© All work courtesy of Artist Kofi Boamah, 2018
Alteristos (1972 — 1999) a novel Kofi Boamah
In the spirit of play, this artwork is able to read in whichever order is deemed appropriate... as the concept of Einstein's Theory of Relativity has been put into place here: developing ideas of memory and time. The pyschodrama of what is... Enjoy... — Kofi Boamah
“Your life must now run the course that's been set for it.” ― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go “Everything alters me, but nothing changes me.” ― Salvador Dali ́
1. The Insinuations The fatalities were presumed to be rigorous and plentiful in the eyes of Francis, though a masquerade for Dwelle—that critical moment when a scene, be it imagined or real, can be summarised before its completion was the pinnacle of the spectacle—the fatalistic idealisms of existence. The Spanish Civil war was very much the concern in the heat of the moment. The prognosis being that all that happened; be it anarchism, communism, revolution were all illfated. Stood in the bowels of worship, Reverend Dillain Gaddis nodded, wet the tip of his top lip and then moved towards the altar. It would be wishful thinking to have been received in any other way. Perhaps this was as Reverend Dillain Gaddis had known spectacle: 11
In the 70s when he was in the throes of much else; he had moved to Spain, Barcelona from London with Miriam Luciano, who had been sick with pneumonia due to a severe London Winter. —Escape the morgue like cold with that of free thinking Spain, remarked Reverend Dillain Gaddis. So, they went to live in Siurana, a twohour drive from the City. There they met a group of Artists known as Alteristos, a faction or Art movement. Julio Ramone, Cristina Estrella, Candela Cacauo and Alex Monnique were all part of the faction that possessed for quite a time. I was there too...but we won’t divulge every aspect of how I came to be there yet, though it can be considered cautionary within this tale to divulge reason, as reason can decipher: are destinies told or very much manmade oddities?
2. Aggressive Tendencies — 1972 The perils of crime do very little to negate from the adrenaline and the endorphins that are produced in the thick of it. Barcelona was not particularly thriving at the time and it occurred that steady money would be most easily made in the throes of crime. Putting aside the weight of a Catholic upbringing, chance had meant that the meeting of minds would conflict with any religious leanings. Now Julio Ramone was a chancer, our very first meeting coincided with my soul on ice, if that could be said—Tentative. Having been aimlessly walking, I was stood 12
outside La Sagrada Familia smoking the last of my cigarettes where a man was arguing intensely with two men. They were deep in a dispute I could not pin point, but the two men were fiercely pointing at one and saying: A moose only wants to be a cow when the cow is fed. I remember those words like a passage of time or a journey. A moose only wants to be a cow when the cow is fed. The two men were dressed in suits and the other, who became known as Julio Ramone was wearing a casual cream shirt and some jeans, if I remember correctly. For one thing I didn’t like the ratios, plus I was always quite open to violence; I was quite ready to be on the side opposing the suits, something about a suit that still irks my spirit, along with a uniform. And it was Julio that threw the first punch, thus awakening within me a camaraderie for the underdog. They then threw down and tried to wrestle him to the floor, before I hit one of them in his jaw, the punch was clean as a whistle as he then fell right back, whilst screaming: Who the hell are you? Though the other suit was still wrestling with Julio. Julio was eventually able to make his way out of this headlock and threw a few heavy punches that disheartened the man. Though I did get hit beneath the eye, before the fight culminated, leaving a scar it was over just as quickly as it begun, as a few tourists walking the area interceded and the fight scattered. 13
3. Letter to Cristina Estrella – [3/02/1973] I am now in a predicament. I’m living hand to foot, merely not yet able to live hand to mouth here in Girona and it does very little to my soul, rather the stacks of books; mostly George Orwell’s oeuvre, and a little-known Argentinian called Cortazar, who I have read with the most delight. And the 1932 Dali ́ on the wall have become cross figures in a lifestyle that has become increasingly conflicted. I think about the crinkle in your nose when you’re thinking. Will we be together my Estrella?
4. Laws — 1972 In my pocket whilst Julio and I did our deeds was a copy of Jean Genet’s Journal du Voleur, which I had read cover to cover numerous times and held in such esteem as to call it my philosophy. It so occurred that we had even met under circumstances that were synergy inducing —according to Julio the two men in suits had stolen from him, and caused him to track them down, but deceit can be a great way of enduring friendship as it promotes the thought that the other person cares enough to shield their perspective of them. I cast aside Julio’s lies and we bandied together to burgle houses throughout Barcelona, quite successfully at first. We would be heavily engrossed in night time conversations about Art 14
and politics, to the point that I started to see parallels in our understandings, though if he had a philosophy it would have been that ‘Shit happens’. This was very much his favourite phrase and way of seeing, I thought. Though after a few months all the burglaries were mounting and soon word had reached us that the police had a sketch of the both of us due to a potential neighbour of one of these breaking and enterings, of which were immaculately planned out: No one can be in the abode Only steal with the thought of a quick sale Never leave the other. Though even with these rules governing us, we decided that time away would help produce the necessary change, and this was how a stay at Siurana arose. As Julio Ramone had an exgirlfriend (Alex Monnique) that was from there.
5. A Portrait —1972 The Reverend Dillain Gaddis was then twenty-three. He had the look of a man prescribed to a certain clandestine lifestyle. Perhaps it was the way the manner in which he spoke, without hands, that spoke of a carefulness. He was distrusted to begin with. The beginning: one evening when Alex Monnique, myself and Julio were sitting in a cafe ́ in the city when Miriam Luciano asked one 15
of us, in English for the time. I of course answered having lived in Sussex for thirteen years of my life. I told her the time and we soon started chatting about why they were in Siurana. Reverend Dillain Gaddis told us his story before we all became enraptured in eachothers lives, archived in the events leading to. 6. Conversion Rates — 1973 Our Reverend Dillain Gaddis painted sumptuous paintings —he had the ability to paint with the absence of theatrics. Julio Ramone and I encouraged him to make fake old masters in order to sell them in the City. He hated the idea but played along for a time, mostly as Miriam enjoyed the company of the group so much, Miriam, wispy blonde haired was only nineteen but very much knew what she had wanted from life; adventure, Art. She had a distinct love affair with Camus —there was even a poster of him on her wall next to their book shelf. I would move from the living room to the kitchen always with Camus in mind, his existential leanings and the plight of the protagonist in The Fall. Though one day I decided to pick on Miriam—What do you know about Camus? I tempered. Miriam sat in a dressing gown at the end of the living room couch looking at me with a darting eye, her head turning, — Don’t talk nonsense, she said. —You love him for his cigarette and collar up, but... 16
—How can I not emphasize with the plight of finding everything empty, how can I not? —I can’t see how, you’re a privileged white woman. —You’d start a fight with a tree, you’re not going to pull me in, she said whilst measuring her nightgown against her leg, playing with it before our Reverend Dillain Gaddis walked back into the living room.
Letter to Cristina Estrella – [3/28/1973] I’m now in Suirana and the sun is casting a shadow onto the large table that I write on. There is a cat, the former tenants, carousing my right leg as I sometimes leave the balcony door open and the stray cat decides to jump into the apartment. I live alone, just waiting for you. I think about you all the time, plus I am in the midst of finishing this novel and I need you to pull me over the threshold. When I think of you now I think of baked cakes, warm rainy nights, long naps in the afternoon after fucking. Your body. 7. Flowers, Flowers, Flowers — 1973 We—myself, Julio Ramone and our Reverend— had been taking detours into the City; we had bandied around the idea of selling these fake old masters until Julio Ramone came up with the idea of burgling old master paintings and replacing them with the fakes and selling the originals. Julio’s Father was an antiques man in 17
Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona so he still held loose connections with people within this industry; enough to whet our appetites. And distort our thinking into believing we were not betraying any real laws but the law of “know how” remarked Julio. Our Reverend was very quiet but still complicit in that he was only receiving a small sum of money from his parents in Brighton in order to live. Though the first time we underwent this operation a plethora of things went wrong. Julio had done some investigating after talking with his Father and a man called Albergo, and located a man living in Badalona who owned a Goya; a painting entitled ‘A woman and two boys by a fountain – a sketch’. A rather beautiful painting and one perhaps worth millions. Though Julio found the idea of owning an original Goya quite “kitsch” and of bad taste our Reverend was able to find a photograph and make the necessary fake old master. Though the first thing that went wrong was the sizing, Reverend Gaddis decided that he would paint on a canvas 35.4 x 19 in size having read it wrong. As it should have been 35.4 x 18.4cm but we ventured on unknowingly until the night of, when we had word that the man would be attending the theatre with the rest of his family, giving us ample amounts of time to successfully pull off the operation. Though when we arrived at the building there was a guard dog, and we were seduced by other valuables laying around: gold necklaces, for one thing. 18
But we managed to calm the guard dog down and move into the building and replace the painting and stop ourselves from stealing anything else, I thought. Though only we noticed the sizing at this time, we continued. We managed to sell the painting a week later to a dealer in Valencia called Federico Incan. Federico Incan studied the painting, according to Julio for three hours, before accepting that it was in fact an original Goya.
8. ALTERISTOS MANIFESTO OF ARMS (1972) I don’t know how Alteristos began but once started it had a mighty influence on all that partook. In fact, let me think about this, and if I do I think it was Candela Cacauo that had the most impact on the beginning of this group as it was her studio that we would all congregate most of the time. The first time we all were in attendance was one Thursday in 1972 when a manifesto was drafted. People shouting out phrases, words, non-sequiters and Candela writing them down until we came to a consensus.
— Stony walls of discontent, melancholy set like ice cream melted, the mire of the ambiance slowly negating the realisations— — Dead leaves with water marks from the nights rain — A babies smile whilst holding a chocolate bar — the remains of a dogs excrement coloured light brown — the passivity of something so awe inspiring as a strong wind — a man’s veiny head pushed to its limit on a run — a car speeding by with a baby in the backseat — the nocturnal feeling of walking whilst tired — the mundane tropisms of absolutely no wonder — the feeling of being hungry causing it to stop and its relief — the feckless agenda of the media by the discarding of a series of Newspapers — the actual aimlessness of the human kind veiled in a series of habitual actions — the ducks elegance on the water — the candour of a child’s behaviour — the 20
searing opaqueness of existence! — Isaac Babel spying on Russian politicians taking unusually long amounts of time on the shitter. Anthropological musings of the outsider. — The chaos is more than the sum of its parts. — A radio monitored by ageing communists at odds with pleasantries, still engulfed. — “We are all hunting for rational reasons for believing in the absurd.” — Lawrence Durrell, Justine — Curing people, or societies, of their ills by treatment is possible, though the onus is on transforming society’s ills first. — R. Mutt 1917. — God? Wash a lemon. • — Revelation of the beauty of disgust. • — The Poet always dies without prestige. • — Cold air blowing through the ventricles of emotional flamingos. — Louis-Ferdinand Céline said it before. — The roses of forgotten sorrows heard through the weeping of old men that can’t get it up anymore. 21
— Applause broke out on a bus in the capital of Morocco when a boy, aged eleven, broke wind and apologised to Allah. — The tragicomedy of human error. — Punk is eternal momentum. 9. She places the needle back onto the record player and moves towards Miriam sat in between our Reverend and Julio Ramone. It was 1963’s Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Confidentel’ so 'Chez les yé-yé' played out the record player and Candela looked pleased with her choice of song as she lay with a naked torso on top of Miriam’s lap. Earlier that day Miriam and Candela had got into a heated argument about whether Art was a political Act. Surprisingly, it was Miriam that disagreed; stating that all Art is political and that anything good should be considered as making an impact on a person’s belief system. Our Reverend seemed uncomfortable by it all and decided to walk towards the window as Candela called Art beauty. Stating that: ...Art is the very essence of existence formed to congratulate itself on its charms. The beauty of art is that it can change a persons ideas but those that are formed are not always due to that of Art but sometimes a simple logic stumbled upon for example. 26
They begged to differ. It was 6.32 am now and Julio Ramone is smoking a cigarette and peering out of the window. I am at the other side of the room observing him as if asleep. He drinks some cognac and then nestles back into his chair more, before leaning forward and picking up a book, Deleuze’s ‘Difference and Repetition’. He studies the book for a while; flicking through the pages and mumbling something incomprehensible. He had been mumbling something incomprehensible quite often of late and it was due, in hindsight to a variety of factors: 1. A remorsefulness for his actions. 2. A slow moving psychotic rage stirring up from his stomach problems. 3. Insomnia. 4. A slow alcoholism. 5. The plight of hoarding large amounts of monies.
10. Incandescent fire as if forceful hysterics, the plea to the night is orchestrated by days gone past and nights to be had. 11. Old Bones At the altar I watch to see our Reverend move about the Bibles, wine and Communion, he was surprised to see me. His choice to become a Reverend had almost purged him of his life, in the sense that he was now an altogether 27
different man, but one so rooted in what had happened in all those years. Francis moved towards the altar but not before Reverend Gaddis told him not to, stopping him in his tracks, he stood motionless at the foot of the altar looking at Dwelle. Dwelle was too young, too combative and too alive. Reverend Gaddis did not expect to see me.
12. A collector in Madrid was said to own Pieter Brueghel II’s ‘The Four Seasons: Spring; Summer; Autumn; and Winter’ Julio Ramone found out and informed us that this should be our next plan. The impracticality of the sizes causes Candela and Miriam to help us. Reverend Gaddis found the task daunting as the detail of the painting would take him a prolonged amount of time to copy. Though he started the work in mid-June. 13.
By mid-July Julio and I had started to get impatient due to the dwindling away of monies from the last steal, and so we both went to our Reverend’s studio to see the progress. He was stood at the window starring as if into an abyss, motionlessly looking the way he looked when I arrived years later. He had been stirred by the process. So stirred he had a twitch in his right eye and he was walking with a considerable limp. I 28
admitted that we had perhaps been over ambitious, but he assured us that he could do it. Our Reverend had impressed us. 14. Letter to Cristina Estrella – [5/22/1973]
The dues of the day are negating the pangs of the night. Cristina you have been missing for months and I can do little about it, these letters soothe only momentarily what has become wounded. I sit here and remember how we met, in the Gothic Quarter where you were holding bags. For one to rip and cause all those goods to fall was really manna from heaven. I remember our trip to Valencia: leaving in the night, there was a cold wind and you felt that this was ominous, how those words foretold that disastrous trip. That week we rented bicycles and biked around the City before the accident. Woe to that truck driver! In a way I feel you birthed the idea of the Alteristos, the quaint manner that you inhabited taught me more about Art than any book or Gallery. The incessant need to be moved; spiritually, psychologically, physically and even metaphysically. Without you being here I feel your presence in the creation of Alteristos. 15. Flowers Of Jung's Shadow It wasn’t until August that the paintings were ready; our Reverend was happy with what he had achieved but called us to his studio to 29
reiterate his cold feet on the manner at hand. I felt it duplicitous to finish the painting and then cast the whole episode as “wrong”. I separated my thoughts from my feelings and deemed it just nerves, though I was quite angry that our Reverend felt this way. Julio Ramone was very much not concerned, he seemed in a reverie most of the time perhaps exacerbated by his relationship with Alex Monnique. Though regardless of Reverend Gaddis’ qualms we continued to carry out the task of the stealing the painting. This meant that we all made our way to Madrid. When we arrived at Madrid it was a rainy evening, and I remembered Cristina. Her face, her thighs. We carried out the task without any hiccups and then sold the paintings three weeks later. 16. MILLIONS & MILLIONS (1972 – 1974) The money was very much a bond, we split it equally between all of us and this meant each of us was smart enough to keep an eye on one another in order to not spill the beans in any way. The joyous exuberance of the heist manufactured a sense of time: a time to act, a time of destroy, just more time. Time, to the point that perspective could perhaps become warped. Though with all of us back in Siurana we threw a party at Candela’s studio.
17. PARTY TIME? It wasn’t until the heist’s celebratory party that I met Professor Locus through Julio Ramone. We got into an argument about the iambic pentameter if I remember correctly but ended up drinking together. I felt a void left by my Spanish Father and this paternal nature drew us together perhaps. Candela was as free as a bird; wearing only red and blue paint and dancing to her favourite songs with Miriam. Whereas Alex Monnique had started to immerge as Julio Ramone’s saviour, in that Julio was very much harkened by demons, refracted by the attention Alex bestowed on him. Everyone was happy, apart from our Reverend. He had gotten emotional about certain aspects of “fooling people” but disregarded how integral fool heartedness was in Art in the first place. Drinking alone on the couch Julio said: Art is a host of foolishness, don’t be conflicted. And he was right as the thought that such a heist could go undetected forever was very much a point of reflection here. Our Reverend looked up momentarily before taking another sip of his beer. The dawn brought along a considerable moment of tranquillity as I walked and thought about Cristina.
18. Monies—1973 It was quite important that all money spent through the course of the operations were spent in a considerably frugal manner, just as the Art purchased would go on to live a restrained existence the gains from it too. This infused the money in a sort of subterfuge and secrecy that bordered on the extreme in the early years. Though it did allow for us to spend some money purchasing a hall in Pablo Espanyol in order to produce a ballet.
19. Ramone — 1973 One warm evening in November Alex Monnique had confided in me that Julio Ramone barely slept; in the evenings when it was time to sleep he would feign resting for a time and then go and start drinking or just staring into an abyss. I acted as if it was the first I had heard of this, but it wasn’t; me and Julio hadn’t grown up together, but I was pretty sure that I knew him or I knew the state that he was in. He broods and since the money it has been worse, she added whilst playing with her hair. When she mentioned the money I started to feel a tinge of foreboding, as if an existential crisis was laid bare by the reckoning of now having time, money and options. I do the cooking, I clean and I just hoped he would be in an energetic mood to you 32
know...she stuttered and I wondered if she was about to say fuck, but didn’t break seriousness as without her Julio would have been worse, I thought. She eventually carried on speaking:...things just seem so strange as I know that domestically we have nothing to worry about now, and maybe for, I don’t know, a very long time, but now I think we need to undergo some sort of project to keep him preoccupied away from whatever bothers him and makes him so sullen. But you love him, I asked. I love him, of course, I think he’s a very sexy man but come on. I started to think about what the actual problem could be — but knew that it was nothing that wasn’t intrinsic to Julio’s natural character and explained this to Alex. She stood in the doorway as if deep in thought staring at the ceiling for a moment.
20. December — 1973 One morning when I was alone in my apartment and I had been awake all night thinking of a myriad of issues, mostly relating to time, I heard a knock at the door and thought it was Peru, the neighbour’s cat, so I ignored it. The knock became louder, so I walked from the bedroom to the door, quite slowly to then be confronted with Cristina. Where had she been? All those unsent letters were now coming into physical form. I cleared my throat and mustered a hello. Did you know roses wilt at forty three degrees? She said. I 33
didn’t know that nor did I know how to feel. I let her in and she swivelled a bag into the apartment. Happiness takes many forms, it sometimes comes veiled too, I thought as I helped her with her bag.
21. The Night OF The Ballet — 1974 Merely functioning on sex and wine, the night of the ballet took on a hue I could not place. We shuffled into a packed audience that was full of anarchists, communists, atheists and more. The title of the play did that perhaps. It was called ‘An Anarchists Plight’ and was a ballet about the structures of society and a demon like figure spearheading an attack on a political figure. Quite heady stuff, very much at odds with General Franco’s white terror. But we were quite destined to live at odds to the government, though his fire had long been simmering at the time however. I had taken a backseat, but Cristina had played an integral part of infusing the ballet with political leanings mostly due to her Anarchist Father in Malaga. This meant that many days were spent devising routines in Barcelona, which left the apartment in Siurana quite empty most days. After we were all seated, we were infused with ninety minutes of what can only be summarised as quite manic. I could see Cristina’s hand very clearly. The staging of the play had an elegiac tone, all moody and distorted—It had 34
reminisces of Swan Lake but with a bit more bite. Deadly and engaging, said one local newspaper if I remember correctly. 22. Myths — 1974
Due to time spent reading Jean Genet certain myths were instilled and enlivened by our conversation—Julio Ramone and I would often speak of the magnitude of the interlinking of acquired minds, and the necessity to create familial bonds. The idea of drawing from the landscape of criminals may seem juvenile but there was something beautiful about the fate of the criminal, even in adolescence. For that reason we would often speak about the last words of criminals very much emphasizing those of convicts Moro Dante Spada and Fedeline Mauracy, who said, in his time of execution, Aren’t we all fated to be. Such a poetic refrain from the mouths of the convict as if a paradise lost. A BRIEF EPISODE OF DISRUPTION — 1974 Taking detours into the City, we bandied around the idea of staging these fights in order to concoct a political atmosphere that would engage dissenters. Apart from attracting Anarchists we began to appeal to drifters too. One of the people I was able to introduce to the group was Kerry Lemar, who had published in 1971 an extraordinary book, Candle Lit Orange, about a 35
group of delinquents with an element of magic realism only able to be produced by a South American, as he was. We would meet at El Quatre Gats to drink coffee and chat about brief episodes of disruptions. One day Lemar, who had taking a liking of our Reverend, surprised him by arriving with a Miriam look a- like. Our Reverend was astonished and intrigued by this Francois Frau as if a fake old master had come to life, they began to become friendly over a time, so much so that our Reverend would often talk about Miriam’s flaws in comparison to Francois Frau’s exuberance. It didn’t much bother our reverend that Francois Frau was a lady of the night, it actually stressed the concept of time and brought to light the fabric of love and sex, the ease at which Francois could make that feeling summon. She had an awfully sensual way about her, like a lost kitten her beady eyes would appeal to a variety of men and women with such majesty and allure.
