Thanx to the following publications, current and defunct, in which some of these pieces appeared (no doubt I've lost or forgotten many--sorry!): KAOS (London); Ganymede (London); Pan (Amsterdam); Popular Reality; Exquisite Corpse (also Stiffest of the Corpse, City Lights); Anarchy (Columbia, MO); Factsheet Five; Dharma Combat; OVO; City Lights Review; Rants and Incendiary Tracts (Amok); Apocalypse Culture (Amok); Mondo 2000; The Sporadical; Black Eye; Moorish Science Monitor; FEH!; Fag Rag; The Storm!; Panic (Chicago); Bolo Log (Zurich); Anathema; Seditious Delicious; Minor Problems (London); AQUA; Prakilpana.
Also, thanx to the following individuals: Jim Fleming; James Koehnline; Sue Ann Harkey; Sharon Gannon; Dave Mandl; Bob Black; Robert Anton Wilson; William Burroughs; "P.M."; Joel Birroco; Adam Parfrey; Brett Rutherford; Jake Rabinowitz; Allen Ginsberg; Anne Waldman; Frank Torey; Andr Codrescu; Dave Crowbar; Ivan Stang; Nathaniel Tarn; Chris Funkhauser; Steve Englander; Alex Trotter. --March, 1991
Chaos comes before all principles of order & entropy, it's neither a god nor a maggot, its idiotic desires encompass & define every possible choreography, all meaningless aethers & phlogistons: its masks are crystallizations of its own facelessness, like clouds.
Everything in nature is perfectly real including consciousness, there's absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only have the chains of the Law been broken, they never existed; demons never guarded the stars, the Empire never got started, Eros never grew a beard.
No, listen, what happened was this: they lied to you, sold you ideas of good & evil, gave you distrust of your body & shame for your prophethood of chaos, invented words of disgust for your molecular love, mesmerized you with inattention, bored you with civilization & all its usurious emotions.
There is no becoming, no revolution, no struggle, no path; already you're the monarch of your own skin--your inviolable freedom waits to be completed only by the love of other monarchs: a politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky.
To shed all the illusory rights & hesitations of history demands the economy of some legendary Stone Age--shamans not priests, bards not lords, hunters not police, gatherers of paleolithic laziness, gentle as blood, going naked for a sign or painted as birds, poised on the wave of explicit presence, the clockless nowever.
Agents of chaos cast burning glances at anything or anyone capable of bearing witness to their condition, their fever of lux et voluptas. I am awake only in what I love & desire to the point of terror--everything else is just shrouded furniture, quotidian anaesthesia, shit-for-brains, sub-reptilian ennui of totalitarian regimes, banal censorship & useless pain.
Avatars of chaos act as spies, saboteurs, criminals of amour fou, neither selfless nor selfish, accessible as children, mannered as barbarians, chafed with obsessions, unemployed, sensually deranged, wolfangels, mirrors for contemplation, eyes like flowers, pirates of all signs & meanings.
Here we are crawling the cracks between walls of church state school & factory, all the paranoid monoliths. Cut off from the tribe by feral nostalgia we tunnel after lost words, imaginary bombs.
The last possible deed is that which defines perception itself, an invisible golden cord that connects us: illegal dancing in the courthouse corridors. If I were to kiss you here they'd call it an act of terrorism--so let's take our pistols to bed & wake up the city at midnight like drunken bandits celebrating with a fusillade, the message of the taste of chaos.
WEIRD DANCING IN ALL-NIGHT computer-banking lobbies.
Unauthorized pyrotechnic displays. Land-art, earth-works as
bizarre alien artifacts strewn in State Parks. Burglarize
houses but instead of stealing, leave Poetic-Terrorist
objects. Kidnap someone & make them happy.
Pick someone at random & convince them they're the heir to
an enormous, useless & amazing fortune--say 5000 square
miles of Antarctica, or an aging circus elephant, or an
orphanage in Bombay, or a collection of alchemical mss.
Later they will come to realize that for a few moments they
believed in something extraordinary, & will perhaps be
driven as a result to seek out some more intense mode of
Bolt up brass commemorative plaques in places (public or private) where you have experienced a revelation or had a particularly fulfilling sexual experience, etc.
Go naked for a sign.
Organize a strike in your school or workplace on the grounds that it does not satisfy your need for indolence & spiritual beauty.
