avant / garde / under / net / conditions (vormals: perspektive | issue 43 | 2002 )

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[/] interview (deutsch)
[/] interview (english)


[/] a short description of RongWrong
[/] RongWrong Koans


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/->/ die geschichte von RongWrong oder wie alles begann // minds were made to be broken // von knoxville tennessee 1994 bis zu den puppet states von RongWrong // mark whitaker als emporer of signs // White Paper Tissue Tiger - die offiziellen papiere // to the cliffs onward!

>> RongWrong is the cyberspace for discussion other RongWrongs
>> / interview /
[question-1] :v: [question-2] :v: [question-3] :v: [question-4] :v: [question-5]

> [question-1//perspektive]
after getting through the ascetic stage, the stage of accumulation of symbolic interests and the one to use this interests in the public the avant garde reaches the last stage where it looses symbolic interests and get into somehow "realness" of life and capitalism.

>> [question-1//response]=[RongWrong:]
Excuse me if I interrupt--well, that sounds like a very nice Marx impersonation, my congratulations--you talk about predictable stages and everything, as if all illusions are on purpose disappearing to reveal "actual reality"--however, Marx loved Balzac and his beautiful elusive illusions about Paris more than Paris.
There is more than a bit of illusory confidence in that teleological pronouncement above. How does one know that the 'actual reality' is where you have arrived instead of another endless rumination so desperate for some closure, that it throws a net over the world, just to feel it still for a moment, to feel that it has arrived somewhere, even though such static nets failed and are still only in mid-drift, a world with a moving net over it? Did the net work?

Back to Balzac. I have it on a good authority--Marxist geographer David Harvey (known for his many books and fertile mind for the past 40 years, and admirably, his love of Balzac)--that Marx styled his Communist Manifesto to mimic Balzac. I read in the New Yorker once that Balzac wrote so manically only because of his love-addiction to coffee. He would grind some beans, and make some coffee. Then he would buzz and write. Then it would wear off. Then he would make a stronger, smaller cup of coffee with the grounds. Then he would buzz and write. Then, at the still point of this story, he would eventually in desperation take the coffee grounds and eat them. What is the moral of this story? What coffee was Marx drinking? What brand name? These are the important issues.

Anyway why bring up Balzac? Because Balzac was interested more in the interrelationships of the world, instead of promoting stolid stages where somehow all history is compressed into the missed nanosecond where historians blink and then open their startled eyes to a world that short blink has entirely changed over to a novel set of static relations. Before the drying crystallization of the academic disciplines in the later 1800s and early 1900s--Balzac, novels, and journalism were the social sciences. And Balzac could hardly be said to have gone through a "phase" where it was all the glitter that impressed him, then, further moving to "reality" after that. It was like that from the beginning.
In other words, I would challenge you to think over your idea of 'stages in the avant garde' here as a useful way to think about art. What happens I would surmise is that this concentrates unfortunately on the useless, fey qualities of anything instead of the core experience that like a magnet has drawn to it all sorts of fluff pretending it is iron--and when it fails to stick around, well, it was fluff after all! The useless qualities being that there are always the party hoppers jumping from this to that messing everything up having a grand event. However, that is part of RongWrong, so welcome reprobates! The nice couches all ready for your cigarette butts are the ones facing the terrace!

The way I have seen "surrealism" in the past (or the "sur-ruralism" from which RongWrong expanded) that there is always a plethora of penumbric interrelations between art, social movements, and social progressivism desires--cantankerous visionaries buried in the fluff of media, marketing, and useless art shows. Surrealism was very serious, certainly about its humor. However much the public wants such heights on their own, in aggregate they ruin it for each other and get RongWrong.
It seems to me that the "original" surrealists set out to do something self-aware of its framing, its politics, and its aesthetics from the start: dismantle the idea of the bourgeois artist and bourgeois consumption of art. Breaking down the barriers between the consumer and the consumed. Unfortunately, that sells.

