Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Hakim Bey

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Peter Lamborn Wilson
Born1945
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern Philosophy
SchoolPost-left anarchy
Main interestsrefusal of work, post-industrial society, mysticism, utopianism
Notable ideasImmediatism, Temporary Autonomous Zones, ontological anarchy
Peter Lamborn Wilson (born 1945) (pseudonym Hakim Bey), is an American political and cultural writer, essayist, and poet, known for first proposing the concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ), based, in part, on a historical review of pirate utopias. He is an anarchist associated with the post-left anarchy tendency and individualist anarchism.[1]

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[edit] Life and work

Bey's early work is described in the translator's biography of one of his earliest works:
After studying at Columbia University, he did extensive traveling in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. He studied Tantra in West Bengal and visited many Sufi shrines and masters. In 1971 he undertook research on the Ni'matullāhī funded by the Marsden Foundation of New York.[2]
This research was the basis of Bey's book Kings of Love. The biography continues:
During 1974 and 1975 he was a consultant in London and Tehran for the World of Islam Festival. In 1974 he became director of English language publications at the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy in Tehran under Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and he studied, worked with, and published books by Nasr, Toshihiko Izutsu, Henry Corbin and others. He was editor of Sophia Perennis, the Journal of the IIAP.
Bey left Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In the 1980s, his ideas evolved from a kind of Guénonist neo-traditionalism to a synthesis of anarchism and Situationist ideas with heterodox Sufism and Neopaganism, describing his ideas as "anarchist ontology" or "immediatism". In the past he has worked with the not-for-profit publishing project Autonomedia, in Brooklyn, New York.
In addition to his writings on anarchism and Temporary Autonomous Zones, Bey has written essays on such diverse topics as Tong traditions, the utopian Charles Fourier, the fascist Gabriele D'Annunzio, alleged connections between Sufism and ancient Celtic culture, technology and Luddism, Amanita muscaria use in ancient Ireland, and sacred pederasty in the Sufi tradition.[3] He has also written about pederasty for NAMBLA Bulletin.[4]
Bey's poetic texts and poems have appeared in: P.A.N.; Panthology One, Two, and Three; Ganymede; Exquisite Corpse; and the various Acolyte Reader paperbacks. Many of these poems, including the 'Sandburg' series, are collected in the as-yet unpublished DogStar volume. Currently his works can be found regularly in publications like Fifth Estate and the NYC-based First of the Month.
He has also published at least one novel, The Chronicles of Qamar: Crowstone.[5]
Bey, especially because of his TAZ work, has often been embraced by rave subculture, as ravers have identified the experience and occasions of raves as part of the tradition of "Temporary Autonomous Zones" that Bey outlines, particularly the "free party" or teknival scene. Bey has been supportive of the rave connection, while remarking in an interview, "The ravers were among my biggest readers... I wish they would rethink all this techno stuff — they didn’t get that part of my writing."[6]
In an interview with David Levi Strauss and Christopher Bamford in The Brooklyn Rail, Bey has said on the formation of Green Hermeticism:
We all agreed that there is not a sufficient spiritual focus for the environmental movement. And without a spiritual focus, a movement like this doesn’t generate the kind of emotional energy that it needs to battle against global capitalism—that for which there is no other reality, according to most people. It should be a rallying call of the spirit for the environmental movement, or for as many parts of that movement as could be open to it.
[7]

[edit] Philosophy and most important ideas

[edit] Ontological Anarchy

In the compilation of essays called Immediatism[8] Hakim Bey explains his particular conception of anarchism and anarchy which he calls "ontological anarchy". He defines it in the following way:
Ontological Anarchy proposes that we wake up, and create our own day - even in the shadow of the State, that pustulant giant who sleeps, and whose dreams of Order metastatize as spasms of spectacular violence...The only force Significant enough to facilitate our act of creation seems to be desire, or as Charles Fourier called it, "Passion." Just as Chaos and Eros (along with Earth and Old Night) are Hesiod's first deities, so too no human endeavor occurs outside their cosmogeneous circle of attraction. The logic of Passion leads to the conclusion that all "states" are impossible, all "orders" illusory, except those of desire. No being, only becoming - hence the only viable government is that of love, or "attraction." Civilization merely hides from itself - behind a thin static scrim of rationality - the truth that only desire creates values...Nomadism and the Uprising, provide us with possible models for an "everyday life" of Ontological Anarchy...The penetration of everyday life by the marvelous - the creation of "situations" - belongs to the "material bodily principle", and to the imagination, and to the living fabric of the present. Immediatism by Hakim Bey. AK Press. 1994. pg. 2
In the same compilation he deals with his view of the relationships of individuals with the exterior world as perceived by the senses and a theory of liberation which he calls "immediatism":

