Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cruising in the Library

Document in progress.

Acker, Kathy,
Great Expectations
Baring-Gould, Sabine, The Book of Werewolves
Bersani, Leo, Caravaggio’s Secret
Bordowitz, Gregg, The AIDS Crisis is Ridiculous
Bronson, AA, Negative Thoughts
Burroughs, William S., Cities of the Red Night
Burroughs, William S., Exterminator!
Burroughs, William S., The Last Words of Dutch Schulz
Burroughs, William S., The Place of Dead Roads
Burroughs, William S., Port of Saints
Burroughs, William S., Queer
Burroughs, William S., The Western Lands
Burroughs, William S., The Wild Boys
Colum, Padraic, Nordic Gods and Heroes
Cooper, Dennis, Closer
Cooper, Dennis, Frisk
Cooper, Dennis, God Jr.
Cooper, Dennis, Guide
Cooper, Dennis, My Loose Thread
Cooper, Dennis, The Sluts
Cooper, Dennis, Try
Crossley-Holland, Kevin, The Norse Myths
D’Aulaires, Ingri and Edgar Parin, Book of Greek Myths
D’Aulaires, Ingri and Edgar Parin, Book of Norse Myths
Delany, Samuel R., Dhalgren
Delany, Samuel R., Hogg
Genet, Jean, Querelle
Guerin, Daniel, The Brown Plague
Guibert, Herve, Blindsight
Guibert, Herve, To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life
Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri, Multitude
Hine, Phil, Condensed Chaos
Home, Stuart, Slow Death
Jaffe, Harold, Jesus Coyote
Klein, Naomi, No Logo
Louv, Jason (Editor), Generation Hex
Metzger, Richard (Editor), Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult
Otten, Charlotte F. (Editor), A Lycanthropy Reader
Pinera, Virgilio, Rene's Flesh
Retort, Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War
Ricco, John Paul, The Logic of the Lure
Spender, Stephen, The Temple
Treleaven, Scott, The Salivation Army Black Book
Wojnarowicz, David, Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration

Thursday, September 18, 2008

State Your Purpose

The art world's professional protocol - CVs, statements of purpose, proposals, ETCETERA - are languages, codes, to which one must submit in order to be visible.  If they cannot be avoided, they should be adapted or perverted. 

This is intended as an artist's statement, uncooked cut-up, cycle of aphoristic paragraphs, and possession-conducive litany.

It is to remember that all art is magical in origin – music sculpture writing painting – and by magical I mean intended to produce very definite results.
-William S. Burroughs

Moon-mad wolf-men; beserker in a trance of fury; unholy alliance on the Holy Mountain; Orpheus in pieces; Balder pierced by harmless mistletoe; all of nature weeps; Actaeon transformed into a stag and devoured by his own hunting dogs; a heart dangling from under a hood of ribs and blooming luridly; a secret alphabet written in tangling branches; strayed Wandervogels imagining themselves as Templars and Apaches; ghosts breathing my dreams; hexes against the Living Death Culture Pact …

I am sick of Art Since 1900. I am sick sick sick of the sixties. Think about Comanche, Moche, and Viking warriors. Think about Mictlantecuhtli, Hermes, Loki, Isaiah. Think about divination mirrors and tomb portraits. No more 60s 70s 80s 90s. Think about 200 500 1000 2000 years ago. Think about right now. Think about friends who have died, others who are yet alive but live like zombies. Think about the near impossibility of feeding yourself, buying art supplies and paying off your student loans. Think about the violence and evil we daily perpetrate on each other and ourselves.

The term “fractal” means self-similar at any scale. When you look into a fractal form, you see variations on the overall shape of the set, no matter how much you increase the scale. It seems that the deeper into the image you go, the more there is to see. Everything is connected to everything else in the set. This similarity can also be seen in natural phenomena such as mountains, clouds, and coastlines. It can be seen to occur in the shape of molecules and galaxies. The fractal is fast becoming one of the most powerful metaphors for explaining and understanding the world. Consciousness can be modeled as having a fractal nature. Certainly much of our learning arises in our minds in the same way that a fractal is modeled on a computer screen. The processes of creative thinking constitute one example. We have isolated ideas, and gradually the relationships between ideas and concepts grow, until we suddenly perceive the “shape” of a new idea.
- Phil Hine, Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic

Tangling branches draw a shattered grid, like graph paper reflected in broken glass. Concentric circles rotate, contours clashing on unmoored orbits. No emotional scale. No control. I learn here the crucial value of defenselessness. The animals assemble. Do they grieve? Is their empathy murderous? Does sorrow whet their appetites? Nine months of risky behavior and self-loathing. No career and no practice.

