Wednesday, April 20, 2011

on the importance of the parasite in emerging mobile autonomous zones (after bey and serres)

"The parasite invents something new. It intercepts energy and pays for it with information. It intercepts roast beef and pays for it with stories. These would be two ways of writing the new contract. The parasite establishes an agreement that is unfair, at least in terms of previous accounting methods; it constructs a new balance sheet. It expresses a logic that was considered irrational until now, it expresses a new epistemology, another theory of equilibrium." [Michel Serres, Le Parasite]
high on the list of treasured failures from post-world-war 20C counterculture is the intentional community. premised on utopian visions of off-grid living, self-modulating enterprise, whole foods and congregational sex, it promised much, but in practice delivered mixed, if not disappointing results. the need for consistent and organized hard labour amidst the whine and roses coupled with the shifting tides of an ideologically-derived motive base made for an often ineffectual admixture of committed actors and free-loading pimps. harnessed profit-lust and capitalist frenzy never seemed more absent and wanting when compared to the imperfect responsiveness of the cagey human, now in groove to the beat of a diffident, me-generation drummer. mercantile fascists, one recalls, did nothing but a standout job, erecting the utilitarian precisions that got the trains to run on time and the sterile, flavourless fruit of globalization to even the most isolated bodega. the bar had been set. unfortunately the meta-committees of peace and love frequently collapsed under the stress of besting it, let alone achieving comparable marks.

we're now fortunate enough to be on the other side looking back at these earnest circuses of old just as 21C humanitarian anarchists, militant pacifists, shamanic revolutionaries and mystic prank alchemists prepare for a new round of disengagement from status quo delineations...
the fatal flaw in the social experiments of the 60s and 70s was the angle of ascent. we don't have time to reconstruct new empires or create novel infrastructures and protocols for either the urban or rural logistic. we only have time to subvert existing stages toward ends never intended by the complex which built them, that putrefying, zombified interest that seeks complete cultural and metaphysical suppression of human flowering.

part of the problem fifty years ago was naivete, the irresistible urge to invert the agenda, nevermind its sheer impossibility of scale. trying to establish new harmonious nuance with habitat while at the same time seeking to bend the natural order to suit mere survival slowly eroded a modern frame of reference accustomed to the politics of leisure, personal psychological space, and plentiful assets for the construction and furtherance of art and romantic love. amid the biodynamics, psychotropics, and clannish dramaturgies, the engines of parts and labour ground to a halt.

thusly, it's become hyper relevant to review the technology of the conceptual parasite, purge it of its negative connotations, recognize the genius of its posits and its indispensable, enduring contributions to the play.
"Precisely what is a parasite? It is an operator that interrupts a system of exchange. The abusive guest partakes of the host's meal, consumes food, and gives only words, conversation, in return. The biological parasite enters an organism's body and absorbs substances meant for the host organism. Noise occurs between two positions in an informational circuit and disrupts messages exchanged between them (noise or static in informational theory in English is translated as parasite in French). Thus the parasite first presents itself in a negative guise; it is viewed as a malfunction, an error, or a noise within a given system. Its appearance elicits a strategy of exclusion. Epistemologically, the system appears as primary, and the parasite as an unhappy addition that it would be best to expel. Such an approach, however, misses the fact that the parasite, like the demon and the third man, is an integral part of the system. By experiencing a perturbation and subsequently integrating it, the system passes from a simple to a more complex stage. Thus, by virtue of its power to perturb, the parasite ultimately constitutes, like the clinamen and the demon, the condition of the possibility of the system. In this way the parasite attests from within the order the primacy of disorder; it produces by way of disorder a more complex order." [Josué V. Harari, David F. Bell, Journal a plusieurs voies]
the artist injects themselves betwixt input and output, penetrating the equation formulae responsible for the industry-centric, consumerist pap of contemporary lifelessness, sucking up systemic resources like siphoned-off corpuscles, ready to apply the grid's own energy units towards a perpetual sunrise of anarchy and indulgence for the purpose of self-other-object confrontations and expanded knowing. the enlightened parasite relieves society of its monopoly board pieces and shits out a freedom of expression that knows no borders, the very liberation most feared by game enforcers everywhere. this disturbance which art, love, and nature magic creates is the sine qua non currency of exchange. it lends the parasite their righteousness of affect, even while the system's recursive propagation loops are irretrievably broken in the encounter and left bleeding for all to enjoy. such is the genius of parasitic reconnoitering.
"At the origin of human relations one finds the irreversible logic of exchange without return: always take, never give back. And behind this anthropology, the parasite. In its absence, a homogenous stasis of balanced exchanges existed, characterized by the perfect reversibility of all processes - paradise, without time or history. However, the parasite violates the system of exchange by taking without returning; it introduces an element of irreversibility and thus marks the commencement of duration, history, and social organization. The parasite exchanges paradise for a problematic of beginnings, namely, the beginnings of human relations." [Josué V. Harari, David F. Bell, Journal a plusieurs voies]
at the intersection of intentional communities, bey's temporary and permanent autonomous zones, and the anarchical parasite feeding and thriving on systems of corruption, is the mobile autonomous zone. like the pop-up, its technologically fluent and tapped into matrix on its own terms. it can make use of the transience of disposable objects and infrastructures to make things happen in geopolitical spaces of either short or long durations. it can harness the productivity and goal-directedness of organizations and communities within ultimately unstable, modulating and differential habitation patterns. its net of connectivity is diffuse, permeable, tensile, adaptable, and extremely portable. it outputs product in transit, while nesting and resting, while eating and fucking. it transacts its exchanges on sidewalks, in backrooms, in boardrooms, on air and wifi waves. it grows its food in backyards, in abandoned fields, in pails and boxes, on rooftops, and along highway medians. it showcases its objects and events directly, obtusely and in an unstoppable flow. it buys what it needs and creates channels for progressive micro and macrobusinesses when it can't share in new networks of common-philosophy mainframes.

