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Gany Snyder and many related things

I consider myself a "Snyderian Euthanist".

Some links:

The Old Ways:

Music:

  • Iggy Pop - mainly "Fun House" and "The Idiot"
  • Medicine - mainly "One More" (from "Shot Forth Self Living") and "Heads" (from "Her Highness")
  • The Slackers featuring Ari Up (from The Slits) - Matey Exterminator
  • Linton Kwesi Johnson - Dread Beat an' Blood
  • Maybe also: Kristi Stassinopoulou, Secos & Molhados, Patti Smith, Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Body work:

Fear:

Books:

  • André van Lysebeth: Tantra: le culte de la feminilité.
  • Robert Anton Wilson: Cosmic Trigger: the final secret of the Illuminati. This one is part essay, part autobiography; it probably doesn't have much to do with the "Illuminatus" trilogy (that I haven't read).
  • P.D.Ouspenky: In Search of the Miraculous (the title in Portuguese is Fragmentos de um ensinamento desconhecido).
  • Several Sufi books, mainly in Portuguese from Editora Tárika...

To use an oracle system, you don't have to believe it's true, you just have to suspend what I call the Martin Gardner sense. I hate that man, he's become one of the leading anti-psychic research people. I can't stick all these people who are into the occult either, but there's now this group of scientists who spend all their time trying to prove how useless and unscientific and wrong it is. It might be wrong - but it isn't useless. That's the point.

These people can only see two categories of reality, which are hard fact and useless myth. What I'm trying to say is that there's another category which is in fact what we spend most of our lives doing, which is working on half-formed feelings, bits of information, whatever we can put together at the time. But that's a technique we don't tend to acknowledge. Whereas scientists are valued as being people who present serious information, storytellers aren't.

(from http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/interviews/spin89a.html)


Interviewer: Also, you've been quoted as saying in a February, 1996 interview with the Dutch publication (I read an English translation of this), Hardrock and Heavy Metal Magazine, "the young people of today just don't have the ability to review a text, with some level of intelligence", hence they don't understand the "the ironic subtone" or "images and symbols" in your lyrics? Do you still find this?

Andrew Eldritch: It varies from place to place, culture to culture, and generation to generation. I don't remember whether the Dutch interview was referring particularly to Britain, America, heavy metal fans in Holland or the child prostitutes of Bombay. Overall, things certainly seem harder than they were twenty years ago, when Dylan, Cohen and the rest could unselfconsciously refer to things which are no longer familiar to people, thereby speaking a language with a larger vocabulary, without the need to spell everything out.

David Bowie was telling me recently how great Damien Hirst is, and how Damien was very excited when told about the minotaur myth. I was shocked that Damien didn't already know it. Sorry David, but how can Hirst be such a great artist if he lacks a basic knowledge of history/myth/symbolism, if he lacks the vocabulary, the ability to insert visual shorthand like a hypertext link? And how much less rich an experience is it for the viewer who lacks the ability to recognise and follow such links?

Postmodernism surely requires an even greater grasp of symbolism, as it's increasingly an art of gesture alone. If Damien's at all clever, it's because he's recognised that modern art has disappeared up its own backside, and drawn the only logical conclusion about his place in the scheme of things. There's a boy that's going places, even if he smells funny.

Anyway, back to business... Leonard Cohen tells me he would no longer bother to write a song about Isaac, because people wouldn't know what he was on about. That doesn't only diminish the vocabulary of songs, it has wider implications. If the reference points for our whole belief system are forgotten, we find it that much harder to understand a shared belief system, or even to disagree coherently with a shared belief system. We end up in a vicious circle of incoherent, half-baked individual utlitarianism where nobody has any belief system at all and we lose the ability to communicate with each other. I think that's one reason why football is so popular again - it's a game which the citizen can focus on, where the rules are defined. Unlike his life. The citizen is becoming a pawn in a game where nobody knows the rules, where everybody consequently doubts that there are rules at all, and where the vocabulary has been diminished to such an extent that nobody is even sure what the game is all about. Hence the concomitant rise of fads like astrology, spiritualism, and generic "I want to believe"-ism. I'm a humanist. I believe people should be able to sort themselves out, as does the Judeo-Christian tradition, obviously, but for rather different reasons. Even for Western-European humanists, it's helpful to know about Isaac and Abraham for any discussion of belief/hope/obligation, especially if we wish to join a discussion which has been developed over two thousand years. It's a bit tedious to have to start the discussion from scratch every time by mulling over yesterday's soap-opera with the few people who actually watched it.

