Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A Commentary on Socio-Cultural Programming and Todays Planetary Situation

Social programming in todays society functions primarily around the following concepts and ideas:

1. Body Identification: Members of society are conditioned from birth to identify with the physical body, and this concept is continually reinforced from day to day through all aspects of society. The result of this erroneous orientation is that the following social phenomena have come into being:

* The binding of the mental states within the population to survival and fear modes concerned with the preservation of the physical body as identity, as the structure of society is configured to represent a threat to the very state which is programmed.

* Preoccupation with "one's face", or social image, upon which innumerable facets of industry and useless social structures depend.

2. Psychological Projection: Members of the society are conditioned to use psychological projection in society in order to deny responsibility for their individual actions.

3. Preoccupation with Ego Aggrandizement: The Service-To-Self orientation instead of Service to Others.

4. Preoccupation with Ego Fixation on Culturally Conditioned Synthetic States of Security, Sensation and Power, with the exclusion of evolving emotional states of well-being.

5. Preoccupation with the "Win-Lose" scenario, instead of the "Win-Win" scenario.

6. Preoccupation with useless human activities which use the idea of "competition" instead of "mutual cooperation." Together with item (1) above, one result is "Sports" and similar preoccupations which function chiefly to keep humans busy.

7. Preoccupation with cultural media and culturally-sanctioned "authorities" as the arbiters of truth and reality.

8. Preoccupation with allopathic "treat the symptom as the cause" concepts in social structures, science and medicine.

9. Suppression of viable sustaining alternatives in order to preserve elitist social structures which parasitically subsist from a population thrust into a synthetically-crafted devolutionary society.

10. Suppression of the true scientific method, scientific information and discoveries which could assist the planetary population.

11. Maintenance of a regressive social hierarchical structure which promotes unconscious states and insufficient educational opportunities for the population at large, in order to preserve regressive synthetic planetary power structures.

12. Maintenance of relationships with other regressive humanoid species in order to repress the development of the civilization and maintain separate synthetic structures of consciousness which are self-defeating.

13. Maintenance of outdated 19th century concepts in science and medicine as "modern scientific truth", despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

14. Maintenance of the institution of government, intended as a planetary representative body, as a suppressive criminal enterprise, despite the growing common knowledge of the population that it is just that.

15. Maintenance of social structures of control and manipulation by those who are in turn controlled and manipulated by those above them in regressive social hierarchies.

16. Maintenance of scientific structures engaged in neo-Darwinistic genetic manipulation of the physiology of the population, deliberate production of disease in the population for profit, and scientific organizations dedicated toward the control of human behavioral and mental capabilities, in order to preserve a regressive social structure focused on death, disease and disorder, in order to continue the domination patterns of other regressive humanoid species.

17. Maintenance of synthetic psychological time structures which prohibit the population from experiencing and recognizing the unity and synchronicity of the universe in which they live, in order to foster many of the above-mentioned synthetic psychological states.
Because of all the above, the conscious portion of the planetary population deems all those who perpetuate the above policies as suppressive individuals and organizations, who shall by intent hereafter be ignored as irrelevent, devolving and spritually ignorant, and not worthy of the attention of the 3% of the planetary population who, by their own unconsciousness, continue to give energy to these entities and organizations out of their own ignorance and fear.


I would give a source for this but I honestly can't remember where I found it.


Monday, August 30, 2004

I know this picture was already published but I am trying to use bloggerbot to archive this smaller version so that it has a url (my angelfire does not allow direct linking to files - the bastards!) so that I can then reference the url for my profile picture. I just know you were dying to know all this.

Sunday, August 29, 2004



Scanned at www.sacred-texts.com, September, 2000. Reformatted August 2003. J.B. Hare, redactor. This text is in the public domain. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice of attribution is left intact.

THE result of recent historical studies, whether on anthropological, sociological, archeological, or religious lines, has brought into ever clearer vision as the substratum of all civilizations that stage of culture from which this book takes its title. One consequence is: general recognition of animism as a life factor, the power of which is not yet exhausted, the study of which fascinates because of its almost infinite variety and its persistent force. The words "animism," "animistic," have come to fall ever so lightly from tongue and pen and meet us at every turn. Yet what animism is few who use the term adequately realize. Though Sir E. B. Tylor in his imperishable monograph on Primitive Culture exhibited many of its phenomena and blocked out the main lines of investigation over forty years ago, comparatively few understand its significance or are acquainted with its manifestations even yet. Fewer still comprehend the doings and beliefs as actual or realize the state of mind--operations of perception and reason--of those whose acts and beliefs we call animistic.

There seemed to be room, then, for a small volume which should exhibit the phenomena and the related and inferred beliefs of this complex stage in a simple manner, with sufficiently numerous citations to illustrate clearly, yet without the overlay of too abundant references. The references here given have been drawn almost entirely from very recent and authoritative sources gathered in the writer's own reading, easily accessible in the current of books on travel now pouring from the press. Most of the volumes to which reference has been made in this discussion belong to the twentieth century. Moreover these sources are primary. Recourse has seldom been had even to so valuable a collection of facts as Fraser's quite exhaustive Golden Bough in its third edition. The facts there adduced were employed by the talented author for quite another end than the present writer's, and this might easily have led to confusion.

