The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism
by Hakim Bey
CHAOS NEVER DIED. Primordial uncarved block, sole worshipful monster, inert & spontaneous, more ultraviolet than any mythology (like the shadows before Babylon), the original undifferentiated oneness-of-being still radiates serene as the black pennants of Assassins, random & perpetually intoxicated. Chaos comes before all principles of order & entropy, it's neither a god nor a maggot, its idiotic desires encompass & define every possible choreography, all meaningless aethers & phlogistons: its masks are crystallizations of its own facelessness, like clouds.
Everything in nature is perfectly real including consciousness, there's absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only have the chains of the Law been broken, they never existed; demons never guarded the stars, the Empire never got started, Eros never grew a beard.
No, listen, what happened was this: they lied to you, sold you ideas of good & evil, gave you distrust of your body & shame for your prophethood of chaos, invented words of disgust for your molecular love, mesmerized you with inattention, bored you with civilization & all its usurious emotions.
There is no becoming, no revolution, no struggle, no path; already you're the monarch of your own skin–your inviolable freedom waits to be completed only by the love of other monarchs: a politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky.
To shed all the illusory rights & hesitations of history demands the economy of some legendary Stone Age–shamans not priests, bards not lords, hunters not police, gatherers of paleolithic laziness, gentle as blood, going naked for a sign or painted as birds, poised on the wave of explicit presence, the clockless nowever.
Agents of chaos cast burning glances at anything or anyone capable of bearing witness to their condition, their fever of lux et voluptas. I am awake only in what I love & desire to the point of terror–everything else is just shrouded furniture, quotidian anaesthesia, shit-for-brains, sub-reptilian ennui of totalitarian regimes, banal censorship & useless pain.
Avatars of chaos act as spies, saboteurs, criminals of amour fou, neither selfless nor selfish, accessible as children, mannered as barbarians, chafed with obsessions, unemployed, sensually deranged, wolfangels, mirrors for contemplation, eyes like flowers, pirates of all signs & meanings.
Here we are crawling the cracks between walls of church state school & factory, all the paranoid monoliths. Cut off from the tribe by feral nostalgia we tunnel after lost words, imaginary bombs.
The last possible deed is that which defines perception itself, an invisible golden cord that connects us: illegal dancing in the courthouse corridors. If I were to kiss you here they'd call it an act of terrorism–so let's take our pistols to bed & wake up the city at midnight like drunken bandits celebrating with a fusillade, the message of the taste of chaos.
WEIRD DANCING IN ALL-NIGHT computer-banking lobbies. Unauthorized pyrotechnic displays. Land-art, earth-works as bizarre alien artifacts strewn in State Parks. Burglarize houses but instead of stealing, leave Poetic-Terrorist objects. Kidnap someone & make them happy. Pick someone at random & convince them they're the heir to an enormous, useless & amazing fortune–say 5000 square miles of Antarctica, or an aging circus elephant, or an orphanage in Bombay, or a collection of alchemical mss. Later they will come to realize that for a few moments they believed in something extraordinary, & will perhaps be driven as a result to seek out some more intense mode of existence.
Bolt up brass commemorative plaques in places (public or private) where you have experienced a revelation or had a particularly fulfilling sexual experience, etc.
Go naked for a sign.
Organize a strike in your school or workplace on the grounds that it does not satisfy your need for indolence & spiritual beauty.
Grafitti-art loaned some grace to ugly subways & rigid public monuments–PT-art can also be created for public places: poems scrawled in courthouse lavatories, small fetishes abandoned in parks & restaurants, xerox-art under windshield-wipers of parked cars, Big Character Slogans pasted on playground walls, anonymous letters mailed to random or chosen recipients (mail fraud), pirate radio transmissions, wet cement…
The audience reaction or aesthetic-shock produced by PT ought to be at least as strong as the emotion of terror– powerful disgust, sexual arousal, superstitious awe, sudden intuitive breakthrough, dada-esque angst–no matter whether the PT is aimed at one person or many, no matter whether it is “signed” or anonymous, if it does not change someone's life (aside from the artist) it fails.
PT is an act in a Theater of Cruelty which has no stage, no rows of seats, no tickets & no walls. In order to work at all, PT must categorically be divorced from all conventional structures for art consumption (galleries, publications, media). Even the guerilla Situationist tactics of street theater are perhaps too well known & expected now.
An exquisite seduction carried out not only in the cause of mutual satisfaction but also as a conscious act in a deliberately beautiful life–may be the ultimate PT. The PTerrorist behaves like a confidence-trickster whose aim is not money but CHANGE.
Don't do PT for other artists, do it for people who will not realize (at least for a few moments) that what you have done is art. Avoid recognizable art-categories, avoid politics, don't stick around to argue, don't be sentimental; be ruthless, take risks, vandalize only what must be defaced, do something children will remember all their lives–but don't be spontaneous unless the PT Muse has possessed you.
