Murder: A Guided Meditation (for inconsiderate audio)

http://inconsiderateaudio.anarchyplanet.org Murder: A guided meditation   This is a guided meditation to purify the root chakra Close your eyes and get comfortable, it doesn’t matter how you’re sitting We will begin shortly… Notice your breath The waves of universal energy flowing in through your nose And out through your mouth Feel the energy moving through […]
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Change of pace – updated 12/18

Over the next few months i will be shifting the focus of this site. Since i started it i intended it as a source of information about practical actions anarchists can take to make our world at least a little less fucked up. I made some attempts to comment on current events, but my editorial interests lie more in long-term ideas and movements than specific breaking events and personalities and more in practice than philosophizing. I’ve toyed around with the blog format a bit, but i’ve come to feel that it is more suited to some forms of expression than others. I will continue to update it sporadically, but with a narrower focus.

The core of this site will become static pages that list resources for action, with some theoretical commentary. These will look something like the permaculture page, covering different topics from rewilding to hacking to education to sex. The updates to these pages will not appear on AnarchistNews.org, so if you are interested in the future of this project you’ll have check back without being prompted by RSS.

Edit – December 13: The beginning of the prison list is up. Please leave a comment if you know about anything else that should go on there.

Edit – December 18: The site redesign is progressing. There is now an Occupy/Decolonize list that i hope will be a helpful resource for people. The links sidebar will be on hiatus for at least a while longer. As i overhaul the site some of those links will be transferred to individual list pages. I’m not sure whether i will bring that menu back, because as this site is (will be) mostly pages of links, a sidebar of links seems to unnecessarily clutter things up. As always, feedback is appreciated.

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and then a few months pass

I would like to be updating this blog at least once a month (but preferably 2-4 times) but I haven’t for the past few. This is largely because I am about to announce the largest project I (by which I mean we since there are several other stakeholders) have ever undertaken and I would prefer to wrap up the announcement with a bow than be partial about it. I’ve already dropped a few hints so I’d rather stop doing that until we are ready.

I have been doing some other things that are probably “blog worthy” but up till now I’ve attempted to use my blog as a place for short essay type writing than what I guess is more “bloggy” kind of writing. I think quantity probably matters so I will do more bloggy shit even though it hurts my brain.

I do a monthly review of anarchist (mostly) print media

Here is October.

Here is November.

I did a few presentations over the past month while in Columbus OH and Chapel Hill NC. The topics were Illegalism & Social Media. I will be sharing writeups on both topics in the next year. There will be a new publication of my last few years of my presentations and follow ups to an old set of pamphlets called Attentat. Expect it around June.

My presentation in Columbus was particularly notable because it included like an hour discussion that was what I would call “high level.” It wasn’t stupid questions about a better world or silly hypotheticals but real discussion about the situation on the ground in town and how the presentation could relate to that. Afterwards it was pointed out to me that much of the room was in graduate school. I was sad.

Chapel Hill was a fast paced two day whirlwind. We arrived early for the bookfair and went to “the” eco-coop-natural fibers-bullshit store which gives anything on the West Coast a run for its money. The bookfair smelled like stale beer but was otherwise a fantastic time with a lot of good conversation, demonstrations of activism-without-the-word, and good energy. Even my frenemies couldn’t spoil the mood. I am really excited to go back to the area and check out Firestorm because those people were alarmingly nice and engaged.

grafitti from outside book fair

I spent some time in Michigan where I may end up spending a lot more time in the next few years. I love the spring and fall time there. I basically hate the summer and winter. I did get to meet some real life @ in Grand Rapids (just about the last town one would ever believe @ would live in) while I was there. That was awesome.

fucking trees

Now I am back in the Bay. Occupy Oakland (which I will write about substantially another time) is starting to fade as the holidays come and police war against tents heats up. I was away for the day of the General Strike but here is my favorite image from the day…

from Applied Nonexistence

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What is new with Little Black Cart – Fall 2011

This is an exciting time to be in the Bay Area. The Occupation of Oakland (or as we prefer the Oakland Commune) has been amazing. It has made cynical people smile and even jaded people feel like there is something positive about what is happening in downtown Oakland. This is what is possible when anarchists take an engaged role in a public project and even if it were to be over tomorrow the experiment in Oakland has been fruitful.

Long live the Oakland Commune!!!
Take a holiday from work on November 2nd (and every day thereafter)

We will be traveling in early November.

New Things

We are currently tilling the soil to have an incredibly productive 2012 we will have a major announcement in the next month or two. This means that we only have a few new things to announce but they are good ones.

Tiqqun #1 – This is an absolutely faithful reproduction of the French journal Tiqqun but in English. This includes such obsessions as replacing French graffiti with English equivalents, replacing cultural artifacts with similar ones that make sense in North America. This is a labor of love & sweat and is a huge journal filled with content you have mostly experienced up till now in bite sized morsels because reading on the screen and reading something in your hands are two different things entirely.

Tiqqun #1 @ LBC
A Related Link: Tiqqunista


Desert – This is a new (dark) Green Anarchist publication from the UK. It asks the question “what does it mean to be an anarchist, or an environmentalist, when the goal is no longer working toward a global revolution and social/ecological sustainability?” This is a serious publication that challenges the reader to imagine life and activity without hope. I love this shit!

Desert @ LBC
A Related Link: John Zerzan reviews Desert


bolo’boloArdent and Autonomedia have teamed up to bring the most important anarchist utopia (that is neither anarchist or utopian) back into print. If this doesn’t live on your bookshelf then it is arguable that anything lives there at all!

bolo’bolo @ LBC
A Related Link: Anvil Review of bolo’bolo


Sovereign Self – A brand new paper from the PNW that is beautifully self-printed and the first publication from Highwayman Press. It is inspired by Egoist and individualist thinking. This issue is FREE with postage.

Sovereign Self @ LBC
A Related Link: The Anarchist Library version of Walker on Egoism


ADCS: 1.2011 – Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies considers the anarchist milieu in the ten years since the attacks of September 11th, 2001 (hereafter “9/11″). A host of obvious questions accompany an attempt to encapsulate an event such as 9/11 and the ten years that followed, foremost among them: Why situate 9/11 as a date of exceptional importance? Does a reflection of this kind merely contribute to, for example, neoconservative attempts to enshrine 9/11 as a propagandistic tool? Memorialization often carries reactionary politics, whether intentional or not.

