Stronger Wine! Madder Music!

Their lives are like their knitting: introspective, yet mindless; fussy, exacting, repetitive and pale – tinted by the cheaper dye
— Rikki Ducornet

When I first encountered godless anarchy in the late 1970s, it was its excess, its unconstrained exploration and experimentation with the furthest realms of passion and ideas, and its desire and dreams that attracted me.

It was a magnificent feast.

Its wines and ales were strong, intoxicating and full of flavor, hints of spices, herbs and fruits from undiscovered realms of poetic imagination.

Its music throbbed with crazy rhythms, laughing leaping melodies, harmonic cacophonies of joy and rage.

It evoked wild, unfettered dancing, and I threw myself into it with total abandon.
At the time, one could still imagine that a whole new world was breaking forth…

Of course, then, imagination was a lush erotic flower whose delectable nectar brought visions of its luscious utopian fruit…

Or so it seemed to me.

But puritanism – never truly defeated – has had a resurgence, building new walls and cages where old ones had broken down:

fear of crime,
fear of drugs,
fear of disease,
fear of terrorism,
fear of disaster,

fear of poverty.

An endless parade of real and imagined threats that reinforce walls and armors.

But they’re all just new names for the old puritan fears:

fear of desire and passion,
fear of dreams and excess,
fear of the other and of the unkown.

In recent years, much of what drew me to anarchist perspectives has been fading within anarchist milieus: the joyful embrace of life; playfulness; laughter in the face of the ruling reality; imagination and creativity; the capacity to dream. It seems to that more and more anarchists are succumbing to realism, accepting the inevitability of the misery that surrounds us even in their own lives and relationships and with it accepting the misery of existing as a subculture within the present world.

Where once the daring exploration of ideas expanded theoretical endeavors opening new territories to the poetry of revolt, now individuals and group stake out their ideological territory, defending their rigid, entrenched positions from contamination while seeking faithful followers for their correct creed.

Where once individuals took their freedom on their own terms wherever possible, now, even within the so-called anarchist “community” itself, they demand rights and impose obligations.

Where once poetic experimentation and humor expanded and enriched language, now political correctitude impoverishes it, stripping it of joy, beauty, intelligence and desire, leaving only the rigidity of judgment, guilt and sacrifice.

Where once individuals were encouraged to break through their armors and unleash their fettered desires, now identity policies requires them to submit to the “communities” that define their identity as oppressed victim or to own up to their group “privilege.”

Even personal choices get transformed into moral identities (veganism, straight-edge), high grounds from which to look down on others.

Retreating like hermit crabs into rigid ideological shells, many anarchists have developed miserly and miserable ways of thinking, acting and interacting.

I am not willing to accept this anarcho-miserabilism which is expressed in political correctitude, in new forms of puritanical renunciation, in the self-sacrifice of militantism, and in pragmatism with its willingness to limit oneself to “the possible.”

I could waste my time and energy writing endless critiques of the situation like some voice crying in the wilderness, but if I limited myself to this I would get drawn into the cortex of this miserabilism myself. It is necessary to go beyond critique, to go straight to the attack, and for this I want accomplices.

Attack, in this case, means the active rejection of all aspects of this miserabilist way of acting and being in the world, refusing to succumb to the demands of political correctitude, of any morality whatsoever, of all calls for self-sacrifice or for being realistic. It means breaking down the barriers and bursting through the boundaries such ways of thinking and acting put up. This attack is a merciless game, as violent and cruel as it is playful…

Though I don’t call myself a surrealist, my anarchist ideas and practice have certainly been influenced by surrealism. Its emphasis on desire, excess, imagination, creativity, poetry as a way of living, its exploration of methods for breaking down barriers within us and raiding the areas of our being that lie below the conscious surface, its attitude of total revolt, its capacity to combine uncompromising atheism with a strong critique of rationalism and scientism, its use of scandal to expose the realities of the ruling order – all influenced my way of exploring what it means to be an anarchist: an individual in revolt against the reality of this world. And there are still surrealists, many of them also anarchists, who are still exploring poetic revolt and its practical meaning in this world even to this day. Despite differences I have with some of them, I am convinced that their explorations have weapons to offer us for attacking all forms of miserabilism.

