Friday, July 30, 2004

Peter Lamborn Wilson: The Song Where Everyone is a Singer

Highly recommended. His ideas inform much of my current project, from the Mailing List to Poetic Terrorism to my "Anti-capitalism."

An Anarchist in the Hudson Valley
in conversation: Peter Lamborn Wilson
with Jennifer Bleyer
July 2004

A few choice quotes:

On computers: You’re slumped in front of a screen, in the same physical situation as a TV watcher, you’ve just added a typewriter. And you’re "interactive." What does that mean? It does not mean community. It’s catatonic schizophrenia. So blah blah blah, communicate communicate, data data data. It doesn’t mean anything more than catatonics babbling and drooling in a mental institution. Why can’t we stop? How is it that five years ago there were no cell phones, and now everyone needs a cell phone? You can pick up any book by any half-brained post-Marxist jerkoff and read about how capitalism creates false needs. Yet we allow it to go on.


On art: Now, about art in the service of the revolution: There is no art in the service of the revolution, because
if there’s no revolution, there’s no art in its service. So to say that you’re an artist but you’re progressive is a schizo position. We have only capital, so all art is either in its service or it fails. Those are the two alternatives. If it’s successful, it’s in the service of capital. I don’t care what the content is. The content could be Malcolm X crucified on a bed of lettuce. It doesn’t matter


On Terrorists: Certainly, these Islamic fundamentalists are of no interest intellectually. They have no ideas, they’re not anti-capitalist; they love technology and money. Ideologically, they’re not offering any alternatives to anything. By and large, they’re an imagistic froth that has very little to do with most people’s experience of Islam. In their manifestations as tiny terrorist groups, they don’t have much of a social role, only as symbolic figureheads, and that’s why their actual support in the Muslim world is rather shallow. Right now it depends largely on the fact that the Bushies have made the name of America stink forever in the nostrils of the world. When I was traveling in the East, I was always amazed at the unearned reservoir of goodwill toward Americans. It existed everywhere. Now I reckon they’d throw rocks at you.


On Romanticism: The early German Romantics have been forgotten as a source for our movement, especially from an artistic point of view. They informed all the art movements since then, the ones that tried to do what Hegelians call the "suppression and realization of art"—suppressing art as an elitist consumption activity of the wealthy, suppressing it as something that alienates other people who aren’t artists and makes them less important or less significant, and somehow universalizing it. That’s the realization or art, so that somehow or another everyone is an artist or some sort, fully free and encouraged to be as creative as possible. There’s no privileged position to the art that ends up in galleries or museums. That would be the suppression and realization of art, and that was basically a Romantic program and a program of every avant-garde art movement since then. They’ve all begun by saying, "We hate art as alienation, we want to restore it somehow to the kind of universal experience that we sense, for example, among a tribe of pygmies, where everyone is a singer and no one leads the singing." That goal has been there for every single art movement since Romanticism.


On art: Small groups should do art for each other, and stay out of the media as much as possible, and this will eventually cause a buzz and make people want to be part of it.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

They will be architects building on the ruined foundations of the world

An excellent, if troubling, article, Body of the Nation: Why Women Were Mutilated in Gujarat by Martha Nussbaum.

I hold Martha Nussbaum in the highest regard. Her use of the amazing Ernst Junger in a decisive quote is a resounding testimony to taste and brilliance.

The events described lead to a rather disturbing dissonance with Camille Paglia's claim that what we need in contemporary Cultural Critique is less France and more India - but it remains a statement that I am still strongly in agreement with.

With its hallucinogenic pantheon of deities, most of whom are still actively worshipped, and the mind-blowing creativities evidenced in Bollywood, to the imminent ecological crises, and the abysmal ethnic and sexual conflicts burning like wildfires through the ancient lands, India stands an ominous portent of things to come. A God imprisoned in a cage and set to fire, a thousand arms flailing, a hundred heads screaming, bones burning like stars.

Friday, July 16, 2004

The Dog at the Temple Gate

Still relentlessly pursuing my ever approaching, never touching Purity.

It is interesting (and I mean this in the same way that the Chinese meant it: as a curse) how a thing that is only 75 percent pure does not suffer too much damage to its integrity if it suddenly becomes less pure by 1 or 2, even 5, percent. But a thing that is 95 percent pure is almost absolutely polluted by a change of only .25 percent. Lest you think that I am become emptied or hole-y, most of my issues these days are with food and drink.

Because of some newly discovered intolerances, I have nearly adapted to a vegan diet. I have become increasingly rigorous (read:religious) about the purity of what goes into my body - like a dog sniffing out the unfaithful in front of the temple.

Naturally, at least to me, this dog has not been content to merely hang around the gateway to my gut. There are emotional purities such as devotion and love, mental purities such as honesty and integrity, and spiritual purities such as hope and ritual that are all being watched over and "sniffed out" for "pollution."

I am reminded often of Wendell Berry's essay "Standing by Words" which discusses the relationship of a Human Being to Words:

"When we reflect that 'sentence' means, literally, 'a way of thinking' (Latin: sententia) and that it comes from the Latin sentire, to feel, we realize that the concepts of sentence and sentence structure are not merely grammatical or merely academic - not negligible in any sense. A sentence is both the opportunity and the limit of thought - what we have to think with, and what we have to think in, It is, moreover, a feelable thought, a thought that impresses its sense not just on our understanding, but on our hearing, our sense of rhythm and proportion. It is a pattern of felt sense."

And, "Love makes language exact, because one loves only what one knows."

This relentless need of mine for purity is a desire to "make language exact", to "purify the dialect of the tribe". For me, this Purity (becoming one thing) leads to Simplicity (being one thing, being one) which leads to Grace (being loved). There is a noted passivity to the action, a necessary silent stillness.

Within this silent stillness, I listen for Grace. But, as I indicated above, it is "interesting" how the calculus of purity becomes increasingly vulnerable to pollution.

Opening the Flesh to the Silence
Being Still with the Blood
Waiting for the Bone
To reveal me
To Grace.