John Landau: “Civilization and the Primitive” (1995) *
What is Primitive?
Primitive is trusting, trusting, trusting. It is naked. It is moving through language to ecstasy. The language of the body, of vocal chords, of dreams and vital ideas. The language of smells. Primitive is the naked foot touching the naked ground. Primitive is not without ideas, but ideas that hold together, embrace, and integrate the instincts. Primitive is dancing, the body moving on impulses. Primitive is letting go of confusion, embracing multiplicity. Primitive is getting lost in all you can be. Primitive is drifting, it is mastery of power expressed. It is bodies congregated in howling, painted packs. It is passion expressing itself in form; it is cunning grounding itself in stalking; it is cruelty creating itself through sensual ritual. Primitive is combat as love, pain as coming-closer, bewilderment as freefall into the ocean of being. It is wet, it is covered in mud, it is amniotic. Primitive is the gathering of plant and animal spirits; it is the hunting of mystery. It is difference bounding wild through fields of color, running free from ideals for the dangerous traps they are, fascinated all the same. Primitive is trusting the earth, the ground beneath one’s feet.
What is Civilization?
Civilization is distrust, it is out-of-touch, it is pretense without play, pretending it is NOT. Civilization is only NOT; it makes sure it is NOT.
It must have negation or it ceases to exist. Civilization is Either/Or. Civilization is “a place for everything and everything in its place” (but nowhere except in its place; while primitive is no place for any thing, for verb is all, as activity or rest.) Civilization is the search for Extraterrestrial life, the desire to leave the earth. Civilization is disdain of the dirt, the soil, the mud. Civilization is being chained to the mind of Ideals, any ideals. Civilization is perfection wreaking havoc on a squirming, squiggling, writhing, bumbling, blustering creature. It is the machine, fragmentation, the violation of integrity into coordinated parts. It is homelessness, exiled everywhere, therefore colonizing all it sees. It is life frustrated, frustrated, frustrated. It is manipulation. It is the belief that only the Good maintains the universe, for without it all would collapse; therefore, it is the demonizing of all it calls evil. It is the domination of paranoia, and therefore the paranoia of domination. Civilization is not fooling around, not blowing your top, not having a temper tantrum, not touching, not following your drift, not ease, not acting like those who are “lower” than you, not farting, not belching, not napping, not breathing, not crying, not resting. It is a litany of “not’s” (/knots). It has no substance, therefore it must overcome all it is not in order to prove to itself it exists. Civilization is Envy, it hates itself, the other side is greener, we must have it, the greed that comes from worthlessness, the desperate blotting out of the whole, therefore the feigning of superiority to save face, whoever saves the most face wins.
* Against Civilization - p58 John Zerzan ed.