What you’ll be looking at is a scan of part of MONDO 2000 Issue #6, including an interview/article inside in which Timothy Leary interviews David Byrne and also writes an art essay titled “Reproduced Authentic.”
First, the cover. It’s my favorite. Behold and contemplate. It hailed an inside article titled “America’s First Psychedelic President?” by Nancy Druid. Or as Bart Nagel put it, “Did the CIA kill JFK over LSD?” As a matter of fact, there’s a new book out that follows this story titled Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision of World Peace and yes, MONDO’s man in L.A., Timothy Leary is involved in this one too.
Whether one finds these implications plausible or absurd, the image still, I dare say with meager exaggeration, speaks to America’s late 20th Century like no other — capturing a moment of rupture that defined the times, psychedelia spilling from the splattering brain included.
The image was dreamed up and created by one Eric White, who did a bunch of amazing artworks for Mondo before he became a famous painter who you’ve probably never heard of… but doesn’t that just tell ya something about ruptured times and splattered brains?
Inside you’ll gaze upon pages 64 – 69 of the issue involving Byrne and Leary. Leary’s intro to the interview is on page 64. A groovy pic of David Byrne is on page 65. (photos of Byrne and Leary were taken by Yvette Roman.) On page 67 on the right side of the page is a fragment of the Top 10 Conspiracy Theories that are sprinkled throughout the issue… most or all of those (I forget) were written by Gracie and Zarkov. It’s reproduced here in the name of authenticity.
Page 68 is a bit of art theory that Leary wrote in response to a book that David Byrne showed Tim before the interview titled Reproduced Authentic written for a Gallery Show of the same name featuring Byrne, among other, that captured Leary’s imagination.
In the text provided below, I’m running the art essay “Reproduced Authentic” first, followed by the intro/interview and then the little nibble of the top 10 Conspiracy Theories. I do this because I like the art theory essay as much as the rest of it and you know what they say about short attention spans.
Here it all is… fully reproduced and authenticated.
Thanks to Zach Leary for scans and to Ian Monroe for text scans.
(A full text transcript follows the PDF)
Mondo 2000_issue 6
Timothy Leary, pg 68. MONDO 2000 #6
Reproduced Authentic is a magnificently bound art book containing five paintings by David Byrne and four other artists which were converted to 8 1/2″ x 11″ images transmitted from New York to Tokyo via telephone line by facsimile. They were exhibited at GALERIE VIA EIGHT, a show curated by Joseph Kusuth.
I consider this apparent oxymoron — “Reproduced Authentic” — to be the most fascinating-controversial-liberating issue confronting us as we move from the solid, possessive materialism of the feudal-industrial societies to the relativity/recreativity of the electronic stage.
Now that Newton’s Laws have become local ordinances, the clunky, static art treasures of wood, marble, canvas, steel become crumbling curiosities, their value insanely inflated by well-marketed “rarity.” These archaeological antiques are huckstered at Sotheby auctions, guarded by armed guards in vault-like galleries or in the mansions of wealthy collectors.
Thus the wretched caste-class possessiveness of feudal and industrial culture which prized “rarity.” Thus the $50 million market for canvases which the unauthentic painter Van Gogh could not “transmit” for a five franc meal at the local bistro. To the feudal aristocrat as well as the Manhattan art critic “authentic” means a “rare original,” a commodity traded by gallery merchants and monopolized by owners. The politics of solid-state aesthetics are authoritarian and one-way — owner-producers on one side and passive gawkers on the other.
Transmissibility replaces rarity. According to German philosopher, Walter Benjamin, “The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning ranging from its substantive duration … to the history which it has experienced.” Rarity “now is a… mask of art’s potential for meaning and no longer constitutes the criterion of authenticity. Art’s meaning then becomes socially (and politically) formed by the living.” Reanimated.
These liberating, egalitarian, thrilling notions of “reproduced authentic” and transmissibility are the application of quantum field dynamics and Einsteinian relativity to humanist electronic communication. The implications are profound and timely. The politics are interactive. The passive consumers become active agents.
You receive electronic patterns on your screens, disks, FAX machines, and you transform and transmit.
What is “authentic” is not the possessed object but the ever-changing network — the entangled field of electronic interactions through which the essence-icon is continually recreated.
