Many people desire an existence free of coercive authority, where all are at liberty to shape their own lives as they choose for the sake of their own personal needs, values, and desires. For such freedom to be possible, no individual person can extend his or her sphere of control upon the lives of others without their choosing. Many who challenge oppression in the modern world strive toward their conception of a “free society” by attempting to merely reform the most powerful and coercive institutions of today, or to replace them with “directly democratic” governments, community-controlled municipalities, worker-owned industrial federations, etc. Those who prioritize the values of personal autonomy or wild existence have reason to oppose and reject all large-scale organizations and societies on the grounds that they necessitate imperialism, slavery and hierarchy, regardless of the purposes they may be designed for.
A global, strategic evaluation of the social forces comprising the society of the spectacle. It is conceived from the view that, if individuals are to gain control over their lives, the world of hierarchical power must be destroyed.
Call It Sleep is the first visual work produced in the United States which makes use of the situationist technique of detournement – the devaluation and reuse of present and past cultural production to form a superior theoretical and practical unity.
Call It Sleep is based on material drawn from the most prevalent means of social conditioning- television-for two reasons. Familiar images easily acquire a strong negative charge when linked with a subversive content. Using images and techniques available to everyone has demonstrated once and for all, that detournement is within reach of anyone with a few basic appliances and the ability to communicate radical ideas.
Some people who see Call It Sleep are only interested to know if copyright permissions have been obtained from the producers of the various images in the tape. These “courageous souls” think that a disrespect for cultural and social conventions should begin after property rights have been observed. No doubt many of these people have already produced or dream of producing an artifact which they want protected by the state.
Others want to discover what special techniques or tricks of the trade are behind Call It Sleep and they may be disappointed because no sophisticated technical expertise was involved. The singularity of Call It Sleep comes not from the novel use of equipment, but from the practical application of a radical perspective on daily life.
Call It Sleep was completed in May of 1982. It was financed solely by its makers.
“One can only empathise with individuals, motivated by a sincere desire for reform, who join ecology groups, consumer organisations and alternative political parties. In any of these groups these individuals are directed by a firmly entrenched leadership through a maze of politically motivated compromises to an end that is sadly predictable: the indefinite postponement of profound social transformation, the enrichment of the careers of a few bureaucrats and the permanent disillusion of a number of intelligent individuals.”
An experiment by Australian scientists has proven that what happens to particles in the past is only decided when they are observed and measured in the future. Until such time, reality is just an abstraction.
Theses on the Imaginary PartyThe moral and political significance of thought only appears in those rare moments of history where “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”; where “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity”. In these crucial moments, thought ceases to be a marginal affair to political questions. When the whole world lets itself be carried away without thinking by what the many do and believe, those who think find themselves exposed, because their refusal to join with others is patent and becomes thus a sort of action.Hannah Arendt, Moral Considerations
The dead hand of notorious UK spycop Mark Kennedy has reached out once again – this time in France, where a major trial involving a so-called ‘metaphysical anarchist’ cell saw the most serious charge – terrorism – dismissed. In a statement afterwards one of the defendants accused the prosecution of having based its case on false statements made by the police – in other words, fabricated (or exaggerated) evidence. Here is what happened…
Short of flooding the gene pool with other psychopaths like myself, we as a race must learn to turn off our empathy. We must create inertia by refusing to put ourselves in the same shoes that everyone else is trying simultaneously to fit in.
So I’m standing outside a bar in downtown San Francisco waiting for a friend. A man is standing there, too. He’s white, turns out he’s 39, dons a Giants baseball cap. He starts talking to me, asking if I live upstairs which, I learn, is a shelter for veterans. (I don’t.) We’re making very small talk — this shelter is recently renovated, it’s very clean, mostly occupied by Vietnam vets who are, in his words, docile. Fair enough.
And then he asks if I know what’s happening September 23 — the Day of Atonement. You know, when the skies will open and the rivers will run red. He then continues on about how the Navy is microwaving the ocean and keeping rain from California and how the Colorado River is already running red.