Certain extraneous developments have helped in ways one might not expect. Let's get back to hypertext for a moment. Remember that the Web is basically "text for people who can't read" (Trenchant Remark, copyright: A. Eldritch), but it's merely hypertext coupled with the physical hypertext of the Net's hardware. Now that hypertext is widely familiar, it's easier to explain how allusion works to people who would otherwise be completely flummoxed by the very concept. That's why I just tried it.

It's nevertheless hard to talk to Thatcher's Children. Apart from anything else, they have no concept of right and wrong beyond an apathetic and half-baked utilitarianism. I was recently asked if we are "relevant to them". Probably not. Proust is probably not relevant to them. He's clever and funny and useful, but they haven't got the faintest idea what he's on about. I've been described (by myself, of course) as "Kierkegaard meets Elvis". They may have heard of Elvis, but he didn't wear adidas, and they probably think that Kierkegaard is about as much use as a dead Danish philosopher. Which he is. Is he relevant to them? I think so. Would they agree? I doubt it.

The problem is, the things that decide their lives are not "relevant" to them. The nuances of emotional politics are not "relevant to them". They have lost touch with the fabric of their lives and they don't even know how to have a good time without falling victim to the corporate fashion fascists and the evil social engineers of Thatcherite Britain.

That makes the Sisters more necessary, but it does make things difficult. It means our tunes have to be that much better than everybody else's ...but of course they are.

(From: http://www.zsd.co.za/~lucien/sisters/interviews/interview.php?id=11)

(Some of AE's lyrics: Alice, Some Kind of Stranger)


The original context of teaching must have been narratives told by elders to young people gathered around the fire. Our fascination with TV may just be nostalgia for that flickering light. My grandparents didn't tell stories around the campfire before we went to sleep - their house had an oil furnace instead, and a small collection of books. I got into their little library to entertain myself. In this huge old occidental culture, our teaching elders are books. For many of us, books are our grandparents! In the library there are useful, demanding, and friendly elders available to us.

(...)

If you allow me to carry this playful ecological analogy a little further, we can say that the dissertations, technical reports, and papers of the primary workers are in a sense gobbled up by senior researchers and condensed into conclusion and theory - new studies that are in turn passed up the information chain to the thinkers at the top who will digest them and come out with some unified theory or perhaps a new paradigm. These final texts, which are built on the concentrated information assembled lower in the chain, will be seen as the noble monarchs of the academy-forest. Such giants must also succumb in time and return to the forest floor.

When asked "What is finally over the top of all the information chains?" one might reply that it must be the artists and writers, because they are among the most ruthless and efficient information predators. They are light and mobile, and can swoop across the tops of all the disciplines to make off with what they take to be the best parts, and convert them into novels, mythologies, dense and esoteric essays, visual or other arts, or poems. And who eats the artists and writers? The answer must be that they are ultimately recycled to the beginners, the students. That's where the artists and writers go, to be cheerfully nibbled and passed about.

The library itself is the heart of this ancient forest. But as Robert Gordon Sproul [former president of the University of California] said in his highly regarded speech of 1930, the library would be useless just as a simple collection of books or information. It is the organization, the intelligent system that can swiftly seek out and present one tiny bit of its stored information to a single person, that makes it useful. What lies behind it all, of course, is language. As I have written elsewhere, language is a mind-body system that coevolved with our needs and nerves. Like imagination and the body, languages rises unbidden. Is is of a complexity that eludes our rational intellectual capacities, yet the child learns the mother tongue early and has virtually mastered it by six... Without conscious device we constantly reach into the vast word hoards in the depths of the wild unconscious. We cannot as individuals or even as a species take credit for this power; it came from someplace else, from the way clouds divide and mingle, from the way the many flowerlets of a composite blossom divide and redivide.

(These two excerpts are from an essay called "The Forest in the Library", by Gary Snyder, written in 1990. Taken from the book "A Place in Space", pp.201--204.)


To add: meditation and work in the real world - cite some Zen stories, like the one that ends in "then go wash your bowl", ethics (cite Hagoromo, maybe Neil Gaiman; Gary Snyder/Ruth Underhill: "The reward of heroism is not personal glory nor riches. The reward is dreams"). The story about the picnic of the sufis. This link of Dawkins. Ask Olivier about "impeccability" in Carlos Castañeda.