In the face of the current misery of this catastrophic civilization, those of us who desire a real transformation need to take up the dance of unfettered rebellion once again.

Now more than ever, we need to challenge all boundaries and refuse all constraints – first of all those that we have placed on ourselves.

Desire and passion, dreams and excess are the yeasts that ferment the strongest, more flavorful wines.

And if imagination has dries up, we need to saturate it in these wines, unleashing the poetic intoxication of the marvelous.

But let’s be clear:
Real poetry never watches its language or holds its tongue.

It trounces on political correctitude along with every other kind of rectitude with libertine mockery and lusty sarcasm.

It mercilessly tears through the armor of identity to reveal the glittering jewel of the unique.

It is a thief, a lover, a dreamer…

Yes, in a world of misery and disaster, freedom and the joy of life require the strongest wines and ales and the maddest music.

The intoxication of poetic imagination and the soaring melodies and untamed rhythms of total revolt are the axis for the wild, unfettered dance of anarchic insurrection.

Let’s take up this dance.

Let’s leap, naked, toward the stars, our steps interweaving in lusty, erotic patterns.

At times, perhaps, we’ll fall face first into the mud. But if we have no fear for our “purity”, we’ll just leap back up to storm the heavens in our dance of wild abandon.

Let’s leave the misery to the rulers of this world with their petty regulations and miserable moralities. Our aim is to destroy this sorry world and its rulers so that we can take back the joyful creation of our lives.

And if we fail? What does it matter? By grasping our lives here and now, and dancing, intoxicated with rebellious joy and poetic wonder to the music of untrammeled freedom and the excess of desire, we will be the happiest people of out time.

I’m reaching out my hand. Now, who will come and dance with me?

(copylefted from Apio Ludd — you can contact Apio at or at 818 SW 3rd Avenue, PMB 1237, portland, OR 97204 USA)

2 thoughts on “Stronger Wine! Madder Music!

  1. nice text! I will always take the same stance when dealing with “professional activists” of sorts. When activism becomes just another arm of capitalism (NGOs for example), it’s probably one of the only possible responses: it doensn’t let the logic of pragmatism, realpolitic, austerity etc take an absolute precedent.

    But (with me there’s always a “but” ;-)), the only flaw in it is that it can become almost the same as the austerity it negates when it becomes a “principle,” or a constant wavelength/frequency which can be easily captured. It’s what Adorno calls “the reification of the concept of reification”. The need to dereify (or to create a simultaneous acceleration and decceleration) bad habits of “activists,” should not become a habit in itself. and this “should” should be taken with the same warning. The maddest music can become part of the madness of all those pragmatic rhythms of commonsense and everyday life. Fighting to make the music madder and madder is fighting a battle lost in advance, seeing oneself as a heroic fighter for “good” in a desperate situation. And again, as if this is not confused enough, we should not always deny ourselves this satisfaction; denying it would be returning to the same austerity we’ve been trying to escape. So this is how I end up with a dialectical argument. i need to take anti-dialectical medicine…

    So what’s left to find out maybe is when exactly a constant wavelength is identical to a beneficial (and here the pragmatism necessarily creeps back in) acceleration/decceleration. In this case, pragmatism can be its opposite. i don’t know if I can answer this question in the abstract. i need some real stuff to think about it. any thoughts?

  2. “I could waste my time and energy writing endless critiques of the situation like some voice crying in the wilderness, but if I limited myself to this I would get drawn into the cortex of this miserabilism myself. It is necessary to go beyond critique, to go straight to the attack, and for this I want accomplices.”

    This is a refreshing sentence to read from the individualist old guard. There’s a lifelessness to fixating on puritan and leftist creep into the wide and blurry circles of those who call themselves “anarchist”. Thought-terminating words like “political correctitude” don’t help. Less reactiveness, more moonlit wandering.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s