From Hakim Bey
FOR A CONGRESS OF WEIRD RELIGIONS
WE'VE LEARNED TO DISTRUST the verb to be, the word is--let's say rather: note the striking resemblance between the concept SATORI & the concept REVOLUTION OF EVERYDAY LIFE--in both cases: a perception of the "ordinary" with extraordinary consequences for consciousness & action. We can't use the phrase "is like" because both concepts (like all concepts, all words for that matter) come crusted with accretions--each burdened with all its psycho-cultural baggage, like guests who arrive suspiciously overly well- supplied for the weekend.
So allow me the old-fashioned Beat-Zennish use of satori, while simultaneously emphasizing--in the case of the Situationist slogan--that one of the roots of its dialectic can be traced to dada & Surrealism's notion of the "marvelous" erupting from (or into) a life which only seems suffocated by the banal, by the miseries of abstraction & alienation. I define my terms by making them more vague, precisely in order to avoid the orthodoxies of both Buddhism & Situationism, to evade their ideologico- semantic traps--those broken-down language machines! Rather, I propose we ravage them for parts, an act of cultural bricolage. "Revolution" means just another turn of the crank- -while religious orthodoxy of any sort leads logically to a veritable government of cranks. Let's not idolize satori by imagining it the monopoly of mystic monks, or as contingent on any moral code; & rather than fetishize the Leftism of '68 we prefer Stirner's term "insurrection" or "uprising," which escapes the built-in implications of a mere change of authority.
This constellation of concepts involves "breaking rules" of ordered perception to arrive at direct experiencing, somewhat analogous to the process whereby chaos spontaneously resolves into fractal nonlinear orders, or the way in which "wild" creative energy resolves as play & poesis. "Spontaneous order" out of "chaos" in turn evokes the anarchist Taoism of the Chuang Tzu. Zen may be accused of lacking awareness of the "revolutionary" implications of satori, while the Situationists can be criticized for ignoring a certain "spirituality" inherent in the self- realization & conviviality their cause demands. By identifying satori with the r. of e.d.l. we're performing a bit of a shotgun marriage fully as remarkable as the Surrealists' famous mating of an umbrella & sewing machine or whatever it was. Miscegenation. The race-mixing advocated by Nietzsche, who was attracted, no doubt, by the sexiness of the half-caste.
I'm tempted to try to describe the way satori "is" like the r. of e.d.l.--but I can't. Or to put it another way: nearly all I write revolves around this theme; I would have to repeat nearly everything in order to elucidate this single point. Instead, as an appendix, I offer one more curious coincidence or interpenetration of 2 terms, one from Situationism again & the other this time from sufism. The drive or "drift" was conceived as an exercise in deliberate revolutionizing of everyday life--a sort of aimless wandering thru city streets, a visionary urban nomadism involving an openness to "culture as nature" (if I grasp the idea correctly)--which by its sheer duration would inculcate in the drifters a propensity to experience the marvelous; not always in its beneficent form perhaps, but hopefully always productive of insight--whether thru architecture, the erotic, adventure, drink & drugs, danger, inspiration, whatever--into the intensity of unmediated perception & experience.
The parallel term in sufism would be "journeying to the far horizons" or simply "journeying," a spiritual exercise which combines the urban & nomadic energies of Islam into a single trajectory, sometimes called "the Caravan of Summer." The dervish vows to travel at a certain velocity, perhaps spending no more than 7 nights or 40 nights in one city, accepting whatever comes, moving wherever signs & coincidences or simply whims may lead, heading from power- spot to power-spot, conscious of "sacred geography," of itinerary as meaning, of topology as symbology. Here's another constellation: Ibn Khaldun, On the Road (both Jack Kerouac's & Jack London's), the form of the picaresque novel in general, Baron Munchausen, wanderjahr, Marco Polo, boys in a suburban summer forest, Arthurian knights out questing for trouble, queers out cruising for boys, pub-crawling with Melville, Poe, Baudelaire--or canoeing with Thoreau in Maine...travel as the antithesis of tourism, space rather than time. Art project: the construction of a "map" bearing a 1:1 ratio to the "territory" explored. Political project: the construction of shifting "autonomous zones" within an invisible nomadic network (like the Rainbow Gatherings). Spiritual project: the creation or discovery of pilgrimages in which the concept "shrine" has been replaced (or esotericized) by the concept "peak experience."
What I'm trying to do here (as usual) is to provide a sound irrational basis, a strange philosophy if you like, for what I call the Free Religions, including the Psychedelic & Discordian currents, non-hierarchical neo-paganism, antinomian heresies, chaos & Kaos Magik, revolutionary HooDoo, "unchurched" & anarchist Christians, Magical Judaism, the Moorish Orthodox Church, Church of the SubGenius, the Faeries, radical Taoists, beer mystics, people of the Herb, etc., etc.
Contrary to the expectations of 19th century radicals, religion has not gone away--perhaps we'd be better off if it had--but has instead increased in power, seemingly in proportion to the global increase in the realm of technology & rational control. Both fundamentalism & the New Age derive some force from deep & widespread dissatisfaction with the System that works against all perception of the marvelousness of everyday life--call it Babylon or the Spectacle, Capital or Empire, Society of Simulation or of soulless mechanism--what you wish. But these two religious forces divert the very desire for the authentic toward overpowering & oppressive new abstractions (morality in the case of fundamentalism, commodification in the case of the New Age), & for this reason can quite properly be called "reactionary."
Just as cultural radicals will seek to infiltrate & subvert the popular media, & just as political radicals will perform similar functions in the spheres of Work, Family, & other social organizations, so there exists a need for radicals to penetrate the institution of religion itself rather than merely continue to mouth 19th century platitudes about atheistic materialism. It's going to happen anyway--better to approach it with consciousness, with grace & style.
Having once lived near the Hdqrs of the World Council of Churches, I like the possibility of a Free Churches parody version--parody being one of our chief strategies (or call it dtournement or deconstruction or creative destruction)- -a sort of loose network (I dislike that word; let's call it a "webwork" instead) of weird cults & individuals providing conversation & services for each other, out of which might begin to emerge a trend or tendency or "current" (in magical terms) strong enough to wreak some psychic havoc on the Fundies & New Agers, even the ayatollahs & the Papacy, convivial enough for us to disagree with each other & yet still give great parties--or conclaves, or ecumenical councils, or World Congresses--which we anticipate with glee.
The Free Religions may offer some of the only possible spiritual alternatives to televangelist stormtroopers & pinhead crystal-channelers (not to mention the established religions), & will thus become more & more important, more & more vital in a future where the demand for the eruption of the marvelous into the ordinary will become the most ringing, poignant & tumultuous of all political demands--a future which will begin (wait a minute, lemme check my clock)...7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...NOW.