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from Dyscommunication

These are the rest of my notes from the anti-fascist interview. I didn't feel like spreading them out over several toots. My notes begin at https://kolektiva.social/@dysco/107198680141452079.

Overcome the scene, subcultural trappings by reaching out to everyday people: our neighbors, our co-workers, friends and family. Just be outspoken because everyone is going through a social crisis, and take this opportunity to listen to people and build a support network. Discuss the liberals and how they ignore fascists and crack down on antifascists, and show how fascism emerges out of our society, which is based on white supremacy, colonialism, and slave labor [and terrorist apartheid]. There isn't much time to stop the fascist take-over and climate disasters. Ask-an-Anti-fascist events where anti-fascists go to unions, schools, and workplaces and just talk to people and answer questions, demystifying and building relationships ultimately to prevent concentration camps. https://threewayfight.blogspot.com/

My thoughts — Millions of black and latinx people are already in “concentration camps” (prisons) largely for being people of color in a white supremacist nation that stalks them. Their friends and families would like our help. Secondly, people who are most vulnerable to fascism — people of color and LGBT+ — are also very concerned about the rising fascism and have put a lot of energy into getting people to vote against fascism. These people may have their own networks, but we should try to be their allies.

 
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from Staring Into the Abyss

Pages 283-293

The reading for this week is the beginning of the process of taking all of this complex, abstract and somewhat obtuse theory and grounding it in something tangible, in this case labor. Remember, when we discussed labor earlier that discussion tended to revolve around the concept of the labor theory of value or the positionality of labor within the wider dynamic of circulation.

These ideas are critical to understand, but throughout this discussion there is something lacking, namely a discussion of what labor even really is. That seems like a silly, self-evident element of everyday life, but it is actually a much more complex idea than we often allow it to be. For example, during this clapter Marx will differentiate between work, labor and labor-power. But, even beyond that the concept of labor is fundamentally bound up with the social structure of labor and the relationships between power, knowledge and our understandings of the world.

The concept of labor that has carried itself through the trajectory of Western philosophy is a concept that makes a series of difficult to identify assertions about life, and our relationship to the world. These assumptions are so commonly held that they almost disappear into a sense of unstated normality. But, core to this question, in its traditional understanding, is a very clear, and very problematic, concept of the human.

This conception of the human, which finds a clear early expression in Aristotle, will sound very familiar. It is the concept that there is a fundamental separation between the human and everything else, grouped under the concept of nature. This separation is typified by a dynamic of extraction and domination, namely that “nature” is the dominion of the human. Clearly this idea carried over into Christianity, through the Book of Genesis.

But, coupled with this idea is a specific concept of how we create, or what the process of making something entails. Within this Aristotelian conception the human functions in a relationship with nature in which the human has total sovereignty. This means that, not only can the human extract whatever they need, but also that “nature” is a sort of passive and inert substance. When we make something, say carving something out of wood, within this understanding of the world that carving transfers directly from the mind to the object, with the material presenting no resistance to human action.

Now, anyone that has ever carved wood or, in my case I mess around with amateur metal machining and fabrication, knows that materials all have tolerances, unevenness, gaps, areas which present different resistances, flows that move cleanly through a material and so on. A wood carving needs to take grain into account, as a really simple example, but also if one is welding the metal can warp due to heating differentials. None of that can possibly exist within this traditional understanding of the separation between “human” and “nature”.

There is a lot more to say on this topic, and someday I plan on doing a seminar on the concept of production and the dynamic between the concept of the human and the materiality of prosthetic tools. It is not time to dive into this here, now, but if you are interested I would recommend the Technics and Time series by Bernard Steigler or War In The Age of Intelligent Machines and Thousand Years of Nonlinear History by Manuel Delanda.

For now, what is relevant are two points that I will briefly summarize before getting into the heart of the notes. The first is that this traditional conception of production is something that a lot of Marxists impose into Marx; this is the entire basis for the 5 Year Plans, for example. But, as we will see, that reductionistic reading misses a lot of really critical nuance. Secondly, it is in this nuance that we can begin the process of understanding wage labor and the ways that labor is commodified, as well as the ontological impacts of that. We will leave the commodification, valorization, process for next week, and will focus on this understanding of labor presented here for this series of notes.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy!

