TOTW: The Arts

There's no accounting for taste.

Some people like Sylvia Plath, some people like Ted Hughes. Some people like Twilight, some people like Die Hard. Some people, I hear, even like Mandalorian. People who go to all the same gigs can't agree on which movie to watch. People who love all the same novels fall out over which radio station to listen to in the car. When it comes to the arts, it's anarchy out there.

How has your anarchism shaped your taste in the arts, and how has your taste in the arts shaped your anarchism?

Are your favourite films all about free-spirited individuals sticking two fingers up to authority? Do you only like poetry that breaks all the rules? Is your record collection a noisy mix of black sleeves and sweary song titles?

Or do you prefer the best sellers and the literary canon? The plays reviewed in the NYT and the exhibitions recommended in the tourist guide? The acclaimed, the popular, the definitely not anarchist?

How has your taste changed over the years? Have these changes had any correlation to changes in your anarchist thinking? In your milieu?

And finally, was it art that first pointed you down the weird and wonderful road to anarchyland?

There are 36 Comments

“Are your favourite films all about free-spirited individuals sticking two fingers up to authority?”


“Do you only like poetry that breaks all the rules?”


“Is your record collection a noisy mix of black sleeves and sweary song titles?”


“Or do you prefer the best sellers and the literary canon?”


“The plays reviewed in the NYT and the exhibitions recommended in the tourist guide?”


“The acclaimed, the popular, the definitely not anarchist?”


“How has your taste changed over the years?”


“Have these changes had any correlation to changes in your anarchist thinking?”


“In your milieu?”


“And finally, was it art that first pointed you down the weird and wonderful road to anarchyland”

It was anarchist texts, whether that counts as art or not. Or maybe that’s how I finally found it, not what led me to it. What first pointed me in a way was art. The question of poverty, in the broader sense, not just lack of food. A critique of the impoverishment in the quality of food, housing, the standardized and industrially mass produced vs the artisanal. How the impoverishment in the quality of life is not just due to the consumption of these products but the misery of their production. How there is an overproduction of junk food and products and trash, and still people that lack even these, not due to any real scarcity. How art often serves power and is easiest of all recuperated. How power builds a world in its own image, a labyrinth of facades hiding the totality of its own production and reproduction, through distortion, theatricality, separation, representation, etc.

When you see this world as it is, as it wants to be and as it portrays itself, and loathe it and want to rebel against it, then you might be led down anarchist alleys. Not even the art is salvageable. Art as a separate sphere, apart from daily life, impoverishes both.

Then there is art as a broader chunk of culture, material culture, related but distinct with notions of technics and technology. All interrelated with ways of life so that it can’t be separated with anything people do.

So what is a full life? A good life? A beautiful life? Whatever it is, it is what it is. Art makes parts of it seem grander than they are, while not matching the grandness of others, it can make things not rooted in life, it can make life easier and more convenient while being invisible or staying in the background, and it can also enthrall us while we ignore the destruction of the world that the production of art we participate in through our alienation.

It’s both a cause of misery and coping mechanism. All kinds of animals appreciate beauty and taste, fewer make art. It may not be necessary, it can please, displease or produce indifference. All these can saturate and bore.

As an anarchist, it makes no difference and there is no relevance. You can choose to suffer or enjoy art in total freedom, to be as bored or excitedly enthusiastic about making/experiencing art as you wish.

Exploiting others to make art or depriving others (including non-humans) from freedom, beauty and the enjoyment of a good life, or suffering from this yourself, does seem concerning to anarchists.

You described art excellently, so well that I would say your comment is a "work of art". Rare, relevant, honest, accurate, free of charge and NOT boring.

In times of "essential services" and "essential workers", of quarantine, social distancing and lockdowns... "art". Topical!

Government and ruling class and bigots of all kinds consider large groups of people, if not all, to be expendable.
Specially someone isn't productive, or seen as a burden. Some people not only don't have useful skills, but they're not even artists! Some are not even pretty to look at! Clearly they should become janitors, fruit pickers, or coders. Or should governments fund "the arts" and the "artistic class"?
It's hard to imagine ballerinas, janitors or fruit pickers causing some big catastrophe, but it's easier to imagine hackers and coders doing that.

