Tag Archives: Writing

WHAT IS PANARCHY?

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I’ve got no idea! I’m still figuring it out, and chances are I will be for the rest of my life. This is good! This is how ideas should be – any idea you’ve “figured out” is a dead one – it means it’s time to ask new questions, move on to new ideas.

I’m so nervous about writing a blog! But why should I be? Something I’ve realised over the past month is that nothing can be forced, and that I can’t do anything but what I want to do, and that if the blog-writing time has not come, I will not write a blog. More and more I will cultivate that will to writing a blog, but for now it is not a big will, and there is no shame in that. I keep a journal constantly, but the journal and the blog are very different media, and I am still learning this one. Beyond that, each blog is itself perfectly unique and has its own character in a way my journals don’t – my journal is any surface I can write on. For now I will try and understand what this blog is, and what kind of writing it is able to receive.*

But WHAT IS PANARCHY? I’ve been thinking for a while what Panarchy is and I have figured these things out (This is a phrase I’ve used more than once now so I’ll have to write about what it means.):

  • Every friendship is a tiny Panarchy.
    • But I could not say whether Panarchy is a big friendship. I think it could be!
  • Panarchy is salvage philosophy.
    • Life springs from rot, things with no Official (And this is important) function are capable of anything. The carved stone has purpose, the uncarved stone has potential. “Carved” and “uncarved” are ways of perceiving, and there is something which is both of them, where function is perfectly fluid and where these things are not in some petty opposition but enhance each other, fall in love with each other. Nothing is mutually exclusive, however much it might appear to be.
    • “Carved” is tentative, always provisional – Panarchy says everything is provisional. Panarchy is simultaneously carved and uncarved, figured and un-figured out. There are no ends, only the decision to “stop here, for now.”
  • Panarchy is un-Official
    • It would be very interesting to do a survey of ‘negative’ prefixes – un-, non-, anti-, in-, and so on. I say ‘negative’ because they’re not really negative at all – they are freedoms from. The non-hierarchical is freedom from hierarchy, the anti-racist is freedom from racism – you are not fenced in at all. It’s more like guard railings around a pit, which is itself a fencing in (You are trapped, you can not climb out). This pit is the same bucket as the one referred to in the phrase “crabs in a bucket”. And this bucket is a prison! The same prison as the one posed in the Prisoners’ Dilemma – in both the Prisoners’ Dilemma and the crabs’ bucket, they harm themselves in their efforts to put themselves ahead of their partners.
    • “When you catch a crab and place him in a bucket, the first thing he’ll try to do is escape. Now, if you put two crabs in a bucket (hence the plural form of ‘Crabs in a Bucket’) and place them in there together, as soon as one tries to climb up out of the bucket the other will grab the escaping crab by the legs and try to escape itself, to which the process gets repeated to the point where NO crabs end up escaping.”
      Urban Dictionary
    • The lesson: Stay out of pits!
  • Panarchy is the Pop Vernacular:
    • “The Pop Vernacular is a both a graveyard for the old and the superseded and the spawning ground of unexpected futures. A cornucopia of architectural salvage. The Pop Vernacular draws on all of time and space. And despite its familiarity, it glows with optimism and freshness. Far from the end of history, it is the well spring of the imminent future. … Without the need for authenticity, its free to reinvent itself.”
      • Most important: It does not glow with optimism and freshness despite its familiarity, but because of it. Additionally, there is no difference between the “graveyard for the old and superseded” and the “spawning ground of unexpected futures.” There was never a difference – life springs from rot, rot springs from life.
      • It is the need for authenticity, the pursuit of it which makes you inauthentic. In needing authenticity, you are in need of authenticity – that is what the word means.
        • I am in need of nothing, at my best. I am always at my best, but sometimes it is hard to perceive this, and in perceiving it, it becomes true. The question then would be why I perceive it some times and not others! This is a question for later. The important thing now is that all that has happened is all that could ever have happened, because it did. There is nothing to compare it to. Every thing that happens is the best thing that could have happened, no matter how horrific, and all we can do with those horrific moments is take them and say to ourselves “we will not let this happen again”.
        • But I could not equally say every thing that happens is the worst thing that could have happened. Why is this? This is a matter of saying “everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle” – it’s also the difference between saying “our Sun is just another star” and “every star is a Sun.”
    • “Architects’ relationship to the vernacular is to patronise it as traditional, kitsch, as the lowest common denominator. Maybe they fear its wild and uninhibited nature, maybe they are wary of its ruthless directness. Certainly it is a different tradition of building. It obeys different laws to high architecture. This makes it difficult to pin down: it absorbs different aesthetics, it mutates, it shifts its subject matter.”
      • The Pop Vernacular is un-Official – a freedom from the Official. High Architecture – High Anything – is Official. ‘Rabelais and His World’ has more on this wonderful idea – there is a lower bodily stratum of shit, sex, birth (Life springs from rot) and an upper bodily stratum of speech, thought and faces. The upper is ungrounded and pretends at eternity – this is why lecterns hide the lower half – while the lower is dynamic, procreative and transient. Panarchy is the lower, or both at once? I’m sure it’s not the upper. It’s freedom from the upper.
  • Panarchy is childish philosophy.
    • I will have to think more about this. Think of the character of a child, don’t ask it to be anything but itself. Think especially of the way they ask questions! Children have not been taught that things are impossible – they have not been lied to. The question of what’s possible is a very difficult one, but for now I don’t think anyone can know enough to say what is and isn’t possible except in the most provisional sense – I can’t tell the future, so I can’t say anything’s impossible. Be sceptical of anyone who says they know what is and isn’t possible – be sceptical of “Realists”. Be an Unrealist!

