Who is the surrealist poet of your imagination? Critical theorist Herbert Marcuse argued that our thoughts, perspectives and understandings of society are constructed within, and by dominant culture and its related values. According to Marcuse, we are inadequately programmed to think outside the box-one’s mind is the box, so how do we think outside of it? Activist and anarchist Ron Sakolsky disagrees.
Creating Anarchy is a collection of essays, interviews, poems and images, assembled in what the author and editor, Sakolsky, surely feels is a sexy primer on anarchy. Drawing on his own experiences, opinions and propositions, as well as the surrealist poetry and artwork of numerous others, Sakolsky sketches the landscape of anarchist thought and action. Creating Anarchy is by no means a guide to anarchist theory or practice; rather it is half memoir (presented in short essays, focused as much on the author as his politics) and half manifesto, reminding us how invested we become in the mental trappings of our society. The author takes us beyond conventional notions of art, the state, democracy, gender and race to what he might call a freer mental place.
Although there are many mentions and short sections devoted to particular aspects of anarchist thought and practice, these are for the most part inadequately developed when taken alone. The book as a whole, however, powerfully reveals the intricate and largely impositional rules at play in our perceptions, values and preferences; how do we come to accept certain things and not others? How do we come to construct ideas like acceptance?
We can go back to Marcuse here, who argues that within our most controversial art and culture (i.e. the things we think we do not accept) lie the seeds of our potential liberation. By getting away from our values and conventions, we can begin to develop new minds and imagine our way out of the box. Sakolsky, despite being a little self-consumed, has put together a work that will for many readers, allow just such an opportunity. (Arlo Kempf)
by Ron Sakolsky, $15 USD, 217 pgs, Fifth Estate Books, Liberty, TN, 37095, U.S.A., www.bolobonobo.org