I am a writer, who became a teacher, and then again a writer. Now I teach and never write. Writing is the only thing I’ve ever been good enough at that I could legally use to make money; that is, to survive in the bourgeois world. To date my total income from writing is $50.00. It turns out I don’t write for money, but writers never do.
Actually, I was a very good teacher, too, but only when I got to teach exactly within the frame of a very particular assemblage of ideas and concepts. To do otherwise was just to be a mouthpiece, a talking head adept at representing the words on a teleprompter to an audience of “scholars.”
Proud Parent of a Scholar. Georgia Perimeter College
Perhaps not overly proud, then, but I know whose car it is, and the necessity of “being proud” of having a child in college; that is, being a scholar, that is, of paying someone to tell him or her what to think. Not how to think. No.
So, I teach, and never write.
Proud Parent of a Thinker. A-Life-Never-Institutionalized
My son is four, going on five. That is, if I have a son. Hypothetically speaking, I teach him from home.
Concepts: spatial aperture and closure; extreme alterity and orthodoxy; blast radii and the theater of operations; language and slavery; territory, terrain, and form of life.
Ideas: Why did Achilles go to Ilium? What type of man does Athena love? Why does mamma go to work? How do you become-raptor? What does homo medio luporum do?
Maxim: Expression gives form to content.
Tactics: Room clearing; Weapon as a magisterial release from a specific problem; Thievery and anti-capitalist action.
Personae and Affects: Deleuze, Nietzsche, Achilles, Bane, Baby Dave, Casey Jones, FT Marinetti, John Coltrane, Tuareg, Zomia marauders.
Personae and Concepts: The Top Five Concepts That Will Make You Useless to Capitalism and the State:
- Nomadic War Machine v. the State
- Capture and Control and Line of Flight
- Assemblage, Content, and Expression
- Deterritorialization and Reterritorialization
My son is four, almost five. Some tell me he’s too young to be exposed to this stuff. They don’t know: I have no one else to teach and no time to write. It’s either him or schizophrenia.
You see, son, the discourse on female genital mutilation proves that anthropology is a morality-machine in the service of bourgeois life.
One day, I tell him, this world of partial objects will be forced to make sense. If the State has its way, that sense will resemble an emperor, his guards, and a few men in suits hiding behind a hastily made barricade with piss running down their legs. If I have mine, it will be YOU they are hiding from.
He understands the distance between a llama herd and wolf pack.
Sometimes he colors and draws. That is, sometimes he slavishly traces the Form created to ensnare and direct his creative potentials. A heart, the coloring book suggests, is the symbol of love. There is nothing natural, I tell him, in the inscription of meaning onto shapes. It is presumed to be so, because marketing is essential to the creation of a herd.
But that heart, I explain by analogy, is exactly what you are to the State — and to men of the State: something to trace, bound, cut, and inscribe meaning and potential upon.
Other times, he maps the sound waves caused by a thrown rock.
Men who want to lead need men who will follow. You’ll find the latter next door. Not here.
Draw Achilles, I suggest, without anthropomorphizing his affects. He just smiles and explodes crayons in a bloody 8.5 by 11 swath.
Like coywolves lurking on the borders of a bourgeois utopia — a new species created by the situation at hand, right now, just as adept at pack hunting as foraging — we are creating a new form of life: technologies and techniques of the pack, preying upon the herd and the weakness it creates. This is why we transvaluate.
We teach each other cooperative predation. We play a lot, saying only what is necessary. Coywolf cubs say by doing, by acting complex ludic gestures in subtle communications. Just as the coywolf, we play as practice for combat, mental powers expanding, powers of abstraction elevating, gaining the capacity to mobilize more of the possible than any grazing prey animal could ever comprehend: life capacities more fully deployed when hunting or viking.
Expression gives form to content, I tell him. Cubicles and autonomous bazaars of non-State violence both require bodily energy to function, but the uses to which they put that energy create life forms counterposed to one another. Bodies, I teach my son, can do many things.
So we stalk, ambush, and strike, go for the kill — all with a mindful awareness of the physiology of predation and the power of the body to actively create when passive representation is not a part of the arrangement.
We create zones of indiscernibility. We wear masks. We gear up.
We take field trips: dinosaur museums offer life-changing lessons on the borders between predator and prey if one can successfully filter out the normalized herd instincts and life ways apparent in the explanatory narratives that inscribe meaning on the fossil casts.
