The Infinite UNsettlers
Bless you – or some secular synonym – is what you say to someone when they sneeze. It’s also a clue in the mystery of why we continue to torment each other and be ourselves harried & oppressed, even after thousands of years of civilization & despite countless revolutions in the name of the people. A year ago I advocated recusing ourselves from the rapacious global system of exploitation, desisting from consumption & refusing to engage in the educational structure. But what then?
& as tough as life is, who would give it up to become some crazy theoretical frontiersperson, forcing a hypothetical heaven on earth in abandoned, desultory backwaters? There are brilliant stalwarts willing to make the sacrifice but the truth is nobody has to: these places, already beautiful and populated, emerge naturally & many already exist.
But as the macro exists in the micro, let’s start with the sneeze. In that disorienting moment you are vulnerable & the devil, or its worldly manifestation, can slip in & go to work. Delivering a little benediction is a common linguistic reflex in cultures around the world, but it’s not universal. In some countries, like Thailand, nobody says a word if you sneeze (unless you sneeze on somebody or in their food). In fact, making a gesture of tender concern for the sneezer’s well-being would be more likely to be met with confusion or taken as a veiled hex – like telling someone who owes you money to be careful crossing the street. The difference in responses raises the big questions: is it so bad for the devil to move in? & even if it is bad – what does the presence of “evil” make possible?
To bless or not to bless is a measure of a culture’s ability to accept unresolvedness, to abdicate control in the face of all bodily & societal systems’ inherent entropy, to accept victory over the primeval as illusory. It is a barometer of Keats’ negative capability, “of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” It may be reading too much into gesundheit to say it indicates the well-wisher’s secret dread of evil forces – it’s really just an empty nicety, a social marker, but not saying it, not even thinking to say it points to two larger realizations: 1. The eternal forces of the universe cannot be beaten, regardless of their conceptualization as natural or religious. The very notion of beating nature or terror is about as meaningless as triumphing over “afternoon” or “salty.” 2. The best way to sustain life without crises is to accept the behavior of the natural & human environment & align one’s own with it. Dark omens of impending doom swirl around those in a culture designed antithetically to the fundamental precepts of how things work. But if the daily life of an individual is synchronized with the surroundings, a sneeze is just a little noise.
Vulnerability is a universal state from the moment we show up to the moment we check out. The darkness surrounds us be it the shadow of a mushroom cloud, the soot of a dirty bomb or the spectre of the plague’s black death. Harnessing that sense of vulnerability and providing safe haven under specific auspices has historically been used by the economic elite to cow populations into approved modes of behavior and desperate acceptance of policy antithetical to their own well-being. Most people live in a relatively paralyzed state of fear wherein they get up, go to work, come home & sleep. Maybe a show, a drink or the family pull them away from the cycle but generally nobody makes any sudden moves. Insodoing they have lived a little longer but died not far from where they began.
The practice of delivering benediction upon the sneezer only really began in 590AD at the height of a plague pandemic. Bishop Gregory had just ascended to the Papacy, replacing Pelagius, struck down by the scourge. Pope Gregory had spent decades amassing a fortune, reshaping the European economy from one based on urban wealth to one in which monasteries were the seat of resources and the loci of regional monetary collection. At a time of increasing factionalism within Christendom, threats from military leaders & pressure from the secular old guard of cities like Alexandria & Constantinople, the plaque became a great opportunity. Gregory could solidify Roman orthodoxy by convincing a terrorized population that God, the God with whom he & his monastic network had direct contact, was their only hope for survival. Or, barring survival, a cush afterlife. To keep people believing, he ordered everyone to pray constantly for the Lord’s intercession against the plague. Central to that was the edict that, if you witness someone sneeze you must say “God Bless You” to them.
In the moment of sneezing, it was believed the sneezer’s soul, connected as it is to their breath (Latin Anima spirit/breath, Hebrew Nephesh soul/breath) was being evicted. The sneezer, eyes shut & head recoiling might get their soul back or the devil might take its place. In blessing their friends, people believed themselves to be gregariously helping them survive. Perhaps Gregory too believed this to be the case, but he also knew he was creating an almost reflexive pledge of allegiance woven into everyday life that people would perform automatically.
Despite the furious ecclesiastical chatter, about 25 million people were killed. There’s no way to know the mitigating effects of divine intervention. What we do know is that Gregory was able to use the crises of his era to establish the papacy as an independent political and economic power. At a time when mortality was everywhere, he secured his standing above the obedient masses with his offer of reduced time in Purgatory for the Church’s most loyal followers. Amid the horror, Gregory became the bright provider of security for this life & the next. A person who has had someone “ease the pain of living” (Ginsberg) is only too happy to give them some of their liberty & resources as payment. It was no conspiracy, it was simply the way hierarchical economies further themselves.
But ultimately, systems like Gregory’s collapse after years of converting the people’s resources into the elite’s. Virtually every revolution of the past few thousand years has been based on righting economic inequity and the oppressive conditions that sustain them. Whether the state, church or corporation tricks us into positions of misery or uses force to hustle us there, resistance has ultimately grown. But that resistance has either failed outright or led to a new hierarchy with the revolutionaries at the helm and a lot of people oppressed beneath them. The only thing worse than being under the heel of an old boot is being under the heel of a new one shined with the used-up hope of the pre-Revolution. The pattern repeats itself for centuries with the Glorious Regimes changing but the underlying structure remaining the same.
So what’s the underlying structure? What is the main problem unsolved by so many otherwise brilliant revolutionary leaders from Moses to Marx? Our founding fathers didn’t go near it. Even anarcho-syndicalists who come closest to viable solutions veer away at the last minute. Most active in the US 100 years ago but building momentum now in Latin America, anarcho-syndicalists seek to build a new society within the shell of the old, driven from the bottom up by workers not their managers. This technique, Bakunin said, eliminates the need for a Marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat” with is reactionary, crushing mandate. They would redistribute wealth more equitably throughout all strata of society — the reason US corporations cracked down on them throughout the 20th century, imprisoning many for sedition, killing others and, most destructively, creating the reactionary AFL-CIO as a faux-union “reform” organization to absorb anti corporate sentiment.
The consistent mechanism of all revolutionary failure is not some specific limiting trait of human nature. Revolutions fail not because of people’s greed (critique of the Bolshevik Revolution) or people’s violence (critique of the French Revolution). In fact, what has led to the collapse of most movements is that very insistence by revolutionary leaders that human nature is limited in some way —most upheavals have attempted to portray the wildfire of the human heart as a half-empty sterno can. The issue can be seen in the works of economists like Adam Smith whose treatise the Wealth of Nations, published (tellingly enough) in 1776, was the first to refer to “human resources.” Even most anarchist movements create fixed relationships for people to fill be they workers, farmers or IT specialists.” This is an inaccurate foundational basis for a new social structure & will only lead to increasing restrictions to keep the system going. Human nature is infinite, our innate instinct for freedom is nothing more than an expression of that, and any dams built to contain it will ultimately fall.
The Native Americans along the Mississippi understood the river wanted to change course every few decades and so lived in harmony with its capricious ways. Wetlands were an important element of the ecosystem and setting in it was only asking for trouble. The Europeans knew the lush land is right along the banks & so built levees to constrain the river’s path. The swamps, beyond categories & useless for farming or navigation, were drained. As we all know, you can put off the inevitable awhile. You can keep reinforcing the levees, but eternity is a long time to resist forces that existed long before you appeared. As Sheldon, a professional waterproofer & inadvertent zen master in New York says, you can put up a fight, but water, the very symbol of life & of chaos, water always wins. But all is not lost: we are almost entirely made of water.
Put another way, Martin Heidegger says there is a essential misunderstanding of what it is to be alive, a misunderstanding that dogged us for eons & one that could help clarify revolutionary thought going forward — whether the revolution encompasses an entire society or simply the mindfulness with which you approach the day to day. He says we living things are ontological while inanimate things are ontic. Ontic things (your chair, my shoe) simply are while the ontological (you, me) have intentionality – we exist in the world in a way that Descartes and all the human resources managers fail to recognize. Descartes, along with most of the empiricists & rationalists, envision the “I” as an entity that can think but beyond that isn’t so different than from a shoe. Such a person’s life is mapped in terms of what God or some other authority, like a human resource manager has in store. Heidegger says there is no pure abstracted thought without content or action without an object — all thought is thought of something, all action is action upon something. The fundamental aspect of living existence is intentionality, also referred to as caring. A chair has sein, being. Like it or not, we have dasein, there-being. Our existence is not defined in terms of God or even biology but in terms of our engagements with the world, our projects.
