In this episode, I speak with anarchist and primitivist writer and philosopher John Zerzan. We discuss his deep analysis of the roots of Time as we understand it to be in the modern sense (explored in a collection of essays titled ‘Time & Time Again’), the roots of agriculture and the domestication of life, the detrimental impact this transition has had on human health and physical development, the neuroses of mass society (alienation, depression, anxiety, etc.), the wholesale disappearance of community, and the threat technological advancement poses for complex life on the planet.
As mentioned above, we begin the discussion by examining the concept of Time, as expressed in John’s collection of essays ‘Time & Time Again,’ published by Detritus Books. As John writes in his essay ‘Time and its Discontents’: “The further we go in time the worse it gets. We inhabit an age of the disintegration of experience, according to Adorno. The pressure of time, like that of its essential progenitor, division of labor, fragments and disperses all before it.”❂ Everything, as John points to his writing, becomes subject to the will and tyranny of Time, a process that continually disempowers us in the service of technological advancement and economic growth — ideological constructs that serves the continuation and legitimization of “Civilization” more broadly, regardless of the detrimental impacts this structure has on human life and the complex living systems of this planet.
John and I also discuss the root of the pervasive neuroses, destructive addictive behaviors, and outbursts of violence in modern society — all of which stem from the alienation produced by the community-destroying elements present in civilized life today. Through John’s examination of anthropological evidence of humanity’s pre-historic past, we can understand that much of what we take for granted to be “normal” human behavior and development is really, in the scope of things, a rather recent product of the logic of technological and economic progress inherent in capitalist development — the most recent phase in global civilization’s aim to expand and protract itself into every aspect of the human experience on this planet. What can we learn from this examination of human life before the rise of symbolic thought and agriculture? We discuss this and more in this episode.
John Zerzan is an American anarchist and primitivist philosopher and author. His works criticize agricultural civilization as inherently oppressive, and advocate drawing upon the ways of life of hunter-gatherers as an inspiration for what a free society should look like. Some subjects of his criticism include domestication, language, symbolic thought and the concept of time. His most recent books are ‘A People's History of Civilization’ and ‘Time and Time Again,’ both released this year (2018).✧
❂ Source: http://bit.ly/TimeDiscontents
- Learn about John’s work at his website: http://johnzerzan.net
- Purchase ‘Time & Time Again’ from Detritus Books: http://bit.ly/TTAgain
- Purchase ‘A People’s History of Civilization’ from Feral House: http://bit.ly/APHCiv
- Listen to John’s weekly produced ‘Anarchy Radio’: http://bit.ly/AnarchyRadio
- The song featured in this episode is ‘Carbon 7 (161)’ by Jlin from the album Black Origami.