Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Che T-Shirt


Appropriation is the name of the game for the upper classes. If they want something, or want to be something or someone, they purchase it. They adopt a role as easily as buying a Che t-shirt. What they most desire is ownership.

This is how, for instance, rich guy Hiram F. "Rick" Moody III operates. "Daddy-Society, buy me that." In a recent Believer essay Moody decided he wished to be the next Antonin Artaud. "Voila!" American Express or Diner's Club? Antonin Artaud he's become.

The curious thing about it is that Artaud wanted to destroy the walls put up around art and artists; between artist and audience. Rick Moody lives surrounded by walls: institutional walls; class walls; walls of security and guards.

Twice I encountered the man when I led the ULA. I spoke up at events, from the audience. Briefly, I broke down walls. Both times security quickly shut me down.

They were exciting events! The kind of encounters the real Artaud would've loved. The second time, at the ULA's "Howl" protest in 2006, at Columbia's Miller Hall, I was with several notably crazed Artaud-like avant-garde characters whose lives and art consist of destroying walls-- "F.D.W." Walsh; Jelly Boy the Clown (whose sudden appearance onstage panicked the genteel audience); and surrealist underground novelist Patrick King. The Fake Artaud in a chair on the stage, Mr. Moody, sat silent while a cranky member of Moody's marionette entourage, one Phillip Lopate-- a rather red-faced marionette-- angrily denounced us.

The conflict released the bourgeoisie for a moment from their psychological fetters, but they didn't like this. We departed. Behind us the invisible walls slammed immediately down. The controlled puppets onstage and the controlled audience continued their stuffy, mind-wasting program.

We were denizens from the street thrown back to it. The difference between the two camps on that occasion was stark. No matter! For Columbia, ownership of "Howl" was more important than the spirit of the work. "Howl," or Ginsberg, or Artaud are objects they can place in a showcase, or lock in an airless room, or nail onto a wall like a trophy pelt.

These days the literary establishment has decided it wants DIY, and is busily moving to possess it.

Meanwhile the corpse of Antonin Artaud, absent of its spirit, can be found nailed to a wall at the controlled and clean offices of The Believer in San Francisco. First door past the lobby. They've got it! Bought; appropriated; credit card receipt in their hand; their name on the title.

No comments: