“From The Flowers, corpses grow.”
Built by Albert Speer in Berlin to test the possibility of constructing large buildings on Berlin’s marshy ground, this megalith of concrete — that lazy, slovenly, sluttish material — the Schwerbelastungskörper, stands as the antithesis of New Juche’s The Worm. Where concrete spreads dull and ponderously in thrall to gravity, The Worm is a Gesamtkunstwerk of polyphony, stagecraft and levitation, with its ludic prose vision of Hitler’s visage, the schizo-analysis of photography, the language of labyrinths, and the semiotics of structures both social and National Socialist. Possessed by a spurious European homesickness, and a strange ethnographic anomaly from Europe’s polar opposite, New Juche examines the inner voice of cultural transmission in the incubating mechanisms of art and architecture, detritus, and the culpable, omnivorous maw of fascination. The Worm also burrows into ineffably personal territory, as the author spends his final days in The Flowers, the nightmarish abandoned housing complex he has occupied in one sense or another for the last decade.
Hardbound, 260pages, 210mm x280mm
I am still concerned with the question of how Auschwitz could happen in a society like that of Germany. My answer is that it could only have happened with cultural effort. Hitler never saw the Final Solution as the pure project of politics. It was a cultural project. And he was proud of it. My comrades in art would like to forget the extent to which “cultural activities” figured in Hitler’s plan. The things Hitler did in fighting a campaign on behalf of good against evil—as presented and interpreted by him with the mechanical facilities of radical racial ideology, right down to the absoluteness of German thoroughness in realizing the Final Solution—were intricately bound up with the history and nature of Germany’s past, to which was added the assignment of a Zeitgeist that was supranational. And that is what makes it all so painful to us today. In such a situation only the strong side of the legacy helps—and that means the good elements, the most noble and exalted parts, not the weakness and ugliness or the garbage of history that occupies so much cultural space today. If politicians today give so much money to the arts, in order that these cultural activities may exculpate politics—like a medieval transaction in which absolution from sin could be purchased through indulgences, before the intervention of Protestantism—we must guard against becoming collaborators in this spiritual bribery. We are aware of the onerous nature of responsibility, of the now-degraded culture of German correctness and thoroughness. What was once a rich asset has now become a burden. The painstaking accuracy of Albrecht Dürer’s and Lucas Cranach’s pictures and faces becomes distorted in the face of the deadly machinery of the Final Solution. If, in the past under Hitler, all those horrors were perpetrated in the name of some higher ideal, today anything that is strictly committed to higher values and quality in the purity of a work of art is regarded with suspicion. In this way, our very culture becomes a victim of Hitler; and the loss of purity means the victory of ugliness—not merely before our eyes, but within us.
Hans Jurgen Syberberg
My intention, which began as a fantasy, was simply to photograph the guard. I wanted to keep his unusual face for my own use somehow, and in a less consciously articulated way, I wanted to get close to him, smell his breath, at least perceive its exit from his nostrils upon the skin of my own face, that I might say we knew each other, and that he was a character in my life, moreover that I was one in his, he, who had watered my eyes with his breath.
Nothing may be destroyed or thrown away; the bari has to drag with him the debris of his past life. The old legal saying, ‘Le mort saisit le vif’ thus takes on a sinister and unexpected significance. The shaman and the spirit are so jealously interlinked that it is impossible in the last resort to know which of the two partners is the master and which the servant.
I love this other world very much and I know that soon even this last remaining sliver of it will also disappear forever. For the time being, and allowing for occasional challenges from other unsavoury visitors which for the most part I deflect very decisively through the obsessed sense of entitlement that a decade in these Ships of Heaven has nurtured in me rather than by brute force per se, but also with brute force, it is mine, it is all mine and mine alone. The Flowers today is a completely different entity from the 32-block jungle-gym complex that I had at my disposal for so many years. In the smoky and cadaverous twilight, the complex becomes a confined honeycomb of identical corridors and crypt-like rooms, each with a lurid mystery, a rotting question, a decomposing salad of odours and a gauntlet of creatures. One creeps into each room, one feels the sound of one’s footsteps in one’s own viscera, the walls thicken and shift inward as the windows and doorways fade shut with darkness. The buildings constrict one’s breathing and movement like an ill-fitting suit of clothes. Bats fill the air, their urine anoints me. The way out is totally impassable at night. When the darkness is complete, The Flowers is my lot until dawn, I cannot change my mind and leave. I only ever lay down to sleep on the top floors, but I can feel that fathomless matter down there beneath me in the dark, offering up its plainsong, seducing me into contemplation of the many shadows from which each piece was severed. A miscellany of noises agitates my imagination, a footstep and a ghastly whisper through a hole in the wall, a metallic rattle in a room close by, a sudden, branch-snapping thud downstairs so loud and unexplainable that the fear unfolds tendrils of acid bile up into the back of my throat. The fear is often so great and so pure that it feels like madness, true mania. And for all this, I must remain naked and absolutely silent. I must be so quiet that I sniff a drug to stop my nostrils from whistling as I breathe, I piss on an old piece of clothing instead of onto the floor or out the side of the building as I would during the day, I cannot slap a mosquito or cry out when something runs across me, and I must not smoke. And so alongside the bombastic awe, the theatrical tenderness and promiscuous nostalgia I feel constantly for The Flowers, I also now feel a less affected fear than I ever did before. What I previously thought of as ‘fear’ has turned out to be mere excitement, nervous enthusiasm. Because of the proximity of The Flowers to my house (it can call to me as I lie in my bedroom) and the command it exercises over my imagination and private time, the fear has given rise to an omnipresent cloud of anxiety, a butterfly caged in my chest, a cold worm wriggling in my bowels, a permanently open challenge to my ego, to my ownership and my sense of entitlement, to the health of the qualities that I possess which enable me to step whether others dare not and remain, because that is still how I measure and imagine my prowess.
Blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh, spirit of our spirit.
Once upon a time Mussolini, whom I always respected as a political genius, but who was an absolute cretin when it came to art and architecture, visited me at the Berghof. I was delivering a short lecture on the rebuilding of Europe after the war along Roman lines, whilst all the time gazing out at the mountain as I talked, with my tea untouched and going cold beside me, and the majesty of the view from this cinema screen of a window nourishing me, conducting me, as though it were a great conductor and my voice was an orchestra. Yes! My voice was an orchestra, and the mountain was a great conductor and I felt that I, myself, my conscious self, was actually an obstacle as much as a medium between the mountain and my voice, which as a great orchestra, was being conducted by the greatest conductor. And I noticed the philistine Duce looking at his watch in boredom as I spoke! He thought I hadn’t noticed him, but he was wrong, I had noticed him! I saw him barely cover a yawn and look at his watch as I spoke! Gerdy Troost was there too, and she herself noticed that I had noticed the Duce looking at his watch. An ugly golden watch, of the sort that a rough-mannered man of poor taste would choose. A labourer, who has inherited some money from a great aunt. The most tasteless watch! He was a political genius but culturally an absolute cretin of the first order. Prior to my first state visit to Rome, instructions approved by me had been sent to the Italians for the preparation of my accommodation in the city. I asked for simply a view, good lighting, notepaper and a specific selection of titles about Roman architecture. A modest set of requests considering I was then king of Europe, I’m sure you’ll agree. I was told later that the cretinous Mussolini who was otherwise a political genius had made a derisive comment of some sort about my request. A derisive comment, about this simple request! He with his completely tasteless watches!
Poets are born — and so are whores — the trade is
Grown universal — in these canting days
I am the Wind, that Thaws the Ice…
Each Collector’s Edition Box Set includes the book, two signed and stamped prints, and a selection of relics, organic mementoes and image-fragments from the location of The Flowers. These individual fragments, which are unique and can be matched up with their photographs in The Worm, were specially collected and signed by New Juche after two years in situ. They provide a tangible link to this ineffable place that continues to be both a muse and a curse to the author even now after its ‘demise’.
p.s. Hey. Today the blog has the privilege of using itself to forefront the birth of a truly extraordinary new book by one of contemporary writing’s most brilliant progressors and practitioners. And, it being a book from Infinity Land Press, the thing itself is amazingly beautiful, of course. All told, recommendations don’t come any higher. Please explore. ** Ian, Hi, Ian. Well, ‘killer’ might be pushing it, but maybe I had a manslaughter weekend? Thanks for the kind words, pal. You good? Does your week promise a interesting path forward? ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Oh, weird, why wasn’t ‘The Opposite of Sex’ noted in that post? How strange. Thanks! He’s not my favorite gay alcoholic genius, but no skin off his back. ** Steve Erickson, Well, I know two people who’ve worked closely with him on projects, and his need for inordinate attention filled many stories they passed along to me. New song, and horror-style to boot! Everyone, Here’s maestro Erickson: ‘I wrote a song over the weekend, “Welcome to the Coven”. It began as yet another attempt to write horror movie soundtrack music, but I decided it sounded too dirgelike, more depressive than ominous, so I added percussion and lots of reverb.’ I would certainly suppose the trickle into theatres will turn into a pour over the next weeks, barring wave #4, I guess. ** Misanthrope, I think the lustre around Franzen’s work is probably a thing of the past, but I guess we’ll see whenever he unleashes his next wannabe earth shatterer. Like I said here the other day in so many words, consensus is a bullshit concept. I hope and trust the cookout was filling and that the proofreading is like watching your favorite porn with some complementary hand action. ** Dominik, Hi!!! I really liked the last SCAB leak. You’re on the serious, usual roll. Hm, in what possible way would Morticia and Gomez’s relationship not be ideal? That’s crazy. My weekend wasn’t a whole lot of anything, but it was fine. Did stuff of unexciting note. Either the hacking attempt stopped dead about 5 days ago or WordPress finally stopped telling me it’s going on every 10 seconds. Either way, the peace is welcome. Storage mess clean up continues unabated, alas. Ha ha, let’s just say I want to give your love the hungriest French kiss. Thank you. Love turning the heads of everyone in the world over 40 years old into helium filled balloons and giving everyone in the world under 40 years old a sharp pin, G. ** Right. Your local head belongs to New Juche today. Me, I’m getting my first vax shot this afternoon and hoping the side effects are nil to nearly nil, but, if I get whomped, I guess you’ll know soon enough. See you in some state or other tomorrow presumably.