chi.st

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from nudism as an illegalism

Nudists have a hard time getting taken seriously, I think. This is true in the world at large, but it's also true among anarchists.

I have personally had the benefit of friends who actually take me a little too seriously. They're mostly nice about the nudism thing (as a conversational topic, at least); I do get teased occasionally, but it's typically pretty good-humoured and well-intentioned.

But there are some some people who aren't my friends, who dislike me as a result of one thing or another. Some of them, who might generally be on board with the idea of nudism themselves, would never cite my own inclination towards nudism (if they know about it) as a mark against me – and I appreciate that! But others, who are less into nudism, might indeed talk about that inclination as another reason that I'm a creep, that I have bad politics, that I shouldn't be trusted, etc., even though it is certainly completely unrelated to the reasons that our relationship is not completely amiable.

Most people in most anarchist scenes should, I think, be able to relate. Shared investments – into collective living situations, into projects of mayhem and mutual aid, into strong friendships and other intense relationships – often lead, at some point, into disagreement that metastasizes into bitter conflict that, oftentimes, either can't be resolved or at least doesn't. And then, particularly among the assholes who love gossiping about comrades and shit talking perceived enemies (which is probably the majority of people in most scenes, be they anarchist scenes or not!), other details start getting added to the story, all of which paint a picture.

Most people are assholes – at least sometimes, to some (sorts of) people. I'd like that to change, and I really do think there are deliberate things that can be done to help people not be assholes, to blunt that the tendency towards being-asshole that exists in so many people, but all of that is kind of separate from the concern of this post.

In this world, where people are assholes, what does that mean for people who have eccentric interests? For instance, nudism? (This applies to other outgroups, too: sexual minorities, furries, in past ages queer people and freaks and geeks of all kinds.)

My assessment is that, in North America at least, an inclination towards nudism is considered eccentric at best in anarchist scenes, and considered perverse at worst. In this respect, too, I don't think that North American anarchists have very different attitudes about nudism than is the case among the larger population of basically secular liberals. The attitudes might even be more markedly negative among certain subsets, e.g. the Marxist, quasi-Marxist, and otherwise workerist anarchists who understand nudism, and perhaps a few other things, as a bourgeois affectation – or, at the very least, somehow unstrategic with respect to serious political objectives of one kind or another.

Anarchists, of course, are very much of a part of the mass society in which they grew up and in which, in most cases, they continue to live. In a mass society affected by social movements, leftist ideology, and so-called identity politics, they will be caught up in current events (hopefully local ones), in dogmas of one kind or another, and in confused and off-kilter understandings about what the stakes are or what the issues even are. Even if anarchists manage to escape to some kind of remote and autarkic existence, where at least some of these mass society problems might go away, they still carry some ideas with them.

The best things about anarchist subcultures is that sometimes (not always, never perfectly) they are markedly more accepting of various kinds of differences between people – or certainly less actively shitty about, say, looking like a freak, being into weird shit, having specific issues, bearing different markers of race and caste, etc.

This isn't really the case with nudism, though. I am sure there are many reasons for this. First off, to be a nudist is hardly a sacrosanct identity among anarchists – and, like, I wouldn't want it to be, because I don't want to do identity politics with nudism.

Second, there is very little in the way of good analysis circulating in anarchist scenes, or in society at large, about nudism and what it can do for you or nudists and why anyone is trying to live their life that way. (There is also a lot of history people don't know, and certainly don't think about very much.)

Third, there's really not a whole lot of possibility for people to be naked in “normal situations” in these scenes insofar as this causes a lot of friction with laws and police or – even in relatively ungoverned spaces – with the established norms, not to mention various sorts of attitudes and ideas about sex, nudity, and ethics that circulate in our subculture or among any of our neighbours.

All of this has real effects, and not just on whatever minority of conspicuously nudism-inclined people there are who might have some interest in participating in anarchist scenes.

Like, sure, people like me exist. But everyone is occasionally inconvenienced by the obsessive and compulsory attitude around wearing clothing. There are health consequences, financial consequences, ecological consequences, and fun consequences. The importance of them need not be exaggerated, but these consequences are real. This is also true whether or not anyone recognizes that this is, or may be occasionally, a problem for them personally. Just because the problem feels normal doesn't mean it isn't real.

Anarchists also have a hard time getting taken seriously. It's not that it never happens, but most of the time, anarchists either need to water down their politics to the point that they are effectively just democratic socialists (at which point I wonder why you call yourself an anarchist at all, other than to give yourself some edgy cred) or they need to omit the fact that they are an anarchist at all (by lying, avoiding the question, using a headscratcher of a euphemism, whatever). There are many reasons for this, a number of which could warrant whole essay in and of themselves, but the thing I want to bring attention is the manifest incuriosity of so many people – journalists, neighbours, partisans of other dogmas – to learn anything about the anarchist tradition or anarchists. They are content, instead, to know nothing, or to just “know” the things that they have been told by the police (on Twitter or in cop shows), by patriarchal figures of all kinds, or by their own unexamined assumptions.

It is unfortunate, then, whenever anarchists are themselves incurious about the lives, experiences, and ideas of others. Obviously I am a bit salty as a nudist or something, and I think my ideas about nudism are worth taking seriously – but this is a broadly applicable point, that against goes beyond the specific shit that I'm into.

Many anarchists seem to understand that, with respect to adversarial ideologies (nationalism, fascism, etc.), there is a value in understanding where those ideas come from, why they are appealing to (certain kinds of) people, and so on. When it comes to conspiracy theories, many people understand that it's a good thing to familiarize oneself with the theories so that it is possible to recognize why people in our lives think the things they do, and so that we have a better chance of talking them out of it, if that's something we care to try. But not so much with groups defined by a quality of grossness.

An ascribed quality of eccentricity (“you're weird”) or perversity (“you're evil”) is really just the same thing, viewed from different angles or maybe through a different lens. In either case, it terminates the possibility of any kind of serious conversation about the why of it all, the ideas or experiences that motivate a given behaviour, etc. I don't think that's ever a good thing in and of itself, even with respect to ideas and/or associated behaviours that I truly think are awful (e.g. not the ideas that are the topic of this blog), because when there is no conversation, there can be no understanding of how and why some people end up with these ideas and/or maybe doing the associated shitty things. The eccentric, the perverted, learn to be cagey about what they think and feel – which, to the extent they have something actually really bad going on, is likely to lead to bad shit happening in a way that is more unpredictable for everyone else, because they were so secret about it.

The option of nudity is not bad shit, though. I would never want to overemphasize its importance with respect to, like, a concrete practice of anarchy (whatever that means for you), but I do think there are several things to be said about body freedom, the benefits of ridding ourselves of anxieties about nudity, all sorts of incidental benefits with respect to projects we are already engaged in (especially collective living projects), and so on.

This can't happen, though, so long as the idea of an option of nudity is considered just a weird thing that only “some people” are into, and that (supposedly) has no implications for anyone else.

 
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from bugs

boat in water

Recently I've been playing with the idea of a body of water as representative of life, consciousness, time, or whatever the fuck. So in that image; initially anarchism came as a wave, at a time where the waters were already choppy, a wave which graciously hit the stern of my little boat, propelling me forward in some direction rather than capsizing me. This wave maintained my course through many other swells that sought to extricate me onto another even more enigmatic course, and pushed into clearer waters, where I found the weather improved and the horizon more expansive.

Of course being bad at poetry as I am, that extended metaphor simplifies things a little. Rather than being one large wave of anarchism there was instead many, dozens of small chance encounters with nothing more than the word itself, which upon a more curious investigation yielded a bounty of treasures. Garnished with a new worldview that played into my intense curiosity, a worldview that placed me in opposition to a staggeringly powerful set of forces, my discovery of anarchism sent me to my first punk show, gave me my first experiences of queerness, and inoculated me against conformity. However, none of my early exposure prepared me for the complexities of living an anarchic life.

Recognizing the expansion of pleasure to be found in symbiogenesis I sought others like me but wound up only really finding Activists who, despite speaking the same language I did, looked at me with an unsettling gaze. Their eyes were hungry, which at first I mistook for affection until I noticed their drool, and realized that all they saw in me were their favorite cuts of meat. I was lucky to escape with all my limbs attached, and since then I search for their familiar grey dorsal fins before I enter the water.

Sadly, getting my sea legs took a bit more than that. Through my interactions with the sharks I discovered the dangers of optimism and in turn, activism, and began to recognize just how many different beasts really wish to swallow me up. Also, being shaken by death (one that I wrote about under the title Substrate, and others which I have not shared) directed my rage at far bigger things, and gave me a taste of the existential. I didn't learn how to walk when the deck is wet and the winds are wailing in a progressive fashion, instead it happened all of a sudden, after a few especially bad nights.

Though I've weathered a few storms, long months alone can trouble even the saltiest of dogs, troubles which I have been only beginning to wrestle with by engaging with nihilism, egoism, and anarchy, rather than anarchism. At this point, anarchy is just an aspect of things, still one which I am very fond of. It accentuates relationships and dynamics, problematizes rather than solves, it's place is not in the Future and only becomes clear now and then but never for very long. Perhaps anarchism has become the sea I sail in.

We are two ships each of which has its goal and course; our paths may cross and we may celebrate a feast together, as we did—and then the good ships rested so quietly in one harbor and one sunshine that it may have looked as if they had reached their goal and as if they had one goal. But then the almighty force of our tasks drove us apart again into different seas and sunny zones, and perhaps we shall never see one another again,—perhaps we shall meet again but fail to recognize each other: our exposure to different seas and suns has changed us! That we have to become estranged is the law above us: by the same token we should also become more venerable for each other! And thus the memory of our former friendship should become more sacred!


Note: This essay started as something to share during the May Day session of the ni.hil.ist reading group (chi.st/nrg), in response to the prompt, “What does anarchism, or anarchy mean to you?”. However, I've altered a fair portion of it for clarity and flow reasons

 
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from nudism as an illegalism

CW: detailed discussion of one person's groin area

When I was a younger man, I came across the web page of a gay guy who was, like, really into being gay and really into sex.

So, I think of myself as being into being gay (because I am gay, and basically I don't have any hang-ups about that as far as I know, at least compared to some other “men who have sex with men” or whoever) and also, like, I think of myself as being pretty into sex (insofar as sex is something that I enjoy, e.g. you could qualify me as homosexual).

But this guy, he was more into sex than I was. Maybe not the actual act of sex (who knows!), but definitely the idea of sex, the aesthetic of sex. His gayness seemed to be infused with his sexuality – which is kind of a funny thing to say, insofar as we might understand gayness (or queerness) as a type of sexuality. But that's not how I understand my own gayness. The word “gayness” is just the word that I apply to my experience of being gay (or at least the one I'm using right now, lol).

The quality of being gay pertains to more than just my sexuality, but to other aspects of my personhood as well (which aren't all sexual). For instance, because people may happen to know that I am gay, they treat me one way or another, in situations that aren't sexy at all. I could get into what that looks like, but basically, to invoke that word and apply it to me – or to invoke any other, like the rather clinical Greco-Latin term homosexual – is to fail tragically to describe the uniqueness, or at least relative ineffability, of whatever my sexuality is. I can assure you that it is markedly different from the sexualities of others who may also be qualified more or less accurately or appropriately as gay, homosexual, queer, or whatever else, given the discursively constructed and historically contingent categories that are important right now, and around which they may have formed their own “sexual identity”.

So, back to this other guy. Basically, the reason I bring him up is that he had a tattoo of an erect penis, in colour, in a pretty choice location. The head of the penis was just below his belly button, and it was adorned with an eye – the all-seeing third eye that is, more often, depicted as being above and between the two eyes that everyone is used to, squarely in the centre of the forehead. The base of his tattoo penis met with the base of his flesh penis.