"Government scraps ballet dancer reskilling ad criticised as 'crass'"

imagine if "Ballet dancers reskill and scrap criticised crass government"

was on a trajectory studying art, figuring out how to professionally make art that expressed radical ideas. after beginning to take anarchist ideas more seriously, and being inspired by certain anarchists both living and dead, I wondered: what if I cut out the middle man (the representative), and live my life as now the art, the only art I will and could ever make. now what?

theory of the wild yung ones

as a yung anarchist egoist anarchist there are only a couple of arts that make any spatial pendulum relationship with the ever arch tao te ching way of living.

1.) chris marker, specifically "the grin without the cat"
2.) dogma 95
3.) The noun-and-verb language-and-grammar that we use to construct logical ‘semantic realities’ based on notional ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves’ constitutes ‘psychological conditioning’ that puts us into an alternative reality that is radically unlike the physical reality of our actual experience. As James Joyce observes in Tiqqun's theory of a yung wild ones; "In its origin language belongs in the age of the most rudimentary form of the arts, We enter a realm of crude fetishism like toilets hanging in galleries when we summon before consciousness the basic presuppositions of the art of language, in plain talk, the presuppositions of the cave reason, ie ‘independent mechano-logical systems-in-themselves’.

Mmm...Re: Life in a different world from zero?

At first, the novels of anarchists gave me a lot of inspiration. Its content is not about rebellion and free spirit, but meditation and dialogue in daily life. It always opens a crack in our daily life anytime and anywhere. Ideal, daily life and strategy are all intertwined, which makes me feel strange to the world. Just as intellectuals often criticize alienation, in a painful world, we are all alienated. Although alienation is an old-fashioned word, I think it is still worthy of affirmation, because I am the monster myself, and there is nothing wrong with admitting it. There is no real natural state there. Monsters are always our destiny.

The same is true for this topic. We can talk about a lot of things. But as the invisible Committee mentioned, we need to go into the logic of insurrection at any time. The conversation itself is part of the strategy, isn't it? When we talk about art, we usually don't get involved immediately. When we talk about anarchism, we usually regard it as a kind of politics rather than art. This leads us to overlook a passion for immediate engagement, and becoming, pain and sensitivity.

Maybe it's my taste all the time: an art of soul with blood.

Listening to the radio is shopping?

I started exploring Anarchy partly because of reading Snow Crash and some other cyberpunk works. Cyberpunk dystopias are solidly Anarcho Capitalist and I didn't really understand, as a teen, that they were dystopian. I gained more complexity over time, but although there are some lovely utopian pieces of fiction set in much more functional anarchist societies that wasn't what led me out of AnCapism, it was conversations with other Anarchists.

I kinda agree but would push even further, saying that cyberpunk is neofascistic for the most part, when it is NOT dystopian of course. What are the main protagonists and themes? Over-powered Police States... Neo-Eugenics...Cybernetic control of people... Tech megacorporations running the place, with governments as their lapdogs.... I get that most cyberpunk literature and media is rather blurry about its dystopian position, so the immature mind (including Silicon Valley execs) can see it in a positive light even if there are critical elements.

Take Japanese manga/anime for instance. It's pretty clear that the grand classic Akira is dystopian anarchistic, and definitely not ancap. There was that rather beautiful (yet stylistically controversial) Metropolis remake, that also brought a sharp anti-tech message, and I don't think the retro-futurism wasn't only to please the steampunk afficionados.... Also Cybercity Oedo 808 is another lesser-known anarchistic cyberpunk, where totalitarian authorities are depicted as a bunch of fools (I truly recommend the Muhrican dub version that turned it into a brilliantly funny cynical mess).

On the other you got near-overt fascist stuff like Appleseed that depicts a future collectivist utopia where everyone's expected to conform and the police are the saviors, and in itself that's an extrapolation of the Japanese society.

