Developments in the Arts
GAVIN: I am fascinated by this theory of yours that, like art and music, literature evolves along a kind of disjointed spectrum or, more correctly, series of overlapping spectra ... from philosophy to poetry via fiction, each stage of this evolution being independent of the others and yet still indicating some kind of continuity.
JAMES: Yes, and to revert to atomic terminology, one could describe philosophy as the proton root, fiction as bespeaking an atomic integrity, and poetry becoming, with full maturation, a free-electron equivalent. A similar distinction also applies, as you remarked, to art and music, so that we can describe the evolution of art in terms of a development from a proton root in sculpture through an atomic integrity in painting to a free-electron culmination in holography. Likewise we can define the evolution of music from rhythmic beginnings through a melodic atomicity to a climax in pure pitch.
GAVIN: Let us take one art form at a time, shall we? Beginning with literature.
JAMES: This begins, as I said, in philosophy, as an analytical concern with external appearances, and proceeds to an apparent/essential compromise in fiction, before culminating in an exclusive concern, through poetry, with essence. Philosophy stems from an aristocratic absolutism in pagan civilization which, in the Western context, stretches from a grand-bourgeois root (Bacon) through a bourgeois stem (Kant) to a petty-bourgeois flowering (Wittgenstein), at approximately which time it is also transmuted from appearance to essence and becomes, at the hands of petty-bourgeois revolutionaries, a pseudo-electron equivalent, a kind of reformed proton, which endows it with an anti-philosophical integrity appertaining to its metaphysical bias. Genuine philosophy, by contrast, ends with the furthest reach of appearance in a critique of language which, in comparison with its inception as a critique of natural phenomena, is not as genuine as might at first appear! Nevertheless, this philosophy - academic philosophy as we may call it - signifies the furthest stretching of philosophy from its aristocratic roots, and corresponds to contemporary representational sculpture in art and to a kind of Afro-Caribbean rhythm-biased music involving percussion instruments. By contrast, the development of metaphysical philosophy, which mainly stems from Schopenhauer, bespeaks a separate spectrum of literary endeavour, though one paralleling the philosophy spectrum from its petty-bourgeois inception, while completely outstripping it as we tend towards a proletarian climax in an ultra-metaphysical collectivized format. One might describe this pseudo-philosophy as corresponding to modern abstract sculpture in art and to a melodic rhythm-biased music which, like Calypso, uses percussion instruments in a variety of pitches to largely melodic ends.
GAVIN: And what about fiction?
JAMES: Being a largely atomic art form, the novel can be either biased towards the proton, as when it is highly fictional and mainly concerned with appearances, or biased towards the electron, as when it is predominantly illusory and mainly concerned with essences. Or, alternatively, it can approximate to a sort of atomic balance between the two, as when appearance and essence are granted equal treatment by a quintessentially bourgeois novelist - the other types of novel being grand bourgeois and petty bourgeois respectively. The bourgeois novelist creates in such a fashion that essence is bound to appearance, and so engenders the enslavement of illusion to fiction, the former functioning as a bound-electron equivalent, the latter as a proton equivalent within the overall atomicity of his quintessentially literary novel. The petty-bourgeois novelist, on the other hand, specializes in essence, pushing literature towards truth, and so creates a work in which the electron content of illusion or non-expression predominates over the proton content of fiction or illusory expression, depending on the type of petty-bourgeois novelist in question, that is to say, whether he corresponds to a bound-electron status or to a pseudo-electron status; whether his work is illusory, i.e. intimating of truth or some future society through expressive means, or predominantly non-expressive, i.e. largely abstract.
GAVIN: So we are alluding to a distinction between, say, George Orwell and William Burroughs, are we?
JAMES: Yes, and while the bound-electron expressive novelist stems from an atomic tradition, corresponding to the furthest reach of painting and classical music, the pseudo-electron non-expressive novelist corresponds to the anti-philosopher, to the extent that he presupposes the development of a new literary spectrum which, beginning as an autobiographical revolt against fictional literature, and therefore briefly paralleling the tail-end of the old in both its traditional and modernist manifestations, should extend to the boundaries of a proletarian absolutism, without, however, ceasing to be petty bourgeois.
GAVIN: So that leaves us with the poet - the highest kind of writer.
