'you disgust me' as my only stream of consciousness

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Mon, 11 Mar 1996 20:31:55 CST

for the sole reason that the work-study student has his finger on the
computer's power switch; there's no alternative to what popped into my
head. I'd estimate a good hour-and-a-half, minimum, for contriving what
was intended: The objective, in flamewar, is inducing the death of the
Enemy, by suicide, heartattack, stroke.(*)

If indeed stream-of-consciousness writers exist, as opposed to slovenly
writers, they are contrivers of carefully-crafted prose of deceptively dis-
orderly or nonsensical *appearance*, whose objective is the creation of the
subjective Experience of incoherence in the reader. Any deviation from the
linear-sequential argument-or-narrative mode must remain under control; Else
nothing will be *said*. Yet post-modernism, whatever it may ultimately turn
out to have been once it's over, requires a style of written presentation
identifiably its own, must look like a mess it cannot be.

Which was Maurice R. Stein's problem. He perseverated tenaciously in the
linear-sequential style, year after year, trying and failing to transfer his
spontaneously incoherent ideation to written text. I'd see a copy of work-in-
progress, say, eight pages, trailing off at the end into a morass of underlined
book-titles, with a well-you-know-what-I-mean shrug. Too much the Nice Jewish
Boy, that is, to invent a Whole New Way of writing sociology about a Thingie
which wouldn't sit still to be written about the old way. That is, we used to
have a Sociology of Art, a Sociology of Literature, a Sociology of Intellectual
Life, a Sociology of Culture. These were taught by Old School sociologists,
ofttimes Europeans, migrants or immigrants, with Certainties about Educational
Acts, Natural or Elsewise. Recall Herbert Marcuse, Living God and Illumination
unto student radicals and anarchists on three continents? There was an occasion
in February 1971, when at the invitation of Maurice R. Stein, he made a public
appearance at the California Institute of the Arts, where Maurice R. Stein was
Dean of Critical Studies. (What's Critical Studies? We never found out; nobody
cared.) When I told Marcuse he was wrong, as he plainly was, there followed an
outburst of rage not much less intense than the Newhall Quake of the same

Maurice R. Stein's failure to invent the New Way to write sociology
condemned him to the *prehistory* of post-modernism. When he might have
been credited with inventing it, become a wax dummy in the Sociology Hall
of Fame. In 1964-5 he worked on what was intended as The Great American
Social Theory Book. He wrote a thousand pages of manuscript, told me, "The
book is gradually settling down to decide what kind of book it wants to be;
but there's no certainty that it won't suddenly pick itself up and decide to
become a totally different book altogether."

By the late 1960s, Maurice R. Stein had given up on printed text altogether.
His response to the youth culture was: Use wallposters instead. That's when
he held his publisher to a preexisting contract (for a book with words in it).
Thus was published Blueprints For Counter-Education. For your money you got
three wallposters plus an instruction manual telling you how to live inside
your wallpostered environment to learn the esthetics of the lineaments of the
organic growth and development of twentieth-century (or a little bit earlier)
Social Theory. Nobody looked at it: The posters were ugly, stupid; the manual
was garbage. All we knew about Counter-Education was, it was the educational
philosophy of the School of Critical Studies.

Now, me. I could write the right way. For the sole and exclusive reasons of
Drugs and brain damage which the Drugs treat. But couldn't care less about art,
literature, culture, intellectual life. (My Old Neighbourhood, in the Bronx,
was the world's leading exporter of dentists and certified public accountants.)
Talk of the post-modern was a bore. And I wasn't very bright. With practice, I
could use my writing style to "fake being smart," the principal use therefor
was seducing women over the Internet. (Nobody who met me in person was ever
fooled.) Now, I have no reason at all to write anything.
Once it's been transferred from the lined-yellow-paper to the green screen
and posted, no subsequent editing is possible, unless you snatch it from under
my nose, do the editing, and get it into print before I find out. Some of my
stuff was actually published that way! (Before computers it was Eaton's Corra-
sable Bond Typing Paper.)

Now you have a reasonably coherent explanation of why post-modernism didn't
become a Major League Thingie ten years earlier than it did. Recall that the
definition of a Thingie is, most nearly, "what aint got what it takes to make
it as a phenomenon," though subsidiary definitions, even more so the *connota-
tions* of Thingie, are heavily context-dependent. It takes a Major Figure, Else
a Figure with Major Delusions of Greatness, to declare "post-modernism IS,"
whereafter large industries in the scholarly study of, observations of minute
annual changes in, and In-Depth Analyses of or Profound Theories of the Meaning
and Ultimate Purpose of Post-modernism - capitalize the P, now - predictably
spring up like toadstools after the rain. The output of these new intellectual
industries was utterly without interest to me. The history of Post-modernism
was, indeed, the history of the accumulation of professional, critical, and
literary Literature (where the latter was, is, written by Writers) about Post-
None of which, actually, I know. To think, I coulda got in on the Ground
Floor. Like buying Microsoft stock in 1977 (or was that 1978?).

Think of the power of the combination of Youth Culture and Post-modernism,
in the late 1960s, as opposed to the incongruous combination we actually got,
Youth-Culture and Marxism. <Ugh>. Why, the former would have Swept The Carpet

Like it or not, find it morally offensive or The Natural Order Of Things,
that's how the intellectual cookie crumbled. As that cookie fell apart, a piece
of paper was Revealed. Which said, "You will become popular and rich." Don't
believe everything you read.

Daniel A. Foss
<is KALEX dead yet>