The TAZ is real, and in this manifesto Hakim Bey conjures it. My copy was just returned to me after a mysterious disappearance when a friend visited from Iceland this weekend. This book is a gust of clairvoyance after a mortal fall to earth.
The Temporary Autonomous Zone is a makers space, a pirate utopia of creation, free of hierarchy for the pure giving of gifts. Divided into communiques, communique #6 I, entitled Salon Apocolypse: Secret Theater, is a beautiful compliment to Boal and Schuman’s work. The book can be found in its entirety online here , but I suggest buying a copy. Carrying a copy of the TAZ is wearing an amulet.
I. Salon Apocalypse: “Secret Theater”
AS LONG AS NO Stalin breathes down our necks, why not make some art in the service of…an insurrection? Never mind if it’s “impossible.” What else can we hope to attain but the “impossible”? Should we wait for someone else to reveal our true desires?
If art has died, or the audience has withered away, then we find ourselves free of two dead weights. Potentially, everyone is now some kind of artist–& potentially every audience has regained its innocence, its ability to become the art that it experiences.
Provided we can escape from the museums we carry around inside us, provided we can stop selling ourselves tickets to the galleries in our own skulls, we can begin to contemplate an art which re-creates the goal of the sorcerer: changing the structure of reality by the manipulation of living symbols (in this case, the images we’ve been “given” by the organizers of this salon–murder, war, famine, & greed).
We might now contemplate aesthetic actions which possess some of the resonance of terrorism (or “cruelty,” as Artaud put it) aimed at the destruction of abstractions rather than people, at liberation rather than power, pleasure rather than profit, joy rather than fear. “Poetic Terrorism.” Our chosen images have the potency of darkness–but all images are masks, & behind these masks lie energies we can turn toward light & pleasure.
For example, the man who invented aikido was a samurai who became a pacifist & refused to fight for Japanese imperialism. He became a hermit, lived on a mountain sitting under a tree..
One day a former fellow-officer came to visit him & accused him of betrayal, cowardice, etc. The hermit said nothing, but kept on sitting–& the officer fell into a rage, drew his sword, & struck. Spontaneously the unarmed master disarmed the officer & returned his sword. Again & again the officer tried to kill, using every subtle kata in his repertoire–but out of his empty mind the hermit each time invented a new way to disarm him.
The officer of course became his first disciple. Later, they learned how to dodge bullets. We might contemplate some form of metadrama meant to capture a taste of this performance, which gave rise to a wholly new art, a totally non-violent way of fighting–war without murder, “the sword of life” rather than death.
A conspiracy of artists, anonymous as any mad bombers, but aimed toward an act of gratuitous generosity rather than violence–at the millennium rather than the apocalypse–or rather, aimed at a present moment of aesthetic shock in the service of realization & liberation.
Art tells gorgeous lies that come true.
Is it possible to create a SECRET THEATER in which both artist & audience have completely disappeared–only to re-appear on another plane, where life & art have become the same thing, the pure giving of gifts?
(Note: The “Salon Apocalypse” was organized by Sharon Gannon in July, 1986.)