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Manifesto of Poetic Terrorism

By Hakim Bey

Introduction:

Robert Anton Wilson has described Hakim Bey as "A Blake angel on bad acid." Bey's multiple personalities are all over the place, his greedy fingers dipping into lots of sweet sticky pies. His "Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism" have appeared in numerous pervert publications worldwide. His work with The Moorish Orthodox Church, Autonomedia, and Semiotext(e) continues to be interesting and prolific.

I first read the "Manifesto of Poetic Terrorism" in the San Francisco xerox art rag IAO Core. It has since been bundled with most of Bey's rants from 1985-1990 in T.A.Z. Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism.

Word has it that this manifesto and the T.A.Z. essay were a major influence on Kata Sutra and her NeoWobblies.

(G. Branwyn)

Links:
  • T.A.Z. (book)
  • T.A.Z. (essay)
  • Glossary: Anarchy


Here are the TEXT POPUPS for Poetic Terrorism

 

Weird dancing in all-night computer banking lobbies.

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Unauthorized pyrotechnic displays.

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Land-art, earth-works as bizarre alien artifacts strewn in State Parks.

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Burglarize houses but instead of stealing, leave Poetic Terrorist objects.

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Kidnap someone and make them happy.

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Pick someone at random & convince them they're the heir to an enormous, useless & amazing fortune -- say 5000 sq. miles of Antarctica, or an aging circus elephant, or an orphanage in Bombay, or a collection of alchemical manuscripts. Later they will come to realize that for a few moments they believed in something extraordinary, & will perhaps be driven as a result to seek out some more intense mode of existence.

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Bolt up brass commemorative plaques in places (public or private) where you have experienced a revelation or had a particularly fulfilling sexual experience, etc.

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Go naked for a sign.

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Organize a strike in your school or workplace on the grounds that it does not satisfy your need for indolence & spiritual beauty.

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Grafitti-art loaned some grace to ugly subways & rigid public monuments - Poetic Terrorist art can also be created for public places: poems scrawled in courthouse lavatories, small fetishes abandoned in parks & restaurants, xerox-art under windshield-wipers of parked cars, Big Character Slogans pasted on playground walls, anonymous letters mailed to random or chosen recipients (mail fraud), pirate radio transmissions, wet cement...

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The audience reaction or aesthetic-shock produced by Poetic Terrorism ought to be at least as strong as the emotion of terror - powerful disgust, sexual arousal, superstitious awe, sudden intuitive breakthrough, dada-esque angst - no matter whether the Poetic Terrorism is aimed at one person or many, no matter whether it is "signed" or anonymous, if it does not change someone's life (aside from the artist) it fails.

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Poetic Terrorism is an act in a Theater of Cruelty which has no stage, no rows of seats, no tickets & no walls. In order to work at all, Poetic Terrorism must categorically be divorced from all conventional structures for art consumption (galleries, publications, media). Even the guerrilla Situationist tactics of street theater are perhaps too well-known & expected now.

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An exquisite seduction carried out not only in the cause of mutual satisfaction but also as a conscious act in a deliberately beautiful life - may be the ultimate Poetic Terrorism. The Poetic Terrorist behaves like a confidence-trickster whose aim is not money but CHANGE.

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Don't do Poetic Terrorism for other artists, do it for people who will not realize (at least for a few moments) that what you have done is art. Avoid recognizable art-categories, avoid politics, don't stick around to argue, don't be sentimental; be ruthless, take risks, vandalize only what MUST be defaced, do something children will remember all their lives - but don't be spontaneous unless the Poetic Terrorist Muse has possessed you.

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Dress up. Leave a false name. Be legendary. The best Poetic Terrorism is against the law, but don't get caught. Art as crime; crime as art.


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