by Hakim Bey
The tendency of Hi Tech, & the tendency of Late Capitalism, both impel the arts farther & farther into extreme forms of mediation. Both widen the gulf between the production & consumption of art , with a corresponding increase in ``alienation.''
With the disappearance of a ``mainstream'' & therefore of an ``avant-garde'' in the arts, it has been noticed that all the more advanced & intense art-experiences have been recuperable almost instantly by the media, & thus are rendered into trash like all other trash in the ghostly world of commodities. ``Trash, '' as the term was redefined in, let's say, Baltimore in the 1970s, can be good fun--as an ironic take on a sort of inadvertent folkultur that surrounds & pervades the more unconscious regions of ``popular'' sensibility--which in turn is produced in part by the Spectacle. ``Trash'' was once a fresh concept, with radical potential. By now, however, amidst the ruins of Post-Modernism, it has finally begun to stink. Ironic frivolity finally becomes disgusting. Is it possible now to BE SERIOUS BUT NOT SOBER? (Note: The New Sobriety is of course simply the flipside of the New Frivolity. Chic neo-puritanism carries the taint of Reaction, in just the same way that postmodernist philosophical irony & despair lead to Reaction. The Purge Society is the same as the Binge Society. After the ``12 steps'' of trendy renunciation in the '90s, all that remains is the 13th step of the gallows. Irony may have become boring, but self-mutilation was never more than an abyss. Down with frivolity--Down with sobriety.)
Everything delicate & beautiful, from Surrealism to Break-dancing, ends up as fodder for McDeath's ads; 15 minutes later all the magic has been sucked out, & the art itself dead as a dried locust. The media-wizards, who are nothing if not postmodernists, have even begun to feed on the vitality of ``Trash,'' like vultures regurgitating & re-consuming the same carrion, in an obscene ecstasy of self-referentiality. Which way to the Egress?
Real art is play, & play is one of the most immediate of all experiences. Those who have cultivated the pleasure of play cannot be expected to give it up simply to make a political point (as in an ``Art Strike,'' or ``the suppression without the realization'' of art, etc.). Art will go on, in somewhat the same sense that breathing, eating, or fucking will go on.
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