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Glamour, pageantry and knives : gay identity in File megazine [i.e. magazine] Ballantyne, Robert 1994

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GLAMOUR, PAGEANTRY AN]) KNIVES: Gay Identity in File Megazine  by ROBERT BALLANTYNE B.A., University of British Columbia, 1985 Diploma, Art History, University of British Columbia, 1989 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Fine Arts) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  Signature(s) removed to protect privacy  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1994 © Robert Ballantyne, 1994  _____________  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Signature(s) removed to protect privacy  (Signature)  Department of  .  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  Date &,J /  DE-6 (2/88)  —  ABSTRACT In the spring of 1972, a Toronto-based artists’ collective caffing itself General Idea began publishing File megazine, which derived its format from Life magazine. Like Life it was a rich mixture of text and imagery which has so far gone unanylized. It incorporated and celebrated the work of an artist’s network and a mail art network both of which were commensurate with an experimental gay aesthetic. The early seventies were marked by the emergence of ‘gay liberation,’ when police harrassment and surveillence were central issues for political action. In this context, the gay artists connected with File were, in various ways, attempting to advance their careers in a shifting art world. The first three years of File brought together a range of concerns with vision and  visuality, gender and sexuality, media and the position of an ideal of the ‘self. All of these threads of knowledge served to reconfigure and challenge the claims for identity as constructed by Life magazine. My thesis locates a fraught and at times radical homosexual inscription in these new configurations. If Lfe is a paradigmatic form of mass culture in which a particular ideal of freedom and seithood are visualized together File tends to eroticize trivialize and burst that false yet powerful ideological coherence. In the pages of File the content of the dominant culture is made available to gay aesthetic manipulations like ‘camp’ under a persistant tendency to ‘de-sublimate’ the sexuality of that culture. In a effort to reclaim and reposition the forgotten and unacknowledge gay representa tion I have tended to place a certain priority on a historical narrative interaction between the counter-discourses of sexuality within what could be losely termed ‘the counter-culture’ and an academic modernism that seems to have tried to wish away erotics from its field of view. File megazine like the works of Robert Smithson that I have addressed does not congradulate its audience for having discovered some newly available access to knowledge or power over the sexual or the social.  11  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Abstract  11  Table of Contents  in  List of Illustrations  iv  Acknowledgements Introduction  .  1  .  Chapter 1  5  Chapter 2  28  Conclusion  57  Illustrations Bibliography  .  .  .  .  62 78  ill  LIST OF TLLUSTRATIONS 1. Mr. Peanut cover of File, Issue Number 1, April 1972.  2. “Pascal of the Global Village and General Idea”, inside cover, File, Issue Number 1, April 1972. 3. “Just Dial Your Dada.” File, Issue Number 4, May 1973. p. . 13 4. “Camel filters choice.” Life magazine advertisement. November 17, 1972. p. . 2 5 Convex mirror cover of File, Issue Number 3. December 1972. 6. “Knife in Ass with Convex Mirror.” File Issue Number 3. December 1972. 7. “Suggestion Box, File, Issue Number 1, April 1972. 8. “Miss General Idea.” File, Issue Number 4, May 1973. 9. Robert Smithson, drawing, “Untitled”, 1963 from Smithson Unearthed. 10. Robert Smithson, drawing, “Mangrove Rings,” 1971, in Arts Magazine 1971. 11. Image Bank “Image of the Month” File, Issue Number 4, May 1973. 12. Robert Smithson, “Glue Pour,” Vancouver 1970. 13. Cover of File, Issue Number 4, May 1973. 14.JohnJack Baylin, “Treatise on Goreousness.” in File, Issue Number 4, May 1973. 15. Willoughby Sharp and Life magazine. File Issue Number 3, December 1972. 16. “Glamourous Cowboy”, File Glamour Issue, Autumn 1975.  iv  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First and formost I would like to thank John O’Brian and Scott Watson for their invaluable criticism and support of this thesis. Other facauky, under whose instruction I have had the privilege to benefit, are Serge Guilbaut, Maureen Ryan and Rose Marie San Juan. A special thanks should go to Bill Wood who suggested that I “take a look at File” as a seminar essay topic. Students such as Shep Steiner, Patrik Andersson and Joseph Monteyne listened to or read portions and offered helpful suggestions and encouragement. Alex Alberro likewise was very supportive and contributed confirmations of directions to take my reading of Robert Smithson’s work. A.A. Bronson’s firm grasp on names and events as well as theoretical and aesthetic sources helped complicate my reading of gayness in File. Michael Morris’s helped put in place research directions I needed to follow. Gerry Gilbert’s recollections of events and attitudes within the Vancouver art scene helped shore up key positions in this theses. I would also thank Brian Lam for repeated proof readings at various stages of fragments and drafts.  V  INTRODUCTION The first issue of General Idea’s File Megazine was published in May 1972. Within days of its publication, and before most copies had reached their destination, a lengthy and vitriolic article, unsigned, was printed in the Grape, a radical left-wing Vancouver newspa per, condemning File as “the great Canadian art tragedy.” In a key passage, the author signals what must be read a&iheessenñal failure of masculinity and perhaps the origin of this national art tragedy: “As a substitute for genuine criticism and confrontation wherein the actual interde pendence ofphenomena will be exposed so that real growth might occur, this magazine full heartedly supports the proliferation of bulishit, obsessions, private reveries, and facile fantasies. I quote again from their editorial ‘Every image is a self image. Every image is a mirror.’ There is almost no need for criticism, the text is so embarassingly naive. Every image is a self image, in other words everyman shits his own feces. Right on.”  And further on: “(They have all taken neurotically appropriate pseudonyms.) There is even a recipe for faggot pudding. “Shitting on their homosexuality they have done an inestimiable disservice by re-repressing what remains for many a serious and actual struggle within our society. They have paraded their homosexuality as though that in itself gave the mag. some bizarre status within the enigma of the alternative society. Instead the problems of homosexuality as an actual way of life recede into the pagentry camp parody.” 1  The article touched off a flurry of responses to the Grape, condemning the outburst for its dismissiveness of the General Idea politic. Once the author’s identity was revealed to be  Dennis Wheeler, an art-community insider and a recent M.A. graduate in Art History at U.B.C., a nasty mail campaign was initiated; torn copies of the article and packages of human feces were sent to Dee Dee Wheeler in care of the National Gallery in Ottawa, where  its author was then employed.2 Wheeler’s often contradictory but persistent argument circulates around a set of  1  /2  authenticating notions about real identity, conceived in the absence of the virtues of “genuine criticism and confrontation.” Camp is read as a recession from the reality of “homosexuality,” private societies masquerade as real collectives, and self-parody pretends to show critical distance. The article dramatizes a conflictual relationship between gay representation (including camp) and orthodox understandings of criticism and of art  worthy of critique, which was itself central to a set of issues being negotiated in the contemporary art world.3 The first issue of File, the object of this derision, features a confident Mister Peanut, a persona of Image Bank co-founder Vincent Trasov, on its cover, posed before the Toronto cityscape, relaxed, leaning on his dandy’s cane, his top hat removed to avoid an air of excessive formality. (Figure 1) The white letters spelling “File” are encased in a red block emblematic of Life magazine. The blunt incongruity of popular icon and bureaucratic system faintly suggests a kind of disruption.4 On the inside cover is a triple-image of Pascal, a fashionable young thing often referred to as the “androgyne bomb of the Canadian art scene.” (Figure 2)5 He/she was, in fact, in the late stages of hormonal treatment for a sex-change, empowering her with an enchanting four-octave vocal range. Her fame had resonated from various performances, especially one at the 1971. Miss General Idea pageant at the Art Gallery of Ontario, where a prominent  gay male artist, Michael Morris, became Miss General Idea.6 I will argue that Mister Peanut, Pascal and other General Idea figures represent a move away from the stability of identity, critical or otherwise, that had been traditionally the armature of liberal heterosexual male culture.7 The article in the Grape condemning File  was written as part of a rising backlash against increasingly idiosyncratic and playful impulses towards the evacuation of the category of the self. The years following the international events of 1968 were increasingly dominated by conflictual demands from both the left and the right for a serious art, which we can read as a high art, capable of redeeming lost virility.8 The revisionist links I will make here are therefore essentially concerned with sexual  /3  politics and a history of sexuality. The impulses which linked counter-cultural subversions  to erotic play resonated in the Vancouver art scene by the mid-sixties, in such collectives as NETCO and Intermedia, whose McLuhanesque subversion strategy has been noted by Nancy Shaw.9 What I hope to begin here is to locate these interests in the larger cultural  context of the sexual politics of the early 1970s. Yet, the artistic and theoretical traditions which maintained this subversion of identity had been circulating in the 1960s within the Vancouver art scene and throughout the art world. 10 I will suggest that issues around the body and its politics must be seen to pervade the critical and anti-critical discourses of the period. Further, what was at once a confron tation with identity in File, per se in representation, was also a kind of historical inscription of male homosexual object-choice and as such will be read a complicating movement of what Kaja Silverman calls “libidinal politics.”11 I will show that Wheeler’s Grape article, though seemingly accurate in many of its claims about File’s sheltering detachments and its mockery of stable meaning in the face of the crude but necessary politics of confrontation, and the plea for historical positioning, was merely superficially aware of the historical confrontation between “homosexuality” as signifier of an emerging political identity or life-style within larger persistant shaping myths of “the social,” “the revolution,” “the self” or “the sexual” as a knowable categories of meaning. We must see the Grape’s article’s demands for a “serious” revolutionary practice, characteristic of most Grape politics, as effectively erasing the interrogation of the linguistic, legal and medical implications surrounding the term “homosexual,” as suggested by General Idea’s strategy-position-gesture. The Grape article relies on, indeed seeks to enforce, a generic liberationist understanding that hygienically reconstructs sameness out of difference and even more dangerously maintains the idea of the “homosexual” as a kind of substitute proletarian hero. It will be necessary to consider its effects on the image of hegemony of idiosyncratic self-dismissal. As Kaja Silverman proposes:  /4 “Hegemony hinges upon identification; it comes into play when all the members of a collectivity see themselves within the same reflecting surtace.”l2  By examining certain figures in the General Idea network and the shifting emphases of its work during the period 1972-1975,1 will attempt to reconstruct a set of concerns capable  of articulating the contradictions and certainties postulating a resistent political vision in which sexuality inheres. For General Idea, Wheeler’s demands meant extricating desire from their process, ending or finalizing a set of subversive interactions between two bodies of knowledge. By desire I will suggest shifting erotic configurations, attachments and identifications which, as characterized by Leo Bersani, are characteristic of all human sexual desire.13 Of course, this mobility, while inherently unlocatable, nonetheless makes its moves within the historical and contingent aspects of representation. The works I will  discuss in the thesis must be seen as antagonized and often antagonistic to that larger representational field. If desire marks and mars our recognition of General Idea’s work, it  might also be be understood as a powerful fixitive of knowledge within the network’s ambitions.  /5  Notes 1 The Grape, May 24-30, 1972. 2 These events have been reconstructed through interviews and discussions with members of the art scene dunng that period, including A.A. Bronson, interviewed at the Vancouver Internalional Airport lounge, June 23, 1993. Another interview was a discussion with Grae staffer and well-known Vanouver poet Gerry Gilbert, conducted at the Kootenay School of Writing in the spring of 1993. 3 On the issues of the effectiveness of neo-dada, see “Robert Smithson on Duchamp: An Interview with Moira Roth,” in which he expresses his boredom with the dadaist tradition induding what he calls Duchamp’s “gay mathematics.” Nancy Holt, ed., The Writings of Robert Smithson: Essays with Illustrations. New York: New York University Press, 1979, p.1 9. See for example “Problems of Criticism,”Jack Burnham, Artforum, 9, no. 9 5,January 1971, reprinted in Gregory Battcock, ed., Idea Art. A Critical Anthology. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company Ltd., 1973. 4 File, May 1972. 5 The caption beneath her picture refers to her relation to media subversion. See figure no. 2. 6 A recounting of some of the pageant’s details can be found in File: General Idea’s 1984 and the 1968-1984 FILE Retrospective. Vancouver Vancouver Art Gallery/Art Official Inc., 1984, p.v. 7 That gay liberation sought to call an end to all sexual categories including homosexuality itself is noted by Kaja Silverman, who adds: “However, it should be evident by now, almost two decades into the history of feminism, that sexual difference, through whose binarisms both homosexuality and heterosexuality are conceptualized, cannot be wished or even written away. It is also becoming increasingly apparent to me that we have barely begun to understand the full complexity of the concept of ‘femininity,’ whether we locate that signifier at the site of woman, or at that of the homosexual man.” Kaja Silverman, Male Subjectivity at the Margins, New York: Routledge, 1992. p.346.  8 See for example Alex Alberro’s M.A. thesis “The Turning of the Screw: The Sixth Guggenheim International Exhibition, Daniel Buren, and the New Cultural Conservatism.” Vancouver University of British Columbia, 1990. 9 Nancy Shaw, “Expanded Consciousness and Company Types: Collaboration Since Intermedia and the N.E. Thing Company,” in Stan Douglas, ed., Vancouver Anthology: The Institutional Politics ofArt. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1992. 10 One influential attempt to formulate the various positions on identity is Gregoire Muller. The New Avant-Garde: Issues for the Art of the Seventies. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972. 11 Ibid., Silverman, p.2. 12 Ibid., Silverman, p.24. 13 Bersani is among many theorists of desire’s mobile nature. A good beginning is Baudelaire and Freud. Berkeley: University of Califoria Press, 1977.  CHAPTER 1 Since the late 1960s, General Idea had been developing a body of performance, film and photographic work that undertook an investigation of the production of social identity through media manipulations. Meaning was granted through the act of looking, through the prestigious formulations of apparent objectivity and the explicit quality of the camera as a framing device and a tool for probing and questioning the liberal media culture’s assumptions of neutrality. One work, Light On, a performance/film/video, reproduced a mirroric looping of surveillance formations and self-fashioning through the manipulation and projection of film lights alternating with the light projected by large four-foot square mirrors onto themselves, and onto people eating in their apartments or walking in the street, always in an effort to generate an arbitrary and sometimes threatening character for identity and the procedures of identification. Filmic empowerment, achieved through the identification with the stability of the positioned camera, becomes both intrusive and pleasurable, never decisively one or the other. It is the camera ofLfè played out in decidedly unglamourous movement. For General Idea, Life magazine is, then, central to the politics of gay culture in as much as it links representation of heterosexual domestic harmony with extraordinary powers to watch its “others.” Bersani’s remarks on sexuality can help our understanding of these overtly sexualizing gestures as a part of a powerful ideological enterprise. “If Freud equates—hesitantly, ambivalently—sexual pleasure with the shattering of the self’s coher ence, then we could also say that psychoanalysis encourages us to think of the sexual as helping us to effect a passage from the physical individu to a metaphysical individuel. Sexuality is perhaps as close as we come (short of death) to the beneficent destruction of the empirical individual, a destruction that is identical to the body’s most intense concen tration on its own capacity for sensations.”1 The extent to which mainstream publications and media representations include and direct sexuality is highly orchestrated, an ordering not lost on critical theorists influential 6  /7  in this period.2 Yet what is recognized in the theories ofwriters like McLuhan and Marcuse, that sensuality is continually restricted and diminished through the depiction of sexual difference, took on different intensity in the interconnectedness between the counter-cul ture and gay liberation evident throughout File megazine. File includes a sensational and anti-aesthetic position that might resist the linkage of art as detached from sensations. For instance, the curious collage of Zurich dadaist Hugo Ball and flying buzz saws from the domestic male magazine Popular Science constructs a disruptive sensuality. (Figure 3) If  orthodox masculinity depends fundamentally upon a structual imperative for the privatiza tion of desire, then the sexuality and sensations offered in the comingling of the beloved historical dadaist’s prestigious image and the pleasure of his potentially marred surface through the agency of an appropriated popular print magazine may help locate a recog nizable friction with a cultural field including everyday pressures of surveilance, identity politics and art world fascinations. In D.A. Miller’s The Novel and the Police, an effective model of the tormented historical relationship between public and private in bourgeois culture is offered. Miller describes the way in which sexuality, desire and the police are interwoven. It is possible that one’s experience of the novel is prototypical of the experience of the novelesque, which Miller sees as the pervasive contemporary model of cultural production, whereby a version of normative sexuality is the exclusive proper choice. “Perhaps the most fundamental value that the Novel, as a cultural institution, may be said to uphold is privacy, the determination of an integral, autonomous, ‘secret’ self. Novel reading takes for granted the existence of a space in which the reading subject remains safe from the surveillance, suspicion, reading, and rape of others. Yet this privacy is always specified as the freedom to read about characters who oversee, suspect, read, and rape one another. It is notjust that, strictly private subjects, we read about violated, objectified subjects but that, in the very act of reading about them, we contribute largely to constituting them as such. We enjoy our privacy in the act of watching privacy being violated, in the act