While Chilean cartoonist Pablo Delcielo and his writing partner Shihab Alen (a nom de plume, apparently, for one Raimundo Gunen) open their 2017 Perfectly Acceptable-published illustrated poetic essay Anarchy In The Kingdom Of Heaven with a reference to Philip K. Dick, in both tone and content their visionary (in the strictest sense of the term) project actually evokes the writings of spiritual anarchist authors ranging from Henry David Thoreau to Peter Lamborn Wilson/Hakim Bey, albeit with a distinctly, and entirely understandable, anti-imperialist streak ever-present in its suggestions and implications. It is, however, no less radical (again, in the strictest sense of that word) for that fact.
Heavily informed by the Latin American experience with colonialism both military and economic, this is a short-form thorough re-thinking of possible futures in the face and aftermath of Western exploitation, and as such is unafraid to call out the American empire as fascist from the outset and go from there, Bullshit, then, being in very short supply in these brightly-hued, amazingly imaginative pages, it’s incumbent upon the authors to posit an alternative to rapacious greed and self-centeredness, and damn if they don’t offer up the most wide-ranging one of all : everything.
And maybe the kitchen sink, too, come to think of it. Freedom, self-determination, voluntary co-operation as the glue of social cohesion, this is strikingly Utopian stuff on the one hand, but also utterly practical provided one is capable of discarding the cynicism that this corrupt and evil system has inculcated in all of us for at least the time it takes to read this gorgeously-produced example of riso-printed artistry. An examination of the here and now from a radical leftist (or maybe that should be post-leftist) perspective is always welcome, of course, but when it goes the extra mile and shows us where we can go once that here and now is over? Well, shoot, that’s just plain ambitious, and probably exactly the tonic we need to these ludicrously troubled times.
Ultimately, though, words are used here as a gateway to what is a visual response to capitalism’s violent death throes — after all, when what’s taken as a given is dispensed with (especially when that’s a mercy killing), then all imitations on possibility are discarded, as well, and the scope of our imaginations, individually and collectively, becomes our only metaphorical prison cell. To say that Delcielo has cast off his artistic shackles and fully embraced his own liberation is, as the images included with this review clearly demonstrate, a mighty understatement indeed, and while this is illustration that broadly falls into the pseudo-category of “kaleidoscopic,” that’s just as true in the conceptual sense as it is the physical one. There might be a hint of John Pham influence on the margins here — both in terms of some of the “bubbly” figure drawings as well as the color palette, rife as it is with fluorescent pinks and yellows and more muted blues, along with hints of metallic gold — but apart from that, Delcielo’s art exists in a category of one : its own.
It’s cosmic stuff, to be sure, but so are the concepts at play herein : playfulness, the liberation of desire, the shedding of competition as the basis of human interaction in favor of co-operation and voluntary association, these only seem daunting — in truth, they’re fun, they’re healthy, and they’re limitless. Delcielo not only understands this, he understands how to communicate it via his art, and how to make sure his message lands with a kind of tremendously heartfelt impact. Go ahead, give a detailed, intricate examination to each page, or each double-page spread — the more you take it all in, the more you’ll enjoy it.
And it’s no coincidence that enjoyment on a mass scale — each individual leading a truly happy and fulfilled life — is what Delcielo and Alen want for all of us. And while their remarkable, gorgeous book may not be enough in and of itself to usher in the era of pure ecstasy they envision, it offers ecstatsies aplenty to all readers in the time that they spend with it.
Anarchy In The Kingdom Of Heaven is available for $10.00 from Perfectly Acceptable press at http://perfectly-acceptable.com/item/anarchy-in-the-kingdom/
Review wrist check – I was wearing my Farer Universal “Stanhope” for this one, riding on a Hirsch “James” strap from their “Performance” series. This is the only non-automatic timepiece in my modest little collection — no, it’s not a quartz movement watch, it’s got a hand-wound mechanical movement. Wind it 20, maybe 30 times in the morning and it’s good to go for about two days, with maybe a total loss of three seconds or so in that time. A fun, slim little number that dresses up nicely on a strap like this but can look remarkable casual on others. “Versatile as hell,” I believe, is the term that we’re looking for.