November 1st, 2009

Manifesto of the Month

Mark Amerika

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(Mark Amerika’s goal is to expand the concept of writing so that it includes writing in and with new media technologies. His two most recent books are 29 Inches: A Long Narrative Poem, and META/DATA: A Digital Poetics. He is also the founder of the Alt-X Online Network, one of the oldest online art and literary networks. Originally founded as a Gopher site by Amerika in late 1992, it features the art, fiction, poetry, and critical theory of over 500 international contributors. To learn more about him, click here.)


1. There have been tons of discussions over the last 25 years about The Future of The Book, The Death of The Novel, and the End of Writing As We Know It, but what really concerns me most is the freedom of speech in a multinational, corporate-driven world marketplace. Is our ability to freely express ourselves to the people out there who might want to read us always already predetermined by the economic cronyism of Big Money, Mass Media and Military Might? A reigning market terrorism and globally exclusive mass media culture have disembodied our voices to the point that we no longer find it necessary to communicate on an intelligent basis.


Alternatives to this End of Intelligent Writing and its potential distribution channels are quickly coming into view. The vast untapped lands of cyberspace, the place where any number of commercial, governmental and alternative computer internetworking environments come together to form webs of virtual (or niche) communities, has opened up the possibility of a truly democratic means of creating and disseminating the creative writing of our near-future. Instead of a multi-layered Author-Agent-Editor-Publisher-Printer-Distributor-Retailer-Consumer formula, we may be entering the age of True Dispatch, that is, Author (Sender) – Interactive Participant (Receiver). Visionary writers of the near-future are desperately trying to transgress the dead weight of book matter so as to secretly enter the realm of the Electric.


2. My own feelings on this subject are that from the moment I was spat out of the textual womb, my “digitals” were predisposed toward a simulated version of reality that only my “fictional” self could respond to. It became self-evident to me, very early on, that I was to, quite simply, make myself up and that this “self” was a malleable construct that external institutions (family, school, workplace, government, mass pop culture, etc.) were especially keen on twisting to their own delights. My imagination wasn’t so much there for me to fuck around with, it was there for the manipulative Other.

Instead of hiding out in the industrial sludge of adolescent self-deception and gloom-and-doom suicide, I took a different tact. I decided to start from scratch, to wholly recreate myself to the point of fictional-becoming. This could be done any number of ways: changing jobs, changing locations, changing names, etc., but what I found to be the most rewarding way to accomplish this task of Reclaiming the Imagination (that’s been appropriated by the Multi-Nationals vis-a-vis their financing, distributing and advertising of Pop Culture) was to continuously drive my creative apparatus onto the open spaces of the Intertextual World, the place where the fictionality of our Being feels its way through chemically-altered environments loaded with uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) Desire.

3. I will bring up Raymond Federman here, since his theoretical fun is very much a part of so-called literary history now. In Federman’s “Surfiction,” he tells us “the creatures of surfiction will be as changeable, as unstable, as illusory, as nameless, as unnamable, as fraudulent, as unpredictable as the discourse that makes them.” He then talks about us becoming “word-beings”. Of course this was written over twenty years ago so we’ll excuse his lack of digital awareness way back then (an awareness which he has since embraced whole-heartedly by digitally re-mastering his groundbreaking novel “Double Or Nothing”). We should also note that Federman had to reinvent himself after his parents and older sisters were hauled out of Paris and sent to the concentration camps in Auschwitz.

Perhaps we are becoming digitally-processed image-beings, something the Situationists would have had a heart-attack over (maybe this tendency toward the Avant-Pop is what caused artist/theoretician Guy Debord to finally, once and for all, kill himself…just like Kurt Cobain and all the others before him). Meanwhile, I believe the future of fiction will be something along the lines of an interactive non-linear narrative hypertext that grotesquely distorts the human image to the point of ultimate philosophical reconsideration.

Maybe “Avant-Pop,” a catch-all term for artists as diverse as William Gibson, Robert Coover, Jello Biafra, Ann Magnusson, William Vollmann, Quentin Tarantino, Darius James, Henry Rollins, Annie Sprinkle, Eurudice, Steve Erickson, Kim Gordon, and Kathy Acker, besides being an obvious counter-hype assault on our wicked hyperconsumerist societal situation, can also become an “applied grammatology” where the floating signifier (Mark Amerika, Larry McCaffery, Ron Sukenick, etc.) develops new philosophictional (critico-aesthetic) narrative spaces (of any kind, multi-vocal or non-linear being the most interesting for this end-of-the-century crisis revolving around the political economy of meaning and representation).


The advertisement said
the pain is everlasting
come and touch me
come and touch me here
I know
that I’m
not there

Sonic Youth


Do you see yourself as a writer breaking out of the binds of Postmodernism and if so, what other forms will your writing take? When will this happen? What’s your own personal attachment to The Book? The Future? Writing?

Is making money your primary motive for writing the way you do? If yes, why? If no, then what is the primary motive for writing the way you do?

Is this next generation of writers just now emerging onto the cultural scene articulate enough to express their experience or has experience itself become the active articulation of a hyperconsumerist presence that has become nothing but marketing and self-promotion?

