An Interview by email for the German art magazine "Perspektive" in its issue: "avantgarde_under_net_condtions"

perspektive 43/44 

das perspektive doppelheft: der erste teil liefert eine zusammenschau von avantgardeansätzen im www und bietet einen theorieüberblick zum thema "avantgarde_under_net_condtions".

im zweiten heftteil sammeln sich in gewohnter dichte theoriefragmente (etwa das neue kontrollverfahren) und diverse experimentelle autorinnen wie d. holland-moritz, sylvia geist, louis armand, rodrigo toscano u.a.. 

lesen sie doch einfach nach diesem text weiter auf unserer webseite http://www.perspektive.at im bereich "hefte" oder "autoren" oder stöbern sie auf der webseite http://avantgarde.perspektive.at im vollständigen material zu "avantgarde_under_net_conditions". 

das ganze heft können sie dort ebenfalls downloaden im pdf-format oder rtf-format. 
 
 

perspektive 43 // avantgarde_under_net_conditions // 

postdogmatism - cecil touchon

Are we finished with manifesto writing?

interview - english 
 

[question 1 - perspektive] the postdogmatist manifestos seem to represent a more "postmodern" practice in manifestation: a tweening between hypertrophy and meta-discourse. on the one hand there is no dogma for postdogmatists and on the other hand every dogma which is not dogmatist should be persecuted. that is why dogma control and dogma catcher

are being set up in the manifestos. what is the use of setting the "dogma as dogma" and otherwise promote the uselessness of a dogma?  
 

[cecil touchon] 

Some of this is explained in 'Dogmatism Clarified' (attached). I don't know if you have read that yet. Anyway, it is hard to say how strongly the conception of Post-Modernism was involved in our original  onversations

which led to these manifestos and credos. We were reacting against something in a certain way and I think that was the intellectual relativism that was present at the time that we felt was a false direction within the post-modern activity going on. We all shared a consensus that there is an underlying reality that is true and always remains true and that all human dogmas are an attempt to simulate that truth in human terms through dogmas and dogma structures. There is a kind of post modern implication in the pursuit of post dogmatism in that there is a recognition of tremendous human diversity in terms of belief, action, creativity, cultural influences, personal history, etc. and so there is a call for a personal use of meta-discourse, to apply a discipline of being self reflexive. In this sense, this playing with the meta-discourse of one's own way of being aimed at stripping away extraneous influences and beliefs supported by identification of one's self via the beliefs one holds, leads eventually to an exhuming of one's more original nature. This sort of thing is practiced by Buddhists, Taoists and Sufis for example and by anyone mystically inclined in any culture or religion. 

So Dogmatism - the first movement which we intended to start but which lasted only twenty minutes - was succeeded by post-dogmatism for the reason that we came to the realization that Dogmatism should be dedicated to

this recognition of a primary and preexistent Reality which always resides in a state of omnipotent potentiality like a mighty oak tree resides within the acorn and that this is the touchstone against which all human dogma must be

tested in terms of being of value. 

A touchstone, of course, originally means a hard stone like basalt against which gold and silver are rubbed and the consequent streaking proves their genuineness. Dogmatism, which is the recognition of this preexistent reality or 'The One True Dogma', points to this need of a touchstone and at the same time leads to the recognition that dogmas in general are surrogates which we tend to come to treat as if they were this more primary reality. So naturally, when they break down, as they always will, there is a sense of loss and meaninglessness. 

>From a post-dogmatist view, the breakdown of the cultural belief structures that made post modernism take up a relativist and nihilistic attitude is a false and premature stance which cannot and will not lead anywhere other

than to a depressing, meaningless, pessimistic viewpoint. Another strategy, which we champion, is to see this breakdown as a liberating experiencewhich offers the possibility of seeing beyond these beliefs - any beliefs -

into the more primal reality which is always at the back of things, which always is the cause behind the cause, as a current Sufi master; Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan would say, "That which transpires behind that which appears.” 

