SOME BLEAK CIRCUS.
UNCOVERED, CAREFULLY-CHOSEN, VIVID NIGHT.
IT IS PACKED WITH POSTERITY, SILENT AND EXPECTANT.
POSTERITY IS SILENT, LIKE THE DEAD.
Those are the opening lines from ENEMY OF THE STARS, a play written by Wyndham Lewis. It is supposedly unperformable, and seems in some ways to presage Samuel Beckett’s WAITING FOR GODOT, whose Vladimir and Estragon could even be ragged clowns on the run from Lewis’ bleak circus, as much as they always appear to me to be Laurel and Hardy in Hell. It’s the crucible of modernism, which we can very loosely describe as the process of making only those things that fit, and speak of, our ever more complex times. Creating new things for a new world. Post-modernism, which has probably lasted longer than modernism, is the process of interrogating the aesthetic discourse. Disrupting the narrative. Modernism says that things can be right. Post-modernism says that nothing can be right. So if you ever wonder why nothing new ever seems to happen any more, find a post-modernist and beat the shit out of then.
I enjoy mentioning that designer and artist Rian Hughes once called me “the last modernist.” It is, as they say, a dark ride, and silent like the dead.
Self-consciousness is reached not through confrontation with the other and subsequent self-return but through temporarily occupying, as dramatized by the Tupian cannibalistic sacrificial rituals that this book’s title references, the enemy’s point of view, and seeing “oneself” from there.