23. EPISODE OF ENCHANTMENT — 1974 At this time Julio Ramone was facing the courts for his petty crimes, call it kleptomania on one hand, but on the other hand he had started to hang around another man called Altus Mehmet, a Turkish man living in Barcelona. Mehmet was very much prone to stealing and violence and even had a warrant for his arrest, apparently from time spent in Paris. Though he 36
would eventually write about Mehmet in his novel, Cathedral of Lies where he started the novel with the words: Mehmut stood like a man governed. Governed by the bliss of exuberance to the catastrophes of crime, emblazoned by the motion of chance and constituted to treachery. He stood like a man crossed between a guiltless child. When Altus Mehmet was arrested French magazine Detective devoted an issue to him in lieu of his criminal past, and very much in the same spirit as Julio Ramone’s tales. Pages spent deciphering the absoluteness of his crimes, the notion of intelligent species, the physical aspects of the criminal and even Mehmet’s childhood. 24. Letter to Julio Ramone — 1974 Oceans of wonder — A Period of solitude confronted by ghosts — Evening stares of a gypsy lover— Candles sitting next to ripened plums — Paul Gauguin in a secondary school — A donkey with a beard... I am writing to brighten your spirit. A few months is not so bad, I think. Perhaps it will repurpose you, instigate. As all we have is time comrade. All that there is is, TIME. I’ve taken to watching over Alex, although it seems that she has taken to the idea of loving a convict. Decked in prison overalls at the mercy of fate, awaiting shackles and confinement, it allows time to comprehend the mere thoughts that constitute your plight. 37
Altus Mehmet is in France now, at the mercy of the courts. I won’t go into detail, but things seem a little bleak in that regards. Though our Dillain seems less at odds with existence and those deeds. He is talking about marrying Miriam. The fascination with you seems to be an edifying spirit; the cold notions of guiltlessness.
25. 'It Hurts to Say Goodbye' — 1974 She moves about the room like a cat, all hips and eyes. Miriam, I said, so you don’t believe in beauty but you believe in marriage? She stood still now and looked down at me sitting fingering the rest of the apple crumble. Paradise, is that not the words of Moro Dante Spada, the Corsican bandit that you speak of so often, I’m already in paradise. I looked at her in the eyes and smiled remembering my own words as if the matter were that simple. Cristina seemed gorgeously awakened by our exchange now and wakes up to move towards me at the other side of the room, Play some Francoise Hardy, Comment te dire adieu. She yields to sit on my lap, instead moves around me for a moment half dancing, half watching, observing. Miriam looks at our Reverend, sifting through an unknown book, before she presses her finger against her temple. Candela played the Francoise Hardy track, swaying side to side next to the record player and I got up to walk to the kitchen. There, I poured myself a little hot water and drank it, whilst studying Miriam like a poem; intently watching 38
the way she touched her temple, then played with her hair which she allowed to drop over her left eye as she sat cross legged. The ballet was so... beautiful, she then said accentuating the word beautiful as if a decree. After the night, at dawn, Cristina and I walk the streets to my apartment that had become ours. I could hear her mind ticking by the way she said nothing, just her forlorn slow walking. As if I had committed some sort of unsavoury sin, she had not been accustomed to before. By that time it had been months since Cristina had arrived, of course disappearing from Federico, her estranged husband. One day I had read a love letter sent to her mother’s house from Federico when she had gone to get groceries and came to no conclusions. Dear Cristina, The day means nothing without you. A summers day means very little without your busyness and gall. A winters day is just cold. I don’t know what I am supposed to mean to you, but I am above being angry with you. I am merely the bastard. I understand the plight of lineage, as Anarchists as destroyers and builders. I am in the midst of this very nature and in some ways owe you a great deal of gratitude for not ever saying a cliche thing, doing a cliche thing, being a cliche thing. At the edge of thought I think of you. §§§§ 39
I put down the letter and started to wonder whether I should read the novel Federico had written, entitled, Metaphysical Rivers. As it may have provided clues about Cristina, I thought. That day I just kept it in my mind as something I could do, not necessarily should do. Instead Miriam kept coming to my mind, as it was happening so slowly that I wondered if it was happening at all, those feelings.
§. Old Bones II The feeling of being excommunicated only rivalled that of absurdity. Our Reverend steps down from the altar and his features imitate a smile, though within I knew of nothing like that which was emblazoned on his face. Though try as he may. I wonder what was his fate? And what lies beneath. 26. The Heightened Atmosphere — 1979 As if pushed to a rarefied atmosphere I remember the time before he left for that Franciscan Monastery, his desires, his character, his worries. At this time Alex Monnique had started to orchestrate her Art production as a feminist force. After meeting Francoise Gilot in Paris she fashioned art films, a theatre production and a performance piece. The art film, entitled, Octopus’ Cry, had interpolations of Jean Painleve ́’s The Octopus & The Love Life 40
of The Octopus. Though instead of scenes of the Octopus the film depicted two women whipping a man, interspersed with a woman crying dubbed over the sound of Jean Painlevé's film. The nine minute film went on to be seen as breakthrough moment for women in film and it’s very ‘human eye’ over the exploits of the defenceless woman. Monnique’s theatre production was a play she had written, produced and of course invested in. It was called ‘The Living Room’ and was a play about the concept of family and death influenced by Harold Pinter. Whereas, Candela Cacauo produced a show in Barcelona displaying these sixteen ‘fake artefacts’ with their accompanying information as a form of ‘imagination protest’ and also a distilled mockery of the cliched way in which Galleries and Museums were curating the ‘Art process’:
1. Maxwel Homes, 1930 Born Sudan, Living in Holland Fatal Cries (1975-1978) Enamel Paint and Oil on Canvas Homes devised a routine, where he would flip between actual cries and smiles, as Homes developed this "soothing action" whilst imprisoned with Ibraham El Salahi in a Sudanese prison after being accused of partaking in a coup to overthrow the government. This work is communicating the drama of his imprisonment and the act of dealing with the emotions of it through "fatal tears conflicting with obnoxious 41
smiles" he said. The colours; creams and browns were also part of his gestural workings at the time and the captures a primal sense with the use of enamel paint and a soft edge with the usage of Oil Paint.
2. Franz Bema, 1964 Born in Germany, Living in Britain Kafka's Steel (1978) Steel Heavily influenced by the work of Anthony Caro the work can be seen as a metamorphosis of languages. Here the work is reminiscent of Caro's painterly technique of bending Steel. The threeheaded figure in the middle of the work can speak of a humanistic abstraction that was born of Bema's reading of the work of Kafka, hence the title. And the sharp edges are said to have illustrated "my mood at that time". A political work Bema was said to have moved back to West Berlin around the time of this works completion. 3. Yashu, 1952 Born in Germany, Worked in Great Britain Untitled (Murderer in blue suit on a blue bench at night) (1978) Oil on canvas 150 x 120 cm There seems a loud serene atmosphere here. As on one hand the canvas only bares a single figure 42
wearing a blue suit with red accents. He sits on a blue bench quite still. Though the loudness comes from the question of where the man has arrived from? Why is he wearing what he is wearing and why the red accents in the black expanse? A narrative painting that bares reminisces to Francis Bacon and Botero's darker works. It is also noted to point out that this work was, according to Yashu's estate, the penultimate work made before his death. It is said that Martin Amis' London Fields, being a favourite fictional work of the Artists, also played a role in the making of this work.
4. Francesco Bello, 1939 Born in Italy Works in Cuba Film Cubana (1977) Film Bello, for a time, in the late 1950's became immersed in the scenes of Düsseldorf Germany and this manifested in creating an offshoot of Heinz Mack's and Otto Piene's Zero Group called Lucid Documentary. Lucid Documentary deciphered the concepts of sub consciousness as "bare bones to the lucid reality" and this concept birthed artworks as this. The blue tint of the film is distinct diagnosis of the thoughts of "flamingos" he said and a much-aligned colour of Lucid Documentary but with the "hardness" of technological advancements. The colours swirl and magnify the thought of ambivalence to 43
Cuba's on going communist political plight. 5. Leila Dois (1951 - 1979) Born in Germany lived in Britain Sensory overload of Head, 1979 Film Dois became associated with Lucid Documentary when "squatting in London" she said. She did this work, which she referred to as a "bit", in between writing her first poetry book. This work develops the concepts of sexual freedom and interpolates various audio recordings of Alfredo Emash's film 'Vanity. Blue.'. 6. Claire Obsenstauch, (1962 - 1978) Observations Amounting to Nothing 1979 Photograph Obsentauch was an artist known to have believed the world would "end" at the turn of the millennium. And this belief helped produce this photograph. She said she was taken by the obtuse element of life and its pointlessness at the time. 7. Carl Fandong (1971) The Round Glass House Project Photograph taken by Malala Pranka 8. Sandra Bulgakov, 1953 Born in Russia works in America Nudes with Heads, (1976) 45
On the twelfth of December 1976, the Artist, on this day is said to have completed the book The Recognitions by William Gaddis. And so, moved by the work it caused her to "copy" all the works that had "moved" her and to superimpose three heads on all but most of the figures, as artefact of imprisonment to a "mania" she said. Although this work is not a complete action of this conceit the work is an impression of Pablo Picasso's ‘les demoiselles D'avignon'.
9. Max Boakovacs, (1951) Figures acting Blonde, 1979 Sumptuous blues and ravaging reds oscillate between an estranged figure. The sudden appearance of yellow orchestrates a subtle but dynamic movement of thought between humour and seriousness. The small "pedantic" lines, he made note of, were made as an argument for whether Art should just be a conscious choice as opposed to the sub conscious. The Artist referred to himself as opposition to the movement of Lucid Documentary and was even said to have staged his exhibition showing this painting as an act of violence and resistance against their partakers. 10. Alfredo Emash, 1949 'Vanity. Blue.', (1972) Film Made three years after Alfred Bonucci’s ‘Blue’ this work is said to have been influenced. The 46
composition is said to have been purposely "primal" said Emash of the work. And this can be given evidence for by the rather disjointed nature of the recordings and the gentle nods to Dadaesque techniques. It is also noted that the work was made in the year Emash was diagnosed with Aids, so it coincides with Bonucci’s diarist workings of ‘Blue’. Emash was also heavily influenced by the Lucid Documentary movement of taking works and making them autobiographical to the Artist.
11. Penelope Cristy, (1929) Born in Spain worked Czech Republic, Mexico, Germany, USA and Britain Punk, 1962 Photograph Said to be enlivened by Naked Lunch the novel by William S. Burroughs, which, because of US obscenity Laws was banned in the US until Cristy made this work. She called the work 'Punk' as an ode to all that was ‘subversive'. 12. Cardel Rose, 1952 After Beuys Blackboards, 1973-1974 Attending Joseph Beuys Information Action at the the Tate Modern in 1972, wherein Beuys spoke for six hours, answering questions, Rose was influenced to produce this seminal work. He was at Central Saint Martin’s art school at the time and was said to have been focused on delivering a message that was "as if a leisurely walk through an 47
ocean". 13. Frank Mont Aziza, 1975 working in Britain Born in France Cum on a Casket Oil on Canvas This painting is said to have been a document of the year of celibacy performed by the Artist after what he referred to as "years of sexual addiction". The joyous, but subversive, nature of the work can illustrate the desire to see past death and violently attack life instead. 14. Helmz Castion, 1954 Untitled (She was a little upset), 1979 Castion was fascinated with the words Hysterical Realism. This work was made as a humorous turn on his divorce this same year. The likeness to his wife, Artist Yulia Castion, is a terribly funny aside to the story of the work. Castion said of the work "an ant moving houses was the feeling I went for; fearful and intrepid.” 15. Carlo Benz, 1951 Born in Ukraine Scratching a left ear with a right hand, 1978 A hugely political Artist, influenced by politics this humorously named abstract painting is one that looks like Its technique has borrowed from Jackson Pollock. The painting is said to have been produced in twenty of the oblasts or provinces of Ukraine as a form of "action painting" said spectators and articles. 50
16. Alfredo Nooi, Born in France, worked in Switzerland, Britain and USA (1919 ) yes, 1943 Painting The simple work was said to have been made around the time of Germany's invasion of France and was, for Nooi, an act of defiance; one in which could have caused him to deny his rights of freedom to make. It is also of note that he "restaged" the painting again in 1979 as a protest against Thatcher whilst he was living in Britain. Paradise — 1976 In the afternoon we took a trip to Morocco, catching the boat to arrive to Tangier. Cristina lies naked on the deck of the balcony overlooking central medina espousing the necessity of prayer. Like an altar she lay there motionless. In the bedroom a fluorescent green sculpture sat in the corner of the room and spoke of a decadent beauty. That evening we ate the fish, I only like salmon, said Cristina, of all the fishes it’s the only fish that has that luxurious feel. I look at her and think of Miriam, but only for a moment drumming on the table fiendishly I take my mind off the situation at large. During the meal she makes a fuss over everything. I start to feel as if something is missing; that the decadence is overtaking the authenticity. 51
27. Letter to Julio Ramone & A STORY — 1974 I understand how things can be, the climax of nothingness that is confinement. I am now in Morocco thinking of you, as the dusty sunshine sets and cascades amongst the litany of secrets that seem to be haemorrhaging and I find that you should be in high spirits. But let me tell you a story to reinforce all that is within your veins:
Two weeks ago an Iraqi man, on his death bed asked my Father’s Father to paint him an erotic painting of a woman in order to “bring him life”. Though it soon occurred that this old man wanted nothing like the painting you would imagine, but something altogether different. He wanted quite a violent image. My Father’s Father would oblige every time and make the necessary arrangements, each time getting the prostitute to pose for him in his studio. The whole story comes to a heed one day when the old man asked if the woman’s body could be separated from her head. My Father’s Father refused and started to berate the old man, though before he knew it, the old man’s heart had succumbed to some new pressures and he died on the spot. Myth had it that my Father’s Father cursed the old man, and this had an instant reaction. Julio I think about you and what things will be. 28. Cristina’s Ghost — 1976 Though into the dead of this night, it 52
occasioned some form of sanction that the night would obliterate us both: up analysing the whereabouts of Miriam—she would have to be here, she would have to be there? When ultimately, we had to process how we arrived into this predicament. Ultimately, we would achieve nothing otherwise, just feint disclosures, like the idea that Miriam was in the middle of writing a personal thesis that had prompted her “to lose it”, said Candela. Candela, dark haired snaggle toothed and slim she thought about her own words only as they left her mouth, I could tell, the middle of her forehead creased into a cloister in the way it would often do at these times. She always had a tendency to think aloud, and in a situation as this the problem remains very much stagnant whilst the world seems to twirl and twist. She placed her arm against the side of the bookshelf and let her eyes be distracted by the other bookshelf across the room, I did too. For clues, I convinced myself, though all I seemed to gain were prompts to read more: prompts from Virginia Wolf’s spine, DH Lawrence’s spine, the spine of James Joyce, all sitting in the milieu of hysteria. Our Reverend was besides himself. I then started to think about Kafka’s dictum: I am a cage in search of a bird — in relation to Miriam, Cristina was like a bull that hadn’t been blinded; all gumption and gusto.
29. The fatality of existence is not in its serenity but its primal scream—the mercilessness of those moments that excavate a sense of rage that is governed in a senseless manner of civility, cryptically wrote Julio Ramone. We are all screaming in some form or manner, I then thought.
30. Distilled Monies — 1976 Searching for Miriam became costly for our Reverend, making trips to London, travelling to Barcelona, Madrid, and Paris. Even in his attempts at frugality were marked by a whimsical approach I saw as fashioned due to the means at which the monies were procured. Wasn’t it Dante that called our fate a gift? I’m not sure, I thought as I monitored our Reverend’s frantic comings and goings. Constantly with the words, Why would she leave? on the tip of his tongue, it became somewhat a revelation of character; never had I seen our Reverend lose his cool now. The bleak perception of her whereabouts was very much concerned with whether she was still alive, which, to me, seemed not the point, or a mute point. Meanwhile I had been spending time with Professor Locus, so much so that one afternoon this year he called and asked for a favour. Feverishly telling me that a poet in Girona had copied a poem of his in an anthology called ‘Apricot’ and he was livid. And with the idea of 54
doing something about it. So I met him and we started to drive to Girona on this hot sticky day, whilst I thought about all that was going with Alteristos. He looked angry, his right eye was flickering, and he held a scowl. I asked if I could see the poem in question, and he handed me an A4 sized magazine before telling me to read page 18. I read the poem and thought that it was a terrible poem, and that driving all the way to the Poet's house was a terrible idea, but I didn’t say this. It made me tremble, the amount of passion he had, but at the same time I also felt that none of that passion was present in the poem. I asked him how long it would be till we arrived there and he said it would be a few hours without a blink of an eye. I dared not ask him what he would do when he arrived there, I just hoped that he would see that I was loyal to him. About halfway there he asked what I thought of the poem, and I felt disingenuous when I said that I thought the poem was pretty good. I remember using the words pretty good as if to see if he would detect a certain sentiment, though he didn’t as he continued to rant about the way in which he established a certain literary responsibility. I remember looking through the window of the car as I received eye contact from another female driver with beach blonde hair. She was just staring as if I was a soap opera, and so I stared back. This went on for a least five minutes
before she started to mouth something. I could barely make out what she was mouthing, but it seemed to be something along the lines of: You fool or You finished? I couldn’t work out which, so I pulled my arm from my side to swear at her, but as I did this I accidently pushed the gear stick into one and caused Professor Carlos to swerve. I profusely apologised but by now he was angry at the whole world: swearing belligerently now. He eventually calmed down, and by the time we reached the Poet’s house he was as calm as when I first met him, so still angry in a translucent way. He parked the car and we both walked towards this door. It was a mango green door with gold handles and a gold letter box. The professor knocked the letter box quite loudly three or four times, and before long a woman was at the door. The Professor asked if the Poet was at home and she said that he was in the other room. We waited. The Poet came to the door quite jovially with a smile. A long story short, the Professor ends up punching the poet in the face, which caused myself and him to eventually beat the Poet up, quite badly. I didn’t intend to so, but I was forced to do so. His wife called the police, but before they could show up, we were gone. Driving back, in silence.
31. Monies Sectioned — 1980 The crazy thing about money is only in its absence is it noted, when it is there is means very 56
little. This was truly noted in regards to our Reverend who had burnt through his share of the money just from searching for Miriam. I think it was he that made the proposal, funnily enough, for us to do another job, he said. I listened, I remember sat in his apartment with Julio Ramone talking over what he was once reluctant to do. His whole philosophy had changed I thought, whilst the idea that Miriam was a smoke screen for something deeper more sinister at play. Though Julio was very much keen on the idea, being that he had always preferred life as an outsider. Crime was something that built relationships, kept the grey matter ticking over. So over the next few weeks Julio did some research to eventually find a Doctor in Madrid that had a collection of smaller works by Sir Peter Paul Rubens including one entitled, Venus supplicating Jupiter. A gorgeous painting about the concept of the Gods. Worth a few million Peseta we planned each detail. It would take our Reverend a month to complete the fake old master, to which he got down to work with in his studio in Siurana.
