2014. Confessions of a Failed Egoist
Trevor Blake's Confessions of a Failed Egoist
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - July 27-30, 2014
Confessions of a Saturday Morning Emily Post-Left Anarchist - pt 1:
Confessions of a Saturday Morning Leftovers Anarchist - pt 2:
Confessions of Emily's Saturday Morning Leftover Post-Egoism - pt 3:
ALSO ON OVO: http://ovo127.com/
At what point were the bks of philosophers of yore considered IMPORTANT? Was it always in their lifetime? Or did the bks have to grow on what little portion of the population that they eventually reached? Were they mainly considered IMPORTANT by their friends & colleagues & publishers during their lifetimes? What I'm getting at is that I consider this bk to be important NOW, while its author is still alive. It's not that I think the author is a great intellectual, necessarily, it's that I think he's maintained his integrity as a Free Thinker w/o sliding into the unrigorous muck of subcultural conformity.
Before I go any further, I shd get out of the way that there's an entire chapter of this bk about me - &, yes, I'm happy about this. Nonetheless, unbelievable as it may seem to those of you who have less integrity than I do, who're shallower than I am (sez me), if I disagreed w/ the bk, if I found major fault w/ it, yes, I'd criticize it at the risk of losing one of the few supporters I 'have' in the world. Of course, I put "have" in 'single quotation marks' b/c I no more 'have' Trevor than he 'has' me. He's a Free Thinker & so am I - our friendship for each other ranks less than the value of 'having our own minds'. & for those of you who scoff at 'Free Thinker'?: Fine, make an argument.. but don't just scoff - opinions w/o buttressing, w/o logical or experiential argumentation supporting them, amt to nothing but yr own hot air. Trevor supports his arguments AND manages to be pretty fucking funny at the same time.
Trevor fits neatly into a legacy of thinkers of the last 40 yrs who've tried to take a look at their environment, narrow & close, far & wide, social & antisocial, & tried to think of it w/o cluttering pre-fab stereotypes that get in the way of clear perception. I think he's succeeded far more than most. Hence my saying this bk's IMPORTANT.
My also saying that the author's not necessarily a "great intellectual" is rooted in the idea that the type of analysis required for the above process isn't necessarily an intellectual one as much as it is one of introspective honesty. To be a "Failed Egoist" is both a 'paradox' of sorts & a way of avoiding the oversimplification of dogma that unintrospective egoism becomes in its more dreary & tiresome megalomaniacal form. A 'true' thinker, even an egoist, questions even themselves - Blake is excellent at this & I respect him for it.
Starting in 1978 I began to seek out interesting people in the world to correspond w/. By perhaps a decade later I was corresponding w/ about 1,400 people. Most of them weren't exactly as interesting for me as I wd've liked but the few that were were amazing & the rest were at least usually seekers.. Seekers after a deeper, more international, community than what was offered to them locally. Seekers after a stimulus from a broader gene pool than what was available locally. Seekers after free thinkers too rare in immediate environments, people that had to be found thru more intensive searching.
For better or worse, I probably most strongly identify w/ what might be called the Lunatic Fringe - something hinted at by the term Post-Left Anarchism. By "Lunatic Fringe" I mean people whose opinions are considered unacceptably extreme by even the people in the cultural/political milieu most likely to accept them. If I understand correctly, "Post-Left Anarchism" is meant to be a form of anarchism whose practitioners no longer associate w/ being the 'extreme' left - instead, something different, something separate. In other words, Free Thinkers, people beholden to no particular norms of no particular sub-culture. By "extreme" I don't necessarily mean 'terrorists', I don't mean people for whom maximum violence is the great transformer - I prefer Hakim Bey's "Poetic Terrorism": fight mind control w/ mind DEcontrol - not fire w/ fire.
I hope that my own most intensive engagement w/ the world-at-large hasn't ended as I've become more & more unacceptable to the young just by virtue of being older than them. As such, my time of maximal identification w/ broad issues & my attempts to clarify my position in relation to them may stretch from the late 1960s to the present. That sd, it wd be dishonest of me to pretend that I have the same level of international (or, as I prefer, "patanational") social immersion now as I did in the 1980s. SO, people I met in the 1980s tend to be the 'founding fathers' or 'founding motherfuckers' or founding 'fatherfuckers' of movements that're still IMPORTANT to me now. Of course, someone's bound to take exception to the male-centric "founding fathers" - perhaps I'll address that later.
Enter Trevor Blake. We started corresponding in 1985 or 1986. That was a little late in contrast to people who also continue to be important to me from that era: "Blaster" Al Ackerman & Ivan Stang, eg - Trevor was a bit younger, he seemed a little less 'formed'. Nonetheless, he was publishing a magazine called "Surreal Estates" & publishers usually have something to say & I'm usually willing to pay attn. Surreal Estates #6 had an interview w/ me in it. It came out in 1986 when I was still having trouble finding a tattooist. Things were different in those days, very few people had tattoos: it wasn't a nauseating trend like it is now. The 1st 2 tattooists I asked to tattoo the 3D brain tattoo on my head refused.
Surreal Estates, IMO, was a bit slovenly & underimaginative from a graphic design perspective but the questions he asked me were good & I was glad to have the opportunity to get my theories & opinions out there. It was the 1st interview w/ me not formatted to fit the superficial requirements of a 'news'paper (Pam Purdy, to her credit, had interviewed me in my Tim Ore identity for the BalTimOre City Paper in the spring of 1982) & to also be published independent of such mainstreams (2 other interviews had been conducted but neither were published).
Trevor Blake is open-minded, someone who's consistently sought out the unusual & carefully decided whether it was for him or not - Confessions of a Failed Egoist impresses me as his most articulate expression of this process that I've encountered to date.
Confessions of a Failed Egoist might be sd to be the latest bk in a lineage that includes, for me, in approximate chronological order:
Re/Search #6/7: Industrial Culture Handbook (1983) - edited by Vale
The Book of the SubGenius (1983) - most credit due to the Sacred Scribe Ivan Stang
The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book (1984) - edited by Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein
Chaos - the broadsheets of ontological anarchism (1985) - Hakim Bey
The Abolition of Work and other essays (1986) - Bob Black
Confessions of an American Ling Master (1986) - Al Ackerman
Re/Search #11: Pranks! (1987) - edited by Andrea Juno & V. Vale
Apocalypse Culture (1987) - edited by Adam Parfrey
High Weirdness by Mail (1988) - compiled by Rev, Ivan Stang
The Assault on Culture - Utopian Currents from Lettrisme to Class War (1988) - Stewart Home
Rants and Incendiary Tracts (1989) - compiled by Bob Black & Adam Parfrey
T.A.Z. - The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism (1985/1991) - Hakim Bey
The Blaster Al Ackerman Omnibus (1994) - Al Ackerman
footnotes (2006) - tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
Anti-Media - Ephemera on Speculative Arts (2013) - Florian Cramer
These bks are both the creed of a new blatant pervert & a history of its lineage. These perverts have the audacity to not even kiss the asses goodbye of the parents that, like Chronos, wd eat them, wd smother them - but not as a natural aspect of the passing of time: instead these parents try to eat their children in the hope that they can then shit them out again as clay to be molded into Golems to fight their wars for them, to have no minds of their own. In defiance, this perverted new breed rips its way out of the parental throat leaving their wd-be controller & exploiter speechless. Or maybe these blatant perverts are just crowbarring the Doors of Perception open in a hurry to get to the Emergency Exit.
What's 'wrong' w/ this picture? Well.. maybe nothing. On the other hand, w/ the exception of Andrea Juno as the co-editor of Re/Search, there're no women represented in the authors & editors - there are women represented w/in the bks themselves. I cd've padded the above list by adding women to make myself seem more politically correct but that wd've been cheating. I cd've included the Andrea Juno edited Re/Search: Angry Women (1999) wch I recall as being excellent - but my copy of it was stolen or loaned out & never returned or given away before I got enuf of a chance to read it. Furthermore, while I had some slight correspondence w/ Vale I don't recall having any w/ Juno. This is a personal list, a list mainly centering around people I was (or still am) in contact w/ & around movements I've been mainly directly involved in. If I'd had as long an association w/ my friend Hyla Willis as I have w/ other people listed above, subRosa's Domain Errors! Cyberfeminist Practices wd probably also be on the list.
Other issues of Re/Search are excluded from the list, eg, #10: Incredibly Strange Films</u> (1986) & Modern Primitives (1989). The former b/c I don't perceive the films as being particularly "incredibly strange", I saw Re/Search as reviving a market niche; the latter b/c I've never particularly thought that tattoos & piercings et al were interesting as "modern primitivism" - again, I saw this as market-niche-speak. Now Re/Search has been as commercially successful & as widely disseminated as it has precisely b/c of the publisher's trend-savviness. Unfortunately, that's the same thing that made me lose interest in it. Prior to Modern Primitives only some "incredibly strange" people had tattoos & piercings, after Modern Primitives every moron wanted to be in on the fashion. I still like tattoos but the ones that truly interest me have to stand out in a sea of conformity.
Otherwise excluded, perhaps 'wrongfully so', is Semiotext[e] USA (1987). This was a disappointment to me b/c by the time it came out it already seemed 'out-dated' b/c I'd seen so much of its contents elsewhere already by then. It was really only a few yrs 'behind-the-times' but I was a harsh critic in those days. Also excluded, again perhaps 'wrongfully so', is Yael Dragwyla's The Book of the Outlaw (1986). This is the smallest of the publications listed & the most derivative one insofar as it's a take-off of Aleister Crowley's The Book of the Law (1904). Neither of these characteristics are adequate justifications for rejection - it's more that The Book of the Outlaw doesn't strike me as being as sweepingly visionary as the other bks do.
Possible future inclusions might be 2 bks by another friend of mine, Anna McCarthy: Ambient Television (2001) & The Citizen Machine - Governing by Television in 1950s America (2010) but those are both bks on my excessively long must-read list that I haven't gotten to yet. However, these latter 2 bks by Anna may be rejected b/c they're probably more academic media analysis published in the academic environment than they are howls from the Lunatic Fringe - wch then brings up the somewhat uneasy inclusion of The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book & Anti-Media - Ephemera on Speculative Arts.
The most important birthplace of these blatant perverts is from outside academia, from outside the art world, from outside the approved gathering places for difficult thinkers. Aliens are in yr midst! We're outside the pre-fab contexts for challenging thinking b/c those contexts are too safe to be truly challenging.
For that matter, the 'uneasiness' of my list shd be qualified by my mentioning that I'd forgotten about Chaos until I just now went looking in my library & I've never even read T.A.Z. in its bk form - I'd just read small photocopies that Bey had sent me in the mail that led up to it.
In other words, don't take the above list as some sort of definitive 'these-are-the-important-revolutionaries-heretics-visionaries-of-my-lifetime' list: it's more 'these-are-the-important-revolutionaries-heretics-visionaries-of-my-personal-social-circle-(&-slightly-beyond)-that-I-feel-philosophically-closest-to' or some such - even that's misleading insofar as I've had close to no contact w/ the Industrial scene (although I cd be considered an 'elder' of sorts of the related noise music scene) & have very little contact w/ Adam Parfrey. Most or all of the people are so-called 'white' (Lardy how sick of that description I am!) & North American or European. Even more importantly, in terms of correspondence networks, is that we all speak English - hence communication was easier between us than my networking w/ people in Japan, eg.
On the verso of Confessions of a Failed Egoist's title p it's written: "The author thanks tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE for technical assistance on "Co-Remoting with the Thunderous."" (p 2) That means that Trevor was considerate enuf to send me an advance copy of the article by email wch I then replied to. In an email that I sent to him on March 28, 2013 I wrote:
"Ok, I've revised/corrected the article you sent me & I'm both including it in the message body here & attaching it. I tried to not interfere too much w/ the tone of yr text but there were a few things I changed significantly: 1st, I'm not now nor have I ever been a thief. I am, actually, an exceptionally honest person & any problems I have are more likely to be associated w/ that. 2nd, the bkstore I cofounded has been a stunning success. 3rd, I actually work for a living & always have. Currently I do tech work for multiple museums & other exhibit-related institutions such as universities. Also, while I certainly travel, I own my house in Pittsburgh & have lived here for the last 17+ yrs. As such, much of what you've written is entertaining but somewhat 'romantic' & inaccurate. 4th, I don't consider myself to be in the least bit cruel - in fact, having been VERY cruelly treated by many, MANY people my whole life I find cruelty to be despicable. Most likely, anyone who says that I'm cruel, indifferent, or a thief doesn't know me & is just a malicious gossip wanting to exploit me for their own dubious purposes - definitely NOT someone to be trusted.
"As for the description of the way I live? Well, it's true, I don't know ANYONE who lives like I do - but these days the differences revolve more around my utter dedication to intellectual pursuits & research while most people around me cd care less about much of ANYTHING (w/ a few highly remarkable exceptions, of course)."
I appreciate Trevor's giving me the opportunity to critique his article before its publication in this bk b/c it gave me the chance to counteract some of the unfortunate flak that a person like myself, a minor controversial celebrity, has to deal w/ from time to time. After all, while Trevor & I are certainly friends, we've only met in person once, in 1989 (as I remember it) - as such, some of his impressions of me are bound to be gleaned from suspect 3rd party sources.
Confessions of a Failed Egoist, like many bks I like very much, struck me as so quotable that I cd (im)practically repeat the whole bk here - merrily, merrily commenting on it all the way. Just the chapter titles, as given in the Table of Contents, give a pretty good idea:
Confessions of a Failed Egoist
Co-Remoting with the Thunderous
Infinite Material Universe
It's a Sin
Multiple Name Identities
My Crowded Fist Theater Shouting Fire...
Shot from the Egoist Canon
So You Want to Meet an Alien?
Trajectory Through Anarchism
Triumph of the Wilt
Why Should I Speak of Them?
Wm. Trevor Blake
Yes You Can Say No!
Most, or all, the work I like has a sense of play, a sense of fair-play, a cents of fare-pay, a sense of humor - Trevor's exceptional.. but not an exception to what I like. Consider the opening 2 paragraphs:
"I am an egoist, a circular thinker of the most self-contained philosophy. Keep reading, though, and you'll see I'm not a very good Unique One. I see rusty rivets and loose lashings in the HMS Egoism. Egoism is the contrarian's philosophy, and so of course I begin this book with a broadside against it.
