NIETZSCHE & THE DERVISHES
RENDAN, "THE CLEVER ONES." The sufis use a technical term
rend (adj. rendi, pl. rendan) to designate one "clever
enough to drink wine in secret without getting caught": the
dervish version of "Permissible Dissimulation" (taqiyya,
whereby Shiites are permitted to lie about their true
affiliation to avoid persecution as well as advance the
purpose of their propaganda).
On the plane of the "Path," the rend conceals his spiritual state (hal) in order to contain it, work on it alchemically, enhance it. This "cleverness" explains much of the secrecy of the Orders, altho it remains true that many dervishes do literally break the rules of Islam (shariah), offend tradition (sunnah), and flout the customs of their society--all of which gives them reason for real secrecy.
Ignoring the case of the "criminal" who uses sufism as a mask--or rather not sufism per se but dervish-ism, almost a synonym in Persia for laid-back manners & by extension a social laxness, a style of genial and poor but elegant amorality--the above definition can still be considered in a literal as well as metaphorical sense. That is: some sufis do break the Law while still allowing that the Law exists & will continue to exist; & they do so from spiritual motives, as an exercise of will (himmah).
Nietzsche says somewhere that the free spirit will not agitate for the rules to be dropped or even reformed, since it is only by breaking the rules that he realizes his will to power. One must prove (to oneself if no one else) an ability to overcome the rules of the herd, to make one's own law & yet not fall prey to the rancor & resentment of inferior souls which define law & custom in ANY society. One needs, in effect, an individual equivalent of war in order to achieve the becoming of the free spirit--one needs an inert stupidity against which to measure one's own movement & intelligence.
Anarchists sometimes posit an ideal society without law. The few anarchist experiments which succeeded briefly (the Makhnovists, Catalan) failed to survive the conditions of war which permitted their existence in the first place--so we have no way of knowing empirically if such an experiment could outlive the onset of peace.
Some anarchists, however, like our late friend the Italian Stirnerite "Brand," took part in all sorts of uprisings and revolutions, even communist and socialist ones, because they found in the moment of insurrection itself the kind of freedom they sought. Thus while utopianism has so far always failed, the individualist or existentialist anarchists have succeeded inasmuch as they have attained (however briefly) the realization of their will to power in war.
Nietzsche's animadversions against "anarchists" are always aimed at the egalitarian-communist narodnik martyr types, whose idealism he saw as yet one more survival of post-Xtian moralism--altho he sometimes praises them for at least having the courage to revolt against majoritarian authority. He never mentions Stirner, but I believe he would have classified the Individualist rebel with the higher types of "criminals," who represented for him (as for Dostoyevsky) humans far superior to the herd, even if tragically flawed by their obsessiveness and perhaps hidden motivations of revenge.
The Nietzschean overman, if he existed, would have to share to some degree in this "criminality" even if he had overcome all obsessions and compulsions, if only because his law could never agree with the law of the masses, of state & society. His need for "war" (whether literal or metaphorical) might even persuade him to take part in revolt, whether it assumed the form of insurrection or only of a proud bohemianism.
For him a "society without law" might have value only so long as it could measure its own freedom against the subjection of others, against their jealousy & hatred. The lawless & short-lived "pirate utopias" of Madagascar & the Caribbean, D'Annunzio's Republic of Fiume, the Ukraine or Barcelona--these would attract him because they promised the turmoil of becoming & even "failure" rather than the bucolic somnolence of a "perfected" (& hence dead) anarchist society.
In the absence of such opportunities, this free spirit would disdain wasting time on agitation for reform, on protest, on visionary dreaming, on all kinds of "revolutionary martyrdom"--in short, on most contemporary anarchist activity. To be rendi, to drink wine in secret & not get caught, to accept the rules in order to break them & thus attain the spiritual lift or energy-rush of danger & adventure, the private epiphany of overcoming all interior police while tricking all outward authority--this might be a goal worthy of such a spirit, & this might be his definition of crime.