A few years ago I went to the mountains to learn about flows, chaos, and canalling. My son is a becoming-mountaineer, a becoming-raptor, when we hike. It’s tempting to say that I always bring dereliction to the mountains, but really they find it in me. What does a coywolf want? Just a single moment of variability, an opportunity, an opening. There’s a reason, I teach my son, that the State had to buy these mountains in order to control what we do on their peaks and shadowy slopes.
Returning to the city like soldiers returning from battle, like arditi out of step with the rhythms and ideals of bourgeois life, we fight what these do to our bodies as the signs once again barricade our potentials. The lesson, I tell him, is to affirm all of this too: to make it useful, just like the coywolf. Somewhere out there, I tell him, is a free dinner for he who knows how to find it.
My son plays without the domesticating overcode that tells him that play is escape. You can’t escape, I tell him, that which doesn’t capture you.
But I also teach him the Roman alphabet and Arabic numerals.
You see, son, without language you will have no proper frame of reference (we say “plane of immanence” in our house) for your impending wage slavery and freedom to buy things. Without a common language, you are useless to advertising and to your overseers: you won’t have anything to talk about at work, or school, or at the gym, or on the ball field.
Achilles? Ha! Good luck. That’s an enunciation that cannot be expressed with contemporary (dominant) technologies. I don’t know, my best friend showed me a limited edition action figure of Achilles: violent superabundant deterritorialized heroism, yours for $185.00.
I know, son, I know that merely copying the letters just as they have been given us by (not so-)Random House is nothing but representation and the counter-to-thinking. I know that it is better when you make up your own letters and words – or just turn numbers into letters. I know that I told you about Appalachia and the legal enforcement of becoming-bourgeois on mountain people so that when their land was closed they could feel good about wage earning, shopping, and consuming.
I know all of this. You are learning without being educated. Please just copy the letter as it is already written. Please just enforce the memory on your muscles and MIND.
Without this language you’ll never be a part of something bigger than yourself – to glory, to a pack, to your own instincts and critical apparatus. I never told him that. The “bigger than oneself” comes up as something slaves tell themselves in order to keep building someone else’s Great Wall. The nation? No idea. The people? You’re looking at him. God?
You don’t assault sacrality by positing a counter-sacred. You don’t trade one master for another.
So please son, make that B legible to the entire English-speaking world. You did it! You’ve officially communicated. How free do you feel now?
How much servility does it take — how much absolute badass deterritorialized freedom does it cost — to make your body a tool of the State?
How much daring and agony does it take to extricate oneself from the ties that bind?
My son has no idea.
What if you’ve never been subjected to them?
When I mentioned to Baby Dave that we were about to fulfill one of my hypothetical son’s rites of passage, the watching of Fight Club, he suggested that the son wouldn’t understand the movie, “because he’s never been domesticated.” Domestication stings my eyes and ears.
The next day I showed him “The Sinatra Group.” He looked at me quizzically as I laughed. Does one need to know who is Frank Sinatra in order to understand the bit? Common frame of reference.
Domestication is our common frame of reference. When you live to create lines of flight at every opportunity, it is hard to keep from capturing your son, just so he can understand how far you have traveled and how hard you have fought.
I tell myself as I teach him the tools of the herd animal, that the aim is creation, rather than adaptive conformity, hoping that that zone of indiscernibility becomes the border, the in-between where revolution is assembled and where completely different natures are formed.
But he already understands. This is his form of life. Never institutionalized.
My nephews, if I have any, listen to Maroon Five and love So You Think You Can Dance. My son, if only I had one, listens to Code Orange and Pixel, and watches Predator movies. When my mom, assuming I have one, listens to Agnes Obel, she exclaims how similar she sounds to “that girl on The Voice.” My son hears the price of divinity and a cello becoming-bass.
Even the radical fringe of counter-American politics is too tame for my son. “Who cares?” he says, when I steal a moment to write something in a notebook, “Come and fight!”
“No,” I tell him, “writing is a weapon. It is an action just as important as the AK series. It is only allowed to us because those who rely on our acquiescence and orchestrated oppositions have no idea what we are creating with it.”
“Come and fight, NOW!” he says.
This is why I don’t write anymore. But I still fight. And create.
1. Brian Massumi, What Animals Teach Us about Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), loc. 213.