So Gabrielintrigued by Sam and Reuben's reminiscing (see gray box below)searches his own well-organized email accounts to report the following informal chronology...
Ah yes, the founding members urged to remember. Twas a hot summer evening curtly described as 7:53 PM EDT on June 20 1996 (imagine the marbled loveliness had I subscribed a mere four days earlier), that I signed onto this now fabled list, then called simply THE SPECTACLE (truth in advertising I suppose). But I then promptly forgot about the possibilities of becoming the mountain because it wasn't until August 9, according to my then impeccable records, that somebody who thought he was having trouble signing on began and ended complaining about computer problems, and the great divide between Windows and Macs. I responded: LOVE THE ONE YOU ARE WITH...or else be forever shaded as Irish author James Joyce begins his relationship with Nora Barnacle. The date also figures into the plot for his novel Ulysses; this date is now celebrated as "Bloomsday" by Joyceans everywhere.
From: "Sam Hutcheson" Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 20:38:38 -0400
gabe's been around as long as i have, for the record. if not longer. back in the day, spud was a contributing member, even.
as i recall i'm entering my 6th or 7th year "around".
> Holy shit. It just crossed my mind that I've been subscribing to > this list > for, like, five years or something. How sad is that? > > Hutcheson's been here longer though..... > > Reuben
Another month of quiet on the nothingness backburner droned on until on September 9, when, as life would have it, another fine pilgrim popped into place noting surprise that he'd received anything from the list he'd thought clinically dead. That person was none other than Laurent Oget, responding to a seed named Heidi who claimed to be having trouble loving the one she was with in complaining about certain uncertainties of the sign-up process on a unsettling list where the writing and the riddles had yet begun to strike their mighty blows for freedom among us. But lo and behold, suddenly, in a gust of curious whispering, wistful activity was now thrust upon us! Five or six notes in about five or six days from a pool of about five or six people (excruciating details hardly matter), were swapped, followed by another lengthy spell of silent days and lonely nights. During the last few truckloads of late September another three or so notes got passed around. But I soon needed a swizzle stick to mix my fantasy sunrises as another spell of absolute, uninterrupted silence, dead air, spectacular timidity, whatever, came rolling in off the lumpy horizons of who's busy now. Records show it wasn't until the very end of October and early November, 1996 that the list finally grew into its motivational wingz when somebody finally mentioned Debord, but it wasn't Curtis Leung who actually tracked down my phone number, and gave me a call which once we warmed up to each other we extended for a couple of hours after violently disagreeing online in a crossfire of notes...
Looks like my old friend Sam made November 5, his debut as one of the "first wavers" in crackling response to one of my own rather feeble repackaged jokes about two kinds of people. But December and January were also virtual lockdowns in nothingness withdrawal technique, with February 1997 accelerating to a trickle. As for Spud contributing, I think he made a couple of announcements but didn't really contribute to the list in any sort of definite way, although I could be wrong. The pantomime finally burst into the long-awaited noise in March, as the second and third waves rushed the beach head with footprints enough for a snapshot in three-quarters time. The rest as they say, is history because if you want a shot you've got to take it when it presents itself. Don't be a pecker.
Making a list, checking it twice,
"I fought with my twin, that enemy within, 'til both of us fell by the side..."Bob Dylan
Thanks for replying so thoughtfully to my post. I would like to comment on what you wrote. Your comments pique my interest on just what kind of disagreements might have been responsible for the group's demise. "Noisy self-interest" covers a lot of ground. It seems to me that in the aftermath of the fall of communism disagreements on the left compounded. 1938 brought a similar crisis to the left. For or against Stalin. Three years earlier Breton's Surrealists experienced a similar debacle. There was no bridging the gap between the poet's investigation into experience and the Party's requirements of practical administration. But it arguably brought to light an irreducible toggle at the very core of the revolutionary project: does the collective or the individual have the ultimate say in charting direction of the revolution? The Surrealists never satisfactorily resolved this problem, and even as late as 1952, Breton indicated that his answer to the question "does the revolution require that social liberation must occur before individual liberation can?" was yes. I don't believe he really thought out all the possible implications that attend to this issue.
If social liberation is primary, doesn't it follow that individuals are reduced to an instrumental role? This question goes to the core of the entire Marxist project. My reference to your manifesto being "a little too sweeping" should be explained, I suppose. What I meant was that to assert that nothing of note has happened since the, what? The 1947 International Surrealist Exhibition perhaps?
Was going a bit too far. Personally, I find some of Matta's 1960's works a real extension of the Surrealist outlook. Even Pop has a role in furthering our ideas of personal liberation. Of course, I look at the best of Pop as being heavily laced with irony, so that it can be read as a critique of commodity capitalism. I agree with you the the "balkanization of the universal" is something we need to transcend. I too am an autodidact, to a large degree. I do have 24 semester hours' credit from Roosevelt University in Chicago dating from 1972-74.
My first great epiphany came at attending the Marcel Duchamp retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago in March 1974. His work and life showed me that formal education provided more obstacles than opportunities. I find academia to be one of the principal obstacles to both individual and social transformation. My second great epiphany came from understanding the intimate connection between Duchamp and Max Stirner in 1989. My course has been set ever since. The bulk of the fruits of my interest in this connection is forthcoming, but it won't be too long now.
Collectives that legislate what’s good for the others against their consent is no good. Self-directed anarchism could avoid these problems if brutality could be expunged form the consciousness of the millions. That if is so big you can drive a truck through it, I know. But the revolution is impossible without it. Start small, get bigger. Revolution from below.
You really shouldn't lift whole sections of material from the Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Stirner and present it as your own thought, although you chose a reputable source. George Woodcock, although prone to some of the same collectivist biases as so many other commentators on Stirner, did do a pretty good job at characterizing his thought.
I guess you're already surmising that I vehemently disagree with your characterization of Stirner as "yet another status quo philosopher". Your evaluation sound a lot like Karl Marx's ideas on the subject, and I am painfully aware that the situationists used Marx as their basic philosophical substrate. Do you know a book that came out in 2002 by Kristin Ross called "May '68 and its Afterlives"? She, too, decries the "creeping individualism" that has seeped into the discourse on May '68 and related phenomena. But that is material for another post.
The thing that is important now is to indicate just why Stirner is not just another apologist for the small-time shopkeeper. The key point has to do with the irreducible toggle in the individualism/collectivism question: can I keep my own prerogatives intact if I allow a collective entity to be primary in my own mind and, by extension, in the world?
The answer, I'm afraid, is no, and if this is true, then my own instrumentalism at the hand of the collectivity is inevitable. This engenders what Stanley Milgram (yes, that Milgram) calls the "agentic state", in which I sign away my right of decision in favor of one "in authority". I presume you are aware of the infamous Milgram experiments of 1960. One look at the results of these experiments should be enough to convince that ours is not a world in which "enlightened" egoism rules, only the debased kind, the infantile kind. Where vulgar egoism leaves off, Stirner begins. It is possible to trace a trajectory of an increase in "affective individualism" (as the historian Lawrence Stone terms it), beginning in the late 17th century and continuing up to the present time. Kinship ties have weakened, and individual prerogatives strengthened, in a fairly unbroken progression ever since this began. One of the main problems, in my opinion, is that this process has only gone halfway through its cycle.
Individual empowerment is what we all need, not a centralized plan of forced income redistribution. This will only result in endless counterrevolution. It is moralism run wild, what confounded the French Revolution and the communist one as well. Collectives that legislate what's good for the others against their consent is no good. Self-directed anarchism could avoid these problems if brutality could be expunged form the consciousness of the millions. That if is so big you can drive a truck through it, I know. But the revolution is impossible without it. Start small, get bigger. Revolution from below. Because there will always be struggle. Civilization is not a given. Each generation struggles anew with different, and if not different the same exact variables as the generation of their fathers. Without the foundation of the individual, a civil structure cannot be retained for long.
