A Primer on Simon Jestering
Note: The following is a mirrored article by Kyle Rearden of The Last Bastille blog. The subject of Simon Jestering will be discussed on this evening’s broadcast (6/19) of Liberty Under Attack Radio at 7pm CST (click the link to navigate to the Listen Live page). Make sure to tune-in for a more-depth discussion.
By: Kyle Rearden
June 18th, 2016
“Never express controversial opinions around home or at work…any artistic activity that might attract unfavorable attention, such as writing, nude photography, erotic sculpture, etc., should be done under a ‘nom de plume.’”
Culture jamming began as a response to manipulative corporate advertising. Originally known as “subvertising,” culture jamming evolved over the decades to serve the ends of various activists, no matter their chosen ideology. Projects in more recent years have included the Google Trends experiment, Obama Joker, V for Victory, Unplug the Signal, and Vote4Nobody; for this 2016 electoral cycle, the only candidates worth a damn (which is to say, not at all) are Vermin Supreme, Deez Nuts, and Stubbs the cat.
Methodologically, culture jamming is quite varied. Everything from banner drops,billboard hacking, poster contests, infomercial parodies, guerrilla theater, parody newscasts, and satirical impressions to “misheard” music video lyrics, comic strips,pranks, chick tracts, animated cartoons, leafleting, meme hacks, and pamphleteering is what usually constitutes the techniques that are used to expose the hidden messages within mainstream advertisements. The sheer lack of two-way communication between the advertiser and the conspicuous consumer is what ultimately birthed the emergence of the culture jammers.
“When Mike started writing poetry I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He wanted to publish it! Shows how thoroughly humanity had corrupted this innocent machine that he should wish to see his name in print.
I said, ‘Mike, for Bog’s sake! Blown all circuits? Or planning to give us away?’
Before he could sulk Prof said, ‘Hold on, Manuel; I see possibilities. Mike, would it suit you to take a pen name?’
That’s how ‘Simon Jester’ was born. Mike picked it apparently by tossing random numbers. But he used another name for serious verse, his Party name, Adam Selene.
‘Simon’s’ verse was doggerel, bawdy, subversive, ranging from poking fun at vips to savage attacks on Warden, system, Peace Dragoons, finks. You found it on walls of public W.C.s, or on scraps of paper left in tube capsules: Or in taprooms. Wherever they were they were signed ‘Simon Jester’ and with a matchstick drawing of a little horned devil with big grin and forked tail. Sometimes he was stabbing a fat man with a pitchfork. Sometimes just his face would appear, big grin and horns, until shortly even horns and grin meant ‘Simon was here.’ ”
You can no doubt tell that “Simon” was really just a pseudonym for Mike, just as “Adam” was, albeit for a different contextual purpose. Yet, Simon became a shared pseudonym amongst many Loonies (these are the inhabitants of Luna, which is the moon), for as O’Kelly describes:
“Simon appeared all over Luna same day and from then never let up. Shortly he started receiving volunteer help; his verses and little pictures, so simple anybody could draw them, began appearing more places than we had planned. This wider coverage had to be from fellow travelers. Verses and cartoons started appearing inside Complex – which could not have been our work; we never recruited civil servants. Also, three days after initial appearance of a very rough limerick, one that implied that Warden’s fatness derived from unsavory habits, this limerick popped up on pressure-sticky labels with cartoon improved so that fat victim flinching from Simon’s pitchfork was recognizably Mort the Wart. We didn’t buy them, we didn’t print them. But they appeared in L-City and Novylen and Hong Kong, stuck almost everywhere – public phones, stanchions in corridors, pressure locks, ramp railings, other. I had a sample count made, fed it to Mike; he reported that over seventy thousand labels had been used in L-City alone. I did not know of a printing plant in L-City willing to risk such a job and equipped for it. Began to wonder if might be another revolutionary cabal?”
Much like culture jamming, Simon Jestering was conceived of as being very much a form of direct action. Not only that, but it could be said that Simon Jestering encourages its practitioners to behave as grey men, thereby deliberately attempting to “get the message out” without drawing undue attention to oneself.
As recently as three years ago, Simon Jester gave some valuable insight as to what his attitude is when he spreads his message of freedom and liberty for all mankind. He remarked that:
“Resisting tyrants should be fun. Simon Jester is all about having fun. Giving bullies the sense that Simon is everywhere and nowhere at once, that he may just appear as he also mysteriously disappears, is the impression that they should get. Control freaks should never feel safe anywhere, not even in their own heads, for Simon Jester will dance and frolic there with his pitchfork of justice. Maybe the authoritarians who think they’re in charge will eventually realize that power lies not in the number of guns you have, but in the acceptability of your ideas. And the idea of authority is one whose power is becoming that much more unacceptable.”