I do not remember, specifically, if this guy called himself a nudist or a naturist, or not. But I think he might have had some difficulty getting into some clubs if he did. Calling attention to the groin area – with jewelry or tattoos or whatever – definitely needs to be the subject of a blog post at some point... Suffice it to say, though, some people do not approve.

But, there is a certain current of “gay naturism” on the internet – and which certainly has a corresponding existence in the embodied world – to which I imagine he might be able to adhere. At the very least, as ostentatious as this guy was, he would have a better chance fitting in among other gay dudes.

Sexuality – among adult gay men – isn't always front and centre, but it often is, and it is never as hush-hush as is the case among most naturists (i.e. those who call themselves as much). So it is, too, in the online spaces that gay nudist-naturists populate. There are photos, as there are elsewhere on the naturist internet, but everyone in the photo presents as a man, e.g. the kind of person that gay men are sexually interested in. On most of the pornier blogs, most of them are athletic and/or thin if they are younger, big and buff if they're older, and while most of the dicks are flaccid, there is a little more leeway regarding erections than is the norm for elsewhere on the naturist internet. On the less porny, more body-positive blogs, the guys are more diverse but they're usually still pretty cute. The affect is typically one of wellness, of acceptance, of people who are in love with each other (when there are couples) and certainly in love with the way they are living their lives (among other things, nakedly). Photos are a lot more common than ideas, but there are often exhortations to a loose sort of peace-and-love spirituality, if not quotes from religious teachings and scripture. A general support for a vague environmentalism is also common, but there are rarely any other sorts of politics.

Gay naturism is a very visible current on the English-language naturist internet. The only other very large current is family nudism/naturism – and it is much larger.

I have denoted family nudism/naturism as such, with the slash and both terms, because there is no apparent preference for one or the other. It is, in fact, the adjectival marker family that is the more critical part of the term. Insofar as we can imagine “gay nudism” as the aggregate of nudism practiced by gays, the term “naturism” is necessary to qualify the subject as ideology, i.e. a set of ideas about nudism as practiced by gays, that accords this practice special significance or purpose. But with the family thing, well, the presence of that word family is sufficient to impute some kind of significance or purpose to what is being done.

I thought, at first, that I would write about Christian naturism. To be sure, there are lots of Christian naturists, and seemingly much more in North America than, say, in Europe – but that makes sense given that there are so many more true-believing and church-attending Christians in North America. I only really want to make two generalizations about these Christian naturists: first, that they do not understood anything in their religion to be in contradiction with a practice of nudism (and, in a number of cases, they may in fact believe that the Bible exhorts them to take off their clothes); and two, they are mostly also participants in, or orientated towards, something that's worth calling family nudism/naturism.

Christianity per se is not a major factor for many family nudist-naturists who live basically secular lives, obviously. But in post-Christian cultures, the influence of Christianity looms large – as does the influence of the Industrial Revolution in post-industrial societies, as do the ideas of the Victorians in an age that came after the rise and fall of the British Empire. This history puts family nudism/naturism, which is the dominant affect within the English-language naturist internet, at odds with gay naturism. The issue is sexuality.

A clear difference between gay naturism and family nudism/naturism on the internet is that, pretty frequently, the family folks will have representations of kids – usually on the younger side of things. They're rarely photos, but it does happen. Ideas are significantly more in evidence than is the case with the gay naturist internet, and they often focus on raising up kids, which is what a family (in the normative sense of the term) is for. It is worth saying as well that white people appear to make up a larger proportion of the participants, as far as I can tell, than is even the case with gay naturist internet, which is itself probably inequitably white.

Gay naturism has an outsized presence on the naturist internet, I think, compared to what it corresponds to in the embodied world and/or the population of gay men. I have a theory as to why this might be (very quickly: gay men are more likely than the average person to be interested in nudism, and gay men are also more likely to spend a lot of the time meeting each other and/or “building community” on the internet), but that can be put aside for now.

Despite its outsized presence on the naturist internet, its relationship to the mainstream of naturism (on the internet, and in general) is similar to the relationship of Mormonism to the mainstream of Christianity. It is, at the very least, strange and suspect. At worst, it is heretical, a different religion altogether; maybe it can be talked about as such, and even tolerated for what it is, but it can't be considered the same. Certainly this is even more true of its most extreme manifestations, and this is the point in my weird and long-winded analogy that I will compare polyamorous Mormon fundamentalists to a wholly hypothetical penis tattoo guy that also considers himself a naturist.

These two affective currents are almost the only ones I can really find on the internet, personally. There is only one other thing to speak of, which I will hesitantly denote as “youth nudism”. It comes off as mostly an “activist” project spearheaded in particular by conventionally good-looking white women in their 20s who are savvy with social media. There have been a number of “young nudist” named organizations (consisting of how many people, I certainly can't say) , most of which don't seem to have lasted too long. There have been gatherings. There are some ideas present, most of which seem to concern a need to modernize, diversify, and otherwise improve the broader “nudist movement” as a whole, with a mind to the fact that a family naturist affect does not really speak to a lot of people, especially where they are at with their lives.

Personally, I appreciate that these folks generally avoid the word “naturism” and that they have always been trying to make things more relevant for me, up until recently still just a spring chicken. I have not appreciated the fact that they thought I could just spend a lot of money to go to Florida, and I didn't like that, from what I can tell, I would have to do be doing yoga or whatever. It's also worth saying that, from what I have been able to gather, they always seemed quite heterosexual and coupled up, which might make me wonder how much I would fit in even if I was down to be an Instagram normie. But like, I'm hard to satisfy.

So, why have I itemized these three currents? Well, it seems to me that these are the currents that people might be able to come across if they go searching on the internet. There is something gay for them to join: very large groups on TrueNudists.com, the relatively active (and selfie-focused) r/gayplusnudists, etc., which may arguably be kinda horny but it's all relatively tame and par for the course as far as gay dudes go. There is also something family-friendly for them to join, i.e. r/nudism, most formal associations (which have a website, and which may have a physical presence in a given area). Youth nudism is more hit and miss. There are a few subreddits (which I won't look to) that are for teenagers or whatever, but it's more likely that there is less to be found that's still active. It's thus pretty likely that the one who is seeking will have to go elsewhere.

What a wasteland it is. There is no major visible nudist current with respect to any religion apart from Christianity; I suppose there appear to be a few nudity-inclined movements in India, but they hardly have an online presence beyond the photos that get taken at the Kumbh Mela festival. I don't know of any nihilistic, iconoclastic, or Satanic practice of nudism; all the goth kids are dressing up, not dressing down. There isn't even any kind of green anarchist and/or primitivist nudism, which has always struck me as a little weird, I suppose, because I feel like they would pair nicely.

Perhaps such things do exist, somewhere, among some people, but they don't exist in a way that they can be found too easily. I have been looking!

Speaking for myself, to the extent that I am gay and sometimes also horny, I have appreciated the gay naturist internet for providing me some, y'know, slightly classier material to concentrate my mind upon (when I'm in the mood for something that elevated), but I don't really think that a nudist current that – wilfully or just a consequence of how it is – excludes women as well as men (of any sexual orientation) who aren't comfortable with that much sexuality as well as people who aren't men or women but who, again, I might maybe just wanna hang out with, casually, and also naked. I have heard that “gay nudist gatherings” in my own city, advertised (in the time before covid) on Craigslist or whatever, usually devolve into a circlejerk by the end of the evening, which sounds fine I guess, but it's not a thing that I could reasonably invite my mother or my brother to (in the rather unlikely event that they somehow also got turned onto the joys of nudism at this late stage), and even if I could invite my heterosexual anarchist roommates, I don't know how fun it'd be for them or how comfortable I'd be as a result.

Also, to the extent that it makes the case for some kind of spiritual power or divinity about the naked male body, just by itself or in the act of sex or whatever, I find it... intellectually dubious. I think gay sex can just be gay sex, and that's absolutely good enough for me, an occasional gay sex enjoyer.

The dominant ideological and affective current, family nudism/naturism, is also not my bag. To be clear, all things being equal, I suppose I think that it would be better, on the whole, if kids were raised in families that were less obsessively clothed, that did not impart any more body shame to young ones than they would inevitably absorb from the wider society, and that in fact went against the grain of the wider society in terms of this sort of thing, affirming that nude is not lewd or whatever. But that said, I'm probably not having kids (I'm not only gay, I'm also an anarchist, so it's not like anyone will ever let me adopt), and I oppose the way that families are constructed and reinforced as the basic unit of capitalist society and discipline. Just because I think families, in the modern sense, can be done better (there is a range!) doesn't mean the basic structure isn't still something I'd rather, like, negate.

And youth nudism, such as I have seen? Well, it didn't do much for me in the whole time I was aware of it, and I think I might be too old for it now anyway.

My ambition for this whole project of internet-engaged writing I'm doing is, at some point, to give rise to a different sort of affective current within the naturist internet – one which will, I hope, actually be able to break from the naturist internet in a significant way, and on its terms, too, but which can, in any case, be discovered and draw people in. It probably won't be for everyone, but I think there are a lot of people out there that it could speak to.

It's important to say that I hate the internet – a lot actually. I would like that hatred of the internet to be part of the affect, I suppose, and I would say that there's just a contradiction here, created by a world where the internet exists and everyone is plugged in.

A discussion of affect is important, I think, because nudism/naturism by itself isn't really... anything. It is always something more, something connected to something else, and to speak of nudism/naturism as a unified whole is to ignore its internal diversity and contradiction. Each affective current I have spoken of, therefore, is connected to a larger culture – be it the culture of gay men, the culture of heterosexual breeders, or the culture of relatively affluent, relatively young people who use Instagram. The current I want to give rise to ought to be connected to anarchists and the things that they do, and steeped in the ideas of that cohort (and preferably good ideas, not just the dubious exhortations of new radlibs who fell off the back of the social movement truck into r/anarchism).

I'm just one guy, and as I have said before, I don't want to be the only one doing this sort of thing – and ultimately, I can't be in order for it to take off. Ultimately, my own exhortations may not matter that much. But that said, I want to see an affective current of nudism that, apart from the inclination towards being naked when it's comfortable and actively fighting against body shame (which is obviously important, but nothing different from what the other currents are doing, or at least striving for), is also inclined against legalistic petitioning, inclined towards appropriation of space, hostile to representation, and at least doing its best to get past oppressive bullshit (like gender I s'pose), naïveté, and I don't know what else, let's say cities.

So, let's make it happen? There's f/nudism on Raddle and there could be other things too.

Coda: affect is better conveyed by memes and images than blog posts that hover around 3000 words; this might be a strategic problem for me, the guy with too much to say.

 
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from bugs

woodie

I'm trying to build out an anarchism that begins with power relations observable by an individual which then works its way from there in a relatively concise form, one that also intentionally avoids the historical and cultural aspects of anarchy.

I have some sense that the anarchism many people encounter has grown bloated and complex, with many diverse cultural interests telling an extreme variety of stories about what anarchy is and what living it can look like.

Plurality (a value that the worst of positions seek to destroy) is undoubtedly a positive thing, however, the world as it exists does not truly allow for pluraversalism. Instead, even the most divergent existences are slowly recuperated back into the body of the populace, the body of Leviathan. I think that anarchism has been affected by this process also. If anarchism is a forest, it's my belief that the canopy has gotten too thick, invasives too prolific, and that we are in need of a forest fire, so new growth can flourish.

