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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

THE NEO-DECADENTS PRESENT … NEO-DECADENCE: 12 MANIFESTOS

 

February 3rd marks the publication of NEO-DECADENCE: 12 MANIFESTOS. As with the earlier volumes DROWNING IN BEAUTY: THE NEO-DECADENT ANTHOLOGY and NEO-DECADENT COOKBOOK, this work continues the progress of Neo-Decadence, the only 21st century movement to address all arts and areas of everyday life.

“The early 21st Century: a gilded age of pious guilt, poison nostalgia, environmental collapse, unchecked pandemics, corporate franchises, workshopped creativity and personal brands. Standing against the Neo-Passéist tide, Neo-Decadence presents a total reformulation of everyday life. What is the vertical table? Why is a sex helmet indispensable for all assignations? What is the proper spirit of electronic gaming? Covering fashion, cooking, architecture, occultism, poetry, gardening, and other areas of concern to all young people, the present volume is the ONLY resource for those wishing to shrug off the cerements of late capitalist literature and art. If you’ve ever wanted to proudly commit commercial suicide while serving your own head on a plate as an offering to your inner daemon, consult this collection of manifestos—as much a personal style guide as it is a declaration of uncompromising aesthetic war.”

Now available for order:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1645250636/

Or buy direct from Snuggly Books:
https://www.snugglybooks.co.uk/neo-decadence-12-manifestos/

Excerpts follow from each manifesto.

 

NEO-DECADENCE (I)

Brendan Connell

“Kublai Khan was a modern. Things fell apart a long time ago. We are already living in the ruins of civilisation. There’s nothing to celebrate. When you toast, make sure you smash your glasses together. This kind of writing should be the same. Harmony is overrated.”

“Neo-Decadent writers will honour the fragmented, the contorted, the unfinished, the unpublished. Realising there is no glory, no reward, no lavish suppers or dancing on tables. Living in obscure lanes and remote canyons, things will be written in unread languages or translated from the language of lizards and snakes, plagiarised from deep wells and signed with hands wet with the dew of rotting fruit.”

“There’s nothing wrong with writing a lousy book. Just make sure it’s really lousy. There is nothing worse than competence.”

 

NEO-DECADENCE (II)

Justin Isis

“No precedence is given to the Decadent writers of the 19th century, their modes or milieu. Neo-Decadence is more likely to cross 1990s video game dialogue with the structure of a 16th century picaresque to discuss a drug deal in present day Mongolia. Fealty and earnestness can only hold back progress. We do not have saints, and we consume our idols.”

“Writing can be neither sincere nor authentic; these are the cliches of the ranks of the dead. Style is a mute scream in symbols—that’s all.”

“Literature is not a guild system. Academies and workshops: a parade of inbred dogs with each generation more unfit than the last.”

 

WOMEN’S FASHION

Justin Isis

“Time and space died a long time ago, leaving behind fossilized remains ripe for excavation and creative reassembly. Fashion strata of the past must yield fanciful chimeras, with entire time periods sampled in light of each other, suggesting new relationships appropriate to our novel sensibilities (if necessary, grist garments may be renamed, the better to remove their tired cultural baggage. Clothes, like words, are filthy with associative detritus: to reinstate spontaneity demands some surgical measure of sartorial neologism). The outline of an Edwardian golfing costume may find itself accented with a head scarf and assorted plastic raver accessories, while a bridal train heavy with beads may be repurposed for use on the subway. Kimono-hijab hybrids in bright primary colors may be printed with the texts of entire poems and stories. A humble soutane, recolored a poisonous cobalt yellow and ornamented with metallic spikes and pauldrons, would present appropriate morning wear for a young woman heading to work, suggesting a faithful, predatory centipede lured by the light of the sun rising through polluted clouds; the evocations of youthful vigor, plasmic haze and indescribably beautiful envenomed fangs would all create a unified impression in the mind of an admiring observer.”

“Simplicity is the enemy of beauty, since fundamentally stupid and regressive types will always revert to minimalism, little realizing that even a nude figure itself is nothing but a mass of visual artifices, and the human body an additive assemblage with its useless adjuncts and vestigial blind alleys, steeped in archaism and ceaselessly recapitulating obsolete pomp. A woman with her wisdom teeth and appendix intact has no need to scoff at frameless glasses or a bathing suit concealed beneath another bathing suit, much less a mask of bone or a live plant for a necklace.”

 

MEN’S FASHION

Gaurav Monga

Justin Isis

“We have nothing but contempt for the quaint revivalist who favors the fancy dress of the 18th or 19th century, including all spiritual descendants of that syphilitic dullard Beau Brummell. Similarly, we have no concern with masculinity defined as the mere absence of conventionally feminine traits—neither in the regressive sense of affirming it, nor in the naively reactionary sense of protesting it. Rather than macerate male style in a welter of agonized self-contradiction, we prize stylistic experiments incorporating the expansion of its true sentiments and tendencies: the priest-astronaut’s tenderness, the barking accountant’s ferocity, the chemist-poet’s hyena-like persistence.”