I believe we are not so very far apart philosophically. Breton, as well as Picabia, Max Ernst and Duchamp, all found Stirner to be quite compelling. It is only a question of continuing to resolve all the inconsistencies attending to the implementation of collectively constituted projects that keeps us from moving forward. Only.
We are not talking small-time stuff here, n'est ce-pas? Please respond if you care to.
Apologia From Gabriel
Apologies to Mr. Westling for taking the liberty, a liberty he may indeed characterize as overreach in re-publishing our short tet-a-tet without his expressed permission. But I find our brief work here worthwhile in pointing up a few crucial ideas central to any thriving philosophy which, by definition, must thoroughly engage the contemporary situation (where the individual finds himself threatened and made inert) at every level in both leaping tall buildings like storied men of action and crawling upon hands and knees thorough the filthy sewers of a collpasing infrastructure like rodents of an unrepentant generation, if we are to move beyond the fine words of old heroes and other remarkable curvatures of the spine.
Ihaven't been keeping up with these rad dudes since the list became a book selling booth and then something's screwed up to where I'm on the list twice (get everything in duplicates) but can't respond or unsubscribe because of some unexplained cosmic glitch. However, I decided to peek and see you getting mutilated by some humanoid. I can't say if I agree or disagree because I don't have the whole story but the hostility is acidic. I know, however, that you can take it and I'm sure you're just laughing on this.
Landry, I've thought about your newsgroup problem. How does this sound? Pick out what you find pertinent, disregarding the rest. Spud really doesn't monitor the newsgroup. It's automated. You signed up beaucoup months ago when you had another address. In order to UNSUBSCRIBE, you have to UNSUBSCRIBE with that same address. You get duplicates sometimes because I forward you stuff and the newsgroup forwards you the same stuff because you are still on the list. Your company E-mail server still accepts mail from your old address. Unsubscribe twice using both your current E-mail address and your former, then SUBSCRIBE afresh should you still be interested in receiving the list. Other than that I'm clueless. Yes, I am laughing, saddened by this sorry state of affairs, but laughing nevertheless. It's my only refuge.
I want to note that I believe that a lot of the people on this list are graduate students or something and are disappointed at the thin intellectual conversation spewing from their lip-fingers. How sad. I would love to get paid to spew. They don't know what they possess. Looks like academia is nothing more than a booksellers guild where they reshape sentences of sentences written about thinkers of the past. Who's doing the original thinking?
Not this crew. That is certain. I think I am wiggling towards the next wave of logic, but I can't get a word in edgewise. It's funny because I never mention g-o-d, but these people truly run for cover whenever I quote anything remotely Hebrew, even though I've tried to point out over and over again the wholesale ransacking and theft of the literature by Marx and Debord. Dead silence or the petty voice you quoted below is all these "great thinkers" can manage. Strange, I didn't receive that unsigned text. Maybe Spud has indeed axed me from the group.
Was Marx the highest point intellectual thought could attain? I keep waiting for the next thing, the next evolution on the food chain of an attempt to organize the human condition but I see only rehash rehash rehash. Art is rehashing cubism with slightly different variations. Literature is dancing around the macabre Faulkneresque trip into the dark side of family life with modern therapy heavy judgment thrown in. Music is nothing but push button computer masturbation.
They claim a desire to elevate the man without quality but when I present a self-portrait of that very man without quality they attack me with strange wordy affairs from their own contrived bible, contrary to the schematic of universal understanding, and sink into the abyss, well-deserved victims of their own lack of quality.
