Before The Beginning Were The Waters

From Julian Langer

We are witnessing the destructive power of wild-Being, through the medium of water, as well as wind and fire.

Before the beginning there was the waters. This is the case in a great many mythologies. In Genesis the spirit of Yahweh floats atop the surface of the waters, when the earth was Formless. Before Vishnu commanded Brahma to create the form of the world, Vishnu slept floating upon the waters of the world, wrapped in the coils of a great snake – Vishnu the preserver and Brahma the creator are one being, in the Hindu pantheon, as is Shiva the destroyer.

In the Sumerian Eridu creation story, An, Enill, Enki and Ninhursanga first create the world, for mankind and the animals, before a great flood comes to destroy everything. Zi-ud-sura learns of this and, like Noah in the Abrahamic mythology, builds and ark to save the animals. In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, Ea (the Sumerian Enki) instructs Utnapishtim to demolish his house and build a boat, in preparation of a great flood that the gods are going to bring, to save himself and other living beings.

In Chinese mythology, Nüwa repairs the four pillars, whose collapse brought floods, fire and great beasts that ravaged mankind, bringing about peace. Flood control signals the dawning of civilisation in China, with Yu the Great’s controlling the waters leading to the dawn of agriculture in the region.

The Hopi people, who viewed themselves as descendants of the Spider-Grandmother, believed that Tawa destroyed the Third World in a great flood. The Aztecs believed that the gods destroyed the world in a flood, which had no survivors, and that creation had to start again. Also, the indigenous peoples of the Andaman islands believe that their creation deity Püluga sent a devastating flood, which left only 4 human survivors, but destroyed all the other living beings and their fire – Püluga brought back the flora and fauna, but didn’t return the fire.

In the myths of science and evolutionary theory, first the earth had to be covered in waters before life could flourish. And we all find our earliest biological origins in the depths of those primordial seas of the pre-Cambrian era.

The waters of the world are a primal force of creation and destruction in the world. Within this planetary bioregion, there is no life, in the sense of organic matter, without water. Life is a process of simultaneous creation and destruction.

Wild-Being – the geo-spatial extensive topologies and differential flow of intensities of energy, which surmount to what we call the wild – is this process of boundless life in flux. Heraclitus’s river articulates this in a way that can be immediately drawn from phenomenologically – “no man ever steps into the same river twice, as it is not the same river and he is not the same man”. The rivers flow creates its new body and destroys its old one. The mans life creates its new body and destroys its old one. And with this, the univocality of Being as Becoming if the basis of life/existence/wild-Being.

We are witnessing the destructive power of wild-Being, through the medium of water, as well as wind and fire.

As the biosphere collapses into climate chaos, those energies of wild-Being repressed, sublimated, directed and redirected, harnessed and channelled by civilisation into “order”, through the geometrical quantitative machinery of the technosphere, the violent/destructive explosive shattering of this chaosmic release is vibrating across the body of the earth and is a terrifying force for those unprepared to embrace the wild.

The existential dread of Hurricane Harvey’s violent shattering might have been easily repressed, were it not for the immediate arrival of Irma and Jose’s and Katia’s destructive dances upon the body of the earth.

The Taino indigenous peoples of the Caribbean worshiped a zemi the Spanish invaders called Juraćan, who was their deity of chaos. This deity’s body is the same as the Mayan god Huracan, which is the root of our word hurricane.

These hurricanes exist outside of the repressive order of civilisation, as a destructive chaosmic release, a wild reaction to the excretive effects of this culture’s violating/violent technological means of consumption.

The destruction the floods in America, South East Asia and Europe we have recently witnessed, either directly or through the hyper-real spectacle of contemporary media, are points of chaosmic release from order, where the flow of wild-Being becomes released, allowing for the potential return to the wild – outside of both order and chaos. They shatter the perceived safety of the technosphere, revealing our existential nakedness immersed in the world.

Today, as I write this in the British countryside, the gale-force winds of the tail end of the aforementioned three hurricanes are battering these islands in the North Sea. This obviously pales in comparison to the force of their immediate bodies, but the winds still roar like a raging beast, furious in the face of its abuser. Their free dances upon the earth, stretching across an entire ocean, bring to my mind Anaximander’s notion of a boundless cosmology called apeiron, which flows uninhibited by any-Thing. This is made clear by the destruction produced by Hurricane Harvey’s winds, with houses left in ruins.

Apeiron was intended to signify all 4 of the classical elements – fire, water, wind and earth.