32. Pleasures Untold – 1977 With Julio Ramone out of prison and now living in Paris things had altered in ways that the group were perhaps not used to. Miriam was still missing at the turn of the year too. And this had a profound effect on the group; in that at our weakest point was the point at which most new people seemed to gravitate towards us. This year 57
new inductee’s included: Jean Monol, Gerard Audine, Jalel Islam, Tomas Slavia, Carai Vicky, Gerard Audine, Fernine Mustapha, and Lorde Grillot. Only a few went on to make a name for themselves in any renown whatsoever, therefore diluting the effect Alteristos had on the public eye. This year included failed attempts at courting public attention, failed theatre performances, failed performance pieces. I blamed Candela Cacauo who was, for me, the most prominent member of the group to allow new members, mostly due to her bisexuality which led to her relationships with both men and women producing new members. And due to this the secrets of the group became more and more known, I thought. It was also around the same time that I received a letter from Miriam. The letter, a page long, detailed how she felt about the situation with our Reverend and that she no longer felt challenged. It also described her problems with mental illness and that she was struggling to adhere to the desires of the world. I told no one about this letter as she wanted it this way, but did wonder why she had chosen only me to write to? With no address to write back I stored the letter and awaited further correspondence. Cristina was getting bored by now; talking about marriage. I found her words distasteful and told her so. But that’s the thing about beauty, at times it knows no bounds. I was already quite hateful of Cristina’s past, especially her treatment of her husband, and her ongoing
life incognito. Still she did not disown her past, rather she displayed the fascinations of the Artist and stipulated ways in which the Artist is to live and breath. 33. Stars Open Up Scars
The day arrived and we gathered our things, our Reverend, Julio Ramone and myself and made our way to Madrid. We decided to move in the undawned light with the plan being to get in and out as quickly as possible via the back entrance. Our Reverend was driving this time, something we had forced on him in order to establish the fact that he was not above the actuality of the crime, just by making the art and expecting to sit back. We parked the car and Julio and I jumped into the garden and made our way into the house through an open window. We both were in the house now but could not find the painting at first. We looked around and finally found it in a room just off the kitchen. As we were displacing the painting we heard a noise coming from the stairs. It was our Doctor. Julio left the room, leaving me to pull down the Rubens. Though before I know what to do next there’s a loud bang and Julio runs into the room and says that we needed to leave. I grab the original painting and we take the exit to the left of the room. It was only a week later that word had it that the Doctor had died as Julio had stabbed him with a pen knife. The blood was on all our hands, 59
and I told our Reverend this. Not knowing what to do our Reverend leaves Spain to go back to England. 34. Whereabouts — 1980 I heard from a few sources that our Reverend then had troubles with alcohol and apparently with suicidal thoughts, before he decided to contradict the life he had lived with us and become a Catholic Priest. I saw things from a pragmatic perspective and still do, the blood was collateral damage for the lifestyles we were all destined to live, inexhaustibly. I soon left Siurana and the Alteristos to move to West Berlin where Miriam was living. 35. First Encounter — 1980 Miriam stood at the end of the corridor with her hands on her hips. “Maybe we could go to Argentina?” “For what,” I replied looking at her. “Isn’t it foretold that what happened was destined to happen and now that it has you’re running away from fate is fool-hearted.” “It’s not fool-hearted, it’s a bit like the protagonist in Camus’ The Fall, the guilt may catch up with one of you.” “It won’t be me.” “How do you know that?” said Miriam now taking a seat on a wicker woven chair. “With all this blood on your hands.” 60
“Our hands.” “Okay our hands, but it’s not as if we’re going go to the police is it?” “No, not at all... Julio could be executed, in fact we’d all be executed.” “Well don’t leave now as things are like this,” she said playing with her skirt, rolling the fabric up and down her thighs with her eyes down. “You’re going to have to get acclimatised to having a guilty conscience...” 36. How’s Miriam? whispered our Reverend. §§§ PART II “You've always lived a life of pretense, not a real life-a simulated existence, not a genuine existence. Everything about you, everything you are, has always been pretense, never genuine, never real.” ― Thomas Bernhard, Woodcutters 1. 1980 — The Merciless Gift of Time Death is very much a lubricant that is all consuming. The variants of it distil the central theme that it will all end one day, I thought as the news came in. Death and fate, what constitutes fate? 61
2. 1981 — Spring After the death of the Doctor things were very much tainted. Julio, for one thing became consumed with the idea of death. He had moved to Paris but was prone to making trips to Vienna to be alone in a wood secluded area he purchased a home in. I visited in late spring. To find Professor Locus, there to perhaps avoid his wife and Julio writing a manifesto entitled The Labyrinthine Cathedral of Lies, which was, according to him an extension of his novel Cathedral of Lies and basis of a study about the meaninglessness of existence. I listened alone in the middle of the woods and deemed it dangerous. Considering the absence of Alex Monnique in Paris. For over a year the blood had been on our hands but perhaps I was the only one that was rather cheerful about the matter at hand, I thought as I went to fetch wood for the fire. The night was shimmering, and it occurred that I was curious to know what Julio was writing in this manifesto.
Perhaps it was for self-preservation, I thought, whilst I picked the wood. Though it did not help that Professor Locus was not in the least bit privy to our secret. He, would spend time just talking about his poems, his architecture project and his dull wife. Though he did know a lot about the architecture of the house as he had known the dead architect that built the house from a 62
conference in West Berlin years before. It’s based on Gaudi, he said when I came back with the wood and saw Professor Locus sat down on the couch next to a hopeless looking Julio; all bones, he had lost weight and his cheeks were like considerable protrusions in his face now. Yes Gaudi on the outside and the natural curved forms, soft and fluid on the inside with the usage of these high ceilings, he continued whilst pointing to the living room ceilings and then the mosaic tiles, it’s just a majestic house. I had, of course known guilt, mostly by way of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which I had read multiple times by then. Though as friends went I had long seen Julio as a comrade of sorts and a person in the boughs of a remorse I only predisposed for our Reverend, I thought.
3. Our Reverend moved towards a bench to take a seat, as I stood. He sat down and I thought about the life he led and that it was very much built on sand, I wanted him to know this, I thought as opposed to news on Miriam. Dwelle and Francis had stopped arguing and now moved towards the bench to take a seat next to our Reverend. 4. 1980 — Oceans of Influence I had heard from Candela Cacauo that Cristina Estrella, since I left for Miriam, had gone 63
on a pilgrimage of sorts to Malaga where her Father, a dissenter of General Franco, had been taken from to die. She had always been consumed with the legacy of her Father’s, I thought. Perhaps explaining her masculine energy. In West Berlin with Miriam I remember thinking this as the rain fell and Miriam mumbled from within the bedroom, I think surrendering to a higher power is such a bullshit cop out, she said. I placed the book Metaphysical Rivers on my lap and picked up my head to hear her more clearly. — The reality is Dillain is very much prone to worry but he is as much of an agnostic as the rest of us, the mere fatality of the situation tells me that he is doomed. Just as doomed as our once thriving gang.
§§§ Gentrification Due to the influx of Artists Siurana had changed from the time in the early 70’s when the founding members of Alteristos had decided to live there. 5. 1981 — Eternal Return The day and night’s sleep had troubled as I had not planned to stay up late reading Cathedral of Lies for clues about my dejected host. Though in the novel I started to piece together a mind altered in the wrong way. There were the great 64
stoicisms that were not just projected but very much lived, I thought. Then there were the lost concerns of a man staring into the abyss. Sentences such as this caused concern: “The flays of tomorrow can only be met with an abundance of nothingness, that can only perform itself with the consent to obliterate that something and achieve a nothingness...”
What I did was try and stop thinking about the machinery of the night and come to a conclusion that Julio must have been replaying that night of the now murder back in his mind, over and over again, to the point that life and death seemed closer than ever. The destruction of the mind is built on self-doubt, I thought. As I heard the floorboards creak; emanating from Julio’s bedroom. 6. 1986 — POP ART EXPLOSIONS, Alteristos DEATH? After the years of being informally disbanded Alteristos had changed monumentally, the members for one. And the base. Jean Monol had become the leader and they were now based in New York in the midst of an American Art Boom. I travelled with Miriam to New York to confront the situation at an “Alteristos” exhibition at Mary Boone’s Gallery. We had, of course, become notorious in the Art scene throughout the 70’s but that was very much based around a few misleading concepts, 65
mostly to do with cash from the sale of those fake old masters. Central to our conceit as an Art movement was that of irreverence however. It had been quite idealistic to have maintained Alteristos as a group, at this time given the fundamental disparity between its core members and its new members, that were not particularly privy to all aspects of the fundamental coercions. I personally vouched for no new members, though of the members that were added to the group only Tomas Slavia and Gerard Audine impressed me, in particular Tomas Slavia’s novel Owls as Doors. It was a shame that Tomas died this year quite young.
6.5. Crash into POP ART When we arrived Andy Warhol kept talking about symmetry and lines, and colours. And I listened without thinking much, I kept thinking about how confident he was and that Jean Monol was listening even more attentively than me. I never had the faculty of the desire to hear everything, or if I did it had waned over the years and was in particular decline that day, as I was in New York because I needed to take a break with Miriam. Andy Warhol then mentioned that he lived close by and that we could go there for another drink, and Jean immediately said yes, perhaps taken by the opportunity to spend time with such an Artist, a 66
societal persuasion that I am inclined to feel cold by. As most Artist’s were selfish, narcissistic and cliche. The true Artist’s, for me, were those enthralled or entrenched in a madness of which they were too busy with to work as professional anythings. So, in a way, I had it in mind that I had only met one true Artist and she had killed herself years before in a sanatorium in Mexico. But as I was a guest here in New York I took it that I should go along with his desires. We soon left the Gallery. On the walk to Andy Warhol’s apartment I noticed the opulence of the evening was very much enchanted by a calm balmy night. I lagged behind somewhat, as it seemed to me that Jean was interested in Andy Warhol in more ways than one. His eye contact was too firm, and this made me wonder about his sexuality, especially in lieu of a joke he made later before we reached the apartment. Something about a lieutenant, a gynaecologist and a dildo. I didn’t hear the punchline, but sparsely the joke being to do with the dildo being inserted into the male gynaecologist. I knew something was up, especially when upon arrival a woman opened the door and Jean looked perplexed. I had a premonition that Jean wanted Andy Warhol to suck his cock, but I dismissed this as Jean had had many girlfriends, of which I knew of at least two. And, I thought, it shouldn’t bother me that Jean was gay, if he was, but that he was keeping it a secret would be
bothersome. And the idea that he was a panderer made the Alteristos potentially look bad. We entered a lounge area and Andy Warhol brought us some mimosas. I thought how extravagant to be drinking champagne talking to Andy Warhol about his films—Of which I had never seen any, regardless of there being at least a few I would have been able to get my hands on at the time. It was opulent but at the same time I wasn’t allowing myself to get swept up in all this whole love affair. We all took a seat, with our mimosas in hand, and I can hear the woman that answered the door shuffling around the kitchen—the thought occurs that the woman was being mistreated by Andy Warhol and that she was using white witchery to punish him, this occurred as on the coffee table was a book entitled, The White Witch. I noted that it would have been funny if it said The White Witch - a Basic Guide, and I laughed to myself, a vacant laugh that only consumed me and had Jean and Andy Warhol looking at me as if I was a pig in a library. Oinking around Animal Farm and the rest of the books. Then Andy Warhol then mentions that he was very influenced by Luis Buñuel, which is a point in the conversation that I interceded in as I had watched nearly all Luis Buñuel films, even Menjant garotes, the 4 min short. He then said he was working on a film and asks if we wanted to watch it. It was apparently a short film not influenced by anyone, he said. Not influenced by anything, just my own original thinking. 68
And, so we start to watch the film, which was called Entropy Over Eggs a sequel to More Milk, Yvette. I could still hear the woman in the kitchen shuffling about as the film played and laughed again at the thought of the made-up name of the book. The film lasted twenty minutes and was about a woman suffering a nervous breakdown shot in similar fashion to the films of Buñuel, I thought rip off right off the top. For me, it was clearly as I assumed, an Artist deep in throes of arrogantly copying. I wanted to remain quiet as it wasn’t me that wanted their cock sucked, if that is the way Jean was inclined, but I just wanted to spend the night perhaps in a bar and then perhaps some dancing. But Andy Warhol, as If he could smell disdain, looked at me and asked: What did you think of the film? And I think he even used the word amigo. It’s a bit like Buñuel, I said quite bluntly. I think this made him feel inadequate as he started to turn from speaking to Jean and started to address me and those Alteristos. He kept using the words Potent Alteristos and I did not know what he could mean nor did he explain. Anyway, Jean somewhat pushes for the night to continue, and we end up on the balcony overlooking New York. I remember I noticed a few stray cats and moped riders screaming along the narrow streets.
7. 1981 — Wood That first night was strange, though the second even stranger. In the lead up to the night I spent time with Professor Locus and thought everything was perfectly fine, or as they stood when I had arrived at the woods. Julio had murdered someone and felt a little down by it and Professor Locus was simply escaping his wife, I thought. It wasn’t until the evening that I found Professor Locus, he was hanging by rope on the end of tree about fifteen minutes’ walk from the house; he had tried to hang himself. I didn’t know what to say to him and felt a touch of embarrassment that he had tried, and failed, to hang himself, merely hanging off the tree as the rope was just not quite tight enough to do the job. But tight enough for his head to turn blue, and for the loss of blood to cause Gangrene to his right ear. I thought it would be Julio that I would need to pull from a tree. Rather he was as sanguine as ever merely looking at Professor Locus in pity.
8. Tomas Slavia (1958 — 1986) Born in Caracas lived in Romania, Spain & Argentina Tomas Slavia was born in Caracas as his Father was a Diplomat that moved stations frequently. This meant that his life like his poetry would be fragmented. As he would have memories of 70
dispirit spaces and his emotional attachment to him, which was reflected in his first book of poetry, Ramen in Romania (1975), written in French, where he wrote about Japanese pornography and Romanian Anarchism amongst other things. Publishing it at the age of only seventeen meant that these poems, showed promise but were mostly said to be juvenile. Though, due to this book Tomas received a residency to live in Paris and write a second poetry book. This is when he met Candela Cacauo, then he was only eighteen years old. She was impressed by Tomas and his ability to recite Walt Whitman from memory. He apparently also recites Candela’s poetry from her little- known book Penis as Eggs (1974).
Candela invites Tomas to become a member of the Alteristos movement and he in turn moved to Siurana in 1977. Though it was in Barcelona that he would spend much of his time. There, he met Souza De Vous an Argentinian painter, a woman twenty -years older than him. Nonetheless they go on to have an opaque affair, full of emotional abstractions, due to Souza De Vous’ condition as schizophrenic bipolar. Tomas made the news when Souza De Vous’ apparently stabbed him with a fork in the middle of a restaurant in 1980. Though it wasn’t until 1984 that Tomas wrote about this in his bildungsroman, An Alteristos Altered (1984). After this for a brief period he formally left the 71
Alteristos movement for a group known as Commado’s based in Argentina. The Commado’s were a primarily literary based group with magic realism at its core, which influenced his next work, Owls as Doors (1985), which was a polemic novel against the Alteristos movement and their then New York base and a surrealistic journey into love affairs with corpses, a woman with one leg and a man. Which made his relations to sexuality problematic as many in the literary world deemed his depiction of homosexuality “overly flippant” and “silly”. Regardless, he declared this work, his first fictional novel, his best.
Though it wasn’t until the next year that tragedy struck. In an apparent violent aside Souza De Vous, then his fiance accused Tomas of cheating on her with a man called Zeb Deenial. Even though he denied this, she, one night, in a psychotic rage shot him once in the head though this has been denied by Souza De Vous’ since. 9. Jean Monol (1954) Born in Spain A painter and a poet Jean Monol was born in Madrid, but his Mother and Grandmother would often have him live in Malaga. He came from an Upper-Class background, though his Mother suffered from schizophrenia, which meant that his upbringing was in fact more chequered then it would seem. He went to Art School in London (Central Saint Martins) when he was nineteen and 74
started holding gallery shows when he graduated in Europe and South America. His painting, influenced by Dubuffet and Matisse was awkward and fauvist. His most famous painting was one called Priest at Psychiatric Ward (1976), that made allusions to the influence of Francis Bacon. This painting was said to have influenced Alex Monnique’s 1977 performance piece Dance 009, which made suggestions to sexual abuse of a religious counterpart framed with music by French musician and fringe Alteristos member Eli Monte. Anarchists, hangers on, drifters 1977 was the name of Monol’s first novel, which for me, highlighted a case of pandering, but that is neither here nor there. As by the end of 1977 he was an informal member of Alteristos through the association with Dance 009 and Alex Monnique. Continuing to paint, he failed to achieve the heights of 1976 and so perhaps saw it as his only option to start to write. In 1978 he wrote three books of poetry entitled: Wrestlers of Sex, A Candlelit Dinner with No Candles, and Semiotics of Love. This was until 1985 when he moved to New York to join other members of Alteristos and lead the group with a series of paintings at Mary Boone’s Gallery under the show name of ‘With Salads’. These paintings were directly influenced by that of American Pop Art, with paintings of everyday objects interspersed with that of Popular naked figures as Andy Warhol. 75
It was in 1985 that he got married to Federica Audair, a Polish songwriter living in New York. Monol and Audair went on to have a child, Dresden Monol, in 1986.
10. Souza De Vous (1938) Born in Argentina, lived in Mexico, Spain Nobody distilled the myth of Alteristos more than Souza De Vous, funnily enough she was never a formal member of the group nor even a fringe member, but a painter living and working in Barcelona in the 70’s, by that time she was in her thirties. She had grown up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she was born, and from a young age, she apparently saw ghosts. This is perhaps why there is a similar motif running through her painting. She was infused by the stories of her Grandmother, who would tell stories doused in magic realism. This perhaps led her to Mexico in her early twenties where she was drawn to in order to meet Leonora Carrington, a famous surrealist painter, who she apparently met one rainy Mexican day in Mexico City. In Mexico City to survive she was said to have worked as a prostitute but soon fell in love with a Poet called Daie Fernando from Barcelona, Spain. And she continued to paint but has little success citing her own work as too “futurist”. Daie Fernando, a failed poet, failing to receive a book contract in Mexico City decides that the best 76
thing to do is move to Spain. They originally move to Malaga but she deems it too provincial thus moving to Barcelona and leaving Daie Fernando to continue writing his failed poems. In Barcelona now Souza De Vous meets Tomas Slavia and they in turn fall in love. Tomas Slavia with Souza’s apparent fiery nature, which causes hysterics in public places as restaurants and discos. Due to Tomas Slavia’s success they’re able to move around quite freely and they eventually in 1985 move back to Argentina, Buenos Aries. Where Souza and Slavia fraternise with the Commados, the Argentine literary movement.
It wasn’t until 1986 that saw things take a considerable turn. After an argument about cheating apparently Souza De Vous killed Tomas Slavia dead with a Browning Hi- Power that she had carried around whilst prostituting. Though this apparent happening was declared otherwise when the Police came onto the scene: It was said that Souza De Vous had been playing William Tell with Tomas Slavia and the shot to the head was the first only shot in a game gone wrong. This incident went to court and eventually led to Souza De Vous being declared innocent in a judgement filled with suspense. After she is made free she decides to move back to Barcelona and write a book—picked up by Carmen Balcells, the great literary titan—called DEAD Alteristos. The novel did well in the 80’s but soon went out 77
of print. It was not a particularly good novel, but one that sold due to the salaciousness of the mythology of Souza De Vous and Tomas Slavia. In Spain she is again prosecuted for the killing of Tomas Slavia in 1989 but is again deemed a free woman when it is pronounced that she cannot stand trial twice for a crime she had been deemed innocent (double jeopardy laws), even with slight increments of evidence.
In late 1989 she is then noted to have moved back to Buenos Aries and starred in three pornography films, Bang Bang Bang 22, Don’t Kill Me, and Shoot. All three films made allusions to her suspected murderous past and she soon becomes a household name throughout Argentina. 11. Jalel Islam (1960) Born in Iran, lived in UK, Spain. The propensity of Jalel Islam’s life is one dominated by exile. Born in Iran in 1960 Islam showed a propensity for poetry and languages early on his life. His Father the Iranian Poet and Literature teacher Abas Houseni taught him how to speak French, English and of course Farsi. This influenced him to read a wide array of literature including Jean Genet, D.H. Lawrence and Rumi too. Islam started to write poetry when he just seven years old and was able to finish university two years early. At twenty- one, after the beginning of 78
the Iran-Iraq war, his Father, in grave danger due to his stance taken in literature and rhetoric, became an exile after a period of hiding. Where Jalel Islam along with his mother and father left and finally reached Turkey and then Greece and then finally the UK, when Cambridge University offered Abas Houseni a place to teach in exile.