ADCS @ LBC
A Related Link: short review by Aragorn!


New Site

One of the grueling tasks we have accomplished is a brand new website. This means that the old “rounded corners” site is gone and a new site that focuses on SEARCH and simplicity now lives in its place. We expect there to be frequent changes to the site now that it is so much more usable but if you run into problems please drop us a line.

New features include:

  • Gift Certificates: They may be corney but they are a great way to get the actual things you want from family members for the Xmas (and shit).
  • Wholesale accounts: If you are part of an infoshop that would like some variety in what you carry or an independent bookshop that is ready to challenge your audience… drop us a line. We have rates for you!
  • New Products RSS feed
  • Better functionality for things like reviews!

Other things that may interest you

Upcoming Projects

  1. Anvil #3
  2. Super Happy Anarcho-Fun Pages: The book!
  3. Attentat Journal
  4. Bash Back (the anthology)
  5. and oh so much more…

-Little Black Cart

Posted in anvil, Attentat, Bash Back, Monthly updates, Oakland, Tiqqun | Comments closed

Stirner, Not an Egoist

But who, then, will dissolve the spirit into its nothing? He who by means of the spirit set forth nature as the null, finite, transitory, he alone can bring down the spirit too to like nullity. I can; each one among you can, who does his will as an absolute I; in a word, the egoist can.

 

(Scattered notes: do not distribute)

Saul Newman’s recent advancements in post-anarchist philosophy have revealed new ways of reading the insurrectionary philosophy of Max Stirner. It would be important to resist the claim, contrary to Benjamin Franks’s intervention, that Newman’s variant of post-anarchism is strictly subjectivist, since such arguments reduce Stirner’s work to its classical expression (whereby the ego is the central contribution). Rather, the anti-essentialist determination necessarily implies a rejection of the ego as a transcendental essence which reigns over the individual. Critics will contend that Stirner is not just ‘nothing’ but the creative nothing – but in her creativity she reveals the lack of correlation between being and thinking and she thereby reveals the further possibility–which is only now coming to the attention of contemporary continental philosophers via the work of the speculative realists–that each unique individual is first and foremost nature which is always autonomous from the identity of the concept or the thinking of the cogito: “They say of God, ‘names name thee not’ .. That holds good of me: no concept expresses me, nothing that is designated as my essence exhausts me; they are only names.” This presupposes the question: what is the individual if not the name of an absolute ego? The answer is nothing, this is Stirner’s central contribution – when Stirner proclaims, with such audacity, that “only my cause is never to be my concern” he means, precisely, the cause of nature itself.

 

We now arrive at an entirely new way to read Renzo Novatore’s ostensibly subjectivist statement: “And if I call myself an individualist anarchist, an iconoclast and a nihilist, it is precisely because I believe that in these adjectives there is the highest and most complete expression of my willful and reckless individuality that, like an overflowing river, wants to expand, impetuously sweeping away dikes and hedges, until it crashes into a granite boulder, shattering and breaking up in its turn.” In any case, Roy Brassier, in his book Nihil Unbound describes the problem of subjectivism: “[N]ihilism is not .. a pathological exacerbation of subjectivism, which annuls the world and reduces reality to a corollary of the absolute ego, but on the contrary, the unavoidable corollary of the realist conviction that there is a mind-independent reality, which, despite the presumptions of human narcissism, is indifferent to our existence and oblivious to the ‘values’ and ‘meanings’ which we would drape over it in order to make it more hospitable.” It is against the mediation between being and thinking via the concept that Stirner was reacting: as Daniel Nielson has put it, “Stirner rejects all such versions of mediation, Hegelian, Feuerbachian, or otherwise, in favor of real immediate life of the self or ego, constantly remaking itself without being constrained by its own or any other’s objectifications.”  This remaking of the self pits desire against knowledge, it replaces the arrogant assurance of the correlation between thinking and reality with a incommensurability, an irreducible gap, between the concept and the reality or being it designates: Stirner refuses to know too soon, and yet insists that the construction of knowledge is a part of being unique.

Much has been said about Kant avec Sade, it is now time for anarchists to dwell on the curious absence of the Kropotkin avec Stirner challenge which may in any case be bridged through a grounding of the ego in (Bataille’s) sovereignty (thought without form); here, it is only Stirner who can provide the necessary framework for Kropotkin’s ethics — by refusing to consolidate being with thinking Stirner is able to sacrifice herself to her own creativity. Kropotkin, by sacrificing his own being in exchange for the objectified being of the man drowning in the river, can not do so freely so long as necessity fuels creativity.

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How Many Orwells Per Minute?

The Domination of Pro-Revolutionary Politics by the Middle Classes. “We are all low, we are all weak, we are all belonging to capital… this wretchedness is the true origin of our thoughts against our conditions.” In October of 2011 a letter authored by Ta Paidia Tis Galarias (TPTG), a communist group associated with anti-authoritarianism in […]
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The Eclipse and Re-emergence of the Grupos de Afinidad

The Eclipse and Re-emergence of the Grupos de Afinidad

fils dupont

 

  1. Anarchists have always assumed the dimension of the general state but rarely have they succeeded in harnessing this power for the benefit of its restrictive counterparts. Only when the power of the base is under the dictatorship of the union can it gradually begin anew the process of restructuring the superstructure and only when the base is understood in general terms can the superstructure be properly conceived as the negation of those restrictive qualities which currently exist in civil society. If this is to have any effect whatsoever we must properly achieve the reversal of thinking which has characterized the demystifying logic of traditional political economy as against the movement of waste: the directors of the base assert the principle of negativity as against the logic of a mechanic who changes a tire.
  2. To the extent that one can speak of a radical base one must refer only to the union of egoists. The superstructure must refer only to the institutions, organizations, movements, occupations, etc., that compliment the base and are thereby determined in the last instance by it. Let it be known that the base refers not to the subjective will of the union whom deposit themselves into its richness but rather it signifies an economy whose excessive economy defines the overarching conditions through which all restrictive economies and states are temporarily sustained.
  3. The time for the grupos de afinidad has passed. We are now witnessing the emergence of new organizational forms whose features are determined by relationships which possess its constituents. By this possession we may properly speak of a clandestine union of egoists in which each are determined and determining of the base, in that each consciousness offers only the opportunity for unity on the basis of a blind faith in the unknown and a willingness to be defeated. Collectively, their activity has the appearance of utility and yet their activity has the function of subversion. In a society wherein alienation has become total, alienation becomes the only means through which the insurrection can be carried further. The union functions through the superstructure in the interests of the base; the base becomes the apparatus through which the affinity group re-emerges.

