-therapies and Freudo-Marxist theories.
I am not an active reader of horror-fiction by any standard. The three collections of Lovecraft stories on my book shelf were a gift from a friend this year. I do love a good horror film (and am happy to watch enjoyable awful ones), but the written form has not been a huge part of my literary experience.
However, what you do find in my book collection are many, many, works of anarchist thought, theory and practice. And before being a work of horror-fiction, Homuncula is a work on what it is to live a life as an anarchist.
Homuncula is a story about an individual who no longer finds themselves able to conform to the Reality that has been constructed where they live. They seek to escape the confines of civilisation and embrace the wild landscapes, where anarchy flows freely, not bothered by repressive anthropological machinery. What proceeds from here narrative-wise, I will not spoil.
One of my favourite quotes from the book is this – “The human world was against me now yes, most undoubtedly, but what of it? The universe and all of wild nature, it seemed, were on my side.”
You could read this book and conclude that it is a story about cannibalism, ancient alien gods and blobs, but that would by no means be fair to the book, nor Nolette. What Nolette achieves through this book is bringing the reader all of those darkest aspects of the anarchist experience and, in that way that horror aesthetics does so well, exaggerates so that we may reflect upon our own experience and affirm our strength and power that has gotten us to where we are right now. Nolette weaves anarchist thought through the book, including, either in reference or as characters, noted historical anarchists and anarchistic individuals, in ways that I imagine most individuals familiar with anarchist thought would enjoy – I certainly did.
As far as comparisons go, this work reminds me most of authors like Quinn, Kafka and Lovecraft. It’s thought is also comparable to that of Bakunite, Galleanist and primitivist, while being unique, in that this is Nolette’s work.
Any anarchist or non-anarchist who reads this book, I feel, should read this not as a work of ideology or propaganda, but as something far more important. Really, this is a work seeking to explore the absurd and unanswerable question of how does any individual find a way to live.
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
“Whatever is, is either in itself or in another.”
“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”
― Gilles Deleuze
“If you’re trapped in the dream of the Other, you’re fucked.”
― Gilles Deleuze
“Don’t just survive while waiting for someone’s revolution to clear your head.”
― Hakim Bey
“Words belong to those who use them only till someone else steals them back.”
― Hakim Bey
“We are not interested in a return to the primitive, but in a return OF the primitive …”
– Hakim Bey
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
― Henry David Thoreau
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…”
― Henry David Thoreau
“All good things are wild and free.”
― Henry David Thoreau
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
― John Muir
“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
― John Muir
“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
― Mikhail Bakunin
“What had to remain in the collective unconscious as a monstrous hybrid of human and animal, divided between the forest and the city – the werewolf – is, therefore, in its origin the figure of the man who has been banned from the city. That such a man is defined as a wolf-man and not simply as a wolf (the expression caput lupinum has the form of a juridical statute) is decisive here. The life of the bandit, like that of the sacred man, is not a piece of animal nature without any relation to law and the city. It is, rather, a threshold of indistinction and of passage be-tween animal and man, physis and nomos, exclusion and inclusion: the life of the bandit is the life of the loup garou, the werewolf, who is precisely neither man nor beast, and who dwells paradoxically within both while belonging to neither.”
“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre
“…then he comes to the brink of a precipitous fall; that is, he comes to the point where he himself will have to be taken as standing-reserve. Meanwhile man, precisely as the one so threatened, exalts himself to the posture of lord of the earth. In this way the impression comes to prevail that everything man encounters exists only insofar as it is his construct. This illusion gives rise in turn to one final delusion: It seems as though man everywhere and always encounters only himself… In truth, however, precisely nowhere does man today any longer encounter himself, i.e. his essence. Man stands so decisively in attendance on the challenging-forth of Enframing that he does not apprehend Enframing as a claim, that he fails to see himself as the one spoken to, and hence also fails in every way to hear in what respect he ek-sists, from out of his essence, in the realm of an exhortation or address, and thus can never encounter only himself.”
― Martin Heidegger
“It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours.”
― Diogenes of Sinope
“Feral revolution is an adventure. It is the daring exploration of going wild. It takes us into unknown territories for which no maps exist. We can only come to know these territories if we dare to explore them actively. We must dare to destroy whatever destroys our wildness and to act on our instincts and desires. We must dare to trust in ourselves, our experiences and our passions. Then we will not let ourselves be chained or penned in. We will not allow ourselves to be tamed. Our feral energy will rip civilization to shreds and create a life of wild freedom and intense pleasure.”
– Wolf Landstreicher (Feral Faun)
“Whoever will be free must make himself free. Freedom is no fairy gift to fall into a man’s lap. What is freedom? To have the will to be responsible for one’s self.”
― Max Stirner