To Willing Conflators Of Raymond Ginn And Jeremy Todd (one hundred and sixty second letter)

The wannabe dons who breezily dismiss my Not Sent Letters project as existential paranoia (or ignore it completely) will refuse to recognize anything stated in this letter. If you’re reading on, you probably know the score.  Anyway, in university or college you’re assigned books and articles to read and it’s part of the curriculum and, yeah I did it, I went through the motions, but for every reading or thought passed on to me about a subject, I did way more on my own.  Being university educated means nothing to me. It might mean something, if you’re there to learn, but hell, I taught BFA art, did studio visits and all that stuff, and it’s one big party usually.  When I taught, I’d take the few people who wanted to learn and try to challenge them to question things as they are and discover something. But the rest, well, what are you going to do? On the first day of school they lose their books. I’ve never depended on mentorship, either within the family or with teachers. The ones I had were just going through the motions.  You can take any book from the library, or my collection — there are recommendations or mentions of other writers on the backs, right? So it’s like the internet now, but I’m talking about a pre-internet situation. It was these chains of authors, starting with the likes of Sterne or Montaigne, Debord, Kafka or Barthes, or whoever — you learn from recommendations, associations, differentiations, your own ongoing reconstruction of possible contexts. I mean, yes I did get my degrees, a BFA and MFA in studio, and people laugh out loud whenever I mention it.  Anyway, this was my education. It wasn’t predominantly institutionalized, you know, like going to the best school and being a passive receptor.
Today in the art world, when you’re at a dinner or something, what you end up talking about, if anything, is gossip.  I avoid that stuff – the art world and gossip – I mean you might talk about the latest Star Wars film and how it’s doing at the box office and with public opinion; you’ll talk about everything except art and ideas, or else you’ll aid and abet a performance of knowledge as capital (impersonating discussion). There’s no community.  It’s not like conversation before the perpetual present.  No matter how bad the discussion got, at least there was one.  It might even turn into an honest-to-goodness disagreement. Recently there was a kid who messaged me on facebook about a thread I was involved with, a really smart kid, and he said, “Damn, you know I’ve never witnessed a genuine argument about poetry before.  It’s usually, at heart, about reputation.”  I’m reminded of people that are obliged to professionally acknowledge me somehow and really don’t want to. They’ll suggest I’m a passionate amateur and mention my labour-of-love music efforts.  They descriptively reduce the Not Sent Letters project to a kind of naive cabaret series.  I have nothing against this really.  I mean, yes, I’ve done the gigs and made the recordings, instigated the collaboratively realized, unfunded public programmes, all on trust (I still do actually). But what do these things amount to within the entirety of anyone’s life and work? It’s so absurd. They’re instances and modes in which an establishment of merit, being witty, defined or even conversational can be a big NO.  They’re fragmentary, intimating a lost or imagined multitude of totalities, deflecting assessment, resolution, a definitive nature or structure.  They’re participatory and inclusive, precluding experts and the stratification of human intelligence while revealing the absence of justice in the world…  And besides, everything I do is — well, maybe I have no connection with reality.  People will sometimes say, “I don’t know what the fuck you’re saying, but I like reading it,” or whatever, and sometimes it’s much more negative.
I’m not in awe of what most people would consider heroes – figures of some stature and power. In fact, I don’t respect them at all. There’s a reverence for these folks that stinks of fear, control, violence…  It’s part of a larger mafia dynamic within contemporary life that repulses me.  I don’t have any expectation for anyone other than behaving decently to other people.  I’m frequently disappointed, rarely surprised, and continue to do as I say.
jeremy