TagHakim Bey

Mindful Cyborgs: Who Are the Netocrats?

This week Chris Dancy and talked with Alexander Bard, co-author of The Futurica Trilogy:

AB: Why do you think I’m writing my next book on Burning Man? Nobody has done a proper social theorem on Burning Man, the biggest social phenomenon at the moment. Burning Man is now having spinoffs all around the world. There are local burns everywhere and they’re magnets for the Netocrats. That’s where Netocrats go because Burning Man is the internet as a physical version. It’s the physical version of the internet. That’s exactly what it is. But nobody has done the proper social theory.

I was there three years ago and I met this really beautiful naked Canadian actress. She was like taking tons of cocaine and she was really funny and she was taking me around for a night and we were just sweeping the place. Suddenly she says, “You know what, this is our hutch. Burning Man is our mecca.” And I just realize this is a practiced religion. Why hasn’t anybody written a book on what the Burning Man really is? It’s not a holiday for people. It’s a damn mecca. It has to be constructed as if it is your religion because I think what it is. That’s where Syntheism comes in that he was born a burning man. It’s the idea of the burning man is already a practiced religion. Now let’s find out what the religion is, we already practice it, let’s find out what it is.

KF: I think there have been some books on spirituality of Burning Man but one thing that I think hasn’t been discussed as much is its connection to the new elites in terms of people like Jack Dorsey. Actually I don’t know if Jack Dorsey went to Burning Man but he’s part of that. He certainly was part of those types of networks in San Francisco in the late nineties and now he’s one of the biggest shots in the tech industry. He name drops a Hakim Bey, he talks about temporary autonomous zones and all of the concepts that were popular during that time and probably still are at Burning Man. I don’t know if anyone has really looked into the connections between that type of network culture thinking and that old Burning Man rave scene from that period.

AB: Yeah, I can see from the outside, Klint. I can see the best for being a Scandinavian and not an American because for the Americans probably Burning Man is like a big rave party for old grumpy people. I know for a fact you don’t get a top job at Google unless you’ve been to Burning Man. That’s a requirement. That is what I call Netocratic manifestation, if anything. That’s where I would look right now for the future.

Download, notes and full transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Attentionalism, Netocracy, and the All-Consuming Flame of To(day)morrow

I do wish we’d gotten more of a chance to talk about how attentionalism actually differs from capitalism. It still sounds to me like more of the process by which one becomes and remains bourgeoisie, not a new form of economy. For example, successful netocrats from Michael Arrington to Peter Thiel to Eric Schmidt tend to become venture capitalists and/or angel investors once they achieve success.

Update: On the topic of both spirituality at Burning Man and the festival’s connections to the Silicon Valley elite, check out Fred Turner’s essay “Burning Man at Google” (PDF).

Hakim Bey Interview From 2010

From e-flux journal 2010:

Well, when I was a child I was of course fascinated by adventure stories, figures like Richard Halliburton and other world travelers who wrote books for children, and National Geographic magazine—I inherited a whole closet full of National Geographic issues going back to 1911 from a friend. And then when I grew up, I became interested in Eastern Mysticism, the way everybody began to be in the 1960s. I specifically wondered whether Sufism was still a living reality or whether it was just something in books. There was no way of telling at that time. There were no Sufis practicing in America, or at least none that we could discover. I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and then we had May ’68, and that revolution failed. It clearly wasn’t going to happen. So I decided to make my trip to the East and discover whether Sufism was a living reality or not. And, of course, it turned out that it was. And so were a lot of other things that I hadn’t even anticipated, like tantric Hinduism, which I also became fascinated by while I was in India. So that all lasted from 1968 to 1980 or ‘81, when I went to Southeast Asia. I also went to Indonesia for a short, but very influential, trip. And after 1970 I lived in Iran, where I wrote criticism for the Shiraz Festival of the Arts. That’s how I got to meet Peter Brook and Robert Wilson and all the people that I later worked with or was influenced by. I also met an Indonesian artist named Sardono Kusumo, who I later found again in Jakarta when I was traveling in Southeast Asia. He gave me the names and addresses of all these uncles everywhere in Java who were all involved in dance, puppetry, or mysticism; a fantastic family. So I traveled around Java from uncle to uncle, and performance to performance. And they have a special kind of mysticism there called Kebatinan, which is kind of like Sufism but not quite. It’s different, and it would take a long time to explain why.