Well, the "next" thing was Debord. Of this I am positive. At least, the Situationists group as chaos, which is what I saw happen under the iron thumb of Debordian authoritarianism. A very good starting block for this clearinghouse of competing ideologies swarming around like angry hornets with an endless supply of stingers. However I seek not to clarify but to modify Debord, present a plan of action (or action by inaction) for which we stand. But of course these yahoos are too busy worshipping at the altar of Debord to ever "say" anything much less something of substance. It's the same numbing stagnation of thought they claim the spectacle creates and holds the world as hostage, that they practice. Duh, what a waste of fine godfodder, oops, I finally used the word.
Your text above describes what Debord was howling against. He was aware of the rehash, and wanted to "revolutionize" everyday life, but I believe he failed rather miserably*, just as Jesus** did in his own revolutionary pose (although his effects are as well-documented as this modern messiah***), but GODSPEAK on the other hand IS very much alive conducting his press upon the stage of HISTORICAL TIME, that Hegelian phrase that seems to have only one meaning for all that I can uncover: the spark that leads to the Len Bracken generation's own personal civil war. Debord was an athiest; Bracken confesses the same.
Civil war is the great god they worship. Capitalism the devil. Their own historical time, their own dirty war in the name of the zeroworker theory interlaced with an abrupt dismissal of all things proprietary, a ridiculous idea of course betrayed by their own hypocrisies. I say, like Zachariah, the great and terrible day is coming in nuclear spades but woe to those who would wish for its arrival, especially to those by whose hands it is accelerated. Of course I am dismissed as a mere fool and a preposterous godlover. It seems to me they actualize, accentuate, and love the Great and Terrible Lord of Theosplatz more than I do, but that's just my opinion, uncouth, unhip as it is. The mark of the beast. The fall of mercantilism. No copyrights. No work. Hot BOG & BOR topics****, but all these wankers can do is strut about in their task to mark me as declassé. They claim a desire to elevate the man without quality but when I present a self-portrait of that very man without quality they attack me with strange wordy affairs from their own contrived bible, contrary to the schematic of universal understanding, and sink into the abyss, well-deserved victims of their own lack of quality.
Aaah, the wonders of the intellect . . .
A few notes: * in his exclusionary practices ** in his inclusionary practices *** in this case I see Debord as Barrabas, and still no messiah on the horizon. **** BOG (Book of Genesis), BOR (Book of Revelation)
"I see pieces of men marching trying to take heaven by force . . ." -Bob Dylan
Thanks Peter for the essay. I read it, and agree with your prefacing remarks "that the essay which follows does not answer the question, `what is evil?' but it does point strongly towards my core belief that evil is an ever-resurgent human drive which operates when other drives are given free reign without ethical obstacles..."
I have just finished the piece. With so little percolation time I really don't know if I am capable of voicing anything but superficial remarks, but I will give it a shot. While during my own 20s I wretchedly galloped through many of the classics you cite in my own feeble attempts to "find God" and "become a writer", my education was certainly sporadic and without the depth which hopefully one achieves submerged at the university level in a bonafide literary curriculum, such as you apparently have engaged. Professorial tuteledge, classroom debates among peers, and mandatory paperwriting obviously all play their part in bringing the student to a better understanding of what she reads than an existential romp through the local library classics section.
That said, I must suggest that your take on the Judaic-Christian influences on Western thought were rather understated. Despite several centuries of overt rebellion against the ancient writings of "a few good Jews", each of the examples you gave of shimmering evil with its heavy accents on the will to power using such longstanding notions of battle as deceit, deception, and devastation grieve me as I realize that each passing generation pretends to dismiss the ancient only to mimic it by fluffing up the language a bit and calling it a new coin.
Gazing out from my own humble subterranean watchtower I can only chafe at the most recent camouflages of antiquity as modernity seeks to gouge its tusks into the body of the old Jewish tales of good and evil, a few skip and hops beyond the gaffs of French existentialism and even further past the pro-Capitalist ho! ho! ho! objectivists. I am talking about the Situationists International and their pre-apocalyptic tug at the deadbolts keeping man and god and law all outside the fabled gates of Eden. As poetic as Debord and his small band of merry blatherers of negation were, titillating with such rallying cries, as NO MORE WORK! FREE LOVE! and ALL IS SPECTACLE! one is left pondering just how close to the gates of Eden modern philosophy dares to ride before the feckless myth of the serpent finds its way back into literary and the psychogeographer's chic...
This culture seems to be moving toward a system where individuals are held unaccountable, while past ages and past groups in some nebulous transference are held responsible retroactively for crimes committed in the present?
Boredom is a sad excuse for bombing the biscuit eaters.
I'm sorry but I cannot apologize for my heavily weighted Dylanista leanings. Just like the prophets of old, however, Dylan sets no man free when any fair thought can in a twinkling of a cobra's eye set the world stage on fire, instant corruption this foul revolutionary fervor, all in the name of setting men free. I wonder out loud why Jesus didn't make the cut in your literary glance at evil? He quite boldly denounced the well-spoken finely-garbed religious leaders and pretenders of his day as followers of THAT EVIL ONE, SATAN, and in doing so drew their wrath upon himself, of course with proper considerations.
Yet he also rejected the claims of the patriotic Zealots, and Barrabas. While suggesting with Dante, or was it Milton, that worldly organization (the Satanic impulse) is a positive step in human evolution, and what political modernist would disagree, many former refugees under Hitler and Stalin now working to sustain liberal policies in this country will plead in quite colorful terms that these very same organizational talents who rise with great promise of social order and prosperity to the Machiavellian ideal are the very antithesis of what political modernists would call good, while most certainly most might call these regimes quite evil, and without social redemption.
Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and later Sartre, despite their own personal gentility, would propose that right makes might, while differing vastly in impetus of resolve. Camus, less eager to play bully, suggests (not as an original thought, mind you) that right inspires the absence of might, exemplified in his phrase, NEITHER VICTIM NOR EXECUTIONER. Will there ever be a peace upon which all can agree? Shall we ask if evil is merely the only face of goodness humanity can suffer for any sustained length of time, which thus far seems an eternity, and thus appears to us as mere imperfection? That thought presents quite a thorny when not an entirely flaming bush of terminologies in conflict, now doesn't it?
But we come full circle in the sense of your original premise that the absence of moral obligation leads to all sorts of behavior most warm-blooded human beings can no doubt in good conscience dub as evil acts, while still reserving the right to soften any accusational language against the originator of the evil act. But I ask you, is an eye for an eye, an inherently evil doctrine? Why is it considered evil for the state to carry out a punishment to an unremorseful murderer of innocent flesh on the bone, while the victim remains dead, and the victim's dependents remain ill-disposed?
This culture seems to be moving toward a system where individuals are held unaccountable, while past ages and past groups in some nebulous transference are held responsible retroactively for crimes committed in the present? Is this moral advancement, as the hordes rush to gain entrance to this new city of refuge? But is this not the result of the very doctrine of passive evil that Bertrand Russell wrote of in his WHY I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN. He couldn't quite stomach little old ladies who smiled the christian smile while hiding behind the badges of a police state.
Don't get me wrong Peter. I am not advocating christianity in its clerical sense, nor its overthrow, but I do think discussing the perils of evil without noting that man has proven himself quite an evil caricature of his own stated anti-evil ambitions, somewhat more preposterous and ill-conceived the more he insists on his own self-image, despite any parameters a college course may have invoked. Does evil require the self-consciousness of the doer of a misguided deed? Even Jesus suggested this was true. Do you, or do I agree?
Oh well, I see now that intriguing threads are cropping up everywhere, but I really must close this out. Hope you can appreciate the fact that I appreciated your efforts in allowing me to read your article. And by the way, as strange as it sounds, the eighty-four pages condensed to a mere six after I edited out the PC-Mac translation garbage appended at the end of the writing.
