Monday, November 27, 2006

Catching Up on Reading

The 11/19 issue of the New York Times Book Review was devoted to "Bad Boys, Mean Girls, Revolutionaries, X Outlaws, Beautiful Losers." All the writers discussed are from the past-- most from the distant past. The hapless and conformist editors continue the grand establishment tradition of lauding literary outcasts as long as they're safely dead.

Prepster Meghan O'Rourke of Slate, an Insider icon who wouldn't know anything underground if she fell down a manhole, asks the question, "Whatever Happened to the Avant-Garde?" The scope of her essay extends all the way up to 1992! Mentioned by her as purveyors of "a do-it-yourslf ethos" and "a distaste for commercialism" are such conglomerate house pets as Mary Gaitskill, Tama Janowitz, and Dennis Cooper. Say what? The goal of all three was always and forever will remain to be commercial. Scarcely one of them had a "do-it-yourself" moment in their lives regarding their art, though I'm sure all of them give good blow jobs. (Nice to see a recent photo of Tama in Vanity Fair sporting some recent plastic surgery work.)


jimmy grace said...

Avant-garde is an establishment term and has nothing to do with DYI.
Laurie Anderson is avant-garde.
Chicks On Speed are DYI.

Jimbo said...

Avant garde is a term that has been appropriated by the estabishment. What it means basically is front line. Most of those that present themselves as avant garde are actually arrière garde.

Jimbo said...

Talking about arrière garde by the way...wonder how you can contractualize something like that. I sure there's a lot of bad boys and mean girls what's got literary ambitions done put out that booty and been burned. Probably more boys than girls cuz girls talk more, "I put out for agent X or editor Z and didn't nuthin come my way." sorta thing. Meghan O'rourke sometimes actually has something to say like maybe she's thinking occasionally unlike most of the beigocrats.

jimmy grace said...

I agree it's been even more appropriated, but as far as I know its origins were in Surrealism and Dada which were movements manufactured by trust-fund equivalents. Of course, they largely self-published but that's not really saying anything because there wasn't any corporate publishing at the time.

I don't know O'Rourke's stuff but if she's asking "Whatever happened to the avant-garde?" I'm bored already.

King Wenclas said...

As I've said, I want no anonymous spam on this blog. This will not again become a place for that kind of thing.
Grace, please answer the questions I've asked you numerous times about your identity. Otherwise you're gone. Thanks.

jimmy grace said...

King, I don't know how to satisfy you. My name's Jimmy. I make art under the name Jimmy Grace because my last name is long and Polish. I live in Oakland. We don't know each other. I'm not Rick Moody or Tim Hall or George Plympton or your exgirlfriend or the CIA.

I comment on whatever I stumble across when I'm online, including your blog. I prefer to post anonymously because I don't like getting e-mails calling me an asshole and because registering usually fucks up the half-assed computers I use when I'm online. I guess that makes me "unaccountable," but who cares? I'm just a guy giving my opinion. You can engage it or ignore it at your leisure.

I wouldn't call my comments "spam," even when they're argumentative. If you can't take criticism, fine. Throw me out. But if you don't want people's opinions, why do you call for other artists to join your underground movement? Because a guy who posts controversial opinions but then tries to block any sort of commentary sounds a lot more like the establishment than the underground.

Jimbo said...

Do you live in a Polish neighborhood of Oakland? 14th street for example? That's a well known Polish neighborhood. You can get some really good pirogi on 14th street in Oakland.

jimmy grace said...

Californian pirogis - talk about spam.

King Wenclas said...

Please, give me a break. Why don't you read through the comments on this blog in the past and see some of the anonymous hate mail it was getting. I don't have the time or inclination for that, sorry.
We've been fighting anonymous posters in various sites from the beginning. I don't trust anything they say. My skepticism is from experience.
Now, care to tell me what poets or group in Oakland were talking about me?
Can you point out the "Grace" name (which you now acknowledge is fake) anywhere on the Internet from a date previous to when you came here?
Can you explain how you discovered this obscure site?
(In other words, I don't believe anything you say.)

jimmy grace said...

You don't have time or inclination to read your own blog comments, but I'm supposed to give you my internet trail? Whatever. I've never claimed Grace was my real name, "King." Look me up on the walls of Oakland.

And you don't have to trust me. You're not lending me money. You're writing a blog, for fuck's sake.

As for who talks about you...well, people talk. You shout down the bigwigs, people are going to talk. You've seen your own press. So have other people. You want me to name them, so you can add some miserable poets to your hate list? No thanks.

If you want to argue your position, argue it right here, with me, instead of whining about all your enemies. On this current post, my point is that avant-garde is a pretentious artsy term, and has nothing to do with DYI. If you agree with me, great. If you disagree, say so. Or you can block me from know, in the name of open debate. That'd be bullshit hypocrisy, but it's your blog: go ahead.

