The Cynic’s Manifesto circa 1992

THE CYNIC’S MANIFESTO I declare myself emancipated from the influences of anyone in the city of Portland, Oregon. No longer do I care what anyone thinks of my artistic ideas and creations. This is a dead place, the end of the road, a dead end street, a town of ghosts, and since art speaks to the living there is no reason to respect the opinions of Portland. I declare myself free. I have nothing left to hang onto, so here is my spit in your eye. Portland, and by extension America, is a place where a few have a lot and the rest have nothing. Instead of anger there is a quiet desperation. Perhaps it’s ennui, a never-ending boredom epitomized by the gray skies that causes an unending fascination with magic. People try to gain control of their lives by turning to an unfounded belief in magical energies, never believing that they’ve relinquished control to others long before, the minute they said yes to the way things are…the day their dreams died. Since this is the case I will not believe in magic and I will be angry. WHERE THERE ARE NO MEN, BE THOU A MAN. -RABBI HILLEL Looking for a job in America is like putting your face in an overflowing, backed-up toilet. It’s having your life questioned and examined by idiots, dissected in embarrassing interviews that ask you foolish questions you would never think to ask yourself or your friends in a million years. It is asking to have shit smeared in your face. Since this is true I will never look for work. Employers always say they want people who are full of life, as well as bright, intelligent, and creative. That is exactly what they don’t want. They want robots, automatons, slaves, who will perform meaningless activities designed to keep them in subservience. Obsequious drudgery, patterned after anthills and beehives. Anomalous behavior, that of the free-thinking person, is shunned. Since these are the conditions of working in America I will never take a job. With all these stupid asses running around in cutoff army fatigues, goatees, billowing peasant skirts…these black clothed Hamlets, sitting in dozens of cafés filled with dozens of other Hamlets, are not artists. They are pretenders, pretentious frauds deserving of nothing but ridicule and scorn. They should be spit on by every lover of truth, honesty, and art. They should have their pants pulled down and be publicly buggered, for that is what their «art» is. They are the ones that exclaim, «Ah, my life is art!» Bullshit! No one’s life is art. What is produced and shared with society is art, everything else is public buggery. Since these people are obvious false, pretentious, and despicable I will not be one of them. I DON’T WANNA BE YOUR LOVER, I JUST WANNA BE YOUR VICTIM. -ELVIS COSTELLO Drug use and promiscuity aren’t hallmarks of liberty, they are the surrender of control…irresponsible and destructive. Love is the hallmark of liberty. Therefore I will love. Loving everything is also personally destructive. If everything has value you can’t differentiate between good and evil. People aren’t inherently and naturally repulsed by evil, they are attracted to it. Otherwise there would be no purpose or explanation for the origins of religion. To be star struck, (in French etoilique, in Spanish estrallático, (having one’s head in the clouds)) is mere hallucination. The belief that a tree, or an ant, or a cow has as much merit as a man is foolish naïveté. No art was ever produced by loving everything, art is the desire to destroy something, to shame it, to piss on it. Since this is true I will not believe everything is equal and good. I JUST WANNA BE YOUR LOVER, BABY, I DON’T WANNA BE YOUR BOSS. -BOB DYLAN If we think of society as a living being, a body then the artist’s function is similar to the liver…to filter and synthesize the harmful so that the body can continue. If the creation produces negative reactions we can analogously call this a «hangover.» Too much of anything produces negative reactions. To criticize an artist for the negativity of their creation and outlook is to abstain from reason. The artist cannot adjust their perception, they can only synthesize it. The artistic claim that the art is produced for the artist is entirely true, it relieves the over abundance of bile, however, any artist that claims they don’t care if their work is displayed is not an artist. They are merely practitioners, practicing a craft or alleviating boredom…it’s masturbation. Art becomes art when it is shown and shared in society. A liver outside the body is useless, unless it’s cooked with some bacon and onions. Therefore I will be a liver. I will differentiate using my natural critical facilities and create art that will reflect my perceptions. This is a dead city, as desolate and dissolute as a ten-day dead dog’s corpse in mid-August…nothing but flies and maggots swarming around the bones. The stench is horrific, yet reassuring. This is limbo, we are promised heaven or hell, but wait interminably. There is nothing of the prison here, there is no sense of time. Here there is a certainty of death…a finality. We pretend to be alive, or at least we ignore our deaths. Time marches on and soon the trumpets will blow and the messiah will appear in a limo, waving to the crowds, and then it will all be over. Portland might miss all this, if it’s in the winter we’ll never see it. The messiah will go on to Seattle, or south to Mexico where they still believe in such things. Just like the A/R men. I don’t believe many Portland bands will be signed to major labels because the bands here don’t sound original or inventive. Art cannot be created in a vacuum. The dead minds that flourish here like mushrooms after a long rain produce nothing of significance. Crowds wander through theaters, bookstores, cafes…looking for some truth, unable to perceive the one under their own noses. Therefore I will always speak the truth, even when I’m lying. The fashion trend is to look stupid. To idolize sports stars as if they were divine. How many college-educated ex-athletes are professors, civic leaders, or artists? I can only think of Senator Bill Bradley. The rest are sub-morons, capable only of spitting out cliché sound bites for the sports press and seducing barely adolescent girls. Yet our culture is dominated by the trappings of sports…baseball hats worn backwards, forwards…t-shirts, pants, shoes, jackets. The idolization of stupidity, of mediocrity. Next year it will be sexual molestation that will be trendy, or is it already trendy? I will never follow a trend. I can’t keep track of the fads anymore. It’s difficult to pick up on the real trends out here in the backwaters where all you get is babble of popular culture. And on the literary front? Biographies of boring people, stupid attempts by established mystery, history, and romance novelists to cash in on «cyberpunk.» On the academic front…more rural sadism as symbol of American decay. Incest, madness, alcohol abuse, ritual murder, animal sacrifice, and the vague whiff of ennui. I will not write stories like these. Forecast? The sun also rises.

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