All this resulted in his first poetry book, written and published when he was just twenty -two called Bombs as Entertainment, where he mocks the established order in Islamic code, makes references to the evolving Punk scene and talks about his short relationship with Kathy Acker. Bombs as Entertainment causes hysteria only in Iran and causes an Iman to deliver a Fatwa. Though Eventually Islam finds his way to Barcelona, he said, due to the increasing pull of the Alteristos’. He manages to gain the attention of Jean Monol and therefore becomes a supporting member of Alteristos in Barcelona in 1977, the same year that he produced his second book of poetry entitled Divertissment Comme La Mort trans. Entertainment as Death on a small French publisher called Frampt honed by a man called Albert Ramie. After his release of this second book of poetry Jalel Islam was said to have got into a public spat with Iranian Poet Normi Abdul. With Normi Abdul accusing Jalel Islam of profiting 79
off war and being what he deemed “a foolish anarchist”. This criticism actually affects Islam and he gives up writing for a time, to become a failed conceptual Artist. Failed as he did not make a name for himself in this field and so he, in 1981, decided to write again. This produced the book of poems entitled Mangoes at Dawn a purple piece of poetry about sex, love, literature and lust mainly. This did grant him a small bit of renown with the poem, Tahitian Girl, which was a Nabokovian poem about a young girl that ends in suicide. The poem was republished in a journal called Apricot along with poems by Allen Ginsberg amongst others.
It wasn’t until 1986 that Islam, after the death of his father, decided to write a novel, entitled Fabric of Death and Ice Cream, which was critically panned, with one reviewer calling it the most obscene piece of literature they had ever read. He failed to publish another novel, instead wrote another book of poems, in French, called L'E ́glise trans. The Church. Which included very staccato poems in the surrealist tone with an introduction by Jamai Onclay, a prominent biographer of the Alteristos movement. 12. Jamai Onclay (Unknown date of birth) Born in France, lived in Spain. Not much is known of Jamai Onclay, funnily enough, as he went on in 1981 to produce a book about Alteristos as a movement entitled The 80
Alteristos. Although the little that was known was that he was born in France and grew up revering the Dada movement, according to Candela Cacauo, who had a brief relationship with Jamai Onclai.
One of the prominent figures to actually make legal money from the Alteristos, the book he wrote in '81 promoted the most inaccuracies along with facts. The most prohibitive was the suggestion that we were a government funded agency used to promote dissention amongst the people. Formed at the time of General Franco this just was in fact untrue. After the success of his 1981 book he wrote another book, an unauthorised biography of the life of Julio Ramone in 1986, and became a prominent spokesperson for information about the Alteristos movement. So much so that he often appeared on the television talking about the group, on the UK’s BBC and France’s TF1 to name just a few outlets. In a way he became famed for being a leading source of information on all the members of the group, including myself. 13. Gerard Audine (1956 — 1991) Born in Columbia, lived in Spain, UK Gerard Audine, an Artist like no other: A bull in China shop: A wired mad man with distinct notions of what it is to be an Artist. He lived a life 81
that simultaneously negates the position outsider but strived to constantly be “Alone”, referencing the name of one of his most illustrious poems. From this perspective then, it can be asked; Whether Gerard Audine come to prominence in a vacuum? To answer this question, it is indeed sensible to investigate where in fact Gerard Audine came from in relation to a literary lineage. He read Borges in his youth along with Cortazar and said once in an interview that Rayuela had the biggest literary effect on him than anything else. I quote: “[Cortazar]...had the biggest influence on my world, the spectacular perspective is all visions and fragments quantified in vast amounts of beautiful poetic prose. Plus, reading him is like an investigation into the hearts and minds of the human species.”
Audine started his life in Bogota, but his Father, a trucker, soon relocated to Buenos Aries in 1962, this meant that the six-year old Audine had to change schools and manufacture a different life with the help of his “promiscuous” mother. With one eye on other situations, perhaps it could be said that the mothering that Audine needed was not available and this effected his ability to concentrate at school, which was further influenced by his Dyslexia. At nine he took to painting to avoid reading, but found that he was more interested in books than he imagined, so he decided to concentrate on reading the books he wanted to enjoy. Reading more carefully. This introduced him to Ursula Le Guin amongst others, 82
which arrested his imagination and subjected it to worlds within worlds, phantasmagoria. At the age of sixteen after a tumultuous few years, Gerard Audine decided that he wanted to go into the world and be amongst it. This meant that he moved out of his parent’s home in Buenos Aries and moved in with Cecily Augustina, a young woman he had met at a coffee shop. They had a love affair that injected his young mind with new ideas, new colours, new experiences. Distillations of ‘The Graduate’ (the experience of an older lover) could have perhaps sped up his mind frame, from a boy to a man rather swiftly. As he failed to graduate but always held words in high esteem, that proposed a certain challenge for him in the coming years, that had him working in a variety of jobs: Radio assistant, Postman, shop assistant, hotel clerk and a newspaper Editor’s assistant.
The last job gave him the space he intellectually needed to grasp a new reality for himself, and he began to see himself more and more as a thinker and an intellectual. He had a huge influence in the coming years on the political hemisphere of Argentina, culminating in the Riots of the Falklands War. But this was after all the years of writing had prevailed. He drew connections and by the time he was in his mid- twenties he had gotten to know many of the well-known writers of Latin American letters. Though he had only upgraded to columnist at this 83
time, his columns usually politically charged were said to be funny, dry and acerbic. This promoted Jose Gonzalez, a publisher living in Buenos Aries, to contact Audine. Gonzalez wanted a politically charged novel that he could sell amongst much Latin American political turmoil.
It could be said that Cecily Augustina, a shrewd ballet dancer, renowned in Buenos Aries for strict discipline gave Audine the incentive to negotiate with Gonzalez on a two- book contract and small advance. This gave Audine time, and time is something he had never had before. Within six months he produced Cuentas Pobres translated as Meagre Accounts, a polemic about the weakness of the Latin American glitterati, and one that particularly attacked Gabriel Garcia Marquez as “...just a power hungry old man”. Cuentas Pobres had a relatively small affect on the literary scene but those that read it were said to have noted a new Artist on the scene. A review at the time gave it 3 out for 4. Gonzalez was enthused as he got what he had wanted: a politically charged novel with touches of humour. So, Gonzalez wanted to give Audine an even longer contract than he had before, but Audine had smelt a little bit of success and wanted more than the small impact his debut had made. Enter Carmen Balcells, the Spanish heavy weight literary agent. She contacted Audine and wanted to help him buy out his contract with Gonzalez. 84
But, Gonzalez was angry now, being that he had “taken a chance” with a young writer and deserved his share, he thought. This led to a six months stand-off, hilariously written about in his column in the newspaper, where he compared himself to a political prisoner as if a writer living in Chile under Pinochet. He was noted at this time to steal in order to eat, in particularly he was said to have stolen Lemons from Market stalls, which influenced his coining of the aphorism, God? Wash a Lemon, a principle point of the Alteristos manifesto. It is also of note that at this time writer Francois Regal got his hands on a copy of Cuentas Pobres and was said to have loved every word of it. Which led Regal to inviting Audine to Barcelona. Where he met Alteristos and became an affiliate member in the eyes of the public. Now international, new horizons, smells, and flavours began to influence his thinking. Cinema (Wim Wenders) along with the writings of Karl Marx began to effect his thinking. He also began to associate with other Socialists and Anarchists of Europe. And when his second book (La Mort trans. Death) was published, after a long fought out legal battle between Gonzalez and Balcells, where Balcells won the rights to Audine’s next five books with Gonzalez receiving half the rights to Audine’s next two, Audine was able to concentrate on just writing. 85
Though it was in Barcelona that he started to have problems, perhaps with now a steady influx of monies he started to drink. Detailed in the poem Bottle' he had a distinct love affair with alcohol, whiskey in particular. This effected his relationship with Cecily Augustina, with her leaving Barcelona to go back to Buenos Aries five months after they had arrived.
Now single and perhaps lonely he is said to have produced what he became famed for. Sintesis de belleza translated as ‘Synthesis of Beauty’ was published and instantly ridiculed by other Latin American writers, as Roberto Bolaño calling it “a denouncement of sorts, like a spit in the face of Cuentas Pobres he has written a scribbly book about beauty for the sake of art, how lucky for him.” Audine was said to be confused by the event of this book, and this amounted to him leaving Barcelona for London, where he was relatively unknown. In London he decided to concentrate on poetry, citing politically infused works as “a waste of time”. This led to him producing his most purple pieces of work including Donde estan los huevos? translated as ‘Where are the Eggs?’ And then the rather inflammatory Comedores de conos translated as ‘Pussy Eaters’. Comedores de conos written in 1990 was perhaps 86
influenced by Noveau Romain and retained the mysery of the novel by leaving the protagonist K. unnamed, unsexed and typically ambigiously “unburdened”, he said in an interview with the BBC that year.
After writing Comedores de conos Audine, aged just thirty four, decided that he wanted a change. He was married at the time to a Spanish Literature teacher called Fantasia, but he was said to be in boughs of “black moods” that effected his ability to write, up until his death in 1991. At the time of his suicide he was writing a book of poems entitled Disgusto y salchichas translated as Disgust and Sausages and a novel entitled Chocolate en Mi Polla translated as ‘Chocolate on my Dick’, a satire of the bourgeois society that governs Art and a polemic against the establishment. It is noted that his last venture into the world of letters had to be so funny, so absurd and so ridicolous. It amounts to the thought that Audine was very much a clown, even at his darkest moments, his antics consisted of behaviours sophisticated and silly at the same time. Digusto y Salchichas, a book consisting of exactly one hundred poems was composed by Gerard Audine (born February 28, 1956, died August 22nd 1991) throughout his life. The structure of most of the poems was said, (according to Biographer Jamai Onclay) to be loosely based on the structures of surrealist Poets as Andre Breton. 87
Heavily influenced by the work of Cantos Albarn’s Infra sex the work takes on a rhythmic and highly lyrical approach, which meant that none of the poems have other names, they are all under the one title of Digusto y Salchichas, though in some places it has been of note to decipher that the first word of the poem, such as 'Alone' were the secondary names of the poems, therefore producing a cultured world within a world that only the refined reader could understand. It is said, according to an interview by Ralph Burns in 1987 that Audine sought out paraphernalia as toy birds, African masks, Voodoo dolls, and taxidermy in order to inspire his poems throughout the years, which is perhaps why the poems are rifled with disparate attempts to break free from convention. One of the best poems, in the midsection of the book is one that fragments reality by exposing himself as a drag queen. This started an investigation into the underbelly of Audine’s life. On the face of it, Audine lived a very austere life, very much considered in the way he approached things in regards to literature and politics. His leftwing politics, with an Anarchist twist, could have been more exposed if his life was looked at more closely. For example, in 1990 he was secretly arrested in London, Hackney for indecently exposing himself, apparently. But the story goes, according to the concealed police report, that he was dressed in drag at the time. Horses for courses. 88
So immediately after his death I sought out his widowed wife Fantasia Audine in order to gather information on who I regard as one of the best writers of the 20th Century. And it did amount to more information being garnered. Correspondence with Fantasia Audine established the methodical process in which Gerard Audine created his poems, and the “frightful” and intense periods of dark reflection it took to create his works.
The earliest start date we have for Digusto y Salchichas in reference to his papers all stacked up loosely confined to a category as Poetry was September, 1971 (written in the margins) when Gerard Audine was only fifteen years old and amounts to the thought that he was always a poet first, a novelist second. Prof. Sakal of Cambridge University refers to the structure of Digusto y Salchichas as conforming to Iambic Pentameter in the beginning and then “loosening” out towards the end. It is also of note to mention that Pro. Sakal stated that Gerard Audine was very much a closeted homosexual. Though his wife did not concur she did in fact privately state that her husband kept many secrets and led a life of much disorder and chaos. This can be referenced in the line: ‘Two dicks, both unalike in disgust’. Disgust for what? The life they led, it could be said. Though little ceremony was made in this regard, it is a cause for concern for Academics of Audine’s work that much of his life was disguised by political turmoil and formal constraints. Lines later on the poem 89
mirror a complete disregard for conventional politics and realign himself with anarchy: Semantics of words, led by stray dogs of Politics Murder, push, provoke, pillar, renounce saints!
The batch of poems in the middle section were in a folder under the words: Big Sausages. For what reason I do not know but the thought occurs that these were works a little more risque than usual, and perhaps most organic in form. They struggle and fight eachother, the words, and gain no established boundaries in terms of style or relationship to even style. Perhaps Walt Whitman would be proud, borrowing lines from Leaves of Grass. Out of the dimness always sex, Out of dimness always life It could be said that Ketamine could have an effect, as it was not just alcohol as mentioned that Audine had a problem with, but with drugs too. London was a formal constraint against the bohemian life he was leading in Barcelona, amongst Francois Regal. Whom it was suggested amongst the Latin American press to have had more than a consensual relationship with, but that is neither here nor there. But to this poem we must return, it is of note that the structure of the poem was established very much in London after our first meeting and our subsequent friendship. So, there were many 90
incidents that occurred that helped to establish the ceremony of the poem and also the happenings of the untimely death. It can be noted that, amongst being a tremendous writer, he was also an amazing raconteur and would often tell the most fabulous stories mired in the usual drugs, alcohol and debauched sex. The last lines of the poem circumvent that position of libertine and anarchist more than any other words with what can be considered a poem very much influenced by beauty and his work Sintesis de belleza.
It is then to be noted the territory of this death, is very much a privileged position I had garnered from close contact, that had me as the person that found his body unresponsive. His life like his death was marred in tragedy: tragedy that he did not live on to produce more work, tragedy that his life ended in such a state as suicide. 14. Alex Monnique (1954) Born in Spain A founding member of Alteristos, Alex was a performance artist and dancer. She studied dance from an early age in Barcelona taking after her Grandmother who was a pop singer in the 20’s. She became known for her performance piece Dance 009 in 1977 and went on to readapt it in 1989 Warsaw. In between this time, she had a divisive relationship with Julio Ramone illustrated in his 1982 fictional novel Dust, where a character called Alexus goes missing and he searches for her in a psychotic state 91
and in the poem, published in the New Yorker, entitled Chemical Romance in 1987. Octopus’ Cry the film was also a prominent feature of her career, which was a feminist film that went on to have a great influence on women and film.
15. Lorde Grillot (1958) Born in Austria, lived in Spain A noted affiliate of Alteristos in the eyes of the public. Lorde Grillot was a ballet dancer that launched her career in 1974 with the Alteristos ballet ‘An Anarchists Plight’ and then went on to take a series of photographs, published by Prestel in 1989 called Views into Alteristos. It was also noted that she had a relationship or affair with Julio Ramone in the year 1975 that lasted a few months. In 1991 she also started dabbling in poetry, influenced by Slyvia Plaith with a book of poems entitled Cookie Bear. 16. Gordo Banks (1950 — 1989) Born USA One of two US affiliates Banks was born in San Francisco. He came into Art via the world of journalism. Writing for local newspapers and magazines about Art. This led to opportunities to write a chap book on publisher Black Sparrow. The chap book was entitled Sambo Junior and was a book that notably had a poem named after Jean Michel Basquiat’s often named work, Origin of 92
Cotton. When Alteristos moved to New York, in the eyes of the public, Banks was a prominent member alongside friend, Jean Monol. Until 1989 when an unfortunate incident led to his death. Apparently, Banks who was married at this time to Beverly Banks, was seeing a Transvestite called Sherell Bails at 125th Harlem in his car when a man, called Froomi Tuesday, who was apparently stalking him, caught him receiving fellatio and subsequently killed him with a revolver. Tuesday was only caught eight months later in a brothel in Las Vegas. Many of the headlines at this time referred to Gordo Banks as a prominent Alteristos member.
17. Carai Vicky (1938 — 1991) Born in Ghana, lived in France One of the only African affiliates of Alteristos. She was a prominent figure in African Art, painting black figures and making political statements, such as that of establishing knowledge of Kwame Nkrumah, for example. It was noted that she was one of the newer members who became embroiled in Alteristos through merit alone, with Cristina Estrella being an admirer of her work. 18. Fernine Mustapha (1961) Born in Spain Primarily a painter Mustapha became known for poetry. Born in Valencia he eventually moved to 93
Barcelona in the late 70’s where he met Cristina Estrella and then other members of Alteristos. Although he wrote poetry nothing of note was published. An extrovert, he was deemed integral to the running of the group in relation to the new members but disagreed with the moving of the base of Alteristos to New York, instead staying in Barcelona.
19. Lillian Motif (1952) Born in Spain, lived in USA A noted novelist who wrote Peaches, Apricots which, notably, was turned into a self-titled film that Candela Cacauo starred in. 20. Postulating Trying to Find Somebody Else — 1981 And so, it seemed that Julio Ramone was merely existing— eating, rarely sleeping and moping around in his Viennese house. Professor Locus became an even bigger distraction when his wife arrived to “help him through” this difficult period of his life. 21. Diary of Miriam — 1980 It smelt a little, so I closed the lid and let it sit in the sun, a few flies swarmed around the jar and I just watched, I had little else to do, I thought, and besides the remorselessness of time obliterates the thought that one is going somewhere, doing 94
something, when time is so all consuming and strident. To whisper is to converse with Miriam, it could be said, as the angels summon. It felt like a death, though it was conspiring to keep me here, just the long languid shadows of it forming at the corners of each eye—I felt the confusion of being but at the same time I was very much lucid. The summer night sweaty.
Miriam sat on the edge of the bench looking into an abyss like Leonardo drew the human form—I could see the technicalities of it via her piercing green eyes. I was drawn to her but that feeling of nothingness seemed to negate any feeling I could have, simultaneously pulling me to an edge. I sat next to her and offered her a cigarette. She declined, but started to look me in the face, then shoes, as if awkwardly trying to judge. How else could one tell between each other? I thought. Sadness pursues us like the rain. You wouldn’t want to gaze any deeper, I muttered, it’d swallow you whole. She moved her arm towards her face for a fly. The fly caressed her nostril and then her top lip before flying off. She spoke in staccato sentences as if she wanted to get it all out at once, I really don’t like the summer, was the first thing she said. I really don’t like the summer. The tide of the chance is very much a thing wholly taken by opportunity. To decipher 95
between the tide and the shore is very much a beautiful thing—the colours of downpour equal to this but very much different. This blue adds depth and colour but also takes away just as water. She then mentioned her arms, that they were hurting her. I said something along the lines of it being a good idea to take one’s mind off of the thought of pain and then thought of Tangier all those years ago—the dusty sunshine, the sumptuous colours, offset by the pain I felt having to be in a relationship with someone like Cristina Estrella. The thought of pain is worse than the actual happening, I’ve always thought, though some forms of pain can persist, such as loneliness.
Miriam was very much in some process of shock. I dared not question what it all meant, as the silences were so beautiful, I thought. The process of sharing a silence can be rather breath-taking. After a short while Miriam stood up, I followed her. We stood for a short while in silence before we started to walk towards the centre of West Berlin, she said that she was late and that she had to be somewhere. I said that I wanted to go with her. The summer night adrift and fatal as if a wound—the crevices of skin awakening to a dance. I felt ridiculous by this. The summer night crept into the skin, the sweltering early evening sun conflicted now by Miriam. I soon let her go. I was a man without: 96
without an anchor, without a shore, without a tide. 1976 — The Realms of Thought Alex looks over the balcony in the hot sun, and then sighs as if the world was coming to an end. A deep sigh from the ribs. She then moves towards the doorway, moans and moves back towards the balcony railing. Over the course of the next hour Alex seemed to move from idea to idea: building an ant farm in rural Mexico, collecting pop records with the name Alex in them, building a sculpture whereby its measurements would recollect theories relating to producing an intense electromagnetic charge, and ice.
22. 1986 — The Revelations of ICE I remember the day, especially so as it was scorching hot. The New York heat had taken its toll that summer and I had taken to doodling. Alone in the apartment I then moved towards the freezer and retrieved ice. Playing with it whilst it soothed, through my hands, the feeling was sexual and quite sensual too... 23. 1987 — Investigations I had started to work for a private investigation firm ABCO in November of this year too. I knew that it was a privileged position to be in, primarily because it functioned a weird symbiosis of being an outsider and an insider at exactly the same time. On my first day I wore a 97
leather jacket to coordinate with my new role. Which meant that I was soon: Playing with cigarette packets in leather jackets—walking down long Brooklyn hallways mumbling evidence— Nights spent stalking windows in the Hells Kitchen. It wasn't until December that news came of a number of claustrophobic killings of these female prostitutes: Carol Pierce, Oshea Franks, Stefan Zeichner, Naomi Banks, Mercy Jones all in the month of November.