 

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Everything is Occupied.

Occupation is the full disclosure of the one dimensional society. In a society whose function serves only to employ dissent, the function of dissent now only serves. The triumph of rationalization, and the perfection of the human capacity to have unlimited and immediate access to knowledge has demystified space; consequently, it has left no space left that is not now within its grip. For the revolutionary subject the space between the office desk and the office door offered the last glimpse of freedom and the promise to work another day. This is the function of freedom and leisure, the preparation for employment. The bureaucratic apparatus benefits from the moment of sitting and the employee who puts her energy in suspense. Occupation (noun) has already been occupied, its transient state is employment (verb). The occupied possess and yet are also possessed.

Employees today are enamoured by meetings, decisions, councils, planning, rules, words and number – they seek salvation in leisure activities, video games, film criticism, insurrectionary zines, music clubs, anarchist club houses, the black bloc, in protest, in yoga, and veganism. Here, too, their resistance is contained, for they increasingly seek to rationalize their commitment: veganism degenerates into endlessly discussions about how to properly bake garlic bread or the correct vegan diet for which entire theses are devoted; film criticism devolves into an identification with the character at the expense of the form; black bloc participation increasingly tends toward gang signals, route planning, skill sharing; anarchist club houses rationally assign tasks by consensus and mimic the marketplace of radical ideas, and so on. As awareness of this demystification persists so too does awareness of the shallow attempts to imitate experimentation. Attempts at writing manifestos are appreciated less for their style than for their sophistication, rigorous analysis, and complete descriptions. No manifesto ought to be published that has any threads dangling – and yet this incompletion is what marks the retreat from occupation culture.

To the extent that the occupation possesses they are also possessed and to the extent that the possessed are occupied they are also occupiers. Calls for the restriction to zone signal an increasingly obvious rationalization of internal space matched only by the increasingly obvious domination of the libidinal potential of extremist factions as an attempt to control the chaos of the market in violence. The disavowal of the peace police–‘we know very well, but..’–signal an eventual refusal in the marketplace of ideas. Here it becomes obvious that Wall Street produces its own contradictions and yet these contradictions are carefully managed and operationalized. Pi is solved by a reduction of number to a metonymic function; similarly, transgression is solved by a reduction of war to peace and non-violence. All systems benefit from transgression and function through substitution rather than metonymic Pi – growths to system involve movements toward Pi while betrayals of Pi involve movements from verb to noun.

It has become increasingly difficult to defend the strategy of retreat. Retreat rests in winter like a snow flake near a snowball. One need only recount that friend who fell out of fashion with the milieu to observe the passion with which retreat rears among the possessed. In this world our options for resistance are a matter of bitter taste: one need not retreat but participate. There will be no documentation of the individual’s suffering because today the individual no longer exists. The subject must participate and also appear to participate, she must rarely arouse suspicion and yet she must do this with the attitude of a dialectician – this is to say, she must practice the toolkit of the nihilist. To participate in an occupation implies that one subject oneself to the most tolerable elements of rationalized space and to hence experiment with the possibilities that it has to offer. The last refuge of the nihilist is to discover in suffering a reason to live and thus to unearth the possibilities inherent to any movement for the emergence of a consciousness that has given up.

The revolutionary subject has suffered for too long in the grips of spirit, spirits, reductionisms, and multiplicitous movements – now she has only to suffer for herself.

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The World… and some stuff

October 3rd
doing dirty dishes downstairs
i would like to make dinner but
all the dishes are dirty

Haiku the World

Goodness gracious, world – it has been sometime since the last, hasn’t it? Let’s no pretend you didn’t miss me (or did you!). Well, there were some things in-between – here for a moment, but then gone in a flash. And, lots of other things have been happening here and throughout the world, as you may know. What can I say? October is here. A bit about my life.

One small step, and an even smaller step now online. Last October, I challenged my brother to a Fun-a-day-esce situation, where we would each write one haiku a day. The result was a lot of haikus and a moment in time captured on paper. For some perspective, the blockquote at the beginning is the one I wrote exactly one year ago today. I enjoyed it immensely because for one reason it challenged me to write everyday, no matter how small. It was also done with a pen and notebook and there is something about it that seems easier and often more appealing. Although, of course – I later entered it into my computer keyboard. Ideally, someday this will be something beautiful.

Of course, these may not actually be real haikus in the traditional sense of the term. Often lacking the natural frame of reference and perhaps even not abiding fully by 5-7-5. These haiku’s speak of a care for close attention, but are not afraid to break the rules and step across some boundaries. Jack Kerouac’s Book of Haikus also seems to follow a similar regard for the rules in some parts.

October 4th
some people are really friendly
some other people are not so much
they hide their feelings

And on, and on…

Anyways, time is quick here and I’ll keep this post short for now. For the future, perhaps I will stay in better touch here.

Until then,

Warmest greetings.

Posted in Anarchy, honesty, music, new york city, red alert, shite gets more crazy, short and sweet, too much information, Uncategorizable | Comments closed

Severed Roots

Roots of Self Pealing away at the onion of Identity has been a part of an extenuated existential crisis. One that has become more vast as I have become older, more complicated, and more entangled in relationships that are further from my affections. I have written enough in the theoretical how I conceptualize the Self [...]
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We had a debate and the results were unfulfilling

Last night my friends from Applied Nonexistence and The Oakland Commune threw a little debate at the Long Haul. I felt implicated.

I participated in the debate on the side of Political Demands, both as a personal test and so that I have my story straight if the syndicalist round ups ever begin. Once I got into it I realized that the “total negation” side of this informal formal debate had a very difficult task ahead of them (other than being the crowd favorite). Not only is proving a negative quite difficult but the negation argument is, at the end of the day, sophisticated. Subtle is hard to do in debate and even harder with a crowd yelling at you.

You can see the results of my debate below. Please laugh. It is supposed to be funny.

Political Demands

Since the format of this debate is messy and unknown even to the participants I am going to assume the best possibly faith from the organizers of the event and argue for an anarchist strategy for the transformation of the world that includes political demands. My questions for the negators will concern the specifically anarchist nature of their position. I will argue that the anarchist understands the state/capitalist composition of the world and that this understanding entails a conflict with it. This conflict requires political demands.

