2006.12.29 tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE interviewed about Neoism, the Krononautic Organism, & the Church of the SubGenius by Justin Mckeown

[interviewee's note: This interview was conducted by email to provide background information for Justin's PHD thesis. As such, it lacks the spontaneity of give-&-take of an in-person interview. I probably asked Justin for a copy of his PHD when done since, as I recall, the PHD was on Neoism & I'm probably the main person who keeps track of Neoist chronology. To the best of my memory, this thesis wasn't given to me.

I've updated the links here but otherwise left the interview mostly unchanged (& only very slightly updated). I'm somewhat annoyed by the terseness of my answers - I must've been feeling under much pressure at the time - possibly because I had just bought a house that year, had spent 3 months prepping it & moving into it, & had only been living there for 4+ months at the time of the interview.]




Before launching into questions about Neoism I just want to say that I am aware that you were [still am] not only involved in Neoism but also in several other groups and projects you initiated yourself such as the Krononauts and the Church of the Sub-genius. [Actually, I initiated neither of these but I was very active in both] I would also like to ask you questions about these, but I will begin with Neoism 1st.

A: I preface my responses by telling you that my participation in Neoism runs deep & that my Neoist archives are very extensive. As such, a truly detailed response to your questions wd involve vastly time-consuming searches thru these archives to provide you w/ exact info. This is something that I don't really have the time or inclination to do at the moment. I may eventually write my own bk on the subject & it wd be for such a project that I'd be most likely to go to such lengths. I'll try to be helpful in my replies but this disclaimer is to warn you that I'll be mostly writing off-the-cuff. If you'd like additional support materials, such as scans of early Neoist artifacts, I'll be happy to provide a few upon request.

Q1. How did you come to know about Neoism?

A1. Starting in 1978, I became prolifically active as what I call a "P.I.N.-U.P." (Postal Interaction Network - Underground Participant). This is what many people wd refer to as "Mail Artist" but I think this latter term is entirely too narrow-minded. Other friends in the BalTimOre area were also involved. One of them, Richard Ellsberry (aka "Richard", "X Richard", "Richard Tryzno", etc..) received in the fall of 1980 a post-card announcing a Mail-Art show where work was requested to be put in a barrel to be thrown over a waterfall. The postcard showed Monty Cantsin (Istvan Kantor) in a barrel. Neoism may've been mentioned on the post-card. In the name of the Krononauts we wrote him & somewhere along the line an alliance was proposed. Monty/Istvan then came in the fall of 1980 to visit us in BalTimOre, we went to participate in the 2nd Apt Fest in Montréal in February of 1981, & I organized the 3rd Apt Fest in BalTimOre a few mnths later.

Q2. What interested you about Neoism?

A2. I was enthusiastically trying to create something 'new' at the time. This was of very little interest to most of my friends who were quite satisfied w/ the traditional & uninventive security of already established cultural norms. As such, I was seeking allies closer to my own spirit. In the 1970s, I'd already conceived of the idea of creating a 'movement' whose primary purpose was to create the illusion that it existed - w/o having it exist otherwise. While this wasn't really Neoism's purpose at the time, it's slightly possible that such a potential seemed somehow intrinsic to it. Also, a small group of us in BalTimOre (John Ellsberry (Richard's brother), Richard, Larkin Little, Bob Dorsey, & Myself) had been using the collective identity of "David A. Bannister" since around 1977 or 1978 so the Monty Cantsin collective identity was an immediate point in common. Otherwise, I wanted to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN on an international scale & Neoism was a good context for this. As I recall, Monty/Istvan & I were in agreement that Neoism WASN'T an "art movement" & that its importance was much more as a tool for fucking up dominant philosophical & political paradigms (although we probably didn't express it quite that way at the time). This was (& still is) extremely important to me & insured our compatability.

Q3. What was your 1st practical involvement with Neoism?

A3. Probably the above-mentioned proposal of alliance between the Krononauts & the Neoists. From there, things developed rapidly & I was especially busy as a Neoist between 1981 & 1984. The other Krononauts who went to Montréal for Neoist activites (Richard, Doug Retzler, Ruth Turner - for Apt '81 [the 2nd Apt Fest] - &, slightly later, John Ellsberry - to hang out w/ Via Vidorae & others) were repulsed by the Neoist psychotic mind-games & withdrew their participation in 1981.

