Peter Lamborn Wilson
|Peter Lamborn Wilson|
|Born||1945 (age 71–72)|
|School||Post-anarchism, individualist anarchism|
|refusal of work, post-industrial society, mysticism, utopianism|
|Temporary Autonomous Zones|
While undertaking a classics major at Columbia University, Wilson met Warren Tartaglia, then introducing Islam to students as the leader of a group called the Noble Moors. Attracted by the philosophy, Wilson was initiated into the group, but later joined a group of breakaway members who founded the Moorish Orthodox Church. The Church maintained a presence at the League for Spiritual Discovery, the group established by Timothy Leary, and it is alleged Wilson would visit it for supplies of LSD.
Appalled by the social and political climate, Wilson had also decided to leave America, and shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 he flew to Lebanon. In the words of Michael Muhammad Knight, "The emerging postcolonial world was crowded with American hippies blowing their trust funds on mystical quests…and [Wilson] was one of them."
Wilson travelled to India with the intention of studying Sufism, but became fascinated by Tantra, tracking down Ganesh Baba. He spent a month in a Kathmandu missionary hospital being treated for hepatitis, and practised meditation techniques in a cave above the east bank of the Ganges. He also allegedly ingested significant quantities of cannabis.
Wilson travelled on to Pakistan. There he lived in several places, mixing with princes, Sufis, and gutter dwellers, and moving from teahouses to opium dens. In Quetta he found "a total disregard of all government", with people reliant on family, clans or tribes, which appealed to the anarchist in him.
Wilson then moved to Iran. It was here that he developed his scholarship. He translated classical Persian texts with French scholar Henry Corbin, and also worked as a journalist at the Tehran Journal. In 1974, Farah Pahlavi Empress of Iran commissioned her personal secretary, scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr, to establish the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy. Nasr offered Wilson the position of director of its English language publications, and editorship of its journal Sophia Perennis. This Wilson edited from 1975 until 1978.
Following the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Wilson lived in New York, sharing a brownstone townhouse with William Burroughs, with whom he bonded over their shared interests. Burroughs acknowledged Wilson for providing material on Hassan-i Sabbah which he used for his novel The Western Lands.
Wilson's occasional pen name of Hakim Bey is derived from il-Hakim, the alchemist-king, with 'Bey' a further nod to Moorish Science. Wilson's two personas, as himself and Bey are facilitated by his publishers who provide separate author biographies even when both appear in the same publication.
In addition to his writings on ontological anarchy (termed lifestyle anarchism by detractors such as Murray Bookchin) and Temporary Autonomous Zones, Wilson has written essays on other topics such as Tong traditions, the utopian Charles Fourier, the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, alleged connections between Sufism and ancient Celtic culture, technology and Luddism, Amanita muscaria use in ancient Ireland, and sacred pederasty in the Sufi tradition.
Wilson's freeform poetry, as Hakim Bey, has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, the Panthology and Acolyte Reader anthologies, Gayme, P.A.N., NAMBLA Bulletin, Ganymede, and various samizdat zines. Many of the poems were collected in an unpublished volume DogStar, praised by Burroughs and Ginsberg. Currently his works can be found regularly in publications like Fifth Estate and the NYC-based First of the Month.
He has also published at least one novel, The Chronicles of Qamar: Crowstone.
Particularly because of his TAZ work, Wilson has often been embraced by rave subculture, as ravers have identified the experience and occasions of raves as part of the tradition of "Temporary Autonomous Zones" that Bey outlines, particularly the "free party" or teknival scene. Wilson has been supportive of the rave connection, while remarking in an interview, "The ravers were among my biggest readers... I wish they would rethink all this techno stuff — they didn’t get that part of my writing."
I was beginning to feel that there would never be another American uprising, that the energy was gone, and I have some reasons to think that might be true. I like to point out that the crime rate in America has been declining for a long time, and in my opinion it’s because Americans don’t even have enough gumption to commit crimes anymore: the creative aspect of crime has fallen into decay. As for the uprising that takes a principled stand against violence, hats off to them, I admire the idealism, but I don’t think it’s going to accomplish much.
In another interview with David Levi Strauss and Christopher Bamford in The Brooklyn Rail, Bey has discussed his views on what he calls "Green Hermeticism":
We all agreed that there is not a sufficient spiritual focus for the environmental movement. And without a spiritual focus, a movement like this doesn’t generate the kind of emotional energy that it needs to battle against global capitalism—that for which there is no other reality, according to most people. It should be a rallying call of the spirit for the environmental movement, or for as many parts of that movement as could be open to it.
