History is always a kind of falsification of reality, a simplification of reality, and it always has to be broken open by the eruption of the unconscious… No revolution can succeed in history, because the end of revolution requires the end of history.
– William Irwin Thompson
Let’s play with words...today’s is “cause.” There are two kinds of rebels without causes. Most of us connect the notion to James Dean, the archetype of adolescent independent thinking modeled now by folks like Miley Cyrus. (Question: How many independent thinkers does it take to reinvent the wheel? Answer: All of them.) They rebel because they are compelled. They don’t examine underlying reasons. They express our human animal reacting violently to growing up in cages. They’re chthonic, elemental power, like a lightning bolt that doesn’t care if it discharges through a tree or tower. They’re the consequence of social shadow seeking its release. The counterculture is, in all its faces, just an equal/opposite effect. It’s physics. They’re inevitable rebels; but, though lacking goals, they’re not without a cause: the cause exists – just not to them. They’re unaware of why, and live developmentally before the noble causes animating more mature revolutionaries.
These less mature rebels spring forth ceaselessly without the need to anchor actions in a narrative of freedom fighting, politics, or progress. In contrast, the great majority of revolutionaries history remembers fought and won conditional rebellions. (Mere obstinance is not enough to merit anthems.) Both, however, come from the experience of limitation: life, as dissipating energy, rejects whatever tries to bind it. The rebel and the revolutionary live the story of a self that won’t be captured or constrained. Their lives both flow down such a well-worn path: “me vs. something/everything.” You’re certainly familiar with that story.
But there’s another kind – a truer, unconditional rebellion – that occurs beyond the story. The luckiest of rebels come to realize freedom can’t be found by changing life’s conditions, can’t be guaranteed by rearranging furniture within the cell of self. The greatest limitation is to be one thing and not the rest – a part, and thus apart, defined by separation. The greatest and the truest freedom isn’t in the “independence” we proclaim by saying no to limitation just like every other child – but in living fully present to apparent limitations as the features that arise within a whole and perfect, everchanging, neverending, undivided moment. To do so’s more profound than merely tearing down a wall. The catalysts and consequences we create to move our characters from scene to scene exist within this vastly wider, boundless present, past and future both horizons that exist within the here-and-now, the stillness-ever-spinning. Here and now the revolution’s always happening; it’s the cause and the effect forever, always; there aren’t any mythic heroes left to fling themselves into the flame of immortality through “victory,” no ends beside this bright apocalypse that always burns and blossoms in its timeless breath. Whatever stories culture might concoct about the unconditional rebellion are the palliatives applied by people who can’t follow suit and overthrow the fraudulent authority of seeming-separate selves.
Everybody, All At Once is how the unconditional rebellion’s won. But winning’s just another fiction – the real revolution is in the lived experience of this question: who’s aware of the story?
Siska does a bang-up job animating this with help from Guillaume Panariello in their music video below.