Was Ghost in the Shell series were perhaps an in-between, as we're seeing the same themes than in Blade Runner and Appleseed, only that the cops here got severe issues staying in control of what's happening. But in the first (and only good) titular movie of the franchise bluntly depicts a version of the Singularity happening in the end. So it seems everything that the tech corporations have been doing for years was worthy for the "evolution of mankind"...

Worth pointing out that there was anarchist influence on cyberpunk. Certainly Bruce Sterling talked about anarchist influence in general and his Islands in the Net was inspired by TAZ. His most recent book Pirate Utopia draws on Peter Lamborn Wilson. I'm not sure exactly what Sterling and William Gibson's intention was when the wrote Difference Engine, which involved the Luddite rebellions, but it certainly could be read in a way sympathetic to eco anarchism. I suspect that wasn't their intent though. Lewis Shiner is even more explicitly anarchist. Slam was based on Bob Black's The Abolition of Work. Deserted Cities of the Heart has a lot of anarchic elements, if I recall correctly. Rudy Rucker has been influenced by anarchism over the years too. Many of the authors in Mirrorshades were present in and supportive of Semiotext(e) SF, the first anarchist scifi anthology. Early cyberpunk influenced zines, for instance Virus 23, often had anarchist content, if not exclusively anarchist. They certainly were not pro-fascist.

Thanks for the references. Tho the claim PLW to be a serious anarchist reference is still highly dubious, just like there's solid reasons to doubt his TAZ paradigm to be of value any longer after demonstrating its strategic ineffectiveness for nearly three decades. Next time, avoid investing your efforts into strategies made up by shady establishment "anarchists" who also publicly support pedophilia...

PLW is one of the founders of contemporary post-left niche anarchism. When TAZ is understood as part of a critique of technology and not part of some activist protesting spectacle it's a fine concept. The pedo issue will be a none issue by the end of the century as pedophilia will likely be, inevitably, accepted as a sexual orientation and probably accepted to some controlled degree. As i predict it's this century's homosexuality.

Oh look, it's this bullshit again. I just noticed something ziggles! you always talk about how some new and better anarchy might be possible at some distant point in the future, with "new educational models" of some kind. *shudder*

but your timeline for that seemed less optimistic than this one about mainstream pedo-acceptance. why is that? just a reflection of your personal priorities or what? also, your lawyer seems to be jabbing you with a pencil and telling you not to answer my question?

What on earth are you even talking about. If you’re up on what I’ve been saying for at least the past few years then you should know that I am anti-education and institutional learning. I’m all about radical autodidactic idiolectical learning.

I’m pessimistic about anarchy as a general HISTORICAL breakthrough just due to all that layered history and civilization. I see anarchy as temporal and perhaps generally returning beyond my lifetime and(perhaps) my next ones on a linear incarcerational run. I do think that the theory can improve however with limited historical subsocietal successes. Anarchy will always be marginal and subsocietal by my analysis.

The rise of and acceptance of pedophilia is not necessarily linked to full on anarchy any more then the rise and acceptance of homosexuality in the 20th century though anarchists and anarchs could play propogating roles as they did with homosexuality and women’s liberation.

"I am anti-education and institutional learning. I’m all about radical autodidactic idiolectical learning."

and even without institutional learning, you manage to cling to intellectual elitism and unnecessarily obscure words for simple concepts. large and uncommon words are the academic's defense against less educated but just as smart individuals. either that or their intent is to preach to their choir alone.

Please lumpentroll... let SE dream his dreams of being that old fart with a treanchcoat who likes to hang out at the children park with his digusting stincky dongle sticking out for some reason. 2038 here he cooomes!

oh I'm not in his way, just heckling and pitying his poor lawyer.

also, he's almost certainly a persona of the troll campaign targeting this site, so he doesn't have dreams or feelings except maybe in the do android's dream of electric sheep sense?

Right ziggles!? there a pedobear turing test or what!?
your imaginary lawyer says don't answer that either!

