conversation with Adam Greenfield <v-2> //

Oi, Adam Greenfield & I exchanged a few thoughts over email on a post from awhile back -- on the TAZ, Barlow & other subjects, and with his permission, here's the back & forth on two emails, up for discussion.

..from Adam:

Hey hey -

Lotsa thoughts on yr recent rant re: the false consciousness engendered by
Burning Man, many of them refusing to cohere because it's quarter to eleven
on a Friday night.

Try this on for size, though: I have a very, very hard time taking "Hakim
Bey" (Peter Lamborn Wilson) as any kind of progressive at all, despite the
undoubted influence the TAZ had and continues to have over me.

Bey/Wilson's continued advocacy of and paeans to adult-child sex strike me
as essentially Sadeian; that is, the desires involved depend for their
fulfillment on the deprivation of meaningful consent on the part of one of
the two parties to what should be an act of love.

Put more simply, what he describes as a gesture of adoration is something I
would regard as raping a child, and it's his ethical opacity on this subject
more than anything else that disqualifies him as a progressive. To me,
anyway, what he's really on about is the freedom of adult white men to
disport with whoever and whatever they please, absolved of all consequences,
and in this I don't think of him as so terribly different from, say, Dick

I also kind of want to disagree about the idea that there's little or
nothing "sane" left worth saving in the world. That stance strikes me as a
nihilism that not only flirts with the reactionary, but is also
extraordinarily disrespectful of the real, hard work being done to build
alternative institutions and modes of communication outside the twentieth
century's givens.

Anyway, keep up the provocative writing. It's always a pleasure.



.. from tobias:

hey A,

Thanks for the well-thought out thoughts. I should probably make more clear
where I stand on Bey -- but this would not be a stance but a dance -- & is
indeed the work of impending academe work which hopefully will see proper
publication in only (!!) a few short years ..

I agree with your critiques of Bey. He is a self-proclaimed Luddite, for one
thing, his latest work concentrating again on the breast-to-breast and
ignoring the potential of networked communication (he would thus be unable
to value the very important communication we are making @ this moment, for
example). He is becoming reactionary in his old(er) age -- Wilson being that
-- old/er. There are many generational gaps to cross, which is why his work
TAZ will perhaps remain his strongest, as he was able to connect various
anarchic contexts trued & tried with emerging networked subcultures. I think
his work offers value beyond the TAZ in this respect as possibly being one
of the 20C's most valuable anarchist thinkers in every respect -- for who he
writes & how -- for who he connects & how -- his ability to connect the
theoretical maneouvres of D&G to an applicable meme perhaps the strongest.

That said I remain very unclear as to what you mean by 'progressive' and
would raise eyebrow @ the term out-of-hand (I think: Futurist, I think:
telos, I think: goal, I think: progress towards what?, I think: 'progressive
trance' (anything but)). You straw-man Wilson/Bey against the term, so it
needs some proper fleshing for me to follow any critique reliant upon it

The child-sex issue is more directly apparent. However I would give Bey more
space -- and here I say BEY -- in using age-old anarchic techniques of
provocation & moral stunning to dig the reactionists out of the so-called
liberals, which he seems to have done quite well with you [*chuckle*]. Bey
isn't necessarily writing for Truth, as Imperative -- but to Fuck Shit Up.
You can't get any more offensive than child-sex in today's society that at
once abhors the idea yet glorifies every moment it can find to seek out the
pedophile (a phenomenon *created* by the 20th C -- the work by Luther
Blissett collective in Italy being a brilliant pisstake) -- even to the
point today where we prosecute those who download the images of child
pornography & write *fictional* stories but don't pursue those who ABDUCT &
MAKE child pornography with nearly the same vengeance & resources, nor do we
provide clear rulings (except for Amsterdam) on the legality of various
sexual acts as they pertain to prostitution, stuck as most of the world is
in vague & repressive laws concerning our own bodies & religions that backed
these laws into place long ago. I speak here from working under Lorraine
Weir, a Prof @ UBC who testified in the child porn case of Robin Sharpe
which came to define child porn law in Canada. Believe it or not, until Weir
offered expert testimony to the contrary, Cdn court law believed that what
one writes is Truth, always (thus fiction cannot exist). This allowed Canada
Customs to seize any material it deemed 'obscene' -- post office workers
doing the Censorship, w/out any knowledge or background in what might
constitute such a term (in Canada, we don't have Rights; rather such laws as
free speech are determined by community consent; it was up to Weir to prove
that there was a community for various pornographies -- of course the seized
material was largely of the gay/lesbian type & the seizures were direct
results of systematic sexual discrimination & homophobia).

Thus I am suggesting that Bey's work is fictitious -- although this doesn't
make it any less of a weapon, tool or bodythought in the 21C. It does change
the levels and ways in which one engages his texts -- they require more
thought than most give.

AS for 'sanity' -- I don't dismiss the 'building' of alternative
institutions -- but I have trouble believing that today we can measure by
any standards the sane & insane -- I am not a nihilist (one cannot
structurally *believe* in nothing, although one can understand lack as that
which generates a commodified desire in capitalist economies) -- rather I am
quite sane about the point that there is a basis for questioning what we are
doing as sane/insane, this very idea of 'building' (for what purpose?) -- &
this will remain the one question anarchic thought poses throughout the
manufacturing of histories ..

Thanks indeed for writing, Highly Googled Adam,

- tobias

ps. It might be worthwhile to post your & my response so as to invoke
dialogue w/ the wider others ?

pps. Don't forget the boy was inside it when the V-2 came down ;)

posted. Fri - December 12, 2003 @ 11:38 AM           |