sage on Wed, 16 Apr 1997 18:28:40 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Anarchives: The Tao of the Internet

	"The Tao that can be told of is not the Tao"
The Anarchives 				Volume 4 Issue 3
	The Anarchives			Published By
		The Anarchives		TAO Communications
			The Anarchives

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               --/\--			The Tao
             /  /  \  \			of
         ---|--/----\--|---		The Internet
             \/      \/			
             /\______/\		Jesse Hirsh <>

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Editor's Note: I'm always on the tip of converging worlds knowing that infinity 
lies behind and before me. Hopefully activity will increase as spring starts 
running into summer. This will be the summer of love, coupled with the summer of 
uprising. The battle for eternity is now...

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Writing in the spring of 1997 I am asked to engage a paradox: an exploration
of Taoism within the context of an academic essay. Instead of conforming to
the expected standard, I have chosen to use this opportunity to further
develop my interest and employment of the 'Gonzo' style of exposition.

Developed primarily by the American writer Hunter S. Thompson, this style
consists of the author initially submersing themselves into the subject
matter, absorbing the topic to be examined, and adopting the related world
view as if it were their own. The writing itself is then a spontaneous and
creative process in which the subjectivity is not only maintained, but is a
source of unique and invaluable insight. The literary product of the 'Gonzo'
style is a non-linear dynamic play of language and culture. Thompson derived
the 'Gonzo' style from the synthesis of beatnik and emerging psychedelic
cultures active in early 1960s western civilization.

It only seemed appropriate to adopt this style while using the English
language to explore elements within Taoist philosophy. However it is not
within the scope of this paper to draw a comparison between 'Gonzo' and
Taoist literary techniques. 'Gonzo' presumes the need to immerse in the
subject matter, whereas the Tao assumes that immersion is inherent, and the
sage an articulator of this subjective unity.

So in the interests of the audience of academics reading this paper, allow
me to do the unorthodox and begin with a thesis:

In examining the relationships between western anarchism and eastern Taoism,
I seek to articulate and develop a system of thought and action to respond
to the global fascist coup currently being waged by elements of
trans-national corporate capital. With that statement out of the way allow
me to demonstrate some 'Gonzo' flare by wandering among the words, first
providing a context and background, which will then evolve into an
exploration of the paradox of power and freedom that I find myself currently
involved in.

As the twentieth century races to a close, and the process of globalization
becomes the dominant metaphor of governance, all eyes look to China. China
has almost unanimously been proclaimed the hegemony of the 21st century, the
single most influential player within an imploding global political stage.
In order to extend the struggle for human liberation into the next century,
I seek to adopt eastern archetypes and paradoxes in an attempt to articulate
a rising global resistance to exploitation, domination, and authoritarianism.

Globalization itself can be viewed as a process of combining eastern form or
organization with western content or communication to enshrine and secure
the structures of empire that maintain civilization. In simplistic terms,
Confucius organizes while Mickey Mouse distracts.

Authoritarianism, manifesting primarily through capital, has almost achieved
global ascendancy. Through the commodification of all aspects of existence,
power can be wielded on a global level, and seemingly no tribe is exempt
from the market, the godlike power behind capital's authority.

The global consolidation of this power is being articulated through the
metaphor of the Internet. The Internet as an artefact does not exist,
however as a concept it has obtained a consensus among those directly
involved in global governance. It seems that the brokers of power have
agreed that the Internet is the way of the future.

It is within the Internet myth that globalization derives it's legitimacy,
but more importantly where the ascendancy of Confucianism and the potential
for Taoism arise. After centuries of expansion, the empire has collapsed on
it's own weight, and the tower of babel has fallen. As a society we are
imploding; we are caught in a narcissistic trance, a perpetual feed back
loop, wherein we search for a self that never really existed.

The state no longer exists, what remains however is the belief in the state,
and the determination of power to perpetuate the relations regulated by the
state. What was once referred to as 'the leviathan' is now a corpse that
decays while it is artificially enhanced and repaired. The head that once
controlled this body has left, hovering as a metaphorical UFO, disconnected
from the world out of which it was once constructed.