Grafitti-art loaned some grace to ugly subways & rigid public momuments--PT-art can also be created for public places: poems scrawled in courthouse lavatories, small fetishes abandoned in parks & restaurants, xerox-art under windshield-wipers of parked cars, Big Character Slogans pasted on playground walls, anonymous letters mailed to random or chosen recipients (mail fraud), pirate radio transmissions, wet cement...
The audience reaction or aesthetic-shock produced by PT ought to be at least as strong as the emotion of terror-- powerful disgust, sexual arousal, superstitious awe, sudden intuitive breakthrough, dada-esque angst--no matter whether the PT is aimed at one person or many, no matter whether it is "signed" or anonymous, if it does not change someone's life (aside from the artist) it fails.
PT is an act in a Theater of Cruelty which has no stage, no rows of seats, no tickets & no walls. In order to work at all, PT must categorically be divorced from all conventional structures for art consumption (galleries, publications, media). Even the guerilla Situationist tactics of street theater are perhaps too well known & expected now.
An exquisite seduction carried out not only in the cause of mutual satisfaction but also as a conscious act in a deliberately beautiful life--may be the ultimate PT. The PTerrorist behaves like a confidence-trickster whose aim is not money but CHANGE.
Don't do PT for other artists, do it for people who will not realize (at least for a few moments) that what you have done is art. Avoid recognizable art-categories, avoid politics, don't stick around to argue, don't be sentimental; be ruthless, take risks, vandalize only what must be defaced, do something children will remember all their lives--but don't be spontaneous unless the PT Muse has possessed you.
Dress up. Leave a false name. Be legendary. The best PT is against the law, but don't get caught. Art as crime; crime as art.
AMOUR FOU IS NOT a Social Democracy, it is not a Parliament
of Two. The minutes of its secret meetings deal with
meanings too enormous but too precise for prose. Not this,
not that--its Book of Emblems trembles in your hand.
Naturally it shits on schoolmasters & police, but it sneers at liberationists & ideologues as well--it is not a clean well-lit room. A topological charlatan laid out its corridors & abandoned parks, its ambush-decor of luminous black & membranous maniacal red.
Each of us owns half the map--like two renaissance potentates we define a new culture with our anathematized mingling of bodies, merging of liquids--the Imaginal seams of our City-state blur in our sweat.
Ontological anarchism never came back from its last fishing trip. So long as no one squeals to the FBI, CHAOS cares nothing for the future of civilization. Amour fou breeds only by accident--its primary goal is ingestion of the Galaxy. A conspiracy of transmutation.
Its only concern for the Family lies in the possibility of incest ("Grow your own!" "Every human a Pharoah!")--O most sincere of readers, my semblance, my brother/sister!--& in the masturbation of a child it finds concealed (like a japanese-paper-flower-pill) the image of the crumbling of the State.
Words belong to those who use them only till someone else steals them back. The Surrealists disgraced themselves by selling amour fou to the ghost-machine of Abstraction--they sought in their unconsciousness only power over others, & in this they followed de Sade (who wanted "freedom" only for grown-up whitemen to eviscerate women & children).
Amour fou is saturated with its own aesthetic, it fills itself to the borders of itself with the trajectories of its own gestures, it runs on angels' clocks, it is not a fit fate for commissars & shopkeepers. Its ego evaporates in the mutability of desire, its communal spirit withers in the selfishness of obsession.
Amour fou involves non-ordinary sexuality the way sorcery demands non-ordinary consciousness. The anglo-saxon post- Protestant world channels all its suppressed sensuality into advertising & splits itself into clashing mobs: hysterical prudes vs promiscuous clones & former-ex-singles. AF doesn't want to join anyone's army, it takes no part in the Gender Wars, it is bored by equal opportunity employment (in fact it refuses to work for a living), it doesn't complain, doesn't explain, never votes & never pays taxes.
AF would like to see every bastard ("lovechild") come to term & birthed--AF thrives on anti-entropic devices--AF loves to be molested by children--AF is better than prayer, better than sinsemilla--AF takes its own palmtrees & moon wherever it goes. AF admires tropicalismo, sabotage, break- dancing, Layla & Majnun, the smells of gunpowder & sperm.
AF is always illegal, whether it's disguised as a marriage or a boyscout troop--always drunk, whether on the wine of its own secretions or the smoke of its own polymorphous virtues. It is not the derangement of the senses but rather their apotheosis--not the result of freedom but rather its precondition. Lux et voluptas.
THE FULL MOON'S UNFATHOMABLE light-path--mid-May midnight in
some State that starts with "I," so two-dimensional it can
scarcely be said to possess any geography at all--the beams
so urgent & tangible you must draw the shades in order to
think in words.
