17 April 2009

A musical interlude below....

In a post last year about the late great Robert Anton Wilson, I had this to say:

to survive as a "stand-up guru" full-time you have to enter a Small Businessman's Reality Tunnel


I just realised that the same could be said of Robert Fripp. I have a lot of respect for the guy. But I realised that I find his most interesting and exciting stuff comes out of the late 1970's, when he still had a major-label record contract and his business affairs were run by managers who he trusted. So he was much more free, paradoxically, even though he was being financially used and spat out.

For those of you not familiar with the world of prog-rock, of course, Robert Fripp discovered the hard way that the music industry = "slavery and theft" (his words) when he realised that his managers had been methodically ripping him off for decades. He had to take seven years out of his musical life to sue the bastards to a standstill. After that, he set up his own record label. He had a belief that it should be possible (and therefore would be) to operate a record company in a way that would make a profit and act like a responsible citizen at the same time. He was, sadly, wrong, in that he couldn't actually make money without exploiting his artists. So he let them go and the label continues as his outlet for his own projects and those of close buddies.

But if you read his more recent blog, I don't enjoy it as much as the interviews from the late 70's. A lot of angry and frustrated comments about attempting to get major record labels to pay him for downloads of his work. Well, he's allowed to be angry about that. But to succeed as a self-employed person you have to act like a small capitalist and react to the world as if it were made of money rather than people. At that point, the ideas suffer.

I always thought, parenthetically, that the big problem in Fripp's analysis is that all productive labour under capitalism is "slavery and theft", not just music. In music - and other forms of intellectual property - it's more obvious because of copyright et al. But copyright in the modern age is simply a way to give privileges to memetic / cultural workers which physical and service workers don't get, which makes them think of themselves as entitled to certain privileges and gives them a stake in existing, exploitative class society. I think Fripp backed himself into a dead end because he didn't expand his absolutely correct insights from the music industry to all of society.

In summary: I really think you can't operate in the market place and not be corrupted by it. But on the other hand, sticking with the major labels is also brain-death of a different kind, in that you are playing on someone else's agenda. A look at the career of the guys in Yes - a band which did the precise opposite of what Fripp did at every juncture - shows that they lost their soul precisely because of their reliance on big corporate bux and an inability to come up with schemes and visions that could be put into action without corporate backing.

And that's how I justify it to myself that I never made it as a big rock-n-roll star. Fripp himself said it best years ago: "The business of a musician is music. The business of a professional musician is business. Best not to be a professional musician unless you have no choice."

(Heh. Cue Fripp writing a snide blog post about me if he ever reads this, like Ivan Stang did.)

How hard it is to grow - can you imagine it?

Truly the road to one's own personal enlightenment is like unto crawling over five miles of broken glass on your hands and knees. Even worse, there's no real road map, so if you're not lucky you might be going in circles.

Hence the temptation, from all of us who've gotten somewhere and achieved something (though not necessarily communicable, or indeed significant), to instantly publish our own Revealed! The Only Roadmap You'll Ever Need to the Broken Glass Field!

Except, of course, everyone starts from a different place in the Broken Glass Field, so someone else's road map will be of limited use. Note I said limited. The essence of Marxism is that there is a fundamental material base to all our spiritual, social and physical yearnings - and as globalization picks up speed, the amount of "sameness" increases on a global scale. Therefore, mystical manuals and manifesti grow in usefulness and applicability in the modern era, just because the diversity of frames of reference is being narrowed.

But any roadmap is useless if you follow it 100% - except for the person who designed it, and you have to look at them to see how useful it is for them. All that anyone who is consciously setting out on a programme of initiation / political activism can do is clarify the principles by which they had whatever success they have had, so that the experiments can be replicated to see if they are universal or only true-for-you.

This is where we are going with the oncoming booklet - it will be in part a collection of what we think are basic universal principles for the struggle for human consciousness in decadent global capitalism of the 21st century, and in part a series of experimental accounts. In fact, we might just publish the first part on its own and then do the experiments later (don't laugh, that's how we got The Communist Manifesto). But it won't be complete until the results are in.