What value a knowledge of the features of this agglomerate of facts and beliefs has becomes evident when it is remembered that over half the population of the globe is animistic in its main features of faith and action, that a large part of humanity entertains beliefs only one remove away from this and regards as fundamental a philosophy of life grounded in animistic thought, and that at least three basal tenets of Christianity itself are common to Christians and animists. Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, the larger part of the population of India, the North Asiatic tribes, Oceanicans, Africans, and American Indians are, or were recently, animists. No stage of culture, no great religion, has ever been able to disown some of the commonest heirlooms left by primitive modes of thinking. From the standpoints both of culture and of religion animism may be described (not defined) as the taproot which sinks deepest in racial human experience and continues its cellular and fibrous structure in the tree trunk of modern conviction. It is not less important than the surface roots of accrued beliefs that branch out on all sides, drawing a wide-sourced sustenance, while the taproot penetrates the subsoil of man's most intimate soul-substance.

Hardly less interesting is the fact that in some fundamentals--religious and social--the advanced thought of the day is returning to some convictions essential to animistic culture. One would not be drawing the long bow were he to affirm that in that stage every act in life had a religious aspect. Nothing a man could do but might be regarded as either pleasing to spirits or the reverse. One might say that animists went far beyond Matthew Arnold's dictum that conduct is three-fourths of life--for them it embraced the whole of life. That is precisely what advanced thinkers are maintaining today, and in that tenet is the best promise for improvement in modern conditions among all classes.

In another aspect, too, the social, we are returning to early conceptions. Under totemism, the foundation of which is an animistic view of things non-human, the individualism that became so marked a feature in some philosophies of the last centuries and gave impetus even to revolutions was unknown. The characteristic of totemic and derived society was much nearer that slogan which has now advanced beyond the circle of purely socialistic propaganda: "Each for all and all for each."

Theologically also we find ourselves returning to old, old views of man's relation to the supernatural. The comparatively recent doctrine of sin is being discarded. The implacability of Deity, the notion of that Deity's infinity as the measure of offence, making of sin an enormity that clouds eternally the face of God and requires an infinite and exactly equivalent penalty, no longer holds the entire field. On the other hand, the act itself, its effect on the doer and his kind, its indelibility of effect on the one side, and the propitiability of the offended Spirit, his desire to have man reinstate himself in divine favor--the willingness to come more than half way (to state the matter in the language of every-day life)--are now standing out in relief.

It seems hardly necessary to remark that, of course, in all these cases the effect is not that of the return of a circle's circumference into itself. There has been marked, if spiral, progress, progress comparable to that of the earth in the solar system toward its distant goal in the constellation of Hercules. The one encouraging result of this study is that from the beginning the heart of man was essentially sound, though his vagaries were many during the centuries in which he was feeling his way. To use a significant term, man has ever been essentially theotropic, though he was not always conscious of the direction of his tropism.

In studying this subject, then, we are engaged in discovering the paths our own ancestors have trodden, and our gratitude is due them for leading us with increasing certitude to a nobler way of thought, so that we see in the heavens not deities, but the work of One; and in the earth the effects of that same One's immanence, his gift to his sons and daughters.

The author takes this opportunity to acknowledge with gratitude the kindness of Mr. Francis Medhurst who has read all the proofs and offered many valuable suggestions.




THE following narrative, taken from The Japan Weekly for March 16, 1916, recounts the story of an event occurring in that land of "advanced civilization" in the winter Of 1915-16, and some of the sequels.

"The huge snake that had been leading a precarious existence at the Suma Garden during the last three years--a captive in a different clime from that in which it was born--recently died, unable to bear the rigours of the winter. Although the reptile was a magnificent specimen of its species, as it measured 25 feet in length and 28 inches round the thickest part, it never made itself unpleasantly obtrusive and most of its time at Suma was spent in lethargic retirement. When the demise of the snake was made known in the neighbourhood much sympathy was manifested among its many acquaintances, who asked the management of the Garden to bury the snake in the vicinity with due ceremony. It was accordingly interred in the pine groves at the rear of the Kagetsu restaurant.

"Someone made the discovery on looking at an almanac that the day on which the reptile died was a Day of the Snake, and remembered an old superstition that toothache may be cured by worshipping a snake. The grave of the Suma snake consequently began to be visited by the superstitious, who proclaimed to the world the supernatural means of healing toothache by worshipping there. The report has since travelled far and wide, and scores of people are visiting the grave every day, bringing much gain to the Hyogo tramway, who need no faith to be assured of the benefits accruing from the virtues of the departed snake. Some of the people whose toothache has been cured by the spirit of the snake have decided to build a shrine on the ground where the reptile was buried. The place has already been fenced in and a sign erected preparatory to the commencement of work."

The exhibit is therefore that of belief in the continued existence and exercise of benevolent activity on behalf of man of a snake which had according to our notions passed completely out of life and beyond any possible potency to affect human existence. It shows one of the characteristic phenomena of the stage of culture we are to examine, a stage which, as we shall discover, is a present fact over a large part of the globe.

In Gen. 28:10-22 occurs the interesting account of a night in Jacob's life, his interpretation of it, and the ensuing course of action. The two noteworthy events, from the present point of view, are (1) the dream, with Jacob's conclusion that it revealed to him the fact that the place where he lay was an abiding place of deity; (2) the deity was evidently in the stone, or was the stone, as is shown by the anointing of it. This story could be paralleled in its essentials from many sources. Again, in Josh. 24: 27, Joshua is represented declaring of a certain stone: "it hath heard all the words, . . it shall be therefore a witness against you." And, once more, Acts 19:35 makes mention of an object of worship which "fell from Jupiter," i.e., evidently a meteorite.

