The She-Wolf And Her Own
I inhabit the Wolf I worship. This is no claim to divinity, and certainly no urge for piety. While I am still technically an atheist, the paganism I develop for myself is a means of contemplating & deducting (as well as coping with) the Present Day iteration of Rome; that malignant global empire which corrodes Gaia in its manifold array of carbon emission aqueducts, logging and mining operations, disintegration of critical thought in every participant.
I use the word “paganism” in a setting where liberal, “enlightenment” values (which propel fascism as well as an impotence of “resistance”) assume the role of Christianity, attempting to convert or kill my restless spirit for their holy concepts. This world strikes me as another Rome because the ruling stupidity of those in power and their subjects match, if not exceed, the spirit of conquest and slaughter akin to Julius, Augustus, Nero, Caligula, Valentinian, Theodosius. Little has changed aside from the rituals and articulation of governance. Everyone beneath this is either contending with or cowering from its insidious force which we can no longer imagine being slain in our lifetimes.
In continuity with all Empire and its cruelty, I have settled in nicely with Loss. I am very at home with hurt and negligence. A “beautiful life” as a concept lies tarnished, charred to ash at my feet. It has been made impossible by what this sterile, civilized existence demands from all living beings. All that is left for me is a silent understanding: it has only been up to me these couple of decades alive to determine the life that I own, that which I affect material things and perception with according to my presence and intention. That which I flesh-out and consume from a gradual lived decision in each moment where I can still experience anything. I have had to steer through jagged rocks and treacherous depths; every minuscule shortcoming has dealt a painful blow. The results are grafted onto my heart, bearing a wolf-like silhouette.
Most people would search for God, Truth or Justice in the throes of despair. They will only find themselves possessed by these notions, swayed into their abusive peripheral actions. They cannot find answers to these things from the outset of their snares if they will not find what it is to develop one’s own answer to what they struggle with. The constant of strife is only renewed by an acceptance of self-sacrifice, self-debasement in the logic of its recurrence. My thread of insights here are specific to some aspects of literature and philosophy in tandem with the focus of the title. I intend to condense and steer these specifics to shed light onto the effort of how a girl stumbles away from self-debasement as best she can and into her own: a bodily— as well as worded presence— that regrets nothing and indeed embraces nothing to create everything. It is not of the ilk of graceful acceptances or brave rejections; it comprises the affair of a self-owning girl.
I am a lone wolf, in soul and in conduct. This is not something I am proud of. It is what it is. The wolf is sovereign, foresighted, removed from the immediate snare of the enemy— when she can help it. The wolf knows what to pounce on, what to keep an eye on, and what to ignore. She understands the brutality she can inflict and how all of it can find its way back to her in one swift bite.
With this in mind, I am also the lone one in the universe of my own: I am not and cannot be anyone else – and yet I conceive of my relation to others in the completely indiscernible perspective of that person, or that number of people (which typically causes too much anxiety to want to deal with, parcel of the wolf.)
This perspective affords me two simultaneous mental instruments: Firstly, I am all I can really know (while also knowing not to be the only one who feels this way.) Secondly, I know that others experience with the same ferocity which I have, and that they have endured what I could not wish to know.
My solitude occurs firstly in the possession of a perception, a conscience. It then hardens from the passing perceptions of me exuding these overwhelming factors into a person. The wolf glares, but does not snarl. I see no purposeful malice in anyone’s face or hands yet. This watching and considering on the parts of I and others is, in a sense I will explain, an exchange of properties.
In daily life and beyond, we engage however we do with our surroundings— with those persons, factors, tools and internal exchanges in a given place. These are what is meant by properties, enclosed in no mere economic sense of strictly “personal” or “private.” Our courses are affected, impeded or accelerated as they are according to these things. But these can only proceed in a rigid and reduced fashion, orbiting an authoritarian centrality of imposed notions and tolls— phantasms hypnotizing their behavior. On these terms, we cannot truly own our actions, our feelings, our thoughts – less so if they do not originate in you or I. This snag is the continual setting of your alienation and mine. It is here that the wolf begins to growl.
[…] if a “tie” encompasses you, then you are only something with another, and twelve of you make a dozen, thousands of you a people, millions of you humanity. “Only when you are human can you treat each other as human beings, just as you can understand each other as patriots only when you are patriotic.” Well then, I reply: only when you are unique can you have intercourse with each other as what you are.
Der Einzige und sein Eigentum, translated by Wolfi Landstreicher, 2017
Max Stirner’s The Unique, sometimes referred to as The Ego And His Own (as a result of translation history,) in the original German, Der Einzige und sein Eigentum, is a remarkably intricate book to approach whose crux is more endearing than first glance would suggest. Readers should decide for themselves about the troves of extended conjecture on the nature and subject of the work; I am pressed to examine some specific angles that resonate for me.
A specifically German work of philosophy (or a contention against it) which is not authored by Neitzsche, Heidegger, Hegel, Kant or Marx is normally either lost to understimulating obscurity or tossed carelessly under the canons of national socialism. Stirner’s book, and the figure we see when looking into it at this Present Time, has become its own subcultural phenomenon: some are loathed to hear the name for different reasons while some are overjoyed to have a segue into the name or the concepts attached to that name out in the wild. Stirner’s reputation among radicals has unraveled something of a conundrum regarding a resolution between the conceptual worlds of collective/multiplicity and individual/self. It has probably been hilarious to observe from a clueless and careless vantage… as maybe the best happenstance egoist could.
Einzige, meaning “only” or “unique one,” is used only to point to the irreducible, unnamable focal point(s) of experience, consumption of experience, and creation of experience. From Wolfi Landstreicher’s Translation of The Unique’s follow-up Stirner’s Critics “What Stirner says is a word, a thought, a concept; what he means is neither a word, nor a thought, nor a concept.” I take the liberty of considering Eigene (“own”) to be the adjective of the audacity of reaching to take into one’s property (Eigentum) at the same time as offering up one’s own [property] to be consumed by others. This conscious attention to our intents and interactions has become called “egoism,” taken from a recurring metaphor in Stirner’s text:
And are these self-sacrificing people perhaps not selfish, not egoists? Since they have only one ruling passion, they provide only for one satisfaction, but for this one all the more eagerly; they’re completely absorbed in it. All that they do is egoistic, but it is one-sided, close-minded, bigoted egoism; it is being possessed. […] All your doings are unconfessed, secret; covert and hidden egoism. But because this is egoism that you do not want to confess to yourselves, that you conceal from yourselves, thus not obvious and evident egoism, consequently unconscious egoism, therefore it is not egoism, but slavery, service, self-denial; you are egoists, and you are not, because you deny egoism. Where you most seem to be such, you have drawn loathing and contempt upon the word “egoist”.
Language has played an interesting part in how the book’s intent has been conferred. The word “egoist” has since conjured unimaginative caricatures by ardent state socialists of a careless brute ruining random peoples’ days just because they can. This has become pathetically simplified in their circles and sympathizers as The Dogma Of Stirner’s Egoism: to mandate that everything which can originate from self-interest be of utmost exception from all judgement and recourse. Translation of the original German has been a virulent struggle between the ulterior motives of early 20th Century translators and the real intents buried in Stirner’s 1844 German text.
The first English translation of Stirner’s book appeared in print under the title The Ego and His Own in 1907. It was the work of Steven T. Byington, an individualist anarchist involved with the circles around Benjamin Tucker. Tucker funded the project (and published the result). He insisted on the use of “ego” in the title, even though it is not at all an accurate translation of “Einzige.” Byington was very skilled with languages and worked most of his life as a translator and proofreader. So it isn’t a surprise that Tucker would turn to him to translate Stirner’s work. But there are some reasons to question whether Byington was the best choice. Though he was an individualist anarchist, he was also a Christian— not a fundamentalist, obviously, but an active member of the Ballard Vale Congregationalist Church (now the Ballard Vale United Church) in Andover, Massachusetts and its clerk for thirty-two years. He made a life-long project of translating the Bible into modern English under the name of The Bible in Living English. Could a good Christian translate a work like Stirner’s without twisting the basic meaning? I have my doubts.
