The Opposite of the Exit.

In Band news, once again Jonny and I are left without personnel to perform our bizarre creations. People are stunned by the talent and ingenuity we exhibit when there are a few people to help bring the conceptions to life, but in the small city there aren’t enough poor boys to sing in a rock & roll band. So we are reduced to laconic non-committal promises to ourselves between each other to keep practicing somehow, and maybe if we can get a couple good tape recorders, reel-to-reel… well, we could lay down the rhythm track, turn the basement into a laboratory, and then play it back while recording the harmony, vocals, lead parts. Fat chance, but… I ordered some theory books down at the store to help load the program. Write one set of lyrics a week, figuring that the more I do (given a percentage of acceptable or even superlative), the more usable material will be generated. (I did a Ballad of Gordon Kahl, by the way.)

Filthy, what issues have your articles on the Triple Fallacy and the Triad of Principles, or whatever it was that came to an end around #99? I want to get some of the back issues that have Phil’s Marketguard pieces and your other major ones.

Quote of the day, from Tristan Tzara, Father of DADA and propagandist nonpareil: “Every man must shout: there is great destructive, negative work to be done. To sweep, to clean. The cleanliness of the individual materializes after we’ve gone through folly, the aggressive, complete folly of a world left in the hands of bandits who have demolished and destroyed the centuries. With neither aim nor plan, without organization: uncontrollable folly, decomposition.”

Tzara and DADAism appear to me to represent a grasping after liberty that arose fiercely — with an explosion — because it had no agar agar, no tradition, no heritage: recall the jesuit’s article in Machan’s Libertarian Alternative that traces the “Two opposing theories of Freedom of our Philosophical heritage.” In Eastern Europe, from then until now, to be a libertarian meant to be an anti-rationalist because the entire rationalist institution monolith was derived from Hegel, Comte, Marx, and the confused people who maintained that freedom was primarily freedom from our passions, that liberty derived from obeying the law. Tzara is refreshing and amazing, and I recommend to you his book Seven DADA manifestos. You’ll be confirmed in your suspicion if you already tend to think that, despite the preachments of the (… ? …) DADA and surrealism are the art of our century, the art of our culture. I saw The Birds, Hitchcock, on Jonny’s TV last night. Pure DADAism, but divorced from its roots. Larry, Moe and Curly. The Little Rascals. The conscious hoax of modern art. Rage against our poverty; the pain of humor expressing the giddy mix of emotion, the sense of tragedy and loss, I can’t go on

In Bob Black news, he told me he’s going to have to get his own sub so as not to use up my submission rights… Hope so. Chris Cooper tells me he can’t read Inside Joke either, print too small. Oh, oh, song on the radio… Lennon’s imitation of Christ, “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” Absolutely basic bass riff. Funny: who crucified this one: the nameless one, alienated man. Andre Breton: “The simplest surrealist act consists of dashing down the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd.” Anyone out there who wants a copy of commentary, by a London Situationist, on the Death of Lennon, can send me two bucks at 530 No. Main #7, Sheridan, WY 82801. He was killed by the same man who killed god.

I’ll be enclosing some letters to the editor that I have done… none of the ones that got me cut off, because they were too long… maybe next time. The Sheridan Press has evidently gotten pressure from someone out there, probably the Chamber of Commerce, worried that tourists read this paper and might get the “wrong” impression about Our Town… and they have not printed me for a long time. I sent a review of TC to them, but even my toned-down tone was too much for them. (Maybe the Berkeley Review will print it.) But the Casper Star-Tribune hasn’t cut me off.

In other news, on the 15th of April I and several pals went down to the ole Post Office to carry signs that slandered the IRS, denigrated the income tax, abused the government, insulted decency, and rallied much cheerful response from like-minded members of the oppressed middle class who actually have had it up to their keisters. We handed out an innocuous flyer inviting the interested to contact the Heroes of the Libertarian Party should they want more info. As could have been expected given the geographical proximity to Mr. Kahl’s Debacle, we were spied on as if we were avowed and armed bomb-throwers and rioters. We were followed by thugs, pestered and provoked by people with eastern accents, and photographed from across the street (it was ludicrously open) by a nervous fellow (I asked him if he got any good shots) in a pickup truck that said “BK Construction” on the side. That company is not in the phone book. There were three of us and we estimate fifteen of them… they probably reassigned the local drug spies, since WY is sort of a model state: they’ve been doing hideously expensive dragnets left and right for the last two years, mopping up sectors on a timed basis… as there are plenty of them, extra help, available. I also guess that if the alert members of the Safety Corps read all kinds of subversive literature, they’ve seen my name around… as they say, Ah, well.

