Michael's Reviews > TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism

TAZ by Peter Lamborn Wilson
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Sep 12, 10

bookshelves: anarchism, left-hand-path, magic, philosophy, politics, poetry
Recommended to Michael by: Peter Lamborn Wilson
Recommended for: Anarchists, Discordians, Poets
Read in January, 1992, read count: 2

I approach this book differently from most readers, because I've known the author since my youthful days as an anarchist punk rocker, because I read parts of it before it was published in this form, and because my own Path (or "Trip") has both paralleled and diverged from his in so many interesting ways. I still see this book as a vital introduction to antinomian thought that also transcends most of the shortcomings of other similar projects. I fall in love with the prose every time. I also see this as an important early articulation of new trends in anarchism that have influenced ideas even among those who regard themselves as being in opposition to Bey.

The book consists in three parts. The first is "Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism." This is the part I had read while still in High School, when it was available in self-published Zine format. It borrows stylistically from the Discordian movement, and therefore is often confused with another post-Discordian experiment, Chaos Magic. But it goes far beyond CM or the largely "safe" Discordianism of Benares, Wilson, et al, and delves into radical territory, celebrating Chaos' liberating potential as well as its destructive power without flinching or letting up. The second section is "Communiques of the Association for Ontological Anarchism," and it may be the best part. Hakim Bey is most talented as short-and-fast propaganda artist, moreso even than as an essayist (he is in no way a writer of "books"). Each of these chapters is a quick kick in the balls of authority, a playground game for adults, or an inspired poem of suggested action. The final section, "the Temporary Autonomous Zone," is theoretically the most significant. TAZ anticipates the move away from "revolutionary" anarchism, which sought to impose freedom on unwitting masses through the use of force to bring down the State, and toward the "insurrectionary" model, which is based on creating freedom here and now in small doses for those with the smarts and the guts to use it. Insurrections are not new, but because they rarely last (are "temporary"), they are often discounted as means of liberation. The TAZ suggests that they can also be fun and creative, not just bloody and ill-conceived.

I recommend this to everyone who feels bored by the world - Hakim Bey has the power to make it new and exciting again.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Caitlin Great review!


Michael Thanks!


message 3: by Lance (new)

Lance Bohne I read this book in New Orleans when I was living in a communal pad in Mid City. We were punk rocker toiling away at jobs in bars and washing dishes doing what we could to fuel our one foot in the grave lifestyle and pay the rent....which was cheap as hell. I ought the book at an independent bookstore that carried underground leftist literature and was run by a judge left over from the '60s counterculture. This book was a profound influence on our philosophy in life and the one copy was passed around like a fine heap bottle of wine. I look at the world now and a sort of sadness grabs me. Katrina, high rents, kitchens still hire freaks but the money is slave wages. Ok i'm rambling but I ordered a new copy through Amazon(plants forehead in palm and rubs temples) this world is a much different place now and I miss the old one as much as I look forward to the adventures still to come.


message 4: by Lance (new)

Lance Bohne I went off on a tangent I meant to compliment you on your review. Very good.


Michael Haha, it's somehow a good thing that the review (like the book itself) inspires self-reflective poetical ramblings. Thanks!


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