“Why A New Translation?” Wolfi Landstreicher
Scholars have had their field day with everything going on at the recent digestion of Stirner’s text in tandem with what has inspired the initial writing and circulating. The theoretical leaps are perhaps endless, but they have been said and heard before. My sense of fulfillment comes from picking apart the seemingly benign factors which remain on the surface, shedding light on what they really affect for at least one specific vantage.
What Stirner has offered us is well beyond what he has left behind in writing, and the development of what he has meant cannot be sectioned off and terminated where his text ends.
In steps the wolf. To wrestle with this in my own way, beginning at the outset, the first-person masculine case “der” in German introduces a particular disruption for me, a trans woman. The perimeters of language, having affected me more or less the same as those of gender, are fun to work with (i.e., deface.) Obviously Stirner’s core intent would not be intrinsically limited to masculinity— although the world then and now has always been passively centered around it. It is an amusing game for a pragmatic sexual lunatic like me rather than a defeat of my own femininity, because the masculinity catered to by the world then and now neglects what I have endured, the nature of the wolf’s own. In substituting my factors for the ones provided for me in some instance, I can break apart what I find useful from the rest that weighs me down.
Transfeminine people and transgender people at large necessarily exist through— and flourish out from— trauma, violence, dysphoria, dysmorphia, abandonment, drug-addled nightmares and totally hostile life situations. We as a class of people, in who we are — in what specific problem plagues us, how we each cope in order to live — are either utilized as tokens for the liberal project of egalitarian solutions to intrinsically exploitative social and economic structures, or we are considered by any given passer-by to be the lowest tier of sub-human to disgrace their sight. The option to continue on in this life in this way is taken up by we who see more potential, more imaginative avenues of lived existence playing out, being received, being remixed, repopulated by how we go about life through going about ourselves, the content of our own.
It is we and the dozens of other oppressed peoples who have the largest stake in a consciously egoist application of our intents and experiences. Every investor, slumlord and bureaucrat with a knack for self-interest cannot come close to the sum of a conscious egoism. Our disgust at each contention of “side-taking” upon any mention of our suffering is what thrusts us into destroying all paradigms of “sides,” “factions,” “ideologies” and “politics.” These ceilings cannot hold our highest potentials.
We no longer find worthwhile substance in contending under them, but rather in erasing their domination over our lives, their demands for a future they have robbed us of, their dictates of how we should fare in our lived realities. In recognizing the transcendental nature of our only partially describable self-contents, our actions begin to transcend very real imposed boundaries once thought unbreakable. How is a possessive concept killed? It is rejected, by living contrary and hostile to it! By denying its basis in oneself. If one expresses this best in weaving counter-concepts which are essentially mockeries of having any power over them, so be it.
As I paced through the depths of sorrow by degrees of my trembling mind, her eyes first glared at me from her cave. Einsamhund is a specific aspect, or manifestation, of my own unique. She dictates nothing of myself as a physical organism, yet the lonely dog stamps my word with her mark. She had taken me on as a lost wanderer; the lonesome I knew as a child was fed to me by she who manifested the power of my own, all alone, at my hour of crisis. I learned how to gather strength in my own way, going along with her likeness over my chest.
The “worship” I practice is composed of the actions I decide on terms unknowable to anyone else, stiffened by the malleable “rituals” of remembrance, honing of focus & foresight that I perform by myself when I feel the urge to. A voiceless language of consideration is the only tongue I think in during these. It is what I imagine my intents in before spelling them out in this guttural hogwash.