"A Group of Confucians were digging up a grave in the hope of finding old
manuscripts. The leader among them said, 'It is already dawn. Have we
finished?' 'No,' replied the little Confucians, 'we haven't yet stripped the
dead man's clothes, and we know that he keeps a pearl in his mouth.' The
group of Confucians therefore smashed in the dead man's temples, pulled his
whiskers and, taking a metal hammer to knock open his jaw, they gradually
tore open his cheek. But they were careful not to hurt the pearl in the dead
man's mouth."		(Chuang Tse, 7:6, Chapter 26)

The capital markets are no longer tied directly to the means of production
nor the physical world in which it was once dependent. Capital itself is now
a disembodied entity that floats freely, unrestrained by the forces of
nature or nation state. Debt and speculation provide the basis for a global
economy. As a civilization we have jettisoned our head in an attempt to be
free of our bodies. The experiment however has backfired, as we are
realizing the illusions of self and other, the paradox between being and

"All things come to life, but we cannot see their source. All things appear
but we cannot see the gate from which they come. All men value the knowledge
of what they know, but really do not know. Only those who fall back upon
what knowledge cannot know really know." (Chuang Tse, 7:4, Chapter 25)

The Internet is all about what you don't know, and living with it. It
promises that all the information in the world is available with the click
of the mouse, and eventually the will of mind. The Internet is referred to
as the 'Information HighWay', the means by which we will all evolve and find
the future. It is sold to the business community as the path to success and
the way of intelligence. The Internet itself is something that nobody seems
to be too sure about, unable to define, and yet people are determined that
it exists and can be prospered from.

"Confucius saw Lao Tan and on his return kept quiet for three days. 'Master,
when you saw Lao Tan, what kind of advice did you give him?' asked his
disciples. 'Give him advice?' replied Confucius. 'For the first time I saw a
dragon. When the dragon's spirit converges, you see its form, and when it
disperses it gives off a radiance of beauty, riding upon the clouds and
feeding upon the yin and yang. When I saw him I was aghast and could not
close my mouth.'" (Chuang Tse 4:7 or Chapter 14)

The Internet represents the return and rise of the Dragon. Metaphorically
the Internet represents the power and ascendancy of mind, and the mystical
and spiritual attributes that accompany it. The Internet is both a
destructive and creative force that absorbs and transforms everything into
the image of itself. The Internet is a paradoxical metaphor that is not only
self-contradicting, but inherently mythological.

The Internet as metaphor also represents the truth. Decentralized
multi-point communication as embodied in the Internet almost inherently
induces a state of truth. Illusions and deceptions, while nurtured,
developed, and deployed by many who use the Internet, cannot compete with
the resonance of truth, and the brilliance of light that arise from using
the Internet as environment. The dissolution of authoritative sources and
simultaneous multiplicity of meaning inherent in the Internet prevent the
distortion of reality and enable the emergence of a true state of being to
surround any fallacy or inaccuracy. In the environment of light that is the
emerging mediasphere, truth as object reflects light stronger than it's
opposite, the object of illusion. Albeit truth itself may be the illusion
and perhaps the Internet is the grandest of illusions.

"'We have a little time today,' said Confucius to Laotse. 'May I ask what is
the great Tao?' Laotse replied, 'Give a ceremonial bath to your mind!
Cleanse your spirit! Throw away your sage wisdom! Tao is dark and elusive,
difficult to describe.'" (Chuang Tse, 6:2, Chapter 22)

The effect of the Internet upon the rest of the civilization has been, and
will continue to be one of disillusionment and deconstruction. As our
society continues with its process of implosion, the Internet will continue
to be the manifestation of this process. All of the constructs developed by
western civilization are now crumbling in the wake of the Internet wave.1

Faced with the naked reality of the global village, otherwise manifest as
the electronic representation of the earth, all of humanity is forced to
redress their view of the world. The self-centred, static, linear constructs
employed by western civilization are forcibly discarded in the face of
electronic organization. In successive waves surrounding the introduction of
electronic media (telegraph and the first world war, radio and the second
world war, television and the cold war, and computer networks and the
information war) we have experienced the clash of cultures as our society
tries to adapt to a new reality and an emerging world view.

