Friday, January 22, 2010

The avant-garde & the right not to die

Andrew Levy, "Biotopology with No Annual Fee," in ON: Contemporary Practice, 2008:

"The avant-garde has failed to pursue the more radical implications of its own manifestos and polemics - strengthening the internal life versus projecting or imposing it outward.  If we do not dismantle the prejudices integral to the idea and practice of social privilege, the declaration of the right not to die will forever go unfulfilled.  To advocate for social reform yet denigrate people because they don't play the piano (or haven't read Deleuze), and are thereby the less enlightened, does not help.  We should be able to hear all the voices coming in and going out.  The arts give us the mechanisms of that meaning.  The further the mechanisms of each field are shared in the formation of a commons, for example, in the arts and sciences, to alter the course of the present economic burdens and punishments placed upon the shoulders of the poor, the greater man's creativity becomes.  This creativity has been borne out by historical example over and over again throughout the entire history of mankind, in every society.  To act to conserve accomplished wealth, knowledge and power among the privileged has proven to be destructive to every person, and the global environment, in each instance.  Therein resides our current crisis and interregnum in biotopology and toward the right not to die, that which is impolite and full of grace...

What do hierarchical balancing acts, constructed upon categorial exclusions in bed with educational and class biases among other unanalyzed discriminatory identifications, mean in regard to the sustainability of any significant, i.e., socially and culturally transformative, collective action?  What, if anything, is the reestablishment of a cyclical status quo (e.g., in the avant-garde) changing?

Why should anyone believe what we say?

What might happen if we, that imaginary collective, equally applauded, attended to, promoted and valued every area of work of our colleagues, friends, lovers, peers and those we mentor?

... Which community do we want to dedicate our service to?  All communities, the ones we've imagined and the ones we do not know."


Thom Donovan said...

thanks for posting this Don. I am a big fan of Andrew's work and was very glad to be able to publish his essay on biotopology in the first issue of ON.

what you say here about "service" is very much in line with the ways I think about criticism/scholarship as an extension of community dialogue and action...


Lemon Hound said...

So many do. I think of poets such as Erin Moure as providing a great role model for such a poetics. Always moving toward that which is sustaining and creating space for more.

Henry Gould said...

O, take me to Hot Air World, in the Utopia Balloon! I want to live forever with all the well-spoken people! Give me another mellow Phrase-Cloud Sandwich!