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  • I've really been trying to understand the underlying psychology of postmodernism and its relationship with neo-Marxism,

  • and then the spread of that into the universities and the effect on the culture.

  • And what I would like to start with is a description of your understanding of that,

  • because I've presented to the people who are listening to me my understanding of it.

  • But I interviewed Stephen Hicks recently, and he wrote an interesting book called "Explaining Postmodernism," which I liked quite a bit.

  • It's been criticized for being too right-wing, although I don't think he's right-wing at all.

  • I think maybe you could characterize him as middle-of-the-road conservative, but I would say he's more like a classic liberal.

  • But I'm really curious about your views about, well, whatwhat Postmodernism is first of all.

  • I know you'veyou've identified it with thewith the general tricksters Derrida and Lacan and Foucault.

  • And Foucault in particular you've talked about.

  • But I'd like to know what you think about postmodernism and also why you think it's been so attractive to people.

  • Well, my explanation is that there is no authentic 1960s point of view in any of the elite universities,

  • but rather the most liberated minds of my generation of 1960 did not go on to graduate school.

  • I witnessed this with my own eyes.

  • I saw genuine Marxists, okay, at my college, which was the State University of New York at Binghamton, upstate New York, Harpur College,

  • which had a huge cohort of very radical downstate New York Jews, okay, who

  • In fact, Harpur used to be called Berkeley East.

  • I saw genuine passionate Marxists with my own eyes.

  • They were not word choppers.

  • They were not snide postmodernists, right?

  • They were in-your-face aggressive.

  • They used the language of the people.

  • They had a populist and energy, okay?

  • They dressed working class. They were nonmaterialistic, okay?

  • These are people who lived by their own convictions.

  • They were against the graduate schools, all right?

  • When I— When I, uh, went on to graduate school, and it became known that I was going to go to Yale,

  • I was confronted by a leader of the radicals on campus, in broad daylight in front of everyone,

  • who denounced me forhe said,

  • "Grad school is not where it's happening. You don't— You don't do that.

  • If you have to go to graduate school you should go to Buffalo."

  • Now, I had applied to SUNY Buffalo, because the great leftist critic Leslie Fiedler was there, who had a huge impact on me.

  • He's practically created identity politics, but without its present distortions, all right?

  • And Norman Holland, the psychoanalytic critic was there.

  • I would have been very happy to have gone on to Buffalo, but I needed the library at Yale, so I continued on to Yale.

  • There were no radicals in the graduate schools, okay, from 1968 to '72, when i was there.

  • Only one radical, Todd Gitlin, who went on to have a career success, okay?

  • The actual radicals of the 1960s, okay, either went offdropped out of college, or went off to create communes, right,

  • or they were taking acid and destroyed their brains.

  • Now, I have also written about that,

  • the destruction of the minds, okay, of the most talented members of my generation through LSD.

  • It was going on all around me, right?

  • So, what's happened is the actual legacy of the '60s got truncated.

  • The idea that these post-structuralists and postmodernists are heirs of the 1960s revolution is an absolute crock, okay?

  • What they represent, as Foucault shows

  • Foucault said, okay, that the biggest influence on his thinking, okay, was Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," okay,

  • which was a post-World-War-II play, written in Paris,

  • that was about the disillusionment and nihilism experienced after Hitler went through, occupied France, right, and all of Europe was in ruins.

  • It had nothing to do with what

  • "Waiting for Godot" has nothing to do with the authentic legacy of the 1960s,

  • which was about genuine multiculturalism, a movement toward India, toward Hinduism,

  • a transformation of consciousness through psychedelics, which I did not take, but which I identify with totally through the music, etc., all right?

  • It was a turn toward the body.

  • It was a turn towards sensory experience, okay?

  • Not this "word-chopping" thing, and this, like, cynical removal from actual experience, all right?

  • That French import, okay, came in, okay, to the graduate schools.

  • It did not affect any genuine 1960s person.

  • The real 1960s revolution was about Jung.

  • It was about a way of seeing the cosmos in mythological terms, all right?

  • And the Jungian contribution went on into the New Age movement of the 1970s, aside from the universities, all right?

  • So, who took over the universities were these careerists, okay?

  • I saw them with my own eyes. I saw what happened. I saw

  • I was at Yale when Derrida was being shipped over, okay, to address the, uh, you know, the studentsthe grad students and the faculty.

  • And I said to a fellow student, after hearing one of these guys speak

  • It wasn't Derrida. It was another one of the theorists.

  • I said, "They are like high priests murmuring to each other." All right?

  • This was an elitist form from the start, okay?

  • It was not progressive. It was not revolutionary. It was reactionary.

  • It was a desperate attempt to hold on to what had happened before the 1960s sensory revolution.

  • But this postmodernist thing, okay, this trashing, okay, of the text,

  • thisthis encouragement, okay, of a superior and destructive attitude toward the work of art

  • We're going through it, okay, primly, with red pen in hand, finding all the evidence of sexism, check, racism, check, homophobia, check.

  • That is not the empathic, emotional, okay, sensory-based, okay, revolution of the 1960s, right?

  • I am sick and tired of these people claiming any kind of mantle from the 1960s. They're frauds.

  • These people areWhat happened in the 1970s was a collapse of the job market in academia, okay?

  • All of a sudden, jobs were scarce, and this thing was there, the new and improved and shiny thing, okay, to be a theorist.

