Whenever someone is willing to mail me their journal or book object to review, I always make myself available. In fact, I’ll do almost anything that doesn’t cost money, except eat at restaurants that use hydrogenated oil and/or corn syrup and/or msg.
The first review I produced under this unwritten contract was for the master of gimmick, Tao Lin. His publisher, Melville House, mailed me a copy of his newest book, RICHARD YATES, provided I write a review on The Open End. There was no deadline, but I knew SEP 7th, 2010 was the official release of RY, so I wanted to read the book and write the review before then.
Well, this weekend I got my second review material in the mail, an anti-political communist journal called LETTERS. Just so you know, this isn’t my review. Not yet. I haven’t read all the material they sent, which is 3-part:
Issue III & Issue IV & a Literary Supplement.
All very nice and clean journal objects. White on front, bare in design. It’s clear from the start this group out of Lexington, KY wants their minimalist design to lend gravity to their ponderous content.
Fine. But would you say you’re anti-political & communist?
Hmm. . .
I’d consider myself anti-political. Yes. Yes, I am anti-political for sure. The last time I was around a heated political polemic, I first put on an afro wig, then entered a catatonic state, and then vomited when I came back to life only to find the polemic still hot.
I don’t have a clever reason for being anti-political. But if you want an outrageous reason,
I think I got drowned in a highly toxic cesspool and rose to the surface permanently grimacing and anti-political.
As far as I know, I’m not communist either only because I have Cuban friends who fled Fidel Castro and none of them have anything good to report about the way Cuba handles its affairs. Maybe it has more to do with the quality of the dictator than intrinsic flaws in this sociopolitical structure, but I think the 2 – dictator and structure – are mutually dependent. At least that’s what my gut tells me, and I’ve learned to default to my gut whenever I’m not inclined to educate my mind and form an opinion, which, due to my uncertain nature, happens very often.
Let me explain a little,
Opinions are a form of belief. Opinions are what you believe in. I’d prefer to keep my BELIEF MENU blank for as long as possible.
But I’m just being honest here, and you also have to remember that I’m writing right now. What I write a little later or a lot later could be very different.
That’s the thing about not carrying beliefs, you become shapeshifting. You become a ray of light. You’re like the donkey’s tail that never stays still, impossible to pin. You never acquiesce. You live in constant unrest.
Hey, I think that’s an oxymoron – constant unrest.
But it’s so true!
Not subscribing to beliefs keeps you agile and in motion and honest to yourself. This matters – it really does – even though you aren’t the center of the universe.
On the other hand, adopting a set of beliefs, defining yourself as this or that, makes you heavy like concrete. You can’t move out of the way even if your choices are life or death. Believing in institutions makes you institutionalized. You are the opposite of agile. You are bed-ridden and stagnant and decomposing. You begin to accumulate barnacles on your hull. You sink. You make war.
Someone by the name of the editor writes the opening pages of LETTERS, the anti-political communist journal I will review on The Open End. Only, not yet. the editor addresses his introductory words to DEAREST READER.
In my case, the editor most sincerely tells me at the beginning of this journal object,
“Our task is always negative: to attack the political channeling of class struggle and articulate a ruthless criticism of all that exists. It is always time to bring ‘maximum disorder to a line which anyone could subscribe.'”
Then, the editor goes on to most sincerely tell me,
“It is worthy repeating: always reject imposed conditions and proposed solutions from within the established array; take courage from your principles under all circumstances; there must be no compromises and no negotiations with religions, political groups, state agencies or structural panaceas; the struggle is always for humanity as its own end and against the commodity.”
I don’t like religions. I don’t like political groups. I don’t like state agencies or structural panaceas. I don’t like commodities. To this extent, I guess I’m communist, as in the true sense of communism, the theoretical sense Marx defined, not communism in practice.
Hmm. . .
But I don’t think this is accurate either. If anything, I think I’m an anarchist. I think.
For even in theory communism becomes a political group. Even in theory, communism seeks followers, becomes a state agency, and makes us commodities.
When it comes down to it, I like capitalism more than communism, but both tend towards groups, organizations, companies, international conglomerates. Structures with hierarchies.
Anarchy, however, can exist on the level of the individual. I think that’s what makes anarchy so anarchic; it’s lack of synergy. Anarchy can’t be defined or encompassed or pieced together. Anarchy does what it wants.
I don’t know. . .
Anarchist or not, I know I’m a humanist. Yes. I love humanity. I love being part of its ever-changing texture, feeling its pulse. Apart from relationships, I don’t like many things above the level of the individual, but I love individuals and relationships more than anything.
It makes me sad when I see individuals subscribing to a set of beliefs. I wonder why they don’t realize the act of subscribing forfeits control over themselves, over what they want to believe in on a day-to-day basis?
Subscribing to a set of beliefs takes you off your toes. You become flatfooted, inflexible. You stop moving your legs. You become inelastic. If you subscribe, you can no longer sway in the wind like a handkerchief. You become a structure, you institutionalize yourself.
You will crack and make war. . .
Stop, I think, stop before you say too much.
OK, I’ll stop. But please remember, I won’t always be DEAREST READER. In the end, the only thing I’ll always be is protean, which is yet another oxymoron – always protean.
But it’s so true!