  • Immediately Marx makes a subtle distinction which is very core to the arguments here. This distinction is between work and labor. The worker is defined through the lens of capitalist production, it is one who sells their potential labor as part of the production process. In the process of becoming-worker a metamorphosis of activity occurs, in which it is taken from a fundamental and simple form and inserted into a different mode of occurrence.

To exist one must possess the potential for activity; to not have the potential to act is to literally describe death. Though these possibilities must exist for one to exist, that does not mean that all of these potentialities are manifested. This potentiality of action, therefore, serves as a sort of labor in waiting, time and effort that can be turned toward a task.

In the construction of labour-power, or labor that has been utilized as part of a mode of a commodified mode of production, the individual is specifically selling this potential labor. During this process a space is opened between the production process itself and the social context of that production. In other words, in the process of labor becoming labour-power or work the social context of labor has been inserted into the dynamic, allowing for the commodification of labor to even be possible. Labor itself is a separate category, independent from the social context of labor, which comes to shape and channel labor. It is in this locality that the structure of power comes to impact the possibilities of activity.

On a second level another gap is opened, this time between the value produced and its circulation within capitalism. This separation has been discussed before, but the point takes on a slightly different shape here. To the degree that labor and the social context of labor are not inherently connected (there are many different social contexts in which labor can occur, and none are essential for labor to occur), this then comes to form the basis of the separation of value created and value circulated. When labor as such occurs the result is the production of use value. It is in the insertion and imposition of a specific context for labor in which this value gets rendered irrelevant, and the object can begin to express the exchange value that ultimately constructs the object as a commodity. It is in these separations that Marx can talk about workers being separated from the products of their labor; that labor ceases to be labor as such and becomes work through its insertion into commodity circulation.

“Hence what the capitalist sets the worker to produce is a particular use-value, a specific article. The fact that the production of use-values, or goods, is carried on under the control of a capitalist and on his behalf does not alter the general character of that production. We shall therefore, in the first place, have to consider the labour process independently of any specific social formation.” (283)

  • Labor, in this basic and fundamental form, prior to the question of social context, is framed here through a concept of a conflict between human and nature. There are an entire boatload of caveats in these statements, of which we will be focused on a few. Before diving into the complications it makes sense to discuss the traditional understanding of labor and its relationship to “nature”, as well as the Leninist interpretation of this (which is, surprisingly, super reductionistic and flat out wrong).

The traditional conception of labor has a number of different roots, including Aristotle and later the Bible. In these narratives this conflict between human and “nature” is based on a number of assumptions. Firstly, there is an assumption that the categories of human and nature are clear and absolute in their separation. This concept is one grounded in the arrogant narrative of “human reason”, and a lack of understanding of the non-human. It also essentializes the human as a thing when, if we follow thinkers like Bernard Steigler here, the human is more identified by the uses of what it is not, namely what Steigler terms prostheses, or, in other words, tools. Consequently this posits some essential characteristic to “nature” as well. These essentializing narratives would literally require understanding the totality of all possible things in all possible ways to even begin to venture some sort of discourse around.

The second element if this traditional understanding is centered around a domination narrative. In Leninist thought this conflict between the human and nature is one in which the task of the human is to dominate nature, to extract from it what is necessary, and to do so as some sort of absurd concept of political duty; this becomes very clear in the early Soviet modernization programs and later in the farm collectivization program and other state central planning processes. This narrative rests on the first, and then attempts to essentialize conflict as something with a victor and a conclusion. Conflict, however, is a much simpler concept, and means nothing more than the non-sameness of things, or the discordance between two entities, but not necessarily antagonism or domination. All of that content is being added in retroactively and used to support points that drift pretty far from this narrative.

