Self-Interview – The Status of the Internet

Q: So, why do you want to write about cyberspace? A: I think we’re at a point now – the 21st Century – where the ubiquity of networked communications, media, and culture is becoming vital to the structure of society …no longer a side-show, a field, a hobby, a trade …rather, a fundamental aspect of […]
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The Cumming Hipsterection

Opening lines are for assholes, so I always try to plow through them. Let’s just get straight to the point: the Hipster is everywhere, and it’s staying. Now that I’ve prematurely stated the conclusion, I’ll try to unpack it so that eventually, I’ll have communicated something meaningful… I assume that the term “hipster” is defined […]
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Motorcycles >= Anarchy

I haven’t been writing much lately. I was working too much over the last year (with less to show for it than I planned) and that, along with drama, made it so I really haven’t felt like I have had much to say. My experiences have stored up and I hope over the next few months and years I’ll get to share what I’ve discovered.

This past weekend I traveled to Los Angeles for the “Nah” event in response to the LA Art bookfair. It was a fine event. A bookfair, which I think is a fine activity for anarch* friends to involve themselves in, plus my project did alright. But in this case it’s the how that I want to discuss more than the what. Trigger alert: the rest of this post is mostly going to be about motorcycles and aging.

The day before I got shitcanned from my last full time gig I purchased a very nice and very new motorcycle. I don’t talk about it a ton because I’ve never experienced motorcycling as a social activity but I’ve been a rider for most of the past 26 years. I started with a Vespa (‘68 super sport 180cc) and went for 10 years riding piece-of-shit motorcycles that were dirt cheap. Since then I’ve been riding standards (a category of motorcycle distinct from cruisers, twins, and sport bikes) from the Kawasaki corporation of Japan. My latest bike was a 2009 Versys that was an excellent commuter but a little small for me at 650cc.

IMG_20160114_125443

For some months I’ve been daydreaming about a big trip. I took one in my early 20s (from San Diego to MI with scattered stops between) and have wanted something similar for some time. But the differences are real. Last go-round I slept on dirty couches, porches, and whatever I could find. This go-round my body is 20+ years older and I wont be staying at or near crushes. In fact I plan on bringing a tent (and air mattress) which will shrink my world to a pinprick (and expand it to some of the grand National Parks that I’ve never seen).

Anyway, as a test run for my new motorcycle I loaded it down with books and headed to Los Angeles. Muscling an extra 150lbs or so has taught me some important lessons about what I am capable of, what I like (and hate) about motorcycling, and has made me long for the road to an extent I wouldn’t have imagined as I limped into LA tired and sore.

The Wind

The Grapevine was the worst of it but when you go faster than about 65 MPH (100KM/H) the wind becomes a great hand. It pushes you nearly randomly from side to side and front to back. The ‘Vine was, in fact, terrifying as it both forced me to slow down about 15 MPH and to change a lane or two. I visualize wind as a series of flows and vectors rolling off the gentle mountains but experience it as wanting nothing more than to fling me off the side of a cliff. Kind of like the milieu I guess.

What’s fascinating about this as a ride is how utterly ambivalent the drivers of cars (and especially the 90 MPH SUVs that screamed by) are to the physical exertion and real life danger I was experiencing as they sat in climate-controlled gas-guzzling bliss. Kind of like the milieu I guess.

My Arms

My new motorcycle (name forthcoming) is as hard as diamond. It is a machine designed to gobble up whatever road I throw at it. It would happily start every ride by throwing up its front wheel, it hits 90 MPH before I even notice the speedometer, it is 10,000 miles away from caring about anything other than an oil change. I, on the other hand, have the body of an office worker. I am soft and weak. My heart may soar but my wings have been brutalized by all the peck, peck, pecking and giving two fucks about what people say on the Internet. I am going to slow us down.

During my trip to LA I felt the need to stop every 40-60 minutes just because my wrists and forearms couldn’t handle it. My main criticism of the bike so far is that it forces me to sit differently than I prefer. Standard motorcycles force you to sit up straight. I like that. This bike kind of forces you to lean on the gas tank in “sports bike” pose. I put a tank bag on for the trip but didn’t like the way this kind of riding made my back feel. Perhaps because of the pose, or the inflexibility of my body, there were times when I’d come off the freeway where I couldn’t move my right leg (which only operates the back brake) as it had frozen in place. This did not happen to me at 24.