6. The mixing of “avant” and “pop” cultural elements is no longer even a consideration for me. Reading itself has become catchascatchcan while the CNN anchor-droid is telling me to stay tuned for the latest in international narco-terrorism which causes me to immediately mute-the-droid so that I can then interact with some of my favorite texts. Whether it’s Terry Southern’s “Red Dirt Marijuana & Other Tastes,” Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch,” Castenada’s “Tales of Power” or Avital Ronell’s philosophical delineations on the excesses of narco-sponsored Being, the drug-text is what most interests me now. The Black Ice Books series of which I have become biologically attached to is full of fictionalized narcoanalysis. John Shirley’s “New Noir” inmixes crack smoking with the horror genre while derailing the establishment’s perspective of what good-quality or proper [ap-pro-priate] “writing” is. Larry McCaffery’s anthology, “Avant-Pop: Fiction For A Daydream Nation,” is informed by the hottest drug of all, sex. This is also true about the recently released Black Ice hardcover special “HOGG,” the unpublishable pornosophic beast written by the great Samuel Delany. My own books, “The Kafka Chronicles” and the new “Sexual Blood,” reek of drugsex because that’s what growing up in Amerika is all about. Addictive culture breeds the cult of “acid-porn”: how you take it is up to you (TV, textbooks, getting/giving anonymous head, music videos, Nintendo, Kraft macaroni & cheese, et al.). What bonds us together like no other society in the history of mankind? Our addiction to media-produced images that invade the interiorized creative self in hopes of dismantling whatever private holdings may still be sequestered therein.

The problem, as you know, is that addiction is Institutionally-supported. We crave sexdrugs because we’re no longer human and need to numb the pain, release the sickness. Drug-texts will (I believe) find optimum distribution through internetworked systems of personal computers that will transform the receivers of this distorted flow of pseudo-human data into diseased texts themselves. This is what Burroughs meant when he said LANGUAGE IS A VIRUS. And, as a result, Readers will start becoming Scanners.

Scanned any good writing lately? What did it do to you?

A near-future, apocalyptic crystal-ball reading of the future of fiction would show the individual continuously exposing himself/herself/itself to transformative doses of the Videodrome-ish signal, whereupon he/she/it will assume the becoming-virus posture and will finally annihilate any rendering of the human possible. Our lives will be controlled/monitored more than they are now: our biogenetic sprawl will be encoded into the FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) metalanguage databanks and the FDA, content on distributing our “blood” according to the algebra of THEIR need, will link forces with the CIA and Ross Perot will be President. Fiction for mutants…


By aligning oneself with standardized (conventional) narrative plotting, one becomes conglomeritized into the Multi-National One World Line of Credit. That means you are owned by the Global Hype System that capitalizes/commodifies your identity for you. The only thing you own by following these “normal” routes (many of the Cyberpunks did it too) is the right to be owned by the Global Conformists Who Predetermine Your Identity For You.

Pop Culture is a Virtual Ghetto that infiltrates our minds. In this Virtual Ghetto, meaning is meaningless un-less you un-cover a radically different subjectivity in which to process your own becoming. This was the PoMo dilemma (one never resolved) and Avant-Pop artists, who are just now traversing the borders of The Beyond and entering the dangerous lands of Genderlessness and Degenerative Narrative, are the ones who are presently trying their best to create the necessary angels on whose wings we can find our way OUT of this virtual ghetto.

The Avant-Pop artist is a nomadic voyager, a cultural terrorist, whose identity is constantly in flux (so as to elude the corporate absorption), and who secretly “becomes” something like Woman or the open-endedness of feminine imagination, reclaiming the terrain vis-a-vis the enactment of subliminal postures/gestures that sabotage the system’s rigidity. The strategy is to deterritorialize the Institutional effects so as to create a new level playing field where the action of hypermarked-up beings can once again ignite the language of our spiritual unconscious.

8. In the beginning there would have existed a constellation of angular souls colliding and eventually mixing in the heterogeneity of exclusive moments. These moments could easily be the sanctuary of compiled creative expression but where does that get you? A salable portfolio? The ultimate in C.V. technology? A non-stop exportation of meteoric publications distributed to info-sponges in need of the next “lit” fix? And how does this next “lit” fix suppress the potential revolutionary aspect of your developing guerrilla membrane as it attempts to protect whatever (a)synchronous borders you may have left?

Avant-Pop artists continually ask themselves these questions. Those tied to the stream-of-self-importance Modernists will forever want answers, answers that show the way to unity, to final solutions. Avant-Pop artists, on the other hand, accept the loose threads of our persistent posting and ride the dissolution wave.

Out of necessity: we are survivalists first and foremost.

9. Pop Culture is a Virtual Ghetto. This is another way of saying that our MINDS have become Virtual Ghettos since that is where we have let Pop Culture breed. We need to Reclaim the Imagination in such a way as to synchronize our intuitive desires with the non-linear narrative spaces they want to circulate in. Our dilemma then becomes how to make the Electric real while simultaneously making the desert of our souls virtually inhabitable.

Boulder Colorado