No 169 - 2002
The Science of Imaginary Solutions
#2 - ART VERSUS BOX OFFICE
‘Everybody’s searching for a way out. You can’t avoid looking inelegant as you scrabble around for an escape hatch. Just remember this: nobody is better than you. But also remember this: you’re as worthless as them.’
Flimsy cardboard panorama of 20th Century Paris. An accordion sounds out across the rooftops. From the window of a nearby bar, the brassy voices of drunk Americans.
Paris 1926 - DARK HEART NOTHING
Thousands of writers flocked to Paris in those sepia years (framed by great muddy horrors gone and great atomic horrors to come) in search of the mythical literary life. They sought cafés, galleries, studios and streets that glistened mystically in the lamp-light, damp with an ethereal substance on which the city’s artisans thrived, an elusive élan vital that enabled freedom of creative expression and shameless eccentricity. They hurled themselves into an environment in which every off-hand statement might constitute an epoch-changing manifesto, where a tremendous unspoken secret burned in every soul, hovering urgently behind every smoke-filled eye, guiding every mordant cigarette to coax its lover to breathe slow suicide. An iridescent realm where sparse notebooks might begin to overflow with avant-garde genius, where fervent scribes could divine a solution to the human impasse, if only an imaginary one.
Occasionally progress would be made where pretentious fingers managed to poke through the paper walls of bourgeois morality, allowing the brilliant lights of a strange aesthetic to shine in. Yet the majority of these pilgrims simply drank up their time with greedy swigs and pissed it into the gutter. A dizzying art of the twilight hours, the object of which drains away with the onset of morning. They indulged their deranged senses in the capital of culture and decadence, maintaining a half-hearted conviction that their experiences might lead to a Great Work on the expatriate life, or perhaps a paean to the Modern Condition Itself.
Soon after the first giddy thrills had subsided, they would begin slowly to stoop under the weight of a conscience that swelled and festered as they repeatedly failed to put pen to paper. They performed an inglorious pastiche of the art life, adopting the pose of happiness and industry whilst lusting bitterly after even transient success, cursing those who seemed to acquire fame unjustly, those who slipped effortlessly into the correct social circles. All the while, these excluded and deluded would be straining, moth-like, towards their illusory light, draining traveller’s cheques, livers and souls down to zero.
Eventually the simple question: ‘So, what do you write?’ - proffered at watering holes and salons across the chattering city - ceased to be a conversational gesture and became, to their ears, a vicious attack which slandered them; it exposed their sloth and cowardly reluctance to work, it identified and condemned in them that paralysing terror of artistic mediocrity which results in total inactivity. The solitary fear of those who cannot grow to love their boredom. Those who refuse to befriend the clock and its guileless ticking.
Unsurprisingly, these scornful never-to-be developed a dark response to the mocking interrogation. As discarded glasses sulked on weary tables, as wine stains bled scornfully across dirty cloths, as uneven footsteps echoed off toward rat-chewed mattresses somewhere in the chilly Parisian dawn, then the answer would come. The craggy face leaned closer. The reddened eyes filled with hate, the lips widened into an icy smile, the mouth finally uttered its reply through fiercely clenched teeth: ‘I’m actually very busy... I’m writing The Nihilist Manifesto...’
It became a code among their kind, a tragic rallying cry for those on their way to the bottom, to be muttered or growled or spat late at night over a trembling glass of absinthe or bitter whisky or bile by all those who could not, or would not write.
Meanwhile the true lovers of nothing went about their business in the world of things, those who amassed words like precious stones to build temples to their only absolute, those who formulated imaginary solutions, those who knew that being is the only meaningful raison de non-étre, those who wrote their manifestos by the dozen, whose every word breathed worship to the tremendous secret that is no secret - the secret that there is no secret - the secret that only the brave can acknowledge and spring from into a life of infinite possibility, burning with the vibrancy of absolute human liberation that only a oneness with nothing can provide.
#1 - MONEY VERSUS MONEY
‘Anyone who says they don’t want to be rich is lying. What are the poor for? To want to be rich. But unrealised ambition is not enough.’
Caption, green on olive: ‘FREE CA$H MONEY’. Speedy bongo motif plays, abruptly stops.