So, I would hope that the logic becomes clear that, given a choice between the pursuit of meaninglessness and, on the other hand, an experience with this more primal reality, 'the Bride stripped bare' if you will, the pursuit of the latter holds more possibilities than the former in terms of building toward a better future on an indiviual and perhaps a cultural level. Additionally, having once had an experience of this Primal Reality the thought of then constructing and maintaining dogmas seems completely  foolish and futile and counter productive except for the recognized fact 

that, as humans "Our task is only to seek to forget our truest self, and once forgotten, spend years trying to get back in touch with it.” (Post-Dogmatist Credo) 

There is, therefore in Post-Dogmatism, not so much of a disdain for dogmas in general as a devaluing of them and especially a devaluing of the activity of grooming, maintaining and identifying with dogmas. Since our  dogma is the Primal Source it is unleashed, free to roam, and we claim no ownership of it due to the given that it preexists. "Our Dogma is like a lion that roams the forest freely; who has no predator or equal." 

I think it is fair to say that without this spiritual element to galvanize one's artistic activity, the post modern track will tend to lead toward the construction of dogmas built from bit and pieces of other dogmas until there is seemingly a complete degradation of inquiry. Cleverness without wisdom. I think the rise in fundamentalism around the world in recent years is a direct emotional response to this perceived threat in the religious sphere known as 'new age' but, obviously, retrograde movement is not an answer either. 

The idea; 'Art as Dogma - Dogma as Art - Dogma as Dogma´ refers to the problem that any art making is expressive of some dogma, some belief of some sort and that we need to strive to say nothing whatsoever of our own but let what needs to be said say itself in our work. As in the quote below suggests…

"An artist, a fine-artist or free-artist, An artist Has always nothing to say, And he must say this over and over again. Especially in his work What else is there to say?” Ad Reinhardt 

[question 2 - perspektive] in the sense of bourdieu we could summarize that the use of manifestos in avant garde groups is a possibilty to maintain a position in the/a art/society field. if the group gains more reputation in the field. they loose interest in making manifestos. the postdogmatists offer a permutational version of their manifestos and they date around the late 80s. are the postdogmatists finished with manifestos or is there nothing left to loose on the way to art heaven? :-) 
 

[cecil touchon] 

Pierre Bourdieu? I am sorry but I don't know any thing about him or his work and have never read anything by him that I am aware of so you will need to explain your reference if you don't mind. Assuming that  I can make out your meaning without the illumination of that reference I will say that our manifesto and credo were written for our own use and yes, perhaps to use as a way for us to define the nature of our quest within our activities and in relation to other activities going on around us. 

Developing a reputation, as you mention, is not really part of our program except on an individual by individual basis, not really as a group. Reputations don't mean much I don't think. They are like dogmas - a surrogate identity in the minds of other people. Reputations are so difficult to shape and maintain and protect that I think it is hardly

worth the effort to attempt to develop one. 

Are we finished with manifesto writing? A manifesto is a statement of purpose. So should any of the member's purposes change or new purposes arise then, of course, each member is welcome to develop more manifestos and credos and any other statements. The Group itself is a very, very loose association. Most of the members do not directly know each other as the Group is mainly intended for individuals who don't really like groups and generally don't wish to associate themselves with a group. So the Group at large is almost completely unknown to itself so manifestos and credos and all sorts of other instruments quite possibly are being developed and the Group itself may be unaware of it. Since most of the members will be attracted to the Group on a spiritual level, we pretty much depend on an assumed state of synchronism and whatever local development that happens around the world in the individual districts. We have yet to even organize a group exhibition other that those organized among the members of the Collage email group which, in theory, are all post dogmatists, but many may not be since the discussion is

pretty much always kept on the subject of collage. 

After the original ones were written, like you say, in the late 80's, the few of us at the beginning followed the maxim of "Shut up and paint!” which I believe was devised by Mr. Padraige O'Cellas as I recall. He is a brilliant post-dogmatist from whom I have learned a great deal. 'Shut up and paint', as I have come to understand it basically means that you have to quit intellectualizing about everything and actually engage and immerse yourself in direct experience. Direct experience of life is the thing and if you're a painter then painting is the main thing, the main activity that you are engaging yourself in, not just talking about it, intellectualizing it. If it is something else

that you do, then shut up and just do that thing. So, it follows that there would not be a lot of additional writing except from those who love to write things and there are those among us who do such as Great Skull Zero and of course I like to write thing when I can find the time. 