"Egoism is the claim that the individual is the measure of all things. In ethics, in epistemology, in aesthetics, in society, the Individual is the best and only arbitrator. Egoism claims social convention, laws, other people, religion, language, time and all other forces outside of the Individual are an impediment to the liberty and existence of the Individual. Such impediments may be tolerated but they have no special standing to the Individual, who may elect to ignore or subvert or destroy them as He can. In egoism the State has no monopoly to take tax or to wage war." - p 5
An egoist is a person who thinks of themself 1st & foremost - most people do this but in a way that's severely moderated by fear of negative consequences from the larger social whole. Only the brave (or devious) dare to challenge external society's 'right' to try to reel in the Individual's pursuit of their desires & self-definition. Self-definition is crucial to me & to most people I can relate to. The beauty here, for me, in Trevor's beginning is: "Egoism is the contrarian's philosophy, and so of course I begin this book with a broadside against it" - no cow (or water buffalo) is sacred - not even the one you ride in on, cowboy.
Then again, while egoism might claim that "social convention, laws, other people, religion, language, time and all other forces outside of the Individual are an impediment to the liberty and existence of the Individual" consider this excerpt from a May Day speech I gave in 2014:
"Now, I'm an exemplary lone wolf lunatic fringe individualist. But I still believe in Mutual Aid! In this spirit, I've joined Fight Back Pittsburgh, a chapter of the United Steelworkers Associate Member Program. And I have to say: Fight Back is INSPIRING! Through them, I've gotten to hear from many great people struggling for better conditions for workers - a tradition that Pittsburgh can be very, VERY proud of! Through them, I've learned about the Fight for Fifteen movement, a movement for $15 an hour to be the minimum wage for fast food workers & others. AND I SUPPORT IT! I've worked for less than minimum wage - & I don't recommend it!"
[The full speech can be witnessed here: http://youtu.be/FUY9DwiE1Dk ]
In the long run, I really am a "lone wolf lunatic fringe individualist" & don't fit in very well w/ such groups as Fight Back. Nonetheless, I don't see working w/ other people as necessarily being "an impediment to the liberty and existence of the Individual" in <i>all</i> cases - even if it is so in most.
"Egoism not only has the problem of being unable to define when any particular Individual appears, but also when any Individual at all first appeared. Egoism cannot say whether there were egoist Neanderthals, or before them egoist possum-critters who stole dinosaur eggs, or perhaps egoist dinosaurs, or egoist fish, egoist algae... don't stop at selfish genes when you can imagine selfish molecules. There is likely a line of before and after egoism emerged in evolution. Egoism cannot say when that line is drawn." - p 8
I'm reminded of a friend's dad, someone I like very much. We were sitting around talking when the dad sd something about his being the type of person who "lives in the moment". Being the pain-in-the-ass stickler that I am I replied w/ something to the effect of: "Do you know who I am?" to wch he replied: "Yes" - "Then you don't live in the present moment b/c you learned who I was in the past & have to be living partially in that past to remember me - Do you understand these words?" "Yes" - "Then you don't live in the moment b/c the language we're using is something from way before that wdn't exist as it does for you if you were only in the moment, its use relies on its vast history." You get the idea. Trevor hunts down the usually unexamined broader implications of egoism where few egoists have even had the imagination to consider going before.
"Solipsism slips in the egoist envelope. Solipsism is on board with the Unique One, going further to say that all else is a projection of that one. Egoism is okay with others existing, just not in elevating them above the Self. But who that Self is, and how there can be more than one One, and why it might be that others aren't just imagined, for these egoism is left shrugging." - p 14
I'm fascinated by solipsism in a similar way to how I'm fascinated by Zeno's Paradox. If one accepts that one's perceptual apparatus is the way thru wch one is able to perceive & if one accepts the notion that that perceptual apparatus is subjective by definition then one is confronted w/ the notion of one's subjectivity being the center of one's universe - in order to reach 'objectivity' one has to get halfway there 1st & then halfway there again.. ad infinitum. In the mid-1970s I coined the word OGJECTIVE to signify a state of perception that defies subjectivity and objectivity to prove themselves to be true. 'Reality' is a Möbius Strip of self-inclusive sets - but that doesn't make it any less painful.
"Politics, philosophy, ethics, all those thinky things, can be corralled into two camps. One is the prescriptive, which can tell you what to do. One is the descriptive, which tell you what happened. Egoism is an exceptionally isolated lone little doggie in the descriptive camp." - p 17
Blake at least tries to leave no stone unturned in his quest for philosophical self-definition - including a rock he cd hide under:
"My friends, I have my doubts about egoism. Sometimes My happiness is the happiness of others. I am bothered by lies, including My own. I think things and talk about things but don't act on them. I follow the herd. I hide My mutations. I am bound and fettered by space, time, money and mortality. I confess I am a failed egoist." - p 19
Blake might be hiding his mutations - but, having uncovered the rock he's hiding them under, some of their light is shining forth from this bk & giving the reader hope of basking in the warmth of the resultant illumination.
Yes, Blake is a moderate extremist, he probably realizes that blowing people up just makes more slippery mess to slip on & bash our own heads in w/. As such, in "My Crowded Fist Theater Shouting Fire at the End of Your Nose" he writes:
"CIVIL MASTERS NOT CIVIL SERVANTS
"My preference is toward civility, and I'm the arbitrator of what is civil. Let's keep it simple, no need to get the law involved just yet. Civility in free speech won't go overly against the consent of the speaker or the audience. Publishing a private diary found at a bus stop goes against the consent of the speaker. Showing naked pictures of yourself to children goes against the consent of the audience." - pp 28-29
Trevor Blake isn't reluctant to say unflattering things about cultures that he might be accused of being insensitive to by people who're a little too quick to turn a blind eye to their already smarting cheeks: "Female genital mutilation, setting girls on fire for going to school, chopping women's heads off for being too Western-you might not want to call that Islam, but let's agree to call it sexism." (p 30) In one of my manifestations I facetiously call myself "Amir-ul Kafirs" wch might be more properly Emir al-Kuffar. As such, it's nice to see another upstart anti-religionist hard at work to keep us all from wearing the same clothes & haircut: "The freedom of speech fun fair is an ugly affair and this kuffar knows we have to keep it that way." (p 31)
In "Trajectory Through Anarchism" the reader learns how Trevor became a retired anarchist - perhaps much like I became a retired stoner - it just didn't do the trick for him anymore. "Where are the older anarchists in a movement that started in the 19th Century? And what has anarchism done... ever?" (p 35)
Well.. I'm the 1st to say that I'm an anarchist now & then until it becomes too oppressive (on a related note, "Neoism Now & Then!" is one of my slogans) but I think Trevor's complaint here says more about his social milieu than it does about 'reality'. When I realized I was an anarchist as a 16 yr old in the suburbs of Baltimore in 1970 or thereabouts, I didn't know a single other anarchist of any age. I was isolated from such things.
However, there probably was an older anarchist scene that existed that, even after I learned about it, I never did interface w/ to any productive extent. There was "Research Group One", "The Great Atlantic Radio Conspiracy" & the magazine called "Social Anarchism". I have the 1st issue of the latter - it's from the Winter of 1980. As such, maybe these folks weren't from a different generation after all. The editors are listed as Carol Ehrlich & Howard J. Ehrlich, the mailing address in a familiar BalTimOre neighborhood that I was often in. &, yet, I never met the Ehrlichs, as far as I can recall, & only peripherally knew one of their associates who I crossed paths with in Chicago for the 1986 Haymarket Centennial.
I listened to their radio show at least partially at least once, I read one of their Research Group One publications, & at least the 2 issues of Social Anarchism that I had. I remember finding these 2 issues dreadfully dull, not full of the rebellious anarchist life that I embraced. I remember writing a note & mailing it to them endorsing the chaos that I felt more natural for the anarchy I was living & criticizing their academic stodginess. I remember proposing a collaboration to their associate at the Haymarket Centennial & having him try to diplomatically tell me 'Wild Men Need Not Apply'. Looking at the list of contributors to Social Anarchism, I've never heard of ANY of these people. Were they an older crowd? I think, probably yes. Just as Trevor never met older anarchists so I never met these folks - but they were out there - even if they weren't out there. Curious about how old they actually were in 1980, I looked up the Ehrlichs online.
"Howard Ehrlich is an American sociologist and anarchist activist. Formerly a professor at University of Iowa, he was co-founder of Research Group One that conducted research on behalf of activist organizations in the US. Subsequently, he co-founded a collective that produced a successful radio program called the Great Atlantic Radio Conspiracy, a free school, and started a peer-reviewed journal called Social Anarchism.
"Today, Ehrlich is director of the Prejudice Institute, which studies ethnoviolence." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Ehrlich
Interestingly, "Research Group One", "Great Atlantic Radio Conspiracy", "Social Anarchism", "Prejudice Institute", & "ethnoviolence" are all red links in this Wikipedia entry - links identified as "(page does not exist)". As for Carol Ehrlich? I find no Wikipedia entry for her at all. I do find references to a 1977 text by her entitled "Socialism, anarchism and feminism". 1977 was also the yr I published my 1st bk so maybe we're not that far apart in age after all - maybe 5 or 10 yrs at the most? Trevor was born in 1965 or 1966. I was born in 1953. I suppose that makes me one of the "older anarchists" that Trevor didn't find (although, of course, he DID know me but probably thought of me as closer to his own generation).
As for "And what has anarchism done... ever?" Well.. there are those who claim that anarchists have organized amongst ourselves internationally throughout our entire history, that anarchists have been important in labor struggles, that anarchists have been a thorn in the side of capitalist spectacles like the various G-__s, that anarchists started & continue to run the free food program "Food Not Bombs", that anarchists have created many prisoner support programs, etc..
Here in Pittsburgh, anarchists started "Free Ride", a volunteer-run & community-friendly bicycle facility; anarchists started "The Big Idea", a volunteer-run bk & coffee shop; anarchists started "Book 'Em", a volunteer-run bks-to-prisoners program; anarchists bring social justice issues to the forefront thru protesting & even more protesting; & anarchists publish enormous amts of texts putting forth alternate philosophy.. - wch is something that one wd expect Trevor Blake to respect more.. given that that's what's he doing! So Trevor & I part ways there.
Nonetheless, I can't entirely disagree w/ any criticism of Anarchism. After all, as w/ any social mvmt, there're bound to be people involved who're more along for the ride, more along to shoot their mouths off & to look like they're so cool they see thru all the bullshit - who're actually just poseurs who are just bullshitting themselves. Despite this, the sheer mass of people involved, even superficially, w/ social justice mvmts are liable to stimulate change by virtue of the quantity - even when the quality gets reduced to subcultural conformism & pretense.
In the same chapter, Trevor writes:
"2005: the imp of the perverse continues to slip books into My hand, emboldened by the importance I place on reading one's critics gained by My reading of Popper. Nothing seems more important than finding critics who will point out errors in My thinking-friends who think like I do never will. read extensively about right wing politics and pay more attention to mainstream politics. All houses poxed long ago. That being said, when a fact or idea rings true I don't turn up My nose if the source is otherwise unpleasant." - p 38
I think that's sound critical practice. I vaguely remember a Montel Williams tv show that featured a selection of white supremacists - no doubt such whitesploitation was both good for ratings-thru-sensationalism & an opportunity to make the supremacists look foolish. A black talk show host presents white racists - fire away at these sitting ducks, folks! Now I think any sort of racial supremacism is idiotic & socially harmful so my sympathies were hardly w/ the Aryan Nations types. Nonetheless, after one of the white racists was criticized for being a nazi by a black member of the audience, he countered w/ asking that audience member if he supported a separate black nation. When this black man replied affirmatively, the white nazi then told him that he was a BLACK NAZI. I had to agree - but I think very few of my so-called 'peers' wd have the audacity to do so out of fear of being tarred w/ the same brush. A truly Free Thinker can agree w/ someone about one thing & disagree about many others - still maintaining their position as an individualist.
In 1978, a revolutionary communist friend of mine wd always talk to me about music. Given that he saw me as a punk, he always asked me what I thought about The Clash. I explained that I listened to experimental classical music & found most punk music quite boring to listen to. That just didn't compute. A stereotype projected by a friend trying to deindividualize me in favor of a convenient political pigeonhole was no more welcome than any of the other stereotype projecting that I was bombarded w/ by 'forces of reaction'. I'm an individual, I don't have to conform to the commonalities of even the subcultures I'm on generally friendly terms w/. What am I listening to right now? Elie Siegmeister's "Concerto for Flute and Orchestra" - it's not that amazing but I'm the only person I know who wd even listen to it in the 1st place to form such an opinion. I like his "Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra" better.
Then we come to "Co-Remoting with the Thunderous", the chapter about Me (or, wait, is "Me" Trevor? These things are so confusing). The title is the last half of the last phrase of the 1st edition of a bk of mine called <u>Telepathy Receptivity Training</u>, the full phrase is: "DILATING WITH THE PHYSICAL, CO-REMOTING WITH THE THUNDEROUS". The bk consists of phrases thought of while starting to wake up. I like that he chose this as the title of his article. Trevor begins it w/:
"There is no context for the man whose name is tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE. tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE calls himself a mad scientist, a neoist, a SubGenius-Tim Ore, Karen Elliot, Monty Cantsin-a krononaut. One of the many publications by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE was titled DDC#040.002-dewey decimal classification number 0 (generalities) 4 (not used) 0 (no subject) 0 (miscellany)... just as a book with this dewey decimal classification number would stand entirely apart from all other books, so does tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE stand entirely apart from all other people." - p 39
Ok, that's about as bombastically flattering as it gets &, Lardy Knows!, I can use an ego-boost right about now in my 'golden yrs' when I'm not so much hated, as I was when I was younger, as I am shunned &/or ignored (&, no doubt, lied about by cowardly poseurs who fancy themselves my 'peers' who I find completely undeserving of such a designation). Still, tho, at the risk of deflating some of this entertaining absurdity, I do not "stand entirely apart from all other people" no matter how much I've gone out on a limb to reject the majority's ignorant & nasty repression of the imagination brought into 'real' life. That sd, just the sheer quantity of times that Trevor drops "tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE" into the text is probably enuf to drive some people mad & it's a textual strategy that I find very amusing in its overkill.
"tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE has appeared in public wearing a shirt that reveals his chest. It is not a normal chest, but one with six small Lupa-teats." - p 40
You can see the 6 tits in question in the photograph taken by CacaNadian filmmaker John Porter accompanying the April 24, 1986 entry here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1986.html . The story behind this is that my friend Eugenie Vincent had a job as a fashion model modeling jeans. For the ad, this chest-piece was made from her breasts, maybe by the guy who made masks for some "Planet of the Apes" movie or another (I don't remember exactly). She was shown bending over w/ the brand of the jeans showing on their ass & w/ the teats also showing. She was on a 'hill' w/ the image of Rome burning in the background. I think it was supposed to be a reference to Romulus & Remus or some such. As I recall, the ad was banned or withdrawn b/c it was considered to be in bad taste (or whatever). That wd've been in the early 1980s. Eugenie & I both thought that was pretty funny. She probably gave me the 6 tits when we crossed paths in London & Paris in 1984 around the time of the 8th International Neoist Apartment Festival. I sewed the tits onto a short-sleeved sweatshirt & wore it probably mostly on my "6 Fingers Crossed-Country T.Ore/Tour" in 1986. The latex eventually decayed & I probably threw the 6 teats away. I miss them.
