OFF THE MAP – anonymous (crimethinc)

1. This is what it means to be an adventurer in our day: to give up creature comforts of the mind, to realize possibilities of imagination. Because everything around us says no you cannot do this, you cannot live without without that, nothing is useful unless it’s in service to money, to gain, to stability.

The adventurer gives in to tides of chaos, trusts the world to support her – and in doing so turns her back on the fear and obedience she has been taught. She rejects the indoctrination of impossibility.

My adventure is a struggle for freedom. (p.9)

2. The house turned out to be a small palace, a reincarnated Catholic hospital with cathedral-high ceilings and stained-glass windows. At the front door we were greeted by a life-size statue of a day-glo green bear in a top hat; paintings and sculptures dotted the walls and a row of damaged glass heads lined the staircase. The place was a cynic’s version of Wonderland, the rabbit’s hole squatted by four postmodern intellectuals on acid. There were only four people living there, which meant that all the Things in the house also got their own rooms: a room for the laundry lines, a room for a single desk and some paint jars, a room with nothing but photos covering one wall, a room for the two small rats in their refrigerator-sized cage, a locked room for Peter’s enormous collection of bizarre Residents memorabilia and one for all the empty boxes it had been shipped in. (p.20)

3. The squat was organised enough to hold their bi-monthly shows, but not enough to function as a community. The boys were experimental enough to dress punk, but not enough to challenge gender roles. (p.27)

4. We recalled wasted tourists laughing shrilly to each other under neon lights, drunk frat boys with thick wallets at little cafes, drunk girls with clown make-up laughing at their stupid jokes; drunk punks at squats, punks headed to other squats to get drunk. Ugly drunks and mindless drunks and boring drunks, and not really any drunks that inspired us to join them. And now here was Liliane offering to fill our glasses with velvet-thick Bordeaux local. (p.33)

5. Late in the week, the air hung in still sheets, oppressively hot but golden. All day we sat around drinking coffee and eating bread and honey and talking about how bored we were in the cool of the kitchen. Then we laughed at ourselves because we knew that when we told our stories later, we would forget that we were ever bored in these regal rambling rooms in the southern countryside of France. (p.35)

6. Hibickina and I walked through Tarbes, talking about Jean-Pierre and all of the stories that sit untold in the hearts of older people. We’re all fed such false messages about success in life, made to believe it’s a point of arrival. So most of us spend our whole lives waiting to arrive. We expect that once we get there, the long story of the life we just lived will be infused with meaning. But while we’re waiting our voices dry up. They forget how to ask, they forget how to listen, they forget how to tell. (p.40)

7. When we peel back all the layers of pain and distrust and neurotic surface fears, what lies beneath is that infinite primal terror of being stuck forever with no love. We have built our societies on the pursuit of success: traditionally that’s meant beauty for women and power for men, although incresingly these overlap. Daily, we see around us the dismissal of the ugly, the weak, the old, the powerless. So we know that one day it could and can and will be us who are dismissed. Whether we have the tools to fool everyone until we are old, or whether tomorrow someone sees our cracks and stains and rejects us, the fear of isolation is valid because all around us are images confirming that isolation is our destiny. Buy your way out of isolation, out of dismissal and anonymity, say the corporations. Try this product, this shampoo, this razor, this cellphone, this car…blah blah blah. Buy in. But the billboards of sexy girls gaining the attentions of powerful men are empty promises of reward when below them an old woman sits alone at a bus stop. (p.43)

8. The moment we notice that we can make fresh choices every minute, the moment we take Funky’s advice and think for ourselves, it’s easy to see that we’re all in this together. Isolation was somebody else’s bad idea. (p.44)

9. As I laid there staring at the ole glowbug I couldn’t believe that I ever had moments of blindness to magic, let alone days and weeks and years. I was certain, in that late hour of contentment before I fell asleep in soggy socks and damp overalls, that the imprint of the glowbug would last forever, that never again would I live outside of such enchantment as was mine for the claiming. (p.45)

10. Without the thick cloak of words to hide behind that a native language easily provides, a sharp honesty is necessary, and equally so a faith that others are communicating exactly what they mean. It’s too complicated to weave maszes of shy requests or equate thanks with guilt. So this time I just said thank you from the bottom of my heart (…) (p.58)

11. It had been locked up for too long, and Barcelona was the place I’d chosen to learn how to be my own boltcutters. (p.59)

