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Seminar

(from a novel in progress, Walt and Virginia)

 

 

Mark Amerika

 

 

 

Everyone who was supposed to be in attendance

was seated around the seminar room table

and Walt wasted no time in beginning the discussion

which was always less a discussion than a performance

that he would conduct as some kind of structured improvisation

where the various participants would intersubjectively jam

with each other in a form of metamediumistic energy transference

that would subliminally transcode the localized movements of

everyone’s nerve pools into a collective self-interpretative dance …

 

In 1960 (Walt started off on a tangent)

the year that I was born into this hellacious world

Richard Hamilton wrote his editorial overview

regarding the process of transcoding

Marcel Duchamp’s Green Box

from a random assortment of loose pages

into a hard-bound print book of artist notes

that would serve as a reader’s key to unlock

the creative process Duchamp discovered

while slowly mutating himself into a Conceptual performer

producing what we now know as The Large Glass

 

At the end of the book Hamilton

writes about ‘moulded gas seeping

towards the elaborate conditioning

which will prepare it for its final orgiastic splashing

and observe with wonder the beauty of its auras.’

 

The word ‘auras’ stood out to me (Walt intimated)

since I had once reflected on an entire realm of techno art

as an ideally positioned avant-pop phenomenon

readily able to assist a new generation of artist-mediums

in their attempts to invent an emergent style of critical writing

that would take into account the multi-media authoring tools

that were at the time flooding the market and that I dubbed

the ongoing becomingness of postproduction

 

What this really meant I can’t for the life of me say

since I was undoubtedly lost in cyberdrugspace

throughout the creative writing process

(the term cyberdrugspace is not really accurate

since I was neither on drugs nor did I feel particularly addicted

to the daily ritual of opening my laptop and connecting

to the Internet and all it had to offer me — perhaps

a better term for this would be virtual disembodiment

although that’s not really what I mean either — perhaps

the better phrase yet again would be that I was

tapping into my unfiltered readiness potential)

 

But I digress …

 

… and digress again (and again — what’s new?)

 

[the seminar crowd roared in approval —

he was on a roll — or at least was playing

like he was on a roll and this enabled them

to role-play with him]

 

There are so many machines for us to decipher here

(Walt was prodding the group on so that they would

somehow invent a series of machines that he would

write on the white board only to then use this series of words

as titles for new collaborative works that they would all

now have to transform into collaborative Conceptual practice)

 

There is the Bachelor Machine

 

[and he wrote Bachelor Machine on the white board]

 

The Eros Machine

The Conceptual Machine

The Ergonomically-Correct Machine

The Bend Back-Asswards Machine

The Chocolate Love Machine

The Stand of Dicks Machine

The Cunning Foresight Machine

The Retinal Obliteration Machine

The Agricultural Machine

The Ultimate Prick Tease Machine

The Apparatus Machine

The Tautological Machine

The Machinic Machine

The Vision Machine

The Glass Machine

The Delay Machine …

 

(and here was when Walt did what all well-rehearsed

actors of the pedagogical clan did without even thinking about it —

he inhaled deeply without affecting any sort of breathlessness

and counted to ten waiting patiently for the air to leave his body)

 

… not to mention The Cemetery of Uniforms …

 

But that’s not a machine!

(offered one of the the participants)

 

But it IS a machine

(countered Walt)

 

It is The Working Death Machine

 

[and he wrote that too on the white board]

 

It is the machine that awaits you as soon as you leave this fine institution

 

[a few nervous laughs]

 

But let’s focus our minds on The Delay Machine

 

I won’t get into the details but let’s just say

that I am myself experimenting with delay tactics

not unlike other delay tactics

 

for example delay tactics like those we might

imagine were part of Beckett’s creative intentions as well

 

You remember Beckett, yes?

 

[no response — well, one nod, but an insincere one]

 

The Delay Machine comes about in a note he wrote

regarding the subtitle of his famous work

the one we are investigating today

i.e. The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even …

 

Even who?!