What’s interesting is that he doesn’t ask me as if he knows something I don’t; he asks me as if he assumes I already know. Which is exactly how people in San Francisco will speak to me about, say, George Bush or Donald Trump — as if I know what they’re talking about. Which I don’t. Because I never, ever read a newspaper or watch any news. Everything I “know” about public discourse comes form my Facebook and Twitter feeds. And I skip the posts about Democrats and Republicans because, well, it’s just all the same old nonsense — as Burroughs says, it’s the red cape of the matador, making us charge at nothing while the sword is wielded from above.
There is, I realized, no real difference between what this guy is talking about — days of atonement, microwaving oceans — and what all the more gentile, middle class whines on about — Republicans and such. It’s all just stories, stories framed and repeated by various media sources. This vet — he’d been in Afghanistan, it seems, delivering mail — simply reads different websites than the well employed Googlers. But both regurgitate the same old nonsense as if it were “news.”
Now, I know that most people in my world would consider this guy a nut job. But what bummed me out was that he was not all that nuts (well, he might be but not in what he was saying to me). All the stuff he was telling me about the Navy boiling the ocean is simply not that weird. In fact, I found is disappointingly familiar.
This is the problem with the ready dissemination of “news” and conspiracy theories (which, to me, are the same thing): the weirdness of people is culled. So rather than hearing something truly bizarre, I hear the same old conspiracy nonsense about the Illuminati and the dark secrets of the US government and days of freakin’ atonement — which we’ve been hearing about for millennia!
I want to hear something that I couldn’t have imagined someone saying to me. I want to hear the weird and the wonderful and the scary and the hilarious. This is why I can’t stand news sources. They’re anything but new! They tell me the same old nonsense in the same old banal tone of voice.
When I was in college in Philly in the late 80s — an exceedingly depressed and depressing time for that sad little city — there was this older white dude who roamed West Philadelphia. He was often shirtless and in jean cut offs (not Daisy Dukes, mind you); his hair was grey — he was probably in his mid to late 60s. I don’t think he was homeless as he was, despite my description, not totally ill kept. But he was seeing things and thinking things and, lucky for me, saying things that were of an alternate world. The line I remember the most, that still brings me pleasure, is, “I will raise an army of lesbians and take over McDonald’s!” Now that’s strange! I could not have seen that one coming.
I’m guessing he was schizophrenic or something related and equally delusional. And I by no means want to make light of that. But I do want to suggest what Deleuze and Guattari suggest: that there’s a strain of schizophrenic thinking that is refreshing, that finds lines of flights out of the same old discursive hegemony. Again, this is not to make light of those whose lives are crushed by schizophrenia. I’ve seen what it can do to people firsthand and it is often terrifying and awful.
But there is something to this figure — this concept, this function — of the schizo who is not constrained by the frames of discussion media dictate so vigorously. And it’s not about dressing up wacky or piercing your nose or doing a cabaret with your friends. This is what San Francisco often thinks is weird. And while all those things might or might not be fine, fun, and delightful, they’re not weird precisely because they’re what we already think of as weird. They’re already known, accounted for, categorized. The weird is not a what but a mode of forging the new.
Weird is surprising in that it neither goes with nor against the grain. It doesn’t try to break the mold; it casts new molds. Or, perhaps, doesn’t care about molds at all but rather enjoys meandering — the schizo stroll. Weird slices through discourse, categories, and common sense. It scrambles — not for the sake of scrambling but because it operates and lives in a world you cannot yet imagine.
The regurgitation of the same old nonsense — whether it’s wacky conspiracy theories or the all-too-banal politics of presidents — is zombieism. It’s people walking around under the insane delusion that they’re alive. But to be alive is to forge new flows, to follow new lines of flight — to say things that others don’t already know — and couldn’t have even imagined. Life flourishes in the weird.
Daniel Coffeen looks around for freedom in a world of networked conformity. He holds a PhD in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley where he taught adjunct for many years, but now Coffeen works independently, writing about contemporary art, film, language, Deleuze, perception, Uni, capitalism, emergent shapes, pleasure, new media, and tequila. He founded the once-exquisite ArtandCulture.com and makes money by naming products, writing copy, and branding companies.
Bob Black is a post-left writer. His most famous work is “The Abolition of Work“. His newest book “Instead of Work” debuted on August 7th. He’s been described as one of America’s great modern Anarchists.