As Tim Shipman has been known to say, "Go figure..."
I am forwarding these two recent notes I sent to Steve (who has been remarkably steady in recent days after months of little to say), only because since I've been so busy and completely absorbed by Bracken's project my own e-mail generation had dropped to almost nothing. I didn't want you to think I had blown you off or anything as vulgar or self-preserving like that. Quite the contrary. I've been feeling guilty and depressed that you've written interestingly on several topics that I failed to engage because of my current workload, while simultaneously neglecting my own hefty writing project describing those sordid details of the changing of the guard here at the Dollhouse.
Steve meanwhile weighed in with his interest in hearing more about the book project. You did not, but hey, you certainly caused a stir at the Situationist camp a few weeks back that I thought you might still appreciate a few details while they were still warm in the oven.
After a month of working diligently for someone else I had a few general Mac housekeeping chores to manage, a major crash to weather, and I am now on my eighth day of flu sickness without antibiotic calvary persuading me that the end of this misery is yet in sight. So I face the hiss and boos of the faceless crowd as I admit that still the first line of the "Great Storm" ending 1996 has yet to find its way to page, although this Sunday, Groundhog's Day will mark the first month's anniversary of Tim and Jennifer's exile from the Dollhouse fevers.
Speaking of anniversaries, what day exactly do you turn 31 in all your sass and bosomly anthem? Have you managed to seduce a frozen Swede onto your corporate tab? Would you tell me if you did? I dropped my soap. You wouldn't be pulling a Jack, now would you Landry, all bathed in secret lights and bold rationalizations while flogging community standards with one hand tied behind your back and the other on a stack of sci-fi novels, with nothing but your feet and your mouth to accomplish the dirty deeds, now would you Landry?
Of course I jest with you, but you know as well as I do that in the eye of the hurricane, few details are lost in the saddle. It's out there on the swirl that conflict states its name and bends the rules to suit its own game. Wishing you a swell Minnesota memory. Nothing lasts forever, not even a Green Bay Packers grin....
Well, it's finally finished. The Debord book is packed off to Portland. Took data to service bureau to have my Syquest media converted to Zip, and printed out a color proof of the cover. Nearly a month's worth of work is in the can. Now I can address what happened over New Year's, settle back into my own themes, but first I need to awaken afresh. I am tired, needing a night's rest.
Tomorrow I shall begin the prologue promised those long brackenish weeks ago. The details will no doubt seem shallow now, since most of you no doubt have struck conversations of some sort or another with the exiled in the meantime, but I am urged by inner demons and outer banks of fair recoil to capture the essence of my own perspectives. Thus I presume all of you are still interested in hearing these details, despite their tardiness, free from kneejerk but far from the thunder of that distant hour.
I am forwarding these two recent notes I sent to Steve (who has been remarkably steady in recent days after months of little to say), only because since I've been so busy and completely absorbed by Bracken's project my own e-mail generation had dropped to almost nothing. I didn't want you to think I had blown you off or anything as vulgar or self-preserving like that. Quite the contrary. I've been feeling guilty and depressed that you've written interestingly on several topics that I failed to engage because of my current workload, while simultaneously neglecting my own hefty writing project describing those sordid details of the changing of the guard here at the Dollhouse. Steve meanwhile weighed in with his interest in hearing more about the book project. You did not, but hey, you certainly caused a stir at the so-called Situationist camp a few weeks back that I thought you might still appreciate a few details while they were still warm in the oven.
After a month of working diligently for someone else I had a few general Mac housekeeping chores to manage, a major crash to weather, and I am now on my eighth day of flu sickness without antibiotic calvary persuading me that the end of this misery is yet in sight. So I face the hiss and boos of the faceless crowd as I admit that still the first line of the Great Storm ending 1996 has yet to find its way to page, although this Sunday, Groundhog's Day will mark the first month's anniversary of Tim and Jennifer's exile from the Dollhouse fevers.
