The mastermind mixed media social practicer is someone else’s drag, not mine. What happens tonight is exactly the same as what I do at Get Fucked with Olympia… or elsewhere… tonight is perhaps longer…. but really there is no effort on my part to ascend when invited by institutions instead of individuals who organize club nights… this isn’t a reflection of ethics it is actually an acknowledgement of the limits of my ability and interest. These essays hopefully to blend into one another because they’re part of the same book. I speak to specific persons… I do not make claims for the universal… speaking to/in/of everyone. So if you don’t feel addressed in what follows this is not my concern… it is from the beginning not my project to make you fit for my address. We don’t all sit at the same table… and even if we did we rarely have the same conversation… memory always serves to justify a singular position at the table the way we say it all our way instead of being changed.
If I share hurt queer feelings, this desire is to share knowledge… the site of learning that is negative feeling. I don’t hope to access power or legitimacy… I merely hope to clarify how I came into possession of these feelings of knowing. So a story of a 12 year old who wore his hair in braids, the only incorrect body in a cafeteria sitting at the girls’ table… with no desire whatsoever to conform… this is a trans narrative, a neither nor moment. Confused for girl constantly and disciplined thereafter. The walk home from school was verbal harassment from older teens and grown men… occasionally throwing garbage at me… pickups with gun wracks… boys trailing me for blocks shouting that I will die, violently. A world promising me death at 12 changed me, albeit not into an object of pity for which you congratulate yourself but rather simply a rare knowing that many know not. Those boys, those men felt good about themselves a violence I myself wished not to repeat. Feeling good is rarely dignified once knowing sets in… Those making money from queer these days are kids who were born to make money… or perhaps merely to curate the spending of money. I am an unsilent witness to the fact that there is no movement among us. There is not a collective us involving me and knowing me has little to do with the task of dissolving us. My words I know they present themselves poorly by nature… by the way that I am… not a particularly social being. I hope not to be known but rather to be felt. Feeling wrong isn’t as violent as knowing wrong.
Finding absolutely no value in anyone around me, I came to art in disbelief that value would become legible there… One of the most inspiring artworks from my very limited scope in high school was Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, probably for its legibility but now for its teachable problems. Then, I was so in love with a dinner party that I wasn’t invited to. I am really in favor of being absolved the pressure of invitation. The dinner party is always about assemblage of power. Chicago arranged the seating, the naming… their representations on a plate… dinner’s served now eat my representation of you… seated where I’ve placed you in my theory of our togetherness… but these beings aren’t and were never together so this reading of history as a dinner party for those who managed to achieve invitation reveals the cruelty of memory particularly discerned memory called history or worse this bourgeois imaginary called Art. This is only ever a reduction. How much of the project of acquiring a name is merely the allowance of such white lies?
Our names will be recognized for what they are not… this is the hyper document we make together in the now… in addition to the hopeless project of representing something outdated to a world that comes together via the elimination of histories that write us apart. A separatist future is upon us now. We work to erase this moment no? Claiming postmodernity in times like now hopes to erode with only lazy vanity the power of an encounter that has already destroyed us. How do I change the table? Make the gathering a bit more of what it is for me… a murky pond… perhaps a bit of money and wishful thinking.
I write grants these days mostly from a hopeless position… but also from a Catholic guilt, having survived a single-parent household where I learned that I don’t deserve the money in any larger scheme. When tasked with the distant fantasy that I want to be an artist who spends money… money in the form of a media-arts grant, I wrote that I wanted to be the artist’s voice, one that illuminates the room… YES! You my lovely in the dark until my words shed light on your path. I regurgitated the language of museums as failed public squares… that architects build mausoleums for art instead of meeting places for persons with ideas… I said my vision was to install a public space like pond inside a gallery… triangular benches with a fountain in the middle, LED lights to a sound board of my recorded artist voice dimming and flashing with each word I speak… somehow lighting your way. What the granters could never know: I have no desire to build a fountain that works… mine would doubtlessly leak out perhaps only a characteristic passive aggressive destruction. Yes, my pond leaks… spills over and sprays. I love the idea of gallons of water rushing through a gallery because art that doesn’t move like that should be destroyed… by art that moves, like that. The grinding noise of a pump no longer submerged in water suddenly dueling the faggy tenor of my voice become electrical hazard… my mixed media are actually punishment and liability to anyone who supports my artistic wish fulfillment. A book unreadably wet that never made it to print. She sets fire with water.