They had little idea of what to do afterward, and except for some religio-mystics who were "dada before dada, and dada after dada" like Ernst, who was just passing through--the social RongWrong experience of surrealism predictably fizzled and even became boring. Chamfort wrote that simply because people want to see bears on chains walking down the street is little rationale for people to go out there and actually do that for the public. However, RongWrong, absolving all, understands there is only one way in the world, and all forks lead to a knife in the back.
In short, the stages are in reverse order if there are any stages: self-aware political import, seriousness, then popularization, then schisms of equally seriousness demoting the original seriousness, then popularization, boredom, loss of purpose, RongWrong, etc. Tragedy. Attempts to mask (and/or masque) tragedy.

In other words, I am suggesting that this process is all downhill to sophistry instead of "leading ever higher" to some rarefied artistry. It's rarified artistry from the beginning. Emily Dickenson did say that publication is the auction of the human mind, you know.
I feel it is a mistake to see "avant garde" suddenly turning to material or moral concerns, or assuming that an interest in "shock" or "dis by definition is incompatible with morality or with material concerns. The avant guarde always has had a bit of religious millenarianism about it, a bit of divine spark. It's a protest medium, a medium of complaint, of upset, of pain, of mockery. What else could its aim be except an original concern with lost values?

And, back to your quote, instead of getting to the "realness" RongWrong is all about how thin and paltry what passes for "real" is. How set into illusions the "real" (or what people claim as real) is. I mean, is this a low-end bargain-basement consumer item, or what? RongWrong is all about the inverse of what you surmise--it is about how to unravel the skin of an onion without tears, it is about taking apart a sweater and wrapping it around a sheep, that becomes a lamb once more in joy.

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> [question-1 ff.//perspektive]
RongWrong blames the avant garde in this last stage of gallery heaven and corporate paradise.

>> [question-1 ff.//response]=[RongWrong:]
Yes, I feel that description is apt, though it's more a sense of Sysephean endlessness instead of a last stage, the endlessness of water splashing out from any stone thrown into it is always submerged back into the lake, covered with other rocks from before. especially dada got to the campfire for art scholars and semi designer portfolios.

I remember someone coming up to one of l'eminence grise's photo exhibits, eager for contact. All he could tell me about for what "he was doing" was a required (non-)art school project where the topic was assigned and it was those inane Absolut Vodka advertisements. He was proud of something about it, and I honesty forget what he said about it. I was sitting there drinking my tea, watching the patrons in the quiet coffeehouse/restaurant/basement of a coffee factory. THE BEST ART OF THE MEAL said the neon sigh of a sign, gasping out a stunted message thanks to long gone out light bulbs that would have made the coffee slogan "the best part of the meal" originally. Anyway, there I was, with this greedy nonentity, listening to him rapturously describe an advertisement that has little purpose except for itself--which means that it has zero purpose--and just to see what would happen--me being without tenure and all, that it's much easier--said near the top of my voice in the stillness of this cavernous room, looking straight at him, "THAT'S UTTER SHIT!" It was interesting that he was sort of calmed by such an admission, he smiled relieved and guilty, like I was some sort of priest absolving him through my enacted catharsis, and he continued on, acting like he was going to convert me to some metaphorical point that he had embedded in that faux-advertisement of his as a sign of his worth, as a sign that "he knew it was shit anyway" and had embedded that meaning in the work. Well, what is the use of such empty rationalizations? What is the use of painting clouds on prison walls and then laughing at prison walls, like you are smart or something? You idiot. You are still in prison. You are still your own jailer and perpetuating the crime of emptiness. Well, I switched to Sky Vodka soon after that, I can tell you.

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> [question-1 ff.//perspektive]
in which stage is RongWrong and/or is there a graffiti mouse left for being avant garde AND beign RongWrong?

>> [question-1 ff.//response]=[RongWrong:]
Well, as I said I fail to see any stages in this. It's the co-option and subsequent commercialization of the surreal that RongWrong is pouncing on like a scritti politti graffiti mouse. If RongWrong is to be taken as both (1) the act and (2) the co-option of the act, and (3) discussion of the inescapability, (4) with a design to pressure more attempts at escape, then RongWrong's mouse is like a dog chasing its tail, winking knowledgeably at you as its spinning reveals its eye to you each time.

