Saturday, 17 November 2007

An Impromptu

[Spoken, from a cobweb-smothered dais in a former Methodist chapel – adjacent to, maybe even an antechamber of, the theatre in which World-Sport is being performed – by the disembodied voice (let us call it Milou’s Superego) whose thoughts occasionally resurface in the flotsam of Milou’s dialogue. A musty odour of clockwork determinism hangs in the air.]

MILOU’S SUPEREGO: The use of the word ‘farce’ was merely a riff on Marx’s (now trite?) line about history repeating itself first as tragedy and then as farce, except that now the site of repetition would be the vocabulary of Marxism itself: e.g. the use of such phrases as ‘late capitalism’, when there is little evidence that anything stands in the way of long-term capitalist continuation except environmental collapse; or the deployment of the get-out-of-discussion-free card labelled ‘Stalinist’ to avoid having to consider the implications of the failure of Communism in Eastern Europe.

[A dying PIGEON on a ledge twitches its wing.]

Let me rephrase a question: assuming that one accepts that the material co-ordinates of 2007 are substantially different from those of 1907, or even 1957 (vis-à-vis the further entrenchment of capitalist state power, and the declining relative importance of the written word as a medium for either agitation or entertainment), how are we to proceed without falling into just those wells of luxuriously miserable pessimism (rainbathing on the terrace of the penthouse suite at the Grand Hotel Abyss) that you quite reasonably caution against?

[A piece of loose masonry falls from somewhere up in the roof.]

In his recent editorial, a certain K-Suth refers to those who ‘satirise [authoritarian, conservative] thinking and its dismissal of passionate counterculture as adversarial resentment not by mounting a rational counterargument, but by becoming the stupid and resentful poet [let’s extend this to ‘individual’] Kristol [and his ilk] would most leeringly abominate.’

PIGEON: In this episode we show you how to charge your iPod (or other mp3 player) for up to 20 minutes using electrolytes derived from Gatorade or Powerade which are then stored within the cells of an onion.

MILOU'S SUPEREGO: In other words, having rejected the utopian ambitions of earlier generations as ideological, they create an aesthetic playground in which mimed subservience (or conspicuous pseudo-resistance) to the parameters set by domineering authority figures becomes a perverse source of surrogate pleasure (whip me with your neoliberal hard-headedness, big boy). It is an attitude which has arguably crept into the work not only of the American writers cited, but that of K.S. himself, and the younger circle/square to which ‘we’ might be said to be contributing.

[The PIGEON stops twitching. A haggard caretaker at the back farts and points to his watch, impatient to lock up the venue.]

I doubt that such an attitude can be sustained over a lifetime without devolving into dysfunctional, depressive silence (or Beckettian performance thereof). The alternative is to be an ‘indigenously stupid… disproportionate… consultant of the language of ardour in superfluity’, but how, dear ____, can such ardour be manufactured once a paralysing self-diagnosis of ‘stupidity’ has been made?

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