I stands for human.［白森］
As sabotage is to war. Literary subversion is to ideology.
I maintain that no ideology in-itself shall be held sacrosanct and that wherever we may be so equipped, we should subvert the ideologies of domination. Not to say that all ideas are bad; or that certain principles are not worthy of admiration; or that we should not adhere to them. I am only saying that we should always question the validity of ideas which conspire to dominate. Particularly those which do so covertly are most worthy of the subversive effort. After all, why shouldn’t we the people of the world play an active role in the creation of our own belief systems? If there is to be a collective belief system at all, let it be in the state of perpetual, collective creativity! Otherwise only the sovereign individual shall be the one legitimate author of any belief.
Ideas should be shared between likeminded individuals and presented nobly in civil negotiations of mutual discourse. Best of all is when we exchange new ideas through the medium of artistic expression. In this domain the binary nature of argumentative language can be transcended, such as with humor, jokes, etc. “A joke worth laughing at always has an idea behind it, and usually a subversive idea” (George Orwell). Humor sustains us human beings. It is not only a powerful tool for survival but also a powerfully subversive tool. Knowledge of this power dictates that art must be substantive. Art must do something other than simply entertain. Not to say that art must always be subversive, destructive, etc., but in these times of profound cultural decay, the first step towards reinvigorating our cultural landscape is to tear down all decadent structures. The good, the beautiful, the true—never die. These ideals not only stand the test of time. They persist through any malevolent strikes of subversion. Let us be literary subverters, therefore. All we have to lose are the nefarious ideologies constraining us—restraining our creative urge.
There can be no single, dogmatic approach to our system. Our ethics must overthrow what Christopher Hitchens would have referred to as the “celestial dictatorship.” Ours is the becoming of a dimension more philosophical than purely political, although it is the entwinement of both; at the core a dedication to the principles of not only anarchism, but also the Taoist Way.
Especially in the way that it functions in our society today the media is perhaps something more akin to the antimatter of human consciousness. Pointing this out is not to say there is no great artistry in contriving moving pictures or in composing an image or in arranging words into meaningful patterns. Indeed, I am far from saying that because after all, I am a huge fan of the cinema, of art, of literature, etc. My point is that moving pictures and images and the written word wherever they may be, which is to say everywhere, are working on us in propagandistic fashion; expanding our awareness yet funneled into only one preordained, unitary herd direction that is I dare say, alien to the natural flow of human consciousness. Another way of putting this would be that the media as it exists today solely exists for the purposes of narrowing our consciousness through the process of expanding it ever more towards the artificial, the technocratic, the fake. At every waking hour of every day, provided that one does not live under a rock, one is being bombarded by a constant stream of messages. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would deny that; but maybe you argue these messages are largely benevolent, benign, inconsequential. Thinking in this way is skeptically optimistic, but tragically naïve. For throughout human history, as long as the written word has existed—and, perhaps, even having been adapted mostly for this one purpose alone—the rulers of humankind have utilized a steady flow of propagandistic messages as a form of mind control. We have long been fed the maxim Think for yourself but ironically this was just a subtle nudge into the cage of isolation. Before one can truly think for ones self one must become liberated from the fortified illusion of Self. We cannot allow consciousness to expand into the pyramidal funnel of artificiality. Reject that—permitting instead the mind taps into the eternal everything that already is.
Who among even the most enlightened class of human beings could claim to know with absolute certainty the full scope of our mysterious universe? Certainty looks good. It feels good. It sells well. Whereas doubt, on the other hand, appears weak. It depresses. It spurs decay. Shall we go on feigning certainty then, among those whom we cannot bare to let down by exposing our fears?