Author the image, enflesh it, make it present, and then vanish it, eviscerate and pulverize it, rend its visibility. The artist’s work is similar to the low magician’s: appearing, disappearing, and reappearing.

I know dying’s no big deal. I realize it’s tantamount to a nap. But where I live, death’s the end. It’s erasure. It’s so heavy we decide the dead are just invisible and mute. Death’s so bad we’d rather go insane than know that one of us is nonexistent. That’s me. The world I come from is huge and disorganized and no fun, and nothing there makes any of us happy. You’d melt like an ice cube. It’s just constant pain and confusion like you couldn’t imagine.
- Dennis Cooper, God Jr.

… there are reasons stronger than the provisions of any law, inherent in tears, grief, death, blood, in gestures, objects, matter itself …
-Jean Genet, Querelle

A Gathering. A meeting place. The ebb and flow, warp and woof, of the social. The wait and the danger. Something is bound to happen. They are hot on the heels of love. Patience excruciates.

We will rewrite all the wrongs of history. We will kill all the shits before they can be born.
-William S. Burroughs, Port of Saints

What Destroys, Also Nourishes

What Destroys, Also Nourishes (For W.P.)

This frightens me:

His forward torso, thrust-out ass, palms of clawed hands up and out, and ear-to-ear grin on a moon face - he's predatory, bending over to snatch up his victim, but salacious too, like he's begging to get fucked. Mocking, shameless. Also, the heart plunging out from under his rib cage: a garish, puckered flower.

He also reminds me of Artemis, goddess of the Hunt and of the Moon, never to marry. Moonlight in branches draws a face, palms of clawed hand, up and out.

Thinking also of a grid reflected in
a broken mirror. Delany put it better, so I set this quote aside: "leafless branches like shatter lines on the night's smoked glass."

Made this for W.P., R.I.P.

Rex Nemorensis

Rex Nemorensis (Who Vainly Struggled Against its Influence, Who Deeply Lamented His Own Liability)

I took this picture on Little Mountain in February: JCDC as moon-mad beserker, as icycle-fanged wolfman.

Was thinking about the myth of Artemis and Actaeon, prompted either by a book of Greek myths or a painting, perhaps Titian's. The hunter, Actaeon, incur's Artemis' wrath for his immodesty and curiosity. He spies on her bathing, and she punishes him by turning him into a stag.  He is devoured by his own hounds.

From The Place of Dead Roads

"The creation of ANUS, the foundations of chaos."

Kim felt something stir and stretch in his head as horns sprout.... He writhes in agony, in bone-wrenching spasms, as a blaze of silver light flares out from his eyes in a flash that blows out the candles on the altar. The crystal skull lights up with lambent blue fire, the shrunken heads gasp out a putrid spicy breath, the mandrake screams:


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Wild Boys 2 by Elijah M. Burgher

Chapter N: A Portrait of JCDC as Many, as Multitude, as Anon. & On & On.

To the North: Liquid helium barfed on gated gardens.
To the West: Jean Genet, Chicago 1968: I can’t wait for this city to rot. I can’t wait to see weeds growing up through empty streets.
To the South: Floods of rotten blood & gusting halitosis reek on White House lawn Easter egg hunts.
To the East: We will rewrite all the wrongs of history. We will kill all the shits before they can be born.

Weimar Germany, 1920s. Countryside. Roamers stray from foot-bitten paths. Members of hiking clubs remove their patches, drop their flags and emblems, forget pledges and club songs, chuck their scripts in the campfire. Identity laundering begins. Too many Big Pictures. It doesn’t make sense. So I am an Apache. My name is Winnetou. I ride an eight legged steed. I am a Templar Knight. I am drunk on Kvasir’s blood. I am a Universal Monster. I am The Entity, I am From Beyond. Make time machines and grave-rob feelings and sensations lost in dirt of overturned decades.

