NOVEMBER, 2002…

Ten years ago — 2002 — right about now: 70,000 free copies of the 56-page Arthur Magazine No. 1 somehow hit the streets across North America.

Thank you to everyone who helped get this train rolling.

Thank you, publisher Laris Kreslins and art director W.T. Nelson. Thank you, adfellow Jamie Fraser.

Thank you, senior advisors Mark Lewman, Paul Cullum and Shawn Mortensen (RIP).

Thank you, contributors Paul Moody, Byron Coley and Thurston Moore, Geoff Mcfetridge, Spike Jonze, Neil Hamburger, David Berman, Ian Svenonius, Dame Darcy, Eddie Dean, Joe Carducci, Camille Rose Garcia, Jason Amos, Joseph Durwin, Daniel Pinchbeck, Alan Moore, Pat Graham, Dave Brooks, Steve Giberson, Mike Castillo and John Henry Childs.

Thank you, all the agents in our improvised guerrilla distribution network across the continent.

Thank you, all the entities that spent money to advertise in our untested pages.

Thank you to everyone thanked on Page 3 of the mag: Brendan Newman, Kreslins Family, Oma, Kristaps, Gary Hustwit, Chris Ronis, Kate Sawai, Janis Sils, Bernadette Napoleon, Vineta Plume, Fred Cisterna, Richard Grijalva, Ned Milligan, Lizzy Klein, Robin Adams, Jack Mendelsohn, John Shimkonis, Prolific, Chris Young, Ed Halter, Mike Galinsky, Jim Higgins, Plexifilm Family, Alie Robotos, Domainistudios, Fistfulayen, Natalie and Zach, Janitor Sunny Side Up, Yasmin Khan, Rachel Stratton, Lady Montford, John Coulthart, Henry Childs and Joshua Sindell.

Thank you, Sue Carpenter.

Thank you, Darcey Leonard.

Thank you, John Payne and Andrew Male.

Thank you, Robin Turner.

Thank you to the bands that played Arthur’s launch party at Spaceland in Silver Lake (thank you, Jennifer Tefft): Fatso Jetson, Chuck Dukowski Sextet… I’m not sure who else.

Thank you, Matt Luem.

Thank you, Steve Appleford, for being a real journalist.

Thank you to everyone who played a role who I’ve forgotten or neglected to post here. (Please be in touch!)

And thank you to everyone who found the magazine, picked it and read it.

We’re coming back.

DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF and GENESIS P-ORRIDGE conversation (2003)

As originally published in Arthur No. 2 (Jan 2003), with accompanying photography by Shawn Mortensen…

‘The whole planet is the museum!’
Author-theorist Douglas Rushkoff takes tea and talks shop with veteran mindboggler/conceptualist/artist/visionary Genesis P-Orridge, best known for his work as co-founder of seminal industrial outfit Throbbing Gristle and leader of neo-primitive-shamanic ravists Psychic TV

I met Genesis in the early ’90s in the Bay Area. He needed a lift to Timothy Leary’s house in Beverly Hills, and I needed an interview for a book I was writing about viral media. We spent about six hours in the car together, trying to impress one another with our strangest thoughts while Gen’s two daughters fought in the back seat.

We’ve been friends ever since.

I guess it’s about ten years later, now. I’ve gotten married, become an author and university professor, while Gen has been kicked out of the UK forever, gotten divorced and married again, replaced his teeth with gold ones, and done some other stuff to his body that I’d be scared to. Still, in spite of our outward differences, we’re on the same path, and often use one another for guidance along the way.

See, if you’re going to be an artist or writer or magician, you’ve got to navigate through some treacherous zones. If you’re not traversing new territory (or at least forgotten territory) then why write instead of just reading? And many of these regions and be culturally, intellectually, physically, and psychically challenging. Disorientation can’t be avoided—it is the rule. Panic is the thing you have to watch out for.

So, Gen and I have these long talks every month or so. Sometimes they’re data dumps, and sometimes they’re progress reports. This one is probably a little more the latter, coming as it does on the release of Gen’s new book, Painful but Fabulous: The Lives & Art of Genesis P-Orridge (Soft Skull Shortwave). —Douglas Rushkoff

Dougas Rushkoff (DR): Your new book has served for me as an occasion to look back on the history of cut-and-paste, as well as its tremendous influence on art and culture every since. Cut-and-paste can even be understood as a first, rebellious step towards the attainment of genuine co-authorship. From a broad, historical perspective, it seems to me that we move through three stages. We begin by passively absorbing the information that’s fed to us—the datastream. Then, maybe with the Protestant Reformation and the printing press, we gained the ability to interpret this information for ourselves, to some extent. Then, with cut and paste, we achieve the ability to take what’s been presented to us and move it around a little bit. We can create new meanings through transpositions of what’s there, but that’s limited, in a sense, to a kind of satire or self-conscious juxtaposition. And now, finally, with computing and the internet, with the ability to actually author what for lack of a better word would be ‘original’ material, now we move into artistry. But a truly interesting moment was that first cut-and-paste moment, that first moment of, “Okay this is being fed to us, BUT we can do this with it, or to it, and get something else.” I’d be interested in hearing from you what was it like to be part of that moment.

