Friday, July 13, 2012


Hakim Bey, painted portrait DDC_3021

Hakim Bey Talks with users of Public Netbase
March 18.1995

Excerpt from the transcript. May I advice you to read the full transcript.

On that point for me it's interesting living in a communal group. The way that suddenly you realize that the whole process of what you are doing is in fact an ego game, that you are working out amongst all the other people involved - we all come from western society.
It took me psychedelics to wake up to be honest. And it took me being in a situation whereby Brittain had an underground movement which lasted for four years solid. And this movement was a Free Party movement. This was coming together thousands of people and all dancing underneath the stars for sometimes periods of two weeks. This were serious nights of partying. This brought us to the edge where we suddenly realized where our freedom lay.
Everyone thinks we are free, we were told that - and I believed it all the way - but suddenly when you push out and find out that by expressing your freedom you got riot police coming in and beating people up, suddenly you find out that your freedom doesn't stretch so far.
There is this issue in Britain of Commonland. I remember when we were in Leeds we were looking for a place to do a party. The traditional place in Britain is Commonland. I went to Leeds to have a look at the maps of Commonland, and all the land that was given to the people, there were only two pieces left. I checked both places. First was a field for a farmers corn and the second place was an airport... This is land that was given to the people for specific parties and festivals, put it's not there anymore, it's been sold off.

This shows us that in the end you need physical space. If you want Immediatism, you want physical space.

Maybe we should go to virtual space.

X to H. BEY :
But this is a contradiction to immediacy, cause immediacy claims that you shouldn't use the media to come together but you use physical space. And in the end this is inconsistent.

H. BEY :
This is not exactly what I've said. What I said was that there is no Temporary Autonomous Zone without physical space. I didn't say that there is no interrelationship between cyberspace and physical space. Of course there's a relationship - there are many different kinds of relations. But what I'm talking about, how I'm defining freedom for the time being, if it doesn't include the body it is an illusion. If my eyes are free but my nose isn't, so this is not what I call freedom. I say there is no festival inside cyberspace. If it doesn't interpenetrate with the physical world, then it's simply another form of representation. Everything which was once lived, has now moved away into representation. And if this is felt to be a form of un-freedom, than it is precisely representation which we find ourselves in a struggle against.
In this sense it may be necessary to ultimately take up a very hostile stand toward cyberspace, or we may find it is a useful weapon, but we will not find our freedom in a machine. We won't find our freedom as a representation in a machine. I can turn myself into a cartoon figure going to virtual reality and act all kinds of fantasies but that won't be live, that would be representation. A representation of myself to the space and a representation of the space to myself. In that circularity there is no exit - there is no escape from that kind of viscous circle. So that's why I don't say that there's some dichotomy between the physical and the non physical but the one without the other is not freedom. You see what I'm saying?

No that's not true! Because you can leave this material world. It's not so easy but it's possible - you can go into immaterial, antimaterial world.

For me that's an interesting point. All live is representational anyway, we are living in a type of illusion or cyberspace reality where we have these meat machines to walk around. Cyberspace doesn't exist yet. In the moment the closest space that we have to cyberspace is innerspace, where creativity - perhaps - ultimately comes from.

H. BEY :
Well, we all know, that there is no absolute direct experience - that the body itself is a medium, that proprioception is mediated by the nervous system etc. etc. But I still maintain that it is possible to construct a hierarchy of values in which certain things are more and certain things are less embodied. To simply take some kind of Berkleyan idealism, which is what I'm getting from you - to say that the body has no reality and therefore there is no difference between virtual reality, whether it be virtual or actual virtual reality, is something that I have to reject.
I don't see this lack of distinction. I know that there is a great platonic, mystical, gnostic dualist tradition, which you guys seem to be here today to represent, which really does believe, that we are going to leave our body, that there's some real eternal entity inside the body, which is going to escape and is going to heaven when you die. I don't know this shit and frankly I don't believe it - it's finished - I might as well go become a Christian.

I can show you this concept mathematically - you can proof it. Matter, antimatter - other forms of energy. The last human chess master - if the computer is better in chess than the best human chess master the same can happen to literature and music.

H. BEY :
First of all I've never met anybody from the antimatter world. So I don't have any opinion about the existence of consciousness within the world of antimatter.
Second chess can be reduced to mathematics, we know that this is true, but we don't know that literature or life or flesh can be reduced to mathematics. That has not been shown to my satisfaction and if it's shown to yours I would appreciate some references.

On this issue, for me, you would help me if you would clarify the difference between meditation, the psychedelic experience, the trance dance, what happens at rave parties. I think on these lines as a backup to what I'm doing with the techno side and also looking at creativity and the idea of clearing the ego from the process and allowing pure source energy through. What is the difference?

H. BEY :
Possibly we're talking about different states of consciousness. My inclination is to think everything is real, which of course means reality becomes a very fuzzy concept. But I have experience of the world of the imagination too. It's on the level that one experiences it. It's of course very very real. It can change your life and through it you can change the world. So the imagination is clearly something which is as real, in this sense, as anything else. Virtual reality is as real, in this sense, as anything else. But I would go back to the idea of a practical hierarchy, which has to be ultimately, subjectively based. Is it doing it for me, or is it not?
On the bases of the only possible values, that we can create for ourselves - this kind of gradation of media, by which I mean language, body, everything, can arrange in some kind of a useful program for oneself, where certain spaces are more liberated. Certain modes of consciousness are more joyful. That's really the best I can say. .

What about the idea of improvisation, the whole idea of reflecting the moment. How that is necessary to the development of the consciousness, it does seem to have the ability to pull the mind in and take it somewhere. This whole process is very important for culture and has been obliterated in the west for the past few hundred years but does seem to emerge through the subcultures and always has done.

H. BEY :
I think improvisation is a good key to this. If you can develope a kind of Zen-approach to this levels, so you need not use a hard and fast religion, ideology or philosophy to prejudge the utility of one level over the other that would be the appropriate modus operandi. The best way to go would be what I call a psychic martial artist.

Read the full transcript here: