There are worse things than death Mr Lee for example to live under the conditions your enemies will endeavour to impose. And the members of all existing organisations are at some point your enemy. You will learn where this point is if you survive. You will receive your instructions in many ways. From books, street signs, films, in some cases from agents who purport to be and may actually be members of the organisation. There is no certainty. Those who need certainty are of no interest to this department. This is in point of fact a non-organisation the aim of which is to immunise our agents against fear despair and death. We intend to break the birth-death cycle.
William S Burroughs, “the winds of time” from The Ticket That Exploded
Time is the enemy here. On the one hand, we have the sublime circle of birth-life-death seen in the concept of samsara of Eastern religions. In the West, evolutionism keeps us on the straight and narrow line of time, heading towards a thermodynamic death: NOVA.
Religion and science are the twin pillars Samson brought down in the temple that keeps the strongman’s hands tied. Religion promises an everlasting afterlife: one day you are going to die and you need to prepare for your eternal salvation in THIS life….
The problem with science as a system of valuations – supplementing a diet of humanism (the Enlightenment project) the basis for an objective production of truth, providing the fruits of scientific labour, technology in the “hard” sense, for the modern sovereign subject, the consumer – is the lack of values or goals short of self-gratification. Science has no purpose in and of itself. Science cannot measure empathy.
Science is not to be ignored. I am emale does not advocate a return to superstitious beliefs and a denial of the basic powers of reasoning. A possible “real-life” nova catastrophe would be global warming. In a worst case nova scenario, thermonuclear war would be another possible end result of this lack of empathy, of contact, of telepathic communication. Of love.
Earth is a space station and we’re here to go into space. Do I hear any questions about that?
Burroughs, “William’s Welcome (What are you here for?)” from Dead City Radio
We, as agents for causes we consciously or unconsciously represent, are thrust upon this stage of world responsibility. Burroughs’ work is intrinsically ethical – it is a concern for the whole. The shocking sexual images are depictions and lines of association connecting and framing the Garden of Delights (GOD for short).
Put into the perspective of a global destination, Burroughs charted a discourse between the epistle (routines) and science (fiction) where man may only be an insignificant part of existence as a whole. The ethics of Burroughs is not a humanism – “the great god Pan is dead, the sudden awareness that everything is alive and significant” (Burroughs, “Apocalypse” from Dead City Radio) – empathy, an intuitive knowledge, espirit de corps with nonhuman elements: the Earth, the Badger, the Lemur, space, even machines and technology.
Burroughs wrote “Pan” the modern version of the ancient Greek satyr, a symbol of man’s unity with nature through an artifice. Religion and drama were closely connected in ancient Greece. What is pure and metaphysical in men and women living in a community, is invisible and the Greeks (like any other “race”) had to give it a face, a mask and put it onto a stage, celebrated in dance and music.
Today the “great god Pan lives on in the realm of imagination… but art is spilling out of the frame and into subway graffiti – will it stop there?”
Today the war machine grows…
Doubtless, the present situation is highly discouraging. We have watched the war machine grow stronger and stronger as in a science-fiction story: we have seen it assign as its objective a peace still more terrifying than fascist death; we have seen it maintain or instigate the most terrible of local wars as parts of itself; we have seen it set its sights on a new type of enemy, no longer another State, or even another regime, but the “unspecified enemy”; we have seen it put its counterguerrila elements into place, so that it can be caught by surprise once, but not twice. Yet the very conditions that make the State or World war machine possible, in other words, constant capital (resources and equipment) and human variable capital, continually recreate unexpected possibilities for counterattack, unforseen initiatives determining revolutionary, popular, minority, mutant machines.
Deleuze and Guattari, “1227: Treatise on Nomadology – The War Machine” from A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia