Temporary Autonomous Zone
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T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone is a book by the anarchist writer and poet Hakim Bey (Peter Lamborn Wilson) published in 1991 by Autonomedia and in 2011 by Pacific Publishing Studio (ISBN 978-1-4609-0177-9). It is composed of three sections, "Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism", "Communiques of the Association for Ontological Anarchy" and "The Temporary Autonomous Zone".
The book describes the socio-political tactic of creating temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control. The essay uses various examples from history and philosophy, all of which suggest that the best way to create a non-hierarchical system of social relationships is to concentrate on the present and on releasing one's own mind from the controlling mechanisms that have been imposed on it.
In the formation of a temporary autonomous zone, Bey argues, information becomes a key tool that sneaks into the cracks of formal procedures. A new territory of the moment is created that is on the boundary line of established regions. Any attempt at permanence that goes beyond the moment deteriorates to a structured system that inevitably stifles individual creativity. It is this chance at creativity that is real empowerment.
Bey later expanded the concept beyond the "temporary", saying, "We've had to consider the fact that not all existing autonomous zones are 'temporary.' Some are ... more-or-less 'permanent.'" Hence, the concept of the permanent autonomous zone.
The titular section is divided up into the following subsections:
- Pirate Utopias
- Waiting for the Revolution
- The Psychotopology of Everyday Life
- The Net and the Web
- "Gone to Croatan"
- Music as an Organizational Principle
- The Will To Power as Disappearance
- Ratholes in the Babylon of Information
The ideas which inspired the "Gone to Croatan" chapter — i.e. the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony — were later used as the basis for the book Gone To Croatan: The Origins of North American Dropout Culture, edited by Ron Sakolsky and James Koehnline.
Use in music
Bill Laswell produced an album with Hakim Bey reading excerpts from TAZ with music by Material featuring Wu Man, Nicky Skopelitis and Buckethead. It was released by Axiom in 1994. The six tracks were "Chaos", "Poetic Terrorism" and "Amour Fou" (all from "Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism"), "Immediatism" and "The Tong" (both from the book Immediatism), and "Boycott Cop Culture" (from "Communiques of the Association for Ontological Anarchy").
With lyrical pattern and subject matter similar to The Wild Party, the three song cycle of "Just the Best Party", "Go WIth It Girl" and "The Naughty Little Rat Makes New Friends" on The World/Inferno Friendship Society's 2002 album Just the Best Party details a story of love and loss from within a temporary autonomous zone. Frontman Jack Terricloth's vocal commitment to anarchist philosophy in the band's lyrics makes clearer the reference to Hakim Bey's concept.
The concept of TAZ was put into practice on a large scale by the Cacophony Society in what it called Trips to the Zone, or Zone Trips. Its co-founder John Law, also co-founded Black Rock City, now called the Burning Man Festival.
The annual Rainbow Gathering is another example, occurring every year since 1972 on public land in the United States, and having no formal organizational structure.
In 2004 the 5-Day Electronic Music & Arts Festival called Mythopoeia (the making of myths), was designed and implemented as a Temporary Autonomous Zone - a fully decentralised, fully interactive event. The organisers Eamon Wyss and Brendan O’Keeffe intentionally and successfully designed themselves out of the way, so the entire event of a thousand people ran all by itself without any central governing body at all.
- Gray, Chris (2001). Cyborg Citizen. New York: Routledge. p. 47. ISBN 0-415-91978-9.
- Hakim Bey (Winter 1994). "Permanent TAZs". Dream Time Village. Retrieved 7 December 2008.
- Sebas E. Alonso (1 March 2017). "Los Planetas comparten portada y tracklist de 'Zona Temporalmente Autónoma'". Jenesaispop.
- Scott Beale (18 January 2007). "Bad Day At Black Rock, Cacophony Society Zone Trip #4 Which Took Burning Man to the Desert in 1990". Laughing Squid. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- Eamon Wyss (12 August 2020). "Letting Go By Design: Social Prototyping in Electronic Music Culture".