Behind the Scenes
Our Atrocity Exhibition: A Theory of the Spectacle of the Banal: Within the Spectacle, A System Within A System Within A System Within A System Within A System
I lived in the desert and in the desert I had cable TV and an internet connection and the local CSA gave me basically all the food I need because I won a lifetime supply of it from some contest, I don’t know, and my great great grandfather or whatever owned the land I lived on so I didn’t have to pay rent and uh I had electricity and water by stealing it from my neighbor. My neighbor lived far away but I was creative. I didn’t pay for the internet or cable TV but I had them and I didn’t ask questions. Maybe somebody loved me and paid for them. The point is: I didn’t have anything to spend money on.
Miles away from my home in the desert there was a tent in the desert and in the tent there was a preacher, and the preacher encouraged all to stay within all that which was holy, because everything outside was sin. Sometimes I went to the tent and watch the men and women climb in the glass tank that held rattle snakes. The snakes would bite people sometimes but nobody screamed and no one collapsed in pain and I reckon they were de-poisoned, I’m not sure how snakes work, the adders in the desert leave slithers at at night my baby rattle shakes like death breeze.
Inside of my disconnection from the world at large I was exposed only to one thing: I saw the banalization of culture, I let it float over my head and wash my body, I refused to know of the existence of anything that was special, because here in this world everything to me was free and the machine of capitalism were the only gears still turning.
REBBECCA BLACK HAS BECOME A STAR
FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN
With almost 70 million views Rebecca Black undoubtedly pervades our contemporary conscious more than The Beatles, John Cage, Jesus Christ, James Joyce and the TV show Gossip Girl. Before I lived in the desert I ordered a pizza and when I picked it up the woman at the counter was talking about how she found about Rebecca Black from People Magazine and she couldn’t get the song out of her head.
As arbiters of taste we have decided that this is the worst song ever. As arbiters of taste, as a culture, we have deemed the song terrible and stupid. However, also, as arbiters of taste, Rebecca Black was trending on twitter for almost three weeks. The truth is, here in my desert of the real, divorced from any literal capital of my own, I fall within this machine of capitalism. I live in the heat of late capitalism and watch when a song that is the product of pure capital, pure expenditure, because the only thing an entire country talks about. What are we praising. Why are we wallowing in this filth of the mediocre.
And that’s the truth, isn’t it? There’s not difference in quality between Rebecca Black’s Friday and Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. The difference stands in the fact that I could jerk off to the latter because Jon Hamm looks mega fine in it. What? But no, ultimately, this culture, in this desert, our culture (“AMERICA HAS NO CULTURE” Kathy Acker shouts from her grave, her body buried far beneath the desert of the real, she floats in the sands of pleasure, but her shouts are muffled, so all we can hear is XXXX XXX XXXXXXX XXXXX), there is nothing extraordinary, we face, regularly, only the mediocre. Popular music is slowly appropriating every style of music that has ever graced a listener’s ears and auto-tuning the disparate elements into a deluge of homogeneity. The new hegemony is homogeneous. It always has been, but we are nearing the literal as we barrel into the future.
DANCE UNTIL THE WORLD ENDS DIE BITCH DIE 666
I visit the preacher because I’m tired of watching Britney Spears on YouTube. The rattle snakes are shaking in fear because the preacher man looks like Jim Jones. Maybe it is Jim Jones, I saw a mini-series on Showtime that posited he faked his death when the action went down at Jonestown. This was maybe based on a conspiracy theory from real life but I wouldn’t know about it if it hadn’t been fictionalized. Without the injection of narrative and attractive men and women who someone might want to fuck (and my old roommate wanted to Fuck Laura Linney have you Seen Tales of the City?) I probably wouldn’t care about reality enough to have a point of reference. Fuck reality.
“Virilio was asked: ‘But what shall we dream of when everything becomes visible?’ To which he replied: ‘We’ll dream of being blind’ (Wilson 1994).”