She has manifested the mammal aspect of my womanhood and its power; she has ignited her word, her name lonely dog for me to seize and heighten. I remain a living thing outside of her; she is not I and I am not her. The precise landings of my choices belong to I, yet the distance I put behind me is via her gait. The exact shades of my dress, the steps of my travel, the things I bring with me all exist independent of this ghostly wolf-mother, yet are invigorated by a force apparent in her. When I am solitary, resting in a corner or trudging through grass or concrete, I am not as alone as one would think, because I am absorbed in, curled up to who and what she is, and how this makes sense to me. How I manage to persist in this with adequate inward composure.
One apt form of what I mean comes from a contribution to Apio Ludd’s periodical My Own #6 (November 22, 2012) entitled “Fragment: The She-Wolf"
[…] Her creative output circulates at the level she chooses and provides for, are co-created by those who have decided between them that they’ll be together for some activities or correspondence. She knows alegalism and informality suit her and has no pretense of democracy, mass appeal or mass action. Life provides the space for her thoughtful-actions already. She has become the crowd, and in her she has annulled time and society, she can do anything she likes, if she puts her mind to it and accepts the consequences. […]
My paganism disincorporates the gods, saps their power, and vests the jubilant spirit of the pagan alone— not her gods or any other God— in her determination to sack each and every Rome that destitutes, rapes, starves and murders every child of Gaia. Einsamhund confers this focus. My prowl through the masses— being one inside all, all cloaking one— is itself her shield of my pagan own. Solitude bolsters my interaction with the world; either in silence, deceit or avoidance, I manage myself and my surroundings for what each situation warrants to me. My screaming howl to rejoin the benevolent embrace of Gaia’s plane, freed from the exploitative malice of Man, is what signs everything I have to say in those times and places.
Although I enjoy working with words, the pillars of language cannot close in what content exists and changes in me. Exactly what it is trying to share can only be inferred by how we are to take possession of ourselves and the tools of their enrichment. My actions are universes greater under the drawings of their foresights. Where I write is where I have made a mark, and each who has read it has been stricken in some way. It is here, in black ink, that Einsamhund glares most intently at you.
Her mark has perhaps skulked around the pages of others before me, perhaps those own-women who knew of little transcendence of their gendered caste.
Initiated in 1896, Adolf Brand’s Der Eigene (taken from Stirner’s text) is attributed as the first gay publication put to print. I will make no quarrel with when exactly Queers Of Letters first stamped paper with their desecrating ink, but I am lured again into ruining the gender implications of the time and language. Before the journal swerved in favor of the Social Democratic Party under the Weimar Republic, it featured poetry and prose from various anarchist and dissident voices; chief among them, John Henry MacKay, Erich Mühsam, Benedict Friedlaender and Paul Thomas Mann.
From how I see it, few should be surprised that queer counter-culture has its origins in egoistic desecrations of ruling values, given what misfit bottom-brats many of us tend to be. Gay men have undoubtedly had the shit-end of the stick in the last couple centuries of queerness coming more or less to the surface of western society. Gay women being no less victim in this regard, having risked being tarred as subversive harlot demons in the eyes of the hetero public if she did not perform roles expected of those assigned “women” then and now. Women assigned “men” at the time, whether these were strictly gay women or otherwise, have straddled the most difficult line a queer can. Stranded in groups only relatively sympathetic to one’s real, lived woe, girls like us muster an other-worldly endurance.
This is why I loom on the casual functions of language, gender and other timely conceptual constraints. Consciously egoist pivots away from the impact of misgendering or inhabiting a body not of one’s own does not remove what pain, what ocean of tears, has surged. I imagine the many own-girls pressing through their existences, sitting at pub tables with gay men, with the weight of a pretty name or a pretty dress they wished to inhabit among others hovering in the backdrop of their thoughts and utterances. The egoistic lust for life (or “bravery”) of women then and now who burst out as their real selves when they choose to only matches the endurance of those women who are only considered as women in their solitude.
