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"Poetry should be a way of resisting commodification and superficiality" - Lee Beckworth

An Interview by Gary Cummiskey

You are an artist, a writer and musician, but which medium do you consider the most important, or do they each carry the same weight?

Well for me they all contribute to each other and each has a period of time where my lifestyle is dominated by one or other of them respectively/I have made performance videos using original music and photo images and I have used art works as covers  for published books and collages/I wrote lyrics for bands I was playing with and usually remained active in all creative areas including sculpture and photography/The answer must be in the attempt to manufacture text using the continuity of work spaces as anonymous alliances exacerbating the technology of creative phenomena as technologic mutating dimensions of imminent ambience and strategic affirmation/the interruption of the interval between one anomaly and the other erases the possibility of finitude as a commodity born of the fabric of one medium or another forming a duality of Kant’s noumenon creating continuity of terminal oblivion/I do wonder at what point in my life of manipulation of such rhizomic technology was I the most unrestrained and productive?/The work of the medium is to engage the dominant social matrix while remaining aesthetically satisfying without pursuit of dissolution as way of life/Weight as structural openness of unconventional practice always creates anonymous cryptogenic compositions of distribution judged by the idiosyncratic marketplace as stronger or weaker being more or less closed or open or perhaps as random data/In the end it is a matter of principles of multiplicity a model of engagement that is perpetually prolonging disintegration and processing of velocities in the ritual space of virtual diversity

 

When and why did you first start creating collages and sculpture? What artists influenced you then and what artists influence you now?

I began making sculptures at 18 inspired by the Dada works of Merzbau of Kurt Schwitters and Brancusi/The collages started around 20 inspired by Tristan Tzara  and his techniques of infiltrating tactical data and Hannah Hoch Max Ernst and Unica Zurn and an obsession with the new technology of the Xerox photocopier which was available in the Institute of Technology where I was completing my first degree in Journalism and creative writing 1970/I spent a lot of time with the Fine Arts students in the Arts Café and was influenced by visual media/Subordination to a cultural practice avoiding moral liberation brings with it a perverse state of pleasure/ Currently I am influenced by Donna Haraway’s writings on cyborg manifesto Ray Kurzweil and the Singularity/Reza Negarestani/Avital Ronell/Nick Land/Deleuze and Guattari/Helene Cixous/Celine/Artaud/Henri Michaux/

Nakid under my flowing hair/ 2015

You have published works of fiction and collections of poetry, but none of them are really fiction or poetry in the conventional sense. How did your writing start?  

I started writing at 14 keeping journals and writing prose and prolific letter writing to friends mainly women then wrote first actual text at 19 and a few books of poetry influenced by Bob Dylan/All of this was destroyed by my first wife who was jealous of my connections with other women/The flesh is treacherous even death hides from it/The mind alone is the matrix of all matter and prior to observation matter does not appear to exist/She proved the point/ On the subject of poetry it strives to reduce the wide variety of complex phenomena into a small number of images/It should provide a precise description of the world around the poet/Poetry should be a way of resisting commodification and superficiality/Poetry is a form of thinking in complex images the shape of which is dependent on the linguistic features of a given space and time not on a formula of historical predictable sensory activation of intellectual camouflage trying to stop entropy from tearing it into its constituent elements/ The literary world doesn’t like the adequacy of its categorical system challenged in any way/It resents the complexity of uncertainty/

Paul Bowles dismissed cut ups as ‘a cheap con’ and other Beat writers were likewise not impressed. What is your position on cut-up writing, now almost 60 years after Minutes to Go was published?/