El Capitalismo - FREE CA$H MONEY!
Do you work hard for your money? Do you receive far too little money and thanks for your toil? Are you sick of paying taxes to a government that gives you nothing in return? Are you looking for a way out of your joyless maggoty life and everything in it?
If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘Fuck yes’ then you should stop working right now. Over seven hundred thousand people world-wide have done just that after taking the Free Ca$h Money correspondence course. They have abandoned the drudgery and injustice of a life in employment - which is thinly disguised slavery - and instead have followed the Tao of Free Ca$h Money to affluent and fun-filled futures.
Why work hard for your money when you can have other people’s money with only the slightest effort and just a modicum of pre-planning?
Having revealed to our members how they can get their hands on oodles of free cash money, we at The Global School of Free Ca$h Money have at last agreed to bring our insights and methods to a wider audience. Our new publication - Free Ca$h Money- contains all of the vital information only previously available in the Free Ca$h Money correspondence course.
Free Ca$h Money, if used correctly, will teach you the skills necessary to obtain all the money and goods that you desire. In fact, by following its guidelines and practical methods, in less than one week you will have more money and material wealth than you and your comrades could ever possibly use.
That’s right - in less than one week!
You have been sitting back and allowing the greedy, the self-righteous, the plain dishonest members of society to help themselves to property which is yours by right. And why is it yours by right? Because you too are a greedy, self-righteous and dishonest being, and this book will help you to enhance those innate human attributes to a level of proficiency that will allow you to indulge your every whim and appetite whilst abusing and humiliating others. Our simple study-plan will enable you to develop rapidly from Lesson 1: How To Get Yourself Fired And Paid Off From Someone Else’s Job all the way to Lesson 23: How To Establish And Maintain A Decadent Western Nation On Credit.
Remember: you deserve whatever you want because you will soon have the power to get it.
We are certain you will enjoy this momentous journey. Before you lie great achievements - a life of remorseless decadence, indolence, untold wealth, and the exquisitely rewarding exploitation of lesser humans, or ‘the cattle’ as you will soon call them.
Ultimately, with fellow students of The Global School of Free Ca$h Money, you will have the satisfaction of bringing the entire capitalist farce to its pathetic knees. And even then, as it sobs wretchedly at your feet, you will proceed to beat it to a bloody pulp while it begs in vain for a mercy that you will never, ever grant it.
Order Free Ca$h Money right away.
#0 - THE CONSOLATION OF CONFUSION
‘That factional rant you like is going to come back in style.’
Caption, pink on acid green background: ‘Holy Shit! Run For The Hills! - Here comes Planet dAdA!’
earth 2001 - WELCOME TO PLANET dAdA
At this infinitesimally late stage in such a paradoxical era, it’s perfectly normal to get depressed about the perpetual threat of thermonuclear and biological warfare, the infantile stockpiling of intercontinental ballistic weapons, institutionalised cultural imbecilism, and the basic impotence of the faceless citizens of the world who are continually subjected to the homicidal machinations of inept political and military authorities.
But has it ever occurred to you just how much fun there is to be had imposing your petty egotistical aggressions on the general populace? Have you ever stopped to ponder, in the deep insolence of your heart, just how enjoyable that would be?
It would be enjoyable. Very enjoyable.
If you experienced the thrills of Free Ca$h Money then you will definitely relish the opportunity to pursue its profound and facile precepts ad absurdum in the brand new personal growth extravaganza... World Of Dada!
Insult, perplex and inconvenience the inhabitants of earth with inane and juvenile stunts on a grand scale! Make annoyance and persistent threat your weapons and use them to incite confusion, paranoia, hatred and terror across the globe... all for the sake of ART!
That’s right! Those soulless über-cynics who brought you Free Ca$h Money have finally found a meaningful pursuit. Dissatisfied with the attainment of material wealth and carnal satisfaction (which, despite transitory delights, fail to evade the existence-always-ends-in-oblivion clause), they have decided to immerse themselves in the kinetic medium of a Global Action ART in order that they may continue to exist in abstraction for all time.
With your practical assistance (and regular subscription payments) the chaos, misery, fear, and all-purpose absurdity generated by World Of Dada! will stand as eternal objets d’arte, commemorating an awesome, collective, destructo-creative genius.
