Naive notes on crowned anarchy

To call life itself just or unjust, to conceive life as samsara or suffering, is to judge life and to do so from outside life, from some position which is the ground of a judgement. To encounter life, respond to it, is inevitable and not all responses are equal, this much is inevitable. Too often, however, this encounter and response is thought of as a judgement. To not judge does not mean to not respond or that any response is as good as any other. There are different responses in life, different lives if you like – or different types of life. Life produces its own end, life drives itself to death but in the encounter with death there is another space of response, this time one that shows us the two fundamental ways of response, affirmation and negation, more life or never ending death.

How am I to think of life? The philosopher must ask this question. They must, moreover, continue to ask this question and to encounter the force of this question with responses – the philosopher must not simply ask an idle question but encounter the problem of the question, the problem the question arises from, responding with thought, with emotion, with passion, with action. Encounter and response constitute the activity of thought and living, though too often this dynamic to-and-fro is congealed, by the social, into regulated habits, pre-formed responses such as the response of the subject, ‘I think…’. Living is a poor name for the habits and habitats of the human. We are all, inevitably, products of the social, products of the inhuman and yet we are not inevitably condemned to remain nothing but product, commodity, object. It is not a matter of striving to become a subject since the subject is that which is subservient, the subject of the monarch. Rather it is a matter of striving for monarchy itself, becoming a crown within life but not a ruler, judge or controller. Crowned anarchy, this is the watchword, a monarch of creation, a singular moment that adds to the abundance of singular moments. In more traditional terms, this is the assumption of an imperative to autonomy, the self (auto) lawmaking (nomos) reality.

Why is this an imperative though? Is it because I value myself above all else? This would not lead to a crowned anarchy, however, merely to a crown, merely to a centre centred on that which I call me. I would have conceived myself as unique, self-creating, beyond the reach of anyone and anything in my true essence. In other words, I would conceive myself as a self only with the conceit of the conception of the monotheistic God. Crowned anarchy instead prompts us to conceive ourselves as pagan gods, incarnations of life not in the abstract but in its singularity, in other words as a type of formation, such as dionysian force, appolonian beauty, cernunnian wildness, morriganian violence. These are gods with character, encountered through the stories of their activities, the stories of their encounters and responses.

If it is not because ‘I value myself above all else’ is it then some objective, inalienable right that is possessed by this entity that I take myself to be? This right, perhaps this set of rights (‘human rights’) is conceived as a set of properties, inalienable and innate. I am, in this situation, one of these things with rights and the rights are like properties. Red things have the property of being red, human things have the property of being human – but already this feels strange, since I resist this ‘thing’ that I am told I am. If am something with rights, then I am first and foremost a thing since I must be thinglike to have properties. In being thinglike I am just like every other thing that has the same properties but if this the case then why one of these as against another? Why would it matter which of these things it was that I encountered and responded to since they are all the same – I treat all humans equal only if I treat not one of them as unique, as singular. To love is then a violence since I distinguish one amongst many. I do not love equally. Love is thus irrational in that it refuses to recognise that since all are equal all should be equally loved – but it responds with its own simplicity in which to love everything equally is not to love at all since loving is distinguishing, they are inextricable. Human rights leave no room for love but wears its mask in the attempt to extinguish distinction. It is a mask without eyes, like justice – blind and pathetic for it. There is no justice, just us, in our encounters and responses – responses that are not prevented from being true and honest active responses of life. The difficulty is in realising that there is no way to know, for certain, for ever, in the mode of a monotheistic Gods pronouncement into eternity, that my response is the only one and all should make it. I am my responses and must learn to respond beyond justice in order to respond in truth.

I must respond to the encounter which is singular. No encounter is like another. No response is like another. No judgement can be made outside the response of the response, though we can distinguish between responses. Even the ‘must’ is a response however which finally comes down to the only necessity, which is that I will respond, that the encounter will occur and the response will be made. There is no escape from this but only from this, though to say there is no escape is to invert the world once again – who conceives of escaping love? Who conceives of escaping life? Who conceives of escape other than the one who conceives a response that is not made other than in their head, their conception. To conceive escape only as conception is to botch the job since the conception of escape arrives at its inception. Escape is action, not conception. Anything less is resentiment, the whine of the slave who refuses to act, who bemoans life, wishes life were dead, wishes they were dead but doesn’t die and thus never learns that all is inception, from escape to the wish, all the inception of an act. The act begins before me and too often I resist it not because it is wrong, dangerous or impossible but because I want this here-now, this how-it-is, to be somehow different for me but not because of me.

Article written by

philosopher and filmmaker from brighton, currently teaching philosophy at the Free University of Brighton

One Response

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  1. Johnnie Villatora
    Johnnie Villatora at |

    My friend referred me to your site, so I thought I’d read it for myself. Very interesting reading, will be back for more!

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