On My Ignorance and Isolation

Some Clarifications

I’m sure some of my regular readers have been taken aback by the rapid rate at which I have produced articles for the Reflections bulletin. No worries — I do not intend to keep up the pace. This first explosion was simply a release of an overabundance of ideas; an attempt to articulate, coagulate, enumerate them so that I could see for myself the boundaries of my knowledge, and so that I could form a first set of hypotheses for my research program.

I say this because some of my readers have interpreted my pieces for Reflections as authoritative statements on my views. I do not want this to be the understanding of the readership. I am self-aware enough to know that in my writings I have the distinct displeasure of being unable to mask myself. The best prose comes out only when I approach a topic earnestly. So it should be obvious to any regular reader that I am very much a tweenie — turning to Nietzsche, not quite out of my juvenile phase, still somewhat rough around the edges. I can see very clearly that the fundamental experience of your twenties is repeatedly saying aloud, “Oh…” (The ellipsis is important!)

I wouldn’t normally want to make this process so public. But, much to my chagrin, I have become utterly dependent on writing for personal development, and utterly dependent on an audience, real or imagined, to find the motivation to write. So you, readers, have the pleasure of watching me grow up.

Let me, then, state my method explicitly. I intend to produce four kinds of writings for the Reflections bulletin:

  1. Critiques — These are fairly developed thoughts, but not necessarily my final opinion on the matter.
  2. Notes — These are utterly undeveloped thoughts, and I do not commit to them at all.
  3. Reviews — These are an attempt at synthesizing information I acquire from my research, with commentary that indicates only my state of mind while writing the piece.
  4. Essays — Authoritative statements about topics I am exploring as part of the research program.

I plan to consummate the project with a long essay or book, at which point I will aggregate the results of any knowledge I gain and concretize any ideas I generate — just as I did for The Wildernist and Hunter / Gatherer with Repent to the Primitive.

The Major “Oh…”

Perhaps the most embarassing “oh…” moment so far has been the way I have repeated the mistakes of the past — embarrassing because these repeated mistakes were solely the result of my self-absorption, my unexamined belief that I was the first person to ever have these ideas. As a result, without knowing it, my personal development has nearly perfectly paralleled the historical development of my political ideologies: from a naive 60s radicalism, to its environmentalist incarnation as Earth First!, to its interesting development with Ted Kaczynski, and (now) to its anti-globalization phase.

A unique set of circumstances led me down this path, mostly a series of insulating events, like my homelessness after high school, the breakup of my primary radical political community, and finally my failed mission of dropping out. Having no one to regularly turn to for (political) guidance after each of these events, cumulatively they have produced my current state of embarassment, but also, I believe, have presented some unique advantages. For example, the isolation allowed me to accumulate sources and generate ideas that I otherwise never would have touched or produced. Without isolation I would have just been pulled along by the development of the previous generation of anarchists, exclusively; with isolation I was able to innovate.

These benefits to isolation make me suspect that I will eventually force it on myself again. But at the moment I simply need to go through the process of updating myself, so that my future ideas will actually be relevant to the contemporary political landscape. Here’s hoping.

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