we'll build new homes in old houses and new houses from old roads. we'll augur in new formats for the stewardship of the land and the commons of the people. we'll dismantle power ideologies not through the tired corporations of war, but by unhinging the ideas upon which power narrowly rests. we'll expose the conventions of current thinking for the mirages they are and apply new, more open lenses to the faculties of this animate, living earth. there will be universities in freak coffeeshops and adopted art ghettos and the reclamation of all libraries, all laboratories, all chaingang wisdoms. we'll divorce science and militia by coming between them with our hot blooded and wise inamoratas. machine medicine will die with the dishonoured corporate model and be replaced by multivalent humanist enterprise. we'll perform singly, in duos, in small troupes and large swaths of unified people. we'll come to embrace our differentiations and learn to work with adversarial dynamics. we'll fall in love differently, make love differently, define our bonds in new sun-glinted metals and wildly mutated body fluids. we'll enjoy a shared ground built on the journey not the destination. we'll eat better, more slowly, and more often at the group table. we'll take work and play out of their boxes and graduate ourselves from such silly distinctions. we'll discover that weapons are but ideas; that without maintaining-cause-ideas, armaments and internecine violence can't continue to exist, and that ideas are a whole lot easier to deconstruct than bombs.

yeah, the e-volution won't be televised. but that's because it's ready to go viral. kick it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

on caroline myss' woundology

it took me a while to even come round to reading caroline's work in this area. i've been reluctant mostly out of a sense of outrage. people from diverse walks of life are permitted to speak casually or powerfully to their historic experiences, but victims are supposed to shut the fuck up. like gabor mate suggests, and i'm paraphrasing, they get fucked over once, and then fucked over again and repeatedly for being fucked over the first time. or as hitchens puts it in service of a whole other profiterole, you're made in the image of sickness and then commanded to be well. even the term 'victim' is putative at best and can't be spoken with anything like the respect and consideration it deserves. but lest i be understood to be suggesting here that victims and victimhood ought to be invested icons for the times, let me deconstruct.

i agree with just about everything caroline has to say on being stuck in the wound and not healing, and as to why it seemed to take the collective trauma of the warring 20thC to bring the chaotic flowering of the 60s and 70s and its healing new age to the task of highlighting our myopia about our 'civilization' and what was going on behind closed doors, man being more often a wolf to his fellow man than shepherd.