Let us remove authoritarianism from religion. We shall liberate our human soul from the tyranny of superego. I advocate meditation as opposed to prayer for this reason. There is a subtle, but I will maintain important, difference between these two practices that has to do with the substance of identity. Both prayer and meditation involve a focus on interiority and the connection one may discover about metaphysics therein; however they may be distinguished by their contrasting active versus passive modes. In general that is to say that prayer is an appeal to divinity, whereas meditation is the contemplation of emptiness. One is in essence a form of wishing. The other wishes to transcend wishing by recognizing the illusory aspect of wishing itself. Wishing reinforces earthly desire. It is precisely this kind of psychic behavior that locks one into the realm of appearances. It is intimately bound up with the substance of identity, as the occurrence of wishing requires a subject to do the wishing, i.e. an ego. My argument is that ego becomes immorally conflated when desiring unification with the image of supernatural authority invested in superego. It doesn’t matter from an ethical standpoint whether the object of prayer is someone else as opposed to one’s self. Altruistic desires fuel self delusion as much as selfish ones. Speaking about what is and isn’t moral, I should assert here that there is nothing inherently moral about authority in itself. Morality is rooted in choice and the eternal moment which is everything that exists as an infinity of choice. Authoritarianism aims to reduce this into one coercive moment of making the “right” choice. I will hold that actively conflating oneself with this illusion of immutable correctness is irreconcilable with cosmic freedom. The most radical statement available to make is the simple fact that it is just not moral.
Could a single will effectively break itself? Am I capable of tearing down my very own psyche so as to build it back up again, but in only the manner that I sees fit? Is it possible for one in the same consciousness both to submit and be submitted to? Moreover if it were, would that be a worthy project? Is that not the absolute zero point of sorts? A valuable project befitting of all fully autonomous, moral individuals?
“Stoicism is self-tyranny,” says Nietzsche. . .
If tyranny as a concept was ever considered in the positive sense, then it would have to be in this one. We must resist political tyranny in all of its manifest forms. Except for one. In ourselves, towards ourselves. This is the only moral form of political tyranny. If we are to resist it, first we must overthrow it in ourselves. We must take it over, indeed turning it on itself, in ourselves. This is called the conquest of the dominator urge. It is the first step towards opening up a space for liberation. It is the principle of no rule but self-rule.
Self-rule with an iron fist.
We live in a new Dark Ages, where paradoxically there’s never been greater potential for illumination. Information is everywhere. Whereas a comprehensive knowledge of how to adapt to this state of affairs is lacking. A starting point for untangling this matrix of wires might be in learning how to exert greater control over the faculties of the mind, rather than in ceding more territory and surrendering more will to cybernetic control and technocratic authority.
Is it possible to develop a dual faculty for an idea, to understand it in such a way that one can use it both for power and disarmament? Or is that not already a double edge? What I mean to say is that in our State of Affairs, there’s no information that can’t be turned into disinformation, and these days disinformation is the norm. Hence, one must at all times try to disarm information in order to reveal the point, where one can see closest to its naked essence.
Just think of Marx or Nietzsche. A good idea is not enough. It must be interpreted. It must be practiced and rehearsed. And forget good ideas, think about how many great ideas have been perverted by the powerfully mediocre! Think of the ways they have been inverted, or rendered impotent by those who would claim them for their own, or sapped of their vital force through commodification, or obfuscated through a hidden layer of ideology.
We might have to accept the idea that no idea can be outright accepted prima facie. What we lose in certainty, we only have to gain in the ἀταραξία of Pyrrhonism.
In avoiding being mislead, one can avoid misleading others. And carry it like a talisman into the bizarre theater, aflame with this insane project of knowing everything through science, through religion, through State symbolism, states of affairs, etc.
“We’re reaching for death / On the end of a candle / We’re trying for something / That’s already found us” (Jim Morrison).
One more thing: maybe concepts precede words in the same way that mythology precedes history. Or maybe like cause and effect on the quantum level, their relationship is not precisely this logical.
A dual faculty therefore teaches us to beware of conflating a distinction but as importantly, not to privilege one before an other.
You are not your thoughts, yet without them you are surely nothing. This idea however mustn’t lead one down a path to despair, but rather into the boundless space of liberation. For nothingness alone is boundless.
