Tuesday, September 06, 2005

This essay is backwards. If you can be bothered start at the situationist bit and work your way back.
1 'Revolutionary Self-Theory - a beginners manual.' The Spectacle. U.S.A. 1975
2 mystic -al. Relating to mystery, the mysteries, or mysticism: mysterious: sacredly obscure or secret: involving a sacred or secret meaning hidden from the eyes of the ordinary person, only revealed to a spiritually enlightened mind: allegorical. Chambers English Dictionary. W & R Chambers Ltd. 1990
3 communism a theory or condition of things according to which society should be classless, private property should be abolished, and land, factories, etc., collectively owned and controlled. Ibid.
4 Communists, Marxists, Marxist-Leninists, Trotskyites, Maoists etc.
5 Morris Berman. Something that has been floating around in my head for years now with no reference point, apart from the name.
6 Yet their fears are exaggerated. All the statistics show that that they are unlikely to encounter violence. Our society is actually numbingly conformist and the extremes of human behaviour are generally visited upon the poorer, more vulnerable sections of society.
7 'The Revolution of Everyday Life.' By Raoul Vaniegem.
8 Remember 'Illusions." By Richard Bach?
9 'Boredom.' By The Buzzcocks.
10 I once stormed Hackney Town Hall to protest at something or other. I think our dole money hadn't arrived.
11 see 'The Illuminatus Trilogy." ?
12 Does anyone really know what this is? A reaction against the tenets of modernism at the very least. Or shorthand for everything that is happening right now.
13 Very simply. An interpretive methodology denying the priority of any singular reading of a text. Meaning is seen as being infinitely malleable. Jacques Derrida et al.
14 The absolute independence of the material from the spiritual. This formulation has allowed science to promulgate 'mechanistic' explanations for physical events.
15 Already it has been interpreted by some as the ultimate act of détournement. And Osama Bin Laden as some kind of warped situationist. You couldn't make it up. Or could you?
16 Came across this 'word' somewhere. I think it works.
17 Notably the Economic and Philosophical manuscripts. See bibliography.
18 The L.I. believed in the revolutionary potential of art as 'play'.
19 The Origins of Modern Leftism. Richard Gombin. Sexpol Editions 2001
20 The Gnostics were an early Christian sect who believed that this world was literally hell and attempted to transcend it through spiritual practice.
21 Ibid.
22 In most cases the city in question being Paris.
23 The function of the signs and the symbols used to control behaviour (semiotics) would be interfered with.
24 Literally, 'Drift'. A subjective tour, wherein the participants would attempt to create 'alternative' routes through a city, Taking into account zones of attraction and repulsion.
25 The more 'formal' manifestation of the above, with actual 'maps' produced and 'reports' commissioned.
26 Abstractions being treated as real or tangible objects. Essentially, the worship of consumer durables.
27 Estrangement: insanity: the state of not being involved: the critical detachment with which, according to Bertolt Brecht, audience and actors should regard a play, considering action and dialoque and the ideas in the drama without emotional involvement. Chambers.
28 Is that an 'americanism'?
29 Revolutionary Self-Theory a beginners manual. The Spectacle USA 1975
30 A high percentage of the original movers and shakers did in fact commit suicide. Including Guy Debord.
31 The logical successor to this viewpoint being perhaps Jean Baudrillard's notion of the 'Simulacrum'.
32 At this point they where heavily influenced by the theoretician and member of the communist party Henri Lefebvre.
33 King Mob Echo No 3 London 1968/9
34 Cars, washing powder, cosmetics, holidays, furnishings, etc.
35 Through T-shirts, badges, posters, TV programming, etc.
36 subject that in which attributes inhere: a thing existing independently: the mind regarded as the thinking power (opp. To the object about which it thinks)
37 By this I assume he means advertising and/or the media.
38 The Revolution of Everyday Life. Raoul Vaneigem. Left Bank Books. Rebel Press.1983
39 In the words of Vito Acconci.
40 Revolutionary Self-Theory a beginners manual. The Spectacle USA 1975
41 Any system that demanded unthinking adherence to a single tenet or set of such. Or when the 'footsoldiers' were seen as cogs in the political machine. Often called party discipline. Or, revealingly, self-sacrifice.
42 Ibid
43 Vaneigem was the movements other main theoretician. His writings possess a powerful poetic force in contrast to Debords gleeful vituperation.
44 Ibid
45 It has become something of a myth, but they were certainly heavily involved in the riots in Paris of that year and their graffiti at least was much in evidence. 'Under the paving stones, the beach', 'Never Work'. Etc.
46 At least on the surface.
47 Religion and Revolution. Hakim Bey. From Millennium at www.deoxy.org/hakim/religion.htm
48 The Pursuit of the Millennium. Norman Cohn pp187.
49 Roughly between the 11th and 16th Centuries.
50 It's just a matter of degree.
51 Raoul Vaniegem in the preface to the American edition of 'The Movement of the Free Spirit.'
52 See bibliography.
53 See bibliography.
54 The Franciscans and the Dominicans.
55 Subsequently there were many attempts to crush the movement, often in the form of large convocations of clergy brought together to denounce the new heresy and to see that its adherents made full and public retractions of their unholy sentiments.
56 This seems to parallel our modern conception of 'Free Love'.
57 Absolution was granted only after public recantation.
58 In all likelihood in the usual violent and calamitous manner.
59 The wives of merchants and aristocrats had no real role in this society, except in marriage. There for many widows and spinsters found a place within the Brethren.
60 This is the hereditary sin of Adam, the first man. Which stains us all.
61 From 'Lipstick Traces'.
62 www.leftbank.org/bey/postanar.htm
63 A reference to the tenets of Gnosticism. Wherein each of us is said to contain a piece of the essence of God, inserted into base matter as penance or judgement.
64 The 'official' mystical experience promulgated by the Church was known as the unio mystica, which as the title suggests was a once in a lifetime glimpse of the ineffable brought about through much self-denial and painful mortification of the flesh.
65 'The Pursuit of the Millennium.' pp 182
66 ibid.
67 Quoted in 'The Pursuit of the Millennium.'
68 The seventh stage in the ascent of the soul. A kind of hierarchy of obeisance in which the novitiate literally becomes God.
69 Ibid.
70 You can almost imagine them shouting 'God is Dead' from the pulpit as some members of those precursors of the situationists, the Lettristes did at Notre Dame. Almost being lynched for their trouble.
71 'Surrealism, Alchemy and the Northern Renaissance.' S L Hager
72 First coined by Richard Dawkins in his book 'The Selfish Gene' to describe the possibility that ideas are passed on in a way analogous with that of viral infection. Now very fashionable and completely out of control! Sorry, you have just been infected.
73 Noble Drew Ali. Circle Seven Koran. www.deoxy.org/moorish
74 Roughly, the early stages or the beginning of something.
75 A vast tract of land in New York State. Mostly uninhabited.
76 See 'Operation Mind fuck' for more of the same. Somewhere on the net.
77 The Moorish Orthodox Church of America is an offshoot of the Moorish Science Temple, the New World's first Islamic heretical sect, founded by a black circus magician named Noble Drew Ali in Newark, New Jersey in 1913. In the 1950s some white jazz musicians and poets who held "passports" in the M.S.T. founded the Moorish Orthodox Church, which also traced its spiritual ancestry to various "Wandering Bishops" loosely affiliated with the Old Catholic Church and schisms of Syrian Orthodoxy. In the '60s the church acquired a new direction from the Psychedelic Movement, and for a while maintained a presence at Timothy Leary's commune in Millbrook, New York. At the same time the discovery of sufism led certain of its members to undertake journeys to the East.? see www.deoxy.org for more.
78 Coming from Catastrophy theory, fractal geometry and the rapid development of computer graphics, which enabled scientists to 'visualise' fractals and strange attractors and study 'chaotic systems' such as hydraulics and fluid turbulence, evolutionary biology and mind/brain studies. The classic analogy being the flapping of a Butterfly's wings somehow precipitating a storm on the other side of the planet.
79 These project random, abstract light patterns onto the eyelids and stimulate the optic nerve thereby effecting different regions of the brain, increasing brain activity and supposedly reduce learning time and help with perception and concentration.
80 A combination of Buddhist breathing exercises, visualisation techniques and sexual practices aimed at bringing about some kind of peak experience for the participants.
81 Lighthouse of the Future, declaration of the Surrealist Movement in the United States, Published as a preface to the surrealist section of the City Lights Anthology. San Francisco 1974
82 Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express - verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner - the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.
83 Taken from the Marxist analysis of class structure, wherein the Bourgeoisie are the main instigators of capitalist exploitation.
84 In 'A Cavalier History of Surrealism.' See bibliography.
85 Leon Trotsky, quoted in 'Andre Breton and the First Principles of Surrealism' by Franklin Rosemont. See bibliography.
86 Formed just after the First World War by Henri Barbusse and others as an 'international of the mind'.
87 Pierre Naville, a former Surrealist turned party apparatchik. In 'Andre Breton and the First Principles of Surrealism'. See bibliography.
88 Péret, Aragon, Eluard and Unik.
89 Antonin Artaud in 'Dada Turns Red'. Pp67
90 André Breton. From 'The Great Invisibles'. In 'What is Surrealism'. See bibliography.
91 Marx's theory that material things undergo a process of constant change due to the conflicting interaction of different ideas, elements or forces.
92 As with Science, Alchemy had its side orders of charlatans. Called 'puffers' because of their use of bellows and flowery language, they claimed the literal transmutation of lead into gold was possible.
93 Designed by the architect Frederick Kiesler as, 'The Hall of Superstitions', it was a white, egg-shaped grotto.
94 Peter Lamborn Wilson in 'Escape from the 19th Century and other essays. pp13 See bibliography.
95 Marcuse, Herbert 'Eros and Civilisation' Sphere 1969 pp 96.
96 Although it should be emphasised that he 'rediscovered' the idea, as it had been elucidated by St Augustine, although not with such prominence.
97 In the pineal gland apparently.
98 'Phenomenology of Perception' Routledge Classics 2002 pp39
99 And perhaps of that other self-evident truth reason.
100 Power Publications 1995.
101 'Chaosmosis' pp10-11
102 Communiques of the Association of Ontological Anarchy. Black Crown & Black Rose. Anarcho-Monarchism & Anarcho-Mysticism. www.t0.at
103 From, 'Pirate Utopias' in 'The Temporary Autonomous Zone.' See bibliography.
104 From 'The Obelisk' by Hakim Bey. www.hermetic.com
105 see The Human Genome Project.
106 Literally, in the sense that the overwhelming majority of capital (94.2% of the global money supply at last count) has transcended the means of production. It is pure financial capital. Zeroes and ones haunting the ether.
107 Essentially, Kant says morality is a bi-product of 'rational', intellectual decision-making rather than an emotional response to a given situation. This is based on the premise that your moral decision-making can become a 'universal law' applicable to all of mankind.
108 See bibliography.
109 'Escape from the 19th Century and other essays'. See bibliography.
110 Ibid.
111 Whether consciously or not is not a problem as this is the 'outcome'.
112 In terms of the history of Humankind we seem to have spent 99% of our existence living in non-authoritarian tribal societies.
113 Ibid.
114 From 'Liber Kaos' by Peter Carroll. pp 79 See bibliography.