I imagine the ghostly paw-prints remaining where Queers Of Letters once worked, where 19th and 20th century trans women wept. The She-Wolf’s gaze is for those who care to inhabit her, to steal her power, and assume its edge over the fear of the world she is confronted with. Her power lies not in the cunning manipulation and entertainment of existing bounds, but the complete divergence from what a concept embeds in an existence. The difference between then and now’s transfemininity is hardly limited to our information technology delivering our newfangled re-articulations of the possibilities of being along gender-specific or non-specific lines, but instead lies in the persistent jab to contend within the existing or developing lines of gender at all.
I “affirm” my femininity in sheer spite of where I have been. I bolster what is mine because it gives me pleasure. Its precise development has been the tone and volume of my own-self coming into the light of my intentions enacted in the world. My contempt for “male” is born from suffering that notion too deeply and too long to have any further sympathy for it. At this exact same time, upon neutralizing masculinity in me, my weapon aims at the head of “female” and all the delicate requirements to meet that dainty slave-name. These two pieces of shit have been the most obnoxious boundaries to the capacity for self-expression. I only vaguely recognize “females” and “males” to the degree that the individuals who inhabit them consciously bring their flesh into one caste or other. But I can only truly see temperaments, self-choices, self-names and reciprocal exchanges which annihilate any conception of “gender.” I am a woman insofar that I have been wrung by gender, that the women in my life have shared and inspired beauty, confidence and endurance which I had realized my own-self in, that I decide who and what I am — if anything. “Male” and “female” are removed from this. I am neither one side nor the other of gender’s coin, always managing to orbit a binary regardless of how we like to redecorate it.
Assuming a contrary point within a concept from where one has begun is an apt strategy in collapsing its foundations. If I am a woman, yet I evade gender, I have stolen a coveted essence from the gender/sex binary-sanctuary. I am now a reckless, untethered own-woman. It exists independent from gender in the sense that it corresponds to itself and not a caste, a reproductive X or Y. It is null to this phantasmal arithmetic, as it has become my property. And everyone who would cackle and say “you are a man” has prominently displayed their role as property for a ruling concept. I have won; I am emboldened, even, by their possessed mockery, because I am freer than they could guess, as their lack of imagination shows.
A feminine unique, or specifically a transfeminine unique, is set on no strictly feminine stagnation. Femininity does not solidify itself independently from an own-woman having adopted it for herself, but it flares in her property according to her application. Where her prowess or deed steps outside of conventional “femininity,” her pivot in tandem with her core divergence is what negates the incoming assumption of “male.” Strength conventionally relegated to “men” seen in those who have shed its caste presents a surreal conundrum for those who imagine individuals as either strong & masculine or meek & feminine. When feminine power is engaged separate from the strictly “female,” and when masculine power is engaged separate from the strictly “male,” these two dissolve in their duality. What we call feminine and masculine stretch outward to blur inward, becoming one — and nothing.
Womanhood in this way tears at the seams of gender, at the intricate patterns of “gender as a spectrum” or a mindless embrace of ways to decorate this disgusting binary caste which nonetheless tramples trans people no matter how it is rearranged. We who adopt femininity, whether we call ourselves “women” or not, find ourselves adopting strict terms for having our own-selves respected as feminine, if we are considered so at all. Therefore, any femininity we take on is necessarily femininity of our own. It may very well have received nutrients from the cultures we grew up in, the conventions dictated, and it may also be set on mimicking precise dispositions. Yet every transfeminine person is — as their own individual — starkly isolated in terms of the content of who they are. This isolated development, if the person wills it, then converges with others who share in this self-ownership. Their presences being enjoyable to each other replace gender, as well as every thinkable phantasm.