While in despite of the incorporeality of thought, every mind is a delimitation. Every concept is a vanishing point, if and only if understood in the widest sense. Broadly speaking then, thoughts are the building blocks of appearances. Their concreteness in macrocosm is the prerequisite for being to exist. However if one falls victim to the illusion that such a substance is quite actually solid, or that this image of the thing-in-itself is more than just an image; thought becomes the generation of a perceptual cage, precisely due to this illusion of imperceptibility. One mistakes for the essence of what they’re thinking, their very own spiritual chains.
One assumes they are the map, rather than an experience of the territory.
Go beyond the concept of an origin to realize that since no One thought generated, no One thought can dictate, the terms of All-in-Existence.
Unification can be paradoxically also a process of division. Conquerors of the world have used this technique to enlarge their tyrannies. We however shall counter these measures by becoming our very own liberator of the soul. One does so by becoming the cybernetician of one’s own spiritual code.
Thought if you will, is a code of sorts. It is the underlying demiurge, writing operations for this phenomenal world. Each line of code or concept, every nuance of this system has been contrived. Nor would anything exist otherwise. Knowing then, really, is as they say. Knowing that thought is a necessary contrivance is already half the battle, for then no one without your conscious awareness, shall ever again put a thought into your head.
There shall be no more room for a helmsman, besides the one that controls from within; for truly, no thought may control anyone, who stands at least one step removed from their own head.
I will now sing into existence my concept of the warrior poet.
A warrior poet is no soldier. Nor is they even a writer in the traditional sense. There’s no writing for profit, there’s no going to war, for the warrior poet. One does however, live and die by a code of the sword like pen and the pen like sword. Or that is to say, one takes its conceits seriously, as if they were principles. And one regards all principles as if they were conceits. To a warrior poet, there’s no difference between a pen and a sword. And yet this difference means everything.
The first key principle of a warrior poet is that thought must be understood as a form of action. Our goal is to act in ways that interface with the created and the one who creates. We must live our lives in accordance with the dictum, that art can’t merely reflect, but must also shape.
Another: We cannot merely let our art descend into propaganda, but must make art that is so authentically meaningful that it becomes more true than propaganda.
A shining example of hitting this mark is George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984. These works manage to extract the essence of propaganda and ideology, presenting to us their raw schema after deconstruction, and reassemblage into an artistic diagram.
Said in another way. If we are to achieve this effect we must become like serpents, that eat up a poison, spitting it back out as the cure. A process which goes by many names, the most obvious one is: Solve et coagula.
The next is called the principle of writing with a water brush on a block of hot granite.
“Writing” is a shadow side to life but also creates it and gives it form, which is a paradox because: It is formless.
Reason and Imagination are tracked in this mold, these faculties which can section off discrete units of the territory that get onto the map. By another metaphorical name, this process may be likened to the construction of a ladder, rung after rung. The principle of writing with a water brush on a block of hot granite means essentially, to climb a ladder then kick it away. The point is that height is an illusory reward, a mere plateau in the vast range of emptiness, where there is nothing to “get”—only an infinity of places to go.
Wittgenstein tried his best to delineate a realm of perfect sense, so as to discover the exact shape of nonsense, because it was the latter (and not the “ladder”) that truly interested him.
Not to say that this is what our lives will have amounted to ultimately, but that in living life in such a way, we might find the invisible pattern beneath.
If you think this is nothing, words also won’t help you.
No concrete thought, no immaterial word.
A definition may be true but no language is created through a dictionary, no law is universal beyond a mere contingency. The Logos is like the Tao. This is not an anthropomorphic god or transcendental logic but an immanent cause, a primordial chaos that creates order out of itself.
From where else does this power, the authority to create a law, originate?
In our time, this power was invested in the State. Until we began to question just why one apparatus should have a monopoly on this capacity.
Precisely what is it that forbids a sovereign individual their capacity to judge on their own terms; to associate with other sovereigns freely, and to form communal organizations, effectively creating an independent code of conduct?
If it’s possible that art can shape the world; if it’s not bound to a mere reflective function, then this is a power that we’ll call the power of equivalence. Of course the idea of equivalence here is a metaphor, and indeed another word for this power of equivalence is metaphor. And it is ποιεῖν, where “to make” is also “to do” and “to bring something into being that did not exist before” and hence, it is precisely where poetry becomes praxis.