Recreating the Mona Lisa. The 12 year-old inner city kid can slide the Mona Lisa onto her Mac screen, color the eyes green, modem it to her pal in Paris who adds purple lipstick and runs it through a laser copier which is then faxed to Joseph Kusuth for the next GALERIE VIA EIGHT show in Tokyo.
It is this transmissibility, this re-animation, this global interactivity that David Byrne authenticates so gracefully.
Two Heads Talking: David Byrne In Conversation with Timothy Leary, pg. 64 – 69, MONDO 2000 issue #6
Reproduce: To generate offspring by sexual or asexual union; to produce again or renew; to re-create; to reanimate.
Authenticate: entitled to acceptance because of agreement with known fact or experience, reliable, trustworthy. Example: an authentic portrayal of the past present or future.
It has been my pleasure during the last 30 years to have hung out with and been re-created by some of the most innovative minds of these high times.
I speak of those who have contributed their talents to our recent renaissance — the humanist, individualistic upheavals of the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. Artists; poets; writers; musicians; scientists; filmmakers; entertainers.
These superstars illuminate, energize, disseminate, squirt out memes. They fertilize our minds. But let’s be frank. Supernovas don’t conceive.
My life has been guided by a smaller group of illuminati who perform the less visible, but, perhaps more important role of navigating our future. Multimedia wizards who experiment with new forms of reproducing and transmitting. People who perform philosophy, if you will.
For bibliographic references I site you William Burroughs, Marshall McLuhan, Aldous Huxley, Thomas Pynchon, Chris Blackwell, Laurie Anderson, Todd Rundgren, Allen Ginsberg.
And speaking of renaissance authenticators, consider David Byrne.
For starters, David helps found the Talking Heads, arguably one of the ten most important rock bands of all time.
He directs two innovative films — True Stories and Ile Aiye, a haunting documentary about Brazilian religious festivals.
He wins an Oscar for scoring The Last Emperor.
His publishing house, Luaka Bop, transmits global sound. His new album Uh Oh fuses the best of Byrne — biting rock beat, pulsing Latin drive, 21st Century flare, and Talking Heads sass.
And, oh yeah… there’s a symphony.
On November 23, I went to the Seattle Opera House. Sold out. In the lobby you could feel that special expectant buzz. The Seattle symphony played standard concert stuff for the first half of the program. The second half was devoted to Byrne’s full length piece, The Forest. Ten movements, no less.
At the end of the symphony the hall boomed with applause. The conductor waved for David to move to the podium. Standing ovation. What a moment for a rock ‘n’ roller from the Rhode Island School of Design! An authentic moment.
For me, David Byrne transmits the message of the New Breed, the MONDO 2000 spirit. Human, funny, global, passionate, laid back, friendly, ironic, wise…
And, oh yeah…
Reproduced; re-creational, authentic
TIMOTHY LEARY: I mention you in every lecture I give, because you represent the 21st century concept of international/global coming together through electronics. How did you get into that?
DAVID BYRNE: With television and movies and records being disseminated all over the globe, you have instant access to almost anything, anywhere. But it’s out of context — free-floating. People in other parts of the world — India, South America, Russia —have access to whatever we’re doing. They can play around with it, misinterpret it or reinterpret it. And we’re free to do the same. It’s a part of the age we live in.
There’s that kind of communication — even though it’s not always direct.
TL: The young Japanese particularly. Read those Tokyo youth magazines! They pick up on everything. Rolling Stone is like a little village publication compared to Japanese mags.
DB: They’re very catholic in that sense.
TL: What’s your image in the Global New Breed culture? How are you seen in Brazil, for instance?
DB: I’m seen as a musician whom some people have heard of — not a lot — who has an appreciation of what Brazilians are doing. Sometimes it’s confusing for them, because some of the things I like are not always what their critics like.
For instance, some of the records on Luaka Bop — like music from the Northeast, and even some of the Samba stuff — are considered by the middle and upper class and intelligentsia to be lower class music. Like listening to Country & Western or Rap here. They’re surprised that this “sophisticated” guy from New York likes lower class music instead of their fine art music.
But sometimes it makes them look again at their own culture and appreciate what they’d ignored. Much in the same way that the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton made young Americans look at Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. I’m not doing it intentionally, but it has that effect.
TL: What music do you listen to? Who are your favorite musicians now?