Method. H’m. I’d like to extend an invitation, or a question, to all subscribers, asking them to describe their approach to reading and study. For instance, sensations you experience while reading, the way you mentally file, whether you are pursuing a program of study (for some scholarly reason) and if you aren’t (or when you have time off from it), what criteria you use to select a new book, whether you have a tentative list of books to read someday, what some of them are. Just describe, maybe get on a roll, do a rant, without any point to illustrate or thrust to wrap up the paragraph with… drifting… some aspect of the slice of your life that is your total interaction with, or use of, these things… I guess I mean just talking about it. Then sooner or later I’ll do the same…

Listing evidence of my influence. I sat down the other day and asked myself what evidence there was that I have had any lasting influence, intellectually, in the area. The first thing that came to mind was the time I discovered that one of the coffee bar habitues had gone to the library and checked out Anarchy, State and Utopia and read it through. He’s since been a lot calmer and more willing to listen when we discuss issues and one or more of us is talking a “libertarian” line… previously he’d been a George Will follower, “We need a King,” etc. I think the experience of running into an intellectually respectable presentation of these types of arguments convinced him that it was okay to talk about these perspectives… and that we weren’t secretly commies or something. Then there is my boss, who has picked up on Hayek, reading Road to Serfdom and Counter-Revolution of Science, and asked me to get him a copy of the Constitution of Liberty. He now argues Hayek Hayek Hayek all the time when he isn’t playing devil’s advocate… This section has been rewritten, and I cut a page of fluff… in other closing lines I talked about more subtle proofs of changes I Had Wrought, and how I think it is a fair assessment to say that there are now four people who could begin generating the propaganda line autonomously if they had some good incentive, like a totalitarian measure that hit them in their wallets. They don’t see GULAGs and stormtroopers under the bed… they see ’em around the next corner. But it gives me a special thrill to watch my friends, who once defended the draft, or liquor licensing, etc., now capably arguing against these things when the mood strikes them. Former Republicans telling newcomers to the coffee bar that drug laws are absurd… ah, when there are newcomers we always shine, we get a chance to watch for actual feedback that is absent during the bored rehearsals…

I had another comment on mechanics of TC but I forgot it. I’ll keep my eyes open and try to remember for next time. The feedback loop of a line commenting on itself… And sooner or later maybe I’ll start a series of articles on What Would Make Me Happy.

Note: those of you with a few extra bucks in your phone budget are encouraged to call Dial-A-Rumor at 1-415-843-7474. You can get the latest (very entertaining) and insert your own. One fast rule: no Reagan rumors, because they have become tiresome.

Comments and Replies.

George K.: Ok. I don’t intend to always rank writers on the basis of their readership (it strikes me now that this would be an implicit insult to you among others), but among those that I think are top grade, if they have achieved a wide audience I think it is only more reason to put them higher on a scale, in the list of Works To Read. If I read for a number of purposes (and I do), then some of those purposes are well served by seeking out the underground, and some well served by checking with the bestseller lists. Although time has not yet yielded to you the fruits of true path-breaking work (only slightly tongue-in-cheek, that) you do not seem insensible to the mechanism of peer review… and if we ask why you haven’t been invited into the inner circles yet, the first thing that strikes me is the difficulty of following your thought… the first difficulty being format, which is not at all trivial or picayunish when you face an audience that must divide up its time and energy according to what it guesses will be the maximal uses… so at the very least you need a few of what the music business calls “hooks,” so as to grab attention and impart the feeling that there is some reason to follow your thought in the first place. But I don’t listen to hooked tunes exclusively; I set aside some time for different kinds. So far I haven’t had time etc enough to get around to Berg, Schoenberg, et al, as much as I would like if I wanted to feel I had a comprehensive view. Depth, breadth. They are not so comparatively essential as to overweigh other possible uses of my time…

It may be what you say that counts, but how you say it is part of it, part of the what! Matter of fact, an eye to style is a pretty efficient method of filing for reference, and allows you to cheaply discover others who are working in your field: that is, if there are others who already said what you said, better, it is in your interest to find this out quickly before much time is wasted. (I don’t think it is really a problem with your case.) Transpose, translate. Why bother, according to Kysor. They ought to know I’m worth hearing, and make the effort of learning Swahili. Well, it’s a two way street. As to concisely, that’s fine too… but ambiguity: I may want to communicate ambiguity or ambiguously… most often in humor… do you listen to the Blues? It’s never played in the key it’s written in. For good reason… the particular modes are well suited to the modulations… especially when you consider the rhythm… And yes, you can attain a high level of clarity when expressing ambiguity or ambiguously. What is the lingo of dangerous diplomacy? Humor is often found in… conciseness: when the speaker is saying more than one thing at once! How can you claim to be concise when you limit yourself to a unidimensional mode? You waste space, thought! Pack more than one meaning into the statements! That’s concise! A statement with wide application is more concise — if it has the same number of words — than one with limited application.