"The emergence of the State seems revolutionary in terms of la longue durée, but appears gradual in terms of human generations. The State emerges slowly, even hesitantly, and never without opposition."109

In his essay, 'The Shamanic Trace'110 Peter Lamborn Wilson examines how the State managed to acquire such apparently limitless power. He uses the theories of anthropologist Pierre Clastres as a starting point. Clastres points out that so-called 'primitive' societies are innocent of separation and hierarchy. They are in fact neither ignorant nor unspoiled but, in Clastres view, 'designed'111 to avoid the formulation of hierarchy and in that sense, perhaps more 'advanced' than is supposed.
In the Clastrian thesis Society opposes itself to the State. It does this by constructing rights and customs, (and mythologies) which prevent the separation inherent in the formation of hierarchy. The 'catastrophic emergence' of the State is prevented by the ability to maximise pleasure and autonomy for the whole tribe. It seems that, rather than living lives that were 'nasty, brutish and short' hunter/gatherers based their economies on abundance and leisure.

The Agricultural De-evolution
The rupture that led to the growth of the State112 can be identified in the development of agriculture.
"From a certain point of view agriculture is the only 'new thing' that has happened in the world. We are still living in the Neolithic, and industry (even 'information' technology!) is still a prolongation of agricultural technology-or rather agriculture as technology."113

In an economy based on hunting and gathering, the members of the tribe could look forward to around four hours of labour a day with 200 or more food items to choose from. The question is why did they give up this lifestyle for the gruelling round of agricultural production? Which usually meant toiling unremittingly during the daylight hours for a mere 20 or so items in the larder. To use the axioms of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari; the 'smooth' time of the hunter, (unstriated, rhizomatic) is replaced by a rigid 'division of labour', and the allotment of space. Wilson uses the term, the 'Clastrian machine' to delineate those collective mechanisms which serve to delimit the power of these social and spatial hierarchies.
One such device is found in the person of the Shaman. Unlike the priest, who embodies the functions of separation and hierarchy, in that he is a specialist in and interpreter of mystical experience. He (or she) must hunt and gather just like everyone else and rather than represent the spirits, he serves to make them present. By this I mean that the experience is inclusive, in that the Shaman is observed in the act of communication. There is no faith involved. The tribe take part in a communal rite in which, the transportive experiences of the Shaman are shared by all.

A Spiritual Resistance
The ability of the Spectacular State to 'enclose' the opportunities, rights and customs of humankind to the point where resistance loses its base in the material 'here and now, is literally 'disembodied', means that the spirit of resistance becomes just that, an immaterial excrescence on the body politic. In a sense the idea of freedom is reduced to a folk memory. Perhaps the unwonted myth of the fabled 'Golden Age', wherein life was easeful and free from labour, is the last vestige of what was once our true relationship with the world?
The Clastrian machine, in contrast to the vicious clangour of the process of commodification, and the limitless material expansion this entails, is 'the rationality of the marvellous', the emergence of a radical new meme that sets its face against the forces of separation. This assault on rationality and the equivalent dismembering of the corpse of the subject, entails a thorough re-imagining of the precepts of a society dominated by the inescapable logic of Capital. The enlightenment paradigm of progress towards a utopian unity of thought and action, has been hijacked by a banal simulation of itself. The promise of a better, more equitable world is mediated as instant gratification and the ability to purchase a homogeneous product called 'happiness'.