Dress up. Leave a false name. Be legendary. The best PT is against the law, but don't get caught. Art as crime; crime as art.
AMOUR FOU IS NOT a Social Democracy, it is not a Parliament of Two. The minutes of its secret meetings deal with meanings too enormous but too precise for prose. Not this, not that–its Book of Emblems trembles in your hand.
Naturally it shits on schoolmasters & police, but it sneers at liberationists & ideologues as well–it is not a clean well-lit room. A topological charlatan laid out its corridors & abandoned parks, its ambush-decor of luminous black & membranous maniacal red.
Each of us owns half the map–like two renaissance potentates we define a new culture with our anathematized mingling of bodies, merging of liquids–the Imaginal seams of our City-state blur in our sweat.
Ontological anarchism never came back from its last fishing trip. So long as no one squeals to the FBI, CHAOS cares nothing for the future of civilization. Amour fou breeds only by accident–its primary goal is ingestion of the Galaxy. A conspiracy of transmutation.
Its only concern for the Family lies in the possibility of incest (“Grow your own!” “Every human a Pharaoh!”)–O most sincere of readers, my semblance, my brother/sister!–& in the masturbation of a child it finds concealed (like a japanese-paper-flower-pill) the image of the crumbling of the State.
Words belong to those who use them only till someone else steals them back. The Surrealists disgraced themselves by selling amour fou to the ghost-machine of Abstraction–they sought in their unconsciousness only power over others, & in this they followed de Sade (who wanted “freedom” only for grown-up whitemen to eviscerate women & children).
Amour fou is saturated with its own aesthetic, it fills itself to the borders of itself with the trajectories of its own gestures, it runs on angels' clocks, it is not a fit fate for commissars & shopkeepers. Its ego evaporates in the mutability of desire, its communal spirit withers in the selfishness of obsession.
Amour fou involves non-ordinary sexuality the way sorcery demands non-ordinary consciousness. The anglo-saxon post- Protestant world channels all its suppressed sensuality into advertising & splits itself into clashing mobs: hysterical prudes vs promiscuous clones & former-ex-singles. AF doesn't want to join anyone's army, it takes no part in the Gender Wars, it is bored by equal opportunity employment (in fact it refuses to work for a living), it doesn't complain, doesn't explain, never votes & never pays taxes.
AF would like to see every bastard (“lovechild”) come to term & birthed–AF thrives on anti-entropic devices–AF loves to be molested by children–AF is better than prayer, better than sinsemilla–AF takes its own palmtrees & moon wherever it goes. AF admires tropicalismo, sabotage, break- dancing, Layla & Majnun, the smells of gunpowder & sperm.
AF is always illegal, whether it's disguised as a marriage or a boyscout troop–always drunk, whether on the wine of its own secretions or the smoke of its own polymorphous virtues. It is not the derangement of the senses but rather their apotheosis–not the result of freedom but rather its precondition. Lux et voluptas.
THE FULL MOON'S UNFATHOMABLE light-path–mid-May midnight in some State that starts with “I,” so two-dimensional it can scarcely be said to possess any geography at all–the beams so urgent & tangible you must draw the shades in order to think in words. No question of writing to Wild Children. They think in images–prose is for them a code not yet fully digested & ossified, just as for us never fully trusted.
You may write about them, so that others who have lost the silver chain may follow. Or write for them, making of STORY & EMBLEM a process of seduction into your own paleolithic memories, a barbaric enticement to liberty (chaos as CHAOS understands it).
For this otherworld species or “third sex,” les enfants sauvages, fancy & Imagination are still undifferentiated. Unbridled PLAY: at one & the same time the source of our Art & of all the race's rarest eros.
To embrace disorder both as wellspring of style & voluptuous storehouse, a fundamental of our alien & occult civilization, our conspiratorial esthetic, our lunatic espionage–this is the action (let's face it) either of an artist of some sort, or of a ten- or thirteen-year-old.
Children whose clarified senses betray them into a brilliant sorcery of beautiful pleasure reflect something feral & smutty in the nature of reality itself: natural ontological anarchists, angels of chaos–their gestures & body odors broadcast around them a jungle of presence, a forest of prescience complete with snakes, ninja weapons, turtles, futuristic shamanism, incredible mess, piss, ghosts, sunlight, jerking off, birds' nests & eggs–gleeful aggression against the groan-ups of those Lower Planes so powerless to englobe either destructive epiphanies or creation in the form of antics fragile but sharp enough to slice moonlight.
And yet the denizens of these inferior jerkwater dimensions truly believe they control the destinies of Wild Children–& down here, such vicious beliefs actually sculpt most of the substance of happenstance.