These two assertions come together to form a narrative in which the natural is nothing but inert material that is able to be readily manipulated by the human without any resistance. The deficiencies of this understanding are obvious for anyone that has ever done wood or metal working. Both disciplines are largely centered around how to work with and compensate for irregularities and features of the material itself. For example, when welding one needs to tack down the pieces to one another at various points throughout the welding path, prior to actually welding the seam. This is because welding adds significant heat to the material, which causes distortions to the material and causes its shape to change. So, far from an inert and passive medium, the material itself presents distinct features that we are in “conflict” with during the act of making something.

There is plenty of language in this section of the chapter that seems to be pushing in this traditional direction, with concepts of sovereignty, power and some inherent separation between human and “nature. However, interspersed with that language you will find quotes (like the one below) in which it becomes clear that something more complex is going on here. Far from just repeating some sort of dogmatic humanism, Marx is actually expressing what, for the time, was a highly complex understanding of the interplay between laborer, material and ontology.The natural in the narrative Marx is crafting here is not one of a passive and definitive nature wholly separate from the human. Rather, this narrative is centered around a dynamic between labor and material, where the “natural” is an active and dynamic space that presents “forces” (to use Marx's term) that are acted upon by labor to ultimately produce a thing that is the result of both labor and the features of the material, or nature.

This allows us to think through a few questions that would be impossible to understand if we think of nature in this Aristotelian/Leninist framework of passive inert nature. Firstly, we would never be able to describe failure. If “nature” were a passive entity acted upon unilaterally by the human, then there could never be any mistakes in the process of taking concept and manifesting it in concrete form. Secondly, and this is critical later when we discuss value and price in the next section, without being able to speak of “nature” as a dynamic entity that is in flux, we can never discuss decay or degradation.

In this dynamic labor, prior to commodification, is in a dynamic with “nature”, or material, typified not by unchallenged human activity and inert materials, but is, rather, a dynamic based in intent and conflict. The shape of the object and material acts of construction exist in a dynamic between laborer and “nature”, making the resultant creation one that is inherently connected to both the laborer and the material in a particularized sense.

“Labour is, first of all, a process between man and nature, a process by which man, through his own actions, mediates, regulates and controls the metabolism between himself and nature. He confronts the materials of nature as a force of nature. He sets in motion the natural forces which belong to his own body, his arms, legs, head and hands, in order to appropriate the materials of nature in a form adapted to his own needs. Through this movement he acts upon external nature and changes it, and in this way he simultaneously changes his own nature.” (283)

  • The tool functions as the medium through which human and material interact. Marx is speaking of this in a highly foundational way, namely that all prosthetics are tools, and tools are necessary for humans to make anything. For example, one cannot carve wood without a tool, or can't fight animals without weapons (we are kind of weak, slow and soft, and don't have claws or big sharp teeth). Even on the basic level of using a rock as a projectile, the object that we throw is a tool.

As with material, the tool itself presents additional and shifting resistances. Tools and the materials they are made of have limitations. Metal, for example, cannot cut harder metals. These tools also degrade, change shape, fail in their tasks. This is all added into the aggregate contingency of the nuances of the material, the skills and capability of the laborer and the social and political conditions of production to construct a far more complex relationship than one would ever derive from reading Lenin.

“An instrument of labour is a thing, or a complex of things, which the worker interposes between himself and the object of his labour and which serves as a conductor, directing his activity onto that object. He makes use of the mechanical, physical and chemical properties of some substances in order to set them to work on other substances as instruments of his power, and in accordance with his purposes. Leaving out of consideration such ready made means of subsistence as fruits, in gathering which a man's bodily organs alone serve as the instruments of his labour, the object the worker directly takes possession of is not the object of labour but its instrument. Thus nature becomes one of the organs of his activity, which he annexes to his own bodily organs, adding stature to himself in spite of the Bible. As the earth is his original larder, so too it is his original tool house. It supplies him, for instance, with stones for throwing, grinding, pressing, cutting, etc. The earth itself is an instrument of labour, but its use in this way, in agriculture, presupposes a whole series of other instruments and a comparatively high stage of development of labour-power.” (285)

-The process terminates in the object that is produced in this dynamic, and that object, regardless of social form, carries use-value along with it. This use-value is not some sort of direct transference of human idea onto inert material, but is rather a product of labor undertaken on a dynamic material, in a dynamic moment in history, using tools that only exist in a particular way in any moment. This fundamentally binds the production of the object to the particular time and space of its production, and not in the generalized, depersonalized, generic form we infer from mass production. The mass produced object does not escape this dynamic, but that is a topic for Chapter 15.