“The notion of any age being beyond parody is itself ripe for parody. For fashion, parody functions as a disinfectant, and if employed properly, it produces novel beauty through defamiliarization. Neo-Decadence, when considered by passéists and the ill-informed, might sound like a contradiction: how can there be new decay, fresh declines? This becomes clearer when it is realized that our clothes embody the decadence not just of the storied past or insistent present, but of various parallel paths in time. At the crossroads, where the accelerated Empire meets the ruins of remote antiquity, we are setting up looms, studios, 3D printers, molecular assemblers; the peasant threading a bone needle works alongside the sartorial artist-scientist of the future who knits discardable masterpieces from the raw materials of space. As the future declines into the present, Neo-Decadence is born, and the Neo-Decadent Man stands askance, clad in thrift shop items from sideways in time: a wardrobe of resurrected trends and impossible hybrids; the clothes of canceled histories.”

“The Neo-Decadent Man will draw little inspiration from those ultimate passéists, plants and animals. How pitiful are the birds, who have never thought to invent plastic surgery. Parrots chatter like businessmen, secure in their naive vulgarity, while swans wander the grass like drunken louts, and egrets congregate colorlessly like Uniqlo customers. The same spirit that would rehabilitate the facial contours of a dove is the spirit we will prize in our Neo-Decadent aesthetic consultants.”

 

COOKING

Brendan Connell

Justin Isis

“In past ages, the primary purpose of food was to fortify the body and to bring the spirit in closer contact with the gods. Today, however, through the decayed state of the social structure, its primary purpose, among all who are not starving, is to entertain and to declaim one’s STATUS and to display a flaccid costume of COMMUNITY. The Neo-Decadents, instead of rejecting this sorry state, embrace it, shouting loudly from the cafés and rooftops to the crowded boulevards, summoning both the curious and the confounded.”

“Strictly considered, the horizontal table still indecently displayed in our homes is a relic of the 20th century, ill-suited to our current existence and spiritually reeking of a hospital ward in which any dribbling convalescent is welcome to bother us. Approaching the table, we start by lowering ourselves, submitting to chairs, which lock us in place (properly speaking, one defecates while seated or squatting, but one does not eat in this position, much less concern oneself with the psychic effluents of other consumers). Tedious mouths appear in space, and we pick and prod at bits of meat and pieces of plants—conveniently sectioned and segregated, drizzled with dressings—while fielding all manner of fatuous impositions and maudlin reminiscences, the fortification of our flesh constantly interrupted by secondhand opinions, unsupportable politics and intolerable solicitations. Our spirits become flattened and distended as we chew, and our minds film over with a scum of sentiment. The whole thing usually ends with resigned indulgence in cheap wine, cocaine of dubious purity, desserts that are little more than defrosted clots of refined sugar, and whatever other palliatives are on hand. Televisions glower behind us, waiting like lampreys to attach their monitor-mouths to our postprandial weakness.”

“There is nothing more revolting than to see wine drunk out of goblets or glasses.

Brisk wines should be served in tazzini, and drunk with a counter-point of gravity, in the manner of Abyssinian priests.”

 

MUSIC

Ramón Alanís

“The verse-chorus form: an archaic relic as despicable as the three-arc story structure. Existing between the simplicity of minimalism and the complex intricacies of a modernist concert work, our music structures will be culled from the inscrutable logic of dreams, weather patterns in foreign regions, a series of scents we pass on the street, the architecture of foreign temples, the folds in the clothes of our beloved… Repetition legitimises, but discontinuance can reinforce too.”

“Our music will not be created with an intimate gathering, street-busking, a club, a theater or music hall, let alone stadiums or sports arenas in mind. If we intend to reach new heights, we must compose as if our music is going to be performed in the most bizarre and exquisite contexts: at brothels in ruins, over forest fires, at executions, on forlorn roads, at sky burials, at a congress of demiurges, at an agalmatophilic orgy…”

“The Neo-Passéist tends to “reinvigorate” styles of yore by imbuing them with modernity (electro swing, punk cabaret, synthwave, psychobilly, Postmodern Jukebox and their many imitators, etc.) If one must look into the past for ideas or influences, it shall be done not out of nostalgia but with the contemptible sordidness of a graverobber or the investigative rigeur of a pathologist.”

 

ARCHITECTURE

Damian Murphy

Gaurav Monga

LC von Hessen

“Opportunities to place a weapon in the hand of fate are manifold. Spyholes can be strategically installed to encourage the proliferation of dangerous knowledge, floors tilted to an imperceptible degree to cause an ambience of vertigo, the occasional door should lock from the outside just as a single window on an upper story should be impossible to close. All of these techniques are secondary to the subtler aspects of the craft—perplexing inconsistencies of light and shadow, a deliberate confusion of boundaries, the persistent feeling that a space is larger on the inside than its exterior would suggest, and the displacement of physicality such that the inhabitants feel out of sync with their environment. Luxuriant comfort should be intermingled with an unshakable sense of unease to give rise to an incredible range of sensations that make our current interiors seem bland. Crime, being central to the human experience, must not be neglected in the structures we inhabit. If the modern home has robbed us of a portion of our humanity, we must take it back by force.”