The only ones who actually wish to share the mischievous destiny of those savage runaways or minor guerillas rather than dictate it, the only ones who can understand that cherishing & unleashing are the same act–these are mostly artists, anarchists, perverts, heretics, a band apart (as much from each other as from the world) or able to meet only as wild children might, locking gazes across a dinnertable while adults gibber from behind their masks.
Too young for Harley choppers–flunk-outs, break-dancers, scarcely pubescent poets of flat lost railroad towns–a million sparks falling from the skyrockets of Rimbaud & Mowgli–slender terrorists whose gaudy bombs are compacted of polymorphous love & the precious shards of popular culture–punk gunslingers dreaming of piercing their ears, animist bicyclists gliding in the pewter dusk through Welfare streets of accidental flowers–out-of-season gypsy skinny-dippers, smiling sideways-glancing thieves of power- totems, small change & panther-bladed knives–we sense them everywhere–we publish this offer to trade the corruption of our own lux et gaudium for their perfect gentle filth.
So get this: our realization, our liberation depends on theirs–not because we ape the Family, those “misers of love” who hold hostages for a banal future, nor the State which schools us all to sink beneath the event-horizon of a tedious “usefulness”–no–but because we & they, the wild ones, are images of each other, linked & bordered by that silver chain which defines the pale of sensuality, transgression & vision.
We share the same enemies & our means of triumphant escape are also the same: a delirious & obsessive play, powered by the spectral brilliance of the wolves & their children.
CONSTELLATIONS BY WHICH TO steer the barque of the soul. “If the moslem understood Islam he would become an idol- worshipper.”–Mahmud Shabestari Eleggua, ugly opener of doors with a hook in his head & cowrie shells for eyes, black santeria cigar & glass of rum- -same as Ganesh, elephant-head fat boy of Beginnings who rides a mouse. The organ which senses the numinous atrophies with the senses. Those who cannot feel baraka cannot know the caress of the world.
Hermes Poimandres taught the animation of eidolons, the magic in-dwelling of icons by spirits–but those who cannot perform this rite on themselves & on the whole palpable fabric of material being will inherit only blues, rubbish, decay.
The pagan body becomes a Court of Angels who all perceive this place–this very grove–as paradise (“If there is a paradise, surely it is here!”–inscription on a Mughal garden gate)..
But ontological anarchism is too paleolithic for eschatology- -things are real, sorcery works, bush-spirits one with the Imagination, death an unpleasant vagueness–the plot of Ovid's Metamorphoses–an epic of mutability. The personal mythscape.
Paganism has not yet invented laws–only virtues. No priestcraft, no theology or metaphysics or morality–but a universal shamanism in which no one attains real humanity without a vision.
Food money sex sleep sun sand & sinsemilla–love truth peace freedom & justice. Beauty. Dionysus the drunk boy on a panther–rank adolescent sweat–Pan goatman slogs through the solid earth up to his waist as if it were the sea, his skin crusted with moss & lichen–Eros multiplies himself into a dozen pastoral naked Iowa farm boys with muddy feet & pond-scum on their thighs.
Raven, the potlatch trickster, sometimes a boy, old woman, bird who stole the Moon, pine needles floating on a pond, Heckle/Jeckle totempole-head, chorus-line of crows with silver eyes dancing on the woodpile–same as Semar the hunchback albino hermaphrodite shadow-puppet patron of the Javanese revolution.
Yemaya, bluestar sea-goddess & patroness of queers–same as Tara, bluegrey aspect of Kali, necklace of skulls, dancing on Shiva's stiff lingam, licking monsoon clouds with her yard-long tongue–same as Loro Kidul, jasper-green Javanese sea-goddess who bestows the power of invulnerability on sultans by tantrik intercourse in magic towers & caves.
From one point of view ontological anarchism is extremely bare, stripped of all qualities & possessions, poor as CHAOS itself–but from another point of view it pullulates with baroqueness like the Fucking-Temples of Kathmandu or an alchemical emblem book–it sprawls on its divan eating loukoum & entertaining heretical notions, one hand inside its baggy trousers.
The hulls of its pirate ships are lacquered black, the lateen sails are red, black banners with the device of a winged hourglass.
A South China Sea of the mind, off a jungle-flat coast of palms, rotten gold temples to unknown bestiary gods, island after island, the breeze like wet yellow silk on naked skin, navigating by pantheistic stars, hierophany on hierophany, light upon light against the luminous & chaotic dark.
ART SABOTAGE STRIVES TO be perfectly exemplary but at the same time retain an element of opacity–not propaganda but aesthetic shock–appallingly direct yet also subtly angled– action-as-metaphor.
Art Sabotage is the dark side of Poetic Terrorism–creation- through-destruction–but it cannot serve any Party, nor any nihilism, nor even art itself. Just as the banishment of illusion enhances awareness, so the demolition of aesthetic blight sweetens the air of the world of discourse, of the Other. Art Sabotage serves only consciousness, attentiveness, awakeness.
A-S goes beyond paranoia, beyond deconstruction–the ultimate criticism–physical attack on offensive art– aesthetic jihad. The slightest taint of petty ego-icity or even of personal taste spoils its purity & vitiates its force. A-S can never seek power–only release it.
Individual artworks (even the worst) are largely irrelevant- -A-S seeks to damage institutions which use art to diminish consciousness & profit by delusion. This or that poet or painter cannot be condemned for lack of vision–but malign Ideas can be assaulted through the artifacts they generate. MUZAK is designed to hypnotize & control–its machinery can be smashed.
Public book burnings–why should rednecks & Customs officials monopolize this weapon? Novels about children possessed by demons; the New York Times bestseller list; feminist tracts against pornography; schoolbooks (especially Social Studies, Civics, Health); piles of New York Post , Village Voice & other supermarket papers; choice gleanings of Xtian publishers; a few Harlequin Romances–a festive atmosphere, wine-bottles & joints passed around on a clear autumn afternoon.
To throw money away at the Stock Exchange was pretty decent Poetic Terrorism–but to destroy the money would have been good Art Sabotage. To seize TV transmission & broadcast a few pirated minutes of incendiary Chaote art would constitute a feat of PT–but simply to blow up the transmission tower would be perfectly adequate Art Sabotage. If certain galleries & museums deserve an occasional brick through their windows–not destruction, but a jolt to complacency–then what about BANKS? Galleries turn beauty into a commodity but banks transmute Imagination into feces and debt. Wouldn't the world gain a degree of beauty with each bank that could be made to tremble…or fall? But how? Art Sabotage should probably stay away from politics (it's so boring)–but not from banks.
Don't picket–vandalize. Don't protest–deface. When ugliness, poor design & stupid waste are forced upon you, turn Luddite, throw your shoe in the works, retaliate. Smash the symbols of the Empire in the name of nothing but the heart's longing for grace.
ACROSS THE LUSTER OF the desert & into the polychrome hills, hairless & ochre violet dun & umber, at the top of a dessicate blue valley travelers find an artificial oasis, a fortified castle in saracenic style enclosing a hidden garden.
As guests of the Old Man of the Mountain Hassan-i Sabbah they climb rock-cut steps to the castle. Here the Day of Resurrection has already come & gone–those within live outside profane Time, which they hold at bay with daggers & poisons.
Behind crenellations & slit-windowed towers scholars & fedayeen wake in narrow monolithic cells. Star-maps, astrolabes, alembics & retorts, piles of open books in a shaft of morning sunlight–an unsheathed scimitar.
Each of those who enter the realm of the Imam-of-one's-own- being becomes a sultan of inverted revelation, a monarch of abrogation & apostasy. In a central chamber scalloped with light and hung with tapestried arabesques they lean on bolsters & smoke long chibouks of haschisch scented with opium & amber.
For them the hierarchy of being has compacted to a dimensionless punctum of the real–for them the chains of Law have been broken–they end their fasting with wine. For them the outside of everything is its inside, its true face shines through direct. But the garden gates are camouflaged with terrorism, mirrors, rumors of assassination, trompe l'oeil, legends.
Pomegranate, mulberry, persimmon, the erotic melancholy of cypresses, membrane-pink shirazi roses, braziers of meccan aloes & benzoin, stiff shafts of ottoman tulips, carpets spread like make-believe gardens on actual lawns–a pavilion set with a mosaic of calligrammes–a willow, a stream with watercress–a fountain crystalled underneath with geometry– the metaphysical scandal of bathing odalisques, of wet brown cupbearers hide-&-seeking in the foliage–“water, greenery, beautiful faces.”
By night Hassan-i Sabbah like a civilized wolf in a turban stretches out on a parapet above the garden & glares at the sky, conning the asterisms of heresy in the mindless cool desert air. True, in this myth some aspirant disciples may be ordered to fling themselves off the ramparts into the black–but also true that some of them will learn to fly like sorcerers.
The emblem of Alamut holds in the mind, a mandals or magic circle lost to history but embedded or imprinted in consciousness. The Old Man flits like a ghost into tents of kings & bedrooms of theologians, past all locks & guards with forgotten moslem/ninja techniques, leaves behind bad dreams, stilettos on pillows, puissant bribes.
The attar of his propaganda seeps into the criminal dreams of ontological anarchism, the heraldry of our obsessions displays the luminous black outlaw banners of the Assassins…all of them pretenders to the throne of an Imaginal Egypt, an occult space/light continuum consumed by still-unimagined liberties.
INVENTED BY THE CHINESE but never developed for war–a fine example of Poetic Terrorism–a weapon used to trigger aesthetic shock rather than kill–the Chinese hated war & used to go into mourning when armies were raised–gunpowder more useful to frighten malign demons, delight children, fill the air with brave & risky-smelling haze.
