From Hakim Bey's "T.A.Z."

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Ratholes in the Babylon of Information

THE TAZ AS A CONSCIOUS radical tactic will emerge under certain conditions:

Psychological liberation. That is, we must realize (make real) the moments and spaces in which freedom is not only possible but actual. We must know in what ways we are genuinely oppressed, and also in what ways we are self- repressed or ensnared in a fantasy in which ideas oppress us. WORK, for example, is a far more actual source of misery for most of us than legislative politics. Alienation is far more dangerous for us than toothless outdated dying ideologies. Mental addiction to "ideals"--which in fact turn out to be mere projections of our resentment and sensations of victimization--will never further our project. The TAZ is not a harbinger of some pie-in-the-sky Social Utopia to which we must sacrifice our lives that our children's children may breathe a bit of free air. The TAZ must be the scene of our present autonomy, but it can only exist on the condition that we already know ourselves as free beings.

The counter-Net must expand. At present it reflects more abstraction than actuality. Zines and BBSs exchange information, which is part of the necessary groundwork of the TAZ, but very little of this information relates to concrete goods and services necessary for the autonomous life. We do not live in CyberSpace; to dream that we do is to fall into CyberGnosis, the false transcendence of the body. The TAZ is a physical place and we are either in it or not. All the senses must be involved. The Web is like a new sense in some ways, but it must be added to the others-- the others must not be subtracted from it, as in some horrible parody of the mystic trance. Without the Web, the full realization of the TAZ-complex would be impossible. But the Web is not the end in itself. It's a weapon.

The apparatus of Control--the "State"--must (or so we must assume) continue to deliquesce and petrify simultaneously, must progress on its present course in which hysterical rigidity comes more and more to mask a vacuity, an abyss of power. As power "disappears," our will to power must be disappearance.

We've already dealt with the question of whether the TAZ can be viewed "merely" as a work of art. But you will also demand to know whether it is more than a poor rat-hole in the Babylon of Information, or rather a maze of tunnels, more and more connected, but devoted only to the economic dead-end of piratical parasitism? I'll answer that I'd rather be a rat in the wall than a rat in the cage--but I'll also insist that the TAZ transcends these categories.

A world in which the TAZ succeeded in putting down roots might resemble the world envisioned by "P.M." in his fantasy novel bolo'bolo. Perhaps the TAZ is a "proto-bolo." But inasmuch as the TAZ exists now, it stands for much more than the mundanity of negativity or countercultural drop-out- ism. We've mentioned the festal aspect of the moment which is unControlled, and which adheres in spontaneous self- ordering, however brief. It is "epiphanic"--a peak experience on the social as well as individual scale.

Liberation is realized struggle--this is the essence of Nietzsche's "self-overcoming." The present thesis might also take for a sign Nietzsche's wandering. It is the precursor of the drift, in the Situ sense of the derive and Lyotard's definition of driftwork. We can foresee a whole new geography, a kind of pilgrimage-map in which holy sites are replaced by peak experiences and TAZs: a real science of psychotopography, perhaps to be called "geo-autonomy" or "anarchomancy."

The TAZ involves a kind of ferality, a growth from tameness to wild(er)ness, a "return" which is also a step forward. It also demands a "yoga" of chaos, a project of "higher" orderings (of consciousness or simply of life) which are approached by "surfing the wave-front of chaos," of complex dynamism. The TAZ is an art of life in continual rising up, wild but gentle--a seducer not a rapist, a smuggler rather than a bloody pirate, a dancer not an eschatologist.

Let us admit that we have attended parties where for one brief night a republic of gratified desires was attained. Shall we not confess that the politics of that night have more reality and force for us than those of, say, the entire U.S. Government? Some of the "parties" we've mentioned lasted for two or three years. Is this something worth imagining, worth fighting for? Let us study invisibility, webworking, psychic nomadism--and who knows what we might attain?

--Spring Equinox, 1990

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