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> [question-2//perspektive]
RongWrongs defines itself as an art movement in the sense of being a guerilla manualist. provides propaganda material on the website as powerpoint presentation, books, fliers and mediations. it is also a puppet state empire for all the RongWrong artists who want to share martinis and memberships. NSK proclaims an artistic state in time. Does RongWrong maintain a imperialistic state in art or what does puppet mean refering to corporate signs and commercialization?

>> [question-2//response]=[RongWrong]
RongWrong's estate is a cyberspace expression--simultaneously everywhere and omnisciently nowhere. Wider expanses are immediately, like satori, available on the internet, without the intervening, the waiting throughout the saros of adolescence for the rare eclipse to pass through your life in transit, revealing only then wider symmetries. RongWrong through the medium of cyberspace is suddenly in your face 23:59:59 hours a day 365.24 days a year.

It can be taken in small doses, or read through with THE BEST ART OF THE MEAL like espresso that leaves your heart pounding, aching for more, racing as if words that are pouring into your eyes had only been invented seconds before, sounding and booming out though as if they are timelessly perched, freshly stenciled in that elusive ageless, unmoving stillness that Times New Roman has, like text-heavy monoliths on a gray background. Few if any images. Only the RongWrong moon to guide you. John Murphy, the Great Rotwang himself, asked me once why I kept the site so sparse. I told him flatly, "no, RongWrong is supposed to be visually disappointing, that's part of the statement." Plus I was looking for a sense of 'self-election' into RongWrong, wanting to get to know those who would fasten on the words instead of the lack of images. He was impressed, and humbled. "Man, you are probably the only other person who understands that," he said with a gleam in his eye. Later, images were added, though they are buried within RongWrong, like striations of color in black opal, with a map to find them except one's own adventuresome exploring.

I like the further symbolism of the sudden immediacy RongWrong asks, the intimacy RongWrong asks of silent readers imbibing RongWrong in the equanimity of all who approach across the world that is tied down with cables and struggling to get out of the RongWrong--there are even the Saudi Arabian hits, hits from a state where likely they would have their mouse hand cut off for seeking out, or even desiring, RongWrong. I smiled when I see these Arabian in origin web hits. This is because there is something Islamic about RongWrong I have often thought as well--the intentional lack of worshipping icons, avoiding worshipping the image, and instead beautifying the text to focus and serve RongWrong-- however unlike Arabic in the sight RongWrong may be, hopefully Arabic to the ears.

The cyberspace Puppet State empire provides a literal shadow government framework in practice as a commentary on Puppet States, scraping sanctimoniousness, empire, and ecological degradation we habitually persevere in calling our "way of life" instead of our "way of death." RongWrong is the cyberspace for discussing other RongWrongs.

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> [question-3//perspektive]
RongWrong states that political dadaism is an oxymoron and makes itself the "dada of dada" - a kind of mistress of dadaism.

>> [question-3//response]=[RongWrong]
Ah, that such translations are already garbled is another smiling sign of RongWrong in action. This is entirely in error.

You quote:

"RongWrong's manifesto is like Tzara's in that he opposes manifestly all manifestos. And this particularly good plagiarist feels that political dadaism is an oxymoron. RongWrong feels that political dadaism, through the internet, is our beautiful hopeful Pandora's Box to explicate ourselves from a situation in which ideological politics has disguised the governmental political idiom. Have you visited paradise lately?"

which clearly refers to the preceding link (which you should check), instead of RongWrong, is being referred to as feeling that "political dadaism is an oxymoron. [However]. . . . RongWrong feels that political dadaism, through the internet, is our beautiful hopeful Pandora's Box to explicate ourselves from a situation in which ideological politics has disguised the governmental political idiom. Have you visited paradise lately?"

See how hopeful that is? I respectfully submit that you are in error on this point. Turn it around. RongWrong feels that given present contexts in the world, anything BESIDES political dadaism is unjustifiable.

you blame

the daily broadcasting for its mastery of platitudes of style and rewind the mac luhan massage medium to the point of the initial sending machine: the message is the media - the massage is multimedia.