Wilson has even taken up commentary on the ontology of quantum physics, interpreting Nick Herbert's Quantum Reality in terms of the social paradigms from which quantum mechanics may draw its metaphors.
In the compilation of essays called "Immediatism" Wilson explains his particular conception of anarchism and anarchy which he calls "ontological anarchy". In the same compilation he deals with his view of the relationships of individuals with the exterior world as perceived by the senses and a theory of liberation which he calls "immediatism".
Temporary Autonomous Zones
Wilson has written articles on three different types of what he calls "autonomous zones". Regarding his concept of Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) he said in an interview that
the real genesis was my connection to the communal movement in America, my experiences in the 1960s in places like Timothy Leary's commune in Millbrook...Usually only the religious ones last longer than a generation—and usually at the expense of becoming quite authoritarian, and probably dismal and boring as well. I've noticed that the exciting ones tend to disappear, and as I began to further study this phenomenon, I found that they tend to disappear in a year or a year and a half.
In an article on obsessive love, Wilson posited a utopia based on generosity as well as obsession, and wrote:
I have dreamed this (I remember it suddenly, as if it were literally a dream) — and it has taken on a tantalizing reality and filtered into my life — in certain Temporary Autonomous Zones — an "impossible" time and space ....and on this brief hint, all my theory is based.
As such, it may be said that it is part of the eternal vision of an arcadia where desires are fulfilled without reference to the world, and the search for a means of realising it.
The concept of TAZ was presented in a long elaboration in the book TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism.
Criticism and controversy
In Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm, Murray Bookchin included Wilson's work (as Bey) in what he called "lifestyle anarchism", which he criticized Wilson's writing for tendencies towards mysticism, occultism, and irrationalism. Wilson did not respond publicly. Bob Black wrote a rejoinder to Bookchin in Anarchy after Leftism.
- The Winter Calligraphy of Ustad Selim, & Other Poems (1975) (Ipswich, England) ISBN 0-903880-05-9
- Science and Technology in Islam (1976) (with Leonard Harrow)
- Traditional Modes of Contemplation & Action (1977) (editor, with Yusuf Ibish)
- Nasir-I Khusraw: 40 Poems from the Divan (1977) (translator and editor, with Gholam Reza Aavani) ISBN 0-87773-730-4
- DIVAN (1978) (poems, London/Tehran)
- Kings of Love: The Poetry and History of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order of Iran (1978) (translator and editor, with Nasrollah Pourjavady; Tehran)
- Angels (1980, 1994) ISBN 0-500-11017-4 (abridged edition: ISBN 0-500-81044-3)
- Weaver of Tales: Persian Picture Rugs (1980) (with Karl Schlamminger)
- Loving Boys: Semiotext(e) Special (1980) (editor as Hakim Bey; Semiotext(e) (New York))
- Divine Flashes (1982) (by Fakhruddin 'Iraqi, translated and introduced with William C. Chittick; Paulist Press (Mahwah, New Jersey)) ISBN 0-8091-2372-X
- Crowstone: The Chronicles of Qamar (1983) (as Hakim [Bey])
- CHAOS: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism (1985) (as Hakim Bey; Grim Reaper Press (Weehawken, New Jersey))
- Semiotext(e) USA (1987) (co-editor, with Jim Fleming)
- Scandal: Essays in Islamic Heresy (1988) (Autonomedia (Brooklyn, New York)) ISBN 0-936756-15-2
- The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry (1988) (translator and editor, with Nasrollah Pourjavady) ISBN 0-933999-65-8
- Semiotext(e) SF (1989) (co-editor, with Rudy Rucker and Robert Anton Wilson)
- The Universe: A Mirror of Itself (1992?) (Xexoxial Editions (La Farge, Wisconsin))
- Aimless Wandering: Chuang Tzu's Chaos Linguistics (1993) (as Hakim Bey; Xexoxial Editions (La Farge, Wisconsin))