I've previously criticized one of Trevor's bks as being beset by typos. This one's almost typo-free. Here's an exception: "a shoulder bag made from a moon globe with a leather shoulder stras and a hinged opening (made for him by John Sheehan)." Of course, "stras" shd be "strap". Hi out there John Sheehan if you shd happen to stumble across this review while ego-surfing. Hope you're doing well.
It's a great pleasure for me to read someone else telling stories about things I've done that I, too, think are special & worth telling about - but, then, of course, since I know the details better than anyone else, I tend to get a bit caught up in correction-mentality. Trevor tells the story about me being a seeing-eye 'dog' for my legally blind companion Gail Litfin in late May 1984. Unlike most people, I don't confine my imagination to fictionalized tellings of a story, I make it actually happen. Oddly, to me at least, this is precisely what makes people hostile to much of it - they seem to consider imagination's 'proper place' to be in the creation of fiction - making it real is either something they can't believe in (largely b/c they think everyone else is as cowardly & dishonest as they are) or b/c they can only accept fantasy b/c it's safer - life still goes on 'normally' in its drearily 'secure' (is it Maximum Security?) way.
Here's the link to a movie of this "Neoist Guide Dog" action as filmed in super-8 by neoist Pete Horobin: http://youtu.be/vM92UGWzMPM . Another neoist has deliberately added to the Great Confusion by creating a 2nd Neoist Guide Dog movie decades later that impersonates my 1st one: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HesTFLe4EUk . As far as the crawling-around-on-all-fours-in-a-public-place goes, this was also NOT fiction - but its historical placement is fiction. For those of you interested in details, the song used for the soundtrack, "Hamburger Lady", was by Throbbing Gristle & had lyrics derived from a letter to Genesis P. Orridge by "Blaster" Al Ackerman about a burn victim under his care as a burn nurse in the 1970s. That's the tie-in both to neoism (b/c Blaster was a proto-neoist or a "Sal Mineoist" as he liked to say) & to the actual circumstances of the movie since the woman leading around the 'guide dog' is from Hamburg in Germany.
Trevor continues by saying that "A videotape from the same European expedition has a nude tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE wearing a Donald Duck mask to increase the animal appearance as tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE communes with the seals on the coast of Scotland." (p 42) Correction-mode kicks in to state that this was actually 4 yrs later. I was in Scotland largely for another neoist festival, The Festival of Non-Participation, again organized by Pete Horobin. This is another true story & the movie of it can be witnessed here: http://youtu.be/oBBjSe3REHA . Yes, this is how I've lived my life.. & don't tell me: 'My friends & I do stuff like that' b/c you don't, you'd be lying.
"In December 1979 tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE and several collaborators took two boxes of live crabs to a shopping mall in Baltimore, Maryland, wher Santa Claus was meeting children. Prior to arrival they had tied the arms and legs of plastic babies to the crabs' backs. They released the crabs around Santa's cottage and stood back, watching the reaction of the crowd that gathered around the confused and weak crabs." - pp 42-43
Yep, another true story. The super-8 footage from it is pretty crummy so I've never bothered to put it online but you can read the December 22, 1979 descriptive entry, complete w/ some fotos, here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1979.html . My collaborator Gayle Hanson deserves more credit for this than I do but I was also in the thick of it.
"Using stencils, tentatively, a convenience initiated 'folk math' on the walls of public buildings in Baltimore." (p 43) Also true - altho the term "Folk Math" probably originated w/ Kirby Malone.
More remarkable than the paltry mistakes that Trevor makes from time to time ( a typo of "wsa" instead of "was" on p 44) are what he gets right - viz: things that just about everybody else in the world seems unable to wrap their head around: "The most common mistake made by those attempting to classify tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE is that he is an 'artist.' tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE understands art and has created art, but he is not an artist. tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE has used paint, film, video, sound and words in his research, but the process of the research and its results are science. tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE's attention to detail, tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE's willingness to carry out the research far beyond any hope of personal gain or safety, and the quality of his documentation, give credence to the title tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE gives tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE: mad scientist." (pp 44-45) THANK YOU, TREVOR BLAKE: for once I don't have go thru my explanatory blah-blah here. Trevor has actually been paying attn - do people do that anymore? Or has the average attn span gotten so low that even a 2 sentence txt msg seems like an eternity?
"No fringe group will accept tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE-neither will any reputable institution. tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE has petitioned the international museum of the extreme, Ripley's Believe it or Not, to exhibit tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE. So far they have refused." - p 46
&, yes, back in the late 1970s as "Think Tank Tolson" I proposed to Ripley's that they put me on display & 2 friends of mine even visited the branch of the museum in San Francisco to promote me. I got a letter dated April 2, 1979 from an Ian Iljas, Assistant Manager, there that had this to say:
"Dear Think Tank,
"Two of your friends visited me sometime last month inquiring about your proposal. they were with Merzaum (Labs?) and doing a program here in San Francisco. I told them we are not able to accomodate your request due to lack of available space or funds but that we would pass word of your offer to our other museums at the annual manager's meeting (March 26-30th). Unfortunately, our San Francisco manager did not have the time to make the proposal at the meeting.
"I suggest you write several of our museums back east closer to your residence in Baltimore (we have a museum in Ocean City, Maryland) and make your suggestions. Your friends recommended you highly, mentioning other "unusual" events you have staged such as the human book ends. Perhaps it would be best to support your offer with articles and/or flyers of things that you have staged in the past to support the seriousness of your offer lest they think it be a prank as we had.
"I'm sorry to have been of little help and cannot comply with your suggestion here at this location in San Francisco but wish you luck with our other locations."
The dating gets a bit confused after that. I apparently wrote to the Ocean City branch. In a letter dated "October 16, 1978" a woman named Patty Sanford replied:
"Your message received,
Its intent not completely perceived.
Do you intend,
the case to crawl in
Or is it only attention you crave."
I must've written back to her & then got a 2nd reply dated "Nov. 28, 1978":
"Your proposal is rather "far out" but then, Ripley's has made a business of "far -- out" things.
"Let's get down to business: if you are serious, send us a detailed proposal. Include cost to us, space required, time schedules, etc. We need this before sending anything to our Headquarters for consideration."
The dating discrepancy in the letters confuses things for me. The envelope that I have this material in that originated from the Ocean City Ripley's is postmarked "Dec13'79" - therefore, it's most logical to conclude that Sanford put the wrong yr down on both of her letters - odd, especially for an "assistant manager" (as her letters identified her) but not completely improbable.
What happened after that I don't know. I don't appear to have any copies of any further correspondence. It's likely that as a 26 yr old I felt incapable of providing any sort of realistic business proposal. On the other hand, as a 26 yr old I WAS capable of juggling 5 different lovers (one of whom I lived w/) & working for a living as well as partying almost constantly AND producing work at a prodigious rate - at this time I wd've been working on my very meticulous "Mediumistic Projection of Heinrich Welz's Lines of Force" piece that can be seen & downloaded as a PDF in a form made for POSTED #4 available here: http://english.umn.edu/joglars/posted/issues/POSTED4/01_TENT.PDF . I spent about 8 hrs a day for 2 mnths making that around this time. THEN I got herpes, wch seemed 'tragic' at the time. So, maybe between the 5 girlfriends, the herpes, the job, the heavy partying, & Heinrich Welz I just let the Ripley's proposal slide into oblivion - or maybe I wrote them again & never got a reply b/c what I wrote seemed too flaky. Lardy knows what I'd already written to them was so bizarre that it's a surprise that they were as friendly as they were. Good onya meatey!
The point here, other than disclosing for the 1st time this history in such detail is that Ripley's was actually very nice about it all & didn't "refuse" me - although I might have unintentionally misled Trevor to think that at some point. I also want to correct Trevor's statement that ""No fringe group will accept tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE-neither will any reputable institution." As he adds (at my prompting) at the end of the paragraph: "(Actually, as of 2013, he works for museums for a living.)" (p 46) SO, if museums are "reputable institution"s, wch I reckon most people think they are, they've sortof accepted me in all sorts of ways. Shit, I've even had work exhibited in museums in Baltimore, Barcelona, Kuala Lumpur, NYC, Pittsburgh, & Shanghai (amongst many other places).
As for the "fringe group"s: well.. I just got a very friendly letter from one De Villo Sloan announcing that I've rc'vd the "Order of the Tangerine Mink". What more cd I ask for?! But, HEY!, lest you think that's all, here're some of my other affiliations:
nuclear brain physics surgery's cool founder & graduate
Church of the SubGenius Santa
talent scout for Olfactories Organized
S.S.S.B.ite (Secret Society for Strange Behaviour -ite)
A.S.S.S.B. (Anti-Secret Society for Strange Behaviour Asshole Son-of-a-Bitch)
member of the I.S.C.D.S. (International Stop Continental Drift Society)
1 time supporter of the ShiMo Underground
Ballooning One in the Fructiferous Society
founder & president of the N.A.A.M.C.P.
(National Association for the Advancement of Multi-Colored Peoples)
co-founder of the S.P.C.S.M.E.F.
(Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Sea Monkeys by Experimental Filmmakers)
Borderline Kneelite in the KNEEHIGHS GANG
emphatic member of the No-No Class
Street Rat Liberation Front
Money Against Capitalism
Info Desk PGH
Ok, so I founded or cofounded most of those groups - at least I let myself join too.
One of the more imaginative flights of fancy that Trevor takes in this chapter is where he speculates: "What evidence is there that tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE comes from the future? tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE has in the past affiliated himself with the Krononautic Society, an international and informal society of time travelers." (pp 46-47) If I've come from the future & am traveling back to it just by living, am I back to the time that I came from yet? B/c if I am I want my younger body back!
I'm truly grateful that someone has finally written something so thorough & appreciative about my life & work. Fuck!, he even mentions "Mike Film" - one of my all-time favorite projects that's mostly been overlooked. THANK YOU! Nonetheless, one 'shortcoming' about the article is that it basically only covers up to 1990 when I cofounded a used bks store called "Normal's" wch still exists to this day. I've lived quite the life in the 24 yrs since then.
The next chapter is called "Multiple Name Identities". 1st quibble: even tho "multiple names" is the most commonly used descriptive for the subject under discussion, I prefer "Collective Identity" as much more accurate. That sd, the chapter starts off swimmingly:
"Multiple name identities are co-incarnations, shared pseudonyms, individuals who exist in more than one body at the same time.
"A few multiple name identities are found in academia. Nicholas Bourbaki has written several influential papers on mathematics since 1935. A number of men were Nicholas Bourbaki. The theologian Franz Bibfeldt was also a number of men.
"Most multiple name identities are found in literature. No one knows who wrote the 1930 book The Little Engine Who Could. The story is attributed to Watty Piper, which was the house name of publisher Platt & Munk. Many men and women wrote under the name Watty Piper." - p 49
Even tho I've been a prime mover in the Collective Identity biz since 1978 or so I've never heard of Bourbaki, Bibfeldt, or Piper. Thanks for that, Trevor - yr research appears to be extraordinary. "The author Wu Ming is several Italian men who have published books since 2000." (p 50) & I have one of them laying in my vast piles of stuff-I-shd-really-read-by-people-I-at-least-know-slightly. Hasn't happened yet. Will I live long enuf?!
"Some multiple name identities are found in cinema. Since 1968, films which the director wishes to distance himself from are attributed to Alan Smithee. The Internet Movie Database lists more than seventy titles attributed to Alan Smithee." - p 50
I think I learned about Alan Smithee from my friend Johnny Evans who went out to Hollywood to work in the movie biz. He told me that people who worked on porn movies wd use the name to avoid having their reputations tarnished. On IMDB I don't find the info Trevor mentions but I find this very interesting story instead:
"'Alan Smithee' is a common pseudonym for directors whose film was clearly taken away from her/him and recut heavily against her/his wishes in ways that completely altered the film.
"The Directors Guild contract generally does not permit a director to remove her/his name from films. The Directors Guild has been striving for decades to establish the director as the "author" of a film, and part of getting the credit for the successes is taking the blame for the failures. The only exceptions they make are cases in which a film was clearly taken away from a director and recut heavily against her/his wishes in ways that completely altered the film. Directors are required to appeal to the Guild in such cases. If the appeal is successful, their name is replaced by Alan Smithee. So if you notice a film directed by Alan Smithee, it is certain it is not what its director intended, and likely that it is not any good.
"- IMDb Mini Biography By: Alan Smithee
"Born in 1967, the same year he directed his first picture, Death of a Gunfighter (1969). Restricted by Directors Guild of America rules to certain "genres" of film, i.e., those on which the other directors have functioned, but from which they wish to be disassociated. Gained strong reviews for his initial film: "Sharply directed by Allen Smithee who has an adroit facility for scanning faces and extracting sharp background detail", (New York Times); "Smithee's direction keeps the action taut and he draws convincing portrayals from the supporting cast", (Variety). His oeuvre extends over a wide range of topics and styles, usually with only one unifying factor between projects: the refusal of other directors to put their name to the work. Although idle speculation has given birth to the rumor that his stage name derives from an anagram of "The Alias Men", in actuality it grew out of a decision that this particular stage name should be so individual that no other person would ever be likely to appear whose name matched that of Smithee. Although Smith, then Smithe, were considered, eventually it was decided that a second "e" would guarantee this individuality, and Smithee has functioned under this name ever since. Although his first name is occasionally misspelled "Allen", the name Alan Smithee has come to represent a unique vision in American film.
"- IMDb Mini Biography By: George Spelvin"
A lesser known Alan Smithee movie is my own "Teenagers from Inner Space":
218. a. "Teenagers from Inner Space"
- dialog & plot swiped from the 1st 2 scenes of Tom Graeff's 1959 Teenagers from Outer Space
- shot at the "Refugee Camp" by the "Fence" on CMU's campus in Pittsburgh in solidarity w/ the Afghan refugees fleeing from the so-called "War on Terrorism"
- directing credited to Alan Smithee
- 1/2" VHS cassette
- december, 01
b. "Teenagers from Inner Space"
- w/ wipes & S/F/X added (thanks to Ron Douglas for the use of his computer)
c. "Teenagers from Inner Space"
- w/ titles added (thanks to Ron Douglas for the use of his computer)
"Rrose Sélavy was an artist and model in the 1920s, associated with a number of dadaists" (p 52) Well.. "Eros, c'est la vie" (Eros, that's life) was specifically Marcel Duchamp's cross-dressing identity. Robert Desnos wrote word-play referencing this identity inspired by Duchamp & a bk of these was eventually published under the name Rrose Sélavy - but, essentially, Rrose was Duchamp's baby.