No question of writing to Wild Children. They think in images--prose is for them a code not yet fully digested & ossified, just as for us never fully trusted.
You may write about them, so that others who have lost the silver chain may follow. Or write for them, making of STORY & EMBLEM a process of seduction into your own paleolithic memories, a barbaric enticement to liberty (chaos as CHAOS understands it).
For this otherworld species or "third sex," les enfants sauvages, fancy & Imagination are still undifferentiated. Unbridled PLAY: at one & the same time the source of our Art & of all the race's rarest eros.
To embrace disorder both as wellspring of style & voluptuous storehouse, a fundamental of our alien & occult civilization, our conspiratorial esthetic, our lunatic espionage--this is the action (let's face it) either of an artist of some sort, or of a ten- or thirteen-year-old.
Children whose clarified senses betray them into a brilliant sorcery of beautiful pleasure reflect something feral & smutty in the nature of reality itself: natural ontological anarchists, angels of chaos--their gestures & body odors broadcast around them a jungle of presence, a forest of prescience complete with snakes, ninja weapons, turtles, futuristic shamanism, incredible mess, piss, ghosts, sunlight, jerking off, birds' nests & eggs--gleeful aggression against the groan-ups of those Lower Planes so powerless to englobe either destructive epiphanies or creation in the form of antics fragile but sharp enough to slice moonlight.
And yet the denizens of these inferior jerkwater dimensions truly believe they control the destinies of Wild Children--& down here, such vicious beliefs actually sculpt most of the substance of happenstance.
The only ones who actually wish to share the mischievous destiny of those savage runaways or minor guerillas rather than dictate it, the only ones who can understand that cherishing & unleashing are the same act--these are mostly artists, anarchists, perverts, heretics, a band apart (as much from each other as from the world) or able to meet only as wild children might, locking gazes across a dinnertable while adults gibber from behind their masks.
Too young for Harley choppers--flunk-outs, break-dancers, scarcely pubescent poets of flat lost railroad towns--a million sparks falling from the skyrockets of Rimbaud & Mowgli--slender terrorists whose gaudy bombs are compacted of polymorphous love & the precious shards of popular culture--punk gunslingers dreaming of piercing their ears, animist bicyclists gliding in the pewter dusk through Welfare streets of accidental flowers--out-of-season gypsy skinny-dippers, smiling sideways-glancing thieves of power- totems, small change & panther-bladed knives--we sense them everywhere--we publish this offer to trade the corruption of our own lux et gaudium for their perfect gentle filth.
So get this: our realization, our liberation depends on theirs--not because we ape the Family, those "misers of love" who hold hostages for a banal future, nor the State which schools us all to sink beneath the event-horizon of a tedious "usefulness"--no--but because we & they, the wild ones, are images of each other, linked & bordered by that silver chain which defines the pale of sensuality, transgression & vision.
We share the same enemies & our means of triumphant escape are also the same: a delirious & obsessive play, powered by the spectral brilliance of the wolves & their children.
CONSTELLATIONS BY WHICH TO steer the barque of the soul.
"If the moslem understood Islam he would become an idol-
Eleggua, ugly opener of doors with a hook in his head &
cowrie shells for eyes, black santeria cigar & glass of rum-
-same as Ganesh, elephant-head fat boy of Beginnings who
rides a mouse.
The organ which senses the numinous atrophies with the
senses. Those who cannot feel baraka cannot know the caress
of the world.
Hermes Poimandres taught the animation of eidolons, the magic in-dwelling of icons by spirits--but those who cannot perform this rite on themselves & on the whole palpable fabric of material being will inherit only blues, rubbish, decay.
The pagan body becomes a Court of Angels who all perceive this place--this very grove--as paradise ("If there is a paradise, surely it is here!"--inscription on a Mughal garden gate)..
But ontological anarchism is too paleolithic for eschatology- -things are real, sorcery works, bush-spirits one with the Imagination, death an unpleasant vagueness--the plot of Ovid's Metamorphoses--an epic of mutability. The personal mythscape.
Paganism has not yet invented laws--only virtues. No priestcraft, no theology or metaphysics or morality--but a universal shamanism in which no one attains real humanity without a vision.
Food money sex sleep sun sand & sinsemilla--love truth peace freedom & justice. Beauty. Dionysus the drunk boy on a panther--rank adolescent sweat--Pan goatman slogs through the solid earth up to his waist as if it were the sea, his skin crusted with moss & lichen--Eros multiplies himself into a dozen pastoral naked Iowa farm boys with muddy feet & pond-scum on their thighs.