24. 1987 — Soviet Decree With an inability to purchase true happiness Julio Ramone, who had started to become famous for his writing, decided that he would sow different seeds than those perhaps more conventional. With political ideals that were perhaps quite dubious he had moved around Eastern Europe and was acting as an unofficial arms dealer in the Soviet-Afghan War. He made considerable amounts of profits from this but soon fled the Soviet one evening in April of this year due to an impending hit being placed on his head and a skirmish with an assassin. PART III — A Wonderful World? “The heaviest burden: “What, if some day or night, a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life, as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and 98
innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh... must return to you—all in the same succession and sequence—even this spider and this moonlight between the trees and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again—and you with it, speck of dust!”
— Freidrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science 1. Cop Killer— 1987 It was a moan you couldn’t place, all distorted and shrill. It was emanating from the mouth of a whore, though not one that is that way through judgement, just one that is in the business of selling pussy. At this time a pistol had been summoned and it was lodged between her mouth —the pistol was not empty, perhaps why the moan was so particular. The unnamed man placed the pistol on top of her top lip and said: scream for me. And she started screaming almost immediately as if she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. The Cop car pulls up to the driveway. “Bitches eating donuts and not croissants.” “You wouldn’t want to be a walking cliche?” The unnamed man now moved to gun to her bare nipple, momentarily, before placing the gun on his own bottom lip. Slow and morbid the blood 99
trickled but spoke of a world already known, therefore meaningless to me. I dusted off my leather jacket and got into my car—there’s nothing for me here.
2. 1987 — Letter to Cristina Estrella I got your address from Candela, she told me that, even years after, you were still in a funk about us. Perhaps I am too. I just wanted to write a short letter to see how you are. I am currently in New York but things are not necessarily jetson. I am in a routine that spells the thought; fate catches like a tale. Were we all destined to be all we became? 3. 1986 — The Missing Index Finger It was the evening of Olof Palme’s death and I was losing my mind. Surely. I am usually quite even when it comes to death, the optimal time is never perhaps as optimal as it seems, and besides death is sort of like a transference; into it goes one form of energy and out of it comes another, in a way. The time in between is fascinating in that it purposes faith in something; vices, religion, etcetera, but it rarely sacrifices its secrets, I thought whilst gnawing away at my finger in the living room. It had to be this way. In the summer of 1986, after I had gnawed away at my finger, Gerard Audine appeared on the television. He was reciting a poem on the BBC. If I can remember the poem, entitled: Fools 100
Pride, was an epic poem in the mould of Rimbaud’s earlier works or Bauldelaire’s Flowers of Evil. This poem had immense power and it apparently provoked disparate consequences throughout Britain with 81 complaints to Ofcom. After he finished reading the poem I had a surge of adrenaline one would usually reserve for Sport of sex, even. There was something kinetic about this poem. 4. 1989 — A Tid Bit of Candela Cacauo’s Floorboards Springing from the floorboards was the light, as if a hamburger with the cheese dripping over its edges, the light nestled into the room above it like it were meant to be there. It’s strange as Candela had never noticed this light before, or the gaps in the floorboards, as the maisonette was so big. An investment. Well for her anyway. And she marvels at the light, but it starts to produce a feeling within her and one that has her screaming into the light, words that were quite incomprehensible. After doing this for an hour and coming to no new deductions or no new happiness Candela decides that she would move the large sculptures of teeth chattering, into the light. It is then quite the sight, of the light cascading onto the sculptures of teeth chattering. This soothes her.
5. A Wonderful World — 1988 After a period of time at the beginning of this year working, I decided that I would take a few months to make a road trip to Los Angeles from New York, quite cliche, I know but it was warranted in the grand design of taking advantage of monies and time. I researched the journey taken by Jack Kerouac, a hero of mine, and implemented that information in the planning.
6. 1986 — Miriam Luciano — One Woman Show Miriam had always been the most intrepid member of Alteristos, but perhaps the most talented in the grand scheme of things, notably shown this year in her one woman show at New York’s Booth Theatre. A Metronome of Lives The one woman play, called A Metronome of Lives, consisted of Miriam arriving to a park bench, where she takes a seat and watches as if a bird caresses the air, and then comments, to herself, about a man walking whilst eating an apricot, making her think of a film she could produce. She then speaks of feeling “blocked” of late, and that she had told her boyfriend, Raul this —and that she was feeling “spiritually harassed”. After sighing deeply, she’s then confronted by a man. Also taking the role of the man Miriam performs this by, for one, changing the sound of 102
her voice, to a deep vibrato that then alternates between her rather falsetto voice. She then has a long-heated discussion about philosophy that ends in Miriam killing the man with the end of her high heel whilst screaming: Death is not an event in life! Quoting Wittgenstein. The police arrive, signified by her placing a police uniformed hat on, and then Miriam is taken away where she eventually meets a prison cell mate called Tarvisha, a Romanian Transgendered woman, particularly well signified by another voice change. They then fall in love and move to Romania upon escaping Prison after Tarvisha is released, where then Miriam becomes a junky. To fuel a drug habit she gets furthered entangled by entering the sex trafficking industry via a pimp called Gustavo. After escaping Gustavo and calming her addiction for sexual activity she makes her way to Paris. The one woman play ends when, in front of a Picasso, she “experiences a multiplex of lives and loves” therefore reducing her to tears.
7. 1987 — Miriam Reciting a Dream in New York “I placed the cup on the table, or I thought I did, as I wasn’t sure anymore of my conscious actions and my conscious thoughts. No, not since the ECT treatment I had received earlier on in the dream. So, let’s say that I think I place the cup on the table, but there is also an alternative happening that could be occurring. Cup in the dreams I was having reflected in thoughts 103
pertaining to knives; I would see a cup and ultimately be holding a knife. So, let’s say that in action I could be holding a knife or a cup, I myself wasn’t sure. After placing this on the table I decided to get some sleep. So, in action I am sleeping but I could also be watching myself sleep on my sofa, or imagining that I am asleep on my sofa. In whichever reality, there is then a knock at the door, I pick up the cup and move to the door to open it. At the door no one is there, which prompts me to walk out the door to see who it could be. I go down the stairs and reach a lamp post, don’t be silly a lamp post is still a lamp post, or is it? I think. As I lean on the lamp post and think about whom it could have been at the door. Though I have my suspicions that I could be asleep, though unclear on the thought I imagine that at this point a black cat would pass to inform me of me being in a dream. I then wake up, though at this point it is of note to mention that I had been awake or had been awake for a week. The subtle ingestion of normalcy can be disrupted for anyone but for me it accounted to the thought, now waking up, that I wasn’t sure if I was waking up in a dream or still asleep. Though this thought doesn’t really occur until later. Again, I walked out of my front door. Soon this is my purview; a man stood behind a man, the man behind is black and wearing a white shirt with his hands in his pockets...”
8.1983 — Prague Nights, Prague Days The days in Prague amount to five months withstanding a few days spent in Rome, where I would write and Miriam would spend the days walking around the city. Though in Prague I first staged a play. The play was one I wrote entitled Vanity. Key. To begin with I hosted the rehearsals for the play in a hall near the centre of Prague, and about twenty actors showed up to the casting call I had placed in the local newspaper. I decided that I would hire all the actors that arrived that very first day, with some actors playing as back up in the event of illness, for example. The rehearsals were staged on Wednesday and Thursday, but I wanted the play to surface without the fundamental need for a Boss, or Director so I had Miriam act as a cleaner, but really be a spy for the activities that soon commenced. Without a Director; the Actors could pick and choose which roles they took, for one thing and how the sequence of events were to undergo. Two Actors came to the horizon’s as leaders, initially. They had to come to terms with the fact that I would not be there for the three months leading to the showing of the play and the opening night.
9. 1983 — Performance Piece The piece would consist of recreating dreams into actual happenings on the streets of 105
Prague. The first dream consisted of hiring bodybuilders, blue weights, caged macaws, a vintage strawberry red seat, Vanilla extract, a fan and a poem. 10. 1983 — The Night of Vanity. Key
The night of the play arrived and after months of a varied number of happenings: some arguments, some joyous occasions of laughter, for example, they were ready to show the play to the public. Due to being busy with other projects I left it to Miriam to watch the play for me. Apparently, the play went extremely well, all the Actors, barring one Agnes Wiem, participated. Wiem, according to Miriam grew tired and took advantage of not having a Boss, in a sense, and took the money and went to Barcelona to spend time writing a novel called, Lust in Wonderland. Miriam was quite the spy. She enjoyed the troughs of watching the activities of the Actors, finding the job invigorating, she said, but ultimately failing to see the point of it all. As for the public, this is the write up of one Misklav Gordonov of Prague Monitor: Vanity. Key is a play devised by an anonymous Artist that is perhaps a member of the Alteristos movement, that is all we know at this point. The play, hosted in the grand Ta Fantastika, begins with David the protagonist played by Rondon Onclay, a complete newcomer, being given a will and ends in an altogether completely different manner. It goes through the plights 106
of existential angst and delves into the concepts of: mystical events, family, and money. Gordon, the brother of the protagonist, played by the renowned Renold Suneps gave a sumptuous performance that looked free and almost as if he was improvising his lines. The play had bite and philosophical zeal, where at one point the audience gasped and laughed, it could be induced that neither of these emotions would suffice, and altogether awkward uttering would perhaps be the best way to react to the play’s happenings. The Play was long, running at nearly two hours, I kept wondering if some aspects of the two Act play could not be shortened. Regardless, the play was devoid of totally tedious moments and there were many standout performances. I give this play three and a half out of five and hope to see more from this anonymous Artist. 11. 1976 — Walking (Diary Entry) I then begun walking through the market on my way back, through Central Medina, full of antiquated houses with colourful paint jobs as if vintage clothing; each distinctive in its own way, stools full of fruit, and vegetables, clothes and shoes. A man was shouting at a screaming child in Maghrebi Arab before the dusty footpath was then stomped on in childish anguish complaint. I walked further on and I then stood close to another bearded man kneeling over a steel heat, cooking chickpeas. 107
12. 1986 — Walking II (Diary Entry) I then begun walking a little faster through the market, accepting that I always preferred the night, I thought to myself: It is the time that consists of the darker essence of life, like a nocturnal realm it can envelope you in the very nature of what life really consists of, so the best things in life happen at night, the daytime is just the time in between that rarely compensates for the energy that is exchanged to deal with all the antics that are thrown at you, no, the night time is my calling: Where; the drunkards embrace, the broken congregate, the lesser conspire.
13. 1982 — Missing Professor Locus We just met in West Berlin, in this cheap hotel, that Julio Ramone suggested I check. He was not expecting me. So, when I knocked there was a silence that told me more than words could muster. Plus, the Hotel Manager, spooked by his new customer, said that he had been alone in his room for three weeks and that he wouldn’t allow the cleaners in to clean the bed sheets, which I assumed told a story all their own. After I knocked he only opened the door slightly ajar, I couldn’t see if it was even him, though when he could see that it was me he opened the door completely. Though I could tell that he was not fully glad, with the way that he looked at me, like an owl, bogle eyed and antsy. I looked around the room and saw 108
Postcards on the desk, three bottles of whiskey (two finished another one half finished). I then looked at his face. Though as I looked at his long chin I realised that Professor Locus was very much prone to long spells where all we would hear from him were these post cards from exotic places, such as Oman, Tanzania and Ukraine. There were never long ambles about loneliness or abuse, as I have mentioned, but mildly fictitious accounts of travel and then there were the poems. These dark and grand epic poems that he sometimes sent us, to do what with? I did not know and so I asked him about them. I thought you might like them, he said of the poems, but I don’t know why I write them, maybe just because. But, I said, sometimes reading these poems would take me days to recover from them. Life is a dark ode to provocation. And as he said these words I remembered a poem he had sent us in February of that year, tellingly in the days leading up to his wife’s suicide. Though it was Miriam that would warn us of Professor Locus and all his poems, but I couldn’t listen, mostly because he was a hero to us. Although he had never been published in any grand scheme he was our poet laureate. I wanted him to know how much he affected us before anything happened, if anything may happen at all. Though looking at him, in his underwear he looked so small, so miniscule, so banal.
14. 1986 — Miriam The Genius She laid naked, one hand on a chess piece, another with a cigarette to hand, her feet, pussy dangling at the edge of her bed. Bon vivant, she said to answer a lingering question of life's meaning and to break the silence before she took a puff of her cigarette. The dark night's natural whisper then simmered with a noise from above. She had started with the Budapest Gambit and this move reminded me of her, at times, aggressive nature— though subtle. The day had concluded in this way for the rain—the smell of it still sauntered through the open window, along with the silence of the day for Tomas’ funeral. She had taken this death quite badly, with many tearful episodes, mostly due to the way in which it happened, she said earlier in the night—to die from a love affair is quite the way to go out. The fan momentarily choked a stop before continuing — it was still a warm night, especially for Barcelona, and the warmth in the room reminded her of winters in Berlin, she then said: ...she (her Grandma) would retell stories of growing up in Argentina and there was one where a man called Dolce was performing in a ballet, a ballet with his muse and wife in Argentina and the wife tragically died before the penultimate performance, though due to Governmental pressure Dolce had to perform and he did and apparently he, at the end, took a gun and shot himself on the stage after repeating: My muse is
dead! ...I'll never forget that story...To die for Art is quite something... She then moved her Knight again, taking a black pawn — She had started to cry whilst standing to turn off the light now. I don't want anyone to see me cry, she said. ...But everything leads to the soils.
15. 1976 – Post Alteristos Orgy The subtle instigation of doubt is what creates this...fusion of reality, said Candela from the kitchen. It is a doubt that it is not able to be recognised yet. And Julio was always an enigma, though my mind, at this moment, was transfixed elsewhere — Alex Monnique had then moved towards the balcony but changed her mind halfway and moved to the window instead. The light cast into the room and shone on all the furnishings particles, heightening the smell of sex in the room. Or maybe it was the tension? It rained the night before and so just like a new awakening, that day was open to fresh reflections; pastures anew. Miriam stood at the window, her green eyes piercing as ever, gazing out towards the morning light casting onto the street. Why had we done what we did the night previous? I thought, just as Candela walked back into the living room to talk: ...the fatalities of remorse... I checked-out at this point and started to think about the last night's rain, the phantom 111
note from India about the macaws and the dust. 16. 1976 — The Instigation of Routes The day passed rather obnoxiously. The coolness of the wet pavements turned into warmed over sun, at which brought the day into a sort of frenzied spirit to appreciate it. Alex Monnique and Miriam scattered amongst the morning light and the Jazz records still playing as I left. On the way back to my apartment the rhythm of the afternoon brought a melody of enchantment at the genuine beauty of the night: a sporadic thought, nonetheless, but one that felt fathomably offset by the sight of a pigeon flying onto a car's bonnet: the scattered leaves of the mind. 17. A Rain-check on Piraledies — 1986 An ocean of deceit castigated my mind's eye: the realisation of a passage through time. The late night noises sauntered as I watched Miriam as if stuck in a haunted funk, she gazed naked from her window. Bare breasts careening onto her metal balcony. 18. A Call For Dust — 1976 The revelatory aspects of dust orchestrates a finality, I thought as I sat waiting for Alex Monnique in the petrol station. 112
19. Prose Poem published by The Paris Review ISSUE 116. FALL 1990 — 1990 'Stasis in Darkness Flounce through a winter as if fish to a river, with streams of notions seeping like fruit via osmosis to the stasis of this summer night. Obligated by charms fleeting a mass of feeling that oscillates between, feed me feed me and your final day has arrived. Knew as much this would happen, stuck in this basement due no wind of change, but that which F. has left. Meanderings of a watchful eye, and the same eye that watches over a mass of big wigs, worldwide snobs, artificial intelligence masquerading as correct; unstimulated stems reeling from a sense of F.’s power. The sweet bosom of the past fails to exonerate the habitual lies, the failures of the night, the libidos struck down. Fatal wounds to the catastrophic milieu orchestrated like a thief in the night lingering amongst memories recalled; a word here a word there reminding of set plan of action if Leila arrived back into a hopeless existence. How little.
I can hear the wind catch a glimpse of the rain now falling to the sounds of silence, simmering as if sumptuous wetness billowing from the sky, now hearing words uttered from beneath the Garden, the soil of expectation, a dream rebuked by words―fitful dawns, perhaps translucent sheath ah? and then back to the assortment of 113
subjugators all aligning; the operative build, mould, cluster and breakdown―though there, ironic thoughts on the sun pervade, with the darkness that only alludes too well; casual signs of life―tomorrow follows like an owl. Illusions of grandeur, nestling between sleep and dream like a flaming giraffe, lights on stairs, turned off and on then back off again. Frenzy. Perhaps car lights, even.
The creases of paper instigate a sort of deliverance of loneliness; a mercenary holding to fleeting passages―a night resembling another night watched from an armchair, supposedly breeding a sense of altogether four-letter words that dispel. A day resembling another day watched from a Pontiac. The brand is dead, the ad-man sent to the corner to collect his words, pour acid on his tongue; Her crevices are more than an awakening. Meanwhile I am consumed by rationings of a heart turned against itself―however fleeing from a morbid reservoir of parrots; exotic happenings of chit chat; bingo bongo, and then something to drink it down, the real macaws seen through the eyes of a utopian ideal of imaginings; just kick back and watch, the rooster does not wait, like clockwork. I think of Brighton. F. leading into the sea, running. Scenic routes, stray cats. Perhaps on a long walk now, where mention of 114
birds belies a sense of freedom further personified by this basement, the wired attempts at redemption: steps uncovered, relinquished. Set off again into your abyss.' 20. Clown’s Haven — 1990 In the late fall of 1990 I started attending a Circus held in Hackney, London Town. There, I managed to befriend a German Clown called Blair Hank, one rainy morning. We established a connection based around smoking cigarettes and reading Heinrich Böll 's The Clown. That book changed my life he said. Me too, I replied in a manner that quickly seemed tragic. He then mentioned that being a clown was actually a very happy occupation however and I asked how so. He then explained that the facade of happiness can be just as powerful tool as authentic happiness. Speaking in broken English I found these words as profound as anything uttered by any one of the Alteristos movement, albeit Miriam who I considered a Genius. I, at once, wanted the conversation to continue, so I followed him to his station and spent the day merely observing him, as if significantly bewitched. At lunch time he spent about half an hour talking to a fellow clown, I noted was called Doreen, about the Berlin Wall. Saying that: Demarcations as walls are archaic historical remnants of passages of time years gone by. Doreen seemed to agree, nodding her head along and playing the drums. 115
I became enraptured by the life of the Clown and thought, momentarily, that I had wasted my life doing whatever it was that I did, and that I should become a Clown. Though it wasn’t until the evening when I watched a child, about the age of nine, spit on Blair Hank that I realised my fabricated dream was just that fabricated by clichéd notions that distil most common persons, of the grass being greener, I said to myself. After this incident I started thinking about the world at large and came around to the idea that what I had been writing, especially that year, had been not been “universal” enough, and I wondered whether writing science fiction would be the way to go. I thought this only for this period of winter after this incident, where I also acted on the thought by publishing my one and only sci-fi story in my lifetime.
20.5. The Sirens of Laughter. The Paris Review Issue 116. Fall. 1990 “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked” ― Howl, Allen Ginsberg The riveting noises of the night were orchestrated by the mumblings of laughter, though the streets were mostly empty at eleven o’clock when Ron D Grand walked. He walked slowly peering at all the buildings, noticing 116
things; for one that since 2053 the year of the creation of the laugh machine, no new buildings had formed―the usual splendour of a new building, new architecture or even the sight of a new road bedazzled him at thought. The air was cold; strong wind blew and the pavements had the glisten of wetness from earlier rain. Lately Ron would walk just to consume himself with thought, as if consciousness could somehow be regained by a walk. Though instead he walked in stupor as the night had birthed no new feelings in relation to guilt. It was only by chance of shyness that he was unknown and that other figures, such as Tony Berry of Berry and co. advertisings, had become the face of the situation of the world at large. Ron decided to skip walking through Mare Street as it had been the known centre of much of the Civil War that had ravaged the population down to one twentieth of its size. Its derelict buildings a reminder. Though there still were people still in the houses that Ron walked by, but they were full of laughter as the laughter machine enabled laughter to be induced at any time of day, of course, it had become more and more a resource for an entire existence as opposed to what it was intended he had explained the day before to Tom Brady, a Civil Rights Journalist that wanted Ron D Grand locked up, imprisoned for crimes against humanity. And the court date was set for the next day, so Ron D Grand was walking even more slowly than he had usually walked, in order for him to take in what could be his last night of freedom. 117
And the case against him was strong. Ron had created a machine that caused “Industrial revolution”, “Entertainment revolution”, “Political revolution”; it had been years since a Gallery opened or a Comedian sold out a show or an Anarchist staged a sabotage, even. In a way, explaining to Tom Brady the day before: Things have gotten numb, the usual realms of personal interaction have, admittedly been replaced by this laughter machine and people are craving every minute of waking life to induce themselves with a laughter that is ungrateful and disgusting sounding, I do admit this, but it is against my beliefs to assume that a person, and many people like yourself are able to, practice free will. Now walking towards Dalston, Ron was accosted by a man wearing a jockey outfit and blue clown’s shoes. Please I’ll give you a thousand pound for a quick go, said the man scratching himself and wheezing, if you have a mobile laughter machine. You’re strung out. I’m not, I’m in the legal limit, I’ve only had a quart of laughter, trust me! I’m not driving and laughing. It was clear to Ron at this point that money was now valueless, he thought looking at the large wad of notes hanging from the man’s hands. And there was the fact that the laughter machines had gotten more and more elites; the everyday persons were struggling for a quality laughter machine, as many produced initially in 2053 were not durable enough to sustain prolonged amounts of laughter and produced scenarios where mid laughter the
machine would break. As for the mobile laughter machines, that the man was talking about, they cost exorbitant amounts that Ron was glad had prohibited further assimilation and popularisation. I don’t have anything on me, said Ron, I’d advise you go the Institute of Paint Dry and clean yourself up! This advice was said in an angry manner but Ron knew that he could not be angry at the man, but only at himself. Though he had tried to intervene in the burgeoning popularity of the laughter machine, but this only forced warning signs on the machines, warning signs that usually read: THIS MACHINE WILL KILL YOU along with a photograph of a man with a burst diaphragm and respiratory system hanging out of his body like a yo-yo on a string or a woman with burst head blood vessels. Looking back at the man, having arrived to the intersection approaching Dalston Round about, Ron shook his head, watching the man’s clothes drape over his shoulders as he walked the streets like an angel headed hipster looking for an angry fix. The machine was never meant for you, thought Ron. Because he had intended the machine to be utilised by people that suffered from loneliness, agoraphobia, alienation―like he did when in 2047 his wife Ana had died in a fatal car crash, where her last dying words were: Just carry on laughing. But the advantages of the machine were perhaps too enticing, so much so that many
countries tried to ban the machine, but due to Anti Abolition Campaigns the laughter machines continued to sell and be utilised, nearly everywhere, and by the 80’s now the whole landscape had changed. He looked at the bus station and saw an advert by one of, what he deemed, the monopolisers of the laughing machine. The slogan read: Why Try, Just Laugh. He shook his fist and continued to walk looking at the natural light of the sky pronounce itself more so, as due to the populations addiction to laughter, pollution had decreased to a point that, even in a big City as London, stars could be seen. Ron looked at the stars in the sky, and smiled.
21. 1991 — New York, New York In the Spring of 1991 it occurred that I was quite notorious, as a member of Alteristos. But only so on the day I met Allen Ginsberg on the subway. He was speaking to another man, who happened to get off the train before him. Stood there now, in silence, I walked up to him and introduced myself for him to say: I know who you are, you quoted me in a great science fiction story. Wow, I said you read it. Yes, said Ginsberg, I thought it was about the concept of nuclear war. I thought this was profoundly true, even though I felt the piece was quite abstract, and I said this to him before he got off the train and left me 120
standing in complete fascination. 1978 — Boredom Exalts Cristina Estrella pulled the hot pink dildo up towards her chin as if a microphone and swung it around with her left hand before declaring the obtuseness of objects as things. Then she laughed and said that she was laughing at one of the final scenes of Buñuel's That Obscure Object of Desire where one of the female protagonists acts as if she is having sex with another man in a cruel manner whilst the main male protagonist watched. Deeming it “so tragicomic” that she could relatively “combust”. She placed the dildo at the edge of the table to then take a seat in a bored humph.
22. 1995 — Monies Rekindled After years of avoidance, in the beginning of 1995 I made the plunge of producing a Hollywood Movie. It was a movie called Blue and it was to break the boundaries of the usual Hollywood Film by way of abstract fragmentations; meaning applying arthouse techniques to the usual. It was to be a film about an Artist, Yulia Bema, that contracts Aids after an Art Exhibition where she puts herself forward to be “penetrated by anyone” in the vagina and on the last day of the exhibition butt. Due to this event, all set in LA, the film also follows a character, Frank Booch, going through the tough transition of death from Aids and eventually his violent confrontation with Yulia 121
at an Art Gallery. The film would be a non-linear film shot in an apricot hue in order to establish a certain warmth. Shot on 35mm film this film was to be directed by Ardel Gaines, from LA as he was the only director after pitching the idea to a dozen or more directors that was able to stick to the sixtythousand-dollar budget. Though with a drinking problem filming became a problem, with days having to be rescheduled for the Gaines’ drunken behaviour. Which I persisted in mostly for his adherence to the budget and a film he made called Piston, which was a comedic film about a lady that is stuck in her life and won’t leave her bathroom. Filming started in LA and went on for ten days instead of the allotted seven. The lead Actors and Actress’ included Candel Bunny, Ursula Demonfort and originally Vincent Gallo. Though in regards to Vincent Gallo he dropped out of filming as he didn’t sufficiently believe in the film anymore after sending this letter to us after the first day: Vincent Gallo here, as you will know I have decided that working for minimal amounts of money and long hours would be fine, if this film had any direction. This films sucks ass and balls and is a ridiculous offensive film based around ridiculous offensive things that will not appeal to anyone of any value whatsoever. Goodbye. 122
Though this happened the filming went ahead with a young Joaquin Phoenix stepping in as the character Frank Booch to perform in a startling a surreal manner; adding an uncanny lisp for example. Running at one hour and ten minutes the final film was then picked up by Raindance Festival in London and then distributed by Lionsgate Films after we agreed to edit out a scene involving gay sex. Overall the film achieved a great amount in relation to the Alteristos movement, for one thing, but as an experience it was one that lingered in the memory, mostly due to the corruptness of the Hollywood film industry where, for example, nearly everybody was more concerned about the budget of the film as opposed to Artistic merit.
23. 1982 — Peaches, Apricots After starring in film Peaches, Apricots Candela Cacauo was said to have tried to commit suicide, according to rumours and Julio Ramone. She cited the stress of playing a role of a depressed murderer and a concoction of personal problems resulted in her spending time in a Viennese sanitorium for mental health issues. She according to Julio on the day of her being placed under sectioning ran around in a park naked holding a knife shouting the words: Cock will kill us all! As a result she spent six months in the mental hospital, after which she was sent back due to an incident involving a man named K. Vaneer. According to K. Vaneer he met Candela on the side of the street where she was apparently begging, I 124
think the sight of a good looking homeless woman is pretty rare and unbelievable, but according to the court documents this is what happened. Taking her home to his apparent he offered her some food and drink and a bath, of which she took. Coming down from the bath Mr Vaneer was said to have tried to have sex with her which resulted in them going to his bedroom and starting the act. She then, according to Mr Vaneer, broke his penis by holding it too tight. Embarrassingly he did not know what to do, but in pain he froze. What makes the story quite absurd was that after he had broken his penis he continued on trying to have sex with Candela. It wasn’t until the next day that the police were informed of what had happened and Candela was sent back to the mental institution for another six months, where she composed her series of drawings she called ‘Hans Fallada’s Dick’. 24. 1991 — Rodney King Touched by the 1991 incident involving Rodney King, a black man severely beaten by LAPD Cops, a Gallery Exhibition at the Gagosian in LA was created. The Gallery show exhibited Alteristos paintings that included the work of Vicky Carai, Jean Monol and a painting I painted myself in the style of Jean Michel Basquait called ‘The Plight of the Black Man’. It contained a lone figure with arms up. The Gallery show had an immediate impact and caused the FBI to aggressively pursue the Gallerist, Larry Gagosian, for a period of time, it could be said. 125
25. 1981 — A Composition At the beginning of this year 1981, Alex Monnique decided to establish a band called Cousin Clitoris with three other members, Juan Fabio, Michelle Cristina and Coco Brawls who was otherwise known as Coco Kindella. Although the band went on to have no historical repute, at the time it was quite memorable, most remarkably for being a one hit wonder with the single, ‘Kill The King’, a song about murdering the then Prime Minister of Spain. The video, which was extremely inflammatory contained Alex Monnique gyrating and dancing to the song whilst killing a look a like of Juan Carlos I. Although it created a buzz, it created more commotion in terms of police observation. From then on it was noted that in Spain living as an Alteristos would be most difficult due to Alex Monnique and her band.
26. 1982 — Death of Juan Fabio A close associate of Alex Monnique and an affiliate member of Alteristos, certainly in the publics eyes, Juan Fabio’s death perhaps became most notable for multiple reasons. He was noted to have killed himself by jumping off the top of a building whilst screaming the words: She killed me inside! Only twenty-seven at the time this added to the growing reputation of the Alteristos movement. And lauded, quite conspicuously, was his book of poems, written a year before his death and published posthumously, called A Voyeuristic 128
Supper. Which critically were panned but sold thousands of copies due to the media coverage of Cousin Clitoris, the suicide and his last words, which were in reference to his relationship with Alex Monnique led to a book entitled Alteristos Pushes Over The Edge, which was a distilled investigation into the death of Juan Fabio by an unknown writer called Fabian Guirdo.
27.1995 — Pirate Radio – London The play would be advertised by posters sent out via a series of hired aeroplanes, in an ode to an anachronistic style of advertising that was much more joyful and intangible than the malicious sort that governed the landscape at the time. The play would be entitled Radio Babel and it would be staged via a Pirate Radio signal on September 13th. The play started off as it had been planned, all the Actors, hired via word of mouth to links drawn from a squat near Tottenham, were assured and confident in their words. But it was one Shanti Li, a squatter from West London and a rumoured Anarchist that decided that he would sabotage the play in the spirit of Anarchism. He started to interrupt the lines by detailing in exact detail how he would kill John Major. Due to the “buzz” of the whole episode the police managed to find our location about thirty minutes into the play and stormed the Tower Block. Only one person was subsequently caught in the act of threatening to commit acts of 129
Treason, a Chinese female Artist called Xuling Boi, the rest of us hid on the staircases and in a sympathiser's flat. 28. 1996 — Indian Dream Manifesting Reality
Cristina Estrella first ventured to India Mumbai in the 70s. In India she devised a plan, set forth the first day she arrived there in the summer of 1996 for the undertaking of a series of Art projects, spurred on by the Anarchistic happenings of Cousin Clitoris she started to feel Art was a political system of organised thoughts and anything else was either echolalia or something altogether absurd. It was a dance based movement of five females and five men primarily imitating animalistic versions of men. To perform this piece; she used a group of five women, five men, models, for sheer aesthetic reasons and five long attachable hot pink dildos. The performance piece would be a war cry against sexual assault and amongst other movements of dance simulate the females, wearing the dildos, penetrating the men from behind. The performance was staged at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, for its busyness, at 2pm in the Afternoons. After the performance had started a crowd quickly gathered of a variety of cosmopolitan backgrounds. Initially the happenings were seen as rather banal, and people walked past ignoring these happenings, but a short man, started to revolt, he was eating a mango and shouting in English: How dare you do this in 130
India! How dare you do this in India! This caught the attention of a plain clothed Police officer that asked them all what they were doing and they spoke and told them that we were performing. He wanted to know if they had permission and when they denied his right he arrested all of them. The Newspapers and News reporters made the occasion a worldwide event and Cristina, along with the ten other performers, were given criminal records, which meant that Cristina had to leave India without performing any more.
29.1982 – West Berlin The hot pink stub was placed in a usually busy street in the City centre along with the yellow ring, and nothing happened for a long time, hardly anyone walked the street, I was just watching this re-enactment as the day went by. It was only after two hours that a child riding a BMX bike saw the hot pink stub and yellow ring and stole it. I found this happening quite enchanted to watch — his eyes peering side to side with the innocence of youth and then the grabbing of the items via a sturdy hand. 30.1998 — Art Film Guatemala Running at 9 minutes The two ladies could be seen doing as I intended: Rolling a large ball up a hill overlooking San Juan La Laguna. Kids could be seen interacting with them, kicking and screaming and 131
running along with the ball. An old rotund man was then seen waving his stick and mouthing the words, in Spanish, You crazy kids. No police got involved, just one police officer arrived at the scene, a young man, whom on the recording could simply be seen watching and laughing in bewilderment. I would watch the recordings over and over again for the opportunity it provided to purge my memory and enthuse it with a natural enchantment I found superior to any other film I had produced. 31.1973 — Luxury of Time I continued driving, though I took as many mental detours as I could fathom; thinking about the birds, the other passengers on the road, small pieces of poetry that I was yet to write, and what I would say to Cristina. I then took it upon myself to count some of the money, closing the curtains in the apartment and allowing the paper to sieve through human hands felt absurd; is this all I have been worrying about all my existence? This notion of the money being less than it’s worth started to creep in slightly. §§§ Our Reverend “The church has thing, this internet thing. It’s rather slow but you can get to news.” “I wanted to speak to you in person.” 132
“Dwelle, Francis I know this conversation is enthused but can we get a moment...” 32. 1995 — Capitalistic Queries of Working Environments Only one company was made by Alteristos and it was in the summer of this year— due to an intrigue I decided that I wanted to experience the working environment but with the added twist of the company having an Artistic message. I say company but it was most evident to explain that it was a 'fragmentary response to an opaque society'. I wrote in the advertisement in the local Hackney Gazette, which read: “Is society at an odds with you? Do you believe that the world is going on a bad turn? Can psychedelics help mood disorders? Is Eternity Financial? Call this number: 02083339863 Fragmentary response to an opaque society” What did all these questions have in common, nothing, I thought. The first day I arrived at the office at 1.30pm mostly as I had spent the night thinking about what this all could mean, and the glaring absurdity of the situation at hand. That day I employed a total of four people and set to work. I was quite sure that the situation was a farce but I wanted to see it all pan out, I thought. 133
Okay, listen up said I said to the four employees. What we’re doing today is brainstorming ideas that will affect society. The concept that there is no beauty without death, said Randall. That’s according to the INS. I looked at Randall, at the long shaggy hair, casual attire and came to no conclusions as to how we resembled one another, in fact we looked so disparate that I began to wonder myself how companies truly form and function. Besides, his answer to the question seemed as if I had missed a memo or something. I wondered if I was up to speed, but without wanting to look foolish I said nothing. I just wanted to hear some semblance of sense. Then Kendall said that Randall had a beautiful point and that our next project should be one that initiated more thoughts on the beauty of death. I went with it, quite intrigued. Randall kept on talking as I nodded along enthusiastically: We could place coffins in and around London, he said, and have people lay inside them in order to think about the consequences and beauty of death. The money was on the dead Doctor, I thought. After an hour long meeting it was devised that we were going to do exactly as Randall and Kendall had mentioned and place moving coffins around the London area and have people able to be nearer to death. For the rest of the day we spent it on the phones and computers dealing in logistics of the coffins, purchasing or leasing the coffins, and dealing in any permissions that could be granted
beforehand. E2, Roman Road A coffin was placed at the top of the market and, initially did not garner much attention. Though after an hour a few teenage girls on holiday from school decided that they would read the description box next to the coffin, which read:
“This coffin has been placed here to remind you of the beauty and sanguine elements of death and all that it inhabits. There is an encouragement to interact with the coffin and develop a sense of awareness for the transient nature of life." We did the same experiment in West London, South East London and North London. The results were not as noteworthy as the group of young girls getting into the coffin. But we did make the local newspapers with an Article by Steven Plaus reading: “COFFINS AS COFFEE? Do you think of death often enough? Well the answer to that question for a group of anonymous pranksters is that we don’t. Throughout this week there has been placed a group of coffins in as disparate areas as Roman Road and Camberwell, with a description reading that the coffin has been placed to “remind you of the beauty” of death. Are we reminded, as simply as our morning Coffee or was this just an unorthodox prank by some 135
jokers?” After a week I stopped going into the office as I had become quite bored with the concept, but I did continue to pay the salaries of the four employees for six months.
33. 1988 – Upon Reflection The Poetic Nature of Death Two times this year, in hindsight, I was privy to crimes I had and would never see again in person, (a sniper rifle at work), the latent desire to observe quite true. I wrote down each such happening in a notepad diary that year. Crime 1: Corporate Man The man takes the money and moves out of the room, to the exit, then into the street. He enters his car and begins driving. The sun infiltrates and by this he pulls down the sun visor, before making a right-turn. A short drive: a mile and a half, he stops outside a block of apartments, he parks and walks, quickly, into the pink Brooklyn building, holding the bag. Entering, he walks onto the balcony, heavily sighs and looks down pensively. After a short while he takes a seat on the living room sofa— mauve and green leather. With the television now on, he laughs and then 136
gets more comfortable in his seat, nestling his bottom further into it. He unbuttons his right and left cuff link and places them on the coffee table. His shoes are still on. Trickling, the room is bestowed a congenial silence, in a way, that this seems to simmer a short reverie, in a somewhat, vestige to the painting on the wall: a Francis Bacon: blood reds, dark blacks. The venetian blinds shimmer in the sunlight and the wind slightly breezes them from left to right. Crime 2: Corpulent Man They appear to be arguing: she gestures, heavily, perhaps in lieu of her being Mediterranean: long curly black hair, olive skin, taller than him. He is wearing a white vest, white boxer shorts and black socks. The vest fails to touch the tip of his pubic hair, exposing them. He has a hairy chest that she is pointing at, theatrically, whilst he is stood drinking a carton of what looks like orange juice. A little spills on his chin, unbeknown to him. They continue arguing in a similar manner for at least five minutes, before he walks away, out of the kitchen. Ten minutes later he arrives back into the kitchen and looks into the fridge, alone, whilst scratching his stomach. Turning towards the window he pauses, holding a piece of meat. 137
She walks by the kitchen, once, twice and then the third time her face takes on the expression it had a few minutes before. The meat seems to have fallen onto the kitchen floor, and now kicked next to a table leg. Milk sat on the table.
34. The Exotic Case Of Pointlessness of Art? — 1977
For the sake of “Art” in a province of Oman, Al Wusta, (chosen at random) villagers were sent the two dozen macaws from us, Alteristos, posing as an anonymous Russian Oligarch, where we signed the card 'Russian Oligarch with love'. Most of the villagers were mystified at the sight of these talkative macaws, of which some were red with yellow throats, a few others had purple throats and red bodies, another two were burgundy with blue throats. One in particular, (a purple throated macaw) was most intriguing, by the way in which the macaw would sprout poems. The flagrant flamingo Fires through with The beauty of the moment And breeds sensuously. Said the macaw on his first day of arrival to Al Wusta, surprising villagers to such an extent that a villager called Ahmed Ahmed came over in hives, by the shock of seeing these talkative birds. The macaw would just repeat his name and continue on the day. But, by this Ahmed Ahmed had to go to the closest hospital, which he did. And there it became 138
apparent to him that he had in fact contracted an illness, with the symptoms being vomiting, sweating, and the aforementioned hives. The Doctor, one Al Saed, failed to ascertain the route cause of this rather "exotic illness" he said of it. But diagnosed it as "near fatal". Though due to the excited spectacle of the macaws no connection was made between Ahmed Ahmed's sickness and the birds, initially, let alone the Alteristos. In the same week as this happening a villager called Miriam Mousa caused even more hysteria when she apparently, due to years of being wife beaten, killed her husband in front of one of the macaws according to rumour and a newspaper article. 35. 1995 — Essay on Mental Health Featured in The Paris Review Issue 137. Winter. 1. I considered the fabric of a psychological being. Feint nuances of ‘everything’ without any sort of personification, yes as crucial as one finds it to pigeon hole, the notion of sanity is always bent towards an interpretation doused in ‘self’. 2. The realisation that ethics must be separated from that of treating a patient, hence the sickness is the world and that one is not sickness in itself, instead one is sick because of the multiple ways society fails to function. I.e. Injustices. 3. Sanity forms and disbands as easily as liquid pours into a glass; honesty purchases a sense of reasoning that one is not alone here. 139
4. Sanity is impossible to define, as is insanity and that modes of living and conflicts have to account for, without the predilection of obtaining categorising in terms of class. 5. Class disillusions, as does the lack of recognition for mental health in a variety of disparate forms. I.e. modes of living. 6. A person’s actions should be weighed on the basis of justice too, as well as a thorough process of meditation. 7. Categorisations of a mental variety could be an offset of injustices as ‘normal’ is as imaginative and unrealistic as the terms defining mental health. 8. ‘A flux state’ is a mode of living most sustainable as it transcends and reflects upon the fluctuating basis of all thoughts of being, even functioning in the occurrence of equilibrium. 9. Society is a mirror for the peoples’ mindsets. 10. As crime reflects person, the Law should be more creative in ascertaining a more intelligent form of justice, thus perhaps impeding the current notions of sanity. A crazy world needs supple Laws to consider the needless absurdities. I.e. Allowance for ‘street justice’ given evidence for in ‘Undercover Police Operatives’. 140
11. A healthy state can be produced from as simple mechanisms as freedom of expression. 12. It can be noted that the consequences of one’s actions produce its own results and that only in extreme cases does one need Policing as arbitrary as sectioning.