I used what is called a cheater (brand name Throttle Rocker) to ameliorate arm pain on the throttle side. This didn’t work that well for a couple reasons. The concept is to afix a piece of hard plastic to the accelerator so that instead of having to hang on and hold you can just rest your palm on the plastic to maintain acceleration. You can only safely maneuver the plastic when you aren’t moving and pretty much anywhere you put it isn’t exactly the right spot. Because it modifies how you accelerate, it is quite unsafe until you are at real speed. This much I knew from trying to use the Rocker in the past. This go-round I learned that my RSI is bad enough to be triggered by the plastic pressing against my palm. Tingle ahoy!

The only real solution I have come up with to all these issues is to slow the fuck down. This isn’t easy for me because my personality has always been hostile to slowing down and smelling the roses but if the only way I can travel in the world (whether by motorcycle or whatever) is to do it slow, then that’s what it’ll have to be. I’ve kind of suspected this “slow down” thing has to be the way for some time as I find that after I take big trips (like LBC bookfair trips where I blast through by going, tabling, returning) I always need 1-3 days to recover when I get home. This coming trip I’ll have to build in recovery time while traveling.

Los Angeles

I despise Los Angeles. Perhaps I’ve just fallen into the trap of norcal v socal and just picked my team but, much like NYC, I just find the city itself to be an intolerable mess. The past few times I’ve traveled to the area for the anarchies I haven’t even spent the night. It is fucking hot. The traffic is brutal and terrifying (doubly so on a motorcycle because the car drivers do not seem to give a fuck that a fenderbender with me equals death). The attitude of the political scene is extremely fragmented (which makes sense given how enormous the city is) from very young and naive to older and jaded-as-hell. It is a town that is sophisticated except where it is not, both diverse and lily-white. A huge mess that you can’t possibly understand in a weekend.

This event was unusual for a couple of reasons. It was politically sophisticated (and obscure as it wasn’t necessarily political at all. It was a type of response to the LA Art bookfair) by a crowd I’m ostensibly in a type of agreement with (the ASC/post-situ crowd) but if I were to just walk in I’d mostly have experienced a group of ethnically diverse friends drinking together alongside a serious hodge-podge of tablers. Spiked belts, ancient surrealist books, some remnant of “the Oakland scene,” and LBC.

The real charm of the event was the after-party. Next door to LA Skidrow (I did not realize how Blade Runneresque the LA Skidrow is) we spent the evening in total bliss. Chilly, a fantastic roof view, while a total mix of people shot the shit in as unpretentious of a scene as I’ve ever experienced in a big city. Take note of the new website project that has come out of the group that put on the bookfair. http://www.onda.la/

I scurried away as early as I could to avoid the LA marathon that morning. The ride home was fast. I had less weight on the bike and always find return trips to be faster than away trips. Next up, the Northwest and big National Parks.

IMG_20160214_082042

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Motorcycles >= Anarchy

I haven’t been writing much lately. I was working too much over the last year (with less to show for it than I planned) and that, along with drama, made it so I really haven’t felt like I didn’t have much to say. My experiences have stored up and I hope over the next few months and years I’ll get to share what I’ve discovered.

This past weekend I traveled to Los Angeles for the “Nah” event in response to the LA Art bookfair. It was a fine event. A bookfair, which I think is a fine activity for anarch* friends to involve themselves in, plus my project did alright. But in this case it’s the how that I want to discuss more than the what. Trigger alert: the rest of this post is mostly going to be about motorcycles and aging.

The day before I got shitcanned from my last full time gig I purchased a very nice and very new motorcycle. I don’t talk about it a ton because I’ve never experienced motorcycling as a social activity but I’ve been a rider for most of the past 26 years. I started with a Vespa (‘68 super sport 180cc) and went for 10 years riding piece-of-shit motorcycles that were dirt cheap. Since then I’ve been riding standards (a category of motorcycle distinct from cruisers, twins, and sport bikes) from the Kawasaki corporation of Japan. My latest bike was a 2009 Versys that was an excellent commuter but a little small for me at 650cc.