(Incidentally, I think this reading helps explain N's insistence on the MASK, on the secretive nature of the proto- overman, which disturbs even intelligent but somewhat liberal commentators like Kaufman. Artists, for all that N loves them, are criticized for telling secrets. Perhaps he failed to consider that--paraphrasing A. Ginsberg--this is our way of becoming "great"; and also that--paraphrasing Yeats--even the truest secret becomes yet another mask.)
As for the anarchist movement today: would we like just once to stand on ground where laws are abolished & the last priest is strung up with the guts of the last bureaucrat? Yeah sure. But we're not holding our breath. There are certain causes (to quote the Neech again) that one fails to quite abandon, if only because of the sheer insipidity of all their enemies. Oscar Wilde might have said that one cannot be a gentleman without being something of an anarchist--a necessary paradox, like N's "radical aristocratism."
This is not just a matter of spiritual dandyism, but also of existential commitment to an underlying spontaneity, to a philosophical "tao." For all its waste of energy, in its very formlessness, anarchism alone of all the ISMs approaches that one type of form which alone can interest us today, that strange attractor, the shape of chaos--which (one last quote) one must have within oneself, if one is to give birth to a dancing star.
--Spring Equinox, 1989
RESOLUTION FOR THE 1990's: BOYCOTT COP CULTURE!!!
IF ONE FICTIONAL FIGURE can be said to have dominated the
popcult of the eighties, it was the Cop. Fuckin' police ev-
erywhere you turned, worse than real life. What an
Powerful Cops--protecting the meek and humble--at the expense of a half-dozen or so articles of the Bill of Rights- -"Dirty Harry." Nice human cops, coping with human perversity, coming out sweet 'n' sour, you know, gruff & knowing but still soft inside--Hill Street Blues--most evil TV show ever. Wiseass black cops scoring witty racist remarks against hick white cops, who nevertheless come to love each other--Eddie Murphy, Class Traitor. For that masochist thrill we got wicked bent cops who threaten to topple our Kozy Konsensus Reality from within like Giger- designed tapeworms, but naturally get blown away just in the nick of time by the Last Honest Cop, Robocop, ideal amalgam of prosthesis and sentimentality.
We've been obsessed with cops since the beginning--but the rozzers of yore played bumbling fools, Keystone Kops, Car 54 Where Are You, booby-bobbies set up for Fatty Arbuckle or Buster Keaton to squash & deflate. But in the ideal drama of the eighties, the "little man" who once scattered bluebottles by the hundred with that anarchist's bomb, innocently used to light a cigarette--the Tramp, the victim with the sudden power of the pure heart--no longer has a place at the center of narrative. Once "we" were that hobo, that quasi-surrealist chaote hero who wins thru wu- wei over the ludicrous minions of a despised & irrelevant Order. But now "we" are reduced to the status of victims without power, or else criminals. "We" no longer occupy that central role; no longer the heros of our own stories, we've been marginalized & replaced by the Other, the Cop.
Thus the Cop Show has only three characters--victim, criminal, and policeperson--but the first two fail to be fully human--only the pig is real. Oddly enough, human society in the eighties (as seen in the other media) sometimes appeared to consist of the same three cliche/archetypes. First the victims, the whining minorities bitching about "rights"--and who pray tell did not belong to a "minority" in the eighties? Shit, even cops complained about their "rights" being abused. Then the criminals: largely non-white (despite the obligatory & hallucinatory "integration" of the media), largely poor (or else obscenely rich, hence even more alien), largely perverse (i.e. the forbidden mirrors of "our" desires). I've heard that one out of four households in America is robbed every year, & that every year nearly half a million of us are arrested just for smoking pot. In the face of such statistics (even assuming they're "damned lies") one wonders who is NOT either victim or criminal in our police-state-of-consciousness. The fuzz must mediate for all of us, however fuzzy the interface-- they're only warrior-priests, however profane. America's Most Wanted--the most successful TV game show of the eighties--opened up for all of us the role of Amateur Cop, hitherto merely a media fantasy of middleclass resentment & revenge. Naturally the truelife Cop hates no one so much as the vigilante--look what happens to poor &/or non-white neighborhood self-protection groups like the Muslims who tried to eliminate crack dealing in Brooklyn: the cops busted the Muslims, the pushers went free. Real vigilantes threaten the monopoly of enforcement, lÉse majest, more abominable than incest or murder. But media(ted) vigilantes function perfectly within the CopState; in fact, it would be more accurate to think of them as unpaid (not even a set of matched luggage!) informers: telemetric snitches, electro-stoolies, ratfinks- for-a-day.