it seems safe to generalize that emerging human phenomenon seeks to explore itself until it becomes the opposite inevitably called forth in this persistent pendulum swing of the ages. certainly there's a winsome rhythm observable in all cultures. we blossom quite naively into too much of a good thing that quickly needs must defecate in it's own mouth and die before the tension of opposites that it represents can be neutralized, bringing forth a progressive tertiary position that itself will be undone as it degrades into its own either/or tautology.

progress in the matrix is three dimensional. we aspire to the vertical, expand in manifestation in horizontal spread where the quadrangle of matter shows up in stark illuminations just which deva and dakini of mind is cornering respective pockets. when we get tired of the inevitable triteness of these four corners of argument (light and dark aspects of the dyadic equation) we aspire again to stand on the heads and shoulders of exhausted archetypes and take up the span of the next ladder rung, moving on up into infinitely more nested and nested hierarchies of intellection and bio-wisdom.

thusly, we've come to fear and resent victims because as caroline points out, the wound has power, but its the power and charisma of a stalemate. we're collectively locked into writhing in the dried blood and muck because we're ripe and ready for a shaming. we want it and need it badly but just can't quite bring our pride, our blindness and ourselves to its threshold. in fact, those that resent the wounded most are those who've never directly encountered the darkness of the truth of human nature, a truth we give endless nuclear-level power to for all our pious and self-righteous disowning.

we resent victims because we want to pretend that these stories and case reports are rare or exaggerated, that life is more good than bad rather than often being right down the middle. victims remain stuck in their wounded glory because collectively we haven't emerged at the next level of resonance that can take in their stories without snide judgement and 'get over it' smugness. we haven't accepted that we are collectively capable of inflicting the wounds in the first place. not us, with our bleached white teeth, promisory religions, and positivist consumer tautologies.

of course its not the world that can do the changing. even in the bible it says that the less advantage you have, the harder you'll have to work and the more unfairness you'll have to creatively adjust to. in the long gaze of justice it would seem only righteous that truth and reconciliation become cultural facts at the level of street, neighbourhood, and family table before anyone gets pressed to 'get over it.' yet just as important, and in the same spirit, we need to look at the way we treat those who abuse and betray the human trust. we push our 'monsters' to the margins and sequester them in prisons which baste the 'criminal' in juices of resentment, anger, and more slow burn lust for vengeance against innocence and apparent lucky advantage in the world. thusly do victims keep holding space for the pain of life to match our denial, while offenders hold space for lack of respect and love for life to match our hubris.

on a personal note, reading caroline's thoughts on woundology, when i finally allowed myself to stop resisting, was an abiding re-revelation. i've met many of the stereotyped 'survivors' like those described and i have to admit i lost much in the way of my own self-understanding by viewing them as examples of something of which i'm not representative. this allowed me to feel somehow superior to the behaviour and yet remain in my unchecked outrage and wound-holding at the same time.

this wound-holding was also, i was happy to at last see clearly, a huge source of eros and passion in my life. this pain of mine defined every relationship, friendly, casual, or otherwise. in squeamish hindsight it strikes me to admit, it seems i've been constantly on the hunt for someone to take in every detail of the sorrow i've worn, expecting my intimates to go back in time with me and rewitness every moment, every agony, every betrayal. staying in touch with my past was something that had become a daily, even moment-to-moment practice, especially when i conned myself into thinking i was living in the present and its rush of activities. in truth, no experience could be engaged afresh. especially in interpersonal matters, it was beyond me to respond with a blank slate or without my set of prejudgements and scripts. i brought the canvas of my history with me and assumed a role and character fit for those stories... a center-stage role for myself at the expense of other people's own needs and feelings, a grandiose healing and indulgence being my implicit, demanding expectation. worst, i excellently played at being a fuck-up so as to permit the sleepwalk with my masochist into the arms of actors suited to replaying old plots, confirming the worst of my self-concepts, repeating deep harm.

fact is, i've been withholding this 'healing' turning point even while demanding it of life out of displaced identity issues. without my pain and my history i have no idea who i would be. none. and yet this is the rite of passage that all must inevitably haul ass to cover ground on, because no fixed identity can carry us forward the whole distance of our lives.

uncertainty is only a stress when we forget that there's still a silent witness and a complete knowing within us. we can lay down the past to one side and consult the void in its wake for answers instead of old scripts with confidence that there is someone, a me, inside there. but to do this, we have to have the courage of the flying leap and be thoroughly disenchanted with preserving personal history. no small feat, but then again, nothing worth doing in this world ever is.