Relax save your anger… hoard now your inner peace. We are not working on the things we said we would. Whatever anger you host toward me is just a prop to keep you in the play of yourself. How do you embrace difference but admit the inadequacy of your parts? I speak always from my flawed experiential. I am not a cosmopolitan… I hate travel, and truly, my experience of encountering difference happens not in art… but elsewhere. If I were a fully funded thinker… I might have the time to competitively differentiate myself from Samuel Delany’s Contact Relations and that might illuminate my position for some of you, while simultaneously obscuring it from others. I will always be called an unqualified thinker and an elitist every time I read. I dread the day that everyone concedes my goodness. I want only to walk through language the way I walk through a park… mostly hopeless, certainly unattached and yet knowing that at any moment… Delany, my first queer theory love, reflects on the necessity of sex with a public… saying that “if every sexual encounter involves bringing someone back to your house, the general sexual activity in a city becomes anxiety-filled, class-bound, and choosy” Times Square Red Times Square Blue. When two subjects have nothing to gain, they have only perhaps even less to say. It’s nice to walk away from the job that is art making and be freed the binds of its own identity practice. Why aren’t the politics of job-identity under fire? And it is this simplicity of being that I prescribe myself in lieu of endless clawing at infinities of intimacy… deeper, deeper and finally deepest knowing is what cohabitation cultists profess when I always thought it was about splitting the bills or the blame of making brats.
Expertise is a simple way of refusing speech. If you assemble literally no version of a remarkable self then the terms of these others who declare their own love fantastic and relationship skills rich then these terms also fail. You are not special. Art and the external becoming alien with the practice of art… constantly drawing within. The internal is so uninteresting because that was it for me: An internal oozing obvious all over public. People deny me the status of art all the time, which is another doing or non-happening that I refuse to be moved by… or within… or however they wish to manage me. They interrupt, talking entirely though it… fingering cellphones shamelessly… the greatest thing about performance is its capacity to end. A painting on the other hand needs to do a bit more work if it hopes to survive the digital rearrangement of our work environment… that the very people who refuse to attend museums might out right share their reasoning for doing so… knowing full well already that what exists inside is only a misrepresentation of how a world—not the world—reflects on itself. Anyone who has ever worked in a museum knows that the public is hell bent on destroying art regardless how it evokes feeling, or perhaps even more frequently, non-feeling.
I dissolve within the group social. I am at best misrecognition as someone who wants to share when in fact I just want to disappear. Isn’t that what your words do, build a case against yourself? Arting over dinner so often becomes the quest of immortality… becoming a little prince or a Pagan goddess with many names so as to always be called forth…. I am not. present. I will be forgotten in the rumble of things happening now and I am uninterested in futile gestures of being otherwise. People have never been more visible or so forgettable. At the thought of dinner parties, I carry my yawns like baggage to the table and drink until I no longer care about what is being said. How does someone who hates dinners become an artist? How does one experience connection even? How does she see a table of platitudes as such a bad thing? Can’t she just play along like our hearts mean well? Does she have access to that pronoun? Are we playing along? Should we protest now? Or yawn and wait it out?
YES. I am hard to love. I hate cut flowers. The table is a disciplinary apparatus. Affluent gentlemen love dinner tables. I hate them. I love their wine. It goes down so easy. Then I am talking but never in a very impressive way. I misplace fact… share thoughts with feeling instead of a feeling of right. When I bed a serious man… I think only for a second his politeness is character, because it’s never lasting. Money does that… spends its charm quickly… flies away suddenly. James Baldwin wrote that “Fear and love cannot long remain in the same bed together” Just Above My Head. I fuck my fears all the time and vacate almost always immediately thereafter… exemplified in the following very abbreviated sexual CV of men very identified with their job titles:
A German diplomat to Afghanistan was a total ATM. He first needed the table to perform the pageantry of a date. Though, one salami brötchen and a terrible coffee was all he needed to fuck. The table between us dissolved into a sleep over that turned into morning coffee when he asked if I’d ever been to India. He seeded promises. Showing me his gigantic flat filled with artifacts and over his profound culinary inadequacy we dinned while I allowed differences between us to exist, he attempted to demolish them. He called me long distance from Kabul 5 times in the course of 2 weeks having only known each other for 4 weeks total. I hate talking on the phone. When his personal chef asked for a raise after working for 2 years which he denied, the chef quit so he called me to complain that now he wasn’t eating… barely sleeping… only helped to think about me. I hate people with personal employees. I just do.
A policeman woke me 4 times in the course of a night with his tongue thrusts to my hole. I would have to beg for his attentions anywhere else. He wanted me to stay for bread and cheese and salami breakfast, which is a cultural happening I refuse because my stomach just can’t take that shit anymore… My refusal of his table that first date was actually just drunk sex to his ipod mix of sad college music for white people… my refusal was his end. He needed me to sit at the table and eat the same things to feel that what we did was okay or going somewhere finally. I hate flirting with bread in my mouth.
This New Year’s dinner declined on my behalf by an actor… a tablecloth dinner of professionals. He was happy to tell his sister that he was instead slumming it with a lower class American artist… and in turn so eager to convey her understanding that someone like me might feel out of place at her dinner. Actually I’d only known this bored money faggot for a month and I didn’t want to meet his sister… her husband… their sons… their serious girlfriends and her business associates. But this actor’s ears were selective. He was bred to understand greater truths than I could produce. My sex life is most often an act of self-hatred….
