July 21, 2014

"I write when I’m not dancing."


I write because I’ve always enjoyed reading more than I enjoy life, and always enjoy life more because of certain things I’ve read. I write because I can still read books that were written hundreds of years ago (my favourite: The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Jan Potocki, written between 1805 and 1815) and hope that some day, by some miracle, people will have the same opportunity with mine. However, so many books are currently being produced that it is extremely unlikely very many of them will survive, and even more unlikely that my books will be among these few. I write because it is a way of turning my despair into something other than despair. I write in the uncanny suspicion that there are others out there in the world who love reading unknown books as much as I do. I write because I don’t know what else to do with myself. I write when I’m not dancing. I write because no one has ever suggested I have a talent or aptitude for anything else. I write because literature must find new ways to be political and new ways to be literature. I write because, at some point, when I was much younger, someone must have given me implicit permission to do so. I continue to write because, some time around 2002, I got an email from someone I didn’t know saying she had found my book Unrehearsed Beauty in a used bookstore in Brazil, and I had absolutely no idea, or way of knowing, how it got there. I write because books travel in strange, unexpected ways. I write because I still have the pure fantasy that some day I will compose a sentence that is completely and utterly joyous.

- Jacob Wren, from Writer’s Block at LPG


July 19, 2014

"If that’s what you’re interested in, well, what are you doing here?"


Henry Flynt’s newfound enthusiasm for recordings of blues, jazz and rock and roll soon found an interlocutor in the person of John Cage. In February 1961, Flynt performed his own music in two concerts at Yoko Ono’s loft. Following one of the performances, he had an exchange with Cage that loomed large in his choosing to exit the scene. Flynt had attempted a piano piece – by his own account, unsuccessfully – that was inspired by Ornette Coleman’s free jazz. In their conversation after the concert, he and Cage found themselves speaking two entirely different languages. When pressed to explain the piece, Flynt told Cage of his interest not only in Jazz but also in the rock and roll and rhythm and blues of Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. None of these names rang a bell for Cage, and someone had to explain just exactly who these people were that Flynt was talking about. Flynt recounts: “Cage said, ‘If that’s what you’re interested in, well, what are you doing here? And he was right, actually.”

- David Grubbs, Records Ruin the Landscape


July 17, 2014

From the Twitter feed of Fuck Theory


Corporate efficiency is not invested in negotiation or in imagination. Since the dawn of the industrial age, variation has been its enemy.

The legacy of Fordism is the dream of repetition without difference, of actions infinitely repeatable without variation.

Two separate issues here: One is an obscenely exploitative academic profession. The other is a general decline in personal time.

"Philosophy" happens when conceptually-inclined individuals have the time and space to indulge in complex speculation. That's all.

All of us have less and less free time, less and less open space, less and less energy not instrumentalized and regimented by capitalism.

Our tragedy is not the death of philosophy, it's that we won't be around to witness philosophy's absolutely inevitable renewed flourishing.

Philosophy survived the conquest of classical Athens, the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam, the reconquest of Iberia.

Also the end of Scholasticism, the Industrial Revolution, the rise of scientific positivism, & its own death at the end of the 19th century.

Framing the stakes as loss of humanity's intellectual legacy reproduces the ideological myth of the university as its heir and sole trustee.

[Fuck Theory on Twitter. Fuck Theory Tumblr.]


July 13, 2014

Art and Compromise (Fragment)


In my most recent book Polyamorous Love Song there is a chapter entitled “The Centre for Productive Compromise.” In that chapter, rather cryptically, one of the characters explains that the phrase “The Centre for Productive Compromise” is slang for “a really good fuck.” It is an odd, perhaps unfunny, joke and is never referred to again. But as I continued to work on the book I did consider attempting to explain, or at least to question, it. Does good sex take place in the realm of pure desire or does it, somewhat counter-intuitively, take place in the realm of compromise?

I have had several recent experiences in which I have watched artists compromise in ways that, from my perspective, resulted in considerably less interesting work. Some of these compromises were due to financial limitations, some due to questions of accessibility and other apparently the result of simple miscommunication. I do not want to name names. I do not want to accuse anyone of anything, or condemn compromise in any way. I love a good, productive compromise. I simply want artists to think more about the artistic compromises they are and aren’t making. I would like to begin a dialogue around the topic.

Most compromises take place behind the scenes, are relatively invisible. When you go see a given work you have no idea how close or far it is from the artists preliminary desires. If you like the work, you assume that’s the way it was meant to be, but equally, if you don’t like the work, you also assume that’s the way it was meant to be. Nonetheless, there are so many factors along the way of making anything that are negotiated through various degrees of experiment and compromise, though the word compromise is almost never used. What if compromise became an acknowledged method rather than a minor taboo?