And on the internet:

Well, I have to admit that, like everybody else in the 1980s, I was much more optimistic about these things. And in some of my writing I may have given the impression that I would become some sort of cyber libertarian. I have many friends in that camp, but then as time went on, I became more of a Luddite. I believe that technology should not consist of an attack on the social. And if you think about the symptom that everybody talks about, the loss of privacy, or even the redefinition of what privacy could possibly be, well, I see this as an actual attack on society. And it’s interesting that it comes at the same time as Thatcher saying that there is no such thing as society. It’s an ideological move against the social. And it’s not for the glorification of the individual, either. To me, the individual also loses in this formula. But it’s primarily meant to break society down into individual consumer entities, because that’s what money wants. Capital itself wants everyone to have everything. It doesn’t want you to share your car with anyone, it wants each person to have their own. And by the way, the US has achieved this—we now have one car for every adult in the country. Capital wants everybody to have to own everything, and to share nothing. And the social result of this is ghastly. It’s scary, frightening. For me it’s apocalyptic.

Full Story: e-flux: In Conversation with Hakim Bey

New From Hakim Bey/Peter Lamborn Wilson: Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto (Updated)

New(ish) material from Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey), published in the Spring 2012 issue of Fifth Estate:

Reversion to 1911 would constitute a perfect first step for a 21st century neo-Luddite movement. Living in 1911 means using technology and culture only up to that point and no further, or as little as possible.

For example, you can have a player-piano and phonograph, but no radio or TV; an ice-box, but not a refrigerator; an ocean liner, but not an aeroplane, electric fans, but no air conditioner.

You dress 1911. You can have a telephone. You can even have a car, ideally an electric. Someday, someone will make replicas of the 1911 “Grandma Duck” Detroit Electric, one of the most beautiful cars ever designed.

1911 was a great year for Modernism, Expressionism, Symbolism, Rosicrucianism, anarcho- syndicalism and Individualism, vegetarian lebensreform, and Nietzschean cosmic consciousness, but it was also the last great Edwardian year, the twilight of British Empire and last decadent gilded moments of Manchu, Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian, French and Ottoman monarchy; last “old days” before the hideous 20th century really got going.

The next step backward would be to join the Amish and other Old Order Anabaptists in 1907 — no telephones, no electricity at all, and no internal combustion. With this move, the battle would virtually be won. The next generation would be able to make the transition to no metal — the neo-neolithic. Arcadian pastoralism.

After that a dizzying sliding spiral back into — illiteracy. Oral/aural culture. Classless tribal anarchy. Democratic shamanism. The Gift. This would be the ultimate Luddite goal. But the first step will be back to 1911.

Full Story: Autonomedia: Peter Lamborn Wilson, “Back to 1911″

And people told me quitting most Google services was extreme ;)

(via the newly rejuvenated Aurthur Magazine Twitter account)

Update: It turns out this is an excerpt from a longer manifesto first published by OVO in November 2011:

Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto: Music

Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto: On (Type) Writing

Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto: Energy

Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto: Photography

Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto: Telephone

Genesis P-Orridge, Hakim Bey and John Perry Barlow in Conversation (1993)

Here’s an old Mondo 2000 interview from 1993 with both Genesis P-Orridge and Hakim Bey conducted by Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow:

JOHN: Right, Taoism has no truck with good and evil at all.

HAKIM: Taoism seems to be the one religion that doesn’t have the Gnostic trace.

JOHN: In our culture, the problem arose with the Romans.

HAKIM: I think it goes further back. It’s Babylon. It’s just like the Rastas say, “It happened in Babylon.” It’s Marduk and Tiamat. It’s Mr. Hard-on God up against Sloppy Mom. In China, chaos is a benevolent property. Huntun is the gourd or the egg out of which everything comes. He’s a wonton. Huntun and wonton are the same words. He’s like this little dumpling and everything good comes out of him. In Babylon, chaos is the disgusting monster vagina that has to be ripped up by Marduk into myriad blobs of shit and slime. And we are those globs of slime. That’s how the human race came into being. What is the purpose of the human race? To serve Marduk, to serve the masculine principle, to store up grain in the granary for the priests, to pay for the priests for their sacrifice so they get the free hamburgers. That’s the whole Western myth. It’s St. George and the Dragon. St. George pins the dragon down.