Archaic Revival
The late Terence Mckenna envisaged an 'Archaic Revival' in which a wholesale 'return' to a kind of Paleolithic golden age is the only solution to the present impasse. Perhaps a willingness to step outside of the boundaries (themselves under attack by the 'uncertain' conclusions of quantum mechanics) erected by scientific reductionism is an important route in the attempt to articulate a new paradigm. One in which the sovereignty of the individual, and his right to explore and expand on his inner metaphysic, is balanced against the quest for a communality of experience that nevertheless allows the existence of all 'non-hegemonic particularities'.
Wilson/ Bey points out the importance of 'unassimilable difference' in the fight against Capital. The homogenised consciousness produced by commodity fetishism cannot be fought by its polar opposite, ideological purity. We now know that the totalising effects of this kind of monism, whether right or left, add up to the same kind of ontological tyranny. If there is to be an, 'archaic revival' it will have to include some acknowledgement of 'non-ordinary consciousness' as the progenitor of insurrectionary thought.

"Reject then the obscenities of contrived uniformity, order, and purpose. Turn and face the tidal wave of Chaos from which philosophers have been fleeing in terror for millennia. Leap in and come out surfing its crest, sporting amidst the limitless weirdness and mystery in all things, for those who reject false certainties. Thank Chaos we shall never exhaust it. Create, destroy, enjoy, IO CHAOS!114


A Temporary Autonomous Zone

"Our brand of anti-authoritarianism, however, thrives on baroque paradox; it favours states of consciousness, emotion and aesthetics over all petrified ideologies and dogma; it embraces multitudes and relishes contradictions."102

If reaction always follows revolution and attempts at subversion are immediately recuperated by 'The Spectacle', how is it possible to circumvent or disrupt the 'business' of capital? If the consensus view of reality holds that the workings of the universe are governed by immutable natural laws, which contain experience in a uniformity of pre-coded behaviour, how then is it possible to move beyond this paradigm?
Hakim Bey is the author of 'The Temporary Autonomous Zone', a tract that proposes how this may be 'temporarily' achieved. His ranting, incandescent prose, itself a call to the barricades, is a poetic invocation of the spirit of dissent through the ages. His is a truly post-modern grab bag of tantric sex practices, anarcho-situationism, sufi-lore, drug-fuelled libertarianism and insurrectionary proselytising in the spirit of Dada's fulminations against a society willing to sacrifice so much in the name of War and the Ranters of mid 17th century England, who proclaimed mankind freed from the shackles of both Sin and Law.

Contingency Reigns
Bey's deliberate synthesis of the tropes of left-wing politics and Hermetic spiritual practice is an attempt to step outside of the cultural and political stasis he perceives as having been produced by the success of Capitalist ideology. The failure of the traditional left, particularly after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, to galvanise support amongst its traditional base (workers, students, university lecturers...) and its continued adherence to modernist notions of technological and cultural progress, the former at least, tainted by the ruthless advance of free-market economic values, seems to place leftists within the same world-gobbling paradigm as their adversaries on the right.

"How is it that "the world turned upside-down" always manages to Right itself? Why does reaction always follow revolution, like seasons in Hell?"103

This willingness to disrupt the narratives of western progressive thought and their accompanying philosophical baggage is in part a reaction to the demise of these self-same narratives. The deconstruction of the myth of progress and the accompanying loss of cultural certainty brought about by this questioning of the support structures that underpin our view of ourselves, has led us to a position wherein truth itself is simply another sign. Meaning proliferates but has no base. Contingency reigns.

Guerrilla Ontology
Bey insists on seeing this situation as an opportunity to smash (once and for all!) a variety of sacred cows and then use the broken pieces to construct a radically contingent theorem, one that refuses comfortable closure and embraces chaos as a creative force. This 'guerrilla ontology', or (shape) shifting field of relations is opposed to 'humanist' notions of progress, which are viewed as simply replacing God with Man. Belief itself is a meta-narrative, which the nimble-minded psychonaut can pick up or abandon as she sees fit.
Our 'reality' then, is not one of unfolding narratives, but of a ceaseless re-evaluation of our dialectical relationship with the world. Bey argues that this can mean the appropriation of any 'tools' deemed suitable for the job of questioning all orthodoxy. Including those that claim to enable us to manipulate ourselves at the deepest and most profound levels.

But there appear to exist other consciousnesses, and perhaps even kinds of cognition that remain uninvolved in consciousness in any ordinary sense. Aside from all scientific or religious definitions of these other forms, they persist in appearing, and are therefore potentially interesting. Without ideologizing these forms, can we still say anything useful about them? Language is still traditionally deemed ineffective in this regard. But theoria, originally in the sense of "vision" or insight, possesses a sudden and drifting nature, akin to poetry. In such terms could we speak of a kind of hermetic criticism (...) capable of dealing with these other forms, however obliquely and glancingly?104

In facing the totality of the spectacle, is it any wonder that some have looked beyond the margins? Have indeed escaped beyond the rational in a wild attempt to commune with unseen forces.

Revolt as Carnival
As capital colonises the last vestiges of the human105 and money becomes ever more disassociated from the real conditions of life on the planet106, Hakim Bey proposes the creation of a series of interim solutions in the form of the TAZ, or Temporary Autonomous Zone. He proposes the uprising, not in the ordinary sense of a 'failed' revolution. But as a form which celebrates the moment of rupture. Revolt as Carnival. As an opportunity to momentarily shift the goal posts and realise a fleeting, but nevertheless powerful and life-affirming sense of limitless possibility. Why wait for some notional tomorrow when the comrades will reward us for our self-sacrifice? When we can seize a slice of the Utopian pie in the here and now?
As well as giving the protagonists a fleeting taste of freedom, the TAZ may help to avoid futile martyrdom directed against an all-powerful state apparatus. Furthermore, it may be that such a project takes place not just in space and through time, but as an imaginal fracture in the psychotopography of the participants. As the Baudrillardian Simulacrum takes control of every 'spontaneous' gesture, it may be possible to escape the mechanisms of control by opening up the psyche to 'crazy wisdom' and the outlandish techne of the Occult.

Psychic Nomadism
The tactic of 'psychic nomadism'; a term used by Bey to encapsulate varying concepts such as, Deleuze and Guatarri's 'nomadology', Lyotard's 'driftworks' and the seminal psychogeographic work carried out by the Situationists, is essentially a post-ideological and 'rootless' mode in which it is possible to move easily between such incompatible territories as say, Taoism, Science, Tribalism, Hermeticism or indeed any formulation that can provide a solution to the cultural impasse produced by globalisation and its evil twin commodity fetishism.
The goal is to move beyond the circularity of thesis, antithesis and synthesis to a position where we are able to transcend Kant's 'categorical imperative' 107. There are no 'universal laws', so therefore we are free to create a modular morality based on self-sufficiency and a co-dependency that enables the participants to avoid all attempts to calcify the TAZ into an ideology. This lack of definition is Bey's answer to the mechanisms of recuperation that Capital uses to neuter all opposition.

A Tactic of Disappearance
The nature of the TAZ indicates that as the party ends the revellers will disappear, will fade into obscurity. Until the next irruption of the marvellous into the everyday can be engineered. Invoking Anarchist propagandist Bob Black's collocation, 'Type-3 Anarchism', meaning neither individual nor collectivist in formulation108, the TAZ is supposed to jettison the concepts of ideological purity and dialectical synthesis as the only methods of combating 'the spectacle'. Bey also wishes to see the 'revolutionary cadres' move away from their fascination with materialism and 19th century concepts of Scientism. In other words this is a truly post-modern call to arms, where the ability to 'appropriate' any technique, be it material or spiritual, is valued above a shallow and self-defeating martyrology, leading inevitably to burn-out and defeatism.
This 'quietist' revolution emphasises the 'pleasurable negation' of the power of the spectacle. It embraces with relish not only the dubious territory of occult speculation but offers the revolution up as a continuous celebration, which, however much the authorities try to contain it, will simply reappear in another form and in another place. This is, in the words of sixties radical Abbie Hoffman: 'revolution for the hell of it.'

