review of

Peter Lamborn Wilson's "Conversazione"


2149 "review of Peter Lamborn Wilson's "Conversazione""

- the complete version of my review

- credited to: tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

- published on my "Critic" website March 3, 2023


review of

Peter Lamborn Wilson's "Coversazione"

by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - March 1-3, 2023


PLW & I started corresponding w/ each other sometime in the mid 1980s, possibly as early as before 1984. I don't know wch of us initiated the exchange, we were both very active in outreach, looking for fellow travelers. I even sent him a copy of my very 1st bk, something that I'm unlikely to do now, they're rare enuf so that I charge $50 for one. Our correspondence wasn't frequent, probably less than 1 thing a yr up 'til about 1996, followed by a roughly 15 yr hiatus when we reconnected when I visited him in his home in New Paltz at the end of 2010.

Now Peter is dead. Long Live Peter Lamborn Wilson!! He & I crossed paths occasionally: at the Without Borders Anarchist Gathering in San Francisco in 1989, at Dreamtime Village in 1992, at the aforementioned home in December, 2010, & probably elsewhere, maybe NYC. It seems to me that we'd already met in the flesh by SF b/c I remember immediately recognizing him & talking to him there. The point is, we knew each other for almost 40 yrs, I'd read at least 4 or 5 of his bks during that time, I liked his bks, I liked him personally.. &, yet, I never got to know him as well as I shd have.. & now he's dead & it's too late. I find that I miss him very much already.

I got this bk for the partially egotistical reason that the editor of "No Quarter" zine told me that Peter calls me a "genius" in it. No Quarter published an excellent memorial issue re PLW. I don't get compliments very often so I esp appreciate one from someone whose opinion I respect. Of course, I also got this bk b/c I wanted to read what're at least close to Peter's last words in print up to now. PLW was an excellent conversationalist, he was always knowledgable & always extremely inspired, AND friendly. All 3 of those qualities seem underappreciated to me at times.

"Foods you personally should never have eaten."


"I had an idea some years ago, and I think it's a fairly original idea, because I at least have not come across it in anybody's writing, and that is that Christianity is the only religion in the world that has no food taboos-and which in fact is based on overthrowing food taboos. In other words, the basis of Christianity, if you read the bible straight on, is oh you can eat pig now, you can have pigs, you can have crabs, you can have lobsters, it's what the angel tells Saint Peter: it's not important what goes into your mouth, but what comes out, in other words what you say. By which I think the angel meant inspiration. How inspired is your speech. How true is your speech. That's what's important." - pp 9-10

Had you ever thought about that? Christianity having no food taboos? I hadn't, so I get interested. Of course, whether that's true or not might be another thing. I certainly don't know about all religions.

"The founder of Futurism, Marinetti, wrote a whole cookbook.

"TP: You've read it?

"PLW: I've seen it, I've not managed to get hold of it and read the whole thing. One thing I remember is that he said there would be no pasta recipes in that book. That pasta was destroying the Italian personality. We futurists are going to give up eating pasta." - pp 14-15

& I HAVE a copy of the English translation of Marinetti's "The Futurist Cookbook" but can't locate it at the moment in either my "Miscellaneous" or my "Art" sections of my personal library. I remember some of the recipes as humorously inedible so I was hoping to quote one of those. Instead, I'll just have to quote a June 23, 2022 article by Amanda Arnold that I found online:

"In 1932, a charismatic Italian poet with a propensity for provocation declared war on his country's most sacred idol: pasta. It was "an absurd Italian gastronomic religion," Filippo Tommaso Marinetti decried in The Futurist Cookbook, and those known to enjoy the "passéist" dish were "melancholy types" who "carry its ruins in their stomachs like archaeologists." They suffered from "incurable sadness," he railed against his fellow countrymen. And they were weak, pessimistic, and maybe even impotent.