Yet every economic political system since the Paleolithic era, from Rome to Washington to Beijing portrays its people as non-living ontic human resources rather than ontological resourceful humans. &, for the most part, we buy it.
We buy it because we intuitively know that our freedom, the connection through our engagements to the infinite renders us open to infinite pain. Nevertheless, it’s what makes us human and capable of growth beyond the cause & effect relationships that dictate physics & biology. Unlike a chair which simply exists, we exist in a state of movement from nothing to something. We exist in constantly changing relation to things, people and systems. Awareness of one another is intrinsic to the kind of being that we possess. & that possession, more than a printing press or WMDs is of tantamount danger to the systems of control that grow through our constraint. Systems of control rely on our abdication of the infinite in order for their robustness. In fact, the vitality of such a system is in inverse proportion to the health of the individual people within it.
Through the natural inclination of a system to preserve itself, it wants to dehumanize people, to disconnect them from the infinite, to make them think of themselves as inanimate objects. Under theological rule, people are coerced into forming covenents with a series of thou shalt not edicts. Under capitalism, people are made to work longer and longer hours with diminishing wages until the choice becomes quit & starve or stop feeling anything beyond tired and slightly driven to buy crap. Under communism the same process occurs in service to the state rather than the corporation. Though the people who reap the benefits have different titles in each system, the essential differences end there.
Regardless of one’s role, if you aren’t in the top 1%, there are extremely coercive pressures deanimating you. That’s why most poets stop being poets by age 30 – and those who continue, often continue only at the expense of being fully human. A poet I admire greatly & whose qualities as an adept have grown from decades of grief, now identifies herself as a poet not first and foremost but only. She has willingly embraced the opposite of what JPSartre would term transcendence or what Heidegger’s dasein. A rock feels no pain. Systems of control are not limited to the state or to corporations, though they have the most resources and are the most visible. They are everywhere. Tom Wolfe explores these pyramids in Bonfire of the Vanities & The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, & affirmed by his ascendancy within the fiction pyramid, decides that such self-enclosed micro-hierarchies are pretty terrific.
So many great social thinkers have used their love of The People as an excuse to carry disdain for the people closest to them. In the name of developing class awareness, racial identity, gender affirmation, all valid and critical responses to our oppressive system, they have neglected their own sense of infinite dasein, & of the ultimate purpose for all truly revolutionary thought: to foster an environment in which people can ascend uncoerced to the fullest manifestation of their potential.
It’s an unstable, non-viable way to live because we are anima, the living embodiment of chaos, a substance that predates any system into which we have been born. Despite appearances, we are driven not primarily by the biological need to survive, but by the ontological need to be engaged in the world. Our fear of death is instinctive, but the real terror is that we won’t be able to do things, feel things, think things. A chair is a chair whether anyone sits in it. Our existence is contingent on our ventures & undertakings, our relationships, our rapture & despair.
We don’t think about this – if we are threatened we just want to be safe. But if we lose the things we were afraid to lose, if actual evil befalls us, that underlying state of being in the world becomes revealed to us. Unless the experience breaks us, that we continue to live suddenly matters less than how we live. In times of private disaster we see people retreat into fixed states like “poet” or grow into what seems to be selflessness but is really the realization that there is no such thing as the self. In times of catastrophe, we see this happen on a mass level.
Plato considered poets to be dangerous to the state for the very reason that they reveal this fact. He advocated the exile of anyone whose work ran afoul of the party line. Under the rules of Plato’s Republic, Homer would be censored because he described death and the afterlife in terms frightening enough to dissuade men from going to war. “We are ready to acknowledge that Homer is the greatest of poets and first of tragedy writers; but we must remain firm in our conviction that hymns to the gods and praises of famous men are the only poetry which ought to be admitted into our State.”
Centuries later, hundreds of people, many of them in the anarcho-syndicalist International Workers of the World, were thrown in jail for arguing against participating in World War I. The Sedition Act of 1918 levied severe punishments for speaking out. “Whoever shall willfully cause or attempt to cause, or incite or attempt to incite, insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or… shall willfully utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States… shall be punished by… imprisonment for not more than twenty years.” Although the act was repealed three years later, imprisoned dissidents were held in jail for the duration of their terms effectively crippling the nascent anarchist movement in the US. Initially challenged by civil libertarians, the Supreme Court (Schenck v. United States, 1919) upheld the constitutionality of the act, setting precedent for its revival when the time is right.
