“Here we cast anchor in rich earth.”
—Tristan Tzara, Dada Manifesto (1918)
For our Mother the Earth, we set sail on Celestial Ships. Anchored in Erda, we ride the wind. For Gaia, we take flight, spreading terrifying Cafardic wings. No longer trembling at the emasculating, defeminizing sound: the Name of the Father. We re-member Mama. Papa dis-membered Mama. We now re-call the suppressed Names of the Mother. Anamnesis for anonymous Manna. A surre(gion)al celebration, a Mani festival for Mama Earth. This is dedicated to the One we love. For the One Big Mother, in her thousand forms, here it is: the Mama Manifesto (1989)
Mar 3, 2020
The Dragons of Brno
Fredy Perlman against History’s Leviathan
Hanging above the entrance way to the Town Hall of Brno, the capital of Moravia, is a Dragon. The famous Dragon of Brno. The Monster, which stares down through glassy eyes upon all who enter this seat of political power, was brought back long ago from a strange and distant land.
Some might call this awe-inspiring beast a mere “crocodile.” But to the good citizens of Brno of an earlier age, it must have represented everything exotic and remote. In all probability, it was precisely such a creature that was called “Leviathan” in Biblical times.
May 7, 2017
how Murray Bookchin’s attempts to “re-enchant humanity” become a pugilistic Bacchanal
a review of
Murray Bookchin, Re-enchanting Humanity: A defense of the human spirit against anti-humanism, misanthropy, mysticism and Primitivism (London: Cassell, 1995) 284 pp
In this book Murray Bookchin is out to clobber the competition. He’s been in training for this one for decades. In his previous works, he explained the crucial importance of developing a “muscularity of thought,” and revealed that his “ecological project” is a “social gymnasium for shedding the sense of powerlessness.” After much working out in that gym, he’s developed some enormous intellectual muscles, and is a powerful guy indeed. He’s often told us of his contempt for those sissified Eastern philosophers and their weak, “passive receptive” outlooks. This philosophical Marlboro Man is firmly in the Western tradition, which is, he explains, “sturdier in its thrust than the Eastern.” There will be no questions about the “sturdiness” of Murray Bookchin’s “thrust”! He has passed through the steeling school of politics, which, he tells us, is concerned with “forging a self.” Once out of the forge, the safely armored self will always be on its guard. For “the guarded mind,” he says, is the only Guarantee that we will be “guided by the thin line of truth.” This “guarded mind,” rigidly following the correct “line” is, he concludes, nothing less than “a fortress,” Eine fest Burg is unser Geist. When Murray Bookchin writes a book defending “the spirit,” it’s the spirit that comes out swinging.
Oct 29, 2021
The Tao of Capitalism
Or, Going with the (Cash) Flow
Lao Tzu was the mythic “Old Sage” of ancient China. We’re not sure whether he actually existed, but we do know that he founded Taoist philosophy. His legendary Tao te Ching, the “Classic of the Way and its Power,” is a subtle treatise that radically challenges our views of everything—including ourselves, nature and the world around us. I like to call it “The Anarchist Prince,” for just as Machiavelli’s The Prince is a manual for rulers who wish to learn to rule, Lao Tzu’s classic is written for rulers who want to learn how not to rule.
Mar 22, 2021
Zhuangzi’s Crazy Wisdom & Da(o)da(o) Spirituality
The following essay is a slightly abridged version of a longer work that will appear in Max Cafard’s forthcoming book: The Surregionalist Manifesto and Other Essays, to be published by Exquisite Corpse (and available through FE).
“Wander where there is no trail. Hold on to all that you have received from Heaven, but do not think that you have gotten anything. Be empty, that is all.”
Jun 13, 2021
Zen anarchy? What could that be? Some new variations on the koans, those classic proto-dadaist Zen “riddles”?
What is the Sound of One Hand making a Clenched Fist?
If you see a Black Flag waving on the Flagpole, what moves?
Does the flag move? Does the wind move?
Does the revolutionary movement move?
What is your original nature--before May ’68, before the Spanish Revolution, before the Paris Commune?
Somehow this doesn’t seem quite right. And in fact, it’s unnecessary. From the beginning, Zen was more anarchic than anarchism. We can take it on its own terms. Just so you don’t think I’m making it all up, I’ll cite some of the greatest and most highly-respected (and respectfully ridiculed) figures in the history of Zen, including Hui-Neng (638–713), the Sixth Patriarch, Lin-Chi (d. 867), the founder of the Rinzai school, Mumon (1183–1260), the Rinzai master who assembled one of the most famous collections of koans, Dogen (1200–1253), the founder of Soto, the second major school, and Hakuin (1685–1768), the great Zen master, poet and artist who revitalized Zen practice.
Mar 14, 2014
“The Politics of the Imagination”
[The] utopia of domination is utopia as escapism. This danger is especially real for those utopians who have been frustrated in their efforts to realize their dreams, or who do not even reach the level of praxis. Utopia as escapism remains in the vacuous realm of what Hegel called the Beautiful Soul, of those Dreamers of Moral Perfection who are unable to cope with the ugliness and ambiguity of the world, and therefore cling to a bloodless ideal.
Nov 7, 2013
Welcome to the Idiocene
It has been proposed that the present era of life on earth should be called the Anthropocene to reflect the human domination of our planet.
However, an elegant, scientific-sounding term like anthropocene seems like a cop-out, a handy euphemism to hide exactly what kind of domination this is and what it’s doing to the planet.
Oct 18, 2014
Deserving the Best
The Continuing Appeal of Surrealism
a review of
Surrealism: Inside the Magnetic Fields by Penelope Rosemont. City Lights Books 2020
I used to know an amazing old working-class philosopher (an electrician) and practical utopian who had a wonderful phrase to sum up his inspired anarchism: “We deserve the best.”
“The best” means, as Penelope Rosemont shows in this book, what the surrealists call “the marvelous,” a world of beauty, joy, and goodness. “We,” means everybody, of course.
Jul 11, 2021