These three facts taken together, viz., the importance of a dream and the performance of worshipful ads upon or attribution of sentience to a stone, bring into notice a cultural condition, a method of thinking, which is by common consent called animistic. Animism is by many regarded as the earliest form which religion took, and as the root from which was derived all religious beliefs which the world has known, and was also the earliest basis of all that is dignified by the name of culture. Moreover, we may trace its effects and its action into the present.[1] Others, however, regard it as not the primary, but as a secondary, stage in mental and religious development, seeking the primary in a vaguer series of beliefs to which they give the name "naturism" or "dynamism."[2] Our present concern is with Animism.

[1. McDougall, Body and Mind. A History and Defence of Animism.
2. Cf. Clodd, Animism; and Leuba, A Psychological Study of Religion.]

And what is this? Menzies defines it as "the worship of spirits as opposed to that of Gods."[3] To this E. B. Tylor, whose work [4] is facile princeps among the expositions of animism, might object that it supposes a sharp dividing line between spirits and gods which has no existence in fact and is therefore arbitrarily drawn. It is, perhaps, impossible to state where the worship of spirits stops and that of gods begins, to decide exactly where the spirit shades into the deity. Who can say exactly the moment when the conception of a being which has been but one of a host of spirits has passed into that of a state of divinity? Such transitions have been made.[5] Accordingly, Tylor would define animism as "the doctrine of spirits or of spiritual beings."[6] He furthermore proposes as a minimum definition of religion "belief in spiritual beings ."[7] While one may criticize this last as leaving out the objective result of "belief in spiritual beings" in worship or cult, Tylor

[3. History of Religion, p. 39.
4. Primitive Culture, new ed., London, 1903.
5. E.g., Enlil of Babylonia; cf. A. Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, 1887, p. 103.
6. Primitive Culture, i. 425.
7. Ib., i. 324.]

is altogether right in asserting that, whatever the original condition of mankind, such belief is found among all races, even the lowest, concerning whom exact knowledge is possessed.
Just criticism may be passed, however, upon Tylor's definition of animism as so vague that it gives no grip upon the actual conditions which attend an animistic stage of thought or upon that thought itself. It is necessary, therefore, to point out that the word represents a stage in the psychological development of man, in his cultural unfolding, in which his conceptions (i) of himself and (2) of the world about him differ essentially from those of "civilized" man. From the point of view of modern psychology, he may be said to possess as yet only an unintegrated consciousness. He does not distinguish himself in kind from objects that are about him. As one writer declares:

"A Central Australian pointing to a photograph of himself will say, 'That one is just the same as me, so is a kangaroo (his totem).' We say the Central Australian 'belongs to the kangaroo tribe'; he knows better, he is kangaroo. Now it is this persistent affirmation of primitive man in the totemistic stage that he is an animal or a plant, that he is a kangaroo or an opossum . . . that instantly arrests our attention," etc.[8]

To man in the advanced stage of thinking to which civilized peoples have attained such a condition as this appears almost unbelievable. And yet expert testimony to this effect is abundantly available. Thus Professor Hobhouse says of the thinking of men in this stage:
"One conception melts readily into another, just as in primitive fancy a sorcerer turns into a dragon, a mouse, a stone, and a butterfly without the smallest difficulty. Hence similarity is treated as if it were physical identity. The physical individuality of things is not observed. The fact that a thing was mine makes it appear as though there were something of me in it, so that by burning it you make me smart. The borders or limits of things are not marked out, but their influence and their capacity to be influenced extends, as it were, in a misty halo over everything connected with them in any fashion. If the attributes of things are made too solid and material in primitive thought, things themselves are too fluid and undefined, passing

[8. Miss Harrison, Themis, p. 121.]

into each other by loose and easy identifications which prevent all clear and crisp distinctions of thought. In a word, primitive thought has not yet evolved those distinctions of substance and attribute, quality and relation, cause and effect, identity and difference, which are the common property of civilized thought. These categories which among us every child soon comes to distinguish in practice are for primitive thought interwoven in wild confusion, and this confusion is the intellectual basis of animism and of magic." [9]

The idea is expressed similarly by Aston:

"I would describe (primitive man's) mental attitude as a piecemeal conception of the universe as alive, just as he looks upon his fellow man as alive without analyzing him into the two distinct entities of body and soul."[10]

The "piecemeal conception of the universe" contains the idea that animistic man regards other objects in the world about him as being on a parity of existence with himself in that they are conceived as having sentient and volitional life. He interprets all things in terms of his own consciousness. On the

[9. Hobhouse, Morals in Evolution, ii. 20-21.
10. Shinto, p. 26.]

other hand, practically all the data In our possession which bear upon the subject indicate that as far back as we can trace man, he had already analyzed his kind into body and soul. Even Neolithic man, and with great probability also Palæolithic man, had the conception of a possessing or obsessing spirit. The trepanning done by Neolithic man during life is most easily explicable on the theory that disease was caused by a spirit which had obsessed the sick, and was to be conjured forth only after an incision had been made in the skull. The fact that Kabyles have been known within the memory of man to perform this operation for this reason, and that the modus operandi is in accord with other methods among primitive races, can lead at once to this conclusion. Up to 1888 there had been discovered in France in the valley of the Torn over two hundred trepanned skulls, in many cases among these the trepanning was ante mortem, with evident signs of healing. And in the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in London there is a case of flint instruments some of which almost equal in sharpness of edge and point surgical instruments of our own day, used, it is believed for this purpose.[11] We shall find other reasons for believing in the early discovery by man of his own soul. Meanwhile to prove that is not our purpose here. What we are concerned with is man's outlook on the universe, his estimate of what we call nature.