(another young voice makes itself known for no apparent reason)

 

Even you, if you let her

 

But this too requires patience …

 

So let’s tap into this delay question

this question of delay

 

The note Duchamp wrote begins

 

Kind of Sub-Title

 

Delay in Glass

(double underlined)

 

Use ‘delay’ instead of ‘picture’ or

‘painting’; ‘picture on glass’ becomes

‘delay in glass’ — but ‘delay in

glass’ does not mean ‘picture

on glass’ –

 

It’s merely a way

of succeeding in no longer thinking

that the thing in question is

a picture — to make a ‘delay’ of it

in the most general way possible,

not so much in the different meanings

in which ‘delay’ can be taken, but

rather in their indecisive reunion

‘delay’ — a ‘delay in glass’

as you would say a poem in prose

or a spittoon in silver

 

This is where Conceptual practice begins

and one could say that it becomes a project

right at this moment when it appears to be

losing itself in writing

 

but not just any writing

 

rather — the writing of the mind on hold

but with a literary confidence that squeezes

the blood orange out of philosophical principle

 

Now this relates to the discussion we were having last week

when we were looking closely at my concept of ‘aura’

and how I was suggesting that ‘aura’ itself has been reconfigured

into something that is much more virtually embodied

and by that I mean naturally obtained by whosoever wishes

to embed themselves in a distributed network environment

that supposedly connects us all to each other in ways

previously unimagined in any other time in human history

 

As if there were still a human history

 

Right?

 

This is what Duchamp is saying …

 

Right?

 

The question he asks us here

clear as a bell

is ‘What human history?’

 

There is the throbbing energy of a robotic world

that continually strains to create

 

and this is what undoubtedly leads us into fits of desire

where we long to pulverize the chocolate love inside us

into some fine druglike powder that we can then sprinkle

on the buttocks of all the bodies we immerse ourselves in

 

but in the end

 

history is kaput and that nude descending the staircase

is not going down to the depths of purgatory

inasmuch as they are making an appearance

 

A guest appearance

 

But also a ghost appearance

 

And this is the apparition we are all sharing now

 

Remember what Duchamp himself once wrote:

 

A Guest + A Host = A Ghost

 

[the group is silenced]

 

The Delay Machine

 

it ends up

 

is consciousness itself

 

(Walt reappears as if out of nowhere)

 

and this is due to the way our brains are wired

 

i.e. the way we remixologically inhabit the Source Material Everywhere

 

and as such

 

what Duchamp teaches us to do by birthing the mutant forms of life

we now associate with a comprehensive Conceptual practice

 

is to lose ourselves in unfiltered readiness potential

 

Now — how exactly does he do this?

 

The answer is not so obvious and we don’t want to be definitive

but let’s at least take into account what he refers to as

the relationship between the State of Rest on the one hand

and A Choice of Possibilities on the other hand

 

‘For the instantaneous state of rest’ (he notes)

equals (he uses a literal equal sign as if it were a mathematical certainty)

equals ‘bring in the term: extra-rapid’

 

For Duchamp

the extra-rapid finds its way into his discourse

as extra-rapid State of Rest

extra-rapid exposure

extra-rapid exposition

 

and even extra-rapid organization

 

(Walt surveys the scene before him and then continues)

 

and interestingly enough

 

all of these extra-rapid equivalences are ultimately

further equated with what he terms ‘allegorical appearance’

 

Allegorical Appearance

 

Do you suppose this has any crossover potential

I mean meaning-wise are we on to something here

when we crossdress Duchamp’s ‘allegorical appearance’

with what I just recently referred to as both guest

and ghost or even ghostly appearances?

 

Of MAKING appearances?

 

Think about MAKING an appearance

and think about it in relation to the various machines

we have running here

 

[points to the white board]

 

and then imagine how what you MAKE

suggests that we (or you / or I)

are totally ON to something here

 

Because this is also what Duchamp is turning us on to

 

He is basically saying that we need to turn it on

 

To get TURNED ON

 

and that the available elixirs are finite

and we need to discover new ways to grind our desire

into druglike forms of seductive knowledge

 

How else do we think we are ever going to survive —

to maintain the robotic world that strains to create?

 

Now let’s take a short break as you think about

what machine you want to become

and how this becoming-machine will in effect

enable you to TURN ON and MAKE

some kind of guest or ghostly appearance

 

[people jumping out chairs as if escaping execution]

 

and think about the PLATFORM

your appearance will be presented on!

 

 

 

Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy

ISSN 2200-8616

 

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