In China, the dragon is the free expression of creativity. He’s the mixture of Yin and Yang, the principle of power. But here’s evil, plain and simple. This is why chaos has kicked off, for me, for Ralph Abraham, and others, an interest in making a critique of this Western mythology, and saying, “Let’s put Humpty Dumpty back together.”

JOHN: There’s been an interesting co-evolution lately of a lot of apparently disconnected things, like chaos mathematics and neo-tribalism, a sudden interest in Taoism and what I perceive to be a deep feminization of Western culture.

GEN: Some philosophers feel that there’s a risk in absolute unconditional surrender of that male-God power, even though it’s obviously failed miserably. Should we seek out every possible male trait and subordinate it to a female principle?

HAKIM: I didn’t like the rule of Dad, but I don’t think I’m going to like the rule of Mom either.

Pastbin: Zoning Out, Temporarily with Hakim Bey and Genesis P-Orridge

See also:

Douglass Rushkoff in Conversation with Genesis P. Orridge (2003 and 2007)

Hakim Bey dossier

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge dossier

21C Magazine is back with Apocalypse Noir

21C

21C is back with new material, plus archival material by or about Hakim Bey, William S. Burroughs, Erik Davis, Philip K. Dick, Ashley Crawford, Mark Dery, Verner Vinge, William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, Jack Parsons, Richard Metzger, Genesis P. Orridge, Kath Acker, JG Ballard, John Shirley, Robert Anton Wilson, Iain Sinclair, Terrence McKenna, Buckminster Fuller, R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary, Bruce Sterling and more.

Sadly, in 1999, the company went bust, somewhat ironic given that 21•C in that form never made it into the Century after which it was named – the 21st. 21•C stalwart Mark Dery and I made some attempt to resuscitate the title early in the new millennium to no avail.

Yet many of the ideas and issues raised in the original magazine continued to arise, and with them perpetual queries as to how to get copies of the original articles, a nigh impossible task. With the prompting of two other 21•C stalwarts, Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich, it was decided to resurrect a core selection of articles in an archival on-line format. With Mick Stylianou’s wizard like help this was fairly painless. It didn’t take long to decide to add new material and it is hoped that new issues will be posted at semi-regular intervals.

This inaugural on-line issue takes as its theme Apocalypse Noir – the trend toward the apocalyptic, or at the least extremely dark – in contemporary writing. If earlier 21•C’s tended toward the darker aspects of cyberpunk, then the newer crop of writers have given up any pretense of a happy ending. Good luck!

21C Magazine

(via Alex Burns)

Peter Lamborn Wilson’s obituary for Robert Anton Wilson

For all we knew, Robert Anton Wilson and I were related. On an intuitive basis-i.e., after several rounds of Jameson’s and Guinness-we decided we were cousins. Subsequently we came to believe ourselves connected to the Wilsons who play so murky a role in the ‘Montauk Mysteries’ (Aleister Crowley, UFOs and Nazis in Long Island, time travel experiments gone awry, etc.). Our plan to co-edit a family anthology (including Colin, S. Clay, and Anthony Burgess, whose real name was Wilson) never materialized-although we did collaborate in editing Semiotext(e) SF, together with Rudy Rucker.

There’s no doubt Bob was some sort of anarchist. His earliest interests and experiences (the School of Living, for example) involved connections with old-time American Philosophical or Individualist Anarchism of the Spooner/Tucker variety, and, in fact, this shared background firmed the basis of our friendship.

Arthur Magazine: Peter Lamborn Wilson’s obituary for Robert Anton Wilson

The Akaschic Record of the Astral Convention – AAAZ – 1987

The Akaschic Record of the Astral Convention - AAAZ - 1987

Download the PDF.

From the New Introduction:

Join the Party

This is the record of the AAAZ, the Antarctic Astral Autonomous Zone, that occurred on the night of August 31st – September 1st, 1987.