"Man in that stage (i.e., the animistic) may hold that a stone, a tree, a mountain, a stream, a wild animal, a heavenly body, a wind, an instrument of the hunt or of labor or of domestic utility--indeed, any object within the range of real or fancied existence (and fancy looms large in this domain)--possesses just such a soul as he conceives himself to have, and that it is animated by desires, moved by emotions, and empowered by abilities parallel to those he perceives in himself."[12]

Testimonies to this fact might be adduced from many quarters and illustrated in many ways. Thus: "The African does not believe in anything soulless, he even regards matter Itself as a form of soul, low because not lively." [13]

[11. Cf. New York Medical Journal, Oct. 16, 1909, p. 751; British Congregationalist, May 28, 1914; New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, iii. 193-194.
12. New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, iii. 194; cf. Bros, La Religion des peuples non-civilisés, chap. II.
13. Miss Kingsley, West African Studies, p. 199.]

Père Lejeune says that the savages of New France "se persuadent que non seulement les hommes et les autres animaux, mais que les autres choses sont ammées."[14] E. S. Hartland puts it this way: "Starting from his personal consciousness, the savage attributes the like consciousness to everything he sees or feels around him."[15] And Reinach is equally emphatic:
"Animism gives a soul and a will to mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, stones, the heavenly bodies, the earth and sky. A tree, a post, a pillar, the hollow of a rock, are the seat or throne of invisible spirits. These spirits are conceived and figured at a later stage under animal form, and then under human form. A spring was . . . Pegasus, Apollo's horse. A river is a bull with a human face.... The laurel was Daphne, whom Apollo had pursued; the oak was Zeus himself, before being the tree of Zeus, and Dionysos was supposed to live in the tree, after he had ceased to be himself the tree. The earth was Gaea, emerging from the soil in the shape of a woman who implores the sky to water her."[16]

[14. Relations de la Nouvelle France, p. 199.
15. Legend of Perseus, ii. 441.
16 Orpheus, p. 79.]

Thus, to give one final testimony, Im Thurn says of the Indians of Guiana:

"It is absolutely necessary to premise here that all tangible objects, animate . . . and inanimate alike, consist each of two separable parts--a body and a spirit; and that these are not only always readily separable involuntarily, as in death, and daily in sleep, but are also, in certain individuals, always voluntarily separable."[17]

The preceding, then, affords a prima facie basis for a tentative definition of animism, the justification or demonstration of which must wait for a later chapter. We assume that "animism" stands for a stage of culture in which man may regard any object, real or imaginary, as possessing emotional, volitional, and actional potency like that he himself possesses. Things, of whatsoever sort, he may consider the subjects of feelings--likes and dislikes, appetites or disinclinations, affections or antipathies, desires and longings; of will--to help or injure, to act or refrain from acting; and of the power to act according to the promptings of these feelings and the determinations of will.

[17. Im Thurn, Indians of Guiana, p. 329.]

But--animism is thought. The enormous significance of these three words must not be overlooked. They mark the difference between man and the whole creation beneath him. The whole chain of acts implied in the word under discussion involves mental processes passing over into action with well defined intention having their issue in the future and being immeasurably removed from instinct. It is true that we shall find this thought at times pitifully infantile, paralleled by the conceptions in some cases of four-year-olds of the present;[18] but it is still thought. And we shall show that reason is on the throne. The outcome of this discussion will, it is believed, show the general logicality of primitive man's mental processes, once the basis from which he starts is granted. The beliefs in ghosts, spirits, gods, in transmigration and metempsychosis, are not the chance hit or miss conclusions of early man, but flow rationally from the premise we have assumed. That

[18. The Chicago Tribune reports that "during a sudden thunderstorm a little four-year-old came running into the Kindergarten, crying as if her heart would break. When the Kindergartner asked the cause of her trouble, she said, 'O Miss E., the sky barked at me.'"]

this reason is often aberrant in its premises, that it is not seldom fitfully inconsequent, may indeed appear. But what we find is reason, thought at least of a kind, and in many cases frightfully logical.

Much more here:


Northern Michigan

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Information War

The Information War
by Hakim Bey

Humanity has always invested heavily in any scheme that offers escape from the body. And why not? Material reality is such a mess. Some of the earliest "religious" artefacts, such as Neanderthal ochre burials, already suggest a belief in immortality. All modern (i.e. post-paleolithic) religions contain the "Gnostic trace" of distrust or even outright hostility to the body and the "created" world. Contemporary "primitive" tribes and even peasant-pagans have a concept of immortality and of going-outside-the-body (ec-stasy) without necessarily exhibiting any excessive body-hatred. The Gnostic Trace accumulates very gradually (like mercury poisoning) till eventually it turns pathological. Gnostic dualism exemplifies the extreme position of this disgust by shifting all value from body to "spirit". This idea characterizes what we call "civilization". A similar trajectory can be traced through the phenomenon of "war".