The destructive force of the earth has been revealed, yet again, in the form of the earthquake in Mexico. In the Greek pantheon, Poseidon is the god of the sea and earthquakes, known for his vengeful wrath and being easily offended. So in a world where fishless oceans by 2050 is a likely possibility, due to the toxifying and polluting excretions of this culture, and where hydraulic fracking and geo-engineering undermine the body of the earth (directly bringing about their own earthquakes), the earthquake appears to be a medium of destructive release for the vengeful energies of wild-Being.

Fire is often viewed as a basically destructive force upon the world – this is probably predominantly due to civilised-man only using fire for fundamentally violent purposes. But those of us familiar with fire ecology, wild or rewilded, know that fire has its creative aspect to it, in ecological terms. And we know that the wild-fires destruction leads to the creative regrowth of forests, in the cosmic flow of wild-Being. Most of us will know the intimate, immediate, beautiful warmth fire creates through the flickering dances of its flames, in a directly phenomenological sense.

But like the wrath of the recent hurricanes and earthquake, the recent wildfires in North America and Greenland bring our focus onto its more destructive aspects. Fueled by the conditioned produced by climate change and agricultural production, the intensity of these fires and their destructive fury is a force, whose wild release undermines the ordering of civilisation, in chaosmic release of wild-Being’s flow. The existential dread produced from their wild fury is drawn from the awareness that fire will burn through most means of technological mediation and leave bare naked flesh burnt and scarred, in its indiscriminate dances upon the earth.

The eco-extremist movement, whose liberation theology and anti-anarchist anti-politics has upset and displeased many in eco-radical and anarchist milieus, revere and worship Wild Nature, and seek to emulate storms and hurricanes and wildfires through their methodology of indiscriminate attack. And while there is much to find ugly in and criticise the eco-extremist movement for – especially the infamous group ITS – there is a certain poetic beauty in this desire to embrace their being extensions of wild-Being, through emulating Wild Nature – though they often appear (certainly to my mind) to miss that destruction is creation, and that what is wild is alive.

Naturism, paganism, rewilding through prim/wild-craft skills, sexual/erotic exploration, activist actions, guerrilla ontology and many other forms of praxis that those of us within eco-radical milieus, whatever ideological/semiolinguistic lexicon we choose to embrace, stems from the energetic fury of a wildfire inside the very core of our being and Being, and a desire to relinquish that which civilisation uses to repress our wildness. And in these practices, we need to find this unequivocal unity in destruction and creation in what it is we are doing.

I wrote in my previous piece for this site, and have done so in my book and on my personal blog, of iconoclasm. Now in once sense, this is intended to signify the material body of the onto-theology of the technosphere – civilisation. But I am also intending to signify the praxis of destroying icons of mythology, in the sense meant by great iconoclasts, like Renzo Novatore and Bruno Filippi.

So why then have I drawn from the icons of so many pantheons within this text and others?

Because when the fox, lion, bear, shark, tiger, badger, orca, wolf, crocodile, racoon, boar, eagle or whatever other example you care for, devours what it destroys, it creates its-self, in its immediate body, and creates the world it is an extension of, through the excretions of their flesh. This is not only true of carnivores, as herbivores, like rhinos, actively create life through the destruction of their consumption.

So as I consume these icons, I devour their bodies, to attempt to create something living.

And as I leave you at the end of this piece, I wish to conclude with this poem Gates of Ys by pagan anarchist writer Christopher Scott Thompson –

Half a nation drowned by water,
Half consumed by fire.
Those who profit, smug with laughter,
Fear no prophet calling “Liar!”.

Ash comes floating from the heavens,
Storms come rolling in.
Preachers close the doors of churches,
Calmly fold their hands, and grin.

We who listened, we who bargained,
Now praise God in sheer despair.
Gods like fire and wind and water
Do not heed such prayers.

Sorcerers of coal and oil,
We invoked, they came.
Never mind the prayers and praises,
Last-ditch rages, guilt and blame.

Gods as deaf as us have gathered:
Storm and flame and wind.
Now the gates of Ys are opened.
Now the ocean rushes in.


Julian Langer

Writer of Feral Consciousness: Deconstruction of the Modern Myth and Return to the Woods, blogger at Eco-Revolt, and has been published on a number of other sites. Eco-anarchist and guerilla ontologist philosopher. Lover of woods, deer, badgers and other wild beings. Musician and activist.


The Pre-Sale for A Beautiful Resistance: The Crossing has begun!

Radical Semiotics and The Need For Ontological Anarchism

“radical semiotics can be seen as an existentialist activity for meaning-making”

From Julian Langer

 

“The repression of an individual by the iron machinery of the State has rarely been so powerfully depicted. Yet this is only the beginning of the story.” Fredy Perlman

Anarchists have beautifully and articulately expressed many of the same criticisms and theories of classical anarchist and economic theories (predominantly classical liberalism and anti-state Marxist-style socialism), on repeat, in an eternal return that can appear never ending (and can get extremely boring). What have received far less attention within anarchist discourse are questions regarding what-it-is-we-are-actually-opposing and how do we make meaning while trapped within the culture we supposedly oppose.