Pp 52-53 get into the history of the 2 main neoist collective identities: Monty Cantsin & Karen Eliot. The 1st 2 paragraphs quoted from David Zack are taken from a mirror of the "Seven by Nine Squares" website put together by Florian Cramer around 1995. Trevor introduces these quotes by saying that "Monte Cantsin" 1st appeared in 1975.
I'm not sure where he got that date from but I think 1978 is more likely. That was when Istvan Kantor, the person who's done the most w/ the Monty Cantsin identity, moved from Hungary to Portland to join David Zack. According to Blaster Al Ackerman's history of this time Kantor started using the name Monty Cantsin then. In Zack's telling of it, as quoted by Blake, "I sent a card to Kantor in Montreal, you are Monty Cantsin, the open pop star... I have to assert what Kantor did with this simple postcard belongs in any history of art" (p 52) Kantor moved to Montréal after he lived in Portland. Having known Blaster & Zack both personally, I'd trust Blaster's memory more. Zack was a diabetic & tended to be, as Blaster put it to me, "other-worldly" - meaning, as I interpret it, a space-case.
While Monty Cantsin was always intended to be an Open Pop Star context usable by anyone, Kantor did so much using the name that he became possessive of it. As far as I recall, I was the 1st person that Cantsin/Kantor bestowed the name on other than himself during a ceremony at Des Refusés as part of the 5th International Neoist Apartment festival in NYC in March of 1982. While HannaH AvivA & I performed our "tENTATIVELY, a Skin Exchange" naked there, my blood was drawn & I defined neoism for the 1st time as "a prefix & a suffix w/ nothing in between" - something that's no doubt since been quoted & misquoted but wch I meant to mean by that neoism is a conceptual bracketing for open content & NOT a definition.
Trevor then quotes Stewart Home's historification of Karen Elliot & credits that name as having appeared in 1985. Stewart encountered the neoists in London at the 8th International Neoist Apartment Festival that happened in May, 1984. He'd seen an ad for the festival probably posted at the college he was attending by Monty Cantsin (Pete Horobin). He wd've just recently turned 22. He'd started a magazine named "SMILE" that, independently of neoism, operated along similar open context collective identity lines. He brought the brand-spanking-new 2nd issue to the APT Fest. It was done in the name of "The Generation Positive".
As a result of this encounter, by the 3rd issue (June 1984) of SMILE, "in this special issue dedicated solely to my own work we've replaced the words GENERATION POSITIVE with the word NEOISM. The two terms are interchangeable in terms of aesthetics although in terms of organization there is a certain difference." He also printed a Monty Cantsin piece in the issue. The neoists already had a widespread Mail Art network wch Stewart had been hitherto isolated from. As a result of this new alliance between Stewart & the rest of us, SMILE grew rapidly to include many issues created by many editors.
When I returned from England to BalTimOre after the APT Fest I immediately began promoting SMILE & sent out an invitation to participate in a Transparent SMILE assembling to be released the next yr, in 1985. I had the invitation translated from English into German, Italian, & Persian to try to make participation more international. I didn't actually have any correspondents who spoke Persian but since Iran was one of the US's main 'enemies' at the time it seemed appropriate to try doing outreach. Here's the complete text of the original invite:
"the concept of Monty Cantsin:
Monty Cantsin is a name chosen/invented by Monty Cantsin
to refer to an an international star who can be anyone.
the name is fixed, the people using it aren't.
what is usually an egotistical role ("star")
becomes abstracted by it's disassociation from a particular person
when someone thinks/feels that the star context/advantage might be useful
they can "wear" the Monty Cantsin identity.
"the concept of SMILE:
SMILE is a name chosen/invented by Monty Cantsin
to refer to an international magazine with multiple origins.
the name is fixed, the type of magazines using it aren't.
the purpose of many different magazines using the same name
can be to experiment with creating a situation for which no one is responsible
- an organ of the Generation Positive from no one in particular.
as such, it plagiarizes postal art network commonpress magazines.
"the concept of White Colours:
White Colours is a name chosen/invented by Monty Cantsin
to refer to an international music group which can be any group.
the name is fixed, the groups using it aren't.
what is usually something that groups feel possessive of ("their names")
becomes a tool similar to the Monty Cantsin context.
"recently, there have been many complaints
from potential Monty Cantsin context users that the context
has been overly monopolized by one person
to the detriment of the concept that makes Monty Cantsin significant.
it is my opinion, as Monty Cantsin, that this monopolistic situation
is as much a product of the lack of use of the context by those complaining
as it is a product of the overuse & abuse of it by its main user & spokesperson.
"therefore, as an attempt to counteract this imbalance
i hereby propose an issue of SMILE magazine
which will consist entirely of portraits of Monty Cantsin
performing with White Colours
on a transparent material so that the resulting overlay in SMILE
will provide a composite portrait of Monty Cantsin & White Colours
in keeping with original concepts.
"so, i, Monty Cantsin, am requesting that you contribute 100 of said portraits
(requested size: approximately 8&1/2 X 11" or A4 or 21&1/2cm X 28cm)
on a transparent material - to be collated in the order received - by july '85.
all contributors will receive a copy.
contributions should be sent to:
SMILE magazine c/o Monty Cantsin & White Colours - box 382, balto., MD, 21203, us(a)"
23 Monty Cantsins, from 8 countries (US, Italy, West Germany, England, Belgium, Holland, Japan, & Canada), participated. The transparencies were attached together & stored in 2 liter plastic bottles that I made zipper-openable. A 16mm film was made w/ the contributions by 3 BalTimOre-based Monty Cantsins (tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE; Joan Lobell; Steve Estes) that can be witnessed broken into 2 parts on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here:
the 1st issue of Stewart's SMILEs that I find the name "Karen Eliot" in was #8 from mid-1985. The issue begins w/ an
"OPEN LETTER TO THE NEOIST NETWORK AND THE PUBLIC AT LARGE'
"As soon as I got back from the neoist festival in Ponte Nossa, Italy," [June 1-7, 1985] "I ceased to be a neoist and moved to Stoke Newington in North London. As an ironic gesture I named my new house Akademgorod. I felt it fitting that upon ceasing to be a neoist I should realize the six finger plan, the establishment of Akademgorod."
My interpretation of Stewart's invention of the Karen Eliot collective identity is that he wanted to both create a "multiple name" that wasn't associated w/ neoism (although it ended up being so anyway) & one that was a woman's named instead of a man's one to try to be less sexist. Given that Stewart was an ardent practitioner of what he sometimes called "neo-plagiarism" at the time, in the interests of participating in creating collective identity, he rewrote my Transparent SMILE proposal as quoted by Trevor thusly:
"Karen Eliot is a name that refers to an individual human being who can be anyone. The name is fixed, the people using it aren't. SMILE is a name that refers to an international magazine with multiple origins. The name is fixed, the types of magazines using it aren't. The purpose of many different magazines and people using the same name is to create a situation for which no one in particular is responsible and to practically examine western philosophical notions of identity, individuality, originality, value and truth." - p 53
Now, 36 yrs after the invention of Monty Cantsin & 29 yrs after the invention of Karen Eliot, these names are still in common use & can easily be found in multiple incarnations on such places as Facebook. Trevor goes on to quote Stewart as saying: "If one uses the context in personal life there is a danger that the name Karen Eliot will become over-identified with individual beings." (p 53) Apparently, this hasn't happened. Personally, for me, the collective identity thing was an exciting experiment for a decade or so but, in the long run, I prefer very distinctive individualists & am no longer much interested when a new collective identity, like Chus Martinez, crops up.
"Stewart Home, in turn, has seen publications under his own name that he did not write. these include the books Stone Circle, Harry Potter and the Quantum Time Bomb; and essays including "Anarchism is Stupid: How Luther Blissett Hoaxed Bakunin's Idiot Children," "Communism or Masochism? An Appeal to All Revolutionaries Concerning the Rubber Slave Larry O'Hara"" - p 54
Unravelling the hidden identities behind these multiple in-joke facades will no doubt be a source of great frustration & inaccuracy for future historians - if anyone cares. An anti-Larry O'Hara tract attributed to Home does catch my eye since Home apparently did have it in for O'Hara & did, at least as I recall, write anti-O'Hara material. Since I don't live in England & don't have substantial direct physical contact w/ those who do, I don't have much idea whether Larry O'Hara exists & if he's the conspiracy theorist that accuses Home of being a secret police asset. I suspect that much is true.
In late April or early May of 1996, a person purporting to be Larry O'Hara wrote me a letter attacking Stewart. On May 5, 1996, I replied & cc:ed the letter to Stewart & Florian Cramer & possibly others. I wanted my take on O'Hara's criticisms to be public so that I wdn't be involved in a clandestine back-stabbing campaign. I remember explaining to O'Hara that my own personal take on Stewart's defamatory practices was a negative one but saying that I think that calling him a government asset b/c he criticized anarchists & animal liberation & other green groups was an exaggeration. I'm no longer able to open the electronic version of the letter that I have saved. I can, however, open & fully quote Florian's reply to my letter wch I find very noteworthy & intelligently expressive of deeper neoist issues. I hope Florian doesn't object to my quoting his missive:
"thanks for sending me a copy of your letter to Larry O'Hara. As you know, I like "Stewart" very much, and I am one of his cruel critics. I guess you sent the text knowing that people could be friends even without agreeing about anything at all as long as their discourse keeps their wits up front. But the common ground below "Stewart" and me is not nearly as narrow.
"I certainly see that "Stewart" makes enemies - I have been pissed off enough to almost become one myself - but I do give him credit for being witty. That's perhaps what I most appreciate in "Stewart's" writing - even more than the fact that he is living in it in a way which illiterates will find difficult to follow.
"I still keep criticizing people who write about something they believe is "Neoism" while drawing all their knowledge from "Stewart's" historification. In most cases, they even read him unattentively enough to plainly confuse the early-1980s Neoist network with his late-1980s neo-situationist campaigns. "Stewart's" historification might be "inaccurate" and manipulative in the same way as all Neoist self-historification, or indeed any narrative, is "inaccurate" and manipulative. My point, however, is that this historification, which passed off Neoism as a semi-pop cultural "movement in the tradition of the 20th century artistic avant-garde," was the most stupid contextualization imaginable, tailor-made for conformist non-conformists, ready to be stacked in bookshelves next to "Re/search," "T.A.Z.," and "Apocalypse Culture." As such, it was predestined to become the only successful contextualization of Neoism it then factually became.
"That "Stewart" himself didn't witness most of what he passed off as the "history of Neoism" is perhaps the most amusing aspect of the game, all the more when he is credited as the "founder of the movement." As somebody who "became a Neoist" too late to even participate in any 1980s Apartment Festival at all, I prefer to consider "experience" and "linear time" epistemologically questionable. And it's exactly the weakest aspect of "Stewart's" historification that it reinforces and builds up on both notions, or at least on pretending their validity in order to pass off itself as "credible." Here, belief is certainly not supposed to play "the enemy." (If we neglect that "belief is the enemy" is a self-refuting statement - a predication that tricks us into assuming the identity of two unidentical signifiers, thus creating "belief" itself.)
"As somebody once and always doomed to be a "Neoast," I claim that "Neoasm," like anything else, is a construction. The specific quality of Neoast constructs - like "Monty Cantsin," "Akademgorod" or "Neoasm" itself - might be that they are regarded not as arbitrary, but as self-contained signs so that everything done with these signs immediately affects what they are supposed to represent. In the beginning, Neoism was nothing else but a fancy, a private system of symbols shared among a number of international players. The Neoast game was to ornament those symbols by inventing fables and allegories which could only be deciphered by insiders. Later on, perhaps through forgetfulness, this insider knowledge went lost, and the Neoasts were forced to re-invent it continually. The farthest-fetched interpretations were given until Neoism became an art of systematic contradictoriness, a self-refuting perpetuum mobile. Its great promise to willingly affect its universe ("anything is anything"), the sublime solemnity of its proclamations had an extraordinary impact on those unenlightened by critical thoroughness.
"As with any game, this game of ours is not one that everyone feels comfortable enough with to play. Sometimes, we ourselves might not feel comfortable either. Don't expect Gascoigne to play three-sided football, and don't expect everyone to play "Neoasm" the way you like. No matter what I think the particular flaws in "Stewart's" writing may be, or where I would prefer "Neoism" to be invisible where others turn on the spotlights, it were "Neoists" who realized that "names like all words are arbitrary."
""currently unknown as 'Florian Cramer'"
"Stewart Home", Istvan Kantor, John Berndt, Larry O'Hara, Luther Blissett"
The attentive reader will notice that Florian wrote "My point, however, is that this historification, which passed off Neoism as a semi-pop cultural "movement in the tradition of the 20th century artistic avant-garde," was the most stupid contextualization imaginable, tailor-made for conformist non-conformists, ready to be stacked in bookshelves next to "Re/search," "T.A.Z.," and "Apocalypse Culture."" & that I have included "Re/search", "T.A.Z.", "Apocalypse Culture", Stewart's "Assault on Culture" AND Florian's own "Anti-Media" all in the same lineage in this review. Florian might be rolling over in his grave - but he's still alive so he can't be.
Why? B/c while I still completely agree w/ Florian's "the most stupid contextualization imaginable, tailor-made for conformist non-conformists" & had already been saying as much for at least 3 yrs prior to this letter, I think it's too easy to write off "Re/search", "T.A.Z.", & "Apocalypse Culture" - I mean, I prefer giving credit where I see credit as being due. The editors of Re/Search were business people, they exploited culture that they liked by turning it into trends. Sometimes I was glad to see people like J. G. Ballard get more attn thru them, other times I was sorry to see "Modern Primitivism" turn into the idiocy of a fashion. Regardless, their "Industrial Culture Handbook" & "Pranks" exposed a wide public to intense work that wd've remained largely unknown otherwise & they did an excellent job of collecting it.
As for Hakim Bey's "T.A.Z." (& other such publications)? Yes, it presented catchy ideas that people cd latch onto but Bey is a friend of mine & the last time I saw him, in December of 2010, he was still one of the most lively & interesting people I know. At one point, a participant in the Luther Blissett project in Italy wrote me asking if I knew someone who cd write a good parody of a Hakim Bey bk for them to publish. They were so sick of the uncritical popularity of Bey bks in Italy that they wanted to prank the readership. I was asked if I thought Bob Black cd do a good job. I replied that Black cd do it but that he'd be so motivated by malevolence that I wdn't want to see it done - I didn't, & still don't, think Bey deserved such treatment. I'm not sure of the chronology but it might've been after this that they published a bk of Stalin quotes as a Bey bk. It's my understanding that Bey's Italian readership gobbled that up as uncritically as they had the previous Bey bks. They made their point nicely - but I don't think the problem lay w/ Bey as much as it did w/ his readers.
