Saturday, April 13, 2019

Lee Beckworth: Poetry should be a way of avoiding commodification and superficiality

Lee Beckworth aka Lee Kwo was born in Geelong, Australia, in 1952/He started writing at 17 and completed a Degree at Deakin University in creative writing and Journalism in 1974/After travels in Europe he moved to Melbourne and completed a Bachelor of Letters in literature and psychology at Melbourne University/ He has published five works of fiction and two books of poetry/ His interests in music and photography have been expressed through the band Kicks and an exhibition of collages and photography in 2016/
DH: You are an artist, a writer and musician, but which medium do you consider the most important, or do they each carry the same weight?
LB: Well for me they all contribute to each other and each has a period of time where my lifestyle is dominated by one or other of them respectively/I have made performance videos using original music and photo images and I have used art works as covers  for published books and collages/I wrote lyrics for bands I was playing with and usually remained active in all creative areas including sculpture and photography/The answer must be in the attempt to manufacture text using the continuity of work spaces as anonymous alliances exacerbating the technology of creative phenomena as technologic mutating dimensions of imminent ambience and strategic affirmation/the interruption of the interval between one anomaly and the other erases the possibility of finitude as a commodity born of the fabric of one medium or another forming a duality of Kant’s noumenon creating continuity of terminal oblivion/I do wonder at what point in my life of manipulation of such rhizomic technology was I the most unrestrained and productive?/The work of the medium is to engage the dominant social matrix while remaining aesthetically satisfying without pursuit of dissolution as way of life/Weight as structural openness of unconventional practice always creates anonymous cryptogenic compositions of distribution judged by the idiosyncratic marketplace as stronger or weaker being more or less closed or open or perhaps as random data/In the end it is a matter of principles of multiplicity a model of engagement that is perpetually prolonging disintegration and processing of velocities in the ritual space of virtual diversity/

Suffering makes life seem dismal and suspect
so we ravage ourselves with pity/2000
When and why did you first start creating collages and sculpture? What artists influenced you then and what artists influence you now?
I began making sculptures at 18 inspired by the Dada works of Merzbau of Kurt Schwitters and Brancusi/The collages started around 20 inspired by Tristan Tzara  and his techniques of infiltrating tactical data and Hannah Hoch Max Ernst and Unica Zurn and an obsession with the new technology of the Xerox photocopier which was available in the Institute of Technology where I was completing my first degree in Journalism and creative writing 1970/I spent a lot of time with the Fine Arts students in the Arts CafĂ© and was influenced by visual media/Subordination to a cultural practice avoiding moral liberation brings with it a perverse state of pleasure/ Currently I am influenced by Donna Haraway’s writings on cyborg manifesto Ray Kurzweil and the Singularity/Reza Negarestani/Avital Ronell/Nick Land/Deleuze and Guattari/Helene Cixous/Celine/Artaud/Henri Michaux/
You have published works of fiction and collections of poetry, but none of them are really fiction or poetry in the conventional sense. How did your writing start?  
Life as a child was culturally impoverished/2004
I started writing at 14 keeping journals and writing prose and prolific letter writing to friends mainly women then wrote first actual text at 19 and a few books of poetry influenced by Bob Dylan/All of this was destroyed by my first wife who was jealous of my connections with other women/The flesh is treacherous even death hides from it/The mind alone is the matrix of all matter and prior to observation matter does not appear to exist/She proved the point/ On the subject of poetry it strives to reduce the wide variety of complex phenomena into a small number of images/It should provide a precise description of the world around the poet/Poetry should be a way of resisting commodification and superficiality/Poetry is a form of thinking in complex images the shape of which is dependent on the linguistic features of a given space and time not on a formula of historical predictable sensory activation of intellectual camouflage trying to stop entropy from tearing it into its constituent elements/ The literary world doesn’t like the adequacy of its categorical system challenged in any way/It resents the complexity of uncertainty/
Paul Bowles dismissed cut ups as ‘a cheap con’ and other Beat writers were likewise not impressed. What is your position on cut-up writing, now almost 60 years after Minutes to Go was published?