“The modern cityscape has fitfully smashed its cathedrals into a cluster of soulless stripped bone shards jutting from the barren earth, all embellishment shorn off and swept away like butchers’ and barbers’ leavings. Entire walls made of windows remain coldly uncovered, that anyone might stare from below or across into one’s doings: an aesthetic of passive surveillance. The Neo-Decadent Architect must resurrect the damask and velvet curtain, the glimmer of lamplight through a discreetly-glimpsed keyhole, the lush occult maximalism of the cloak-and-dagger.”

“The aesthetic of shiny, loud banality that characterizes the 21st century must be cast off like dead skin, twisted into arcane knots, and publicly set alight. In particular, the ultracapitalist sense of interior design that gears itself towards hypothetical future real estate sales potentially decades down the line, towards generic figures parasitically projecting their own banal ideals into one’s own living space, has reached its nadir in the vogue for hyperminimalism: the padded cell of upwardly-mobile wealth in shades of taupe and beige dictated by one’s local Homeowners’ Association.”

 

IMMATERIALISM

Quentin S. Crisp

“We have become used to the convergence of the human and the automaton. Many Internet bots are more articulate than many humans simply because of the decay of thought and expression in the latter. Therefore, there now exist many humans who would not pass the Turing Test. This is ironic in itself, but there is a further irony. As the numbers of such people increase they must surely approach a tipping point after which their increase becomes their decrease. That is, they will increase and decrease at one and the same time. This paradox is possible because, since the judgement as to who passes the Turing Test will rely more and more on others like themselves, they will begin to pass the test again in greater numbers.”

“What we call ‘fantasy’ is not the only artistic tool against materialism. The opposite tool, too, can be used—what has been called ‘naturalism’. Karl Jaspers writes: “anyone who philosophizes strives for scientific knowledge, for it is the only way to achieve genuine nonknowledge, it is as though the most magnificent insights could be achieved only through man’s quest for the limit at which cognition runs aground.” In other words, exhaust the phenomena and you will be presented with the remainder—the beyond, freedom, the spirit. So in art, chip away everything but the phenomena and by contrast that within which the phenomena are suspended will become clearer and clearer.”

“The spooky is the gateway to the numinous. There is a borderland of the spooky where clocks and watches go haywire. There are other manifestations, but these are too numerous to list. At some point, the passage into the Underworld is always necessary. You sign a waiver at the entrance. You fall. You buy a one-way ticket on the ghost train, unsure of your return. “Abandon control, all ye who enter here.””

 

OCCULTISM

Damian Murphy

“Our holy books will be legion and of staggering variety: instruction booklets for console games that never reached the market, infomercials for sketchy investments recorded onto Betamax cassettes, wallpaper motifs culled from 1960s Belgian catalogs, and blueprints drafted by architects whose ambitions eclipsed their means. In these ephemeral relics can be found the gates to hidden palaces of initiatory splendor. One needs only be so clever as to find the means of ingress.”

“Lascivious cyphers in hexadecimal Kabbalah will be scrawled in the margins of the apocrypha; we’ll craft expansion modules for electronic toys that elucidate our maxims in the language of the birds; our initials will be carved in luminiferous aether and every manner of arcana will be attributed to the letters, then we’ll permute them, weigh them, transpose them, and combine them to form an alphabet of artifice and triviality. We’ll pepper our canticles with preposterous lies and blatant contradictions. Only when the Akashic Record has been thoroughly falsified may our axioms be read between the lines.”

“The likes of broken down amusement parks and Soviet-era video arcades are especially pliable to Neo-Decadent ends. The skeletal remains of a mold-consumed roller coaster are a veritable chapel of the Mysteries. The enterprising necromancer might ply their trade in the evacuated playgrounds of Pripyat, while the theurgically-inclined can pursue apotheosis in the ruined bordellos of the Golden Triangle.”

 

ELECTRONIC GAMING

Arturo Calderon

Hadrian Flyte

Colby Smith

“As officially-sanctioned online platforms will not satisfy the soul-consuming need for ludic experiences in the post-“pay-to-win” world, the Neo-Decadents will have to immerse themselves in virus-infested emulator download sites, where handheld consoles such as the Wonderswan and the Neo Geo Pocket Color can show us glimpses of a cancelled-too-soon kaleidoscopic twenty-first century entertainment experience soon to be replaced by insipid and mind-numbing mobile phone games with more advertisements than Nathan Road in Hong Kong at the turn of the century.”

“Electronic games must get rid of goals, time-wasting soul-numbing trophies that reward gamers for sticking to obsolete parameters which do not let them explore every inch of the virtual worlds to which they have access. Brand new concepts and outside-the-box approaches to gameplay must not only be encouraged but demanded from every developer and designer. An offspring of LSD Simulator and Yume Nikki without the unpleasant feeling of dread after every step. A GTA-inspired sandbox game without the gangster lifestyle escapism, just a vast area where you can roam free, from hospitals to school, from canyons to outer space and all the points in between. Burning Gothic cathedrals where a magical girl can attain Nirvana with the help of a César Vallejo-quoting non-playable character. The centre of the Big Bang itself from the perspective of a newborn black hole. The console as a Japanese-developed, Chinese-manufactured, American-imported TARDIS that can be a golden key for our inner doors of perception, a mind-altering drug for straight-edgers, or just a glorified paperweight that will eventually download the newest version of a boring and dull franchise perpetuating itself through time. A Neo-Decadent knows how to choose wisely.”