Class C Thunder Bombs from Kwantung, bottlerockets, butterflies, M-80's, sunflowers, “A Forest In Springtime”– revolution weather–light your cigarette from the sizzling fuse of a Haymarket-black bomb–imagine the air full of lamiae & succubi, oppressive spirits, police-ghosts. Call some kid with a smouldering punk or kitchen match– shaman-apostle of summer gunpowder plots–shatter the heavy night with pinched stars & pumped stars, arsenic & antimony, sodium & calomel, a blitz of magnesium & shrill picrate of potash.
Spur-fire (lampblack & saltpetre) portfire & iron filings– attack your local bank or ugly church with roman candles & purple-gold skyrockets, impromptu & anonymous (perhaps launch from back of pick-up truck..)
Build frame-lattice lancework set-pieces on the roofs of insurance buildings or schools–a kundalini-snake or Chaos- dragon coiled barium-green against a background of sodium- oxalate yellow–Don't Tread On Me–or copulating monsters shooting wads of jizm-fire at a Baptists old folks home.
Cloud-sculpture, smoke sculpture & flags = Air Art. Earthworks. Fountains = Water Art. And Fireworks. Don't perform with Rockefeller grants & police permits for audiences of culture-lovers. Evanescent incendiary mind-bombs, scary mandalas flaring up on smug suburban nights, alien green thunderheads of emotional plague blasted by orgone-blue vajra-rays of lasered feux d'artifice.
Comets that explode with the odor of hashish & radioactive charcoal–swampghouls & will-o'-the-wisps haunting public parks–fake St. Elmo's fire flickering over the architecture of the bourgeoisie–strings of lady-fingers falling on the Legislature floor–salamander-elementals attack well-known moral reformers.
Blazing shellac, sugar of milk, strontium, pitch, gum water, gerbs of chinese fire–for a few moments the air is ozone- sharp–drifting opal cloud of pungent dragon/phoenix smoke. For an instant the Empire falls, its princes & governors flee to their stygian muck, plumes of sulphur from elf- flamethrowers burning their pinched asses as they retreat. The Assassin-child, psyche of fire, holds sway for one brief dogstar-hot night.
Unseen Chaos (po-te-kitea)
Chaos of utter darkness
Untouched & untouchable
Chaos perches on a sky-mountain: a huge bird like a yellow bag or red fireball, with six feet & four wings–has no face but dances & sings.
Or Chaos is a black longhaired dog, blind & deaf, lacking the five viscera.
Chaos the Abyss comes first, then Earth/Gaia, then Desire/Eros. From these three proceed two pairs–Erebus & old Night, Aether & Daylight. Neither Being nor Non-being
neither air nor earth nor space:
what was enclosed? where? under whose protection?
What was water, deep, unfathomable?
Neither death nor immortality, day nor night–
but ONE breathed by itself with no wind.
Nothing else. Darkness swathed in darkness,
The ONE, hidden by void,
felt the generation of heat, came into being
as Desire, first seed of Mind…
Was there an up or down?
There were casters of seed, there were powers:
energy underneath, impulse above.
But who knows for sure?
Tiamat the Chaos-Ocean slowly drops from her womb Silt & Slime, the Horizons, Sky and watery Wisdom. These offspring grow noisy & bumptious–she considers their destruction.
But Marduk the wargod of Babylon rises in rebellion against the Old Hag & her Chaos-monsters, chthonic totems–Worm, Female Ogre, Great Lion, Mad Dog, Scorpion Man, Howling Storm–dragons wearing their glory like gods–& Tiamat herself a great sea-serpent.
Marduk accuses her of causing sons to rebel against fathers- -she loves Mist & Cloud, principles of disorder. Marduk will be the first to rule, to invent government. In battle he slays Tiamat & from her body orders the material universe. He inaugurates the Babylonian Empire–then from gibbets & bloody entrails of Tiamat's incestuous son he creates the human race to serve forever the comfort of gods–& their high priests & anointed kings.
Father Zeus & the Olympians wage war against Mother Gaia & the Titans, those partisans of Chaos, the old ways of hunting & gathering, of aimless wandering, androgyny & the license of beasts.
Amon-Ra (Being) sits alone in the primordial Chaos-Ocean of NUN creating all the other gods by jerking off–but Chaos also manifests as the dragon Apophis whom Ra must destroy (along with his state of glory, his shadow & his magic) in order that the Pharaoh may safely rule–a victory ritually re-created daily in Imperial temples to confound the enemies of the State, of cosmic Order.
Chaos is Hun Tun, Emperor of the Center. One day the South Sea, Emperor Shu, & the North Sea, Emperor Hu (shu hu = lightning) paid a visit to Hun Tun, who always treated them well. Wishing to repay his kindness they said, “All beings have seven orifices for seeing, hearing, eating, shitting, etc.–but poor old Hun Tun has none! Let's drill some into him!” So they did–one orifice a day–till on the seventh day, Chaos died.