What is strategy

In its simplest formulation a strategy is the design one uses to achieve a goal. I use the term design because unlike a term like process or methodology a design expresses the artistic elements that are necessary for any good strategy. In the case of anarchism the goal is simple: a world without government or massified exchange relationships also called capitalism.

At the heart of any strategy against such a twin enemy, let us call it the spectacle and the fist, must be two components. These components have to blend in such a way to respond to the sophisticated nature of the spectacle while acknowledging that the fist exists and tends towards a linear response.

Analysis of existing conditions and the history of past struggles is a pre-condition to having a strategy today. Without experience, even other peoples, you don’t have enough information to even guess at how to achieve goals. With experience you can begin to establish small goals and through the experience of achieving them set your next goals higher.

As the anarchist goal is the highest of all, the complete emancipation of all those who live under the yoke of the state, the strategy to achieve it is not intuitive. It will be designed through the process of implementing smaller anarchist goals and growing those goals, and as a result strategies, over time.

What is politics

My sense is that much of this debate will hinge on a series of semantic arguments about what exactly negation, politics, complete, and demands are. These debates are a fantastic use of time for scholars and navel gazers but aren’t relevant if we understand that the very definition of being an anarchist is to be in conflict with the existing order and that this conflict is not theoretical.

It is also not simple. The multiplicities of conflict and the terrains conflict should be waged on cannot be simplified into us vs them, black spy vs white spy, good vs evil. The way that we name this sophisticated problem is politics but that doesn’t mean it is the best word for the problem, like many things in the real, existing world, it just happens to be the best term at this time.

A political analysis is the one we use to examine the behavior of the fist, in the form of police violence against black youth, as a foci of struggle. This doesn’t mean that the fist doesn’t serve the needs of much of the property owning citizenry. It does. Our analysis is that the behavior of the fist doesn’t serve the needs of life itself and that the sentiment of power over life is one that will resonate with the non-property owning population we identify with.

What are demands

The framing of the events debate begs the question of my position that is not accurate. It implies that demands are the temper tantrum wails of a petulant child towards their parent. This is ridiculous.

A demand is a request stated clearly and firmly. It isn’t designed to get concessions from those in power but to state the position of those who oppose the spectacle and the fist in terms that are clear.

All-too-often the desires of radicals as stated on posterboard and bumper stickers sound unrealistic. They are not demands but wishes. I wish BART would dismantle their police force. I wish I had a job. I wish the government was nice. Wishes spoken aloud are what liberals do.

A demand is the conscious expression of something unconscious. We want freedom but what does that really mean? A demand is where the unconscious hits the ground running.

What about nothing?

If there is no conflict there is no distinction between the anarchist position and the solipsist one. A solipsist is absorbed with the personal development, interpersonal relationships, and self actualization. These have all been the hallmark of late-stage capitalism. These have all been the benefits that capitalism, in the form of spectacle, have given those who don’t pay attention, or closer attention than giving to charity, to the brutal regime of resource extraction, surveillance culture, and the domination of lifeforms.

Nothing isn’t nothing at all, but an acceptance of the spectacle, the logic of of living live receding into representation. It is not even the silent protest of the conscientious objector or peace activists holding each others hands. Nothing is, at best, the full knowledge of the social relationships of control and pretending that being controlled is a choice.

The velocity of illusions that is hallmark of this society has now created several generations of media saturated ironic do-nothings. There is no harm in their willful irrelevance but they are not engaged in the anarchist project, even if they agree with it or even see themselves being served by its rewards. The anarchist project is conflict with the existing order. It is the strategy of transforming that conflict into the net that drags the spectacle and the fist under water where they will die. Anything else is an interest in philosophy, history, or humanities and is served best in its place.

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But What About the Vegans!?

Consider this post my farewell to veganism. I am writing it so that there is a single place to put down my ideas about the change and, I hope, the last place I’ll have to talk about this again. At the end of the day my change from being vegan has as much to do with the fact that I think that diets (and many other identities) just aren’t that interesting of a conversation as they seem to be to many people. Not to be entirely dismissive but I don’t really give a fuck what you do with your body. It is yours and is a major joy but it is your joy. The confusion about the difference between what is a personal thing and what is a political thing has long been a feature (not a bug!) of American radical politics. There are some other things to say too but all of that in its moment.

Twenty Years Later

Nine years into the future and we’re still counting the dead and the dying
…I’ve got to wonder what the fuck it’s going to take can it be undone
-Born Against

I was a vegan for a long time. Nearly half my life. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t attracted to the extremism of veganism. I was, especially in 1991 when I started. While I didn’t really know anyone associated with the Hardline scene until a few years later (and then only in passing and when they were on their way out) the idea of drawing clear lines appealed to me then. More or less it still appeals to me but it looks so different now that it isn’t really fair to call it the same thing. I liked the idea of taking the extreme position and abiding by extreme living-values (beyond just talking-values), but at the end of the day content matters.

Animal rights advocates are basically right. The animal farming industry is a horrific murder machine that has turned humans into receptacles of garbage.

The problem is that they are only partially right. It is far more than the animal farming industry that has done this thing to us: animals & humans. I am going to nod my head in the direction of JZ because I don’t think that the real problem here is capitalism. I don’t believe capitalism gives a fuck whether we eat animals (more on that later). This is where I disagree with Murder of Crows and other post-vegan ideologues.

I believe the reason (or rather what includes the reason in such a way that I can accept) that humans have turned all life into a factory is civilization. Here I think of civilization as the ideology of humans that states that it is good & right for us to control the rest of the planet. Mostly we control the earth by putting cities on top of it but for the rest of the land we have created factories that serve cities. Civilization is the process by which we separate the technics (which provide us food, tablet computers, and plastic crap) from the nice cups of coffee next to bike paths. It is the particular way we have chosen to separate life as a statistical, mechanical, and political problem from life as what we do in the world. It is the massification of systems so that seven billion people can roam the land. Civilization is humanism on steroids.

Veganism talks about this problem in the same way that a blind man talks about an elephant

  • It is horrible that animals die, even more terrible that the vast majority of animals are raised purely for the dinner table.
  • Many more people could be fed if we were more efficient about our land utilization.
  • Veganism would save the environment (and much, much more) by decreasing the bad things and increasing the good things…

It has been well over a decade since I moved away from this kind of a vegan-outlook. About as long as it’s been since I’ve really associated with vegans and their potlucks, cute little shops, and adorable outfits. But I continued to have a vegan practice long after my departure from vegan(ism) for the same reason that I do many things, I am very stubborn.