We are not making a map for you - we are explaining how we've made our own map so you can make your own. Eventually, I think all the worthwhile maps lead in the same direction, which is not necessarily "out", but to areas of a better quality of broken glass. As Robert Fripp puts it, out of the basement onto the ground floor, if we're lucky.

Speaking of Fripp: what he did for guitar players, I suppose we're trying to do for democratic, radical and socialist political activists. Except of course Fripp was a bad-ass guitar player to start with and I'm not exactly Hugo Chávez, but we all do what we can and then God-however-defined does what we can't.

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I am at the moment meditating on the image of / praying three times daily to the quasi-monotheistic God/Dess of the World To Come. I encourage everyone else who is excited by the Chaos Marxist principles to do likewise for, oh, let's say, from the New Moon in April (25th or thereabouts) to the New Moon in July (22nd or thereabouts). And publish your results, in comments here, in emails to me, or on your own forums or blogs and send me a link. Those of you who've been working on images of this godform are invited to publish them and use them in this discipline, although I'm personally not using anthropomorphic iconography at the moment.

15 April 2009

horror

"... in the Church of the SubGenius you are allowed to believe that you are not going to hell, but first you must face the fact that you are IN HELL NOW! Are you not?" - Ivan Stang

"If we knew what a number of people are actually dead and what a number of these dead people govern our lives, we should go mad with horror." - G. I. Gurdjieff

"Though I'm pretty sure of the importance and usefulness of what I'm saying, I have to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing." - Doloras LaPicho

"Remain in hell without despair" - J. G. Bennett

14 April 2009

The aim

We're making this into a book. The preliminary title is Chaos Marxism: do-it-yourself psychology and spirituality for the social movements. It will be very pretty and well laid up, but will only be produced in electronic form unless someone offers us big money. Expected publication date is "about a year from now". For those of you who are fans of Watchmen, imagine "The Veidt Method", only without the Charles Atlas stuff and I'm pretty sure I didn't kill fifteen three million people recently.

An introduction presents itself:

This course is not a manual for mystical initiation. Only for a tiny minority is that achievable in a single lifetime, or even a good idea. This course is not a self-help manual to help you manage your life better. There is already a truckload of material on that theme, of varying levels of quality. This course is also not a rigorous academic presentation of mass media theory, memetics, or the Marxist theory of ideology. However, it does offer a basic introduction to all of the above, boiled down to what we think will be useful for our target audience.

This course will teach you to do magick, of a sort - in the sense of Aleister Crowley's definition of "changing consciousness in accordance with will". It goes beyond most of the material on this matter however, in that it is written for a social movement seeking to change the consciousness of a whole society, or even a whole species.

This course is actually not for individuals at all. Our basic idea is that the "individual consciousness" or "spirit" is only a meaningful concept in the context of our whole species-being, much like the wind only has meaning in the consciousness of a planetary atmosphere. This course is for social movements aiming at a new and better way of being human together, and the members of such movements.

It suggests ways of being able to be more human together, of overcoming separation and alienation in our networks of struggle - and thus, necessarily, perhaps the tiniest glimpse but still real, of what a new, truly human world might look like. In this sense the only book like it we are aware of is Starhawk's
Truth or Dare (1987), which you really should read as well.

This book is only the first volume of a useful open-ended approach. If you are reading this more than ten years after its publication, and there was never a second volume, containing experimental results and refinements of the theory, then it was obviously a dead end and you should throw this book away now.

06 April 2009

Communities

Communities of faith are not healthy. Healthy communities are based on real things - like social fellowship, work, common struggle, and play. But once you start drawing the defining lines around you on the basis of abstract concepts of belief and professions of faith, you are in the sect mentality. Nothing comes out of a sect except more sectarianism - it is a dead end of the spirit. Of course, a community can be part a sect and part a healthy community, in which case our struggle is to maximise the proportion of "healthy".

ETA: Yeah, and that goes for identity as well as faith. Chaos Marxism declares struggle against the idolatry of faith and identity.