When you become one of the Brethren of International Aesthetopathology - thousands of whom already inhabit a World Of Dada! - you will be given access to our encyclopaedic compendium of Art-Crime Manifestos. With this invaluable hoard of aesthetic theory and anti-personnel methodology at your fingertips, your most nonsensical dream fantasies will become the consensus reality of all humankind, whether they like it or not. And preferably not, eh?
Subscribe now and get a limited edition double-volume of our classic extrarational-situationist manifestos - Extinction Level Event and Mutually Assured Destruction - absolutely free!
Experience the giddy thrills that international governments have enjoyed for generations!
Join the Brethren of International Aesthetopathology!
Let ART be REALITY be ART!
Help to make this largely forgettable rock a delirious World Of Dada!
#X - POSTSCRIPT: VOTE DEATH
Q: Qu’est que c’est?
A: L’essence de la prétention...
Cardboard panorama of 19th Century Paris. Dangling indigo fairy lights approximate the spirit of opium: it drapes itself sagely across the raggedy spires of the metropolis.
Paris 1867 - LE CHANT SEPTIÈME DE MALDOROR
‘Ne soyez pas sévèr pour celui qui ne fait encore qu’essayer sa lyre: elle rend un son si étrange!’
It is midnight. Along the rain and piss-soaked rue Notre-Dame-des-Victoires drunken youths and the occasional straggly whore shamble up toward Montmartre, from whence a sickly odour of opium, absinthe and tobacco trails among the tenements. It eases its ancient fingers down through bricks and over streaming gutters, scratching the grizzled chins of wine-filled vagrants, stroking the greasy, diseased coats of scrabbling vermin, coaxing the red of eye, the empty of soul, those sleepless and stumbling carcasses to swoon into its caustic caress, to roll slowly in its intoxicating embrace, while it calmly relieves unresisting pockets of their onerous, clanking burden.
Within a ground-floor room behind the shabby door of number 23, Ducasse lets the pen drop to the paper and places ten ink-stained fingers to his brow. He sighs. His eyes are red and continue to stare hollowly at some repulsive, tentacled vision far beyond the desk, within the unfathomed depths of the blank wall before him. He shudders. In the lamplight he looks diseased, glistening with the perspiration of a slow and malign fever. Involuntarily, he turns to the door. It is heavy - pregnant with the knock of the un-arrived visitor. The vampiric stranger who knows all but himself. The wayfarer. The follower of what is not. The finder of what should not be. Lautréamont: Lover, desecrator, undertaker, corrupter of already-errant youth. Ducasse turns, takes up the wretched pen once more. He curses. He is doomed to write this vile book which even he cannot bear to read.
Frustration! For what bitter fruit has he searched in vain, to find only travesty and insult! Frustration! The defiant brow of the self-murdering buffoon offers scant comfort from the darkling confusion of juvenile and cannibalistic science gone wild across the void...
Reassurance is called for; we have come in circuitous fashion to the seventh of our impenetrable instalments, and yet we have still to meet the true incarnation of our hero, our demon, our melancholy wanderer on a journey to the final stinking shit at the end of the dreadful night. Enough of these beastly satyrs, these cynical succubi, these facile cosmic absurdities. Let us create our pícaro!
The student starts. He feels the sudden, inimitable chill. A sulphurous odour falls across his nostrils. The lamp sputters and fades. A tiny orange glow remains, the room pulses with its feeble insistence. The curtain now flutters at the touch of an icy breeze, now ceases. An indistinct figure, tall as the night, stands before the window. Maldoror!
Ducasse whimpers in fear and expectation. He swivels in the chair. The pen falls from his withering grasp. It spatters the floorboards at his feet with brown ink.
‘My little whippet, my ill gutter-rat, my sweet angel of filth, what ridiculous sensations you allow to delude your aimless pen. Weep on, for soon there will be no one to shed those tears on your behalf. You must mourn your own passing while you still can. It will not be long now, my tiny, pompous, bald ape.’
