Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Armies of the Night. Norman Mailer. Someone once described Mailer as both the Worst Writer in America and the Best Writer in America. Homophobic, sexist, egomaniac, blustering phony and/or conservative leftwing existentialist novelist/journalist. He took part in the notorious mass guerrilla theater, a march on the Pentagon that aimed to surround the fortress of the military industrial complex with neo-pagan primitive christian hippies and exorcise it of its corporate demons.
This book belongs in a time capsule of the 60s, maybe, but I read it every decade or so, for obscure reasons. This time, I read it because I had selected it out of my heaps of old paperbacks to be the first Secular Scripture for my Book Fetish Shrine Project. Why do I horde old books? Books and bookstores and book sellers are disappearing. Books are not being burned, they're being digitized, along with everything and everyone else. Books, paintings, sculpture, theater -- all that is solid melts in the limitless cloud of data. Mailer, the unholy or holy fool protagonist of his History as Novel/Novel as History envisions the psychedelic army he joins as a frontline against The Corporation, a technological totalitarian Moloch that burns Vietnamese peasants and zombifies suburban Americans. To protest the war, Mailer deliberately sought to be arrested for "transgressing a police line." He vividly describes the events of that weekend and generously portrays notable participants such as Tuli Kupferberg, Robert Lowell, Dwight MacDonald, and others.
I wish I had read this book when we were planning our first peace march in West Palm Beach. It was 1972 and I had recently turned 18 and registered for the Selective Service. We all knew about the attempt to exorcise the Pentagon and strained at our imaginations to contrive our own street theater. That summer, both the Democrats and the Republicans had their conventions in Miami Beach and there were protests planned. We took hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to hand out for the Movement. We camped out in Flamingo Park with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the unofficial security force of the park. When government helicopters flew overhead, the vets pointed plastic toy machine guns and pretended to shoot them down. Blew my mind, man. By that time I was a high school drop out lost in teenage wasteland. No one was being drafted any more. Nixon found it politically expedient to use B-52s to bomb his way toward peace with honor. I spent my days hanging out with a couple of vets who had been part of the local underground newspaper. They called themselves anarchists but they had their own maintenance service. They shared their dope with me and we watched Watergate on TV and wondered what the next step in The Revolution would be.
Dig it, man.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Does Jerry Saltz really advocate book burning?
In a comment thread having to do with nuclear testing and warfare Saltz offered this opinion:

"Burn EVERY holy book; every one if they are
used at all in the name of this.

Every one.
I am sorry you
religous people; you will either have to get a,ong without the fucking
books, memorize the God Damn idiotic things; or go it on your own. "
Salt quote continued: "I am NOT blaming all of the world's religions for this map but all of the word's religions certainly aren't helping anything in any way..Fuck it; burn ALL of the so-called holy books. EVERY ONE OF THEM WAS WRITTEN BY A HUMAN BEING.Not one of them, I am afraid you religous people wes written by God.Sorry.Fuck you."
All misspellings in this thread are preserved.
I wrote to him:

Do you really advoctate bookburning? Could you clarify or retract that amazingly ignorant rant, Jerry? If not, how can anyone take you seriously as a critic?

Mr. Saltz replied:

I didn't advocate buring any particular book, Lawrence.
I said burn EVERY religious book (new testement; old testement; koran; etc); all of 'em.
No more orgaized religion. None.
That's over.
Everyone get their own God....
Write your own book; I won't burn it.
Look if you believe in the bible or whatever holy book, that's your business.
We disagree.
I think you're wrotng; you think I'm wrong.
Nuff siad.
You can accuse me of not being a critic; fine, I'm not a critic then in your eyes.
Oh and thank you for saying that what I wrote was an "ignorant rant."
I would prefer to think it was a frustrated rant.
But have it your way. I am ignorant; you came to my FB page to call be "ignorant." you win; I lose.
Go write your own holy book; I'll worship it or you or whatever.

I wrote back and removed him from my FB friend list:

I can't believe I have to defend books and civil liberties to a prominent NY art critic, but if I don't I'll have to turn in my ACLU card. I'm just an art bum, and former bookstore employee, and I understand and agree with your frustration with organized religion and the destruction it has caused over the centuries. I believe that these books should be rread critically and don't have to be read at all.What amazes me is that you wrote your opinion that all "holy books" be burned, if someone (anyone?) uses them to justify nuclear testing (or warfare?) and no one called you on it. I'm not even sure what you are saying or how serious you are. If it was Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin calling for censorship I wouldn't be surprised, but this is surprising, and it is especially disturbing that none of your FB followers questioned it. You have spce for a new friend on Facebook, Jerry, because I'm removing you.

Coincidentally, I watched Fahrenheit 451 last week as research for my book fetish project. To be fair, Mr. Saltz doesn't want all books to be burned, only those he considers dangerous.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Work in progress. Book fetish shrine.

The Money World

Part 3 of On Capitalization.

The economic/political is personal/political. Final part of my Essay On Capitalization. What are the material conditions of YOUR cultural production?

Monday, June 07, 2010

One who cannot be believed.
A thought that suggests an action.
An emanation of ultimate reality.
A wild tirade.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

I tacked this essay to the studio wall halfway through it so I could look at it as an "object." Part 2 is now in Hyperallergic:

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


First part of my Capitalization essay is now in Hyperallergic.