Speaking of anniversaries, what day exactly do you turn 31 in all your sass and bosomly glow? Have you managed to seduce a frozen Swede onto your corporate tab? Would you tell me if you did? You wouldn't be pulling a Jack, now would you Lynn, all bathed in secret lights and bold rationalizations while flogging community standards with one hand tied behind your back and the other on a stack of sci-fi novels, with nothing but your feet and your mouth to accomplish the dirty deeds, now would you Lynn?
Of course I jest with you, but you know that as well as I do that in the eye of the hurricane, few details are lost. It's out there on the swirl that conflict states its name and bends the rules to suit its own game. But have a swell Minnesota memory. Nothing lasts forever, not even a Green Bay Packers grin....
You asked for editorial comments on "GUY DEBORD - Revolutionary" by Len Bracken. I have not forgotten, and was quite pleased that you asked for details of my impressions, so I suppose I should lay in a few lines on the topic right here, seeing as life is settling down again for me.
I had to tell him repeatedly that I was no cheerleader type, no empty flatterer, a symptom of my childhood no less, but that my comments were sincere and as comprehensive as I could make them.
Considering the Situationist International's (SI) big cheese was, by revolutionary and philosophical necessity a subterranean veiled in secrecy a state of being heightened by idiosyncracies leaning toward an accelerated paranoia and strong diva tendancies, the volume was a decent read for the first biography ever written about the man (vested propoganda offered as fact by Len). I was surprised by the general objectivity of the material, having presumed Bracken of being a terminal sycophant of Debord and the whole romanticized SI movement. I was able to argue plainly and successfully my objections to the man and the philosophy based on details the book offered with Len over the last week of proofing and finalizing the 420 page manuscript.
The author's style was rather straightforward, his voice almost non-existent, a minor flaw in the book as I pointed out to Len. As any serious reader might be I was plagued with the question, who is this Len Bracken fellow of few daylight credentials? Again, I emphasize, this was no ordinary bio, given the secrecy of the subversive material and its originators. Debord's two wives are still alive, intellectuals in their own right, and yet were not interviewed personally by the biographer. And while Bracken's bibliography and footnotes are extensive, this dependency on so much second and third hand information will no doubt register as a flaw with serious reviewers.
Historical threads of Debord's intellectual ancestors are woven rather seamlessly into the cloth of the story, while personal anecdotes from behind the scenes are perhaps in short number. By the end of the volume I had gained probably for the first time ever a respect for both the biographer and the subject, while still disdaining the ultimate outcome of such a philosophical stance. Debord was a tyrant and a romantic. He carved up friendships with bold sweeping strokes. Bracken indeed proved himself capable of putting flesh and flaw onto the man and the myth, much to the book's advantage.
However, his usual bluster and misplaced pomposity (Bracken's Breath) that this was a book that will be read for 500 years fortunately was kept out of the book, and I could only plead in a feeble Gabriel grit and grunt that my own ears had not been spared the oft repeated utterance, no doubt a trumped up cry for respect of a very needy author and personality. I had to tell him repeatedly that I was no cheerleader type, no empty flatterer, a symptom of my childhood no less, but that my comments were sincere and as comprehensive as I could make them. It was a roller coaster ride around here, but I think we did a pretty damn good job on the proofing, the layout, and an unbias review of the material. Could he not just leave it at that. Needless to say, I was not sad to see that job finished.
I am promised another $250 plus two copies of the finished product to add to the original $500. One can only speculate if I'll ever see either. Small press insecurities chewed at Len persistently over the month we worked together. Adam Parfrey is not intentionally a fly by nighter, but the Feral House Books wing span ain't exactly an eagle's badge of honor either...
Originally published on November 5, 1996, as one of the first, if not the very first missives contributed to the post-situationist listserv arm of the fledgling Nothingness entity. First I struck a nerve. Then I struck oil. The oil that would lubricate finally, a conversation that was about to take place. Or at the very least, I expected something resembling a conversation.