What is Subjectivity?

"As the scientific rationality of Western Civilisation began to bear its full fruit, it became increasingly conscious of its psychical implications. The ego, which undertook the rational transformation of the human and natural environment revealed itself as an essentially aggressive, offensive subject, whose thoughts and actions were designed for mastering objects."95

Rene Descartes famous formulation 'cogito ergo sum' or 'I think therefore I am' can be seen as the beginning of the modern notion that man can be defined as separate from the world around him96. That rather than his identity being an immoveable and impermeable condition, it is a heuristic process wherein we are the end result of various physical and cultural preconditions. Through his emphasis on the separation of mind and body or rather that mind substance causes matter substance to react and vice versa, Descartes understood the essence of matter to be extension in space (res extensa), whereas mind is defined as 'active thinking' (res cogitans). He believed that our bodies, and those of animals, are machines, with man at least, having a soul to inhabit the gross corporeality of the body97. But he is also recognized for the formulation of what is generally known as 'Cartesian doubt', in which he resolves to distrust everything his senses throw at him. He decides that the only knowable thing is that we are thinking subjects.
This notion of the dualism of mind and matter, first brought to our attention by Plato and others, was a crucial determinant in what was to follow. By this I mean that the devaluation of the idea of entelechy being a motor in the development of organisms led directly to the growth of a purely materialistic apprehension of the world. What this eventually meant in cultural terms was the devaluation of man's relationship to the physical realm and the reification of an individuated identity. Little room then, for a centralised, authoritative notion of the self. Another way of looking at this might be to say that the pre-eminence of the individual at the expense of the communal was the start of a process of desacralization, which would shake to the core the foundations of a monolithic and repressive religious authority. This unexpected outcome is rather ironic, as Descartes was a devout Catholic whose theories were designed to enhance the theoretical position of the Church and not the reverse.

Subject and/or Object
In 'The Phenomenology of Perception' Maurice Merleau-Ponty takes issue with the, as he sees it, arbitrary and unnecessarily dualistic urge to separate subject from object.

"We started off from a world in itself which acted upon our eyes so as to cause us to see it, and now we have consciousness of, or thought about the world, but the nature of the world remains unchanged; it is still defined by the absolute mutual exteriority of its parts, and is merely duplicated throughout its extent by a thought which sustains it"98

He insists then that we cannot step out of the perception that the world is both inside and outside, in other words we, as subjects, are not merely passive before objects but are engaged in a dialectical relationship in which subject and object can only exist in relation to each other.
As I have tried to make clear earlier, the advent of Descartes' thought brought about a schism between the church and its followers, but more importantly it led to a splitting off, wherein the body began to be perceived as simply the mechanical extension of the mind. Leading, in the view of many, to the development of industrialised capitalism and the instrumentality inherent in its drive to dominate and exploit the world. As Merleau-Ponty later made clear, this is a false dichotomy. If we are our body, then it is of and in the world at one and the same time and is our means of communication with a world which perception helps to embody, rather than being a vehicle through which our transcendent mind experiences the world.

What did all of this do to us?
In placing us as subjects who react in response to objects out there, we are privileging the unconscious and the socio-cultural matrix over the individual. As individuals we are perceived as autonomous, free agents with no responsibility other than that which we owe to ourselves. But as subjects we can begin to see ourselves as products of, and under the influence of, culture. This influence being something of which we are often unaware. As Descartes turns rapidly in his grave, we can see how his initial ideas have led indirectly to the idea of the de-centred self. A self no longer in thrall to absolutist notions of how the universe is ordered. In Freudian terms the ego (or consciousness) is simply a part of the spectrum of who we are (the others in his case being Id and Superego) with the result that the self-reflective individual comes to the realisation that there is no centre with which to grasp the totality. We can see then how Descartes paved the way for the demise of ultimate truth or 'God'. 99

A Revolutionary Praxis?
Felix Guattari in his book 'Chaosmosis: an ethico-aesthetic paradigm' 100 re-emphasises the model applied by Merleau-Ponty. He describes what he calls 'the production model' within which subjectivity is produced by the various molar and molecular universes that are available. Meaning that, the subject is shaped by a range of input by individuals, groups or a more generalised cultural influence. In fact, he claims that theory can generate its own subjectivities, accusing the Freudian School of Psychoanalysis in particular of 'secreting' new forms of subjectivity, i.e. hysteria, infantile neurosis and psychosis, amongst others.

"Its no longer a question of determining whether the Freudian Unconscious or the Lacanian Unconscious provide scientific answers to the problem of the psyche. From now on these models, along with others, will only be considered in terms of the production of subjectivity...because every individual and social group conveys its own system of modelising subjectivity. None of them, whether fantasmic, delirious or theoretical, can be said to express an objective knowledge of the psyche."101

So each theoretical formulation accretes its own particular subjectivity. What Guattari is contending is that we should now take responsibility for the construction of a new model. But a model that is open to 'a constellation of universes' and that each of us initiate our own 'molecular revolution' as a first step in re-imagining the world.

"The imagination is revolutionary or it is nothing...""81

The history of the Surrealist82 Movement has been exhaustively documented elsewhere, therefore I will very briefly outline the basic tenets adhered to by the Surrealists and then go on to look in detail at Breton's shifting allegiances to revolutionary Communism in the form of the French Communist Party and latterly to the underground tradition of Hermetic thought.
Andre Breton was the pre-eminent theoretician of 'La Revolution Surrealiste' wherein the world was to be recast by the unfettering of the imagination from the prosaic and stultifying effects of bourgeois morality.83
Originally coined by the poet Guillaume Apollinaire the term 'Surrealism' was associated with the idea of the irrational and the exploration of the subconscious pioneered by Sigmund Freud. The Surrealists were eager to appropriate the skewed logic of dream and apply it to the workings of the creative process, and through this means to disrupt the rational underpinnings of society.
Using (amongst many others) such experimental techniques as 'automatic writing', a kind of trance-induced literary parlour game through which the Surrealists endeavoured to exploit the unconscious well-springs of creativity, and 'decalcomania', the blotting of ink, paint etc onto paper to procure images by the application of 'chance', Breton and his colleagues attacked the very foundations of reason, which, according to their critique was being used as a weapon by the forces of repression.
Taking to heart the rallying cry of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud to instigate the 'systematic disordering of the senses' they used the form of the game to collectively test the boundaries of the permissible. The Surrealists propounded dream, the imagination and the forces of the unconscious as their main weapons in the fight against bourgeois morality and its attendant shibboleths, war and economic servitude.

A Freudian Revolution
With these ends in mind they spent a great deal of their time and energy attempting to investigate the veiled contours of the human psyche. They proceeded to delve into such areas as childhood, the rituals of 'primitive' peoples, various forms of 'madness' and a potlatch of Alchemical and Hermetic techniques and practices. In particular they were influenced by the ideas of Sigmund Freud. They viewed Freud's therapeutic practices as a primary tool in their revolution. His techniques could be put to the service of this revolution in that they could be used to expose the hidden mechanisms of control embedded in the psyche as well as conjure up the hitherto unrealised possibilities inherent in a mind 'cleansed' of harmful psychological accretions. Freud's techniques such as free association, hypnosis and catharsis were seen as handy tools in their ideological battle. It does in fact seem that his ideas were co-opted wholesale and put to the service of the 'revolution'. This was in spite of the fact that Freud saw his therapies as a means of re-integrating the patient back into society, with a new acceptance of the constraints imposed by that society. Yet, as has been forcibly pointed out by Raoul Vaneigem the Surrealists did not hesitate to 'aestheticize' these revolutionary ideas, perhaps at the expense of their radical potential.84 By this he means that they failed to apprehend the level of 'recuperation' that the state was capable of and that the potential of these techniques was squandered as commodifiable objet d'art, when they could have been used to inaugurate a more profound change in the social order. In other words the state also had a vested interested in manipulating the minds of the general populace and perhaps was in a better position to do so than the Surrealists.
Asleep at the Wheel of History

"The creative union of the conscious with the unconscious is what one usually calls 'inspiration'. Revolution is the inspired frenzy of history." 85

André Breton's attempts to marry the outré methods of agitation adopted by the Surrealists with the disciplinarian regime and instrumental tactics of the French Communist Party can be seen in retrospect to be a rather quixotic endeavour doomed to failure. Yet at the time (the first half of the nineteen twenties) the relationship between liberal intellectual life in the West and the Bolshevik project in the U.S.S.R. had not yet soured into mutual suspicion. There was every indication at the time that the revolution of the proletariat would inevitably spread from there to the rest of the World. The Surrealists were far from immune to the fever of anticipation and debate that this prospect engendered, and wished to throw in their lot with the revolutionary potential of the working class.
To initiate this marriage of opposites the Surrealists proposed a 'new phase' and disposed them selves to jettison the 'revolutionary' fulminations of the likes of Rimbaud, Jarry and Lautréamont in favour of a more Marxist etymology designed to bridge the gap between themselves and the F.C.P. These concessions however, did nothing to alleviate the suspicions of the Communists. Even with the vocal support of the Clarté Movement86 earlier Surrealist provocations such as issue four of 'La Revolution Surréaliste' calling for a 'War on Work' had not endeared them to the Party, which had initiated a veritable cult of work. Victor Crastre, an influential member of Clarté became interpreter and apologist towards the Party on behalf of the Surrealists. But the party remained dubious about these 'artists', whose motives and orthodoxy they suspected. It was left to Clarté and the Surrealists to make common cause, to the extent that they embarked on a joint publication, 'La Guerre Civile'. But this fraternal document was never to appear due perhaps to the divergent character of the participants, but mainly to the pressure applied to the Clartéistes from a still suspicious Party.
The Communists were of course correct to be suspicious of the motives of the Surrealists. Their espousal of all things liminal, other and poetic was seen as counter-revolutionary. At least in the terms set down by the commissars of the Party. Especially galling was their insistence on individualism.

"Do the Surrealists believe in the liberation of the mind before the abolition of bourgeois conditions of material life, or do they comprehend that a revolutionary spirit can be created only after the Revolution is accomplished?87"

The Surrealists bent over backwards to accommodate the Communists. They were encouraged to ditch their cherished theories and programmes and embrace the pragmatic vision of the French communist Party. Even though the core group of Surrealists around Breton actually joined the party88 there were others in the group (of around twenty five) who were more ambivalent. Antonin Artaud was actually expelled from the group and replied in terms as bitter as those used to vilify himself on the occasion of his removal.

"...I deny the logical development of Surrealism has led to Marxism. I had always thought that such an independent movement as Surrealism was not susceptible to the ordinary process of logic. This contradiction which, however, will not disturb the Surrealists very much, bent as they are on letting nothing go which could be to their advantage, or anything that can serve them momentarily."89

The contradictions within the movement were not to be so easily resolved. From its beginnings Surrealism had displayed markedly anarchistic and even mystical characteristics, so this forced marriage between an organisation intent on dismantling the psychic shackles of bourgeois life and a rigidly controlled Party apparatus dedicated to the founding of a 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat' was never likely to run smoothly.

Socialist Realism
The uneasy relationship between the two was finally brought to a head when the doctrine of socialist realism began to be officially promulgated by the Party. This doctrine meant that art was now an adjunct to the struggle for emancipation. It had become a means to propagandise the coming Socialist Utopia. In practice this meant a kind of 'revolutionary romanticism' portraying the workers as heroic figures building a new world from the smoking ruins of the Capitalist hegemony. In plain terms this meant Socialism portrayed realistically. The incompatibility with 'historical materialism' could no longer be ignored. 'Liberation of the mind' as a prerequisite to the emancipation of the masses was an idea that the comrades would never accept. Breton and his colleagues, while continuing to view themselves as Marxist revolutionaries, were not about to abandon such fruitful avenues as, amongst others, the revolutionary potential of Freudian psychoanalysis and the dialectical alchemical transformation of the subject.

The Golden Game
"Man is perhaps not the centre, the focus of the universe. One may go so far as to believe that there exist above him, on the animal level, beings whose behaviour is as alien to him as his own must be to the may-fly or the whale."90

Surrealism's engagement with the supremely anti-rational philosophies of Alchemy and Hermeticism was something that was to resonate throughout its history. From its beginnings the movement had flirted with these murky concepts. This fascination with the symbolic and allegorical traditions of a medieval 'science' of the distillation of the human spirit, was to fuel the speculations of the group even when attempting to embrace the historical endgame of dialectical materialism91.
Whilst Alchemy can be viewed as the naïve precursor of the science of Chemistry, or the repository of all manner of 'occult' speculation, it was also an assortment of techniques designed as aids in the transmutation of the self. The allegorical nature of much of the literature pertaining to Alchemy was designed to facilitate this process.
From the thirteenth right up until the eighteenth century (and on into the twenty first) Alchemy and its practitioners were viewed as legitimate scientists engaged not in the (alleged) transformation of one material substance into another92, but as adepts of a spiritual discipline, wherein man was the base material in a process, which endeavoured to refine the human soul.
As the pendulum swung from the spiritual and communal, to a more secular and individual engagement with the world, alchemical practice mirrored this change. In this quasi-scientific paradigm all matter was divided into four elements: earth, air, fire and water, all of these being interchangeable with the others. Much was made of the everyday transmutation of one element into another, i.e. water into steam or ice, caterpillars morphing into butterflies, ore into metals. Unlike today's specialised, compartmentalised sciences Alchemy took into account all manner of phenomena produced by the natural world, as well as those fashioned by the mind of man. Encompassing not only the mystical and spiritual aspects inherent to man, but also the chemical the medicinal properties of plants and minerals.
In attempting to heal the microcosm of the self, the Alchemists believed they could extend the process to the macrocosm, or wider world. This dialectical synthesis of the material and the spiritual would bring about not only a profound change in the psyche of the initiate but could somehow transform the conditions of the world she inhabited. Alchemy then, or The Golden Game, as it came to be known, aspired to change the very nature of reality.