A photograph: That one wore a cloak of dark blue and he carried a traveler’s staff in his hands and walked with the Sorcerer’s Gait. This one wore Bavarian Wandervogel outfit: lederhosen, embroidered shirt with collar open at the neck, a jacket green like hunters wear, through the front of which there showed a band on which stags were embroidered. Those ones: bulky and sundry loads swaying on their backs. Enormous hiking boots. The most bizarre coverings on their heads. Black or gray Chaplinesque bowlers. Old women’s hats with the brims turned up in “Amazon” fashion adorned with ostrich plumes and medals. Proletarian navigator caps decorated with enormous edelweiss above the visor. Handkerchiefs or scarves in screaming colors tied any which way around the neck. Bare chests bursting out of open skin vests with broad stripes. Arms scored with fantastic or lewd tattoos. Ears hung with pendants or enormous rings. Immense triangular belts daubed with all the colors of the rainbow, esoteric numbers, human and animal figures copied from cave paintings, drawings of UFOs, sigils and runes. Enormous leather bracelets and plastic spangles. The whole lot, a bizarre mixture of virility and effeminacy.

They hang from trees, shaking down twigs and dead branches. Crouching, they crowd about the strewn bits, attempting to read the marks and shapes they draw on the packed black soil and red pine needles. They close one eye, the better for scrying; they say it “strangles the aperture.” The twigs and branches spell out a secret alphabet, but they must wait for the meaning to be clarified, for the message to be delivered. Sometimes they mutter, “You Forgot to Answer.” Their painful waiting in the face of an inscrutable picture is dangerous waiting: the patience excruciates. Deep Depression Ecology. Their gestures of mimicry are Sympathetic Magic. They disarm their opponents by surprising them with displays of WONDERFULLY cute violence.

They have no books or DVDs, so they recite weird tales and slasher flicks and other stories from memory. Soon they’ve stripped the stories to lists of names and attributes. They’ve boiled off the plot: I am an Apache. A Templar Knight. A Universal Monster. The Entity From Beyond – I’ve survived the Event Horizon. [Each speaks in turn.] I am a Fox. A Raven. A Wildebeest. A Salamander. A Snow Leapord. A Red Panda. I’m a Stealth Bomber. An Improvised Explosive Device. I’m the Large Hadron Collider. I am Ginnungagap, Chasm of Chasms, World-Swallower. I am Artemis, never shall I marry. I am Lydia Lunch. Kim Gordon. AA Bronson: Healer. I am Mictlantecuhtli, Red Skeleton, my name is Death. I am a Mugwump. I am Secession 2012. I am Close to the Night of the Long Knives.
They put the words in a time machine. The words return from antiquity, 1930s Schwarzwald, New England witchhunts, scenes of Spaniards melting off the soles of Aztec feet, AIDS plagued gay ghettoes in 1980s USA, they return from prehistory, from the company of dinosaurs, chilled by the Ice Age. The words return as pictures. They return pulverized, like a litter of kittens microwaved on high for five.

A photographer and a poet in a wrecked room. Both consider themselves conscientious objectors to the small minded Big City art world. This is the basis of their friendship. The photographer removes his glasses and wipes at his sweaty brow with his shirtsleeve, replaces his glasses. The other one doesn’t know what to do with his face: he is concerned, of course, but also incredulous and very curious too.

“What was he like?”

“WONDERFUL!” he said again. His eyes were open very wide.

“What was he like then?”

“Oh, he was WONDERFUL! He was like a dark angel of destruction. Look around this room and you will see what he was like.” His eyes glowing – a producer, a showman. Removing his glasses again, he jumps about the studio, playing the different parts. Feet stomping, with an exaggerated deep voice, he goes: “Since you have desecrated my party outfit, now we shall desecrate your studio.”

The narrator rushes to the kitchen: “He rushed to the kitchen and took a hammer out of a drawer and he gave one of the others a clasp knife. They high-fived and then mewed like kittens.” He pantomimes doing all of this. Now twirling about: “Then he rushed around like a dervish, smashing the glass of all the lamps in this studio and the mirror in the bathroom and the bookshelves.” He makes smashing sounds with his mouth. Everything has already been smashed to bits. “Then he started wrenching the chairs out of shape.” More crashing and smashing sounds with his mouth. “He must by WONDERFULLY strong.”