Genesis P-Orridge (G P-O): Well… The preamble would be this: in the early ‘60s, somewhat parallel to my becoming aware of the beatniks, I started to discover Dada and Surrealism. The first time I’d heard of cut n paste, I think was Brion Gysin giving Raoul Hausman and one or two of the Dadaists the credit as one of his inspirations. He said they would cut up words from one of their poems, putting them in a hat, and then they’d draw words out of the hat, and make a new poem. What had happened was that more emotionally based artists, the ones who were actually involved in feeling human as well as just glorifying creativity, had become very disconnected from the concept of linearity, the concept of Reason, all the material concepts of the world. They had just experienced the first world war, which had led to this Armageddon, this hell on earth, and this was their reaction against what they saw as that war’s cause: the misplaced celebration of Reason, the control over information and culture in society, the harmful repression of irrationality, which has backfired.

That’s really where the first step came, that disconnection from, and obsession with, a finished, perfect result that was ‘owned’ by the artist that made it. One of Brion Gysin’s greatest poems, which I didn’t understand until very recently, was ‘Poets don’t own words.” He would do a permutation: “Poets don’t own words, words poets don’t own, own words poets don’t” and it was only recently that I actually experienced it in a visceral way, that that’s been the big change. This is what you’re talking about: that we are blessed, or gifted, or pushed, by various events to deal with the information that’s coming at us, and that society and culture are, if you like, a solidity that’s based on the inertia and linearity. This solidity is oppressive, and in order to even begin to be anything one might label ‘free’ or ‘liberated, you have to, as Burroughs used to put it, ‘First you have to short-circuit control.’ Because control is ultimately an oppressor. Control really does contain all the feedback loops of consumer culture that you’ve talked about so astutely.

I’m know I’m going in a weird loop here, but basically the point is that during the middle of the last century, the idea of having to be an Artist who owned each thing fell apart. Continue reading

Shawn Mortensen

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Above: “Shawn Mortensen visiting Ethiopia, feeding Hyenas, and living life.” (http://blog.fuct.com/?p=2241)

From Chris Mortensen:

“We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for our brother Shawn. We always knew he was a special human being and we loved him dearly. We now know the full impact he had on everyone he met. We are working hard to preserve his legacy and we his siblings, myself, Melissa, and Joe will be dedicated to continuing his humanitarian work. He loved you all, and you all loved him. Please check his website shawnmortensen.org on announcements regarding his celebration of life and other details of his funeral. There will be an open viewing Wednesday 4/22 at 1-8 PM at the McNearney Mortuary, 540 Fifth Street in San Pedro, California. Thank you all again for your love, warm wishes and prayers.”

M.I.A. shout-out to Shawn at close of “Paper Tigers” (around the 3:58 mark) at Coachella last wknd:

More on Shawn:

http://www.arthurmag.com/2009/04/17/rip-shawn-mortensen-1966-2009/

R.I.P. SHAWN MORTENSEN, 1966-2009

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Above: A Zapatista, photographed in Chiapas by Shawn Mortensen. Courtesy Peter Relic.

Shawn Mortensen was a passionate photographer, activist, storyteller and human being, who expected the best out of everybody. He gave much, much more than this world gave him.

Shawn was a friend, a fellow traveler, a comrade.

It is fair to say that his personal and professional support helped bring Arthur Magazine into being, and without him there would be no Arthur. He helped me see that I could edit and publish a culture magazine—not just that I could, but that I had to—and he rallied support from others, and provided countless instances of support, much of it in private. I still have an email he sent to me and our friend Peter Relic on July 28, 2000 at 1:30am, entitled ‘MORTY”S MANIFESTD,’ [sic] which was a typically typo’d, irreverent, stream-of-Mortensen call to (publishing) arms, written from the green zone (the real one, not the one that they’d build in Baghdad three years later) where we had spent so much time together, turning each other on to stuff, generating ideas and figuring out how to get The Work done.

Shawn realized how it (culture, politics, love) all fit together; his success was in embodying it, to the degree that he could; his frustration was that others couldn’t (yet) see what he did. But of course, who could, really? Who else among us had seen as much as Shawn had—the good, the great, the bad, and the really bad? Shawn was almost over-aware.

Shawn’s photograph of Beck performing at Aron’s Records was used in Arthur’s pre-launch promotional materials. His photograph of Peaches ran in Arthur No. 1. For our ‘real’ first issue, Arthur No. 2, he photographed Devendra Banhart (possibly Devendra’s first-ever “photo shoot”?) and Genesis P-Orridge & Douglas Rushkoff. As the magazine matured, Shawn always offered his services, free of charge, in addition to his contacts, his wealth of knowledge, his archives and his moral support. That we did not collaborate further was (mostly) a matter of bad timing. I profoundly regret that we did not achieve together what we had set out to do, on the scale we had hoped for.

That said: Without Shawn, my life would be significantly different, and not nearly as good.

I am in shock that he is gone at this moment, forever.

For those who never met him, or who want to see (and hear) him today, this video shows a lot of what he was about.

Journalist Drew Tewksbury has posted a long piece from Shawn about the early to mid ’90s, composed in 2007 for Flaunt Magazine, on his website. Shawn’s writing voice was always enthusiastic, manic, exciting to read. This is no different, and I am happy that it’s been shared with us all.

Go here:
http://drewtewksbury.com/2009/04/17/the-final-draft-of-shawn-mortensen/