JAMES: It does! And we may contend that although poets have long existed, they haven't been genuinely poetic, prior to the inception and development of contemporary metaphysical poetry, but enslaved to appearance and description, functioning more as a bound-electron than as a free-electron equivalent, creating a pseudo-poetry that smacks of traditional philosophy and fictional literature. Only with the comparatively recent development of metaphysical poetry, which parallels anti-philosophy, have poets begun to appear in their true light ... as men of essence and literary freedom. Needless to say, this development has attained to greater heights in the mainstream petty-bourgeois culture of contemporary America than ever it has in Europe, particularly with regard to the extension of the genuinely poetic into impressive, or abstract, writings, such as one finds in the 'Cantos' of Ezra Pound and, to a greater extent, the late poetry of Allen Ginsberg. We can speak here of a relatively free-electron poetry, a poetry which is relatively post-atomic, combining the metaphysically expressive with the metaphorically impressive, in accordance with the extreme relativistic criteria of bourgeois/proletarian civilization. Like non-expressive novelistic writings and anti-philosophy, this genuine poetry signifies the beginnings of a different spectrum of poetic development, one paralleling the end of the old pseudo-poetic spectrum and extending beyond it towards a proletarian absolutism, such as must some day arise on wholly free-electron terms, with the inception and subsequent development of a transcendental civilization.
GAVIN: Presumably when poetry will be created on absolutely post-atomic terms, with regard to impression alone?
JAMES: Yes, the ultimate pure poetry of a free-electron age. At that juncture in time poetry will attain to full maturity on computer discs, the transcendental medium, par excellence, of a proletarian civilization.
GAVIN: So this ultimate poetry won't exist in a new spectrum of poetic endeavour, but will signify a continuation of the free-electron spectrum from contemporary petty-bourgeois relativity to subsequent proletarian absolutism.
JAMES: Yes, a continuation paralleling that from neo-Buddhism to Social Transcendentalism in religion.
GAVIN: Having outlined the evolution of literature from its philosophical inception to its poetic consummation, let us now turn, if you will, to music and art, and briefly discuss their parallel evolutions.
JAMES: Which are, of
course, from a proton root through an atomic compromise to a free-electron
climax, both relatively and absolutely.
In music, we shall find the first stage exemplified by rhythm, by a
music exclusively or predominantly conceived in rhythmic terms. From there music will evolve to a second
stage in melody supported by harmony, which signifies a compromise between
rhythm and pitch, protons and electrons, and thus reflects an atomic
integrity. Finally, after a number of
intermediate emancipations ... with especial reference to petty-bourgeois
civilization and its relatively post-atomic jazz, music will evolve to an
absolutely free-electron status, in adherence to the criteria of an exclusively
omega-oriented civilization, and thus attain to its goal in pure pitch, in
compositions the notes of which are completely free from rhythmic
attachments. Such an ultimate music will
be the norm wherever proletarian civilization is developed, and it will largely
stem from modern jazz, just as pure poetry will stem from the relatively
post-atomic poetry of contemporary
GAVIN: So this absolutely free-electron music is part of a separate spectrum of musical evolution from the European classical tradition.
JAMES: Absolutely! Since, if it doesn't correspond to a bound-electron equivalent, such classical music corresponds, in its avant-garde manifestation, to a pseudo-electron equivalent, which pertains to a different spectrum of creative evolution - one paralleling the tail-end of atomic tradition and extending as far beyond that as petty-bourgeois criteria will permit.
GAVIN: Thus a parallel development with the pseudo-electron literature of William Burroughs, which exists on a different level, within a different spectrum, to the largely illusory novel-writing of, say, George Orwell.
JAMES: Precisely! In the context of a lesser music, just as the expressive illusory novels of the typical European author are lesser literature when compared with the (greater) literature of the pseudo-electron novelist. So the music of the next civilization will stem from the highest music of contemporary American civilization, viz. modern jazz, being, however, as different from that relatively post-atomic music as pure poetry ... from its petty-bourgeois precursor. Pure jazz as opposed to modern jazz.... As for the evolution of art, it proceeds, like literature and music, towards a free-electron climax through a number of similarly independent spectra of evolutionary development, commensurate with a distinct atomic status, so that, from humble proton beginnings, we may note a disjunctive continuity through successive art forms towards the ultimate art form of the future. Beginning, then, with aristocratic sculpture in the round, the evolution of art is through lower grand-bourgeois vase painting to murals, which signify a higher grand-bourgeois integrity, and thence to representational painting on framed canvas, that approximately bourgeois stage of artistic evolution. From which we proceed to painting of a partly or exclusively non-representational character on frameless canvas, bespeaking a lower petty-bourgeois preserve, and from there, via a different spectrum, to higher petty-bourgeois art in the form of light art, that relatively post-atomic art form. This then leads us to the climax of art in the representational, or rather, abstract holography of the coming transcendental civilization.
GAVIN: In what way or ways is light art relatively post-atomic?