The product, however, is not some sort of final point of termination. As we can derive from the concept of the labor theory of value, or even just a basic understanding of the logistics of supply chains, products become bound up in the production of other products, and this complicates the relation between object and use-value. Within capitalist production resources are consumed, all of which were products from former acts of production. In this form the use-value of the object becomes directly bound up with the circulation of commodities, and begin to function purely on that basis. This debases the object from direct use-value, and begins to redefine use-value around the terms of exchange-value.

“The process is extinguished in the product. The product of the process is a use-value, a piece of natural material adapted to human needs by means of a change in its form. Labour has become bound up in its object : labour has been objectified, the object has been worked on. What on the side of the worker appeared in the form of unrest [Unruhe] now appears, on the side of the product, in the form of being [Sein], as a fixed, immobile characteristic. The worker has spun, and the product is a spinning...Although a use-value emerges from the labour process, in the form of a product, other use-values, products of previous labour, enter into it as means of production. The same use-value is both the product of a previous process, and a means of production in a later process. Products are therefore not only results of labour, but also its essential conditions.” (287)

  • For next time we will be working through the second part of this chapter, where we start to see how the process of production gets appropriated within the process of capitalist production.
 
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from Staring Into the Abyss

Pages 247-257

Welcome to Chapter 4!

This is one of the shortest chapters in the book, but probably one of the most important. Up to this point we have approached the concept of money as a mechanism of the transfer of value in circulation, and hoarding being what occurs when that money is taken out of circulation. Most anti-capitalists I have spoken to over the years utilize the terms capital and money interchangeably, but there is actually a really nuanced distinction between the two that has some profound impacts on the ways that economics functions on an ontological level.

This initial formulation, of money as a mechanism of transference, is able to explain how the structure of commodities, as material objects alienated from themselves and valued abstractly and quantitatively, allows for exchange and circulation to occur. It is even able to discuss certain aspects of the commodity form, such as the fact that the materiality of the object disappears in commodity circulation. This is all well and good when we are merely trying to discuss the ways in which commodities are bought and sold.

This formulation hits a distinct limit, however. Within this mechanism there is no way to explain the movement of money within a process of circulation in which money itself is the outcome, and not circulation. This is a structure that we call capitalism, and the nuanced shifts between capital and money interact with this initial formulation to allow us to explain much more complex phenomena, like credit, stocks, investments and so on.

That is what we will be discussing for this week, how money differs from capital, and how that distinction comes to shape some pretty critical elements of the discourse on capitalism.

Oh, I figured I should mention, I published my first article on economics, centered around the Chinese housing market, the collapse of Evergrande, the paradoxes of global economics at present and how this could all combine to generate economic crisis conditions globally. If any of you are interested you can find it here:

https://territories.substack.com/p/the-grand-crash

  • Marx begins this chapter by restating a core, and often misunderstood point; that the core of capital resides in commodity circulation, and thus the commodity form, of which production is only a part. This firmly positions the point of intervention broadly, on a wide social scale, at innumerable nodes, with not all of these existing within the realm of commodity production. I repeat this point often, but it is critical in the actual task we are undertaking here, which is not merely to read and understand Capital, or to even understand capitalism, but to identify and locate effective points of intervention within that circulation. Those that want to confine this to workerism are completely missing the vast array of terrain outside of the mechanisms of production (which is a question that in itself has been vastly disrupted in the move away from purely industrial production).

Commodity circulation forms the ontological core of capitalism, as we have been discussing, and this is embodied in the commodity form itself, the paradoxical construction of a material object in which its material particularity is irrelevant. It is in this process of rendering all things equivalent, and able to only be differentiated by magnitude or quantity, that the commodity gets displaced from itself, its material form is rendered irrelevant and it is reduced purely to a means through which value is transported between transactions.