While certain elements of life may be under the sway of order & its opposite, entropy, chaos lurks behind it all. The inchoate is definitionally beyond the means of anyone to shackle. & any attempt to do so requires increasing amounts of energy before ultimately collapsing — a system in discord from the natural forces of the universe will become increasingly hard to control & will finally yield to the impulses it held back for so long. As Hakim Bey says in his rapturous masterpiece of syncretic anthropology Temporary Autonomous Zone, “There’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only have the chains of law been broken, they never existed; demons never guarded the stars, the Empire never got started, Eros never grew a beard.” Social rules are mutually agreed upon illusions — humans will behave according to human nature and the expansive drive towards intentionality — and any regulations that interfere with that will ultimately crumble, no matter how draconian the punishment for non-compliance. This is true everywhere &, when the conditions are right, communities in radical accordance with our infinite nature are, as Heidegger would say, uncovered.
Some people try to engineer the birth of intentional communities, utopias in which we are bound by common desire to achieve the forms of grace, but such social engineering fights the intrinsic difficulty of codifying the infinite. Joel Kuszai’s Salton Sea Project is astounding and sheer genius. It exists in the interstices between capitalist entities — nobody can profit off it — and so the community can blossom without interference. It meets one important criteria: invisibility from the system it is designed to resist. Although the landscape is remote, severe & inhospitable, it has an abandoned rudimentary electric, water & road infrastructure. It also provides open-source approaches to a non-hierarchical society roughly fashioned after the university model in which everyone involved has a say in the community structure. But in the lived world it takes more than a seductive communal-anarchist concept for people to abandon their engagements, to drop everything for new lives as (un)settlers. Unless environmental/economic collapse provides a massive shove away from all population centers, who wants to move to the desolate coast of a poisoned inland sea where nobody lives?
Fully realized intentional communities, those bound by the shared engagements of its dasein residents are only successful when it is necessary for such a communities to exist in a specific da, there. They are never imposed from above or without but emerge spontaneously as blue-green algae arrived at life back at the dawning. Such new societies self-synthesize from the stew of environmental, cultural, economic, political and historic factors. For that very reason, its perfect necessity, nobody can stop the creation of such a community. 2+2 has to equal 4. It will last only as long as the conditions that demanded it be made continue to exist and when those conditions are no longer met it will vanish, to be replaced by profiteers, imitators, investors or nothing at all.
Pirate colonies exist everywhere, if only for short periods before disbanding and reforming elsewhere. The advent of railroads in the US led to a covert network of hobo camps, an economy separate from industrial capitalism with nodes in the unmapped no man’s land of bindle stiff America. It was a community that grew exponentially when the economic conditions (the Great Depression) or political events (World War I) made continued participation in mainstream America untenable. The 1960’s were famous for short-lived communes throughout the US and Europe. Some were legitimate attempts to develop means of living off the grid. But many of them filled the need for middle and upper class individuals to simulate “revolutionary action” without forsaking their ability to participate happily in the very economy they were pretending to battle. Nice boots!
The 1950s and ‘60s was a period of great urban expansion & top-down planning with often disastrous effects on the fabric of city life — housing projects and new highways were routinely used to divide communities and control their populations. With the economic downturn of the 1970’s, city dwellers with enough money began leaving cities for the suburbs. The tax base dried up and municipal services fell into severe disrepair around the country, accelerating the departure of everyone except the poor. In October 1975 New York City, in the vanguard of metropolitan collapse, was forced to accept huge loans from a consortium of banks that effectively became the city’s mayor.
The Municipal Assistance Corporation, or Big Mac, demanded extreme austerity — the cost of everything went up while subways, schools, police, sanitation & fire departments were eviscerated — the five boroughs existed somewhere between the nine circles of hell and the wild wild west. According to the people living there at the time it was a grim, miserable experience. “Good night” was replaced by “Get home safe.” Tourists were routinely told they shoulda seen the city during the jetsetting 1960s. Cosmopolitanism gave way to downtroddenism. The involvement of Big Mac led to a very gradual reshaping of the city’s economic landscape. New York is now a safe, shining city, dominated by large corporations & financially inaccessible to those who called it home 30 years ago.