But…Chaos is also an enormous chicken's egg. Inside it P'an-Ku is born & grows for 18,000 years–at last the egg opens up, splits into sky & earth, yang & yin. Now P'an-Ku grows into a column that holds up the universe–or else he becomes the universe (breath–>wind, eyes–>sun & moon, blood & humors–>rivers & seas, hair & lashes–>stars & planets, sperm–>pearls, marrow–>jade, his fleas–>human beings, etc.)
Or else he becomes the man/monster Yellow Emperor. Or else he becomes Lao Tzu, prophet of Tao. In fact, poor old Hun Tun is the Tao itself.
“Nature's music has no existence outside things. The various apertures, pipes, flutes, all living beings together make up nature. The “I” cannot produce things & things cannot produce the “I,” which is self-existent. Things are what they are spontaneously, not caused by something else. Everything is natural & does not know why it is so. The 10,000 things have 10,000 different states, all in motion as if there were a True Lord to move them–but if we search for evidence of this Lord we fail to find any.” (Kuo Hsiang)
Every realized consciousness is an “emperor” whose sole form of rule is to do nothing to disturb the spontaneity of nature, the Tao. The “sage” is not Chaos itself, but rather a loyal child of Chaos–one of P'an-Ku's fleas, a fragment of flesh of Tiamat's monstrous son. “Heaven and Earth,” says Chuang Tzu, “were born at the same time I was, & the 10,000 things are one with me.”
Ontological Anarchism tends to disagree only with the Taoists' total quietism. In our world Chaos has been overthrown by younger gods, moralists, phallocrats, banker- priests, fit lords for serfs. If rebellion proves impossible then at least a kind of clandestine spiritual jihad might be launched. Let it follow the war-banners of the anarchist black dragon, Tiamat, Hun Tun.
Chaos never died.
IN PERSIA I SAW that poetry is meant to be set to music & chanted or sung–for one reason alone–because it works.
A right combination of image & tune plunges the audience into a hal (something between emotional/aesthetic mood & trance of hyperawareness), outbursts of weeping, fits of dancing–measurable physical response to art. For us the link between poetry & body died with the bardic era–we read under the influence of a cartesian anaesthetic gas.
In N. India even non-musical recitation provokes noise & motion, each good couplet applauded, “Wa! Wa!” with elegant hand-jive, tossing of rupees–whereas we listen to poetry like some SciFi brain in a jar–at best a wry chuckle or grimace, vestige of simian rictus–the rest of the body off on some other planet.
In the East poets are sometimes thrown in prison–a sort of compliment, since it suggests the author has done something at least as real as theft or rape or revolution. Here poets are allowed to publish anything at all–a sort of punishment in effect, prison without walls, without echoes, without palpable existence–shadow-realm of print, or of abstract thought–world without risk or eros.
So poetry is dead again–& even if the mumia from its corpse retains some healing properties, auto-resurrection isn't one of them.
If rulers refuse to consider poems as crimes, then someone must commit crimes that serve the function of poetry, or texts that possess the resonance of terrorism. At any cost re-connect poetry to the body. Not crimes against bodies, but against Ideas (& Ideas-in-things) which are deadly & suffocating. Not stupid libertinage but exemplary crimes, aesthetic crimes, crimes for love. In England some pornographic books are still banned. Pornography has a measurable physical effect on its readers. Like propaganda it sometimes changes lives because it uncovers true desires.
Our culture produces most of its porn out of body-hatred– but erotic art in itself makes a better vehicle for enhancement of being/consciousness/bliss–as in certain oriental works. A sort of Western tantrik porn might help galvanize the corpse, make it shine with some of the glamor of crime.
America has freedom of speech because all words are considered equally vapid. Only images count–the censors love snaps of death & mutilation but recoil in horror at the sight of a child masturbating–apparently they experience this as an invasion of their existential validity, their identification with the Empire & its subtlest gestures.
No doubt even the most poetic porn would never revive the faceless corpse to dance & sing (like the Chinese Chaos- bird)–but…imagine a script for a three-minute film set on a mythical isle of runaway children who inhabit ruins of old castles or build totem-huts & junk-assemblage nests–mixture of animation, special-effects, compugraphix & color tape– edited tight as a fastfood commercial…
…but weird & naked, feathers & bones, tents sewn with crystal, black dogs, pigeon-blood–flashes of amber limbs tangled in sheets–faces in starry masks kissing soft creases of skin–androgynous pirates, castaway faces of columbines sleeping on thigh-white flowers–nasty hilarious piss jokes, pet lizards lapping spilt milk–nude break- dancing–victorian bathtub with rubber ducks & pink boners– Alice on ganja…
…atonal punk reggae scored for gamelan, synthesizer, saxophones & drums–electric boogie lyrics sung by aetherial children's choir–ontological anarchist lyrics, cross between Hafez & Pancho Villa, Li Po & Bakunin, Kabir & Tzara- -call it “CHAOS–the Rock Video!”
