Here’s a passage excerpted from Umair Haque’s The Bullshit Machine in Adbusters magazine. I’m not sure if Umair has just gotten bored by the techno Wonderland but I’ve been bored to death with it for decades. Of course, I realize this is to brand myself a criminal in the eyes of Americans who border on religious frenzy in their devotion to the latest piece of gimmick technology they’re about to fasten their increasingly diminished brains to.
One line strikes me as odd in Umair’s critique: “Remember when cafes used to be full of people… thinking?”
How old is Umair? I’ve been painting and drawing people in cafes since the early 80s. I never went into one that was filled with people thinking. Of course this was the go-go Reaganite 80s in New York City, where every artist was a burgeoning star with their deeply moving Hollywood/Las Vegas art work. And everyone else was on the Big Hustle via the Wall Street Boom unleashed by the raw animal spirits of laissez-faire Capitalism. Of course the art world was (and is) a critical part of the Big Hustle of financial investors.
But perhaps outside of New York City there were people sitting in cafes thinking? Anyway, I missed out on that.
I’ve drawn people for the last 12 years in Albuquerque and I’d say less than 1 percent were even reading a worthwhile book, much less doing any serious thinking. Increasingly, over the years, they were sitting into front of portable computers or gossiping away about the latest TV series, sports event, best bargains on electronic junk could be found or whatever was on their computer screens. Anyway, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not chastising or complaining. Or angry. Why does everyone have the idea I’m so damn angry? I’m bored out of my gourd, just like Umair.
And I think people like New Yorker readers transfixed by shows like HBO’s Girls are terminally stupid. Sue me. Why is it, do you think, that these various liberal “high culture” outposts have taken to writing fawning reviews of TV drivel, when in their “high culture” heyday they wouldn’t even deign to acknowledge that TV, with it’s lowbrow audiences, even existed?
Why should I be angry? I don’t subscribe to HBO. Girls is just one of the many reasons I don’t. I’m bored to death with HBO. They even have a show called “Bored to Death” and watching any 15 minute segment of it, you’ll find it delivers on its promise.
The need to entertain a bunch of bored zombies. The need to be “liked.” The need to “succeed.” Succeed at what? Climbing to the top of a pile of waste products? Bon voyage. Godspeed. You’ll find Robin Williams hanging from a rope up there, and next to him Philip Seymour Hoffman with a needle in his arm. It’s totally awesome up there. Brilliant. Believe you me. The drugs help a lot, of course. Be sure to bring along plenty of those.
This culture is seriously fucked. Drop out of it. Stop the hustle. That’s today’s message.
So what am I doing today? I’m painting and listening to a free download of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Gripping stuff. Of course not on the level of Girls and Bored to Death and Game of Thrones…. but you don’t have to pay for it.
Here ya go. Have a listen. It’s a story cut from today’s headlines:
Of course, the catch is that you have to have a computer to listen to it.
Edgar Degas, Interior (aka, The Rape as it was believed to be a reference to Zola’s Therese Raquin), ca. 1868. Crime and Punishment was published in 1866.