“As a total abandonment of the industry-imposed, controlled-movement methods inside the digital oneiric architecture of electronic gaming, most people have developed their own way of avoiding the tedious task of simply going from point A to B and get rid of the almost coitus interruptus conclusions from what must be a more kaleidoscopic experience. The same way memorizing and studying close-to-your-heart verses from a long-form Modernist poem can lead to the revelation of savoury secrets hidden between lines, spending long insomnia-ridden nights can reveal wormholes waiting for you behind portraits in a polygonal Mushroom Kingdom, or that the combination of blue-and-orange portals can guide you through retro-futuristic edge lands while running away from an egomaniacal AI in less time than necessary to decide which would be the best outfit for hitting the arcades. Breaking the unbreakable and seeing the invisible should be spiritual dogmas for the Neo-Decadent Gamer. A third-eye opening approach to a 48-hour-long RPG where instead of facing an eldritch abomination in an existential duel with the fate of entire galaxies at stake, you decide to go on a pleasant side quest in order to grow radishes and cabbages, the freshest and most delicious vegetables that those 32-bit High Fantasy worlds have ever seen. As fast as a Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300 or as slow as a three-toed sloth, there is no goal to stick to except for the absolute pursuit of jouissance.”

 

INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS

Justin Isis

“Friends and lovers, parents and children, husbands and wives, husbands and husbands, wives and wives, employers and employees, teachers and students, masters and servants: we have witnessed them all, and all of them bore us. Almost all artforms have seen increased specialization, increased renovation of generic conventions over time—except interpersonal relationships. Technology soars ahead, but our repertoire of human connections remains curiously, almost medievally limited. We satisfy ourselves with surface agitations, trivial variations. Much has been made of the recent generation-wide transition away from monogamy and stifling domestic and familial bonds, but conceptually, little has changed. Minor reconfigurations are taken for revolutions, while the dull heart of convention thuds away, rarely varying its rhythm.”

“Most people acquire enemies haphazardly—if they acquire them at all. Petty antipathies result in grudges, which are often barely sustained past the initial infatuation or bloom of negative passion. With the abolition of public duels, we have lost not only the necessity of taking our convictions and actions seriously (lest there be immediate mortal consequences), but any real conception of enmity itself. As a result, we muddle about, secretly trying to defeat ourselves, or else fixate on perceived foes who are usually little more than fantasy figures (televised phantoms of politicians and celebrities). Fad philosophies of mindfulness and non-attachment starve our honest antagonism to a miserable, childish spite.

Ideal enmity, consisting of the imposition of strict limits and the long-lasting maintenance of concern for another person, is one of the strongest interpersonal relationships. Enemies should be assigned to each other at birth and should sustain the relationship for several decades at the minimum (a formal exchange of enmity rings may be completed in young adulthood to signify the union). Severe penalties, such as the amputation of a toe or finger, should be imposed for breaking enmity. To permanently opt out of the relationship, a severance ceremony should be staged, in which the party seeking to leave should admit their personal failings.

Without necessarily exceeding the bounds of the law, platonic enemies should be expected to discourage each other in all things, which will, of course, require regular monitoring of each other’s activities. News of misfortune must be greeted with triumph.”

 

ENGLISH POETRY

Jeremy Reed

“Ballard’s fiction as an indication of sub-scenes with an insider’s code to placing tomorrow before today, occupies no categorizable genre, except the eponymous term Ballardian. His novels explore the collapse of the distinction between vision and madness, most often in the socially acceptable as carriers of the potentially emergent psychopath. His visionary subversion of cultural forms in fiction arguably finds its interface in synthetic biology that attempts to redesign organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities. Ballard re-treated fiction, having briefly trained in medicine, as a biomedical module that could incorporate near-future technologies, in the same way that synthetic biology seeks to create new biological parts, devices and systems, or to redesign systems already present in nature. Genetic engineering in the modification of an organism’s genome through biotechnology could appropriately be assigned a Neo-Decadent context within science, little different in its textual applications to how Huysmans, the author of the seminally decadent Against Nature (1884), plays with altered states through the introduction of synaesthesia. The two occupy a similar resonance, separate in time, but ultimately not so different in their design to re-edit the body’s capacity to experience the new real through enhanced cellular discourse.”

“Do we view Neo-Decadence then, as a technocultural bacteriology, an inherited sensibility individualised into its expansion, or as a subjective phenomenon launched in opposition to the ethical and moral restrictions imposed by society’s scientific methodologies and modelling practices?

