17 May 2007

Individual and collective

A kindly contributor to our comments alerts me to a shitfight on the Ultraculture mailing list, where one fellow decides to go off about how Voodoo is teh purest EB0L. Not wishing to get into this knee-deep primate shit-flinging contest, but one non-batshit participant ot that debate has this to say:

I develop meaningful, mutually beneficial
relationships with people and entities all the time. They use me and
I use them. My job uses me to write code. I use it to pay my bills.
My friends use me for support and discourse. I use them for the same.
It seems that you're isolating the lwa as "parasitic" simply because
you perceive that they do in fact make use of vodosanti's energy. To
steal castenada's phraseology, in "making yourself available to
power", you are also used by that power. it's not a
hoarding-all-of-this-is-mine process.

This reminds me very much of discussions with pettybourgeois individualists on how all political parties are by definition evil mind-control cults. If the Revolutionary Party is an egregore which aims to focus the power of a mass movement, then certainly by making yourself available to it you are also used by it. This requires you to make certain compromises with your freedom of speech and action, so as to synchronise with other consciousnesses to unify the forces (RIP RAW). Just as you would do in any ritual situation, naturally.

But the mere idea of this is of course anathema to the modern consumer consciousness, which declares that the isolated monadic individual is - self-evidently - the only real reality and only total and complete intellectual "independence" (i.e. isolation) is acceptable. But the catch is that "your only weapon is those you work with" (The Redskins, 1986). The isolated consumer-individual has absolutely zero power to do anything real - just to masturbate to a different set of images. The question is whether you want to be part of a world-changing endeavour and a vessel for power, or if you want to be a Beautiful Soul Unique Snowflake Pure Individual Just Like Everyone Else.

Not convinced that our culture promotes isolation, alienation and paranoia as not only an ideal, but the highest ideal? A common complaint in customer satisfaction reports is that some poor consumer's experience was ruined because they could hear the staff having conversations. They didn't pay good money to be reminded that real people are doing the work. They paid money for the privilege of voluntary isolation from other human beings - of being able to have a private experience in a public sphere. Think on that for a moment - that consumer culture promotes collective experiences, but only to the extent that any participation in them must be totally individualised and monadic.

Marx's utopian vision was one where the collective no longer contradicted the individual. Oh, we are so far away from that.

15 May 2007

For those who came in late...

Welcome to new readers - I am frankly surprised any time I say anything controversial enough to attract attention, let alone trolls. This is what Chaos Marxism is all about.

More on "Bob"

For a self described insane bogus religion, the published philosophy of the Church of the SubGenius is sometimes breathtakingly accurate. Perhaps because it is an actual, confused, attempt at explaining the world from the point of view of the "lumpen-creative class" - people who see themselves as creative artists but are temperamentally unsuited to "join the Conspiracy" (i.e. climb the ladder of corporate achievement) and thus generally have the choice between highly unreliable freelance work and a proletarian job. Chapter 9 in their most recent book, The SubGenius Psychlopaedia of Slack, is actually a confused but unmistakeable (and unintentional, I'm sure) recapitulation of the Marxist theory of alienation.

Slack in itself can be described as "the opposite of stress", but also "the opposite of alienation". It can mean hard work at something you enjoy and believe in, just as much as it can mean watching cartoons with a hamburger in one hand and a joint in the other. False Slack, on the other hand, is defined as "anything you can buy for money". Even spookier than that, pages 202-203 of this book - entitled "Art, Toolmaking and OCD" - is a quite scary recapitulation of this famous article by Frederich Engels.

In other words - the Conspiracy/ capitalism takes away what makes us human (the right to labour freely at what motivates us) and gives us in recompense nothing but money, which keeps us alive but corrodes that which makes us truly us. The fact that I'm pretty damn sure that Ivan Stang has never opened a Marxist document in genuine interest in his entire life makes this even spookier. But this is the same ranter who said "If they paid you what you were worth, they'd go broke".

The "event horizon" of SubGenius thought is, of course, their very pettybourgeois class position, which leads to totally pessimistic conclusions on the possibility of organising to overthrow "The Conspiracy", in the absence of intervention from our Space Brothers The Men From Planet X. The main point is that SubGeniuses aren't even supposed to get along, let alone work together - the alienated consciousness without the discipline of proletarian work habits turns to paranoid individualism to such an extent that it seems like the only natural form of human interaction.

So it boils down to: try to squeeze out whatever tiny crumbs of psychic nourishment you can get from the system, hang out with others of like mind when you can possibly stand them, and send more money to the Church so that Stang doesn't have to get a job and can keep amusing you. The SubGenius Must Have Slack" translates to "The Lumpen-Creative Must Break Free of Alienation". The problem is of course that LĂșkacs was right, and the end of alienation only comes with the workers-council form of organisation - something that the typical "lone nut" SubGenius working on their art or their music or their writing in splendid if paranoid isolation just wouldn't be able to grok.

ETA: A friendly commenter to this post includes a link to Rev. Stang's response to my musings. Sickened, creeped out and offended. *shrug* I suppose you should never come into contact with your heroes.

09 May 2007

"Bob" Works

Sherry: What's the strangest mystical experience you've had so far?

Ivan: They all had to do with failing In love with my sweetie. Those are the only real ones I can talk about. The other ones I'd rather not talk about because It would all just sound too-- you wouldn't even believe it. You wouldn't believe It If I even started.

Sherry: Ah, now that's not true.

Ivan: I'll leave that one for some very far future autobiography. I've experienced synchronicity In vast waterfalls. But, on the other hand, I did discover very early in the Church of the SubGenlus that If you Ignore those coincidences, they stop happening. They only happen If you're looking for them. When I first started working on the Church of the SubGenlus, for the first couple years, the level of sychronicities, apparent omens, and portents got so completely out of hand that I had to call a halt to It. I thought I was losing my mind. I thought, God damn It, I'm starting to make decisions based on superstitious omens and portents on something that I practically made up.

The Reverend Ivan Stang has a point there. Of course magic works - if you do it enough. As far as changing consciousness goes, anything works if you do it enough. Creating new habits, self-reprogramming, founding new traditions... this is how it's done.

I've talked elsewhere about the "paradigm shift" that happened 1999-2001; not because of anything metaphysical, but because of September 11 combined with Seattle combined with the dot-com crash, combined with the lack of the Y2K problem solving everyone's problems for them. (Although some diehard mystics seem to have just shifted the date till 2012.) In any case, the zeitgeist took a radical turn for the materialist/political around that time, which of course has been for good as well as for evil. Rev. Stang agrees:

I get a big kick out of speaking to pagan gatherings, New Agers and so forth, and basically working them up Into tears of concern and wonderment over the environment, and meanwhile sneaking In all this science and rationalist stuff. You might say we learned our lesson when those escape vessels didn't show up. And although we still believe that everybody should send their thirty dollars to "Bob" to play It safe, also, maybe we should learn how to build our own ships.

And that's actually been the thrust lately. It wasn't really a planned thrust. It came along afterwards, and I'm glad It did. But It's a great follow-up gimmick now. It's like, yeah, well, for now we've learned all we can about the little grey men from outer space and so forth. For the time being UFOIogy does seem to be a dog chasing It's own tall, and rife with buckets of self-delusion everywhere you look. Perhaps It might not be a bad Idea to maybe think about taking care of the spaceship that we're on already, using something besides prayer. You know, It's great for everybody to visualize world peace and pray and so forth, but when you talk about the hundredth monkey, you have to remember the hundredth Manson, or the hundredth Hitler. (laughter) All that other stuff.

Apologies for not posting more. Working on my music - practical magic, for me and hopefully for the audience.