Media HexTHE OCCULT ASSAULT ON INSTITUTIONS
The levels of Immediatist organization:
The goals of the Immediatist organization are:
The link between the organization and the goal is the tactic. In simple terms, what does the Immediatist organization do? Our "strategy" is to optimize conditions for the emergence of the TAZ (or even the Insurrection) -- but what specific actions might be carried out to construct this strategy? Without tactics, the Immediatist organization might as well disperse at once. "Direct action" should further the "cause" but also must itself hold all the potential for the flowering of the cause within itself. In fact, each act must be in potentia both aimed at the goal and identical with the goal. We cannot use tactics which are limited to mediation; each action must immediately realize the goal, at least in some respect, lest we find ourselves working for abstractions and even simulations of our purpose. And yet the many different tactics and actions should also add up to more than the sum of their parts, and should give birth to the TAZ or the Uprising. Just as ordinary organizations cannot provide the structures we need, so ordinary tactics cannot satisfy our demand for both immediate and insurrectionary "situations".
Conviviality is both a tactic and a goal. Noble in itself, it may serve as both form and content for such organizational modes as the gathering, the potlach, the banquet. But conviviality by itself lacks the transformative energy that generally arises only out of a complex of actions which includes what we've called "destruction" as well as "creation". The ideal Immediatist organization aims at this more complex goal, and gains conviviality as a necessary structure along with it. In other words, gathering together in a group to plan a potential TAZ for an even larger group is already an Immediatist act involving conviviality-like the kingdom of heaven, is "added unto" all sincere striving for more exalted break-throughs. It would seem that the quintessential immediatist act or tactic however will involve simultaneous creation and destruction rather than just conviviality- hence the Bee and Tong are "higher" organizational forms than the gathering and potlach.
In the Bee the emphasis is on creation-the quilt, so to speak- the collaborative art project, the group's act of generosity toward itself and toward reality rather than toward an "audience" of mediated consumers. Of course the Bee can also consider and undertake destructive or "criminal" actions. But when it does so it has perhaps already taken the first step toward becoming a secret society or Immediatist Tong. Hence I think that the Tong is the most complex (or "highest") form of immediatist organization which can be pre-determined to a significant degree. The TAZ and the uprising depend finally on many factors for the "organization" process to achieve without "luck". As I've said, we can maximize possibilities for the TAZ or the insurrection but we cannot really "organize" them or make them happen. The Tong however can be clearly defined and organized and can carry out complex actions, both material and symbolic, both creative and destructive. The Tong cannot guarantee the TAZ, much less the insurrection, but it can surely gratify many or most immediate desires of lesser complexity-and after all it might succeed in precipitating the grant event of the TAZ, the Commune, the "restoration of the Ming" as Great Festival of Consciousness, the objective correlative of all desire.
Keeping all this in mind let us try to imagine-and then criticize-possible tactics for the Immediatist group, and ideally for the well-organized semi-permanent Tong or virtually clandestine action group or affinity web, capable of attempting fully-evolved complex direct actions in an articulated strategy. Each such action must simultaneously damage or destroy some real and or imaginal time/space of "the enemy", even as it simultaneously creates for its perpetrators the strong chance of peak experience or "adventure": each tactic thus in a sense moves to appropriate and detourner the enemy's space, and eventually to occupy and transform it. Each tactic or action is already potentially the whole "Path" of autonomy in itself, just as each invocation of the Real already contains the entirety of the spiritual path (according to the "gnosis" of Ismailism and heterodox sufism).
But wait! First: -- who is "The Enemy"? It's all very well to mutter about conspiracies of the Establishment or the networks of psychic control. We're talking about real-time direct actions which must be carried out "against" identifiable nodes of real-time power. Discussion of abstract enemies such as "the state" will get us nowhere. I am not oppressed (or alienated) directly by any concrete entity called the state, but by specific groups such as teachers, police, bosses, etc. A "Revolution": may aim at overthrowing a "state". But the Insurrection and all its Immediatist action-groups will have to discover some target which is not an idea, a piece of paper, a "spook" that enchains us with our own bad dreams about power and impotence. We'll play at the war of images, yes. But images arise from or flow through specific nexuses. The spectacle has a structure, and the structure has joints, crossings, patterns, levels. The Spectacle even has an address-sometimes- maybe. It's not real in the same way the TAZ is real. But it's real enough for an assault.
