Not: creation, defense, occupation, or solution. Not practical alternative to structural constraints. Not conventional reformism, or conventional revolutionizing. Not aesthetic ideal. Not the suspension of critical awareness.
According to Peter Lamborn Wilson (“Hakim Bey”), Temporary Autonomous Zone is not idealized image of real world practice, nor an alternative to structural constraints:
“It happens…I just noticed it. Maybe I gave it a clever name or something, that has now escaped from my grasp and, you know, it appears in the world now as a phrase.”
The surface-level scratchings of Bey might simply be seen as observation; of the corrosion of rules, regulations, formalities — of systemic decomposition of structural integrity; of blind-spots from catastrophe and emergency. Temporary Autonomous Zone attempts to describe rather than explain.
But there is no autonomy. Temporary Autonomous Zone isn’t a “solution”. It’s a collection of dusty old things nobody remembers, an amalgamation of anomalies within old dilapidated structures and systems — possibly within whole civilizations? — which might be exploited for our enjoyment, for our fun, for play. It might be a mode of existence. But it could also be a wormhole. It’s a phenomenon that happens precisely in space-time at a spooky, quantum moment when it must — maybe as an escape portal into a different way of being? But at the same time, in my conception, it’s not a place (despite the claims of Bey). It’s a Beyond. It’s heterotopic. It’s a manifestation of otherness.
Take a moment to consider van Schendel and Scott’s concept of the Zomia. Scott describes it so:
“'[W]hat we were like before we discovered wet-rice cultivation, Buddhism, and civilization’…runaway, fugitive, maroon communities who have, over the course of two millennia, been fleeing the oppressions of state-making projects in the valleys — slavery, conscription, taxes, corvée labor, epidemics, and warfare.”
These are real communities! As Scott points out, there were (and possibly still can exist) many Zomias, places where one drops-out away from the gaze of the State. What other refuge from that listed above, in addition to the very real prospect of the possible collapse of the biosphere?
Then there is the concept of a “Zone”. Zones are not much more than proto-States, or semi-States, confining things and beings within geographical localities.
Deterritorialization instead is “the movement by which one leaves a territory” (Deleuze & Guattari), and this notion seems valuable.
I’m pressed for time, a bit stuck, and will continue this later. But to conclude, I want to propose the idea of becoming ungovernable against this concept of the Zone to Defend. Just need to figure out why and how.