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Apropos Stewart Home's Slow Death (and a few interviews)

Apr 10, 2003

Added 24-08-04: I just found a good interview with Steward Home at http://www.altx.com/int2/stewart.home.html (link no longer works)

The avantgarde author claiming to write a string of deliberately bad, 'dirty', politically incorrect books in order to make a living and to avoid demeaning work must create a position of hate or at least deep ambiguity and distrust in those that draw self-esteem (and 'cultural capital') out of a refinement and distinction which is openly ridiculed in Home's books. Similar in social status, they survive in more approved and secure (but also more compromised) interstices of the economy of culture.

I think the self-confessed attitiude of playing the cultural game self-interestedly, of historifying and anchoring a certain artistic brand ('neoism') in a transparently 'cynical' (and therefore, is seems, no longer fully cynical) way in order to increase the resale value of the artist's line of production, has the aim to prevent the projection of innocence or inspired unworldly madness of genius that is traditionally vested in the poete maudit who defies the aesthetic and moral etiquette. This attribution of innocence usually serves to invalidate the artist's thrust: his skillful manipulative technique, or deliberate provocation. Such invalidation proceeds by revaluing the output in another register, aesthetic or psychological, by allocating such work to the realm of a community of unworldy seers, sufferers, utopians, evangelists etc. who, it is gleefully demonstrated, all failed to change the world's course). While the work is thereby proven invalid, it may all the better be honoured and enjoyed as an exercise in a certain practical madness that commands respect. The redeeming feature helping to assimilate (decontaminate) the work may be a strand of self-reflexivity and self-referentiality, even in the mode of parody.

The ambiguity and distrust of the cultural elite stems from the perception that any contact or allegiance with this subject must be dangerous - infective, corrisive and risky. But this may be my projection as I cannot help but having to count myself in, whatever I may do to transcend the attribution. It sticks because it is social, engrained through education, class-based.

The position of an artist who has (to some extent) evaded the economic ties and compromises that would normally describe his role as author in the type of society we live in, and who has found a second grounding in the skillful execution of 'impossible' defamed practices, is of such strengh because it has no need to spare anything or anyone, not even himself. The demonstrated architecture of his own uncompromising and by the same token, compromising role in the field takes the place of the author's 'persona', which is usually invested with some narration, family history, likes and dislikes, faults, neuroses and greatest obsessions. All this exists only to the extent that it might reappear as caricature or accidental trait.

But from which position is this very text written? There seems to be no way out of the self-justification game. Shutting up might help (talking about myself-as-critic, not S.H.). The first condition for a text to 'work' seems to be that the author feels no need to defend it or excuse it or cop out of it in the way I do here. So what is left is...

After reading 'Slow death', I found a few interviews:

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