Off The Shelf - "T.A.Z. - The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism"

by Marcus Pan

Chain Border

TAXFreedom via secrecy. Hakim Bey has for some time now been considered the purveyor of truth for many - nihilism, anarchy, terrorism of word and grammar. Hakim takes you beyond Nietzshe into a discussion of chaos, social reform and art as personal expression, not sale. Opening with the words, "Chaos never died," (scientifically accurate I suppose) you are treated to Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism. A collection of short essays, a call to arms so to speak. A simple "what you can do to help anarchy" guidebook. Short, to the point, not nearly as violent as what most common citizens would consider "anarchy" is part of.

And is anarchy violent? Sure, there are the revolutionary types - the "no government" believers. But many of today's anarchists are happy with just disappearing through the cracks of society. No, not recreating their own place - for drawing off boundaries is part of nationalism in some form and, of course, once you develop a nation you must develop laws. Even "no laws" is, in its basic stance, a law within itself, is it not? Just disappearance - the T.A.Z. that Hakim attempts to discuss in the third portion of this work.

The Temporary Autonomous Zone is on one side a physical place - vision something akin to the depots of Waterworld or Mad Max. With the onset of topographical exploration, nearly everything is mapped today. Everything cordoned off to a nation somewhere - there aren't any unruled spots on the planet. The search for a zone where laws don't extend and nations not only can't reach, but don't know about, must be done within the cracks and crags of the mapwork of the world. Hakim discusses this diligently. His plans/talks are somewhat flaw-riddled, but interesting nonetheless.

The other side of the T.A.Z. is the counter-Web that is discussed as an electronic and paper-based network of information. A usage of the current designs of technology and paper distribution channels to move information and data it was not designed for - or not meant to carry. Using the tools of the nations against itself, so to speak. To some extent this has happened with the onset of the underground Web, and has been happening since the time Hakim wrote T.A.Z. in 1990 - rogue Bulletin Board and computer systems, collections of elite tech-heads and cyberpunks dedicated to the spread of "unwholesome" (by modern sociological example, anyway) information and data. It has expanded worldwide with the expansion of the Internet of course - I was poking around a few rogue FTP sites for brik-a-brak last night. So you see, at least this portion - the information passages opening - has arrived. And has been building ever since the computer became usable in a home. People will always use tools to meet their own wants and needs. In most instances, these needs will be the same as most of society. But every now and then you get a freak-like thinker who will use it to spread information like a virus.

The idea of Poetic Terrorism is the usage of words and language to spread such information. Or thoughts, ideals, etc. Burroughs usage of cut-up style writing, Hakim's ranting rambles (and my own as well) to push unpopular viewpoints to the forefront, misogynistic scribblings on the walls of subways and bathrooms. "Chaos never died." This is the second portion of the book, communiqués from the Association for Ontological Anarchy. More calls to arms for the modern anarchist movement - but with more thought behind them.

Overall, T.A.Z. was enjoyable reading even if it was rife with flaws, questions and a lot of holes. But you have to understand you are reading things similar in vein to journal entries of a sort - a diary of a social misfit to some degree. There's going to be holes. The writing style is a stream of consciousness flow that is meant to not stop - you don't go back and correct things. You let them stand, then bring them up again in a future ramble and expound thereon. Whether or not it's worth it to pick up and read these future rambles is up to you. I probably will…eventually.

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"T.A.Z. the Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism" by Hakim Bey
Published by Autonomedia
Anti-Copyright © 1985, 1991 by Hakim Bey
ISBN 0936756764

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