The Tong, as defined by Hakim Bey, is "a mutual benefit society for people with a common interest which is illegal or dangerously marginal- hence, the necessary secrecy."
mentioned in _Temporary
Autonomous Zones_ by Hakim
We might think of the "Bee" as a temporary immediatist group organized for one project (like a quilt). But even the Bee must both be and produce a "work of art". The Tong by comparison can be defined as a more long-lasting group, theoretically "permanent", devoted not to one project but to an on-going "cause". But what makes a Tong different from an open group, like a sect or political party? The members of an Immediatist Tong or TAZ core-group may not be held together by strong class, ethnic, geographical, or economic motives; moreover, the collaborative production of non-commodiflable art cannot be considered by itself a sufficient cause for the formation of a secret society.
"lllegalism" per se may add cohesiveness to the group structure, but still cannot serve as the only raison desire of a real Tong. Insurrectionary action or "social sabotage" provide even stronger motivation for a clandestine "order" -- but not yet enough, perhaps, for a full-scale "invisible college". Without "Tong aesthetics" -- no Tong.
The two essential aesthetic elements of a Tong
are:': (1) a cause; and (2) a legend. Both cause and legend can be
classed as aesthetic or "mythic" systems, rather than as ideologies --
since they are based on symbols, which are real but ambiguous, rather than
on "ideals", which are much more clear, but relatively un-real. When
Sorel proposed a 'social myth" (specifically the syndicate
and the General Strike) he did not mean "myth" in the modern sense
of the word -- as an empty story a palliative and illusory narration. "Myth"
in the Sorelian sense can be called a story which is not only about "real
life" but also wants, to manifest as real life. A cause, one may
argue, is not a "real thing" because it has not yet appeared. It is an
aesthetic construct -- but it is also an Image-complex which intends to
impose its pattern on "reality",
like the hermetic
spells of Renaissance magi or the ceremonies of tribal shamans.
It expresses this intention
in the the form of a legend about a cause, a symbolic narrative of
highly-charged images arranged to augment a dynamic potential ("conversion",
"initiation", "enlightenment", action") in the group which adopts
and adapts it. The cause, therefore, is the public Sorelian myth; the legend,
its private propaganda within the Tong.
The Tong initiates like taoistsages or spiritual nomads, "far off at the horizon (yet) near before my eyes. They roam about the world without a fixed residence" white herons flying past a fan, a pear-shaped censer, a sword, a flute, two jade castanets, a scepter, a floating bridge the daughter of the Dragon King "gathering mulberry flowers" (a password) caves of drizzle, summer showers, hoarfrost a volcano and so on (Davis, op. cit., 132-134). These images may seem merely decorative or arbitrary to us, but they were charged with cultural memes for the Hung adepts, and were built into a system which cohered not only as a "poem" but also as a multiplexed evocation of their cause.
This poem of potential action becomes even more vital in our immediatist Tong, since the text must serve to provide some of the cohesion lacking in such a variegated group as ours may be. A 'mere political program will not suffice, nor will a mere poem. Cause and legend must point beyond (or even away from) ideology and abstraction; the "Utopian Imagination" and "Utopian Poetics" must be used to construct something more than a mere daydream.
[NOTE: Not that I share the usual disdain for "reverie"
as opposed to "imagination". Like Guston Bachelard I believe that
poesis begins with daydreaming, and that "idle fancy" is as sacred as "genuine
vision". Nevertheless, in order to inspire action, the daydream must first
become a "poem", then a "legend", finally a "cause".]
- Hakim Bey - _Tong Aesthetics_
In building a Tong, style may not be "everything", but it certainly cannot be considered merely secondary or inessential. The Tong must be "a work of art" in itself, like all Immediatist game-structures.
The Insurrection is the Cause; the TAZ is a tactic
for the cause, but also an "inner" raison d'etre of the Tong.
(Prod #166208) "THE TONG"
Teleplay By:: Robert Schlitt (also #33)
Directed By:: Robert Totten (also #25)
First Broadcast: ABC, Nov. 29 or Nov. 15 (Kung Fu Book & Epi-log) 1973
Guest Stars: Diana Douglas, Richard Loo (also pilot & #3, 35, 48, 50&51)
Caine helps a missionary woman rescue a Chinese boy from slavery to a member of the Dragon of Retribution Tong.
Information: This may be the only episode where Caine [Carradine] actually speaks Chinese.
From the script comes the following and it is unknown how much of this was in the broadcast: "There is much evil in the world, Grasshopper. It has always been thus. And so our ancestors built this monastery and developed the art of Kung Fu so they might cultivate virtue and protect themselves from harm. But whatever one man possesses another will covet. The Manchu Emperor heard of our prowess. So he sent an army of soldiers to burn the monastery to the ground. Only five escaped. They made their way to Fukien and founded the Tong to overthrow the Manchus and restore the Ming Emperors to the throne. Violence became their tool and combating violence. Thus the Sage Chuang Tzu has said, 'By ethical argument and moral principle, the greatest crimes are shown to have been necessary and in fact a great benefit for mankind.' Two hundred years have passed. The Manchus still sit upon the throne. The Tongs still kill, no longer for noble cause. Yet they are the children of the five Shaolin priests who went to Fukien long ago.'" - Master Po
Also: "Do rich men hoard their goods? Do great men dispute over small matters?" - Caine