5cense home

 349 Genre-fication en gender suicide & the duality in dividing individuals & their art

in out feedback loop machine

IN(x): {Writing and Difference by Jacques Derrida, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner, Tales of Ordinary Madness by Charles Bukowski, continued reading of The Odyssey & Ulysses & the various events of the day}

OUT(x) : {chapter 4 draft of 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY', Niceties by Elizabeth Mikesch (released), Travel Notes by Stanley Crawford (back from printer), The Static Herd by Beth Steidle (to the printer) & misc continued ramblings on the perils of individuality & gender}

... not that the output has much to do with the input in this equationed occasion, dear Internet. The Derrida book we started to talk about in the last post ... it sort of loses steam after the first essay, especially when Derrida gets all religious on our ass, bringing in His judaism ... even has the gall to speculate that not only all of humanity but writing is derived from judaism. We'll have more to generally say about this later, as this seems to be what has been preoccupying our mind mostly this past week—this idea of attaching attributes or qualities to personal ego & in the process alienating those not privy to your club, whether it be religion, race, sexual orientation or gender ... & how in the end it's the art/information that gets compromised.

In the 7th essay on "Freud and the Scene of Writing," Derrida says some interesting things that tie in w/ our recent thoughts on man vs. machine, spurned by reading How We Became Posthuman.

«The machine is dead. It is death. Not because we risk death in playing machines, but because the origin of machines is the relation to death. In a letter to Fliess, it will be recalled, Freud, evoking his representation of the psychical apparatus, had the impression of being faced with a machine which would soon run by itself. But what was to run by itself was the psyche and not its imitation or mechanical representation. For the latter does not live. Representation is death.»

... & then he ends the essay by posing the question: «How for example, on the stage of history, can writing as excrement separated from the living flesh and the sacred body of the hieroglyph (Artaud), but put into communication with what is said in Numbers about the parched woman drinking the inky dust of the law; or what is said in Exekiel about the son of man who fills his entrails with the scroll of the law which has become sweet as honey in his mouth?»

Not exactly sure what he means, but it sounds cool ... the way he says it. The collection redeems itself somewhat by the 10th essay, on "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" ... especially in talking about bricolage & Lévi-Strauss (who also seems to be on our mind a lot lately): «There is a critique of language in the form of bricolage, and it has even been said that bricolage is critical of language itself.»

Derrida then goes on to relate this to the role of author & mythology & how it relates to the notion of absence (quoting Lévi-Strauss):

«The absence of a center is here the absence of a subject and the absence of author: "Thus the myth and musical work are like conductors of an orchestra, whose audience becomes the silent performers. It it is now asked where the real center of the work is to be found, the answer is that this is impossible to determine. Music and mythology bring man face to face with potential objects of which only the shadows are actualized .... Myths are anonymous.»

Ever since the self-authored Ark Codex (inspired in large part by reading Derrida), we've strived to cast our absentee ballot as author ... continuously trying to question the role of writers in relation to book, or more generally artists & art, bricklayers & bricks. More recently we've thinking beyond this, more generally about the human impulse to tether ego to our physical existence ... how to liberate ourself from human bondage. Not sure what this has to do w/ the above bricolaged bric-a-brac ... we're just thinking out loud ...

Bukowski, Derrida, Leyner

The Mark Leyner book—The Sugar Frosted Nutsack—was a guilty pleasure. We admit (somewhat shamefully) that in the 90s we indulged in most everything Leyner wrote ... but—not sure if it's him or us—he's lost his charm somewhat in this most recent outing. Still ridiculously funny & smutty, but perhaps over the top ... too shticky.

Bukowski's Tales of Ordinary Madness was another book we enjoyed in the 90s, or 80s, along w/ most of his other books ... but re-reading it, not sure it stands the test of time. Bukowski got away w/ being a degenerate & misogynist asshole back then—maybe cuz every once in a while he'd interject something sweet & sensitive—but now we're not sure there's enough payoff. Or maybe it's just us, taking ourselves too seriously ... or again, maybe cuz we've been dwelling on this separation of writers & their writing & Bukowski is definitely in the camp of writers where it's more about the writer than the writing ... his life as a sort of performance art w/ his writing being just the way he self-documented himself. But if you take Bukowski out of the equation, if you didn't have the beastly image of Bukowski writing it—as anonymous texts—the actual writing is meaningless testosteroni & cheese.

We were reading Bukowski mostly cuz our brother was reading him in the travel journal we are currently reading/editing, in the name of Chaulky (we finished a draft of chapter 3 of 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY'—which we tentatively entitled «Diary from the Halcyon Fish Delly (Proteus)»). In this chapter, our brother continues on his odyssey to Nepal & India & eventually circling back home to L.A., effectively ending the Telemachus book, w/i the larger book. And we remain in Manhattanville. It's snowing again, the Hudson sill looks like a glacier & the groundhog saw it's shadow.

