Reed Altemus

For some people, such as myself, who've spent our lives preoccupied with culture & its production, cultural movements & the zeitgeists that they're manifestations of are very exciting. These movements represent shifts in human consciousness. For me, dadaism, Surrealism, & Fluxus were probably the most exciting but many other movements have been of major interest such as Italian Futurism, Cubism, Lettrism, the Situationists, Pop Art, etc..

& I've been involved, often very actively, with groups & movements as a participant. These have included Language Writing, Mail Art, Neoism, & the Church of the SubGenius - to name a few of the more 'well-known' ones. Neoism, a Cultural Conspiracy that I've been associated with since the end of 1980, has been very important to me for a major portion of my life.

I'm one of the few Neoists who's worked directly & in person with many other Neoists. As such, I'm preoccupied more with the actual people involved than I am with ideological positionings that I often find of dubious value. Hence, my desire to write a book about Neoism that lists many or most of the main players involved & gives examples of their activities & includes personal anecdotes.

As part of the process of preparing to write/assemble this book, I've started to scan materials in my Neoism aRCHIVE box which is organized in alphabetical order. This aRCHIVE is by no means 'perfectly' organized with all relevant correspondence & other materials neatly in its place. I may've been corresponding with people for over a decade or even 3 decades before I decided to put specific materials in the Neoism box. Nonetheless, it's a beginning & will still serve as a more substantial aRCHIVE than most even if it never gets organized any better than it is now.

Mail Art was, during the time of its heyday, let's say the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, before mailings became prohibitively expensive & before the internet became a more practical quasi-replacement, a primary tool of Neoism. Mail Art enabled Neoists to network internationally to find & interact with like-minded conspirators.

The Neoists who've been most important to me personally have been the ones who've attended Neoist festivals, who've participated in the conspiracy on an in-person basis. Alas, that hasn't necessarily been practical for all of us. Many of us, such as Pete Horobin & myself, have been living off of minute amounts of money but have still managed to be resourceful enough to get around somewhat.

Others have interfaced with the Neoist community-at-large mainly using Mail Art or, more recently, the internet. People involved since the 1990s on haven't had the frequent opportunities to attend Neoist festivals that proliferated more in the 1980s than any other time. This is where people such as Reed Altemus enter.

Reed, as far as I can tell from my 4X6" file card regarding our correspondence. 1st contacted me sometime before February 4, 1994, with a request for a catalog from my WIdémoUTH Tapes. This was followed by an invite to a 'R. Saunders Birthday Party Mail Art Show' which was then followed by another catalog request ON Feb 4, '94. Those early mailings aren't in his part of the aRCHIVE so they aren't scanned here.


His next mailing doesn't seem to've been until a decade later: 'Rewrite of Jim Hayes' "Confusing Activity w/ Accomplishment"' + color perforated sheet:

In this, the original author is listed as "Monty Cantsin", the Collective Identity used most often in Neoism - but on my 4X6" card description I list the author as "Jim Hayes", another correspondent of mine. The rewrite is also credited to "Monty Cantsin". These 'chance-generated' rewrites of Monty/Reed's have been a recurring element in mailings that I've gotten from him.

Perforated sheets are usually referred to as sheets of stamps, a somewhat common form of Mail Art. The above was the 6th of an edition of 15 so I was fortunate to get it. I'm sure that my interest in Altemus's work would've perked up at this since it was more visually elaborate than anything I'd gotten from him until then. I liked the map-turned-envelope that it came in too.



Of course, Reed's using the name "Monty Cantsin" is one of the reasons why his work went into my Neoism aRCHIVE.

& next:

This mailing included 2 stickers:

- the latter signifying 'recycle or die': expressing an idea that seems to run deep in Monty/Reed's work:


The above being something that could be called a recycled text using Florian Cramer's "Neoism Machine".

& the next text having been "generated by driving 17 nails through a copy of Stewart Home's Neoist Manifestos".

Reed was on a small roll in 2004 since he sent me another mailing in quick succession:

Monty/Reed recycles & pays friendly homage to cultural figures of importance to him: John M. Bennett (in an earlier mailing) & George Maciunas (of FLUXUS).

Apparently, another 7 years elapses before I started getting mail from him again in 2011:

Here, he's calling himself "NEOIST COMPUTERGRAPHIC CONSPIRACY" in an apparent recycling/homage to the Neoist Boris Wanowitch's "Computer Graphics Conspiracy" of 25+ years before. Inside was a smaller envelope containing 4 Neoist cards:

This one's a transparency:


The following text is something that had been rewritten in a Neoist collective spirit many times:

This mailing also included a book:

In my reply letter, I told Monty/Reed that I'd read the book & write a review of it that I'd post on Goodreads. This is something that I like to do to promote work sent to me that might be critically ignored otherwise. Unfortunately, perhaps, for the people who send me things, my reviews usually (or always) 'call things as I see them' & aren't always predominantly positive. That was the case here:

"review of a Monty Cantsin's "fuck the word and fuck you""

posted on Goodreads on or after December 9, 2011. If I were to rewrite the review now it would probably be more positive.

Monty/Reed's next missive thanked me for my intent to read & review. He must not've seen the already uploaded review yet. I do remember that after he did read the review he politely thanked me for it anyway. That takes a strength of character that I'm not sure I have. Then again, my books are almost never reviewed.

It's not uncommon for Mail Artists to send the same works more than once - especially if they keep no records of what they send & receive. My personal practice of keeping records probably prevented some repetition but ended up being so aggravatingly labor-intensive that it took much of the pleasure out of mailing.

The last year that I received mailings from Reed that made it into the Neoism aRCHIVE was 2012. I've actually received more from him since then but it's probably been accidentally filed in the more generic Mail Art boxes. This probably was accidental on my part. I may've forgotten where I'd been previously putting them. If I ever go through the 10s of thousands of pieces of mail I have & find the rest of Reed's I might put them all together.

This 1st mailing of 2012 included a small edition print made by Francis Van Maele of Redfox Press of a visual poem of Reed's. Once again, I was honored to receive such a rare object (which I display on the 2nd floor of my house):

Note that I was fortunate enough to receive # 4 of 10.

If you like Visual Poetry, FLUXUS, Neoism, & Mail Art, you'd do well to correspond with Reed Altemus who, obviously, cares about what he does & puts his heart into it. Thank you for the mailings.


- January 6, 2019 note from





idioideo at verizon dot net


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