Peter Lamborn Wilson
"It is my hope that this book by Peter Lamborn Wilson will come as something of a revelation to the world of poetry: a revelation that poetry this good and good in this way can be produced in our times; good as rhythmically and sonorously exciting, expressive, intuitive, intelligent, well-measured, suitably barbaric, historically redolent, politically, metaphysically, even soteriologically astute. A revelation because we are unaccustomed to poetry that is not predominately ironical in statement, excessively self-reflective in attitude, nor committed to the demolition of its own means, that is at once so extraordinarily urbane in spirit and down-home, downright funky in expressive spontaneity, not to mention intellectually complex, with a generous salting of wit and cognitive play. All this, too, without, through naiveté, ignorance, or obtuseness, exposing itself to critical missiles poised like ICBMs to be deployed against work that attempts just what these poems actually achieve.
And I would hazard a reason why: that the stance of the poetry—and Peter Lamborn Wilson has earned his stance through decades of committed prose—that the stance of this poetry, in the complexity of its reflection, the radical specificity of its attentions, and the intensity of its care—is in every breath a committed poetry, and committed in a singular, highly individuated, unpredictable way.
The verse may take its cue from Allen Ginsberg and William Blake, but its intellectual purview shows intimacy with Kropotkin, Proudhon, Engels, Swedenborg, Paracelsus, Agrippa, Erasmus Darwin, Pierre Clastres, Henry Corbin, Charles Fourier, and many others of an equally august if unconventionally referenced notoriety.
Wilson weaves a visionary poetics through an explicit politics, an explicit politics through an exuberant sense of imaginative freedom. Wilson names his political and spiritual agenda “neo-pastoralism” and mines the pastoral tradition of the venerable ancients—Theocritus, Virgil, Edmund Spencer—for material that reprises and expands themes from his previous pronunciamentos: Green Hermeticism, “Escape from the Nineteenth Century,” “The Shamanic Trace,” Pirate Utopias, Temporary Autonomous Zones, to name but a few of his titles.
The poetry is moderated by prose interludes in a variety of genres that develop thoughts in a manner appropriate to the energy of the poetry, not so much by providing conceptual bases for its contents (in a way it does that too), but by the sheer aptness of contiguity and multiplicitous resonance, worked out and placed with an intelligence whose lucidity is as disruptive as the rampant audacity of the verse.
A persistent organizing theme is the hypothesis (due to the late Pierre Clastres) that the historical arrival of “civilization” with its literacy, collectively organized agriculture, division of labor into rulers, administrators, and drones, its authoritarian religion, private property, and massive armies—in short, the advent of The State—came about through the failure of precise social formations that for tens of thousands of years had functioned to ward off and dissipate the agglomeration and centralization of political power. Modern humanity (since 4000 BCE) has invented its own ignorance of the deep human past—and called only what superceded and suppressed it—History. Wilson sets off in search of the traces of social practices now long eclipsed and finds them cannily in the most unlikely places.
The metaphysical posture is pantheism or “pagan monotheism,” aligned with anarchism. The work: to conjure an aggressive pantheism through a veil, haze, or prism of pastoral idealism—the lure of nature realized through the dangerous, bottom-feeding numinosity demonstrably intrinsic to it.
Orthodox (Abrahamic) monotheists routinely slander pantheism, averring that it entails, in practice, a slothful relaxation of the spirit and a general abnegation of conscience: if God is All, what need for moral discipline, intellectual rigor, or the restraint of native delinquency?
But if moral rigor as practiced until now proves to be the absolute repression of the divine in the world and the vassal of Statist discipline, even relaxation and license become tactics for the recovery of natural and divine values. It turns out, however, as any reader of Ec(o)logues may very well attest, that the attentions and affirmations demanded by pantheist-anarchism may prove anything but easily achieved. The affirmation of everything will test the stomach of any of us. It is the discipline and conscience of such an ontological perspective and the transgressive sacrality it entails, that there, where one cannot imagine the sacred, is precisely where one's practice must seek it out. In that sense Ec(o)logues is itself spiritual praxis, for reader and poet alike."
- Charles Stein