[My contribution to the "Essay" section of By the Skin of Their Tongues: Artist Video Scripts, edited by Nelson Henricks and me in 1997 for YYZ Books.]


Why I am a Surrealist



Lately everything I've been writing has been kind of like a manifesto, or fragments of an endless raving manifesto such as the mad produce as a sign of their unbridled energy (mania) and frustration at their inability to cohere to the social fabric (conform). The manifesto is surely the ugliest genre in literature, so misshapen and unseemly it is rarely even referred to as literature. The harder it tries to convince us of something, to change our point of view and transform us ideologically, the more it compels our resistance. So its only for losers, those who can't resist the manifesto's doomed buffoonery, those who are content to spin their wheels in unformed, undirected anger, target-less (for everything, finally, is the target), impotent, not spent but endlessly spending, buying nothing, forming a little economic black hole which does not need to be destroyed because it cannot really suck in gravity and will soon fizzle out anyway. Renegade missionaries who never really expect any conversions, any salvation.


Why I am a surrealist

I believe that the unconscious exists and that I possess one. I believe that the unconscious is neither primordial nor instinctual. I am skeptical, uncertain, relativistic and doubtful but never cynical. I eat a good breakfast, though not until noon. I try to balance sublimation (a negotiation of instinctual renunciation) with desublimation (transgression of cultural prohibitions). I believe that transgression is a useless, empty gesture, but regression is productive, entertaining, fun. I am undertaking an analysis of the sexual determination of subjectivity and the social construction of identity. I am interested in the imbrication of the unconscious in the real. Because my memory is blank, I rely on the repetitions caused by repression. I feel the melancholy of loss and am compelled to make jokes about it. I attempt to create scenarios that are analogous to a primal structure. I am continually anxious over the alterity of the other, which I refuse to capitalize until it reveals itself more completely and proves it is exactly like me in every important respect. My work is driven by trauma and structured in repetition in order to transform the principle of identity, to convulse identity. I produce new objects of knowledge and then empty them out — it's a burlesque of traumatic loss, unbridgable gaps, endless sorrow. A sentient disruption of continuity, an unstable identity in which axes of desire and identification cross. Clearly, an hysterical position. Collapse, collapse, collapse! Involuntary memory, traumatic fantasy. (Also a belief in the primacy of the death drive.)