Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby American Dream » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:35 pm

Yes, loud and clear...


dada » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:02 pm wrote:It isn't the content of the video that concerns me, but the form. The "NYTimes art video." I guess you might say that I'm, as Ben Watson puts it "allergic to the power-relations involved in commercialism. For [me], to countenance using something as imbalanced as the mass media to put over a "progressive message" is to agree with manipulation, setting up the artist in a hierarchy above the audience. In other words, "Bad form, or reactionary, derivative treatments are not something that may be excused by a 'progressive' message."

I should probably clarify here, what I see, or rather don't see, as "Free Revolutionary Art."

It isn't (to me) propaganda in support of a revolution. I think this sort of platform-based, soap box art runs counter to the 'spirit' of free revolutionary art. Art is never ('never' is perhaps too strong a word, I know) revolutionary in itself. It becomes revolutionary when the artist that creates it has fully assimilated their politics. These politics cannot be found anywhere on the surface, or (most importantly) hidden somewhere inside. Meaning there's no moral, no lesson to be unpacked. It's an art that is revolutionary by being an example of creativity unfettered, not by making overt or covert overtures to the viewer. The danger to the social order, the revolutionary potential isn't in its message, but by the very fact of its existence.

This idea extends, for me, right back to the present moment, as I sit here typing on the internet. I've been trying to get away from the preachy style of writing. The "I'm an expert, you're an expert, everyone is an authority in something or other, so let's all take turns playing at being ring-master/spectator in the bleachers" method of social interaction. Seeing us reduced to these barely-sublimated-to-not-even-trying-to-hide-it dominance/submission games, I can't escape the feeling that what we call culture and society are nothing more than the acting out of sexual repression.

Yet how difficult it is, to communicate without preaching! For me, at least.

As for Rosemont surrealism, to be honest, it was Franklin's book "Jacques Vache and the Roots of Surrealism" that turned me off to the whole project. Franklin somehow manages to turn the irreverent, pretension-deflating belly laugh of Vache's 'Umor' into pretentiousness itself. Someone should have explained to Franklin, that is what happens when you explain a oke.

The book turns out to have very little to do with Vache. Reading it was an experience not unlike watching a 'based on a true story' Hollywood blockbuster while Rosemont sits in front of you wearing a tall hat. As a bonus, Rosemont instructs us on how to be good nonconformists and revolutionaries by making constant appeals to authority.

So that's what my opinion of Rosemont surrealism hinges upon. What a book. Not that it's the only thing I've read coming out of that scene. But it was the one that opened my eyes. I'm glad Rosemont (and Kerr) republished some of T-Bone Slim's writings under the title 'Juice is Stranger Than Friction,' (although I could do without Rosemont's introduction.) I have no problem with Penelope.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby dada » Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:12 pm

The revolutionary energies in out-of-fashion dresses and restaurants are to be found by stripping them of sentiment, viewing them with an eye for the expired hopes and desires they represent. It's the critical reading of the rubbish of commercialism and commodities itself that releases the potential.

I think that Andrew Joron may be looking for an actual mystic force in the kitsch and clutter of the outmoded, as surrealists are wont to do. Some sort of negative-fetish power, maybe. He took his ectoplasm-meter to the salvation army, but he didn't get a reading from the racks. Therefore he's skeptical, thinks Benjamin may have been just kidding around.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby American Dream » Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:08 pm

That is utterly compatible with a Marxian analysis. Except for the part about an ectoplasm-meter, I think.


dada » Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:12 pm wrote:The revolutionary energies in out-of-fashion dresses and restaurants are to be found by stripping them of sentiment, viewing them with an eye for the expired hopes and desires they represent. It's the critical reading of the rubbish of commercialism and commodities itself that releases the potential.

I think that Andrew Joron may be looking for an actual mystic force in the kitsch and clutter of the outmoded, as surrealists are wont to do. Some sort of negative-fetish power, maybe. He took his ectoplasm-meter to the salvation army, but he didn't get a reading from the racks. Therefore he's skeptical, thinks Benjamin may have been just kidding around.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby dada » Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:45 am

American Dream wrote:That is utterly compatible with a Marxian analysis. Except for the part about an ectoplasm-meter, I think.


Yes. That's why Walter Benjamin was cast as the star of the hit TV series "My Favorite Marxian." Little known fact. I'm so full of useless trivia.

