Start your review of Elements of Refusal Write a review May 22, Josh rated it really liked it The first half of the book was great. It is chock full of provocative critique of "modern" society, right down to our use of language and perceptions of time. This is a sorely needed perspective as we face numerous social and ecological challenges. The second half of the book was a little more difficult to get through, as several chapters consisted almost entirely of lists of book and news article titles in an effort to prognosticate a growing dissatisfaction with society verging on open revolt, The first half of the book was great. The second half of the book was a little more difficult to get through, as several chapters consisted almost entirely of lists of book and news article titles in an effort to prognosticate a growing dissatisfaction with society verging on open revolt, which obviously has yet to materialize. I was also expecting a more direct critique of the positivist, techno-industrial utopia put forth by Marx, DeBord, et al.
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Save John Zerzan is no stranger to controversy. As compensation and palliative, because our relationship to nature and life is so deficient and disallows an authentic one.
That urge or desire to represent reality. Art is just part of the symbolic culture, symbolic communication. Emerald: That seems to be describing it from a materialistic standpoint. Like art as the creation of an artifact, or as a materialistic thing. JZ: You could describe it in different ways. You could talk about it in a more spiritual way, too. We all love art. How could you question art? So the question is, can you heal social problems by the means of the symbolic?
And I think the answer is no. Other people disagree. Emerald: Have you rethought any of your perspectives since you originally wrote the essay? JZ: Yes. It was part of a series of so-called origins pieces. I just wrote a new one about the origins of gender and what that has to do with the movement to the symbolic. One thing is, of course, it has a very provocative title.
But actually, it is trying to show that the reason why art comes along as part of the whole movement into the symbolic realm is interesting. For example, one thing that really struck me, is some of the anthropological data, for example that we were cooking with fire almost 2 million years ago, and doing other interesting things.
And yet, art is very recent. Art is only like 30, years old. Emerald: Do you feel that art in popular culture is a tool of social control? JZ: One of the things popular culture strikes me as is a kind of loss of faith in art. When pop art comes along starting in the late s — especially the post-modern which starts up a little later but is part of that whole trend — the distinction between serious art and pop art becomes dissolved.
A lot of people thought art was redemptive and a really big deal, because it expressed such deep values. Emerald: Is the creation of art necessarily rooted in desire? Or is it possible for art to come from our relationship with nature, or something else? Apparently, people were satisfied with just digging nature, just being in nature, and having a real, full communion with nature, if you will.
And I think when you start losing it, then you have to paint it, rather than live it. One seems to be there in lieu of the other. Emerald: Do you think there would be fewer artists today if, on the whole, we had a healthier relationship with our environment and surroundings?
JZ: I think so, in a basic way. For example, writing — I look at it the same way. But if there was a disalienated world, would we need to do that stuff? Emerald: So you are writing to find a way to reconnect yourself with your surroundings, nature, and the environment? JZ: Yeah, as part of a movement to challenge the society and replace the society to where that would be possible again. Contact the Pulse editor.
We call them the Forces of Darkness. When black clad anarchists from his community in the Pacific Northwest started regularly fighting with cops, engaging in acts of property destruction and then eloquently articulating their opposition to the techno-industrial totality people took notice. And, much to his dismay, Zerzan would be described as the leader of these "Forces of Darkness". Zerzan has been instigating insurrection for decades.
Elements of Refusal