Hakim Bey is the author of Temporary Autonomous Zone. It’s a cultural milestone for a wide variety of subversives from anarchists, occultists, vandal artists, and freaky festival people. The main idea of TAZ was to create exactly what it sounds like TAZ is about: creating places that serve as alternative realities to the prevailing system of control. Specific times and spaces designated to let chaos free, and allow psychological and social mechanisms to self regulate and mutate beyond the confines of so-called consensus reality.

The focus is on having individuals find and establish meaning on their own terms. Creating a TAZ requires face to face interaction and dialog, in a sense, creating an art form which is impossible to ever fully record or understand. In the void where stagnancy and boredom once ruled, wild fantasies called real life take root. The elusive genuine article, with no possible televised reenactments.

Before TAZ’s thought virus would reach the anti-capitalists and the rave scene as it did in the 90’s, many of the people who recognized the value of Bey’s work were few and far apart. Mail order culture was the primary mode of communication with the underground for many people in the 80’s. The postal world seen within the pages of High Weirdness by Mail by Ivan Stang has now mostly migrated to cyberspace, where many of these fringe cultures have exploded into bonafide phenomenas. In the meantime, the mutants who were plugged into the paper trail of fresh ideas were yearning for an opportunity to encounter a TAZ. This meant finding a ‘Zone’ which was totally unexpected.

It was decided to meet astrally or in dreams, at a specific sacred space in Antarctica. Bey sent invites out to his network, and arranged for everyone who participated to send him their experiences, which he would then compile and send back out. What you end up with is an compilation of rare works by an all-star cast of individuals who comprised the occulture before there was a word for it. In this instance, the media created here facilitated a syncing up of communal experiences, and was an essential component of the AAAZ, yet not the AAAZ in itself.

The objective reality of astral projection is inconsequential to the AAAZ. What is of importance is the narrative, lives encouraged to be lived mythically, drawing those lives together in the process. Then again, for those who do entertain astral experiences as accepted facets of reality, the AAAZ was most likely one of the earliest documented records of shared lucid dreams and consciousness. It is historically important for occultists, and personally fulfilling for those who got to participate in it.

The AAAZ is a window into the past, where long distance communications were laced with art and magic, and the viability of a tangible occult community was seemingly infinitesimal. This book provided my endeavors with a deeper sense of purpose to what I have been developing with esoZone, and PDXocculture, an open group in Portland, OR for individuals with esoteric interests. It was as if my magic was supplemented by ancient spells spoke at the AAAZ, spells that were finally close to reaching total fruition. “Find the Others”, Leary’s famous phrase, has become irrelevant. More people are networked than ever before, and they are well on their way to having an alternative reality subsume the toxic aeon preceding it.

This is a rare work that has only been previously released to the original participants. It is provided in its first reprinting to the participants of esoZone as a bonus gift, and as a memetic primer. Be sure to look out for works by Coil, Shirley Maclaine, James Koehnline, Ivan Stang, Feral Faun (aka Apio), Reverand Crowbar (aka Susan Poe), Trevor Blake, and of course Hakim Bey. All notables to be sure, but I can think of someone more important.

This is where you come in.
The coincidences you are experiencing as part of esoZone ARE REAL.
All the doorways of the venue have been transmuted into portals.
They lead twenty years into the past from Portland [Land of Portals] to the Antarctican AAAZ.
As you navigate the space of esoZone, you may notice dimensional leakage.
It is no accident and a very special effect. Have fun with it.
Interact with entities and your awareness of the past and present places, slipstreaming into the future.

Tell your friends.

If you are up for it, during the exact 20 year anniversary of the AAAZ, on the night of Aug. 31st, take an astral voyage. Bring your memory back to esoZone, and the experiences you had within it, and use the doorway Portals to the AAAZ of 87. The rest of this book should prep you for the journey.

This time, there will be no zine compiling the experiences. Take advantage of our Aeon. Post about your adventures online wherever you normally post, and if you do not have a space for that, start an account on Irreality.net. Your words will find their proper destination, and be part of a grand chain of events that leads to something currently inconceivable, twenty more years down the line.