IMG_20160114_125443

For some months I’ve been daydreaming about a big trip. I took one in my early 20s (from San Diego to MI with scattered stops between) and have wanted something similar for some time. But the differences are real. Last go-round I slept on dirty couches, porches, and whatever I could find. This go-round my body is 20+ years older and I wont be staying at or near crushes. In fact I plan on bringing a tent (and air mattress) which will shrink my world to a pinprick (and expand it to some of the grand National Parks that I’ve never seen).

Anyway, as a test run for my new motorcycle I loaded it down with books and headed to Los Angeles. Muscling an extra 150lbs or so has taught me some important lessons about what I am capable of, what I like (and hate) about motorcycling, and has made me long for the road to an extent I wouldn’t have imagined as I limped into LA tired and sore.

The Wind

The Grapevine was the worst of it but when you go faster than about 65 MPH (100KM/H) the wind becomes a great hand. It pushes you nearly randomly from side to side and front to back. The ‘Vine was, in fact, terrifying as it both forced me to slow down about 15 MPH and to change a lane or two. I visualize wind as a series of flows and vectors rolling off the gentle mountains but experience it as wanting nothing more than to fling me off the side of a cliff. Kind of like the milieu I guess.

What’s fascinating about this as a ride is how utterly ambivalent the drivers of cars (and especially the 90 MPH SUVs that screamed by) are to the physical exertion and real life danger I was experiencing as they sat in climate-controlled gas-guzzling bliss. Kind of like the milieu I guess.

My Arms

My new motorcycle (name forthcoming) is as hard as diamond. It is a machine designed to gobble up whatever road I throw at it. It would happily start every ride by throwing up its front wheel, it hits 90 MPH before I even notice the speedometer, it is 10,000 miles away from caring about anything other than an oil change. I, on the other hand, have the body of an office worker. I am soft and weak. My heart may soar but my wings have been brutalized by all the peck, peck, pecking and giving two fucks about what people say on the Internet. I am going to slow us down.

During my trip to LA I felt the need to stop every 40-60 minutes just because my wrists and forearms couldn’t handle it. My main criticism of the bike so far is that it forces me to sit differently than I prefer. Standard motorcycles force you to sit up straight. I like that. This bike kind of forces you to lean on the gas tank in “sports bike” pose. I put a tank bag on for the trip but didn’t like the way this kind of riding made my back feel. Perhaps because of the pose, or the inflexibility of my body, there were times when I’d come off the freeway where I couldn’t move my right leg (which only operates the back brake) as it had frozen in place. This did not happen to me at 24.

I used what is called a cheater (brand name Throttle Rocker) to ameliorate arm pain on the throttle side. This didn’t work that well for a couple reasons. The concept is to afix a piece of hard plastic to the accelerator so that instead of having to hang on and hold you can just rest your palm on the plastic to maintain acceleration. You can only safely maneuver the plastic when you aren’t moving and pretty much anywhere you put it isn’t exactly the right spot. Because it modifies how you accelerate, it is quite unsafe until you are at real speed. This much I knew from trying to use the Rocker in the past. This go-round I learned that my RSI is bad enough to be triggered by the plastic pressing against my palm. Tingle ahoy!

The only real solution I have come up with to all these issues is to slow the fuck down. This isn’t easy for me because my personality has always been hostile to slowing down and smelling the roses but if the only way I can travel in the world (whether by motorcycle or whatever) is to do it slow, then that’s what it’ll have to be. I’ve kind of suspected this “slow down” thing has to be the way for some time as I find that after I take big trips (like LBC bookfair trips where I blast through by going, tabling, returning) I always need 1-3 days to recover when I get home. This coming trip I’ll have to build in recovery time while traveling.

Los Angeles

I despise Los Angeles. Perhaps I’ve just fallen into the trap of norcal v socal and just picked my team but, much like NYC, I just find the city itself to be an intolerable mess. The past few times I’ve traveled to the area for the anarchies I haven’t even spent the night. It is fucking hot. The traffic is brutal and terrifying (doubly so on a motorcycle because the car drivers do not seem to give a fuck that a fenderbender with me equals death). The attitude of the political scene is extremely fragmented (which makes sense given how enormous the city is) from very young and naive to older and jaded-as-hell. It is a town that is sophisticated except where it is not, both diverse and lily-white. A huge mess that you can’t possibly understand in a weekend.

