luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Depends how you think of difference I guess. The few people I know who consider themselves intelligent and artistic but also consider themselves individuals ("it's MY work. I made it up") are notably sterile. They can't contribute to conversations. They are frigid in that regard. Theyre scared of losing 'their' ideas. They havent figured out how this works yet. The vortex.
 

catalog

Well-known member
kind of unrelated, but i just thought of something else. Because the new is literally not known, when it does come, it is met with derision. connected, i suppose, to the idea of the announcement requiring a 'violence' of some sort.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Also was thinking - what artform would an ambitious avant-gardist choose nowadays if they wanted their ideas to escape the avant-garde petri dish and be of some significance to somebody who doesn't read The Wire and go for drinks at Cafe Oto?

When the modernists were revolutionising literature and the visual arts, for example, both of those cultural spaces had relevance to the wider world - John Carey actually argues in 'The Intellectual and the Masses' that modernism was a reaction to the growing relevance of these artforms due to mass literacy, etc. It was about taking back literature off the proles by making it extremely difficult to understand. This is an extremely uncharitable, some would say philistinistic view of modernism, but in any case the modernists were modernising things that people outside of their immediate circles were interested in - which is why (or was it appropriation by the capitalist/consumerist machine?) everyone's heard of Picasso, why Ulysses was a cause of scandal.

Not to say many people understand these things of course...

I less than half watched a documentary about ezra pound on the weekend and I wondered if Pound, if alive today, would bother being a poet, given how little people - even highly educated people - care about it, on the whole.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
I do think one of the many bad things about the internet is it shoves in your face how unpopular certain things are, and on a subconscious level you can't help but assign less value to things that are less popular. Or at least, I can't.

I used to be proud of liking things that nobody else liked, like I was in on a secret. Nowadays if I see that a tune on youtube has less than 1,000 views (and that's being charitable) I almost feel like 'what's the point?'

Not a rational or laudable attitude, just something I observe in myself.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
I think the thought re pound came up cos they were talking about how saving western civilization with his poetry - which even at the time must have been a long shot, since barely anybody could understand it. But nowadays?

And does this even matter? I think more as a spur to creativity than anything else, it might. If you don't feel like your artwork is going to have an impact on anyone, it might not remove your desire to create it, but it changes the artwork itself, the scope of ambition, etc.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
At this point it is about how culture interacts with itself. You have to find a way to mesh with those gears and work with it. Meaning is made at a higher level than the individual.
 

catalog

Well-known member
i like the idea of collecting a list of cliches about the avant garde.

@corpsey re your points about modernism - it just set something off in my head. i went to the wyndham lewis exhibition last year at IWM North. It was really good, particularly there were some good bits by some of the lesser known vorticists. but the general picture that emerged was that basically lewis and his mates had missed their avant garde. by the time they got their shit together, they had unfortunately backed the wrong horse (lewis was an early champion of hitler, which sullied his rep hugely for ever and ever) and woolf and the bloomsbury circle were already established as the modernist avant.

just writing this now, i'm reminded of the wikipedia entry for 'the master' and i'm sure there's a bit where PT Anderson says he read somewhere that after a war, there's always more 'space' for a new religion, cos people are looking for something new. and there's no doubting that quite a lot of artistic innovation happened in that fuzzy 20s/30s period between the wars.

so there's another cliche for the pile!
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
I read the wild body this year and it's absolutely brilliant. I really recommend it.
 

catalog

Well-known member
Was thinking of reading the really long novel he did which was a piss take of the Bloomsbury set, apparently it's pretty savage. That's good to hear about 'the wild body', I might check it out. I just got 'neuromancer' out today to read tho, loads of ppl are suddenly banging on about it and it feels like a bigger blind spot.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Was thinking of reading the really long novel he did which was a piss take of the Bloomsbury set, apparently it's pretty savage. That's good to hear about 'the wild body', I might check it out. I just got 'neuromancer' out today to read tho, loads of ppl are suddenly banging on about it and it feels like a bigger blind spot.
You can read both in a week. They're short.
 

mistersloane

heavy heavy monster sound
what I have decided is the Big Job to be done at this point in the timeline is the rejoining of psychedelia and the avant-garde. When I look at psychedelia as a Famous Poet I despair. I think, my God, this is completely bankrupt. It's stalled. It's the Pantheon Bar from Mount Analogue/The Holy Mountain. It's the gift stores that cluster round at the bottom of the path that leads to the shrine. It's tacky and hackneyed and littered with dead forms and retrograde practice, glow in the dark Ganeshes, dream-catchers, Tie-dye T-shirts and Alex Grey posters, rave flyers from 1992.
No Sophisticated Operator is going to want to go near that.

When I look at what remains of the avant-garde as an Ancient Mariner and psychonaut I'm even more horrified. It's the performative connoisseurship of Cafe Oto with it's fine Japanese whiskies and it's craft beers. It's/ real ale drinking, grouchy old men arguing about Adorno, purple Alex Ferguson noses, broken veins, pot bellies. It's Goldsmiths students posturing on social media, pale skin, monkish shaved heads, pursed, priggish lips, beanies and big round glasses.
No psychically and emotionally healthy(ish) person is going to want to be anywhere near those grotesques.

