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ManiFest

I could have sworn I started this blog by discussing my strange fascination for manifestos and other such statements of (artistic/cultural) intent. The word itself only appears once, in passing and used very loosely, here. The likeliest explanation for my confusion would be Roxy Music, given my first entry and this (hey, it’s a Greil Marcus review!).

In any case, I’ve got one eye on the now decade-old anthology edited by Mary Ann Caws called Manifesto: A Century of Isms and the other on a newer volume, edited by Rupert Loydell and delightfully entitled Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh: Manifestos and Unmanifestos.

Thankfully, I’ve got more than a pair of metaphorical peepers, enough to enjoy Caws’s participation in last year’s MOMA celebration of the centennial of the Futurist Manifesto. She provides an introduction in “Poetry Can Be Any Damn Thing It Wants” to EIGHT “new manifestos,” all of which are available online:

  1. “The Final Manifesto” by Joshua Mehigan
  2. “Manifesto of the Flying Mallet” by Michael Hoffman
  3. “Manifest Aversions, Conceptual Conundrums & Implausibly Deniable Links” by Charles Bernstein
  4. “The Eighties, Glory of” by Ange Mlinko
  5. “Annie Get Your Gun” by D. A. Powell
  6. “The New Perform-A-Form: A Page vs. Stage Alliance” by Thomas Sayers Ellis
  7. “Presto Manifesto” by A. E. Stallings
  8. “Leave the Manifesto Alone: A Manifesto” by Joshua Clover and Juliana Spahr as the Hate Socialist Collective

I suspect that what I like best about manifestos is made explicit by those selections: the way they can be (and usually are) so utterly ridiculous, possessing an absurdity second only to those people who strenuously object to them.

I think many of the best aesthetic manifestos are (“must be,” to speak with the forceful imperative traditionally characteristic of the manifesto) indistinguishable from “hoaxes” like the Spectric School or, more recently, the International Necronautical Society, which I would join if I could.

But then again, all this might only be lessons I’ve learned from my Dada, much like those learned by Ian McMillan and Andrei Codrescu.

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ADDENDUM:

I love (to) Fuck Theory, in terms of both its content and form. A recent post has led me to start wondering whether my fascination for both the manifesto and the aphorism (or the fragment) can be reconciled.

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