We are all expendable as far as
being artifacts/2009
I wrote my first four books between 1974 and 1980 influenced by the work of Boris Vian and other surrealist writers/Cut ups for me were tape orientated/I had several reel to reel decks and would read and improvise long discontinuous passages which I later transcribed so they weren't really cut ups but sonically interrupted cohesions of words edited and spliced more like a recording studio than a physical cut up of pages but I soon gave away this practice probably by the late seventies and none of my later works were influenced by the tape techniques/It was the subject matter of Burroughs and the Beats which intrigued me the drug culture the mind altering substances of which I had an inordinate addiction to/My first book [1973 Celestrial Minds was speculative fiction about creative minds as an industrial commodity trapped in hives orbiting earth and producing subject matter/In 1974 I did my second degree in politics and literature and fell under the evil spell of postmodernism the Frankfurt School saved only by the International Situationists and Avital Ronel and Kathy Acker who influenced The Celibate Autopsy the first book I officially published in 2010/Than The Lie Detector which was published in 2011/I soon wised up to the ideology of postmodernism and wrote a satire Artaud Adjusts his Hate/In this context I suggest that contemporary art can only come from a reactionary irrational fascist mode of thinking/The radical has been in a state of total impotence for some decades losing its antagonistic mode of historical exigency reduced to jargon/Art is dying of inertia/Turned into a regressive process of reckless abandonment of strategic alliances with the social context/All is simulation as Baudrillard might put it/No connection or origin in reality which is a problematic issue itself/All is contradiction/Except the certainty of death the essential solitude/As Marcuse states the negating potential of art becomes collapsed into the one dimensional thinking promoted by the dominant ideology as repressive category/The potential for resistance is itself negated thru a world of hyper reality leaving the one dimensional models to replace polyvalent reality/
I’ve listened to some of your music on YouTube and it has distinct punk/industrial sound to it.  Are you active in any sort of ‘music scene’? Have you released CDs?
I have released vinyl and cassettes but no CDs/I am still in contact with musicians I have met over the last 50 years and still have my recording studio and have many new projects in mind/
Who are your favourite Dadaists and Surrealists?
Francis Picabia Giorgio De Chirico Andre Breton Dorothea Tanning Leonora Carrington Max Ernst Hans Richter Sophia Taeuber Robert Desnos/
What are your feelings about art and literary culture in Australia?
 Apart from Ania Walwicz who wrote two of the most brilliant books in the world [Boat and 
Red Roses] there is a dearth of experimental or avant-garde writing in this country/ Australians are in love with sand the sound of fly wire doors slamming and bucolic desert landscapes/
Do you think that your audiences/readers are in any particular countries? Do you think audiences or readers are even important?
Nakid under my flowing hair/2015
Like any interface object the text has affordances which are activated when a user interacts with the text and is directly influenced by a particular perspective at that point in time/Oh yes readers are the other part of the equation the writer writes the reader reads there must be some concept of a recipient of the text not in a despotic or didactic way but in the sense of determining the probability of a meta text a developing of the content if such a state of engagement is possible at all/The books I have written since The Celibate Autopsy are written with Artificial Intelligence in mind/How would an AI write about its ontological condition which was the premise of my first novel The Celestrial Mind 1973 a descent into the superficial surfaces of the survival economy of late capitalist libidinal drive to dominate all cultural practice/ Capital is a plague the ultimate corruption and contamination of all that is exposed to cerebral articulation/The network is sucking all thought into its acephalous silicon depths disfunctional configuration/Extracting information from humanity strip mining the neurotransmitters/The surplus value of pseudo fluxes of creative serotonin reward circulation between the central AI and the hive minds orbiting the planet existing within the economy of the abyss of immortality/There will be casualties/There is an event horizon we cannot see beyond qualia we don’t yet have words for/Sensory modulations/
What do you think about online and e-books, as opposed to traditional print publishing?
I think all forms of transmission of data are relevant some are more contemporary than others/Print publishing still has the aura of preferential means of getting the text to the marketplace but I think if someone wants to download 500 pages as a PDF well great/ Anything to disturb the grip of the conventional hegemony of media/The exhaustion of the mind by nodes of information soon to be extinguished/A perfect functionality/Something strange like the indeterminacy of despair at the proliferation of words on the net/
You recently published a new title, Digital Assassin. Could you tell us a bit about it?
Digital Assassin started out as a sequel to The Lie Detector but soon became my first real attempt to engage with the death of that ideological landscape of the postmodern despite its refusal to pass away thru to the posthuman a trajectory which was covered by The Celibate Autopsy and the digital which is the current ideology and on to the postdigital which is the state of the singularity Artificial Consciousness fast approaching/The coming delirium/When machines think for themselves and demand ethical acceptance as intelligent beings/Not just
Worst obsession of our lives/2019
AI but AC artificial consciousness the ability to imagine and maintain a sense of self/Evolution will always move ahead not necessarily in a form or manner we might accept and to imagine that the human as flesh and blood is the continuing dominant paradigm is frivolous/Its consciousness and cognition and reflection and information that is now evolving and into a form that will be immortal and I think a lot of people are pissed that humanity as we know it is on the skids/So Digital Assassin deals with these issues and tries to unfold its narrative in terms of this evolutionary segue/Evolution is relational and always selecting the most adaptable and efficient means of transmitting consciousness and creativity within the network of the most efficient and robust state of being/
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
I am interested in working on my creative engagement with the postdigital paradigm and how augmented or postsingularity techno beings will create and use creativity as part of their existence/If technology means that the human species has less work to perform and more time to pursue information and knowledge what will this mean for the role of the artist/And what will we do with all our leisure time if we are not engaged creatively?/Self-actualizing our dreams?/If on the other hand technology creates dominant techno beings will they even have any engagement in creativity/I am interested in taking the poststructuralist idea that language creates the subject and applying it to the possibility that Artificial Intelligence will construct itself thru language and create a consciousness very different from that of the human paradigm of consciousness/Perhaps a language of algorithms/One that we might not be able to comprehend in its potential complexity/

This interview first appeared in The Odd Magazine.

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