It is a lonely, unholy night. Elsewhere the zomb arise and crawl, reclaiming their dominion of shadows which will hold the land in thrall until sunrise fingers the eastern skyline. C’est diabolique, le nuit... This stalker of shadows, this Maldoror, requires some carnal matter from which to fashion his eternal pícaro, and Ducasse will serve the terminal purpose. The walls convulse. Maldoror is an immense, ethereal octopus, his languorous tentacles pulsate and lengthen, enveloping the room and the youth within queasy moments. Ducasse struggles a little, but only instinctively, and vainly, for the viscous embrace grows tighter and tighter, and tighter still, until he is silent, in bliss.
Maldoror, now a hyena, now a physician, now a butcher of the soul, gathers up the mortal clay and begins to mould a glistening homunculus. Discarded fragments slither to the corners of the room like vipers, contort into grotesque and sibilant forms before they dissolve, sighing, into the timeless shadows.
Elsewhere, in a land to the north, a flayed dog trots along Gower Street. It howls mournfully and pauses to piss on Darwin’s doorstep. Meanwhile, back at the lab, Doctor Moreau giddily assembles another hilarious meat puppet.
At last, PikarO stands in the centre of the room, complete. He is new-born, scurrilous, and ready for action. Maldoror regards him with pride and not a little envy.
Presently a figure in a smart tuxedo and spotless white gloves swings through the street-side window into Ducasse’s room. A pair of exquisitely shod feet comes to rest on the musty floor with slight disdain. There is something of the coming age about this stranger. Two dancing eyes blink through a black, velvet mask beneath the brim of a fine top hat. The posture of the mysterious gentleman is impeccable, yet the hat is placed at an infinitesimally jaunty angle, belying a subtle, sociopathic perversity. One of his gloved hands clasps a long dagger that glints coldly in the moonlight. It is Fantômas: diamond-thief, assassin, adulterer, archcriminal. He is the scourge of the Süreté and the ceaselessly creative nemesis of ingenious Inspector Juve. Fantômas has come to admire Maldoror’s handiwork. ‘Tell me, Monsieur Maldoror, what is this unearthly thing? I can’t quite decide if it is a beauty or simply monstrous. And what does it do?’
Maldoror turns slowly in the half-light, and as he does so he peels a previously imperceptible layer of some elastic tissue from his shadowed face. It is Maldoror no longer! Incroyable! It has been Inspector Juve all along in an astounding disguise!
‘Bravo, my great adversary!’ cheers Fantômas, ‘you have outdone yourself this time. But I too have a little surprise...’ He deftly removes his hat and, with an effete flourish, whips the mask from his eyes. Quel surprise! It is not really Fantômas, but Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin, eccentric analytical detective. He instantly appears about two feet shorter. ‘Touché, mon amis,’ he purrs, smiles wanly.
‘Fascinating, and somewhat unexpected,’ sneers Juve, irritated by this cheap trick by the old master. ‘And what might you be doing out so far from the Faubourg St. Germain on a week-night?’ He fiddles at the hem of his cape with faux nonchalance, tries hard not to scowl.
Dupin relaxes into characteristic smugness, but he is perturbed to see Juve peel away once more to reveal a visage steeped in pure damnation. The eyes are reflectionless, black as the void, luring the world into their unspeakable abyss. It is a face that was once possessed of immense beauty, is still haunted by the ghost of some divine grace, but ravaged by the sacrilegious decadence of long years. Accordingly, the night deepens. A louche cloud obscures the moon, distant dogs bark coldly across the Seine; the sad, gruff echoes of a hundred misty street corners...
Dupin is transfixed. He shudders, gasps. Sotto voce, intense: ‘Melmoth! Melmoth the wanderer!’ But he allows only a courteous pause before clearing his throat, reaching for his own chin, beginning to peel...
In the meantime, bored to crocodile tears, young PikarO has wisely skipped across the room, turned a perfect somersault through the open window and flipped effortlessly onto the Parisian skyline. He darts across a few rooftops in striking silhouette before leaping into the night sky. There, from the vantage point of a wispy cloud, he mocks the beautiful moon, curses the dark earth, then promptly shoots off into the cosmos, shrieking with the irresistible laughter of a charming but delinquent child.
Michael Brett lives in London. He is currently writing his first novel, which he describes as a psycho political horror comedy for all ages.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The