The paradoxical construction of the commodity, and the alienation of the object from its own conditions of possibility, forms the foundations of the abstraction of the object, which allows for it to come into contact with all other commodity flows, and have those flows all function as a movement of value, regardless of the materiality marginalized by that abstraction. Without this dual removal (from itself as an object and from its conditions of possibility), the entire attempt to discuss circulating value, which is a precursor for capital, would be incomprehensible. The social and historical manifestations this ontological alienation finds its expression in circulation, and by extension production.

“If we disregard the material content of the circulation of commodities, i.e. the exchange of the various use-values, and consider only the economic forms brought into being by this process, we find that its ultimate product is money. This ultimate product of commodity circulation is the first form of appearance of capital” (247).

  • Money and capital are not purely equivalent terms. In its most basic form money only refers to the mechanism through which abstract value is transported through circulation outside of the commodity. In this form, where money is used to facilitate commodity circulation, where money has a direct use-value as a mechanism of exchange, it remains only money. When money is used to purchase or produce commodities purely for for the sale of the object, without this implying that the money acquired stays within circulation, it already functions as capital.

In this process where money is used to acquire the commodity for sale the commodity itself, as a material object, vanishes from relevance, and becomes nothing other than a mechanism through which value is transferred as well. Functionally what occurs at this point is that money is being traded for a different quantity of money. To put this another way, when we are engaged in circulation purely for the ability to extract value from the transaction, separate from the use of that value, what occurs is that the shape of the commodity and its material existence cease to matter, and what happens is that value is used to acquire the commodity, which results in getting value back from the sale of the commodity. In this scenario the commodity exists as a mechanism through which magic occurs, a mechanism through which one can “make” money. Money, when it is used in this form is capital.

Marx uses the example of buying bushels of corn. Say someone buys a bushel of corn for $100, and then they turn around and sell it for $110. What has occurred here is that $100 has become $110 simply by shifting form from money to commodity and back to money again. The materiality of the commodity can be anything in this space, all that matters is that it conveys value from money to money.

The quantities of money that are moved through in this process must be different between the beginning of circulation and the end of the circuit; if they were the same there would be no point in engaging in the activity. Capital only functions as capital due to a differential between money invested and the quantity of money acquired in exchange.

“In the circulation C-M-C, the money is in the end converted into a commodity which serves as a use-value; it has therefore been spent once and for all. In the inverted for M-C-M, on the contrary, the buyer lays out money in order that, as a seller, he may recover money. By the purchase of his commodity he throws money into circulation, in order to withdraw it again by the sale of the same commodity. He releases the money, but only with the cunning intention of getting it back again. The money is therefore not spent, it is merely advanced” (249).

  • As such, the core differentiation point between capital and money flows along around questions of circulation, of which production is a part. This introduces a tension that we see play out in a myriad of ways within everyday life in the 21st Century. Money becomes capital to the degree that money becomes an end in itself, to the degree that the objective is money itself, and not the use-value of money as a mechanism of purchase. This firmly attaches capital to accumulation, by definition, and as such, constructs capital as a flow of circulation which then pulls money out of circulation. It is only here that we start to see phenomena, such as the accumulation of wealth and wealth stratification, where accumulation exceeds the ability of commodities to circulate. At the end of this process, in theory, is the possibility of one person dominating all economic assets, but in that space commodity circulation ceases to occur. So, on this level, the very structure of capital itself exists as a self-destructive paradox in which the more capital functions as capital, and not as money, the less likely it is that commodity circulation can continue within a capitalist context.

We saw this dynamic play itself out in the formation of the New Deal, for example. The New Deal was an attempt to restart commodity circulation after the Great Depression, and construct a mechanism to always preserve the ability of consumers to spend by providing subsidies and social assistance. The Great Depression was largely caused, or at least heavily facilitated by, the fact that preceding the Depression the US saw the worst stratification of wealth in its history, with the exception of right now. In that condition there were not enough consumers (people with money) to be able to sustain the economy when the stock market crashed due to the failure of over-leveraged investments.