"Apocalypse Culture"? It suits Adam Parfrey's sensationalist publishing strategy to an extreme but that doesn't lessen the quality of the research that went into finding such outré materials. Out of all the bks I list in the lineage near the beginning of this review, my own "footnotes" is the one least likely to be co-opted by conformist non-conformists simply b/c there's nothing there that can be used by anyone to make themselves hip, there's nothing there for simple-minded people - not even an expression like "Anti-Media".
"The second-most influential multiple name identity is Anonymous. Anonymous began as an international meme around 2006. Anonymous is also the name of many individuals who have appeared in public. Inspired by a character in Alan Moore's V for Vendetta, Anonymous wears the mask of Guy Fawkes." - p 55
Trevor chooses to refer to a very specific manifestation of "Anonymous". Obviously, anonymous predates this. I, eg, organized the Anonymous Family Reunion in 1997 & published a bk & a movie about it. Feminists have been herstorifying "Anonymous was a woman" for quite awhile - but that's just their own self-defensive sexism given that both men & women have always had reasons to be anonymous. The conundrum of where ego boundaries stop is solved by simply declaring oneself to be everyone & to hope that the body politic's defenses don't expel you as a threatening foreign body.
The next chapter is "Lan Asalem! The Unique One Will Not Serve". Given that I consistently find religion to be the strongest enemy of intelligence & that Mohammedism & Christinanity are the leading contenders for shoving the masses down their respective roads into living hells, you're not going to find me arguing much w/ criticisms of Islam:
"The missives of Mohammed contain contradiction, which the Prophet resolved by making new statements which supplanted the prior (2:106, 16:101). Case in point: drinking wine is allowed (2:219) until it is disallowed (4:43). the Qur'an will tell you to not oppress others (42:42) and it will tell you to oppress others (2:1991-2). It will tell you not to compel others to be Muslims (2:256) and it will tell you to kill all non-Muslims (9:5). And all the while, "There is no changing the word of Allah" (10:64)." - pp 57-58
What? You want a consistency that's supposed to represent unalterable absolute truth w/ yr religion? Well, then, you must not be a very good religious believer then are you? B/c YR JOB is to speak only what you're told to say, to OBEY - &, most importantly, to KILL the people who disagree w/ 'you' - all in the name of charity & peace, of course. There's yr consistency for you.
"The I in "I" is not the I in Islam. Islam is submission, and the one wonders if slavery might be a better translation into English." (p 59) Especially considering that the Islamic world is still practicing slavery 150 yrs after the evil devil the USA, so understandably notorious for ever using it at all, abolished it. I wonder if even the slaves in Islam are Moslems?
"Pin back your hair and join me in pushing over the five pillars of Islam. I will not submit to Shahada, the declaration that there is only one God (Allah) and Mohammed is His Prophet. It's not that to do so would be a lie, but that it would be a tedious lie. I will not submit to Salat, daily prayers. There is no God, and if there were I'd trust Him to meet His own needs sans My supplication. I will not submit to Zakat, alms giving. Compulsory compassion is a poorly paradox. I will not submit to Sawm, ritual fasting. I have no sins to repent and am glad for my gluttony. Finally, I will not submit to the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. Seven circles of ring-around-the-meteorite isn't My idea of a good time." - p 60
Beware of people who 'submit': they're just waiting for their handlers to tell them that it's ok to tear you limb-from-limb. No responsibility guaranteed, no money back, no matter what. As for Mecca? I wdn't miss it OR the Vatican! How about a space program that sends them both off-planet & all the followers w/ it, a one-way ticket? I'm an anarchist & an atheist but I'm not proposing genocide for religious people - but I'm also certainly not going to endorse their proposals for genocide for me in the name of religious tolerance! There's no such thing as "religious tolerance" b/c religions are by their very nature hopelessly intolerant - regardless of any PR to the contrary:
"Muslims the world over are commanded to not have non-Muslim friends (3:118). Challenge accepted! Let me help you with that. I want nothing more than what Muslims want. Mufti Abdel Akhar Hammad said the following about Egypt's first flowering of the anarchist black bloc in 2013: "God orders us to kill, crucify or cut off the hands and feet of those who spread mischief on earth. The President must give that order." Finally, here is one especially significant set of sutras that this kufar shirks, Muslims are compelled to kill me (2:191-2, 2:193b, 4:89, 4:91) while I am free to refrain from replying in kind." - pp 63-64
Does killing, crucifying, & dismembering qualify as 'spreading mischief'? - b/c, if it does, it seems like Allah has got to be the 1st to go ASAP. After all, no harm is done that way b/c he's just a figment of a malevolent imagination.
Blake is willing to tackle the BIG PICTURE. In "Infinite Material Universe" he writes:
"The universe is the sum of all the partially-overlapping and contradictory regions of space and time. What is impossible in one time and place is common in another time and place. Infinite possibilities includes those possibilities where what is possible in one region and impossible in another will overlap. The marvelous will meet the mundane. Gradually. Suddenly. Just once. Today, tomorrow." - p 73
"Society can't run fast enough across a million miles to shout in your face that you aren't yourself. Everyone and everything is responsible for your behavior except you.
"If you're acting weird you must be high. If you're acting normal you must be suppressing a feeling. If you're sexually attracted to this kind of person you must have a hatred for that kind of person. If you live here you must not like people who live there. If you are an atheist you must have met a bad theist. If you believe in God you must be unable to accept your mortality. If you're rich (or poor) you must live in a capitalist country. If you're a criminal you must have been deprived." - p 75
I think Trevor's being a bit too sweeping here for dramatic effect but, still, point taken. "If you're acting weird you must be high.": John Ellsberry made a time-lapse movie once filming from a 3rd floor window in a house we both lived in. I was acting in it by walking in slow motion on the sidewalk opposite his vantage point. I then climbed a tree in slow-motion. The idea was that in the finished film I'd appear to be moving at normal speed while cars & other people wd rush by. Climbing a tree in slow-motion is hard. In typical Baltimore fashion, as i was doing this, a pick-up truck driver stopped & shouted out: "What drugs are you on?!" Nyuk, nyuk. Of course, there's only one explanation for morons: the one most hostile & reductive to the people who dare to be different. Patiently explaining what I was doing did no good, as was to be expected, the driver certainly wasn't going to turn his head to look at the cameraman - his sole purpose was to degrade, learning was out of the question.
Not only are we talking about evasion of responsibility, we're talking about projection of stereotypes. On a social networking site that I participate in, a neighborhood friend asked if anyone knew anyone willing to do a small floor finishing job. I replied that I was once a professional floor finisher, that I don't do it anymore for love or for money but that I'd be willing to help him rent equipment & to show him how to do it himself as a favor. Shortly thereafter, on a different social network, a 'friend' was also asking her friends in general for floor finishing advice there. I replied again by saying that I was once a professional floor finisher & that I cd give her advice. Someone who didn't know me immediately sd that, yeah, I cd give her advice: <i>to hire a professional floor finisher, nudge, nudge</i>. 3 people immediately 'liked' his cynicism - ha ha! they 'saw thru' my capitalist motives. Since I hate floor finishing & consistently turn down offers of such work, NO, drumming up work for myself wasn't my intention. What the cynic didn't see was that he was just commenting on his own foul reflection - since he wd never do anything free for anyone else, I, obviously wdn't either. At least that's the way I read it.
"So You Want to Meet an Alien?
The Skin Horse and Other Works by Nabil Shaban":
"Documentaries on the disabled can be difficult to watch. Not in the sense of such films being ugly. Documentaries can be difficult to watch because one simply can't find them." - p 78
Point #1: Forget any delusions you have about everything being available thru the internet. There is still information so obscure it's not there - &, maybe, its obscurity is part of what makes it so valuable.
"The Skin Horse, Channel 4 (formerly Central Television, UK) commissioned Nabil Shaban and Nigel Evans to make the 1982 film but Channel 4 does not sell it. No one sells it, not legally. Worldcat does not list it as existing in the interlibrary loan system. Exactly one private library in the world has it in their collection." - p 79
Point #2: How will you even form an opinion about whether it's valuable or not if you never even have the chance to witness it?
"The Skin Horse is a documentary by and about disabled people and their sex lives. Not their secret longing and private thoughts, although these are part of the film. This is a documentary about sex, sex among the disabled and the able." - p 79
Point #3: Trevor Blake goes that extra mile to find the obscure thing so that he can know its content so he can have an opinion about it. Presumably he chose the word "disabled" instead of something like "differently abled" b/c he thought that was accurate & saw no need to recount inaccurately.
"The Skin Horse was where I first learned of Nabil Shaban, and I hope that this review can draw more attention to this singular work. But Shaban has done much more, prior to and since The Skin Horse. He has many stage, film and television credits to his name, some of which are listed below. He was part of the CRASS Collective and in 1980 co-founded the Graeae Theater. Shaban is an artist, an author, an animator, a director, an actor and a musician. He was the capitalist villain Sil on Dr. Who. He is a father." - p 85
Point #4: As far as I can remember, I'd never heard of Shaban before. Now I'll look out for things by him. I'm grateful for a new tip to an active mind & body. Maybe you'll look out for him too. If you weren't a seeker you probably wdn't be reading this review.
"Thank you to Nabil Shaban for opening many doors, taking many risks and thumbing your nose at heresy.
"Nabil Shaban: http://www.sirius-pictures.co.uk/
Outsiders Club: www.outsiders.org.uk" - pp 85-86
"Why Should I Speak of Them?
The Strange Lives of Those who
Sell Books to Those who Love Books":
"I had the great good fortune to be a used and rare book dealer in one of the best book cities of the world, Portland Oregon. The store I worked at that had the highest concentration of characters was surrounded on three sides by bars and was only two blocks from a rehabilitation clinic. Across the street was an atheist community center (where, in another incarnation of the building, the Kingsmen recorded "Louie, Louie"). There were a steady stream of homeless people at the store, usually content to find a book and read in one of the back rooms for the day." - p 87
I, too, worked in the used bkstore business. One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to go to used bkstores. I ALWAYS find something interesting that I'm less likely to find in the stores in my hometown. I worked for a used bkstore chain for 4 yrs & got unfairly fired. The same person who had me fired was the ex-girlfriend of a friend of mine. He had hired her. After they broke up, she connived to have him fired & put her current boyfriend in his place. She also connived to get the bk searcher fired. She put her brother in her place. After wreaking havoc in the bk world for a while she moved on to the corporate world where I'm sure she fit right in.
The 2 of us who were fired went on to start our own bkstore, Normal's, in BalTimOre. The chain bkstore that we'd been fired from lost that branch not too long after b/c instead of having honest eccentrics like myself who knew bks the owner hired dishonest sycophants like the girl who got us fired who didn't know bks & who cdn't run the business. Poetic Justice. Normal's is still going strong 24+ yrs later. I love stories like the ones Trevor tells, I can relate.
"The Nazi pushed a shopping cart full of Harlequin Romance paperbacks into the store and asked if I could buy them. I think they had just come out of the Willamette River-they were not just damp, but leaving a trail of water behind the cart." - p 88
"Another person had decorated his yellow and white striped shirt to read: "I AM THE FREAK/WOMEN CUT OFF MEN'S PENISES TO MAKE THEM ALL EUNICS." I have never seen a more androgynous person." - pp 88-89
Have you ever seen Niklas Sven Vollmer's 1994 "Roughly Cut" documentary? It's about the circumcision of babies, done mainly by women, & the resultant mutilation that the doc-maker was subjected to. What if the "androgynous person" described above was the victim of one of these 'nurturing' nazis? What if his penis really was cut off in a botched circumcision? Mightn't that make a person mentally unbalanced?
"Book collectors and dealers have also stumped Me with their requests. One day a middle-aged man and his younger colleague came up to the counter and said "I only have one question for you: pigeons."" - p 89
I knew a collector who didn't appear to be interested in reading the bks he collected, He just bought every pirate bk & every torture bk he cd find. Why? Was he taking them out of circulation? Was he just obsessed?
"Inspired by what I have found in books, I have left a note or two of My own. On the back of a photograph of a young couple I wrote "I KILLED THESE TWO PUT THEM IN A HOLE IN CANYON PASSAGE" and stuck it back in [..] a book along with a postcard from Canyon Passage. I won't be around to see the reaction when that little treasure is found, but I can imagine..." - p 91
Don't believe everything you read.
"Triumph of the Wilt
How Weaklings, Whiners and Worriers Wreck the World"
Here's where Blake really sticks his neck out for the politically correct chopping block. I like him for this, he's a Free Thinker, he dares to say things that his hypothetical peer group will probably be offended by - probably not to offend but b/c this is what he thinks, so there.
"It's past time to stop giving passive aggressive a pass. Let us isolate and excise those who pretend to be weak and oppressed as a means of weakening and oppressing others." - p 92
Is there such a type? I think so. But do they "Wreck the World"? Not IMO, they just contribute to dysfunctionality, usually deviously, since doing anything upfront goes contrary to the way of the sniveler. Think of the related Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: "MSP most often occurs with mothers-although it can occur with fathers-who intentionally harm or describe non-existent symptoms in their children to get the attention given to the family of someone who is sick. A person with MSP uses the many hospitalizations as a way to earn praise from others for her devotion to the child's care, often using the sick child as a means for developing a relationship with the doctor or other health care provider. The adult with MSP often will not leave the bedside and will discuss in medical detail symptoms and care provided as evidence that he or she is a good caretaker. If the symptoms go away in the hospital, they are likely to return when the caretaker with MSP is alone with the child or elderly parent." ( http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/factitious_disorders/hic_munchausen_syndrome_by_proxy.aspx )
"A shibboleth for the sympathy sect is the claim if someone suffered, they were in the right. Everybody loves a martyr when it's someone else. A demographic over-represented in prisons compared to their percentage in the general population, therefore they must be the target of bias. That is the easier explanation than thinking they commit more crimes. Ladies are limited in leveling up the labor ladder, therefore the bad boys are bothering them. That is the more rational reason than suggesting women want men's pay without doing men's work." - p 93
Do I agree w/ all the above? Hardly! But I don't completely disagree w/ all of it either. "A demographic over-represented in prisons compared to their percentage in the general population, therefore they must be the target of bias." From my perspective, it's a little hard to accurately deny that poor people are more likely to end up in prison, that if you're rich you can pay for the lawyers who can pull the rigamarole to get you off regardless of how guilty you are. Did OJ Simpson kill his wife & her friend? I don't see anyone else being arrested for it.
Furthermore, I think its hard to accurately deny that the privilege that buys immunity to imprisonment tends to exist more in the community w/ the longest history of successful conquering thru brutality &, yes folks, that just happens to be people of upper class European heritage in the good ole USA. I don't think the slaves who were brought to the US went on to oppress Native Americans after they were freed.
Try thinking of it this way: British aristocrats take away the commons & declare them their private parks. Hunting on the lands, wch the poor might've previously been reliant on, becomes criminalized as poaching. The poor continue hunting, they become criminalized, they get punished by being exported to the colonies as indentured servants. Yes, they committed more crimes but they didn't invent the laws that made them crimes.
People who're in prison are rarely or never the people who make the laws. Isn't that a form of bias? It's easy to not break the laws when you either make the laws that you don't 'need' to break to survive or that you won't be imprisoned under if you do break them. Isn't that bias?
"Ladies are limited in leveling up the labor ladder, therefore the bad boys are bothering them. That is the more rational reason than suggesting women want men's pay without doing men's work."
Depends on where you are. I work in an environment where women are often better pd for doing intellectual labor & men are stuck w/ the physical work, the work that the women aren't actually physically strong enuf to do. Does that mean the men aren't qualified to do the intellectual work? Not at all - in fact they may be more qualified to do <i>both</i> jobs but they're also more likely to get stuck w/ the menial one unless they've bought their way into the ruling elites thru some other means. It's not like that everywhere, tho. It seems undeniable to me that there are plenty of oppressive patriarchies. It's also undeniable that there're oppressive matriarchies. But people WILL deny the latter & that's where the type of dishonest manipulator that Trevor's complaining about will come into play.
"All whites are racist, all men are rapists, so each individual black and woman is owed something." - p 94
This is all a can of worms, maybe even a can of worm ouroboroses, maybe even a can of dragons. In a logical situation, false syllogisms are easily recognized. But most people aren't logical & it's probably not even 100% desirable for people to always be logical. I've experienced entirely too much racism from blacks - but some political activists 'inform' me that it's not racism in that case. Apparently it's not racist for a black male to inform my white girlfriend that all white males are child molesters. How cd I be so stupid? When I say I'm anti-racist it doesn't just mean that I'm against racism against other people, I'm against racism against myself too - saying "All whites are racist" is racist.
It's very convenient to include yrself in a demographic that's always right. All women are feminists, all women know women better than men do, therefore all men are wrong & anti-feminist if they disagree w/ any woman on subjects relevant to women. That's as convenient as religion! But not all women are feminists & there needs to be criteria to evaluate the validity of argumentation that's agreeable to both sides of the argument or the argument will never be resolved in a diplomatic way - & that's tricky as fuck, isn't it?!
As for "all men are rapists"? If one were to make the potentially biologically supportable claim that an erect penis is a tool for penetration & that penetration is inevitably an act of aggression does that make all men rapists? What about impotent men? Are they rapists too even if they can't get it up? I'm reminded of an ex-girlfriend of mine who posted a list of every male on campus at the University of Maryland College Park campus back in the early 1990s. She posted the list publicly in various places w/ the heading "Potential Rapists". I actually thought that was pretty funny - but, then, she was a friend of mine & I knew she was half-serious & half-joking, half just trying to fuck w/ people, trying to stir up controversy.
Now, rape is not my idea of a good time. Anything non-consensual is not my idea of a good time. But if we're going to call all men rapists what are we going to call women w/ rape fantasies? Rapist enablers? Are there biological urges that're deeper than the way they get contextualized in social situations that're in denial? Most feminists will probably agree that rapists exist, how many will agree that rapist enablers exist too? I'm not trying to justify rape here, I'm trying to get a little more real by going into territory that many people wd rather just deny in order to avoid dealing w/ grey areas.
A relevant story: I was having sex w/ a woman who had formerly been the president of a branch of N.O.W., the National Organization of Women. I think it's safe to say that she was a feminist. We liked each other. She was openly using me as a sex object. That was fine w/ me, I was enjoying the sex & had no more serious expectations.
One night we were at a bar & when we left we wanted to fuck ASAP. I had the key to a nearby abandoned warehouse where I'd lived. We went there, it was winter, the pipes had frozen, there was a frozen waterfall inside that we had to go past. There was still a mattress & maybe a sheet or a blanket. We fucked there & spent the night. She was a photographer & collage artist. She'd been asked to write a story for a local arts magazine. She wrote a description of our night together but as a rape fantasy. Given that I'm not a rapist, I was a bit taken aback but I at least appreciated that she had the audacity to openly proclaim such a fantasy. The story was rejected. The thing about fantasy is that it's a scenario in wch the fantasizer has control over the narrative. In real rape that control isn't there.
I actually strongly disagree w/ much of what Trevor says in this chapter. While I agree that there are people "who pretend to be weak and oppressed as a means of weakening and oppressing others" I don't think they're so easily identifiable as "Weaklings, Whiners and Worriers", I think it's more subtle than that.
"Labor leaders lament that pay is paltry. We need a minimum wage, a living wage, and they wage war to wield it. So consider the scene. I've got a little corner shop and a budget for employees. I can hire one person at <i>w</i>-rate, or I can hire two people at half-<i>w</i>-rate. Suddenly all this talk of egalitarian employment sounds empty. It's not getting a better wage for the guy I hire and nothing at all for the guy I don't. Let's see your union card, bub." - pp 96-97
Whew! Do I disagree w/ that one! 1st of all, unions usually target big businesses, places w/ demonstrable huge profits that're gained thru the labor of the employee but not passed down much to the employee - instead the profits go to the snooty woman w/ the floor-length mink coat who does little or no work at all. If the person w/ the "little corner shop" can only afford to pay a living wage to one employee then, yes, they shd only hire one employee. But when arguments about what places can afford & cannot afford come up you'd better pull out yr bullshit detector b/c the shit is going to fly!
Now, as stated earlier, I used to co-own a bkstore. It started out w/ only the owners working there & we pd ourselves $5 a day. Naturally, we also had to work other jobs to actually support ourselves. How many owners of a coal mine or a steel mill or a car factory have that kind of history? Really? Once we had enuf money to pay ourselves $5 an hr instead we had friends who wanted to work at the store, They got the same amt that we did but didn't have to do the same amt of work: the owners still did most of the more complicated stuff as well as what the employees were doing - the employees had the better deal there! But most employers aren't as egalitarian as we were. When people tell you that they can't afford to pay you better but they're showing up at yr place of employment w/ one of their several cars that cost in excess of $75,000 I don't think it's being whiny to wonder whether their priorities are at yr expense & to react in whatever way strikes you as most just.
"Then there's the deep ecologists who weep for the hurt feelings of trees and rocks. I have yet to find the physics lobby who will aggress in the interests of waves and particles, but that is likely my ignorance and not a lack of their being online." - p 97
Trevor's really going out on a limb w/ this one & it doesn't hold water! Are there "deep ecologists who weep for the hurt feelings of trees and rocks"? Maybe there are, I haven't encountered it, maybe that's just more of a West Coast phenomenon, where Trevor lives, than it is where I am. It seems to me that ecologists, deep or shallow (is there such a thing?), simply point out the interconnectedness of nature, wch humanity's a part of it, like it or not, & point to consequences of ignoring this. Does fracking cause earthquakes? I think so. I know that the only earthquake that's happened in Pittsburgh in the 18+ yrs I've lived here happened soon after fracking started in the area. Is it a good idea to avoid doing things that might cause earthquakes? I think so.
I also don't think that Trevor's implied analogy between "trees and rocks" and "waves and particles" is solid at all. Waves & particles (at least when referred to in connection w/ light) are manifestations of energy moving thru space, they're patterns, only their effects are seen - the terms are used to describe behaviors. Trees and rocks are physical objects that can be seen & touched. How many people even equate trees & rocks anyway? I wdn't usually cut a tree down but I'd have no problem picking up a rock & throwing it - does that mean I care less about the rock than I do about the tree? Maybe, but it's more related to the tree being a living thing w/ roots in the ground & leaves that turn toward sunlight.
Oh, shit! There're parts of this, large parts of this, that I don't really even want to address - but Trevor's thrown down the gauntlet & it's up to at least one reader to pick it up (or pick on it):
"Feminist[s] fought for equal representation in education. Now women are the student majority in colleges in the USA. The budget for women's programs on campus only grows, never shrinks. Both in and before college, boys drop out far more than girls and boys are disciplined far more than girls. Feminists aren't fighting for equal representation any more now that they're the head of the class. Feminists fought for equal representation for women in the workplace. Now women are the majority in the workplace in the USA, and feminists aren't fighting for equal representation any more. Unemployment and underemployment burden men more than women. Laws exist that protect the jobs of women who are pregnant for which there are no analogies for men. Feminists fought for equal representation for women in the military. Now women are able to serve at every level in the military, but women are exempt from compulsory registration with the Selective Service." - pp 98-99
I'll have to take this one paragraph by paragraph b/c there're 3 back-to-back paragraphs I want to quote. I don't know where Trevor gets his statistics from & I don't know that I trust them. I'm sure I know plenty of feminists who actually do fight for all sorts of things for men - that doesn't stop them from also being feminists. I'm sure there're also plenty of feminists who're only fighting to advance their already privileged positions. These, to me, are worthy targets - but they're not the only representatives of feminism. Legend has it that anarchist Emma Goldman disassociated herself from Suffragettes b/c she saw them as rich women trying to make themselves more powerful who weren't necessarily particularly concerned w/ women as a whole. Go Emma!
"Laws exist that protect the jobs of women who are pregnant for which there are no analogies for men": that's a hard one, isn't it? There aren't really any analogies in men's lives for getting pregnant, that's very gender specific. Still, I'd like to have SOMETHING that wd exempt me from work that wd be recognized as somehow equal to giving birth. But if I were exempted every time I gave birth to a paradigm-shifting idea I'd NEVER work (& still get pd)! Hhmm..
Where I agree w/ the implications of Trevor's argument (or bombast) is the implication that there're double-standards: "women are able to serve at every level in the military, but women are exempt from compulsory registration with the Selective Service." I, predictably, wd rather get rid of compulsory registration for both sexes.
"Feminists fought for equal rights for women in marriage. Now women initiate most divorces, most marriages end in divorce, most women who divorce are favored by the courts in alimony and custody, and feminists aren't fighting for equal representation any more. Feminists fought for the women's right to vote. In the United States men granted women the right to vote in 1920 but women voters did not share the right to vote with Native Americans until the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Women voters still do not share the right to vote with convicted felons, who are mostly men. Suffrage was a right for all until the sisters succeeded, then the number of humans included in that "all" shrunk significantly." - p 99
Aw, c'mon Trevor! Now there are women judges who rule in favor of men in domestic abuse situations & women lawyers who represent men in divorce cases. Even if they're rare they still exist. The above-quoted paragraph makes it seem like ALL feminists stopped caring about anybody but themselves as soon as they made gains for themselves. I know many, MANY women who're utterly dedicated political activists working for equal justice for all - it's not their fault if we haven't gotten there. Trevor's tarring all babies w/ the same brush & then throwing them all out w/ the bathwater.
"Feminists fight against rape. Men are the victims of rape more often than women, but because those rapes occur in prison feminists don't talk about it (except as a laugh HA HA!). Instead, the statistics of women who are raped are distorted so they come out as the biggest loser." - p 99
Either Trevor or I really have our panties in a bunch now. I wdn't trust any statistic that says that more men are raped than women. I also don't know any feminists who'd laugh about men being raped - in prison or elsewhere. I can agree a little that what some feminists consider to be rape is completely over-the-top.
A relevant story: I was at friend's house waiting for a ride to a party. An older feminist woman that I thought I was friends w/ was there. My ride was going to the party earlier than I wanted to but I wanted the ride so I accepted going early. While I was waiting, I mentioned that I preferred going to parties later. The feminist asked me why. I usually have a very deadpan sense of humor where I often say things deliberately outrageous that I know friends of mine will realize are jokes.
In this case, I sd something like: 'I prefer going to parties late b/c the girls are drunker then & I'm more likely to get laid.' That was intended to be a parody of a type of guy that I'm very much not. While I certainly like to get laid, I'm interested in that kind of getting laid where the person actually WANTS me & NOT in that variation where what they want is for me to tie them up or some such. My male friend who was sitting next to me realized I was kidding. He has a similar sense of humor. The feminist, however, who shd've known better, who shd've had a sense of humor, sd: "I'm a feminist & you're a rapist." She WASN'T kidding. Not only did I not actually have to physically rape somebody, all I had to do to be a rapist for her was make a joke she was too humorless to understand. I was so taken aback that I didn't even bother to get into explaining that I was kidding. It was just too stupid.
I hear all sorts of generalizations from women about men that're just as applicable, in my life, to women: 'Men don't care whether women have orgasms': as a man, I've fucked girls who immediately walked away as soon as they came - my own orgasm wd never even enter their mind. Business finished. I've never been so callous. But I wdn't generalize from that.
Plenty of people have double standards - it's not just feminists, it's certainly not ALL feminists. Take this, eg: one often hears that men die before women. Sometimes one hears women say: 'I wonder why that is.' If it were women dying younger than men I'm sure there wd be whole feminist bks explaining how men work women to death. But what I actually SEE is women working men to death. Enter the matriarchy: the old woman who has her husband & her sons & son-in-laws over to her house painting it, working on the lawn, doing the concreting, whatever. Don't they have anything better to do? I'm sure they do. My own mom, certainly not a feminist, told me recently that her 2nd husband 'knew how to treat a wife because her father taught him - he carried his wife around on a silk cushion.' Ladies, if you want to be carried around on a silk cushion by me be prepared to fall.
Having had a girlfriend who took it for granted that I was her servant, the guy who carried her entirely-too-heavy luggage, who took out the trash, whatever, I'd never deny the existence of a matriarchy, of expectations that 'normal' women have to be waited on by men. I also wdn't stay w/ such a pain-in-the-ass (& didn't). No doubt there are men who take women for granted as cooks & housecleaners. I'm not one of them - & I don't want women around me who're the equivalent of such guys. Hence the type of feminist I identify w/ is the type that sees thru all that sexist role-working bullshit.
