A new hardcover edition of Zerzan’s first collection of essays, exploring alienation and the (John Zerzan, Author) Goodreads reviews for Elements Of Refusal. John Zerzan: Just today I was talking with a guy from the New York Times, and though I don’t know exactly what his focus is, he’s much more. Elements of Refusal. Review. Elements of Refusal by John Zerzan Second Edition, by CAL Press/Paleo Editions, POB , Columbia, MO , USA.
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From Kafka to Pinter silence itself is a fitting voice of our times. In contrast to the more ‘woo-woo’ and misanthropic aspects of the philosophy of deep ecology that has dominated some of the radical ecology scene in the US, Zerzan’s anarcho-primitivist perspective has a distinct class consciousness. In these technocratic, totalitarian times, Zerzan’s profound zeran of industrialism, capitalism, work and the machine itself is utterly life-changing and urgent.
Related to magic is totemism, in which the kinship of all living things is paramount; with magic and its totemic context, participa- elwments with nature underlies all. These essays represent much more than just sour grapes, they offer a richly detailed insiders historical overview of class war politics that even any avowed workerist would be hard-pressed to find fault with.
Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Some people might find the copious citations and footnotes distracting, but don’t let them deter you. Like his friend Ted Kaczynski, Zerzan is a revolutionary intellectual, and you can’t separate the two terms and do oc to their work. Of course, we can see the reflections of this original condition rdfusal surviving tribal peoples, in varying degrees. But inadequacy in the former arena precluded success in the latter, bringing one to ask whether avant-garde strivings can be anything more than abstract, hermetic gestures.
Their use of any ridiculous dodge to zeran talking about the pathology of the system, to avoid even scratching the surface, really is criminal.
Math is the paradigm of abstract thought for the same reason that Levy termed pure mathematics “the method of isolation raised to a fine art.
Dorothy Lee focused on a surviving example from Oceania, finding that none of the Trobrianders’ activities arc fitted into a linear, divisible line.
They demonstrated their rebellion through spontaneous acts of sabotage that were “seemingly unmediated by ideology. Though tools were fashioned with an astonishing economy of effort and perfection of form, the old cliche about the aesthetic impulse as one of the irreducible components of the human mind is invalid, The oldest enduring works of art are hand-prints, produced by pressure or blown pigment — a dramatic token of direct impress on nature.
Zerzan argues cogently and with passion that most social diagnosticians are still naming symptoms rather than the disease itself. But in our present straits, we have to consider anew the meaning of the birth and character of language rather than assume it to be merely a neutral, if not benign, inevitable presence, The philosophers are now forced to recognize the question with intensified interest’ Gadamer, for example: Us revealing preface speaks of tracing “the progression of the lirilish system of industry, according to which every process peculiarly nice, and therefore liable to injury from the ignorance and waywardness workmen, is withdrawn from handicraft control, and placed under the j’uidance of self-acting machinery.
Further in the direction of history, time is explicit in Tiv thought and speech, but it is not a category of it, just as another African group, the Nuer, have no concept of time as a separate idea. The unnatural is imposed, as a necessary moment of reproducing an unnatural world. Not to keep hours for a lifetime is, I was going to say, to live forever. Logos itself as god is involved in the first naming, which represents the domination of the deity.
John Zerzan: anti-civilization theorist, writer and speaker
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That measuring time and space or “space-time” is a relative matter hardly removes measurement as its core element. The few areas safe from deforestation are where agriculture doesn’t want to go.
Sarton compared the greedy victories of the Conquistadors to those of the mathematicians, whose “conquests were spiritual ones, conquests of pure reason, the scope of which was iniinile. Though numbering is a corollary of language, it is the signature of a critical breakthrough of alienation. In attempting a typology of the egalitarian society, Morton Fried declared that it had no regular division of labor and thus no political power accrued therefrom and that “Almost all of these societies are founded upon hunting and gathering and lack significant harvest periods when large reserves of food are stored.
Time, controlled by a powerful elite, was used directly to control the lives of great numbers of men and women. Sidney Pollard The Genesis ofM0dern Management recognized the capitalists’ need of “breaking the social bonds which had held the peasants, the craftsmen and the town poor of the eighteenth century together in opposition to the new order.
Usually encapsulated as “everything is number,” the Pythagorean philosophy held that numbers exist in a literal sense and are quite literally all that does exist. The concept of time itself as an abstract, continuing “thread,” unravelling in an endless progression that links all events together while remaining independent of them, was completely unknown.
Hesiod, for instance, referred to the “life-sustaining soil, which yielded its copious fruits unbribcd by toil. Inherently reductionist and mechanistic, the world of numbers is zetzan and calculating. Art’s ability to symbolize and direct human emotion accomplished both ends. Likewise, the failure of the Tower of Babel suggests, as Russell Fraser put it, ”the isolation of man in historical time.
From time, into history, through progress, and so to the murderous zetzan of the future, which now kills species, languages, cultures, and possibly the entire natural world. The organization of manufacture prevailing then was the domestic, or “putting out” system, in which workers crafted goods in their own homes, and the capitalists were mainly merchants who supplied the raw materials 92 Indus iKiAi.
Elements Of Refusal
Well, the brutality of the system was there to see as well as the courage. I recently ran across several of these flyers and posters in a edition of the Loompanics catalogue and they have refusla none of their power as anti-authoritarian propaganda.
Whitrow tells us that ”of all ancient peoples, the Mayan priests developed the most elaborate and accurate astronomical calendar, and thereby gained enormous influence over the masses. The human capacity of being shackled to crops and herds devolved rather refuxal.
It was a social anxiety; people felt something precious slipping away. What if there were another hundred black-block people, smashing it up?
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