What I think can be gleaned here is that Simon is truly committed in winning over hearts and minds towards the cause for human liberty. The best part is the way he does it, through humor and wit, rather than through the all-too-familiar dichotomy of fear and anger; interestingly enough, The Anti-Terrorist had something to say about how hearts and minds are typically won over through the alternative media:
“The shock jock’s duty in this game is to disillusion you. To Dis-Illusion, to show you that you are living under an illusion and to wake you from it; to remove your rose-coloured spectacles. To do that, he needs to scare you out of your apathy, using fear and anger as a motivator. It serves its purpose well and those particular players have committed to vibrating at that low frequency for your benefit. But once you awaken, your job is to raise your vibration and start creating. If you choose to remain in that low frequency by staying with the shock jocks in the realm of fear and anger, you will not be having as much fun as you could have playing the game.”
Simon Jester uniquely breaks this false assumption by proving that it is just as equally viable (if not more so) to disillusion people through humor and wit. In other words, Simon helps you to laugh and to think, not through the low frequencies of fear and anger, but rather, via the higher frequency of joviality; this not only enables creativity, but is also noticeably more attractive. Fallacious appeals to emotion have done fuck all to help people see through the fog of illusion in any beneficially lasting way – Simon Jestering is truly a third position whose efficacy amongst those who wage information wars has barely been tapped into, for its capability to go viral, repeatedly, can be empirically demonstrated if only it was given a chance to prove itself by the many alternative media content producers alongside the willing participation of their respective audiences.
Is there any real difference between Simon Jestering and culture jamming? Although their methodologies are more similar than not, their goals are quite different. Generally speaking, culture jammers are more concerned with discrediting the institutional reputation of the corporatocracy itself, whereas Simon wants to discredit the institutional reputation of the government. Both are similar in their skepticism towards institutions as well as in their techniques for disrupting mind share; it could only really be said that they truly differ in which institutions are being targeted for summary delegitimisation.
Regardless of the specific weapons of mass disillusionment, much of the actual techniques are virtually the same, except that the credit for executing specific operations are to be attributed solely to Simon Jester. As he explained in recent years:
“How is it possible to spread the message of Simon Jester? Limits are only temporary obstacles within the imagination. Look around your local neighborhood. Notice where all the stoplight poles are located, where the missing cat posters are stapled, and where all the handles to doors and newspaper lids are attached. These and many more such places are ideal for spreading Simon Jester’s message of freedom and liberty.”
Presumably, culture jamming is (mostly) legal, except where it’s not. Back in my culture jamming days over half a decade ago, I’ve had my posters ripped down, even moments after I had just put them up as I was walking away, especially the Obama Joker ones; the longest any of them managed to stay up and visible, regardless of content, was approximately 48 hours, and usually it was much shorter (so much for political free speech on college campuses, huh?).
In terms of legality, if I were you, I’d stay away from the federal post office boxes of any kind. The United States Postal Service considers any alteration of their blue boxes to be “mailbox vandalism,” which is supposedly outlawed according to Title 18 United States Code § 1705, which says:
“Whoever willfully or maliciously injures, tears down or destroys any letter box or other receptacle intended or used for the receipt or delivery of mail on any mail route, or breaks open the same or willfully or maliciously injures, defaces or destroys any mail deposited therein, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
Given that the USPS considers all their mailboxes to be owned by the federal government directly and thus not “public” property, then anything you might do to alter it somehow would be to invite unwarranted suspicion, which would be contrary to the spirit of Simon Jestering. Additionally, it wouldn’t hurt to check your local municipal and county ordinances just to mitigate the risk of having to actually use the skills you learned while role-playing police interrogations in order to fend off the Bluecoats.
It’s time to bring Simon back! The idea here is to engage in discrete culture jamming, and Simon Jestering is compatible with the leaderless resistance concept as well as the practice of using freedom cells. For a starter kit, feel free to make use of the materials made available by the Simon Jester Project. Simon aims to misbehave, and it is thanks to him that it is more than possible to have our cake and eat it too by disillusioning people to authoritarianism by exposing the anatomy of the State through comedy. The Simon Jester method is all about poking fun at Leviathan, irritating its sycophants to the point where they “learn” not to lay a finger on vonuists, agorists, or even those contemptible reformists. As Craig Mabbit’s lyrics in Backwordz’s hit single Statism said:
“Open your eyes! The State you’re in is a state of mind.”
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