Because the Immediatist texts have largely been addressed to "artists" as well as "non-authoritarians" and because Immediatism is not a political movement but a game, even an aesthetic game, it would seem inescapably obvious that we should look for the enemy in the media, especially in those media we find to be directly oppressive. For example for the student the oppressive and alienating medium is "education", and the nexus (the pressure point) must therefore be the school. For the artist the direct source of alienation would seem to be the complex we usually call the Media, which has usurped the time and the space of art as we wish to practice it-which has redefined all creative communicativeness as an exchange of commodities or of alienating images-which has poisoned "discourse". In the past the alienating medium was the church and the insurrection was expressed in the language of heretical spirituality vs. organized religion. Now the Media plays the role of the Church in the circulation of images. As the Church once concocted a false scarcity of sanctity or salvation, so the Media constructs a false scarcity of values, or "meaning". As the Church once tried to impose its monopoly on the spirit, the Media wants to re-make language itself as pure mind, divorced from the body. The media denies meaning to corporeality, to everyday life, just as the Church once defined the body as evil and everyday life as sin. The Media defines itself, or its discourse, as the real universe. We mere consumers live in a skull-world of illusion, with TVs as eyes-sockets through which we peer at the world of the living, the "rich & famous", the real . Just so did religion define the world as illusion and heaven only as real-real, but so far away. If insurrection once spoke to the Church as heresy, so it must speak now to the Media. Once, the revolting peasants burned churches. But what exactly are the churches of the Media?
It's easy to feel nostalgia for such a once-magnificent enemy
as the Roman Catholic Church. I've even tried to convince myself
that today's washed-out sex-hating charade is still worth conspiring
against. Infiltrate the church; fill up the tractate shelf with
beautiful porno flyers labelled "This is the Face of God";
hide dada/voodoo objects under the pews and behind the altar;
send occult manifestos to the Bishop and clergy; leak satanic
scares to the idiot press; leave evidence incriminating the Illuminati.
An even more satisfying target might be the Mormons, who are completely
enthralled by hypermediated CommTech and yet intensely sensitive
to "black magic". (2)
Televangelism offers an especially tempting mix of media and bad religion. But when it comes to real power, the churches feel quite empty. The god has abandoned them. The god has his own talk-show now, his own corporate sponsors, his own network. The real target is the Media.
The "magical assault" however still holds promise as a tactic against this new church and "new inquisition"-precisely because the Media, like the church, does its work thru "magic", the manipulation of images. In fact our biggest problem in assaulting the Media will be to invent a tactic which cannot be recuperated by Babylon and turned to its own power-advantage. A breathless "live-news" report that CBS had been attacked by radical sorcerers would simply become part of the "spectacle of dissidence", the sub-manichaen drama of the discourse of simulation. The best tactical defense against this co-optation will be the subtle complexity and aesthetic depth of our symbolism, which must contain fractal dimensions untranslatable into the flat image-language of the tube. Even if "they" try to appropriate our imagery, in other words, it will carry an unexpected "viral" subtext which will infect all attempts at recuperation with a nauseating malaise of uncertainty - - a "poetic terror".
One simple idea would be to blow up a TV transmission tower and
then take credit for the action in the name of the American Poetry
Society (who ought to be blowing up TV towers); but such a purely
destructive act lacks the creative aspect of the truly immediatist
tactic. Each act of destruction should ideally also be an act
(3) Suppose we could blank TV transmission in one neighborhood and at the same time sage a miraculous festival, liberating and transforming the local mall into a one-night TAZ-then our action would combine destruction and creation in a truly Immediatist "direct action" of beauty and terror- Bakuninesque, situationistic, real dada at last. The media might try to distort it and appropriate its power for itself, but even so it could never erase the experience of the liberated neighborhood and its people-and chances are the Media would after all remain silent, since the whole event would seem too complex for it to digest and shit out as "news".