In other Calamari news, Elizabeth Mikesch Niceties was officially released. We got Stanley Crawford's Travel Notes back from the printer & are sending it out for review (contact us if interested in an ARC). And we sent The Static Herd by Beth Steidle to the printer.


Cal A. Mari as a formulation of mind-body severance

... back to this (idea of) tethering ego to the individual's output ... again, thinking out loud. Whether it's Woody Allen or Richard Sherman, it seems people for the most part have a problem separating art from the artist. The general public are for the most part people persons, social creatures. They like to be entertained or enlightened, but there needs to be a human face to attribute this to, preferably a celebrity recognizable enough that you can yack about it on common ground around the water cooler or in a bar. Yeah, it seems fucked that Woody Allen received a lifetime achievement award ... honoring his films is 1 thing, but this is an award that is about the man (which includes his woody & where he sticks it). We've long since resolved our conflicted thoughts on Woody & put him (the person, along w/his woody) out of our mind & enjoy watching or re-watching his films (tho his later 1s suck). Same w/ Roman Polanski ...tho Polanksi's off-screen antics are arguably more acceptable by certain societies (namely where he sought exile to). Even if you don't believe Dylan Farrow, marrying someone you adopt seems plain wrong (how it was even legally allowed is mind-boggling—you can marry your own daughter in this country, but not another consenting adult of the same gender?!) & symptomatic of the kind of person Woody is. But still, people would rather give Woody Allen the benefit of the doubt than Dylan Farrow & honor him for his lifetime of pedophilia.

... not that we're saying Woody Allen should only be remembered as a pedophile ... he should be remembered for his film-files. Richard Sherman should be remembered for blocking an other-wise game-winning pass in the NFC championship game. Seems strange we'd expect football players to be classy off the field when we expect them to be barbaric brutes on the field. It's all just entertainment, fueled by our expectations.

Richard Sherman

it's a fine line ... Judging the art, not the artist ... or to not judge at all, but just appreciate for what it is. In some cases it's (personally) made easier when we don't admire the output enough to accept the off-field/off-screen antics ... Kobe Bryant is a rapist, not worthy of real-estate in our headspace. Justin Beiber is easy to dismiss as another victim of American-idolization ... as Stephen King tweeted to him: «...life is a banquet of free food. What they don't tell you is that you are often the last course.» To be expected perhaps of those wanting to be celebrities.

We're stepping through the door
We're shooting from the heart
And if we get it wrong
They'll feed us to the sharks


Forget athletes & celebrities, what of artists & writers? How do you (your corporeal self) avoid not becoming shark food? Perhaps Pynchon & Salinger were onto something ... until their choice to distance their private selves from their writing became in itself an attribute for the public to fixate on. Reading Derrida & re-reading our brother's thesis has us catching up on Paul de Man ... guess he was recently in the news as a new autobiography reveals he was an anti-semite ... a distinction seemingly attributed to many writers ... just read a Markson novel & you will probably find out that most of your favorite writers were anti-semites. Does this mean we should stop reading them? That we should judge the author over the book? it becomes more difficult to keep it straight in our mind as the writer becomes more tethered to the work—as seems to be the case of philosophers, people of ideas.

unknown comic

It's also human nature to want to reduce people to a sound byte, or bullet points at best ... in the compulsion to say current w/ the news of the day. If you didn't know who Phillip Seymour Hoffman was before yesterday, you now know him as someone who was «found dead with a needle sticking out of his arm» ... this is how it was messaged in virtually all the headlines (before notifying his family first) ... not just in the likes of TMZ (where the words "NEEDLE FOUND IN ARM" are in a font-size twice that of his name) but in the likes of the NY Times. Forget about his lifetime achievement of work, people will only remember that headline. This becomes the convenient attribute that sticks.

PSH's death particularly gutted us cuz in many ways he reminded us of our brother, who died in the same way ... the brother who we are currently co-writing SSES with. There's a lot buried there, beneath that seemingly simple & stupid action of sticking a needle in your arm. There's a host of inexpressible emotions & thoughts that drive someone to this act, that can find release in no other way. In the case of PSH, this is evident even in his acting ... no matter what role he played, you always sensed there was something else at play, that needed to be expressed & this is what made him so brilliant. For half his life he was able to channel & mask it into his art ... but in the end he couldn't bottle it anymore. And in the end, the public is to blame ... how did we let this happen? The stigma is worse than the drug.

Exploitation—whether it be blaxploitation or X-ploitation (where X stands for any attribute or quality))—can of course be a 2-way street & usually is. The flip-side is when artists & writers exploit personal attributes & interject/embed them into their art, whether the attribute has to do w/ religion, race, nationality, gender, sexual preference or what substance you choose to stick in your body ... to the extent that they commodify this quality as genre, to the exclusion of others. There's nothing to say when someone tells you: «it's a _____ thing, you wouldn't understand.» As we said already in this post (back when we purposely didn't name names for similar reasons as we are getting at here): «When you portray your own people as a «chosen» people, how is that supposed to make others that aren't chosen feel?»

