THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF ART
- I think of going to a performance by “Blackie,” an improvisational band, in the basement of the Speedboat Gallery in St Paul with a friend. There were more people in the band than in the audience. We sat on a flea-ridden couch. The many instruments made a ruckus and a man dressed up as a typical all-American boy in drag (baseball hat, preppy clothes) yelled “We’re in Spokane! We’re in Spokane” and filmed himself while writhing around on the ground. It was like watchng someone masturbating in a hotel room: I felt filthy with Art. Afterwards my friend and I got in the bathtub, as if to get rid of the filth. After a while I realized that the water had gotten cold because I saw my friend shivering, he had goose-skin. Art is like sperm, as Artaud realized a long time ago, in the greatest poetry for the 20th century: “Sperm is not urination but a being who always toward a being advances to toerrfy it with itself.” Or: “Not a fiction, this sperm, but war with torn-crowned cannons which churn their own grapeshot before churning the ONE entry.”# Sperm as a numbling quality. It makes your lips tickle if you kiss a girl who’s just given you head.
- (You can also find insights about sperm in horror movies such Hellraiser as well as Matthew Barney’s sperm-covered art.) (After all, Art is a house that wants to be haunted, as noted by the greatest poet of all, the Spinster of Amherst. And that is why there are so many bleeding idiots locked in its attics, so many scissors left by its telephones, so many birds without teeth in its orientalist exhibitions.)
- Art is often most affecting when it’s not admireable or tasteful. When it’s ridiculous. Right now my wife Joyelle is downstairs reading a Kurtz-monologoue into a tapeplayer while playing the Doors’ “This is the End” and watching napalm blossom out of the jungle (aka “the zone”). This fall Tarpaulin Sky is publishing her book Salamandrine: 8 Gothics, which will ruin all of American literature for at least 20 years. The term “prose poetry” will finally be retired.
- I think about this one-man play I saw on the lower east side some time in the late 90s. It was spoken by a guy who had been mistaken for Hitler by an underground Hitler-cult. I watched it in one of those basements beneath a storefront on the Lower Eastside. As he told the increasingly absurd and therefore true story of his abduction and consequent physical ordeals and pleasures, the ugly, middle-age man grew sweatier and sweatier. I thought he was going to have a stroke. A pig stroke. But he survived grotesquely and spetacularly. The walls were covered with newspapers and the air was stale. We didn’t survive. The cult didn’t survive. That man with his pig stroke had infected the entire velvet underground. Continue reading