Writing is not a dying art form, but it is rapidly changing. Writers typing words into computers like this is becoming a thing of the past. Of course, writers and luddites alike have been saying for a long time that technology is killing writing; the only difference now is that I am not sure it is entirely a bad thing.
William S Burroughs stated that words are a virus and cited the advantages of hieroglyphic language. He also stated that words were tools of the control machine and used cut-up as a means to subvert said machine and reality as well. The cut-up method lives on to this day and has been utilized by artists far and wide both underground and mainstream, myself included. We all came to cut-up for varied reasons, but largely because ordinary writing had reached an impasse. Cut-up was taking us places that traditional language could not go. We knew, at least subconsciously, the limits of language. Experimental literature is alive and well albeit still in the fringes of modern literature. Some authors are moving beyond language entirely and defining (or re-exploring) the boundaries of ascemic literature.
However in the everyday world, language and how we perceive it may be changing more rapidly than it is in the art world, we just don’t think about it. Whereas outdated notions of tradition or formula inhibit many artists, technology adheres to no such boundaries.
The internet has changed the way we receive information and it would seem language is going through a slow metamorphosis. People are putting down magazines and newspapers to gather information online. Books and chapbooks are giving way to e-books. Blogs have given way to Facebook which has given way to 140 character tweets. Language is getting lean, like haiku. It is mutating and merging with image. The new language is a strange synthesis of words, images, sounds, hyperlinks, hashtags, and emoji. Literature is changing, as well as how we disseminate information. The way we “read” is changing accordingly.
It’s an exciting time to be a writer, provided you are not bound by the printed page. Of course the theories I am expounding are nothing new. There are innumerable artists far more talented than I that have experimented with form, communication and the new language for much longer than me and with much more precision. They too have realized the limits of language and how to overcome these limits. Still yet, I feel the need to reiterate and express the ideas to myself at the very least. You see, for all of my experimentation and grand ideas sometimes I still get hung up on words. I still get stuck on the label of “writer” which often leads to frustration as an artist. After all, how can the concept of “writer” remain the same if the concept of “reader” has evolved? Basically, how do I sell something no one is buying? We too must evolve and drop all notions of what a writer is. We must purge ourselves of noir imagery of the alcoholic writer with a cigarette dangling from his mouth slamming keys on an old Corona typewriter. Exterminate all rational thought. That is another lesson Burroughs taught us, but like the Buddha in the road we must also slay Uncle Bill and all of his wisdom. Nothing must stand between the artist and total freedom. Not you, not me, not words.
Recently my old laptop died. I hadn’t even begun to start moving things to this Mac yet, and unfortunately, I had not backed up any files in quite sometime. I lost tons of writing, hours of sound work, and thousands of photographs. I felt gutted… like a part of me had died, and of course, it had. So much of my heart and soul gone forever. It’s hard to see the positive in all of this. However, maybe it had to be. Perhaps that is the only way one can start over fresh.
You see, I’ve been intrigued with the idea of “rebooting” myself.
So I have started this reboot in earnest, trying to get myself out of this creative rut that has plagued me of late, and back to a good place both physically and mentally. I’ve been exercising a lot, getting back into zazen and learning Tai Chi. I’ve even quit drinking beer! Maybe it’s partly because I’m getting older, or partly because of this creative stasis , but regardless of the reason, the results have been fruitful. Mind, body, and soul I have been feeling much better than I have in years.
I received validation for my efforts at my yearly physical today, I cut weight, and my blood work was excellent… and for everyone wondering where in the world vegetarians/vegans get their protein, my proteins were high and healthy. I’m not usually one to post stuff like this, but I thought maybe I would for the benefit of anyone else out there in a rut. I figure if I can “reboot”, anyone can.
I feel compelled to write a few words as we head into the final hours of 2016, and I type them here in the factory where I will ring in the new year. Fitting and hauntingly poetic that I will end the year and begin a new one from this factory laboratory where I spend the majority of my time.
2016 was a year like any other with several vicissitudes. We lost Bowie, we lost Prince, and we lost Lemmy. A tumultuous political year divided the country and unfortunately dropping a new year’s ball will not fix the dark days that lie ahead for this country. However, politics will always be politricks and as much as the election has dominated television and social media, it has not defined my year.
The year has treated me well, I made it through it alive and unscathed while my family is all with me, healthy and happy. The job that I complain about so much has afforded me to be the most comfortable I have ever been. Life is good, and when it’s not, it is usually because of my own perspective. I’m often my own worst enemy.
Creatively, it was a slower year than I care to admit. However, I am very proud of the handful of things I have done this year. I have had some of my best work published in some of my favorite experimental journals, Otoliths, Ex-Ex Lit, and the Zoomoozophone Review. I had the honor to play a show with Mark Hosler (of the legendary Negativland) this year as one-half of Blk/Mas. We also made our annual stop at this year’s St Pete Noise Fest. New net albums by both me, and Blk/Mas hit the web this year.
In 2017, I am looking to shake off my apathy, polish up and start shopping around two chapbook manuscripts I am sitting on. I also hope to do more shows, and release a lot more noise as well. I’m not much of a resolutions guy, but if anything, I just hope to be a little less apathetic in the coming year and nurture the creative fire that still burns inside of me.
If anyone is reading this I’d just like to say, Happy New Year! Stick around; it’s going to be a fun year.
Today I received my contributor copy of And/Or volume 3, and it is a thing of beauty. Within the cover you’ll find over 150 pages of experimental poetry and prose. I’m very proud to be included. From their site:
“and/or is an international print journal devoted to publishing experimental creative writing and graphic art by writers and artists from around the world.”
You can find more info here.