Something new begins now, bursting forth in kaleidoscopic profusion. Neoliberal governance reaches new heights of absurdity through the invention of “lunch debt.” But the teacher strike in West Virginia points a way forward, a first win, to be followed as early as next month, perhaps, with a strike by teachers in Oklahoma. The path for wildcats intersects there with a key choke point for social reproduction: tests that qualify states for federal funding. By placing federal funding into jeopardy, the strike jumps levels and has the potential to capture full national attention. Together, teachers, parents, and students can dictate the terms of a new deal. For the Trump administration, the goal will be to crush teachers the way Reagan crushed PATCO, while maintaining a semblance of economic populism among the base. Notice the administration’s reluctance to engage the West Virginia action’s illegality. They’re wary of trying to uphold an unpopular and unenforceable law. But of course, they’ll have to intervene eventually. His fans already love watching him say, “You’re fired.” Yet this runs the risk of intensifying antagonisms and contradictions. With solidarity walkouts, one could begin to imagine coordinated strikes, extension of wildcat tactics into public higher ed, systemwide stoppages, the reactivation of class power among the dispossessed.
A parallelogram of forces swerves around a refrigerator drawer. I kneel and pat a patch of moss. Fields glow with thousands of yellow daffodils. ‘Tis the season ’round these parts. Is the universe trying to cultivate or diminish consciousness? Out of the blooming buzzing late capitalist totality comes Darren Angle’s reply: “The long hall of consciousness / makes room for shit like hot dogs.” Let us not abstract ourselves of particulars. Reinteriorize the different moments of exterior causation. Reintegrate chance with historical necessity so as to allow for synthetic progression. Otherwise, we’re just looking through bloodshot eyes.
I stomp through the streets after work muttering to myself, “I hate this fucking society.” I return home and sit in a room. Neurodiversity battles species-being. After a scuffle in the dark, the allegorical pair reenters the light in a new guise: snake-allied Gnostics who wish to inherit the garden versus ICE-wielding careerists. Such are the terms of the political mapping performed by Season 3 of The Path, a show that assembles itself around the creative reimagining of today’s anticapitalist left as a New Age separatist cult and thus, a largely religious rather than a largely secular political formation. Episode 2 ends with the “Eddie” persona punching a Nazi. Time appears to the allegorical mind as a vast tableau spread across a full field of vision. This channel and all of the others show us our mirror image catching sight of itself in another mirror. When we stare at books, I’m told, the sages of old live again in us.
My mood quickens, turns, rushes recklessly toward sublime paranoia as I read a photograph of a concrete poem handwritten by German-born Jewish psychonaut Walter Benjamin. “The little sheep reads,” reads the printed translation below the photograph. “Is the figure a writing-song is it an image. Sleep my little sheep sleep. Write my little sheep write.” After this encounter, I experience rhapsodic visions. The protocol from Benjamin’s mescaline experiment of May 22, 1934 abounds with allegorical riches and utterances of Delphic import. (See also Scott J. Thompson’s translation of Ernst Joël and Fritz Fränkel’s “The Hashish-Rausch: Contributions to an Experimental Psychopathology.”) Heads oscillate continually between waking and dreaming states. The illuminated tip of a Lighted Head Demagnetizer leads me to Osamu Kitajima’s Benzaiten.
Let us concern ourselves again with experiences. Let us relaunch the project Benjamin believed Surrealism had set for itself: “to win the energies of intoxication for revolution.” Voices speak to me. “Go ahead and listen,” warns one. We are sonic beings, transmitting signals into meatspace using navigable databases filled with recorded samples of spoken word. Truth is only possible when silence is broken.
Using directional keys to navigate, I sit down at a drum set and unleash sprays of knocks and clicks, as if to initiate a ceremony. Strange voices enter my headspace, lecturing incoherently about Peter Pan, Pinocchio, archetypes, and DMT. Mental reprogramming sends me down stairwells, through lovely gardens, to an ancient sea below. Instructions appear in bubblegum font. Consciousness dwells sequentially over details spanning several levels of being. Object permanence bids farewell, leaves us momentarily to contemplate selfhood as extrapolation or device. The average lifespan of a ladybug is 2 to 3 years, announces a voice outside ours. Wilderness spaces are spaces of diversity, pluralities of plural worlds. Out of the folds of these worlds emerge previously obscured items: books like Ludic Dreaming: How to Listen Away from Contemporary Technoculture by a group called The Occulture, Steve Goodman’s Sonic Warfare, and François J. Bonnet’s The Order of Sounds: A Sonorous Archipelago. Let us engage in creative rather than merely receptive modes of listening. Like Cordelia in King Lear, let us exclaim, “All blest secrets, / All you unpublished virtues of the earth, / Spring with my tears!”
Let us presume an underlying unity of purpose guiding seasons and souls. At the same time, let us declare that any discourse that validates itself by claiming on its behalf its actuality, or allies itself exclusively with the natural, is a cop out. Admitting into a fiction the paradox of its reality is like designing into a mask a clue to its wearer’s essence. And yet, when we pause our telling, it’s there again, this “nature.” Even when apprehended as soundscape alone, this universal commons, this host-body upon which we feed, is of a secret order greater than that of any made by craft or techne. Slip off, then, slip free of, one’s headphones. One need only pronounce into this wet evening air the words, “In the story, it is written.” So begins the tale of the tale that tells itself into being. The Tale of the Algorithmic Universe.
Receive and digest — or when that fails, depart the avatar and swim through virtual space. Respond initially as if bewitched, befuddled, inventing before one’s eyes tales of men on poles dragged off by crows. With appropriate adjustment, though, attention can relax its concerns and wander. Unlock the ideal athletic state of “relaxed concentration.” Get high snuffing twists of eucalyptus. “Not by one avenue alone,” wrote ancient statesman Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, “can we arrive at so tremendous a secret.” Truths that languages of conquest have rendered unutterable.
Souls hover amid the frequencies of Leo Noble’s Ashenden and Isaac Willow’s Treamplasturin’, while courts grant the State the right to indefinitely detain immigrants. How do those of us who have glimpsed utopia free the prisoners, the cavedwellers, those still ensnared in the Construct, the Collective Choice Architecture known as the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”? Perhaps we should teach them the story of Coeden Brith, “a 220-acre parcel owned by Alison Harlow on the 5600-acre Hippie homesteading community called Greenfield Ranch near Ukiah, CA.” Of special note is this countercultural, neo-pagan community’s ties to ecotopian fantasy and sci-fi writers Ernest Callenbach and Ursula K. LeGuin. As youth rise up, we can begin to think again about sustainable futures, the lives we want.