Q4. What kind of activities did you involve yourself in, in the name of Neoism?

A4. Apartment Festivals, 'performing', film & vaudeo making, networking, & publishing, etc.. For more info about some examples of my more 'performative' involvement in the former (& related events), I direct you to: <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutlineIndex.html> & from there to: <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutlineIntro.html>, <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1981.html> (see entries 040, 041, 044, 045, 046, 047, 048, 049), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1982.html> (051, 053), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1983.html> (057, 058, 062), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1984.html> (069, 070, [also 071]), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1986.html> (possibly 081), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1987.html> (108), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1988.html> (116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1992.html> (169, 170), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1994.html> (184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1997.html> (213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227, 228, 229, 230, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240, 241), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1998.html> (256, 257), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline1999.html> (273, 274, 275), <http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/MereOutline2000.html> (281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 300, 301). Those descriptions barely scrape the surface but it's still an entry point. Neoist activity is often most stimulating at the personal interactive level. Eg, during APT 6 I carried a portable tape player w/ a loop of applause & cheering sounds & I played the tape whenever I shook hands w/ someone. A part of the idea was to stress that each of these interactions was of momentous importance - even if only to us!

Q5. What Neoist events did you participate in?

A5. Of course, what constitutes a "Neoist event" can be somewhat ambiguous. Eg, was the 1st party that Monty/Istvan attended in BalTimOre in the fall of 1980 a "Neoist event"? Perhaps. Was the Ultimatum II festival in Montréal in 1987 a "Neoist event"? It was organized by Neoist Alan Lord & MCed by Neoist Kiki Bonbon. Neoists such as myself & John Berndt & Gordon W. Zealot participated in it. But it wasn't overall contextualized as a Neoist festival & many of the participants were probably unaware of Neoism. Was the Public Works festival a neoist one? I tend to think of it as the 1st half of the 4th APT Fest but many of the Torontonians who participated in Public Works were horrified & repulsed by Kiki Bonbon & Zbigniew Brotgehirn's participation in the festival by killing a cat & kicking its corpse around. These participants may've wanted to disassociate themselves from Neoism. There are other similar circumstances. SO, keeping these qualifications in mind, below is a fairly complete list in choronological order:

APT '81 - the 2nd International Neoist Apartment Festival - Montréal - 1981

'81 APT - the 3rd International Neoist Apartment Festival - BalTimOre - 1981

Public Works (Toronto) / APT 4 (Montréal) - 1981

APT 5 - the 5th International Neoist Apartment Festival - NYC - 1982

The Neoist Network's First European Training Camp (I participated indirectly thru Monty/Istvan) - Würzburg, West Germany - 1982

6th International Neoist Apartment Festival - Montréal - 1983

APT 7 - the 7th International Neoist Apartment Festival - BalTimOre - 1983

The Neoist Network's 8th Apartment Festival - London - 1984

Ultimatum II - Montréal - 1987

Festival of Non-Participation - Scotland - 1988

First International Anathema Party Takeover (the One Millionth Neoist Apartment Festival) - NYC - 1988

Zerowork Jubilee - Toronto - 1992

Blau-Milch Kanal/Kaffee Sendeschluß, TV Hospital - Berlin - 1994

XXXPanzio A Neoizmus?! Anti-Esemény / XXXPanzio In the Name of Neoism? Anti-Event - Vác, (Buda)Pest, Debrecen - Hungary - 1997

PoPo into the Wasteland - Toronto - 1998

Neoist Festival - Windsor, Canada - 1999

1st Non-Existent International Neoist Apartment Festival - Adelaide, Australia - 2000

A Neoist Research Project: experiments & outcomes - WORM, Rotterdam, Netherlands - 2010

Q6. Did you organise any Neoist events?

A6. These are 3 of the more obvious answers:

'81 APT - the 3rd International Neoist Apartment Festival - BalTimOre - 1981

APT 7 - the 7th International Neoist Apartment Festival - BalTimOre - 1983

1st Non-Existent International Neoist Apartment Festival - Adelaide, Australia - 2000

Q7. Can you tell me about some of the things you did at Neoist events?

