When I first thought of doing Subversive it was to be different. This was to be a book of interviews with people who do, or have done, things that society finds abhorrent or possibly ridiculous, but that could literally care less about what others think. Many people talk the talk about living life their own way despite societal pressures, but how many people actually do it? How many people have the resolve to live in a way that puts them in the way of scorn, ridicule, or possibly even danger?
I had become in the habit of seeking such people when I was writing regularly for Disinfo, and thought a book of such pieces would be an interesting document. I had interviewed a writer who used heroin and didn’t want to stop, I talked to some pedophiles who chose not to act on their sexual urges, I interviewed a man who was a confidant of the Unabomber, a man who claimed he could make people immorta, and a member of the Flat Earth Society. And the thing is, with each of these people I interviewed, when the piece was published people tended to get so fucking mad. Not all people of course, but enough to pique my interest. Scores of people would comment on these pieces, and either mock the subject, or with that the person was dead.
This intrigued me. Why does someone get angry with someone who shoots up heroin and is proud of it? Why does one want to kill a man who is attracted to children and has never acted on it? Why do people care so much about what other people think about immortality or the shape of the Earth?
Why do we always need to be right? Why do other people have to live the same way we do?
I am not enlightened. I don’t have a philosophy. I am not one that spends his days trying to change society. That would be something to be proud of I suppose. But that isn’t it. I simply just don’t care what others do. For example, it isn’t that I am pro gay rights, it is more that I simply don’t care if you stick your cock up another guys ass. I don’t care what you do really. I do think it is not so nice to murder someone, or to steal, but really if you do such things does it really change anything? Does it really make you wrong?
These were the questions I wanted to ask. I wanted to find people all over the world who had done things or who are actively doing them that society thinks are oh so wrong, and I wanted to know why they didn’t care.
While this was a noble cause, or at least I like to think so, in time the focus of the book shifted. I found that there was no way I would be able to find enough people to talk to me under those parameters to complete a book of interviews. My elevator pitch was way off. It was kind of like “Hey, I am doing a book where I interview people who do things that society thinks is fucked up, but they don’t care. Want to be in it?” Not surprisingly that did not intrigue a lot of people. I searched high and low for unrepentant con men, thieves, murderers, druggies and drunks, but I was striking out left and right.
So I went slightly more towards the middle. I decided to try and find subversives. When it comes down to it, there is not much of a shift here as one might think, they are still people that are doing things, or have done them, that most of society finds completely wrong, or ridiculous, but there are just so many more people in this pool that wanted to talk to me than in the previous one.
One usually thinks of a subversive as being a political sort, who is trying to undermine the current system. There are many of those types in this book. There are also many subversives or other types here as well; the ones that subvert current sexual, societal and moral mores are here too.
Of course, I am one of these people myself, and it was not much of a jump to find people that thought like me, that did their own thing and did it either to tear down society, or because they simply did not care at all what society thought of them.
Where before it seemed to the interviewee that I was trying to take advantage or them and maybe even mock them, now it became apparent to all that I was one of them. It took me just a few months to line up some of the most radical people in the world to do interviews with me. Don’t get me wrong. A lot of people told me to fuck off, and the Unabomber wrote me back to decline and told me that I had some of the worst handwriting he had ever seen.
The people that were kind enough to talk to me are anarchists, socialists and primitivists. They are unrepentant drug users, they are people that have been put in prison for their sexual tendencies, and they are authors of books on how to make meth and nerve gas. They are murderers, they are imposters, they are white nationalists, and they are Black Panthers. They are 9-11 Truthers, they are occultists, and they worship Gods from outer space. They are antinatalists, sexual deviants, and men’s activists.
Some of them are well known and have large followings, others are known by few, or mocked by many.
All of them are brave and all of them think for themselves.
Do your own thing. It is way easier in the long run. Unless of course your thing is doing something illegal. Than you are probably fucked either way.
You can buy Subversive here.