First things first, a definition which we can build out from: Anarchism is the philosophy (or anti-politic) that focuses on moments of anarchy, moments where dominating power dynamics (the state, capitalism, social power, etc. vs the individual(s)) aren't present or are otherwise negated.

How do those power dynamics present themselves? Does the state itself reach its giant hand made of concrete, steel, and paper down to stop me in my tracks? That has not happened to me yet. Rather, individuals are one of the places where these empowered ideas appear: The cop who stops me has not only the death-tool on his belt, but the more dangerous weapon of a hostile bureaucracy that he can leverage (and which leverages him) against me all in an attempt to suppress my will. This suggests that there's something more powerful than the body of the individual policeman present during our encounter, and if we met only as individuals I might have a fighting chance. In this situation that third thing is The Law; an empowered idea that functions to limit every ones capability by dictating when their agency is acceptable and when it must be punished.

Building from this example, we can start to look elsewhere and flesh out an understanding of what these anarchies are going on about. What powerful idea is present when a father commands his daughter, a jailer his convict, a mob their pariah, or a priest his congregation, and what is the threat each of them leverage? Which powerful phantasms haunt your life?

In short, the ideas (and quite rarely, individual beings with their own original idealism) that occupy the grounded side of the power seesaw have their interest placed in hoarding power and subjugating others, keeping us in the air, legs flailing. They gain and maintain their position by coercing people to “play along” through the use of reward and punishment, ultimately manipulating each person's agency in their own service. Also, interesting to note how most of them (law, family, prison, marriage, school, state, etc.) claim to bring order or normalcy of some form, considering the hostile relationship between anarchy and order.

Of course, expressions of power can and do exist without being dominating or totalitarian. If we think of “power” as a synonym for “capability” (which is slightly sloppy but will work for now), then that much is clear. Considering the policeman once more, the issue at hand isn't the existence of his power, but only my powerlessness in that situation. A far more palatable interplay exists in relationships between friends, who may each be more or less capable than the other in some regard, but who don't have complete control over the will of the other. My friend can convince me to act or not, but they cannot compel me to without my complicity. If you could imagine a game between multiple people who are all holding candles, where each participant is attempting to extinguish the flame of the others, it isn't hard to imagine playfully trading blows with friends, all in good nature and little hard feelings. However, if domination were embodied as a player, it would be equipped with a fire extinguisher, a dozen flames in another room, and a cold look on its grey face.

Until now, we've focused on the direct confrontation of the individual against authority, but in recent times a far slyer coercion is becoming dominant, one which has its frontier in our very minds. Somewhat different from the rewards and punishments used in service of other dominating structures, this structures power comes from leveraging technologies (cultural, digital, and psychological) to manipulate ones desires and undermine their agency with more subtle implications of violence. The embodiment of this broad force is different from the vulgar form as well, generally showing itself more in broad, massified expressions, as opposed to structures which live in the heads of select individuals. Analysis of this new form is a bit more complicated than the more vulgar expressions of domination we looked at prior, so I will leave it open-ended and just gesture towards the importance and complication of figuring out whose interest one is acting in service of. Do I really want that new object? Do I really want to sacrifice myself for this idea? Who actually gains through my participation that?

So, you've begun to recognize the things in the world that seek to process you into usable, efficient, plastic, parts for a large machine, and have said “fuck that, I contain more than you could ever know”. You're probably wondering what can be done about it? This is where I will leave you to your own devices, with minimal advice, as it would be absurd to try to prescribe a resolution to a problem I know nothing about. My only suggestion is to start from yourself and understand what ails you, seek empowerment from and for yourself, not an ideal, a method, or a cause. Find moments where you can breathe, dance, and play freely, moments of anarchy.

Perhaps, at this point, sticking your hand into the murky pool of anarchism could be useful! Most of us didn't get tetanus

 
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from nudism as an illegalism

CW: extensive discussion of shit & adjacent topics

There are good reasons to dislike shit. (Throughout this post, feel free to replace the word “shit” with the word “feces”, “poo”, or whatever else suits your fancy, for the purposes of reading these words aloud on air or in excessively polite company.)

Shit is a potent vector of disease. It attracts flies and other creatures. People who smell like shit are disadvantaged in society. This is subjective, I suppose, and I'm not trying to yuck anyone's yum, but most people think it typically smells somewhere between bad and wretched.

Shit is also a part of life. It's something we will have to deal with ourselves if we ever want to have kids, grow a garden, track an animal, own a cow (or whatever), or live a life that includes a digestive system and no dedicated ass caddy.

Shit is everywhere. And I don't just mean the yeast shit in beer (i.e. the alcohol) or the shit produced by other microorganisms that leads to tooth rot. I mean human shit too, and pet shit, and wild animal shit. Some of us have to deal with it more than others, because of class, caste, the way our bodies work, our socially inscribed relationships to production and reproduction, or whatever else.

I think hygiene is good, notwithstanding early CrimethInc.'s most widely lampooned article. I repeat: shit is a potent vector of disease, and that alone is good enough reason to wash our asses and clean our toilets with some degree of frequency. But we shouldn't be obsessive about it. Shit is not an eradicable part of life.

It can be minimized, sure. But this process of minimization can go too far. For instance, scientific studies have shown that people living in environments that are regularly blasted with toxic cleaning chemicals, and who never encounter any pathogens at all, are typically less hardy than, say, people living in clean and tidy but very much shit-adjacent environments (for instance, Amish people, living on farms, adjacent to livestock, without the benefit of some of the products that are to be found in most North Americans' homes).

I don't think an excessive fear of butt germs does anyone any good, though. As 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds are taught, everybody poops – and fortunately, in most cases, people are quite capable of dealing with that reality in a responsible manner by themselves. To get worked up about the possibility of invisible, effectively undetectable traces of shit, then, is unhelpful. Of course there are traces all over the place, and probably in greater number than most of us would really like to care about. Those traces don't meaningfully affect us.

It's not the sort of attitude that does us much good for those moments when we might actually have to deal with shit, for any number of reasons, and it's not very healthy to be quite so worried about it before those situations actually rear up.

I am sure that some nudists live differently (i.e. filthily), but I presume they don't have many people to hang out with. The most visible part of the naturist subculture, for its part, seems to be quite serious with cleanliness. I am against it, frankly – not because cleanliness is a problem in itself, but perhaps because I read some things in the queer nihilist tradition (at the conclusion of Towards the Queerest Insurrection, for instance, in which the Mary Nardini Gang channels Divine and claims “filth is our politics! filth is our life!”) and I suppose I took that shit to heart.

But that's me. Most nudists are into naturism, not what I'm into and definitely not into, say, baedan at its most extra. They're, like, pretty clean people. My years of perusal of the nudist-naturist internet indicates that a lot of them jump into the shower every time they take a shit, which is probably pretty easy given that they're already naked. Even so, it is a matter of the most basic nudist-naturist etiquette to sit on a towel, or some other kind of individuated barrier item, instead of sitting one's bare ass on a seat that may be used by someone else later on. I won't pretend to think that most nudists with bachelor apartments sit on towels when they're at home, at least not every single time, but in the company of others, it's a pretty widely understood norm. Y'know, just in case!

A lot of people, including a number of anarchists I've met over the years, don't know about the towel thing, or they have a hard time believing it even if they've heard right. I feel like this must be because the naked and dirty semantic circuits are mixed up in their heads, perhaps along with the evil and/or wrong semantic circuits. I don't know how to untangle all of that for them, but I presume learning a little bit more about what they're talking about – germs, nudism, nudists, the world at large – might help.

I believe that a comfortist practice of nudism would benefit from the importation of naturists' towel etiquette, and I am not particularly interested in some kind of radical rethinking of the human relationship to shit; in other words, I do not, in concert with baedan, “insist upon flushing away the whole machine that chambers excretion and channels excrement.” My general opposition to civilization does not manifest itself in an acute opposition to either this chambering (e.g. a measure of privacy while on the toilet, in contrast to the open toilet chambers of the ancient Greeks and Romans or the panoptic regime that exists in many prisons today) or to the channeling of shit.

I repeat, again: shit is a potent vector of disease, which is why it is a broadly good thing to make efforts to channel it away from people; the fact that hundreds of millions of people lack access to functional sanitation systems of the kind that I enjoy, and may be forced to engage in open defecation in slum-adjacent canals or whatever, is a problem that I'm not especially interested in trivializing through some kind of anarcho-Delanyian embrace of the radical and/or transgressive potential of shit. I am amused by this communiqué from “the pentagon bumfuck committee” but I do not think that “elaborating a logic of scat” is nearly as important as attacking “the poo taboo” (as Sara Wickham calls it in this article related to her practice as a midwife), i.e. the undue fear of shit, to the point that even talking about shit is difficult.

It's a problem for a lot of reasons, for instance, in institutional contexts that have nothing to do with my life; it's possible to collect money from billionaires and middle-class people to build schools in “underdeveloped countries” – but building functional sanitation systems, which are far more basically necessary (because, uh, fuck schools, honestly), is typically a non-starter because people just don't want to talk about something as lowly and base as shit. With regard to the main focus of this blog, the taboo also stymies discussion of a different sort of culture or practice around clothes and nudity. Butt germs loom much larger than they should in the imagination of people when discussing a practice of social nudity.

I would argue that nudists probably have a more consistent and frictionless practice of hygiene than is the case with most people, but again, that idea goes directly against the widespread assumption in many societies that nudity is adjacent to filthiness – or at least not far from it!

More open cultures vis-à-vis nudity are pretty likely to be suppressed on the grounds that nudity is unhygienic and, consequently, detrimental to some notion of public health. In 2011 and 2012, for instance, the campaign to ban public nudity in San Francisco focused on the practice of people who would, apparently, regularly sit their bare asses on the chairs outside of cafés and restaurants. I think these were people were mostly tourists who were ignorant of, or in any case had no respect for, the established naturist towel etiquette; they were simply living an interesting experience which, to be sure, wouldn't be quite as possible (or at least as tolerated) in many other places.

In my opinion, despite the fact that that was kinda gross (because, what if!), it probably wasn't really a huge problem. Most of the time that a bare ass hit a plastic seat, I would expect that excrement was not caking the inside of those cheeks. Even if, though? Well, shit is everywhere; it's unlikely that one unwashed bum on a plastic seat was going to cause an outbreak of anything, in and of itself.

I think this sort of bare bum tourist behaviour bullshit is shitty (lol), and maybe even worth a bit of shaming – but it's not a real issue and it wasn't really why, on February 1, 2013, nudity was generally banned in San Francisco. The bare bums on seats were just an excuse for achieving something that a coalition of property owners and political conservatives (most of whom didn't even live in the Castro, where most of the nudity took place, or even in the city limits of San Francisco at all) wanted anyway, which was to stop a handful of mostly older, mostly gay, mostly men (who were generally not tourists, but actually lived in the area) from hanging out naked whenever the weather was suitable, maybe smoking medicinal weed or talking about politics or who's dating who, and (it could be argued!) scaring away revenue to local businesses from people who are grossed out by nudists and/or passively grinding away at the moral fabric of a certain vision of a God-fearing America.

The local nudists (or at least the ones featured in a mainstream article I read in 2012) used towels when they sat down.

I am sure similar things have happened elsewhere, or could happen again, wherever a relatively easygoing cultural attitude and/or a light hand from local authorities gives rise to people actually hanging out naked a lot – and then, that area gains a reputation as a place where it is possible to have a one-off naked tourist experience. The people who oppose public nudity (and there will be some) are going to say whatever will work to stop it from happening, and a quality of being somehow unhygienic is just one useful thing for them to bring up. For this reason, I don't think it behooves nudists to go too far in trying to prove just how how hygienic we really are. It won't stop anyone from calling us dirty anyway.

