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

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The Psychotopology of Everyday Life

THE CONCEPT OF THE TAZ arises first out of a critique of Revolution, and an appreciation of the Insurrection. The former labels the latter a failure; but for us uprising represents a far more interesting possibility, from the standard of a psychology of liberation, than all the "successful" revolutions of bourgeoisie, communists, fascists, etc.

The second generating force behind the TAZ springs from the historical development I call "the closure of the map." The last bit of Earth unclaimed by any nation-state was eaten up in 1899. Ours is the first century without terra incognita, without a frontier. Nationality is the highest principle of world governance--not one speck of rock in the South Seas can be left open, not one remote valley, not even the Moon and planets. This is the apotheosis of "territorial gangsterism." Not one square inch of Earth goes unpoliced or theory.

The "map" is a political abstract grid, a gigantic con enforced by the carrot/stick conditioning of the "Expert" State, until for most of us the map becomes the territory- -no longer "Turtle Island," but "the USA." And yet because the map is an abstraction it cannot cover Earth with 1:1 accuracy. Within the fractal complexities of actual geography the map can see only dimensional grids. Hidden enfolded immensities escape the measuring rod. The map is not accurate; the map cannot be accurate.

So--Revolution is closed, but insurgency is open. For the time being we concentrate our force on temporary "power surges," avoiding all entanglements with "permanent solutions."

And--the map is closed, but the autonomous zone is open. Metaphorically it unfolds within the fractal dimensions invisible to the cartography of Control. And here we should introduce the concept of psychotopology (and -topography) as an alternative "science" to that of the State's surveying and mapmaking and "psychic imperialism." Only psychotopography can draw 1:1 maps of reality because only the human mind provides sufficient complexity to model the real. But a 1:1 map cannot "control" its territory because it is virtually identical with its territory. It can only be used to suggest, in a sense gesture towards, certain features. We are looking for "spaces" (geographic, social, cultural, imaginal) with potential to flower as autonomous zones--and we are looking for times in which these spaces are relatively open, either through neglect on the part of the State or because they have somehow escaped notice by the mapmakers, or for whatever reason. Psychotopology is the art of dowsing for potential TAZs.

The closures of Revolution and of the map, however, are only the negative sources of the TAZ; much remains to be said of its positive inspirations. Reaction alone cannot provide the energy needed to "manifest" a TAZ. An uprising must be for something as well.

1. First, we can speak of a natural anthropology of the TAZ. The nuclear family is the base unit of consensus society, but not of the TAZ. ("Families!--how I hate them! the misers of love!"--Gide) The nuclear family, with its attendant "oedipal miseries," appears to have been a Neolithic invention, a response to the "agricultural revolution" with its imposed scarcity and its imposed hierarchy. The Paleolithic model is at once more primal and more radical: the band. The typical hunter/gatherer nomadic or semi- nomadic band consists of about 50 people. Within larger tribal societies the band-structure is fulfilled by clans within the tribe, or by sodalities such as initiatic or secret societies, hunt or war societies, gender societies, "children's republics," and so on. If the nuclear family is produced by scarcity (and results in miserliness), the band is produced by abundance--and results in prodigality. The family is closed, by genetics, by the male's possession of women and children, by the hierarchic totality of agricultural/industrial society. The band is open--not to everyone, of course, but to the affinity group, the initiates sworn to a bond of love. The band is not part of a larger hierarchy, but rather part of a horizontal pattern of custom, extended kinship, contract and alliance, spiritual affinities, etc. (American Indian society preserves certain aspects of this structure even now.)

In our own post-Spectacular Society of Simulation many forces are working--largely invisibly--to phase out the nuclear family and bring back the band. Breakdowns in the structure of Work resonate in the shattered "stability" of the unit-home and unit-family. One's "band" nowadays includes friends, ex-spouses and lovers, people met at different jobs and pow-wows, affinity groups, special interest networks, mail networks, etc. The nuclear family becomes more and more obviously a trap, a cultural sinkhole, a neurotic secret implosion of split atoms--and the obvious counter-strategy emerges spontaneously in the almost unconscious rediscovery of the more archaic and yet more post-industrial possibility of the band.

2. The TAZ as festival. Stephen Pearl Andrews once offered, as an image of anarchist society, the dinner party, in which all structure of authority dissolves in conviviality and celebration (see Appendix C). Here we might also invoke Fourier and his concept of the senses as the basis of social becoming--"touch-rut" and "gastrosophy," and his paean to the neglected implications of smell and taste. The ancient concepts of jubilee and saturnalia originate in an intuition that certain events lie outside the scope of "profane time," the measuring-rod of the State and of History. These holidays literally occupied gaps in the calendar--intercalary intervals. By the Middle Ages, nearly a third of the year was given over to holidays. Perhaps the riots against calendar reform had less to do with the "eleven lost days" than with a sense that imperial science was conspiring to close up these gaps in the calendar where the people's freedoms had accumulated--a coup d'etat, a mapping of the year, a seizure of time itself, turning the organic cosmos into a clockwork universe. The death of the festival.