DB: The last Public Enemy record was just amazing — a dense collage with a lot of real philosophy. I listened to the last Neil Young record. I have some records from Japanese groups, and Brazilian and Cuban stuff — all the stuff we’ve been putting out on the label.
TL: Tell us about Luaka Bop.
DB: I put together a compilation of songs by important Brazilian artists a couple of years ago, and afterwards I thought it could be an ongoing thing. I figured that I might as well have an umbrella mechanism so that people might see the label and check it out. It was a practical thing in that way.
We’re now slowly getting into a greater range of things. In the future we’re going to release soundtracks for Indian movies, an Okinawan pop group and a duo from England. That will be one of our few releases in English.
INDUSTRIAL SYMPHONY #2
TL: Marshall McLuhan would be very happy with that — globalization.
What about your symphony, The Forest?
DB: It was originally done for a Robert Wilson piece. The idea was that we’d take the same story — the Gilgamesh legend. He’d interpret it for stage and I’d do it as a film. We’d use my music. The hope was that we’d present them in the same city at the same time. So you could see two vastly different interpretations of a reinterpreted ancient legend. I found it’s the oldest story we know. We updated it to the industrial revolution in Europe.
TL: Cosmology and immortality.
DB: It was written in the first cities ever built. Oddly enough, it deals with the same questions that came up during the industrial revolution and persist today — when cities and industry expand at a phenomenal rate. It deals with what it means to be civilized versus natural. So it has a current resonance, although it’s as old as you can get.
TL: The older I get, the more I see everything in stages. I start with the tribe and move through the feudal, Gilgamesh, the industrial… But what’s impressed me about your music is that regardless of the setting, there’s always the African body beat.
DB: It’s part of our culture now. It’s something we’ve been inundated with. The Africans who were forcibly brought here have colonized us with their music, with their sensibility and rhythm. They’ve colonized their oppressors.
TL: Michael Ventura, who explains how Voudoun came from Africa, says the same thing. I wrote an article about Southern vegetables — we colonials going into Southern cultures and grabbing their sugar, coffee and bananas. The industrial people arrive, build factories, and then they become counter-colonized by the music, the food and the psychoactive vegetables. It happened to the British in India.
DB: In a subtle way it changes people’s ways of thinking; it increases the possibilities for what they could think and feel. And they’re not always aware of what’s happening to them.
THE TAO OF TURTLE WAX
TL: I see the industrial age as a stage — a very tacky, messy, awkward stage of human evolution. We had to have the smoky factories, and we must mature beyond them. I was very touched by your comments about The Forest. You were trying to acknowledge the romance and the grandeur of the factory civilization even though it was fucking everything up.
DB: My instinctual reaction is that this stuff sucks. It’s created the mess that we’re in. But you’re not going to find your way out of the mess unless you can somehow, like the Samurai, identify with your enemy. Become one with your enemy, understand it, or you won’t be able to find your way out of the maze.
TL: The Soviet Union is a great teacher about the horrors of firepower and machine tech. You see the smog and those grizzled old miners coming out of the deep, sooty mines with their faces black. On the other hand, there was a grandeur to it, and you can’t cut out the industrial side of our nature, because it has brought us to this room where we can use machines to record our conversation. That’s something that I find interesting in Japan, which is the perfect machine society. There’s not much pollution there — you never see any filth on the street.
DB: No, it’s cleaned up pretty quickly. You get scolded for tossing a can out your car window. I’ve seen people get scolded for not washing their car! It’s a matter of lace.
TL: And nothing is old there. I didn’t see one car that was more than four years old or with a dent in it.
DB: That’s taking LA one step further.
TL: I spent some time today watching your video, “Ilie Ayie.”
DB: It’s about an Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomble. “Ile Ayie” in Yoruba… an African language, roughly translates as the house of life or the realm that we live in.
TL: The Biosphere 1…
DB: Yeah, the dimension that we live in rather than other existing dimensions. It was done in Bahia, in the city of Salvador, on the coast of Northeastern Brazil. It’s about an African religion that’s been there since slavery times. It’s mutated and evolved over the years to the extent that now it could be called an Afro-Brazilian religion — there’s a lot of African elements. The ceremonies, the rituals consist of a lot of drumming, people occasionally go into trance, offerings are made, altars are made… the occasional sacrifice … It’s an ecstatic religion — it feels good.