Coincidencia Apositorum
The ontology of Science denies that opposites can somehow come together and transmute into something other than the sum of their parts. Mind and matter are, in the purview of Science, wholly irreconcilable. The 'coincidencia apositorum', or union of opposites is central to the underlying symbolism of Alchemy and to the corpus of hermetic literature that supports it. Breton's insistence that Surrealism could be viewed as a return to the outlook of these occult societies of the middle ages highlighted his need to be in binary opposition to the bourgeois moral code
But there was also the urge to dialectically transcend the binary absolutes of good and evil, madness and sanity, eros and thanatos. The Alchemists symbolic repository for this concept was 'The Philosophers Stone', designed to facilitate this conjunction of opposites, it was often depicted symbolically as the androgyne. The International Surrealist Exhibition of 1947 was planned as a kind of initiatory journey with specifically 'occult' trappings and iconography. There you could worship at the altars of various deities as well as commune directly with The Philosophers Stone itself93.
By this time Bretons focus had shifted irrevocably. His attempts to forge an alliance with Marxists and latterly Trotskyites had the effect of pushing him further towards the conclusion that real change could only come once the psychic chains forged by Cartesian Duality had been shattered once and for all. For him alchemy was a tool with which to reinvest language with a shroud of mystery and occluded meaning, through the application of allegory and symbolism.
Breton and the Surrealists had scented the hubris at the centre of the empire of Science and rationality, and the concomitant industrial processing of humanity. Perhaps the separation of mind and body into forever irreconcilable opposites could be reversed by the application of archaic technologies of the self, designed to reveal the multi-dimensionality of a human subject freed from the dual prisons of an instrumental language and morality.

"...the historical avant garde became the unacknowledged legislators of a non-existent and still totally imaginal world, a counterworld or utopia in the literal sense of 'no place'.94

Ongs Hat: or the cultural dissemination of a 'magical' meme72

"You are, each one, a priest. Just for yourself."73

Very early on in the life of the internet (around 1978) a strange rumour began to circulate. A list of books known as the 'incunabula'74 was passed around which purported to be the residue of an experiment carried out clandestinely in the 'village' of Ongs Hat in the New Jersey Pine Barrens75. Many people at once realised they were on the receiving end of a sophisticated attempt to mess with their minds76. But for others it was already too late...
The true location of Ongs Hat can only be found on old survey maps of the area but around 1978 a character by the name of 'Wali Fard' purchased around 200 acres of land in the Pine Barrens and proceeded to set up the 'Moorish Science Ashram'77. The ashram then allegedly became a base and refuge for a series of scientific dissidents, two of whom were recently expelled from Princeton University for dabbling in a new theory of their own devising - 'cognitive chaos'. The associated research carried out at Ongs Hat consisted of a mixture of philosophical speculation, quantum mechanical theorising and technological innovation. In practice this meant that the new science of chaos mathematics78 had been wedded to some kind of 'mind-machine'79, the two again being combined with certain tantric sex 80practices to facilitate the participants journeying to another universe, and/or parallel world(s). Over time the theory and practice of the ashram was developed culminating in the production of 'Eggs'. These were devices which in conjunction with the above techniques could facilitate what came to be called 'n-dimensional travel'. Essentially this seemed to be an attempt to wed research on consciousness, the new science of chaos mathematics and the mind-altering possibilities of certain Eastern religious forms with radical politics into a mind-expanding whole.
At some point the ashram was infiltrated by certain 'intelligence agencies'. Purpose unknown. This culminated in a raid by 'delta force commando's' who proceeded to destroy the commune and kill most of its members. Luckily some were able to escape to 'Earth 2' to continue the fight for freedom and the right to drop acid and surf the n-dimensional wave.
The apparent ludicrousness of this story did not stop a welter of speculation as to what exactly was going on. Someone somewhere had gone to a lot of time and trouble to produce just enough information so that even the most sceptical of enquirers found themselves with a seed of doubt planted in their minds, or if not doubt, at least fascination.
What really seemed to be going on was that certain people had constructed a sophisticated model designed to facilitate the raising of the consciousness of those willing and able to follow the clues.
This 'message' concealed within an ever mutating counter-cultural shaggy dog story was an outrageous mutation of situationist theory, dubious occult practices, romantic anarchism and borderline paedophilia.

"The Middle-Ages were no more Christian than the late Eastern Bloc was communist."51

Then, as now, political orthodoxy can be viewed as a thin skein of obfuscation, flummery and bullshit thrown over an untrammelled wilderness of both heresy and refusal.
The Brethren of the Free Spirit was one of the more outre´ manifestations of religious and political dissent at this period. Until the publication of Professor Norman Cohn's52 book in 1957 little was known of this influential and widespread movement, indeed it has often been claimed that no such organisation in fact existed and that it was the confabulation of Catholic propagandists eager to blacken the name of any dissension from the One True Faith.
According to Greil Marcus in his book 'Lipstick Traces'53 the cult of the Free Spirit arose as a result of the slide of the Churches own poverty-proclaiming orders into 'wealth and bureaucracy'54. Yet the seeds of heresy were already implanted in the ossified structure of Catholic Dogma, in that a mystical apprehension of the 'reality' of the Christian message was difficult for the church to disavow. There was a hunger amongst the laity to experience direct communion with their God.
That these self-directed routes to the Godhead were viewed with suspicion by the Fathers of the Church must come as no surprise, as it was in the interests of these same to keep a tight grip on the symbolic power of their position as arbiters of the Word of God. That the members of this new cult were proclaiming themselves nothing less (and often more) than living Gods and Goddesses and deliberately casting themselves adrift from the strictures and conventions of Catholic hegemony set alarm bells ringing in the Vatican.55
The mystical doctrine espoused by the Brethren was intensely subjective, a kind of default antinomianism wherein the subject considered his status as the 'perfect man' elevated him beyond the supermundane morality of his peers. Inevitably this meant that he or she trampled gaily on the strict injunctions against sexual impropriety expounded by the Church Fathers56.

Amaury of Bène
The progenitor of these diabolical doctrines was allegedly one Amaury of Bène, a lecturer in logic and theology at the University of Paris. After being denounced as a heretic and forced to make a public recantation57 he took to his bed and died in 1206 or thereabouts.
His ideas seemed to propose a sort of mystical pantheism in the Neo-Platonic mould, a reiteration of the pagan notion of a host of deities populating the aethers between ourselves and an all pervasive deity in that,

'all things are One, because whatever is, is God.'

His followers, known at that time as the Amaurian's, claimed that 'each one of them was Christ and the Holy Spirit' and that his death and rebirth; the Incarnation, was being surpassed by and within themselves. These 'Spirituals' as they were known, viewed themselves as the precursors of a worldwide transformation in which all of mankind was to be perfected58.
By the end of the Thirteenth Century the heresy of the Free Spirit was preached by a cadre of voluntary mendicants known as Beghards. These 'vagabond monks' were often priests or clerks in official orders and many were said to be skilled in oratory and theological debate.
The Beghards attracted many women to their ranks, often of high social standing59. Known as Beguines, they were de facto Priestesses and played an integral role in the life of the sect. Many of these women banded together to form communities of like-minded seekers. Inevitably these women and their 'houses of widows' attracted the suspicious attention of the ecclesiastical authorities. Many
of them were excommunicated by the Council of the See of Mainz, in 1259.

Breaking Boundaries
As mentioned earlier, the heresy of the Free Spirit was much concerned with the violation of any and all moral conventions stipulated by the Church. The doctrine of Original Sin60 was seen as being particularly oppressive and attempts to overcome its strictures meant for the Brethren, the deliberate refutation of taboos against sex out with marriage and even within families.