A7. To answer this in depth wd require an enormous response that I won't give here. In addition to the descriptions provided on the afore-mentioned "Mere Outline" website, I'll provide this anecdote:

During the wintertime 6th APT Fest, neoist architect Boris Wanowitch organized the building of an igloo on a government parking lot. A group of us spent the night there. I was very poor at the time & was wearing sandals because they had fewer holes in them than my regular shoes. This uncomfortable night spent in the igloo in the company of a few hearty good friends was exactly the type of thing that made Neoist events so special. Monty/Istvan sang songs & Alan Lord & Boris Wanowitch & Monty & I discussed the possible merits of Raudivé's experiments in Electronic Voice Phenomena.

Q8. What kind of things did you do before you became involved in Neoism?

A8. Again, no answer to this cd even approach completeness. I was a hitch-hiker/drifter from 1971-1972 (or 3); I refused to register for the draft as an act of resistance to the US government & to the Vietnam War in 1971; I wrote my 1st bk from 1974-1977 & became briefly associated w/ the so-called "Language-Centered Writers"; I made my 1st film in 1975 & my 1st vaudeo in 1977; I decided to abandon art in favor of mad scientism in 1978; I cofounded the B.U.T.N. (BalTimOre Underground Telectropheremoanin' Network) - an experiment in participatory mass media involving telephones; I helped get the Krononautic Organism rolling; I cofounded & participated in guerrilla actions by B.O.M.B. (BalTimOre Oblivion Marching Band) in 1979 & Crab Feast in 1979/80; etc, etc..

Q9. Can you tell me the origins of the krononauts society and when it was founded?

A9. It started as the "Chrononautic Society" & was founded by Richard Ellsberry in the mid 1970s. "Chrononautic" is a word that Richard coined (although it may've been coined by others before him) to mean "time traveller". The name gradually transformed into "Krononautic Organism".

Q10. Can you tell me the underlying ideas behind the krononauts society?

A10. The basic idea was to throw a series of parties to attract time travellers from the future. Richard imagined that the easiest way to reach time travel was to attract a more 'advanced' society that already had time travel to come back to us. The main event was ultimately the March 9th, 1982 party organized because of an unusual celestial event on that date - a partial alignment of the planets. This party occurred mainly in BalTimOre at Second Story Books on Charles St but also occurred simultaneously at at least 2 other locations. One of them was on a plateau or mesa in the western US. Richard advertised the event in Art Forum thinking that such an ad wd be longlasting & archival. Linda Goodman wrote about the Krononauts in her bk Sun Signs, & the New York Times covered the BalTimOre event. This event was also part of a mnth-long performance festival called something like: The Festival of Disappearing Art(s): Odd Nights in March. This was largely organized by Kirby Malone & others in the Merzaum Collective. As such, it is plausible that publicity about these events cd reach far enough into the future to attract hypothetical time travellers. Whether any such attendees were actually there is open to question. These parties continued into the '90s, if not to the present day.

Q11. Can you tell me who else aside from you were in the krononauts society?

A11. There were 2 main experimental cultural groups in BalTimOre at the time: the Merzaum Collective & BaltiMedia. The former tended more toward grant-funded publishing & performance; the latter more toward unfunded guerrilla actions & large social events. However, the distinctions weren't so cut & dried. There were connections between both groups. I, eg, took over the Merzaum tape publishing Widemouth Tapes label, & Kirby Malone was a main mover in the March 9th Krononautic Party for People from the Future. To even begin to give a list of all the participants wd slight many people unintentionally. Nonetheless, the Krononauts tended to consist of the same people as those in B.U.T.N., B.O.M.B., Balti-Media events (such as the Fake Science Fair), etc: Richard Ellsberry, Doug Retzler, John Ellsberry, Myself, Bonnie Bonnell (aka Mannette Letter), Bob Dorsey, Grace Zaccardi, etc.. Since much of what we organized was meant to be very open to a broad public & since people were welcome to participate in whatever lackadaisical (or otherwise) ways they felt comfortable w/, there were many, many people who participated in one way or another.

Q12. Can you outline a history of the krononauts society for me?

A12. See the above answers.

Q13. Can you tell me about the party for the people of the Future that you organised?

