Thursday, March 25, 2010
BOOK REVIEW by GENESIS BREYER P-ORRIDGE: YESNO by FRANCIS PICABIA (Hanuman Books)
YESNO by FRANCIS PICABIA (Hanuman Books)
BOOK REVIEW by GENESIS BREYER P-ORRIDGE
Hanuman Books are sweet strawberries covered in the most delicious creamy chocolate in this feast of literature. I adore them. They are petite and firm, exotic and very, very sexy little items, guaranteed to add secret glamour and sophisticated depth to even the most shallow of pockets.
“YESNO”, by “dadaist” and painter Francis Picabia, is 47 discerning midget pages of evanescent aphorisms. Gems of cynicism, melancholy observation and caustic comment, worthy of any aspiring, or asp-like, queen’s tiara of wit. The brief messages, warnings and considerations are drawn from his journals and notebooks over the period 1939-1957.
“Beauty is relative to the amount of interest it arouses.” quoth she.
This is an anthology from the revered lineage that includes the dandyish sublimity of an Oscar Wild; the fastidious camp of a Quentin Crisp; or even the more obscure English Edwardians like James Bertram and F. Russell whose Victorian misogyny and skepticism were illustrated more exquisitely than the “corpse” itself by Austin Osman Spare in “The Starlit Mire”. Yes, aphorisms are a justly grand tradition of which one can only approve, given that one is a reasonable person. And, in this age of advertising slogans and soundbites; bumper stickers, and designer corporate logos as street fashion, a reminder of the priceless art of word games. The contradiction, collision and collusion in fresh revelation that twisting and pummeling the material of words can supply, in order for us “to see what they really say” as Brion Gysin so prophetically indicated in his “cut-ups”.
“Art is the cult of error” - Picabia.
We are able to gorge ourselves on discriminating morsels for the discerning palate from the palette of Picabia’s ascerbic acuity. To savor the menu of resident connoisseur Picabia’s palette of human tinctures and emotional flavors. As you have rightly guessed, dear reader, all is artifice, contrivance, and bouquet.
“Serious people have a slight odor of carrion” - Picabia.
“YESNO” is sublime evidence for one of the essential and supreme conclusions of any intelligent culture made in the 20th century; that “Art” has been distilled repeatedly and most thoroughly until it may quite rightly only be perceived and defined as an attitude of and to Life ( yes, complete with an “IF” right there in the middle) Furthermore, that attitude towards “Life” that some remain obliged to label “art”, is no more than an inevitable and unenviable condition of detached awareness of, and dispassionate concern with, all aspects of, and manifestations of, the exponentially increasing actions and reactions of said absurd in that Life, and all lives.
“Many artists devote their time to their painting, I ask myself why are these people so fond of bad company?” - Picabia.
There are strong arguments to suggest that “art” is merely an expression of a neuroses given space in our persona by the luxury of free time thanks to the advent of tools, technology and overt, or covert economic systems of slavery and privilege. “Art” has no biological source, no survival imperative. What was once a “craft” for making functional and magical “things” is now a dubious and unnecessary post-existentialist requirement of taste. Nothing more than that. Just an obsolete but amusing symbol of a fantasy of neurological superiority.
“Art is a pharmaceutical product for idiots.” - Picabia.
By the way, don’t worry if the word “art” never enters your vocabulary! This simply means that you are extremely culturally healthy, and/or blissfully and justifiably elsewhere. So, at that next soiree, or opening, or dreadfully dull social occasion, nip into the bathroom, sneak out your well worn copy of “YESNO” and just try substituting any old power word, or enemies name for that tired old word “art” and you will be surprised at the good time you shall have.