the collective members of MonkeyWrench Books and Pallaksch Press in Austin, TX published a set of essays in book form called “Impasses.” Here I intend to respond to the essays and the questions directly and indirectly posed.
There are a great deal of questions presented in the short volume so this will not be an easy nor quick effort. The volume is an impassioned but far too brief exploration of several important threads. I’m afraid my responses to the questions will end up with a bunch more questions due to the condensed source material. Or rather, i have many questions for the authors so i can better understand the ideas and the backdrop for the essays.
Before I dive into the specific essays I have to start at the title of the book and the introduction. I’m unclear about what is at an impasse and exactly what the functional definition of an impasse is.
In our studied patience we may be able to discuss what others pass over in silence: the generalized impasse which is our situation. In a moment when the old ways of engaging seem not to be having the anticipated effects, we offer both some meditations on what it means to be where we are and a gesture toward new ways of understanding and resisting. Each of the five conference pieces sets out from a stalemate where all options seem exhausted and all avenues explored. For us, to confess to an impasse is not to admit defeat, but rather to acknowledge we have reached a critical point the continual process of thinking and refining our ideas. If we are still discussing, still figuring out how to speak with and listen to each other, then the spark of resistance is not extinguished.
Here i’m unclear whether the impasses are such that the authors believe there is a real impasse or whether this is just a literary device to inspire discussion. In one sense they are suggesting there is a general impasse for the overall situation in which they exist. Then later they suggest that instead they are still figuring things out, so not at an impasse.
The title and overall structure suggests that the authors believe there is an actual impasse and that they have a possible method, this book and its questions and the process that generated this book, to move past these impasses.
I’m digging into this because the clear statement of whether there is a real impasse has material impact to the the interpretation of the book.
I hope to engage the authors in a conversation to iron out this initial point. From there i will proceed to answer, from my perspective, the questions posed at the end of each essay and then dig into the contents of each essay. I will then make a general response to common themes and overall anarchist philosophy and tooling which is lightly touched on in the appendix and through out each essay.
I believe the spirit of the book and the collective, based on the authors’ website, is about engagement. Nothing more and nothing less. In that regard that spirit is alive and well with me.