A13. 1st, I personally didn't organize it. I was somewhat at odds w/ both Richard & Kirby at the time & didn't feel like the party was very likely to attract any time-travelers. Nonetheless, I probably didn't contribute anything more viable. During this event, I was interviewed for TV but I refused to do anything but read from a prepared critical statement. This exasperated the TV interviewer who sd that his audience wd just change channels or turn the TV off if they saw someone reading from a prepared statement. Given that I was against TV, I told the interviewer that I wanted his audience to turn off the TV. He didn't use the footage. I was also interviewed by the NY Times & had a similar experience. This particular party was in a very large bldg & attracted a large crowd. Representatives from the Dallas Church & Foundation of the SubGenius (& probably a California branch) attended. Imagine a huge New Year's Eve party w/ performances & films etc w/ the added thrill of the party's main purpose & you'll get the idea somewhat.

Q14. Can you tell me about the Church of the sub-genius and when it was founded?

A14. The Church & Foundation of the SubGenius was probably founded around 1978. Or, perhaps, 1953. Aside from J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, 2 of its main movers were the Reverend Ivan Stang & Doctor Philo Drummond. You can find out more about it by going to: <http://www.subgenius.com/>. It's the perfect religion for people who hate religion. I got involved in early 1981 & was immediately sainted. I probably alienated most SubGenii in 1987 when I took money from the bar during the Boston Bobalon & threw it into the auditorium for everyone to share (although there was almost no-one there at the time) - this was followed by an attack on me by the police.

Q15. Can you tell me about its underlying concept?

A15. Can you explain all of the activities of the Milky Way Galaxy in the last several billion yrs? We're trying to get slack & defeat the conspiracy. In the meantime, Neoism IS the conspiracy (or at least one of them).

Q16. Who is involved in the Church of the Sub-genius?

A16. Several thousand people. If the price is right you might be able to access the membership lists.

Q17. What kind of things do you organise and get up to?

A17. Sheesh. Even I find it hard to keep track of it all. Looking at my websites helps. [Most of them can be accessed thru this portal these days: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/ - August 21, 2014 note] In addition to the more well-know things like the Apt Fests & the 3rd Church of the SubGenius Convention, I've organized such things as a screening series on the Supression of Black Radicals in the United States; "Latin AmeriMIX!can" (a festival relevant to Latin American culture); a series of nudist mask parties; various political protests; a "Year of Sundays" (a series of site-specific improvisations); the "Anonymous Family Reunion"; a 66hr long party called the "Testes-3 Coming-Out Party"; etc, etc.. Unfortunately, I'm losing momentum on answering your questions so I'm only giving you very cursory info. This wknd I've organized a trip to The Stone Camp - a 100% recycling home in the Pennsylvania woods created by spiritual ecologist Teddy Carns over the last 30 yrs. I spend an enormous amt of time making movies - I've made 260 in the last 32 yrs. [It's now up to 399 - see the updated list here: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/tENTMoviesIndex.html - August 21, 2014 note] My 10th bk, footnotes, came out this yr. You can see more about that @: <http://www.amazon.com/footnotes-tENT/dp/0977624250/sr=1-1/qid=1159322289/ref=sr_1_1/104-4080608-6135133?ie=UTF8&s=books>. [Good luck in finding a copy. The publishers are on my list of biggest-assholes-in-the-world as is the printer. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has ONE copy that can probably be found in their catalog here: http://librarycatalog.einetwork.net/Record/.b32196374/Home?searchId=11891391&recordIndex=1&page=1 I highly recommend getting it out of the library - August 21, 2014 note]

Q18. Do the krononauts society and the Church of the sub-genius still undertake activities?

A18. I'm not aware of any current Krononautic activities. The Church of the SubGenius still produces gatherings & some of the greatest radio ever known to prehistoric man.

Q19. What important question(s) do you feel I haven't asked you yet?

A19. Asking me about WHY I do what I do is probably important.

Q20. Could you answer them for me?

A20. I do what I do to attempt to give our social world a PARADIGM SHIFT KNUCKLE SANDWICH. To undermine 'reality' maintenance traps. To combat the mass's tendency toward oversimplistic thinking. To conduct class playfare. To live according to my imagination. To attempt to fully realize my personal potential. To combat social injustice.

- tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - December 29, 2006EV




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