snap crackle and popping the con game

Can we shun a linear narrative, that narcotic like pacifier marked by its insistence, frequency and heavy dosage 7/24 in favor of a collage of episodes and impressions which means, by extension, a personal engagement with subculture. This also implies a transcending say, of theatre and other live arts and move into the larger realm of media. Subcultures are now created between page views of a blog or on a television screen; experience mediated by images several standard deviations and iterations removed from its original locus; the life of its own phenomenon, the same idea where the power of money uses the multiplier effect and velocity of exchange to create new markets far removed from the intial mechanisms of simple barter and exchange of goods and services. Subculture can also exploit the idea of cultural “derivatives” and its own version of sub-prime and collaterized debt obligations: pre-packed cultural goods, which is basically what the media companies do with cultural commodities- 20% of a newspaper content is viable, the rest is sub-prime, not redeemable and toxic.

---Genet continued to steal even when he was rich. Theft may have been more of a necessity when he was young, but now he no longer needed to steal for survival, or even for material purposes. Theft had become an ideological act – an act against capitalism, an act against the society that had so excluded him and humiliated him. Perhaps there are parallels with today’s rioters in that the causes of Genet’s criminality were far from simple – but this did not mean his actions were apolitical or anti-political. --- Read More: image:

There is a process of showing and concealing by which subcultures are able to exist, to create a natural habitat out of the debris and wreckage that litters the landscape of individual and collective relationships. The constant flux, the sense of belonging that is fluid, and non localized; an absence of definition and visual anchors leading to an invitation to create meaning. In the end, art is plausibly the most important defense againt co-optation since it permits the creation of a space where diverse and opposing views, nuanced and often contradictory, can thrive. Aesthetically, a situation that elevates it to the realm of the personal, and a repair of the fractures of alienation. This keeps it a mystery to the masses and guarding its safety from, basically, middle-class violence and abuse through banalization, reductionism to facile slogans, and the merchandising of dissent-re:Adbusters.

---This anti-woman attitude becomes explicit in perhaps his most sensational Surrealist work, Woman with Her Throat Cut (1932). The spoon body has now been cut open, as though on an anatomy table -- this already occurred in Project For a Passageway (1930) -- with some of its parts strewn around, if still attached to one another, and the throat manneristically elongated, the cut becoming a kind of crease in a series of ridges. The figure, which resembles a kind of praying mantis -- the female consumes the male after copulation -- has all but lost its sexual identity (a semblance of breasts remain), suggesting that it has been emotionally as well as physically eviscerated in Giacometti's fantasy. But this act of hatred and revenge is also ingeniously abstract: It is a tension of curves and angles, condensations and elongations, that show Giacometti struggling for epigrammatic brevity with no loss of emotional complexity and mystery.--- Read More:

…Kuspit:In a sense, Giacometti fell back on the personal and the individual as the last hope for the ideal, while the Surrealists and Neue Sachlichkeit artists saw only anonymous impersonal forces, whether in the unconscious or in mass society, that devalued the individual they animated. Giacometti’s figures are not puppets of forces beyond their control, but beings who will themselves into existence despite the nothingness — the immense empty spaces, whether actual or fictional, that are an essential part of Giacometti’s works, and whose stillness suggests death — that surrounds them. Self-preservative in a social vacuum, they are dispassionate milestones of inner life, that last refuge. Giacometti, for all his sense of human tragedy and frailty, and the ultimate futility of human life, was a desperate optimist, trying to reverse an irreversible tide of death, or stand up to its strong undertow, while the Surrealists and Neue Sachlichkeit artists were complete pessimists, for they saw no alternative to human self-destructiveness, the final confirmation of human irrationality…. Read More:

Fritz Zuber-Buhler. The Cherry Thieves. ---Genet’s play The Maids (1947) exemplifies the swirling contamination of impulses that can lead to radical or violent acts. Two maids – Solange and Claire – plot to assassinate Madame, their employer and idol. Their act is emblematic of class rebellion- the underclass rising up against their oppressive master or mistress. But the maids are also reliant upon Madame for their livelihood. As much as they hate her, they desperately love her too. They dress up and perform her. Their attempted murder of their glamorous employer is in many ways an attempted suicide. Indeed the play ends in self-destruction, as Claire drinks, quite literally, her own poison – the poison she has prepared for Madame.--- Read More:

Subcultural survival depends on the ability to create images and the potential of controlling their propagation; the danger is the subculture’s own demise in that it becomes articulated in a sense of the “theatrical”, a poster fetish and souvenir collectible rendering itself useless since the rehearsal become substituted for the actual performance as we see with Occupy Wall Street . A tendency where OWS coalesces with say Lady Gaga and David Letterman as part of the buffet all you can swallow where the essential message can only be known through images and headlines dependent on an increase in coverage to amplify the presence of the demonstrations to ever more threatening proportions. And, images are not reality.