[edit] Immediatism

All experience is mediated -by the mechanisms of sense perception, mentation, language, etc. -&: certainly all art consists of some further mediation of experience...However, mediation takes place by degrees. Some experiences (smell, taste, sexual pleasure, etc.) are less mediated than others (reading a book, looking through a telescope/listening to a record). Some media, especially "live" arts such as dance, theater, musical or bardic performance, are less mediated than others such as TV, CDs, Virtual Reality. Even among the media usually called "media," some are more Or others are less mediated, according to the intensity of imaginative partidpation they demand. Print Or radio demand more of the imagination, film less, TV even less, VR the least of all - so far...Immediatism is not a movement in the sense of an aesthetic program. It depends on situation, not style or content, message or School. It may take the form of any kind of creative play which can be performed by two or more people, by & for themselves, face-to-face & together. In this sense it is like a game, & therefore certain "rules" may apply...The task of Immediatist organization can be summed up as the widening of this circle. The greater the portion of my life that can be wrenched from the Work/Consume/Die cycle, and (re)turned over to the economy of the "bee", the greater my chance for pleasure. One runs a certain risk in thus thwarting the vampiric energies of institutions. But risk itself makes up part of the direct experience of pleasure, a fact noted in all insurrectionary moments - all moments of waking-up - of intense adventurous enjoyments: - the festal aspect of the Uprising, the insurrectionary nature of the Festival...The individual who realizes this immediacy can widen the circle of pleasure to some extent, simply by waking from the hypnosis of the "Spooks" (as Stirner called all abstractions); and yet more can be accomplished by "crime"; and still more by the doubling of the Self in sexuality. From Stirner's "Union of Self-Owning Ones" we proceed to Nietzsche's circle of "Free Spirits" and thence to Fourier's "Passional Series", doubling and redoubling ourselves even as the Other multiplies itself in the eros of the group. Immediatism by Hakim Bey. AK Press. 1994. pgs. 7-12

[edit] Autonomous zones

Hakim Bey has written articles on three different types of what he calls "autonomous zones". As far as his concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) he said in an interview that "the real genesis was my connection to the communal movement in America, my experiences in the 1960s in places like Timothy Leary’s commune in Millbrook...Usually only the religious ones last longer than a generation—and usually at the expense of becoming quite authoritarian, and probably dismal and boring as well. I’ve noticed that the exciting ones tend to disappear, and as I began to further study this phenomenon, I found that they tend to disappear in a year or a year and a half...And everybody in the ‘80s was giving a good deal of thought to the whole idea of what intentional community could mean and how it could improve your life to be in one, or if it even could at all. That was the question. I think it unquestionably does. People have great fun for at least a year or a year and a half, and then when the problems start, that’s usually when it breaks up. After thinking about that for a while, it occurred to me that, well, it’s not such a great tragedy that these things don’t last...Those people had an incredibly deep experience that changed their lives. They had fun while they were there. They had a more intense existence, with everything geared up to a higher charge."[9] The concept of TAZ was presented in a long elaboration in the book TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism.[10]

[edit] The TAZ or Temporary Autonomous Zones

In short, we're not touting the TAZ as an exclusive end in itself, replacing all other forms of organization, tactics, and goals. We recommend it because it can provide the quality of enhancement associated with the uprising without necessarily leading to violence and martyrdom. The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it. Because the State is concerned primarily with Simulation rather than substance, the TAZ can "occupy" these areas clandestinely and carry on its festal purposes for quite a while in relative peace. Perhaps certain small TAZs have lasted whole lifetimes because they went unnoticed, like hillbilly enclaves--because they never intersected with the Spectacle, never appeared outside that real life which is invisible to the agents of Simulation. T. A. Z. The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism by Hakim Bey

[edit] Periodic Autonomous Zones

Of all the versions of the TAZ imagined so far, this “periodic” or seasonal zone is most open to criticism as a social palliative or an “Anarchist Club Med." It’s saved from mere selfishness however by the necessary fact of its self-organization. Your group must create the zone — you can’t buy it pre-packaged from some tourist agency...My defense of the summer (neo-)camp is based on two simple premises: — one, a month or two of relative freedom is better than absolutely none; two, it’s affordable. I’m assuming that your group is not made up of “nomads” or full-time freedom fighters, but of people who need to work for a living or are stuck in a city or ‘burb most of the year — potential transhumants. You want something more than a summer vacation — you want a summer community. Splashing in a humble Adirondack lake is more pleasureable to you than Disney World — provided you can do it with the people you like. Sharing the costs makes it possible, but also makes it an adventure in communicativeness and mutual enhancement. Making the place pay for itself or even turn a little off-the-books profit would transform your group into true neo-transhumants, with two economic focuses in your lives. Hakim Bey. "The Periodic Autonomous Zone"