of watching that is already itself a violation of privacy. Our most intense identification with characters never blinds us to our ontological privilege over them: they will never be reading about us. It is built into the structure of the Novel that every reader must realize the definitive fantasy of the liberal subject, who imagines himself free from the surveillance that he nonetheless sees operating everywhere around him.”3  /8  The idea of a violated or humiliated subject are major concerns for the artists of the File network. For the liberal or conservative subject to find his imaginary consolidation as private citizen empowered over the realm of images of destruction and inefficacy, an increasingly explicit affirmation of the camera’s role as agent of freedom must be erotically approved. The visual sensations and pleasures offered in Life magazine, as much in advertisements as in “stories” about history, flow in and out of images of disaster and the violence of scandal and commodity in a way that encourages us at every page to imagine this mix as effectively distanced or trivially titilating, always held securely with a comprehensive agency that is the extraordinary power of the camera to reconstruct detail. All sensational disturbances, erotic suggestions and displays are withheld or rather held for the viewer by the seemingly arbitrary and empowering eye of the camera. As Miller continues: “The sensation novel, however, submits this panoptic immunity to a crucial modifica tion: it produces repeated and undeniable evidence—’on the nerves’—that we are perturbed by what we are watching. We remain unseen, of course, but not untouched: our bodies are rocked by the same ‘positive personal shocks’ as the characters’ are said to be. For us, these shocks have the ambivalent character of being both an untroubled pleasure (with a certain ‘male’ adventurism we read the sensation novel in order to have them) and a less tame and more painful jouissance (with a certain ‘female’ helplessness we often protest that we can’t bear them, though we do when they keep on coming). The specificity of the sensation novel in nineteenth-century fiction is that it renders the liberal subject the subject of a body, whose fear and desire of violation displaces, reworks, and exceeds his constitutive fantasy of intact privacy. The themes that the liberal subject ordinarily defines himself against—by reading about them—are here inscribed into his reading body. Moreover, in The Woman in White this body is gendered: not only has its gender been decided, but also its gender identification is an active and determining question. The drama in which the novel Writes its reader turns on the disjunction between his allegedly masculine gender and his effectively feminine gender identification (as a creature of ‘nerves’): with the result that his experience of sensation must indude his panic at having the experience at all, ofbeing in the position to have it. In this sense, the novel’s initial assumption that its reader is male is precisely what cannot be assumed (or better, what stands most in need of ‘proof’), since his formal title—say, ‘a man’—is not or not yet a substantial entity—say, ‘a real man.”4  Within a counter-cultural project, of anti-narrative movements as unveiling efforts of  /9  “pop Reichian” or McLuhanesque desiring machines, File sensationalizes its subject. The role of the camera in File persistently and explicitly operates, often to the hyperbolically excessive level of a sexual device, under an erotic economy which might transgressively mimic the desiring machinations of the dominant culture. Take for example a Camel cigarette advertisement that appeared in Life in November 1972. (Figure 4) The image intricately weaves this play between mastery and adoration in the roles granted to male bodies through correct-choice of both cigarette and sexual object as bound to the very essence of valid selfhood. It is the effeminate ‘non-choice’--getting a free pack of cigarettes of an unnamed shorter brand with each purchase of a pair of hotpants—which allows the choice of difference to assume an individuality as a masculine posture of the “straight” guy against the non-identity of gay erotic display. His choice, written in the caption, subjects even his tobacco pleasure to a sense of right choice as choice itself. The gay absorption in the erotic display of male bodies recedes into the background of an explicitly narrative structure whose resolution produces the virile display of the Camel man seemingly unaware or more importantly untroubled by his own visibility as an erotic figure.5 This deflected erotic investment, and his stern but not pleasureless directional gaze, situate his “alrightness” within Life magazine’s pleasurable patriarchal structure. Yet, as I will argue later, this narrative placement may be merely the residual effect of the camera’s sensational power to uncover and display truths. The new freedom to feel good about different forms of sexuality, being contemplated and acted out in gay, feminist and counter-cultural settings, becomes distanced and delimited in LfC. A 1972 editorial, in one of its last issues, thanked readers for supporting Life’s stance on traditional families and the propriety of feminine domesticity under the  various contemporary or historical challenges to that model’s attractions.6 Life’s readers appeared to define the boundaries of domestic and public erotics within only slightly demilitarized zones of masculinity. Looking, for instance, at Lee Edelman’s investigation into homosexuality in America as presented in the June 26, 1964 issue of Lfr, the particularly unresolved nature of the  /10  process in which the ideological relation or linkage between gender and sexuality becomes problematized.7 The freedom of the public sphere, or of the press as it is consistently articulated, is inseparable from an operational privilege which is mysteriously connected to male bodies. In the face of the claims for privatized and secret pleasure that liberal culture upholds, against its claims for public virtue, the visibility of new sensations become particularly volatile representations threatening the secrecy of male sensuality. Such sensations are in no way devoid of the urgent requisite and ideologically demanded necessity to take sides with the privileged position of the camera to recover the sensations it may approve and disapprove of for its readership. Yet the successful choice of empow erment—the near-comical attainment of the larger cigarette and in his inclividuating turn away from the paired men and toward the world—also invites male viewers to follow the Camel man’s gaze in affective approval of his display. Lee Edelman links cinematic knowledge with a more general understanding of historical gay representation: “Perhaps the most salient index to male homosexuality, socially speaking, consists precisely in how a man looks at other men; for in what amounts to a virtual case study in the operation of ‘upward displacement,’ the gaze comes to carry the very force of gay sexuality itself. It is, of course, on the basis of this displacement that the technology is permitted to engage in the of homophobia, as in psychiatric ‘treatment’. psychological torture designed to short-circuit the gay male gaze. The association of the male homosexual with the aggressive deployment of vision, on the one hand (i.e., as the object of the cultural enterprise that seeks to render the gay body legible) makes the cinema a particularly important institution within which to consider the function and effect of gay inscription or homographesis.”8 .  .  The guy political and theoretical parameters of the early 1970s, the so-called “post-Stone wall era’ (the era following the Stonewall riots, in which gay male patrons of an established gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, rioted for two days against New York City police who had reacted to increased gay visibility with increased harasssment, especially at gay bars), were torn between minoritizing gay rights and radical gay leftist desublimation.9 Yet rarely, and not at all in the Canadian gay political movements, does the developing theory of cinematic forms of power penetrate the language of activism. Instead, the resistance of pre-existing  /11  gay culture forms a disruption of straight visuality that in key ways parallels certain theory prevalent in art-world cirdes, shaping the gay content of File megazine. Theories that question the neutrality, detachment and stability of the visual field dominate the many art world debates over new directions.1O Visibility and visuality are the necessary terms of engagement at every level for gay art and social practice. Coming out was central but so too were the demands for a transformation of heterosexist visual entitlement. The gay liberation movement in every city in which it appeared displayed a great degree of uncertainty regarding the interaction between existing gay culture and gay politics. As Simon Watney notes, in “The Ideology of the Gay Left Front”, conflicts between the “gay lifestylers” and the “actionists” continued throughout the early 1970s without any effective resolution. Watney described meetings of the Gay Left Front, a British gay-liberation organization, as attracting “maoists at one meeting and Radical Drag Queens at the next.”1 1 The idea of a necessary separation between lifestyle and political action was itself the focus of considerable debate within radical communities, including Toronto’s Gay Liberation community, writing in the influential paper The Body Politic, and the Vancouver art scene. The separation, as I will maintain, depended upon liberal cultural notions of the consoli dated categories of the domestic and the public. The radical drag queens, of which Watney speaks, and the sex-changed Pascal, were considered part of this political scene in ways not normally expected of “a zoo of exotic phenomena,” as suggested in the Grape article. They represented a shift away from all the categorical distinctions—seemingly grounded in a gender sex system—which upheld a disciplinary society, geared towards expansionist economic policies, bureaucratic models of subjectivity, homophobia and sexism. Toronto’s Body Politic consistently included gender-bending gay tropes in its pages, for example an “Ephemeral look-alike contest” and an article entitled “Pansies Decorate My Garden As Passionfruit Blooms in My Soul.” The latter article argued carefully that: “Swish as a true essence of type and trend can only be gotten into if one can stop and consider one’s true ‘divinity’. That is, one can only perceive the world through rose colored glasses if one dons a pair. Which brings us to a simple beauty hint. Rose colored glasses look exceptionally smashing when worn with a bleached crewcut hairdo, further complemented with a pink pillbox hat. To fi.irther enhance your ‘swish’ manner in  /12  public, order this treat at your next restaurant debut. Tea and a bran muffin (classic standby of the arsenic and old lace set) which you then proceed to devour with the utmost delicacy and aplomb. As in any cross-dressing (or transsexual-tasting) the variety of style and gender-fucking is as endless as your enlighteded consciousness permits. Remember, for either sex, role playing is OUT and regarded in rather poor taste. One should mix rather than match her/his gender and try for the ultimate goal of  embracing androgyny.”12  The utter pervasiveness of ideas. of randomness, entropy, and disorder suggested a resonant liberating politics of chaos. The discernability of ‘private reveries’, ‘neurotically appropriate fantasies’ as effective politicized positions within the collective spirit of a liberation movement, was rarely questioned in these years at the Body Politic. The local efficacy of these camp displays took on larger momentum and broader meaning within gay visiblility. For Ray Johnson, the New York mail art neo-dadaist, the declaration of gay self took the form of claiming existing events such as other people’s art openings as his own. On some occasions up to forty people would show up expectingJohnson’s work only to find that of other artists.13 These dandyish elements might promote a disruption of a “natural ized” relation between art making or authorship and authentically experienced knowledge, unless we infer that the identity we may desire to create is itself a fiction. Leo Bersani writes:  “Dandyism is the bizarre modern form of individualism. No longer sanctioned by the soda! authority, the individual—this, at any rate, appears to be the experience of the Baudelairean lover and the artist—discovers himself to be a purely psychological myth. The dandy brilliantly refuses to defend that myth. He makes no claims whatsoever for his own interiority, but he forces others to infer, more exactly to create, his uniqueness. And they can’t help inferring it because there is no sign of it. Dandyism is above all ‘thejoy of astonishing others and the proud satisfaction of never being astonished.”14  The overlay of dandyism with gay styles like camp and posing resonated within larger political movements and cultural phenomonon during this period of File. The abitrary nature of artistic identity signaled or perhaps unleashed by this dandyism may be under stood to have encourged an erotic mobility towards other identifications. File’s was a mobile  /18  scene in which the structures of masculine and feminine, with their force to engrave sexual and social domination, even biological gender, could be transformed by a happy play of  sexuality. Pascal’s capacity for exotic and mysterious gender disruption could be imagined to promote a technologically tainted ideal of ungroundable sexual identity. Yet this was, as I have suggested, neither a naive nor innocent understanding of an escape from a sexual politics dominated by systematic definitions of maleness. In order to help situate a set of conflictual discourses, ones I do not believe were at that time separated and considered in the wayt intend to here, I will return to the Grape artide as a kind of locus for certain noticeable entanglements. Dennis Wheeler’s dismissal of the “pagentry of camp” as a recession from politics did not go unfelt in the future issues of File. The extent to which Wheeler’s Grape artide accurately describes the political viability of reading File as camp might be better under stood in tracing the use of the term back to Susan Sontag’s famous essay “Notes on Camp.” Written in 1963, it helped set the stage for a simultaneous legitimation of camp and its virtual de-homosexualization. As D.A. Miller argues in his incisive essay, “Sontag’s Urban ity”:  “Near the end of her ‘Notes on Camp,’ the essay that did most to make her early reputation, Sontag addresses the ‘peculiar relation between Camp taste and homosex uality.’ ‘Homosexuals, by and large, constitute the vanguard—and the most articulate audience—of Camp,’ whose playfulness, Sontag contends, by dissolving the moral indignation that might otherwise oppress them, promotes their integration into society. On this account, Camp is a primordially gay phenomenon, emerging within the formation of a specifically gay subculture, at the interface of that subculture with the homophobic culture at large. But when once Sontag has evoked the gay lineage of Camp, she proceeds to deny it any necessity: ‘Camp taste is much more than homo sexual taste. Obviously its metaphor of life as theater is peculiarly suited as ajustifica don and projection of a certain aspect of the situation of homosexuals.... Yet one feels that if homosexuals hadn’t more or less invented Camp, someone else would.’ That unblinking embrace of counterfactuality can only be understood as not just expressing, but fulfilling, a wish for a Camp theoretically detachable—and therefore already detached—from gay men.... The act of severance thus performed, the claim to Camp’s origination goes up for grabs—someone else could invent Camp, and who better than the author of this manifestly inventive and authoritative essay.”15  /14  My intention here is not to single out Sontag as instigator of the idea of a de homosexualized camp. Miller’s essay derives itsjustifiable gay male rage from her continued revulsion for gay men in a recent book AIDS and its Metaphors and in its promotion. I have induded Miller’s critique because it seems to help clearif’ a tension that remains continu ous at least since Sontag’s 1964 essay up to the present and is one I will continually return to in this thesis. Camp remains a stylization of the gay knowledege on which it is founded and as such might be understood to promote an aesthetizing elision of the social, material or psychic conditions of its production. The act of resistance required to see it doing otherwise—to see it as gay and liberatory, was, however, in the period I discribe, a persistant condition of camp’s presentation. For instance, an article entitled “Counter-notes on Camp” appeared in the Body Politic a few months before File’s first issue, arguing for the reclaiming of this co-opted, de-sexualized category for the Gay liberation movement. 16 At the same time the issue of collective authorship seriously challenged notions of historically sexist conceptions of individual production. Both Sontag’s transcendent “Camp” and Wheeler’s “camp” as escapist pagentry take position that ultimately refuse the realities of a politicization of existing “feminized” gay tropes. It will become clear that the term “homosexual” is during this period a term one would certainly be clever to avoid if one is at all concerned about advancing anything vaguely resembling any sort of a career. In spite of this, the content of same-sex object choice within an overarchingly heterosexist cultural setting is evident in File. Homosexuality is neither shat upon nor displaced. The gay cultural history (a part of which this magazine should be) must be seen to indude its homophobic antecedent term, “homosexual,” and what that term entails for its desiring subjects. The third issue of File, published in December 1972, was a site of this exchange. The cover features a convex mirror, the same size and position as those used for grocery-store surveillance against shoplifters, reflecting and distorting an image that is unclear to the viewer.(Figure 5) The distortion implies a failed or inaccurate recognition of the pursued object.  /15  Two pages into the magazine, the image expands as the mirror shrinks. The mirror becomes a detail of an interior scene, perhaps a living room, in which a man, bent over a sofa, appears to have submitted to having a large kitchen knife inserted into his anus. (Figure 6) The image was produced in New York by Jock Truman, a network colleague, and coindded with an exhibition held there of works by Robert Mapplethorpe.17 The caption of the image is a quote from William S. Burroughs: “Do you begin to see there is no patient there on the table.” The image plays with the current debates over the normative position of a medical establishment which had throughout the post-war era performed (corrective) operations on unfortunate gay men caught in the act.18 It also flaunts, in the face of bodily violence, gay male passivity and the pervasive construction of homosexual males as having “a woman’s soul trapped in a man’s body.” It maintains a gay theoretical and political insistence on not being masculine and on representing a non-oppositional resistance, which is central to the camp aesthetic of File. Yet the sensation of pain which we as the viewer seem automatically to presuppose, almost to the point of wincing, has no visual evidence to support it—there are no signs of struggle, and the man’s face is hidden from view. There is no evidence of identity or meaning in the image, except in the logic of the editorial and captions, and necessary insider knowledge. The pain is thus imaginary, clearly in the eye of the beholder, who necessarily conflates their identification with the man’s anus and his pain with their appropriation of it as their own. In this sense a peculiar evasion is effected at least temporarily in which the viewer’s detaching understandings are forestalled. The letters to the editor published in the following issue point to such extra-territorial communication. All wondered, with only a hint of acknowledgement, that something had been transgressed, how such a feat could appear so painless. 19 If empowered viewing is essentially constitutive of the self in a culture, which is obsessed with looking even to the point of imagining it as timeless, pure, immaterial and, perhaps most importantly, normatively male heterosexual, in order to make such claims for a consolidated self, then General Idea finds along with certain others in gay liberation and  /16  within the art scene a bodily vision which seeks to reattach senses seemingly degraded by the apotheosis of vision.20 This means, in a sense, attempting to turn vision back on itself, perhaps exposing the construction of the selfas a mirroric enterprise, this time with a queer mirror. Kaja Silverman notes: “A given symbolic order will remanin in place only so long as it has subjects, but it cannot by itself produce them. It relies for that purpose upon the dominant fiction, which works to bring the subject into conformity with the symbolic order by fostering normative desires and identifications. When the dominant fiction fails to effect this interpelladon, it is not only ‘reality,’ but the symbolic order itself which placed at risk. Renegotiating our relation to the Law of Language would thus seem to hinge first and foremost upon the confrontation of the male subject with the defining conditions of all subjectivity, conditions which the female subject is obliged complusively to reenact, but upon the denial of which traditional masculinity is predicated: lack, specularity, and alterity.”21 •  .  .  In other words, The Knife in Ass image breaks through the belief in external, objec tively-perceived reality, locating the viewer in the body, in this case in the anus, inserting  the liguist.ic dimensions of Wheeler’s imaginary “real confrontation and critique” and generalized “homosexuality” in a crisis of subject and object or internal and external. Just as critical distance or detached viewing is negated, it is done so with the very tools of distance between things; the critical metaphor of surgical precision. To its male viewers, in their inevitable curiosity, a queerness is suggested, which may also be understood as homophobia reconfiguring one avenue of male homosexual desire. This image, unlike most camp, which playfully aestheticizes and therefore backs aways from categorical distinctions, portrays a homosexual signification, one that is neither plaintive nor exorable from its predicament. In this moment of what we might call confusion between the urgency of visibility and sense of consolidating gay cultural artifacts, and shoring up of affiliative histories, it might be necessary to make sure we reinstate the heterogeneity of our desiring impulses; and as Leo Bersani remarks, this involves “a militant intellectual campaign against the sublimating process of mental life and a hyperblic defence of the desublimated desire.”22 To say that  /17  camp can approximate this desublimating effect may require seeing it as a collective or communicative aspect within a historical movement founded on a reclaiming of idiosyn  cratic bodily desire. In spite of what the Grape artide would imply, that the artists in File’s network could as “homosexuals” suddenly assert a stable, socially mobilized identity, no such possibility existed. Even within the emerging self-nominative term “gay,” which Wheeler oddly does not admit, such insistent identities could amount to immediate relegation to the role of a minority perversion which is, as we know, the historical basis of the homosexual. A quick survey of the popular and influential art magazines in North America—the ones artists had to pay attention to in order to connect with the artworld’s prerequisite visibility—during this period will lead one to conclude that gayness or gay art didn’t exist, a conclusion many would still have us come to.23 Artscana&z, for instance, was quite willing to run articles delving into Robert Smithson’s Marxist dialectics or Barry Lord’s Radical Underground magazines collection without ever mentioning Smithson’s often explicit implication of sexuality in his work or the exploding gay political press of the day.24 The natural fears of  being plugged in to a system of uncertain beneficence are central to the images in File. General Idea, in fashionably paranoid style, conflates the pathology given the homosexual with an entire cultural logic, without pretending to have transcended any such entangle ments. The editorials on the page opposite the knife-in-anus image provide some directions for “reading” the web of meaning in which the image resides. The first, entitled “To Whom it May Concern,” quotes William S. Burroughs and the Velvet Underground in a general thematic of bold anti-critical evasiveness and circularity. The Underground’s song asking “What’s the difference between, wrong and right, but Billy said both those words are dead,” articulates an uncertainty that can signal both the threat and openness of a new social order. In what appears to be a direct response to the Grape article, the editorial claims: “We only launched this image balloon to see if the world was around. Your anows to pinpoint the leak in our File/style orbit talking in drcles.... You probe our love letters with your letter knife in the back.” Then it offers some admonishments of its own:  / 18 “Don’t point your critical breadknife at seven years bad luck.” It condudes with an outing line of commanding camp from Burroughs’ The Ticket that Exploded: “And the General stepped out of his view screen in a glittering robe of pure shamelessness....  The second editorial, entitled “Homely Details of Everyday ‘Life,’” announces File’s ethic of living within the popular world idealized by Life magazine: “Life magazine died with ‘72, emitting the casual stench of instant nostalgia for the waiting relatives, all of us with our hands crossed, leaving Life as we found it for the network world it bred and weaned but cannot nurture. “life was the Coca-Cola of picture magazines, image bank primer extraordinaire. Life was the first and instant precis of lifestyle the emerging manner the reflective possibilities of mass media. Life was the first and necessary authentication, the intial glamourization, of lifestyle and the common man.... “Now File is simply this: the future seen in retrospect, actualization of 1984 envi sioned by Life; a particularization of Life methods and manners utilized for the needs at hands, access to the trip and trappings.  “File is Life out of hand, a handy map of scenic networks lacing the globe for you. Our tribute to Life passed by.”  The invocation of the metaphor of 1984, of a society of surveillance organized around a hollowed-out image of “lifestyle” in which sexuality is political dissent, culminates in both the “perverse” image of a Knife in the Ass and the systematic institutional view of the critic. The wisdom of this knowledge system—its spectral power—appears as the punitive antithesis of the creative and idiosyncratic movenent of eroticism. This was of course not only General Idea’s understanding, although they hyperbolize, transforming paranoia over a doomed future into camp quotation marks. Roland Barthes had made links between the critic and authoritarian society and between identity and violence in language. Wittgenstein, among the most widely quoted writers of the time, declared that, “concepts force themselves upon one.” Mythologies are evoked throughout the writing of this period, as is Burroughs’ ambivalence.25 This campy paranoia, however, is best seen in the context of a contradictory and still very threatening period in gay history. Police raids on gay bars were regular occurrences in this period in cities throughout North America and Europe, including Toronto and  /19  Vancouver, and always entailed a police cameraman photographing patrons. Gay activists also tried unsuccessfully to have R.C.M.P. files on “known” homosexuals destroyed. After the decriminalization of consensual homosexuality between two adults in 1969, Vancouver police, along with other forces, outlined strategies for vice officers to lure pairs of gay men into still-illegal threesomes with officers.26 Within the logic of police entrapment, gay men desire to be caught, raped, and imprisoned, thus making the job of entrapment an easy one. The very possibility of radically separating closeted or repressed homosexual desire from oppressive intellectual and institutional mentalities that form definitions of mascu linity was continually called into question. An entirely different and destabilizing lifestyle which might challenge the “reality” of masculinist male power was required. It is, as Leo  Bersani points out in his provocative and widely read essay “Is the Rectum a Grave?,” a process of internalization partly constituted of “male homosexual desire, which like all sexual desire, combines and confuses impulses to appropriate and to identify with the object of desire.”27 Bersani’s essay was written at heart of the activist response to the thoroughly homopho bic social response to the catastrophe of AIDS and remains a cornerstone in the theory of power and sexuality: “To want sex with another man is not exactly a credential for political radicalism—a fact both recognized and denied by the gay liberation movement of the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. Recognized to the extent that gay liberation, as Jeffrey Weeks has put it, proposed ‘a radical separation.. between homosexuality, which was about sexual preference, and ‘gayness,’ which was about a subversively political way of life.’ And denied in that this very separation was proposed by homosexuals, who were thereby at least implicitly arguing for homosexuality itself as a privileged locus or point of departure for a political-sexual identity not ‘fixed’ by, or in some way traceable to, a specific sexual orientation. It is no secret that many homosexuals resisted, or were simply indifferent to, participation in a ‘subversively political way of life,’ to being, as it were, de-homosexualized in order to join what Watney describes as ‘a social identity defined not by notions of sexual ‘essence’, but in oppositional relation to the institu tions and discourse of medicine, the law, education, housing and welfare policy, and so on’. More precisely—and more to the point of an assumption that radical sex means or leads to radical politics—many gay men could, in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, begin to feel comfortable about having ‘unusual’ or radical ideas about what’s OK in sex without modifying one bit their proud middle.class consciousness or even their .  /20 racism.”28  In a way the articulation of this confusion between that which wishes harm and that which might and must be loved is consistent in General Idea’s work. In its title, File megazine pronounces and even celebrates this confusion; its use of an anagram of “Life” is both a threat to and an embrace of the Life ideal, to which is added the grandiose adorational tumescence of the term “mega.” It is after all part of a seditious and radical project, promoted by the “sexual radicals,” or the “radical Freudians” as they were also called, including Herbert Marcuse (Eros and Civilization), Norman 0. Brown (Life Against Death), Wilhelm Riech, Marshall McLuhan and many other counter-culture favourites, to desublimate, de-idealize, and resexualize the content of the dominant culture while avoiding the link of erotics to the pattern of consumption. “Putting it out on the subliminal,” as Image Bank and General Idea would quote from Burroughs, became the paradigmatic formula for subversively unveiling the mobility of desire as a trangressive and contradictory object-choice. It is within this project that many difficulties for gay liberation politics arise. It is, for instance, surely the case that those ideals of male bodies being eroticized and displayed were anything but ideologically neutral. Rather, the masculinity valorized in the kind of “male-bonding” exemplified by Levi-Strauss, in which women are used as an instigator of exchange between men, could be seen to both manifest and help structure the very disciplinary modes that conflict with the institutionally-threatening gay male persona.29 Heterosexual male entitlement is the source of the sexual economy of Lfr magazine. And in this key nearly totalizing aspect it becomes axiomatic of other pervasive forms of power. The radical factions of the Gay Liberation movement throughout the western world foregrounded the irrecuperable aspects of homosexual desire.30 In the face of increasing liberalization of the laws on homosexuality its disruptive character could not be easily denied.31 It was not until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association removed the term  /21  “homosexual” from its list of pathologies under pressure from gay activists. In spite of the massive discrediting projects of the New Left, the so-called anti-psychiatric movement, the forceful connotations of a basic identity disorder or confused identity, difference, insuffi ciency and minority remained. And as late as 1973, then-Prime Minister Trudeau, in confrontation with gay activists, refused to support legislation against the firing of homo sexuals in security positions within government.32 From the first issue of File through to around 1975, a conspicuous forgrounding of the entanglement of identity and sexuality, desire and fraught object-choice is, in ambiguous ways, worked through the shifting and evolving anthropological, femininist, gay and art world discourses and political movements that mark this period. Within this nexus an increasingly valorized category of art called  “Conceptual Art” becomes difficult for  ambitious artists to avoid. If conceptual art is from the first issue of File construed as a recurring figure of stabilizing, even complacent, male self-hood, it also becomes a persistent source of pleasure in its effacement and trivialization. “The Suggestion Box” which poses a liberated and sexualized curiosity about the “straight” male artist who might have gravitated towards conceptual purisms, was also a invitation to network “colleagues” to participate in a collective construction/destruction of a commensurate set of identities. (Figure 7)33  On the facing page in Pascal’s erotic effervescence was a complex and  precarious set of interaction between the general economy Levi-Strauss sought to describe and the disruptive eroticism of her unlocatable and technologically (mobile) transformed sexuality. She became within the art scene a kind of counter-ideal of a transforming communication system fluidly reincribing the human body and the “Global Village.” Conceptualism’s disembodied “Ideas,” with their almost exclusive concentration on the art world discourses of language theory, reproducing instiutional signiture via “critique” of that “process,” are, in the Suggestion Box, pulled out of the safety of their hidden purity in an effacing display of the reward for sexual curiosity. The Conceptual Art movement reference—”Idea’s are easy, Ideas will come If you seek them”—also recalls the culturally pervasive moral denegration of “promiscuity,” notoriously attributed to gay men or  /22  prostituted women as if to invert or trade places of the sexual economy of File and the desexualizing and dematerializing assumptions of Conceptual Art. Ideas as fixed entities are both there and potentially exploded: imaginarily “brought off’ and metaphorically blurred into an indistinctness of eroticism and “higher” forms of cognition or experience. Such gesturing, both ambitious and historically pervasive, presents instability and, as I have suggested, a persistent and confident form of gay identhy.34 Things sexual had become glaringly political before and during this period of Canadian art and the fraught relationships between an art world dependent to its roots on notions of a redeemed and transcendent self-hood, on an art better than either sex or politics, and larger arenas of social forces may neither be eclipsed nor even fully interrogated in much of File’s content. Yet if a residue of a political struggle that was being erased throughout the art world in the writing on art and politics—with important exceptions, like that of the femminist writing of Lucy Lippard—is evident in the works I select, it might be seen through  a lens that foregrounds the ambiguity or indeterminacy of body and mind or sensation and distance. Such insistance on the refusing of positionality has a larger context within gay liberation theory in which the intermingling implication of the desire of the viewer and his object are suggested. That context might be thought of as effecting an imaginary connection between the certain notions about binary oppositions and all instituationalized power—to which I will return in the next chapter—that marks the more ambitious anti-aesthetic and anti-modernist art discourse of the period. For the next three years or so the explicitly gay content in File continued with each issue, running the specific thematics of power, viewing, gender and sexuality, through camp stylizations and evasions. One of most famous images in File’s early history which marks one of General Idea’s most successful moves towards empowerment, though very little that is substantive has been written about it.(Figure 8) It is from the fourth issue ofFile, a double issue which features a mock cover photo of Michael Morris as Miss General Idea, winner of a 1971 mail-art beauty pageant and awards ceremony staged at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  /23  The image of Miss General Idea finds itself circulating in an interwoven set of analytic discourses which preoccupied the art world at the time on the concepts of high/low art, nature/culture, visual/tactile, art/not art, self/other, filling the pages of Artfomm, art.ccanada, and other widely read magazines. In the discourse that both shapes and describes the work in File, it may be the preservation of these binarisms which performs a homophobic logic. Not only do these pairings function as discursive peroccupations that process and privilege works with other significant concerns, but they also function to reconstruct an imaginary realm of expansive control over the spaces of articulation. The power of these pairings inevitably hinges on the assumptions of the stability and entitlement of the participants to fashion the one, the self for instance, through the other. Such privilege, to return to D.A. Miller’s argument, might be understood to disassociate the implication of the viewer’s body from its implication in the self-construction implicit in all discursive pairing. The assumption of neutrality from the historical and the sexual may more over be most significantly challenged by homosexual self-representation. Such a challenge is, in this case, registered as denial. Morris’s photo marks the gay dandy’s enunciation of his spectatorial inculcation in the empowerment of middle-class male autonomy simultaneously as an excess and a lack. For within the General Idea aesthetic, with which Michael Morris and Mr. Peanut were fully complicit, the possibility of physically taking hold of the gaze was of special interest. In the photo, Morris’s mouth is framed in the hand of the “spirit,” a design taken from a jewelry shop marquee on Toronto’s Yonge Street that once held a diamond made from the technologically advanced material, plexiglass, mimicking the glamour art photography of the 1940s. The Miss General Idea photo’s sheer stagedness may in part signal a tension between the desirability of feminized male bodies as a politically viable image and a campy gestural investment in bodily divinity.35 The surveillance implicit in bourgeois autonomy is passively reconstructed as tentative and repressed male homo-eroticism. Morris’s con torted angularity renders viewing unnatural, inverting the assumptions of a normative “Culture” safely detached from its others. The much circulated pageant judge’s remark  /24  that Morris’s picture “captures Glamour without falling into it” speaks to a double phobia of the effete liberal culture; a phobia about homosexuality and about its own distance from low cukure.36 It is perhaps a phobia about being watched in the same terms in which the homosexual is watched and the low denounced, always reduced to categorical generalities. The effective phobic “sacrifice of homosexuality as signified” which pervades the discourse of high and low is clearly figured in the Miss General Idea pageant. At the same time, the concession has been made to homosexuality as “signifier,” as a force that risks the valued discourses of totalizing theory, reducing arguments of centrality to marginal or idiosyncratic ones. The elicitation of the term “homosexual” would destroy all sublimating or idealizing claims made for high art. It is like many gay images in File during these years—caught between concerns for the homoerotic, the arc world’s demands for autonomous bodies, and a politically ambitious flaunting of pervasive notions of homosexuality as spectacular, decadent, feminized.  /25  Notes 1 Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, Arts of Impovethhment. Beckett, Rothho, Re.snais. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993, p.142. 2 See for example Marshall McLuhan’s influential Understanding Media. The F.vtension.s of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964.11 includes a proto-feminist interest in considering the production of desire at the surface of images of women. 3 D.A. Miller, The Novel and the Police, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988, 162 p. . 4 Ibid., Miller, p.1 . 63 5 Lift, November 23, 1972, 2 p. . 6 Life, December 13, 1972, p. . 3 7 Lee Edelinan, Homographesis: essays in gay literaiy and cultural theoy. New York: Routledge, 1994. pp.148-i 72. 8 Ibid., Edelman, p.200. 9 The most interesting version of the Stonewall riots, and the one that fits with the notions of entanglement that I wish to evoke here, can be found in Edelman: ‘We do well to remember, in this regard, that the Stonewall riots, however enabled by the political organizers and homophile societies that created a context for claiming gay rights, resulted from the resistance of people remote from the mainstream of gay political ‘activism’; those young people, transvestites, and drag queens at the Stonewall who, as the New York Mattachine Newletter observed in 1969, ‘[were) not welcome in, or [could] not afford, other places of homosexual social gathering.’ The defiant luxury of their contempt for the police who conducted what should have been a routine raid onJune 27, 1969, the narcissistic splendor of their campy posturing before the law’s ascetic eye, moved the gathered crowd to action in defense of their right to be ‘narcissistic,’ their right to enact what the discursive authorities could define as homosexual ‘passivity.’ Nor, as we describe the material conditions that led to the rebellion at Stonewall, should we forget the significance of elements as aleatory and apparently counter-political as the ‘self-indulgent’ gay sentimentality of mourning a Judy Garland, lost to an overdose of sleeping pills, whose burial earlier that afternoon evoked a powerful emotional response in many of the drag queens and transvestites whose very susceptibility to such identifications might well have been repudiated as regressive, even masochistic, by normalizing gay activists.” Ibid., p. . 113 10 The writings of Robert Smithson, which will be discussed in the next chapter, or Gene Youngblood’s ‘The open empire” in Studio International, April 1970, as well as much of Marshall McLuhan’s theories of tactile space in widely discussed writings such as Understanding Media and The Gutenberg Gallexy, proposed seductive models evoking non-violent visual relations. ii Simon Watney, “The Ideology of the Gay Left Front,” in Gay Left Collective, ed., Homosexuality: Power and Politics. London: Allison and Busby, 1980, p. . Watney argues that ‘like the parallel tendency in the 67 women’s movement of the day to collapse all issues concerning the oppression of women into an abstracted attack on The Family, so GLF tended to base much of its theory (and practice) on the rejection of an equally abstrated and monolithic notion of Heterosexuality.” Ibid., p.66. 12 Random Rose Notes (John Forbes), ‘Pansies Decorate My Garden As Passionfruit Blooms in My Soul.” The Body Politic, February 1972. 13 This aspect ofJohnson’s activities was recounted to me by A.A. Bronson in an interview onJune 23,  /26  1993. 14 Leo Bersani, The Culture ofRedemption. Cambridge, Mass.: Havard Unversity Press, 1990, 79 p. . 1987, Winter 15 D.A. Miller, “Sontag’s Ubanity.” October 43, 101 91 pp. . 16 Hugh Brewster, “Counter-notes on Camp.” The Body Politic,Januazy 1972, 21 p. . 17 File, September 1973. l8Jonathan Katz. Gay America Hictoiy: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976. 19 File, September 1973. 20 For theories of visual primacy and purity see Clement Greenberg in John O’Brian, ecL, Clement  Greenbe,g: The Collected Essays and Criticism. Vol.2. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. 21 Ibid., Silverman, pp.50-51. 22 Leo Bersarn. A Futurefor Mtyanaz Character and Desire in Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984, 7 p. . 23 In this regard, Willard Holmes’ article on Whispered Art History, the chronology of the Western Front, reminds us how easy such elisions return. See “Willard Holmes remembers what the Front forgot” in Vancouver Review, Fall 1993. 24 Artscanad.a became one of the targets of the “Pablum for Pablum Eaters” article which can be seen as an anti-aesthetic manifesto with camp overtones. On Smithson and the sexuality of the camera, see Jonas Mekas, “Movie journal.” Village Voice, February 15, 1973, 77 p. . 25 Roland Barthes, Mythologies. Annette Layers, trans. London: Paladin, 1972. Key works of Burroughs in this period include Naked Lunch (1961), The Soft Machine (1961), Nova Express (1964), and The Ticket that Exploded (1964), all published by Grove Press, New York. Liberal concerns with Myth as necessary social narrative appeared in magazines like Time and Lfe. 26 Gay Tide, September 1973. 27 Leo Bersani, “Is the Rectum a Grave?” Douglas Crimp, ed., AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1987, 209 p. . 28 Ibid., p.2O . 5 29 Claude Levi-Strauss, The Elementary Structures of Kinship. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969. 30 Guy Hocquenghem, “Towards an Irrecuperable Pederasty.” Jonathan Goldberg, ed., Reclaiming Sodom. London: Routledge, 1994. pp.233-246. 31 Jeffrey Weeks, Coming Out: Homosesual Politics in Britain. London: Quartet, 1977. 32 These concerns appeared regularly during these years of The Body Politic and in Vancouver’s Gay Tide. 33 Scott Watson, for instance, describes the Vancouver art scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s as one in which sexual transgression figured prominently. Hand of the Spirit. Documents of the Seventies from the Morric/Trasov Archive. Vancouver. U.B.C. Fine Arts Gallery, 1992. 34 File was not alone in moving away from a reverence for conceptual art. Robert Smithson was highly suspicious of its claims for an art of ideas released from, even if pointing to, the material basis of art. He repeated the charge of the “fetishization of ideas” in writing and inferred that the conceptual art movement returned to a reactionary stable position of identity. See “Cultural Confinement,” Artforum, October 1972, in Writings, p.132, or “Language to be Looked at and/or Things to be Read,” Dwan Gallery press rease,June  /27  1967, in Writings, p.104. 35 Michael Moon writes on another famous drag performer who took Divine as his name: “Divine’s ‘loud and vulgar’ (to use her terms for it) drag style flings the open secrets of drag performance in the faces of her audience: that unsanitized drag disgusts and infuriates many people; and that it is not wearing a wig or skirt or heels that is the primary sign of male drag performance, but rather a way of inhabiting the body with defiant effeminacy; or, the effeminate body itself. And, finally, that it is just this conjunction of effeminacy and defiance in male behavior that can make a man the object of furious punitive energies, of gay-bashing threatened or carried out rather than applause.” Michael Moon, “Divinity A Dossier, A Performance Piece, A Uttle-Understood Emotion.” Eve Kosofsky Seclgwick, Tendencies. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1993, 220 p. . 36 SeeJoanne Birnie Danzker, “Cultural Criminals: This is the Frame of Reference.” File: General Idea’s 1984 and the 1968-1984 File Retrospective. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery/Art Official Inc., 1984, p.x.  CHAPTER 2  “Here again the experience of being distanced by the work in question seems crucial: the beholder knows himself to stand in an indeterminate, open-ended—and unexacting—relation as subject to the impassive object on the wall or floor. In fact, being distanced by such objects is not, I suggest, entirely unlike being distanced, or crowded, by the silent presence of another person; the experience of coming upon literalist objects unexpectedly—for example, in somewhat darkened rooms—can be strongly, if momentarily, disquieting in just this way.... “More generally, however, I have wanted to called attention to the utter pervasiveness—the virtual universality—of the sensibility or mode of being which I have characterized as corrupted or perverted by theater. We are all literalists most or all of our lives. Presentness is grace.” —Michael Fried “Art and Objecthood” Artforum, Summer 1967  “Seduction and Glamour are intrinsically related. Seducers are entirely natural objects, their characteristics a portrayal of physical beauty and sexual potency. By subverting marriage, seduction plays the play of nature subverting culture. “Miss General Idea, seductress, needs neither beauty nor sexual potency. She is more akin to poison, that other natural enemy to culture. Like poison, Miss General Idea, objet d’art, poised on stiletto heels and bound in the latest fantasy, represents a violent intrusion into the heart of culture: the Canada Council, for example, or beauty pageants (essentially one and the same)....” —A.A. Bronson, General Idea File 1:1, April 1972  “Fried, the orthodox modernist, the keeper of the gospel of Clement Greenberg, has been ‘struck by Tony Smith,’ the agent of endlessness. Fried has declared his sacred duty to modernism and will now make combat with what Jorge Luis Borges calls ‘the numerous Hydra (the swamp monster which amounts to a prefiguration or emblem of geometric progressions). in other words ‘Judd’s Specific Objects, and Morris’s gestalts or unitary forms, Smith’s cube. This atemporal world threatens Fried’s present state of temporal grace—his ‘presentness.’ The terrors of infinity are taking over the mind of Michael Fried. Corrupt appearances of endlessness worse than any known Evil. A radical skepticism, known only to the dreadful ‘literalists’ is making inroads into intimate ‘shapehood.’ Non-durational labyrinths of time are infecting the brain with eternity. Fried, the Marxist saint, shall not be tempted into this awful sensibility, instead he will cling for dear life to the ‘surfaces’ ofJules Olitski’s Bunga. Better one million Bungas than one ‘specific object.’ Yet, little known ‘specific demons’ .  .  ,‘  .  .  .‘  28  /29  are at this moment, I want to say, ‘breaking the fingers’ of Fried’s grip on Bunga. 1 This ‘harrowing’ of hellish objecthood is causing modernity much vexation and turmoil—not to say ‘flashing of teeth.’ “At any rate, eternity brings about the dissolution of belief in temporal histories, empires, revolutions, and counter-revolutions—-all becomes ephemeral and in a sense unreal, even the universe loses its reality. Nature gives way to the incalculable cycles of nonduration. Eternal time is the result of skepticism, not belief. Every refutation is a mirror of the thing it refutes—ad infinitum. Every war is a battle with reflections. What Michael Fried attacks is what he is. He is a naturalist who attacks natural time. Could it be there is a double Michael Fried—the atemporal Fried and the temporal Fried? Consider a subdivided progression of ‘Frieds’ on millions of stages.” —Robert Smithson Letter to the Editor Artforum, October 1967  I have inserted the quote from General Idea between those of two American heavy hitters in order to identifi a tension between the theories and practices of the artists in File (and its network) and a more pervasive way of understanding the fraught relations between resistance, sexuality and power. If the key concern of my thesis is File megazine, a work first produced five years after the exchange between Fried and Smithson, then it will be part of this chapter’s duty to explain the shifting senses of viability, authenticity and selfhood that are being grappled with in different ways during these times. Such an effort involves the writing of a somewhat dispersive and mobile account which at first glance might seem to have strayed from the concerns of the artists I wish to most rigorously draw out. Yet for me the risk of not considering this persistent tension between what were then claims made for a modernist narrative of purity and mastery and a different form of resistance in which those claims are refused is the risk of leaving the works and argaments around File as the merely idiosyncratic ones to which they have often been relegated. Indeed, against the minoritizing interests often insinuated in the enunciation of gay or otherwise local knowledge, I hope to imply a more pervasive and important role for the idiosyncratic concerns of the counter-culture. Among the claims this chapter will argue for is that sexual politics are clearly at stake in Smithson’s reaction to Fried’s work and in the theatricality Fried imagines modernist  /30  art to wish away. It will, I hope, be part of this project to find cognitive links between the  philosophical, which Fried sets out to claim as his territory, and the sexually subversive,  with which General Idea infuse their efforts through a certain constellation of concerns about vision and physicality that also occupy Smithson’s efforts during this period. It is possible to suggest that what Fried is saying when he concludes, “I have wanted to called attention to the utter pervasiveness—the virtual universality—of the sensibility or mode of being which I have characterized as corrupted or perverted by theater. We are all literalists most or all of our lives. Presentness is grace,” is that some sort of impenetrable selfhood remains intensely desirable. Instead of a relation to art in which someone else is looking over one’s shoulder, Fried’s claims to a transcendent and incorruptable absorp tion—always imaginary and necessarily related to a pre4apsarian moment—it may be valuable to consider the already corrupted, fragmented and corporeal nature in which a community of voices evolves. This may simply mean considering an art world already at odds with any significant social movements, already separated from its desired wholeness. Certainly the art that this chapter deals with makes no claims to its transcendent authority over its history and yet must continually remind us of such “failures.” It might be a dubious historical project to reconstruct a polarity between the counter culture and any sort of imagined Greenbergian modernism in which a whole array of historical, social and political concerns are sorted out and overcome through the aesthetic debates of a rather marginal art world. Such an argument would suggest that Greenberg’s and Fried’s intensely focused and rigorously argued debates could stand in for the almost infinitely different, specific and local, sexual and otherwise political confrontations that so thoroughly mark the late sixties and early seventies. I must admit to the seductions of such recentering fictions and to finding that pull almost inevitable in the very mentioning of the modernist figures. Yet what if at least for a moment I suggest that Fried was an important foil to Smithson who was in turn important to the gay artists in the File network and while doing so suggest a circulation of similarities which do not originate with either Fried or Greenberg but with  /31  much larger historical configurations of ways of being in the world, ways both inevitable within discursive trajectories which produce the “western liberal” subject and often (as in  this case) impossibly inadequate? In starting offwith this conflict I am perhaps finally driven by a need to find an exdusion at the center, to see homosexuality as strategically removed from the daims made for modernism and somehow included in those arguments then not yet called postmodernist. As I’ve suggested in the first chapter, the arguments appearing in the Grape against File are fraught within the same tensions between notions of autono mous selfhood and theatricality as viable options for cultural resistance. In what follows the sketching of the commensurate and the expunged may seem artifically pat and too reliant on certain privileged theories of sexuality’s centrality to the structuring of the self. These counter-arguments are concerns I will only begin to address. My concerns differ from a history of sexuality which, as Foucault argued, artifically positions a sexual act in a definitive relation to a total image of an individual, a historical project often considered to be the one Freud could not avoid.2 My interests here are to consider the way sexual acts, or rather fantasies about certain sexual acts, may complicate and structure theories that, at first glance, seem unimpeded or unrelated, at least as they are received. If as we shall see a particular reading of Freudian theory which places the maturity of stable ego function as its prize was up for grabs via the various wars on culture waged during this period—feminism and gay liberation being the two with which I am most concerned here—then that model of ego maturity or selfhood should not be tacitly restored or left unshaken. Certainly the challenges to that paradigm did not arise from its strength but from its insufficiency. Such an ego is promoted into self-confidence in a continually necessary process of distancing itself from the sites it proposes to master. As Yve-Alain Bois notes: MAccording to Fried, minimalist art sinks into ‘theater’ (understood as the identification of the space of art with that of the spectator, daily life, and the world of objects), while for him the essential goal of modernist art, and of sculpture in particular, has been to affirm its autonomy in relation to this real space.”3  /32  That autonomy from the real asserts an authority of vision, for Fried recalls a narrative myth within the Judeo-Christian tradition which ultimately dispenses “grace.” Fried’s remarks on the perversity, the reduction of art from its role to signify an experience of coherent totality, in which “presence is grace,” saving the lost experience of everyday “theatrical” life, or the voids constantly referred to in Smithson’s writing, could not have been a much more direct challenge to the roles given aesthetics and their effacement in the counter-culture.4 Put in another way, theater breaks with universalized notions of correct distance of the individual self from the excitations and threats of the world imagined as outside of the body’s self-image. Fried’s rejection of theater, then, must be understood to be directly dismissive of the concerns of “life-style” and its dystopic alternate anti-art style that are so central to works like those in File. Smithson’s arguments, I will suggest, in part generated through his development of new theoretical articulations which favoured various sinking effects into “theater,” the body and sedimentation of the earth, are part of the confident attitude that helped propel General Idea and File and others into a sense of experimental viability for a gay “camp” revitalized and reunderstood to efface the cognitive purity of “mind” (culture) or presence Fried wants to hang on to. In order to illuminate a certain connectedness between File’s gay political and theoret ical concerns and those present in the Smithson/Fried exchange, I will consider one of Smithson’s most famous articles, “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, NewJersey.”5 The article reads like an anti-thematics of grace and subjective manipulations of a seemingly meaningless visual field which he wanders through, inevitably attracted to the spontaneously discovered monumentalism. The text, frequently self-conscious of its sub jective mobility, even of the potentially overwhelming suburban sprawl of Passaic, New Jersey, invites the reader to consider the art world’s open-ended relationship to Freudian theory in the act of participating in a homoerotic encounter: “Nearby, on the river bank, was an artificial crater that contained a pale limpid pond of water, and from the side of the crater protruded six large pipes that gushed the  /33  water of the pond into the river. This constituted a monumental fountain that suggested six horizontal smokestacks that seemed to be flooding the river with liquid smoke. The great pipe was in some enigmatic way connected with the infernal fountain. It was as though the pipe was secretly sodoinizing some hidden technological orifice, and causing a monstrous sexual organ (the fountain) to have an orgasm. A psychoanalyst might say that the landscape displayed ‘homosexual tendencies,’ but I will not draw such a crass anthropomorphic conclusion. I will merely say, ‘It was there.”6  Smithson made no secret of his “tendencies” and it is necessary to imagine that in the art world in which he figured prominently such declarations may often circulated as either transgressive brovado or titilating excursions into forbidden territory of the “glass closet”  of the art scene. Yet Smithson’s entire interrogation of the relation of the viewer to its object might valuably be seen as an attempt to implicate the anthropomorphic imagination as self-creating or as a linguistic fiction that turns acts into selfhood, as a kind of universal outing of unconscious desire. In as much as language creates homosexuality as external to the speaking subject, as a body of pleasure outside the scope of its own imaginary or  “fantasmatic” field, Smithson’s attack on language deflects that externalization.7 While Eugenie Tsai’s 1991 catalogue essay in Robert Smithson Unearthed, the first article ever to address homosexuality with respect to Smithson, prefers to closet his declarative early drawings and collages, my concern takes aim at that strategic erasure.8 Tsai writes as  if to locate Smithson’s degraded tendencies, dismissable and trivial in that they interfere with the more “general” point she wants to make about Smithson’s lasting importance: “It is important to note that Smithson regarded the cartouche drawings as private and of a diaristic nature. They were left in a drawer when he was not working on them and were rarely shown even to fellow artists. Produced during a time when Smithson frequented movie theaters on Forty-second Street  ...  they reflect the sleaze element associated with  the Times Square area, with the numerous shops that sell magazines catering to particular tastes: ‘pulp,’ the erotic, bodybuilding, and bikers. Some of the figures in the cartouches  are traced from images in erotic magazines.” (figure 9)9  /34  Not only is Tsai insistent on privatizing the ambiguity and clearly homoerotic pleasure that Smithson’s early works encourage, she also makes nothing out of the connections between the erotic and the “pulp” and the diaristic as they relate precisely to the problematic of registering the body and the desires, fantasies, prohibitions and anxieties it arouses. The works of Rauchenberg and Johns have recently been shown to locate anal eroticism in a relation to a conception of popular or “pulp” culture as itself bodily, cyclical, and excremental in a luxurious and evacuating sense. Smithson, whose interests in the directions taken by these artists, began in the early sixties and maintained throughout his career a lasting debt to their work. He collaborated with Rauchenberg on several occasions and in 1969 completed Mangrove Rings—the gay reading of which I will offer later—in the Florida Keys near Rauchenberg’s house. (Figure 10) His identification with what Tsai calls “the sleaze element” of 42nd Street included (although her essay doesn’t discuss this) a enduring soujourn in the mostly gay “avant-garde” film scene in which filmmakers like Kenneth Anger, Stan Bracage, and Jack Smith showed their work in underground cine mas. 10 To date the aesthetic commensurability of Smithson, these filmmakers and other “Pop” artists like Warhol who “just happen to have been gay” remains largely unexamined, yet their mutual concern with the implication of matter and the body in representation, and homoerotic content, may become a point of departure in politically motivated anti-homo phobia and queer art historical efforts. Tsai’s essay is typical of a phobic and strategic removal of historically persistent gay forms of knowledge from the writing on art. Two recent articles make important claims for the currency of theorists like Norman 0. Brown and Ernst Jones who describe the sublimation of anal eroticism in approaching the work ofJohns and Rauchenberg. 11 Yet instead of a body that was then and is as much now a battleground for legal and other fantasmatical terriorializations aimed against gay male sexuality, no matter what actual proportion of activity anal intercourse actually makes up  in practice, an “anal society” is also one in which masculinist ideals of impenetrable objective mastery over the visual field plays a key role in the configuration of homophobic  /35  cultural formations.12 My concern is with re-entangling these important historical theories of the body with a notion of confessional culture in which a context for sexual display and knowledge can be considered. Smithson’s discussion in “Tour of the Monuments” of the anthropomorphic as a trope of seif-misrecognition to be avoided might be elaborated upon as a quest for an autonomous homosexual being—that is, the antithesis of the liberal subject which resolutely and rigorously constructs the homosexual as failed maturation or the incomplete other of its own autonomy. It may be possible to argue that Smithson’s most ambitious art and theorizations need to be seen as identifications in an indeterminate field which blocks the fantasy of coherent heterosexual male visual mastery. It is my contention that his work offered that possibility for his gay admirers. In so doing, his texts implicate that subject at the heart of capitalist expansionism in their continual contentions of its unreality. What is at stake for Smithson then is more than an abstracted notification of Greenberg’s lack of bite with the emerging minimalists and related new artists wishing to take on a prestigious visibility. Instead, I will maintain, his work allows for the possibility of bisexual, homosexual, and gender de-differ entiation within a new theory of aesthetic breakup. Smithson’s comsmological aesthetic in which the body’s distinctness, its imaginary detachment from its material basis and its desiring relations is exploded has been noted often enough.13 Yet, careful readings of his most adventurous and imaginative writing in which the implications of power and a sexualized or desubliamted consciousness seems not to exist. By way of changing that gaft I suggest we consider the following passage from “Monuments”: “But the suburbs exist without a rational past and without the ‘big events’ of history. Oh, maybe there are a few statues, a legend, and a couple of curios, but no past—just what passes for a future. A Utopia minus a bottom, a place where the machines are idle, and the sun has turned to glass, and a place where the Passaic Concrete Plant (253 River Drive) does a good business in STONE, BITUMINOUS, SAND, and CEMENT. Passaic seems full of ‘holes’ compared to New York City, which seems tightly packed and solid, and those holes in a sense are the monumental vacancies that define, without trying, the memory-traces of an abandoned set of futures.”14  /36  It is in this seemingly contradictory passage, in which the suburbs are in one sentence a “Utopia minus a bottom,” and in the next “full of ‘holes’ compared to New York City,” that a kind of definitional ambiguity presents itself. If Utopia is masterful, progressive, “tightly packed and solid,” and here definitively a center like New York City, continually opposed to the suburban vacancies where that “set of futures” has been abandoned, then what are we to make of Smithson’s continual return to the positions of the “‘bottom”? Smithson’s Utopian attractions may be what motivates his consistant Utopian dismissals. His elevation of social and psychic interpenetrations to architectual monumental scale relies on a strategy of dc-centering that can be understood as an interrogation of productiv ist postwar expansionism and consumerist zeal. His magazine pieces, not unlike Dan Graham’s “Homes for America,” make notice of a devalued private realm, one whose seductive enterprise fails to attract an untroubled admiring gaze. File’s body includes similar approaches to patterns of consumption and desire. One “Image of the Month” depicts a double-image of Ritz crackers that suggests the possibility of enhancing the product’s image thorough gay visuality. (Figure 11) The implication of that which is non-human within modern constructions of seithood, the anus, and the gleefully presented soda biscuit—in some sense an exemplary cipher of the real digestion as capitalist or ideological disgestion— is clearly not an act of self-exonorating moral chastisement. Instead the Ritz anus promotes, perhaps exhibits anxieties about a visualized hyperbolic phantasy of self-dismissal. The excessive caption suggesting the image should be sent to the Ritz Cracker Company as advertising fodder presents a playful camp that locates its limits outside of orthodox political identity and redraws an impossible future for a normative body politic. The erotic politics Smithson evokes take shape within a necessary openness or ambiguity that his gay readers share. The persistence of links between utopian ambitions and legal, medical and consumerist aesthetic power is allegorized in the bizarre figures that populate the counter-culture’s art scene. File characters such as Art Rat, Mister Peanut, Miss General Idea, and Dr. Brute combine similar impulses to abdicate social and artistic authority and to reappear as hyperbolic, even idealized or heroic caricatures. These ambiguous combi  /37  nations allow both erotic investment and parodistic distance through the audacious posturing of intermingled abject carreerism, media icons, “neo-dadaist” male beauty queens, and medical sadism. Smithson’s utopian architectural trope resonates with notions of social and legal subjectivity in which a concern for selfhood is all but lost in taking a “passive” role towards the “external” world. Bersani, commenting on the Athenian belief in a legal and moral incompatibility between sexual passivity and civic authority, draws the inevitable condu sion: “To be penetrated is to abdicate power.”15 The figures of File advertise their failure to master a monological popular culture as it becomes emblematic of the total social body. Smithson’s moves to the suburbs, to abandoned strip mines, or “lost” empires of the Mayan ruins, promotes the attraction of such abdication. His choice of materials, direct from industrial devastation or untreated earth in wârks like Ashfault Rundown, Glue Pour, or Spiral Getty, unapologetically dismiss reconstructive social and technological interests as idealization and therefore denying of life. (Figure 1.2) Smithson, as does General Idea in File, ambivalently mixes movements from the Phallic authority of New York City to the “holes” which “define, without trying” “a set of lost longings, monumental vacancies” evoking the loss of power and idleness imagined in erotic suburban sprawl. That loss is continually renewed through itsjuxtapositions with a powerful destructive source then divested of meaning by an appealing loss of authorial control, a control incontrovertably entwined with bodily self-image. As I will suggest later, what is at stake is the myth of autonomous male bodies rooted in liberal ideals of control.  “Male homosexuality in general, though, and its synecdoche, gay male anal sex in particular, bear the stigma and retain the lure of such an ‘imaginary intersubjectivity’ insofar as they seem to effect the subject’s fall from master to matter his fall back, in other words, from the fantasized achievement of coherence and autonomous agency to a state of mirror-like receptivity that appears, from the vantage point of the differentiated self, as inherently ‘self’—negating.”16  /38  The conjunction of these theoretical positions can be found in an interview with  Willoughby Sharp, a Smithson supporter and founder of the New York-based magazine Avalanche, a magazine tightly associated with File and Image Bank. The seductive “self-negat  ing” is enacted in an exchange between the body and the culture constructed as artistic agency in which the ideals of glamour and culture per se can be mockingly reproduced. “Willoughby Sharp: ‘I feel that the new need surfaces behind me, reaches a certain point and then blows through me, as it blows through me, what comes out the other side are the copies of this myth that I project into the culture, and I see myself very much as an intermediary between the energy and the culture. The energy passes through me and becomes the culture, so it’s more than a media thing.’ A.A. Bronson: ‘Gee, you’re glamorous.”17 Glamour in these terms might be said to suggest a homosexual violation of body and  social difference in which the artist becomes self-generative producer, unveiling the liberal autonomous author model in its mythic essence. Glamour is seen as replicating bodily sensation—getting on one’s nerves. The myth that runs through Sharp’s body betrays a kind of unstoppable will to power and is intertwined with the mutual forces of technology and  visual freedom. If “glamour” is the strange power Sharp describes as a nearly mesmerized watching of  that same power’s effects on the body, A.A. Bronson might be said to have linked a gay posing theory to a broadly based grouping of artists that included Smithson all of whom sharred to a collective disaffection with pervassive cultural notions of the self and identity.18 Smithson’s work such as seen in the photo of Glue Pour on the U.B.C. endowment lands suggest an orthodox autonomy founded in the the returned gaze of the portrait photogra phy is dismissed. (Figure 12)19 The image constructs a collective spectatorship as power lessness that is at once bodily and about “visuality.” Glue Pour, like Sharp’s and General Idea’s “glamour,” poses the construction of subjectivity as an irresistable loss of control over forces shaping the external world and the identity of the artists. In the looping effect of the media as Culture, an imaginary autonomy is projected onto an utterly violated body.  /39  The artist in this role lets the culture pour through him doing as it pleases, granting him his subjectivity in the freedom of fascinated pleasure in watching his own violation. The appeal of being viewed as fiction is for the counter-culture a subversive strategy that might resist the paranoid collapse of the other into a monolithic threat or notion of the “Establishment.”20 This parody is demonstrated in File’s manipulations of Life’s power to pose bodies. In a sense Smithson’s monumentalism is simply the earth art correlative of General Idea’s posturing. Both locate gestural display of culture within corporeal excess. We knew that in order to be artists and glamourous artists we needed a gesture, a Manipulation of the Self, to mirror and freeze the image of nature unmasked. With this gesture we husk Nature, voiding the shell that Culture, that great Amazon, single-breasted but divided, might shoot the poisoned arrow of meaning into its empty shell.”(sic)2 1  The specifically gay bearings of these abstract considerations might be understood through Guy Hocquenhem’s important book Homosexual Desire. Written in the wake of the events of May 1968, and on the heels of Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, Homosexual Desire constructs a polemical liberationist posture through pyschoanalysis in which male power functions to ground capitalist social domination. The dispensation of autonomous selfhood is bluntly rooted in the sexist power of maleness promoted through media constructions and institutional empowerment:  “Only the Phallus dispenses identity”;  “Seen from behind we are all women.” The passage between the defeatism produced from the recognition of the institutional and corporate phallus’s ubiquity with capitalist society to the Utopian hope of a counter-spectacle capable of feminizing the culture enlivens both File’s and Smithson’s move to nature. Smithson’s “tightly packed and solid” Utopian urban  attractions in “Tour of the Monuments,” generating artistic and social renewal, carry with them a seductive anxiety about being penetrated and abdicating power. The notion of counter-cultural power dispersal, as with Warhol’s claim that in the future everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame, posits the campy and alternately cynical  /40  and Utopian dispersal of glamour for all—as empowerment raised and exposed as spectral  images which are visible yet without substantial or autonomous wholeness. In the artide which developed his aim at vision and the mirroric and its relation to imaginary self-construction—”Incidents of Mirror Travel in the Yucatan—Smithson locates the spectral or “appearances” as productive of a way to the “real.” “Contnuy to affirmations of nature, art is inclined to semblances and masks, it flourishes on discrepancy. It sustains itself not on differentiation, but on dedifferentiation, not on creation but decreation, not on nature but denaturalization, etc. Judgments and opinions in the area of art are doubtful murmurs in mental mud. Only appearances are fertile; they are gateways to the primordial. Every artist owes his existence to such mirages. The ponderous illusions of solidity, the non-existence of things, is what the artist takes for ‘materials.’ It is the absence of matter that weighs so heavy on him, causing him to invoke gravity. Actual delirium is devoid of insanity; if insanity existed it would break the spell of productive apathy. Artists are not motivated by a need to communicate; travel over the unfathomable is the only condition.”22  The counter-intuitive logic in which mirage announces matter brings gay theory into its troubled relation to the “straight” mind. It is a position that breaks with the everyday appeal to an artistic authenticity premised on a world of objects available to categorical mastery even if, as with Kantian modernism, that mastery is the sight of self-critique. A similar position pervades Smithson’s most influential works. As Craig Owens noted of the “Monuments” text, Smithson’s narrative “inverts the terms of a familiar argument about the photograph: that the vicariousness of the image is frequently overlooked, so that the photograph is mistaken for the reality for which it is nevertheless only a substitute. Smithson, standing that arguement on its head, calls its bluff. If reality itself appears to be already constituted as image, then the hierarchy of object and representation—the first being the source of the authority and prestige of the second—is collapsed. The representation can no longer be grounded, as Husserl wanted, in presence. For Smithson, the real assumes the contingency traditionally ascribed to the copy; the landscape appeared to him, not as Nature, but as a ‘particular kind ofheliotypy.’ The result is an overwhelming experience of absence: the abyss.”23  Owens continues: “Smithson confronts not an image, but an object as if it were an image. What does it mean, then, to take a photograph of a photograph?”4  /41  Take for example Smithson’s travel magazine inversion “Inddents of Mirror Travel in the Yucatan.” It is the work A.A. Bronson has recounted to me as the one which “hung around General Idea’s ‘space’ in the early years.”25 In it, Smithson seems to suggest a number of antidotes to the western subject’s illusory linear consciousness, and the security of Fried’s historical “presentness,” including apathy, and imaginary encounters with charged figures like the despotic Mayan emperor. The chance encounter is even with the camera, receiving history that always involves either powerlessness or some sort of threat  to the illusions of control over the subject matter: “Driving away from Merida down Highway 261 one becomes aware of the indifferent horizon. Quite apathetically it rests on the ground devouring everything that looks like something. One is always crossing the horizon, yet it always remains distant. In this line where sky meets earth, objects cease to exist. Since the car was at all times on some leftover horizon, one might say that the car was imprisoned in a line, a line that is in no way linear. “26 “Mirror Travel”’s labyrinthine movements always minimize conscious human agency  and equate viewing with loss. Fictitious encounters with ineffective guidebooks produce a randomness in mobile and shifting sites of collapse. Vision reproduces a physical loss of bodily power over objects, as well as perhaps bodily integrity through a loss of its object. “Through the windshield the road stabbed the horizon, causing it to bleed a sunny incandescence. One couldn’t help feeling that this was a ride on a knife covered with solar blood. As it cut into the horizon a disruption took place.”27  Nine mirror-displacements are spread out across the large Mexican territory in loosely geometric grids partially covered in sand, gravel, or various foliage. The text continually  draws attention to a desired lost consciousness in which human history as a progressive linear narrative moving towards emancipation shatters into the residue of obliviousness, emitting visual shards which might puncture the eye with their own sheer physicality. Quoting from a fictitious encounter with a lost Mayan emperor Tezcatlipoca, we find a seductive past which can be recalled by a technological linkup: “Again Tezcatlipoca spoke, ‘That camera is a portable tomb, you must remember that.’”28  /42  The particular quality of the camera to promote a deadening sense of inviolability is described by Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit: “It is our inviolability that film protects in assuring us that we can approach, know, even take possession of the real by an act of pure apprehension in which we need not be implicated. Here is an appropriation of objects in which the subject remains untouched—an ideal aptly figured by the protective darkness surrounding the unseen spectator in the moviehouse. Thus the aesthetic medium of film would almost miraculously realize the analytic fantasy of a non-erotic sadism, the sadism of an affectiess mastery of the world. Film would thus allow us to repeat the ego’s self-preservative hatred of objects in the sublimated form of an epistemolgical conquest. The real has been framed so that we may take its measure; objects are deployed within a field from which the viewing subject—safely outside—has been removed. The success of this remarkable enterprise depends on the control of any moves of identification, on the part of the spectator, with the images inside that sequestered field. But it is not a question of doing away with identification altogether within the project of appropriation just discussed, the trick is to have us identify with the camera. And this means identifing with an object we do not see—crucial if the identification is to remain affectively neutral.”29  It is the protection or tomb-like removal from the catastrophic violations of everyday life promoted by the technological force of the camera that Smithson’s work interrogates in its explicit de-creation of the viewing scene. His unprotected mirror displacements  implicate external phenomena in the illusion of control in order to dispell viewing. Heuristic freedom is mostly imaginable as a frightening realization of sublimation as simply hatred of objects. Historical memory returns as ghosts only to fictionalize the forboding certainty of their pronouncements. Tezcatlipoca is recalled to posit colonization’s powerful cognitive viewing machines and their murderous mobility.  At every turn in Smithson’s typically encyclopedic terrain we are greeted with a past as geological eternity, a no-man’s-land in which the narratives of past purity is ossified. In so  doing a kind of physical reality emerges in the face of the consciousness—a primordial decay of the viewing process itself. Viewing becomes entropic, a boundless loss of control, as a way of refusing the puritannical rear-view mirror structuring of homophobia, sexism and even the environmentalism gaining hold in the late sixties. It is crucial for Smithson, like General Idea and their circle, not to reproduce the nature/culture split that “environmen  /43  talists” maintain in their adoration of a pristine and beneficent wilderness. Instead of Nature as decay, viewing itself is implicated in the present, splintering all idealizing or sublimating processes which construct moral and aesthetic distance from objects. The past is no longer a pristine, pre-lapsarian source but itself split by the act of viewing. The implementation of that collapse was challenged in the backlash in Vancouver against Smithson’s proposed “Island covered with broken glass,” which seemed at the time to Smithson to prove a widespread failure to imagine an art capable of resisting the edifying, and healing function of traditional religious art.30 Those desires for an unharmed nature ultimately maintain simplistic beliefs in caricatures of good/evil, self/other, mind/body, social/sexual and the human capacity for rational organization of the external objects as a primaray mode of cognition.3 1 It is the daunting prospect of a sexuality intimately linked to violence that Smithson  proposed to reformulate against the hypocrisy of ethical liberalism, of sentimental detach ment of humanness from nature understandably as the origin of industrialization and the catastrophic evidence of the denial of desire in culture. The primordial in Smithson here signals a kind of selfless communication with “lower” orders of being in which the denial of a selfhood founded in sexual, cultural difference is effaced, replaced by neither purity nor exonorated self, remaining merely a void.32 Smithson’s writings always demonstrate against language’s availibility to accurately name things, foregrounding opacity, fetishism, blocked or inhibited will to power. In so doing, as with Smithson’s camera work, a living tomb is recalled in which objects are formed by loss and funerial excess. For Image Bank and General Idea this tomb could be inhabited allowing the circulation of images to reappear inside the viewing machine. The connection to camp in that gay style’s refusal of heuristic directness, of things being what they appear to be and the resultant self/not-self divisions, should be evident. The character’s “neurotically appropri ate pseudonyms,” “the pageantry of camp,” divest external viewing of its claims to purity,  /44  to having witnessed resistance. Such divestiture is signaled in Wheeler’s remarks, as it is more recently in Philip Monk’s, as frustration in its angry and desolate tones. Yet it is the effect of the real in which a recognition that distance of modernist autonomy is no longer a viable option in the realm of sexual politics that goes unnoticed by these straight-focused readers of General Idea. The gay domesticity signalled by File’s camp inhabitations collapses the illusion of a private sphere safely removed from the realms of policed or compromised identities furthering the discrediting of detached viewing and the imaginary removal of subject from object. In Smithson’s work the distinctions between viewer and viewed are effaced as objects are physically threatening and made so merely by the act of looking. Mirrors threaten vision, and cameras become portable tombs in a continual attempt to block detached viewing by exploding the safety of the process achieved in environments once deemed safe. The art gallery, like the living room, is no longer protected against threatening realities and aesthetic impositions. If “reality” itself appears to be already constituted as image, then the hierarchy of object and representation—the first being the source of the authority and the second its prestige—is collapsed. The domesticity implicated in File’s inhabitation of Life loses its sense of removal and safety from the unmastered external world rife with police and military conspiracies and other visible threats to bodily intactness. General Idea invoke a dismantled subjective stability in their foregrounding of images as themselves liveable or at least subversively malleable. In the editorial “Bulletin From the Ivory Tower,” from May 1973, the extrordinarily gay and anti-aesthetic “Pablum for Pablum Eaters” positions that inversion against an intellectually timid yet historically pervasive method of understanding: “In the last issue we struck the knife up the ass. In the end it all came together. Coping with the pablum..eaters, who must eat; coping with the hunger of intellectual cannibalism, rampant and insatiable; coping with those who sit without and demand that the seeing might be seen, demanding art histoty, a review in preview; coping with these then, FILE, no longer mirroring a scene, mirrors the mirror. We re-establish our ability to see with a long look into the mirrored mirror, passing through silvered splintered layers of apparent transparency, moving within the arena of our aflliction.”33  /45  The violence of the sixties and early seventies, to which Canada was not immune, finds no grace or at least only a glib parody of the aesthetic of redemption in the works in File. File proposes itself as an imaginary haven where “Narcissism is to be considered: as safe harbour, harbouring a personal vision, harbouring the possibility of vision, the description of the mirror regarding itself, the point of entry, whereby vision may contain the world. Narcissism demands nostalgia if it is to be utilized as a tool of vision. Together accounting for everything that must be accounted for. Everything must be accounted for. Allowing the possibility of describing the myth.”34 Objects and images generate an overwhelming counter-narrative through a torrential visual violation of the consolidating subjectivity of the art world. The “image” of a real threat is anxiously promoted to the status of livable through its imaginary connection to real threats: “everything comes together.” “Narcisssism demands nostalgia if it is to be utilized as a tool of vision.  ...  Everything must be accounted for. Allowing the possibility  of myth.” Artistic critical realms mix and confuse their connection to gay oppression and the dismissal of camp’s spectral self-nomination. Mirroring the evacuated critique, a critique based on the glarring mis-recognition of the knowing subject, is accommodated in the resistance inherent in camp’s dismissal of the seriousness of opposition. “Pablum eaters” such as the staff members of artscanada become a spectral, if not altogether dismissable, threat in a self-promoting (myth-making) momentum of File’s gay editorial agenda. Similar concerns from its inception mark General Idea’s relation to the emerging Conceptual art movement. A.A. Bronson, writing in File, describes the triviality or even the ease with which the idealization of concepts can be made to submit to “theatricality.” Ideas once positioned forcefully as erotic bullies become easy, suceptible to the persuasions of institutional seduction, even feminized. (Fignre 7) While Smithson was condemning conceptual art for its idealization and purification of ideas, General Idea’s gestures simultaneously domesticated and eroticized the fetishistic  /46  male posturing inherent in conceptualism.35 As Smithson would suggest in “Incidents of Mirror Travel in the Yucatan,” vision itself can be dc-idealized, even materialized: “The eyes became two wastebaskets filled with diverse colors, variegations, ashy hues, blotches and sunburned chromatics. To reconstruct what the eyes see in words, in an ‘ideal language’ is avain exploit. Why not reconstruct one’s inability to see? Let us give passing shape to the inconsolidated views that surround a work of art, and develop a type of ‘anti-vision’ or negative seeing.”6  The direct appeal to/of powerlessness easily returns to sexuality and its capacity to promote such sensations as merely “the risk of self-dismissal, of losing sight of the self,” with its rootedness in mastery over the desires that abound. What might be disturbing in Smithson’s work is his refusal to allow the discussion of what might replace the self: notions of democratic ideals, “ideal language,” chimerically non-violent fantasies of tenderness and nurturing, ethical liberalism. Smithson’s work, writing and sculpture foreground the posed humiliation of selfhood as an anti-aesthetic position of turbulent inculcation never better than or distanced from his material and bodily conditions. In this sense his remarks on Fried’s denunciations of minimalist and pop art for their theatricality radically proposes the movement of “present ness” into material being. Into the everyday materialilty of a culture saturated with images, Smithson reconstructs or reflects nothing more than the radical materiality of such intrusions.  Against the liberal subjects fantasy of a potent visual stability Smithson unleashes splintering mirroric implosions and utter exhaustion of such deadening touristic fantasies: “The mind shored up thoughts and memories, that shored up points of view, that. shored up the swaying glances of the eyes. Sight consisted of knotted reflections bouncing off and on the mirrors and the eyes. Every clear view slipped into its own abstract slump. All viewpoints choked and died on the tepidity of the tropical air. The eyes, being infected by all kinds of nameless tropisms, couldn’t see straight. Vision sagged, caved in, and broke apart. Trying to look at the mirrors took the shape of a game of pool underwater. All clear ideas of what had been done melted into perceptual puddles, causing the brain to gurgle thoughts... “37 .  /47  File’s approaches involve a strikingly similar fascination with the fragmentation, the mobile or detached meaning and the near loss of control over ideas which in part characterizes Smithson’s near-hallucinatory writing. And like much of Smithson’s work, File makes no attempt to disguise this detachment from a psychoanalytic theory of anal eroticism. The slogan, repeated in the editorials and other writings throughout the early 1970s, of “Collage or perish, Cut-up or shut up,” invokes displacement as survival strategy against a totalized other: “the nature of our affliction, let’s call it culture.” As in Smithson’s writing the boundaries between author and other is degraded, often through camp theatricality and a mocking parodistic, even flippant recollection of the “us” and “them” inherent in self-creation. The Color Bars, a collaborative project between Image Bank and General Idea enhanced following Smithson’s visit to Vancouver, remake the bits and pieces of visual invasiveness  within, among others, a landscape tradition installed at a retreat on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast near Robert’s Creek called Baby Land. (Figure 13) The portable painted wooden blocks referring to television’s colour bar test-pattern, and the historical avantgarde artists’ experimentation with colour theory, become gestural reflections of visual invasiveness. Its repeated and haphazard utility suggests signs as matter, and colour as tagging along, even on vacations at Robert’s Creek.38 Around this time a series of collaborative books by artistJohnJack Baylin, a.k.a. Count Fanzini, called Fanzines, appeared. Fanzini joins in this interest in a more explicit sense of homographic pursuit of a liveable mass media, most specifically in Fanzini Goes to Movies, completed in 1972.39 Contributors, who included General Idea, Image Bank, and Robert Smithson, a fake Barbara Rose and Frank Stella, Burt Reynolds and others, refuse orthodoxies about consolidated selfhood and managed desire, and parade the effects of an erotized consciousness. The Fanzine phenomenon reproduces a camp poetics of praise in which the pleasure of erotically available mass culture appears in desublimated gay aethetic explorations of previously uncharted territory. Its tendency to offend tastes was noted by John Bentley Mays, who called it “the most disgusting magazine I have ever  /48  seen.”40 Smithson’s contribution was as far as I know a plaguirized reproduction of “Mangrove rings,” complete with the work’s anal reference, their Utopian promise of nature tightening its grasp on sensation, reversing the dispersal that modernity offers. Smithson’s text for the drawing of the work, which appeared in Arts Magazine in 1971, refers to a story which holds that Alexander the Great stopped his march through Asia “to observe mangroves making land.” (Figure 8) Mangroves are called “island makers” because they “catch sediment in their spidery roots.”41 The suggestiveness according to gay theory of anality expands into the cosmological location of the anus—Alexander, Smithson—at the center of a universe of cyclic consolidation and decay. The work proposes a vision of excess that links cognition to natural materials in a kind of pagan homoerotic conceptualism. The visual narrative from top to bottom tightens its spatial grip on the centrality of the hole, and suggests the possible future overgrowth of any figure/background relationship. For Smithson, matter or objects like islands are themselves entropic, thus the work suggests a dialectic of nature entrapped in a visual illusion of order. The narrative tradition to which Fried alludes maintains a dream that language and the signification are not irretrievably arbitrary, and that the self’s appearance in the “theatrical” world can be redeemed in an instant of self-apprehension, without the penetrating look of others. Rosalind Krauss’s recollection might provide evidence of the break Fried’s essay signals with the unstoppable heuristic empowerment and its dispossession: “I remember reading Michael’s last sentence—’Presentness is grace’—with a dizzying sense of disbelief. It seemed to shake everything I thought I’d understood. The healthy, Enlightenment-like contempt for piety, the faith instead in the intellect’s coming into an ever purer self-possession, the oath that modernism had sworn with rationalism. And to show that that final sentence was no accident, Michael Fried had prepared for it from the first, with the passage about Jonathan Edwards’s faith that each moment places us before the world as though in the very presence of God in the act of creating it. It didn’t seem to me that anything about this could be squared with the robustness of most of Michael’s earlier talk about modernism. Like the time we were speaking about Frank Stella and Michael asked me, ‘Do you know who Frank thinks is the greatest living American?’ Of course I didn’t. ‘Ted Wiffiams.’ And Michael covered my silence with his own glee. ‘Ted Williams sees faster than any other living human. He sees so fast that when the ball comes over the plate—90 miles an hour—he can see stitches. So he hits the ball right out of the park. That’s why Frank think’s he’s a genius.’ This was  /49  by way, of course, of inducting me onto the team, Michael’s team, Frank’s team, Greenberg’s team, major players in the ‘60’s formulation of modernism.”42  The induction into this Hall of Fame, as Krauss implies, requires a leap of faith, and as she recalls it, bad faith, since it requires a willful blindness to the imaginary and contradic tory essence of abandonment of the viability of visual purity in order to maintain it as a project. The greatness of American seers such as Ted Williams or Greenberg, in all its transparent hierarchical shamelessness, its power for power’s sake, its simple one-upman ship of mimetic rivalry, becomes in Krauss’ recollection a chiasmic moment. Krauss remained a good team player for many years, until the modernism lost all grandeur and shine. Is it the recognition that Fried has already been made “saint” that induces Krauss to keep his open secret of their mystically idealized homosocial relations? This brings to mind what Leo Bersani formulates as “the ontologicai necessity of homosexuality [in the other sex] in a kind of universal heterosexual relation of all human beings to their own desires.”43 The collapsibility of the images of Greenbergian modernism and Ted Williams is a conceit and one I will leave with Krauss and Fried. It is, however, no coincidence of course that a wishful masculinism resonates from the pairing. Indeed the conceit that helps us locate for the gay artists a collectivity consciously and unconsciously mark off positions against the various purisms and ideals of progress in a figuration of desire. If the counter-culture’s dissolution of identity helped keep the “gay” identity outside the liberal administrative and sympathetic self-construction in which a place could be set at the table for even the gay girl or guy as a thinly veiled attempt to assert the stability of the all-American heterosexual family (or its scarcely different all-Canadian version) then the destabilizing interests of those years might be seen as what held together a resistance to and of identity. Greenberg’s dismissal of Dada’s “leveling” or desublimating quality signals a kind of standardization and urgent hierarchial productivism that could hardly include gay camp’s dismissal of cognitive autonomy.44  /50  General Idea’s often repeated slogan “Collage or perish, cut-up or shut up,” appeared first in the Knife in the Ass editorial demands a movement, to and fro, between the conglomorating quality of collage as the “process” ofimaginingintactness that dangerously approaches Life’s ideological subject of representation and the immediately following renewing claims of dismemberment. Between a Modernism of untroubled vision asserting the “face” of American liberal institutions and maleness and an oppositional skeptical counter-culture, Smithson’s dia tribe and eroticization of the boy’s club “bungas” might be understood to open a productive void in which new negotiations might arise.45 I will maintain that it is the contradiction between a wish to be in the picture, and the need to explode the camera in order to live, which presents vision’s unrelenting sadism founded in its purity, its desexualizing control of the world it encounters and visual pleasure of imagining the “otherwise.” File articulates a fetishistic and opaque visual field in images and pieces like Baylin’s “Treatise on Gorgeousness” (Figure 14) or the photograph of Willoughby Sharp holding up aL magazine featuringJoe Dimaggio on its cover. (Figure 15) This position is perhaps most complete as a theoretical strategy in the 1973 “Pablum for the Pablum Eaters” issue: “In this article we do not want to concern ourselves with the lapsing of historical continuities, the great art tragedy, the collapse of the causal mind. In this article seeing art as a system of signs in motion as an archive and indicator and stabilizer of culture as a means of creating fetish objects as residence for the field of imagery defining culture, seeing all this and more in many ways we have become aware of the necessity of developing methods of generating realizing stabilizing alternate myths alternate lifestyles. Now is the time to attack the Problem of Nothing. We are all attacking the Problem of Nothing and that is what we are doing.”46  Linking the seemingly expendible materials of repetitious pulp culture into a network project recycles visual difference and renegotiates gay subjectivity in the face of a threat ening and dispersed public sphere or social body. If anality is characterized by the social obsession to define the boundaries between interior and exterior, subject and object, even body and self, anal eroticism might be thought of as unleashing the atomized furies that such boundaries help phantasmatically create. “The Problem of Nothing” is, as Krauss’s  /51  remarks might help us understand, the gap in any chain of signification wherein disbelief in logics of cause and effect, and language’s positive communicative stability open spaces of possibility for new and uncertain signs. General Idea’s alternate myths and lifestyles seek to negotiate the end ofbeliefwith new representations, myths and posed styles as the forced imposition of identity politics. This fetishization of culture, at least for the File network, seems to have eroded the persistence ideals of aesthetic autonomy and distance in favour of new myths and lifestyles in which sexuality might be renegotiated in gay terms. File signals its attractions in looking through those inexorable eyes of “straight” vision as depicted in modernism and Lfe. Its carnality is pierced by that very faith in the purity, which may, as Krauss suggests, be nothing  more than the representation of power. Such despotic revelations about modernism are hardly lost within the political manoeuverings of A.A. Bronson’s camp manifestos.  It may be, however, a nervous and at least partial misrecognition of the ideational void’s power which so irritates General Idea’s detractors; from Wheeler to Monk, what has been most unconvincing or disturbing has been the trivialization of that threat, the refusal to grant the phallus its leap of faith. Gay knowledge or assumptions about the autonomous  nature of male bodies, and their art, questions the restoration of those bodies as modern. A radical gay project theorized in writers such as Guy Hocquenghem and Mario Mieli, but manifested throughout gay movements, names patriarchal masculinity in its oppressive manifestations as “self-misrecognizing and consequently blocked erotic interaction.”47 For Smithson and File, a similarly informed encounter with vision led to images of permeable reconstruction, looping gazes, and shattering images, spiraling corporeality in which mastering distance or oppositional rivalry is evaded. Or as Lee Edelman has recently proposed: “By producing the face of the facelessness against which it constructs its own identity, heterosexual masculinity can deny, on behalf of its own alleged authenticity, the merely mechanistic status of sexuality as such. The gay male body, in other words, thus finds itself installed in the place of the representational apparatus within a regime of naturalism: the place of non-closure, the point of impossibility, the system’s ‘other  /52  face.”48  For Smithson and File Megazine, saying no to power peculiarly involves saying no to a regime of naturalness, of permanently fixed identities and of the totalization of “tenden des” or attractions into fearfiul objects. It would be an exaggeration to claim that this amounts to a phobic dismissal of the political necessity of gay identity. Instead their works are better understood as a coded parading, a sideways movement in an art world with a shifting face. This chapter has tried to find valuable interrelations between the works of Robert Smithson and General Idea’s File megazine in order to extend an understanding of gay male subjectivity and representations. Doing so has involved taking seriously the claims Smithson makes for “agents of endlessness” and General Idea’s theatrical aesthetic in a kind of artificial or overrated relation to an influential American art critic. If a sort of narrative emerges from this chapter’s collaged fragments it must certainly be considered produced under the pressures and opportunities of identity.  / )o  Notes coincidental in an art scene schooled 1 That “Bung” means “anus” according to gay lingo seems more than s as those articulated in “Character in Freud and delighting in the pleasures of contemplating such notion earing practices the abhorrence and Anal Eroticism,” which suggest that in modern western culture’s child-r of the production of the orderly, the with fecal matter and the urgency of anal control is part and parcel analytic theory mirrors female parsimonious, and the propriety in middle-class life. Anal eroticism in psycho finality, never finalized. Freud’s sexuality, whose non-climactic moment is, unlike post-Oedipal genital continual agitation in the counter narrative of a teleogical norm of mature male seithood was a source of Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus. culture, reaching its most brilliant deconstructive articulation in 1972 in Smithson, whose roots are in the Capitalism and Schizophrenia, and Guy Hocquenghem’s Homosexual Desire. exoticism of the gay leather scene homo content of Black Mountain, Ginsberg, Cage, Keneith Anger, and the ts. was, as the story goes, only “occasionally” doseted about homosexual interes ction, a whole array of social and 2 In Foucault’s important work The History of Sexuality: An Introdu “homosexual” as a member of a scientific apparatus are described which create in the modern individuated complete with the normalizing, lengthy taxonomy of perverts. In this project he positions Freud’s work as confessional demarkation of “sexuality.” O. 37 3 Bois, October: Thefirst decade, p. February 1976 in Nancy Holt, 4 See for example, “Some Void Thoughts on Museums,” Arts Magazine, , or “What is a Museum? 8 1979. p.5 ed., The Writings ofRobert Smithson. New York: New York University Press, “The Museum World,” 1967) in A Dialogue between Allan Kaprow and Robert Smithson” (Arts Yearbook, Writings, pp. 6 . 6 59 . 56 on, “Tour of the Monuments of Passaic” in Writings, p. Smiths Robert 5 . 6 6 Ibid., p.5 (Dwan Gallery press release, 7 See Robert Smithson, “Language to Looked at and/or Things to be Read” ty of Art” (Art International, March June 1967) in Writings, p.1O4, or “A Museum of Language in the Vicini 1968) in Writings, pp.67-78. York, Columbia University 8 Eugenie Tsai, Robert Smithson Unearthed: Drawings, Collage.s, Writings. New Press, 1991. 9 Ibid., p.24. interview with Nancy Holt. 10 Smithson’s place in that scene is mentioned in Tsai, where she recalls an one ofSmithson’s favourite Holt recalls that Anger’s Scorpio Rising, the “motorcycle classic” (Tsai’s phrase) was ized pleasures of anality films. This dassic gay S/M film makes imaginistic links between the unleashed demon and an entire cosmology of pleasure and pain inextricably intertwined. Ibid., p.24. 2, andJohnathan Weinberg, “It’s 8 68 11 Helen Molesworth, “Before Bed,” October 63, Winter 1993, pp. 1988, . 56 40 pp. in the Can: JasperJohns and the Anal Society,” Genders, Number 1, Spring unconsciously, is that 12 Brown is quoted in Wienberg: “What the child knows consciously and the adult values are bodily values. ; we are nothing but body. However much the repressed and sublimating values all ss; on the contrary, it is the Hence the assimilation of money with excriment does not render money valuele value. If money were path whereby extraneous things acquire significance for the human body, and hence not excrement, it would be valueless.”  /54  Seductive Freudian philosophy as primary textual sites ofengagement, they alone hardly begin to address the multiple homophobic restrictions and exclusions that gay and bisexual artists might articulate. To Brown andJones we must add Marcuse, Reich and, as I’ve suggested earlier, McLuhan, who to some degree mediates these other figures for many artists in the Canadian scene. Both Wienberg and Molesworth, while properly arguing against conflating anality with the artist’s sexuality, end up dismissing the pervasive historical equation of gay male sexuality within a grotequely homophobic society, with activities of that most culturally degraded and repulsive erogenous zone, especially “passive” anal intercourse. Nor do they begin to interrogate the specifically heterosexual privileging, in spite of the emphasis on the “polymourphous perverse,” of “post-Oedipal genital finality,” that the “radical Freudians” do not avoid. For a critique of the heterosexist ideological implications of the “radical Freudians,” see Jonathan Doffimore, Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991, 205 p. . 13 Hobbes, Robert. Robert Smithson: Sculpture. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1981. 14 Ibid. Smithson, “Monuments,” p. . 55 15 Ibid. Bersani, “Rectum,” p. 212. 16 Lee Edelman. Homographesis: essays in gay literary and cultural theory. New York: Routledge, 1994, p. . 104 17 Willoughby Sharp. “The Gold Diggers of ‘84.” Avalanche, Spring, 1973, New York, p.21. 18 Gregoire Muller. The New Avant-Garde: Issues for the Art of the Seventies. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972, 14 p. . 19 This work’s local fame has never led to a dicussion of body and vision as central to Smithson’s work for reasons that this thesis has meant to question. 20 “The notion of an establishment seems to be a social fairytale, a deadly utopia or invisible system that inspires an almost mythical sense of dread—it is a ‘bad dream’ that has somehow consumed the world. I shall postulate The Establishment as a state of mind—a deranged mind, that appears to be a mental City of Death. The architechture is uncertain and without a center; it comes and goes like a will-o’-the-wisp. It contains a strange mixture of politics and madness that resembles a nightmare let loose in the time and space of everyday reality. This nightmarish system catalogues every known physical thing according to the ‘science’ of totalitarian propaganda, and none of this ‘thought-control’ can be traced by the isolated individual.” Robert Smithson, “The Establishment” (Metro,June 1968) in Writings, p. 9 7 21  File Glamour Issue, Autumm 1975, in General Idea’s 1984 and the 1968-1984 File Retrospective.  Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery/Art Official Inc., 1984, 81 p. . 22 Robert Smithson, “Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan” (Artforum, September 1968) in Writings. p. . 103 23 Craig Owens. Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture. Scott Bryson, Barbara Kruger, Lynne Tillman, andJane Weinstock, eds. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992, 27 p. . 24 Ibid. pp.2 -28. 7 25 Smithson is heavily quoted from Incidents in a work pre-dating File called “Letter Rejected by Artscanada.” 26 Ibid. Smithson, “Incidents.” p.94. 27 Ibid., p. . 95 28 Ibid., p. . 95  /55  29 Leo Bersani and Ulysee Dutch. Arts of Impoveri.shment. Beckett, Rothko, Resnai.s. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993, 157 p. . 30 The Vancouver Sun featured four articles as the controversy flared up in January 1970 over whether sea birds would land on the proposed island cutting their feet. See Moira Farrow. “An Island of Glass to “Glass Island’ Dump Site Is Strictly for the Birds.” Appear in Strait” Vancouver Sun,January 27, 1970; .  Vancouver Sun, January 29, 1970;  .  “Artist’s Glass Island Hope, ‘Wouldn’t Hurt the Birds.’” Vancouver  Sun,Januaiy 31, 1970; and Peter Plagens. “Plan to Glaze the Gulf Island Meets with Glassy Stare.” Vancouver Sun,Januaiy 28, 1970.  31 Scott Watson describes this incident in “Defeatured Landscape” in Stan Douglas, ed. Vancouver Antholegy: The Institutional Poli&s ofArt. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1992, p. . 254  32 Leo Bersani calls this communication a fundamental “ontological obscenity,” which threatens a “breakdown of the human itself.” “Rectum.” p.221. 33 General Idea, Editorial, “Bulletin From the Ivory Tower.” File, May 1973, 2 p. . 34 Ibid. 35 In the historical period with which I am concerned, “Conceptual art” was a narrow category of a few artists that was gradually being manipulated to eclectically and superfically include works that would have accurately been understood as anti-conceptual. This not only includes “earth artists” but groups like Netco who are only called “conceptualist” at the expense of the trivialization of the works’ difference. It remains to be writtenjust how much conceptual art was seen as a not-so-subtle reactionary category in the early seventies. Smithson writes: “Occult notions of ‘concept’ are in retreat from the physical world. Heaps of private information reduce art to hermeticism and fatuous metaphysics. Language should find itself in the physical world, and not end up locked in an idea in somebody’s head. Language should be an ever developing procedure and not an isolated occurrence. Art shows that have beginnings and ends are confined by unnnessary modes of representation both ‘abstract’ and ‘realistic.’ A face or a grid on a canvas is still a representation. Reducing representation to writing does not bring one closer to the physical world. Writing should generate ideas into matter, and not the other way around.  .  .  .  Although metaphysics is outmoded  and blighted, it is presented as tough principles and solid reasons for installations of art. The museums and parks are graveyards above the ground—congealed memories of the past that act as a pretext for reality. This cause acute anxiety among artists, in so far as they challenge, compete, and fight for the spoiled ideals of lost situations.” Robert Smithson, “Cultural Confinement,” in Writings, p.1SS. Originally publishied in the 1972 Documenta catalogue as Smithson’s contribution to the exhibition. 36 Smithson, “Incidents.” Writings, p.1 1. 0 37 Ibid., p.102. 38 The sparse writing on these campy gestural projects began with Scott Watson’s catalogue essay from “The Hand of the Spirit.” Vancouver: UBC Fine Arts Gallery, 1992. 39JohnJack Baylin. Fanzini Goes to the Movies, Vancouver: 1973. 40 Quoted in File, Autumn 1975. 41 Robert Smithson in Robert Hobbes, Robert Smithson: Sculpture, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1981, 208 p. . . 7 42 Rosalind E. Krauss. The Optical Unconscious. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1993, pp.6-  /56  43 Leo Bersani. The Culture of Redemption. Cambridge, Mass.: Havard Unversity Press, 1990, p.24. 44 Ibid. Krauss, Optical Unconsciow, p.142. 45 It was, however, easier for writers on Smithson to neglect bodily inferences than it was for Smithson not to produce them. 46 File, May 1973, in General Idea’s 1984 and the 1968-1984 File Retrospective. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery/Art Official Inc., 1984, p. . 38 47Jeffery Weeks, Introduction to 1976 transalation of Guy Hocquenghem’s Homosexual Desire. Daniefla  Dangoor, trans. London: Allison & Busby, 1972, 12 p. . 48 Ibid. Edelman, Homographesis, p.241.  CONCLUSION “Does art claim different criteria for judging its statements within its own frame when at the same time it claims a critical effectivity, a critical disruption of forms and consciousness which therefore is a political act? Horkheimer and Adorno identify another sense of the word ‘appropriation.’ When things are not taken at their word, what type of aesthetic system does that signify, and, more importantly perhaps, what type of social place for art?” —Philip Monk, “Editorials: General Idea and the Myth of Inhabitation”  In 1975 General Idea produced perhaps its most aesthetically coherent issue of File called the Glamour Issue. Among the typically ambiguous and disconcerting images included in this issue was a collage which posed right-wing Hollywood movie star Roy Rogers with his famous horse Trigger displaced by an equally sturdy young man.(Figure 16) The leather bit both stears and gags the mounted figure whose subordination is enacted as humiliation. The text serves to implicate the image within, though not unambiguously against, unlocatable systematic regimes of vision. It appears to insist that a spectacular ordering of desire is at hand: “Glamour replaces Marxism as the single revolutionary statement of the twentieth century.” The Glamour Issue pushed File’s gay camp aesthetic relation to L!fe more resolutely into the politically dangerous terrain that marks the fragmenting character of the so-called ‘post-1968 autonomous movements.’ In this case the gay libidinal politics that centered the disruption of all identity risked taking on the traditional left’s homophobia by positioning sexualized confusion above and beyond any emphasis on economic interests. This had been the contentious current that drew first blood in Dennis Wheeler’s attack on File. The appropriation of L!fe magazine remained sufficient as a framework or interface for the postioning of ‘de-sublimated’ gay aesthetic manipulations like ‘camp.’ The critical reception of General Idea, when there has been one, has thrived on burying the implications for critical writing of the sexualized male body. In his articles “Colony, Commodity and Copyright: Reference and Self-Reference in Canadian Art” and “Editori als: General Idea and the Myth of Inhabitation” Philip Monk attacks the semiotic under  57  /58  standing of the purely arbitrary signifier. Unlike Dennis Wheeler’s critique, which at least had the ‘good’ intentions of encouraging some, however simplistic, homophobic/homo graphic reading of File, Monk’s interpretations leave any gay male maneuvering and evasions unrecognized: “The fetishistic self-referential formality of this closed system has its consequences. In a system where signiflers exchange among themselves outside any relation to a real or referent, no critique or reference can take place. The model of this system of value is based ultimately on capital.” “Editorials” offers an even more final injunction: “Just as imperialism is ‘the highest stage of capitalism,’ so perhaps semiotics is capitalism’s most thoroughly developed cultural form, capitalism at its most rationalized.”  