Tuesday, December 11, 2007

As the Art World Turns III

In addition to his "Theory of Feelings"
Whitehead uses the occasion of processing
his version of mixed reality
to investigate what he matter-of-factly terms
Higher Phases of Experience
and is it only me
or does reading Whitehead sometimes feel like
a kind of non-drug induced autohallucination?

He quotes himself in Process and Reality
by pulling a few lines from the first of his books
I actually ever read back when I was 19
a book entitled Religion in the Making
a title that when I first saw it on the reading list
immediately turned me off
since I was now becoming an adult
and wanted to be independent of whatever it was
that my parents may have tried to imbue
culturally, politically, prehistorically and religiously
and I was not interested in making anything
but my own artwork at the time
(religion was simply out of the question)
and in those days "artwork" for me translated as
"creative writing" and drawing and something like music
but what I would now generically refer to as "sound art"

But then something strange happened and I realized
at age 19 that I was now being pulled in
by Whitehead's Religion in the Making
a book that caught me totally by surprise
mostly due to its holistic use of language
which at the time felt like it was simultaneously
so abstract in a metaphysically incoherent way
as well as visually concrete in the way
it would focus my attention on the experiential qualities
of my life-story as an enduring aesthetic fact

An enduring aesthetic fact?

At 19 and with still no formal education
unless you call going to public high school
in Miami in the 60s and 70s a kind of formal education
how could I (someone who between the ages of
fourteen and seventeen had been working
full-time at the greyhound race tracks)
come to conclude that my life-story
was an enduring aesthetic fact
i.e. how could I be swayed by the confidence
of Whitehead's self-assured writing style
that my own life was associated with the rhythms
and physical vibrations that arise out of
the conditions for intensity and stability,
a tough balancing act if ever there was one?

Reading Whitehead's book at 19
began stimulating that part of my brain
that was ready to play with the philosophical-poetic
source material at my disposal
so that soon I was using the book's writing
as source material to dream up new versions of self
(quickly disposing of religion per se
that is to say diminishing its influence on my then
wildly flirtatious relationship with an experimental lifestyle
that would rid myself of the need to encounter God --
for what was God to a secular 19 year old
former race track employee transforming
the disjointed multiplicity of his flux identity
into fictional decharacterizations in novel form?)

[novel form -- / -- 70s norm -- / -- mixed reality -- / -- in the making]

The quote in his Process and Reality
that Whitehead pulls from Religion in the Making
follows a comment on what he terms
"an intense experience"
one that he assigns to an enduring object
that gains the enhanced intensity of feeling
arising from the contrast between inheritance
and novel effect (what's already there
and what we do with it, remixologically),
all the while tapping into its free-flow sensation
as an embodied praxis syncing body-image rhythms
with the flux of data waiting to be selected
while performing the ultimate balancing act
between intensity and stability

"An intense experience is an aesthetic fact,"
writes Whitehead and then he begins to lay down
some "categoreal conditions" as he calls them
that are to be generalized "from aesthetic laws
in particular arts"

(the art of living life "today"?
this is what we mean by the term remixology)

He then samples from Religion in the Making
two of these conditions / aesthetic laws
and remixes them into Process and Reality:

"1. The novel consequent must be graded in relevance so as to preserve some identity of the character with the ground.

2. The novel consequent must be graded in relevance so as to preserve some contrast with the ground in respect to that same ground of character."

These two principles (he goes on to say)
are derived from the doctrine (what doctrine?) that
"an actual fact is a fact of aesthetic experience.
All aesthetic experience is feeling arising
out of the realization of contrast under identity."

Looking back at my possible reading of this kind of work
back in the late 70s and into the early 80s
I can see where I would have been attracted
to Whitehead's focus on intense aesthetic experiences
and his high valuation of novelty as a way to generate
fluctuating forms of identity /characterization
that would morph the "actual entity" into pools
of differential feelings sinking and swimming
with the flow of whatever life rhythm
they may have been inventing as part of their
ongoing aesthetic practice (he would call this
a "religion in the making" but I would not buy it
and thought of it as something more akin to
the freedom to compose an art lifestyle practice)

