Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Sun Ra | Egypt '71

Sun Ra
Egypt '71
London, UK: Strut, 2020
5 LP box set
Edition of 600

Last week Record Store Day released a list of forthcoming recordings, which includes this 5 LP set reissue, with unreleased material, which will be available on August 29th.

"In December 1971, Sun Ra made an impromptu trip to Egypt with his Arkestra, his first time in the country. Hosted by drummer Salah Ragab and Goethe Institute's Hartmut Geerken, they performed hastily arranged concerts at Ballon Theatre in Cairo and at Geerken's house in Heliopolis. The performances emerged on three LPs released by Ra during the '70s: 'Horizon', 'Nidhamu' and 'Dark Myth Visitation Equation'. These three LPs now receive their first reissue on vinyl alongside two LPs of previously unreleased recordings. Rare photos and extensive new liner notes by Geerken and Paul Griffiths complete a definitive package celebrating Sun Ra's iconic trip to the Land of Ra. "
- Press release

Other releases include Philip Glass, Brian Eno,  and the first vinyl reissue of the Lou Reed/John Cale Andy Warhol tribute Songs for Drella

See the full list here

Siglio Press

Siglio Press has published books by and about Marcel Broodthaers, John Cage, Sophie Calle, Dick Higgins, Ray Johnson, Nancy Spero and many others (see post below on their new Bernadette Mayer book). For the month of June they are donating a quarter of their revenue to Black Lives Matter causes.

Visit their site here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Audie Murray | Black Lives Matter Fundraiser

"audie.m_ ­čĺŚRAFFLING two original prints in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. To enter please donate to @blackvisionscollective , @reclaimtheblock , or another BIPOC initiative of your choosing. Then message me a screen shot of your donation and I will enter your name into the draw. Donations of $15 + is one entry , $30 + is two entries , and $55 + is four entries. Your donations can be spread across multiple initiatives , just make sure to communicate to me how much you’ve donated in total. I will like your message once I’ve added your name to the raffle. **Cut off date is JUNE 5th , 5pm pst** ­čî╣ There will be two names drawn, one for each print. More about the prints : they are photocopies of poppy and wild rose petals and porcupine quills onto textured watercolour paper. The rest of the image is natural pigments made by me , and archival ink. They are a set of two , signed by the artist. I’ll cover shipping."
- Audie Murray 

Visit the artist's website, here.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Henry Flynt | Blueprint for a Higher Civilization

Henry Flynt
Blueprint for a Higher Civilization 
Milan, Italy: Multhipla Edizioni, 1975
206 pp., 24 x 17 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown

Henry Flynt is known for his ties to Fluxus (which he referred to as his “publisher of last resort”), his brief stint in the Velvet Underground (a matter of days, by all accounts, replacing an ill John Cale) and in obscure music circles for his "hillbilly" violin compositions. And maybe for his radical politics: his anti-fascist tracts, his anti-art protests, and his eventual anti-human race position (see below). But he may be best known for coining the term "Conceptual Art”.

In fact, Flynt’s proposed term was “Concept Art” which is now generally accepted to refer to "a form of illustration used to convey an idea for use in films, video games, animation, comic books, or other media before it is put into the final product.” Flynt used the term in the proto-Fluxus publication An Anthology, edited by La Monte Young and Jackson MacLow, and designed by George Maciunas and it is generally footnoted in historical overviews of Conceptual Art.

He is now getting credit for another, more incendiary, term: involuntary celibate.

The term Incel is generally credited to a Canadian university student known only as Alana, who created a site called "Alana's Involuntary Celibacy Project", to discuss her sexual inactivity with others. She has since distanced herself from the term, after the many violent attacks perpetrated by angry, disenfranchised misogynists and their subsequent glorification among the Incel community:

 "Like a scientist who invented something that ended up being a weapon of war, I can't uninvent this word, nor restrict it to the nicer people who need it.”

In Blueprint for a Higher Civilization - edited by Germano Celant, who died last month - Flynt included a chapter titled "Creep", which is excerpted below. In it he uses the term "involuntary celibate" decades before the online movement and it's violent real-life consequences.

Be forewarned: it lives up to its title.

"When Helen Lefkowitz said I was "such a creep" at Interlochen in 1956, her remark epitomized the feeling that females have always had about me. My attempts to understand why females rejected me and to decide what to do about it resulted in years of confusion. In 1961-1962, I tried to develop a theory of the creep problem. This theory took involuntary celibacy as the defining characteristic of the creep. Every society has its image of the ideal young adult, even though the symbols of growing up change from generation to generation.The creep is an involuntary celibate because he fails to develop the surface traits of adulthood--poise and sophistication; and because he is shy, unassertive, and lacks self-confidence in the presence of others . The creep is awkward and has an unstylish appearance. He seems sexless and childish. He is regarded by the ideal adults with condescending scorn, amusement, or pity.

Because he seems weak and inferior in the company of others, and cannot maintain his self-respect, the creep is pressed into isolation. There, the creep doesn't have the pressure of other people's presence to make him feel inferior, to make him feel that he must be like them in order not to be inferior. The creep can develop the morale required to differ. The creep also tends to expand his fantasy life, so that it takes the place of the interpersonal life from which he has been excluded. The important consequence is that the creep is led to discover a number of positive personality values which cannot be achieved by the mature, married adult. During, the period when I developed the creep theory, I was spending almost all of my time alone in my room, thinking and writing. This fact should make the positive creep values more understandable.

Because of his isolation, the creep has a qualitatively higher sense of identity. He has a sense of the boundaries of his personality, and a control of what goes on within those boundaries. In contrast, the mature adult, who spends all his time with his marriage partner or in groups of people, is a mere channel into which thoughts flow from outside; he lives in a state of conformist anonymity. The creep is emotionally autonomous, independent, or self-contained. He develops an elaborate world of feelings which remain within himself, or directed toward inanimate objects. The creep may cooperate with other people in work situations , but he does not develop emotional attachments to other people Although the creep's intellectual abilities develop with education, the creep lives in a sexually neutral world and a child's world throughout his life. He is thus able to play like a child. He retains the child's capacity for make believe. He retains the child's lyrical creativity in regard to self-originated, self justifying activities. There is enormous room in the creep's life for the development of every aspect of the inner world or the inner life. The creep can devote himself to thought, fantasy, imagination, imaging, variegated mental states, dreams, internal emotions and feelings towards inanimate objects. The creep develops his inner world on his own power. His inner life originates with himself, and is controlled and intellectually consequential. The creep has no use for meditations whose content is supplied by religious traditions. Nor has he any use for those drug experiences which adolescents undertake to prove how grown up they are, and whose content is supplied by fashion. The creep's development of his inner life is the summation of all the positive creep values.

After describing these values, the creep theory returned to the problem of the creep's involuntary celibacy. For, physical reasons, the creep remains a captive audience for the opposite sex, but his attempts to gain acceptance by the opposite sex always ends in failure. On the other hand, the creep may well find the positive creep values so desirable that he will want to intensify them. The solution is for the creep to seek a medical procedure which will sexually neutralize him. He can then attain the full creep values, without the disability of an unresolved physical desire.

Actually, the existence of the positive creep values proves that the creep is an authentic non-human who happens to be trapped in human socialbiology. The positive creep values imply a specification of a whole non-human social biology which would be appropriate to those values. Finally, the creep theory mentioned that creeps often make good grades in school, and can thus do clerical work or other work useful to humans. This fact would be the basis for human acceptance of the creep.
In the years after I presented the creep theory, a number of inadequacies became apparent in it. The principal one was that I managed to cast off the surface traits of the creep, but that when I did my problem became even more intractable. An entirely different analysis of the problem was required.
My problem actually has to do with the enormous discrepancy between the ways I can relate to males and the ways I can relate to females. The essence of the problem has to do with the social values of females, which are completely different from my own. The principal occupation of my life has been certain self-originated activities which are embodied in "writings." Now most males have the same social values that I find in all females. But there have always been a few males with exceptional values; and my activities have developed through exchanges of ideas with these males. These exchanges have come about spontaneously and naturally. In contrast, I have never had such an exchange of ideas with females, for the following reasons. Females have nothing to say that applies to my activities. They cannot understand that such activities are possible. Or they are a part of the "masses" who oppose and have tried to discourage my activities.

The great divergence between myself and females comes in the area where each individual is responsible for what he or she is; the area in which one must choose oneself and the principles with which one will be identified. This area is certainly not a matter of intelligence or academic degrees. Further, the fact that society has denied many opportunities to females at one time or another is not involved here. (My occupation has no formal prerequisites, no institutional barriers to entry. One enters it by defining oneself as being in it. Yet no female has chosen to enter it. Or consider such figures as Galileo and Galois. By the standards of their contemporaries, these individuals were engaged in utterly ridiculous, antisocial pursuits. Society does not give anybody the "opportunity" to engage in such pursuits. Society, tries to prevent everybody from being a Galileo or Galois. To be a Galileo is really a matter of choosing sides, of choosing to take a certain stand.)
Let me be specific about my own experiences. When I distributed the prospectus for The Journal of Indeterminate Mathematical Investigations to graduate students at the Courant Institute in the fall of 1967, the most negative reactions came from the females. The mere fact that I wanted to invent a mathematics outside of academic mathematics was in and of itself offensive and revolting to them. Since the academic status of these females was considerably higher than my own, the disagreement could only be considered one of values.

The field of art provides an even better example, because there are many females in this field. In the summer of 1969 I attended a meeting of the women's group of the Art Workers Coalition in New York. Many of the women there had seen my Down With Art pamphlet. All the females who have seen this pamphlet have reacted negatively, and it is quite clear what their attitude is. They believe that they are courageously defending modern art against a philistine. They consider me to be a crank who needs a "modern museum art appreciation course." The more they are pressed, the more proudly do they defend "Great Art." Now the objective validity of my opposition to art is absolutely beyond question. To defend modern art is precisely what a hopeless mediocrity would consider courageous. Again, it is clear that the opposition between myself and females is in the area where one must choose one's values.

I have found that what I really have to do to make a favorable impression on females is to conceal or suspend my activities - the most important part of my life; and to adopt a facade of conformity. Thus, I perceive females as persons who cannot function in my occupation. I perceive them as being like an employment agency, like an institution to which you have to present a conformist facade. Females can be counted on to represent the most social, human" point of view, a point of view which, as I have explained, is distant from my own. (In March 1970, at the Institute for Advanced Study, the mathematician Dennis Johnson said to me that he would murder his own mother, and murder all his friends, if by doing so he could get the aliens to take him to another star and show him a higher civilization. My own position is the same as Johnson's.)

It follows that my perception of sex is totally different from that of others. The depictions of sex in the mass media are completely at variance with my own experience. I object to pornography in particular because it is like deceptive advertising for sex; it creates the impression that the physical aspect of sex can be separated from human personalities and social interaction. Actually, if most people can separate sex from personality, it is because they are so average that their values are the same as everybody else's. In my case, although I am a captive audience for females for physical reasons, the disparity between my values and theirs overrides the physical attraction. I feel for them. It is hard enough to present a facade of conformity in order to deal with an employment agency, but the thought of having to maintain such a facade in a more intimate relationship is completely demoralizing.

What conclusions can be drawn by comparing the creep theory with my later experience? First, some individuals who are unquestionably creeps asfar as the surface traits are concerned simply may not be led to the deeper values I described. They may not have the talent to get anything positive out of their involuntary situation ; or their aspirations may be so conformist that they do not see their involuntary situation as a positive opportunity. Many creeps are female, but all the evidence indicates that they have the same values I have attributed to other females--values which are hard to reconcile with the deeper creep values.

