I spoke at the Stockholm anarchist bookfair this summer about anarchist publishing, and one of the most challenging and useful audience participants was an anarchist academic named Deric Shannon, who later interviewed me for his project transformation radio. I actually haven’t listened to the edited piece yet, since I’m on a bus (holy crap I’m on a bus and the internet at the same time! the future!), but the interview and the kinds of conversations that I managed to have with him and a few others in Stockholm are among the highlights of my recent time in europe.
It’s been a year and many tour stops since my book Mythmakers & Lawbreakers came out, so I’ve released it as free zines over at Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. It’s sixteen zines long: one each per interview as well as one for Kim Stanley Robinson’s introduction and one for the appendices. Formatted for printing and for web-reading.
I’ll be in Tampere, Finland between the 8th and 11th of July to speak at Musta Pispala, an anarchist festival. I’ll be doing both a presentation on anarchist fiction and one on anarchism in the US. I might also end up playing a show there, I’m not sure… depends on the availability of an accordion, it looks like. The folks who run this seem to be the ones behind Takku, an anarchist magazine that I got to see at the Stockholm anarchist bookfair and that features (among lots of other things, of course), translations from Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. I’m excitied.
I’ve always kind of loved Finland and I’m excited to have an excuse to go back.
I’ll be speaking about anarchism and fiction at a Wagenplatz in Berlin, on June 2nd. The address is scheffelstr 21 in lichtenberg (friedrichshain). I think I’ll be talking at like 8pm or something.
I’ll also be speaking at the Stockholm Anarchist Bookfair on June 5th as part of the panel on anarchist publishing from 3-5pm, and I’ll be presenting my book Mythmakers and Lawbreakers the following day at 2pm.
(click on pictures for much larger versions)
Last night I spoke in Frankfurt at a social center called Raumstation Rödelheim. It went rather well: the audience was engaged and knowledgeable, often adding information to my lecture. (In particular, I learned still more about the admirable punk-as-fuck post-colonial african anarchist fiction writer Dambudzo Marechera who spit in the face of government and the mainstream when they tried to accept him into their fold by giving him award after award and tried to bribe him into positions of power.)
I walked in the rain courtesy of a Janosch umbrella. Janosch is a german children’s book writer who is quite famous here. He’s also an anarchist. Anarchism is a weird secret world that runs parallel to the mainstream one, and it bubbles through quite often. Recently I was drinking tea with a non-radical friend of mine in Amsterdam. The cafe has posters for JM Coetzee, an anarchist fiction writer, up everywhere. And my friend was studying Noam Chomsky, the linguist and anarchist… she pulled his book out of her bag.
Anyhow, I seem to have a thing about photographing bathrooms of the places I go. I think a bathroom can tell you a lot about the character of a place. There’s one more very-wide-angle shot of the bathroom at Raumstation (which means “space station”) after the break.
Okay, sorry about how last-minute everything has suddenly become. I’m speaking tonight in Frankfurt at a place called Raumstation Rödelheim, on anarchism in fiction, joined by my friend who writes Click Clack Gorilla. Then I’ll be speaking about anarchism in the USA here at Haus Mainusch in Mainz on the 31st, essentially opening for my friends in From The Depths.
I’ll also be speaking in Berlin, I believe on the 2nd.
The Oregonian wrote a rather nice piece about Ursula K LeGuin, including a bit about her anarchist politics and the event we did together at Powell’s. I’m pretty wary of corporate media, of course, but the only problem I’ve got with this article is that they claim I was wearing a kilt. It was clearly a skirt. I don’t wear kilts.
Killjoy, who wears a kilt and has dreadlocks, calls himself Magpie when he plays the accordion. He helps edit SteamPunk Magazine and maintains a blog of erotica called Steamypunk. He gives a loose, knowledgeable overview of anarchist literature and tells a story about Kurt Vonnegut Jr. being asked, “Why are you ruining the youth of America?” and walking away in disgust.
A few minutes later, after Killjoy talks about Tolstoy and writers who explicitly identify as anarchists, he pauses and takes a drink of water.
“Why are you ruining the youth of America?” Le Guin calls out, laughing.
Questions come thick and fast from the audience. Killjoy makes the point that anarchy and organization are not contradictory and that anarchists are productive people who get things done without a government structure. Someone asks about the role of anarchism in the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle and in a 1993 incident with police in Portland. Le Guin responds:
“As an inveterate peace marcher … I’ve marched around Portland more times than anyone in this room except my husband. I did get cross with the self-styled anarchists, the noisy ‘look at me’ people, whereas just as Margaret said, a lot of the organizers and people who were keeping it so it worked were also anarchists.”
A long question is summed up as, “What do you see role as?”
“What’s our cellular purpose?” Killjoy asks.
“To try to maybe show that there are alternatives to the way we presently do things and that people think is the only way to do things,” Le Guin says. “Democracy is good but it isn’t the only way to achieve justice and a fair share.
there’s also a video of the more complete presentation (as done in Los Angeles) that I’ll be posting a bit later when I’ve got better internet.
Tour continues! I have a chance to stay in Portland and breathe a little bit, which is exciting.
The event at Modern Times was good, and it was exciting to meet more of the folks behind AK Press. And to eat the largest falafel I’ve even imagined to exist.
The next day, I spoke at a packed Long Haul infoshop in Berkeley. It went wonderfully, in no small part because of the hilarious readings by Tomas of Rad Dad and Artnoose of Ker-Bloom!.
Then Artnoose and I headed up to Portland, and on Monday I shared the stage with Ursula K Le Guin, who is absolutely amazing. She read from The Dispossessed and Always Coming Home, then I did my presentation, and we spent most of the hour or so answering questions. There was only one person who was all “nurrr why do you anarchists always ruin everything?” (which was funny because I’d just told the anecdote of someone asking Kurt Vonnegut “Mr. Vonnegut, why are you ruining the youth of America?”). But the room was absolutely packed, with over 300 people, and an amazingly diverse and attentive crowd. Certainly one of the highlights of at least the last year or so of my life.
Tomorrow I’m speaking at The Red and Black Cafe at Portland, then up to Seattle, down to Olympia, and then… no idea after that.