Hunter/gatherers practised (and still practise, as amongst the Yanomamo) a kind of ritualized brawl (think of the Plains Indian custom of "counting coup"). "Real" war is a continuation of religion and economics (i.e. politics) by other means, and thus only begins historically with the priestly invention of "scarcity" in the Neolithic, and the emergence of a "warrior caste". (I categorically reject the theory that "war" is a prolongation of "hunting".) WWII seems to have been the last "real" war. Hyperreal war began in Vietnam, with the involvement of television, and recently reached full obscene revelation in the "Gulf War" of 1991. Hyperreal war is no longer "economic", no longer "the health of the state". The Ritual Brawl is voluntary and hon-hierarchic (war chiefs are always temporary); real war is compulsory and hierarchic; hyperreal war is imagistic and psychologically interiorized ("Pure War"). In the first the body is risked; in the second, the body is sacrificed; in the third, the body has disappeared. (See P. Clastres on War, in Archaeology of Violence.) Modern science also incorporates an anti-materialist bias, the dialectical outcome of its war against Religion - it has in some sense become Religion. Science as knowledge of material reality paradoxically decomposes the materiality of the real. Science has always been a species of priestcraft, a branch of cosmology; and an ideology, a justification of "the way things are." The deconstruction of the "real" in post-classical physics mirrors the vacuum of irreality which constitutes "the state". Once the image of Heaven on Earth, the state now consists of no more than the management of images. It is no longer a "force" but a disembodied patterning of information. But just as Babylonian cosmology justified Babylonian power, so too does the "finality" of modern science serve the ends of the Terminal State, the post-nuclear state, the "information state". Or so the New Paradigm would have it. And "everyone" accepts the axiomatic premises of the new paradigm. The new paradigm is very spiritual.

Even the New Age with its gnostic tendencies embraces the New Science and its increasing etherealization as a source of proof-texts for its spiritualist world view. Meditation and cybernetics go hand in hand. Of course the "information state" somehow requires the support of a police force and prison system that would have stunned Nebuchadnezzar and reduced all the priests of Moloch to paroxysms of awe. And "modern science" still can't weasel out of its complicity in the very-nearly-successful "conquest of Nature". Civilization's greatest triumph over the body.

But who cares? It's all "relative" isn't it? I guess we'll just have to "evolve" beyond the body. Maybe we can do it in a "quantum leap." Meanwhile the excessive mediation of the Social, which is carried out through the machinery of the Media, increases the intensity of our alienation from the body by fixating the flow of attention on information rather than direct experience. In this sense the Media serves a religious or priestly role, appearing to offer us a way out of the body by re-defining spirit as information. The essence of information is the Image, the sacral and iconic data-complex which usurps the primacy of the "material bodily principle" as the vehicle of incarnation, replacing it with a fleshless ecstasis beyond corruption. Consciousness becomes something which can be "down-loaded", excized from the matrix of animality and immortalized as information. No longer "ghost-in-the-machine", but machine-as-ghost, machine as Holy Ghost, ultimate mediator, which will translate us from our mayfly-corpses to a pleroma of Light. Virtual Reality as CyberGnosis. Jack in, leave Mother Earth behind forever. All science proposes a paradigmatic universalism - as in science, so in the social. Classical physics played midwife to Capitalism, Communism, Fascism and other Modern ideologies.

Post-classical science also proposes a set of ideas meant to be applied to the social: Relativity, Quantum "unreality", cybernetics, information theory, etc. With some exceptions, the post-classical tendency is towards ever greater etherealization. Some proponents of Black Hole theory, for example, talk like pure Pauline theologians, while some of the information theorists are beginning to sound like virtual Manichaeans.1 On the level of the social these paradigms give rise to a rhetoric of bodylessness quite worthy of a third century desert monk or a 17th century New England Puritan - but expressed in a language of post-Industrial post-Modern feel-good consumer frenzy. Our every conversation is infected with certain paradigmatic assumptions which are really no more than bald assertions, but which we take for the very fabric or urgrund of Reality itself. For instance, since we now assume that computers represent a real step toward "artificial intelligence", we also assume that buying a computer makes us more intelligent. In my own field I've met dozens of writers who sincerely believe that owning a PC has made them better (not "more efficient", but better) writers. This is amusing - but the same feeling about computers when applied to a trillion dollar military budget, churns out Star Wars, killer robots, etc. (See Manuel de Landa's War in the Age of Intelligent Machines on AI in modern weaponry). An important part of this rhetoric involves the concept of an "information economy". The post-Industrial world is now thought to be giving birth to this new economy. One of the clearest examples of the concept can be found in a recent book by a man who is a Libertarian, the Bishop of a Gnostic Dualist Church in California, and a learned and respected writer for Gnosis magazine:

The industry of the past phase of civilization (sometimes called "low technology") was big industry, and bigness always implies oppressiveness. The new high technology, however, is not big in the same way. While the old technology produced and distributed material resources, the new technology produces and disseminates information. The resources marketed in high technology are less about matter and more about mind. Under the impact of high technology, the world is moving increasingly from a physical economy into what might be called a "metaphysical economy." We are in the process of recognizing that consciousness rather than raw materials or physical resources constitutes wealth.2