This new reality is the ascendancy of mind; mind as the primary mode of
governance within a global economy often referred to as a knowledge economy.
The global market is a machine whose mandate is to mimic the operation of
mind and derive value from its various elements. Mind is of course a fluid
and indefinable concept, in many respects similar to the Tao.

"Looked at, but cannot be seen
This is called the Invisible
Listened to, but cannot be heard
That is called the Inaudible
Grasped at, but cannot be touched
That is called the Intangible
These three elude all our inquiries
And hence blend and become One.			
(LaoTse, Chapter 14)

The tsars, kings, and lords of western civilization, upon seeing their world
crumble through the rear-view mirror of information technology arrive at
Confucianism as a means to preserve and protect their privilege and
prestige. The new monopoly of power, is the monopoly of mind. The purveyors
and pawns of power in seeking a unified grip have discovered the unity of
the unknown. They are confronted with the infinite and seemingly impossible
power of mind, the way of the universe, and in response look towards
conformity, order, and control as a means by which to maintain themselves.
They are met with the paradox of nothingness in the search for the great being.

"'Not at all,' said the Spirit of the Ocean. 'Dimensions are limitless; time
is endless. Conditions are not constant; external limits are not final.
Thus, the wise man looks into space, and does not regard the small as too
little, nor the great as too big; for he knows that there is no limit to
dimensions. He looks back into the past, and does not grieve over what is
far off, nor rejoice over what is near; for he knows that time is without
end.'"	(Chuang Tse, 4:11,12, Chapter 17)

Confucius is alive and on earth right now. As an archetype he is alive with
the leaders of empire. Manifest as their Christ, their Bill Gates, or even
as himself, Confucius is at the helm of spaceship earth. As economy unites
the actions of all humans, Confucius articulates a global order crafted in
his own image. Religious zeal and theological fundamentalism prepare for the
holy war of wars between McDonalds, Nike, AT&T, and Coca-Cola. Consumerism
is the Confucian religion that unites church and state precluding the
ascendancy of the god-king, the Confucian sage, who rules not by divine
right, but by divinity itself.

The scale of post-modern development is eternal. The actions we seek to
articulate in the present, represent phenomena that may last for millennia.
It's as if we are standing on a cliff overlooking the synthesis of our past
and future as they meet in the center of infinity, the ultimate expression
of the paradox of time. We have positioned ourselves at the center of
paradox, the convergence point between all polar opposites. Everything seems
obtainable from this point, while at the same time we are surrounded by
nothingness. A duality exists simultaneously wherein power seemingly grows
while it dissolves. The great imperial project implodes rapidly as a means
of obtaining the divine and eternal.

"Stretch to the very full,
And you will wish you had stopped in time.
Temper a sword edge to its very sharpest,
And the edge will not last long.
When gold and jade fill your hall,
You will not be able to keep them safe.
To be proud with wealth and honour
Is to sow the seeds of one's own downfall."
(Lao Tse, Chapter 9)

The last gasp of power is the loudest and most violent. The drama of the
fall of babylon is an epic of irreversible change and transformation. We are
witnessing the evolution of consciousness and the maturation of our species.
The effect of this change upon the societal institutions will be severe, if
not entirely destructive. However the most devastating effect will be that
of disillusionment. The discovery of power as illusion, state as illusion,
authoritarianism as illusion. The social constructs that have been used to
divide, conquer, and rule, are now becoming as transparent as the sky.

Taoism emerges as the viable alternative to the Confucian beast that hungers
for global power. There are no actions in the infinite environment
represented by the Internet. Confucianism is the reaction to the
disillusionment and deconstruction of the electronic maelstrom unleashed
through our media. With the state destroyed, Confucians scurry to
consolidate all the various forms of power left amidst the rubble. They
become drunk on their own gains and dreams for immortality and divinity. The
Taoist sage on the other hand just laughs as the Confucians run hand over
foot to win an imagined race for global prestige.

"The Usefulness of Not Being. When the eye is cleared of obstacles it sees
sharply. When the ear is cleared of obstacles it hears well. When the nose
is not blocked up, it smells well. When the mouth is cleared, it tastes
well. When the mind is clear, it thinks well. When knowledge is cleared of
obstacles, one attains the character of Tao"
(Chuang Tse, 7:8, Chapter 26)

The Taoist sage understands that through non-action, one is able to find
peace in this Brave New World. The empire is constructed on illusions, and
these illusions are themselves becoming clear and ineffective. The
Confucian's power rests with their ability to create and draw out reactions.
Reactionaries become the fodder for new policies of exploitation,
domination, and authoritarianism. They are players on a stage trying to
control an audience that controls the stage. Trapped in a narcissism that
reinforces itself. A negative feedback loop of existence that forms the
basis of a reinforced power structure.

The civilization was once based upon a state of being, and is now based upon
a state of mind. It is through the articulation of the universe as illusion,
and the doctrine of non-action as resistance, that Taoism represents a
viable response to the global power manifest in Confucianism. It is
difficult to escape or find refuge from a state which only exists within the
imagination of its beneficiaries. However by embracing the Tao in the
tradition of Lao Tse and Chuang Tse the individual is able to remove
themselves from the horror of empire that is manifesting through the new
state of mind. While our consent may be manufactured, and our desires
packaged and delivered, our will remains our own. We can choose to dissent,
and more importantly we can choose to detach, to remove our participation
from the project. If it is all illusion than whatever control is required,
surely we possess it already.

If Confucius is alive, then so is Lao Tse. Confucius embodies himself in an
elite, or even supreme ruler. Lao Tse however is the masses, the being
expressed by all. It will take the movement of the masses to defuse the bomb
laid by Confucius called 'The Apocalypse'. Our culture of narcissism is
inducing tension and anxiety, and it is Confucius with his emerging state
that prevents our natural release. The culture of death that plagues the
remains of Babylon threatens to eliminate indiscriminate amounts of our
being. As a society we must collectively let go of our tension and neuroses,
rediscover the spontaneity, creativity, joy, and peace of our being. We need
the archetype of Lao Tse to rise within the hearts of all, shedding the
mental chains that internalize our pain, and allow the Tao to shine through.

Embracing the Tao is embracing paradox. It is accepting that what you
perceive on the surface does not necessarily represent the whole. The Tao is
a theory of communication: a theory of change. This paper is an articulation
of change within the context of a universal constant. In writing this paper
I adopted a process of open mind and open direction in which spontaneity and
creativity became the definitions of my narrative path. I was determined to
confront and deal with a number of neuroses that I was aware of and engaged
with that existed both within my self and the planet. This paper is a
paradox of Confucian illusion surrounded by Taoist truth. I wrote it for a
faceless audience of friends and strangers whom I wish to share mind with.
If any of you seek to place a value on this paper, whether grade or
monetary, I assure you it is of no concern of mine, in so far as you inform
me of your perceptions.

"The life-force of Tao is profoundly mysterious; its extent is lost in
obscurity." (Chuange Tse, 3:7, Chapter 11)

1 Please note that when I use the term Internet I am speaking of a much
larger process that began in the late 19th century with the introduction of
the telegraph and continues at the end of the 20th century with the
deployment of electronic mail and the world wide web. This process is the
shift towards electronic forms of communication as a means by which to
organize the society.

Jesse Hirsh - -
P.O. Box 108, Station P, Toronto,  Canada, M5S 2S8

Version: 2.6.2


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