Naming and subjects

Naming a root cause, be it human cruelty or Civilization, does very little to rectify the situation, even if it feels like a radical pursuit. Similarly, subjectivizing the problem perhaps makes you a more interesting person (or, as likely, a very boring one) but it doesn’t externalize a solution. Here is where capitalism comes in. Capitalism loves subjective problems, as it always has a solution to them. Guess what it is?

Veganism was always a partial solution (to the problems of industrial animal production) but in the past 20 years I have seen it become something else entirely. It only even slowed down factory farming if you accept the premises of boycott politics. Even if you accept the most positive premise that Veganism was direct action against a system of domination, it merely demonstrated how meager and small individual acts are. Actions in isolation are always isolated and rarely understood as statement (“Against the death machine”) or implementation (“and we act against your system which we burn to the ground”). This is not a plea for a set of mass actions against the animal industry (which would be a partial target that will crumble with the fall of the petro-economy anyway) but a reason to pause in the story as we understand it now. Moreover even if Veganism was a radical act at some point in the past it is more (and less) than that now. It is also an identity, with all that that implies.

I have a close friend who has been vegan even longer than I was who is also very sick. I just saw a short video of her on her sickbed talking about life in the hospital. Every time she talked about food she also mentioned the food’s veracity vis a vis veganism: “Vegan chicken”, “Vegan Ravioli”, etc. This is boundary checking behavior. It is similar to how bats echo locate the world as they navigate. The world responds with an echo and the bat knows themselves through their flight through space. This form of identity-checking makes sense when you recognize yourself in the echoes. But what happens when you no longer hear a response?

It is self-evident that veganism has become a consumer choice on a field of exotic choices. In many ways it has paved the way to a variety of niche markets that have fueled the growth of companies like Whole Foods, Herbivore, et al. and phenomena like soy & gluten free diets, the predominance of “cruelty free” HABA products, etc. It goes on and on. We have, by making life choices as simple as what we buy, participated in a transformation of capitalism from mass to boutique. From “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black” to “An Army of One.” Hurray us!

What is radical about you?

One of the hardest questions a radical1 can ask themselves is what exactly differentiates them from the dominant culture they are differentiating themselves from? Perhaps the larger existential question is why exactly does having radical politics also entail a differentiation at all? But the problem of how we put our ideas into practice is a more serious one than the particular social problem of why we have to be seen doing it.

My political arc isn’t unusual, especially among my age group. I started in punk/hardcore, and gravitated over time towards the political(esque) DIY hardcore scene that talked all the time about the link between politics and practice. In hindsight I realize how preachy, pedantic, and unsophisticated it all was but, to be honest, I was too.

Then, I had to wear my flag all the time. I cared so much about what strangers and future frenemies thought of me that I always played dress up. Today, I don’t care. The fact that it took me so long to grow (the fuck) up is related to the same stubbornness that kept me a vegan for all of those years.

For years I argued for veganism as one of the few ways that a person could put the Beautiful Idea into practice. I was wrong. The Idea is just that. We can do anarchistic things, we can attempt to break the cycles of terror and violence that comprise nearly every aspect of this world, but nothing we do is pure. Every person has to draw their line and the sad part about that is how lonely and isolated that is. I sincerely wish that my process of thinking about veganism, from pre to post, wasn’t alone. But it was.

I do not relate to the idea that the world will be changed by the conscious acts of the oppressed. This is not because I ignore the history of the struggles that have come before, but because the compromised victories of these mass struggles were always immediately superseded by the monsters. Whereas the mass celebrates, the monsters prepare for the next fight. They change the terms of engagement. The only form of mass culture that maintains memory and unity is on the side of the dominating class. More education, purer activities, or better people aren’t going to change the fact that individuals can be (and are) bought off, that the kind of organization that won the 40 hour work week isn’t even going to achieve the (meager, pathetic) goal of full employment ever again.

The individual act of rebellion does not make a radical. Radical was just another rock-and-roll fantasy. Late 20th century counter-cultural (aka boutique) capitalist methods were effective at convincing naïve mid-western children that we could make a difference. We couldn’t. Not in the way we thought. What we are capable of is smaller and more interesting than the lyrics of Soulside or Dead Kennedy. The process of working through the apparatus of illusions has taken me to a place I haven’t heard much about from former peers. I don’t want bumper sticker politics any longer but I also don’t want to be an existential “used to be” either.

Where does that leave us

Perhaps I began this with the idea of presenting a cogent argument about why I am no longer a vegan. But it isn’t an argument at all. Arguing about stupid shit is exactly what I have wasted far too much of the last two decades on. Veganism is at this point the representative characteristic of those stupid fights, of that wasted time.

At the end of the day my actual diet will not change all that much. I live with a vegetarian and am not so starving for a meat diet that I’m going to chase down a different situation. Moreover I don’t want to eat the offal of factory farming.

Leaving veganism behind is more about leaving behind my relationships with the thousand moralists who I have met over the years, obsessing about food-as-product, basing my self-understanding on an identity that is synthetic, shallow, and unsustainable. In many ways my criticism of veganism is similar to the reasons why I rarely socialize with anarchists. I want to build something social but I don’t want to rely on tradition, identity, or laziness to do it.

Farewell veganism. You helped me be aware of how I inhabited the world and how the world inhabited me. You are still a big part of the life of some few people who I am fond of . You probably kept me honest in a way that I needed in my twenties and kept me sincere in my thirties. I will always remember the potlucks, the restaurants, and the health of certain vegans as being directly inspiring to me. I don’t blame you for my weight, unhealthiness, or bad teeth. I don’t blame you for my stubbornness either, but my future goals just don’t include you and it took a lot of thinking to give myself the space to walk away. I am not an ex-vegan or a post-vegan. I am a fellow traveler who goes a different direction with no acrimony or regret.

1 I’ve always hated the term radical but almost every other general term to describe a position-that-stands-against-the-existing-order-but-isn’t-as-specific-as-my-particularly-nihilistic-anarchist-position is even worse.

Posted in criticism, personal, stubborn, veganism | Comments closed

To Profess Progress

The recent Kaczynski-style attacks aimed at Mexican nano-technology researchers has lead to another wave of anti-primitivist rhetoric on the internet. Condemning targeted bombings of scientists is one thing, but insulting a wide range of people holding techno-skeptical views is quite another. I’ll leave off the relevant distinctions between anarcho-primitivism and the Individuals Tending Toward Savagery for another time, because right now I want to focus on something of larger scope.

Some claim that primitivism and anarchism are mutually exclusive tendencies. The primitivist fixation on searching out the origins of hierarchy, oppression and alienation easily belie this claim. There is at least a strong overlap between the two, but where do they part ways? “Primitivism” implies a conservative ethos, a harkening back to the good ol’ days. Though primtivists rarely speak of “returning to the caves” as the anti-primitivists claim, they do tend to maintain an Edenic mythological worldview.

If anarchism is conceived as a Left movement, then it must be construed as a champion of the novel, of progress. Indeed, much of historical anarchism has positioned itself in such a manner. Anarchists have echoed the progressive rhetoric of Leftism in describing various liberatory trajectories. But the mythology of progress is not merely the domain of Leftists. Imperialists, Fascists, and Capitalists all speak of progress when advancing their programs. The vaunted rhetoric of technological progress is susceptible to appropriation by any of these political tendencies.

I look askance at all myths of a purported Golden Age, whether that age is located in the past or the future. The positions of uncritical pro- and anti-technologists are alike simplistic and facile. Some older forms of society, culture, technology, or what-have-you are worth preserving or resurrecting, while others deserve to be abolished. Likewise some new forms are emancipatory and others are not. We do ourselves a disservice by maintaining such myopic views. We should form our own mythologies of liberation, rather than relying on the detritus of Christianity and the Enlightenment.

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The Black Cat

The Black Cat   This has nothing to do with anarchist syndicalist theory. When someone realizes that their youthful rejection of manipulation ought to be taken seriously in their adulthood, they become a rebel. As Bakunin once said, “To revolt is a natural tendency of life. Even a worm turns against the foot that crushes […]
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The Hammer – September 2011

The Hammer – brief monthly reviews of the anarchist press

Even though publishing in the anarchist space was down a little this month (it being the end of the summer and all) we (LBC) attended the Seattle bookfair, which means this Hammer will be heavy on PNW (Pacific North West) publications. This is exciting, of course, because these publications reflect the high level of anarchist activity in the area over the past year. This next month includes a trip to Victoria BC and Minneapolis. I hope this means that the next Hammer will reflect recent Canadian & Midwest publications and activities that haven’t made it to the interwebz.

sickle cuts deep!

If you have a publication you want the Hammer to review send it to us
c/o The Anvil
PO Box 3549
Berkeley CA 94703

If your publication is more of the pdf/web variety send notice of it to me directly. There are already a couple dozen subscribers to the Hammer newsletter but feel free to add your name to their ranks. You can do that here.

On to the reviews.

Affinities Vol 5 No 1, PDF, August 2011

This is a journal that combines activist ethics with academic aesthetics. It uses this alloy to “construct sustainable alternatives to the racist, hetero-sexist system of liberal-capitalist nation-states”. Clearly the forged weapon isn’t particularly lethal but could probably spread a mean schmear or something. This issue is particularly strange for me as I am cited in several of the essays to such an extent that I feel like the missing contributor. Perhaps the editors didn’t know that I have an email address. The topic of the issue is called Anarch@Indigenism which is fine (albeit a little silly) but the subtitle basically makes me gag: “Working Across Difference for Post-Imperial Futures: Intersections Between Anarchism, Indigenism and Feminism.” I really wish that an attempt at a deep understanding of a topic, of any number of topics, wasn’t by those who are chasing, or have caught, careers in knowledge production. As long as I’m wishing I’ll add that I couldn’t easily understand these essays, which made it hard to access whatever interesting information was conveyed by the authors.
Web, Identity/Academic

Burning the Bridges They Are Building, half sized, winter 2011

This is an extensive report back on the context and events of the anarchist intervention in the anti-police struggles of early 2011 in Seattle, WA. If I were to criticize it, I would point out that its comprehensive and dry style is a nice counter-point to the flowery and semi-mythical style of other reports from the area, but isn’t half as compelling. It is, on the other hand, far more useful. This should be the template by which other towns strategize anarchist activity over the next few years. Plus, the fact-inistas will enjoy it greatly.
Strategy/Insurrectionary

Diaspora, half sized

This is a list of the prison-industrial-complex profiteers who are located in the PNW. This is an interesting project because it asks, without asking, for action against a list of targets without being explicit. It also evokes a kind of journalistic reporting that used to be done by the leftist press but has been long since abandoned. It is activist without prescription, informative without preaching, dangerous without the restraint of responsibility. My concern is that it will sit in a pile of paper, or in a directory of a hard drive, without ever finding the audience who could properly consider the fact that those who constrain us have names, addresses, and commutes.
Download

In Defense of Conan the Barbarian, PDF, 2011

This is a fantastic and spirited anarcho-primitivist reclaiming of Conan the Barbarian. Not the Schwarzenegger version, although that would have been more awesome, but the original Howard version. It takes the original seriously and spends a great deal of time examining the definition of nature, violence, & social roles in Howard’s universe. It does err toward primitivist parody (for instance this quote is representative “Conan clearly has no love of or fear for the violent brutes who enforce civilized laws and oppress the poor and downtrodden”) but as we were informed of the author’s bias in the introduction it is forgivable.
Download, Anarcho-primitivist/Literary

Koukoulofori, half sized

This is an older (2010) publication on the “hooded ones” of Greece, but this is the first time I have actually sat down and read this unassuming publication. Its stated intention is to move North Americans’ understanding of the Greek experience away from the mythological. For that purpose, this project is a total failure as the selection demonstrates fascinating and exciting aspects of the Greek experience which are in no way transmittable to the US. If the difference between Greece and the US is as simple as self-confidence, then hearing another set of stories about successful organizing, free spaces, and life long trusting radical relationships doesn’t exactly demonstrate this simple difference or point a way for us. On the other hand this zine is a best of the We are an image from the Future book and worth checking out in lieu of it..
Web, Greece

Not Afraid of Ruins #3, PDF

Given the fact that I just returned from Europe, reading this personal zine/travel journal (visiting of many of the same places, including some of the same beds slept in) is very nice. The author lives a very different experience than I do, punkier, cut-and-pastier, and probably 15 years younger than I am. This journey spans Berlin, Milan, Spain, and much of the UK.
Download

Rivista Anarchica #364, HTML

This is a web instance of an Italian anarchist publication with a 40 year history and an open approach to anarchism. In their terms we want to discuss everything from God to the worm. This sounds great and this issue is indeed broad, albeit classical, in scope. It includes Proudhon, several articles remembering Colin Ward, an interesting article on anarcho-humanism, and much, much more. The closest publication in the US we have to this is Social Anarchism and similar to SA this is a publication of words and history rather than of the present and of the actions of anarchists today. To be specific, I asked an Italian comrade about this periodical and they nearly choked on the idea that one would take it seriously as the publication has been silent on the decades of anarchist struggle in their own country.
Web, Anarchist-without-adjectives

Tides of Flame #3/#4, PDF

Tides of Flame is the bi-weekly paper of anarchists-with-a-threatening-posture who have made themselves known in Seattle, WA. Reported on were the twenty-odd anarchists who were arrested in July, including several around the intrusion of police-with-shovel into a party at their group house and then a mass arrest at their solidarity demo the next day. Also an attack on a DOC office in West Seattle. Each issue has a well done piece on local anarchist history including an article on the George Jackson Brigade and the Seattle General Strike of 1919. Additionally there is new analysis/theory in the form of a rich article counterposing species being with the creative nothing and another on the Crisis. Other local articles, including one on a local cop and another on a local infrastructure project, round out these two issues. Awesome project that I have no idea how they accomplish every two weeks.
Web, Seattle/Insurrectionary

What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower, book, Margaret Killjoy

This is the first book of a new anarchist fiction imprint and the first book (that I know of) written by Magpie (not counting his collection of interviews). It is a choose-your-own-adventure story which is a cute idea but isn’t nearly as compelling as I had hoped it would be. This is no fault of MK but a fault of the form, one that makes it difficult to hang together anything thicker than a children’s story. MK’s idea here is to put the reader into the role of protagonist and then push them along an adventure with a standard set of D&D/steampunk characters. The problem is that the conclusions are more or less arbitrary. There is no projectuality in this story and this means that it is an adventure for tweens and nothing more. But, anarchists need more of these too so… fair enough.
Publisher, Fiction

Posted in Hammer, lbc, Magpie, PNW, seattle | Comments closed

Vomit (re-visited)

VOMIT IS AN EXPLOSION! Vomiting is a beautiful demonstration of life. There are a number of means to vomiting and some of them can become lethal: if someone is depressing their nervous system with some powerful chemicals, introducing stimulants will induce vomiting; if someone’s body toxicity becomes severe, they will heat up, sweat, become diarrhetic, […]
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The problems of opinions & wealth

I want to wrap up my out loud thinking about my time in Europe (I’ve been back for three weeks but it doesn’t feel like it since I am now traveling so much) with some conclusions but first some thoughts about other problems that feel specifically American but perhaps are more general.

US radicals are right to criticize ourselves for American exceptionalism. The idea that the US is at the center of the world has, sadly, been how all of here in this forsaken place have been raised. Our Civil War was a fight over big principles. So too was our entry into WWII. The Cold War was noble, just as our struggle against (whom again?) racism which we won with civil rights legislation. It is useless to argue against these facts with most people in this country. We honestly believe it, on the right and on the left.

This is why most anarchists wish a pox on both of their houses and why we have such a hard time finding ourselves out of the mess of liberalism, false oppositions, and the belief that somehow we are truly and goodly on the side of… right. We are not, of course. Not just because no such thing exists but because this belief is so shallow, so deeply uninformed, that it exposes itself all the time for being a matter of faith not of reasoned thought1. But we are from this primordial ooze and it is in us, like it or not.

Americans are opinionated. They have strong opinions about politicians, Muslims, the flag, recycling, soy, parking, taxes, etc, etc. The radio waves are filled with people who have a lot of true emotion wrapped up in every detail of mundanity. If there is any possible way to turn an issue into a simple one, stripped of context and complexity, Americans will do it and fight any comer.

Sadly this particular American trait still appears in those residents of this country who are the enemies of the country itself. American anarchists are filled with stupid fucking opinions2 and that world wants to hear them. This is particularly true if they never plan on doing anything real (material, outside of their heads) with them.

Perhaps this is related to the strangeness around American wealth. Most everyone I met in Europe was quite open and honest about how much money they had, made, and came from. In the US this is almost never the case. Experientially anarchist milieus always riff poverty with the primary difference being (in my experience) that Americans are broke but have enough money to eat out at restaurants whereas Europeans only eat street food (like €2 souvlaki) if they eat out at all. But the silence around money & origins is one of the creepiest things I run into time and time again with people around this place.

I don’t think this is entirely because all of my comrades are secret princes and princesses waiting for their trusts to vest before they return to their castles in the sky. I think that the flip side to wealth isn’t just poverty but shame. We fear association with our associations.

But everything is not bad in this home of mine. This land of fear, hate, wealth, and moralism. The reason that I am glad I left here for three months was because I could see from a distance, for the first time, that there are things that I love about the people I know and places I am from. Our eclectic vitality isn’t sharp but hacks through most things just the same, only requiring several swings. I am not more hopeful about the future but I have a lot more ideas about how I want to practice anarchy with my mongrel pack. Now to find them.

1 Not that I am a particular fan of reason but I do react to the religious devotion to God, whether it is called J-dog or Amerika, with something… cold and calculating. But I already covered this.

2 Opinions in this context means not facts, not defensible positions, but habitual simplistic perspectives that actually interfere in critical thought.