To me, it’s about the individual or type being sucked forward into ultimate novelty by the forces of imagination that shape the new real into its appropriately expansive psychic postcode. Both in my own practice and in my reading, writing is only outstanding to me through the quality and originality of its imagery; as stripped of the image it remains nothing but words and ideas, like a non-alcoholic drink. And the image is a right-brain involuntary experience, the right hemisphere predominating in perceptual, holistic, manipulo-spatial and gestalt formations. Intensified visual imagery is not only seminal to Neo-Decadent writing as neural information, but also in its appeal to all the senses as the unit of behaviour or experience imagined. And this is what has always distinguished Decadent and Neo-Decadent writing from Baudelaire to Gibson, the vehicle of kinetic imagery as the equivalent of timeframes that are unforgettably filmic. I simply can’t read in the absence of imagery; strings of words don’t interest me. The image isn’t an accessory, it’s the heartbeat of compelling poetry or fiction—it’s the impromptu gestalt that makes it all happen.”

 

AMERICAN POETRY

Paul Cunningham

“When I read James Pate’s Flowers Among the Carrion: Essays on the Gothic in Contemporary Poetry, I found myself thinking of vast, monstrous night as a hyperobject in the same way Timothy Morton has approached global climate change as a hyperobject. If night is a metaphor for the unknown in the Gothic, then I can understand why Gothicism keeps springing up in contemporary poetry. It feels like an appropriate response to the Anthropocene, to global climate change. Metaphorically, Decadence embraces night—inevitable death. But Decadence also feels like a warming. Warming like the earth itself. Burning up like Walter Pater’s “gem-like flame” or Gustave Moreau’s sublime painting of Salome: “[…] glowing coals, as violet as jets of gas, as blue as burning alcohol, as white as the rays of a star. The horrific head blazes, still bleeding, leaving clots of dark purple on the ends of the beard and hair” (À rebours).

The light or gem-like flame of Decadence is not the same thing as the contrasting “daylight” (optimistic, good-humored U.S. poetry) Pate mentions in Flowers Among the Carrion. Decadence contains a fleeting, blood-stained light—fueled by sickness and oppression, society’s wars and violence. It is the last momentum ents of light just before nightfall.

Whether I think of myself as a Graveyard Poet leaning into Night, a Gothicized Decadent, or a zombie-Romantic, there’s a lot of influences at work in my poetry and I see all of those things as valuable to how I approach the Anthropocene.”

“Given Bataille’s emphasis on hidden and dirty root systems, the etymology of the word “obscene” is important. Coming from the Latin (obscēnus), if something has been labeled ob-scene, this means one of society’s many repressive state apparatuses has decided a particular image should be ob-structed from the view of spectators. The ob-scene is what’s not seen.

The image of a field of flowers in a poem alone isn’t Decadent simply because it is an image containing many flowers. There has to be too many of them. An obscene number. One must consider them a nuisance. A threat to Taste. Threateningly kitschy. Too much.

If the obscenity of flowers poses a threat to tasteful or overtly masculine art, then that is precisely what makes flowers a valuable tool for New Decadent art.”

 

NATURE

Sailor Stephens

“A modern dandy would do well to draw energy from growth, decay, chaos. In the age of Instagram, Naturalism is dead. Pure artifice is the default.

In contrast to the drab mediocrity of Dollskill & “dad trainers” & YouTube makeup tutorials, modern Nature has a fresh aesthetic. Forget the dreary old woman of the past, the New Nature is all grand gestures & pathetic fallacy.

A dead rabbit in its furs & red jewels lying in a Tesco carpark. A ruined office block with trees exploding through the walls, heavy with rotting apples.”

“Go moonbathe in archive McQueen then cast banishing rituals on your landlord.”

 

AGAINST NEO-PASSÉISM

Justin Isis

Damian Murphy

Gaurav Monga

Quentin S. Crisp

LC von Hessen

“The Neo-Passéist type is a recognizable fixture of the current psychosocial landscape. There are, among others, meliorative Neo-Passéists, nihilist Neo-Passéists, spiritual Neo-Passéists and literary/artistic Neo-Passéists. All are creatures of glaring internal contradictions, and while contradictions are useful for producing interest when ground together intentionally (as this manifesto itself does, being the work of multiple authors with differing views), the unwitting Neo-Passéist is a mere vector or vehicle for ambient market forces and their associated manners, unaware of how ridiculous they appear. The absolutely sincere, guilty, anxious and agonized cast is characteristic of most current art.

Neo-Passéism is the unexamined artistic logic of capitalist realism.”

“Capitalism, having appropriated all available physical markets, has moved on to conquering time. Its success can be measured by the extent to which we are trapped in numerous overlapping “era markets” running on commodified nostalgia. The cycle has accelerated, so that while a fallow period of ten to twenty years once preceded each sequence of revivals and remakes, the profitable gravity is now irresistible, and the 1980s—dragged back from the dead at the start of the millennium—show no sign of ending. This “capitalist time hole” has produced an eternal present, with no possibility of escape from its event horizon. Hauntology remains only a shadowy awareness of cancelled futures, and the deterioration of art results as “creatives” are expected to engage with recognizable “content” to expand vast corporate franchises. The production mechanics of this “intellectual property” then become the governing principles of creation. The emotions of Neo-Passéists overflow into these tired vessels, and the final result is a sort of constipated myth cycle, the promise of various dithering apocalypses that never fully arrive. With this new feudalism of film franchises, fiction series from corporate publishing houses, and repetitive gallery shows displaying the artists of the past (all of it presided over by the academic guilds), we have reached an entirely medieval age.”