"In short, pasta was emasculating. And emasculation had no place in Italian Futurism, the bizarre and nationalist art movement founded by Marinetti in 1909 on the belief that Italy could never gain primacy if its feeble men were so preoccupied with history and tradition. For a strong, Futuristic Italian man to exist, Marinetti wanted anything that celebrated the country's heritage literally destroyed-museums, libraries, even spaghetti."


"Other heroes of food?

"Charles Fourier, the Utopian Socialist, was a distant cousin of Brillat-Saverin, as it happens. He invented the term gastrosophy. He took food very seriously, and in his utopia there were whole societies of people who specilaized in growing and eating one kind of pear. There were people who were, not just banquet societies, but banquet societies that specialized in like, old roosters. Old roosters as opposed to fresh young hens. A lot of taste in old roosters, if you know how to cook them right, they can be quite great. Roland Barthes, taking a hint from Fourier, wrote about his favorite meal, which was old rooster accompanied by couscous with rancid butter. He meant that when butter gets sort of cheesy, people call it rancid but it isn't really rancid, it's just butter on its way to being cheese. So in other words, very strong flavors, and he dedicated that meal to Fourier. He wrote an essay about Fourier, a very good essay. Also-the Russian scientist N.N. Vavilov who discovered the origins of apples and cannabis. Stalin murdered him." - pp 18-19

& PLW wrote a small Fourier related bk called "The Universe - a mirror of itself" published by Miekal And & Elizabeth Was's Xexoxial Endarchy in 1992. I was at Dreamtime Village when they were working on the bk & I was delighted that PLW knew about Fourier who was someone I'd had interest in. In fact, I'm credited in the bk as having done "typesetting", something I don't actually remember my doing. Fourier predicted that followers of his philosophy wd grow tails w/ hands on the end & an eyeball in the palm. This appendage was dubbed the "archibras". I have a tattoo of one in motion w/ 6 fingers on my lower back where the tail wd hypothetically grow.

"PLW: Now you're asking not for an objective but a subjective view and I have to say that the one thing I've found about old age and debility is that one by one the pleasures leave you. You simply can't do them anymore. If you try to spend a charming evening drinking champagne and eating fried oysters, you're very likely to deeply regret it the next day. Or even immediately. So right now I feel denuded one by one of the things that I always considered to be pleasures in my life. I don't smoke anymore. I don't smoke pot anymore. I barely drink alcohol anymore. There's so many foods that I can't eat, that my diet is ridiculous, might as well be puritanical, but it isn't really because it's not based on any kind of logic, it has to do with certain chemicals that I can't have anymore. And so on and so forth, and of course the greatest pleasure of all, which is love or sexuality is pretty much closed to old farts."


"Everyone always says when I go on my Luddite rant and rave, well at least there's one thing that's really progress and that's modern medicine. And I say no, I'm sorry, I have to give you a critique on that, too. As my friend Jake said, well I expected nothing less. But I have a very deep critique of it, it's not my critique alone, it also comes from the journalist Barbara Ehrenreich who has written on the subject very brilliantly, I recommend her work on big med to everybody." - p 35

This delights me b/c I'm extremely critical of the Medical Industry & I've written 2 llloooonnggg bks on the subject: "Unconscious Suffocation - A Personal Journey through the PANDEMIC PANIC" ( ) & its sequel of sorts: "THE SCIENCE (volume 1)" ( ). In fact, what modern medicine represents to me is an opportunity to have oneself experimented on at great cost so that a side-effect can result that is, in turn, experimented on at great cost, ad nauseum until one's financial resources are fully tapped out & one dies. AND to be treated like an imbecile by people who ARE imbeciles if one dares to offer critical analysis.

"When the drug for Hepatitis C came on the market, I think it was, what-$600.00 per pill?" - p 36

According to a publication called "The Medical Letter" that provides drug information to drs w/o influence from the pharmaceutical industry: "one dose of Hemgenix costs $3,500,000." Hemgenix is a gene therapy used for the treatment of hemophilia B. That's the most extreme example that I know of of the prohibitive cost of 'modern medicine'. What happened to the idea of taking care of oneself & having a knowledge of local plants w/ medicinal qualities that cd be picked at no cost? If the Medical Industry has its way such things will be completely replaced by EXPENSIVE PRODUCTS. Buy your health from us, WE OWN IT!