Remixologically speaking
"Religion in the Making"
circa 1979-1980
became for me something like
"Art in the Making"
(how was I to become an artist
acting on whatever ground was available
unless I made it up from scratch?)
and now in 2007
becomes something different yet again
let's call it (for lack of better)
"Life in the Making"
(after having pursued an art lifestyle practice
for almost three decades across ten planets
and forty galaxies and seventy blood tranfusions
would it not make utter sense that the biosphere
would be the next best place for me to unravel
the free flow sensations of intense aesthetic experiences?
especially given the fact that the "actual entity"
moonlighting as a "novelty generator" hacking the Real
is always operating in asynchronous realtime?)

but more importantly I would now like to remix
Whitehead's "categoreal conditions"
for "New Media Artists in the Making":

"1. The novelty generator must be valued in relation to their ability to position the energy [source material] they create with the ground they act on while performing their latest remix.

2. The novelty generator must be valued in relation to their ability to position some contrasting energy [source material] with the ground in respect to the already existing energy [source material] they are sampling from while performing their latest remix."

[existing source material -- / -- categoreal imperatives -- / -- experiential sediment]

The experiential sediment of being here in the now
with its fluctuating data rates informing
every instance of novelty generation
takes the "remixologist in the making"
into spaces beyond self - identity - character
and transmutes the conceptual apparatus
they always turn to for their Next Big Idea
into the physical experience of "image rendering"
pulling them into its compositional force field
of seductive knowledge and immanent satisfaction
via the lure of feelings

(something the artist-medium
can never fully sever themselves from)

And yet as Antin writes or transcribes
via his talkstory The Price
"what is locus of the source or ground
of the self [...] what i had in mind
was to look for the place where the self
or what i take to be the self
has its ground"

(resonating as it were with Whitehead again
and his "ground of character")

Now I have never been one who invests much
in concepts of self or character per se
opting for flux personas or even
the idea of an erotically charged
fictional decharacterization of said self
(said who?)

looking back to 1986 a mere eight years
after having left the greyhound race track in Miami
and absorbed all of the Whitehead I could
I wrote my first published short story
"Alkaloid Boy" as part of The Kafka Chronicles
where I went off on this improvisatory riff:


first and foremost / high on the list of things

To Do

1) evil eyed optimist
2) puritanical pessimist
3) retrograde renegade
4) easygoing numskull
5) taxing interest
6) megalomaniacal monsterman
7) persevering wanderer
8) sunshiny souvenir
9) sovereign veneer
10) venereal vegetarian
11) pornosophic filmmaker
12) college student
13) bank president
14) beatnik historian
15) girl watcher
16) punky playboy
17) diseased dyslexic
18) monkey grammarian
19) existentialist outlaw
20) linguistic statesman
21) novelty generator
22) effervescent eunuch
23) egghead eavesdropper
24) neoconservative butcher
25) egotistical holyman
26) harmonic hegelian
27) continue the discontinue
28) still crazy after all these years
29) butcher the butcher
30) wearisome whacker
31) where art thou waterfall?
32) butcher the butcher
333) dead meat dead meat dead meat dead meat
421) off to the boonies
5X1r#217) name address social security perforation

final mishapover
pro ./ por ./ tions

eros intensification

"self need not be so unitary as all that,"
(Antin continues in The Price)
"it depends on what kind of ground it emerges from
how it emerges from it
how continuously it emerges and how uniformly
it presents itself on emerging
and maybe it doesn't really emerge
maybe it only hovers about a certain place
this hovering a kind of complex act performed
by a number of actors whose interaction
we could call the self"

Here is where we enter the realm
of what I have been calling intersubjective jamming
which is different than the idea of a Networked Author
or Collaborative Groupthink Mentality that pries
on the lifestyles of the Source Material Rich
and seemingly forever Almost Famous

for this "hovering" is a "complex act"
that is "performed" by "actors"
who interact in the gestural manipulation
of a "narrative in the making" that just may be
the story of our lives (sounds like a soap opera)
but is more likely something along the lines of
a complexity of events being made by those who
in the presentational immediacy of their selectively manipulated data
form an aesthetic experience that we might call novelty
novelty as the immediate present
one that is capable of establishing the mysterious resonance
of social relatedness as currency in an ongoing
narrative environment that "like a cloud changes as it goes"

This interactive form of intersubjective jamming
that takes place via the gestural manipulation
of a "narrative in the making" points back to Flusser
who in his Into the Universe of Technical Pictures
writes about all kinds of gestures that inform novelty
(writing gestures, visualizing gestures, codifying
gestures, photographic gestures, publicizing gestures):

"The question of what technical pictures mean
is first and foremost a question of how
the envisioning gesture is directed.
Which way do the fingertips responsible
for the pictures point?"

