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I'm so happy to share my conversation with the radical philosopher, Franco "Bifo" Berardi.
I think it is not only a good conversation, but a truly productive one. My deepest hope is that it is helpful for you.
Bifo is one of the most important and creative thinkers of our time; I find many of Bifo's thoughts in line with the occult philosophies of the Western esoteric traditions I've spent so long studying, and for me, that is so enlivening. That is to say, when two people or traditions come up with similar conclusions from totally different angles, we must (as Special Agent Dale Cooper says) pay strict attention.
Bifo is the author of many books, including what I view as his two most important books, Breathing: Chaos and Poetry and Heroes: Mass Murder and Suicide (which is a much easier read, and deeply informed my own thinking on the issue, which I discussed on AEWCH 11: SHOOT TO LIVE). He was the founder of Radio Alice, a radical broadcast station in Italy, as well as the anti-authoritarian activist group, Autonomia.
The discussion is wide ranging and, I think, extremely potent. It's a commingling of occult, anarchist, socialist, and artistic ideas.
- How rhythms dissolve political oppression
- Capitalism as a dynamic of change, acceleration, and expansion that cannot understand limit
- Why information and possibilities are not enough; we need the ability ("potency") to transform them into reality
- Why solidarity is dead and we are trapped in competition
- Why poetry, sex, and magic matter now more than ever
- The failure of communism, and why we need it anyway
- Moving away from politics and towards therapy
- How poetry is our doorway towards a new world
- Why the "post-truth" world is an opportunity
- Reincarnation: the only narrative that can remake the future
- The shattering of the critical mind
- Why (and how) we must accept all conspiracy theories
- The spectating unconscious (and how it wishes for Trump)
- Why everyone's suffering belongs to everyone
- What Trump's victory gives to us
- How sex work erodes work
- Why no one should ever be paid for their labor
• For more on Bifo, read his books. Seriously. There are a lot at this point, but start with the two I mention above, or you can start with his latest, The Second Coming and another recent work, Futurability. Here's a good interview with Bifo on Vice (of all places) about mass shootings.
• If you'd like to investigate the occult Christian principle of The Reappearance Of Christ In The Etheric.
• The books Bifo mentions with a little bit of a laugh but nonetheless a sense of importance is The Attention Economy : Understanding the New Currency of Business by Thomas Davenport.
• The quote from Walden by Thoreau on trains is: "When I meet the engine with its train of cars moving off with planetary motion -- or, rather, like a comet, for the beholder knows not if with that velocity and with that direction it will ever revisit this system, since its orbit does not look like a returning curve -- with its steam cloud like a banner streaming behind in golden and silver wreaths, like many a downy cloud which I have seen, high in the heavens, unfolding its masses to the light -- as if this traveling demigod, this cloud-compeller, would ere long take the sunset sky for the livery of his train; when I hear the iron horse make the hills echo with his snort like thunder, shaking the earth with his feet, and breathing fire and smoke from his nostrils (what kind of winged horse or fiery dragon they will put into the new Mythology I don't know), it seems as if the earth had got a race now worthy to inhabit it. If all were as it seems, and men made the elements their servants for noble ends! If the cloud that hangs over the engine were the perspiration of heroic deeds, or as beneficent as that which floats over the farmer's fields, then the elements and Nature herself would cheerfully accompany men on their errands and be their escort."
"Machinery is really thought poured into mineral ." - Rudolf Steiner (in 1905)
• The exercise I suggest is a foundational occult exercise:
Chose a time of the day when you will perform a simple exercise that will not interfere with the flow of your activities. Think intensely on this time for a moment in the morning. Each day, at that time, perform a simple, small action. The action must be of seeming insignificance to an outside observer. For example, perhaps you touch your nose with your index finger at 2:45. Or maybe you turn your ring around on your finger. What is important is that it is the same action at the same time each day. If you have an alarm on your phone, you may use it, but not to alert you to do the action - set it to alert you that you have not done the action. In other words, if you plan to perform your action each day at 1:00, set the alarm for 3:00 to remind you you didn’t do it. Do not let the alarm be the signal to perform the act. Reset yourself and commit to performing the action at the proper time the next day.
• Bifo mentions literary critic and thinker, Viktor Shklovsky. Here's a good introduction to his work.
• You can read more about Owen Barifeld's theory of language here.
• If you'd like to know more about Bifo's main intellectual mentor, Felix Guattari, a good place to start is the biography of Guattari and his collaborator (both picture below), Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: Intersecting Lives you can also check out his many books via MIT Press
• Of course, you should read The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord if you have not yet done so.
• Lon Milo DuQuette's book, Low Magick: It's All In Your Head ... You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is, is a great little book on magick, though not as good, I think, as his occult memoir, My Life With The Spirits: The Adventures of a Modern Magician.
• I've done an entire episode on what Bifo calls the "superstition of work" and the abolition of work on AEWCH 3: WORK AND DIE or BECOME THE FUTURE BLOB (there's a YouTube version of that episode as well).
• For more on the artist Joseph Beuys, a great place to start is We Are the Revolution!: Rudolf Steiner, Joseph Beuys, and the Threefold Social Impulse.
• Architect and musician Erkki Kurenniemi has been influential on both Bifo and I. Here's his obituary,
• Dr. Heather Berg (who appeared on AEWCH 69 with Sovereign Syre) and I discuss the distinction between the content of work and the non-consensual nature of the wage-labor relationship in our article, "The Problem with Sex Work Is Work".
Until next time friends,