This will be the series that garners some attention. That might sound like an arrogant statement, but the truth is, I know that people love the repetitions that I will be expounding upon within this series. Exit, escape, anti-consumption, dropping-out, freedom, perspective-change etc. The average Joe loves that stuff. The problem with these actions are that they are exactly that, actions. Now, I’m not actually implying some form of political revolutionary praxis here…far from it. What I’m going to be talking about here is the why and how of personal, individual practice. Because much like learning a language, a trade, magick, a skill, meditation or anything else worth its salt, it is always something that has to be practiced, in that manner one has to be constantly (or as much as possible) practicing the worldview I will be expanding upon. If you think, for just a second (I know it’s hard) on any of those ideas I just put forth: Exit, escape, dropping-out, perspective-change etc. you’ll notice that each one of these in its stagnant form as language is actually a semantic trick. In their existence as written/digital words they seem so complete, finished, done, something you can just clip-on, wear, accessorize or acquire, even, dare I say it…purchase.
It’s been there since you were little, this idea in the back of your mind that basically anything you need/want can simply be acquired via some form of purchase. Whether that’s knowing the right people, having the right amount of money or doing the correct amount of work. Well here’s a sombre lesson for you my friends, meaning doesn’t exist on any form of binary barter system. You consume TV, you subconsciously consume adverts, consume education (commented on in length in a later post), consume ideals and consume notions, traits and habits. Up until now all unquestioned, I make these assumptions about you because I wish someone had made them about me, caused me to well up in a rage and explode in a bout of cathartic frustration at the situation bottled up – I want to leave, and I don’t know how!
There are some things that of course cannot be purchased, this we are told time and time again by those attempting to sell us those things. Can’t put a price on love says the dating app, can’t buy happiness says the holiday company, can’t put a price on peace says the cover of that new Mindfulness book. The best things in life are free! Is belting out of the radio, right before the adverts start. Of course, this notion of ‘free’ is in relation to cost and not constriction. If we turn that phrase a on its head just a little and take the implication that the best things in life are free (as in freedom, not free beer), then we’re getting closer to the idea that I am beginning with here.
When I state that ‘exit’ needs to be practiced I mean it, for exiting, dropping out and changing your perspective are all processes and anything process based generally needs to be practiced, no man ever got the performance, ritual or action correct on his first try, exiting – which is the word I’ll use throughout this series to denote what has been historically entitled ‘Dropping out of society’ – is not an event in itself, it can’t be, otherwise it is simply a movement. One is either consistently exiting, stuck or – in very rare cases – individually enlightened/content/at peace with the cosmos. You harboring the ideals of anarchists and egoists in itself is not exit is it? You cannot stop there, otherwise all you have done is grown a little narcissism. You can now go around and look at how dumb everyone is, even though you’re still within the same spaces of them, what have you applied?
An early digression here on revolution, communal action and mass praxis. I am not for them. Shock horror, this isn’t another one of those blogs, the ones which extrapolate on the same bullshit leftism deus ex machina, or in this case deus ex civitas. Just because there’s a lot of you doesn’t mean that it will change anything. Communal action is fantastic in relation to the local. Other than that it’s merely the act of selling out your own need for discipline to the herd. Yes, that’s right, even your perfect social justice group is a herd, even you anti-group-think punks are a herd, any group aligned behind a clear political motive should be suspicious to you, to your self. What do they want with me? What are they doing that I couldn’t have done myself? Let us turn to a short analysis of one of my favorite poems to show you the perils of group-think:
Archaic Torso of Apollo – Rainer Maria Rilke
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,
gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.
Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:
would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
Rilke here writing of a decaying marble statue that has lost its head, but in every other way it is perfect, beautiful. You can never know the head of the movement you’re ‘within’, because much like the way in which contemporary politics has been taken (on a ride not entirely of its own creation) all herds are either without a shepherd, or cannot spot the man who is herding him, as such, “We [you] cannot know his legendary head”. You are however a part of the brilliance of the torso, that entire which supports the head (the vision, the direction) itself, and so, you must change your life.
Why do you not simply cast yourself off from the directionless torso of the masses and birth yourself a new as an individual head? The reason is quite simple. Being part of a group takes no action, discipline or responsibility on your part, or any part of the others, hence why herds are like Apollo’s torso, perfectly sculpted, but nothing without a head to sculpt it. The head can exist unto itself.