“Genres have replaced proper stylistic movements. This has resulted in endless tedium; therefore we proclaim market-driven, intentional genre writing to be another symptom of Neo-Passéism. The inherent value of genre, once subversive, has become its own orthodoxy. Against it stands the clerical call for “high art” and a return to “Tradition”. Both these positions are untenable, and so the blasphemy of disdaining genre must be committed, while at the same time the pompous reactionary esteem for liberal humanist social novels and the like must be deflated like a gaseous balloon. We will simply ransack everyday life as it pleases us!!! There is nothing to be said about “the human” that is not readily apparent to a child. At the same time we are BORED with all genres, corporate spectacles, straitjackets of profitable rules (the mere recombination of tropes does not constitute innovation or interest). Away with the tedium of crime, horror, fantasy and the rest. Away, too, with “transgression”—the tamest and most predictable of them all. To avoid stagnation, we will ensure that all of our tropes cancel themselves out. We will combine tawdry eroticism with statistical anecdotes, and antinatalist parables with romantic Young Adult adventures. We will exalt violently diverse artistic personalities, Post-Naturalist prose styles, “bad writing” whenever necessary. Pieties and epiphanies will be ridiculed and cancelled.”

“The immense freedom permitted by the Internet and other advancing technologies calls for a truly crosscultural, altermodern artistic movement. Not limiting ourselves to English, we will establish Spanish, Japanese, Urdu, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and other Neo-Decadent literatures. All writers must now be translators, and monolingual types will be regarded under suspicion of provincialism. Demographics and frontiers must be constantly fractured, and artistic concerns rotated into new contexts. To relieve boredom, Neo-Decadent factions will be established on every continent and, ideally, in every country, always with the aim of undermining the pompous, tendentious, sincere, academic, intellectual, stultifying, risible and outdated impersonators of writers and artists who in most cases comprise the publishing industries and art scenes. Fashion, music, writing, art, cooking, sexuality and all other areas of everyday life will be dismantled and reformulated whenever boredom threatens to constrain us.”

 

 

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p.s. Hey. This weekend the blog is being taken over by the Neo-Decadents so they can introduce you to a new big book containing their Neo-Decadent manifestos regarding writing and, well, the whole world. If you don’t know the viewpoint and works of these reinventing literary titans on a mission, here’s your chance. It’s fascinating stuff. Please spend the local portion of your weekend getting familiar, and, if you like, responding in your vaunted fashions. Big thanks to the Neo-Decadents for entrusting this blog with their daring-do. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Ah, that sounds like a most pleasant birthday, good. When I was in 6th grade, my parents had a friend named Marvin Lee who was a professional magician. Lee Marvin was very famous at the time. I got this goofy idea to have a party and invite my friends and tell them Marvin Lee would be performing at the party — my parents asked him, and he agreed to — gambling that they would think I meant Lee Marvin and attend in hordes. And it worked: a ton of kids showed up. And then Marvin Lee, who looked absolutely nothing like Lee Marvin,  performed his magic act, and the kids were very pissed off that he wasn’t Lee Marvin and booed him, even though his magic act was pretty good. And everyone — the kids, my parents, Marvin Lee — were very mad at me afterwards, and I learned an important lesson. There’s very good art criticism, but it’s true that you almost never find it in mainstream media, rather in art magazines. Basically, the same as with film, music, books and the like. ** Sheree Rose, Sheree! Soothing your soul, especially at 5 am, is a massive accomplishment, so I am seriously blushing over here. Big love, me. ** Ferdinand, Well, you’re most welcome. Great about the post. Whenever you’re ready. I don’t drink alcohol almost ever, but I know from my complaining friends that there are buying restrictions here too. My weekend? Gisele Vienne has started early work on a new piece that she wants me to write the text for, and, on Sunday morning, I’m going to watch some try-out rehearsals for the first time so I can start getting my head into what she wants. Otherwise, hoping to hear back from the person doing the budget for Zac’s and my new film, working on some writing, blah blah. You? ** Misanthrope, Me too! What were the odds? There couldn’t be a bigger nerd than the person who makes this blog, I reckon. I think nerdiness is often another word for ‘more intelligent’? Oh, man, I sure hope for the very, very best with your mom. That’s really unnerving. Is she feeling better? David sometimes sounds like one of those quirky, minor teenaged characters in horror movies who always end up getting slaughtered. ** Dominik, Hi, Dom!! Awesome, so happy you liked it! Exciting about the SCAB contributor/author’s book! And, yeah, I of course hope things do pick up otherwise. Over here with our 6 pm curfew, an 8 pm curfew almost sounds heavenly, ha ha. So hoping you don’t get locked down again. Us too. It’s a constant threat. Zac has my draft of the possible script-turned-fiction thing, and he’s away and not very communicative, so I’m waiting for his opinion and input so we can move forward or write it off as a failure. I think he’s still healthy. I’m waiting to get news from him. Ha ha, that engagement ring. Love looking at himself in the mirror and deciding, ‘You know? Maybe my man bun is not as cool and sexy as I’ve been thinking’, G. Great weekend! ** James Champagne, Hi. I made the insertion, thank you for running interference. Great luck finishing off the inventory without excess brain and body impact. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Did you get to watch Leeds? Dare I ask if they held up their part of the fan-heroes bargain? Oh, I suspect that being downshifted from great coffee to weak shit has everything to do with the concentration downsizing. High hopes that your weekend will have some unanticipated sparkle and blissfulness. ** T, Hi, ha ha, happy to delete the word ‘uni’ from my vocabulary until further notice. My weekend plans are sketchily laid out in my directive to Ferdinand an inch or two north of here. Enjoy your relatively safe friend. That sounds so nice. It is undervalued, isn’t it? Everybody announces but too few pronounce. Or something. Lovely Japanese shirt, needless to say. Honestly, I just gathered as many pronouncements as I thought would be too many in an interesting way, lined them up, and then counted them, so 166 was just boringly factual. I do intend to find every possible instance of the pronounceable in my weekend. How did you know? I hope yours is full of mind boggling Japanese t-shirt slogan-like incidents. ** Bzzt, Hey, Q. Bumping it was fun. It’s a cool piece to boot. We’re getting more and more spring-like here by the hour. It’s kind of sad. Although the warmth is kind of a guilty pleasure. You were a Tumblr guy? I was just a Tumblr robber. I’m okay with Richard Brautigan’s stuff but not a passionate fan or anything. Yes, I just saw that signature in my searching and thought it was funny. Basically, everything I found and used was a comedy decision. I’m fighting off feeling excited to make the film until our producers feel confident enough that the funds can be raised give us the green light, but, that said, I guess I’m excited. No, wait, anxious and impatient. Well, the earliest we would shoot the film is in October, and I won’t be surprised if it ends up being more like early next year, so it’s too early to know how cautious we’ll have to be. We’ll do what needs to be done. You might as well apply for grants, yeah. After being turned down for every writing grant in the world for years and years, I quit even trying. There’s always at least one person every committee who says, ‘No way am I delegating money to that sicko Dennis Cooper’, and there’s no way around that. I hope you get to the beach ASAP. Even this weekend? Have a great one in any case. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Everyone, Here is Mr. Erickson’s review of the film ‘Supernova’. The ‘Baise moi’ freak out over here seems very weird even over here. I vaguely recall ‘Superfly’ being a lot of fun? But what a great soundtrack no matter what! ** Okay. Surrender your whatevers to the Neo-Decadents, you guys. See you on Monday.