Posted in criticism, moralism, opinions, personal, wealth | Comments closed

The Personal (a ramble) – Money

I’m not anonymous. As much as I’d like to be, I’m not. I’ve written an autobiography up to the age of 21, I am entirely vulnerable to anyone who would want to find out where I live, what I look like… I’m not anonymous. In part, this is because the internet isn’t something I’ve been [...]
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Brakes

One beer… Two beers… Eight beers. The slot between sociality, sexuality, emotionality, hunger and reflection is removed The correlation increases Between impulse and action Then oblivion.   BREAK   I read the reviews; sometimes described as a hip location for the cultural advanced guard, sometimes a hole in the wall. The description pulls. It is [...]
Posted in Art | Comments closed

Waiting for the Great Leap Forward

Asere, ¿qué bola?: A brief review of two Fifth Estate texts on Cuba (like very brief)

An Anarchist in Cuba: Socialism or Cell Phones
by Walker Lane
Fifth Estate #378, Summer 2008.
$4.00

Adios Socialismo
by Walker Lane
Fifth Estate #383, Summer 2010.
$4.00

Well Infoshop.org is down, so what else am I supposed to do? Acute followers* of this very infrequently updated blog with note that I hold a very special interest on the subject of Cuba. I’m not from Cuba – but the people, place, and everything in between has always especially fascinated me. After all being a United States of American Citizen (secrets out) it is one of the places in the world I’m not really allowed to visit. So I went and lived there for a bit, just like when Nancy Regan or whatever told me to DARE not to do drugs (just kidding, but I think those drug ads just made kids want to toke up yo, ease the pain of the 1980s and that commerical). They should probably make an ad telling kids not to be anarchists and see what happens.

It has been sometime since I have set foot on the island of Cuba, around six years in fact (that’s 2005 for all you non-math nerds). So, the articles that I’m actually briefly reviewing, if you can even call it that are actually a bit more recent… but not too recent. Can I just use the tense of reviewing this two texts to talk about myself? Answer: Yes.

But really, let’s talk about these two Fifth Estate texts by Walker Lane for a bit here. In reality this brief yet triumphant review all started from the spawn of my last blog post about the New York City Anarchist Book Faire (you say Fair). At the book fair, while people were buying massive amounts of Bob Black’s Anarchy 101 and Aragorn’s A Child’s Guide to Nihilism whilst some dude from “Albany” asked me about networking with some anarchists in Upstate (no Albany is not Upstate, sorry to crush your world, and that goes for New Paltz too… okay maybe Albany, but just barely, you got lucky).

So, anyways – I ran into Walker Lane at the book fair and we very briefly (even more brief than this review) spoke of some adventures in Cuba and he asked me to shout him an email of my thoughts of his texts. I never got around to it, even though I really wanted to delve deeply in the subject that fascinates my world… So here goes, on a much much lesser level – basically to brush off my keyboard, pen and paper, in an attempt to start some life projects for realskis here on a funny note, if you will.

Our experiences there are very different, yet a lot of the same if that can make sense to you. He was on like a sponsored vacation of sorts it seems with a bunch of Canuks (ew) and was only able to spend a week or so on the largest island in the Caribe. I mean that is how you do it legally or something like that, although it seems he did have some problemas with USA customs on his return. Fortunately, I didn’t but then again – what was that car doing outside my house all summer three years ago? Oh must have been about the neighbors. Naughty neighbors, gotta love ‘em. I spent around half a year living in la heart of La Habana, and while still not much, it is something that will stick with me forever (Sandlot reference? yes!).

In Walkers weeks on la island, he makes some very keen observations and obviously knows his stuff regarding the situation in Cuba. So instead of me telling you, why not just read his stuff first before reading my non-sense? Very academic of me. Hey, I have a job after all (waiting for me somewhere…? Who will hire a horse though other than a racetrack? [and you wondered why my writing was so bad… answered! Although, I’ll still beat you in Jeopardy)

Ahoy, in typical pirate fashion of the Caribe, lets quote some text from Walker Lane:

There are perhaps four large categories of American thought which provide definitions of the fifty years of Castro rule: 1) the right-wing which views the island as a totalitarian, communist police state where starving people live under daily repressive rule, and the government is involved in drug trafficking and terrorism; 2) the center through to the liberal left which agrees, perhaps in the mode of Michael Moore’s movie, Sicko, that the Revolution has provided good social services for the poor and resisted U.S. hegemony in the hemisphere, but needs to install more democracy and private investment; 3) the organized left which sees very little wrong with the island and views all criticism of it as aid to the U.S. empire, and 4) the anarchist view which, indeed, sees the island as a police state needing a second revolution to install workers democracy, but has no use for calls for returning to private forms of ownership or foreign investment.

I secretly wish, well not so secret anymore, that I could have met with some of the infamous older anarchists of the island. Perhaps the problem here, is that Fidel or whoever killed them all, and people grow old you know. I’m finding myself growing old, and you need those ties and relationships to make it through and be strong, otherwise you may just find yourself debating with yourself. But alas, I will return someday and hopefully be allowed in, I mean honestly officer – I’m a law abiding citizen.

And with that – and this following blockquote, I will leave you wishing that you could hang out with me in real life. Or if not, why not just go hang out with someone else and forget I ever asked. Chao.

Even with its privileged bureaucracy, its police control, and centralized economy, there is a spontaneous, communal, imaginative aspect to the Revolution. This shows up in its vibrant culture and music scenes, but also on the local level where women’s groups challenge traditional machismo, neighbors plant vast community organic gardens, and most share a pride in having defeated and held off the imperialist monster of the north. The island’s education system creates a higher literacy rate than that of the States, and its universal health care system provides a better infant mortality than the U.S, These and other successes have made Cuba a model of what can be done with little. (For instance, Detroit’s infant mortality rate is 16 deaths per 1,000 live births; Cuba’s is six.)

One last thing – on a very sad note, I left all my writings in Cuba by accident. I mean I wrote a ton there, and still have a lot, especially a ton of fiction and short stories that I never have really showed anyone and hope to make awesome someday – but I did massive research on some things, like the Cuban underground economy, which I had to get State permission for to visit their economic library… And wrote it all down in Spanish and other amazing things (to me at least), but left them there. Ops, my bad. It’s still mostly all in my head and I have my notes and what not, but honestly – this is just a reminder to always be careful and make sure you don’t pull a Rocinante. Sometimes I just wander off. So what. Salud. Thanks in advance.

For some further reading, please check out the Cuba tag/category on the Anarchist Library here

* I swear, while twitter is quite amazing sometimes, I’m kind of blown away by peoples shite on there. Like WTF society? Is everyone really that cool? Like damn, I must be getting old. SHITE, I’m just gonna hafta flash forward I guess. Time to go watch Golden Girls and snuggle with my muggle.

**ASK ROCINANTE A QUESTION: Rocinante, why do you use parenthesis so much?
ANSWER: Because because, because because. ‘Cause. U mad? U jelly? NEXT.

Posted in Anarchy, cuba, illusion, short and sweet | Comments closed