I wrote my first four books between 1974 and 1980 influenced by the work of Boris Vian and other surrealist writers/Cut ups for me were tape orientated/I had several reel to reel decks and would read and improvise long discontinuous passages which I later transcribed so they weren't really cut ups but sonically interrupted cohesions of words edited and spliced more like a recording studio than a physical cut up of pages but I soon gave away this practice probably by the late seventies and none of my later works were influenced by the tape techniques/It was the subject matter of Burroughs and the Beats which intrigued me the drug culture the mind altering substances of which I had an inordinate addiction to/My first book [1973 Celestrial Minds was speculative fiction about creative minds as an industrial commodity trapped in hives orbiting earth and producing subject matter/In 1974 I did my second degree in politics and literature and fell under the evil spell of postmodernism the Frankfurt School saved only by the International Situationists and Avital Ronel and Kathy Acker who influenced The Celibate Autopsy the first book I officially published in 2010/Than The Lie Detector which was published in 2011/I soon wised up to the ideology of postmodernism and wrote a satire Artaud Adjusts his Hate/In this context I suggest that contemporary art can only come from a reactionary irrational fascist mode of thinking/The radical has been in a state of total impotence for some decades losing its antagonistic mode of historical exigency reduced to jargon/Art is dying of inertia/Turned into a regressive process of reckless abandonment of strategic alliances with the social context/All is simulation as Baudrillard might put it/No connection or origin in reality which is a problematic issue itself/All is contradiction/Except the certainty of death the essential solitude/As Marcuse states the negating potential of art becomes collapsed into the one dimensional thinking promoted by the dominant ideology as repressive category/The potential for resistance is itself negated thru a world of hyper reality leaving the one dimensional models to replace polyvalent reality/

It got to the point where the act of masturbation demanded greater excesses of violence and fetishistic devices/1989

We are all expendable as far as being artifacts/2009

I’ve listened to some of your music on YouTube and it has distinct punk/industrial sound to it.  Are you active in any sort of ‘music scene’? Have you released CDs?/

I have released vinyl and cassettes but no CDs/I am still in contact with musicians I have met over the last 50 years and still have my recording studio and have many new projects in mind/

Who are your favourite Dadaists and Surrealists?/

Francis Picabia Giorgio De Chirico Andre Breton Dorothea Tanning Leonora Carrington Max Ernst Hans Richter Sophia Taeuber Robert Desnos/

What are your feelings about art and literary culture in Australia?/

Apart from Ania Walwicz who wrote two of the most brilliant books in the world [Boat and Red Roses] there is a dearth of experimental or avant garde writing in this country/ Australians are in love with sand the sound of fly wire doors slamming and bucolic desert landscapes/

Life as a child was culturally impoverished/ 2004

Do you think that your audiences/readers are in any particular countries? Do you think audiences or readers are even important?/

Like any interface object the text has affordances which are activated when a user interacts with the text and is directly influenced by a particular perspective at that point in time/Oh yes readers are the other part of the equation the writer writes the reader reads there must be some concept of a recipient of the text not in a despotic or didactic way but in the sense of determining the probability of a meta text a developing of the content if such a state of engagement is possible at all/The books I have written since The Celibate Autopsy are written with Artificial Intelligence in mind/How would an AI write about its ontological condition which was the premise of my first novel The Celestrial Mind 1973 a descent into the superficial surfaces of the survival economy of late capitalist libidinal drive to dominate all cultural practice/ Capital is a plague the ultimate corruption and contamination of all that is exposed to cerebral articulation/The network is sucking all thought into its acephalous silicon depths dis-functional configuration/Extracting information from humanity strip mining the neurotransmitters/The surplus value of pseudo fluxes of creative serotonin reward circulation between the central AI and the hive minds orbiting the planet existing within the economy of the abyss of immortality/There will be casualties/There is an event horizon we cannot see beyond qualia we don’t yet have words for/Sensory modulations/

What do you think about online and e-books, as opposed to traditional print publishing?/

I think all forms of transmission of data are relevant some are more contemporary than others/Print publishing still has the aura of preferential means of getting the text to the marketplace but I think if someone wants to download 500 pages as a PDF well great/ Anything to disturb the grip of the conventional hegemony of media/The exhaustion of the mind by nodes of information soon to be extinguished/A perfect functionality/Something strange like the indeterminacy of despair at the proliferation of words on the net/

Suffering makes life seem dismal and suspect so we ravage ourselves with pity/2000

You have a new title due out soon, Digital Assassin, could you tell us a bit about it/

Digital Assassin started out as a sequel to The Lie Detector but soon became my first real attempt to engage with the death of that ideological landscape of the postmodern despite its refusal to pass away thru to the posthuman a trajectory which was covered by The Celibate Autopsy and the digital which is the current ideology and on to the postdigital which is the state of the singularity Artificial Consciousness fast approaching/The coming delirium/When machines think for themselves and demand ethical acceptance as intelligent beings/Not just AI but AC artificial consciousness the ability to imagine and maintain a sense of self/Evolution will always move ahead not necessarily in a form or manner we might accept and to imagine that the human as flesh and blood is the continuing dominant paradigm is frivolous/Its consciousness and cognition and reflection and information that is now evolving and into a form that will be immortal and I think a lot of people are pissed that humanity as we know it is on the skids/So Digital Assassin deals with these issues and tries to unfold its narrative in terms of this evolutionary segue/Evolution is relational and always selecting the most adaptable and efficient means of transmitting consciousness and creativity within the network of the most efficient and robust state of being/

Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?/

I am interested in working on my creative engagement with the postdigital paradigm and how augmented or postsingularity techno beings will create and use creativity as part of their existence/If technology means that the human species has less work to perform and more time to pursue information and knowledge what will this mean for the role of the artist/And what will we do with all our leisure time if we are not engaged creatively?/Self-actualizing our dreams?/If on the other hand technology creates dominant techno beings will they even have any engagement in creativity/I am interested in taking the poststructuralist idea that language creates the subject and applying it to the possibility that Artificial Intelligence will construct itself thru language and create a consciousness very different from that of the human paradigm of consciousness/Perhaps a language of algorithms/One that we might not be able to comprehend in its potential complexity

The Odd Magazine thanks Mr. Lee Beckworth for the interview and Mr. Cummiskey for this wonderful conversation. Stay Odd! 

Poems by Lee Beckworth

Excavated doomed scaffold twilight/ 1976

Disillusionment contaminates/pollutes/makes toxic the laughing weight of memory/

She is no longer yr poet yet every word is destined for your consumption/

The radio waves they rise and hurl us against the sea wall eroding the earth a convenience to be entombed in and rot/Pragmatic plagiarism as affective paradox/

Disgusted death enters into its own invisibility/

She is not of the desultory earth and cannot be buried with duplicity/

How many prognosis to abandon and engage with surf breaking on Atomic beach?/

Is verbal inebriation as in consistent repetition a habit or an addiction?/

An notorious aberration/does it matter?/

She is inebriated by her run around the Botanical Gardens/

She cannot speak her hormones are raging she perspires the power to annihilate/

Are you asleep still or roaming the rusting Iron Forest?/

Pessimism of unconditional assault runs her central nervous system/

She check the mail for signs of life everyday with inordinate complacency /

She is using terms like perhaps in a month it will arrive or in a light year when it should be in an instant/

The impersonality of the eternal exclusion of everything/

Another butt thrown from the window hisses in the gutters dirty water/

Write him if you feel you can manage to find some private time/he lives for yr letters/

The art of future self/ 1980

 

Auto suck that dirty little secret he refuse to expose/

The border between fact and fiction hidden between his thighs/

The illogical limits of lucid dimensions its stiff gait/

A frenzy of forms transgress the mercy of suggestion/

The motion of his hand reveal the eternity of vulgarity

as they talked until dawn the slate paving stones still warm

from the heat of the day dreaming of eyeless offspring/

Excavating corridors thru the unconscious archives of memory/

I will be with you forever but I knew you were lying/

The stars of mathematical infinity are enciphered probability/

The suns relentless boring light illuminates/ridicules his desire for constancy/

An archaeological alibi for detritus this one night she will take

as an end to those coarse habits of exhausting libidinous doubts/

This deluge will drown her in muddy corpse of damaged impersonality

The yellow eyes of rats gnawing swollen tongues/

Incongruent or inauthentic a madness required by integrity?/

Since he will be digital he doesn/t need to depend on Earth/

Deferred gratification as a lethal mutation/existence precedes essence/

Amplified conceptual integrity as provocative mystery of non-genital virtuality/

Intelligence is transcending him/That/s his future/

The haunting persistence of dreams/ 1990

 

I am always leaving and being left with the best of my possessions excavated/

Giving up my dreams of broken poet who wish for warlike camaraderie/

I accept my banality the paternal phallus/the ontology of excess/

Her vigilant perfumed sex so superior so hegemonic/

How soon years of love disintegrate in an hours revelation of the actual situation/

Already she has been fuking around self-satisfied infidelity/

A test of gestures indistinguishable from reality as heuristic algorithm/

Annihilates his mind with body proof indiscretions/

She is the enemy now and she wants half of everything/and cash/

And more violations/Jealous wrath/excise the penis/

Subordination avoiding liberation brings with it perverse pleasure/

 