As Jean Genet said, ” dreams are nursed in darkness.” Dreams respond poorly to the trick mirrors and illusions of life’s surface and its phony, imperialistically asserted appearance of order and propriety under the glare of cheap neon lights with Ken and Barbie in the default position of hosts and program: prostitutes as salespeople and wares in one. Gene Franks:It is fashionable to scorn “bourgeois” creeds like Christianity and capitalism. Jean Genet, the French criminal and writer, said, however, that if one is truly to reject middle class values, one must learn to like licking spit from the sidewalk. Hygiene, too, is middle class. To deplore Christianity while wearing clean underwear is mere intellectualizing.

giacometti. Diego in a Plaid Shirt. 1954.---The theorization of art completes its commodification: theoretically experienced—if theory is a way of experiencing—art is experienced as a commodity. Today any found object can be theorized into art, and with that commodified, even as every commodity is an art object in theory. Art has become subservient to theory, another actor in the theater of theory, another pretender to significance by reason of its theoretical acclaim—the applause theorists give it because it seems to exemplify their theories. To use the Emperor’s New Clothing metaphor once again, theory becomes the Emperor’s New Clothing on the commodity art has become in Capitalism. Or, to put this another way, all theorization serves capitalist purposes, suggesting that Conceptual art is the most ingeniously capitalist con game ever invented. Thus mind loses credibility and independence by humbly serving Capitalism and trivializing itself by falsifying art. Read More:

…Kuspit:Giacometti’s portraits are an artistic as well as existential feat: They reconcile the modern idea that the work of art is fundamentally abstract whatever it communicates with the modern sense that human beings are fundamentally conflicted however outwardly integrated they may appear. What these apparently irreconcilable ideas share is a sense of fragmentation: The modern figure tends to be a tense construction of abstract fragments. They often seem at odds with each other, so much so that the whole they form seems imposed and merely technical. Indeed, they seem mechanically manipulated rather than imaginatively transformed. Like the modern human being, the modern work of art often looks like a precarious balancing act, so that it seems to be about falling apart as much as hanging together, that is, about anarchic disintegration and nominal integration. As the poet W. B. Yeats famously wrote, “the center does not hold, all things fall apart” in modernity. The problem of modern art and modern man is how to create a center that can anchor a whole while showing that modern human beings sooner or later fall apart. Giacometti is one of the few artists who are able to give human beings a center that enables them to hold their own and hold together while showing them in a precarious state of being — in danger of self-loss, for both personal and social reasons, and thus spiritual and even physical collapse.Read More:

---To state the paradox differently: because every historical moment repeats and the future is in no way a consequent of precedent events, futurity itself is an illusion; yet it is this crisis of the nineteenth century, in which we come to know this cosmic fact, that determines the future for all eternity as illusory. Blanqui spells out these paradoxical consequences even more clearly in the last two paragraphs that follow. He writes: Until now, the past has, for us, meant barbarism, whereas the future has signified progress, science, happiness, illusion! This past, on all our counterpart worlds, has seen the most brilliant civilizations disappear without leaving a trace, and they will continue to disappear without leaving a trace. The future will witness yet again, on billions of worlds, the ignorance, folly, and cruelty of our bygone eras! Read More:

ternity-no-more-walter-benjamin-on.html image:

To make struggle real requires a personalization into an individual narrative. A Rashomon process where images and symbols are appropriated into a sequence of impressions lending the perception to that of the mysteriously digressive: disjointed, nebulous, yet highly personalized, which calls attention to the idea that memories are consciously constructed and revealed through individual perspective.


Even though Genet ultimately falls back into “artsy” or avant-garde modes of expression, his oeuvre, concerned as it is with details of quotidian life, would seem to indicate an accommodating attitude towards different modes of artistic expression. Art takes the forefront, but it encompasses a wider spectrum of expression. Literature is important, but so are clothing, popular music, film, television, and other mediums— anything that incites expression. Hebdige tackles this idea in the last chapter of his book on subcultural style, entitled “Ok, It’s Culture, but is it Art?”. As the title suggests, he notes the discrepancy between what is traditionally thought of as high art and the subcultural style that he explores in his book. He concludes that “Subcultures are therefore expressive forms but what they express is, in the last instance, a fundamental tension between those in power and those condemned to subordinate positions and “second-class lives”. His statement confirms the mission of subcultural style but at the same time re-inscribes the gap between high art and media, passing over what we have learned from Genet: that culture creates itself in motion, comprising itself of trends that are always in flux. One century’s vulgar polemic is the next century’s institutionalized art, and the next century’s relic. High art, generally thought of as timeless, actually becomes less and less relevant and finally forgotten unless it is rejuvenated in new formulations; art that loses its edge loses meaning. A sharp historical consciousness coupled with an aesthetic sensibility means that art can be found both in the placid setting of a museum and on the streets, and anywhere in between.Read More:

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