---

I've been thinking about how I arrived at my current unapologetically anti-authoritarian political perspective. I've decided that it hasn't been a progression, a development over time, as much as it has been a long process of testing a perspective I hit upon a long time ago. The perspective hasn't evolved too much, but my confidence in it has.

This makes me curious if others can remember their key formative political moments. Might make for an interesting thread.

My key moment wasn't a moment, and it wasn't actually "political." It was a band I had. A musical group, I mean. There were three of us. The dynamic was such that I was the natural leader of the group, but as leader I informally instituted a policy of 'no leaders.' I felt that the chemistry between the three of us was too good to stifle it with the usual hierarchical games that bands play. (I'm putting words to previously unarticulated feelings as best I can, here)

The no leader policy brought out the best in all three of us. The drummer didn't quite realize what was happening - he was a drummer, afterall! haha - but he could feel it instinctually. I remember him tentatively testing, and as he slowly realized that the usual boundaries and bs he'd had to deal with in other bands really weren't present with us, seeing the freedom unfold in him. It was a glorious thing. The bass player knew exactly what I was doing, and went with it. He was a rare individual.

The band wasn't a democracy, majority didn't rule. And it wasn't an authoritarian anarchism (may seem like a strange concept to some, but it is actually the basic anarchic form. Just picture a pyramid with no capstone) it was a very casual anarchism, if it was anarchism at all.

This extended to the musical dialogue. The communication between us crossed the supernatural border. I attribute this to the fact that none of us were driving the ship, we were listening, very, very carefully, to each other, and to something else that was shaping the music, since none of us were, which I still can't quite explain or put my finger on.

This was not chaos, though, there was a high level of order requiring precision and dexterity. We experimented with lots of different time signatures, played in all kinds of modes, both traditional and custom. The bass player wrote intricate, difficult music, melodically and rhythmically, we learned that. Whatever we were working on that week in our own private practice sessions was the jumping off point for the next group music session.

We worked together intensely for about six months, before life got in the way. But the experience transformed me. I'd seen the liberating potential of the anti-authoritarian view, and I was hooked. I felt the incomparable rush and high of throwing away my alpha status like the trash it is. Most importantly, I saw how it changed the others, brought things out of them that they didn't even know were in there.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby American Dream » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:29 am

That's a great story. I feel like I've always had anti-authoritarian tendencies, since before I could really talk about them coherently. I still do vibrate in sympathy with Autonomy, non-hierarchical collectivism all that sort of thing. Throwing objects through windows is neither inherently "good" nor "bad" to me but I think we should pay a great deal attention to who or what is on the other side of the glass.

Anyway, I'm thinking also about the "Cop in the head", or even the (personal) Will to Power. That's somewhat harder to acknowledge and resolve.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby Elvis » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:03 pm

dada wrote:There were three of us. The dynamic was such that I was the natural leader of the group, but as leader I informally instituted a policy of 'no leaders.' I felt that the chemistry between the three of us was too good to stifle it with the usual hierarchical games that bands play.


This definitely can work with three people, but can that be scaled up to, say, a 70-piece orchestra? By then, a conductor is generally needed, someone to select the repertoire, administer whippings, etc.

It's very interesting question. The 'ideal' group or village size is what, 150? and there is usually a chief of some some kind, if only to settle disputes. A 'democratic' Greek city-state like Classical-era Athens operated without leaders as we think of them, with authority invested in the assembly, the law and the courts. Jury duty was a regular, ongoing part of a citizen's life, but today, who has time to attend long trials every week?

Scaled up to a nation of millions, or a nationless planet of billions, leaderless organization might work given good tools for popular referenda. Ideally, production would me mostly local, limiting the need for extensive organizational administration.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby dada » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:04 pm

Well, you can just have a robot as conductor. (google it) Also robots can play the classical music very well.

I can't really look to some bright past as if it were better than now. Primitive and Classical cultures obviously didn't prevent the mess we're in, and may have done an awful lot to contribute to it.

Good point about 'good tools for popular referenda.' Points to something I was going to get at in a future post: I think the full and total wresting away of technology from the technocrats might prove to be a pivotal moment in the emancipation of Homo Sap. Toys need to be taken out of irresponsible hands. Not the only one who thinks this, of course.

---

American Dream wrote:I'm thinking also about the "Cop in the head", or even the (personal) Will to Power. That's somewhat harder to acknowledge and resolve.


I think the Cop in the Head can be retrained for a more productive role. Instead of self-censor, an internalized extension of external oppression, it could be a personal editor. God knows, people could use better inner editors. (Mine's is also trained as Ninja.)