In this manner consumerism is a torso without the possibility of head, for the multitude of (falsely created) desires can never find a coherent direction, it is a multiplicity of bullshit symbols and expectations. Be wary that you don’t fall for its trap of expecting something to just happen. These are the images they sell you, these are the symbols with base meaning. Purchasing clothes, a new car, a big house, fancy books, fancy food, the latest phone or any other detritus of modernity is not only the act of purchasing a distraction, but the act of purchasing a distraction which allows you to feel as if you have taken responsibility.
Instead of taking the time to learn about your local surroundings and history you buy a car to drive from new place to new place, instead of learning how to cook you buy take out or junk food, instead of learning about your own body and what it can do you buy fancy clothes to cover up your own failings, instead of learning to think for yourself you buy a big TV to think for you. These objects of modernity are conclusions which allow you the illusion of taking responsibility for your life, when in reality you have done the exact opposite, you have sold yourself, your time, to the laziness of your whim, to whichever random subconscious falsely created desire took hold that day. You hope, you scroll, you search for that thing which will be the final thing to complete everything, the final car, house, TV, book etc. ‘This will be the one’ you think subconsciously, but it never is.
Why do you do this? Because the last sentence of Rilke’s final stanza You must change your life is most likely your worst nightmare. And it is easier to change literally anything else, than change your self. You know how painful that’s going to be, you know how difficult it’s going to be, and in those moments of terror you retreat into your comforts. This is why, as I stated earlier, one must practice exit. There can be no object of exit. Exit is only a conclusion in the sense that it opens your mind to new avenues of thought. If your taken exit has lead you into a dead-end, or locked room, you’ve been duped. Nothing which leaves you stuck or stagnated can be considered exit. If you feel you are existing on the sidelines of life, the answer is not to be found within objects or material, but in personal, individual experience.
Practice: In the same way that you have control over whether or not you buy that Marvel figure, you also have control over whether or not you don’t, or even care about such a thing – you even have such control over your actions that you stop and ask, ‘Do I actually enjoy/like/want to do this or am simply being pulled by something?’ Of course the primary reason you’ve done/acquired any of these things is because you believe in some form of status, or, you believe you are being watched. For if you are being watched, you matter, you’re worth watching, you exist. Ask yourself if this actually matters? Do you sincerely care what other people think of you? How much time do you spend thinking of yourself as opposed to thinking about other people? Probably around 90-95% of the time, right. As such, other people are usually doing the same, ergo, they’re not thinking of you. No one fucking cares about your shit. Do things with yourself, your body, experience life, even in the most minor, inconsequential ways – not because you wish to be watched, recorded or envied, but because experience is at the heart of existence, and personal experience can neither be sold, bought or commodified.
You must practice exit as much as you possibly can, and at its cantankerous heart exit is simply a matter of questioning, critiquing, deconstructing and destroying presumptions, whether they’re social, cultural, political, personal or familial – You can leave, the only reason you don’t is because your current comfort supposedly outweighs the risk of exit, this is sunk cost. Ask yourself a couple of questions, firstly: What’s worse, existing in an almost comatose state of being for the sake of comfort for the rest of your life, or taking a risk and attending to the dangerous heart of true experience? And secondly: Were you really put on this Earth to be fucking comfy? Or, in short: Is it worth prolonging a life you detest?
But much like anything that has to be practiced mastery takes time, and mastery of exit isn’t something that can ever truly be attained, at least in an abstract sense. Of course, if your ideal exit is a homestead, van-dwelling, country-living etc. then sure, go for it. But don’t forget to question those assumptions too. In this manner Exit is critique. By practice I mean question, and by question I mean everything. Modernity is a culmination of rackets that provide you with presumptions, presumptions which make you anxious, depressed, lonely and alienated, unless of course you buy into the presumption, the comfortable, herd-accepted assumption that you need X, Y and Z to be normal. Modernity created your inner anxiety and also created its purchasable cure, Exit allows one to bypass the cure and destroy the idea of infection; Modernity is Oz behind the curtain, and currently you’re admiring his tricks.
 A note on the concept of ‘The Average Joe’. I don’t seriously think such an average person exists, everyone is unique in some way, and I don’t mean that in a ‘everyone is special’ soppy way. Only that, everyone’s journey through life has been unique and as such that makes the conception of average as a unified truth, impossible. With that said, such an idea in relation to what Nietzsche called ‘The Herd’ most definitely does exist. The average Joe, as I see it, is someone who simply has never – even in the most minor way – questioned their presumptions about life, and as such they’re entire existence is a manner of being pulled by whichever force has the greatest pull at that moment, be it a Marvel film, a margherita pizza or a lifelong career, in needn’t matter, the average Joe is unquestioning.