On Hungary:

"But I've been told that back in the days of late communism, goulash communism, that there was a big sexual boom in Hungary.

"TP: As a child I remember seeing people walk around almost naked, in nothing but gauze veils or whatever. Scandalous stuff like that.

"PLW: By the river you mean?

"TP: No, anywhere. Down the street. I mean, this is mid '90's, so maybe it's a survival of what you're talking about." - p 41

I was in Hungary in 1997 & I remember seeing a woman walking in Budapest wearing a pair of shorts that were closer to a thong than to pants - her ass cheeks were completely exposed. As both a nudist & a lecherous heterosexual I was deeply impressed.

"PLW: I must have found out about it in Freshman Latin. Or, possibly, from Will and Ariel Durant. You don't know who they were probably. They were a married couple, who in fact were anarchist activists in New York in the '40s. The way they made their living was they wrote a series of books about the history of civilization." - p 45

"The Story of Civilization", the 1st volume is credited to Will Durant alone. There're 11 volumes. I have 3 of them. This is the 1st I've heard tell about them being anarchists! Their bks were so omnipresent that I always vaguely imagined that they were history-belongs-to-the-victor kind of stuff. SHEESH. Now I'm going to have to read at least one of them! How will I ever live long enuf?!

On the subject of affordable pleasures:

"You can always afford sex. Think of the image of the hillbillies sitting in their cabins, what have they got to do in their spare time. Used to have rather baroque sexuality you know.

"There are certain places like Baltimore, which is a working-class city to a large extent, which is famous for their sexual "perversion." You've seen the films of John Waters, I always used to say that's Baltimore social realism." - p 47

Ha ha! I think it was in an anarchist discussion group called "Class Class" that we had some readings of a study done by a North American academic in South America about population growth or some such. It was as if the person or people conducting the study were afraid to even mention sex. It was all about economics. What struck me was that nowhere was it mentioned that people FUCK b/c it's so damned enjoyable & it's generally free (except under the worst capitalist conditions). In other words, it's exactly what PLW is commenting on.

As for John Waters's films being "Baltimore social realism"? This is exactly the kind of idea that PLW is full off & that I love about him so much. I didn't even realize or remember that PLW was from BalTimOre until I read this bk. "Wilson" was my mom's maiden name so that makes me wonder what relation, if any, PLW was to me. I wish I'd asked him about his family while he was alive. I tried asking him after he was dead but just got dead silence.

"You're not going to have a social revolution in the world on fire.

"CS: Well, you have it from the ashes.

"PLW: This is what's probably happening in Rojava as we speak. What will turn out to be the last idealistic attempt at a social revolution is being destroyed by the Turks, by Covid, by environmental degradation, by drought, and essentially by the world on fire. I hope not, but I've been following it fairly closely, and it looks to me like a real possibility. They will turn out to have lasted only about as long as the Spanish anarchist utopia. If the Zapatistas are still going I don't even know what they're up to. You don't hear about them anymore. Some people say they're still trucking, but they certainly gave up their international ambitions. You don't hear about them trying to convince other people anymore. So that's that." - p 59

"The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), also known as Rojava is a de facto autonomous region in northeastern Syria. It consists of self-governing sub-regions in the areas of Afrin, Jazira, Euphrates, Raqqa, Tabqa, Manbij, and Deir Ez-Zor. The region gained its de facto autonomy in 2012 in the context of the ongoing Rojava conflict and the wider Syrian Civil War, in which its official military force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has taken part.

"While entertaining some foreign relations, the region is not officially recognized as autonomous by the government of Syria or any state except for the Catalan Parliament. The AANES has widespread support for its universal democratic, sustainable, autonomous pluralist, equal, and feminist policies in dialogues with other parties and organizations. Northeastern Syria is polyethnic and home to sizeable ethnic Kurdish, Arab, and Assyrian populations, with smaller communities of ethnic Turkmen, Armenians, Circassians, and Yazidis.

"The supporters of the region's administration state that it is an officially secular polity with direct democratic ambitions based on an anarchistic, feminist, and libertarian socialist ideology promoting decentralization, gender equality, environmental sustainability, social ecology, and pluralistic tolerance for religious, cultural, and political diversity, and that these values are mirrored in its constitution, society, and politics, stating it to be a model for a federalized Syria as a whole, rather than outright independence. The region's administration has also been accused by some partisan and non-partisan sources of authoritarianism, support of the Syrian government, Kurdification, and displacement. However, despite this the AANES has been the most democratic system in Syria, with direct open elections, universal equality, respecting human rights within the region, as well as defense of minority and religious rights within Syria.

"The region has implemented a new social justice approach which emphasizes rehabilitation, empowerment, and social care over retribution. The death penalty was abolished. Prisons house mostly people charged with terrorist activity related to ISIL and other extremist groups, and are a large strain on the region's economy. The autonomous region is ruled by a coalition which bases its policy ambitions to a large extent on democratic libertarian socialist ideology of democratic confederalism and have been described as pursuing a model of economy that blends co-operative and market enterprise, through a system of local councils in minority, cultural, and religious representation. The AANES has by far the highest average salaries and standard of living throughout Syria, with salaries being twice as large as in regime-controlled Syria; following the collapse of the Syrian pound the AANES doubled salaries to maintain inflation, and allow for good wages. Independent organizations providing healthcare in the region include the Kurdish Red Crescent, the Syrian American Medical Society, the Free Burma Rangers, and Doctors Without Borders."


I'm tempted to move there.

"PLW: For years and years his admirers would say why doesn't someone make a movie, and it's well known there were famous directors who had taken options on some of his books, and it didn't happen until I'm pretty sure the first one was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which got made into a movie by the title of Blade Runner. I think that was the first P.K. Dick movie." - p 75

I thought I had a printed-out list of all movies based on works by P.K. Dick, a list that included many movies made before Blade Runner. However, I cdn't find that list in the 2 places where it shd've been. SO I looked for such a list on Wikipedia & what I found only listed ONE movie made before Blade Runner: "Imposter", made as an episode of a TV show in 1962.

"The first piece that Bob" [Wilson] " put on took place in a ruined caravanserai in Shiraz that had many rooms, and in each room something was going on, and it was all going on simultaneously, and it was in his style, which I don't know if you're familiar with. It was all very beautiful, painterly, and terribly slow. He started life as a painter and then he realized that his work had to be in motion, but it couldn't be in fast motion it had to be in slow motion so that everybody could see everything. That was the key to his work. This was one of his early pieces too. He had put on stuff in New York for sure before I knew him, but this was one of his early works, and the next time he came to Shiraz he put on Seven Nights on Ka Mountain where they gave him an entire mountain with several buildings and he put on a play that lasted non-stop for seven days and seven nights. I was there for all of it." - p 84

Coincidentally, I recently read Carolyn Brown's "Chance and Circumstance" (you can read my complete review here: ) in wch I read about the Merce Cunningham Dance Company performing at the same Iranian festival.

"The second megastar of the festival, but without the slightest hint of self-aggrandizement, was Robert Wilson-another truly great American artist-whose astonishing seven-day, twenty-four-hours-a-day play, Ka Mountain and GUARDenia Terraces, took place all over Shiraz" - p 576, Carolyn Brown's "Chance and Circumstance"

As I commented in my review:

"Now, Wilson, Stockhausen, & Cunningham were apparently unaware (as were Andy Warhol & entourage at another time) of the political environment in Iran at the time. So was Iannis Xenakis when he presented his "Polytope de Persépolis" in Iran in 1971. However, later, he withdrew from participation in the festival when he did become aware. It's all too easy for artists to just be glad to be treated like aristocracy for a change after yrs of hardship w/o realizing what price the people are paying to make that happen.