13. If we were to ‘section’ everyone for mental issues the state would crumble. Therefore, fairness must be acted upon by way of efficient utilisation of extreme forms of curtailing criminal behaviour in only extreme cases. *Though our notions of justice should be flexible enough to allow for certain immoral practices. 14. Curing people, or societies, of their ills by treatment is possible, though the onus is on transforming society’s ills first. *Quoted from, The Currency of Paper, Alex Kovacs
36. 1994 — Mystery of Eroticism & Love I lay alone one evening, perspiring and thinking of death when the most memorable thing occurred: doused in sweat I was in need of medicine, of which meant that I had to leave the apartment. At the drugstore I met a woman, who I would come to know as Pica, a Spanish woman who was having problems with drugs. After the initial conversation which was full of wit, (about ghosts, I think) we started walking. As we walked 141
we talked about the fickle aspects of modern life, a play by Harold Pinter, Hip- Hop music and a then little-known rapper called The Notorious B.I.G, Ants, SAMO graffiti, the mundane tropisms of existence, and even conceptual art. Although I came out of the apartment feeling sick by the time we had walked New York and then circled my block I felt a surge of energy. I invited her into my apartment, mostly as Miriam had gone to spend two weeks in Greece with her Uncle Ignacio Luciano, the Opera singer. We then had sex, with the foreplay being a conversation about Ants having sex leading to the subsequent tearing off of each other’s clothes and both vaginal and anal penetration. After this she sat on the edge of the bed staring at me as if she had seen a ghost, whilst I too had this same thought, but without the expression, to then take a hit of morphine. I too indulged, leading to a heightened sense of reality that had me thinking that the street lights were angels. Delirious, perhaps sick, I was ecstatic in ways I had never felt before and never felt again. In the morning she was gone, without a trace. Until late afternoon when I heard a knock at the door, it was Pica. She had gone to get more drugs from a dealer in Harlem. She had no inhibitions, commencing to take off her clothes and then the drugs; shooting up a syringe full. Perhaps she had no idea where her dealer had received the drugs from as she started to overdose; choking and frothing at the mouth. I tried to resuscitate her, but things just got worse,
she started to shake until she passed out and remained so. After the ambulance took her body away, two Cops arrived and asked me an array of questions. One of the cops, a Latina female, wondered how I had the money to live in such an apartment and be at home in the middle of the day, to which I replied that I was an Artist. She then asked what I did as a day job and this exchange seemed to dispel my sadness; the utter coercion of life being able to continue, with all prejudices, foolishness and absurdity at all costs. Pica’s body had just been taken away.
37. 1995 — Golden Generation of Hip-Hop — (CD Single of Spoken Word Poetry — Interscope Records, 1995 — Pica) With enormous amounts of money in the music industry at this time, I was asked by record label Interscope to produce a single of spoken word poetry, of which I performed and recorded called Pica with producer Brian Jackson, of Gil Scott Heron fame. It could be said that it went on to inspire other Artists but it was neither a critical or popular success. /angel Pica where are you?/ in the confines of my mind / standing in the ruins/ the roses smell morbid cocaine now/ the infliction of remorse/ like a junky I am you / séance magnetic, answered prayers/ tears, I wear you like a pendant / remembering your whispered words in Spanish/ 143
kisses/ all there is are wet lips not on faces/ shit that made me smile/ a gun now, where I stand / in the midst there’s truth/ like dead leaves on pavements / Bible papers rustling in the wind / laughter from the back of a throat / a stoic ambivalence to death / aren’t we dead already? / neck within a noose hanging like a gold chain / surrender? that’s way too risky / stay frisky frisky
37.5. (1995 — 1996) — Jealousy Eats Like a Bear Miriam, confused by “that song” kept asking questions, particularly about who Pica was and whether it was a “figment of my imagination” or not. I had decided to speak nothing of the song or Pica again and I told her nothing, though she had her suspicions, worsened when a video, directed by Hype Williams was produced for the song. Telling me that a lifetime can sometimes be a moment and a lifetime can sometimes be nothing, I felt her insinuation in memories told. 38. 1982 — Birth of Orange & Yellow Touched by a performance of Gil Scott Heron at the beginning of 1982 in Detroit and the opportunity to meet him, Julio Ramone started to write poetry and wrote what is considered the foremost infamous and well-known piece of poetry of the Alteristos movement, in a similar mode to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and the subsequent Beat movement, this poem titled 144
‘Orange & Yellow’ was about the joys of life through the eyes of depressed murderer Arnau Semlak. 39. 1997 — A Bird Judge.
The court will be re-adjourned said the
Julio Ramone, who had taken to a bout of alleged petty crimes, was close to the deck watching the Judge walk away with a face adorned with a half-smile as if a stroll in the park or stood in a kitchen whilst baking an already burnt cake. 41. Letter to Julio Ramone — 1998 The novelist, who is perhaps the most in danger and naked of all Artists, cannot hide. Unlike a song writer, for example, who can make one hit song or have a label engender an image,—which may or may not align with the reality of the Artists true Artistry,— the novelist is given the most difficult job of having to juxtapose the deeply technical and lofty abstractions of the world around an image that, regardless of how much it is garnished or metaphorically asserted, is clear for all too see. Visual Art and painting is difficult, but its complexity lie in the metaphysical reality of the work. Each medium has to be respected for what it is, but the mechanisms and craft do elicit truths in terms of which Artistry is most difficult to 'perfect'. 145
42. 1981 — Julio Ramone’s Viennese Getaway A mixture of Gaudi and Japanese Feng Shui Julio Ramone's house in the Viennese woods was a special place, I thought. In the corner of the living room was a sculpture by Tasanake Sukido (1929 1986) entitled: 1 は、戦後愛, which translates into English as, One Love After War. Sukido was renowned for making a series of thirteen works, of which this is one, aiming to "disturb the senses," said Sukido (Japanese Art of Balance, Yukido, Tanizaki, 1963), and shatter the illusion of there being a difference between reality and dreams, death and immortality, the female body and the male body. The sculpture has elongated forms which echo Egyptian art and the body has a primitive aspect with a spear going through the top of the abstracted head. It can neither be instantly apparent whether this is a male or female form, its stony black plaster cast is powerful but sensual with features that could be breasts. In the lap and place of genitals is a skull equally balanced in the middle of the legs that are short and reduce the possible size to its five-foot one height. Julio saw this after taking a trip to Japan and visiting a gallery in Nagoya. Charmed by aspects of his work, he said of this sculpture and influence, "All mediums of Art...I was very influenced by a Japanese Artist Sukido and this sculpture that I first saw in 1975 resonated with me, because it gorgeously disgusted
me," said Julio Ramone to me when I asked him. The character Myra Rose in Cathedral of Lies was basically a discussion of this as it played with forms and provoked and disturbed him to look at what gender really was, and how to comically discuss this in the perspective of fine art and literature. He used some of the money he had made from the last steal to purchase what was one of his most prized possessions.
43. 1999 — DNA Due to the evolution of DNA technology and science Julio Ramone was deemed to have killed a man in Madrid. This causes his sentence to be extended from two years nine months to thirty years for Murder. 44. 1989 — Outsider I had just left New York and was soon reaching Indianapolis, and the sounds of the road caused a sensation within me; a festival of opportunity. I came to a stop at a motel I can’t remember the name of, the sheets were white but I could see the build-up of cleaned off dirt in them, that creamish colour off white. I looked around the room: the build-up of mildew on the room’s sink, the gold and cream coloured wall paper, the green carpet, the brick back television — and felt an enchantment of voices. As if I could 147
hear ghosts protruding out of time, in the voice of outcasts; prostitutes, murderers, rapists. I felt a sense of being dismembered, as if arms were being pulled away, out, and then that calm feeling after the pain.
45. Francis Pab, The Art of Fiction, 152 Fall 1999 — the Paris Review By Yulia Jones I met Francis Pab once in 1983 in Prague. I was studying a PhD in English Literature at the time and I was enraptured by his work as the week previous I had seen an anonymous play that many insiders said was the work of a then little known Artist called Francis Pab. He was walking through Vojanovy Sady and I was sitting on a bench admiring the views. I knew it was him from a magazine feature the Alteristos movement did in the now defunct magazine Arnichie in 1975. In it were photographs of its founding members: Julio Ramone, Cristina Estrella, Alex Monnique, Candela Cacauo, Miriam Luciano and Dillain Gaddis alongside quotes that they made to the interviewer of the magazine. Of all the quotes I remembered Francis Pab’s: Art is the element of surprise. I still thought about that quote, even all those years later when I saw him walking through Vojanovy Sady. I told myself that I had to say something. Something along the lines of: You’re my hero. But all that came out, once I had tapped him on the shoulder, was gibberish I can’t remember now, luckily. Fortunately, he just smiled and said that he was grateful.
It wasn’t until ten years later, after he published Sirens of Laughter and Stasis in Darkness in the Paris Review that I began corresponding with him regularly. There were many myths, but most of all I wanted to understand a character that had lived an 149
explosive life full of twists and turns. This correspondence led to him sending his next novel Violent Serenity (Canongate, 1995). Just after he finished Violent Serenity we began the Paris Review interview.
We met in the summer of 1995 in London where he was staying in a flat in East London, Hackney. The living room had been turned into a studio and contained a desk overlooking a bright window with an Apple Mac computer on top of it alongside pens and stacks of papers and books, and many Canvas. There was also another table in the lefthand corner of the room containing coarse pieces of wood strewn along this mahogany table, along with photographs of Winona Ryder, a pair of horn rimmed glasses, figurines, an African mask, and a few books. There was also a book shelf in the corner of the room containing, to name but a few; Gil Scott Heron’s The Vulture, Thomas Bernhard’s Woodcutters, Julio Cortazar’s Rayuela, Gerard Audine’s Meagre Accounts and Tomas Slavia’s Owls as Doors. Miriam Luciano, his girlfriend, opened the door, wearing a floral summer dress and a flower in her hair and led me to Francis Pab, dressed in a blue and white Picasso-esque t- shirt and a pair of pristine white trousers. He greeted me with a broad smile and was conscientious throughout the day: offering drinks and food. We talked for two days; once in 1995 and again in 1997 in Brazil, where he was staying whilst Julio Ramone’s court 150
case was underway and adjourned. The Brazil tapes, as I liked to call them, were just as confessional, if not zany. Pab is no one’s fool, but he also likes to play the fool, so there lies severe contradiction at the heart of his persona and I feel his true character. They were recorded at the Belmond Copacabana Palace where he said he was writing his new novel.
Thoughtful but quick witted Pab answered every question, albeit one, with a rapacious honesty, and a sagaciousness that confronted the mystique of the Alteristos movement and often made me wonder why they maintained such an air of romantic mystery particularly throughout the 70’s. This interview was particularly revealing. Interviewer How do you get started on a new book? Can you speak about speed...? Francis Pab I usually work the way André Breton talked about a pure psychic automation, and Calvino talked about lightness. I come at the work with a wry smile in a way, as a method. Questioning norms, beyond cliché thoughts and opening a spiritual dialogue with the pen. So, I work quickly and revise heavily, especially my later work which I wrote much more quickly as I aged. As I work quickly I usually devise novels from ideas, which is why the Alteristos 151
movement was based around ideas, such as chaos being more than the sum of its parts. The totality of idea is a major fragment of the process, and then comes the characterisations which are made up of everything you can possibly think of: aunts, uncles, girlfriends. Everything that has happened is very much material [whistles] you could be material. Interviewer How much of the book is in your mind before you start? Fracis Pab My mind is full to brim with ideas I gather and keep in a journal, whereby I think about the manifestation of words, the fabric of idea and the connection to the world of these things. I usually plan the whole book out, just as a preparation, though ultimately disregard this akin to Picasso’s words: Learn the rules to break them. Have a learned approach but take a rebellious perspective, I do admit to that. I usually wonder if I’m going too far and that’s when I think I’ve cracked it. Interviewer To be classed as meta-fictionalist... Francis Pab 152
Well I know your readers like it cut and dry...water the pussy, and the choke the chicken but never choke the chicken before watering the pussy. I know. But I see myself as an Artist and if not an Artist an opportunist. I want to take advantage of the world in a way that is very full disclosure.
Interviewer Do you work best at any particular time of day? Francis Pab I usually work at nights when the ghosts are out, and the feint cries inspire words and images. I also draw and then I write, which helps the characterisation and drama of the novels and poems. Interviewer Do you think this is stereotypical? Francis Pab I think other writers are more disciplined than me, mostly because I work so fast and anywhere. I don’t often think of other writers unless they’re Alteristos and then I think about they’re work a lot. Julio Ramone, my favourite writer, would always write in the early mornings and I felt this illustrated that he perhaps was a true writer. I 153
would assume someone like Jack Kerouac wrote in a similar manner to me, anytime, anyplace. Interviewer What of editing? Francis Pab The nineteen seventy-eight novel Fatal Wounds was heavily edited and amounted for the work to feel staccato, as often works in the mode of realism can take on a feeling of bricks as opposed to sand castles. Though I enjoy editing a lot, and usually have about three hundred pages of words I wouldn’t want to use again, however sometimes these words come back to me as poetry, so I’m quite grateful for them regardless of time spent. Interviewer How has reading affected your writing? Francis Pab I read everything, even things I come to regret, and I make judgements on the spot as to whether what I am reading will affect my work, which is why only a few Authors influence my work. I usually read in the afternoons; newspapers, journals, poetry and novels. Interviewer 154
Do you show anyone your work in progress? Francis Pab I am reluctant to show anyone the work that I am doing, and rarely need to. I merely work from the basis that what I want to do is key, never a case of pleasing anyone but my God damn self. I make little bits here and there when I ask a friend. Hey, do you think a rose is a good word to use here, or should I include another flower? Things like this sometimes consume me, but [clicks fingers] I am resolute. Yes, resolute in my thinking when I am working on something, I don’t listen to encouragement nor do I listen to criticisms.
Interviewer Do you have a reader in mind when you work? Francis Pab Usually I am thinking about someone at the edge of sanity, quite easily unafraid to douse their life in the destruction of a whole new way of thought. A complete renovation of consciousness is the thought behind this. Though I sometimes wonder whether I am this reader that I am talking about and that I write to please myself in ways that are quite selfish, I do admit, I like to eat my own lunch. Also, I like to think I would appeal to other post modernists, such as Don DeLillo, for example. I sometimes imagine him in a warm room 155
with a cat or a dog, where Don DeLillo read's my novels. Interview Does your work come from destruction?
Francis Pab Well it can be said that I am certain an element of thinking is all about destruction, so spending time looking at a novel I often have the thought that certain passages won’t work because they’re too congenial and I need to be more hostile. No perhaps hostile is not the right word. [pause]. Actually, it is the word I was looking for, as I want to advance the reader experience and function a process where thoughts are quite surrealistic, to take from the Dada movement. I come like a thief in the night...to deepen the mystery, as Francis Bacon said. Interviewer Can you elaborate on advancing the reader? Francis Pab I want the reader to come away with an experience, a bit like that when immersed in a cinematic experience or a painting in a museum. For example, in Violent Serenity when the protagonist’s brother goes missing, I want the reader to feel with a capital 156
F. So, I tried to ascertain certain language that a person missing someone would use. Also, in Violent Serenity when the narrator of the first section is put into a mental institution I did that to destroy mental prisons that exist in readers minds and illustrate how people invent worlds and that if that is so then a world can be invented that appeals to only you. I want laughter and tears. Though sometimes I want a numb feeling like much of Vanity. Blue. where a character suffers from rape and the protagonist can only think about eggs, this was done to talk about the way in which we sometimes can be alien to the thoughts and real feelings. And to juxtapose emotions. Though in Fatal Wounds I wanted the reader to experience a sensuality more so.
Interviewer Can a reader separate the writer from what is written? Francis Pab In epistemological terms, for certain. Though Art would be very boring and pointless if you separated Art from Artist and this was the case. It’s all about the creation of environments whether fiction or non-fiction the gift of writing is about being able to place one into a scene, a mood, an atmosphere and just leave the reader there without holding their hands or pandering to their needs. Borges does that, he puts you into a 157
compendium technically speaking but also there’s the myth the comes with reading Borges too, the erudite, learned librarian that teaches. But it does come across authentically in his words, so what I am trying to say is that what is written, and the writer better have an authenticity or else. Interesting What is the role of morality in writing? You mentioned consuming your reader... Francis Pab Yes, consuming is a great word to use, as you want to consume them just like Céline who is a great example of an extremely dubious moral code but an ability to consume the reader for sheer brilliance. I read Journey to The End of The Night twice when I was twenty and was possessed by it for a time; the verve and movement of the words as immoral as it was. I’ve even read the truly Anti-Semitic stuff... Trifles for a Massacre...I just think it’s up to the reader to decipher the bullshit and be headstrong. You don’t won’t a weak reader you want a sturdy reader. I remember Céline being an integral part of the making of Alteristos, it was a given that nobody can really beat Céline at this writing game. You’d catch an aneurism trying to beat out Céline! Interviewer Talk to us about the conception of Alteristos as a movement... 158
Francis Pab Julio Ramone, for me was the cog that spun the wheel, as he had the ideas initially and the connections. It all came together in the now different Siurana. He had known Alex Monnique and she lived in Siurana. There we met Miriam and Dillain Gaddis, a little-known member of Alteristos, Candela Cacauo who also lived in Siurana and then a little later on, but not least Cristina Estrella joined. We were just a group of friends who wanted change and were angry at the development of society at the time. Plus, we wanted to know if we could make Art History, because these things work in mass, don’t they? Artists collaborate and infiltrate the system to create a new mode of thinking a total revamp of idea. Interviewer Where is Dillain Gaddis now? Francis Pab He had a total change of mind and decided to alter his perspective into that of a Priest and then live that life. Existence is like that sometimes. Interviewer Who wrote the manifesto? And was there any competitiveness? 159
Francis Pab To begin with no, but as time went on it started to put pressure on those in the movement to produce better work. You’ve read Cathedral of Lies right? Interviewer Sure thing. Cathedral of Lies, Owls as Doors, DEAD Alteristos, Gerard Audine’s stuff... Francis Pab Gerard Audine! Fantastic, he was a true writer he was. Although he joined Alteristos late he was truly an honour to have had amongst us, as he was hilarious and a fantastic writer. And in some senses, of late, I’ve felt that he should be sitting here instead of me, but suicide calls some Artists, many Artists don’t pick up, some do. It’s the way things go. But Gerard Audine and of course Owls as Doors, which is like a spiritual atonement mixed with this psychedelic orchestration of sheer beauty...[pause] but was there competition you said? Well in some instances yes, but that was much later in the 80’s, in the 70’s at conception there was a bandied attitude to all the choices. Just doing what young people do, but things changed when other voices began to get involved in what was once a quite innocent thing. Interviewer Can you talk about those voices? 160
Francis Pab Not all were invited! Simple as that. I certainly wasn’t not campaigning for anyone’s addition but like any decent movement, the Beats, Dada and so on, people became enamoured and sometimes these people find ways to becoming enraptured in the thing and it creates a certain problem in terms of authenticity. I certainly would never have accepted everyone that came aboard but at the same time, without being political, it was very much made for everyone. Interviewer You also did what you referred to once in a T.V interview with the BBC as kept up “odd jobs” as an Investigative Detective in New York, for example. Can you talk about why you did this? Francis Pab I saw it as the luxury of being an Artist, the chance to make these anthropological studies. These odd jobs kept me amused and interested in life! The fac ̧ade on life was broken in a sense and I was able to function at all times in society, which is something Julio Ramone suffered from due to his fame. Interviewer Can you speak about what happened to your finger? 161
Francis Pab I’d rather not speak about that. Interview
You wrote an Essay on ‘The Poetics of novels’, can you speak about this? Francis Pab A writer that influenced me no end, particularly Violent Serenity, was Jean Genet, who wrote these extraordinary poetic novels, of course. It’s a more spiritual exercise I wrote, one that is saturated in the middle somewhere between poetry and prose. I wrote that after I actually met Jean Genet, we were in a bar in Paris [pause] I don’t remember which, and he came in and introduced himself to me, telling me that he had read Violent Serenity and that only a select few understood the Poetics of novels. I remember he used those words, Poetics of novels, which is why I named that essay like so. Interviewer Can you talk about the metafictional aspects of your novels? Francis Pab I wanted to create worlds and worlds within worlds. A truly comprehensive environment where 162
the reader, a bit like Borges’ work, can get lost in them. I felt that Fatal Wounds was too linear, and adherent to a certain social contract that applied the thought: mixing conventional with the unconventional is a good recipe. I think as time went on I was able to come out swinging in a sense.
