Decorative Fringe

You may find that the following imaginary groups and characters bear some relation to real ones.

The Committee for a Rational World (CRW)

The Council for a Rational World (CRW, often pronounced "crew", founded in Boston in 1888) is a society who rabidly support adoption of their own platform of standards. These are:

1. The metric system in the United States

2. An international monetary unit, the "UN mark," to measure all other forms of money and eventually replace them

3. Rationalization of English spelling

4. B.A.S.I.C. English as a universal second language

5. Calendar reform (to a CRW calendar with seven 30-day months and five 31-day months)

These are their "Big Five." There are others, such as adoption of the International Phonetic Alphabet and 24-hour time (without "AM" and "PM").

Radical members of CRW advocate using a system of metric time, dividing the day into 100 "metric hours" (each slightly under 15 minutes long), each of ten "metric minutes" (about 50% longer than standard minutes), each of 100 "metric seconds" (0.864 standard seconds long).

CRW is notable for its tendency to schism. For instance, there is the Rationalized Council for a Rational World, (RCRW, sometimes pronounced "R-Crew," but more often called "Hex-Crew" or "Six-Crew"). They have a Big Six:

1. - 3. (The same as for CRW)

4. Loglan as the universal second language

5. A different calendar reform, dispensing with months and using only the year and a number signifying the day

6. A hexadecimal system of enumeration, which complicates their position on the metric system

Another schism is the Original Council for a Rational World (OCRW, "O-Crew" among themselves but "Old Crew" or even "Old Crow" within CRW). This is a reactionary group that left in response to changes in CRW in 1962. They, too, have a Big Six:

1. - 3. (The same as for CRW)

4. Esperanto as the universal second language

5. A different calendar reform, with thirteen 28-day months, the thirteenth month to be the last, named "Terminary"

6. A duodecimal system of enumeration, with a different set of complications regarding the metric system

OCRW regards CRW as having given in to "traditionalist pressures," traditionalism being the great enemy of all the -CRW groups. Except in their own eyes, the groups have much in common:

The most unsettling thing about them is how important they seem to feel CRW is.

The Objectionists

Objectionism is an ideological movement started by the noted philosophaster, Iona Rant. Her position was put forward in a long series of books, of which the most famous titles are:

We, the Livid (essays)
Antic (novel)
The Faucethead (novel)
Atlas Fidgetted (novel)
The Virtue of Arrogance (essays)
Rapacity: the Unknown Ideal (essays)
The Rococo Manifesto (essays)
The Night of April First (stage play)

Objectionists object to any flouting of "Common Sense," a phrase which becomes a technical term in their vocabulary, equivalent to the contents of their doctrine. Objectionism makes a stark contrast between Common Sense and "mysticism" and sees the world as a battleground between itself and a vast Mystical Conspiracy, dedicated to dominating the human race by brainwashing people into blatantly unrealistic beliefs. The Mystics' heresies against Common Sense include:

The earliest form of the Objectionist or (as they call it) Common-Sensible history of the world was put forward in Rant's Antic, written in 1938, in Greenwich Village shortly after she stopped taking her medication, but the fullest form is outlined in The Rococo Manifesto, first published in 1969 through an underground press in Haight-Ashbury following her discharge (or, as she reports it, her escape). In brief outline, this history is as follows:

The universe is an infinite and infinitely old collection of galaxies, these galaxies consisting of stars and planets. However, stars do not shine from fusion energy, but from electrical discharge, and cosmic dynamics is governed at least as much by electromagnetic forces as by gravitation. (Objectionists ardently support Aarp's unconventional plasma cosmology, though of course they deplore his buckling in to the Mystical theories of atoms, quanta, and relativity.)

The planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars erupted from the Sun during the electrical storms that took place when it captured Jupiter and Saturn. (The outer planets, their moons, and the asteroids erupted from Jupiter and Saturn.)

Life originated on Earth from the electrification of water in the early seas. (Electricity is identical to the life-force, and life can be produced by electrifying any sufficiently rich mixture of ingredients in water. Ms. Rant claimed to have produced artificial life several times, and her adherents still occasionally make similar claims. This is one of many pieces of technical information suppressed by the Mystical Conspiracy.) Life originated in the year 314,159 BC, according to Ms. Rant's calculation, as fish.

These early fish quickly evolved into frogs and salamanders. All other terrestrial vertebrates evolved directly from these, humanity evolving from frogs by 271,828 BC. At this time, most of Earth's excess electricity had discharged to space, causing the craters on the Moon, and evolution slowed drastically.

Humanity lived in the Stone Age until 1414 BC, when agriculture and writing were invented in Denmark. The people with Common Sense went on from strength to strength, inventing iron and movable type. Meanwhile, the Mystics, followers of the old Stone Age priesthoods, grew more and more discontented.

Finally, in 666 AD, the actual Mystical Conspiracy was founded by Plato, Siddharta, St. Augustine, and Pope Innocent I. Plato set about corrupting Western philosophy, Siddharta did the same for the Orient, St. Augustine started writing the Bible and supplied the outline later filled in by the College of Cardinals, and Pope Innocent began infiltrating and corrupting the political and educational establishments.

By 850, the Papacy and its great co-conspirator Mohammed had succeeded in dominating Europe and Western Asia, and sent their separate sets of tools warring at each other, inflaming Mystical trends on both sides and squelching Common Sense.

By 1270, St. Thomas Aquinas, a henchman of the Conspiracy, had thoroughly subverted the Peripatetic philosophers of Common Sense, founded by Aristotle, and transformed them into the Mystically dominated Scholastics. Together with his cronies, Maimonidies and Avicenna, he brought about most of the re-writing of history that is now accepted today.

(Ms. Rant claims to have recovered the true history of the world through her own unique methods of textual analysis and through espionage performed at the Vatican, the Smithsonian Institue, the British Museum, and Jerusalem. She is on record as being arrested in, or forcibly escorted from, all four places between 1946 and 1954.)

In 1492, a potentially fatal breach occurred between the Oriental and Occidental branches of the Conspiracy, separating into an overtly Mystical school of policy (centered in Tibet) and a speciously Sensible school of covertly Mystical policy (centered in Oxford). Columbus, though proto-Common-Sensible himself, was a tool of the Occidental Mystics, who started a campaign of aggressive expansion against their Oriental competitors at the price of allowing Columbus to prove the world was round.

In 1666, the dangers posed by the Occidental policy to the whole Mystical cause became apparent when Newton rediscovered physics and published his formulation of it after surviving the first of several assasination attempts by the Conspiracy (the first by plague, the most notable subsequent one by mercury poisonning). Objectionists honor Newton as the greatest mind among the proto-Common-Sensibles, though they regret his use of fluxions and his interest in alchemy; they regard his rival Leibnitz as a willing tool of the Conspiracy.

Though the forces of Common Sense made several great strides after Newton, the whole effort blundered blindly, ignorant of the Mystical Conspiracy and only proto-Common-Sensible, until the true situation was discovered by Ms. Rant.

Ms. Rant died in 1971, of electrical shock sustained while trying to cure herself of pneumonia. Her school of thought was then led by her former disciple, P. O. Tceickoff and is now led by his son, F. U. Tceickoff.

Politically, American Objectionists ally themselves with Libertarians, moderate Anarchists, and extremely conservative Republicans, all of whom deny knowing anything about them. Their cause has occasionally been embraced by the Church of the Sub-Genius, though the Objectionists consistently repudiate that body. Most respond well to lithium treatments.

People for the Ethical Extermination of Virtually Anything (PEEVA)

Would you want to have no hands, be colorblind, be aphasic, and be stuck with the intelligence of a three-year-old child? Of course not! Would you regard death as a merciful release from such a state? Certainly! Yet this is the state that virtually all higher animals are in, and the lower animals are in an even more pathetic position. Therefore...


Vampeyers (pronounced "vampires"), a group of insomniacs who, having discovered a common taste for blood pudding, steak tartare, etc., have decided they are really vampires, a racial/ethnic group forced underground by the "hemophobic" society of "sleepers" (i.e. non-vampeyers, called "sleepers" because they are not generally insomniac).

They insist on the altered spelling (cf "wymin/womon," "magick," and "Afrika"), and find offensive almost all vampire fantasy. They see a general conspiracy against themselves in the common imagery of vampires.

However, they cultivate this same vampiric imagery in their own way and often dress in black, wear sunglasses, and affect a fondness for all things predatory and nocturnal. They become expert in the comparative vampire lores of cinema, various authors, and various cultures. They tend to know Bram Stoker's "Dracula" by heart, while cordially denouncing it. They are much fonder of the character Barnabas Collins from "Dark Shadows," the movie "Love at First Bite," the works of Ann Rice, and the role-playing game "Vampire: The Masquerade," even while maintaining lists of expurgations and errata for these works.

Most of them are of European stock but willingly recognize anyone of any race as a fellow vampeyer, supposing some trace of original (Caucasian) vampeyer blood to be dominant in that individual.

They run amature press associations ("APAs"), newsletters, and mailing lists, and have small clubs called "veins." These media convey chat, the latest news on vampeyer defamation and their own anti-defamation efforts, their own vampeye-based literature, and blood-based recipes.

These recipes never involve human blood. That vampeyers nourish themselves on human blood is the worst slander against them, they insist. They do occasionally drink human blood, but only in small, freely-given quantities during various ceremonies. The three predominant ceremonies are:


Descendants (by a mixture of tutelage and blood) of a utopian philosophical movement of the 19th century. Veridians are dedicated to complete truth – not Truth, some abstract ideal quality or a hyperbolic label for their doctrine, but very literal truth. They regard honesty as the prime virtue and dishonesty as the root of all evil, if not directly then through mental confusions caused by deceiving oneself. They have a long list of "decites" that they shun, notably including:

Lying (of course)
Fiction, both written and theatrical
Imagery of all sorts, both visual and aural, including:
    representative statuary
    representative pictures, both photographic and rendered
    television & cinema
    radio & phonography
Recreational pretense (as in children playing at cop & robbers)
Representational toys (as in miniature trucks, dolls, water-pistols)
Metaphors (similies are borderline)

Spurred by these restrictions, they have developed a vigorous cultivation of abstract painting and sculpture, dance, calligraphy, and literature (suitably vetted for fictionality and metaphor). They have a substantial overlap in membership with Iona Rant's Objectionists, the Council for a Rational World, and the Quivering Brethren (which causes some dissention among their ranks).


Nereans believe in the Lost Nerean Sea, which sank into the steppes of Asia. This sea was the original home of humanity, according to their peculiar anthropology.

They believe the first sapient species of humanity arose as an aquatic form. When the Nerean dried up, the water-folk scattered into the other seas, where they remain. A few hybridized with land-swelling hominds, producing modern humans.

They endorse the "aquatic ape" theory of Elaine Morgan, though of course they go much further. They point to global legends of mer-folk, and in particular to the wisdom and knowledge of the mer-folk – e.g. Oannes the fish-man who was a culture hero of Mesopotamia, the Sirens of Odysseus who promised him all knowledge, and salmon of wisdom from Welsh folklore.

The Frankish Church

When the Great Schism was repaired, there were ten priests loyal to the Anti-Pope who remained loyal and, for murky reasons, claimed that they were successors to ten cardinals of the Anti-Pope's college. They claimed this, however, very quietly, mostly to each other.

These ten cardinals fled back to Avignon and there elected one of their own number pope. So that his cardinalate would not fall vacant, the new pontiff gave it to one of the remaining nine cardinals. Two of them made similar gifts of their cardinalates on their deaths. The original intension was that these would be given to new cardinals when these could be appointed, but this never happened, and the College of Frankish Cardinals now traditionally consists of four cardinals (with single cardinalates) and three archcardinals (with double cardinalates).

Besides the College, the original Frankish Church consisted of about a dozen each of monks and nuns and about four dozen laymen. Numbers dwindled, but slowly, until early in the Reformation period, when they dropped precipitately, especially among the laymen. Not daring to seek converts in the tumult of the times, the Frankish pope freed all the clergy and the religious from their vows of celibacy and bade them marry among one another and multiply.

This opened the door to accepting other Reformation ideas. In the eighteenth century, the Frankish began to ordain female priests and bishops. The anti-Roman tradition among the Frankish was sufficiently strong that when, in the nineteenth century, the Roman pope put forth the doctrine of infallibility, the Frankish pope specifically repudiated such a claim for his own office. (If you're a tiny crank sect, you might as well score points for being humble.)

Johannine Baptists

They believe that Enoch, Melchizedek, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist were all inheritors of the same spirit or spiritual office. They believe all these inheritors ascended bodily into Heaven (Enoch, Melichizedek, and Elijah without dying, Moses, Elisha, and John after a resurrection). They base this doctrine, not on any private revelation, but on some rather fine-drawn scriptural interpretation.

The Johannine Baptists are not large, but they are large enough for a popular elaboration of this doctrine to take place. The elaboration does claim a certain amount of private revelation. (The Johannines include a fairly prominent charismatic element.) In this elaborated version, there are many such offices passed down by spiritual heredity, each governed by a guardian angel. Most prominent are the patriarchal ones:

Israelite: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
Sarite: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Mary
Judite/Judaic: Judah, David, Solomon, kings of Judah, Peter
Reubenite: Reuben, Andrew
Gadite: Gad, Simon Zealotes
Asherite: Asher, Bartholomew
Naphtalite: Naphtali, Matthew
Manassite: Manassah, Thomas
Simeonite: Simeon, James
Levite: Aaron, high priests, John
Issacharite: Issachar, Jude the Obscure
Zebulunite: Zebulun, Philip
Josephite: Joseph, (Judas), Paul
Benjamite: Benjamin, James the Less

The system goes on to fit in all the prophets, judges, heroes of the Old Testament.

The Lemurian Dispensational Church

They believe that the Beast of Revelation that rises from the sea is the emperor of Atlantis. The old continent will rise, be colonized, and become the leading world power. The seven heads that are seven hills are a feature of the city of Atlantis (according to them; it isn't in Plato). The ten horns of the beast that are ten kings, the rulers of the ten subordinate cities of Atlantis, re-settled. (These ten cities are in Plato.) Their career culminates in the seven-year reign of Antichrist, the emperor of Atlantis.

After Armageddon, at the beginning of the Millenium, the bed of the Persian Gulf will lift and extend as a peninsula into the Indian ocean. This will grow (or re-grow) into the lost continent of Lemuria, now to become the Earthly Paradise. The western part of this peninsula is Eden. The Tigris and Euphrates will reverse course and flow from Eden into the Dead Sea, vivifying it.

Meanwhile, the New Jerusalem will descend on the site of the Old Jerusalem. The astronomical size of the New Jerusalem will cause no inconvenience because those are the inside dimensions. On the outside, it will be a cube occupying the site of the Temple as measured out by John just before the career of the Two Witnesses. (One of the founding Lemurian Dispensationalists was a mathematician conversant with non-Euclidean geometry.)


Westernization of an Indian sect that was obscure and crackpot even in India. They abhor the idea of Union with the One and instead seek Division into the Many. (The parent Indian sect was apparently founded by someone who got fed up with India's inveterate monism.)

They have a number of strange arguments that efforts at regarding several items as one thing are always self-defeating. (These arguments sometimes suggest precursors of Russel's set paradoxes.) Contrariwise, they have a number of other arguments that any single object can always be divided into more parts, at least analytically. They therefore resist the physical idea of atomism and the logical idea of the undefined term.

More religiously, they aspire to have their souls emanate, traduce, divide, and variously multiply endlessly, each descendant soul being of a more exalted status and still more fruitful. Their objects of veneration are always collectives of sages, saints, devas/angels, demigods, and gods. These are referred to as the variously named Hosts, Multitudes, and, at the top of the terminology, the Infinitudes.


Psychosophism is a school of spiritualism founded in the late 19th century by Mme. Helanna Byzante Blitevsky (or "Blatavsky," known to her fans and followers as "H.B.B."). She published her system in a series of long, turgid, purple-prosed, and nearly identical books:

The Mystic Power of the Universal Psyche
The Hidden Teachings of the Ukraine
The Mystic Psyche of Universal Power
The Yugoslavian Book of the Dead
The Mystic Universe of Psychic Power
A Field Guide to Transmigrations
The Psychic Powers of Universal Mysticism

Born Helanna Byzante Gorsk, she was the daughter of a prosperous Ukranian undertaker who ran the first crematorium in Kiev. At the age of 19, she was married to Dr. Andrei Mikhailovich Blatavsky (or Blitevsky; HBB used both transliterations from the Cyrilic), a 68-year-old retired physician.

The marriage was stultifying to HBB, and in later life she hinted it was never even consumated. She tried her hand at running a cultural salon, which produce two or three rumors of scandalous activities on the part of her and her guests. She patronized opera, theatre, and the other performing arts, distressing her husband and family by taking bit parts from time to time.

When she was 22, three months before her husband's death, she ran away to join a traveling circus. There, she participated in and may have directed a musical freak show featuring bearded chorus girls, Siamese duetists, and a three-legged tap dancer. She left the circus when, on a hot summer evening in Greece, the glue on their whiskers failed the female chorus girls and, in the subsequent pother, their falsies failed the males. The other performers are also said to have come apart under stress.

She next joined an Italian thespian troupe. This group was trying to revive the old Commedia del arte, and HBB played both Columbine and Punchinello. The troupe's ship sank in eastern Mediterranean; HBB claims to be only survivor although independent research indicates no deaths (the ship being well-supplied with life-boats).

On her own account, she washed up on the shore of Alexandria and was taken in by the secret high priest of Amon-Ra (who in daily life was a Greek Orthodox cleric). To the eye of the historian her actual career vanishes into murk at this point.

She next surfaces among the aesthetes of Paris, then in London. She entered the U.S. via New York in the entourage of Lord Muttonworth, a wealthy and titled minor English impressionist painter. She next appears in upper New York State, in the circle of the mesmerist Alfonz Draummier (born Michael Weck of Tailings, Penn.).

While working as Draummier's agent and shill, she wrote and published Wisdom of the Steppes, under the pseudonym Anastasia Grwdjyvff. This was moderately successful, so she revised and expanded it as The Mystic Power of the Universal Psyche, the book that launched her whole career.

Her next major career move was picking up her dubious associate Col. Plumb, at an occasion often related in Psychosophical circles, when she met him in the Library with a Candlestick. Col. Plumb, late of the Confederate Army, had traveled widely as a mercenary soldier in his middle age, and supplied HBB with much background material for her books, séances, lectures, and public demonstrations. He also seems to have been an adroit stage magician, with a talent for feeling out the limits of tolerance in the local authorities. He helped HBB develop the whole concept of the Psychosophical Society as a permanent institution and cash cow.

Unfortunately for HBB, Col. Plumb was a devoted connoisseur of novelty leatherwork for the discerning gentleman. This left him open to blackmail and occasioned the couple's frequent cancellations of lectures and frequent pilgrimages to Egypt. Eventually, the colonel, who was 19 years older than HBB, dropped out of the Psychosophical enterprise and went into a discreet retirement in Cordova, Spain.

HBB continued to run the growing Psychosophist empire single-handed, churning out her religious works with great success and regularity.

She based her system on Egyptian and Babylonian mythology, and made great use of magical "ushebti" dolls modeled after the ones found in Egyptian tombs. She also made a vigorous business out of religious relics in the form of crematory ash. When she eventually died, her own ashes became, inevitablly, greatly sought-after by devout Psychosophists. (From the quantity and composition of all the "HBB-ash" circulated, we infer that, at the time of her death, she weighed more than 3000 lbs and was composed mostly of wood and paper.)

Her system of thought was slavocentric: according to HBB, slavs are the Lost Tribes of Egypt, and the pyramid-builders. "Slav" became construed more and more broadly as her market expanded until it included most Europeans. For instance, the Druids are a Celtic branch of Slavs.

Despite numerous attacks by detractors, her career was very successful. Only once did she suffer a major embarassment. This was when she announced the coming of the messiah "Amon-Melkart Ka-Bel-Ui" (or "Ka-Blui" for short).

The Ka-Blui was supposed to be the "Fourth Coming of Horus," the first being his succession to Osiris and defeat of Set, the second being his career as Moses and leading the Israelite-Slavs out of Egypt, the third being his career as Christ and his post-resurrection leading of the Slavic Remnant out of the Roman Empire (not to mention establishing the One True Czarist dynasty, of which Arthur, Charlemagne, and Barbarosa were scions).

The Ka-Blui (born Amed ibn Ibram) was entrusted to HBB's care by his parents, wealthy Egyptian converts, when he was eleven. Unfortunately, when he turned thirteen, he denounced Psychosophism at a large convention, in front of several reporters, then ran off to live with an uncle and, ultimately, become a Coptic priest.

HBB handled the set-back very well. She announced a temporary victory by the forces of Set, who had doubtless attacked the spirit of Horus, which was then forced to leave its human vehicle to spare the child from the tumult of an internal theomachia. Then she went back to business as usual and never tried any major innovations in Psychosophy again.

This served her well, and she died a wealthy woman at the age of 79.

Psychosophism rose into public view again in the late '40s, when Barbara Keene published her exposé, The Powerful Universe of Psychotic Mystique, but this had no effect except to increase sales of HBB's books for a couple of months.


Pyrgosologists (from the Greek pyrgos, "tower") believe in the mystical importance of the Tower of Babel and of Babylon.

They believe that Babylon was erected on the site of the Garden of Eden, the Tower being built on the site of the Two Trees. They point to the reference in Genesis to the Tigris and Euphrates and to Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the tree, in Daniel, as confirmation of this. The tale of the Hanging Gardens is also supposed to be an echo of this identification.

They also believe that "Babylon" in Revelation is literal Babylon. Finally, they believe the city of Enoch, in Genesis, was quite near the Garden, also within the bounds of Babylon.

In short, Babylon and the Tower are the center of the world, especially as regards human endeavor. Its counterpoise and antitype is Zion, the site of divine endeavor.

From measurements of a ziggurat in Babylon, allegedly the ruins of the Tower, pyrgosologists derive a variety of numerological doctrines.

The Quivering Brethren
(The Church of the Narrow Way)

They believe Judgement Day was 1914 and the Millenium is now going on in the New Earth. Meanwhile, everyone here on the old Earth, including them, is damned. However, they hope to win a cooler, shallower situation in the Lake of Fire by:

They describe their theology as Calvinist (though other Calvinists describe it as "hyper-Calvinist to say the least") and they specifically disbelieve in:

As a practical matter, not doctrinal, they live in small communities. These resemble monasteries, or even hermitages, not because of a desire for a monastic form of communal life, but because that's what any place would look like if Quivering Brethren lived there. Most of these communities, called "sepulchres" in keeping with their systematic abhorence of any positive self-image, were formerly boarding houses or small tenements.

