A study in anarchy

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  August 1, 2011

anarchy - founding farmers

FOUNDING FARMERS

To discuss anarchy is to argue about anarchy. That's the way it's always been since . . . well, it depends on who you ask. Disagreement fuels anarchist discourse, and Greer is quick to note that while Corvid pupils often see eye to eye, they're also prone to square off toe to toe.

Greer set out to highlight a smorgasbord of unconventional and radical ideas, from Daoism to "philosophy of the coming insurrection."

According to Corvid's loose mission, instructors must "eschew all stink of obligation." Furthermore, while the school may be elusive, it's hardly exclusive. Everyone's invited to work toward a merit badge (Corvid doesn't award diplomas), and as a result they've attracted a kaleidoscopic range of people.

"I dare anyone to define us," says Greer. "We're like a mix between a book club, a biker gang, a sewing circle, and a cult."

Asked about Greer's messiah potential, one student says it's unlikely. According to 21-year-old Harvard English student Shane Artsy: "Cult leaders don't listen to as much Naughty By Nature as Christian does."

Greer has mainstream credentials, too. The West Palm Beach native studied hermetic philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, and earned a master's degree from Harvard Divinity School this past May.

But even as he was winding up his studies at that august institution, he felt a lack of direction. That's what united Greer with friends like Eric Buck, a farmer, youth minister, professor, and Renaissance philanthropist. One of Corvid's first teachers, Buck had alternative pedagogical experience from his time at the super-progressive Goddard College in Vermont, where he earned one of his four formal degrees studying cooperation and anarchy. This was a chance to put those ideas into practice.

Others followed, encouraged by Corvid's each-one-teach-one anti-model, in which instructors are performers and students act as researchers. Bradley Will, a member of the local band Holiday Mountain, heard about the college through a friend, and became intrigued by its value of barter economies, and study of "creative compensation methods."

Corvid students can find some registration info on the Corvid wiki (corvidcollege.wikidot.com), but for the most part, news spreads via word of mouth. For a standard course, they pay $100 for 10 classes, and get $10 back every time they show up. Money that's left over from absentees typically goes toward beer and wine, which, on occasion, fuel post-class powwows until four in the morning.

"It's as weird as it comes, and the weird is what I'm interested in," says Peter Loftus, who found out about Corvid last year at a house party. Loftus signed up after a late-night food fight, during which Greer was describing his course on cyberpunk and neo-gnosticism while swatting down projectile bananas. He continues: "The word anarchy is so heavily stigmatized . . . but for us, you could say that we're anarchists because we stand against the norm, and because the norm is boring."

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