Fluxion 4, Expanded Notes, part 3

Fluxion 4, Embracing Evil, Illustration by Chang Park (detail)

Fluxion 4, pp 32-33 Embracing Evil

“Embracing Evil.”
Sound menacing right? It’s supposed to.

I believe that every time we chose to be complicit with forces that ultimately work against our interests we, if metaphorically, are embracing evil.
Corporate hegemony is at the forefront of this daily assault on the American public for the sake of profit. (more on that later.)

This piece was the first cornerstone in the issue. It was conceived in 2003 on the eve of the Iraq war. I had attended a lecture at UCLA where Gore Vidal spoke on the impending invasion. One of the things he said made a deep impression on me. He quoted Benjamin Franklin from his comments on the new Constitution at the first Constitutional Convention in Sept 1787, where he said….
“I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”

Vidal’s phrasing was simplified to something like “Benjamin Franklin himself said that the American Constitution could only end in Despotism.” or at least that’s how I remember it.
This was a crystallizing moment. This comment, made some 216 years previous, described exactly what I felt was my experience of the government. Coming from one of the most innovative and brilliant founding fathers only gave it more gravitas.

The cultural and political focus of the issue is built entirely around exploring this observation.
That the American Republic has devolved into an Imperial Corporatocracy. Or as Cindy Sheehan put it a “fascist corporate wasteland”

On a daily basis I was feeling demoralized by the blindness of the media, the slanted reporting (aside from Fox altogether), and the general apathy on the part of people go along with whatever was being said as long as it was in Time, or CNN or similar news outlet. On every level I saw complicity, apathy, and unwillingness to act. I was furious at myself.

I attended several protests against the war, which proved to me that street protests have little to no effect anymore. I felt lost. I felt uneducated on the particulars of many of the political issues (though since 9/11 this had changed) I wanted to speak to all that.

I was working long, long hours for a low wage and was just too tired to much to do more than simply get my work done and keep basic bills paid. Your average wage slave.

The partisan rankling was and continues to be a disgrace. I was outraged that what passed as Civil dialogue were little more than shouting matches. Disagreement became treason. To me this was a new fascism being born.

I tried to task myself to make different decisions. Try not supporting any corporate products. You can’t buy hardly anything. Local food and products are more expensive. In every way it was difficult. This is how they win. We are lulled to our own destruction by convenience.

I had an recurring image in my mind of two eagles ripping one another apart in mid air. I knew this was the image I wanted to illustrate this sentiment.

I researched illustrators and decided on Chang Park in Chicago. He rendered my idea better than I could possibly have imagined.

I kept writing and editing the draft of my essay on my concerns, and delays kept postponing the issue. Time passed… other projects and work made it necessary to push Fluxion aside.

In light of the evolving situation, the piece was in a constant form of revision. It wasn’t long before I started seeing others espousing the same ideas and concerns, often better argued and more articulately.

by 2006 I was entirely deflated. Fluxion was hopelessly staled with no resolution in sight, and I felt like what I had to say was entirely redundant. I abandoned the piece to focus on other featured artists in the issue.

By the time I finally revisited “Embracing Evil” in late 2007 I had had several breakthroughs.

So much had been written in the mainstream and alternative media, that anything I had hoped to add was already out there. I read as much as I could and tried to find a perspective that I felt was unique, or at least a way to presenting it.

I knew folks were getting burned out, I knew I was. Wave after wave of scandal and tales of abuse of power kept coming. It was overwhelming.

I had decided early on to include numerous “visual essays” where a single idea, quote or comment was accompanied by a striking visual interpretation. By 2007 I knew I would need to apply that approach to more and more segments of the culture section of the issue.

Af
ter everything else was done though, I still had my little essay that I didn’t want to entirely throw away. Ultimately I kept the subhead, the first and last paragraphs as linear thoughts, and took the rest and did a cut-up.

I had long been intrigued by the cut-up method developed by Brion Gysin and employed to greatest effect by William S. Burroughs.
I reordered the text of the original “Embracing Evil” essay with a poetic eye and punctuated it with the occasional phrase “wake up” in bold.

I figured most people wouldn’t bother to read hardly any of the text anyway, but would be more likely graze the content, as people seem to do more and more these days. The task was to create visuals that still communicated the core ideas.

When In New York in August 2006 I saw the DADA retrospective at MOMA. DADA seemed like the perfect filter though which to approach the ideas in the issue.

I extended the reference also to include early Modernist Graphic Design principles, forwarded by artists like John Heartfield, Kazimir Malevich, and Jan Tschichold, which all seemed well suited to our current situation.

Fluxion 4, pp 34-35 Re-Imagine Revolution

Fluxion 4, pp 36-37 Reconstruct Social Evolution

While the election of Barack Obama has heartened many with the possibilities of serious change, enormous work remains to be done. If substanative change is to be successful, then we must all share in the responsibility to create it.

To quote Susan Sontag, we must “be serious, be passionate, wake up.”

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