Although they shun music, their liturgies (which are very long) include extensive congregational chanting. And, although they shun charismatism, many individuals are involuntarily overcome with fits of trembling during these long mass chants. It is from this that they derive their popular name of the Quivering Brethren.

Veteran Humans

These people believe in reincarnation for a few, but not for most. They themselves are, of course, among the few. They believe that the bulk of the population has never been in a human incarnation before and therefore is not "really human," or "quiet human," or at least not "as human" as the reincarnated "veterans," who have, after all, been human longer and in more ways.

The pre-human existences of "novices" are usually supposed to be animals or spirits of equivalent degree to animal souls. The next existences for most people are the same. Of course, there are always a few promising novice candidates for further human incarnation, and an even fewer number for super-human incarnation or other existence.

If you used to be a veteran, with a long string of human incarnations, but then back-slid and spent your previous lifetime as a warthog or something, you are in an in-between status, "probationer."

You determine your karmic status by repeated Tarot readings – though regular playing cards can be used in a pinch. This is supposed to determine where you were and where you are bound at the moment. You use more Tarot readings as clues to guided imagery that is supposed to let you recall past lives.

Inert-Gas Bands

Continuing the chemical theme of such musical schools as acid rock and heavy metal, and strongly influenced by New Age music, the Inert Gas bands are the newest set of substances on the musical scene. Their music aims at peculiar perceptual and psychological effects and generally features two or more synth keyboards and careful placement of the speaker system. Rising (and hence expanding and cooling) groups include:

Neon Tornado
Helium Superflow
Old Texas Helium
Helium Balloon
Argon Rinse
Radon Aurora and the Curies
Planet Xenon
Krypton Enigma

Insect Modeling


Magazines and Other Media:

Conventions and Shows:

Artists and Manufacturers: Categories: Issues:


Newsgroups: art.cutedge
From: (N. T. Wolfe)
Subject: News article: "Artflash" col. by Mercule Vapide in "InCrowd"
Message-ID: []
Summary: Most breathlessly latest movements in
Keywords: recondite, recherche, current, culturati, modern
Date: Sat, 01 Apr 1993 02:12:54 GMT

Ultra-neo-apres-post-avant-modernism is all the rage in the most sophisticated and recherche circles of the culturati. It is a theory of art that disdains any actual works or performance as inadequate to esthetic conception. Instead, the artist gives a lecture describing his or her artistic goals.

It is in sharp contrast to its predecessor, neo-apres-post-avant-modernism, which accompanied the lectures with displays of actual artistic material – cans or tubes of paint, with brushes and canvas; or a block of stone or clay; or a stack of blank paper, an electric typewriter, and a dictionary. (This movement died out in scandal when it was discovered that a word processor being used as a display at a literary workshop was actually turned on, though there were no text files in it.)

This movement is in conflict with its potential successor, late ultra-neo- apres-post-avant-modernism, which maintains that the lectures themselves are covert performances. It is hard to deny this charge, but since the advocates of late ultra-neo-apres-post-avant-modernism have been unable to think of anything to do instead, they necessarily leave the field clear for their rivals.

A more serious contender is meta-ultra-neo-apres-post-avant-modernism, in which the lecture is given by an art critic rather than the artist. The most progressive exponents of this movement are critics who describe the idealized works of artists they have made up themselves, contrasted to those traditionalists who describe the goals and visions of actual artists.

Ulysses Hoag recently received a standing ovation for a critical lecture of this sort. He described the non-work of an imaginary artist who not only remained unnamed throughout the lecture, but could not be classified as painter, sculptor, musician, composer, or author. Many admirers feel that Hoag's lecture marks the beginning of a new artistic movement, but so far they have not been able to name it.

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