I write: Just wanted to go on record that of all those waking up from last night's America TODAY, there are only two kinds of people. People who vote, and those who don't.
Sam then wrote: There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who divide everything into simple dichotomies and those who do not.
This Sam, turned out to be Sam Hutchison, from Atlanta, who later became a strong ally in the Bully Marxist wars that followed on that particular list against NYC rivals Bill Brown and Curtis Leung. But with this early exchange, I was immediately incensed by what I had to consider the familiar ring of snobbishness, and the fact that Sam had signed off his one liner with a kicker and a nickname that summed up my original assessment, sent me to the mattresses looking for my poison pen. His kicker, "Oh yeah, down here I'm considered the apotheosis of cool." signing off as "the sewer urchin." Needless to say, I found my metaphorical pen, and as to whether it was filled with poison or healing medicinal concoction, the distinction is all in the dosage. You be the judge.
Sam, have you ever crawled inside a wet sewer pipe down upon your hands and knees through a stinky brick and mortared shit-infested rat-renewal art-survival sewer "MANHOLE", a hole in hell clopped up with soggy kotex and johnny paper, root infiltration and a world of nasty whiff? Ever sat in a row boat hand-dipping test tubes into a lake of shit sludge testing the toxicity of said sludge as it's filtered and treated with chemical du jour before the big drip drip drip back through the lay of the land via some "no swimming allowed" river or some off-kilter stream of consciousness?
Go swallow an apple, or chop down a cherry tree with the excuse that it was on line (old surveyor’s joke), and then step into the shallow pond to pontificate on the differences between good and evil, dead or alive, one and zero, win or lose, voting and non-voting.
Well, my friend, you are currently communicating with one who has not only proposed the question, but I HAVE PERFORMED these awesome uninviting tasks many times in that petty proletarian life of my younger days before I took up dividing the world into simple dichotomies. Beyond this brief but colorful description of a few of my duties as a low totem, then ranking crew chief member of a survey party hired to a civil engineering firm in Atlanta serving five SE USA states specializing in waste management systems, I dare say I have also been known to chant around certain quarters that I am indeed the anithesis of cool.
My pose as THE ANTI-COOL is not a transparent facade I must mainatain in order to spew forth the vomit I have reserved for the lukewarm chic trendy jabberwockies of the café chit chat set. No, I am not chic. I sweat. I sweat, and foam, and seethe. And more than a bit overweight, one might add. But I was not always this way. I was once a child of simple intelligence and structure. Despite the William S. Burroughs role as the Commissioner of Sewers I would point out that WSB has declared the Evil One as a freckled face kid sitting in a boat out in the middle of some woe-begotten lake. Damn. How did he manage to describe ME in one my my strongest childhood memories to a freckle? Sitting in a row boat with my Navy dad in the middle of some large body of water completely flummoxed as to what was required of me. This was no dream. I was about four. We did it. I remembered it.
So I ask you Sam, is it not the very root of situationist thought (this swindle) that simple dichotomies are the backbone of the revolution: He be rich. I be poor. Therefore he da master. I da slave. Are we not swapping verbs and nouns on a situationist listserv? Viva la revolution! Sure. But how is the business of this post-revolution world to be conducted? Magick? Hmmm...
And so I reveal my true stripes: there are no simple dichotomies outside of SELF and THE OTHER (Derruda, Pynchon...)! Go swallow an apple, or chop down a cherry tree with the excuse that it was on line (old surveyor’s joke), and then step into the shallow pond to pontificate on the differences between good and evil, dead or alive, one and zero, win or lose, voting and non-voting.
And Sam, whomever you are and wherever you ponder, thanks for contributing to the iMote way...
"I fought with my twin, that enemy within, 'til both of us fell by the side..." Bob Dylan
"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""