Showing posts with label a sane revolution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label a sane revolution. Show all posts

1 May 2016

On Revolutionary Fun (A Message for May Day)

If you make a revolution, writes Lawrence, don't act with ascetic militancy in the name of some grand ideal, or in order to seize control of the economy; make it simply for the pleasure of gobbing in the eye of those who would assert authority and the anarchic joy of upsetting the old order.

As a manifesto, this will doubtless strike many terrorists of theory interested in preserving the pure order of politics and the serious business of revolution, as puerile and irresponsible; the sort of romantic tosh that only a poet can get away with.

Nevertheless, it rather nicely anticipates the poststructuralist thinking that flourished prior to, during, and after the festive upheaval of May '68 and, indeed, encapsulates the insouciant nihilism of punk as conceived by a Situationist-inspired Malcolm McLaren in the mid-late Seventies.    

What unites Lawrence with Deleuze and ties Anti-Oedipus to Never Mind the Bollocks, is a perverse refusal to conform to the accepted way of doing things as prescribed by tradition (be it a literary, philosophical, or artistic tradition); they challenge and change the terms of the debate and shift the zone of combat, discrediting old idols in the process.

But above all, these figures and these works show us that we do not have to be sad or self-serious in order to be radical. Thus, paraphrasing Lawrence if I may: If you want to torpedo the ark, don't do it in ghastly seriousness, don't do it in deadly earnest - do it for fun.

See: D. H. Lawrence, 'A Sane Revolution', in The Complete Poems, ed. Vivian de Sola Pinto and F. Warren Roberts, (Penguin Books, 1977).