[question 3 - perspektive] a dogmatist should be in all well balanced, thruthfull and live in the present. but dogmatism lasted as a movement only for 20 minutes until the the age of post-dogmatism was proclaimed. what are then the essentials for a post-dogmatist and is a conversion from dogmatism to post-dogmatism possible? does postdogmatism treat the succession-struggles in avant  garde history with irony? 

[cecil touchon] 

An accomplished Dogmatist is, in essence, a deeply enlightened being who has freed himself from identity with anything other than the Primary Reality and this is the ideal that the post-dogmatist strives to unfurl from within through a gradual liberation from falsely identifying with dogmas (should he decide to strive in this direction). If you look back in the history of the world there are countless enlightened beings. All of these we call post dogmatists. They share in common a witnessing of Primal Reality and this changes everything for them. It is a landmark moment, an awakening, a rebirth. And while we all share in the benefit of their experience through their art or music or poetry or teachings, it is within the reach of anyone anywhere to uncover this experience.

This is the experience of Dogmatism as we define it: the One True Dogma.

The central realization that leads from Dogmatism to Post-Dogmatism is stated in DOGMATISM CLARIFIED:

"Dogmatism itself is the expression of the undiluted and pure truth of Reality as it exists in the Absolute Present and it cannot, by its very nature, ever be expressed in its totality within the realm of human terms....The founding fathers of Post-Dogmatism... deemed it humanly impossible to, through effort, emulate the qualities required to be a

Dogmatist... (and that) it would be an act of unmitigated gall to call one's self a Dogmatist."

You ask: is a conversion from dogmatism to post-dogmatism possible? As you might guess, based on the above quotation, it is not only possible, it is unavoidable.

In terms of how post dogmatist thought might view previous art movements and avant garde groups, yes there is a sense of irony in it so far as a recognition of the never ending cycle works.... "Every art movement, for example, that has arisen in this century was empowered by a given web of dogma that supplanted a previous one through attacking it's credibility. How far reaching each new movement became was directly incurred through the degree of faith and trust the artists brought to it thereby giving it credibility. As soon as this faith began to waiver, the movement's credibility was called into question causing it to lose currency. Hence, the rise of the next movement, ad infinitum.

This pattern of inception, growth and collapses shows how spontaneously and ingeniously human beings use dogmas to discriminate between and ultimately to alter the various aspects of reality, enhancing some and ignoring others, determined directly by the dogma employed." (Dogmatism Clarified) 

[question 4 - perspektive] for the postdogmatist avant garde as art movement is discarded but could be reoriented to a more general movement "inward and upward by the way of trans migration" (cecil touchon) through states. what is the mean of "trans migration" and how could that be a movement? 

[cecil touchon] 

Again, I need to emphasize that Post-Dogmatism has, at its very roots, a recognition of a spiritual reality within which our everyday lives are immersed. So, it follows that a post-dogmatist might choose to use his artistic process to develop deep concentration and then through self-disciplined effort unfold a path toward higher and more subtle states of consciousness where the field of one's work becomes a circumstance for exploring the inner landscape of one's own heart. There are many examples of these kind of artists in the last 100 years such as Malevich, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Miro being a few well known examples. This not only can be an artistic movement but is forever the perennial movement behind all movements of any significance. Where there is difficulty is in the fact that each individual artist has his own time to unfold and develop and so, most artists who occupy themselves with this kind of inner work must rely on only a very few meaningful contacts at any given time. But due to the fact that artists and post-dogmatist in general leave behind a rich legacy of works which convey the states of consciousness that they have discovered and passed through, we are all able to carry on trans temporal relationships with the artists of

the past and those of the future as well as any with whom we are fortunate to come in contact with during our lives. I don't have it with me but Robert Henry, for one, discusses something very similar in his; The Art Spirit.

The use of the internet, by the way increases the ability of artists to establish contact with many of their contemporaries as never before. And become aware of recent histories that traditionally would have remained in obscurity - possibly for decades - until someone decided to publish a book.
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