Such an immensely complicated action would lie beyond the capabilities of all but the richest and most fully-developed Immediatist Tong. But the principle can be applied at lower levels of complexity. For example, imagine that a group of students wish to protest the stupifying effect of the education-medium by disrupting or shutting down school for some time. Easily done, as many bold high school saboteurs have discovered. Carried out as a purely negative action, however, the gesture can be interpreted by authority as "delinquency" and thus its energy can be recuperated to the benefit of Control. The saboteurs should make a point of simultaneously providing valuable information, beauty, a sense of adventure. At the very least anonymous leaflets about anarchism, home schooling, media critique or something of the sort can be "left at the scene" or distributed to other students, faculty, even press. At best, an alternative to school itself should be suggested, through conviviality, festival, liberated learning, shared creativity.
* (Possible insert here, see *, end of footnotes, end of article)
Getting back to the project of a "magical assault" on the Media, or media-hex:: -- it too should combine in one gesture (more or less) both the creative and destructive elements of the effective Immediatist artwork or work of poetic terrorism. In this way it will (we hope) prove too complex for the usual recuperation-process. For example, it would be futile to bombard the Media-target with images of horror, bloodshed, serial murder, alien sex abuse, S&M splatter and the like, since the Media itself is the chief purveyor of all such imagery. Guignol demi-satanism fits right into the spectrum of horror-as-control where most broadcasting occurs. You can't compete with the "News" for images of disgust, repulsion, atavistic panic, or gore. The Media (if we can personify it for a moment) might at first be surprised that anyone would bother to mirror this crap back at the Media-but it would have no occult effect. (4)
Let us imagine (another "thought-experiment!") that an Immediatist cabal of some size and seriousness has somehow gotten hold of the addresses (including fax, phone, E-mail, or whatever) of the executive and creative staff of a TV show we might feel represented a nadir of alienation and psychic poison (say "NYPD Blue"). In "The Malay Black Djinn Curse" I suggested sending packages of dada/voodoo objects to such people, along with warnings that their place of work had been cursed. At that time I was reluctant to recommend curses against individuals. I would now however recommend even worse. Moreover, for these media moghuls I might well favor the kind of creepy Moslem/heretic jungle reptile imagery I outlined in the "Black Djinn" operation-since the Media show such fear of "Moslem" terror and such bigotry against Moslems-but I would now make the whole scenario and imagery far more complex. The TV exec's and writers should be sent objects as exquisite and disturbing as surrealist "boxes", containing beautiful but "illegal" images of sexual pleasure (5) , and intricate spiritual symbolism, evocative images of autonomy and pleasure in self-realization, all very subtle, convoluted, mysterious; these objects must be made with real artistic fervor and the highest inspiration, but each one meant only for one person-the victim of the hex.
The recipients may well be disturbed by these anonymous "gifts" but will probably neither destroy them nor even discuss them at once. No harm to our scheme if they do. But these objects may well look too fine, too "expensive" to destroy-and too "dirty" to show to anyone else. Next day, the victims each receive a letter explaining that their receipt of the objects effected the delivery of a curse. The hex will cause them to come to know their true desires, symbolized by the magical objects. They will also now begin to realize they are acting as enemies of the human race by commodifying desire and working as the agents of soul-Control. The magic art-objects will weave into their dreams and desires, making their jobs now seem not only poisonously boring but also morally destructive. Their desires so magically awakened will ruin them for work in the Media-unless they turn to subversion and sabotage. At best they can quit. This might save their sanity at the expense of their meaningless "careers". If they remain in Media they will waste away with unsatisfied desire, shame, and guilt. Or else become rebels, and learn to fight against the Eye of Babylon from within the idol's belly. Meanwhile their "show" has been picked for total black magic assault by a group of Shiite terrorist sorcerers, or the Libyan Voodoo Hit squad, or something of the sort. Of course it would be nice to have an inside agent to plant "clues" and to spy out information, but some variation on this scheme can be carried out without active infiltration of the institution. The initial assault might perhaps be followed up with mailings of anti-Media propaganda, and even Immediatist tracts. If possible, of course, some bad luck could be produced for the victims or for their institution. Pranks, you know. But again, this is not necessary, and may even get in the way of our pure experiment in mind-fuck and image-manipulation. Let the bastards produce their own bad luck out of their inner sadness at being such evil assholes, out of their atavistic superstition (without which they wouldn't be such media-wizards), out of their fear of otherness, out of their repressed sexuality. You can be sure they will-or at least, that they'll remember the "curse" every time something bad happens to them.