Danny Chaoflux
New Alamut, Portal Palace
July 2007

Phoenix Festival: Rave Never Died

The future is going to be much more like the extremely distant past. It’s not that technology is going to disappear. It’s that technology is going to be much less obtrusive. I can imagine a future where the entire culture has been shrunk down and downloaded onto a pair of black contact lenses that you implant behind your eyelids. And you’re naked, tattooed, scarified, and wearing your penis sheath and so on. But when you close your eyes, there are menus dangling in mental space. You go into that and have the complete database of the Western Mind.
-Terrence McKenna, Mondo 2000 vol. 1, issue 10, 1993

Whether open only to a few friends, like a dinner party, or to thousands of celebrants, like a Be-In, the party is always ‘open’ because it is not ‘ordered'; it may be planned, but unless it ‘happens’ it’s a failure. The element of spontaneity is crucial.

The essence of the party: face-to-face, a group of humans synergize their efforts to realize mutual desires, whether for good food and cheer, dance, conversation, the arts of life; perhaps even for erotic pleasure, or to create a communal artwork, or to attain the very transport of bliss- in short, a ‘union of egoists’ (as Stirner put it) in its simplest form-or else, in Kropotkin’s terms, a basic biological drive to ‘mutual aid.’
-Hakim Bey, The Temporary Autonomous Zone, 1990.

I’m sitting in front of a sound stage in the middle of a horse pasture watching robotic kids shift and rotate to electronic music. A computer thumps out crunchy, mechanical melodies over the funky beats oozing from turntables. Neon drawings float under the black light from the plywood dance floor. Off to the side of the stage, a guy sits cross-legged and meditates. I’ve been up since 6:30 in the morning, it’s 2:30 at night now, I’m freezing, and have no plans of going to bed. Fatigue has given way to fascination. I feel great.

It’s the first night of Phoenix Festival 2002, one of many week long outdoor art and dance festivals to offshoot from Nevada’s Burning Man festival. Although the organizers didn’t have Burning Man in mind when they created the festival – some of them have never even been to Burning Man – the festival has become a refuge for people fed up with Burning Man’s commercialization. The theme of this year’s Phoenix Festival is rebirth, the final stage in the cycle of the phoenix myth. It’s the final Phoenix Festival and the first to acquire the required permits to hold the event. In previous years the festival’s location was announced the night before the event, like many other electronic music parties and festivals. But despite the festivals legit legal standing and increased promotion, the festival remains largely underground. Only about 2,000 people are attending. According to Chris “Fussik” West, who helped organize the festival, this year’s festival attracted a more diverse crowd but didn’t significantly increase the total number of people attending.

Phoenix Festival seems to be a perfect embodiment of Terrence McKenna’s “Archaic Revival” concept and Hakim Bey’s “Temporary Autonomous Zone” idea. McKenna believed we are striving to recover ancient social forms to escape the oppressive nature of modern living. He expected people to return to tribal forms of living, with an emphasis on ritual, organized activity, and ancestor consciousness. He sees everything from New Age-ism, UFOlogy, body modification, and of course raves as manifestations of this tendency.

Bey proposed a complex network of “pirate utopias” where people could be free to do as they pleased without state intervention. Once the state got wise to a temporary autonomous zone, its inhabitants would up and find a new location.

Phoenix Festival is isolated on private property in rural Washington and people are camped out in tents. Primarily they’ve brought their music equipment, and they’re powering it mostly with biodiesel. Oakes, a guy I picked up in Portland in exchange for a ticket, told me on the way down that the electronic music scene is a community. Oakes’ own plan is to “become so integrated into the scene that I can make a living on it.” He designs and makes clothes, and plans to launch a music journalism career as well. He’s certainly not the first to make a living in the community. There are vendors at the event selling home-made fashions, musical instruments, and food. There are large groups of production companies that throw parties and festivals on a regular basis. DJs and musicians who try to live off their music. Glass blowers. Drug dealers. Homeless drifters relying on the kindness of strangers.

Of course, the community isn’t entirely self-sustaining yet. Most of its members still have to work day jobs. My friend Brian, a long time electronic music community member who told me about Phoenix Festival, makes a living manufacturing circuit boards.