But the extreme economic disruption of the 1970’s created a temporary opportunity for people to band together & develop lives outside the narrow bounds of the corporate model. The vacuum created by the exodus of major corporations was filled by people interested in exploring other modes of existence. The lack of jobs lent a kind of legitimacy to anyone who didn’t have one and encouraged the development of identities outside of the workplace. The city’s gritty, scary undesirability was an anthropological claking device behind which people could act with impunity, no money down. Shadow economies developed. It was possible to find housing in dodgy neighborhoods on the cheap & where cheap wasn’t good enough, homesteading & squatting in abandoned buildings became another increasingly popular techniques.
In the 1960’s, before the urban fall into grace, well heeled professional artists come to the city, lured by media coverage of its lively bohemian scene. In the 1970s, the unprofessional artists came, drawn to a land that, for a moment, was falling into gritty sync with a social compact at its most human. After years of forcing people to fit a mode best suited for the generation of profit, the system failed. Nobody outside the invisible enclaves of radical dasein spoke of it this way — for the media, it was blight, a problem to be solved. But for brave people, unafraid not just of crime & so on, but also of the much more ferocious prospect of their own unchecked freedom, they knew they were a part of an unorchestrated commune. A commune no less natural than the unplanned & unstoppable reassertion of ancient forests over any abandoned property. (See: Chernobyl or The Faroe Islands) The reemergence of such relationships after decades of suppression wasn’t pretty but it was beautiful.
By examining historic patterns we can examine likely spots for expansive communities that exist right now, unknown to all but those who are there. Rough hewn, unsafe, poxy invisible landscapes in which artists, radicals and anyone else whose heart yearns for the touch of what the heart was designed for can pursue their private or communitarian own visionary dervish paths.
Wars have always created conditions for the emergence of intentional communities —through the radicalizing overtness of military disregard for life, through the redirection of control away from domestic populations towards external threats, & through the violent creation of unusable areas. The destruction of Berlin in WWII and its subsequent artificial division created vast abandoned spaces, areas unsuitable for development or typical repopulation. The geographic disruption and a dense population with several creative and radical traditions became the perfect environment for the establishment of squats. The occupation of the city by foreign nations and the Berliners’ prior experience under the brunt of a murderous right wing regime fomented covert leftist radicalism. According to Matthew Lear “To move through the city is to be constantly confronted with spaces that have, in a thousand different ways, evaded assimilation. In their forgottenness they protest. They are spaces to be celebrated.” The collapse of the wall in 1990 and the subsequent introduction of investor-side globalism only expanded the size & the invisibility of movement.
Natural disasters have also created the conditions for a radicalized population, allowing people to become more alive specifically in areas where life is most tenuous. In 1906, San Francisco was the largest seat of shipping and industry on the West Coast, but the earthquake & subsequent fire decimated over 80% of the city. 300,000 residents were rendered homeless – out of a total population of 410,000. Those who chose to stay despite having lost everything, including a means to make a living, had become de facto activists. An attempted developer land-grab in Chinatown galvanized the Chinese population to band together into a politically adept community. The city became known for strong labor organizations and socialist agitation. Propelled beyond the reach of puritanical morality, among the first business to be re-established were the dance halls, wine dumps, deadfalls & brothels of the aptly named Barbary Coast. The radicalization of the city was allowed to prosper until 1919 when several IWW members were rounded up for publishing the weekly journal of anarchist explorations California Defense Bulletin.
Today, Lebanon would seem to meet the criteria for the development of radical intentional communities. Even before the destruction of its infrastructure and housing this past summer, there was a tradition of open political debate and community self-sufficiency. Despite Hezbollah’s restrictive religious & capitalist overtones, their assistance to displaced peoples (like the Black Panthers’ assistance to economically denigrated people in the US) inspired people to perform their own grassroots organizing without government involvement. Samidoun is one such organization that coalesced spontaneously from several social, human rights, political, student & civil society organizations. Israel & Lebanon both forbid their citizens to communicate directly with one another. Despite that, Beirut’s indymedia reports anarchists from the two countries recently met to discuss the implications of the war, another sign that people are coming together beyond the reach of the grid.
Closer to home, New Orleans is also ripe for the birth of fundamentally humanist communities. Over a year after Katrina, the city’s population is 250,000, down from 600,000. Wages are down, jobs are gone & rents are through the roof. Crime is up as the population grows more desperate. Every building in the city was damaged by the hurricane & about 80% were rendered uninhabitable by the flood. Most buildings still wear the big X search & rescue graffiti with the number of dead found inside. They look like voodoo hexes. Even those lucky few who have received Road Home money or insurance payouts face pretty bleak prospects.
