On Playing Out the Game Without a Reason

“Nevertheless human life was thus image-graced and image-cursed; it could comprehend itself only through images, the images were not to be banished, they had been with us since the herd-beginning, they were anterior to and mightier than our thinking, they were timeless, containing past and future, they were a twofold dream-memory and they were more powerful than we: an image to himself was he who lay there, and steering toward the most real reality, borne on invisible waves, dipping into them, the image of the ship was his own image emerging from darkness, heading toward darkness sinking into darkness, he himself was the boundless ship that at the same time was boundlessness; and he himself was the flight that was aiming toward this boundlessness…” read more

FRR Books Podcast Episode 2: The Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

“What bothers most critics of my work is the goofiness. One reviewer said I need to make up my mind if want to be funny or serious. My response is that I will make up my mind when God does, because life is a commingling of the sacred and the profane, good and evil. To try and separate them is fallacy.”

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood”


The Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins is a wet dream for any us who love the outlaw, who believe that an individual human life can still be romantic, and that group-think and humorlessness are the real evils of our world.  Tom Robbins is a strange man for anarchists to read, but if we can accept the good with the bad, and the funny with the serious, then we can forgive or at least understand Tom Robbin’s tendency toward new age hippie fallacies.  We can look more deeply into this and appreciate his keen insights into the ways each of us surrender to ourselves, others and society, and the ways it is possible to free ourselves from these same forces.  How can we not love a book that begins with an outlaw coming out of bombing retirement to blow up the biggest meeting of the leftist minds he dubs the Care Fest(a collection of liberals , the Dalai Lama, Ralph Nader, and all those in the world who seek to better the world by controlling it).  Bernard Wrangle only has one life philosophy, Yuk or Yum, and he lives by it.  This book is an exploration into the heart of a collectivist and an individualist, one who is a world saver and one who knows how to live in the world.

The main difference between the two main characters Leigh Cheri and Bernard Wrangle is articulated by Leigh Cheri when she says “I’m always trying to change the world.  You know how to live in it.”  Some of us know both of these perspectives, others do not.  The trouble with anarchism as it stands today is that many who are interested in it are interested in an attempt to save the world.  Some, like myself, make it through and come out somewhere else, without the interest/need/guilt of saving the world and instead make a suicide pact with ourselves that we are going to figure out just how the fuck to live in it.   This means a few things:

  • Confronting the real, taking an honest assessment of the situation, and realizing that there is not a possible way to “fix” or “save” this world.  We take the blame off society(while still being opposed to it) and put it on ourselves to change our relationship with ourselves and all around us.
  • Accepting that there is no good or evil or morality or ethics, and that any of that stuff is just personal aesthetics or agreements we make with ourselves and others we are close to.
  • Looking death in the eyes, and saying “alright old buddy, it’s you and me.”
  • read more

    The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman, pt. 2

    “In these regions, you may observe Man in his constitutionally vicious, instinctively evil and studiously ferocious form – in a word, in the closest possible harmony with the natural world.” — The King

    Angela Carter’s Count is back, but not for long. In this chapter, his tempestuous will faces difficult challenges – slavery imposed by the law, chaotic nature, and finally, his mirrored self (and only one of those even has a chance of bringing about his demise).

    The morality of this novel suggests that a will of pure negation only has one possible end. Negation leads its beholder to a sort of numbness, a distancing, cutting oneself off from the world surrounding you, seeing it only as a trick to be manipulated. How could you find pleasure engaging with anything weaker than yourself, after all? And if all of reality bends to your will – what could possibly bring you pain?

    The Count manifests his own end in the form of himself. He creates and meets the King, a being of unlimited power, who lived his life similarly to the Count, another expert in cruelty. The women of his army devour their first-born children in order to pass “far beyond all human feeling”; their clitorises are “brutally excised” so they “are entirely cold and respond only to cruelty and abuse”. All, of course, in accordance with nature and harmony, which cares nothing for those without strong will.

    What happens next is inevitable. Negation, ultimately, must turn in upon oneself in order to feel.

    Words, audio, editing and production by September

    The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman by Angela Carter, pt. 1

    In “The Realm Where Moral Judgement is Suspended” Milan Kundera writes that “If I were asked the most common cause of misunderstanding between my readers and me, I would not hesitate: humor.” There are books that make us laugh and books that make us laugh at ourselves, and I prefer the ones that do both. In The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman Angela Carter carries a dark laughter as the current flowing beneath the wild seas of her imagination and machinations. To actually read we must suspend moral judgement, we must suspend our notion of reality, and open ourselves to the possible.