TL: I’ve never seen so many dignified, happy human beings in any place at any time. For over 90 minutes the screen is filled with these stately older black women…
DB: It’s very joyous and regal. When the drums and dancing kick in it’s like a really hot rock or R&B show. When the music hits that level where I’ve seen everybody tunes into it, it’s the same kind of feeling.
TL: That’s what religion should be. But it’s not all joyous. At times there’s a sternness — a sphinx-like trance to it.
DB: It deals with acknowledging and paying homage to the natural forces. Some of those are deadly, some are joyous, some are dangerous and some are life giving. That’s the flux of nature, and Candomble acknowledges the entire dynamic.
TL: You also said that the aim of these ceremonies is to bring the Orixas — deities who serve as intermediaries between mortals and the supreme force of nature. Tell us about that.
DB: When the vibe is right somebody gets possessed by one of the gods. There’s a pantheon of gods like in ancient Greece or Rome. The god is said to be there in the room, in the body, so you can have a conversation with him, or dance with him. God isn’t up there unreachable, untouchable. It’s something that can come right down into the room with you. You can dance with it or ask direct questions.
TL: The great thing about the Greek gods was that they had human qualities.
DB: These as well. They can be sexy, jealous, vain, loving, whatever — all the attributes of people.
THE MOTHER DOING WHAT?
TL: William Gibson has written about Voudoun. Many of his Voudoun people talk about the human being as a horse, and how the god comes down and rides the human being.
DB: That’s the Haitian metaphor — the horse. It’s the same idea.
TL: The healer, the warrior, the mother bubbling — one after another these archetypes of characters or natural forces — basic human situations, roles…
DB: The nurturing mother or the warrior man or woman, the sexy coquette…
TL: The seductive female warrior — that’s Yarzan. I became confused when that man dressed as a Catholic priest rants about false prophets.
DB: The African religion is periodically being persecuted by the Catholic Church, by the Protestant Church, by the government. They go through waves of being recognized and persecuted and going underground and coming back up again and being recognized and pushed down again.
TL: I know the cycle well.
DB: So that was a scene from a fictional film there dramatizing persecution by orthodox religion.
TL: You wrote it in…
DB: It was something I found in a Brazilian film. It was an example of recent persecution, so l threw it in.
TL: That’s a very powerful moment because it wasn’t orchestrated. It was authentic, as your friend here would say. [Points to a copy of Reproduced Authentic] Would you comment on this book?
DB: An artist named Joseph Kusuth organized it. He’s most well-known for art that looks like your shirt.
TL: [Displays shirt] It’s designed by Anarchic Adjustments. The front reads “Ecstasy,” and on one arm it reads “Egos In, Egos Out.”
DB: Joseph Kusuth would have a definition of a word and just frame that. He invited me to be part of this exhibition in Japan where the idea was to create art with a fax machine. I did something equivalent to the seven deadly sins. It didn’t exist — I collaged it, sandwiched it in the fax machine, and it came out the other end. They took the fax and blew it up to the size of a painting. When it was transmitted, rather than receiving it on paper they received it on acetate. The acetate became a photo negative. They have fax machines that can receive other materials, and then they can blow it up to any size.
TL: You say you didn’t want to be a scientist because you liked the graffiti in the art department better. If you had been a scientist what would you have been?
DB: At the time I was attracted to pure science — physics — where you could speculate and be creative. It’s equivalent to being an artist. If you get the chance, and the cards fall right, there’s no difference. The intellectual play and spirit are the same.
TL: Nature is that way — it’s basically playful. Murray Gelman, who is one of America’s greatest quantum physicists, used the word “quark” to describe the basic element from a funny line from James Joyce, “three quarks from Muster Mark.”
DB: I had a math teacher in high school who included Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland in his higher math studies. I thought, “This guy knows what he’s doing.”
TL: Dodgson, the fellow who wrote it, knew what he was doing. That metaphor of through the looking glass on the other side of the screen. Talk about your Yoruba gods and goddesses. Talk about Yarzan and Shango. Alice is the Goddess of the Electronic Age.
Page 67, right column. MONDO 2000 Issue #6
Propaganda Due (P2)
• Conspiracy for conspiracy’s sake.
• They leave flowers at Giordano Bruno’s statue on the anniversary of hisdeath at the stake (see Catholic Church).
• However many teams there are, they belong to at least N+ 1.