And given your normie views on age spaced sexuality you probably support the anarchist version of all that nonsense. Did Wolfi have a lawyer when he wrote that essay on child love back in 1987 as Feral Faun? You really can't see that these are simply logical positions that result from a lack of belief in morality and a pro-carnal position. Of course you have to be considerate of physical and mental gaps but-as I point out time and time again-there are all kinds of instances where adults take liberties with children and adolescents in the name of SOCIETY. Think the 5-6 year old who is about to go to their first day of 12 years of schooling and education. That's socially and societally sanctioned even though there is a CLEAR imbalance and some humans-a small amount-will inevitably become anti-school and education in a later radical development. What would you call that compared what could at least be consensual or willful feeling and fucking with no binding contractual years ahead?

did sir incel pedophile just compare him getting rejected by literal children with parents sending their kids to school? hilarious!

i hope the mods leave this up forever so everyone can refer back to it for a good laugh.

whenever you hear the phrase 'publicly support' you know you're listening to a keyboard warrior on a moral crusade. TAZ was never a 'strategy.' if you'd read anything at all by the author you're so outraged by then you'd know this. go concern troll on reddit.

The structural defect of Utopia is that it is a kind of "absent reality", which connects it with liberation theology, structuralism and automatic urbanism. This tendency was evident in 1968.

For example, contextualism, which is closely related to the May storm of 68, has something to do with an architectural group called Cobra. This group was mentioned in an interview with Lefebvre. They believed that it was necessary to oppose Christian dogma with "New Babylon". However, there are also problems. Like Lefebvre's tendency, they tried to oppose totality with totality. They opposed theological logos with technical logos.

As some critics (such as Manuel Castells) show, Lefebvre's theory is actually a criticism based on metaphysics. Tiqqun also pointed out that the criticism of spectacles is a critical metaphysics. It criticizes alienation with a kind of alienated publicity.

Such utopianism was also practiced in the Soviet Union and socialist politicians. They often envision using computers to fulfill their socialist ideals. Then there is Chomsky, whose generative grammar directly serves this ideal.

With the advent of the Internet era, this becomes more obvious. The Internet is used as an interface to the process of urbanization. In other words, cobra's "New Babylon" overturned Babylon with automation technology and turned it into a new city of God.

That's why Utopian politics does harm, and heterotopia becomes important.

I'm talking about Situationist international, not contextualism.

A better example of this comes from a game called Darkwood.

Generally speaking, structuralism does not depend on the individual rational subject, especially in the sense of Althusser and Lacan. Even if Chomsky agrees with Descartes, it is only an illusion, because for structuralism, structure is decisive. I think the big tree in Darkwood is a perfect metaphor for structuralism. It does not rely on a particular ruler to exercise power, but on grammar, algorithms, and the rules of centralization - although sometimes it appears to be decentralized. But this leads to a situation in which the structure, in order to maintain its own existence, makes our life desertification.

In Darkwood, big trees drive residents inside in order to grow. But this is done by making the environment worse. Just like our pandemic and Internet environment, people are changing and attacking each other in such a structure. In order to pursue comfort and comfort, they prefer to be hypnotized by big trees. An environment will not deteriorate for no reason. It serves a structure. This tree provides residents with dreams (like the matrix) in exchange for a kind of "governance".

There is no doubt that utopianism conspiring with logos is such a dream. In this dream, the power of the final judgment goes straight in. Outside this dream, our lives are desertified, our movements are impoverished, and the social environment is further deteriorated (police, swindlers, mafia). This is to drive people into a governance system, and then the structure will last forever. It makes our society a hell.

Now people who don't understand this are just pretending they can't wake up. But what does it mean to wake up from such a dream? Does this mean that we should accept a kind of Soviet realism? On the contrary, only when we transcend rationalism and "descend" to heterotopia can we feel the perishability of life and rediscover ourselves in front of the mirror of Utopia.

Few people realize this: Although students in '68 yelled, "structuralism is not on the street.". But the amazing thing is that structuralism is present in an absent way.

Seriously, Nietzsche realised it, to go "beyond" the moralised structured institutionalised society.