... not that we don't want to hear different perspectives (as we said in the last post, difference is at the root of what makes art art), from people w/ different sets of attributes than ourself ... it's only when this attribute becomes what it's all about, commodifies itself. And when people express excessive pride in regards to this single quality & end up stereotyping or parodizing themselves. Who was it that said that nationalism breeds racism? Pride makes dipshits of people (just watch Sherman's post-game reaction). Pride comes at the expense of others unaffiliated. We've had more than one gay friend tell us they don't accept bisexuality as a legitimate sexual preference—that bisexuals are just afraid to admit they are homosexuals, one foot still in the closet ... but how is this any different than being homophobic?

Unless of course there's an agenda to your writing or art ... in which case it's not really art. In some situations, declaring your sexual preference is perhaps necessary to instigate change, or to retain your pride or dignity ... Binyavanga Wainana (a friend from our Nairobi days) recently outted himself in reaction to Nigeria's insane new law against homosexuality (not to mention Kenya & Uganda's laws already on the books). While this is admirable & brave & necessary, hopefully this won't make Binyavanga become a «gay writer» ... 1 that is known more for his gayness or activism than his art (unless of course this is what he wants to be known for).

There's many variations on this theme, especially if you start mixing qualities (2 nights ago we had dinner w/ a friend that is gay & muslim ... imagine that conversation w/ your dad), but you can really get to the root of it when you simply consider just gender ... we understand that the need for a feminist movement or «women's writing» stemmed originally from inequalities & injustices, that 'they' are affirmatively re-balancing the scales (we say 'they' cuz how else can that make us not a part of that classification feel?) ... but in all fairness, why isn't there a masculinist movement, or a genre of «men's writing»? If we are not careful will the scales tip until the oppressed become the oppressor?

unknown comic

(for those wanting to pursue the idea of gender neutrality in the guise of fictionalized novelization, try the above A Mortal Affect ... or also The Revisionist (told from the P.O.V. of a genderless narrator)

& speaking of androgynous beings unified as 1, we came across this article today in BOMB by Veronika Vogler about Genesis Breyer P-Orridge ... the 1st 1 (along w/Lady Jaye) to transcend gender ... or at least the self's attachment to it.

You can't deny that there's 2 types of people born w/ certain different organs, but at least for those of us that have chosen not to reproduce ourselves, is it really necessary to affiliate yourself w/ a gender? Even for those who reproduce, who's to say you can't change mid-stream? (We have another friend w/ 2 mothers, both biological (ok, 1 that started h/er life as father). This is the kind of stuff that makes our modern world tick & progress & evolve. 1 day even genderization will be seen as what it is—a mere specialization necessary only to reproduce, no more than that. Whatever people want to make of gender as individuals is up to the individual.

Such things are weighing on our mind perhaps cuz we recently watched Candy Darling (... speaking of recent deaths that saddened us, she's the Candy in Lou Reed's Candy Says & that he also took a walk w/ on the wild side)(she's also definitely in the category of artists who themselves are definitively the work of art) or maybe cuz last night we watched the dud of a super bowl at our transgender friend's house ... in such a context, imagine how innapropriate & insensitive Pet Detective is (ok, it's pretty fucking funny, but still ...). Being transgender is bottom of the barrel right now as far as socially acceptable human qualities. If Dr. V (of recent magical putter fame) was gay or black or whatever, the story would've never been published. It is appalling that the piece remains up (rather than link to it, better to link to this piece about how it should be taken down). This circles us back to what we were trying to get at in the beginning of this post ... in the end Dr. V wanted to be remembered for her magical putter, but instead she will be remembered for her transgenderness  ... & her unfortunate suicide, which inevitably Caleb Hannan & Grantland are directly responsible for. Just like the U.S. government is responsible for killing Aaron Swartz.

magic putter

the magic of the putter is the duality of holey absence

Guess what we're getting at is it seems more emphasis needs to be put on the art than the artist, the distinction between body & body of work. In the terms of Deleuze & Guattari we need to view everyone & everything as Bodies w/o Organs ... only then are we truly liberated. Or as Antonin Artaud (also 1 of Derrida's primary muses) said:

When you will have made him a body without organs,
then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions
and restored him to his true freedom.

(... tho note the gender-bias inherent in at least the English translation). When we started this post, we gave it the working title: «Trans-world identity in a globally indexed world», thinking we would talk about the likes of Liebiniz, the identity of indiscernibles, Kierkegaard & alienation ... but as usual we never really got around to talking about any of these things we intended to talk about. Maybe next time ...


  > 350 > Hand-me-down entelechy, fey, mutating hipness & the self-conscious shame in faces, sweating & Junk

5cense home

[  com.Posted 2014  derek white  |  calamari press   ]