Raven, the potlatch trickster, sometimes a boy, old woman, bird who stole the Moon, pine needles floating on a pond, Heckle/Jeckle totempole-head, chorus-line of crows with silver eyes dancing on the woodpile--same as Semar the hunchback albino hermaphrodite shadow-puppet patron of the Javanese revolution.
Yemaya, bluestar sea-goddess & patroness of queers--same as Tara, bluegrey aspect of Kali, necklace of skulls, dancing on Shiva's stiff lingam, licking monsoon clouds with her yard-long tongue--same as Loro Kidul, jasper-green Javanese sea-goddess who bestows the power of invulnerability on sultans by tantrik intercourse in magic towers & caves.
>From one point of view ontological anarchism is extremely bare, stripped of all qualities & possessions, poor as CHAOS itself--but from another point of view it pullulates with baroqueness like the Fucking-Temples of Kathmandu or an alchemical emblem book--it sprawls on its divan eating loukoum & entertaining heretical notions, one hand inside its baggy trousers.
The hulls of its pirate ships are lacquered black, the lateen sails are red, black banners with the device of a winged hourglass.
A South China Sea of the mind, off a jungle-flat coast of palms, rotten gold temples to unknown bestiary gods, island after island, the breeze like wet yellow silk on naked skin, navigating by pantheistic stars, hierophany on hierophany, light upon light against the luminous & chaotic dark.
ART SABOTAGE STRIVES TO be perfectly exemplary but at the
same time retain an element of opacity--not propaganda but
aesthetic shock--apallingly direct yet also subtly angled--
Art Sabotage is the dark side of Poetic Terrorism--creation- through-destruction--but it cannot serve any Party, nor any nihilism, nor even art itself. Just as the banishment of illusion enhances awareness, so the demolition of aesthetic blight sweetens the air of the world of discourse, of the Other. Art Sabotage serves only consciousness, attentiveness, awakeness.
A-S goes beyond paranoia, beyond deconstruction--the ultimate criticism--physical attack on offensive art-- aesthetic jihad. The slightest taint of petty ego-icity or even of personal taste spoils its purity & vitiates its force. A-S can never seek power--only release it.
Individual artworks (even the worst) are largely irrelevant- -A-S seeks to damage institutions which use art to diminish consciousness & profit by delusion. This or that poet or painter cannot be condemned for lack of vision--but malign Ideas can be assaulted through the artifacts they generate. MUZAK is designed to hypnotize & control--its machinery can be smashed.
Public book burnings--why should rednecks & Customs officials monopolize this weapon? Novels about children possessed by demons; the New York Times bestseller list; feminist tracts against pornography; schoolbooks (especially Social Studies, Civics, Health); piles of New York Post , Village Voice & other supermarket papers; choice gleanings of Xtian publishers; a few Harlequin Romances--a festive atmosphere, wine-bottles & joints passed around on a clear autumn afternoon.
To throw money away at the Stock Exchange was pretty decent Poetic Terrorism--but to destroy the money would have been good Art Sabotage. To seize TV transmission & broadcast a few pirated minutes of incendiary Chaote art would constitute a feat of PT--but simply to blow up the transmission tower would be perfectly adequate Art Sabotage. If certain galleries & museums deserve an occasional brick through their windows--not destruction, but a jolt to complacency--then what about BANKS? Galleries turn beauty into a commodity but banks transmute Imagination into feces and debt. Wouldn't the world gain a degree of beauty with each bank that could be made to tremble...or fall? But how? Art Sabotage should probably stay away from politics (it's so boring)--but not from banks.
Don't picket--vandalize. Don't protest--deface. When ugliness, poor design & stupid waste are forced upon you, turn Luddite, throw your shoe in the works, retaliate. Smash the symbols of the Empire in the name of nothing but the heart's longing for grace.
ACROSS THE LUSTER OF the desert & into the polychrome hills,
hairless & ochre violet dun & umber, at the top of a
dessicate blue valley travelers find an artificial oasis, a
fortified castle in saracenic style enclosing a hidden
As guests of the Old Man of the Mountain Hassan-i Sabbah they climb rock-cut steps to the castle. Here the Day of Resurrection has already come & gone--those within live outside profane Time, which they hold at bay with daggers & poisons.
Behind crenellations & slit-windowed towers scholars & fedayeen wake in narrow monolithic cells. Star-maps, astrolabes, alembics & retorts, piles of open books in a shaft of morning sunlight--an unsheathed scimitar.