- Sacred Drift: Essays on the Margins of Islam (1993) (City Lights Books (San Francisco)) ISBN 0-87286-275-5
- The Little Book of Angel Wisdom (1993, 1997) ISBN 1-85230-436-7 ISBN 1-86204-048-6
- O Tribe That Loves Boys: The Poetry of Abu Nuwas (1993) (translator and editor, as Hakim Bey) ISBN 90-800857-3-1
- Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs and European Renegadoes (1995, 2003) (Autonomedia (Brooklyn, New York)) ISBN 1-57027-158-5
- Millennium (1996) (as Hakim Bey; Autonomedia (Brooklyn, New York) and Garden of Delight (Dublin, Ireland)) ISBN 1-57027-045-7
- "Shower of Stars" Dream & Book: The Initiatic Dream in Sufism and Taoism (1996) (Autonomedia (Brooklyn, New York)) ISBN 1-57027-036-8
- Escape from the Nineteenth Century and Other Essays (1998) (Autonomedia (Brooklyn, New York)) ISBN 1-57027-073-2
- Wild Children (1998) (co-editor, with Dave Mandl)
- Avant Gardening: Ecological Struggle in the City & the World (1999) (co-editor, with Bill Weinberg) ISBN 1-57027-092-9
- Ploughing the Clouds: The Search for Irish Soma (1999) ISBN 0-87286-326-3
- TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, Second Edition (2003) (as Hakim Bey; incorporates full text of CHAOS and Aimless Wanderings; Autonomedia (Brooklyn, New York)) ISBN 1-57027-151-8
- Orgies Of The Hemp Eaters (2004) (co-editor as Hakim Bey with Abel Zug) ISBN 1-57027-143-7
- rain queer (2005) (Farfalla Press (Brooklyn, New York)) ISBN 0-9766341-1-2
- Gothick Institutions (2005) ISBN 0-9770049-0-2
- Green Hermeticism: Alchemy and Ecology; (with Christopher Bamford and Kevin Townley, Lindisfarne (2007)) ISBN 1-58420-049-9
- Black Fez Manifesto (2008) ISBN 978-1-57027-187-8
- Ec(o)logues (Station Hill of Barrytown, 2011) ISBN 978-1-58177-115-2
- False Documents (Barrytown/Station Hill Press, Inc.) ISBN 978-1581771404
- Bey, Hakim (1991). "An esoteric interpretation of the I.W.W. preamble". The International Review: 2–3.
- "Douglas Emory Wilson". Retrieved 2016-08-26.
- "Douglas Emory Wilson". Retrieved 2016-08-26.
- Knight, Michael M. William S. Burroughs vs. The Qur'an, Soft Skull Press, Berkley 2012, p6
- Knight, Michael M. William S. Burroughs vs. The Qur'an, Soft Skull Press, Berkley 2012, pp11-78
- Jarrett, Earnest Living Under Sick Machines: Peter Lamborn WIlson / Hakim Bey, The Brooklyn Rail, 5 June 2014; http://www.brooklynrail.org/2014/06/art/hakim-bey-with-jarrett-earnest
- Knight, Michael M. William S. Burroughs vs. The Qur'an, Soft Skull Press, Berkley 2012, p74
- Wilson, Peter Lambourn. Contemplation of the Unbearded - The Rubaiyyat of Awhadoddin Kermani. Paidika, Vol.3, No.4, 1995.
- OCLC 16810252
- "An Anarchist in the Hudson Valley". Brooklyn Rail. July 2004.
- Levi Strauss, David (October 2012). "In Conversation with Peter Lamborn Wilson". The Brooklyn Rail.
- Levi Strauss, David (January 2008). "Green Hermeticism: David Levi Strauss in conversation with Peter Lamborn Wilson and Christopher Bamford". The Brooklyn Rail.
- Bey, Hakim. "Quantum Mechanics & Chaos Theory: Anarchist Meditations on N. Herbert's Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics". Hakim Bey and Ontological Anarchy. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- Immediatism by Hakim Bey. AK Press. 1994.
- Hans Ulrich Obrist. "In Conversation with Hakim Bey" at e-flux
- "Obsessive Love — Hakim Bey". Hermetic Library. Retrieved 2016-08-26.
- Hakim Bey. TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. Autonomedia. August 1991
- Bookchin, Murray. Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism (1995). AK Press: Stirling. ISBN 978-1-873176-83-2. (pp. 20-26)
- Articles and interviews
- The Writings of Hakim Bey A collection of his articles is available here
- July 2004 interview from The Brooklyn Rail
- Audio of 1993 talk featuring Hakim Bey
- Roots of Rebellion audio interview with Hakim Bey
- Christian Greer, 'Hakim Bey', Chapter 43 in Christopher Partridge (ed.), The Occult World (2014) 
-  Living Under Sick Machines (2014)