The Depression posed a systemic risk to capitalism as a result of the collapse of the consumer. The New Deal was structured specifically to build what they referred to as a “stable consumption index”, namely a base amount of consumer spending guaranteed by government programs that companies could base investment decisions around. By providing programs like the GI Bill, Welfare and Section 8 the state was able to keep consumers spending money by providing the money they would spend. In other words, the New Deal was less of a move toward some sort of odd market socialism, and a lot more about providing subsidies to companies through subsidizing consumption.

It is at this point that we start to see commodity circulation metastasize into capitalism through the medium of abstract value. To the degree that capital functions to extract money through commodity sale, and to store that money as an end in itself, then necessarily, to the degree that capital functions, the conditions of possibility for existence is fundamentally bound up in the conditions of circulating abstract value. This interplays with the core of the commodity form, the rendering equivalent of all things as quantities, which already displaces the conditions of existence away from materiality and into the circulation of abstract value. In this structure all activity becomes premised on exchange-value, rather than just exchange, or the use of money. The world floats into the background entirely.

“The process M-C-M does not therefore owe its content to any qualitative difference between its extremes, for they are both money, but solely to the quantitative changes. More money is finally withdrawn from circulation than was thrown into it at the beginning...The value originally advanced, therefore, not only remains intact while in circulation, but increases its magnitude, adds to itself a surplus-value, or is valorized. And this movement converts it into capital” (251-252).

  • The process starts to approach a limitlessness. When accumulation enters stasis in the hoard, technically capital is timeless within an infinite hoard, removing it from history in an active sense. We see this with Bitcoin, for example, where coin can persist indefinitely as long as there is still a blockchain in operation, regardless of whether anyone can actually access it. It is in this limitlessness that money itself changes form, from a mechanism of exchange where the result is use-value, both for money and the object, into a form in which money, like the commodity, ceases to matter in its physical shape and use. As such, it becomes nothing but a mechanism through which value is circulated, but is not value itself.

This means that with the emergence of capital value becomes decoupled from money, and starts to function as an autonomous element, one separated from history and the world, and one that comes to determine the possibilities in the world to the degree that it functions. In other words, value is no longer tied to money, and money itself becomes confined to the use and physical manifestation of the means of circulation. This is the only context that we can understand things like credit cards, stock trading, derivatives, fractional reserve banking and so on; these are all mechanisms of value transfer that exist outside of the constructs of money in its physical sense (its not like you get a bag with thousands of dollars in it when you get a car loan, for example).

The most obvious manifestation of this is fractional reserve banking, which is what the entirety of the economy functions based on. Let's take a situation in which I run a small bank with one customer that deposits $100. The next day someone comes in and asks for a $10 loan, which will be, say, $12 after interest. Obviously the bank only has the money of the other customer. So, the way that banks create debt begins with essentially borrowing from the accounts of their depositors. In this case we take $10 from customer 1s account and give it to customer 2. That is all fine unless customer 1 comes and asks for all of their money back, at which point you have an issue; this is what happens when there are runs on the banks. But, for the bank they just performed a magic trick. Rather than having $100 in assets, or the actual $90 that they physically have access to, now they have $112 dollars of assets, the $100 in that account and the $12 the bank will receive in payment for the loan. In this process $22 was manifested out of thin air. This is how the amount of money in circulation grows, and this is also why weird Ron Paul people complaining about the Federal Reserve controlling currency have no idea what they are talking about.

“In truth, however, value is here the subject of a process in which, while constantly assuming the form in turn of money and commodities, it changes its own magnitude, throws off surplus-value from itself considered as original value, and thus valorizes itself independently. For the movement in the course of which it adds surplus-value is its own movement, its valorization is therefore self-valorization” (255).

 
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from Dyscommunication

notes about the reality of the MOVE organization from The Inquirer

being forced to live on a diet of raw vegetables and fruit while the adults ate hearty cooked meals, of being denied schooling and neighborhood playmates, of stealing toys and burying them in the MOVE compound.