'If Original Sin was traced to lust, lust had to be pursued in all its forms...One destroyed the lie of Original Sin by refuting it in acts.'...Free Spirit Johann Hartman testified in 1367 that 'he could have intercourse with his sister or his mother in any place, even on the alter' 61

'If religion has 'always' acted to enslave the mind or to reproduce the ideology of the ruling class, it has also 'always' involved some form of entheogenesis (birth of the god within) or liberation of consciousness; some form of utopian proposal or promise of 'heaven on earth'; and some form of militant and positive action for 'social justice' as God's plan for the creation."62

This 'birth of the god within' or self-deification was central to the purpose of the Brethren. If 'God is all that is' then it was natural that they themselves were also repositories of this divine spark.63
Therefore our true nature is this small portion of the divine essence concealed within the base material of our bodies, whose purpose it is to find its way back to the Godhead to be reabsorbed into an all-pervasive and blissful transcendence.
But before this ineffable transformation could take place the adherents of the Free Spirit; as a kind of self-aware spiritual elite, were happy to view themselves as inviolable Gods on Earth. The 'subtle in spirit' as they called themselves carried their own little piece of Heaven around with them. As a consequence of these beliefs they eschewed any restrictions placed upon their behaviour and certainly believed themselves to be on a par with Christ. In fact, as reported by the Bishop of Strasbourg, one member of the sect claimed that,

'All the honour that is given to Christ is really given to me and to all those who have attained the higher life.'64

Mystical Anarchism
This amounted to a kind of mystical anarchism wherein religious freedoms were wedded to the call for social and structural change within society. Specifically this meant a total opposition to the idea of private property. As seems to be the case with the Brethren, they took this as license to take what they wished. As the Bishop of Strasbourg commented,

'They believe that all things are common, whence they conclude that theft is lawful for them.65'

Most accounts of the behaviour and beliefs of the Free Spirit were of course filtered through the distorting lens of the Church. Many confessions of heresy were extracted through tortures of one kind or another. Yet we can still discern something of the fiery spirit of refusal that permeated the movement. Perhaps the unease felt in ecclesiastical ranks was due to the absolute nature of this revolt, as well as its call to the poor to take what is rightfully theirs in the first instance. After all, in the words of one John of Brünn,

'All things which God created are common!'66

The idea that you could take from life what you desired and no blame or sin would come of it was the purest heresy, denying the church all secular and religious authority.

An Alchemy of the Spirit
The concern with perfection within the ranks of the Brethren was central to their programme. One of the few documents attributed to the Free Spirit to have survived the depredations of the Church is Marguerite Porete's 'Mirror of the Simple Souls.' In this text Porete outlines the main tenets of the sect. She makes clear that the souls intimate identification with God is also the pathway to freedom in the profane world,
'...why should such souls scruple to take what they need when necessity demands it? (...) Who should scruple to take what he needs from the four elements, taking light from the sky, heat from the fire, dew from the water and support from the earth?67

In this way the initiate has essentially brought forth heaven from within herself. The world has been transformed by an act of will. The soul is now rejoicing in a permanent relationship with God whilst still residing in the world.68 As well as an unprecedented freedom, this exalted state also resulted in the re-igniting or re-founding of that state of primal innocence experienced by Adam and Eve before The Fall. A more fortuitous development is that the initiate is now incapable of Sin.
'Since Love (God) has taken up residence in the soul, he takes charge of all things and all deeds; so the soul can experience no unease and no remorse69.

That this incredible doctrine was widespread in the Middle Ages is not in doubt. This alchemical transformation of the self, with its implication that the world would be recreated to the specifications of the Free Spirit undoubtedly impacted on the social sphere. Its adherents set up communes, took over cities and declared whole areas free of the influence of the Church, as well as creating many underground cabals in cities throughout Europe. The Free Spirit were also bold in their proselytising; haranguing priests within the precincts of their own diocese, disrupting services and (In scenes reminiscent of later anti-clerical actions, such as those undertaken by the surrealist poet Benjamin Peret.) attacking priests in the street.70

The Reversal of Perspective
In his book 'The Movement of the Free Spirit' Raoul Vaneigem is explicit in stating that these 'heretics' were primarily social and economic outcasts and that their revolt was in essence the pursuit of a radical alternative to prevailing social conditions, i.e. the predominance of self-ordained hierarchies. He notes the immediacy of their call to action and their prescient refusal of the twin yokes of work and guilt. This 'reversal of perspective' can only be achieved through a willingness to think beyond the schema outlined by the promoters of an official cultural perspective. To reverse ones perspective is to call into question every received axiom, for example, the family, the church, the divine order of things. This is essentially to take ones own subjectivity as a starting point, to reconnect with stifled desires and creatively reorder the world in their image. Vaneigem speaks of three interlinked principles: participation, communication and self-realisation as being the foundation for the construction of a new system wherein praxis, the combination of theory and practice, will constitute a radical reordering of the status quo. In this light the heretical sects of the Middle Ages can perhaps be viewed as purveyors of 'total revolution'. They wished to reverse or refute the historical process by bringing into being a Golden Age. Universal Brotherhood would be instituted as the dichotomy of master/slave was abolished along with its material and spiritual base, the Church. This could only take place if man was willing to take the final step and assume the mantle of Godhood. Their insistence on the communality of all property meant that even this exalted state was not exempt and was indeed intended to be the final act in the spiritual and physical emancipation of Mankind.

"The highest wisdom consists in this, for man to know himself . . . therefore let high inquirers and searchers into the deep mysteries of nature learn first to know what they have in themselves, and by the divine power within them let them first heal themselves and transmute their own souls."
The Alchemist, Alipili171

"Like the other phantasies which have gone to make up the revolutionary eschatology of Europe, egalitarian and communistic phantasies can be traced back to the ancient world. It was from the Greeks and Romans that medieval Europe inherited the notion of the 'State of Nature' as a state of affairs in which all men were equal in status and wealth and in which nobody was oppressed or exploited by anybody else; a state of affairs characterized by universal good faith and brotherly love and also, sometimes, by total community of property and even of spouses."48

Just as today dissenting voices sound out against a backdrop of Capital Triumphant, so in times past these same voiced their opposition within a rigid framework of piety, the absolute moral authority of the Church, a hierarchy of Pope's, Kings, Cardinals and a miscellany of lesser deities.
The Middle Ages49 had spawned a myriad cults, sects, reformers and messiahs, many promulgating a remarkably similar set of wares as their likeminded brothers and sisters in today's spiritual and ideological marketplace. This is perhaps not so remarkable, as economic and cultural subordination are of a similar ilk, then as now.50 What can be remarked upon is the reluctance of many of today's ideologues to acknowledge the dark stain of end time prophesying and millenarian yea-saying embedded in their 'rational' programmes of political reform.
In this section then, I will focus attention on some of these heretical, mystical and antinomian antecedents with the intention of articulating the ways in which they prefigure and inform their latter day equivalents
The Situationist Project: A critique of everyday life

'Le Internationale Situationniste' was born out of the theoretical writings of the young Karl Marx,17 the artistic and political fulminations of the Surrealists and the poetic urbanism of their immediate forebears the Lettriste Internationale.18

"...the surrealists were wrong, says H. Lefebvre, to escape from everyday life into the surreal; the important thing to do is to incorporate the miraculous into the everyday; before life can become the art of living, art has to invade life."19

Essentially the situationist line was that Marx had not taken the critique of capital far enough and that the logic of capitalism had not only warped the working conditions of the proletariat but had invaded the social too. In an almost 'gnostic20' sense they had forged a theoretical split. 'Reality' was now mediated by the bureaucracy of capital to such an extent that an alternative to the prevailing order was all but unthinkable. It was not now enough to organise a general resistance to the depredations of capitalism one had to question the unthinking conditioning towards an ethics of consumption taking place at all times and in all spheres. By this I mean that a 'separation' had occurred between what we thought of as our desires and the real conditions of our lives. This 'mediation' meant that it had become increasingly difficult to separate what was real from what was not.
A reply to this gloomy prognostication might be that the inequalities and contradictions of the capitalist system are there for all to see and therefore easy to subvert. But there is, according to the situationist critique, a problem with this option. The 'recuperative' abilities of the system are such that,

"The spectacle has invaded not only society but also its contradiction. Opposition has become just as much a matter of spectacle (ideological in the Marxian sense). In other words, side by side with the pure acceptance of the 'silent majority' there is a purely contemplative revolt. Dissatisfaction itself having become frozen into a piece of merchandise, the dissatisfied man finds it difficult to emerge from his role of dissatisfied man."21

To counteract this state of affairs they proposed the construction of 'situations'. In part this was an attempt to redirect the free energy of the creative process into the social field and in this way effect the emergence of new patterns of social relations.
This critique often took the form of a deconstruction of the built
environment. Attempts were made to map the city by other means, by paying attention to the psychological or subjective components of a given city22. They evolved techniques such as 'détournement'23 the 'derive'24 and the 'psychogeographical'25 mapping of the city. These were all in the service of escaping the creeping 'commodification of the subject' and the 'reification'26 of products that the situationists perceived as taking place in every aspect of our social relations. Through these means it was hoped that a general insurrection against the stifling tenets of capital could be instaurated.

