Published in Social Anarchism #26, 1998
Welcome to The History of World Anarchism 101, taught by Patrick Borden. I have a feeling readers of this magazine already know about Karl Marx, Mikhail Bakunin, P"tr Kropotkin, and the movements they represented, but if not, they will after reading The Space.
Readers will also learn all about drugs. The book begins with Danny making a fist in preparation for the jab that will expand his world. Quick shift to Michael, called Mikhail by his grandfather in memory of the Russian anarchist mentioned above. The grandfather delivers a lecture on the movement and government's use of drugs to control the people, to stifle revolutionary tendencies.
Now to Angie the pill addict, but these drugs are sold over the counter, so it's okay. Another mini-lecture on corporate collusion and the free market. Angie, Michael, and Danny will be interwoven throughout the rest of the book.
Michael, like author Patrick Borden, is a university student drawn to learning, although he despises the materialistic orientation of the educational process and the pompous teachers who seek to humiliate their students. Michael's classrooms are the library and the coffee house. Danny, on the other hand, seems to live of, by, and for drugs. The government supplies him with all his needs, including heroin. At least it does until it decides to switch him to consumer/ designer drugs, but that comes later and doesn't last long.
Michael and Angie come into each other's awareness at the coffee house. Michael -- round glasses, long hair -- this is the author. Michael looks at himself through Angie's eyes and sees an intellectual who rejects all but the most essential aspects of materialism. He decides she is out of place here -- too well-dressed, not bright enough. They evaluate each other, but they do not yet know each other. Drug use, and with it, the peeling away of inhibitions, must precede this.
Just as Danny, having been switched from heroin to more socially acceptable uppers, is going through a period of self-analysis, so is Angie. Her life-style and her acquaintances seem to be a sham. But as she is turning away from mind-altering pills, Michael is picking them up for the very first time.
Meanwhile Danny, now deprived of his government-issue heroin, is falling back into his old, gun-toting, criminal ways, natch. Next, a little breaking and entering into the clinic that had been supplying him to get his drug of choice. At home, an ant carrying a load larger than itself brings out a more thoughtful side of him that had been overshadowed by drugs. That ant was contributing more to its community than he was!
Now that the three central characters of the book have become familiar to the reader and the story is flowing, the discourses on socialism seem less tacked on, more a part of the rhythm. Danny wonders why he is doing drugs when he should be devoting himself to his real role -- enemy of the state.
Danny kills the ant. It hadn't belonged in his space. Space is the personal area surrounding individuals and objects. A drug can have space. The world has space. Space can collapse, be cut off. When two people merge, space disappears. When space is invaded, the invader, like the toiling ant, is eliminated.
Michael is heading the other way, allowing Angie to invade his space, to lead him to consumerism. But no, he can't go there, Where can he go? To a man with whom he seems to connect? To Danny, a syringe, the euphoria of a high?
Back to the coffee house, where Danny is meeting Angie. Soon, Angie is injecting heroin with Michael. Danny and Angie and Michael becoming more and more alike, more and more dependent on heroin, less and less concerned with changing society. Becoming spaced out.
While at times a bit too in-your-face, this stark Orwellian prophecy should make readers think twice before watching TV, making a purchase based on having seen an advertisement, or taking a pill. Do we shape society, or does society shape us? Whither the revolution, our ideals? Gone to junk. Borden's next book will make an interesting read should he choose to follow up on The Space.
The Space by Michael Borden. 157 pp. Montreal, Quebec: Empyreal Press, 1995. $l4.95 paper.
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