And then:

"What is the maker's attitude?

Where does he stand?"

Although I am not in a position to answer
these questions posed by the gestural Flusser
I would borrow from Whitehead and say
the remixologist in the making
stands on whatever ground of the moment
they happen to be playing on as they
port their narrative/network potential
and its manifest aesthetic facts
into the compositional playing field
their novelty generation operates in

Flusser continues:

"To look at this position, this visualizing gesture
with this question in mind is to realize that
in it a revolutionary new form of existence
is finding expression, a powerful and violent
reversal of human beings' attitude toward the world.
This reversal is so powerful and violent
that it is difficult for us to see.
For visualizers, those who produce technical pictures,
stand against the world, pointing toward it
in order to make sense of it.
Their gesture is a commanding, imperative gesture
of codifying. Visualizers are people who
raise themselves up against the world,
point at it with their fingertips
in order to inform it."

(Remixologists of the World, Unite!)

[codifying gestures -- / -- Revolutionary Visualizers -- / -- remixing as "grounding out"]

Perhaps now would be the perfect time
to make a very straightforward confession
one that is neither here nor there
but somehow still relevant given where we are
in this ongoing talkstory about
actual entities laying down commanding gestures
of all types so as to intensify their experience
as an enduring aesthetic fact --

and that is that I have never learned how to type
I mean literally finesse the QWERTY system
and that as a hunt and peck two-bit operator
I have developed a more sensual relationship
to the keyboard than I have with any other thing
in my life (except for the obvious others)
and that in truth when it comes to performing
I actually never see the keyboard as I type
the keys are just simulated microzones of tender
push button potential for me to seduce
whatever knowledge may be residing in the network
of feelings I have accumulated over time
(maybe I'm just wired for this kind of "actualization"?)

this may seem a trivial footnote
but I have to wonder
if the remixologist as novelty generator
is to be valued in relation to
their ability to position some contrasting energy
        [source material] 
with the ground in respect
to the already existing energy
        [source material]
they are sampling from
then what happens when they use their groundedness
to simply lose themselves in the ether
(maybe I'm not wired for this at all
that is to say, maybe I'm wireless
an enduring aesthetic fact
flying high on Tesla-like electrical conduction
and whose remixological potential
is the ultimate source for a renewable
"Energy in the Making"

In describing feeling Whitehead
ends with a final remark writing
"A feeling is a component in the concrescence
of a novel actual entity"
and proceeds to tell us that the feeling
is always novel in reference to its data.
"The process of the concrescence is a progressive
integration of feelings controlled by
their subjective forms [...] feelings of
an earlier phase sink into the components
of some more complex feeling of a later phase.
[...] each phase adds its element of novelty."

The contemporary remixologist can relate
to all of this and remixes Whitehead to
expand on his philosophy:

An image rendering is a component feeling
in the concrete manifestation
of a remixological performance
one where the artist-medium
selectively filters the data
by tapping into their unconscious neural mechanism
and layers the component feelings in varying
degrees of opacity and balance
conjuring more complex imagery
that generates yet more novelty
transmuting the remixologist's life
into the free flow sensation
of an intense aesthetic experience
of ongoing social connectedness
and open creative potential

Whitehead refers to this transmutation
as a "becoming" in the actual world

"In the becoming, it [the subjective form]
meets the 'data' which are selected
from the actual world. In other words,
the data are already 'in being.' There
the term 'in being' is for the moment
used as equivalent to the term
'in realization.'"

Translation: Source Material Everywhere.

That's the Reality.

What we do with it as remixologists
emerges as a process of the concrescence.
Creative Processing of 

Selectively Manipulated Source Material


manifests as the becoming



Mixed Reality

Embodied in a Complex of Actual Feelings.


Postscript: if you have made it this far, then you might be interested in the accompanying soundtrack to these last two blog posts.

You can download the mp3 here (link fixed).

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