What part of the table… the romance of eating together makes “truth” especially when considering the duress of the table… I hate nothing more than consensus of white folk eating together. The dinner so easily becomes an altar of the self… the person who assembles us… in whose name we assemble… I’d sooner sit before a queue of eye-watering bukkake. A place at the table is a prison falsely presuming a place in the conversation. Let us for a moment acknowledge there are those who fail in hearing the screams of white elephants. I cannot believe at the end of this moment you hope to be built up… instead of drained… haven’t you had enough? A dinner feels to me like this… a communal blood letting… watch each other bleed… exhaustion… pale broken beings. Put your assets on the table… tell me everything except the bad. I prefer an identity of what I am not, a negative social contract if you will. Another live-feed terror event gets told in bullet by bullet updates… facts as we know them become otherwise in a minute or afternoon… status unconfirmed… too much dust in the air yet to settle the whole story, but this is blood. Bullet by bullet updates of blood, people watch it drip all night… awaiting any and every moment to feel hunted… This untethered storytelling makes great table talk… Empathy? Or, another excuse to check your fucking phone? Revenge porn? But you’re too bland to be persecuted. You didn’t avoid the tragedy that became of your life already… what’s so precious now?
What beautiful life affirming practice might MYSTI propose in lieu of a table? A wank with a stranger and that brilliant bit where for a moment we need not be named… It’s not lonely. Lonely is the charade of togetherness while holding your tongue at the table… gaining nothing from speech or its absence. Networking grown in the petri dish of dinner parties festers in the air a grotesque reeking clenched anus competition to be delightful company. My love Lee Lozano wrote “WHERE COMPETITION THRIVES FRIENDS CANT EXIST.” YES, she’s talking about NYC circa 1970 and whatever romance for the art world of NYC ends when we observe her. She’s such an inspirational figure within the negative social contract… Embrace for a second conversation as a standstill or a standoff… designed only to break your spirit with misunderstanding.
And so obviously justification is the departure point from me. I seek not to justify my position here. Justification is a competitive impulse. There’s no special component that made me worthy of monetized thought. I speak from the disbelief that I accept a fee for speech. Standing here in a sense of justice would be impossible, for me. Feel robbed tonight of your chance to speak. Rest assured I allowed you no opportunity, and invite you to none now. Feel robbed of your right to engage… to feel engaged. I might simply drift past you… a hiccup in purple… a careless cocksuck with no contact info… memory without name. What does naming do in limiting the process of knowing by refusing the larger boundaries… territories or BARF planetary terrains of non-knowing? I will never know what you get out of this… what wishful gaze “liked” this sight.
I make no claims of preserving truth. Embodying history. I will be wiped out. I prefer the aimless years I spent here trolling in comparison to the driven or professional years of friends and former colleagues cultivating, achieving—or dare I say merely maintaining—a position of power they were born to hold. My position isn’t better, but TRUST ME, it’s not worse. There are those dying to make themselves nameable… but no matter the effort the intention or even the product… the naming and recognition of the name is outside this bloodletting. The project of feeling known wars with the declarations of being known and whatever this state is supposed to produce… given that common knowledge is only ever unspectacular, who wants to feel like that?
The political only does away with the appropriateness of your being. The political magnifies your failure to make right with ample opportunities to have done so… it misplaces the legitimacy of knowing with a placeholder that promises no naming or duration…. a placeholder that is only a refusal of your ability to argue… the way you’ve always gotten your money made. Right, everyone knows those who pride themselves on the ability to negotiate… and we know these moments when negotiation becomes petty screaming ego tantrums… we know that arguments are marked and that some, for a myriad of reasons, are just incapable of arguing their worth at least not convincingly enough to pay out. Check your own feeling of worth and consider now those you steal it from.
The fountain, called Wishing Well, embodies quite actually a vacuum of moneyed desire. It consumes your money… and lets you the opportunity to hope wish or pray that art-looking helps you manifest in the world. It absolves me the labor of reading aloud so poorly… The politics of assembling thought… this is not a position from which we feel finished accomplished or proud… it’s a bruise, draining. Thought is cold… a cold shoulder to those it doesn’t address… even while perhaps claiming to work on their behalf. The political hand touches the hot stovetop many times in the process of learning very little. Let my leaking pond wish itself otherwise.
Suspending the naming project is a means to stop the cult of the individual (whose name we only love or loathe arbitrarily from indulgent un-imaginary) while refusing the bits of identity that fail us time after time. I prefer the contested territory of the stage it allows a direct access to your boycotters… yawns… I am not drunk on thought I’m drunk on booze; it is charm and cowardice. Personally, I am never convinced by live performance… I don’t expect you to be either. I look at you—your puddle of hopeless, useless want looking at me called art—and I feel invincible.
AXIOMS TO SHUT US BOTH THE FUCK UP:
A regime of justice will not seek our approval.
Your right to more will be revoked.
Your contributions might just be repurposed at cautionary tales. (Again, done so without your approval.)
There is no career in culture and feeling otherwise is simply the ecstatic release of losing your soul.
There are many much better uses of your time… time now long since lost… even just tonight.
Self destruct is that thing we’ve been doing all along… that’s the pressure in the air around us… that’s the ALL CAPS FACEBOOK THREADS UNRAVELING
What can I as an artist do honestly? I can wish you well… But, I cannot affirm you… that would be criminal in most cases.