I also worry about cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness puritanism and its effects, namely insofar as it divorces people further from their environment (it is telling how much American nudist clubs all exude a sort of 1950s “suburban idyll” aesthetic). Nevertheless, it is important to insist on some facts about nudism and hygiene, at least whenever we end up ensconced in conversation about these topics. One is that, logically, nudism makes hygiene easier. Another thing is that most nudists are probably already cleaner than most members of the basically clothes-wearing majority.

Bringing it back to anarchist spaces, it seems to me that both nudism and a concerted effort to degrade the poo taboo could be complementary efforts. I think nudism has a lot to offer, but composting toilets probably do too.

The main issue, for me, is that a lot of anarchists live in housing that is absolutely awful, or at least ill-suited to how we are attempting to use those spaces and how we would ideally like to live. We crowd into housing units that don't have enough bathrooms, using rooms that were intended as offices or living rooms as bedrooms, and sometimes we even put more than one person to a bedroom. In North America at least, most housing units have the singular shower in the same room (often a very small room) as a toilet (which is often the toilet). Given that these are the sorts of spaces that we live in, it would probably be for the best if we could, as a matter of course, foster relationships with other members of our household that it is okay (not good or desirable, but okay) to use these facilities at the same time, should the need arise.

Again, I'm not particularly fond of the idea of the ancient Greeks' and Romans' communal shitting rooms, but given an unideal architectural context that is not of our own devising, and the fact that occasionally we will face urgent situations of various kinds that conflict with others' privacy, I think it would be a good thing for us all to accept that both bodily privacy and/or the desire to never smell shit – while definitely the preference of the many – cannot and should not be considered sacrosanct. I think, too, that a number of accidents or other misfortunes might be avoided if we were all on the same page with this (or at least trying to be).

In many households, even in North America, people get on just fine with this sort of understanding among one another, without even necessarily sharing any affinity for a word like “nudism” or “naturism”; my understanding is that this usually happens in the context of nuclear families. Parents are okay seeing other naked (if they ever had a sexual relationship, they've probably seen each other naked a lot), and they don't really care about their younger kids being naked or sitting on a toilet (whatever) or seeing them naked or sitting on a toilet (possibly good for their psychological development, but in any case maybe not worth caring that much about). I can only presume that the larger the difference between the number of toilets and/or showers in the house and the number of residents, the greater the prevalence of this sort of thing. In any case, perhaps this sort of family understanding around nudity, clothes, and privacy goes on forever (although the wider society's stance on these things are likely to challenge or destabilize this situation at some point), perhaps it ends at some point. (From what I can tell, it seems as though things change as a result of teens and preteens being affected by wider society's ideas about these things, e.g. “that's weird”, and then asserting new boundaries.)

But even for people who grew up this way, it may be harder to “break the ice”, so to speak, with peers with whom they do not share such long-standing and familiar relationships.

If a person in a house of anarchists or fellow travelers has to poop very badly, and someone (it may not even be clear who!) is in the shower, they may not feel comfortable knocking on the door, never mind barging in. And what shall be the consequences of such reticence? I can say, from experience, that sometimes the consequences are gross and/or embarrassing.

Again, shit is a part of life. So is one roommate showering while another has to use the toilet. I don't think it does us any good to be, like, so weird about this. We are bringing the weirdness, the awkwardness, to this topic – and we don't have to!

If anything, I think it would do us all some good to push back a little against whatever discomfort we have ourselves, as well as whatever attitudes we see in society that we do not care for, intellectually speaking. I will say, too, that I have known a number of people in my life who felt fine just leaving the door open while sitting on the toilet; they sometimes did just that in the middle of a conversation I was having with them. The world didn't end, nor has it ever done so when I have, occasionally, done the same.

Also, when I was growing up, someone-on-toilet-and-someone-in-shower situations happened all the time. It was whatever.

These situations, of barging in while my sister was in the shower or having my dad do the same to me, did not translate to any kind of extra-bathroom nudity in my own family, nor would leaving the door open while pooping and/or shared usage of bathroom space necessarily lead to any akin thing among anarchist roommates. Maybe, though, in the context of having ever discussed gradually normalizing nudity in the household, actively attacking the regime of an always closed door on the bathroom could pave the way to something more broadly comfortable for everyone.

Or maybe not. That part is speculative. Nevertheless, I think there are still some practical benefits to people feeling less weird about adjacency to others when sitting on a toilet or taking a shower. All the better if people have had a good talk about that kind of thing before someone in the household, or everyone, gets a bad case of the shits.

 
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from to kick as a horse would

Elemental Black Metal

Hunter Hunt-Hendrix outlines what they term Transcendental Black Metal in their manifesto of the same name included in the collection, Hideous Gnosis: Black Metal Theory Symposium 1. Although I appreciate the philosophical effort (even more so the musical output of Liturgy), Id like to make use of their framework to provide a third alternative. The metaphysics of Elemental Black Metal appeals more to me than the apocalyptic humanism they prescribe, or the Hyperborean nihilism they seek to move beyond.

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ELEMENTAL

According to Susanna Lindberg, the elementals are “abstract ways of articulating the materiality of being.” Elemental nature is unthinkable (beyond human thought), primordial (always ever there), and chthonic (found in the realm of the underworld). It is beyond the sensible or rational. It is “the absence of transcendental ground” existing as already available images. To Emmanuel Levinas, it is the it when it rains, il y a. It is indeterminate, opaque, and an absence that makes presence possible.

CONTINGENCY

Contingency is a potential force, and the force of potential. It is unexpected and not destined. It is an unintended consequence. It foils teleologies and disrupts ecologies even as it erupts from them. It is a senseless reshuffling of the cards. To humans, it is felt as looming cosmic catastrophe. It undoes worlds. It is nihilism to humans, but not something (or a nothing) one can be for.

FORGETTING

Creative forgetting is unlearning mastery, as Bayo Akomolafe puts it. This could be also considered unthinking. This is what Friedrich Nietzsche describes as the child stage in Thus Spoke Zarathustra: approaching the world anew having shed the burden of the camel and the ressentiment of the lion. It is what Laozi describes as the uncarved block: the capacity to become. It is not a rejection of the past, but an awareness that the past has yet to come.

DRONE

Drone is an enveloping, pulsating resonance. In metal, it is exemplified generally by much of the work of bands Earth and Sunn O))) of Cascadia, and Boris and Corrupted of Japan's urban epicenters. It is exemplified specifically by the track Tanggalkan Di Dunia (Undo The World) by the band Senyawa of Jogjakarta. The blackest of drone metal best accompanies Eugene Thacker's notion of cosmic pessimism. More than listened to, drone is felt.

EARTHLY (SUBTERRANEAN)

Elemental metal is earthly, but more specifically subterranean. It lies beneath bogs and marshes, and is buried under sand in windswept deserts. It forms underground caverns and deep sea trenches. It moves through mycelia and magma flows. It is of the underworld: connecting the living and the dead, and blurring the line between them. It is known by humans for its opacity.

GETTING LOST

The outcome of becoming lost is unknown. Losing oneself is impure, and resists preservation. It is breaking free from the fixed continuity of self and time, not through external transcendence, but passionate corporeality: a reckoning with the soul, followed by grotesque laughter.

ENTANGLEMENT

According to Carlo Rovelli, entanglement is predicated upon three aspects: granularity, indeterminacy, and relationality. An entangled understanding unmasks time for what it is: a relation between human perception and the cosmos. The cosmos is composed of indeterminate becomings in relation to each other, rather than finite or infinite being.

DIFFUSION

Diffusion is a withdrawal from incapacitating concentrations. It is an exit strategy. It is fluid, dissolvable, and becoming illegible. It is fleeing to the forest or going underground. It is fugitivity.

 
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from nudism as an illegalism

When I was a teenager, I ended up reading two books, by two different Japanese guys, within a relatively short span of time. The first book, by Fukuoka Masanobu (b. 1913, d. 2008), bore the English title The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, and it was lent to me by someone I had a crush on at the time. The second book, called The Book of Five Rings in English (although my understanding is that it was originally either a scroll or a collection of scrolls, rather than a book per se), was by Miyamoto Musashi (b. 1584, d. 1645); it was lent to me by a friend's older brother, with whom I had started hanging out occasionally, perhaps in part because I had been seen to talk about Fukuoka's book from time to time.

Fukuoka's book, obviously enough, was (and is!) about farming – specifically, a technique of farming that did not rely on heavy industrial inputs. Miyamoto's book was (and is!) about using swords effectively in order to kill people (which is something that, as I understand it, he managed to do quite a bit of in his life). Neither subject had much to do with my life, either then or now, but the books are not just about those subjects; they are works of philosophy. Not in the sense of philosophy as an academic discipline, but in the more colloquial sense of a “philosophy for life”. In other words, both books can be understood, through a contemporary lens, as examples of self-help literature.

Don't get it confused, of course. They are absolutely about their respective subjects, and impart many lessons that could, presumably, come in handy if one wanted to be a natural farmer or a person who kills people with swords. But that's not necessarily why the books are shared and read. I remember that the blurb on the back of The Book of Five Rings had a lot of verbiage about how Miyamoto's words could translate into lessons for “business strategy”, that in fact a number of Japanese business executives kept his book on their front desks and Western executives ought to start doing the same. When I read Fukuoka's book (which, overall, was the more important of the two in my own life), I took a lot from his idea about a sort of considered laziness (my words, not his). When he affirmed that farmers, in the past, had had the time to write poetry and practice calligraphy and otherwise live a worthwhile life, I was into it. When he said that, whenever he was doing anything that he did routinely, he started asking questions of himself about whether he could get away with not doing that thing, whether there was a technique to reduce the amount of time he spent doing the thing, I was really into it.

So, for almost the whole time that I wanted to write a book or a zine about nudism, I wanted to produce something similar to what Fukuoka and Miyamoto had produced. I wanted to write something that furnished practical lessons about a subject that a reader might want to learn about, but I also wanted to convey something else, sort of between the lines. Something profound, I suppose.

The issue is that I don't have much to say that's practical, at least not in the same way as Fukuoka or Miyamoto. I certainly could say any number of banalities and/or absurdities about getting naked, recapitulating, for instance, this list of “100 nudity ideas to increase nude time and nudist friends” – but that's not my style. Alas, when it comes to what I want to be talking about, I don't really have the experience, and certainly not the know-how. I cannot offer a technique that is so refined that I have been able to furnish a name to it, akin to Fukuoka's “do-nothing farming” or Miyamoto's “Way of Strategy”. I can offer a “nudism-comfortism” that exists in contrast to a specialized and decidedly polemic notion about a “nudism-naturism”, but insofar as there is any technique here at all, it pertains to a way of thinking about nudism, and not the practice itself.

Unlike Fukuoka or Miyamoto, I am writing as a relatively young man, not as an old guy who sort of figured it all out already. But also, what works for me simply will not work for others, and I think it wrong to presume that it could. For instance, I have already mentioned that I am a man, but I'm a cis man at that. I also live in a specific part of the world. As a subject of diffuse systems of power – or however you want to conceive of things like race, class, (dis)ability, and so on – I exist at a particular point in that matrix, which is different from where others are at. I've certainly got my own body image issues, but I'm not and never have been fat by any meaningful definition.

The project, up to now, has mostly been one of critique. I have mostly been critical of naturism, which is, in my estimation, a failure from a philosophical and political standpoint. But I've also criticized anarchists, as a collectivity, for their failure to realize a “free body culture” (to use the German verbiage) within their own spaces, almost in spite of their professed ideas.

