Articles

Sincere Genesis – On Félix Guattari & Groups

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“Sooner or later the Situationist International must
define itself as a therapy: we are ready to defend the
poetry made by all against the false poetry
rigged up by power”
– Raoul Vaneigem

As a psychoanalyst and militant, Félix Guattari seems to have engaged with the problem of groups for all his life. Across his writing we see him putting forth, as part of a collaborative process, various conceptualisations of group life which are to a larger or lesser degree operational concepts which he had experienced and worked with. These are: institutional analysis, the subject and subjugated group and the collective assemblage of enunciation. Several themes, gathering points for his later more pronounced interest in the production of subjectivity, appear to flow through all of these concepts: transversalism, a mixed semiotic and the subject as ‘supra-personal’. [Read more →]

Just Say Non: Nazism, Narcissism and Boyd Rice

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“Boyd’s rather unimaginative sadism used to embarrass me, but then he explained it using words like ‘Weltanschauung'”
Lisa Crystal-Carver, Drugs are Nice [LC, p215]

I last saw Boyd Rice play (as ‘Non’) back in August 1981, alongside Throbbing Gristle (TG), Z’ev, Cabaret Voltaire and Clock DVA as part of the ‘Industrial Night Out’ at the Lyceum, London, which brought together the big cheeses of Industrial Music in what was to be something of a coming out party for the scene but turned out also to be its swansong (it was TG’s last UK concert; they broke up a few months later). At the time Rice presented himself as a Dadaist and prankster though his aesthetic was actually closer to the sub-Futurist ‘instant karma for kids’ noise-racket that Merzbow has since successfully appropriated and turned into a brand / ‘racket’ of his own. While TG boasted of making music from ugly noise, Rice tried to outflank them by serving up the ugliness directly, unfiltered by any obvious concern for form. In fairness Boyd Rice could be said to be among the key players of early Industrial Music, and as a result he perhaps has a shade more kudos than some of the complete musical non-entities we’re generally concerned with around here (Wakeford, Pearce, Moynihan, et al). Rice has declared his Fascism in a number of statements, in his art, and through public actions such as appearing in full Fascist regalia and holding a dagger in a photograph alongside Bob Heick, taken in 1989 to promote the latter’s organisation, the neo-Nazi skinhead party, American Front. He has also appeared on White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger’s cable TV show Race and Reason, where he declared that his friends in Current 93 and Death in June were promoting a ‘racialist’ agenda and emphasised the importance of Industrial and Neo-Folk music for building the ‘Aryan youth movement’.
[Read more →]

Obekna

Scenario by Olivier Noel, Drawings by Simon Lejeune.

Click (twice) on the images to enlarge. See below for more details.

obekna-page-1-eng-low [Read more →]

Fluxus and DIY Concerts

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Many different art movements of the twentieth century have influenced experimental music. This essay will focus mostly on the effect the Fluxus movement has had on music. Fluxus was particularly important to the development of an understanding that music does not necessarily have to be harmonic, and most importantly, that anyone can create music by organizing everyday sounds. This essay will discuss the following issues: how Fluxus artists challenged experimental/noise music; how audience becomes part of the performance instead of simply observing; and how noise music (as well as the Fluxus movement in general) was a protest against serious traditional culture.

Fluxus was not the first art movement that started the development of noise aesthetics. The proposal that artists should use everyday sounds in their compositions first appeared in the Italian Futurist painter and composer Luigi Russolo’s manifesto “The Art of Noises”. In his text the author criticized the old fashioned tools for sound production, and as an alternative he proposed making new musical instruments and using a multitude of machines. According to Russolo, perfectly harmonious music had reached a point where it no longer had the power to excite or inspire. Consequently, artists of the Dada movement extended experimental music ideas. A prime example was the Anti-Symphony concert performed in Berlin on April 30, 1919. Later, the Surrealist and Fluxus art movements brought in new, fresh ideas to noise/experimental music. The biggest influences were the Fluxus artists Robert Watts, Wolf Vostell, Nam June Paik, George Maciunas, Philip Corner, Benjamin Patterson, LaMonte Young, and Takehisa Kosugi. Fluxus performances grew out of the principle of concrete (ready-made) sound, and the Experimental Composition classes by John Cage ran between 1957 and 1959 at the New School of Social Research in New York. According to Cage, artists should use actions, concrete sounds, and random things, rather than being represented in an illusionist/harmonic manner. There were two different types of Fluxus performances. The early one was the “Events/Neo-haiku Theater”, which was followed by the “Happenings/Neo-Baroque Theater”. Happenings, environments, and Fluxus made the artist aware of sounds’ potentiality in creating work that retained a sense of immediacy, corporeality, and curiosity. [Read more →]

Peter Sedgwick: Psycho Politics – Laing, Foucault, Goffman, Szasz and the Future of Mass Psychiatry (Book Review)

Peter Sedgwick
Psycho Politics – Laing, Foucault, Goffman, Szasz and the Future of Mass Psychiatry
Foreword by Helen Spandler, Robert Dellar, Alastair Kemp
Unkant Publishers, London 2015
ISBN 978-0-86104-352-9

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Peter Sedgwick was born in 1934, joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in 1954, left it in the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution two years later, then joined the Socialist Review Group. This small organization, headed by Tony Cliff, later became the International Socialists (IS). Sedgwick became a frequent contributor to their journal, International Socialism. When the organisation took a turn towards Leninist party-building and renamed itself Socialist Workers Party in 1977, Sedgwick left the group. He fiercely opposed this step, calling it a ‘propaganda-act’, a ‘silly fling’ and a fraud.

Sedgwick worked as a psychologist and school teacher before lecturing on politics at the universities of York and Leeds for the last 15 years of his life. He was the eminent translator of the works of communist dissident Victor Serge.

Besides dozens of articles in the press of the IS, Sedgwick’s main work is Psycho Politics – Laing, Foucault, Goffman, Szasz and the Future of Mass Psychiatry. This book was originally published by Pluto Press in 1982 and was an assault on the ideology of the anti-psychiatry movement of the 60s and 70s and its relative hegemony concerning positions towards mental health issues in the radical left at the time.

He sets out to show how these ideas, originally devised in the interest of the ‘mentally ill’, provided ammunition to those on the right with the agenda of dismantling the welfare state, giving them arguments to withhold adequate funding from the mental health institutions and ultimately shifting the responsibility of taking care of the mentally ill back to ‘the community’ or the family. [Read more →]

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