Well I got over that anger thing. Yes, anger is an energy but for that very reason you want to use it as fuel and no more. Anger can never be an end in itself. Of course I’m often angry. I have no problem with anger. I don’t see it as a negative energy. All energies and emotions must be creative, that’s the cornerstone of the artist’s purpose and action. Turning emotion into vital force which in turns fuels creative work. When I exhaust myself writing, I don’t get tired, I become depressed. Which is to say, I exhaust my emotional energies, depression then being the emotional equivalent of physical or mental fatigue.
But enough about me for a second. I’d like to say a few words about my authors here. They’re f*cking awesome, every single one of them. My authors are brave people, they’re unusual, spirited (each in their own way), massively creative and talented, and are taking a chance publishing with me and I find that absolutely incredible. I feel proud of all of them a bit like a mother would be proud of her offspring, except that I had nothing to do with any of them before this moment and have the luxury of being totally independent of their creative and life processes before and after Revenge Ink. Ironically I feel proud of them because they chose to publish with Revenge Ink. Sounds ridiculous and egotistical I know, but I’ll explain. One of them told me today he was proud to be associated with what I’m trying to do with Revenge Ink. Well, I’d like to say I’m proud to be associated with people like him and in fact all my authors (and readers). I’m proud I have been able to attract this kind of talent and the kind of people who have the same desire as me to provide a counterpoint to the big-guy publishers. The vision contained within Revenge Ink is not uniquely mine, I created Revenge Ink with the hope (and something of a gamble) that this vision would one day be recognized as being universal, that the desire to return to authentic, risky, truly open-ended Art and away from a constant obsession with totally predictable profit-based outcomes would be supported not only by authors but by readers as well.
So a thousand huzzahs to each of my authors. And now to the readers who must do their part.
Reading is not a passive activity. Just like buying, loving or being part of a citizenry should not be passive activities. Life must be an act of war, a vital struggle, which is why the great heroes of all the world’s epics were warriors. Why even the most sacred text of India, the Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between two warriors.
You might laugh, but I don’t see reading as just sitting down with a book. As a writer and the creator of Revenge Ink, I believe reading is, must be, a potent revolutionary act. A nod to the royal ‘I’. To art as subjective experience and discernment, not as consumption of a heavily advertised, totally forgettable product.
Reading is (should be) a potent, subjective, creative act in response to another subjective, creative act, that of writing, daringly undertaken by the author. In ancient artistic traditions, which survive in Europe only among the gypsies and to some degree in India, audiences show their artistic discernment and appreciation through gestures and shouts of approval. The only modern version of this is the rock concert, marred as the phenomenon is by the presence of massive machines of advertising, promotion and the overall manufacture of taste. The traditional Indian musician/poet presents his or art before an informed audience and the latter in an exchange requiring mutual respect, a sense of personal sacrifice (on both sides) and tremendous sophistication, appreciates, approves, understands. Unfortunately, for us, art and reading are such pre-fabricated acts, so closely related to taste as a factor of social class and education, that we cannot truly consider ourselves an ‘audience’ anymore. Just as we can’t be called ‘citizens’ in a climate of opinion-cloning. We are idiots caught up in a phony duel between publisher and critic, art dealer and art appraiser, always someone else, someone ‘qualified’ who deigns to like, dislike, evaluate and judge on our behalf.
There is no space in the Western capitalist non-culture where the audience might be given its due, where it might express its knowledge and approval. The meaning, value and significance of a ‘work’ are pre-digested and ‘taught’ instead to this ‘audience’ by a bunch of tight-assed pedantic gits we call critics. Their political equivalent being the so-called journalist. But critics are to individual subjectivity what the Pope is to a sexual fantasy. A cold shower in other words (unless you’re quite specially sick!).
We think of reading as leisure, pleasure, fun, education, all kinds of crap, but we don’t think of it as an act of vital force. Subjectivity has become inconsequential and distrusted in this shitty modern world we live in, and without subjectivity, reading has no meaning (and becomes no more than the buying of a product). The ancient world is all about individuality. The legendary Celtic warriors who never ‘united’ with each other, the great Chiefs of Native America, they were all members of a culture that put subjectivity above all else. Sure, these warriors may have been eventually defeated by the Romans, the Americans and finally, the modern-day worship of Kapital, but so what? The force of de-individualized objectivity (the horde, the herd, the mob) to me is no proof of the pointlessness or inutility of subjectivity. Subjectivity, no matter how high the price you pay for it, is the only thing that makes us human. Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey says it better than I do. And it is THIS assertion of the power of unique (and universal) subjectivity that more than anything is the fundamental ideal behind the creation of Revenge Ink. I demand that authors be unique individuals. And I demand this of readers as well.
Reading must cease to become consumption. Life, thought, citizenship, all these things must cease to be consumption. We must assert our creative individuality in our lives and reading should be an essential aspect of such an assertion. Reading is a mystical act, and mystical acts are counter-intuitive. While intuitive causality says one plus one makes two, counter-intuitive causality says one plus one equals zero. This is why, to read someone else is to return to yourself, to be alone with a book is to be connected deeply with other beings, absorbing someone else’s thoughts is to learn to think for yourself. Subjectivity as universality: the revolutionary message of Revenge Ink. But only if you do it for yourself, not because some dipshit critic said you had to do it in your local paper (and that includes me!).
So readers, I look to you. You must once again become worthy of being called an audience (as opposed to being a vast sludge-pool of passive, ad-swallowing birdlings). Your tastes and opinions must be your own. Your reading must move me as my authors move you, your strong support acting as counterpoint to their fiercely independent creativity.
Genuine democracy cannot but be built on a prickly but radiant grouping of individuals, thinkers, readers, passionately fired judges of the powerful. In ancient Greece and India, kings were required to dismember themselves every eight years (as part of a ritual sacrifice) in deference to their people. Their power was a literal construct of popular support and as such could be questioned by anybody, from anywhere. Kapitalism requires the dismemberment of our individuality. Democracy is thus a braindead, heartless, soulless pabulum. We have the power to change that.
So read our books and get on it now!