Letter to Freddie Baer

First there is the raw emotion of ballsy vandals who not only broke into the temple and stole the silver, but melted it down and made better, more beautiful things. We intend to show that our contempt for the rotted culture we vandalize is justified by our superior ability; and it is an afterthought that the whole work is colored by the disgust and despair of incidentally being trapped within a global totalitarian culture. (P.S.: The struggle is not as I thought it was, between the damned if do or don’t bureaucratization or economization of social relations. No, these are like right and left, twin straw men who distract us while the real demon encroaches . . . no, revels in having succeeded at subduing us . . . trivialization. The side show of bureaucracy vs. economy only serves the end of trivializing us.)

In particular we have the following specific complaints reiterated: Carly (Sommerstein) takes consumerism to task by doing a vignette in which her main allegorical cypher dies of an overdose of vaginal douche. Ed (Lawrence) rants and moans in a pervasive style about the technological style that pervades our culture (culture for lack of better word). He sneers at and smears a series of manifestations of the underlying theme in AMERICA; for instance, the supersession of carbon life forms by silicon . . . and the advocates of this.

Gregor (Tomc) joyously draws mustaches on what are admittedly no longer sacred cows anywhere but in Eastern European hierarchies: first Marx and Engels, then Lenin and Stalin, and finally Enver Hoxha. He does it by writing pornography about them, in ever more repellent development. It works as a generic smear of the totemist left, however, and it is pure fun, aside from expressing a real disgust through the use of base metaphor . . .

Bob (Black)’s introduction is intentionally ambiguous and also serves as a satire on modernist critical pretension. He manages, however, to master the kind of ‘field of play’ stuff that a lot of modernist literary hacks get off on, and inserts some real advocacy by first setting up and then demolishing (in the sparest possible cases against X, Y, Z) Marxism, Christianity, liberalism, etc., and then issuing a very stark challenge . . . “Serfs Up!” He also ridicules the author-editor, me, in a few subtle points, but that’s definitely consistent . . .

So far everything has contained, as well, an intentional taint of cheapness which is secretly false, if you follow, as in the theory of BullDaDa according to Doug Smith. If we’re going to laugh, or make them think were laughing, at the bullshit we parody, then we have to trick them into having to decide whether we really are or whether we’re not, by giving them apparently CHEAP work which is, upon closer inspection, tight and good.

This reinforces the theme which I establish independently, which is to bludgeon the reader with the problem of WHAT HE’S GOING TO DO WITH HIS LIFE, by overuse of the analogical literary problem of WHO’S DOING THE INTERPRETING HERE. In modern literary scholarship (in academia) a debate rages over the possible modes of interpretation, with the faction that would banish the author’s intentions currently holding the upper hand. All the conflicts in possible interpretation lead back to the supereminent question of whether or not the author is going to be allowed to mean what he means . . . whether the self-indulgent reader is going to let himself off the hook by a corrupt doctrine that denies objective communication. We use the theme over and over, and I do it in almost every piece . . . and it is reinforced on a subtler plane with struts that virtually FORCE the reader to ENGAGE, to make a choice, to take an active role. (In video media, the viewer is essentially passive, P.P.S.) This is the key to understanding where the corrupt modernists make fools of themselves: in that they keep missing the point, in Pyncheon, for instance, that by giving the reader an incredible, incredibly wide ‘field of play’ we demand that he take an active role, which is like about as obvious as you can get in the task telling them nicely that YOU MOTHERFUCKERS HAVE GOT TO CONCEIVE OF THIS PROJECT AS ONE OF REAL HUMAN ACTIVITY AND THEREFORE, ERGO, ONE WHERE THE AUTHOR IS-- and can -- SAY SOMETHING MEANINGFUL, etc. etc. I must reword this. When they are presented with the choice it is made obvious that they must choose. That they must choose is final proof of -- even if only in minimal -- the author’s autonomy and control over the Text of the text, and it is a metafictional comment on the decay of the age that we must resort to such cheap tactics in order to deal with our degenerate audience of educated but pusillanimous critics.

All by way of leading back, since, remember, this is, this whole little literary debate is a metaphor, to the question of what to do with your life. It is resonance, this bit about choosing, engaging, and who’s going to be autonomous. I think I will have been successful in making the connection. In particular, I portray a ‘passive reader’ who is shot by a clown (the author) in what is scheduled to be the opening piece in the book. The theme is established, then: we’re tired of and disgusted with passivity and we hardly think that reading is going to do anything to cure it but this is one last try. . . .

In one piece I subtly comment on the destruction of the person that results from economization: Fraud, Cheat, Lie, Thrill is chock full of RIP-OFF and prostitution and loss, and emptiness. As a twist for the cognoscenti the piece itself will initially give its reader the feeling of having been ripped off, I hope and expect. Richard Miller (Sun Tzu) has one in which he baits the Jews and advocates assassination of mealy-mouthed religious leaders, to the effect that this is an avenue worth exploring in our quest for a life worth living. In another piece I deliver what I hope is a powerful little diagram of the three typical responses to State Power, along with an implied critical stance toward all of them, with the drawback that it does not end on an upbeat note, does not give as an avenue out.

In another, Schematic, I write an intentionally tedious and boring little narrative to 1) ridicule Beckett, and 2) show the sterility of the existentialists. This may be unnecessary, but it is something any new writer must do, you sort of have to Answer Each School, you know, deal them a blow or else make obeisances. I close with a very clear nihilist response, invoking Siva, goddess of destruction, in order to drive home the point that if this is what’s happening, I’d rather be planting bombs.

In Foreign Policy I make a very subtle comment on the relations between the superpowers and the third world, but it is mainly cast in terms of a perverse and unpleasant dialogue between painfully intimate individuals, the narrator being extremely unsympathetic up until the last word, and even then somewhat repellent, though necessarily, to drive home the point he makes against hierarchical, bureaucratized relationships. He’s shown participating in one, and then objecting to them, so since he has to be a participant in order to KNOW what is wrong, and since he couldn’t be a credible participant unless he committed the sins and follies of it, he is like a guy who wakes up at the end of a nightmare. We never fully get over our feeling that he is not yet cured. A teaser.

Finally in John’s Adventure I do a delirious treatment of the Zerzanist vision, and of course unfairly smear it. We have a short, quick little dialectic with the agent living in a world where literally EVERYTHING is falling apart, and he begins to participate in the process, with not one minor suggestion that there is a possibility of some other form of action which would be better. He’s really will-less even though he begins to kill, trash, etc. I don’t know if maybe there shouldn’t have been a contrasting figure who would show a will by refusing to harmonize with his environment, but . . . that’s moot now, and it is all so heavy that not one in a thousand will pick up on it enough to articulate this stuff the way I do. Hopefully they’ll dimly sense it, which is all they ever do with anything, and all I ever do with anything that I didn’t sweat over myself.

It will be fun, if we get any critical notice, to see to what extent the critics are able to pick up on all this. It is very obvious, and yet . . .

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