This event was unusual for a couple of reasons. It was politically sophisticated (and obscure as it wasn’t necessarily political at all. It was a type of response to the LA Art bookfair) by a crowd I’m ostensibly in a type of agreement with (the ASC/post-situ crowd) but if I were to just walk in I’d mostly have experienced a group of ethnically diverse friends drinking together alongside a serious hodge-podge of tablers. Spiked belts, ancient surrealist books, some remnant of “the Oakland scene,” and LBC.

The real charm of the event was the after-party. Next door to LA Skidrow (I did not realize how Blade Runneresque the LA Skidrow is) we spent the evening in total bliss. Chilly, a fantastic roof view, while a total mix of people shot the shit in as unpretentious of a scene as I’ve ever experienced in a big city. Take note of the new website project that has come out of the group that put on the bookfair. http://www.onda.la/

I scurried away as early as I could to avoid the LA marathon that morning. The ride home was fast. I had less weight on the bike and always find return trips to be faster than away trips. Next up, the Northwest and big National Parks.

IMG_20160214_082042

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Columbus Anarchy

Posted in 2015 | Comments closed

Real Positioning

I’ve been thinking about my real positioning. Typically I don’t like hard positioning as I prefer to learn and be flexible, though I do come off as having hard, real positioning when others that aren’t “my” kind of anarchist come around. I like testing the waters, sometimes taking deliberately bad steps forward down the wrong […]
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Federalism

Among people, I am an inclusive federalist. Recently I was reading Lawrence Jarach’s
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More Thoughts On the Work Abolitionist League

So this is a response to my post on the Work Abolitionist League. At the time I was trying to think of another approach that would still be work abolitionist but from a direction that is not so sided with illegalist approaches, which is where I come at anarchy from. I already was trying to […]
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Moving Forward

Moving forward is something I’m accustomed to doing. Anarchist Aging and Burn Out was the topic of the week for Anarchist News and I’m not really burnt out anymore, at least I’m not burnt out with anarchy. I’ve for a long time rejected the anarchist scene and for plenty of reasons I still feel pretty […]
Posted in 2015 | Comments closed

Where I Stand

I am for work abolition and consider myself to be a work abolitionist. I am for flexible tactics, but this also means talking about and criticizing tactics in the times they are occurring and if they are producing the kinds of results I am looking for. I am against production.
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Starting Thoughts on Maniac Gangs

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Pulling Together Ideas

Lately I’ve been considering who I am. Not so much based on confusion or nihilism, but more based on pulling together a large array of possibilities to create a presentation of thought. I’ve come closer to calling myself an anarchist theorist, while at the same time feeling more like an anarcho-primitivist. I suppose I could […]
Posted in 2015 | Comments closed

Anarcho-Primitivism

As some people know, I’ve lately come to refer to myself as an anarcho-primitivist. This is to note a participation in the milieu and a desire to connect with other anarcho-primitivists. But also, more importantly, this is to show a desire to participate in the discourses of anarcho-primitivism as well as its practices. Since anarcho-primitivism […]
Posted in 2016 | Comments closed

Communist Anarchy

So I’ve lately been thinking about communism again. As many know, I identify as many things, though most strongly identify as a nihilist anarchist as far as which team I’m on. I’d prefer “anarchist theorist” more than anything since that is the most accurate, but that is less what I am and more what I […]
Posted in 2015 | Comments closed

Squee’s Guide to the Sensual Evening

Before you play the video above, make sure you have some Häagen-Dazs  Dulce de Leche Ice Cream This is important, it’s the flavor of the video… well one of them. Hopefully you are watching this two hours after sunset, in your underwear or naked, before you go out for the evening… You need time afterwards […]
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Post-Modernity and the Appeal of Anarchism: Follow-up

On December 5th, I presented at the East Bay Anarchist Bookfair and Conversation Event because there were not as many presentation submissions as I had hoped for. During the initial organizational meetings for the event, we discussed what the theme would be, which became both the Inhuman and the Anthroposcene. Thinking about the question, “what […]
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Ouchie

On 9/11/2015, I made the mistake of breaking my foot. The bone I broke is the calcaneus (or, “heel bone”). It is sometimes referred to as a Don Juan Fracture; or, a Lover’s Fracture. The term “Lover’s Fracture” comes from the nature of the break: besides car accidents, it is a break that usually happens […]
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Behind the Glamor