The general principle can be applied to media other than television.
A computer company for example might be cursed thru its computers
by a talented hacker, altho one would have to avoid SciFi scenarios
such as William Gibson's haunted cyberspace-too baroque. Advertising
companies run on pure magic, film-makers, PR firms, art galleries,
lawyers, even politicians. (6)
Any oppressor who works through the image is susceptible to the power of the image.
It should be stressed that we are not describing the Revolution here, or revolutionary political action, or even the Uprising. This is merely a new kind of neo-hermetic agit-prop, a proposal for a new kind of "political art", a project for a Tong of rebel artists, an experiment in the game of Immediatism. Others will struggle against oppression in their own fields of expertise, work, discourse, life. As artists we choose to struggle within "art", within the world of the Media, against the alienation which oppresses us most directly. We choose to battle where we live, rather than theorize about oppression elsewhere. I've tried to suggest a strategy and imagine certain tactics which would further it. No other claims are made and no further details should be divulged. The rest is for the Tong.
I'll admit that my own taste might run toward an even more violent
approach to Media than proposed here in this text. People talk
about "taking over" TV stations, but not one of them
has succeeded. It might make more sense to shoot TV sets in electronic
shop windows, ludicrous as it seems, than to dream of taking over
the studios. But I draw the line at suggesting attentats against
News fascists, or even killing Geraldo's dog, for several reasons
which still seem sufficient to me. For one, I have taken to heart
Nietzsche's remarks on the inferiority and futility of revengism
as a political doctrine. Mere reaction is never a sufficient response-much
less a noble path. Moreover, it wouldn't work. It would be seen
as an "attack on free speech". The project proposed
here includes within its structure the possibility of actually
changing something-even if it's only a few "minds".
In other words it has a constructive aspect integrally bound up
with a destructive aspect, so that the two cannot be separated.
Our dada/voodoo object is both an attack and a seduction in one,
and both motives will be thoroughly explained in the accompanying
flyers or letters. After all, there's the chance we might convert
someone. Of course, we may easily fail here too. All our efforts
could end up in the trash, forgotten by minds too well armored
even to feel a moment's unease. This is, after all, merely a thought
experiment, or an experiment in thought. If you like you could
even call it merely a form of aesthetic criticism directed at
the perpetrators rather than the consumers of bad art. The time
for real violence is not yet, if only because the production of
violence remains the monopoly of the Institutions. There's no
point in sticking one's head up and waving a gun if one is facing
a star war death beam satellite. (7)
Our task is to enlarge the cracks in the pseudo monolith of social discourse, gradually uncovering bits of empty spectacle, labeling subtle forms of mind-control, charting escape routes, chipping away at crystallizations of image suffocation, banging on pots and pans to wake a few citizens from media trance, using the intimate media (8) to orchestrate our assaults on Big Media and its Big Lies, learning again how to breathe together, how to live in our bodies, how to resist the image-heroin of "information". Actually what I've called "direct action" here might better be known as indirect action, symbolic, viral, occult and subtle rather than actual, wounding, militant, and open. If we and our natural allies enjoy even a little success, however, the superstructure may eventually lose so much coherence and assurance that its power will start to slip as well. The day may come (who would've thought that one morning in 1989 Communism would evaporate?), the day may come when even too-late Capitalism begins to melt down-after all it's only outlasted Marxism and fascism because it's even more stupid - - one day the very fabric of the consensus may start to unravel, along with the economy and the environment. One day the colossus may tremble and teeter, like an old statue of Stalin in some provincial town square. And on that day perhaps a TV station will be blown up and will stay blown up. Until then: -- one, ten, a thousand occult assaults on the institutions.
