LOSER OCCULT Outside the campus bookstore a few weeks ago, I glimpsed a white minivan with a green bumper sticker reading "I miss Ronald Reagan" in big goopy white Snoopy toothpaste font. Good grief, Charlie Brown! The woman driving this minivan stood in dumpy befuddlement facing first the bookstore, and then a security booth on the edge of the parking lot. She rotated back and forth in confusion in the morning smog like a fucked-up sunflower, like she couldn't decide whether to go buy another bumpersticker in the campus bookstore or go commit suicide by cop. Her performance of utter stupor drove home the lunatic force of the bumper sticker. Next to that salubrious slogan with the magic nomen, its spell-like alliteration, was an image of the old goat himself, one half of his face lost in mystic shadow, the visible half glowering in ghostly white outline against the green, as if having caricatureable jowls and hairline were some kind of evidence of permanent cultural relevance. He is not dead. He's only sleeping under the mountain, his spirit shall walk among us and fuck everything up again, etc. The dead are present, in the present-tense. Subterranean, homesick. Impelled by nostalgia and perversity. It's (undead) morning in America! BP is drilling off Alaska through an artificial island they built themselves. Voila, pretend onshore drilling! Jenny Holzer is selling $75 "Protect Me from What I Want" sneakers through Keds! Comeon, it's benefiting the Whitney Museum! "Somehow, I can't see Jackson Pollock agreeing to this," says a museum rep. I would never have agreed to this! says undead Jackson Pollock through a mouthful of brain matter, a tree growing through his face. Loser occult is a rejection of any concept of literature still trying to worship at that old altar of patrilineage, of literary inheritance. Do even poets, the most marginalized, penniless and emasculated of cultural producers, have to work day and night in the salt mine of that old sexist and property-obsessed hierarchy? Yet we, more than almost anyone, are supposed to celebrate an exclusive, narrow and harrowing traditionalism. We're supposed to be its guardians, after all, like those old ladies sweeping the streets in Soviet Russia with twig brooms, as photographed for Newsweek magazine. This generation did this, that generation did that, this old man was the forebear, this young man is the inheritor. The loser occult knocks that edifice down, hangs out in the rubble huffing, hallucinating, gossiping, making out, wasting time, confecting new and obscene humanoid and nonhumanoid forms. Loser occult envisions a kind of leveled, ambivalent, invisible perpetuity without precedence or antecedence, not based on permanence but on decay, infloration, contamination. It rejects youth, youthful promise, power, vigor, resonance, and shared experience but allows for the possibility of weird mutation, arbitrary reanimation, coincidence, corrosion, drag and psychic twinship. I, Miss Ronald Reagan: I have to live in squalor, (chewing noises) all day long playing hide and seek with odors. I want to be uncommercial film personified. That's the.... oh wait... have to live in squalor all day long playing hide and seek with odors... no kidding folks. They love dead queers here. (music) [Jack Smith, 'What's so Underground about Marshmallows?'] According to the dead New York Times, Gay men are starting Facebook pages for their friends lost during the opening years of the AIDS epidemic. Friend the dead. Facebook occult. Like those friendly undead Facebookers, I'm speaking a-historically here, thanks! What I like about the Golden Dawn is its embarassing persistence, its non-relevance, its adjacency, its outrageousness, its stupidness, its codenames, its beards, props and costumes. What I do not love is its supposedly disavowed sexism (just ask Nemo, AKA Miss Georgie Hyde- Lees; go ahead, get out the Ouija board and ask her!), its obsession with hierarchy, its cherished elitism. I reject it! Although finally I welcome it into my society of rejects, into my condo unit on a hill in Indiana, my underwater condo unit, where I will microwave organic popcorn in my toxic microwave, whose rays are dangerous only to the pregnant, infants, and those with eyes, where I will reign forever, 25% of American homes are now underwater, it's a rehearsal for the destruction of Atlantis. Rejection of literary paternalism, its entire model of precedence and succession, is a rejection of literary time-- the time of literature and the time in literature, as I, Miss Ronald Reagan Georgie Hyde Lee Gertrude Stein Jack Smith puts it. The rejection of the time of literature is what I've discussed aboveóno forebears, no lineage, no inheritors, no master-slave files, just a present-tension, a heap of erratic and corrupting nows dressed in different sorts of clothes: I, Miss Ronald Reagan: Here's a list of other likely vampires: murderers' victims, the battlefield dead, the drowned, stroke victims, the first person to fall in an epidemic, heretics, wizards, alcoholics, grumpy people, women with questionable reputations, people who talk to themselves, and redheads [Michael Sims, "All the Dead are Vampires,"] Right on! I want to hear from all those guys! It's