How to escape your own alienation27
Perhaps it is a banality these days to point out that the logic of production and consumption has been internalised. But that banalization28 of culture was seen as a central effect of the machinations of capital by the situationists and they spent much of their time attempting, practically and theoretically, to escape these supposed conditions.

"The alienation felt as a result of having had your thinking done for you by the ideologies of our day, can lead to the search for the pleasurable negation of that alienation: thinking for yourself. It is the pleasure of making your mind your own."29

But it must have been a real thorn in their collective theoretical side as their vision of an all-encompassing system may have had the unfortunate effect of inducing apathy in many of their followers. 3031
The irony is that their critique came along at around the same time as the advent of the 'consumer durable' and an attendant rise in general prosperity. This led to the theorising of 'the poverty of everyday life'32.

"The poverty against which man has been struggling constantly is not merely the poverty of material goods: in fact, in industrially advanced countries the disappearance of material poverty has revealed the poverty of existence itself."33

This 'supersession' of the Marxist analysis of capitalism by taking into account the reality of the changing circumstances of the proletariat was the main theoretical platform of the situationists. Consumption and its attendant paraphernalia34 had been reified to the extent that no one questioned the pre-eminence of the market. 'Change' itself had become just another advertising gambit.
This 'recuperation' was seen as capitals most subtle method of neutralising dissent. When your attempt at destroying the system is almost immediately sold back to you in bowdlerised form35 you know your beat.

A Radical Subjectivity36
Needless to say the situationists had a general contempt for their contemporaries on the political left. They viewed 'ideology' as a trap and advocated 'revolution as festival'. In an attempt to invert the perceived failure of past social movements they emphasised the role of 'self-realisation' in the struggle for revolutionary change.

"The oppression exercised by human government is essentially threefold: constraint, alienating mediation, and magical seduction37. The will to live also draws its vitality and its coherence from the unity of a threefold project: self-realisation, communication and participation."38

The contemporary human subject39 is seen as being at the mercy of these powerful forces and escape from the boredom and nullity of a consumerist existence was of paramount importance to the situationist project. This 'escape' was to be realised by a kind of self-administered therapy session wherein the basic falsity of the world of 'things' and ideologies was apprehended and superseded by an act of will or 'seeing'. This amounted to a kind of high-powered day-dreaming and self-reflection with the added bonus that this would awaken the desire to change not only ones interior self but the conditions of life which brought about this state of affairs in the first instance.
Self-theory, as it came to be known, was seen as a tool to deconstruct your own alienated state. In an outright rejection of the mind/body split, thinking and feeling came to be regarded as inseparable,

"...since thought comes from subjective, emotive experience...You build your self theory when you develop a theory of practice - a theory of how to get what you desire from life."40

Self-theory was supposed to be the opposite of ideology, with its adherence to an 'abstraction.' Ideology was seen as upside-down theory, where there is an 'inversion of subject and object'. This 'false consciousness' was the trap prepared by both capital and its equally dangerous flipside, authoritarian communism41.

"The essence of what many leftists, therapy-mongers, racism awareness trainers and sisteriser's term 'consciousness raising' is their practice of beating people about the head with their ideological billyclubs."42

In forging a new subjectivity, a radical subjectivity, one began with oneself as the centre of a project of de-mystification with, according to Raoul Vaneigem,43 subjectivity as the dynamic force, which in the process of realising itself will also realise the world. In other words as you open your eyes to the true conditions of this world you will be forced to take steps to rectify the horrors you perceive.
But there were traps hidden along the way and a process of 'dialectical thinking' was touted as one of the ways to avoid the twin quagmires of absolutism and cynicism. This meant constantly re-evaluating and re-appropriating ones theoretical practice to arrive at a 'qualitative supersession, a new totality'44.
Of course in truly post-modern fashion the situationists were aware that they themselves and their theoretical edifice were as much in danger of recuperation, if not more so. Their famous 'intransigence' led them, after their 'success' in the events of May 196845, to dissolve the organisation, in the hope of avoiding this fate. Alas this was not to be, as their role was almost immediately mythologized and the subsequent banalization of their ideas and strategies took place in the cultural and commercial spheres. Yet their legacy lives on and these self same strategies and ideas have taken a turn that would have horrified the original participants, who, for all their unspoken millenarianism were working very much within the tradition of enlightenment thought and its rejection46 of mysticism in all its forms. Yet, as we shall see, there is a strong connection between the desire to lift the ideological veil and the ancient urge to chart the immaterial realms of the mind
"Enlightenment radicalism has long refused to recognise any but remote historical roots within religious radicalism. As a result, the Revolution threw out the baby ("non-ordinary consciousness") along with the bathwater of the Inquisition or of puritan repression."47
Into the Mystic: A short introduction

"An idea is something you have, an ideology is something that has you."5

We have become 'de-centred subjects'. All the old certainties have been erased. All those pensioners you can see on the streets of Glasgow with fear in their eyes and in their bearing are not so much scared of violent crime (although they are of course6) as of the bewildering changes that are taking place all around them. But age makes them fragile and wary, what excuse do we, the more robust citizenry, have for our angst?
People are searching for certainty. They want answers to all those most pressing questions. Who am I? Why am I here? What should I do? How can I change the world? Many of these will find succour in the ranks of either political organisations or religious denominations. Perhaps both. At the same time. That they will do this, not out of enlightened self-interest but as the result of despair says everything about the kind of society we now inhabit. Scratch the surface and all the old demons are still there. But generally people are not stupid (not all of the time) so they must be doing something right. And of course we all instinctively know that a community of like-minded souls is what we really need.
Like many people I have, in the past, dabbled with political ideologies and with the bi-polar opposite, mysticism. In my mind there lives a strange (but not unusual) admixture of situationist theory7, pop-mysticism8, punk rock9, anarchism10 and tripped-out Robert Anton Wilson-style psychedelia.11
As with many others I am beginning to perceive a sea change in the way our world is ordered. The post-modernist 12 and deconstructivist13 strains in contemporary thought are now mainstream. The New Science has broken down the door of Cartesian Dualism14 and the notion that there is some kind of mind/body split. As is always the case, these changes will have massive and unforeseen consequences for the way we live our lives. How will the myth of progress sustain itself in the face of the events of September 11th 2001? 15
I wonder sometimes if the apparent contradictions embodied in the above are not about to be resolved in some mind-shattering, epoch-making change? In which the scientistic16/materialist paradigm will come crashing down only to be replaced by...what?

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