What is it that "America most wants"? Does this phrase refer to criminals--or to crimes, to objects of desire in their real presence, unrepresented, unmediated, literally stolen & appropriated? America most wants...to fuck off work, ditch the spouse, do drugs (because only drugs make you feel as good as the people in TV ads appear to be), have sex with nubile jailbait, sodomy, burglary, hell yes. What unmediated pleasures are NOT illegal? Even outdoor barbecues violate smoke ordinances nowadays. The simplest enjoyments turn us against some law; finally pleasure becomes too stress- inducing, and only TV remains--and the pleasure of revenge, vicarious betrayal, the sick thrill of the tattletale. America can't have what it most wants, so it has America's Most Wanted instead. A nation of schoolyard toadies sucking up to an elite of schoolyard bullies.
Of course the program still suffers from a few strange reality-glitches: for example, the dramatized segments are enacted cinema verit style by actors; some viewers are so stupid they believe they're seeing actual footage of real crimes. Hence the actors are being continually harassed & even arrested, along with (or instead of) the real criminals whose mugshots are flashed after each little documentoid. How quaint, eh? No one really experiences anything--everyone reduced to the status of ghosts--media-images break off & float away from any contact with actual everyday life-- PhoneSex--CyberSex. Final transcendence of the body: cybergnosis.
The media cops, like televangelical forerunners, prepare us for the advent, final coming or Rapture of the police state: the "Wars" on sex and drugs: total control totally leached of all content; a map with no coordinates in any known space; far beyond mere Spectacle; sheer ecstasy ("standing- outside-the-body"); obscene simulacrum; meaningless violent spasms elevated to the last principle of governance. Image of a country consumed by images of self-hatred, war between the schizoid halves of a split personality, Super-Ego vs the Id Kid, for the heavyweight championship of an abandoned landscape, burnt, polluted, empty, desolate, unreal. Just as the murder-mystery is always an exercise in sadism, so the cop-fiction always involves the contemplation of control. The image of the inspector or detective measures the image of "our" lack of autonomous substance, our transparency before the gaze of authority. Our perversity, our helplessness. Whether we imagine them as "good" or "evil," our obsessive invocation of the eidolons of the Cops reveals the extent to which we have accepted the manichaean worldview they symbolize. Millions of tiny cops swarm everywhere, like the qlippoth, larval hungry ghosts--they fill the screen, as in Keaton's famous two-reeler, overwhelming the foreground, an Antarctic where nothing moves but hordes of sinister blue penguins.
We propose an esoteric hermeneutical exegesis of the Surrealist slogan "Mort aux vaches!" We take it to refer not to the deaths of individual cops ("cows" in the argot of the period)--mere leftist revenge fantasy--petty reverse sadism--but rather to the death of the image of the flic, the inner Control & its myriad reflections in the NoPlace Place of the media--the "gray room" as Burroughs calls it. Self-censorship, fear of one's own desires, "conscience" as the interiorized voice of consensus- authority. To assassinate these "security forces" would indeed release floods of libidinal energy, but not the violent running-amok predicted by the theory of Law 'n' Order.
Nietzschean "self-overcoming" provides the principle of organization for the free spirit (as also for anarchist society, at least in theory). In the police-state personality, libidinal energy is dammed & diverted toward self-repression; any threat to Control results in spasms of violence. In the free-spirit personality, energy flows unimpeded & therefore turbulently but gently--its chaos finds its strange attractor, allowing new spontaneous orders to emerge.
In this sense, then, we call for a boycott of the image of the Cop, & a moratorium on its production in art. In this sense...
MORT AUX VACHES!