Fussik doesn’t believe that the model the Phoenix Festival is based on can work in the real world, but he does believe that Phoenix Festival is “A safe place for people express themselves in a free area with as few rules as possible.”

FXCannon, the group playing in the stage right now, is from Houston. They work day jobs and spent all their money getting here. They brought a bunch of burned CDs with them to give away, but now they’re selling them to try to make enough money to get home.

Jeff Montgomery, who does a live PA set from his laptop for the group, used to be in an industrial noise group that traded boxes of tapes with other musicians all over the world, and then sold the other musicians’ tapes to make money. When asked about how he feels about peer to peer music trading he said, “I don’t give a fuck. I just want people to hear my music.”

This is a pretty common attitude in the electronic music scene, where cutting and pasting sounds from other musicians’ work is a standard technique. For them intellectual property is a moot concept. The musicians mostly self-publish their albums and live a traveling minstrel lifestyle, depending on donations and day jobs live. The members of FXCannon have day jobs in addition to seeking extra money from gigs and throwing their own parties.

Between sets, conversations often turn to politics. Someone discusses how government officials threw Ralph Nader out of the 2000 presidential debates, essentially meaning the government was using tax payer money to subvert democracy. Others criticize Bush’s foreign policy, or his plans to drill for oil in Alaska.

On the second day of Phoenix Festival the members of FXCannon and I are sitting in an old Ford school bus that has been converted into the tour bus of Aura, a Seattle performance art troupe. Aura will perform tomorrow’s nights “death ritual.” We’re hanging out with a member of a troupe, who makes his living as a glass blower. We talk about the economy and the collapse of Enron, and Jeff points out that the electronic music scene is on the cutting edge of the coming economic change. “We’re going to go back to the way this country was meant to be by the founders. Everyone was meant to have their own business, not to work for megacorporations that own everything,” he says. Here people are founding the new new economy, consisting sustainable personal businesses.

I met a girl from South Carolina, who has a degree in public relations and has she says she’s just been laid off from a job designing circuit boards for MCI and that it’s the best thing that ever happened to her. “I’m on severance for the summer, then I’ll be on unemployment for a year. Then I’ll figure out what to do next,” she said. Oakes is in a similar situation: he’s launching his new career as a cog in the electronic music community wheel while receiving unemployment.

On my last night at the festival before returning to Olympia, WA early for my day job, I watch Aura’s “death” ritual. Fire is twirled, people are entranced by the performance. Fussik says that he and the organizers were never big on the ritual aspect of the festival, but last year they left the ritual out and people missed it. It’s back this year to provide some closure to the series of festivals. Next year Fussik and company will organize a new festival, designed with Burning Man in mind, that he hopefully get away from the rave scene. “We’re sort of the darling of the rave scene right now,” he says, “We want to create a new festival that rips away the facade. With a rave, you’ve gotta have particular elements. So the new festival will be purely a community art and music project, with no myth, no religion.”

Though Fussik sees Phoenix Festival as being a vacation from the real world, rather than a permanent replacement for civilized society, many of its attendees don’t agree. They’ve made electronic music parties a way of life. Phoenix Festival is but one of many other large outdoor gatherings this summer, and many more will occur indoors during the rest of the year. A high tech, nomadic tribal community has emerged and is thriving despite government intervention. Whether they realize it or not, they’ve incorporated Bey’s TAZ model into their organizational process, and are the living embodiment of the Archaic Revival.

More Info:

Official Phoenix Festival web site Includes a complete list of acts playing at Phoenix Festival, photos from previous years, etc.

Seattle PI’s Phoenix Festival coverage

Pyrosutra the web page of one of Phoenix Fest’s headline performers.

FXCannon website

Burning Man the official Burning Man web site.

Northwest Tekno a guide to the electronic music community in the northwestern United States.

Hyperreal the web’s authoritative guide to electronic music culture.

DeOxy’s Terrence McKenna page one of the best Terrence McKenna sites on the web.

Zero News Datapool, Hakim Bey An excellent collection of Hakim Bey’s writings

Douglas Rushkoff a media theorist who has spent much time studying rave culture.

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