This is the first half of the preface to Alchemy of Revolution, a hybrid that mixes the genres of memoir and philosophical treatise. What emerges between memories spanning from the Carnival against Capitalism in 1999 to the Occupy movements in 2011-2012 is a story of revolution that begins from a transformation of the self and leads outward to a re-definition of community. The primary inspiration for the book is Raoul Vaneigem’s Revolution of Everyday Life, which is re-read and re-assembled through a prism of the heretics of philosophy (Spinoza, Nietzsche and Deleuze), antipsychiatry (Jung, Reich, R.D. Laing), and different esoteric traditions.
During all the years we were together and apart, separated by distance or circumstance, thinking of you always evoked in me the singular memory of the day we met. Perhaps because it was a memory that wasn’t just a memory. Whenever I recalled its details I didn’t feel transported into an actual day that belonged to the past but into the feeling of the encounter, which has remained with me as an enduring presence beyond the flow of space and time. (more…)
Isn’t the real reason that we can pierce through the veil of our illusions because we’ve all had enchanted moments that transcend the subtle feeling of unease and discontent which hangs like a dark firmament over our thoughts and actions? If we were always already in ideology, how would we be able to recognize our conditioning or desire to step out of it? Althusser used to say that the child exists as a subject of ideology even before it is born, because it is subjected to the name of the father, it’s already demarcated as a specific gender, and its future is already planned by the family, the school, the television screen and the bureaucratic machinery of society. But as infants – as novices in the ways of the world, literally, as nascent creatures incapable of speech – all of this exists in a nether world that escapes us. We are consumed by living out the immediacy of our desires, playing with everything that comes our way – the mother’s breast, the slippers we pick up off the floor and chew, the bicycle tire – everything is a mystery and an adventure. After we stumble into language, we become caught in a long, drawn-out battle to maintain the integrity of our pleasures and magical sense of time against all the repressive demands that are imposed on us. Parents, educators, social doctors – everyone around us is preoccupied with discovering the best technologies to dominate us. We are fed at regular intervals so that the economy of time may better penetrate our skin. Our bodies become something we are taught to control, restrain and civilize. The beliefs planted and watered in our minds begin to teach us to be ashamed of desire and to fear our natural inclinations. The schools impose foreign ideas, rules and standards upon us without any concern for the higher wisdom of our intuition. (more…)