Each of those who enter the realm of the Imam-of-one's-own- being becomes a sultan of inverted revelation, a monarch of abrogation & apostasy. In a central chamber scalloped with light and hung with tapestried arabesques they lean on bolsters & smoke long chibouks of haschisch scented with opium & amber.
For them the hierarchy of being has compacted to a dimensionless punctum of the real--for them the chains of Law have been broken--they end their fasting with wine. For them the outside of everything is its inside, its true face shines through direct. But the garden gates are camouflaged with terrorism, mirrors, rumors of assassination, trompe l'oeil, legends.
Pomegranate, mulberry, persimmon, the erotic melancholy of cypresses, membrane-pink shirazi roses, braziers of meccan aloes & benzoin, stiff shafts of ottoman tulips, carpets spread like make-believe gardens on actual lawns--a pavilion set with a mosaic of calligrammes--a willow, a stream with watercress--a fountain crystalled underneath with geometry-- the metaphysical scandal of bathing odalisques, of wet brown cupbearers hide-&-seeking in the foliage--"water, greenery, beautiful faces."
By night Hassan-i Sabbah like a civilized wolf in a turban stretches out on a parapet above the garden & glares at the sky, conning the asterisms of heresy in the mindless cool desert air. True, in this myth some aspirant disciples may be ordered to fling themselves off the ramparts into the black--but also true that some of them will learn to fly like sorcerers.
The emblem of Alamut holds in the mind, a mandals or magic circle lost to history but embedded or imprinted in consciousness. The Old Man flits like a ghost into tents of kings & bedrooms of theologians, past all locks & guards with forgotten moslem/ninja techniques, leaves behind bad dreams, stilettos on pillows, puissant bribes.
The attar of his propaganda seeps into the criminal dreams of ontological anarchism, the heraldry of our obsessions displays the luminous black outlaw banners of the Assassins...all of them pretenders to the throne of an Imaginal Egypt, an occult space/light continuum consumed by still-unimagined liberties.
INVENTED BY THE CHINESE but never developed for war--a fine
example of Poetic Terrorism--a weapon used to trigger
aesthetic shock rather than kill--the Chinese hated war &
used to go into mourning when armies were raised--gunpowder
more useful to frighten malign demons, delight children,
fill the air with brave & risky-smelling haze.
Class C Thunder Bombs from Kwantung, bottlerockets, butterflies, M-80's, sunflowers, "A Forest In Springtime"-- revolution weather--light your cigarette from the sizzling fuse of a Haymarket-black bomb--imagine the air full of lamiae & succubi, oppressive spirits, police-ghosts. Call some kid with a smouldering punk or kitchen match-- shaman-apostle of summer gunpowder plots--shatter the heavy night with pinched stars & pumped stars, arsenic & antimony, sodium & calomel, a blitz of magnesium & shrill picrate of potash.
Spur-fire (lampblack & saltpetre) portfire & iron filings-- attack your local bank or ugly church with roman candles & purple-gold skyrockets, impromptu & anonymous (perhaps launch from back of pick-up truck..)
Build frame-lattice lancework set-pieces on the roofs of insurance buildings or schools--a kundalini-snake or Chaos- dragon coiled barium-green against a background of sodium- oxalate yellow--Don't Tread On Me--or copulating monsters shooting wads of jizm-fire at a Baptists old folks home.
Cloud-sculpture, smoke sculpture & flags = Air Art. Earthworks. Fountains = Water Art. And Fireworks. Don't perform with Rockefeller grants & police permits for audiences of culture-lovers. Evanescent incendiary mind-bombs, scary mandalas flaring up on smug suburban nights, alien green thunderheads of emotional plague blasted by orgone-blue vajra-rays of lasered feux d'artifice.
Comets that explode with the odor of hashish & radioactive charcoal--swampghouls & will-o'-the-wisps haunting public parks--fake St. Elmo's fire flickering over the architecture of the bourgeoisie--strings of lady-fingers falling on the Legislature floor--salamander-elementals attack well-known moral reformers.
Blazing shellac, sugar of milk, strontium, pitch, gum water, gerbs of chinese fire--for a few moments the air is ozone- sharp--drifting opal cloud of pungent dragon/phoenix smoke. For an instant the Empire falls, its princes & governors flee to their stygian muck, plumes of sulphur from elf- flamethrowers burning their pinched asses as they retreat. The Assassin-child, psyche of fire, holds sway for one brief dogstar-hot night.