"The massage is multimedia." --ah, that's going on the RongWrong koan page. ;-) That is IT exactly. Ergonomic 'comfort' is only a padded shiny cage of repression. Of course that is nothing novel--Marcuse was writing about it in the 1950s. An acquaintance of mine, Bruce, the Aleppo Espresso (http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~mrkdwhit/page16.htm#Bruce) once said that he was spending so many hours working at Photoshop at his multimedia work, that he was losing the ability to think in colors or to use words, that everything tangible was being bowdlerized into pixilated predictability in his mind. He looks at the sky, he says, thinking 'more cyan, rub out those clouds.' He analyzes the wood grain in his desk wondering what techniques or filters were used to create it. The world pours out of the screen like lava and dismantles his unified world into a series of clicks, mouse glides, and color filters leaving him exhausted. He found he literally took work home in other words, visually.

I believe you mean message, though spelling/typing errors can be a seat of brave wisdom occasionally--and that was one such occasion. And yes, exactly, RongWrong attempts to get around the mediums used, to achieve a direct empathetic transference of the RongWrongness of it all. To whit, RongWrong employs various methods in an attempt to get around method, RongWrong to explore meanings. I suppose this is Islamic. Perhaps there should be an Arabic translation of the RongWrong? That would certainly look nice. I would love to hear how it sounds. I'm reminded of Laurie Anderson's "voice of authority" as well in RongWrong.
you reuse political tools to revert the recipients to what is RongWrong - the core intention of the sender.


is RongWrong only a new form of SM entertainment or the only way out of media orphany?

Ah. It is both. It is a practice that engenders one by performing the other. Do you see? When one comprehends that "RongWrong itself is RongWrong" (http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~mrkdwhit/page19.htm#koans)--that it is both simultaneously, then yes, it is both a sado-masochistic entertainment about "media orphany" (an excellent phrase), as well as a way out. Less by accepting passivity the 'orphan' status, and more by simply running away or RongWrong creating a whetstone for those who want to sharpen their gall to run away from their '"media orphan" status' back into human relations. I congratulate you on this insight above. And this means running into someone's life (or lives) instead of the cradle of the telephone modem. It means creation and assemblage.

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> [question-4//perspektive]
how will the RongWrong army of thinkers [be] recruted and will they survive the age of plastification? is the internet a hidden place for many pandora boxes opened only by splendid artistic warriors to neutralize the content management system? :-)

>> [question-4//response]=[RongWrong]
Well, this gets back to our disagreement (perhaps) about epistemology. Though perhaps I have convinced you to drop this predictable modernist delusion? Actually I get sadistic pleasure from agreeing with Microsoft CEO (criminal ex-urban organizer) Bill Gates: the internet does bring people together, at least it puts them into situations that make it more likely they will get together. I know two people who have used the internet to get married, travelled thousands of miles to meet virtual strangers and suddenly--poof!--marry them. It's very strange to me.

"is the internet a hidden place for many pandora boxes opened only by splendid artistic warriors to neutralize the content management system? :-)"

Ah, you smile, though this is deathly serious work, tightroping to keep from falling into stereotypes of megalomania (while critiquing megalomania and omniscience) or stereotypes of stand up comedy (while critiquing the emptiness of stand up comedy.) John printed out some RongWrong pages and distributed them around his staid American workplace. He went in early one morning and placed these copies on everyone's desks. (I am imaging a scene out of Naipaul's _A House for Mr. Biswas_, in the tight, bright stuffy newspaper editorial room with its desks all in lines, RongWrong emblems emblazoned upon post-WWII metal desks, heavy as uranium.

The reaction is exactly what I expected. John found that when he asked about RongWrong and what they thought, their responses were squirmy and evasive. It was like he was asking something very taboo, though something they were embarrassed to be embarrassed about, as though it was something that everyone knew about already though was so terrified of standing up and talking about. He described this quality of half liking/half fear--as if they were puzzled and drawn to RongWrong, and puzzled at being drawn to RongWrong. RongWrong got under their skin.