The avant-garde has lost it's animating principle, it's reason for being, it's motivation, has become a deracinated aesthetic/intellectual game and niche market and psychedelia has become an enclosed space, a recapitulation of old experiences without the means to make it new, the means to make it live and breathe again.

Both have become unhygenic and unattractive backwaters, cut off from the moving current. In their current form they both disgust me. Apart neither means anything. The culture can't start moving again until they're rejoined.
I did really try, Luke, I really did try, with my films, and for years, and to some extent I think I succeeded, though not in ways I may have wanted at the time.

I was told by Victor Bockris that the most important person in all the 60s was some dude who just threw parties (Bockris, on opiates, walking me around the meat packing district and pointing, all febrile, to some penthouse, going "there, there!!! there! was where the 60s happened) and he told me that art wasn't about the work, it was about the people who met each other.

The works are what get left by the people who get it together but the talking, the parties, the socialising, the ideas exchanged, the moments, the online interactions now, all of those are amazing things, they're the ones that create the seeds and I really appreciate your energy in keeping this forum going.

I see alot of positivity in the modern psychedelic movement - whether it be what I perceive correctly or incorrectly according to other people about the notion of psychedelia in the modern hiphop scene, or whether it's the retrovision of the current scene in Austen, Texas, or Liverpool, or wherever.

I think if I was to talk about psychedelia and the avant-garde now, I'd have to look at people modifying theirselves with tech, I'd look at modern warfare, I'd look at AI. I don't think it isn't what Deleuze was saying, but I kinda don't think that post-humanism isn't psychedelic, even if it's more obvious proponents are just goths.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
I think that's largely right. What remains is the residue. What we need ideally is actual spaces and events for things to happen. When we're ready to go outside. I absolutely write and make noise and wave my hands in the air to try and catch the attention of people I might want to meet and speak with. It's why I do things most people consider reckless. If we're all too scared to announce ourselves we collude in the reality conspiracy and suffocate our own potential. It's a risky game potentially but I don't see staying anonymous as a viable option.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I did really try, Luke, I really did try, with my films, and for years, and to some extent I think I succeeded, though not in ways I may have wanted at the time
You know what, I actually think that you are one of the few people who can truthfully say that. Those films were avant-garde but not in a self-consciously "cafe oto" way and they were psychedelic but not in a paisley pattern kinda way. I guess the hing that was making them avant-garde was the very same thing that made them psychedelic. It wasn't so much a re-uniting of the two as a demonstration that at their best psychedelia and avant-garde are probably two names for the same thing.

Nowadays if I see that a tune on youtube has less than 1,000 views (and that's being charitable) I almost feel like 'what's the point?'
Really? How weird. I don't mean that in a pejorative way, just that that way of thinking is totally alien to me - in fact it's so far from what I think that I didn't even think that people could think like that. Funny how such a small thing as listening to a youtube clip can contain such differing views.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
I think the internet is behind that thinking, to an extent. The mentality of how many likes, how many shares, how many replies. Status signals. Like filtering a list by star rating to find the best whatever.

I suppose others are using this measuring to seek out the most obscure stuff, which they now can confirm is obscure.

But I also had my taste revisioned to lean towards popular music, suspicious of the self consciously arty/avant in music. Actually I think dissensus helped effect this change, and reading Energy Flash. The flip side being that I lost snobbery (as much as may be) towards the less "intelligent" genres.

Obviously though I love loads of pieces of music that not many people, and certainly very few people that I know, have even heard of or would care about.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
I would guess my attitude towards obscure art's lack of significance would be different if I was an artist myself. Even fucking about with that silly poem today on that thread today was absorbing and interesting. The writer isn't speaking to an audience, not always, but speaking to themself always, in between the lines.
 

mistersloane

heavy heavy monster sound
You know what, I actually think that you are one of the few people who can truthfully say that. Those films were avant-garde but not in a self-consciously "cafe oto" way and they were psychedelic but not in a paisley pattern kinda way. I guess the hing that was making them avant-garde was the very same thing that made them psychedelic. It wasn't so much a re-uniting of the two as a demonstration that at their best psychedelia and avant-garde are probably two names for the same thing.

Thanks Rich. I was trying to ignite and combine my favourite things without being boring, having gone to so many gigs by the LMC and seen so many arthouse films, which can feel so sterile even if the passions of the people concerned are obviously viable. You'd go to these gigs and they'd be terminally boring but the people who played would be so funny and alive, and it's just...how do you translate that. So I did experiments in films - can this one make people cry, can this one make people laugh, can this on make people leave - and then tried to combine them. It was just trying to allow people to enjoy complicated ideas while still having them be sexy, and so I thought drugs and film could do that better, have a wider reach, than doing that with books or whatever. The Telepathy film hit 10,000 people, which a book of mine never would have done. Even if that's small fry by Michael Jackson standards.
I dunno now about it all. But that's having been out of the game for a bit, I think.
I think psychedelia can be a gateway to very very complicated types of thought - obviously heads are gonna get that quicker than people who haven't turned on but it can be a way to open up portals, certainly. Which can only be cool. I had the luck to meet some people who did real acid, the SF stuff produced by Owlsley, and they weren't human, they were still - 30/40 years on - they were still faster, better, than anyone I'd met previously or since. And so I think, drugs are augmentation, consciousness is augmentation. The future is.
 
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