“I'm still afraid of them, of MOVE,” he said. “Some of the things that went on there I can't get out of my head, bad things, things I haven't told anybody except my father.

“But I'll tell you this: I didn't like being there. They said it was a family, but a family isn't something where you are forced to stay when you don't want to. And none of us wanted to stay, none of the kids. We were always planning ways to run away, but we were too little. We didn't know how to get away. And we were scared.”

But that was the life he had always known. His earliest memories, he said, were of growing up at a MOVE commune in Virginia.

He said his mother tried to leave MOVE, but threats to her and him made that impossible. Instead, they lived in fear of everything: police, the neighborhood, MOVE founder John Africa, and anything else that came their way.

“The only regret I have is about me being hurt and my mom dying and the other kids,” he said. “I feel bad for the people who died, but I don't have any anger toward anybody. See, I got out.”

 
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from mycelia

Pickled carrots

Tools: – heat-proof container for storage (preferably glass), with a lid – a pot – a heat source

Ingredients: – carrots – any kind of vinegar (e.g., cider, white wine, plain) – 1 Tbsp salt – ¼ cup sugar – (optional) mix-ins (e.g., garlic, dill, peppers)

Directions: – Fill the heat-proof container with roughly equal parts water and vinegar, and then pour this liquid into your pot. – Add sugar, salt, and mix-ins in to the pot and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, simmer for a few minutes while you prep your carrot sticks. – Peel and cut the carrots into sticks and pack them into your heat-proof container. – Pour the simmering liquid and mix-ins into your heat-proof container so that the liquid covers all of the carrot sticks. – Let cool uncovered on a counter and then cover and optionally transfer to a fridge.

 
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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 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 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.

alt text

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 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 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, leading to a whole host of problems. Klages relies heavily on a polar understanding of the cosmos, even as they claim: “The origin of thought is not to be found in the duality: concept and thing, but in the trinity: concept, name, and thing. The name embraces the totality, but concept and thing are its poles.”(5) They also use this tripartite schema to divide what they consider human essence between body, soul, and spirit (the colonizing force attempting to overtake the body and soul polarity). Even if the Apollonian and Dionysian are considered both distinct poles and one-and-the-same (the yin and yang of Daoism comes to mind here), Im not convinced the symmetry of this framework is all that useful to break free from a limited either/or reading. This is where I look more to Stirner, among others, for an antidote to essentialist and dualist thinking generally, and gender specifically.(6)

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.”(7) 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.”(8)

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.”(9)

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 of Stirner's Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (titled The Ego and Its Own by them), and advocate for an atomistic and almost social Darwinian individualism I find incompatible with Stirner’s philosophy. There are others who are drawn to the racial essentialism found in Klages's writings, eager to draw a blood and soil informed politics from Klages’s critique of modernity. Upon deeper reading, Klages not only suffers from troublesome racial and gender essentialist claims, but consistent anti-Semitic rantings and admiration of what they consider Germanic and/or Aryan values. This unsurprisingly has led to their reputation as an antecedent to Nazism, which has been debated given their fundamental disagreements with the Nazi intelligentsia. Ill have to investigate further to determine how much these values were integral to Klages's philosophy, since the most detestable statements Ive found are only present in the texts from a publisher who seems heavily invested in these perspectives, and absent from from another who defends Klages as having been unfairly portrayed as a forerunner to fascism. From what I currently know, I wouldnt define Klages as a fascist, but they certainly hold a heavily racialized understanding of the world, identifying with Germanic ideals they tout superior. I also wouldnt consider their essentialist perspectives on race and gender integral to their metaphysics, and find their concept of an immanent soul to be a valuable alternative to materialist rationalism and idealist spiritualism.

(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).

(5) Ludwig Klages, Cosmogonic Reflections: Selected Aphorisms From Ludwig Klages.

(6) Tim Elmo Feiten also makes this claim.