from earliest memory i've been looking for my liberator to come. he is me and he, at last, has come...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

healing of the breast is healing of the earth

When I first became aware of the developing flora of my own breasts I also met with a new, more nested and impossible to shake kind of shame. I was maybe around thirteen, a juvenile performer in a folkloric operetta group that toured extensively. There was a group of twenty-something males in the dance group and musician core that eyed with appetence the young girls coming to term as the women their own age either moved off into marriage or the dust bin of excitement conquests gone dull. The accordionist, a man in his thirties, who until this juncture I'd looked up to as a family friend, began to single out my gaze during dance practice, and when certain he was being unobserved, would take his finger and trace out his own nipple through his shirt while staring at me. It gave me a queasy, repulsive feeling to be violated by his intrusions and I felt a deep shame to possess targets for this kind of looking, which I neither welcomed nor understood.

Ten years later while working at the old Movenpick in Yorkville I got hazed for not being a participant in staff parties. A couple of the waiters cornered me in the dish pit and held me by the arms while a rich frat boy shuved an egg into the breastpocket of my white shirt and punched it into my breast to break the shell. Not quite satisfied, he stepped back to reach for a cinnamon shaker so as to sprinkle brown dust over the yolk now oozing out from the fabric of my shirt. When they let go of me and left and I looked down at myself I knew something profound had happened. Even not knowing whether the throbbing in my boob or the humiliation or the sense of being ejected from the group was worst, I knew there was a symbol within a symbol there for me and I remember not immediately moving, even though in my mind I was already seeing myself finishing my cash out, changing and walking home.

Like many women, my breasts have been treated roughly during sex, slapped, pinched, squeezed as though they were insensate, bitten, spit on. Having also gained and lost weight many a time in tide with my shifting need for repelling armour against life in the world, my breasts lost their pert appearance and took on a more pendulant affect which lead to many notable and crestfallen responses when my lack of self-respect led me to partner with men who compared real women with their digitized sisters of perfection.

I'm moved to share these selected highlights because we're not supposed to speak in truth to experiences of this kind lest we be labeled whiners, or complainers, or professional victims. I think its a double standard I no longer care to endorse with compliant silence. I'm also in the grip of an awakening sense that for many women there's a 'me' and then there's my breasts. Something in me separated in shame from them, cast them adrift, banished them from the core integrity of my being, making them the locus for all my self-loathing and masochistic submission to a male cruelty that I alone called forth from my environment in order to punish myself like the flagellant I was, hellbent on a degrading, self-destructive mission. It seems we have no choice but to live out the teachings of early life before we can rewrite the programming in more enlightened script. So be it.

Nature is a focalizer. All of my self-hatred and revulsion for being an imperfect female lives in the breast. Our bodies are vortical maps that we colour in according to our weaknesses and woundings. But that also means, just as we can invest the negatives in our intimate geographies, we can use this same profanity to give us an exact playing field for a reclaiming of personal soil. We can only come home if we've lost our way.

Thusly, and to summarize, if a woman can make peace with the forsaken breast she can undo the vector to disease, and what's more, she can become a resonant buoy for the healing of the wider environment on this earth. I believe in this.

[artwork by the author]

on the senseless ubiquity of sexual show

Its often said that human beings are the earth's units of consciousness. I find this slightly anthropocentric and would expand the definition to include plants and animals as well, particularly in light of what we're discovering of our limited definition of 'consciousness' and 'intelligence.' I've also always been fond of the maxim that to heal the environment we must first heal the environmentalist, for surely the problems which exist at the level of whole planet order can't be addressed at anything remotely akin to that level of organization. Part of the karma of existence, it would appear, is the voluntary/involuntary manner in which all of us, both in our present form, past lineage of ancestors, and future seed form offspring, have taken on the yoke of this soft animal body which mirrors in process and poesis the larger drama at work in the world.