No…probably just a dream. Too expensive to produce, & besides, who would see it? Not the kids it was meant to seduce. Pirate TV is a futile fantasy, rock merely another commodity–forget the slick gesamtkunstwerk, then. Leaflet a playground with inflammatory smutty feuilletons– pornopropaganda, crackpot samizdat to unchain Desire from its bondage.
JUSTICE CANNOT BE OBTAINED under any Law–action in accord with spontaneous nature, action which is just, cannot be defined by dogma. The crimes advocated in these broadsheets cannot be committed against self or other but only against the mordant crystallization of Ideas into structures of poisonous Thrones & Dominations.
That is, not crimes against nature or humanity but crimes by legal fiat. Sooner or later the uncovering & unveiling of self/nature transmogrifies a person into a brigand–like stepping into another world then returning to this one to discover you've been declared a traitor, heretic, exile. The Law waits for you to stumble on a mode of being, a soul different from the FDA-approved purple-stamped standard dead meat–& as soon as you begin to act in harmony with nature the Law garottes & strangles you–so don't play the blessed liberal middleclass martyr–accept the fact that you're a criminal & be prepared to act like one.
Paradox: to embrace Chaos is not to slide toward entropy but to emerge into an energy like stars, a pattern of instantaneous grace–a spontaneous organic order completely different from the carrion pyramids of sultans, muftis, cadis & grinning executioners.
After Chaos comes Eros–the principle of order implicit in the nothingness of the unqualified One. Love is structure, system, the only code untainted by slavery & drugged sleep. We must become crooks & con-men to protect its spiritual beauty in a bezel of clandestinity, a hidden garden of espionage.
Don't just survive while waiting for someone's revolution to clear your head, don't sign up for the armies of anorexia or bulimia–act as if you were already free, calculate the odds, step out, remember the Code Duello–Smoke Pot/Eat Chicken/Drink Tea. Every man his own vine & figtree (Circle Seven Koran, Noble Drew Ali)–carry your Moorish passport with pride, don't get caught in the crossfire, keep your back covered–but take the risk, dance before you calcify.
The natural social model for ontological anarchism is the child-gang or the bank-robbers-band. Money is a lie–this adventure must be feasible without it–booty & pillage should be spent before it turns back into dust. Today is Resurrection Day–money wasted on beauty will be alchemically transmuted into elixir. As my uncle Melvin used to say, stolen watermelon tastes sweeter. The world is already re-made according to the heart's desire- -but civilization owns all the leases & most of the guns. Our feral angels demand we trespass, for they manifest themselves only on forbidden grounds. High Way Man. The yoga of stealth, the lightning raid, the enjoyment of treasure.
THE UNIVERSE WANTS TO PLAY. Those who refuse out of dry spiritual greed & choose pure contemplation forfeit their humanity–those who refuse out of dull anguish, those who hesitate, lose their chance at divinity–those who mold themselves blind masks of Ideas & thrash around seeking some proof of their own solidity end by seeing out of dead men's eyes.
Sorcery: the systematic cultivation of enhanced consciousness or non-ordinary awareness & its deployment in the world of deeds & objects to bring about desired results.
The incremental openings of perception gradually banish the false selves, our cacophonous ghosts–the “black magic” of envy & vendetta backfires because Desire cannot be forced. Where our knowledge of beauty harmonizes with the ludus naturae, sorcery begins.
No, not spoon-bending or horoscopy, not the Golden Dawn or make-believe shamanism, astral projection or the Satanic Mass–if it's mumbo jumbo you want go for the real stuff, banking, politics, social science–not that weak blavatskian crap.
Sorcery works at creating around itself a psychic/physical space or openings into a space of untrammeled expression– the metamorphosis of quotidian place into angelic sphere. This involves the manipulation of symbols (which are also things) & of people (who are also symbolic)–the archetypes supply a vocabulary for this process & therefore are treated as if they were both real & unreal, like words. Imaginal Yoga.
The sorcerer is a Simple Realist: the world is real–but then so must consciousness be real since its effects are so tangible. The dullard finds even wine tasteless but the sorcerer can be intoxicated by the mere sight of water. Quality of perception defines the world of intoxication–but to sustain it & expand it to include others demands activity of a certain kind–sorcery. Sorcery breaks no law of nature because there is no Natural Law, only the spontaneity of natura naturans, the tao. Sorcery violates laws which seek to chain this flow– priests, kings, hierophants, mystics, scientists & shopkeepers all brand the sorcerer enemy for threatening the power of their charade, the tensile strength of their illusory web.