"Rape culture is however not at all the same as Islam, in which women have less rights than men, men may have women as sexual slaves, men may take multiple wives as property, men may have sex with their wives at any time (including as infants), no, Islam is not rape culture." - p 100
RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan, wd probably disagree w/ you there. The people that you seem to be addressing yr diatribe to are probably leftists in the US who don't want to add discriminatory fuel to the post-9/11 anti-Arab hysteria. Over-generalizing, even about Islam, is harmful to clear perception. Not every Christian is a Fundamentalist; not every woman in Islam submits to the burqa. There's even a Pakistani horror film where the maniac killer wears a burqa & the people killed are young college student types getting stoned not any different from college students in the US. Burqa-wearing = Leatherface. The movie's called "Zibahkhana" (the English title being "Hell's Ground") & it's by Omar Khan. I found out about it b/c Greg Pierce booked it at the Andy Warhol Museum. Not that great of a movie, really, but the burqa part tickled me. What if Muslim women were wearing it to scare the shit out men?
"Feminists have an explanation of why women [are] the victims, generation after generation. It must be the vote, except men voluntarily gave women the vote." [But, Trevor, why did men have the ability to decide who had the vote in the 1st place?!] "So it must be the media, except magazines and television advertising dollars are majority funded by women. So it must be the internet, except social media is dominated by women. So it must be the schools, except from the classroom up and the administration down education is controlled by women. So it must be parenting, except at home and in the day care women are the ones raising children. So it must be the PATRIARCHY." - p 100
Ok, I agree (sortof), some of the excuses are wearing thin. If women are equal to men (& I think they are - but what that means is a long story) then that means women have to take equal responsibility for things being fucked up. That means that if you're an anarchist you're against MATRIARCHY as well as PATRIARCHY. I am. &, yet, I've been at a political workshop on sexuality where a woman started it off by telling people what the rules of procedure were - no democracy, she laid down the law & it was taken for granted that we'd follow or be the 'bad guy'. After that the patriarchy was lambasted but I heard nary a word about the matriarchy. Wake up, people! matriarchy is an "archy" to be an-.
I was in Salem listening to a woman give a brief presentation about the genesis of the Salem Witch Trials. Yes, it was girls who made the accusations that kicked the whole slaughter off, yes it was a woman who taught them - but, y'know, it was the patriarchy's fault not the the girls - instant absolution! No matter that men were getting imprisoned, tortured, & killed thanks to the little brats. When this presenter asked if we were ready to go on the following wax museum tour I sd "No!" Disgustedly, she sd "There's always one." Always one what? One person who wasn't really going to get off on the horror show - b/c that's what I meant.
Double standards: Remember when Lorena Bobbitt cut her husband's penis off on June 23, 1993 - & sd she did it b/c he was abusive? According to Wikipedia:
"At some point during the night, Lorena got out of bed and went to the kitchen for a drink of water. Grabbing the knife, she entered the bedroom where John was sleeping and cut off his entire penis starting at the base.
"After assaulting John, Lorena left the apartment with the severed penis, drove a short while, then rolled down the car window and threw it into a field. Realizing the severity of the incident, she stopped and called 911. After an exhaustive search, it was located, packed in ice, and taken to the hospital where John was being treated.
"The penis was reattached by surgeons James T. Sehn and David Berman during a nine-and-a-half-hour operation."
"Lorena was taken into custody. When she was arrested the night of June 23, she told the police, "He always have orgasm [sic], and he doesn't wait for me to have orgasm. He's selfish." This conversation with Detective Peter Wentz was tape-recorded and the transcript was read later in the trial by Mary Grace O'Brien, the Prince William County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney prosecuting Lorena.
"During the trial, the couple revealed details of their volatile relationship and the events leading up to the assault.
"Lorena stated that John sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her during their marriage. She said that he flaunted his infidelities, and had forced her to have an abortion. Her defense attorneys, which included well known defense lawyer, Blair D. Howard, maintained that his constant abuse caused her to eventually "snap" as she was suffering from clinical depression and a possible bout of post traumatic stress disorder due to the abuse." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_and_Lorena_Bobbitt
She got away w/ it. Some feminists flocked to her defense. They didn't know the guy but Lorena Bobbitt claimed abuse so it must be true. THAT's bias. Instant absolution. Has anyone ever known a woman to lie? It seems to me that women are generally physically weaker than men & that they're more likely to use psychological means to fight - lying is one of them. Just b/c they're physically weaker doesn't mean that they don't fight. If a woman hits a man very few people care. I had a neighbor who regularly beat her husband - he was partially paralyzed & apparently very passive anyway. As her neighbor who shared the wall of a duplex I got to hear her throwing him to the floor on a pretty regular basis. When the police came they sd something like: 'Maybe he enjoys it' & drove away. There was a restraining order put against her when she reputedly threatened to tie him to his bed & set him on fire in front of a judge. If a man hits a woman back, the woman's having hit him 1st is immediately forgotten, he's a "wife-beater".
Imagine the Bobbitt scenario reversed. A man gets up in the middle of the night, gets a knife & carves his wife's womb & clitoris out. He then goes to a field & throws it away. In his defense he says ""She always have orgasm [sic], and she doesn't wait for me to have orgasm. She's selfish." & then states that "she sexually, physically, and emotionally abused him during their marriage. He said that she flaunted her infidelities, and had forced him to have a reversible vasectomy." Do you think feminists wd flock to his defense? I hear feminists getting outraged when a cop abuses his wife but do they ever wonder what type of woman wd marry a cop in the 1st place?!
That sd, I still consider myself to be a feminist. Lately, there's been a Men's Rights mvmt that I see women mocking online. What I'm most reminded of is the way men mocked Women's Rights in the early 1970s. What cd a man possibly have to complain about? We have it all! But as I write in my review of the biography of SF writer Alice B. Sheldon (James Tiptree, Jr):
"& here's the crux of why I almost immediately started to HATE Alice Sheldon. From the beginning it's spelled out very clearly: Sheldon came from a rich family, she got to go on trips to Africa w/ her hunter parents - her mom was an acclaimed African travel bk writer. By the time Alice S was a little girl she already had illustrations published in one of her mom's bks. Do you think I, as a supposedly top dog white male, had opportunities like this as a child? No fucking way. Sheldon was a debutante - when she was being written about in the newspapers as the next promising rich woman I was being put in jail as a bum.
"SO, when I read about Sheldon whining about being a "second class citizen" I think: WELL, I must be about 10th class then b/c her life seems pretty fucking cush to me! Do you think she was loading trucks for a living, like I sometimes do, when she was 56, like I am now? Fuck, no, she wasn't working at all - she was deciding wch country house in wch country she shd spend the next coupla mnths while she devoted herself to writing - for wch she was getting pd." - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27058.James_Tiptree_Jr_
But I still consider myself to be a feminist. Who's to say I'm not? Moving on. Ona MOVE!
"The Southern Poverty Law Center has the word "poverty' in its name, so you know they have to either be poor or help poor people. That explains why they have an endowment of over $223 million, I guess: every one of those poor people got helped and that's the left-over money." - p 104
This is at least the 2nd bk I've read where the SPLC gets criticized. I'm not really that familiar w/ them so I decided to do a tad of online research to help fill out my impressions so I don't just take for granted what I've read here. Whew! Even superficial research yields quite a dose.
1st, here's what the SPLC has to say about itself:
"The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the Center works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.
We employ a three-pronged strategy to battle racial and social injustice:
· We track the activities of hate groups and domestic terrorists across America, and we launch innovative lawsuits that seek to destroy networks of radical extremists.
· We use the courts and other forms of advocacy to win systemic reforms on behalf of victims of bigotry and discrimination.
· We provide educators with free resources that teach school children to reject hate, embrace diversity and respect differences." - http://www.splcenter.org/what-we-do
Fair enuf - but, of course, that's PR. Then here's what a site that I know nothing about but that might be moderate-to-conservative says:
"Though SPLC sits on a bank account of $250 million and raises some $40 million a year in direct mail, some have suggested that the decline of racist groups and therefore the need to tap new sources of funds might have led Dees and his colleagues to target Christian groups as new sources of revenue. Weekly Standard writer Charlotte Hays says, "...several critics with whom I spoke speculated that the last might represent another of Dees's efforts to tap via mailing lists into a well-off and easily frightened donor base: gays.""
That seems believable enuf - but it doesn't convince me that the groups targeted aren't hate groups. Then here's what Wikipedia says:
"The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is an American nonprofit civil rights organization noted for its legal victories against white supremacist groups, its legal representation for victims of hate groups, its classification of militias and extremist organizations, and its educational programs that promote tolerance. The SPLC also classifies and lists hate groups organizations that in its opinion "attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics." The SPLC's hate group list has been the source of some controversy.
"In 1971, Morris Dees and Joseph J. Levin Jr. founded the SPLC as a civil rights law firm based in Montgomery, Alabama. Civil rights leader Julian Bond soon joined Dees and Levin and served as president of the board between 1971 and 1979. The SPLC's litigating strategy involves filing civil suits for damages on behalf of the victims of hate group harassment, threats, and violence with the goal of financially depleting the responsible groups and individuals. While it originally focused on damages done by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups, throughout the years the SPLC has become involved in other civil rights causes, among them, cases concerned with institutional racial segregation and discrimination, the mistreatment of aliens, and the separation of church and state. Along with civil rights organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the SPLC has provided information about hate groups to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
"The SPLC does not accept government funds, nor does it charge its clients legal fees or share in their court-awarded judgments. Most of its funds come from direct mail campaigns which have helped it to build substantial monetary reserves. Its fundraising appeals and accumulation of reserves have been the subject of some criticism."
"The SPLC has been criticized for using hyperbole and overstating the prevalence of hate groups to raise large amounts of money. In a 2000 Harper's Magazine article, Ken Silverstein said that Dees has kept the SPLC focused on fighting anti-minority groups like the KKK, whose membership has declined to just 2,000, instead of on issues like homelessness, mostly because the former issue makes for more lucrative fundraising. The article also claimed that the SPLC "spends twice as much on fund-raising--$5.76 million last year--as it does on legal services for victims of civil rights abuses." Harper's also pointed out that more than 95% of hate crimes are committed by lone wolves without any connection to militia groups the SPLC speaks of.
"In July 2007, the SPLC filed suit against the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) in Meade County, where in July 2006 five Klansmen allegedly beat Jordan Gruver, a 16-year-old boy of Panamanian descent, at a Kentucky county fair. After filing the suit, the SPLC received nearly a dozen threats. During the November 2008 civil trial, a former member of the IKA said that the Klan head told him to kill Dees." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Poverty_Law_Center
That seems pretty level-headed - but maybe that just exposes my demographic biases. So, here's what Conservapedia says:
"SLPC lists over 1000 organizations as hate groups. Many of these are widely accepted but the list continues to grow with the controversial additions of conservative organizations. Conservative political stances that the SLPC disagrees with are now targeted, many of these additions are organizations for the general welfare of American citizens and are not associated with hate.
"? Catholic organizations
? Baptist organizations
? Pentecostal organizations
? American Family Association
? Family Research Council
? Illinois Family Institute
? Parents Action League
? United Families International
? Christian Action Network
? American Defense League
? United States Justice Foundation
? Watchmen Bible Study Group
? Mission to Israel
? Jewish Defense League
"These fine organizations and many others are lumped together with the KKK and White nationalists, skin-heads, Neo-Nazi's and Black separatists." - http://www.conservapedia.com/Southern_Poverty_Law_Center
Instead of calling it the SPLC, they call it the "SLPC", Southern Law Poverty Center? Oh, well, as I'm so fond of saying, the Catholic Church's vast wealth is rooted in 400 yrs of torture, murder, & theft known as the Inquisition - so, sorry (NOT), but I can't really accept ANY "Catholic organizations" as being "fine". &, yes, there're plenty of Christian groups like the Identity Church & whoever Rev Fred Phelps was preaching for that I think qualify nicely as hate groups. SO, I decided to look at the SPLC's Hate Map ( http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/hate-map#s=PA ). I was a bit saddened to see that Pennsylvania & New York are leading the pack for sheer quantity.
One of the group names that surprised me was that of the "H.L. Mencken Club" wch is listed as "White Nationalist". I looked them up &, yeah, they're a Fundamentalist Christian group: "We recently concluded the sixth annual meeting of the H.L. Mencken Club. Our gathering used the theme of decadence to examine such stimulating topics as the war on masculinity and the traditional family, dysgenics and genetic decline, and the obsession with "inclusiveness."" - &, nah, I don't think there's a "War on Masculinity" nor do I think there's "genetic decline" going on. Even the "Sadistic Souls Motorcycle Club" have a web presence! Welcome to the 21st century.
After this browsing, I'm not so convinced that the SPLC is a group I'm ready to hate on yet.
"I say drink if you drink and don't drink if you don't drink. If you're a pest and a menace then you'll stay the same straight or snookered. The magic trick of deciding to drink then blaming the drink for bad behavior doesn't even get a slow clap from this audience." - p 106
I'm beginning to get the impression that some of Trevor Blake's life experience is a bit too rooted in bks & a bit too little rooted in more direct experience. Ever heard of brain damage? Who's to blame for that? B/c even if the person w/ the damage can take the blame for it it still makes the after-effects hard to control - & one of those after-effects is rapid disinhibition of any sense of threat proportion under the influence of alcohol. Add that to alcoholism & you've got yrself a Molotov Cocktail - whether you like it or not.
Imagine a guy w/ little adult supervision as a kid. Imagine an older kid convincing him to do something harmful to himself like huffing glue or lighter fluid or freon. Imagine that guy in & out of jails his whole life. Imagine him being an alcoholic & going a bit crazy every time he gets drunk. Imagine him a nice guy when he's sober. I've seen cases like that & I say there's no simple solution. "If you're a pest and a menace then you'll stay the same straight or snookered" just doesn't describe it.
Now we get closer to home: "Ashley Todd was a McCain supporter in the 2008 US Presidential election. She said that while withdrawing money from an ATM a black man robbed her. When the robber saw a McCain bumper sticker on her car he said he was going to "teach her a lesson" and carved a "B" in her cheek. Presumably that's B for Barak Obama, but no explanation why he carved it backwards. B for backwards? B for Bizarro? Todd didn't have time to work out those details, as her injuries were revealed to be self-inflicted to scare up support for McCain." (p 117) People made fun of this girl a fair amt when this happened & then I think she was pretty quickly forgotten about. At any rate, she's an easy target, a 'crazy' to laugh at. I wonder if she has any friends? Trevor seems to use a fair amt of this type of example in this article but I think people like this are more the exception than the rule - in other words, they signify their own patheticness more than anything else.
Trevor's next target is "Primitivism" (still in the same chapter): "Heaven forbid you ask a local scientist or botanist or [..] cartographer or conservationist or anybody else how to navigate the jungle. No, ask only the aborigine about the arbor. Those without civilization are ipso facto presto chango the most civilized." - p 112
More & more I get the impression that Trevor Blake is very sick of some superficial subcultures that may be indigenous to Portland but not so thriving elsewhere. Maps aren't always right & aboriginals (locals) might just know the shortcut better. Both have value, neither shd be written off.
