What an invigorating jaunt it was reading Feral Consciousness, Deconstruction of the Modern Myth and Return to the Woods. Julian Langer did something no one else has done for me. He interlaced my decades ago analytical brain study of the soft sciences on topics of knowledge and existentialism, to my present weary being craving for wild. His gift to the reader is a foundation for and framework toward a post-civ future.
If you’re new to life and anarchy philosophies, or would like an engaging review, Feral Consciousness hits the spot. Julian begins with an annotated synopsis of major thinkers and concepts later fleshed out in the book. How do these taste?: Adorno, Temporary Autonomous Zone, Diogenes, Heidegger, Lacan, Nietzsche, Stirner, Thoreau, Wilde, Vygotsky, Zerzan. The classic ideologies of each and more are applied through a post-civ lens. By the time you close the book you have a basic understanding of a broad spectrum of theorists and concepts.
While Julian synthesizes and originally applies a spectrum of abstract concepts, he takes it easy on the reader. Every time my brain felt like it might begin drowning in abstractia, he reeled me back in with laid-back metaphors, like Pokemon and the Matrix. Here’s a sampling of his captivating tangibility:
“The idea of an axe shapes the perception of a tree.”
“It’s kind of like being between two mirrors, trying to find the last image of yourself in the stream.”
“Consider this, for example: when does a tree start to exist?”
Oh but don’t underestimate. This book is not a lightweight, but a major player. Julian doesn’t end his list of anthropocentric tragedies with wishful greenwash of proposals. He exposes opportunity that ecological collapse presents: encountering the dichotomy of the ‘Real’ and ‘Reality’. He offers a way out of the bind of intrinsically wild humans stuck in the domesticated life and world that we ourselves carved out.
“The Symbolic is not a ‘natural’ feature of the world, and is not an inevitable feature of human psychology. Rather, it is the product of material ideological conditions of one culture-type – civilization. This culture-type now dominates the entire planet, and practically all genetic homo sapiens have been socialized into its psychopathology… the entire ‘humanist’ mode of production’s ideological structure (language, religions, economic and political systems, forms of knowledge and morality, to name a few) are inorganic and artificial constructs derived from a psychosis – collective and individual – that typifies our everyday lives.”
Julian acknowledges the inclination for pessimism, then draws the reader away from the delusion of civilization, the “colonial myths that have perpetually sustained the hegemonic imperialist system”, and the “living death” of nihilism, toward a calling to begin civilization’s inevitable collapse by forming authentic relationships with the Real.
“…the state must be de-idealised through an iconoclastic and radical skeptical epistemological perspective, into a materialist relationship, which de-transcendentalises the relationship into pure existential experience when possible, and skeptical-iconoclasm when not… “
He addresses those who sense the domestication ethos in a “crisis derived via inauthenticity”, that “our bodies are simply not designed to function in the ways required by modern culture” and that the quicker civilization ends the less harm done.
“Our brains are designed to roam through forests and across plains, to forage and hunt, to calculate the Real world as we encounter it organically. Our brains are designed to fight to survive – not to sit in front of TVs, on laptops and iPads, or to play video games. This Reality is an affront to our consciousnesses. We are wild, anarchic, and free creatures, with brains equipped for this.”
He challenges us to replace acceptance of “atheist scientism… the opium of the masses” with Cynicism, an agility seeing through civilization’s phantasm to the Real, to deconstruct the symbolic and domesticated. This is the first step to break out of domestication’s cage to escape into “rewilded-feral and animalistic perception of authentic unmediated truth… that is far closer, if not totally connected, to the pre-Symbolic ‘natural’ Real of wild being.”
This foundation leads to a realistic method of not just ending the civilization madness, but shifting away from civilization toward Real life. Not to be mistaken as a pure rewilding of individuals, this proposal premises that,
“(t)o live freely requires assuming responsibility for the world that is our life/lives, and resisting what disenables life from being free. I extend these concepts in what I hope serves as a mechanism to make possible a freed, consciousness of rewild, feral, anarchic, authentic being, which can serve as the basis for cultivating a way-of-being in the world that acts as both insurrectionary – outside of arrangement, and active resistance – organized and tactical.”
As to the methodology Julian proposes, I’m going to leave you with that cliffhanger. I’ve already given away too much. Though my spirit calls me to sum up the entirety of Julian’s clarion call, this is supposed to be a book review. I can say that there is room for debate on the contour of what he proposes. But the method he presents is a living document, fluid and open to customizing. Let me leave you with one final inspiring quote:
“I have… been having dreams about ecological collapse… I find strength in images of collapsed civilisations rediscovered in the depths of jungles. That is my goal for this civilization too. I want to provide something that enables biological humans to develop a mode of being that can approach these issues in an effective way… The world is still being ravaged by this culture, but my feral spirit of sorrow and joy rises within me at all moments of facing this culture. From this, I find the energy to act in revolt and resistance to the leviathan we face. If they want war, then they will face the animal fury of warriors who do not grant them any claim to their lives – and I will fight.”
Feral Consciousness, Deconstruction of the Modern Myth and Return to the Woods is set for release later this year or early January through Little Black Cart.