But critique, divorced from practice, doesn't amount to much.

The degree to which I have lived in accordance with what I think about clothes, comfort, nudity, and morality and/or ethics pertaining to the aforementioned items has been, up to this point, pretty limited. I have things to talk about, but I can't present myself as living, or having lived, an especially “nudist” life – by which I mean a life that involves being naked whenever it is eminently the most physically comfortable option. What I have lived, instead, is an anarchist life, which doesn't mean a life that is befitting of a “true” anarchist or any specific idea about anarchy and/or its aspirations (I would never presume so much about myself), but at least a life that involves engagement with anarchist scenes (and overlapping scenes), anarchist projects (and anarchist interventions), and stories about anarchist history.

So, I want to get from here – which may be different for me than it is for a reader in Europe, in Southeast Asia, or anywhere else, but by which I mean the prevailing culture as regards clothing and nudity in anarchist scenes writ large – to there – by which I mean a culture that is more comfortist in its orientation, or at least that allows space for the option of nudity, nudist-comfortist subjectivities, and even other things.

I don't know how to get there, but I have proposals. I'm not sure if I know how to articulate all of them yet, but I have said a few things already and I suppose I'll say more.

I am pretty sure that it isn't enough for me to simply get naked more often, as an individual. I would love to get to a different emotional place with stuff, to not care about a few things I still sometimes care about, but insofar as it just amounts to me getting to flex on others about how confident or unselfconscious I am being naked, that won't quite be enough to change my social context to the point that I feel less lonely as a conspicuously nudist sort of person. It's also not going to do much to keep my bare ass from getting incarcerated (or at least mixed up with the judicial system), depending on how I express any newfound devil-may-care attitude.

The sort of world I'm aiming for won't be bruteforced through brazen and unrepentant nudity, in other words – and certainly not by individuated action alone.

There is definitely something to be said for just doing the thing (in fact, there's a lot to be said for it), but it is not sufficient. And it cannot be said that reading theory, reading stories from history, and/or reading about the problems that other people have faced will never help others to do the thing themselves. So I write.

 
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from rhamnousia's abode

My Father the Policeman: A Critique of Anecdotes of the Privileged

This article was originally published here on July 5th, 2020.

Have you ever noticed that upon critique of a power structure a privileged person will pipe up with an anecdote to quip back? "My uncle was the county sheriff." "My aunt is a judge." "My father was a policeman." They mean it—I believe—either to show their understanding of the issue or to illustrate tacitly how they take personal offense. Both deserve to be addressed.

With regard to the demonstration of their ostensible understanding—it only goes so far, given their privilege; they will be sheltered from the gritty injustices that their privileged relatives will commit, because it would be perceived to bring disgrace onto the family otherwise. Or at least, they will be sheltered from the gritty realities that are considered unacceptable within the family culture.

This distinction is one that I can attest to myself; my grandparents worked for the police department. Now I come from a very traditional Italian-American family; the conservative ken of "law and order" runs strong. Most of the anecdotes that I have heard are sourced from my father, since he frequently witnessed the relevant actions of his family members—who worked for the police department. What he saw was awful: the corporal punishment of petty thieves for no other reason than police pleasure, alongside a general abuse of power. They also were quite racist; my grandfather believes—to this very day I believe—that Black people do not deserve equivalent freedom to white people, and he also distrusts Jewish people. This of course would hamper his ability to treat everyone equally, which is supposed to be a necessary skill in the job, given the diversity of people with whom an officer will have to cooperate, as in a community.

There is no doubt in my mind however that he—along with my grandmother, and everyone else in that police department for that matter, all giving their approval to these injustices—believed that his actions and beliefs were correct; everyone is the hero of their own story. But a person's pureness at heart is truthfully irrelevant to these discussions. When minds are scarred, when situations are escalated, when violence breaks out—intentions are no longer relevant, since the damage is still done all the same. If the intentions of the terrorists—in effect, what police are, causing terror to pacify the people out to whom they are dispatched—were ill, then the solution to the problem would be simple: fire all the iniquitous servants and replace them with good-natured people. But no, the problem is in how the structure inherently corrupts; therefore it must be abolished. It has nothing to do with how kind a family member may be.

But then, if the objection is not rational, what about an emotional objection: that one's bloodlines lead them to be victim of personal offense? What a pitiful concept: that one having family connections granting privilege should be accounted for when the institution that grants these privileges is criticized more than the people whom it hurts on the basis of their social status, often derived from their lineage! This can be observed in communities of people of color most notably; their deep family connections—id est their very race—affects the way they are treated by people with hierarchical control. Yet lest not—oh heavens—these people—among other people: neurodivergent people, queer people, and so on—express the same distaste that the power structures they fight against show for them, right back! What a laugh that we should remain in silence because of the abled cishet white person's affiliations!

So in effect this citation of anecdotes is a form of tone policing: that marginalized people should accept their circumstances, lest they face the censure of the privileged minority. Why should we seek respect from the system that gives us none? Why should we play on that field when we'll never win? What reason do we have to not devote our efforts into welding the oppressed masses into a destructive force? There is no need to enable the privileged; we have no choice but to oppugn them until they are free of their control.

 
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from nudism as an illegalism

I have a lot to say about the internet. Most of it is negative (insofar as I hate it, and computers generally, and would hypothetically prefer to do without the lot of it), but up to a point, I can wax positive too. I grew up with the internet, after all. Interesting things have come out of things that I learned there, or relationships with other people that were either initiated and/or substantiated there. Lots of people can relate, I'm sure.

I first heard about the fediverse – which I will explain better in a moment – in late 2018. At that time, I had been running a blog on Tumblr that was also about nudism (for the most part, at least), but then it was announced on December 3 of that year that Tumblr would be changing its policy on nudity in just two weeks' time, effective December 17. The content of my blog actually included quite a few depictions of nudity, and I felt that that was pretty much that on that, i.e. I wasn't going to continue using Tumblr. There weren't very many other nudist and/or naturist blogs that I considered worth following, but the few that I did care about also went defunct once they were no longer able to post pictures of naked people.

The current iteration of this blog, here on chi.st, doesn't have any pictures (except for that one of Luigi up at the top), and I have made a pretty big deal about being “against representation” myself – but I think it makes sense to imagine that, well, nudists and/or naturists will probably want to be able to depict “female-presenting nipples” and other such parts of the human anatomy from time to time. I certainly enjoyed reblogging funny, on-theme image macros from across Tumblr (and theoretically, I would do the same more from my Mastodon/Hometown account on ni.hil.ist if, like, the fediverse had a similar output of nudism-relevant funny stuff as Tumblr did in 2018).

Right now, there don't seem to be very many nudists and/or naturists on the fediverse (if there are more, I don't think I have found them yet), and the nudist-naturist space on the internet seems to be pretty ignorant of the fediverse's very existence. Their screen time and their attention, instead, is focused on major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, and – to a lesser degree – the likes of Tumblr and Pinterest. In other words, platforms owned by major companies that seek, above all, to maximize profit.

As far as I know, all of these platforms have hostile policies with respect to unfettered, consequence-free sharing of depictions of human nudity. These companies are still beholden to governments, most of which have laws against (certain genres of) pornography. Pictures of nudists living their lives run afoul of these laws in many jurisdictions, and even where they are legal, the may nevertheless be understood as pornographic by large numbers of people. Profit-seeking companies need to have governments on-side and populations on-board, and thus nudity is a problem. How, then, to handle that problem? A comprehensive ban may be more cost-effective than assiduous moderation that, more likely than not, will fail to even satisfy the larger, more important, and more conservative part of the user base, i.e. the users who matter, unlike representatives of the naturist subculture and/or whatever other assortment of libertines and weirdos there are.

It is, in any case, the shareholders and the CEOs – Zuckerberg, Doherty, et al. – who have all of the power here. These platforms are not public assets, beholden to the will of some idea of “the people”; they are privately owned fiefdoms, the property of monied partnerships. Even if (sufficiently online) nudist-naturists were thrice as numerous and/or thrice as politically powerful as is the case, their complaints and petitions would still amount to nothing in the calculus of making policy decisions.

From a perspective that seeks to perpetuate the naturist subculture, then, this is a problem. The administrator of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park's Reddit account, possibly Stéphane Deschênes himself, recently wrote that Facebook, Instagram, et al. are “de facto public spaces. If you don’t or can’t use them, you are excluded from public discourse.” There is certainly some truth in that comment, and I think it's fair to say that nudists of any kind are going to be less able to propagate their ideas than the partisans of any other position that is able to use these platforms without restrictions. Personally speaking, based on what I've seen, it seems that nationalism and conspiracy theory – simple ideas that act on anger and fear – are privileged by the algorithms on these sites, and the mere presence of depictions of human nudity (evidently a critical component of naturist activists' prefigurative politics) will cause a lot of people to recoil before they can take in any ideas at all. But, still, it's true: a different policy would allow nudist-naturists to participate in public discourse to a larger degree than they can currently, it would allow them to perform a certain kind of activism-by-selfie (hashtag “normalize nudity” and all that) that other people could see, and all of this might have some marginal impact on the vitality of that subculture.

But it's a moot point, because it's not happening.

If the goal is to post naked selfies – and that largely seems to be what it's about – then it makes so much more sense to build new web infrastructure than to petition these companies to change their ways or, otherwise, petition governments to force them to change. Even before the recent Facebook vs. Australia showdown, the idea that governments can do anything, in most cases, is laughable in and of itself, and it's even more ridiculous to think that they would take up the cause of nudist-naturists! This is simply not a realistic approach to the problem, such as it is.

Enter Mastodon – and the fediverse more broadly.

Eugen Rochko et al. have been maintaining Mastodon, a Twitter-like microblogging software using the ActivityPub protocol, since 2016. ActivityPub is a decentralized protocol, like email. What that means is that anyone can set up their own “instance”, at their own URL, which will then be able to communicate with any other instance in a straightforward manner, just as an email from nu@gmail.com can go to nue@protonmail.com without problem. It is relatively easy to set up a Mastodon instance, or to use an entirely different sort of software that also relies on ActivityPub, but which is still going to be able to interact with other ActivityPub-reliant services that serve the same “type” of content. The administrator(s) of each instance can then determine their own policies about what content they will allow, which instances they want to block (because all instances are “federated” by default, hence “fediverse”), and so on.

In other words, it's a free-for-all where people can make their own rules about depictions of nudity or just about anything else. Governments may try to impose their rules over servers that are physically located within their jurisdictions, but they are much less likely to know about each small instance, much less likely to care about it, much less likely to know what to do about it – as opposed to the bigger companies who, at least, offer a relatively straightforward process for governments to make demands for various kinds of information.

The profit-seeking logics of bigger companies also don't really apply. Most instances are run at a loss, but a modest one, often sustainable on the salary of a single administrator or, otherwise, by a collection of people who are all willing to pitch in to pay the bills.

As far as a “public square” goes, the fediverse still has many less users than the big sites that have managed to corner the market in human attention, but that is to be expected. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that more users will show up, and I also think that, to the extent that this could be a good thing – or at least a superior option compared to other options, i.e. continuing to rely on Twitter, Facebook, et al. – there is some space for individual agency to have an effect, i.e. people can join up and encourage people they know to do the same. (I tend to think that the effect of people with larger followings, a Stéphane Deschênes for instance, might have a larger effect than relatively anonymous and obscure users saying the same.)

The major advantage of the fediverse, though, is that it avoids the “island” problem that exists with everything else, including purpose-built nudist-naturist websites like TrueNudists.com (which is, incidentally, utter trash). Perhaps there are still islands on the fediverse, each with its own rules and effective rulers, but it is relatively easy for people to migrate around, discover new content, and so on, without losing everything, having to learn a whole new software, etc.

At the moment, I am aware of only one Mastodon instance with a specific focus on naturism and/or nudism, the aptly named naturism.social, which is run by one Matt Crawford of Iowa. I have a lot of misgivings about this site, some of which has to do with my opposition to naturism as an ideology (as opposed to either comfortism and/or anarchism), but more of which has to do with Crawford himself, a guy with a Gab account – which, for those in the know about Gab, probably says enough about the guy's politics and how I might personally feel about them.

It is fortunate, then, that naturists and/or nudists have many other instances – not necessarily on any kind of nudist or naturist theme – where they can set up accounts and post to their hearts' content. Not all instances are completely posi about nudity, but plenty are, and they may have other praiseworthy features as well.

At the same time, it is unfortunate that, apart from Crawford (and one other person, whose lower-profile project I won't post publicly, for fear of bringing too much traffic to his site), there don't seem to be any efforts to build up fediverse infrastructure that specifically caters to the needs or desires of nudists and/or naturists. Once again, I feel the need to mention Stéphane Deschênes specifically, in part because a recent post on Bare Oaks' blog bragged that, thanks to a new fibre optic installation, those folks would now be able to host their own “naturist server farm”. Surely, then, they could endeavour to learn about Mastodon, or some other software using ActivityPub, in order to provide a viable service that is neither an island unto itself nor, like naturism.social, under the sole control of a Trump supporter? They would also have enough of a following to bring a lot of other people on-board.

At this point, it's worth saying, again, that I think the internet sucks. More precisely, I think online sociality is a wasteland. And yet I cannot deny that it is important, at least for subjects (such as myself) that are caught up in societies that have, broadly speaking, gotten screenlost. Given this fact, and considering it more or less immutable, there are probably numerous incidental benefits to the relatively decentralized sort of internet that the fediverse represents a part of, as opposed to the highly centralized model of the internet that is currently extant.

I personally don't want to use the internet to post, or see, unremarkable naked selfies – or to join, like, a voice chat channel for “nudist gamers” with whom I can chat about... being naked? while gaming? Like, I sort of think this type of thing is weird and/or distasteful and/or seriously detrimental to the ability of people, either individually or collectively, to exercise any kind of power that can compete in any way with presiding power structures (e.g. Facebook, neoliberalism, civilization, etc.). But hey, I wouldn't mind, say, some capacity to find roommates in my area who could be chill with nudism, to share news about public spaces where swimming naked (or like, playing volleyball naked, whatever) will be lower-risk and/or free, etc. In other words, I would appreciate any service that allowed me to live a life online that facilitated the kind of relatively more naked life I'm trying to live offline, and that helped out anyone else with a similar life orientation.

In any case, my own preferences and positions should only mean so much to the ways that others choose to engage with the internet. Who am I to say that people shouldn't have a nudist gamer voice chat channel, this critique notwithstanding? Who am I to say that, uh, people shouldn't be each others' “virtual shower buddies”?

I should mention that, a few weeks ago, I was, quite apropos of nothing, made into a moderator of the mostly defunct subreddit r/anarcho_naturism, presumably because I recently posted a link to this blog there, been very clear about the fact that I am an anarchist, and the other moderator, whose flair is “anarcho-naturist”, is also a moderator of the significantly more active subreddit r/naturism, so it's fine to concede me that turf. Alas, in part because I am not a naturist, and in part because I am really not okay with giving the corporate internet my attention for many reasons, it's not a particularly appealing bit of turf to own.

With respect to this project and its concerns – namely, articulating a specifically anarchist practice, philosophy, and sensibility of nudism (as anarcho-naturism once did, and which I hope either nudism-comfortism and/or anarcho-comfortism will be able to do going forward) – it seems useful to have some kind of space where other people can talk about the ideas, start to lead their own conversations (for instance, on topics I know less about, or about which I am less confident I have anything useful to say), and otherwise just build up some hype and/or leave me comments that encourage me to write more. I suppose r/anarcho_naturism could serve as such a space, but I much prefer raddle.me, which is run by an anarchist whose politics, as far as I can tell, I like. I also like a lot of the other users!

So, if you want, feel free to continue the conversation – about the poverty of online sociality or anything else! – at f/nudism. I'm looking for moderators, I guess?

A final word: chi.st runs on WriteFreely, which is another ActivityPub-based protocol; what this means is that this blog can be subscribed to using just about any Mastodon account, for instance, simply by searching @nudism-as-an-illegalism@chi.st within that application's own search bar. The URL https://chi.st/nudism-as-an-illegalism/feed/ can likewise be entered into an RSS reader. It's also possible to follow the Hometown account associated with this blog (Hometown being a fork of Mastodon), the discovery of which I leave as an exercise for the reader; I crosspost every blog entry on chi.st with searchable hashtags.

 
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from to kick as a horse would

The beckoning soul

Modern humans created nature to separate themselves from the earth and institute the world.(1) Was this act self-legitimizing, self-denying, or both? Was it an appeal to a divine authority out of fear of death: of the end of a life no longer measurable?

The false sense of stability and security this transcendence provides continues to face challenges. Preserving the self or humanity (and the corresponding ontologies of being and being Human through humanism) remains the official discourse of authority. Following this discourse, the technocratic war on viruses pit rational, reasonable, and impenetrable beings against a mutable, malicious, external other. Like Bayo Akomolafe describes, Covid is a trickster god exposing Human weaknesses.

One of these weaknesses has been called spirit. Two iconoclastic German philosophers known for their critiques of spirit are Max Stirner and Ludwig Klages. They share many similarities, and respective controversies.(2) Metaphysically, they both argue against idealism, transcendence, and the absolute. They both criticize the enlightenment rationalism of modernity. Like Heraclitus and Laozi, they both argue for an ontology of becoming over being: an ever mutating flux over a fixed stasis.(3) They also share a sort of immanent philosophy: emphasizing mind and matter as one-and-the-same. This immanence counters the alienating Cartesian dualism serving the projects, processes, and progressions of civilization and humanism. This dualism separates human beings (or rather, human becomings) from the earth and creates Humans.

The two differ somewhat in the directions they take this immanence. Stirner takes it to rail against the moralism of mass society and its collectivist sensibilities. They argue that Humans exist through a code of justice called moralism that authorizes domination against inhuman monsters. They also argue Humans act in the service of an abstract external authority that permits domination of unique persons through collective conformity. Klages takes it in an ecological direction: railing against the accelerating violent impact of industrial technology on the biosphere. Klages also, through Friedrich Nietzsche’s formulation, takes up the Dionysian call of chaotic passion over the Apollonian rationalist order. In a partly feminist take, Klages attributes this destructive Apollonian order of spirit to man, and the generative Dionysian chaos to woman.(4) Wo-man, Without-man, Without-spirit. The origins of the familiar gender symbols also go back to ancient Greece, with female being the passionate Venus and male being the authoritative Mars. While I consider Klages’s emphasis on gender here an essentialist trap, I agree that a chaotic ensouled immanence has been violently suppressed by a dominant logical materialist order, causing a whole host of problems. I also think both Klages and Nietzsche fall into a dualist trap with this framework. Even if the Apollonian and Dionysian are considered both distinct and one-and-the-same (the yin and yang of Daoism comes to mind here), I think it too easily slips into a Manichean light versus dark cosmological struggle for my liking. This is where I look more to Stirner, among others, for an antidote to essentialist and dualist thinking generally, and gender specifically.(5)

The major distinction Klages makes in their effort to counter spirit is through the soul. The soul embraces an immanent ontology previously described: that mind and matter are one-and-the-same, and human beings are inextricable from their ecology on earth. The soul also embraces invisibility and illegibility to counter the authority of visibility and legibility: “[spirit] is absolute or ex-centric externality, while soul is a natural interiority: and the latter is akin to darkness and night, as the former is to clarity that knows no twilight.”(6) This is something to keep in mind for anyone engaging in fugitive and anarchist study. The soul is the linkage between human beings and the underworld in what Klages claims is an eternal tension:

In the myths of almost every people we encounter bloody battles in pre-historic ages between solar heroes who are bent upon installing a new order and the chthonic powers of fate, who are finally banished into a lightless underworld…over the soul rises the spirit, over the dream reigns a wide-awake rationality, over life, which becomes and passes, there stands purposeful activity.”(7)

Against the purposeful teleology of spirit, the soul carries with it the negating function of the elemental underworld that Susanna Lindberg describes:

the elemental is, but it is not a thing. It is no thing…It is not a thing but the withdrawl of being in beings, the refusal of ground in things, the absence of reason in reality. The elemental is the absence of transcendental ground, an absence which signals that the negation of such a ground does not amount to the empty nihil of nihilism but to another way of encountering being.”(8)

This other way of encountering being I could describe as becoming, but Id like to take it in a further direction. This elemental absence resides in an “underworld that contradicts but nonetheless conditions the world was conceived as raw nature behind the functional ecosystem and as death behind human society” This seems to be the planetary or cosmic perspective. This raises a nihilist question: when speaking of the elemental, what is it? Lindberg answers: “It is a kind of a generous nothingness that is not simply absent but signals its own absence: it is not an empty void but a dynamic nothingness that calls and beacons from afar.” Perhaps that call resonates in the soul, and that call is a coming to terms with death against preservation: that both living and dying are one-and-the-same.

alt text Byblis, William-Adolphe Bouguereau

(1) I use Eugene Thacker’s formulation of the earth as the ecosystem for-and-in itself, the world as for-and-of humans only, and the planet or cosmos as without humans, and possibly without the earth as well. In other words: planet = without humans, world = only humans, and earth = both.

(2) There are a number of people who have read very literally the early Steven Byington translation titled The Ego and Its Own, and advocate for an atomistic and almost social Darwinian individualism I find incompatible with Stirner’s philosophy. There are others who have a racial essentialist reading of Klages, eager to draw a type of blood and soil ideology from Klages’s critique of modernity. I do think Klages suffers from some troublesome essentialist pitfalls, and there is an ongoing debate how much antisemitism influenced their ideas, but I have not yet read enough to comment on this. From what I have read, I do not think they advocate for the fascistic framework some of their admirers would like them to. Unfortunately the most accessible and comprehensive translations of Klages I could find online are published by these folks.

(3) At least two philosophers in whats called the post-structuralist camp: Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida, also share similar understandings, and have both written about Stirner.

(4) “The analogy of gender, too, between spirit and man, and soul and woman, has a deep foundation, which can be traced all the way back to the Greeks” (Klages, Soul and Spirit) Apparently Camile Paglia also makes a similar claim in Sexual Personae, but I have not read into it.

(5) Tim Elmo Feiten also makes this claim.

(6) Ludwig Klages, Soul and Spirit

(7) Ludwig Klages, Man and Earth

(8) Susanna Lindberg, Unthinking the Underworld: Nature, Death, and the Elemental

 
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from to kick as a horse would

Lesser known individualism

As an exercise in rendering down a bare-bones definition of anarchist practice, Ive come up with: the tension between resisting (anti-) and/or avoiding (a-) being controlled on the one hand, and letting go of control on the other.

I find a collectivist foundation incompatible with this definition. Ill define collectivism as a logic that prioritizes the goals of an abstract we over those of unique beings.(1) The abstract we can be given an endless number of names: group, community, the people, hairdressers, Italians, zoomers, etc. Or it can be simply we, with the speaker assuming that they and their audience are all a we. This abstract we lives in the realm of the ideal, as something external to the beings it claims to be. The collectivist logic uses categorization to make all sorts of determinations based on singular beings as units of measurement, or numbers on papers and screens. While fundamental to politics (strategies and tactics to manage large numbers of people), I find this logic detrimental to a liberatory anarchist practice that isnt willing to deny the unique contingencies of beings, and desires to let go of control.