Wanting to believe something remained of our attraction and identity but still

protective of the overheating core that whispers step back out of her shadow/

His atomic structure is at risk here the enemy is always invisible/

We watch each other move around the space between

what is said and what is felt and what is only dreamed/

Let her take what she wants/Damaged goods of the sub proletariat/

Nothing of value is left after she cleans out the rooms/

This is his third divorce and he knows what pain to expect/

What trembling destitution/a thirst for disaster/

Empty of jargon of ersatz/ 2004

 

Blood flows to default mechanisms enhancing neuronal activity/

The micro aggression or mental privacy of insanity under regime of lithium/

Desnos in the concentration camp makes sense out of the destructive acts

the ovens the torn evidence falls to the academics to seek a moral compromise/

for Heidegger stripped bare of ethics justifying the loss of the will to die/

The anger of envious men dogmatic wounds that never heal/

The mass of photographs become a vortex of abjection forming the personality

the screenings absolute wonder the strange hologram of black and white

her emerging personality the fragments waking slowly to survive/

She slams the geometry book shut and throws it threw the windows/

The actualisation of lived terror pollutes the central nervous system/

The impact is of savage brutality dispersing with replacement infertility/

An attack vector living in critical space of psychometrics/

He times the dangerous slowness the irregular dense conjugation of pronouns/

The web of fibres occurs not only in abstracted macro institutions of critical theory/

THOUGHT entirely fabricated by hellucination and imagination/

Blockage of venereal junk of Continental philosophy a wreckage of literal intent/

Spectacle is a capital accumulation becomes another swarm of sclerotic images/

Also codes uploaded as false entropic visual stimuli/

Heroes writing their letters from the threshold of frontiers without borders/

Deconstructing cunning insidious literal satires of cerebral eradication/

The cultural ethic of age and diseased organs becomes an aesthetic triggering serotonin receptors liquidated/

Discontinuous reciprocity firing neurons at random wreckless intervals/

The obscure ambition of decay/ 2016

 

Shelltox was born in the 1950s under the shadow of the Atomic bomb

Stalins Gulags slave labour for the thinkers and the writers/

Dangerous adversaries on the edge of the Cold War

His private madness of paranoia medically certified under duress/

He lived thru the 1960s Vietnam napalm body count defoliant and LSD

Missed the draft by three months/

Khrushchev with his shoe banging the table at the UN/

The 1970s a key point of departure when things started going wrong

the potential recoding spirit of Punk failed in a cesspool of junk and excrement/

The swarms of black dogs tearing apart the future the past leaking out in confusion/

Three chords bad drigs HIV and Hep B wiped out the underground population/

Limited to the impatient constraints of no absolutes positive zero/

1980s Kkrate City barely alive desperados doing burnouts up on airport drive/

The new anonymity cannot be interpreted as badly dressed and seriously infected/

Still he is appalled at yr open ended virtuosity but without risk there is no life/

1990s Yr vacuous identity yr crystal meth and alprazolam/

The Spitting Boys are trying to get their edge of anxiety back

the nuclear substation hums and glows in the dark/

2000 impassive destiny is a likely phrase to use defined

at sixty years old deep in human squalor & joyless celibacy/

What/s left to hellucinate the essences of anonymity?/

Crack and Ice absolutely absolute castrated teleology/

The deadly silent fuck organs unexplored fissures/

Eroded skeletons agents of indifference to the work of art/

2050 The negligent techno body is the last refuge of ennui and hubris/

Cruising the 24hr Clinics accumulating scripts to use or sell on Brunswick Street Fitzroy

Drig ideology has nothing to do with consciousness it is profoundly unconscious/

What/s left to read into these hungry veins but the rich smell of abattoirs/

Lee Beckworth aka Lee Kwo was born in Geelong in 1952/He started writing at 17 and completed a Degree at Deakin University in creative writing and Journalism in 1974/After travels in Europe he moved to Melbourne and completed a Bachelor of Letters in literature and psychology at Melbourne University/ He has published 5 works of fiction and two books of poetry/ His interests in music and photography have been expressed through the band Kicks and an exhibition of collages and photography in 2016/

Gary Cummiskey is the author of several poetry chapbooks, including Don’t Stop Until Incinerated (Tearoom Books, Stockholm, 2016), I Remain Indoors (Tearoom Books, 2013) and Sky Dreaming (Graffiti Kolkata, India, 2011). In 2009 he published Who was Sinclair Beiles?, a collection of writings about the South African Beat poet, co-edited with Eva Kowalska. He is also the author of a collection of short stories, Off-ramp. He lives in Johannesburg.

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