Why don’t I explain my brand of existentialism? Because I don’t have one. Because everything I say is an explanation of it, and because an ivory tower systemization would be 1) waste of time; duplication; 2) boring for me if not for others; 3) impossible given my lack of training; 4) the opposite of my brand of existentialism! — which does not place much value on G. Reith spending time systematizing his thoughts, which are hard to systematize anyway. But I hear you, bro: if I ask why you are so systematic, you can ask me why I’m not systematic enough. Maybe later I’ll do more and you less. Sorry. See, once I was walking through the park and I found this guy on a bench, mumbling in his beard, and I heard a few works that caught my interest, but damn! I had to go meet my girl, and I was late, but I wanted to hear if this guy was really onto something I’d been wondering about. I shook him. “Hey old man, speak up!” He mumbled some more. So I poked him in the ribs to see if he’d squeal. Then I had to run, but I figured I’d see him around some other time.

Witham, thanks for note about comic, hope future ones will be as entertaining.

Mike G.: Sure, right, of course: you like having a discussion with the alert as opposed to the somnolent. I think the level of interaction here is the tops anywhere. Fref is so cheap it’s hard to read: when I do some posters I’ll send ’em out, but I won’t spend my time talking there. There’s nothing wrong with the mechanics: I was telling what I’d observed. You confirm it somewhat: you’re perhaps one of the ones the mechanic maximizes for.

Joe F.: Soft answers work pretty well in your job? I hope: it must get irritating to see a lot of really blatant abuse. I work in the service industries, and I get dulled out just dealing with low-level constant demands. The worst situations are the ones where I don’t have the authority to take care of some need, when it’s in question, but an answer is demanded immediately; luckily I have excellent employers who have never failed to back up their employees. Then there’s when people expect more than is implicit in the verbal contract, and get mad at you… a roller coaster. “Don’t worry, it’s not me, it’s the institution of clerks they are mad at… ” “Aw, they’re just jerks anyway.” The rules of polite conversation are broken more than any other… and probably generate more outrage than any breaking of statutes…

Jim D.: The difference between criticism and positive assertion is pretty vague… but visualize the crowd, or the salon, where one makes a speech about something, and is either heckled or questioned. Perhaps it is not in the content but in the temporal order… When were your major essays on Theory and Practice? Maybe I could get the back issues. Sure forum implies debate, yeah, and criticism, I think it’s fine. Maybe an amendment: the TC forum will maximize for a higher turnover in the monologuers than in the critics? And only the strongest survive… I don’t think you have to be nice all the time… when you’re in the right position, an insult is more powerful than a compliment in cementing a relationship… One thing that’s difficult for me is finding enough space: I want to comment on so much, and at the same time get off a few general monologues… If I don’t directly answer a question, I fear that the petitioner will feel snubbed, so…

WWW: Maybe you’re right that Cervantes is of less value today… for the general reader? It depends I think on what use you put it to… Quixote is an example of one of a small class of really excellent works that cover a multitude of styles, tell complete tales, avoid a lot of traps, and capture the essence of the times. If I’m reading to get a feeling for something, I go to the works like this. If I’m reading for diversion I pick lighter work by the minor leaguers. Gravity’s Rainbow is the statement of America (and the American world) in the twenty-first century. There’s no risk in saying it is THE LAST WORD. No harm in pointing out that the basic messages were also being said at the turn-of-the-century… he’s the greatest mind to have applied effort to it, and his is the most refined and perfect symphony… He won’t be surpassed until this culture is long gone and another, radically different, has arisen. I commend it to your study.

I think the supra-human standard of measure is not yet clear enough for me to make much sense of it. Shakespeare was a beatnik, who picked up on the various slangs of his day… it gets tautological: they were supra-human because they generated this Capital A Art, and we know it’s Capital A Art because they were supra-human societies… I think they were corrupt, lazy, diseased societies. Was it you who went on about an objective difference between “rock” and “classical” music? This is a confession of illiteracy, and the use of art as a window dressing rather than a stimulator, an experience in and of itself. Actually, the great composers travelled around and stole themes left and right from the dirty folk musicians, then went home and hashed it all together in a Muzak sort of way to stage cheap-thrills spectacles for the bubble-heads of the aristocracy. The rock concerts today are only different in that with the energy forms available, more people or central direction (conductors) would be redundant and actually detract from the quality of the performance, the delivery (as opposed to the composition). This Capital A Art stuff is too fuzzy for me… I can’t see how all sorts of value judgements follow from any of the a prioris… give me something more concrete… tell me your uses, your sensations… More in future.

How many of you re-read your own contribution more than once, wincing over errors and clapping your hands over well-turned phrases?

Is Claustrophobia establishing a symbiotic relationship the way SRAF/TC interfacing was meant to?

How many of you have heard Jimi Hendrix’s Freedom? Cheap Trick’s Tax Man, Mr. Thief?

Filthy, I read about the Baa-Baaing at the convention in your anti-party tract… I hadn’t thought you’d be such a situationist, such a revolutionary propagandist… great! Superb! You’ve gone up in my estimation!

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