There’s a lot of anarchy to be had in a conversation.
Chaotic, tumbling, bumbling, ooh-ooh, yeah, aha, you, then me, then her, then breath, her, him, you, herhimyou, meyouhim, hymn, ha-ha, freedom and boredom in the excess, why did i say that, why didn’t i say this, shall i, shan’t i, fuck it, i didn’t notice me standing there, “she realises she is dominating the conversation”
And there’s a lot of authoritarianism too.
Sometimes I feel disturbed after a conversation in which I have either been blocked out or in which insensitivity, tiredness, anxiety (++) have led me up the garden of eden path to talking bullshit.
An anarchic conversation is rooted in the body. Babies converse anarchically and they know no words. They are little bundles of surprise, taking me by it. Making me crack up. Breaking the reductionism of language patterns. The way I converse bores me. small talk is small. Time for a tall tale.
“for the Zapatistas
a leader is
the best listener
in the community
from south to north
(from letter to Emily)
Conversations were had with:
the Rag, Dublin’s cool, anarcha-feminist collective. Congratulations on the new mag, the new Rag,
the woman from Cornwall who asked for one too,
the guy selling Moving On benefit CDs for Nottingham Social centre – the ‘For Fucks sake, this CD is only a quid, please take it off my hands’ message.
the woman who gave me a ladyfest flier when i yelped with excitement at finding out the date – we exchanged glints in our eyes. Ladyfest London is arriving …. (May 9 – 11th 2008)
the battle for broadway market film resonated loudly. Betty, the 76 year old, says ‘To be honest, this (battle) has done me the world of good. Last year my husband died. I was staying at home all the time. This has got me out the house, made me friends for life.” (I’m paraphrasing, sorry. Watch the film, it’s beautiful)
The Anarchist Black Cross crew – wow, what organisation!, printing out cards, with slips of paper about political prisoners and why they’re inside. All i had to do was write a message and they’d send it on. (I wrote to Mumia Abu-Jamal and Betty someone – involved in anti-olympic development direct action in … Canada(?) Thanks people! This is a form of solidarity I’ve been wanting to do for ages and you made it possible. The ABC fixed it for me! Let’s wear our medals with pride. Don’t know where you were from folks, here’s a link to the Brighton one. I noticed most of the prisoners were from US, aren’t there many political prisoners in the UK? John Bowden is getting some support at the moment. Be interested to find out more.
the Cunningham amendment (the letterpress stronghold in a world of zines – get yours from 1005 Huddersfield Road, Bradford, BD12 8LP by sending some stamps or small amounts of cash),
David Gribble – thanks for your research into Real Education: Varieties of Freedom. It was a pleasure. We chatted about the Paths through Utopias project’s recent trip to Padeia Anarchist school in Extramadura. David was impressed that they had ‘got in’. He’s been emailing them for years and they don’t respond. Maybe they are zine fanatics and eschew electronic communication.
the SLACkers … yippee! an idea for a new action – intervention by radio, the power of,
that little group of people who met around the question “Should we be spending more time on existing struggles or creating alternatives?” in the Trapese collective’s workshop – the woman with red hair i recognise from Russell Square social centre, the guy with the long blond hair, the short Australian / NZ ? (sorry!!) woman, the note-taker-woman, but NO THANKS! to the woman who came along, gave an opinion then trounced off again. Go straight to the Zapatistas. Do not pass GO.
friends, friends, colleagues, collaborators, partners in crime – never enough time to talk to you properly and plot and scheme. How to ride this shallow trough, this lack of time we splash about in? How to identify the wave that will carry us together over the edge of capitalism and into pools of freedom, time and again. Shall we surf?
the little insight from David Graeber about how in authoritarian discussions there are different categories of wrongness, and s/he who wants to attack waits just long enough to decide which category of wrongness what you have to say falls into and then pulls out the argument (from the woefully inadequate archives) to criticise your attempt at communication and put it back in its place of wrongness. WRONG! Wring, Wrang, Wrong. Wrong is such a beautiful word. It tickles the back of the throat, that W and that R together, aah, that’s gorgeous. It’s as sacred as a tibetan bowl. healing through sound. (No esotericism please, we’re anarchists. Bollocks. Where were the pagans at this year’s bookfair. Well, I was there …) Think of 10 ways you were wrong yesterday and CELEBRATE them in a festival of wrongness with 10 dear mates you have wronged. Q are we condemned to wrong our mates through bad communication? A whatever, but i’d say yes but never condemned. Friends aren’t really friends until you’ve fallen out then in with them again. Discuss. Diss & Cuss. Kick up a fuss.
Which reminds me, NO THANKS to that guy and then the other one who said in the David Graeber and Stevphen Shukaitis Militant Research talk ‘Let’s break off into small groups – I’m sure everyone’s got things to say on the subject’, ‘I’m an activist-academic too and I spend my time trying to break down these situations of panel, audience division’. And then the woman who said ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve got a PhD and i don’t know what you’re talking about’ (Well, I’ve got a GCSE in French and STILL can’t speak Spanish). What was going on here? Now, I’m a big fan of horizontal group discussions but that has to be the proposal from the off in a workshop of one hour otherwise we just learn how to chair scrape. And sometimes I like listening to certain people speak. Yes, that’s right. I like to sit and listen. I went to that talk to listen to David Graeber as he tends to speak in a way that is understandable and entertaining. I listen to good lectures the way I listen to experimental poetry, i let it wash over me, some of it sticks, most of it doesn’t. The bits that stick are worth it. I don’t try and control the experience and process every word.
Hijack, disrupt, control, ego, power, coming with a pre-set agenda, losing the moment.
Unfortunately, David fitted into someone’s category of wrongness. What a neat exposition of his argument. Did he plan that? Was it guerrilla theatre?
Pretty much every discussion at the ABF is going to be top down, unless specifically planned otherwise. Sitting in a circle does not mean a discussion is going to be horizontal. The Trapese collective did a groovy workshop in a lecture hall with raked seating. We clambered over them to move around the room in a market place discussion. A v large percentage of anarchists / libertarians have had an authoritarian education. We reproduce it. Its one of our unknown unknowns. Even our good intentions are hijacked by our blindness. We’re at our most dangerous when we think we’re doing good. I’m a moralising bollock-talker. No, I really am.