As a woman I feel this at work in our eaten-out, commercialized breasts. We've fallen out of our alignment with the nurturing aspect and the living breathing import of our animus mundi circularity. Instead, we've participated, and lately even conspired with the fetishized eroticization of the tit, turning it from a subjective giving into an objectified, punitive consuming. We exaggerate its swollen, milk-filled readiness with bags of silicon, thinking we're mimicking a soft-porn blow-up doll ideal, when in truth we're emphasizing our alienation from and need to reconnect with core nurturance and plenty.

Perhaps even worse, women who have fallen into the madness of dopaminergic culture express an even more profound disconnect from the breast than the male eye who fetishizes it. Using the paltry refrain of feminist freedom, they bare the breast and desacralize it as a right of expression, forgetting that in so doing they depotentize and cheapen a living symbol, reducing it to a manipulation of the public for purely personal, egoic ends. The cleavage itself is not a thing to be restricted or demonized, but we have lost its power of appropriate use. The cleavage, after all, has a disarming influence, as the baring of a breast was once used in ancient warmaking to billboard capitulation to peaceful ends. Its role in seduction has been lost in tandem with its leeched mysteries.

To claim that somehow it's pedestrian sexualization is a feminist expression of rights and freedoms is to collaborate with the objectification of body parts and the subordination of individuals to group biological characteristics. We become waking tits, pieces of meat, haunches tottering and clacking down the streets in highheels that poignantly reflect our disconnect from the grounding earth. The irony's apparently lost on us that we're now favouring heels as we once favoured corsets for the way they biomechanically distort the skeleton, in this case giving the impression of gluteal development where sedentary laziness often makes for slack flatness, relying as well on the postural torque imposed on the pelvic basin during highheeled locomotion, for it serves to emphasize the lordotic arch, putting the ass and rear access openings into a presentational display empty of sentiment or integrated motivation.

While its just and righteous to take back the negative designations of slut, whore, harlot, hierodule and turn these on their heads in acts of living alchemy, we're sorely mistaken and collectively more than a bit dumb when we take the most narrow, costume-definition of these roles and trot them out as acts of rebellion. Its to take the self-image, flatten it into the two-dimensionality of magazine images and claim victory where only shackles of a different order exist. Bombarded and defiled by the commercialization of sex and self, modern woman mistakes self-esteem for the high-wire act of becoming a degraded advertising of her own empty commodity.

Burlesque, seduction and erotica have a place in the tango of life, but bereft of appropriate roleplay in the current, senseless ubiquity of sexual show, they only serve the mercantile agenda, fooling women into a false notion of emancipation. The femme fatale on the street with a skirt up her crotch and tits on show, giving her powers away in greed for male approbation, taking his degrading growls and desire for her as evidence of her worth, is the clearest picture yet of the stockholm syndrome.

on technological constructivism

A fact rarely appreciated is the extent to which the prevalent human diseases are concomitant symbols, metaphorically continuous with the ongoing ecological disaster of our disharmonic stewardship of the earth. The rapacious increase in cancers, for example, reflects the just-desserts of our cavalier poisoning of the planet, blythely shitting where we eat to use the turn of phrase. The incident statistics of the last two centuries reflect the larger human theme of our own disowned progenerative forces run amok. We destroy to build build build but hardly if ever look to the appropriateness, relative necessity or suitability of our addiction to technological constructivism, much less do we pay any heed to the consequence of our inventions and impositions on pre-existing natural orders.

Like ourselves at the level of herd, our cells at the level of the cancerous individual have lost the checks and balances of disciplined and wise limitation. The rate of cell reproduction overtakes what can be harnessed and employed to maintain any kind of coherent status quo. The formation of infrastructure runs riot, regulatory forces are handicapped, and destruction of macro-organism thru site-specific micro-proliferations is the result. There is no better symbol of KOYAANISQATSI (hopi word for "life out of balance") than our destructive overgrowth and mismanagement of resources come flesh in the cancer diasthesis.

The other major diseases follow suit in their niggling poetic aptness for the times. Diabetes is greed for the sweetness of life at the expense of the other flavours of real nutrition. Cardiac disease is the hardening of the vessels as a maladaptation against the leaking of plasmic life force energy at the expense of heart. These are not fanciful connections drawn to suit a whim. If we fail to grasp the fact that we are poster-children for the particulars of human crime against the planet and ourselves we're doomed to extinguish all hope for healing in the conflagration of our stubborn ignorance.