Modern neo-Gnosticism usually plays down the old Manichaean attack on the body for a gentler greener rhetoric. Bishop Hoeller for instance stresses the importance of ecology and environment (because we don't want to "foul our nest", the Earth) - but in his chapter on Native American spirituality he implies that a cult of the Earth is clearly inferior to the pure Gnostic spirit of bodylessness:

But we must not forget that the nest is not the same as the bird. The exoteric and esoteric traditions declare that earth is not the only home for human beings, that we did not grow like weeds from the soil. While our bodies indeed may have originated on this earth, our inner essence did not. To think otherwise puts us outside of all of the known spiritual traditions and separates us from the wisdom of the seers and sages of every age. Though wise in their own ways, Native Americans have small connection with this rich spiritual heritage.3

In such terms, (the body = the "savage"), the Bishop's hatred and disdain for the flesh illuminate every page of his book. In his enthusiasm for a truly religious economy, he forgets that one cannot eat "information". "Real wealth" can never become immaterial until humanity achieves the final etherealization of downloaded consciousness. Information in the form of culture can be called wealth metaphorically because it is useful and desirable - but it can never be wealth in precisely the same basic way that oysters and cream, or wheat and water, are wealth in themselves. Information is always only information about some thing. Like money, information is not the thing itself. Over time we can come to think of money as wealth (as in a delightful Taoist ritual which refers to "Water and Money" as the two most vital principles in the universe), but in truth this is sloppy abstract thinking. It has allowed its focus of attention to wander from the bun to the penny which symbolizes the bun.4 In effect we've had an "information economy" ever since we invented money. But we still haven't learned to digest copper. The Aesopian crudity of these truisms embarrasses me, but I must perforce play the stupid lazy yokel plowing a crooked furrow when all the straight thinkers around me appear to be hallucinating.

Americans and other "First World" types seem particularly susceptible to the rhetoric of a "metaphysical economy" because we can no longer see (or feel or smell) around us very much evidence of a physical world. Our architecture has become symbolic, we have enclosed ourselves in the manifestations of abstract thought (cars, apartments, offices, schools), we work at "service" or information-related jobs, helping in our little way to move disembodied symbols of wealth around an abstract grid of Capital, and we spend our leisure largely engrossed in Media rather than in direct experience of material reality. The material world for us has come to symbolize catastrophe, as in our amazingly hysterical reaction to storms and hurricanes (proof that we've failed to "conquer Nature" entirely), or our neo-Puritan fear of sexual otherness, or our taste for bland and denatured (almost abstract) food. And yet, this "First World" economy is not self-sufficient. It depends for its position (top of the pyramid) on a vast substructure of old-fashioned material production. Mexican farm-workers grow and package all that "Natural" food for us so we can devote our time to stocks, insurance, law, computers, video games. Peons in Taiwan make silicon chips for our PCs. Towel-heads in the Middle East suffer and die for our sins. Life? Oh, our servants do that for us. We have no life, only "lifestyle" - an abstraction of life, based on the sacred symbolism of the Commodity, mediated by the priesthood of the stars, those "larger than life" abstractions who rule our values and people our dreams - the mediarchetypes; or perhaps mediarchs would be a better term. Of course this Baudrillardian dystopia doesn't really exist - yet.5 It's surprising hovever to note how many social radicals consider it a desirable goal, at least as long as it's called the "Information Revolution" or something equally inspiring. Leftists talk about seizing the means of information-production from the data-monopolists.6 In truth, information is everywhere - even atom bombs can be constructed on plans available in public libraries. As Noam Chomsky points out, one can always access information - provided one has a private income and a fanaticism bordering on insanity. Universities and "think tanks" make pathetic attempts to monopolize information - they too are dazzled by the notion of an information economy - but their conspiracies are laughable.

Information may not always be "free", but there's a great deal more of it available than any one person could ever possibly use. Books on every conceivable subject can actually still be found through inter-library loan.7 Meanwhile someone still has to grow pears and cobble shoes. Or, even if these "industries" can be completely mechanized, someone still has to eat pears and wear shoes. The body is still the basis of wealth. The idea of Images as wealth is a "spectacular delusion". Even a radical critique of "information" can still give rise to an over-valuation of abstraction and data. In a pro-situ zine from England called NO, the following message was scrawled messily across the back cover of a recent issue:

As you read these words, the Information Age explodes ... inside and around you - with the Misinformation Missiles and Propaganda bombs of outright Information Warfare.
Traditionally, war has been fought for territory/economic gain. Information Wars are fought for the acquisition of territory indigenous to the Information Age, i.e. the human mind itself ... In particular, it is the faculty of the imagination that is under the direct threat of extinction from the onslaughts of multi-media overload ... DANGER - YOUR IMAGINATION MAY NOT BE YOUR OWN ... As a culture sophisticates, it deepens its reliance on its images, icons and symbols as a way of defining itself and communicating with other cultures. As the accumulating mix of a culture's images floats around in its collective psyche, certain isomorphic icons coalesce to produce and to project an "illusion" of reality. Fads, fashions, artistic trends. U KNOW THE SCORE. "I can take their images for reality because I believe in the reality of their images (their image of reality)." WHOEVER CONTROLS THE METAPHOR GOVERNS THE MIND. The conditions of total saturation are slowly being realized - a creeping paralysis - from the trivialisation of special/technical knowledge to the specialization of trivia. The INFORMATION WAR is a war we cannot afford to lose. The result is unimaginable.8