not difficult to interact with the dead. Everyone who is dead is available. Every dead letter, every dead artform, every dead Kennedy, every dead idea. Lamarckian evolution, maybe. Stretch your neck to eat from the dead tree and have a heap of babies dead and long-necked, like you, I, Miss Giraffe Ronald Michael Jack Gertrude Stein Sims Reagan! And Technology exists to reach them! The deader the better! Betamax! Spirit telephones! Early generation i- Pods! Thaumotrope! Ear trumpet! Review the Ringu movies for ideas in this department. Work the cultural junkyard, dreaded undead unheralded ungarlanded girdled giraffe bricoleur! Of course, since everyone acknowledges that reading is dead, writing is dead, and especially poetry is dead, you already have the perfect dead/undead occult technology right in your weak little hands. Kurt Cobain is completely available, people. Yes, I know, technically he could be construed as a cultural winner or victor, and thus outside the model of the loser occult, but his rhetoric of weakness and gayness, his inability to look directly at a camera, the inner disorder of his body, his chronic ailments, and the replication of his corroded and corruptible image, including the thousand of kids all over the world alone in their bedrooms singing maudlin versions of his songs into the cameras on their laptops, counteracts that. Let one thousand dead Kurt Cobains bloom, ten thousand corrupt, bootlegged, and shitty cover versions! Let them march forth in Vans, on blown knees and bullet -smarting crania, shitting errorful code like parasites! What music will you make now, undead Kurt Cobains? To hear that music, isn't that fucking enough? I, Miss Ronald Reagan: Enough, or Too Much! Now, after you've gone so far as to exorcise literary patrilineage, literary inheritance, and all its works and arts and forms, warping the time in literature is practically done for you. I, Miss Ronald Reagan: The theater generally hypnotizes; it pulls one into a dream that imitates a place in which the spectator would like to be ... The theater of Smith ... avoided that through building into performance various 'confounding' devices–in Smith's case that great slowness informed by a feeling that "everything was going wrong," which made it hard for the audience to remember what was happening [Richard Foreman on Jack Smith] A confounding, a dismay, everything going wrong, a practice of amnesia and dementia, the audience forgetting what is happening before them, fascination, as Foreman points out elsewhere, replacing interpretation as a literary mode. The time in literature cannot stand up against this onslaught of bad practices. Things fall apart. A kind of horrific stasis takes over, a decomposing undead present tense. Once time breaks down, genre breaks down. I, Miss Ronald Reagan: The dust settled. O finally! Maria Montez was propped up beside the pool which reflected her ravishing beauty. A chunk fell off her face showing the grey under her rouge. How can we get to it? We must retrieve it or else scrape off all her flesh and start over. Best to fish the chunk out of the pool and pat it back into shape. It'll show as a blotch on her cheek but we can shoot around that. Somebody will have to go out there with a pole. [Jack Smith, Memoirs of Maria Montez, or, Wait for Me At the Bottom of the Pool] I, Miss Ronald Reagan: Early that morning I could see that the day would be an ordeal. The Cretins were most excitable and openly masturbated, overstimulating the pinheads. Today they would put on their shepard and shepardess costumes and run across the fields with their sand pails to milk the cows. I rode shotgun on them in my floor length black leather jacket and needle-heeled opera hip boots made of wildebeest leather with the tufted tops. [Jack Smith, Normal Love] What is this? A synopsis? A shooting script? A diary entry? A film journal? What is its relationship to the film Normal Love, also known as Normal Fantasy and Exotic Landlordism of the World? Which is the "main" text, which are the supplementary texts, what is the secondary text, which are the iterations of the text? Where is the body of the text? The borders of the text fray away, more text accumulates like gossip, degraded text, rejected text. Everything frays and multiflorates, Jack Smith wants to cut up and deform the only print of Flaming Creatures, Jonas Mekas won't let him, and thus earns himself a peacock's fan of mutating epithets: Uncle Jonas, Uncle Roachcrust, Uncle Fishook, the Landlord, the Lobster. Smith undulates, too, as Sinbad Glick, the Penguin, a maternal type, "the most normal man in Bagdad." Corrupt and multiplying copies. To write in a form that can't be sold, even as art, that can't fill out a grant sheet, that can't write letters, that can't check off a genre box, that can't apply itself, to raise from the dead a defunct or disparaged genre, to raise readers for your work from the dead, to raise from the dead your collaborators, to raise from the dead your medium, to stage your zeroness on the zero stage of the grave, to perform for protazoa, tiddlywinks, pasties and pumpkins, leftovers and rejects, to be derelict, to be derelict to be derelict I, Miss Ronald Reagan: This is "success" in "life."