18 Comments

  1. Thank you for the hospitality!

    I just wanted to give a shout out (as they say) to two artists, Joe Campbell and Oscar Oldershaw, who did the styling and took the photo of me (Quentin S. Crisp) in polkadot dress and shades.

    This is a link to one of their collaborative pieces (film) that drew words of praise from Apichatpong Weerasethakul (“I can watch this film over and over. I don’t understand it but it is just fascinating. The camera work invites us into the ritual, we are part of the alienation.”):

    http://www.stevencameronferguson.com/sulphurspring

  2. Ah so your workhorsing the weekend, thats good. Nothing much here really besides swimming abit and a little bit of jogging, very little bit and then theres neatining up for inlaws which we havent seen but will see tomorrow. Just reading abit on Sencorship in Australia, they seem to be conservative. Besides your blog have you faced any forms of censorship with your work?

  3. I think I can sign up with these people just by this quote: “There’s nothing wrong with writing a lousy book. Just make sure it’s really lousy. There is nothing worse than competence.” And the photograph of one of the writers was taken in what I believe is Shibuya Tokyo. Which made me instantly homesick for that city. I’ll check into these manifestos as soon as I can.

  4. Wait, I signed in as James Champagne rather than Sypha yesterday. Huh. Must have been half-asleep or something.

    This might amuse you Dennis. A few days ago I was looking up your upcoming book in our internal “Bookmaster” search system, as I was curious to see how many pages it would be. Imagine my surprise when I saw that it listed the genre as “Romance”! Well, the system’s been a little wonky these days.

    Thanks for hosting this for the Neo-Decadents. I basically disagree with them on most everything but I’m also friends with most of them so it all balances out ha ha.

  5. Thanks for the reccomendation Dennis. Have a wonderful weekend. Have you ever considered writing a memoir?

  6. To the neo-decadants: Who are your influences, besides the obvious of course?

  7. Shane Christmass

    February 21, 2021 at 6:53 am

    I’m in the Neo-Decadence FB group amd I enjoy the conversations from afar and read the discussions with interest, I’m still not sure what it is all about.

    Hopefully this clears it up – I do love a good manifesto though.

    Have you read this?

    https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/176016/100-artists–manifestos/9780141191799

  8. Ooh the Neo-Decadents will be welcome visitors this weekend!

    Hospital life is uneventful right now, although I do have headphones for my iPhone so will listen to the BEE podcast later this morning. I can even watch football this way, so am kept up to speed with all things Leeds United. Safely mid-table I’m happy to say.

    Institutional foodstuffs are a definite pleasure for me here. Pudding and custard is food of the gods as far as I’m concerned!