Interviewer Some of your earlier work talks a lot about religion? What, if any, religious thoughts do you have? Francis Pab Alteristos was not a religious institution, and that is the motto I kept going into my own Art movement. The idea that one needs religion to be moral is false, I feel. It has been proven, particularly in Orwell’s truly mesmerising account in Homage to Catalonia that people are able to establish their own boundaries and rules. People should do what they want? On the basis that I can do what I want, and an eye for an eye. I think that’s about the only religious words I take particularly seriously, eye for an eye. The rest is homophobic, petty, absurd and downright dated! Interviewer In Violent Serenity Franz loses his mind after going deep in the thesis and life of his missing brother, 163
why was that statement made? Francis Pab I think a lot of that was a play with narrative and words. Sometimes the sheer beauty of words takes me and has me imagining characters in a certain stasis, the eloquence of the word is that, in Violent Serenity, for example was that it worked as a warning in one sense: go deep into the mystery and in another sense: the mystery can take you. Interviewer Is there a happy medium? Francis Pab I don’t think so, it’s either one way or the other. Interviewer Alteristos as a movement are political...discuss... Francis Pab It depends. This is a far-reaching question that is quintessentially meaningless as all good Art (which is usually always established in hindsight) makes an impact culturally. We as Alteristos made an impact culturally in terms of Art History and therefore our Art became political, with Cristina Estrella in India, the Pirate radio incident here in London... 164
Interviewer What happened with that as it was on the news... Francis Pab
I can’t go into too much detail about that but what I trying to say is that the work has never been afraid of politics and societal issues but it’s also not afraid of sheer aestheticism too. Have you seen Peaches, Apricots with Candela Cacauo? Interviewer O for sure, a marvellous feat. Melancholic. Francis Pab The saudade [pause]. Interviewer Can we speak literary lineage? Do you see a lineage or do feel your work is original and lives in its own vacuum as Alteristos? Francis Pab I do see a lineage, as the effervescent flow of the work talks to Jean Genet, most prominently. The second part of Violent Serenity where the protagonist changes is very much an interpretation of Our Lady of The Flowers, the rhythms but yes with an 165
Alteristos twist, so there is more of a humour in the work that is quite existential. I think Sartre would have enjoyed some of the work especially as Roquentin played a huge role in my upbringing. The feeling of bare existence and a head on collision with the meaninglessness of life is very much part of the basis of the work. Then there is the effect of Borges, and the labyrinthine element of all his work. I think that had a profound influence on the inner workings of what are psychic experiments in the Harold Rosenberg sense of being at the centre of psychic energy. [pause] There is Céline and his dead eye sense of humour too in some parts of the work, along with Allen Ginsberg and Anaïs Nin’s confessional sense of being an Artist. I wouldn’t want my work not to have a connection to what has come before, so there are bits and pieces borrowed from nearly everywhere you can think of. Science, Nineteen Century Russian literature, paintings, of course being a painter too.
Interviewer You mentioned science, you wrote a piece in the Paris Review called Sirens of Laughter can you talk about this? Francis Pab That was the only science fiction work I ever wrote and it was concurrently about the concept of hedonism and also as mentioned by Allen Ginsberg when I met him randomly on a subway train in 166
nineteen ninety-one. The thought that society, or America as I was living there at the time, was in mental state that programmed this sweet quite cozy hedonism and not even the correct sort of hedonism! But an abhorrent, greedy and rather ugly hedonism.
Interviewer Was it at all about Capitalism? Francis Pab Well in some ways it could be seen from that perspective, as it is fundamental to all the work to highlight the crippling effect Capitalism, as a system, has on the world at large. The nature of working without any sort of connection to themselves and the truth of the world around. People blindly going to and thro...[pause] Interviewer Was this an influence on Julio Ramone? Francis Pab Well I read his novels and of course Orange and Yellow just like you, so my perspective on what Julio thinks is generated by small amount of conversations and his work. The attitude he carried throughout his career was one doused in the realism of what he would die for, certainly but for me to sit here and tell you what another person believes wouldn’t be right 167
or fair. Interviewer Let’s talk about your relationships, if possible? Francis Pab Some people come to your life for a season, some stay for longer. But it’s in everybody’s interest to remain clear headed in order to function in these relationships and be useful, Miriam, who I’ve always deemed a genius, was a Godsend and I let that influence some of my poems and of course the claustrophobia of love within Stasis in Darkness and how love reflects that what is around you like a star. Interviewer Do you have any painful feelings looking back? Francis Pab No. I live in the here and now, which is similar to the concept that I developed in Stasis, the feeling that even in bad situation you only have the here and now. Though in the 70’s when I was in my twenty’s I had awful bouts of nostalgia which is why Fatal Wounds is a bit fluffy and sentimental, for me. 168
Interviewer Which work do you feel best represents you? Francis Pab I think that the work sets out to be it all that it can be but what actually happens is something altogether different, the notion that you come out of the process unscathed is a myth. Writing is as much a curse as it is a gift, in some senses. So, I may one day say that Vanity. Ares best demonstrated my poetic verve and in an another turn it was thought provoking. Interviewer Vanity. Ares of course led to Salmon Rushdie-esque demonstrations, what did you make of that? Francis Pab A storm in a tea cup. As the story is simple in my eyes, a man meets someone and this someone deceives them, but they receive a salvation and the man is taken down. Rigged up and flogged. Ares as a character represented me in ways that I can’t pronounce. The inane aspect of existence and the surrealistic existentialism within life. Ares was our hero, the hero that nobody wants. And besides the verdict was guilty! 169
Interviewer That is what surprised me, all along I felt a certain way about the way it would go and then the verdict came, in a way I felt it was an inquisition on the reader you performed.
Francis Pab Well, yes it was, the dexterity of the words that performed the necessary shot-gun technique of questioning the reader, as I merely left you in your own atmosphere, in a sense, because the end is grim for Ares, I think. Interviewer Do you feel close to your characters? Francis Fab Awfully close, in periods I sometimes take on the mannerisms of characters I’ve written about, especially between 1972 and 1979 I felt a deep sense of oneness with the Art and the world, this feeling that I was affecting the world was one that left me with no end of feelings, sort of a neuroticism, in a way. A lustful neuroticism. The image that teased me early on in those days was a reader feeling a kinship with a character, somewhat in the way you feel for Hans Fallada’s protagonist in The Drinker and Camus’ character in The Fall, this feeling that although the character is totally 170
flawed there is a beauty in the chaos of them. A disturbing feeling but that I feel resonates. Interviewer What do you make of feminism, particularly the feminist attack on you? Francis Pab I feel that they are not assessing things as they should. Ares turned out to be guilty, the protagonist in Violent Serenity was bisexual, and should I go on [pause] I will say this to add, the possibility of offense is such an easy road to take, the mere conception of taking offence by a fictional world, for me, is a bit absurd. Sure, the work has an effect on the world at large and should be noted, but surely you can suspend your ideas to place yourself in a world for a moment. These worlds can of course be full of killers, rapists, perverts, such as the great pervert in Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint or the obsessives in Thomas Bernhard’s work and still enable a person to be able to stay in real-time. I wouldn’t say dissociate but stay in real-time. Interviewer But do you see yourself as a feminist? Francis Pab 171
Totally. I see women as the fulcrum of the world, no society can work without strong resourceful women. It just wouldn’t work. I believe in the sanctity of womanhood and read women. Alteristos women and non-Alteristos women are very much important to my life. I adore Virginia Woolf. Interviewer What are your thoughts on writing in the mode of realism versus that of magic realism? Francis Pab I don’t think there needs to be a conflict, though others do. I write whatever comes natural to me, and it’s not, for me, to say this process originates from here so it can only influence people from here. Magic realism has always played a role in my work, but I have never extrapolated it. I’ve just worked on a Dostoevskian realism or a Nabokovian realism, though in some places I have doused the words in an absurdity that I think borrows from magic realism or plays with the obsessiveness of realism in ways that are artificial. To make an Artificial Realism in a sense, a world where time is the only real signifier. Interviewer Were you looking for a fight in writing Vanity. Ares? 172
Francis Pab I don’t primarily think about conflict when I create. I am thinking about the execution of an idea and along the process sometimes I may intercept my thinking with wonders of effect, but not many. I am fully focused on getting down what it is I am thinking and experiencing. I don’t know what it is until it’s done, is a true statement. Sometimes I discard something as I feel it may have not been what I wanted to say. But rarely do I censor my feelings and thoughts and I feel that comes out not only in the way the words are written but in the feelings the words illustrate. I am truly a receptor as Cocteau mentioned in his work. A receptor of worlds beyond the obvious world. And sometimes these worlds are full of contradictions, paradoxes and so on. But I don’t place them there and then wrap my bacon around the bread. The bread goes first and then you put on the bacon.
Interviewer What about your coining of the phrase Halal Porkchops to refer to something as a nonsense or contradiction? Francis Pab I just thought it was a good way to explain the hypocrisy and silliness in some situations. Not necessarily a hostility for Islam, though it was 173
taken as such. I am rarely making direct statements, because direct statements are obvious: the sun is yellow, the night is dark. I am trying to go beyond what is established before our eyes into the psychic centre, again. That outpouring of the heart, mind and soul and the alignment of the three. I feel language is so malleable, that it is possible to take something that would be offensive and take the power off it with humour. They say to say something meaningful it is best to use humour. So there’s the thought that I am upset at whatever that is being said but it cut through.
Interviewer How did the success of the Alteristos movement effect you? Francis Pab I've lived an enchanted a life full to the brim of antics that are not even able to be truly fathomed. The notion that you can live one life has been truly challenged as I have lived many many lives. The Alteristos movement was built on the concept of change. A change in our minds, our consciousness: this had an immense and profound effect on us first and that was transported to the world. People like Miriam, not just for the obvious reasons, Julio Ramone, these people changed my life in ways I think Kerouac changed Ginsberg’s life or Breton changed Max Ernst life. The change is worth documenting and was worth documenting as it snowballed and started to grow in ways I 174
never thought possible when we were in Candela Cacauo’s studio writing the manifesto. I came into this quite innocent to the way in which an Art movement can change the world, not just in political terms, ugly words, but in everything and anything.
Interviewer Which City do you like best? Francis Pab I lived in Barcelona and Siurana throughout the 70’s so Barcelona and its environs had an immense influence on me, in ways Dublin had on James Joyce, that feeling is very much one of connection. But then in later years I was able to experience a multitude of universes, to end up here in London. But New York has a frightening power and ring. Just the sound of New York is a spectacle: business men on phones, homeless people making jokes, drug dealing, mystics carrying a bag of groceries, ladies walking to the gym. The sound of New York is like no other City. But to directly answer your question, no I don’t have a favourite City. Have you tried Accra? Interviewer I see what you’re saying, and I haven’t actually. I would love to. But you mentioned the early 70’s, and I wondered how much importance is it to associate Spain with the Alteristos movement? Was 175
it not what it became, a world movement? Francis Pab I think to appreciate something that had an effect would have to be Homage to Catalonia and so in that I would say it was appropriate that the movement started in Spain but it could have been anywhere, you’re right too. Tokyo, Cape Town or even Tehran. The reality is that we worked with what we had and then it became this world wide thing that effected other countries, and was used to process other factors we were not involved directly in, such as the Rodney King affair and other issues like that. Interviewer How did you feel about other writers, your peers? Francis Pab I was terribly focused on my own writing and I am still, but did I look over my shoulder? Sure. I really appreciated Gerard Audine. He, to me, was a great writer, as I said. Other than him [pause] Interviewer Marquez? What did you make of him? Francis Pab 176
The whole magic realism thing again, sure I liked aspects of Macondo, but I did find it a tad repetitive and as if I had gotten it, if there is an it to get, but I feel like I got it before I finished reading. The metaphor of change resulting in the same seemed to outweigh the process for me, but it is a profound message nonetheless.
Interviewer How has the political atmosphere affected your work? Francis Pab I wanted my work to remain pure. I didn’t want it to be too up to date as that to me feels like pandering, sure I want to be futuristic, prophetic and wise but that is only a secondary to remaining pure. Interviewer How has the sentencing of Julio Ramone affected you? Francis Pab I feel it has had a major effect on me, as he was a comrade in the truest sense of the word. A great talent gone to waste in a system that seems to have. But if I talk about this I will get too emotional so let 177
us leave that for now, if possible. Interviewer Sure. You don’t overtly mention class but it seems to seep through, particularly in works as Vanity. Ares and Violent Serenity. Francis Pab I think the economic situation of a person is something to look beyond even if you’re a middle class or even upper- class person. The realms of society, beyond madness, that I am interested are traversed by nomadic beings however. Those people that are beyond the boundaries of the class system. I am truly a disbeliever in the demarcations placed in society. Patriotism is racism. Interviewer In what way? Francis Pab In the sense that nobody should be able to place such restrictions on another being, it’s cruel and senseless to believe someone over a line that’s been there for whatever many years is not similar to you and cannot emphasize with you. I just don’t believe in it. Interviewer 178
What bores you? Francis Pab Tedious people—those that are profoundly indifferent to the world to the point that nothing matters, but have my admiration and disgust. Plus I am often bored by the concept of War, and how often they arise, the effects on the populace; as in responses and the supposed code of ethics, which always strike me as a nonsense. I am pretty certain that we will one day destroy the little precious and true things that exist by way of contempt. This could happen via a war, but also a lack of challenging within oneself and the war within. Interviewer What excites you? Francis Pab The colours of the rainbow, the obedience of the sun, the variety of different voices, the melancholy of time, the opaqueness of existence, the poetry of the mundane, the rhythm of the night, old misanthropes. Interviewer In your last book Franz spends time in a mental institution, what are your thoughts on this? 179
Francis Pab The absurdity of placing one another in spaces that try to conceal the fact that we are all at odds with this thing called existence and its very nature is ridiculous. Although I believe some people need help, I truly believe, and this is quite a radical statement, that it should all exist in the melting pot, that all should be self-governed, as opposed to this arbitrary stigmatised thing. I think Franz’ stint in the mental institution was an opportunity too. To re-evaluate and think, so there is perhaps a sense of paradox to my answer here, but overall, I am a fan of R.D Laing and his views were deeply effective in the making of that part of the book.
Interviewer Don’t you think there is a system for a reason? Francis Pab I could sit here all day and speak about the coercion of what I think is just a petty word, madness, as what is truly mad is the concept of many modern-day lives. The everyday effect on our mental health living in societies that do very little to help you grow out of them, is very much the reason Alteristos exists, we offered an opportunity to live outside the boundaries of society. For example, people call mad people that do Art outsider artists, but in my mind, we were outsider artists as to live outside what is a shameful system 180
is very much something to be congratulated. Even if it means a person is outside of normal thinking and perhaps living with ten personalities or suffering from cortards syndrome, for example. Interviewer
You spent time in Prague in the 80’s, where we first met, how did this effect your work? Francis Pab As Céline said: Novels can’t fight cars, movies, television, booze. And I came to this conclusion most notably in Prague. Where I was privy to the political repression of that time. I wasn’t aware of the psychosexual element of repression, but there really was one and that had an immense influence. Plus, Prague was a great place to see reactions and that is what I received from Prague. Interviewer Is there anything that horrified you in a country? Francis Pab No. I am never surprised at how people shit in other places as it all boils down to the same thing. Interviewer Antagonists in your stories seem to always have a 181
heart, to put in a cliche way, is this a true statement in your eyes? Francis Pab I think the antagonist in Violent Serenity, the guy that gives one of the protagonist's aids, is very much to be found whether he has a heart, but I do admit that in my scrap books he definitely turns out to be so. As for Ares I found an existential feeling and I ran with it, to the extent that it could appeal to the reader as a form of stoicism that outsider perspective that amounts to the character being an antagonist. Francis Pab So your antagonists always has to have these traits? Francis Pab Although I think I am a very expansive writer, I am very much prone to certain things that come out in the wash, it could be said. The general perspective is that certain traits come from within and some come from those around me as an Artist. Interviewer What of the third-person, or first person?
Francis Pab The composition very much exists, it’s there flying around in the spiritual eco system. It’s just necessary to catch it. Which means that the voice comes first and then the form comes second. It’s never the other way round as the third- person can be utilised just as well as the first person but it has to suit the voice of the story. Story before technique. Interviewer How do you go about deciding on the story? Francis Pab I go with the most exciting aspect and stick to that like glue until I find another rest stop or something more explosive and then I keep going. It’s a long process of ups and downs, which in 70’s was easier to go about, what now it becomes different to go at it like that. Interviewer In what way? Francis Pab In the primal sense, as most of my work is a scream, so it can be jarring to keep up an energetic scream as time goes on. 183
Interviewer Sometimes it seems that your work builds narrative through others means as dialogue, what’s your view? Francis Pab I think that is the modern novel. The idea that something can be mustered from an alternative means is very futuristic and exciting. Full of enchantments that occasion the thought that people are very bound to certain stringent applications of thought. I want to open up this thinking process and alter the mind. Interviewer Do you think you have influenced Culture? Francis Pab I would like to think I have. But in reality I don’t think so. As life is just too trivial to really think that I have effected it. I think that I have placed a marker down, but as Alex Monnique would say: things are neither here nor there. Everything in life is an abstraction, that tree outside the window is not a tree but your perspective of a tree, it could be something else in a different universe or planet, which is why sometimes I am only interested in reading science fiction, Philip K. Dick in particular. 184
Interviewer O have you read Minority Report by him? Francis Pab
A fabulous story. Interviewer But you don’t feel powerless? Francis Pab Powerless is perhaps a strong word, as you never really know what can have a profound effect on a person, but culture is not always so translucent in the way in which it governs society. And I do think that it’s the culture that governs society. Which places the Artist at the pinnacle of power, but paradoxically without the ability to truly harness it. Sure an artist can effect a few elements here and there, but a writer? I don’t know whether a writer still has that effect, though I am always surprised by censorship and what can actually get a writer black listed or thrown off completely. So in essence I don’t feel powerless but at the same time, I do, just look at Julio Ramone’s situation for one thing. Interviewer You mentioned the writer, what do you think will 185
happen to the novel as things go into the future? Francis Pab Although many things will alter, things will remain the same. The novel will have a smaller selection of specialist readers and these readers will establish what is and what isn’t in terms of novels. Though in terms of the structure of the novel I think that it will be a good thing for it to change in order to be a distillation of the core principles in society, a distillation of anguish and a distillation of how a person can change and alter their perspective of life through the stories of others. Interviewer Tell us about what you’re writing now? Francis Pab I'm writing a novel that is very much humorous, but with a natural air of realism. This means that I am looking at the everyday aspects of life and applying a certain elemental feeling to them within the work. I think it will be a piece that is very much a change in a persons conscience and a playful turn of an Alteristos that has perhaps changed. Interviewer Last question. How would you describe yourself? 186
Francis Pab A chameleon. §§§