In my last entry, I made an attempt to describe the relationship between office work and the power of appearances. To recap the growth of both office work and what may be thought of as the entertainment industry account for some of the significant changes that came of the 20th Century. Some connections between the […]
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Glamor, Charm, Charisma and Boring Office Work

In old and forgotten times and places, charisma was thought to be an attribute that could be influenced through metaphysical means: the casting of spells, the blessing of gods, the alignment of stars. Today our understanding of charisma still refers to complicated systems that overpower the agency of individuals, however the “meta” that we seek […]
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In Defense of Bob Black

For those of you that haven’t heard I threw an event with Bob Black at our local infoshop on August 7th 2015. At this event local activist “Morgan Le Fay” came to protest Bob for the 1995 Hogshire affair and ended up punching him a few times (3) in the face. A month later Bob announced on Facebook that I was both a traitor and enemy. He proceeded to blow my psuedonym (incorrectly) as an act of vengence.

Rather than speaking about my own anger at Morgan or Bob at their behavior I am going to give the eulogy–one I’ve been contemplating for some time–of Bob.

11057709_1065549473464957_2564274081851488485_n

I have known Bob, not in his daring years when I could have been a co-conspirator to his minor offenses against local legends in Processed World, not when he was at the peak of his power and railed against work at the Gorilla Grotto, but perhaps in his decline, as publisher of his last two books. But the relationship between a publisher and an author is a close one. We could safely discuss his entire oeuvre at length and depth. We could discuss our shared ideological enemies. I could share with him my dreams of returning his name back to being on the cynosure of anarchist thinkers where he belonged, returning him from his exile (for his naughty behavior against Jim Hogshire, etc.). As the preening narcissist he has always been, Bob basked in my appreciation, of someone he delusionally believing me to be a fawning accolyte.

I still believe that Bob deserves defending, and my defense of him follows in three parts: he survived, he did something (even if it was the wrong thing), and he did it alone (for better and worse).

Survival

I imagine become an anarchist in the twilight period between the end of the Vietnam War era (not exactly a banner time for anarchists anyway) and the rise of (albiet low-profile) anarchist punks must have been quite lonely. I can’t imagine having these ideas without the benefit of seeing what impact they had on relationships as they were tested out. One of my clearest experiments of this sort was when I moved out of a group house (the very next day as I recall) when they wrote my name to an objectionable task on the chore wheel because I was at work. I had Debordian fantasies and put my body on the line in their pursuit. But I did not do it in a vacuum. The day I left the house I drove across the state to a warm, waiting room with friends who were happy to see me. The situation would have been miserable if I didn’t have those friends, that shared understanding about Debord, or the money to have a car to make that drive.

While Bob isn’t the only survivor of his generation I have a giant soft spot for all of them. Their clarity about then is one of the reasons that we can be fighting different fights now. Specifically I am referring to the context of anarchism, workerism, the left, and ATR. I have so much respect for this generation because I caught the tail end of the Red anarchist menace and its mediocrity was asphyxiating. As an ex-post-left anarchist I’ve had enough talk of what the left should be (if only…) to last three lifetimes. Dodging the bullet of having to endure Great-Men-Talking-about-Revolution-as-if-it-were-about-to-happen (or already did) I still consider quite the achievement, which would not have been possible if it were not for the ones who survived and particularly for Bob Black.

But they paid a price. In Bob’s case an ass-kicking or two, for others it was different kinds of social exclusions, ones that reflected their personalities and survival skills. On another level they paid the price of loss of faith. Obviously we are talking about a secular kind of faith–a belief that when exposed to a correct analysis or critique people will change their minds–but a faith nonetheless. A faith that other people, strangers, are like you: reasonable, argumentative, and more interested in something-like-truth than in popularity contests or petty games. This loss of faith has created grumpy, lonely men but it has also created a neon colored sign post for us, the next generation, and for those who are arriving after us.