That knowledge requires the seed of critical logic to be implanted during the early stages of a child's perception of themselves and their being there in the worĺd as independent thinking entities.
If you observe the layers of imperatives instilled into the infant mind by the institutions and cultural codes which groom the cognitive processes to a narrow mode of enquiry, then you know why the world is so aaaargh.

CoBrA and the New Babylon thing hardly made it out of art galleries and museums. Except for a few rare novelty buildings, that are just novelties. Hence, is is spectacular pipe-dreaming in itself. I get your point that they seeked to oppose a totality to totality.

Heterotopias are just like infoshops; they're a free library in a prison. They allow a level of evasion and relaxation, yet no breakaway creation of a true other-ness.

Primivistic buildings made by true DIY, ecological means and serving equally ecological lifestyles are the future. Fuck techie urbanite utopias. Invest!

For me it is the ability to show and not tell, along a history of constraints.

Even in the commercial medium of film there's a noticeable difference between the pre-code era and the establishment of the code. Art snuck through before, after, and during all sorts of moral, cultural, and commercial constraints. In Jewel Robbery (1932) the lover's do get away with bank robbery. It happens right as the credits roll, done with a de-emphasizing panache that it takes a second for the viewer to realize this stupid movie rule was broken.

When one realizes there's a visual language at work in cinema there's a lot to play with in our internet, and meme context. it's all representation, and figurative even if the narrative is set in reality or not. It's also fun to look at what a culture unconsciously projects about itself (it's hopes, fears, etc...)

In our context the cultural constraint is constant surveillance, corporate dominance, and people's over-sharing within that model (the datafication of everyday life down to emojis as the first privatized language and the privatization of inner life (smart devices are always listening).

I believe in ghosts because I believe in film. At will I can re-animate moments of people's lives. I know I'm picking on film instead of art as a whole, but it's helped me to try and contextualize an understanding of people and place. This moment is one long unbroken flow. Silent era comedies hold up well. Their entire premise is often tragedy, just directed another way.

The model of reality is not reality. But why can't we go ahead and create even wilder and more imaginative ones, even if we only smash them with a chuckle?

I look at the situation now and it seems like what could be incorporated into stories, narratives, and creativity is a playfully provocative cult-deprograming. This is a somewhat clumsy paragraph as I try to begin working out my thoughts and am not so naive as to believe anything can break through the bi-polar Puritan culture (both blindly overly-optimistic as well as pathologically devoid of empathy in its obsession with the World Ending) that's influenced far too much of the worst in how rigidly anarchists view the world/reality.

What I mean to say is that art enacted could look like a very active meditation, whereby the over-stimulation of screens can be put in their place as we emphasize creating a life worth living.

We have been too atomized by corporate constraints. It taints a lot of the very perceptions and definitions of art in many of the comments if we can't imagine anything else.

I think the system that commodifies everything can't imagine any other way because it wouldn't exist (it's a type of circular logic).

"Jewel Robbery (1932) the lover's do get away with bank robbery."
Yes, because that was the 1930s, a greater degree of frustrated lawlessness in anger mode, you could get away with murder, see Bonnie and Clyde* or Adolf Hitler*. Art is merely the projection by reproduction of the collective subconscious will of the masses, it has no supernatural creative emergence its only the release of unspeakable desires, or else its narrative literature. Big deal.
But yes, this art commodity is sitting or standing and watching artifacts or spectacles, when infact our lives should be creative works of art.

No vidya games? They're as much a part of the arts as the novel is. Fight me.

If it's not a book written by some academic it's irrelevant to the dickheads on this site, I suppose...

But more seriously, all of these creations -novels, films, comics, games- are equally relevant as they're just different ways to communicate a shared vision. Some game designers, at least back in the days (as opposed to the hacks who did the latest cyberpunk game), took their shit from books. That's nothing surprising for how fantasy and sci-fi novels were a huge market in the '80s-'90s.

'If it's not a book written by some academic it's irrelevant to the dickheads on this site, I suppose...'

The TOTW names Twilight and Die Hard

Tavistock provides the movements/trends and we all play our part.

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