The Preacher is blind, literally, a man who is blind who looks like Jim Jones who would strike terror into the hearts of anyone who spent most of 1978 and 1979 watching television. There is a band called Brians Jonestown Massacre from the 90s which marks the beginning of our cultural descent away from meaning and into, exclusively, the realm of play, and it is through this play that it was decided that nothing means anything anyway so everything may as well be mediocre. What are you even talking about?
The Preacher preaches and he says HANNAH MONTANA’S WEARING MY JEANS, ASHLEY TISDALE’S WEARING MY JEANS, KEKE PALMER’S WEARING MY JEANS and I realize at that moment that not even God offers solace to a world where anything He or he or her or Her said has been divorced from the larger context clues of religion as a whole and instead stuck in a fragment from a book that wasn’t meant to be The Only Thing and and and and and and and and
The students who visit the tent that is the church where the Blind Faith Healer Preacher Who Looks Like Jim Jones tell people to walk among the snakes because God Will Protect Them laugh when they don’t know what they’re doing because they have no desire to figure anything out, anything at all, son instead they just keep fucking things up without actually progressing forward or asking for help because there is no reason to.
I want my own books bound in inlaid leather binding so I can sweat in the desert onto their spines and the books will become tiny as I shrink.
On television I watch the first 3 seasons of American Idol thanks to the fact that this is the future and I’m sure it’s either on OnDemand or Instant Netflix or whatever. It doesn’t matter. I listen to people singing and it’s not long before every voice I’ve ever heard sounds exactly the same as every voice I’ve ever heard and the drone starts to sound like the mosquitos at my swamp home, far away, where insects hover over wet. Damp. Alligators cannot itch their skin but they are impervious to the thought of pain, so now my shoes are their skin and I cry when I think about how distanced I had to make my own sense of being to accomplish such a simple task of capitalism.
Inside of capitalism I am better than someone else.
Inside of capitalism I will parade my compleat mediocrity into the sunlight, I mean spotlight, and shine shine shine for my audience to see.
Inside of capitalism my ticket to accomplishment comes via privilege and a desire to destroy others.
But out here in the desert of the real I forget what I was talking about. Outside the sun is setting. American Idol continues. Randy tells a woman that she has no charisma, Paula Abdul looks at Ryan Seacrest’s nuts, Simon Cowell says something that doesn’t even make sense because there is no objectivity in the world of the mediocre, I mean, how can this be any better or worse than everything else when it is exactly the same.
Now I am thinking about the movies I saw when I was in high school. I watched movies constantly, but only badfilms. I only watched badfilms because I could tell that the world of the badfilm and the world of reality were soon to become the same thing. Now, “badfilm is the reality; there is no place left to stand outside of mass mediation.” I went to Chipotle and listed some vegetables and told them to JUST GRILL IT. The world of the badfilm is not a terrible place, I get to see all these macho-postured assholes shooting guns and their long flowing manes of hair blow in the artificial wind, and if you think blood and guts are hilarious then the world is hilarious because there really isn’t anything else, or there is but it’s not important right right.
All of us, all of us, all of us “‘live surrounded by texts which invade [our] minds, but [we] cannot focus long enough to appreciate any complex messages. [We] dream about violence and excitement in [our] own lives, and the mediascape (ever full of aggressive imagery) makes [us] long for the re-enactment of atrocities: ‘all those scenes of pain and violence that illuminated the margins of our lives’.’ (Oramus 2007, 161)”
Hi kids hi ladies and gentlemen step right up to the carnival of horror at tonight’s show we will rape an eleven year old girl and then slaughter a horse and then eat bar b cue. But don’t worry the rapists will be ghosts so their lives will not be ruined and they will not be from anywhere so the town will be fine and everybody will think this eleven year old bitch is just crazy and besides she dresses like she’s 21 and where’s her mother anyway.
Please clap for our performances, this is true acting. This is bravery. This gay man who will cower in the corner in fear and cry for the brutal excess of machismo to stop is actually played by a heterosexual, and despite our permanent expectations for fags to be able to pass as straight if they actually want to be movie stars, this heterosexual, he is a real man! He is so Brave! All of these actors are So Brave! Look at their accomplishment! Look at how we look up to them! Do you know what acting is? Acting is bravery! There is no such thing as a true story, because we only want our true stories mediated through cinema, or best-selling memoirs with extensive photography sections.