    To engage with Angela Carter is to live in a world with infinite possibilities, where no reality is any more real or less constructed than the next, and where the trite sensibilities of society are eschewed in favor of a deep exploration of
    the possible. This happens with Dr. Hoffman breaking space/time, it happens with an immortal vampire who manifest its own desires, and it happens with Desiderio engaging in a quasi-romantic relationship with
    a child. Carter engages these topics as they are, not as taboos in modernity, and thus we can suss out our own relationship to these situations with more nuance than we are allowed in school, with friends, or in supposedly radical spaces.

    It is important to understand that we are engaging fiction here. We are engaging a world which is not forced to carry the burden of the real, for novels are the writings of outlaws and all outlaws live spiritually outside of society’s reality (or at least they imagine they do, and who is to say if that makes up a meaningful difference). To quote Kundera again, “suspending morality is not the immorality of the
    novel, it is its morality.” The Count that Carter creates in this story, exists outside of all. He is a creature made nearly of pure will, with the extra bits being made out of spite and rage. He is particularly extraordinary in this:

    ‘He had a passionate conviction he was the only significant personage in
    the world… He claimed to live only to
    negate the world. “It is not in the least unnatural to assert that he
    who negates a proposition at the same time secretly affirms it – or, at
    least, affirms something. But, for myself, I deny to the last shred of
    my altogether memorable being that my magnificent denial means more than
    a simple “no.” Sometimes my meager and derisive lips seem to me to have
    been formed by nature only to spit out the word “no”, as if it were the
    ultimate blasphemy. I should like to speak an ultimate blasphemy, and
    then bask in the security of eternal damnation, but, since there is no
    God, well, there is no damnation, either, unfortunately. And hence,
    alas, no final negation. I am the hideous antithesis in person and I
    swear to anyone who wants the word of a hereditary count of Lithuania
    for it that I am not in the least secretly benignly pregnant with any
    affirmation of any kind whatsoever.”’ read more

    Rape Fantasies by Margaret Atwood

    Rydra is an unironic Lena Dunham fangirl

    Margaret Atwood is all the rage right now because of The Handmaid’s Tale, some new TV show and book we all had to read in high school. Women being oppressed by governments is well-trod territory, but this piece tackles it from a different direction – self-imposed subjection. ALSO, IT’S HILARIOUS.

    “All the articles say it’s better not to resist,” one character says – but fuck that, fuck eroticizing a horrific violent thing and accepting it as something sexy and good. The real rape fantasy should be subverting it and finding humor and ridiculousness and control over it. If you fantasize about submitting in a world that demands your submission, you’ve chosen to find that power dynamic acceptable. (Shout out to all the men and women in kink relationships replicating the exact same power dynamics in the world around them and calling it “subversive” and “playful” when really it’s just lacking imagination.)

    I particularly appreciate how flippant/realistic this piece is about rape – as in, it’s a thing that happens literally all the time to pretty much everyone, and might even be “one of the most significant moment’s in a girl’s life – almost like getting married or having a baby or something”. (Get it? Get the joke? Because marriage and having babies are equally horrific things women are subjected to and fantasize about??? SAVAGE.) It’s scary and awful but that doesn’t mean it has to mean anything when it happens to you. And I mean that.

    “Dwelling on [unpleasant things] doesn’t make them go away. But not dwelling on them doesn’t really make them go away, either.” So laugh and fantasize.

    Voiced by snail

    Editing and Production by September


    Buffo the Clown by Angela Carter

    Angela Carter is incredible and the only reason you’ve never heard if her is cuz I hadn’t introduced Rydra to her yet. YOU’RE WELCOME. She’ll be back.

    Carter was a prolific writer up until hear death in the 90s from smoking too many cigarettes. She left behind radio dramas, plays, short stories, non-fiction (if anyone has a copy of The Saedian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography, get at me) and some profound novels, tackling themes of civilization, truth/morality, and reality itself.

    This reading pulls from Nights at the Circus, which tackles themes of identity. Identity, not as in “our inner self” or “who we REALLY are” but as a malleable creation that is ours to design (though we are not free of the consequences), with nothing underneath. A traveling circus is the perfect place to create a spectacular expression of performative self. A feat that is not easy – after all, it’s “given to few to shape ourselves”. What happens when one’s identity/self-hood begins to crack – to flake away, like white paint off of a clown’s mask – and one is confronted with the void?


    0:28 Walser puts on freedom in the form of a mask. Welcome to Clown Alley. Who is Buffo the Great?

    7:43 A speech on the despair, humiliation, and history of clowning.

    14:23 On the creation of selves and terrible dancing.

    22:44 A band of irregulars practices and parties.

    31:15 The clowns present an illusion of intentional bedlam. Buffo snaps.

    Voiced by Snail

    Editing and Production by September