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+3 votes
I've been reading Wolfi Landstreicher, and I'm struggling with understanding what he means by "creating your life as you see fit".

It seems to be the basis for his anarchy, and he frequently writes of individuals having been robbed of their creative capacity, and the tools needed for their existence. This makes some sense to me. However, whether it is my lack of imagination or something else, I have trouble understanding what Wolfi means when he writes of individuals creating their own lives.

Thank you for any responses.
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2 Answers

+4 votes
In some cases you have to read between the lines of a text to grasp its meaning, but with Wolfi, and especially with this phrase, I wouldn't read into it too much. He really means what he says. The trickiness of this phrase isn't in its meaning, but rather in the implications.

In other words, creating your life as you see fit is easier said than done. But what I think Wolfi is suggesting is to keep your eye on that as the guiding challenge, whatever immediate challenges present themselves.

Where the imagination comes in is figuring out how to navigate your particular moment and situation always toward this principle. But this is a recurring question, since the answer won't stay the same, and often answers probably won't even exist.

Now to somewhat contradict what I said about reading into things, you might look into the concept of "amor fati." I may be off base here, but I think Wolfi may have this in mind when he talks about creating one's own life. By this I mean that it is perhaps very civilized, or very American, to go about creating one's own life, in a certain sense, in defiance of life. And there is another, more wild, sense of creating one's own life in embracing it.

I'd be interested to know what you think about this, or to know more about what kind of struggle with understanding you are having.
by (20.5k points)
I think you are correct in thinking that the trickiness of the phrase is in the implications. Your first analysis of what Wolfi means I think fits in with Wolfi's general ideas of how to resist and rebel, and reminds me of a quote from Luigi Galleani

"[...] start the revolution inside onself and realize it according to the best of our abilities in partial experiments, whenever such an opportunity arises [...]".

This in conjunction with Yosemite's elaboration on the crucial difference between "desires" and "ghost desires" I think clarifies the concept quite a bit.

Regarding the second interpretation, I do see how Wolfi could have been influenced by a concept like "amor fati", and my response for now will be rudimentary, as I have not yet explored the attitude fully. While Wolfi does certainly have an affinity for wildness, it seems like amor fati could be dangerous in the sense that "enjoying the ride" instead of trying to mould the world to your desires might lead to accepting the current state of affairs. While I do think there is value in suffering, taking things as they are and enjoying life as its thrown at you might lead to individuals feeling powerless.

After a bit more thought (but no reading) on amor fati, I can better imagine the wild joy of throwing oneself into the world and experiencing everything (I am reminded here of Arthur Rimbaud's life). I am perhaps off in my interpretation of amor fati, and I while do see its connection with Wolfi's thought, I don't exactly see how it is "creative". Well now, the more I write, the more questions I have. After questioning the creative aspect of amor fati, I find myself less sure of what I understand to be "creative". As I read "Desire Armed", which answers the question of what desire is straight on, I am reminded of Bakunin's quote "The urge to destroy is also a creative urge", which I think undermines the traditional notion of creativity.

Edit: Phrasing
Edit 2: Added more on amor fati
+3 votes
I haven't read very much Wolfi, but I dipped into one of his essays the other week - 'Desire Armed: Anarchy and the Creative Impulse", which I think might have some relevance here, particularly in relation to 'being robbed of your creative capacity and what anok mentioned regarding the distinction between creating your life as you see fit in a civilized, conscious way, and creating it in a wild, embracing-rather-than-defying kind of way.

The argument I perceived was that the creative impulse, in a broad sense of that term, is the tangible expression in our lives of actual desires:

"Desire, in its vital, healthy, fully living form is nothing more nor less than the creative impulse, which realizes itself through the practical application of imagination to one’s life and one’s world."

I think we can reasonably infer from this that creating your life as you see fit is expressing your desires by living them, because living our desires is a fundamentally creative process (maybe even the crux of creative processes in general).

Another way of looking at it could be that if we express real desires (as opposed to ghosts of desire - more on that in a sec), our lives are created as we see fit - they are the sum of our creative impulses, which are the translation or enaction of our desires (those that are real desires).

As it stands, what I've said sounds pretty insubstantial, but when related to individuals being robbed of their creative capacity, and anok's point about amor fati and creating your own life in a more wild sense, it becomes more meaningful:

In the essay I mentioned earlier Wolfi quotes William Blake's phrase 'ghosts of desire' to describe what is commonly meant by 'desire' in everyday language: "a mere longing for some external object that one lacks", which he argues is an economic conception of desire based on scarcity, a general sense of lack that can be "easily the interest of whatever powers have the strength to harness this lack".  

When you contrast that to "desire in it's vital, healthy, fully living form", creating your life as you see fit could mean the embracing of your own authentic desires, which when lived are creative, as opposed to constructing your life in an overly-rationalized, civilized way by figuring out what you lack and then acquiring it, which superficially could look like creating your life as you see fit.

Here's a link to the essay if you haven't read it and would like to:
by (6.3k points)
I am rereading "Desire Armed", and as I am reading it, my focus is shifting away from my original question, and more to Wolfi's idea of desire. I'll respond to your answer once I finish Wolfi's essay.