I find myself very much in sympathy with the author's critique of media here, yet I also feel that a demonization of "information" has been proposed which consists of nothing more than the mirror-image of information-as-salvation. Again Baudrillard's vision of the Commtech Universe is evoked, but this time as Hell rather than as the Gnostic Hereafter. Bishop Hoeller wants everybody jacked-in and down-loaded - the anonymous post-situationist ranter wants you to smash your telly - but both of them believe in the mystic power of information. One proposes the pax technologica, the other declares "war". Both exude a kind of Manichaean view of Good and Evil, but can't agree on which is which. The critical theorist swims in a sea of facts. We like to imagine it also as our maquis, with ourselves as the "guerilla ontologists" of its datascape. Since the 19th century the ever-mutating "social sciences" have unearthed a vast hoard of information on everything from shamanism to semiotics. Each "discovery" feeds back into "social science" and changes it. We drift. We fish for poetic facts, data which will intensify and mutate our experience of the real. We invent new hybrid "sciences" as tools for this process: ethnopharmacology, ethnohistory, cognitive studies, history of ideas, subjective anthropology (anthropological poetics or ethno-poetics), "dada epistemology", etc. We look on all this knowledge not as "good" in itself, but valuable only inasmuch as it helps us to seize or to construct our own happiness. In this sense we do know of "information as wealth"; nevertheless we continue to desire wealth itself and not merely its abstract representation as information. At the same time we also know of "information as war;"9 nevertheless, we have not decided to embrace ignorance just because "facts" can be used like a poison gas. Ignorance is not even an adequate defense, much less a useful weapon in this war. We attempt neither to fetishize nor demonize "information". Instead we try to establish a set of values by which information can be measured and assessed. Our standard in this process can only be the body. According to certain mystics, spirit and body are "one". Certainly spirit has lost its ontological solidity (since Nietzsche, anyway), while body's claim to "reality" has been undermined by modern science to the point of vanishing in a cloud of "pure energy". So why not assume that spirit and body are one, after all, and that they are twin (or dyadic) aspects of the same underlying and inexpressible real? No body without spirit, no spirit without body. The Gnostic Dualists are wrong, as are the vulgar "dialectical materialists". Body and spirit together make life. If either pole is missing, the result is death. This constitutes a fairly simple set of values, assuming we prefer life to death. Obviously I'm avoiding any strict definitions of either body or spirit. I'm speaking of "empirical" everyday experiences. We experience "spirit" when we dream or create; we experience "body" when we eat or shit (or maybe vice versa); we experience both at once when we make love. I'm not proposing metaphysical categories here. We're still drifting and these are ad-hoc points of reference, nothing more. We needn't be mystics to propose this version of "one reality". We need only point out that no other reality has yet appeared within the context of our knowable experience. For all practical purposes, the "world" is "one".10 Historically however, the "body" half of this unity has always received the insults, bad press, scriptural condemnation, and economic persecution of the "spirit"-half. The self-appointed representatives of the spirit have called almost all the tunes in known history, leaving the body only a pre-history of primitive disappearance, and a few spasms of failed insurrectionary futility.
Spirit has ruled - hence we scarcely even know how to speak the language of the body. When we use the word "information" we reify it because we have always reified abstractions - ever since God appeared as a burning bush. (Information as the catastrophic decorporealization of "brute" matter). We would now like to propose the identification of self with body. We're not denying that "the body is also spirit", but we wish to restore some balance to the historical equation. We calculate all body-hatred and world-slander as our "evil". We insist on the revival (and mutation) of "pagan" values concerning the relation of body and spirit. We fail to feel any great enthusiasm for the "information economy" because we see it as yet another mask for body-hatred. We can't quite believe in the "information war", since it also hypostatizes information but labels it "evil". In this sense, "information" would appear to be neutral. But we also distrust this third position as a lukewarm cop-out and a failure of theoretical vision. Every "fact" takes different meanings as we run it through our dialectical prism11 and study its gleam and shadows. The "fact" is never inert or "neutral", but it can be both "good" and "evil" (or beyond them) in countless variations and combinations. We, finally, are the artists of this immeasurable discourse. We create values. We do this because we are alive. Information is as big a "mess" as the material world it reflects and transforms. We embrace the mess, all of it. It's all life. But within the vast chaos of the alive, certain information and certain material things begin to coalesce into a poetics or a way-of-knowing or a way-of-acting. We can draw certain pro-tem "conclusions," as long as we don't plaster them over and set them up on altars. Neither "information" nor indeed any one "fact" constitutes a thing-in-itself. The very word "information" implies an ideology, or rather a paradigm, rooted in unconscious fear of the "silence" of matter and of the universe. "Information" is a substitute for certainty, a left-over fetish of dogmatics, a super-stitio, a spook. "Poetic facts" are not assimilable to the doctrine of "information". "Knowledge is freedom" is true only when freedom is understood as a psycho-kinetic skill. "Information" is a chaos; knowledge is the spontaneous ordering of that chaos; freedom is the surfing of the wave of that spontaneity. These tentative conclusions constitute the shifting and marshy ground of our "theory". The TAZ wants all information and all bodily pleasure in a great complex confusion of sweet data and sweet dates - facts and feasts - wisdom and wealth. This is our economy - and our war.


