i've realized why glamourbombing as it's always been presented to me kind of rubs me the wrong way, and also, i think, why it ultimately faded out of relevancy in the otherkin community.
by complete coincidence (although, in this context, can anything truly be a coincidence?) i've been reminded of glamourbombing by running into a handful of old sources that mention it, most notably this old FAQ supplemental to the glamourbombing LJ community, and this material from DKMU. i single those ones out for a number of reasons:
- i was very personally familiar with these places in the early 10s (the LJ community is dead now, unsurprisingly, but DKMU now has an active discord server! i'm considering joining it)
- as i remember, they both state somewhere in no uncertain terms that they don't condone illegal activity
- as i don't remember, they both state somewhere that the idea of glamourbombing was originally inspired by hakim bey's concept of poetic terrorism
hakim bey... is an anarchist. (he's not a good person, generally speaking - don't look at his wikipedia page - but i think this particular article is pretty spot on.) are you seeing the problem i am with that?
the DarkFae mailing list took a concept founded in contempt of the state and defanged it.
i don't have anything wrong with, i dunno, constructing fairy rings and leaving post-it notes in the fantasy section of barnes and noble, but i find it at worst arrogant and at best naieve to assert that this will change the world. i'm not the only person to have this criticism. but, while the line "magic is not some sickly, impotent wretch whose presence and reality need to be faked to be convincing" is raw as fuck, obviously jarandhel isn't coming at it from the quite same angle i am either.
no, glamourbombing failed because people weren't willing to break the law. like, i'm not advocating for stabbing a guy (funny how people will jump to that conclusion), but like, free parties? guerilla gardening? flyposting, even? not even just the capital-L Law, either, many of the otherkin sources on it explicitly discourage doing anything too weird, or too noticeable. then what's the fucking point, eh?
i think that this is a community bargaining with itself. a community of people who feel in their soul that life isn't supposed to be this way, who want to sieze an opportunity to change everything but are scared to make the leap. this is not something i condemn people for. i'm as familiar as you are with the way that society makes use choose between freedom and safety. but, like its cousin respectability politics, this is not sustainable. it wasn't sustainable.
i remember reading this article and sighing and nodding, wishing glamourbombing would come back. i felt that i'd missed some kind of golden age. a lot of greymuzzles still think that much today, which is kind of depressing. the otherkin community has pretty much stagnated for the past seven years, and a lot of it has to do with the exact attitudes that took anarchy out of glamourbombing in the first place.
another gaggle of spiritual groups that i've been reminded of recently, and who i think lend themselves well as a comparison here: the church of satan and the satanic temple. the church of satan was founded by anton lavey, whose satanic bible put me on the path towards paganism in the first place. for some context, laveyan satanists aren't theists - they describe 'satan' as 'a model of behaviour', citing his role as an adversary and accusor. they have repeatedly disavowed the satantic temple for 'masquerading as satanists'.
but who challenged the ten commandments monument in oklahoma with a big fucking statue of baphomet? marched with planned parenthood? created projects against child abuse? offered to harbor muslim refugees? yeah. the satanic temple endures because they acknowledge that the spiritual is politcial. the church of satan recedes because they're concerned with retaining respectability and preserving definitions.
"The Church of Satan does not condone political activists appropriating the name of our 50 year old religion in support of their activism, whether we agree with their stated goals or not. As a “new” religion, compared to the majority of commonly acknowledged belief systems, keeping our definitions clear is imperative so that Satanism can be understood from any cultural point of view as a distinct and developed religion that has at this point inspired thousands towards fulfilling their lives."
where have we heard that kind of patter before, eh?
as it stands, one of the biggest voices in the alterhuman community is staffed by at least a couple card-carrying (snrk) anarchists. we actually literally just interviewed for a Pretty Big News Site about the hazards of neoliberalism in alterhuman advocacy (ETA: and now it's been published! go read it!). and, despite some fantastically vocal detractors, i'd like to think that a good number of people agree with us by now? more people are considering the nonhuman political than ever before. a lot more have heard of queer theory, even if it doesn't mean much to them. and this is an awareness that can only increase (at least, if we do our job right :v).
and look at the state of the world. nobody needs to point to some Astral War or ahistorical idea of The Veil in 20 fucking 20 to suggest that consensus reality might be changing. it feels kind of mean to use jarin's own words against him, but they just feel so relevant here:
"She loved magic, would use any trick or gimmick of guerrilla art or stage magic to convince a sleeping populace of its reality. But deep down, in her heart of hearts, she didn’t – couldn’t – believe in it herself. Certainly could not believe in a magic strong enough, powerful enough, effective enough to break open a sleeper’s mind and introduce them to the reality of the supernatural."
if there were ever a time to do glamourbombing right, i think it's now.