Regarding the individualist perspective, I think there are two conceptions to grapple with. The first is the more commonly known individualism found in liberalism.(2) I find it individualistic in name only: conflating an atomistic separateness with individualism. This perspective insists on independent self interest as a foundational principal, yet depends on abstractions to motivate interests: rationalism, humanism, progressive teleology through technology, and perhaps the most emphasized– economic relationality. This creates a conflicting existence for the atomized: wanting, but never fully able to own themselves. The ideals of this perspective also alienate beings from the ecology they find themselves in, leading to metaphysical extremes such as hard materialism (the denial of mind). The result is endless civilizational growth through resource extraction and servitude through work. Individuals are understood as economic agents and rational subjects: not in service of themselves, but economics and rationalist philosophy. I see this form of individualism not as individualist as it claims to be, and more collectivist than it admits.

The second understanding is the lesser known radical ownness of individualist anarchism. I find this to be truer to the name in that it also emphasizes self interest as a foundational principle,(3) but seeks to shed the abstract demands that liberal individualism clings to. In the text, The Individualist Anarchist Discourse of Early Interwar Germany, Constantin Parvulescu puts it this way:

the power void [left by revolution] brought to the fore a disoriented being, one frightened by freedom and addicted to transcendent guidance. Stirner’s predictions proved to be true: liberalism had failed to produce a free subject; instead it created a monad that conceived of itself as incomplete, as part of something bigger than him or her: an order, a body politic or a mission.

In contrast to this monad, the unique being (or individualist as individualist anarchist) rejects the abstract subjecthood defined by the polis, preferring instead the embodied real defined through lived experience. This perspective also seems more compatible with ecological principles: with beings not static, determined, or separate from their ecology. It recognizes that unique beings are composed of other unique beings, in both mind and matter, yet retain their uniqueness. The unique being is both singular and plural. Singular in that every being is the unique set of contingencies that only it can be made up of, and plural in that they are continuously in flux: becoming something they werent prior in potentially many ways at once. This capacity is the liberatory potential of the unique being as practiced through the creative unlearning of assigned values: the power to not only transform oneself, but to lose oneself. This is the freedom of forgetting, of letting go of control. It is anti-humanist in that it rejects the determined ideal of the Human, in favor of the indeterminate living of human beings. It is a passion for being. It values difference over sameness, and finds disagreement more interesting than agreement. It values heresy and play, and takes seriously laughing at itself.

The universe, in its greatness, can seem to want to crush me, but it cannot penetrate me, I, who am a formative and indispensable part, and the further the unique strives to spread itself out and its aim and its action, the more deeply it understands its situation and its need for the cosmos.” – Anselm Ruest and Salomo Friedlaender, Contributions to the History of Individualism

alt text

(1) For now, Im choosing unique being to describe what could be also called person, individual, or the overly complicated singularity, but the appropriate term (or if there should be one) is up for debate.

(2) This is by far the most familiar understanding, which is why almost any discussion of individualism immediately points to it. This creates a predicament: drop the term individualist for something lesser known, or fight for it. Im undecided, since both options seem to mislead either way. Since collectivist tendencies dominate the general discourse, the same predicament applies to anarchism as well.

(3) Self interest does not imply that others are not taken into consideration or separate from the self, in fact the opposite: it is in one’s self interest to highly consider and not neglect the mutuality between beings, for they are composed of each other. It emphasizes that acting for oneself in turn benefits those with whom one is interacting, and by the wants of desire, not the shoulds of duty.

 
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from to kick as a horse would

Dissection of a three line poem

nobody knows shit

Disillusioned with the functionaries of the monastery, it is no surprise that Ikkyū draws this conclusion. Sitting through most any meeting can lead to the same sentiment.

Although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is – for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know.” – Socrates in Plato’s Apology

nobody lives anywhere

Perhaps Ikkyū is claiming there is nowhere to live, referring to the Buddhist concept of śūnyatā (primordial emptiness), or that the anātman (non-self) must live anywhere; for if you are not, you cannot be but anywhere.

If this seems too acosmic, perhaps the line is simply a critique of everyday life: who is really living?

hello dust!

ex nihilo nihil fit

The hard problem of consciousness seeks a solution to how or why qualia (conscious subjective experience) exists, or came to be. Panpsychism proposes that mind exhibiting qualia is fundamental to existence, and present in all matter. There are varying degrees to which mind is attributed to dust.

Within a panpsychist framework:

panexperientialism – conscious experience is fundamental and ubiquitous (parts of dust have some degree of mind) pancognitivism – thought is fundamental and ubiquitous (dust can think)

Outside panpsychism:

animism – all matter, pluralistically, has mind, thought, and agency (dust can attack if provoked) pantheism – all matter is god (dust is god)

alt text page from Ikkyū Sōjun's notebook

 
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from to kick as a horse would

From the end of this world to the back of the alley – Part II

Now for some of my own thoughts:

Im limited by my sensory perception of the cosmos, but Ive no belief of a transcendent beyond. I am, and have already been, uniquely a part of what I cannot fully see or feel. Im both accident and agent set in motion. Embracing the uniqueness of this experience as a human being (what I am) over the human abstraction (the idea of what I am) seems preferable. Enriching the relations I have with other beings (human or otherwise) strengthens this embrace. This calls for abandoning three interrelated tendencies: the obsession to manage, orienting around predictability, and the desire to preserve ideals. When I die, the limited perception Ive been familiar with will end, and I will decompose to recompose to decompose again. Here are three ideas to help me until then:

1) Break the clock. We now live in a world so pervasive with measurement that the science of it (metrics) has become dogma. The goal seems to be endless comparison of every incomparability, no stone left unturned. Evading measure is a key part of avoiding capture. Though there are some practical uses for measuring when cooking or crafting, rejecting this dependency is crucial for any liberatory lifeway. Most importantly, this applies to time and money: the most limiting of measurements. Doing this full-stop could have some interesting and painful results, but a limited engagement strategy seems more viable in the current state of things.

2) Light the candle. Focusing excessively on preserving an ideal of life is an unnecessary and fraught way to live. Taking efforts to burn out quickly (while at times admirable) is often just as fraught, and can lead to miserable outcomes other than death. Rather than arguing for a moderate life, Im instead for allowing life to take its course as a lit candle would. This could look quite extreme in infinitely imaginative ways.

3) Empty the cup. This is a derivative of pu, often translated as uncarved wood: an early Daoist concept of a return to simplicity or emptiness before being put to use. Other derivatives include a clean slate (tabula rasa), and the unlearning process. Nietzche’s final stage of the child in Thus Spoke Zarathustra is another similar idea. The forgetful child sees the world anew as a bounty of possibility, theirs for the taking. Nietzsche’s Übermensch as child loses in order to gain, yet I prefer Stirner’s Unmensch (or inhuman being), who loses in order to gain in order to lose. Once your cup is filled, it requires an emptying-out in order to remain capable. That capability is not an end in itself, but to be put toward a loss of the self through the self. Get lost and stay lost.

 
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from bugs

Wrote this guide ages ago and put it nowhere, so I thought I'd drop it here so maybe you too can have some fun!

This method is by no means perfect. It does not have the highest yields and there is lots of potential for contams. However, this is what I know. It has worked for me, it requires little ingredients, and it will fit into a small space. The method we will be using for inoculation is what is known as the PF tek, and we will be using Mini Mono Tubs for the fruiting. I encourage you to look into other methods! If this doesn't work for you don't worry, experiment and try some other techniques, browse around shroomery.org or read some mushroom growing guides. You will definitely need patience for this as a full cycle takes around 2 months. You should try to schedule it so that you will be around for the last few weeks.


Equipment

  • Mushroom spores: ~20$ I recommend sporeworks.com as they allow bitcoin purchases and have a good rep. If you mention that shroomery.com sent you in the notes they will send you extra as well. You only really need purchase one syringe because we will be making our own liquid cultures. The ideal strain for a beginner is the B+ cubensis.
  • ½ Pint wide mouth canning jars: ~15$
  • Microspore tape: ~5$ – Optional
  • Large pot/Pressure cooker This is for sterilization. If you are just doing this once I would not recommend going out and buying a 100$ pressure cooker, just use what you have. It will just take longer to sterilize your jars.
  • Fine vermiculite: ~10$
  • Organic brown rice flour: ~10$ If you have brown rice you can also use a coffee grinder to grind it into a very fine grain.
  • Tin foil: ~5$
  • Isopropyl alcohol: ~5$
  • Lighter: ~free
  • Coco coir brick: ~7$
  • 5 Gallon bucket: ~10$
  • Sterilite 1896 container or similar: ~10$
  • Drill: ~15$
  • Duck tape: ~4$
  • Spray bottle: ~1$
  • Honey: ~5$
  • Fan: ~2$

Total cost: Around 120$ if you have none of the equipment prior or don't have the... skills necessary to find these things. I stole lots from work so it cost me less. If you do not have that kind of money to spend immediately you can buy what is necessary for part one first, then go buy part two's, then part 3's.


Part 1 – Step 1: Preparing jars

We only need 6 jars worth spawn however I made 7 in case of contamination. Poke 4 holes with a nail in a + shape on the lid of each jar as near to the rim as you can. The magic ratio for substrate is 2 parts Vermiculite(verm) 1 part water and 1 part brown rice flower. But because we're making an odd ratio of jars we'll make a little extra but you can just put it in your garden or something.

  1. In a large bowl first add 3 cups of vermiculite then add 1.5 cups of water. Stir it up real good.
  2. Then add the 1.5 cups of brown rice flour and stir until it's loose and there aren't any clumps.
  3. Fill all the jars up evenly and make sure not to pack the mixture down, you want it airy. Leave a half inch space at the top of the jars. Then with a paper towel wipe down the rim the you left clear.
  4. Now fill the remaining space with dry vermiculite, then cap the jar and cover the tops with tin foil. The tin foil is to keep the jars airtight while they are sterilizing.

Part 1 – Step 2: Sterilizing

Now that we have to sterilize the jars. We have to prepare our pot for sterilization.

  1. Line the bottom of your pot with spare jar rings as shown jars in a pot with a layer of tinfoil on top
  2. Add water to the top of your layer of jar rings. You want 1-2 inches of water. another layer of jars on top of that
  3. Place your layer of folded tinfoil on top of the layer of jar rings.
  4. Next place your substrate jars on to the tinfoil and make sure they are not in direct contact with the water, we are not trying to cook the jars, we are only using the steam to sterilize them.
  5. Place your TIGHT fitting lid on and turn your burner to high. Once the water starts boiling turn the burner down to a simmer and start your 90-120 minute timer.
  6. If you are not using a tight fitting lid a lot of steam will escape and your pot will tend to boil dry. This will warp the bottom of your pot ruining it. If you need to add more water at anytime, use hot tap water and carefully pour it in your pot. Keep a close eye on your pot, and add water if and when needed.
  7. After the time is up leave the lid on, remove from heat and let cool overnight or for at least 8 hours.

Pressure cooker

  1. Place your trivet or metal rack into the bottom of your PC and fill with 1-1.5 inches of water.
  2. Place your jars on the metal rack above the water line.
  3. Follow your pressure cookers instructions to bring it up to pressure (15 PSI) and let it cook for 45 to 60 minutes.
  4. After your pressure cooker cycle has finished turn off your burner and allow to cool overnight or for at least 8 hours.