But as in San Francisco 100 years earlier, the people who have come back have all been radicalized, first by losing loved ones & all their belongings & then, though FEMA’s cruel response, by losing faith in the government. The primarily black, working class population has been radicalized, forced to reckon not just with racism but with the larger economic structure in which racism plays a key role. Even those who lived in New Orleans because it was a fun place where prudish rules don’t apply have become radicalized: drinking & dancing have become political acts of defiance. Emma Goldman wanted nothing to do with a revolution that didn’t involve dancing. To dance today in New Orleans is revolutionary.
Most residents recognize the lengthy wait for promised money is an attempt to get people to leave the city so it can be bulldozed & sold cheap to developers & oil companies. Former residents of the Lower Ninth Ward talk about the untapped natural gas fields under their destroyed homes. But just as people resisted the takeover of San Fransisco’s Chinatown by developers, the residents of New Orleans are banding together to save their neighborhoods. When the flood first came, people survived because impromptu communities developed on the fly. Now a new resilience has taken hold, expressed in residents’ painting street signs along the devastated miles of roads so crews can find the right houses to work on.
New Orleans’ history provides it with another advantage over almost every other place on the planet. As the landing point for most of the slave trade into the US, New Orleans was the city where kidnapped newcomers learned how to maintain their humanity, their connection to the vast, in stolen moments & overlooked niches. Voodoo was born here, an adaptive syncretic response of African religions to the imposition of Catholicism. Voodoo & its secular counterpart Hoodoo, was practiced in plain sight of plantation owners, but the transfer of saint’s names over those of the Orishas and of Christian iconography over the markers of Yoruba faiths, rendered the practices invisible. They managed to coopt a propagandistic element of community disruoption & control into one that provided the exact opposite of its original use — through Voodoo the slave population was rendered more cohesive, its culture more intact and, through rootwork, its individuals physically healthier. Many acts of resistance involve turning the regime’s tools against the regime. In New Orleans, where Africans slaves were considered as much an agricultural tool as mules, the tools themselves resisted. Whether the devastation comes in the form of natural or unnatural disaster, the ability to remain fully human despite it and even evolve because of it is nowhere more proven than in New Orleans.
New Orleans is a harbinger, a place where unbearable reality’s been made explicit. Heidegger would call it a happening of truth setting itself to work but most people would just give you the look of someone who has seen what nobody ought to. A few weeks ago I emailed New Orleans poet Dave Brinks to ask how much can a human heart break & its host still be human? He wrote back, “Too bad I can’t say how hopeful & great everything is. Our community, both poet-wise & everything else-wise, is just hanging on by a thread.” But guess what? That thread runs through the entire country & the world. We are all dangling from it though most people are either blissfully unaware or naively faithful in the benevolence of our secular & religious leaders. Some places will withstand hurricanes & other will crumble before less. Nobody doubts that a dizzyingly compromised environment & savage political system will deliver ever more omnivorous incursions into our lives. It becomes difficult to hang on, yet I am optimistic that either that thread is stronger than we think or, when it snaps, we will fall into something even more humane, more expansive & fulfilling to us & those around us. Something greater than the grim occluded promise of our current climate.
Anyone interested in being amid some amazing humans ought to go to New Orleans right now. Anyone interested in being a part of what is an extraordinary (& covert (even to itself)) artistic & spiritual awakening ought to pack their bags tonight. Anyone interested in being in the presence of the supercharged & numinous. There is a community there that is perhaps only dimly aware of its own existence. Heroism is our natural state, revealed only occasionally in moments of extremity. The residents of New Orleans are compassionate, misanthropic & everything in between, but they have all performed the impossible under duress that defies comprehension. If they haven’t been broken, they have borne witness to their own limitlessness from which there can be no retreat.
These communities are not think tanks designed to theorize about replacing our government & the capitalist system for which it works. They are not the first step towards a glorious pie in the sky utopia. These communities are utopia’s actual manifestation. They are anarcho-infinite and exist apart from & unconstrained by all isms. They were washed of ideology when Charon rowed them out of their homes into hell. The phoenix who now emblazons banners throughout New Orleans, the phoenix is not rising from the ashes towards heaven — the phoenix is heaven itself. Moving from nothing into something, it is imminent, unburdened & all yours.
New Orleans & Brooklyn.