Let us imagine that "the Revolution" has taken place. We're free to decide our level of technology, in a spectrum ranging from pre-Ice-Age primitive to post-industrial SciFi. Will the neo-paleolithics force the futurists to give up their tech? Will the space cadets force the Zerzanites to buy VR rigs? Piously, one hopes not. The question will rather be: how much do we desire the hunting/gathering life? or the CyberEvolutionary life? Do we desire computers enough to forge the silicon chips ourselves? Because after the Revolution no one will accept alienated work. On this, all non-authoritarian tendencies agree. You want a forest full of game? You are responsible for its fecundity and wildness. You want a spaceship? You are responsible for its manufacture, from mining the ore to blacksmithing the nose cone. By all means form a commune or net-work. By all means demand that my level of tech doesn't interfere with yours. Other than these few ground-rules for avoiding civil war, non-authoritarian society can depend on nothing but desire to shape its techne'. As Fourier would put it, the level of economic complexity of utopian society will be in harmony with the totality of all Passions. I can't predict what exactly might emerge. All I can imagine is what I'm capable of desiring to the point of willing its realization. Personally (as a matter of taste) I envision something very like bolo'bolo: -- infinite variety with in the basic revolutionary context of positive freedom. By definition there could be no such thing as a NASA-bolo or a Wall Street-bolo, because NASA and Wall Street depend on alienation to exist. I would expect something like low-tech or "appropriate" tech (envisioned by 60's theorists such as Illich) to become the Utopian average, with extreme wings occupying a restored Wild(er)ness on the one hand, and the Moon on the other . . . In any case, it's all science fiction. In my writing I try to envision tactics which can be used now by any non-authoritarian tendency. Both the "Tong" and the assault on Media should appeal to both the primitivists and the techies. And I discuss theuse of both magic and computers because both exist in the world I inhabit, and bothwill be used in the liberating struggle. Not only the future but even the present holds too much possibility, too many resources, a superabundant-redundant excess of potentials, to be limited by ideology. A theory of technology is too constraining. Immediatism offers instead an aesthetics of technology, and prefers praxis to theory.
* A Note on the Architecture of the TAZ
Obviously the TAZ usually leaves not a wrack behind. Building isn't its top priority. And yet all lived space is architecture-built space, made space-and the TAZ by definition has presence in real time and space. The nomad encampment should perhaps serve as the primordial prototype. Tents, trailers, RV's, houseboats. The old travelling tent circus or carnival might offer a model for TAZ architecture. In an urban setting the squat becomes the commonest possible space for our purposes, but in America at any rate the law of property makes the squat almost be definition a poor space. The TAZ wants rich space, not so much rich in articulation (as in the space of control, the official building of capital, religion, state) but rich in expression. The temporary playful spaces proposed by situationist and urbanist radicals in the 60's had some potential but finally proved too expensive and too planned. The ur-TAZ architecture is that of the Paris Commune. The microneighborhood is closed off by barricades. The identical houses of the poor are then connected by driving passageways thru all connecting walls on the ground floor. These passageways remind us of Fourier's arcades, by which the Planasterians would circulate thru their communal palace, from private to public space and back again. The Commune city-block became a fortified TAZ with public military space on ground level (and roofs) and private space on upper stories, with the enclosed streets as festival-space. This plan influences the architecture of "P.M."'s bolo'bolo where the commune-block becomes a more permanent urban utopian commune. As for the TAZ, it is effected by a kind of closure, but one paradoxically shot through with openings. It escapes the asphyxiating enclosure of Capital, and the tragic ugliness of industrial space. Its architecture is smooth, not striated-hence the tent not the prison, the passageway not the portal, the barricade, not Haussman's boulevards.