Part 1 – Step 3: Inoculation

Once your jars are cooled it's time to inoculate. This step is super important and if you are lazy you will ruin your jars.

  1. In a room with no airflow wipe down a table with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Take a shower then put on a clean long sleeve shirt and new rubber gloves.
  3. Take your jars out of the pot or PC and set them on the table.
  4. Flame sterilize your spore syringe and inject about 1/4cc in each hole. Flame sterilize the syringe after each jar. sterilizing flame with an alcohol wick sterilizing needle with a lighter inoculating a jar with a syringe

If you bought microspore tape put it over each hole now.

We're done Part 1! Set your jars on the shelf and wait for them to colonize. This step will take 2 to 4 weeks. Once the jars are fully colonized wait another week for them to consolidate. jars sitting on a shelf mycelium growing in the substrate now only the mycelium is visible


Part 2 – Step 1: Prepare the container

Tape (or paint) for bottom 4 ½ inches, then drill ¼” holes every 2” a tub with regular holes drilled into all sides at intervals of about 1.5 inches

Part 2 – Step 2: Prepare the substrate

  1. Throw the ½ brick of coir and the 1 quart of vermiculite in a 5 gallon bucket, add 2 quarts of boiling water and place the lid securely on the bucket. a block of cococoir in a bucket with some vermiculite
  2. Come back in 30-60 minutes and mix ingredients thoroughly,then place the lid back on for 2-4 hours. Come back and mix thoroughly again and check the temperature, it needs to be below 80°F. If it's still too warm, leave it for a while longer.

Part 2 – Step 3: Mix the spawn/last few touches

  1. Pour ¾ of your cooled mixture into the bottom of the container you prepared.
  2. One at a time we are going to take 4 of our incubated pucks out of their glass conatiner, scraping the dry vermiculite into the garbage then giving them a rinse. Crumble the cake fairly finely into the sub in the container. To prevent adding contaminted spawn into the mix I like to split my cakes in half first and check that no green mold is growing inside. If there is then you have to throw out the cake and wash your hands very well.
  3. Once you have crumbled 4 of the cakes, mix the substrate in the container. Now crumble the last cakes on top and then cover it lightly with the remaining substrate.
  4. We are basically done with this now you need to put the case inside a garbage bag with the opening folded underneath and leave it for 10-14 days.

DONT PEEK. Peeking risks contamination!!! If you don't think you can help yourself go out and buy clear garbage bags.


Part 3: Fruiting

10-14 days has passed. It's time to open up the garbage bag and take a look. Do this in a room with no airflow in case it isn't fully consilidated. To give you a rough idea this is what mine looked like after 10 days and this is more than substantial. You're looking for lots of white, and no green. The forum post below is an incredible compilation of what it should and shouldn't look. If you aren't seeing much white, put it back in the bag for a couple days.

If it's looking ready put the box somewhere where it will get substantial sunlight. Now spray the interior twice a day or as needed to keep it moist.

https://www.shroomery.org/forums/showflat.php/Number/17231150

inside the container the mycelium has fully taken over the substrate, some small bulbs are starting to appear


Part 4: Harvesting, prints, and drying.

The ideal time to harvest is right as the caps are just starting to open. Assuming you got the B+ strain it should look like this. mushrooms with the veil broken off underneath the cap

If you didn't I suggest looking up the strain you used and checking when to harvest. Just pick them off at the base and lay them out on tin foil. Cut off two smaller squares of tin foil a bit larger than your biggest mushrooms caps. Cut your biggest mush right at the top of the stem and then place the cap with the gills down and cover the whole thing with a cup overnight.

spore print on tinfoil

Hopefully you have a large enough bounty that you wont be able to eat them all before they start to go bad. So to preserve them we'll have to dry them. There are a couple methods for doing so but the easiest I have found is just to put them in front of or on a fan for 24-48 hours. Then with an oven heated to 140F with the door ajar leave it on for an hour or two until really dry. You could also just fan dry. Either way works.


Part 5: Liquid culture and repeat.

  1. Take one of your lids and punch just one hole into it near the side.
  2. Throw the lid and the jar into a pot of water and bring it to a boil (Don't put the jar into the already boiling water or it will crack) this is to sterilise the water and the jar.
  3. After 30 minutes of boiling clean your work table with alcohol then take the jar and lid out and put it on the table.
  4. Fill the jar ¾ full with the water that you boiled. Add 1 tablespoon of honey to the jar per 250mls of water then put the lid on.
  5. Cover the top of the jar and then put it back into the pot. You want the water level to be about half the way up the jar, you can tip some out if it's too high. Put on a lid and leave it for another 30 minutes.
  6. Turn the pot off after 30 minutes and leave it overnight to cool.
  7. Next day, get ready your LC, your spore print and a sharp knife on your bench top.
  8. Flame sterilize your knife. Crack the jar only slightly.
  9. In one scrape try and get as much of the spore off a spore print. The slip it into the jar and reseal.
  10. Place a piece of tape over the hole and swirl the jar gently.
  11. Label it with date, time and strain.
  12. After about a week it should be ready but it can sit for a long time.

a goopy bit of stuff

Now you can use this for our cakes, I use about 1cc of it per injection site.

And there you have unlimited shrooms! If you have mastered this then it's time to move onto a full monotub. Damion5050 has a good guide out there. Good luck!

 
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from bugs

CW: Suicide, extreme mental health hardship

Like many of you I’m sure, I’ve been considering the idea of “normal” recently. While at the moment people in North America are calling for a “return to normal” with about as much creativity as is to be expected from this continent, I would assert that most people's lives haven't changed all that much. They may have felt some irregularity in schedules, restriction of travel, or a slight increase in awareness of personal space but otherwise things are pretty much continuing as “normal” especially in contrast to the fast change of often theorized situations like revolution or fast paced collapse. There's only been a slight tweak really; we're still able to consume our goods, “go online”, and let media blast our senses. It's for someone else to do but I think the vapid nature of civilian life is being felt a bit more than usual, and this may be an insertion point for anarchists. If people are so displeased with a nearly unchanged access to life as society provides it, the only thing lacking being the loss of horizontal relationships, it's possible that our idea of authentic life beyond all that might be interesting to those for whom it doesn't come naturally. But again, that's for someone else to do.

As for me, I'm also struggling to keep my head above water. I'm also experiencing the life I alluded to: The constant assertion of standard (read: gendered, hierarchical, civilisational, anthropocentric, capitalist, statist, racist, etc.) experiences as the substrate from which I am supposed to grow a fulfilling life that is so devoid of nourishment I find very little space for my little flower to blossom (“aww how precious bugs” you might be saying, and yeah I am), a feeling all too familiar to those reading this I'm sure. Of course, this has been happening over a longer timeline than just this last year.

Mycelia growing in a plastic container

It's been interesting to watch how some anarchists are relating to this whole ordeal, and how, for the most part, (popular and/or social) anarchists are still very attached to business as usual. Or more kindly (because I still love a number of you), how little capacity we have to separate ourselves from the world at large and the movements of those with power much greater than ours. Of course, proclaiming that one is an anarchist does little to inoculate a person against the logics of the world, also more often than not the label seems to be about where people conclude their journey.

Anarchism for me has always meant a rejection of what is normal, such as school, parenting, the state, various other commonplace things, and the moral frameworks that uphold them. What is often missed, and “who” misses this is being made clear in the present moment, is that when we take an idea that works well in one moment and turn it into a static framework we immediately turn something anarchic into something that's not. Beyond just the pandemic, we can see examples of this in the social frameworks drawn upon often in our encounters, and relied on in our spaces. Predictability and stasis are comfortable ways of being, but so long as they exist in a world we hate then they will be unavoidably laden with values that I have no interest in. Our ideas should be the Agar plate upon which a bacteria grows, not the parasitic organism that devours that growth. Though frameworks and formulas seem useful as starting points, be wary them. Not only are they often actually not very applicable to the situation they're brought into, but the logic behind referencing a guideline is similar to how those who enforce laws operate (gasp).

A growth on an agar plate

One prime example of the fluidity I so value, and the consequences of static ideals can be told by sharing this story from my life:

Several years ago, a close friend of mine began to develop a serious paranoid schizophrenia. Watching the sudden and drastic change in him was certainly hard, but something exceptionally unique came with it as well. As his brain began to make more and more distant connections between ideas, things, and experiences the of course the nature of our interactions changed. He shared a number of fascinating things with me, ideas I would have never dreamed of and that likely only he could have produced. Likewise there were a number of times he acted in ways I could only describe as psychic. Of course there were also some fairly incoherent, or even scary moments but they were all part of a person who I cherished and wanted to celebrate. But of course “normalcy” and the “standard” could not be overcome. Others didn’t appreciate him for what he could share. The way he existed, spoke, and simply was, was not compatible with what people expected of him and was taken (similarly to how a bigot perceives their target), as something to be corrected, retaliated against. Driven into a self-destruction of anxiety, and fear that was provoked by his interactions with people seeking to correct him, he took his life last May.

Fuck your normal, fuck your respect, fuck your expectations, fuck your standard, fuck your manners, fuck your psychologists, you killed my friend.

#abugslife

 
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from bugs

I was reflecting on my own path into Anarchism, and subsequently the nihilistic position that I now embrace, and how they very much resembled a series of explosions and implosions, always destructive but also always leaving interesting rubble. Only possible when fuel, oxygen, and a spark meet, I'd like to share a series on those meetings. This will be the first.

The first time I ever encountered the word anarchist was embarrassingly enough, coming across The Anarchist Cookbook on a strange website online. My friends and I, called little-shits often enough to start smelling slightly putrid, were interested in learning more advanced ways of getting up to no good. Firing up a copy of the Tor Browser we'd downloaded on one of our parents work computers, we navigated to a strange website called ParaZite who hosted the content we we're looking for... and more.

Anarchist as in HPVAC (Hacking, Phreaking, Virii, Anarchy, Cracking), ParaZite hosted a plethora of dangerous content that many modern anarchists would shudder to have their ideas associated with. It's still out their but be warned, there's some seriously nasty stuff to be found. Sandwiched between the sections Cannibalism and misc. (or Jihad and Gore depending on which page you're on), the Anarchism section has only two linked files; Direct Action and The Dominant Idea by Voltairine de Cleyre. Those two pieces, as well as the image at the top, lit a fire of rebellion in me that has burnt bright for nearly a decade now.

It's a common anarchist refrain today to “get of the internet” and look for communities locally, to meet face to face with people. But I think this ignores an important point. We live in a different world than we did 30 years ago, and a new way of living has emerged, one that I am certainly indoctrinated into. This bizarre website inspired me to a teenage rebellion that consisted of all the classics; punk, drugs, hacking, graffiti, and other fun things, all motivated to some extent by my newfound anarchist perspective. Perhaps a familiar trajectory, except that due to my living in a place without any anarchist scene to speak of, once I was done with my period of immediate and direct rebellion against the life I was prescribed (if it ever really does end) the only recourse was to return once again to the internet and seek community there. I don't want this to turn into an anthropological study of hacker subculture, but it may be interesting to note that that's where I returned.

My point of sharing this with you (if there is even a point beyond me writing about the past) is to tell a story that I think is incredibly common. For those of us who came to anarchism past a point where it seemed like an exciting/accessible(!) social space, who live in a world where geography plays a crucial role in deciding what ones social life looks like and where the only obvious remediation is to go online, us anti-socialites place less value in spaces where the intricacies of old social forms are important. And perhaps that's not such a bad thing, but as I may point out in a later piece, it's complicated.

#abugslife

 
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