Participants in insurrection invariably note its festive aspects, even in the midst of armed struggle, danger, and risk. The uprising is like a saturnalia which has slipped loose (or been forced to vanish) from its intercalary interval and is now at liberty to pop up anywhere or when. Freed of time and place, it nevertheless possesses a nose for the ripeness of events, and an affinity for the genius loci; the science of psychotopology indicates "flows of forces" and "spots of power" (to borrow occultist metaphors) which localize the TAZ spatio-temporally, or at least help to define its relation to moment and locale.

The media invite us to "come celebrate the moments of your life" with the spurious unification of commodity and spectacle, the famous non-event of pure representation. In response to this obscenity we have, on the one hand, the spectrum of refusal (chronicled by the Situationists, John Zerzan, Bob Black et al.)--and on the other hand, the emergence of a festal culture removed and even hidden from the would-be managers of our leisure. "Fight for the right to party" is in fact not a parody of the radical struggle but a new manifestation of it, appropriate to an age which offers TVs and telephones as ways to "reach out and touch" other human beings, ways to "Be There!"

Pearl Andrews was right: the dinner party is already "the seed of the new society taking shape within the shell of the old" (IWW Preamble). The sixties-style "tribal gathering," the forest conclave of eco-saboteurs, the idyllic Beltane of the neo-pagans, anarchist conferences, gay faery circles...Harlem rent parties of the twenties, nightclubs, banquets, old-time libertarian picnics--we should realize that all these are already "liberated zones" of a sort, or at least potential TAZs. Whether open only to a few friends, like a dinner party, or to thousands of celebrants, like a Be-In, the party is always "open" because it is not "ordered"; it may be planned, but unless it "happens" it's a failure. The element of spontaneity is crucial.

The essence of the party: face-to-face, a group of humans synergize their efforts to realize mutual desires, whether for good food and cheer, dance, conversation, the arts of life; perhaps even for erotic pleasure, or to create a communal artwork, or to attain the very transport of bliss-- in short, a "union of egoists" (as Stirner put it) in its simplest form--or else, in Kropotkin's terms, a basic biological drive to "mutual aid." (Here we should also mention Bataille's "economy of excess" and his theory of potlatch culture.)

3. Vital in shaping TAZ reality is the concept of psychic nomadism (or as we jokingly call it, "rootless cosmopolitanism"). Aspects of this phenomenon have been discussed by Deleuze and Guattari in Nomadology and the War Machine, by Lyotard in Driftworks and by various authors in the "Oasis" issue of Semiotext(e). We use the term "psychic nomadism" here rather than "urban nomadism," "nomadology," "driftwork," etc., simply in order to garner all these concepts into a single loose complex, to be studied in light of the coming- into-being of the TAZ. "The death of God," in some ways a de-centering of the entire "European" project, opened a multi-perspectived post- ideological worldview able to move "rootlessly" from philosophy to tribal myth, from natural science to Taoism-- able to see for the first time through eyes like some golden insect's, each facet giving a view of an entirely other world.

But this vision was attained at the expense of inhabiting an epoch where speed and "commodity fetishism" have created a tyrannical false unity which tends to blur all cultural diversity and individuality, so that "one place is as good as another." This paradox creates "gypsies," psychic travellers driven by desire or curiosity, wanderers with shallow loyalties (in fact disloyal to the "European Project" which has lost all its charm and vitality), not tied down to any particular time and place, in search of diversity and adventure...This description covers not only the X-class artists and intellectuals but also migrant laborers, refugees, the "homeless," tourists, the RV and mobile-home culture--also people who "travel" via the Net, but may never leave their own rooms (or those like Thoreau who "have travelled much--in Concord"); and finally it includes "everybody," all of us, living through our automobiles, our vacations, our TVs, books, movies, telephones, changing jobs, changing "lifestyles," religions, diets, etc., etc.

Psychic nomadism as a tactic, what Deleuze & Guattari metaphorically call "the war machine," shifts the paradox from a passive to an active and perhaps even "violent" mode. "God"'s last throes and deathbed rattles have been going on for such a long time--in the form of Capitalism, Fascism, and Communism, for example--that there's still a lot of "creative destruction" to be carried out by post-Bakuninist post-Nietzschean commandos or apaches (literally "enemies") of the old Consensus. These nomads practice the razzia, they are corsairs, they are viruses; they have both need and desire for TAZs, camps of black tents under the desert stars, interzones, hidden fortified oases along secret caravan routes, "liberated" bits of jungle and bad-land, no-go areas, black markets, and underground bazaars.

These nomads chart their courses by strange stars, which might be luminous clusters of data in cyberspace, or perhaps hallucinations. Lay down a map of the land; over that, set a map of political change; over that, a map of the Net, especially the counter-Net with its emphasis on clandestine information-flow and logistics--and finally, over all, the 1:1 map of the creative imagination, aesthetics, values. The resultant grid comes to life, animated by unexpected eddies and surges of energy, coagulations of light, secret tunnels, surprises.

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