Please, tell me about the wild life you lived where you had so much sex and did so much drugs but make sure you lay heavy emphasis on how you have moved past all that and how now you believe in God because I want my titillation to be justified.
Become an actor kids, it’s the best way to experience life! You are the mediation that others get to experience! People will be living vicariously through you! No one else will experience the real.
Not in our desert of post-capitalism where the only logic is that of the Spectacle.
And the logic of the spectacle is the aestheticization of the mediocre.
It is here in this world that the saints and holy women cry tears. Unless the habit is streaked with blood and holed by fire we do not care about you, sister.
I want excitement and violence and death.
AND WHEN I SCREAM
Before I lived in the desert I went into a forest in which a local girl who studied art at the local university was murdered by a local man who studied despair at the local low-income apartment complex and in this forest I walked into the depths of the shallow woods and I brought with me a tape recorder than ran by batteries, and in the forest I shut my eyes and breathed heavily, it was windy, there were too many people around but I carried on anyway, and in my carrying on I recorded myself reading Georges Bataille’s THE SOLAR ANUS and so I said I said
And when I scream I AM THE SUN an integral erection results, because the verb to be is the vehicle of amorous frenzy.
And I said I said
The solar annulus is the intact anus of her body at eighteen years to which nothing sufficiently blinding can be compared except the sun, even though the anus is night.
And when I left the woods and I went back home nothing was different. Nothing had changed. The sun still shone into the cold world.
“The Atrocity Exhibition mirrors Marshall McLuhan’s observation that the ‘medium, or process of our time – electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life’ (McLuhan and Fiore 1967, 8). It is a work that places its protagonist ‘inside’ the image, absorbed within the Spectacle, with no ‘outside’ of which to speak or to safely retreat to. There is no limit to the multiple fantasies the media landscape feeds to ‘T-’, and which nourish his psychopathic tendencies, which then take on a life of their own: an invasion of the actual by the virtual. As Ballard puts it: ‘the nervous systems of the characters have been externalized, as part of the reversal of the interior and exterior worlds. Highways, office blocks, faces and street signs are perceived as if they were elements in a malfunctioning nervous system’ (Ballard 2001, annotations 76). ”
It is impossible to get outside of this. It is like phenomenology, it is the problem philosophers have had since the ancient Greeks. The world is mediating by our experience of it because it is impossible to transcend ourselves and view our experiences from the outside. Everyone is narcissistic. Our banal lifestyles.
Lifestyles of the banal and mediocre.
Do you have money yes I have enough. Let’s go to the store and buy this CD.
I made a goal.
Congratulations you won.
Here is your recording contract let’s cut a record and then release an exclusive clothing line.
I’m not even sure how life works.
Roger Corman put aside any artistic pretensions so he could make money. He hated himself when he failed to do so. He hated it when he almost put art before profit. Roger Corman is like a prophet of our generation. It is him who film-makers bow down and pray to.
Roger Corman is the lube on the wheel of the film industries income. Come splatters all over the face of the young men and women who know of nothing else.
Do you know why I only want the spectacular?
The snakes in the tent bit the Blind Jim Jones Preacher today. I stood up and shouted GOD IS DEAD but nobody heard me because echoes of someone else shouting the exact same thing were still resounding from a hundred years ago.
Pleasure is the only thing to look out for. The extraordinary is our only escape. The special is lost and buried in the tombs of the dead. Where is the friend’s house?
My body is a temple of erotic misery.
The body is a temple of neurotic desire.
The body floats in the space between mediated experience and mediated experience.
What won’t people dress up in small outfits? with Just stop it!
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I have lost the plot. The plot was lost after modernism. One time I took a class on art and globalization. The death of grand narratives happened before the 1950s even. We have been lost for over half a century. Our fragmented lives are losing difference. There is a melting pot that all desires and aesthetics are getting lost to.
AND WHEN I SCREAM I AM THE SUN
kill everything that isn’t wrong
All quotes from “‘Flesh dissolved in an acid of light’: the B-movie as second sight” on Ballardian.com