(7) Ludwig Klages, Soul and Spirit

(8) Ludwig Klages, Man and Earth

(9) 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. More preferable yet is embracing both what I am becoming (additive) and unbecoming (subtractive) over being (fixed). Enriching the relations I have with others (human or otherwise) strengthens this embrace. This calls for abandoning three interrelated tendencies: an obsession to manage, orienting oneself around predictability, and a desire to preserve ideals. As far as I know, the limited perception with which Ive been familiar will end with my death, and perhaps I will decompose to recompose to decompose again continuously. Here are three ideas to help me until then:

1) Break the clock. This world is so pervasive with measurement that the sciences of it like metrics and statistics (or state-istics) have become dogma in almost every realm of life. 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 exceptions 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 strategies for limiting engagement and sharpening discernment seems a more viable place to start.

2) Light the candle. The preservation of an ideal of life is an unnecessary and fraught way to live. 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 struggling to maintain some moderate ideal, it seems more appropriate to allow life to take its course as a lit candle would . This could be as imaginative as one takes it to be.

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 (or unbecoming or unraveling) process. Nietzche’s final stage of the child in Thus Spoke Zarathustra is another helpful example: 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), who loses in order to gain in order to lose. A filled cup requires emptying-out in order to remain capable. That capability is not an end in itself, but a means toward a loss of the self through the self. Theres much to find in getting 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 sneering-lepus

EATING IS CRUEL

Mass-produced living creatures, who are born, raised, and killed on an assembly line, perhaps understand on some level what is coming, what has happened to millions and billions of others just like them. Perhaps they are attuned to the echoes of their predecessors looping and trapped in this time and place. Perhaps, for the duration of their short and torture-filled lives, violence is punctuated with enough stillness to think through questions like “why?” Perhaps, they understand enough to be angry that it didn't have to be this way and curse their own flesh down to the bone. May the farmed turn their disgust and rage inward. May they inlay their technologically-accelerated swollen skin, fat, and muscle with their futile desire, fury, and terror. May these emotions with nowhere else to go accumulate like shards of asbestos of everyone who swallows their body parts with delight. May every egg be invested with hot corrosive hatred for those who treat their bodies and secretions as neutral commodities, rather than forcefully extracted living tissue. May the agony of every life born to die suffuse and penetrate every cell of every thoughtless human eater. It is a burden worth carrying, if we are going to nourish ourselves this way.

We all know what happens in a slaughterhouse. Insider video footage is extremely accessible if you have internet. Think about what it would be like to not outsource this killing and do it yourself instead, according to need rather than market logic. Think long and hard about what it is to deliberately deprive a creature of choice and movement, to keep kin trapped while ki grows larger, larger. It is easy to see yourself and your will to live in this creature, who fully sees what's coming because ki knows immobility is death. You have to injure kin's body to the point of full system breakdown, so that the light inside goes off and you're left with meat and no spirit. A body that is alive is robust. It holds itself together. It wants to heal and perpetuate itself. You must puncture holes in the container, so inside bleeds into outside. Sever critical transport tubes and organs, so fluid pools and spills where it's not meant to. Rend, cut, and shred muscle fibers, so they can't contract and produce tension on bone. No fighting back, no seeking egress.

We are not meant to confront the horror reality of inflicting pain and death so we may sustain ourselves. Streamlined economic functioning systematizes and abstracts that reality to have endless reams of food product on demand. It's been set up to keep us consumer-enduser-renter-voter-taxpayers from metabolizing the true, fleshy weight of killing and death.

And perhaps the worst part is that we can walk this world knowing, but we still don't get to choose how we eat. You could destroy yourself if you carry all there is to carry, regarding life and death and production and consumption. A small portion of us are allowed some lateral movement, to avoid putting the worst of it in our own bodies. This is for being born in the right time and place, but no one ever gets to climb out of this hole. It's not a simple matter of choosing between modes of consumption with clear ethical rankings. Organic, grass-fed, family farm-raised. You know what continues regardless of the pains you take to eat differently. We were born losers in a sense.

We all eat and shit and breathe the fumes. This is a people farm. A people grinder. It exists to continue existing. Eternal snake eating itself, crapping into its own mouth. We must keep the economy running or there is no “we” that continues to feed and get fed.

—– to be continued —– forever in a circle —– not done yet —-

 
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