  9. Dennis, sniff snffff grrrr wruf!
    Haha, ooooh boy. Well, like Sypha above I think I basically disagree with almost all of those manifestos but I suspect that’s the entire point, manifestos, whether they emanate from teenagers or grownups, being the archetypal “please disagree with me” textual form. Artful trolling is its own hermetic, reality-proof surrealist bubble I guess. Plus, if there’s one thing lockdown has well and truly taken away from us it’s the experience of being around people we disagree with, so… fine. I reckon anyone who thinks there is nothing worse than competence has not had to work their arse off days, weeks, months, years on end in forced collaboration with slash deference to white men in middle-management who have been taught never to let incompetence stand in the way of ponderous pronouncements and dick-waving private equity gambles. I would die a happy human if I could deal with 100% competent adults for the rest of my days. And if that included never having to hear men’s thoughts on what women should (not) be wearing again, christ almighty, sign me up. But anyway. Different strokes and all that. Ok, they have a point on beige hyperminimalism. A bemusing interior design trend, that. And Ballard-love… well, everyone loves Ballard. He was just such a lovely guy. A golden retriever kinda guy, though, lest some literal literatti be too prompt to paint him as some kinda total outlaw weirdo. Very much not. Aaaaanyway.
    Pigeon Hubert is starting to confuse the twigs I supply for his DYI project with my actually live (if not quite kicking, admittedly) plants, which he pecks at relentlessly, likely hastening their demise, so we’re having Difficult Discussions. Very sorry that your asshole neighbour nixed the luxury nut feasts. Fucking 8e arrondissement snobs, man.

  10. Hi!!

    My interest was piqued right when I read the sentences “There’s nothing wrong with writing a lousy book. Just make sure it’s really lousy.” Thank you for this post!

    I really hope neither of us gets locked down again, yeah…

    Oh. I hope you’ll hear back from Zac soon! I keep my fingers crossed for that project so much!

    Hahaha! That poor love. Doesn’t he know that Harry Styles is the only person who can pull off a man bun convincingly? Love trying to turn a Paolo Coelho book into a horror novel, Od.

  11. A lot of pronouncements going into the weekend, haha.

    Look forward to hearing more about the new piece for Gisele.

    Just started reading Nick Antosca’s early novel Midnight Picnic. Maybe not as good as my favorites Hangman’s Ritual and Girlfriend Game, but pretty captivating so far.

    Bill

  12. I look forward to the neo-decadent antinatalist YA fiction promised here!

    In the past few days, I’ve written two songs inspired by BLADE RUNNER and its soundtrack. The second one, “Of Course We Know,” began as a remix of the first, reusing some of the same sounds and melodies, but took on a life of its own: https://callinamagician.bandcamp.com/track/of-course-we-know. Here is the first, “Happy Android”: https://callinamagician.bandcamp.com/track/happy-android

    SUPERFLY actually seemed rather bland. I’m sure it suffered in comparison to the soundtrack, but the montage of still photos set to “Pusherman” suggested a promise it never really delivered on. But
    I really enjoyed Takashi Miike’s bizarre 2014 fantasy AS THE GODS WILL, in which giant cats and polar bears show up at a Japanese high school to kidnap and brutally murder teenagers. It’s structured as though it were a video game with 5 levels.

  13. Dennis, Yay for the Neo-Decadents. Like Sypha, I’m friends with all these writers and “in the group.” I don’t agree with everything, but they’re all excellent people/artists whom I support 100%. And make no mistake, they are 100% serious about this movement.

    I was talking to Colby Smith about this on the phone the other day, and I told him one thing I like about the group/movement is that “dissent” is allowed and even encouraged. Batting things around, discussing things, having different ideas and perspectives. All of that is welcome. No toe the line or get out stuff. I mean, hell, they accept me, that’s evidence enough, no?

    Perfect description of David, hahaha. I’m sure if I told him that, he’d laugh.

    Had a fun time at a friend’s in Annapolis last night. Got attacked by three little girls who, at one point, I had throwing rock-n-roll devil horns up and screaming, “We want to party!” Good food, a movie, Mario Kart, etc. Got home at 3:30 a.m.

    Thanks for that about me mum. She’s doing better. The Cipro seems to be working. She’s feeling better slowly but surely. She’ll call her GP tomorrow.

  14. Brian O’Connell

    February 22, 2021 at 5:14 am

    Hello, Dennis

    Decadence, yay! These folks sound like an interesting bunch (and I note one of my sometime Twitter compatriots LC von Hessen among them, wow!). I will be taking a look at this book for sure, as well as all of those involved’s writing. And I should really also read some OG Decadent literature too, come to think of it…

    I spent this weekend mostly seeing family, which was nice but a little exhausting, and reading. I didn’t get to watch “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover” as I’d planned on doing (this week for sure!) but I did get to see “Beau Travail” tonight, which I thought was just phenomenal and amazing. Have you seen it? What’re your thoughts if so? And how was your weekend? Good, bad, indifferent? Surprises? Points of interest? Or nothing? With that string of questions I’ll head to bed, for I have a painfully early class tomorrow morning. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Till then!

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