And hence it can be said that the concept of the warrior poet is the same as the figure of Orpheus.
We could also categorize our principles as Orphean. The possibility of even making this move however is dependent on the power of equivalence, and hence we may also call this move the mere Orphean principle.
This can be worked as a double edge: As equivalence or equivocation. Equivocation is more like a Siren’s Song, i.e. the conflation of appearance with reality that leads to being swallowed up by an illusion. It’s that method of artificing which skillfully cuts out the truth, and reassembles it, “the truth,” as a collage of extraneous detail, or as a reduction to pastiche; whereas equivalence is to weave what is seemingly irreconcilable into “One,” i.e. the power of metaphor and signification, let’s say. What is meant, for example, by saying that art is like life, in how: “Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, / Stains the whole radiance of Eternity, / Until Death tramples it to fragments [and we can] No more let Life divide what Death can join together” (Shelley, Adonais).
This is a conceit that we might also deem Sympathy for Pluto.
Equivalence beats equivocation, every time.
Art beats propaganda.
Creating is a force for good. Poetry is praxis transubstantiated in the figure of Orpheus, and adhered to as the way of the warrior poet.
One interpretation of the folly of Arachne in ancient Greek mythology demonstrates the tactical importance of pretense.
As Ovid writes in Book VI of The Metamorphoses: “. . . Arachne dared / To rival Pallas [Athena] at the loom, to think / Herself superior in art. [. . .] . . . she, foolish, / Ready to show her skill, raced to her fate. [. . .] Not even Pallas nor blue-fevered Envy / Could damn Arachne’s work. The gold-haired goddess / Raged at the girl’s success. . .” (English translation by Horace Gregory).
If we conceive of this mytheme in terms of a battle, especially one in which there’s a power imbalance between the two sides, the strategic flaw presents itself to us as failure to heed the precept: “Pretend to be weak, that [your opponent] may grow arrogant” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War, I.xxii). In this light, we may now consider the efficacy of darkness, the 陰 side of things. And thus, we’ll consider the use of equivocation as a stratagem for deceit.
Consider those who were executed poets. Think of the medieval troubadour called Marcabru, who was put to death for criticizing the Lords of Gascony in his songs. Consider the techniques of the classical Chinese poets like 白居易, who used the art of symbolism and romanticizing to enact sociopolitical criticism of a current regime. Think about what Alan Moore says about the archetypal bard.
Our art redeems those who were executed poets, doing what those who were executed poets once did in the empires of old; namely, using codes to mask the true nature of our subjects, in order to criticize power by way of asymmetrical warfare. For one can’t expect to outwit a tyrant or expedite the fall of tyranny through sheer honesty alone. But rather the authenticity of our just rebellion if it’s to be successful, and if dedication to the emancipatory struggle is not to be in vain, our warrior-poetry must presuppose knowledge of how to use and thusly of how to counter the arts of deception.
Again, this is where the power of art to suggest unconscious meanings can’t be underestimated, in both the pursuit of enforcing repressive ideologies, and in sowing the seeds of their implicit destruction. Hence, our maxim bears repeating: “[Our art,] literary subversion is to ideology, as sabotage is to war” (白森).
But take heed not to engage in this battle without significant foresight. Mind Chapter IV, precepts xiii, xiv, xv of The Art of War: “[One wins their battles] by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated. Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy. Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas [one] who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory” (English translation by Lionel Giles).
Creation may only take the form of destruction insofar as the better, more beautiful and truer object is posited from the ruins of the target, before the process is even unfurled. Before making the first move, a diagram for victory must have already emerged victorious in the mind. And after all, this move doesn’t literally destroy the target, so much as set beside it a mere alternative. It opens a new door.
And where once all seemed immutable, that image has now been shot through with holes, allowing the light of a rhizome of individual minds to pass freely beyond it, indeed; “[it ticks] off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through anyone that suits you” (Jim Morrison).
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