The photographer replaces his glasses and assumes a professorial air. “The cliques are nothing new. They are born out of the chaos of peacetime inflation, ongoing conflicts abroad, housing and credit crises, high unemployment rates, the collapsing dollar, student loan debt, workplace raids, ETCETERA. These movements aspire to a better future, for which their adherents are willing to work, mainly by destroying what exists. They usually dissolve at the beginning of winter and celebrate their ‘rebirth’ at Easter time.

“For the uprooted and frequently homeless, they offer a communal way of life, camaraderie, and a sense of danger and adventure. To escape depression and suicide, they create a fantasy world for themselves.

“The names which the cliques give themselves are meaningful only to them: Blood of the Indians, Blood of the Carcasses, Magick Vs. Technology, Black Love, The Dark Ages of Love, The Temple of Psychic Youth, Bloody Carcasses, Pirates of the Forest, the Invisibles, and J├Ąger Guzzlers. They’ve all read Crowley, Blake, and National Geographic.”
The photographer lowers his voice: “There are secret initiation rites … at night, in some deserted forest, Humboldt Park, along the lakeshore … dreadful trials …” His voice attenuates to silence as he hands the other an envelope containing some photographs.

A collection of naked adolescents hanging from branches by their wrists or tied up at the top of a tree with their hands behind their backs while members of the clique, also naked, brandish phallic emblems around them. Some draw a circle and invoke the four cardinal points. They mouth the words without speaking them aloud: I can’t wait for this city to rot. I can’t wait to see weeds growing up through empty streets.

Ghost Vomit

The name of this blog is borrowed from a favorite song of mine called "Heartworms" by the late and beloved Coil. Over a lurching, churning pattern of electronic noises, Jhon Balance chants, Magus-like, "There's too much blood in my alcohol," and then further on, after moaning about demons entering in through his ears: "Ghosts vomit over me." More on Coil:

I intend this as an experiment, a hybrid journal, sketchbook, and archive. Experiences, enthusiasms, and exorcisms are game. How do myriad threads of thought combine into a full-throttle idea? I might tear this down. I don't know what its supposed to do. I don't know if it will violate tacit protocol (of discretion? maintenance of illusions?) - and, if that were the case, would that constitute a reason itself?

Not of One Skin

April 08. WSB: "April is the cruellest month mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain ..."

Was reading The Book of Werewolves, by Sabine Baring-Gould, and A Lycanthropy Reader, edited by Charlotte F. Otten, reading casually, i.e., not front to back, or even completely. Also was reading several books of compiled Norse mythology, including the beautifully illustrated D’Aulaires Book of Norse Myths. Thinking about werewolves, beserkers, transformation, lack of control. I’d written a paragraph-long bit of prose for an exhibition catalog accompanying a show about transformation, about shape-changing, which gets to the heart of what I'd been thinking about:

Transformation is not always or even usually willed. Consider lycanthropy. Werewolves are subject to wildness temporarily and involuntarily. The pathos of the lycanthrope lies in his intermittent social malfunctioning and inability to cope with the consequences. Although usually yoked to metaphors for bestialized libido, the figure of unfettered sexuality he cuts would better be subsumed under a larger umbrella: the death drive. Why not a cipher instead for alcoholism? Self-sabotage? Addiction to failure? Abdication of responsibility? Extreme hate? Abandonment of ambitions? Bipolar disorder? Suicide? The werewolf surveys the havoc he has wrought remorsefully, like an alchoholic sobering up after a bender. The shape into which he shifts does not fit into social norms, nor should it necessarily. Thus, as much as he victimizes others, his wolf-form also makes of his humanity the prey of his predatory behavior. As both lion and lamb to himself, he is also a figure of Poetry.

Also thinking about Gauguin: his directness; his intense, symbolic color. What's left of him after feminist, anti-racist, and postcolonial critiques have picked over him is something yet sympathetic: a desire for radical Otherness in an increasingly homogenous world. An exhilarating, horrifying Otherness might yet be found inside, in the evil that we resist and yet to which we continually succumb.