This situation is basically that which Walter Benjamin discussed in his essay ‘The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction’, where the perpetual reproduction of the same critiques, ideas and theories leads to their losing their unique existence and presence in time and space.

So this piece might be considered as being an operation in friendly-fire, but as I move on to the following sections I’d like to emphasis the intended friendliness in this piece.

Well Known Feuds: Ancaps vs. Social-Anarchists

As I start this section, I want to get something “off my chest” – I am so fucking bored of arguments between anarcho-capitalists and social-anarchists, and this is largely why I avoid the bother of debating with either of these milieus (in real life or online). My choice to not bother debating them is largely because of the unending moral dogmatism that comes from both sides of this supposed cosmic-dualism, which appears more and more like theological disputes between varying sects of the same religious orders.

What do I mean by this? I mean that both of these ideological variants of anarchism worship the same deity, while remaining unable to agree on the exact meaning behind its teachings, nor the exact dimensions of its facial features. This deity is one we are all abundantly familiar with, as we navigate its body daily, through the business-as-usual of this culture. And whether or not you call it the Leviathan, the state, the economy, the nation, or civilisation, its body, with its means of consumption and excretion, regardless of who owns the means or who doesn’t, who gets paid what or whether or not they are communally shared, remains the same within both of these discourses.

This feature of social-ontics is one that green-anarchists of varying schools, as well as non-anarchist anti-civ schools of thought pick up on, but fail to fully account for; while often allying with Marxist-style and social-anarchist projects, out of a general anti-capitalist ideological commonality.

Christianity, Science, Paganism and Attacks on Wild-Being

Agriculture necessitates civilisation, which then necessitates organised religion and scientific means of technological advancement; both of which largely surmount to the same phenomenon. The unity of these apparently differing social-narratives stems from their both serving as means of violating wild-Being – the transient, organic flow of nature (for a quick definition). In the individual this surmounts to the repression of the self – as civilisation lover Freud identified – and direct technological mediation from naked immediateness, into the dressings of their narratives – the self becomes clothed and adorned with labels and categories of civilisation’s means of production.

Paganism, as a religious order distinguished from animism, arrives as a response to this violation of the wild-Being pagans long to return to. As such, paganism often stems from a desire to live outside of civilisation, but from the gaze of civilisation – so that wild-Being is something separate and not just the unrepressed metaphysical flow of Being. And because of this, while paganism can serve as a means of weakening and challenging the narratives of civilisation, unless pagans complete the process and abandon nature-as-Other, paganism can only be a practice in liberation theology, which doesn’t bring down its target.

The Christianised mask of civilisation is undoubtedly the one that has for the most part won-out, with its humanist dressings elevating science to the level of Christ, where science stands as a bridge for the civilised to cross over, in avoidance of hell on route to heaven. And industrialism and technology stand as means of transcendence from wild-Being, which civilisation attempts to escape, as it is seen as a cosmic evil Other for civilisation to overcome. This is marked by Christian morals regarding rights and scientific narratives regarding progress, whose Christian mirror is the manifest destiny of Christianised civilisation.

The reason why attacks on wild-Being largely go unnoticed is because wild-Being is viewed as the Other, rather than as part of the immediate naked self. As such, embracing the self as an extension of wild-Being, immersed in its transient flow, is of the utmost importance, if we are actual opponents of this culture that seeks to mediate us from this, through narratives that tie the self to the collective and its dressings.

Screw Society, We Want Situations and Events

Anarchism generally values society above all else – even pseudo-individualist ancap ideologies. But with this rejection of the social-ontology of civilisation we’ve arrived at as green-anarchists, society needs to be rejected too. This need not be vulgar misanthropy that deifies humans to the level of demons to be exorcised. No! Society has very little to do with those who inhabit it.

Rather, society is a set of mechanical means of perpetuating its own existence, whose physicality is the very social ontology we oppose. This might be maintained by active human participants, but their activity is largely of a passive nature and any invading force would likely see the same technological-mechanical apparatus perpetuating the same processes – so it largely doesn’t matter who it is operating it, just that it exists in-itself is the issue.

Wild-Being is the transient flow of situations through events, which are produced through the emergence of differential geo-spatial vectors – the active creation of new geographies, new topologies and new sets of relations between living beings. Semiotically, these are defined in a fluid state of ever changing meaning, which each living being will interpret based in their own subject-sensitive rationality, which makes them far messier for discussion, but makes discussion far more honest.