""Ultimately, Xenakis withdrew from any further engagement with the Iranian government, informing the Festival Deputy Director General, Farrokh Ghaffary: "You know how attached I am to Iran, her history, her people. You know my joy when I realized projects in your festival, open to everyone. You also know of my friendship and loyalty to those who, like yourself, have made the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival unique in the world. But, faced with inhuman and unnecessary police repression that the Shah and his government are inflicting on Iran's youth, I am incapable of lending any moral guarantee, regardless of how fragile that may be, since it is a matter of artist creation."" - The Shiraz Festival: avant-garde arts performance in 1970s Iran"

Consider my surprise when I learned that PL Wilson lived in Iran for many yrs occupying an official cultural position! Iran had Savak, notorious for its torture of political dissidents. I have another friend who was actually a propagandist for the Shah's regime. When the Islamic revolution happened & the Shah was overthrown, how cd I blame Iran? Alas, if anything, the Islamic revolution has been even worse than the Shah, the CIA puppet.

"PS: That's when Al Pacino wanted to join The Living Theatre and Judith said no, go be an actor.

"PLW: Did he really? That's right. She wanted a commune of people living together and struggling in the anarchist cause. And that's what they did, and that was great. Sometimes. Not very often. A lot of stuff that they did was incredibly pedestrian. I mean, as someone who's a great lover of Judith I have to say this, not everything she did was good. But she never stopped, and that was her great thing, she never gave up." - p 86

Once again, I learn something. I'm surprised that Pacino wanted to join the Living Theater. They're so well known as a radical performance group & I've known about them for many decades but I've only seen movies of performances of 2 plays of theirs & neither of them impressed me much. I'm still waiting to be able to witness something of theirs that I'd consider truly great, I'm willing to believe such a thing exists.

"The other thing I would do every summer was Dreamtime Village in Wisconsin. After Naropa I would go out to this intentional arts community in a tiny village in southwest Wisconsin and give lectures, also for free of course, for room and board basically, and that was mIEKAL aND and Liz Was, and also Robert The was the third person out there who had a small word as a last name. That was one of their avant-garde things. And their son Zon, and a whole bunch of other people. Interesting people used to come in the early days of that, including a guy named tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE from Baltimore, who was a real genius by the way. A Musician, filmmaker, writer. Lots of interesting people would come in the early days, then little by little they began to disintegrate and now it doesn't really exist although mIEKAL is still living there. Liz died young, tragically, that was one of the things that put an end to it, but mIEKAL is still there doing experimental farming, and small-press publishing, which is Xexoxial Endarchy, and he's published me over the years." - p 118

&, yes, those early days of Dreamtime Village were wonderful. I was there for the Dreamtime Corroboree in August 1992 & it was an especially interesting time. One thing I become more & more conscious of as I age is that it's all too easy to take things & people for granted & then? They're gone. Hence, I'm very glad I was able to participate in a Dreamtime Corroboree & very glad that I was able to know Liz Was, who was a fantastic person.

"I moved to New Paltz in 1999. That was the end of the 20th century for me." - p 119

& it was at his house in New Paltz that I saw PLW for the last time. I had just come from Station Hill Press where I'd interviewed various people for a movie I was making about Franz Kamin. I was probably out of tape &/or battery power when I got to PLW's, wch was a spontaneous thing. PLW was as fantastic a conversationalist as ever, telling me about throwing jewelry in a nearby river for ritualistic reasons & showing me recent collages. I didn't have the means for recording this encounter & I had to hit the road after only an hr or 2 there. Feeling like I'd really missed an amazing opportunity for a great interview I contacted PLW soon thereafter & asked if I cd come back to interview him. He told me it wasn't a good time & I didn't pursue it any further but now he's gone & that's one more opportunity lost to document genius. I'll forever regret it.





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