"Don't do the boss' job for him, at a lower pay, with no authority, if you've got a choice not to do so. And choices you do have. You could walk out, or quit, or pretend to be ignorant and incompetent, or get together with your pals and start your own business." - p 113
Sure, you can walk out or quit - you can also not get unemployment as a result & have a hard time finding another job. Many, many people live from one paycheck to the next - it's not as easy to revolt as Trevor makes it seem. Still, in my case, when I was fired from one bkstore, I cofounded another & it THRIVED - so it can be done - but wd I do it again? Nope, too much trouble, I'm too tired to bother anymore.
"There's nothing noble in being put down. The nobility is being strong in spite of being put down, not in being put down." (p 114) YES!! "Ask yourself what do you want to have happen, then make it happen. Turn your weaknesses into strengths." (p 115) YES!! But, again, easier sd than done. Blake concludes w/: "Remind me I wrote all this the next time you spot me squat on the pity pot." (p 115) Right. After all that polemicizing, Trevor still manages to leave us w/ the smile that admits that he, too, is fallible. Thank you.
"Shot from the Egoist Canon": yes, there're plenty of smiles in this bk, here we have a pun off of "cannon". "Egoism starts and ends with Me, of course, but you might think it has something to do with authors from the past." [..] "If you read only one book on egoism, it must be Mine. If you read two, read Mine and The Ego and Its Own by Max Stirner. And if you want to read more then come, the royal we offers an introduction to the me-nut gallery..." But notice he doesn't capitalize the royal "we". "Second Century Gnosticism is in the gneighborhood of the Ego. Direct gnowledge of God if possible, with gno intermediary gneeded. The God of this world, however is gno good." (p 116) Writers afraid of puns gneed gnot apply.
"Consider the Marquis de Sade, who used his 1791 fiction Justine to write "Every strong and healthy individual, endowed with an energetically organized mind, who preferring himself to others, as he must, will know how to weigh their interests in the balance against his own, will laugh God and mankind to the devil, will brave death and mock the law, fully aware that it is to himself he must be faithful, that by himself all must be measured."" - pp 117-118
Classic egoist stuff, huh? Maybe even in more ways than are immediately obvious. After all, de Sade was a Marquis: the beneficiary of inherited wealth & power who held a local peasant captive to use for slightly sadistic sexual purposes (at least according to my memory of a biography I read about him 40 yrs or so ago). That stereotype out of the way, de Sade wasn't really so simple. One of his main philosophical thrusts was that nature is amoral - he was an anti-romanticist, perhaps. The more extreme his works are, the more they smack of exposé parody of hidden ruling elite practices. The 120 Days of Sodom makes Justine look like kid's stuff & the 4 main sadists in it are all 'pillars of society'. The legend has it that it was his mother-in-law who had him imprisoned as a sick fuck & that when the Bastille was brought down & de Sade was released & became a judge, his mother-in-law was brought before him.. & he let her go - instead of "off-with-her-head!" - perhaps the more expected outcome. Contrary to de Sade's fictional heros's brutal behavior, de Sade himself wasn't much of a sadist. Thank the holy ceiling light. ALSO, I 'have to' wonder: did de Sade really use this capitalization in his original?: "laugh God and mankind to the devil"? Why capitalize "God" & NOT the "devil"? That might be a translator's decision.
How closely do I, personally, identify w/ most of these egoists? Not much, really. Maybe I identify the most w/ George Palante, at least as Trevor presents him, who claims "His individualism was of the aristocratic rather than democratic bloodline." (p 120) In 1909 in "La Sensibilité Individualiste he wrote:
""The words anarchism and individualism are frequently used as synonyms... Individualism is the sentiment of the profound, irreducible antinomy between the individual and society. The individualist is he who, by virtue of his temperament, is predisposed to feel in a particularly acute fashion the ineluctable disharmonies between his intimate being and his social milieu. At the same time, he is a man for whom life has reserved some decisive occasion to remark this disharmony. Whether through brutality, or the continuity of his experiences, for him it has become clear that for the individual society is a perpetual creator of constraints, humiliations and miseries, a kind of continuous generation of human pain... Anarchism is an exaggerated and mad idealism. Individualism is summed up in a trait common to Schopenhauer and Stirner: a pitiless realism. It arrives at what a German writer calls a complete 'dis-idealization' (Entidealisierung) of life and society."" - p 121
But I don't really identify w/ it that much. One thing I remember from my teenage yrs is the way "idealistic" was used as an insult by adults referring to people who were visionary - but not all visionaries are really so out of touch w/ 'reality' or so impractical that their ideal wasn't worth working toward - the insult was based more on fear of the ideals rocking the status quo's boat. InhuMANity overboard! As for "pitiless realism"?: There's alotof pitilessness in this bk, esp in the "Triumph of the Wilt" chapter I just spent so much time critiquing. Personally, I'm not such an egomaniac, even in my most megalomaniacal moods, to not recognize that some people are more down-&-out than me not b/c they're such whiny weaklings n'at but b/c I've just been luckier - luck is almost like inherited wealth: just b/c you have it don't think you always will or that you necessarily 'deserve' it. As such, I can have sympathy for other people - be 'pitying', if you will. I can probably identify w/ the following more:
"Dora Marsden signed in as a suffragette when the Women's Social and Political Union promised individual liberty for women. She signed out when the individual women were lost in a forest of feminism." - p 121
Sometime between 1911 & 1919, Marsden wrote:
"A very limited number of individual women are emphasizing the fact that the first thing to be taken into account with regard to them is that they are individuals and can not be lumped together into a class, a sex, or a 'movement.' They-this small number-regard themselves neither as wives, mothers, spinsters, women, nor men. They are themselves, each cut off and differing from the rest. What each is and what each requires she proposes to find by looking into her own wants-not 'class' or 'race' wants."" - p 122
Not even those of the No No Class?
"Fascism wasn't the only form of anti-communism to come out of Italy. There was also illegalism, the committing of criminal acts as a lifestyle choice. Among these bandit chiefs was Renzo Novatore, whose thrust toward the creative nothing pierces us yet. "Anarchist individualism as we understand it-and I say we because a substantial handful of friends think this like me-is hostile to every school and every party, every churchly and dogmatic moral, as well as every more or less academic imbecility. Every form of discipline, rule and pedantry is repulsive to the sincere nobility of our vagabond and rebellious restlessness!" (Anarchist Individualism in the Social Revolution, 1919). The Yomango of Barcelona carry on the illegalist tradition." - p 123
Trevor has 'done his homework' & I'm grateful for it! I'd like to know more about the Yomango. It seems like what I call Criminal Sanity an obvious example of wch is this: you're homeless, it's winter, there's an abandoned house, it's illegal to enter it, do you do it anyway? or stay outside & freeze? If you enter it you're Criminally Sane. A less obvious example is recognizing that yr non-existent inherited wealth was taken away from yr family by the existent inherited power of someone else's family. Do you respect that & not take it back? Not if you're criminally sane.
"Carl Panzram was a killer through and through. The reason we know his name beyond his electrocution in 1930 is the palpable poison of his diary:
"In my life I have murdered 21 human beings. I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies Larcenys, arson and last but not least I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. for all these things I am not the least bit sorry. I have no conscience so that does not worry me. I don't believe in Man, God nor devil. I hate the whole damed human race including myself..." - p 125
We also "know his name" (or, at least, so the story goes) b/c he "wrote these words in a full autobiography and confession he prepared for the one friend of his life-a young prison guard named Henry Lesser." (from the back cover blurb of <u>Killer: A Journal of Murder</u> by Thomas E. Gaddis & James O. Long & based on Panzram's autobiography) - meaning there probably was some positive humanity at play here somewhere. Thanks, by the by, to Joe Coleman for probably being the 1st to expose me to Panzram's story.
& then there's Charles Fort, all of whose bks I shd probably read eventually (but know I never will make time for):
"Charles Fort wondered at wheels in the sky and at spooks but he himself had no wheels in his head nor spooks:
""I believe nothing. I have shut myself away from the rocks and wisdom of the ages, and from the so-called great teachers of all time, and perhaps because of that isolation I am given to bizarre hospitalities. I shut the front door upon Christ and Einstein, and at the back door hold out a welcoming hand to little frogs and periwinkles.["]" - p126
"The 1940s saw the advent of Brother Theodore and his stand-up tragedy.
""My name, as you have guessed, is Theodore. I come from a strange stock. The members of my family were mostly epileptics, vegetarians, stutterers, triplets, nailbiters. But we've always been happy. I am what you call a controversial figure. People either hate me or they despise me. I'm a somebody in a century of nobodies."" - pp 126-127
I 1st heard tell of Brother Theodore when my friend John Berndt informed me that he's a "Brother Theodore Impersonator" - in the same sense that other people are "Elvis Presley Impersonators".
Trevor & I both (& many other people no doubt) corresponded w/ Ernest Mann. Trevor writes here: "The world has seldom seen a man like Ernest Mann, either. In the 1960s Mann quit his job, sold or gave away his possessions, and strove mightily to never work for money again." (p 128) What Trevor doesn't get into in this bk, I got into in my review of Trevor's "OVO 20 JUVEN(a/i)LIA":
"Ernest Mann, whose "Little Free Press" publications I once rc'vd frequently, was definitely dedicated to freeing himself: "I spent 22 years of my TIME (life) working as a Wage Slave. [..] I don't want to do that anymore." I found this memorial to him online ( http://www.oocities.org/msrrtnewsletter/may96.html#mann ):
""While half mast flags in April marked the death of U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, our thoughts instead were on [a] real people's hero, Ernest Mann. The 69-year-old editor of what must have been the longest running zine in existence, Little Free Press, was bludgeoned to death in March by his teenage grandson who then took his own life. The two had been living together in a Little Falls, Minnesota, trailer court. Formerly a successful real estate investor, Mann (a.k.a. Larry Johnson), "dropped out" in 1969 to live a contemplative life and promote his quixotic "Priceless Economic System." Described as "definitely the most idealistic, and arguably the most naive set of pamphlets" (High weirdness by mail, Stang, 1988), Little Free Press has been part crusade, and part autobiography about squirrel trapping, raft building, and grandson raising. Mann first received regional attention in 1978 when Minneapolis Tribune columnist Larry Batson wrote about his quest to promote freedom. By the time the national media noticed him ("A Thoreau of the city," Christian Science Monitor, May 16, 1990, p.13), he was already widely known throughout the zine network. Mike Gunderloy's September 1982 edition of Factsheet Five (#4) reviewed Little Free Press #41. Thirteen and a half years later, Mann was still at it, pumping out issue #138 and visualizing "peace on Earth and goodwill." We were not alone in corresponding with Ernest and wish we hadn't procrastinated with plans to interview him. Profoundly human, an enjoyer of books and simple pleasures, an anarchist and atheist who never ceased his one-person utopian experiment, he will be missed.""
I've always imagined, perhaps wrongly so, Mann's grandson getting frustrated by what was probably grinding poverty & flipping out.
Blake acknowledges a precursor: "in 1974 the group For Ourselves! issued The Right to Be Greedy, a merging of egoism and communism. Until recently (ahem) this was the most detailed criticism of egoism from within." - p 131
"Praise "Bob"! The Church of the SubGenius commemorates its founding on January 1, 1980, the day Pamphlet Number One arrived from the printers. In SubGenius doctrine the world will end on July 5th, 1998 when angelic UFOs shepherd paid members to Planet X, while the unsaved writhe on a hellish Earth now lacking the founder of the Church, J. R. "Bob" Dobbs. Since conventional calendars tell us July 5th 1998 has come and gone, there must be something wrong with time itself." - p 133
Obviously "July 5th 1998" is a date in an alternate universe or dating system - maybe the PEACE time: Pre-Evolutionary Arbitrary Common Era or some such. For those of you who feel the need for more SubGenius stimulus the way you might need to get out of bed in the middle of the night to take a piss, it's highly recommended that you witness my movie about the 2013 SubGenius Devival that was the 1st I consented to participate in since 26+ yrs before: http://youtu.be/FfDCnTR03dg . Attentive witnesses will note that Stang says, at the end of his rant, "& Praise Onan for most of that sermon". & who's Onan? None other than Trevor Blake himself!
"Thee Temple of Psychick Youth touched on the self in their 1981 founding document, Thee Grey Book:
""Clean out the trappings and debris of compromise, of what you've been told is reasonable for a person in your circumstances. Be clear in admitting your real desires." - p 134
I think of Malcolm X. According to The Autobiography of Malcolm X:
"Somehow, I happened to be alone in the classroom with Mr. Ostrowski, my English teacher."
"He told me, "Malcolm you ought to be thinking about a career. Have you been giving it any thought?"
"The truth is, I hadn't. I never have figured out why I told him, "Well, yes, sir, I've been thinking I'd like to be a lawyer." Lansing certainly had no Negro lawyers-or doctors either-in those days, to hold up an image I might have aspired to. All I knew for certain was that a lawyer didn't wash dishes, as I was doing.
"Mr. Ostrowski looked surprised, I remember, and leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head. He kind of half-smiled and said, "Malcolm, one of life's first needs is for us to be realistic. Don't misunderstand me, now. We all here like you, you know that. But you've got to be realistic about being a nigger. A lawyer-that's no realistic goal for a nigger. You need to think about something you can be.["]" - pp 35-36
If Malcolm X had done what he'd "been told [was] reasonable for a person in [his] circumstances" he'd've never developed into the great political orator we know him as today. Unfortunately, instead of being killed by white racists for being 'uppity' like his father was, he got killed by black ones instead for the same 'reason' (or did he?).
"Your humble author had the privilege of publishing essays by Hakim Bey before they were compiled in his 1991 book T. A . Z. The Temporary Autonomous Zone. T. A . Z. matters to egoism because it points out how little I need a cause or a group or a place or even time to carve out some measure of individual liberty." - p 135
Exactly. - & if T. A . Z. is unpopular w/ my fellow esohumorists b/c of its popularity w/ the critically handicapped then so be it - it still has substance.
The final pleasant surprise of this bk is that the publisher, "Underworld Amusements", is from Baltimore, my old home town. Ha ha! I'll bet they wdn't publish anything by me! Does that make me an Emily-Post-Ego Egoist in the same way I might be a Saturday-Evening-Post-Left Anarchist?!
If you think I've quoted so much of this damned bk that you don't need to read it now that you've read my review, you'd be DEAD WRONG. I've even skipped over whole chapters! Just b/c I have alot to say about it doesn't mean it doesn't have far more to say about itself.
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