JAMES: By being a combination of materialism and spirituality, the one conceived on the highest terms, as pertaining to the glass or plastic tubes of the light work, and the other conceived in terms of the electric or neon lighting which, particularly in the most transcendental examples of this art form, can be used to symbolize the spirit, to intimate of omega divinity. That there is a lower type of light art, of materialist/expressionist tendency, I do not deny. Yet this is another factor in that art form's relativity, one that could never apply to abstract holography, as germane to a transcendental civilization, and for the simple reason that such a civilization, being absolute, would have no place for the quasi-occult - in other words, no place for expressive, materialist alternatives. The holography of that civilization would be purely impressive, and such an impression, designed to intimate in the most unequivocal way of pure spirit, would be projected into space conceived as the interior of a Meditation Centre, free from material surrounds or casings, as light purely and simply, which would constitute its conceptual absolutism. One could not contemplate a higher type of art than that - at any rate, not objectively considered. For, although the Supermen of the first phase of the post-Human Millennium may be contemplating the visionary contents of their new brains, thanks to LSD or some such synthetic hallucinogen, and such contemplation be directed at the apparent inside their brains rather than (as with abstract holography) at the quasi-essential outside them, those visionary contents won't be impressive but expressive, not abstract but largely representational and, therefore, quasi-occult, on a lower level to abstract holography, because perceptual rather than conceptual.
GAVIN: And yet evolution will still have to pass through a hallucinogenic phase, if only to get to an ultra-metaphysical one.
JAMES: Yes, the process of evolving toward the ultimate metaphysical, or supernatural, absolute in the post-Millennial Beyond must take place on relative terms while life is subject, as it is with men and will continue to be with their immediate successors, to relativity. While the representational aspect of hallucinogenic stimulation may constitute a fall from the impressive absolutism of holography, at least it is situated within the new brain rather than without it ... in surrounding space, and thus signifies, on that account, some kind of evolutionary progression, even if only on relative terms. The truly absolute mode of progress will only come following the subsequent elevation of millennial life to its superbeingful stage, when pure contemplation succeeds the impure contemplation of the Supermen. This higher contemplation, involving the experience of hypermeditation carried out in the context of new-brain collectivizations, will in due course lead to transcendence, and thus to the goal of millennial evolution in the space-centred Heaven of the post-Millennial Beyond. It would be beyond all art, which at its highest level is designed to intimate, through apparent means, of the essential, viz. the Omega Point. This hypermeditation would be divine and therefore entirely essential, the spirit's contemplation or, rather, direct experience of itself in absolute purity. Art ends, in any objective sense, with pure holography, essential as opposed to apparent, but hallucinogenic contemplation will signify a pseudo-metaphysical subjective extension of art into a post-civilized, post-human age. Just so, pertaining as ever to the human and civilized, art began with pure sculpture, apparent as opposed to essential. Yet before art there were dreams which, antithetical in every respect to trips, bespoke a pre-human, pre-civilized aesthetic beginning, a beginning that involved the contemplation of naturalistic visions by the subconscious. Thus a spectrum of evolutionary development leading from pre-human dreams to post-human trips passes through the intermediate human development of art which, as we discovered, is divisible into approximately seven stages, corresponding to class-evolutionary distinctions in a disjunctive spectrum, or series of overlapping spectra, which stretch from a sculptural absolutism to a holographic absolutism. Before they created and contemplated art, men and/or their ape-like predecessors dreamt. After they have completed the evolution of art, as of literature and music, men or, rather, their superhuman successors will trip. But dreams and trips are alike two extreme manifestations of cerebral activity, the former pertaining to the majority proton/neutron content of the old brain, the latter to the minority proton/neutron content of the new brain. Evolving life will only be truly free when it gets beyond the contemplation of proton/neutron appearances by directly experiencing electron essences. The finest art, literature, and music have intimated of the truth, and to that extent served as a means to an end, a pointer to that ideal society which I equate with the post-Human Millennium. It took man a long time to bring art to the level of an intimation of truth. For in its earliest stages, those of sculpture, vase painting, murals, even much painting, it stemmed from and sought to emulate or describe naturalistic fact. We can have no truck with such fact now, for we are in favour of supernaturalistic truth, and can only intimate of this through the most free-electron art, an art stemming from the best or foremost developments of contemporary American civilization and evolving through the highest level of civilization, as germane to a transcendental proletariat, to its future consummation in the purest terms. Like pure poetry and modern jazz, the best light art is situated on a free-electron spectrum that will extend into an absolute phase with the development of this ultimate civilization. We cannot take over any of the relatively free-electron arts ourselves, but we can certainly continue from where they leave off, and on a basis that will become uniquely our own, producing absolutely free creations which, whether in literature, music, or art, should bring that final spectrum to a divine climax.