I have posited homosexual inscripition as key to File’s intelligibility. This intelligibility, however, hardly appears as a comfortably delineated identity. Instead the works of art I have considered tend to focus on the doubtful possibility of focusing images. File’s homosexuality resists the definitional rehabilitation forecasted in the normalizing impulses of western culture’s visuality. These images contain fragments of irrecuperable dismissal to the stable identities of homo/heterosexual definition and never attempt to disqualify the reading of sexuality in apparently agitated postures and positions. In this aspect File’s gayness is rooted in a militant intellectual campaign against the sublimating projects of cognition’s categorical arbitration. The works of Robert Smithson that I have discussed share this quality of mobile positionality and refusal the idealizing appropriation of objects. File’s project, like Smithson’s, tends to move the viewer from his expected viewing position of knowledge to one of desire. File’s implication of the viewer in its constructs of identity, like Smithson’s writings ambiguously embraces the seductions of mass culture as a corporeal entity. Monk’s remarks about the social place of art are rooted in the demands for an art in which the troubling consequences of sexuality have been weeded out. Counter-cultural aspects of gay liberation insisted on continually imagining sensualized forms of resistance  /59  and new disruptive potential in everyday life. The aesthetisizing moves in camp, dependant on staged amibvalence towards real historical threats and sexual objects, continually conflicted with demands for readable “critical” art percieved to have a stable social meaning. The male bodily ego, inscribed by liberal cultural notions of autonomy in rationalized visions of public virute and intact privacy, is perturbed and made permiable to its own forms of invasive authority. In different ways File and Smithson dissolve the boundaries between a domesticated unconscious and an expansive rational consciousness. In both these bodies of work, the insistance on carnal implications in viewing seemed to infer a different way of taking on the role of artistic authority. It is a positional difference which seems to challenge corporeal denial. In so doing, their works functioned within networks of intelligibility where sexualized communitcation could not be discounted. As I have argued earlier, File’s camera often operated to the hyperbolically excessive level of a sexual device that ulitimately inserted male bodies into the chain of signification. Ideally, a mezmerized gay sexuality could appear in which the threats to the realities of openly gay lives in our grotesquely homophobic, masculinist culture might be disoriented. In File homosexual identity is constructed in camp’s aesthetic refusal of masculinist cultural definitions of maleness. In the megazine’s network, the social function of art was to enhance the surveillance. The opacity of File’s images is strategic. Their aesthetics of pleasure, however, circulated in a network in which ‘libidinal politics’ are crucial aspects of a kind of collective resistance to and of identity. The gayness of its network, never quite certain and rarely openly identified, nonetheless declared itself as an affront to ideals of autonomy and fixed identities. File gives us evidence that as we partake in mass culture we are “perturbed by what we are watching”, implicated in gender and the inscription of sexual entitlement. This perturbation risks being as unreadable to uninitiated viewers as Monk’s complaints imply. To return to the image of the cowboy hero, which Monk does not mention when he specifically targets the quote on Glamour and Marxism. (Figure 16)1 have argued that the  /60  choices of theory available to artists involved in the File network were rooted in the historical realities of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. During this time many powerful men dressed up in the sexy and arbitrary uniforms of soldiers, baseball players, art critics, cowboys and policemen. Reconsidering File in this context, I can’t help but wonder which perturbations Monk fears most in that magazine’s ambiguous referentiality. Unaware as Philip Monk is of the historical implications of File megazine, he may well have sounded a death blow to the radical currents in Canadian art history where Marx and Freud faulter on the rocks of an irrecuperable sexual difference.  /61  NOTES 1. Philip Monk, “Colony, Commodity and Copyright: Reference and Self-Reference in Canadian Art,” in Struggles with the Image: Essays in Art Criticism. Toronto: YYZ Books, 1988. P. 200 2. Philip Monk, “Editorials: General Idea and the Myth of Inhabitation.” Ibid. p. 139. 3. Monk so thoroughly decontextualizes this frighteningly predictive slogan from the arena of sexual politics in which it was circulated that questions about the urges to refuse erotica in the period in which he writes are begged.  •  •  1 en5  .•  .•;_-•  \4j.  iiv  /63  al Village and General Idea are pleased to announce that PASCAL and Ms. Jane Vasey will be ENTERTAINING THE TROOP; at 17 St. Nicholas Street, Toronto Friday, April21 at 8:30 p.m.  Figure 2.  /64  FILL  • LETTERS -  Also there were two murders this week In Albert Fine’s building eleven vsrick street. So then I telephoned Richard Bernstein, who was just beck from Peru and he said the Binaca Jagger artist want to meet me. I said gee sure. And there were countless phone calls to Toby Spiselman, who is never in PILE one at three in the morning I woke her up. Ray Johnson Dear Jorge, and Gen. Idea, Since you querejed about the anal thing, and being myself not exempt from producing an anal piece at least once each year, here’s my thought on the num ber that got you in trouble. Sandra got me at the front door when I got home from the shop in a tired state and said my copy of FILE had arrived (being happy indeed for me, remmbering hard times past the time it took me 3 months to get FILE No. 2 over which I was tremendously pissed) and said, “Wait till you see the picture on pg I opened to it and thought both aloud to Sandra and later several times to myself, “There’s a guy with a night-stick stuck up his asshole, by George,” I noted the sphincter itself pulled out of shape and thought, “Must have been painful.” I noted the hand and arm extending toward the camera and thought, “Alone in the privacy of his home, I guess. onanist anti-social be haviosr.. saggy balls, too; so wonder.” When I lived in Boston, a close friend scheduled operations at Mdssachusetts General llospital, lIe came home one night and reported the text of one of the operations that night among the appendectomies, lobotomles, hysterectomies and whatever that had the staff buzz ing; in fsct, xeros copies were made and passed along to the second and third shifts. The operation was: “Removal of Heinz mustard bottle from anus”. Returning to FILE NO. 3, it took me two days to realize that in the vagueness of the grey-tones, the night-stick was actually none-other than a bread knife stuck up that ssshole. What a problem of logistics. “IIow’d they do that?” In Hollywood, they would have set the prop-men on the problem. They would have either dulled the instrument down to a blunt edge or used a lutes rubber or papier-mache knife, or fabricated something like a half-blade attached to a soft tube for safe insertion. If MarIon Brando or Robert Mitchum had to shoot that scene with the bread knife up his ass, it had better be comfy and not too sharp. I do imagine that the shot in question thinned down the nostrils of the administrators in charge of dispensing grant Scash down to the merest knife slit, though. By the way, how did you do that shot? Cumming Robert Cumming 227 S. Shaffer Orange, Calif. 92666 P.S.: A good follow-up for the next issue of FILE would be a photo in the same interior with a phony knife point protruding from the nude lower-navel lean olfensive, Am having Dick Droat, Manager of Naked CIty, Rose Lawn, Indiana (manager of the Miss Nude America Pageant) send application forms for the nest pageant to General Idea. I thought that perhaps the Miss General Idea winners could register for next year’s Pageant, I think I mentioned that I met and chatted with Miss Nude Canada; Greta Gabor from Montreal at an all-nude bar here in Southern Calif. in August. She and her husband were on lheir way up there in several weeks to attend the festivities. Cumming .  -  .  .  .  -  tCONTINIJCfl fletnane an,.  Figure 3.  /65  With every pair of Mr. Stanley ,t Pants goes a free pack 1 shor ort filter cigarettes. Now everybody will be weringj t pants and smoking short-shoift ;ercfr””  ...almost everybody.  Camel Filters. They’re not for everyboc  (But then, they don’t try to be.)  CAMEL.  ig The Surgeon General Has Oeiermined igarette Smoking Is Gangecous toYour Health. 20 m;  Figure 4.  1.4 mq. ocoins av. p ciqarene. FTC Aeporl AUG.72.  ZZE  /66  ess IOAIL fOtfl2.fl1 N 2871 10210181*17*1 70*0*70 ItO M71*710 1420 87 TCNL Li.. 70000100 -cANNON LA  10  GIi9ry,  Vancooi Att’ I.  Figure 5.  r1s  c Sdb1t.  /67 EDITOR I A  1’ Figure 6.  IIAIIHDI )S  flOA I  !I9’  $V30$  —  89/  /69  :  Figure 8.  /70 F  / a  i:  / 7  z’\  c  \\  I7  w:  ILLUSTRATION 25. Untitled [Second Stage Injector], 1963, 3OY x 22Yis”, colored pencil and collage. Collection of Estate of Robert Smithson. Courtesy of John Weber Gallery.  Figure 9.  EV:-  1)  )QO’’  b  I.J ye Figure 10.  ,\  1  i  -  r  IMAGE BANK  IMAGE OF THE MONTH  It is Iconday rnorfling ?ebriiary 7, 1972, and 1m thinking that the ent’los ed ohoto shouid s’.riously he conatdered as Tmape ak’s “Image of’ the Month”. It is a two nert njcbure of w’nat an o’dinary ijtz Cracker could be with a litle alter ation. Cne is a Ritz Cracker with seven esholes snoerimoosed in olacc of t’r•e Tnker’s half—dozen in your standard Ritz. Notice the doup:hy cuali ty ven the cracker with the asaholes; it ipenre to be almost a hnlf—an—in ch thick. Actually the idea co’ld be natented or cold. to the Ritz Comnany....pe::;anS General idea would he en ntarested txrty. AnYWOyS, the graish orint i yours or the cnnsideraton. How are all of you? T am relatively fine, thanks.  Robert (lumtreing 227  Figure 11.  .  Sh”ffer flrrnge, Calif. 92666.  /73  ‘I  Robert Smithson, Glue Pour (1970), UBC Endowment Lands (left to right,  Duane Lunden, Illyas Pagonis, Robert Smithson and Lucy Lippard), photo: Christos Dikeakos.  Figure 12.  H  CD  I-’.  I•rJ  /75  ON GORGEOUSNESS  I :  Goteo& d.ozEog bnllbmt; ,.eI..dent; oegeif cool; Itokingly be .tifolorotteoctiee;woededol; ddqhtfot— orgeot)y Iddt orgeO.Oeoes ni.  I I: —  Part One  ‘Yod4UIlditcbolotbewliedbyeoneth.tyoOknowll goegeoAndtoknowitaid to be I.oast obout on to i.e if. Wow))!’ — JoI.i Doed lSept.mbee 30, 1974),  mc)  -‘  i’l.i,t 3’  !  IJ1OPNJACK  Figure 14.  BAYLI’j,  /76  — ,_,, i( -/k J/ Y M W(&UV 1 C, 4  p4-/n(L  thc4  ‘?-v/a  ‘F  1)  E0  3  3uh5othe o — LWE -  4  Figure 15.  0/0 IN 1 ’,j CAW’ ’ A ,  —  .•-  ‘:; ‘  :  -.  ,  II • •  -  Glqnp j inp but eycive: 11 Canccaknent e seperptivenes, pctured innocence 2/ llprdcning of the Target ic 5eemn closuç gf the object, a 9 . iancc brill imoiobity, a /Mqtypf the Torget. i.e. the 3 sçrfiçiol iqage hides on APPARENT qnptiness )changing oqe’ mind, shifting stance, femiiw)e logic)  the srnç ryolutjppgyy ment pf he qttb cenp Glamour regty ipakq t yisiç in inIe 9loncç. Aflnajor chqrc teristics Qrç etqiiwd. My ‘rg ’ 1 e  ctet pigy be simulated..  jsIcperfccts,mulqoq Gb technique fqr ngoin battIe  tory oIding wbtrqctiøg in N(liisry. Glamour dee4 p kç c stri m sing mvsible blow. Gkuppr replaces Marxism  —  Figure 16.  ,- •  -••  •‘  •  SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY A. Interviews and Correspondences A.A. Bronson. Founding Member of General Idea. Correspondence. February 5, 1993. Interview. June 23, 1993. GerryGilbert. Vancouver poet and founding member of The Grape. Interview. January 20, 1993. Michael Morris. Interview. February 9, 1992. B. Unpublished Papers Alberro, Alexander. “The Turning of the Screw: The Sixth Guggenheim International Exhibition, Daniel Buren, anth the New Cultural Conservatism.” Masters thesis. Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 1990. Nemiroff, Diane. “Parallel Galleries in Canada.” Masters thesis. Montreal: Concordia University, 1981. C. Books Adam, Barry D. The Rise ofA Gay and Lesbian Movement. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Altman, Dennis. Homosexual Ofrpresion and Liberation. New York: Avon Books, 1971. Barthes, Roland. Mythogies. Annette Layers, trans. London: Paladin, 1973. Battcock, Gregory. Minimal Art: A critical anthology. New York: Dutton, 1968. ed. The New Art: A critical anthology. New York: Dutton, 1973. Baylin,JohnJack. Fanzine Fanzini. Vancouver: 1972. Fanzini Goes to the Movies. Vancouver: 1973. “Treatise on Gorgeousness.” File, Autumn 1975. Bersani, Leo. A Futurefor Astyanax. Character and Desire in Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. The Freudian Body: Psychoanalysis and Art. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986. “Is the Rectum a Grave?” in Crimp, Douglas, ed. AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism. Cambridge, Mass.: MiT Press, 1987. The Culture ofRedemption, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Unversity Press, 1990. “Pedagogy and Pederasty” in Poirier, Richard, ed. Raritan Reading. New York: Rutgers University Press, 1990. Bersani, Leo and Dutoit, Ulysse. Arts ofImpoverishment: Beckett, Rothko, Resnai.s. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993. Bowie, Malcolm. Lacan. London: Fontana Press, 1991. Brown, Norman 0. Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytic Meaning of History. London: Routledge, 1959. —.  78  /79  Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion ofIdentity. New York: Routledge, 1990. Colpitt, Frances. Minimal Art The Critical Perspective. Ann Arbor, Mich.: U.M.I. Research Press, 1990. Crane, Michael and Stofflet, Mary. ed. Correspondence Art Source Book for the Network of International Postal Art Activity. San Francisco: Contemporary Arts Press, 1984. Crimp, Douglas. ed. AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism. Cambridge, Mass.: MiT Press, 1987. Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Robert Hurely, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane, trans. Preface by Michel Foucault. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983. Dollimore, Jonathan. Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. Edelman, Lee. Homographesis: essays in gay literary and cultural theory. New York: Routledge, 1994. Fetherling, Douglas, ed. Documents in Canadian Art. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1987. Finkeistein, Sidney. Sense and Nonsense of McLuhan. New York: International Publishers, 1968. Foster, HaL ed. Vision and Visuality. Seattle: Bay Press, 1988. ed. The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays On Postmodern Culture. Port Townsend, Wash.: Bay Press, 1983. Foster, Marion and Murray, Kent. A Not So Gay World: Homosexuality in Canada. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972. Foucault, Michel. The History ofSexuality, i: An Introduction. New York: Vintage Books, 1978. Gay Left Collective, ed. Homosexuality Power & Politics. London: Allison and Busby, 1980. Gitlin, Todd. The Sixties: Years ofHope, Days ofRage. New York: Bantam, 1987. Greenberg, Clement. Clement Greenberg The Collected Essays and Criticism. Vol. 2. John O’Brian, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. Goldberg,Jonathan, ed. Reclaiming Sodom. London: Routledge, 1994. Habermas, Jurgen. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, Twelve Lectures. Frederick G. Lawrence, trans. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1990. The New Consewati.sm: Cultural Criticism and the Historians’ Debate. Shierry Weber Nicholsen, ed. and trans. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1989. Hall, Stuart. “Deviance, Politics, and the Media,” in Abelove, Henry, Michele Ama Barale, and David M. Halperin, ed. The Lesbian and Bay Studies Reader. New York: Routledge, 1993. Harvey, David. The Condition ofPostmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Cambridge, Mass.: Basil Blackwell, 1989. Hobbes, Robert. Robert Smithson: Sculpture. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1981).  /80  Hocquenghem, Guy. Homosexual Desire. Daniella Dangoor, trans. London: Allison and Busby, 1972. Holt, Nancy. ed. The Writings of Robert Smithson: Essays with Illustrations. New York: New York University Press, 1979. Jackson, Ed, and Persky, Stan, eds. Flaunting It! A decade of gay journalz:sm from The Body Politic. Vancouver: New Star Books, 1982. James, David E. Allegories of Cinema. American Film in the Sixties. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989. Jay, Martin. “Scopic Regimes of Modernity,” in Foster, Hal, ed. Vision and Visuality. Seattle: Bay Press, 1988. Jeffords, Susan. The Remo.sculinization ofAmerica: Gender and the Vietnam War. Bloomington, md.: Indiana University Press, 1989. Katz,Jonathan, Gay America History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the US.A. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976. Krauss, Rosalind E. The Originality of the Avant.Garde and Other Modernist Myths. Cambridge and London: M.I.T. Press, 1985. “The Im/pulse to See,” in Foster, Hal, ed. Vision and Vi.suality. Seattle: Bay Press, 1988. The Optical Unconscious. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1993. Lacan, Jacques, The Four Fundamental Concepts ofPsycho-Analysis. Jacques-Alian Miller, ed., Alan Sheridan, trans. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1973. Laing, R.D. The Politics of the Family. London: Tavistock Publications, 1971. Laplanche, Jean. Life and Death in Psychoanaylsis.Jeffrey Mehlman, trans. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976. Laplanche,Jean and Pontalis,J.B. The Language ofPsychoanalysis. D. Nicholson-Smith, trans. London: Hogarth, 1983. Levi-Strauss, Claude. The Elimentaiy Structures ofKinship. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969. Lippard, Lucy R. From the Center: feminist essays on women’s art. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1976. Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object. London: Studio Vista, 1973. Loeffler, Carl E. ed. Peiformance Anthology Source Bookfor a Decade of California Peiformance Art. San Francisco: Contemporary Arts Press, 1980. Marcuse, Herbert. Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud. Beacon Press, New York, 1955. McLuhan, Marshall. The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man. New York: The Vangarde Press, 1951. Understanding Media: The Extensions ofMan. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964. Counterbiast. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1969. Culture is Our Business, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970. Meyer, Ursula. Conceptual Art. New York: Dutton, 1972.  /81  Miller, D.A. The Novel and the Police. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. • Bringing Out Roland Barthes. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. Miller, James. Democracy is in the Streets: From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987. • The Passion of Micheal Foucault. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993. Molesworth, Helen. “Before Bed,” in October 63, Winter 1993, p.68-82. Monk, Philip. Struggles with the Image: Essays in Art Criticism. Toronto: YYZ Books, 1988. Muller, Gregoire. The New Avant-Garde: Issues for the Art of the Seventies. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972. Owens, Craig. Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture. Scott Bryson, Barbara Kruger, Lynne Tillman, and Jane Weinstock, eds. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. Pollock, Griselda. Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism and the History ofArt. London: Routledge, 1988. Reich, Wilhelm. The Sexual Revolution: Toward a Self-Governing Character Structure London: Vision, 1969. Rose, Jacqueline. “Sexuality and Vision: Some Questions,” in Foster, Hal, ed. Vision and Visuality. Seattle: Bay Press, 1988. pp.115-127. Ross, Andrew. “Uses of Camp,” in No Respect: Intellectuals & Popular Culture, New York: Routledge, 1989. pp.135-170. Roszak, Theodore. The Making of a Counter Culture. New York: Anchor Books, 1969. Russo, Vito. The Celluloid Closet. New York: Harper & Row, 1981. Said, Edward W. Orientalism, New York: Vintage, 1978. Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire, New York: Columbia University Press, 1985. • Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. • Tendencies. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1993. Shaw, Nancy. “Expanded Consciousness and Company Types: Collaboration Since Intermedia and the N.E. Thing Co.,” in Douglas, Stan, ed. Vancouver Anthology: The Institu tional Politics of Art, Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991. Silverman, Kaja. Male Subjectivity At The Margins. New York: Routledge, 1992. Sontag, Susan. “Notes on Camp,” in Against Interpretation. New York: Farrar, 1966. Wallace, Keith, ed. Whispered Art History: Twenty Years at the Western Front. Vancover: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1993. Watson, Scott. “Discovering the Defatured Landscape,” in Douglas, Stan, ed. Vancouver Anthology: The Institutional Politics ofArt. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991. Young, Nigel. An Infantile Disorder? The Crisis and Decline ofthe New Left. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977. D.  Exhibition Catalogues  /  52  Birme Danzker, Jo-Anne. “Cultural Criminals: This is the Frame of Reference,” in File: General Idea’s 1984 and the 1968-1984 File Retrospective. 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