As/Is







2.15.2014


Myth and the Philadelphia Renaissance Pt. 2



To get right to a home-truth about the Philly Free School, and how we might be sold and mythologized- we were a clan of younger artists for whom sexual magnetism was no issue- we had it, and used it. We were sexy. Because our sex appeal was is and is backed up by many years of exteriorized sexual behavior, and the many soap operas attendant on this behavior, there is nothing about our lives which would not satisfy a public carnivorous for such exploits. PFS were no slouches about intoxicants, either- our dissipation skills were very well-honed. Even a small amount of research into the bar and club circuit of Aughts Center City Philadelphia will reveal this to be the case. Thus, the mythological antecedents to the Philly Free School artists cannot be the most vaunted haute-culture stalwarts of the twentieth century (with the possible exception of Picasso), who led tame personal lives in comparison (particularly acute with myself in relation to the likes of William Butler Yeats and T.S. Eliot)- our lifestyle would seem to be more normative for pop culture heroes like The Rolling Stones and Marilyn Monroe. Indeed, PFS's pin-up potentialities are extreme- and, to revise Kenneth Anger, that Neo-Romanticism also included a version of Philadelphia Babylon is not only true for us but obvious and beguiling right on the surface.

Thus, the whys and hows of marketing the Philly Free School artists as potential cultural figureheads/icons- with the renegade Stones/Marilyn sex appeal on one side and the European classicist sensibility on the other- are very contorted against the whole process being easy or open to rapid, combustible progression. However, I would not be writing this if I did not believe we must win in the end, on even surface or surface-y levels- simply because I do have faith that, once the press embargo has ended, a substance-starved American public will go for us in a major way. It's an interesting and very singular congeries of circumstances around a group of younger artists- numbers on the Internet indicate strong grass-roots support for us- while the media black-out against us, in favor of a cornball and very rote Hollywood/L.A. paradigm, demonstrates the American media's ferocious hatred both of complexities, and of anything extreme, threatening, thoughtful, or generally serious. I have no convincing way of imploring the American press corps to get off their flabby behinds and do anything- its just that the Internet itself has created its own egalitarian power-block against them, which is gaining momentum and brawn, towards a black-out of American public confidence in said press corps. Many sectors around American culture are standing, it would seem, at a crossroads here- and part of the fate of public/cultural America hangs in the balance. I want to state with confidence that, willy-nilly, myths will be made of the Philly Free School and its exploits- our work is already securely set in place, and with enough authority, that the crowds around it will continue to gather, and mythologies beyond my ken establish themselves. Conscious myth-making is what I am up to here- a risky venture, and one for which middling batting averages, even for the hyper-articulate, are often the norm. Yet, if I continue, against this limitation, it is because I believe that, despite our profligacy, we will be a positive cultural influence on the United States at large, and a solid long-term bet as well.