Neither Reform Nor Revolution: Involution (or Fuck Dialectics and Fuck Conservatism)

Time and history have largely consumed life into the slow meliorist project of progress, whether or not that is via reform (loved by liberals) or revolution (loved by anarchists and Marxists). Improvement of conditions via progress is always marked by an ideal that we remain alienated from at all points, but must strive towards. And under the name of civilisation, technology and the conditions of living in society, life is abandoned in favour of the historical project of progress.

Liberals, leftists and the right wing are all consumed by history and its slow march. History is shaped by politics and history needs to be abandoned.

History relies on a form of metaphysics, where the future exists as a destination to arrive at, whose form exists as an idealist truism, to become actual. Wild-Being is entirely physical though, and as such contradicts this notion. Rather wild-Being exists prior to time and history, in the transient present, which authentic consciousness perceives egoistically.

Because of this metaphysical rejection, our green-anarchist ontological anarchism needs to be based outside of time, in a transient-egoistic-presentism – the immediate phenomenology of the now.

This will largely involve collapsing the project of progress, in ways that are desirable in the immediate moment, so as to work towards the involutionary collapse of history and civilisation. This could be done through acts of poetic terrorism or eco-radical acts of direct action, but will ultimately look like something and be something very different from the projects of leftist revolutionaries or liberal reformists.

Meaningless Civilisation: Totalitarian Signs

The crisis of meaning currently underway within this hyperactive “stage” of civilisation, this “dialectic” of mass-technological mediation, daily terrorist violence and nuclear horror, is the totalitarianism of a semiology whose signs dictate nearly all aspects of lived experiences.

It is easy enough to recognise the construction of meaning through mediums such as the media, education, television, the internet or many other well known examples. But everyday totalitarian semiotics largely go unnoticed.

This is least noticed through the material dynamics of ideology, where the physicality of the social-environment of the techno-sphere and its means of consumption infect consciousness, so as to produce a world where meanings are nothing more than the perpetuation of its Symbolic ideology. And it largely goes unnoticed within groups and movements, unless an outsider remarks and upsets the semiotic field  (Christian means of meaning-making are unquestioned within Christianity, liberal means of meaning-making are unquestioned within liberalism etc.) and we arrive in a totalitarian situation, where other semiologies are considered as threats to be stamped out at any opportunity. The shallow dogmatism of this ideological narrative is obvious to individualists, non-conformists and other “outsiders”, but remains something unchanging within this culture.

If we are to challenge this culture, we need to challenge totalitarian semiotics and actively create our own signs and means of meaning-making.

On Radical Semiotics and Ontological Anarchism

The inescapable potentialism of what I am to write about means that I will never be able to do justice to the topics of radical semiotics and ontological anarchism.

At the very least, these projects are based in a sense of self, value and allyship drawn from wild-Being, an involutionary rejection of history and progress, the active creation of situations and events and the rejection of totalitarian semiotics and their dogmatisms.

Regarding radical semiotics, these signs cannot be limited to the dictates of socially-normative Symbolic-culture, that seeks to define all of life into the categories of its signs. Rather they are best served challenging these signs, in ways that do not become amalgamated into the Spectacle of progress and history.

In this sense, radical semiotics are largely a nihilist project; or rather they would be, if it weren’t for the fact that they include the creation of subject-sensitive signs, whose beauty is found in the authenticity of the aesthetics of the poetry of the creator. As such, radical semiotics can be seen as an existentialist activity for meaning-making – an existentialism that arrived ultimately at eco-radicalism (rather than humanism) in embrace of the responsibility of our condemnation to freedom.

The project of ontological anarchism, following from all of this, then becomes one of the active creation of radical semiotics, so as to collapse civilisation by undermining its own means of meaning-making – in the sense described in the second paragraph of this section. And ontological anarchism becomes an activity of metaphysical-terrorism, working towards collapsing civilisation/history and its social-ontics.

Within my own lexicon, the project of radical semiotics is a feral activity and the project of ontological anarchism is an iconoclastic activity. So what I am describing here I choose to call feral iconoclasm and seems to me to be the project of eco-radicals and guerrilla ontologists, within the horrors of our contemporary situation.

“In the horrible extremity of today we can see the need to return all the way to the earth, to the multi-sensual intimacy of nature that obtained before symbolisation made living a reified, separated caricature of itself.”

John Zerzan


Julian Langer

Writer of Feral Consciousness: Deconstruction of the Modern Myth and Return to the Woods, blogger at Eco-Revolt, and has been published on a number of other sites. Eco-anarchist and guerilla ontologist philosopher. Lover of woods, deer, badgers and other wild beings. Musician and activist.