Doing something

I realize that most of the anarchists of the post-left generation have exposed their own influences as being egoist but that wasn’t my perception of them or their position(s) during my first decade of exposure to them (prior to meeting them). It seemed to me that Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed was the American wing of a post-situationist perspective, full stop. In hindsight, I realize how little I knew but it was the SI that excited me when I was just an anarcho-tot. It was their practice of critique-as-action that made sense to me, and it was how I saw action that I wanted to participate in. The SI critique of what we would now call activism felt complete to me and, as a result, held no interest. The attacks against groups and people of the same fighting weight did, and still does, hold me captivated.

This is where my defense of Bob is strongest. Whether in the name of revenge or his own sense of rightousness Bob devoted his life to fighting people and institutions outside of his weight class. We once had a conversation where I was expressing how not-in-a-hurry I was with regard to dealing with a slight because I held that the long view, the strategic view, would win out against hurried action. Bob made it clear that while he might have agreed with me about the likelihood of winning, my attitude was bullshit. The only time to deal with opponents is now. He meant it. He would rather lose the fight, and do it now, than wait and win.

This charming personality trait explains nearly every scandal and misstep Bob ever took. As he aged, his rush to fight took on the long form essay rather than the flaming poop bag, but the will to fight never waned.

This point, by the way, is why the activist insult against theory/critique people has always aggravated me. I try to give the activist crowd the benefit of the doubt that they do truly believe in the political practice they are part of “in the streets” and are not just using regular people as cover for their desire to see the glittering rain of a window pane. (The least they can do is realize that a vigorous internal conversation is a verb and not “doing nothing” but whatever.)

Bob has taught anarchism a lesson that has yet to be meaningfully followed up. We need to establish something like a set of rules, or a kind of terrain, around how to fight with one another. When Bob accused Ramsey, in the letter section of AJODA, of being a state agent (on the flimsey grounds that they needed to evade the consequences of the Anarchist Exclusion Act of 1901), there were two results . One, Bob broke an unspoken rule against snitch-jacketing and two, Ramsey took him (and the accusation) extremeley seriously. Ramsey placed a fatwa against that issue of the magazine (#65, which had quite of few strong articles) and did whatever he could do persuade us (including by threat of force) and whomever was in his sphere of influence (which mostly meant infoshops that inclined Red) to not carry it. By putting his (and by extension ours–as AJODA did the material suffering, since AK Press stopped distributing the magazine after this issue) body on the line, Bob proved an unintended point. He provided Ramsey an opportunity to show what Ramsey was all about and Ramsey’s response to that paragraph of text couldn’t have been clearer.

For those of us who are similarly inclined, this lesson should be instructive. When you throw your body, identity, and personhood into the fray you rarely get accolades or huzzahs. At best you get a clarifying moment on a tangential point related to but not necessarily central to why you were acting in the first place. What most people do with this information is hide themselves behind nicknames, anonymity, or silence, and we, as a politic and practice, suffer for it.

The power of one

Bob has never had an ally (or accomplice in the modern vernacular) as he made it structurally impossible for anybody to be (or become) one. There are many private examples of how this looked in practice but it’s an obvious point that if you are fighting for your interpretation of the singular right and correct position anyone who would join you has to convince you that they think the same way that you do and for the same reasons.

Bob’s life is a series of breaks from limited collaborations that is not disconnected from the Stirnerite postulation about organization only lasting as long as the participants in it gain satisfaction in that arrangement. Bob’s innovation, if it could be called that, was to (mostly) set fire to any possibility of future collaboration by way of personal insults and public declarations of acrimony. Let’s call this practice “angry egoism,” which can only be ameliorated by its target bending knee, thereby placing future collaboration on the unstable base of an explicit power-over relationship.

And these dysfunctions ultimately rise from the fact that every battle, every idea, and every break happened for Bob alone. He has had lovers and temporary friends but largely his life was one lived alone, with no voice cautioning consequences or suggesting a different pacing, no daily consultations in bed. The only voice in his head was his, amplified by a Debordesque diet of spirits.

By this cautionary tale I put Bob Black to rest. He was a clarifying influence in my life, largely as a negative example but also as a good writer, but one incapable of reaching the heights he reached for. He will be remembered as much for who he wasn’t as for who he wanted to be but this is the most anarchist of problems. Most of us will not be remembered at all but the shared Beautiful Idea is larger than each of us and continues on after we are gone. The best we can hope for is some contribution to that idea and as a person who lived and wrote in especially challenging times and circumstances Bob Black has done his part.

Farewell.

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