Friendship is the most interesting thing I’ve ever encountered, and it’s been the catalyst for all the other realisations I’ve come to over the past month. Friendship, like Panarchy, is the spirit of free play and experimentation. Friendship is sober honesty but it’s always exciting – this is the spirit of ruthless directness attributed to the Pop Vernacular.

When writing about friendship I found my blog post slowing to a halt and dying. This will happen until I learn how to take care of it properly – it will seem very brittle and it will seem as if it’s failing to thrive, but this is just a function of my not knowing what it wants yet. And this is also in the spirit of conversation! Something I’ve noticed is that conversations die when you go to talk to someone about something – you can talk to anyone about something, but you can’t talk to someone about anything. I am only ever speaking to someone. “Anyone” is a very interesting character – what can they do? What can’t they do? What is the difference between “Anyone” and “Everyone”? These are all questions for later. I’m not done writing about friendship!

*The writing is produced in the act of “receiving”, which is not a receiving at all, but a fruitful partnership between me and the blog – a love, a procreation in which neither and both is the parent. I will have to think more about this, but in the same sense we could say “a conversation has two people”, rather than “two people have a conversation”, you might say a writing has me and the blog.

P.S. If you think this post was bullshit, or you liked it, but mostly if you were affected enough to think about it, I’d love to hear from you! Send me an email at owensworth@gmail.com.

Panarchy! A How-To (Part 1 – Beginning)

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I’ve been trying to write this article for a week now because I decided to start with four whole books but it took too long and got stalled so I’m starting again with an outline and the first of the four books I wrote about – Elaine Pagels’ Gnostic Gospels, a fabulous book on the beliefs of an ancient heretical sect of Christianity and their relationship with a nascent orthodox church. Groovy! Let’s start:

Why Panarchy?

Panarchy is a word I came up with in the last hour after thinking about what to call this book for the past week or so. I’ve been thinking “Anarchy and Hierarchy”, “Heterachy”, “Non-Hierarchical Organisation” (Doesn’t really flow off the tongue does it?) but for one reason or another I haven’t been happy with any of them. Panarchy is a new word I came up with after about 20 minutes of checking out the etymology of the word “hierarchy” and more specifically the suffix “-archy” and then going to the toilet and reading Mikhail Bakhtin’s Rabelais and His World for a while. Panarchy means two things which are the same thing: the rule of all and the rule of satire (Pan = Satyr = Satire). The rule of all – the rule of everyone as equals, kings and queens alike – is contingent on the rule of laughter and play. This is play in the sense of the old question “What would you do if you were king for a day?” This is satire in the liberating sense, because good satire only punches upward.

Only equals may laugh…. To make men smile at the god Apis is to deprive him of his sacred rank and to transform him into a common bull.”

When we develop the religious metaphor the relationship between satyrs, satires, devils and Panarchy will become clear. The old Christian Devil – THE Devil, the big goat man – was once Pan, the Horned God (Which will also be covered when I look over Slaine, this cool old comic book). The question here is why Pan, as opposed to any other stolen god (eg. Beelzebub, who is especially interesting because of his other name, Baal, whose principle of fun and debauchery is expressed in Bertold Brecht’s play of the same name) has become the dominant popular image of The Devil. What is it about the fun-loving, free-wheeling Pan that makes him the antithesis of old Christian seriousness? These are fantastically interesting questions which we’ll have to leave til later. We’ll explore the seriousness of angels, their opposition to the devils and their freedoms (Also interesting – the autonomous, self-organising computer programs known as “Demons”, to be covered in a review of Manuel DeLanda’s War in the Age of Intelligent Machines.).

I love this article so I’m going to publish it as it is, following up with the first book next time.

Next time: Elaine Pagels’ Gnostic Gospels and the method of the High Priests.