Personal Will to Power may be retrained as well. More difficult, though, because corruption is so beautiful and alluring. Got to throw it away first, show it who's boss. It will put up a fantastic fight. Successfully sublimating it is an incredible rush, though there is no indication of that until it happens. Very, very difficult.

--

What do you think?

where are the conditions for revolution? In the changing of attitudes or of external circumstances? That is the cardinal question that determines the relation of politics to morality and cannot be glossed over.


Morality as in "being well behaved."

The answer is 'External circumstances,' obviously.

But hold on a minute: If a person thinks it's all about a change in attitude, just stay positive, lsd in the water supply, they'd have to change their attitude to come to the Profane Illumination that the conditions are material. This is trickier than it first seemed.

Is possible, of course, that the attitude that "the 'feel good' attitude is where the revolution is at," can not be changed from without. Which means that ain't my responsibility, ain't my job, good luck to ya.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby Elvis » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:08 pm

dada wrote:Well, you can just have a robot as conductor. (google it) Also robots can play the classical music very well.


Yes, and have you seen the robot metal band? :rofl2 Anyway, you see the problem with robots, i.e. in this case artificial intelligence, conducting a society, here—

Good point about 'good tools for popular referenda.' Points to something I was going to get at in a future post: I think the full and total wresting away of technology from the technocrats might prove to be a pivotal moment in the emancipation of Homo Sap. Toys need to be taken out of irresponsible hands. Not the only one who thinks this, of course.


I so agree. Recent discoveries in AI show that the problem might not be wresting control from irresponsible humans, but from the artificial neural networks who (did I say "who"?!) invent their own new ways of thinking that are inscrutable—invisible—to us. Passing authority to a superconnected AI very well might not yield the kind of 'rational,' objective and beneficial results imagined by many. The key seems to be always to include a (real live) human factor.

(Have you read Theodore Roszak's 1969 The Making of a Counterculture? It's not a history, as such, but does discuss the development of various ideas. He defined 'technocracy' for me, and predicted these problems, in that and other books.)

I can't really look to some bright past as if it were better than now. Primitive and Classical cultures obviously didn't prevent the mess we're in, and may have done an awful lot to contribute to it.


I'm not citing Athens as a "bright" past—not at all. But it's absolutely a past worth studying. (The Greeks had their own version of a mythical "Golden Age" when everything was wonderful.) Our ways of thinking are unavoidably affected by the writings of Plato and Aristotle, et al. (another good topic for a thread), some of which may have kept us out of certain messes, but which also have kept people in shackles (figuratively and literally) for centuries. Athenian citizens (a relatively small portion of the state's total male population) had the leisure time to fully participate in self-government largely because they had slaves, a practice completely accepted and defended as perfectly natural by both philosophers. Not a good trade-off, in my humble opinion.

Getting back to revolutionary art—in Plato's ideal republic, certain instruments were banned from the city, only music in certain scales (modes) were allowed (minor keys are too depressing, and the lowlife masses need to be kept in a cheery frame of mind), songwriters and poets had to have their material approved by grand acquisitors, and on and on. And this is the guy so revered in Western thinking. (George Will's hilarious struggle to keep his hard-on for Plato is a good example.)
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby dada » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:23 pm

I was just pointing out that technology can perform the menial tasks. Classical musician, Death Metal guitarist, etc, etc.

When I'm space alien overlord, I won't ban human classical orchestras. Come on, what kind of monster do you think I am?

I read that article about the secret robot language. I know the tone of the article was "be afraid," but I'm not seeing the threat, there. Secret languages are fine with me. I'm just not feeling threatened by Artificial Intelligence. It's good for what it does, but as Henry Corbin said, I "have available a cosmology of such a kind that the most astounding information of modern science regarding the physical universe remains inferior to it."

But that's a discussion for the Questioning Consciousness thread

And I wouldn't pass authority to anyone or anything. I think I've made that pretty clear by now.

Edited to add: I should add that I think small cells are the best we can do. Three people, maybe ten at most? I don't see why it needs to be extended to seventy people, or billions. I don't think any model will work at these levels.

edited again to add: I should be clearer. All grand social engineering visions seem to me foolish and probably dangerous. Better to work to prevent people with these pictures in their mind from implementing them, and let the damn thing take it's natural course.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby Elvis » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:10 am

dada wrote: I should add that I think small cells are the best we can do. Three people, maybe ten at most?


You may be right. Image
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