[edit] Permanent TAZs

...so we’ve had to consider the fact that not all existing autonomous zones are “temporary”. Some are (at least by intention) more-or-less “permanent”. Certain cracks in the Babylonian Monolith appear so vacant that whole groups can move into them and settle down. Certain theories, such as “Permaculture”, have been developed to deal with this situation and make the most of it. “Villages”, “communes”, “communities”, even “arcologies” and “biospheres” (or other utopian-city forms) are being experimented with and implemented. Even here however TAZ-theory may offer some useful thought-tools and clarifications. What about a poetique (a “way of making”) and a politique (a “way of living-together) for the “permanent” TAZ (or “PAZ”)? What about the actual relation between temporariness and permanence? And how can the PAZ renew and refresh itself periodically with the “festival” aspect of the TAZ? Hakim Bey. "Permanent TAZs"

[edit] Criticism

In Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm, Murray Bookchin included Bey's work in what he called "lifestyle anarchism", which he criticised for tendencies towards mysticism, occultism, and irrationalism.[11] Bey did not respond publicly. Bob Black wrote a rejoinder to Bookchin in Anarchy after Leftism.

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] References

  1. ^ "People who think that they know our politics, who know that we are individualists (or even worse, “neo-individualists”), will no doubt be shocked to discover us taking an interest in the IWW...The Mackay Society, of which Mark & I are active members, is devoted to the anarchism of Max Stirner, Benj. Tucker & John Henry Mackay...As “individualists” moreover we have good reason to appreciate the IWW concept of the union. Stirner — contrary to the belief of those who have not actually read his book — spoke approvingly of a “Union of Unique Ones” (we prefer this translation to “Union of Egoists”), in which all members would reach for individual goals through common interests. He suggested that the workers had the most to gain by embracing this notion, & that if the productive class were to organize on such a basis it would prove irresistible. (The prejudice against Stirner, by the way, can be traced to Marx & Engels, who considered him potentially even more dangerous than Bakunin, & wrote their biggest book to destroy his influence.)...The Mackay Society, incidentally, represents a little-known current of individualist thought which never cut its ties with revolutionary labor. Dyer Lum, Ezra & Angela Haywood represent this school of thought; Jo Labadie, who wrote for Tucker’s Liberty, made himself a link between the american “plumb-line” anarchists, the “philosophical” individualists, & the syndicalist or communist branch of the movement; his influence reached the Mackay Society through his son, Laurance. Like the Italian Stirnerites (who influenced us through our late friend E. Arrigoni) we support all anti-authoritarian currents, despite their apparent contradictions. Why? Because we feel that some realization of personal liberty is possible even in the very act of struggling for it. "Hakim Bey. "An esoteric interpretation of the I.W.W. preamble"
  2. ^ Fakhruddin 'Iraqi: Divine Flashes, page viii. Paulist Press, 1983.
  3. ^ Wilson, Peter Lambourn. Contemplation of the Unbearded - The Rubaiyyat of Awhadoddin Kermani. Paidika, Vol.3, No.4, 1995.
  4. ^ Michael Muhammad Knight (2012). William S. Burroughs Vs. the Qur'an. Soft Skull Press. pp. 76–79. ISBN 978-1593764159.
  5. ^ OCLC 16810252
  6. ^ An Anarchist in the Hudson Valley Brooklyn Rail, July 2004
  7. ^ Levi Strauss, David (January 2008). "Green Hermeticism: David Levi Strauss in conversation with Peter Lamborn Wilson and Christopher Bamford". The Brooklyn Rail. http://brooklynrail.org/2007/12/art/green-hermeticism.
  8. ^ Immediatism by Hakim Bey. AK Press. 1994.
  9. ^ Hans Ulrich Obrist. "In Conversation with Hakim Bey" at e-flux
  10. ^ Hakim Bey. TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. Autonomedia. August 1991
  11. ^ Bookchin, Murray. Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism (1995). AK Press: Stirling. ISBN 978-1-873176-83-2. (pp. 20-26)

[edit] External links

[edit] See also

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