As for the positive creep values, I may have had them even before I began to care about whether females accepted me. For me, these values may have been the cause, not the effect, of surface creepiness. They are closely related to the values that underlie my activities. It is not necessary to appear strangely dressed, childish, unassertive, awkward, and lacking in confidence in order to achieve the positive creep values. (I probably emphasized surface creep traits during my youth in order to dissociate myself from conformist opinion at a time when I hadn't yet had the chance to make a full substantive critique of it.) Even sex, in and of itself, might not be incompatible with the creep inner life; what makes it incompatible is the female personality and female social values, which in real life cannot be separated from sex and are the predominant aspect of it.

Having cast off the surface traits of the creep, I can now see that whether I make a favorable impression on females really depends on whether I conceal my occupation. Celibacy is an effect of my occupation; it does not have the role of a primary cause that the creep theory attributed. to it. However, it does have consequences of its own. In the context of the entire situation I have described, it constitutes an absolute dividing line between myself and humanity. It does seem to be closely related to the deeper creep values, especially the one of living in a child's world.

As for the sexual neutralization advocated in the creep theory, to find a procedure which actually achieves the stated objective without having all sorts of unacceptable side effects would be an enormous undertaking. It is not feasible as a minor operation developed for a single person. Further, as the human species comes to have vast technological capabilities, many special interest groups will want to tinker with human social biology, each in a different way, for political reasons. I am no longer interested in petty tinkering with human biology. As I make it clear in other writings, I am in favor of building entities which are actially superior to humans, and which avoid the whole fabric of human biosocial defects, not just one or two of them.”
- Henry Flynt

Blueprint for a Higher Civilization is exceedingly rare, with the few copies available on ABE being offered for between two and five hundred dollars. The term, "involuntary celibacy", was actually first used in print almost three hundred years ago, in Antoine Banier’s 1739 The Mythology and Fables of the Ancients, Explain'd from History, Volume 3. 

Christo, RIP

Christo died yesterday at the age of 84. A few immediate obituaries are below.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Christo | Wrapped Bouquet of Roses

Wrapped Bouquet of Roses
New York City, USA: Self-published, 1968
8.8 x 60.9 x 11.4 cm.
Edition of 75 signed and dated copies

Christo died at his home in New York City today, at age 84. His romantic and collaborative partner Jeanne-Claude died on November 18, 2009.

Bernadette Mayer | Memory

Bernadette Mayer
New York City, USA: Siglio Press, 2020
336 pp., 10 x 7.25"., hardcover
Edition size uknown

Originally published in 1975 (see previous post), long out of print and selling for between two and five hundred dollars on the secondary market, Bernadette Mayer's Memory has just been re-issued by Siglio Press. The new title features 1100 colour illustrations, while the original was strictly text.

"In July 1971, Bernadette Mayer embarked on an experiment: For one month she exposed a roll of 35mm film and kept a daily journal. The result was a conceptual work that investigates the nature of memory, its surfaces, textures and material. Memory is both monumental in scope (over 1100 photographs, two hundred pages of text and six hours of audio recording) and a groundbreaking work by a poet who is widely regarded as one of the most innovative writers of her generation. Presaging Mayer’s durational and constraint-based diaristic works of poetry, it also evinces her extraordinary—and unheralded—contribution to conceptual art.

Mayer has called Memory “an emotional science project,” but it is far from confessional. Rather, this boldly experimental record follows the poet’s eye as she traverses early morning into night, as quotidian minutiae metamorphose into the lyrical, as her stream of consciousness becomes incantatory. The space of memory in Mayer’s work is hyper-precise but also evanescent and expansive. In both text and image, Mayer constructs the mercurial, fleeting consciousness of the present moment from which memory is—as she says—“always there, to be entered, like the world of dreams or an ongoing TV show.”

This publication brings together the full sequence of images and text for the first time in book form, making space for a work that has been legendary but mostly invisible. Originally exhibited in 1972 by pioneering gallerist Holly Solomon, it was not shown again in its entirety until 2016. The text was published without the photographs in 1975 and has been long out of print."

- Siglio Press release

The title is available from the publisher, here, for $45 US. Also available is a signed and numbered deluxe version, in an edition of 31 copies. These copies are accompanied by a unique 6x 9 archival print housed in a vellum envelope inside the book. The special edition is currently available for $235.