It is easy to crack a whip of identity, certainly among us who wish death upon the material functions and consequences of identity itself. Many queers are sick of citing our own existences as reference; we are merely at odds in our aspirations and “shortcomings” with the modality of this “real world” which our parents sermonized Sodom and Gomorrah about. It needs no debating nor convincing, but relinquishing by all means from our beautiful, fabulous own. In being a trans woman, one who is attuned to what femininity is to me — misread most of the time out in this malignant shit-world, I expect to be shot down as much as I expect to be made out as a hulking man-lady. None of you compromise me. None of you deserve to understand, and those few who might are the closest who will ever get to me.
In regard to Stirner, I have approached der einzige and expropriated it, separate from what has passively gendered an essence on behalf of me. I have donned my latex corset, brandished my whip, and went to town on catboy Stirner’s cute little rump. Flailing in joyous wrath, I am the bitch this world cannot know, cannot parse, and this is why I understand myself as an egoist.
So much philosophy has reached the same conclusion differently, “the answer is within you, and it is not so clearly distinguishable.” This is all well and satisfactory to most, but it almost always ends there.
Egoist anarchy remains significant to me because it asserts a vital point which is difficult to reach by any other means: I can no longer engage with the range of morals, politics, identity; there is no adequate section of any spectrum nor binary, political, social or conceptual, which I would like to contain what my intents and own would do unimpeded. There are no interesting gains inside of these walls. I feel that this simple notion should be emboldened, enlarged among all of us sane enough to do so as a solid force against electoralism, against neoliberalism, against moralism, against political participation, against all governance and representation entirely. It is not a team or faction, it is not an insidious agenda workable in the courts or senates. It is a sober realization of how maniacally stupid everyone has been carefully engineered to be, a practical logic of taking a stand outside and against that, so that maybe stupidity and bootlicking could be denied a basis for just once, that life can be seized and enjoyed.
Egoist anarchy presents a raw challenge to those who profess a consciousness for health, wellness, and the like: What really diminishes our time alive? What really makes brutality and suicide skyrocket? What does it really take in each of us to undo this eternal management of worst-case scenarios?
And yet so much hand-holding is required! So many of you cannot begin to conceive of life without Rome! Consequently, everything becomes a game of explaining if not shouting over each other. Everybody in the audience expects a guidebook, a dictionary, an ironclad reference point, for every step and blink out in the world without authority. When the authority people have known for all their lives is undermined on a microscopic level, when it is shown to be much more than simply fallible, their personal sense of mortality is unduly piqued when it should be dulled by the potential in all of us being raised above all authority. Let this blurb sate your worries, your concerns— because the many to come in the future will mean very little to everyone:
Nobody should rule anyone. Every individual acts on their own, free to defend themselves and their loved ones as they will— so long as no force or authority is imposed, (and you will know it is imposed when you feel it.) Mutual agreement is the life force of all collective activity. People who don’t want to be around each other won’t have to be.
That is it.
We could not foresee all the ins and outs of willfully intermingling egoists doing away with their myriad forms of self-debasement. The few corners in which we could promise much more than there is to lose, but only if every sacred concept is disengaged, materially and internally, in order to make way for what is your own and my own.
I look to one side of me: a personless landscape; perfectly meaningful [to my own] in its still posture, primal gait of woodland beings, trees rustled by wind. I look to the other side: a teeming city, screaming and falling apart over its would-be meanings. Possessors and possessed cascade around each other, weaving the bullshit of daily life. Their quarrel entangles the land and the city. The evasive spark in everything with breath is routinely sacrificed for a world of complicit fear, rather than fearless vitality.
My prowl is on the margin of this, as well as the margins between the remains of the afterthought. My production of these lines is a consumption of what comes before then. Alone in my thoughts, alone in my words, I revel in clarity. I burn my copy of Wolfi’s translation when I am tired of re-reading it, to keep warm. I know how to use what I’ve already read. The She-Wolf shows the way to that which is mine, and that which is of other own-girls.
Feast on your scraps, mankind! I spit downwind of your madness!