1. The new "life" sciences offer some dialectical opposition here, or could do so if they worked and through certain paradigms. Chaos theory seems to deal with the material world in positive ways, as does Gaia theory, morphogenetic theory, and various other "soft" and "neo-hermetic" disciplines. Elsewhere I've attempted to incorporate these philosophical implications into a "festal" synthesis. The point is not to abandon all thought about the material world, but to realize that all science has philosophical and political implications, and that science is a way of thinking, not a dogmatic structure of incontrovertible Truth. Of course quantum, relativity, and information theory are all "true" in some way and can be given a positive interpretation. I've already done that in several essays. Now I want to explore the negative aspects.

2. Freedom: Alchemy for a Voluntary Society, Stephan A. Hoeller (Wheaton,IL: Quest, 1992), 229-230.

3. Ibid., p. 164.

4. Like Pavlov's dogs salivating at the dinner bell rather than the dinner - a perfect illustration of what I mean by "abstraction".

5. Although some might say that it already "virtually" exists. I just heard from a friend in California of a new scheme for "universal prisons" - offenders will be allowed to live at home and go to work but will be electronically monitored at all times, like Winston Smith in 1984. The universal panopticon now potentially coincide one-to-one with the whole of reality; life and work will take the place of outdated physical incarceration - the Prison Society will merge with "electronic democracy" to form a Surveillance State or information totality, with all time and space compacted beneath the unsleeping gaze of RoboCop. On the level of pure tech, at least, it would seem that we have at last arrived at "the future". "Honest citizens" of course will have nothing to fear; hence terror will reign unchallenged and Order will triumph like the Universal Ice. Our only hope may lie in the "chaotic perturbation" of massively-linked computers, and in the venal stupidity or boredom of those who program and monitor the system.

6. I will always remember with pleasure being addressed, by a Bulgarian delegate to a conference I once attended, as a "fellow worker in philosophy". Perhaps the capitalist version would be "entrepreneur in philosophy", as if one bought ideas like apples at roadside stands.

7. Of course information may sometimes be "occult", as in Conspiracy Theory. Information may be "disinformation". Spies and propagandists make up a kind of shadow "information economy", to be sure. Hackers who believe in "freedom of information" have my sympathy, especially since they've been picked as the latest enemies of the Spectacular State, and subjected to its spasms of control-by-terror. But hackers have yet to "liberate" a single bit of information useful in our struggle. Their impotence, and their fascination with Imagery, make them ideal victims of the "Information State", which itself is based on pure simulation. One needn't steal data from the post-military- industrial complex to know, in general, what it's up to. We understand enough to form our critique. More information by itself will never take the place of the actions we have failed to carry out; data by itself will never reach critical mass. Despite my loving debt to thinkers like Robert Anton Wilson and T. Leary I cannot agree with their optimistic analysis of the cognitive function of information technology. It is not the neural system alone which will achieve autonomy, but the entire body.

8. Issue #6, Nothing is True, Box 175, Liverpool L69 8DX, UK

9. Indeed, the whole "poetic terrorism" project has been proposed only as a strategy in this very war.

10. "The 'World' is 'one'" can be and has been used to justify a totality, a metaphysical ordering of "reality" with a "center" or "apex" : one God, one King, etc., etc. This is the monism of orthodoxy, which naturally opposes Dualism and its other source of power ("evil") - orthodoxy also presupposes that the One occupies a higher ontological position than the Many, that transcendence takes precedence over immanence. What I call radical (or heretical) monism demands unity of one and Many on the level of immanence; hence it is seen by Orthodoxy as a turning-upside-down or saturnalia which proposes that every "one" is equally "divine". Radical monism is "on the side of" the Many - which explains why it seems to lie at the heart of pagan polytheism and shamanism, as well as extreme forms of monotheism such as Ismailism or Ranterism, based on "inner light" teachings. "All is one", therefore, can be spoken by any kind of monist or anti-dualist and can mean many different things.

11. A proposal: the new theory of taoist dialectics. Think of the yin/yang disc, with a spot of black in the white lozenge, and vice versa - separated not by a straight line but an S-curve. Amiri Baraka says that dialectics is just "separating out the good from the bad" - but the taoist is "beyond good and evil". The dialectic is supple, but the taoist dialectic is downright sinuous. For example, making use of the taoist dialectic, we can re-evaluate Gnosis once again. True, it presents a negative view of the body and of becoming. But also true that it has played the role of the eternal rebel against all orthodoxy, and this makes it interesting. In its libertine and revolutionary manifestations the Gnosis possesses many secrets, some of which are actually worth knowing. The organizational forms of Gnosis - the crackpot cult, the secret society - seem pregnant with possibilities for the TAZ/Immediatist project. Of course, as I've pointed out elsewhere, not all gnosis is Dualistic. There also exists a monist gnostic tradition, which sometimes borrows heavily from Dualism and is often confused with it. Monist gnosis is anti-eschatological, using religious language to describe this world, not Heaven or the Gnostic Pleroma. Shamanism, certain "crazy" forms of Taoism and Tantra and Zen, heterodox sufism and Ismailism, Christian antinomians such as the Ranters, etc. - share a conviction of the holiness of the "inner spirit", and of the actually real, the "world". These are our "spiritual ancestors."

Hakim Bey is best known for his zine-publications that were collected under the title T.A.Z., The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, published by Autonomedia, New York, and more recently, Immediatism (Edinburgh/San Francisco: AK Press). For Bey there is no disappearance without reappearance.

The Information War