It was as if they were in a cage whose door was wide open without their being able to escape....

Nothing outside the cage had any importance, because nothing else existed any more. They stayed in the cage, estranged from everything except the cage, without even a flicker of desire for anything outside the bars. It would have been abnormal — impossible in fact — to escape into something which had neither reality nor importance. Absolutely impossible. For inside this cage, in which they had been born and in which they would die, the only tolerable framework of experience was the Real, which was simply an irresistible instinct to act so that things should have importance....

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Only if things had some importance could one breathe, and suffer. It seemed that there was an understanding between them and the silent dead that it should be so, for the habit of acting so that things had some importance had become a human instinct, and one which was apparently eternal....

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Life was the important thing, and the Real was part of the instinct which gave life a little meaning. The instinct didn't try to imagine what might lie beyond the Real, because there was nothing beyond it. Nothing important. The door remained open and the cage became more and more painful in its Reality which was so important for countless reasons and in countless ways.

We have nothing in common except the illusion of being together....

And beyond the illusion of permitted anodynes there is only the collective desire to destroy isolation. Impersonal relationships are the no-man's land of isolation. By producing isolation, contemporary social organization signs its own death-sentence....

Let's face it: human relationships being what social hierarchy has made them, impersonality is the least tiring form of contempt. It allows us to pass without useless friction through the mill of daily contacts.

If men were transformed into scorpions who sting themselves and one another, isn't it really because nothing has happened, and human beings with empty eyes and flabby brains have 'mysteriously' become mere shadows of men, ghosts of men, and in some ways are no longer men except in name?

On the public transport which throws them against one another with statistical indifference, people wear an untenable expression of disillusion, pride and contempt, like the natural effect of death on a toothless mouth....

In a crowded street we can occasionally forget that suffering and separation are still present. And, since it is only the lie's power which makes us forget, suffering and separation are reinforced; but in the end the lie itself comes to grief through relying on this support. For a moment comes when no illusion can measure up to our distress.

Like crowds, drugs, and love, alcohol can befuddle the most lucid mind.

Alcohol turns the concrete wall of isolation into a paper screen which the actors can tear according to their fancy, for it arranges everything on the stage of an intimate theatre. A generous illusion, and thus still more deadly.

In a gloomy bar where everyone is bored to death, a drunken young man breaks his glass, then picks up a bottle and smashes it against the wall. Nobody gets excited; the disappointed young man lets himself be thrown out.

Yet everyone there could have done exactly the same thing. He alone made the thought concrete, crossing the first radioactive belt of isolation: interior isolation, the introverted separation between self and outside world. Nobody responded to a sign which he thought was explicit.

Love in its turn swells the illusion of unity...

Most of the time it gets fucked up and miscarries....

Its songs are crippled by fear of always returning to the same single note: whether there are two of us, or even ten, we will finish up alone as before....

What drives us to despair is not the immensity of our own unsatisfied desires, but the moment when our newborn passion discovers its own emptiness. The insatiable desire to fall in love with so many pretty girls is born in anguish and the fear of loving: we are so afraid of never escaping from meetings with "objects".

Pleasure is broken off prematurely and lovers find themselves naked in the world, their actions suddenly ridiculous and pointless.

The dawn when lovers leave each other's arms is the same dawn that breaks on the execution of revolutionaries without a revolution. Isolation a deux cannot confront the effect of general isolation....

Malaise invades me as the crowd around me grows. The compromises I have made with stupidity under the pressure of circumstances rush to meet me, swimming towards me in hallucinating waves of faceless heads.

We have nothing in common except the illusion of being together. Certainly the seeds of an authentic collective life are lying dormant within the illusion itself — there is no illusion without a real basis — but real community remains to be created. The power of the lie sometimes manages to erase the bitter reality of isolation from men's minds.

People will be together only in a common wretchedness as long as each isolated being refuses to understand that a gesture of liberation, however weak and clumsy it may be, always bears an authentic communication, an adequate personal message.

Are you ready to smash the reefs of the old world before they wreck your desires?

This July 2006 publication is adapted text from Chapter 3, "Isolation", in Raoul Vaneigem's The Revolution of Everyday Life by

Committee for Transcendence

http://www.committee-for-transcendence.org/
kathykundalini@committee-for-transcendence.org