Truth is always concrete. The world has had enough of religion - that is, the drawing of lines around us on the basis of how we think or even what words we use rather than what we do. However, we must also realise that a religious or spiritual impulse is built into our species being as humanity. Our challenge is to (a) accept all spiritualities (and anti-spiritualities like atheism) which reveal themselves in healthy and positive action in the World As Is; (b) work towards the unity of humanity around a new way of life which will abolish distinctions between the material and spiritual realms altogether.

I humble myself

In essence, everything I ever wanted to say on this blog is summed up in this article. Why could I never have heard of this guy before?

01 April 2009

Never to a god made in the image of man.

What's wrong with this picture?



Opening of the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR in Moscow, 1989.

Richard Dawkins and evangelical Christianity agree that the human brain has a God-shaped hole in it. And as Terry Pratchett put it in the excellent Small Gods (which you should all read), if people don't believe in gods they might believe in anything. So we've got to learn to live with them.

The Church of the SubGenius has proved by experiment that it is possible to fill that hole successfully with any insane shit - including clip-art from the 1950's Yellow Pages - and Ivan Stang has made a living off it for 25 years now. As the photo demonstrates, Stalin filled it admirably with the icon of poor Lenin - I can't find an image online, but I've seen a postcard from the USSR with Lenin as goddamned Santa Claus, bringing toys to good children. (While I have affection for Lenin and consider his example and teachings worth studying, he was just a flawed human like the rest of us and they should give him a decent burial.) And no-one on this blog needs to be told what ersatz gods and saints the prayer-mills of the memetic-industrial congress have successfully implanted in the brainpans of virtually everyone we know.

The Islamic term shirk can be translated as either "polytheism" or "idolatry", but essentially means "worshipping or fearing something other than God". Chaos Marxism appropriates the concept of "idolatry" (because there's nothing wrong with a little polythesism) to mean worshipping or fearing any god/idols/icon/meme defined by our own human brains - i.e. attributing independent existence and good/ill will to them, in any sort of "insisting that it's actually physically real" way. As the Prophet Muhammad said, idols can neither help us nor harm us - they are not real things with independent will, but projected-off parts of our own species-being. They are also programmes for behaviour - and it's a sin against yourself to be following a programme written by someone else which you didn't carefully debug yourself.

What goes along with this concept is that "idolatry" also consists in attributing to ultimate reality any of the characteristics of daily reality - trying to insist that God Herself (the Supreme Being, the Ultimate Spirit, the Creator of the Universe, the Omega Point, etc, etc.) is like a human with all sorts of petty human emotions and motivations, or indeed believing that anything you see and experience in the Real World of Horrible Jobs is "real" in an objective sense. Everything is fire; everything flows away; A is not A. The materialist dialectic teaches us that nothing we experience - including and especially our "selves" - is ultimately solid.

What the Muslims call idolatry, I think Marx called "commodity fetishism". Worshipping the works of one's own hands and deliberately forgetting that we made them, we break them, and they have no power apart from what we give them. Interestingly enough, this ties in with my previous reflections that commodity fetishism is closely tied to individualism - sometimes, the idol we worship is our own damned ego / identity.

Because that's how they control you. We can control ourselves by consciously, collectively and creatively creating our new myths, new icons, saints, angels, myths, folktales of the struggle to unfold ourselves, to become fully human. And these myths will act as programmes by which we can discover our own power, if we do it right. As long as we remember that we should never, ever worship or fear or seriously believe in any of them (unless as a deliberate experiment in mindfuck which we include safewords in).

The only religion I feel I would ever be enthusiastic about following would be the community rituals of a classless people's republic of the future. The Roman religion is meaningless without the Roman Republic in existence, and the same goes for the rituals and cults of the next aeon. Which is why we talk about the God/dess of the World To Come.

I am increasingly thinking that the Qabalistic or Sufi model - one single absolutely ineffable God, but with many levels and paths and emanated intelligences and angels etc. between there and here - is fitting to where I'm going with this. Although I don't place Kether / Ain Soph / God Herself in a rarified plane of existence, but far in the future of humanity. And it's only one of many possible futures.