Mystical Anarchism

Mystical Anarchism, Midnight August 2nd 2009


Mystical Anarchism incorporates numerous forms, a paper first written by philosopher Simon Critchley in 2008, an event enacted at midnight in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow in collaboration with the philosopher in 2009, a film made in collaboration with Thomas McGraw Lewis, an event incorporating a public screening, a conversation and “last supper” hosted in collaboration with Edia Connole and a final event or “closing” as part of the curatorial project Sleepwalkers at the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery. For each iteration of this work, a hand-mat mat (pictured above) served to demarcate the space and furnish the gathering.

A.1. MA_settingup_09

“To abandon the utopian impulse in thinking is to imprison ourselves within the world as it is and to give up once and for the prospect that another world is possible, however small, fleeting and compromised such a world might be. In the political circumstances that presently surround us in the West, to abandon the utopian impulse in political thinking is to resign oneself to liberal democracy which, as we showed above, is the rule of the rule, the reign of law which renders impotent anything that would break with law: the miraculous, the moment of the event, the break with the situation in the name of the common.” Simon Critchley 2009

Over one hundred people gathered together by the upper lake at Glendalough, Co. Wicklow at midnight to listen to Simon Critchley’s intimate lecture, Mystical Anarchism. Mystical Anarchism focuses on the obscure thirteenth century Movement of the Free Spirit, paying particular attention to the mystic Marguerite Porete’s strange handbook, The Mirror of Simple and Annihilated Souls (and Who Remain Only in Wanting and Desire of Love). This book, that outlined the seven stages that the soul must pass through to bring about a transcendental encounter with divinity, led to her charge of heresy and execution in 1310. In describing the practices and activities of the Movement of the Free Spirit, Critchley, outlines how this internalization of religious authority effectively circumvents the hierarchies of the Church and, by extrapolation, the state. By invoking the Movement of the Free Spirit, Critchley provides us socially bound exemplars of utopian communities.

Mystical Anarchism was realized through the support and assistance of friends, colleagues and collaborators.
Yvette Monaghan, Sean Breithaupt, Thomas McGrath Lewis, Phil Kelly, Gearoid Carvell, Andrew Brady, Edia Connole, Cormac Browne, Dan Carvell, Pat Murphy, Aoife Hurley, Ciaran Curtain, Cathy Tynan, Danielle O’ Connell and Simon Keating, Mags Fitzgibbon, Justine Emoe, Audrey Emoe and Genny Carraro.
Special thanks to GradCAM, DIT, and the individuals from the cultural, philosophical and wider community who accepted the invitation to take part in the project.

Mystical Anarchism, 2011

MA still

A film by Clodagh Emoe and Thomas McGraw Lewis.
Screenings of Mystical Anarchism include:
Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 2011
Portrait of a Space, 2011
Curated by Teresse Gilespie and Rose Lejeune
Black Metal/Mysticism/Anarchism, 2011
Presented by Edia Connole as part of MA ACW, NCAD
Dark Nights of the Universe, 2012
A four-night exploration of mysticism hosted by The Public School New York at Recess Project Space, New York.

Mystical Anarchism, 2012



As part of this event Edia Connole hosted A Taste of Faith. Over two hundred and fifty people were served a “last supper” in advance of the screening. Edia presented a paper, “The Taste of Faith, the Hell Within” as part of this work. Block T, Dublin, March 25th 2012.  Images:

The Closing of Mystical Anarchism, 2013

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Installation: drawing, film projection, mat
Sleepwalkers, Dublin City Gallery
Hugh Lane Museum

For The Closing of Mystical Anarchism, a large hand-made mat is laid out in the gallery. A scent permeates the gallery, reminiscent of the scent of a forest where the first enactment of Mystical Anarchism took place. Unlike previous iterations of Mystical Anarchism there are no lectures, screenings or conversations scheduled to take place on this mat. Instead the mat serves to initiate an “other space” in the gallery where one might reflect on the ideas of the philosopher (articulated in the film screened in the adjoining room).