Jimbo said...

any term that comes up be it independent, underground, avant garde or whatever will soon be appropriated and transformed into a cliché surrealism was a in good part a response to the horrors of war and the dehumanizing aspects of modern society and not just some kind of fashion statement. I don't know if they have pirogis in Oakland but probably not on fourteenth street. What's your name "Gusky"?

Jeff Potter said...

Anything that gets appropriated CAN BE TAKEN BACK.



It has as much life in it as any term.

For one BIG thing, I think that the Mail Art scene of the 80's (and still going) revived the Avant Garde, so there. It's not dead or boring. If you don't know what it means today, you're just outta the loop, is all. Uneducated people are bored by many things. Their loss.

Jack Saunders is a living, breathing, writhing member of the avant garde. He's helped keep other traditions of innovation alive as well (ha...that's not always an oxymoron). Who's still working in the vein of Jarry, Wm Burroughs and other true edgy freaks? Dada and Surrealism aren't dead either. Academia and NYC (and the Bayarhea) simply don't know what's going on. They are provincial, outta the loop. They just can't admit they need help, need input.


As for "Jimmy Grace"---when you say that's your art name, it's weird that you've made no other internet appearance using it. Can't you see or admit that? Can't you see that as a result it looks like it's just your art name FOR US?

We want comment from anyone, as who they are. I suppose that means our entry standard is that they're not afraid. Fear, though, is the ticket to admission to academia and the establishment. If you won't drop your fear, you really CANNOT contribute to any real discussion. It's one reason why academic/establishment art SUCKS. The fear kills it! (OK, just to be nice, needlessly: fear greatly limits it. Yes, some of the halfway useful art out there has some impact, shows some talent, but not nearly enough! Mostly due to this fear factor.)

The ULA isn't about lists. We're not blacklisters. Jimmy, you're putting the rules you usually live by onto us. It's personally interesting to me if the ULA or its members are actually being mentioned in Oakland. Our goal is to get the word out. Getting reports is helpful. We want to know if the report is real. Data is helpful. Why would you think you'd get hate email from us? No one accuses us of it. Actually you might get some from MFAers who would hate it that you even respond to us. So there's that. Everyone knows the MFAers will rip your throat out via mail/phone. So there's that. They've done it to me and other ULAers, but it's not like I'm afraid. We fight em off every time and win. No sweat. Still, I'm not hoping for work from them either and you may well be. So there's that. The fear thing. Well, play it as you like. Being afraid, though, puts you outta the game---even for good criticism! It's all kaput. There's nothing very useful that a fearful person can do---that's why the classrooms themselves SUCK SO BAD!!! It's not only the lit-work these hirelings do that suck but it's their hourly work, too. The fear kills it all. Sad sad...

Jeff Potter said...

Anyway, great post, King! It must be painful reading such fakery as that NYT story. Can you imagine anyone mentioning the Avant Garde and not mentioning Mail Art at any rate? Obviously ZEENING needs to be there, too. Can you mention DIY, outlaw, or LOSERS and not mention ZEENING? What about the DTP revolution? Why not mention that everything worthwhile in the past couple decades has been done in circles around NYC and academia? To put it frankly.

It's like censorship displays that feature "To Kill a Mockingbird" or Harry Potter! Doh! Every kid who sees those things LAUGHS. They know censorship! Those displays should be FULL OF ZEENS! As well as many books today which are kept down. They should feature how power avoids having to use unpopular methods but gets the job done in other ways.

Your "low blows" at the end are great, too---because they're part of these writers' own bios, memoirs and such---they brag about it! Astounding...

King Wenclas said...

The hypocrisy is yours, "Grace." You're concerned about possible censorship on this obscure blog, by a blog writer who has no power whatsoever in this world (other than his words) yet say not one word about the blacklisting and virtual censorship of underground writers. You're a fake through and through. If you wish to continue to post here, please follow my request. Otherwise, you can move on to a hundred other forums which might be more hospitable to you. Thanks.

jimmy grace said...

Right, no blacklisting...except if don't satisfy King's expectations, I'm "gone." And if you're not going to e-mail me, why do you want my e-mail address? And how would that prove anything?

If you're continuing a tradition established by Burroughs you're not avant-garde by definition. You might be doing great work, but you're not in the front lines.

You can reclaim any term you want but if nobody knows what you're talking about you're fucked. It's like reclaiming "gay" to mean happy and then walking around wondering why the girls stay away from you when you proclaim your gayness. Avant-garde has long meant establishment artists producing impenetrable, derivative work. Real artists I know wouldn't be caught dead calling themselves that.

DYI, however, isn't a movement - it's a method. Thus it can never really be appropriated any more than "painting" or "poetry" can be. The most interesting work I see coming out now is DYI - that is, not beholden to corporations. Why anyone would want to label it "avant garde" in order to attract the black turtleneck crowd is beyond me.

King Wenclas said...

Er, "Grace," it's DIY: Do-It-Yourself.
Please don't post here. You're trying to play me. It won't work. No fakes allowed. Thank you.