Not Activism But Activation

Featured in The Burning Block Issue 4

Activism is distraction. It is distraction from subterfuge, manipulation, subtle gestures and from exchanges that the shrewdest of economists always miss. Activism is not the vehicle of conspiracy as a rule, just as those conspiring to what they perceive to be their own ends are no less automatons to a large pattern of mindless drives, unseen forces and determinations embedded into the plain of unilateral immanence. Those who make it a point to beat their breasts and raise their voices are not tuned into the frequency which remains collected and calm enough to steer them the direction which most benefits its own end.

Being active, being moved, activists are not simply active; they are acted upon. Stirred, they move in a circle. Confused, they scatter. They reach boiling points. So many people need a single answer on which they can all agree, in true democratic fashion. If one wishes to cause a change to occur, a true, unfettered ontological change to the very core of something, one must go to the root. One must lose one's enchantment with event.

What are most events? Events, religious in nature, may provide potent symbols, may give one great stirrings of passion, but these are only meager products of what is happening at the surface. What does the guillotine have in the way of meaning, once the head is removed? The severed head only cancels a single consciousness-this amounts, in the end, to a single thought. When one sets out to make a true change occur, one must learn, in a very thorough way, those sets of phenomena which only act as gregarious effects. Seductive though these effects might be, do not be led astray. Remember that one can see most phenomena coming from a long way off. Learn to read the signs of the world. See that all beginnings are in fact endings. Understand change, first, in a non-moral sense, and you will then understand real ethics-real morality. Rid yourself of psychic clutter-so much complication in the interpretation of events.

Don't look at flawed men with power as possessing great evil. A giant may not know how many insects he is crushing even as he turns to help his neighbor. Even strength has its blind-spots.

Be not impressed by talk of revolution. When has revolution meant anything other than this sentiment: ‘Kill everyone?' The great missteps of history were done out of some misappropriated sense of justice, by people not patient enough to see things come to completion.

Rather, pay attention to that which appears small. Locate those centers in life, the points at which all is still but around which everything moves. If you want to march in the streets and make noise with crowds, then do so the way you would drink or make love, or perhaps even the way you would perform a play or go to the theater. However, don't think for a minute that this is the point of life, that this activity has any meaning outside of itself.

Real change happens right under our noses at every turn. It is quiet. It does not boast. People speak of it as though it's going to happen in some far off day; as though change is only up to the gods of Olympus, whom one will never have the occasion to see. How many times have your zeal and your excitement prevented you from being thorough and exacting? Rather, oppose this energy with an eye which takes everything in, an eye which is patient enough to watch a rose bloom, a tongue that is patient enough to taste all the flavors in a small sip of wine, an ear that is patient enough to hear the most gentle hoof beat in the forest and a sense of touch which is gentle enough to feel every groove, consider every weight, allowing one to determine the correct posture before lifting a heavy stone.

Investing into objects the most respectful attention, the kind of attention which considers objects on their own terms, you will not simply act, you will activate.

Is this not the aim of every artist? To create something which can stand alone? To give something wings to fly? What if I were to tell you that all of life is this way? It doesn't end with the canvas or with a page. You create circumstances all the time which become active, which then seem to have a will all their own. Oftentimes, however, our world is designed in such a way that our daily creations become independent and turn back toward us, enslaving us worse than any prison. Rather, activate a situation or a set of phenomena which goes forward, which guards you and clears a path for you. It is the strength of efficiency, the freedom of creation, that unnamable center out of which meaning itself exists and could not otherwise. Penetrate to the very center of life. Around you will swirl plains and clouds of correlative relationships, and as you come to see them from this center, you will not only be able to trace your own correlative relationships, but create a configuration which self-perpetuates toward a purpose. Pay no mind to those trapped in the maze of a mindless configuration. They might mistake your actions for self-interest, that is, if they even notice you at all. It is better that they don't. They will not recognize that, in essence, you are creating gifts-you are adding to the world and fulfilling. This is what men and women of conviction and persuasion do… They want to see things realized-they want to make their visions manifest. They are creators and artists. Their freedom is better than the freedom known to the crude domain of politics. Theirs is the freedom to carry out the mission for which freedom itself is only a means. No longer needing to act at all, they activate.