12. Our entire lives had been squatted by systems we don’t believe in, and out very souls have been occupied by indoctrinations which destroy our ability to love and create, and which take away our freedom from the inside out. It’s time to squat back, we had agreed again and again, time to stake claim to the bones of human history and sew upon them new flesh. Maybe that was why the caricatures of skeletons were so prominent in squat culture. (p.61)

13. Squatting invalidates the boundaries of private property and sets immediate human needs before arbitrary law. (p.65)

14. There have always been two cities, the visible and the invisible…

“Three,” Hibickina reminds me firmly, “the one you see and the one you don’t, and then the one you dream.” (p.97)

15. But is home the place you come back to when you’re full, or is it where you go to be filled up again? (p.106)

16. My street rat life is a choice for me. I may re-enter that less deviant world any time I want. I can use my priviledge to buy back respect from the same people who right now lock me out of it. All the keys to those doors are safe. So why am I living in self-imposed exhile?

Because you get what you pay for. Pay a lot and you get an expensive life. Take what’s free, and you get freedom. (p.107)

17. But off the map and beyond the borders of fear, there are other formulas. Abandoned houses – permission = free shelter and adventure. Rain + covered doorways = gratitude. Soon it’s obvious that what you thought was flat actually has an underside, an edge, a core. That the mirrors you grew up with are as warped as the ones in the funhouse, and there’s no going back to them. There’s either giving up, or going on. One way cynicism, the other, dreams. (p.107)

18. We bring its body to life. As it fleshes out, forms ridges, tests edges, bares a hidden belly and a beating heart at its core, the thing that once looked flat is recognizable as the other world we are creating. We make it home for each other. We open its doors when we offer kindnesses and we pass through those doors when we say yes. We make windows when we tell the stories. (p.108)

19. If my dreaming makes me blind sometimes in this world, what else do I see for it?

I know that everywhere we go, there is another world within, beneath, outside and under. I see it in the houses that look like maybe they are or were or will be occupied, liberated. In the fading graffiti, “vivre ou mourir, c’est de nous a choisir.” Live or die, it’s our choice to make. Tiny whip lashes not even noticable on the skin of this reality but to me sure signs that something is stirring beneath the surface. Something that spells resistance. It’s the signature of a second world, where we scramble desperately, joyfully, painfully to find another way. Where we squat houses in defiance of the wage-slave cycle, plant our palms together in a refusal to be torn apart. Where we’ve seeded wild flowers in all the empty broken spaces of the empty broken cities and our stories don’t get lost in the traffic of growing older.

“You are dreaming!” Liliane said to us and I thought yes, exactly, that is what we do, you know, being witches, being lovers, being poets and adventurers. We are dreaming this very moment, and so are you as a matter of fact. Why not enjoy it? Look down at your hands, remember you’re dreaming and make it look how you want it to look, feel how you want it to feel. After all, the worlds we know are only made by dreamers. (p.109)

20. We all have our own borders. On one side it’s what’s easy, what’s known, what we’ve been told is true and have taken for granted; it’s comfortable here, it’s familiar. But the other side is wider than possibility, it’s brilliant with potential, and it looks like our dreams, whatever they are. Maybe for you that means having a family or taking up sailing; maybe it’s poetry in Prague or solitude in Barcelona; maybe it’s learning how to really be close to someone. Big or small, these are not the ‘dreams’ we’ve had handed to us, goodjob/bighouse/newcar – these are real dreams, real fragile fledgling dreams, which is why they’re often so frightening. But they’re ours, if we can find them and hold them, if we can catapult ourselves across whatever border of fear or doubt or tiredness seems to keep us from them. In the end, the only thing standing between each of us and what we most want, is ourselves. We’re our own border guards. And sometimes the crossing is easier than expected. (p.131)

21. I don’t want to be like anything that tries to get me to buy my dreams instead of making them myself. I’d rather tend the wounds of my dreams when they crash into someone else’s reality that give them up. I’d rather make maps of their scars and accept their ever-changing forms than buy into the huge, pre-packaged dream that’s sold in the global supermarket. I don’t want to learn the rhythm of complacency. (p.139)

22. But when we live in our own worlds, worlds we have dreamed and created, worlds which sometimes surprise us, worlds we share and speak about loudly, resistance again becomes innate. (p.139)  

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