Within RongWrong there is an intentional walking of that tightrope of reflecting conflicting messages, and people looking for some clue as to how to pigeonhole it, to discredit it, how to classify it so they can escape it. However, they coming up with nothing, nothing except being drawn into RongWrong, and slowly seeing through the "massage of the multimedia." THIS attempt to communicate a message, a moral message, and one they agreed with, made them evasive. He was sort of cornering them, corning their "souls" and asking a rhetorical "are you with us or are you against us?" And people were so afraid, and afraid of being with RongWrong and agreeing. This was confusing them. No one would speak about it in more than a whisper to John.

Though later they were all sort of fearfully diplomatic, like "yes, what do you want me to say, laugh, laugh, yes, I like it, though let's put this behind us--i'm trapped in this job,etc. shred these papers, etc." RongWrong makes contact, contact as pure as if someone had erected a huge sign and hung it in space shining down on the earth reading "G.W. Bush is an Asshole." And it was as if the whole world, or at least the democratic majority--5.75 billion or so if we are actually going to be democratic about democracy the whole world votes as one--entirely agreed, yes, "G. W. Bush is a Futile Asshole" and were afraid to find themselves in agreement and unsure how to proceed. It is this "ready, though unsure how to proceed" quality that RongWrong leaves people with, like a bitter though enticing aftertaste.

At points like this--at the commencement of the 21st century particularly, when we all know that we are being ruled by a huge monied plutocracy that makes sure all our consumptive decisions and political elections entirely are tilted towards world destruction--at points like this actual revolution happens. Instead of violence, I mean simply snapping into a novel sense of actuality. De Toqueville wrote that France had this strange ebullient quality for several months in 1789, when there were tears, cries, happiness, and joy that anything was possible. RongWrong sets up such a situation, solidifies it into print, and lets it seep into private homes and public schools (and private schools and public homes) all across the world. RongWrong is addressing the world, castigating the world, lovingly fondling the world, saying it is good, it can do better. Those who find RongWrong are already participating through RongWrong, through seeding RongWrong.

It's tacitly known by everyone, though putting people in a position TO ACT UPON THIS KNOWLEDGE is what RongWrong catalyzes. RongWrong beacons and beckons for others to take up the gauntlet instead of hanging back gaunt.

That is what John sensed was making them nervous. RongWrong was asking them to ponder the difference between their thought and expression, and to join a social movement, and they shocked themselves: they agreed:

"Mull deeply on your decision. RongWrong can be seemingly light in form, but once begun, at work in one's mind, RongWrong political deconstructionism may lead one to become a better person, something one's level of social responsibility at present may interfere with, if incredibly low, as standards go at present. RongWrong may endeavor to improve one's lot as an individual, and thusly, interfere with one's social standing, as one begins to be more acutely aware of a raging hypocrisy between thought and expression. RongWrong is like a pebble thrown into a well. Is one confident that the pebble is falling, or is the well dangerously rushing up to greet it?" http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~mrkdwhit/page10.htm#accepted
RongWrong is more like a foot in the door: you still have to shove the door open yourself, with your shoulders, your hands. RongWrong is a lever, a fulcrum, to give you more pressing power. RongWrong is a catalyst. The Puppet State empire framework is a catalyzing cabal.

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> [question-5//perspektive]
RongWrong make a great use of manifestos and manifsto-like material. postmodern aera - so to say - has lost its connection to "classical" statements and manifestos. cause there is too much lost.

>> [question-5//response]=[RongWrong]
I'd say that people are only looking and waiting for something else to get lost in, and if they find it in more and more only in individuated "tailored" experiences, this is only an outcome less of what they want. It is only what they find, which unfortunately none of it by definition finds that 'je ne sais quoi.'

duchamps printing magazine was called cause of printing error "rongwrong": what is the medium error in the RongWrong state and why is it usefull to manifest more than a half pipe?

Ah, that last question is so strange I am unsure what you mean? Could you state it once more? Or, an open break would perhaps be an appropriate way to conclude the interview. Up to you. That is what RongWrong is saying: Up to you.

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