Inside Café Tosh's Thoughts

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

I write.  I publish.  I don’t do anything else.  I make a separate identity, in which I have a paying job.  I work at a bookstore, where I talk about books but never talk about my writing.  In conjunction with my work at the store, I also publish, but that, like my writing, never brings in any money in.   Two or three times, I have been asked to participate in an awards ceremony in the hopes that I would win such an award.  I refuse to do so. On the grounds that I write, and I refuse to participate in the games where one is competing against another writer.  In essence, it is putting a group of people (writers) in a cage and seeing which one will win out in the end.   That, as a writer, I find disgusting.   The only prize I would accept is the Nobel.  For the sole reason, it is the most ludicrous prize, that it is almost meaningless.  To quote the eminent (ha) Alfred Nobel "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” The key word for me here is “ideal.” My whole life is spent to avoid the “ideal” To satisfy one’s conception of what is perfect, is utterly absurd.

The problem with Dash Snow is that he didn’t have a day job.  I’ve been studying him, and his work for a writing project and his sad death conveys an artist who chooses to participate in the art game, by pretending not to be part of it.  The freedom he had was one within the borders that were set up by others.  Like me, Kafka, Julien Grecq, we can fuck with the structure by actually not participating in the game.  Even being questioned for the media is taking part where one is exploited, and where in fact, your writing and work should speak for you.  What is there to know about me, except what I write.

As a publisher, I focus on writers who denounced the powers-to-be in their specific culture.  To re-define yourself is the right of an artist, and the path I follow is one of my own makings.  I’m always suspicious of reading articles on an artist that talks more about his life, than his art.   This is not still the artist’s fault, but the painful results of dealing in a world that pretends to be interested in you or one’s work.  Our (or my) culture has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs.  We live in a world of mass-reproducible copies of items, turning them into commodities.  In other words, a product to consume.  Whatever it’s war, a toy, a piece of music or art - it becomes meaningless.  To engage in such a world is clearly pointless.

One of my favorite pieces of art (and I use that word for all the disciplines of its practices) is “Café Müller” by Pina Bausch in which the dancers crash into the furniture on the stage.  The dancers are told to close their eyes, which cause a sense of tension in the audience.   Or at least for me, because I imagine it is the same when one writes on a blank paper, and you let the spirit enter you.  It’s the only moment where I feel that I’m not part of a piece of machinery that’s single purpose is to sell you to an audience or readers.  To consume is undoubtedly a paradise of sorts, but to roll the dice, and see if you come up, is surely the dynamic of being successful.  But that type of outcome is consistently being ‘framed’ in a fashion by the media and our culture.  If I can wipe out what is out there and start from the beginning, I feel I can just do what I do best.  Which is to write, publish and to dream.

Images: Café Müller by Pina Busch, Dash Snow, Jean Baudrillard, & Julien Gracq