A poem can act as a spell & vice versa–but sorcery refuses to be a metaphor for mere literature–it insists that symbols must cause events as well as private epiphanies. It is not a critique but a re-making. It rejects all eschatology & metaphysics of removal, all bleary nostalgia & strident futurismo, in favor of a paroxysm or seizure of presence.
Incense & crystal, dagger & sword, wand, robes, rum, cigars, candles, herbs like dried dreams–the virgin boy staring into a bowl of ink–wine & ganja, meat, yantras & gestures– rituals of pleasure, the garden of houris & sakis–the sorcerer climbs these snakes & ladders to a moment which is fully saturated with its own color, where mountains are mountains & trees are trees, where the body becomes all time, the beloved all space.
The tactics of ontological anarchism are rooted in this secret Art–the goals of ontological anarchism appear in its flowering. Chaos hexes its enemies & rewards its devotees…this strange yellowing pamphlet, pseudonymous & dust-stained, reveals all…send away for one split second of eternity.
WHAT THIS TELLS YOU is not prose. It may be pinned to the board but it's still alive & wriggling. It does not want to seduce you unless you're extremely young & good-looking (enclose recent photo).
Hakim Bey lives in a seedy Chinese hotel where the proprietor nods out over newspaper & scratchy broadcasts of Peking Opera. The ceiling fan turns like a sluggish dervish- -sweat falls on the page–the poet's kaftan is rusty, his ovals spill ash on the rug–his monologues seem disjointed & slightly sinister–outside shuttered windows the barrio fades into palmtrees, the naive blue ocean, the philosophy of tropicalismo.
Along a highway somewhere east of Baltimore you pass an Airstream trailer with a big sign on the lawn SPIRITUAL READINGS & the image of a crude black hand on a red background. Inside you notice a display of dream-books, numbers-books, pamphlets on HooDoo and Santeria, dusty old nudist magazines, a pile of Boy's Life, treatises on fighting-cocks…& this book, Chaos. Like words spoken in a dream, portentous, evanescent, changing into perfumes, birds, colors, forgotten music.
This book distances itself by a certain impassibility of surface, almost a glassiness. It doesn't wag its tail & it doesn't snarl but it bites & humps the furniture. It doesn't have an ISBN number & it doesn't want you for a disciple but it might kidnap your children.
This book is nervous like coffee or malaria–it sets up a network of cut-outs & safe drops between itself & its readers–but it's so baldfaced & literal-minded it practically encodes itself–it smokes itself into a stupor.
A mask, an automythology, a map without placenames–stiff as an egyptian wallpainting nevertheless it reaches to caress someone's face–& suddenly finds itself out in the street, in a body, embodied in light, walking, awake, almost satisfied.
–NYC, May 1-July 4, 1984
No copyright 1985 May be freely pirated & quoted- the author & publisher, however, would like to be informed at
Grim Reaper Bootes
A Division of THE POETS PRESS
255 Transit Street Pruuldence Rf 02906
Also, no ISBN number, no Library of Congress catalog number, >no Imprimatur, no Nihil Obstot*
Manufactured in Hyperborea
dedicated to Vsuid Mafmuui All Abdiif Khabir
CHAOS: THE BROADSHEETS OF ONTOLOGICAL ANARCHISM was first published in 1985 by Grim Reaper Press of Weehawken, New Jersey; a later re-issue was published in Providence, Rhode Island, and this edition was pirated in Boulder, Colorado. Another edition was released by Verlag Golem of Providence in 1990, and pirated in Santa Cruz, California, by We Press. “The Temporary Autonomous Zone” was performed at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, and on WBAI-FM in New York City, in 1990. Thanx to the following publications, current and defunct, in which some of these pieces appeared (no doubt I've lost or forgotten many–sorry!): KAOS (London); Ganymede (London); Pan (Amsterdam); Popular Reality; Exquisite Corpse (also Stiffest of the Corpse, City Lights); Anarchy (Columbia, MO); Factsheet Five; Dharma Combat; OVO; City Lights Review; Rants and Incendiary Tracts (Amok); Apocalypse Culture (Amok); Mondo 2000; The Sporadical; Black Eye; Moorish Science Monitor; FEH!; Fag Rag; The Storm!; Panic (Chicago); Bolo Log (Zurich); Anathema; Seditious Delicious; Minor Problems (London); AQUA; Prakilpana.
Also, thanx to the following individuals: Jim Fleming; James Koehnline; Sue Ann Harkey; Sharon Gannon; Dave Mandl; Bob Black; Robert Anton Wilson; William Burroughs; “P.M.”; Joel Birroco; Adam Parfrey; Brett Rutherford; Jake Rabinowitz; Allen Ginsberg; Anne Waldman; Frank Torey; Andr Codrescu; Dave Crowbar; Ivan Stang; Nathaniel Tarn; Chris Funkhauser; Steve Englander; Alex Trotter. –March, 1991