  • And people seized on it, okay? It was institutionalized, all right?

  • And it's an enormous betrayal of the 1960s.

  • Okay so that- You touched on this idea of "the destruction of the work of art".

  • You know, and one of the things I really liked about reading Nietzsche was his discussion of "ressentiment" right?

  • -of resentment and it seems to me that tremendous amount of the motive power

  • that drives the postmodernist- let's call It- it's not a revolution, uh-

  • transformation seems to me to be driven by resentment about virtually anything that has any,

  • well, what would you say... any merit of competence or aesthetic quality,

  • and I don't know if that's- It seems to me that that's partly rooted in the

  • academic's disdain for the business world, which I think is driven by their relative economic inequality,

  • because most people who are as intelligent as academics are,

  • from a pure IQ point of view, make more money in the private sphere, and so I think that drives some of it.

  • But there also seems to be this- There's a destruction, an aim for destruction of the aesthetic quality of

  • the literary or artistic work, its reduction to nothing but some kind of power game, and then surrounding that,

  • the reduction of *everything* to something that approximates a power game, which I can't help but

  • identifying with jealousy and resentment as a fundamental motivator.

  • Does that seem reasonable to you?

  • These professors who allege that art is nothing but an ideological movement by one elite,

  • against the- against another group, these people are Philistines, okay?

  • They're Philistines. They're Middlebrow, hopelessly Middlebrow.

  • They have no sense of beauty. They have no sense of the aesthetic.

  • Now, Marxism does indeed assert this, but Marxism tries to reconfigure the universe in terms of materialism.

  • It sees- It does not recognize any kind of spiritual dimension.

  • Now, I'm an atheist, but i see the great world religions as enormous works of art,

  • as the best way to understand the universe and a man's place in there.

  • I find them enormously moving. They're like enormous poems, right?

  • And what I have called for, the true revolution, okay, would have been to make the core curriculum

  • of the world education, the *world*, okay, the great religions of the world.

  • I feel that is the only way to achieve an understanding, and it's also a way to present the aesthetic,

  • because i feel that that that the real sixties vision was about exultation, elevation, cosmic consciousness, okay?

  • All of these things were rejected by these midgets, okay, intellectual midgets

  • who seized onto Lacan, Derrida and Foucault. It's a- my career has been in the art school, my entire career,

  • beginning at Bennington college. So I represent a challenge to this from the perspective of Art.

  • It is an absolute nonsense, okay, as post-Structuralism maintains, that reality is mediated by language, by words.

  • Everything that we can know, including gender.

  • It is absolutely madness, because I'm teaching students whose majors are ceramics, ok, or dance,

  • or who are jazz musicians, who understand reality in terms of the body, its sensory activation.

  • So they- See, what happened was something was going on in the art world as well.

  • I identify With Andy Warhol in pop art, okay? That was what was going on during my years in college.

  • Everything about Andy Warhol was like, "Wow! Admiration! Wow!"

  • What happened immediately after that in the arts, 1970's okay, was this collapse into a snide sort of post-Modernism also.

  • This happened in the art world, and it was an utter misunderstanding of culture, it seems to me,

  • by that movement in the art World. That Is, oppositional art, in my view, is dead, okay?

  • -and what post-Modernism is, is a pathetic attempt to continue the old heroism of the Avant-garde.

  • The Avant-garde was genuinely heroic from the early 19th Century, okay?

  • We're talking about, you know, the corbeil, the realists, you know?

  • We're talking about Monet and the Impressionists,

  • people who have genuinely suffered for their radical ideas,

  • and their innovations and so on, going right down to Picasso, and down to Jackson Pollock,

  • who like was- who truly suffered for, you know, for his art.

  • It was only after his death, okay, that suddenly the market was created for abstract art.

  • Pop art killed The Avant-garde.

  • The idea that the Avant-garde continues is an absolute delusion of the contemporary art world,

  • which feels that it must attack, attack, attack- challenge, okay, the simplistic beliefs of the hoi polloi, okay?

  • It's somehow the order- What? Excuse me, okay?

  • From The Moment, okay, Andy Warhol went through and embraced the popular media,

  • instead of having the opposition to it that serious artists have had, that was the end of Oppositional art, okay?

  • So, we've been going on now for 50 years: the post-modernism and academes hand-in-hand

  • with the stupidity and infantilism that masquerades as, you know, as important art galleries everywhere,

  • this incredible, incredible, you know, its mechanism of contemporary art,

  • pushing things that are so hopelessly derivative,

  • and with this idea that, once again, that the art world somehow superior view of reality,

  • Authentic Leftism Is populist, okay?

  • It is based in working-class style, working-class language, working-class direct emotion,

  • in an openness and brusqueness of speech, okay?

  • -not this fancy, contorted jargon of the pseudo-leftist of academe, who are frauds.

  • These people who manage to rise to the top at Berkeley, at Harvard, At Princeton, okay?

  • How many of these people are radical?

  • They are career people. They're corporate types, okay, who succeeded in-

  • They *love* the institutional context. They know how to manipulate the bureaucracy,

  • which has totally invaded and usurped academe everywhere, okay?

  • These people are company-players.

  • They could have done well in any field, okay? They love to sit on endless committees.

  • They love bureaucratic regulation, and so on. There's not-

  • Not one *Leftist* in American academia raised his or her voice against obscene growth of tuition costs,

  • which have bankrupted a whole generation of young people.

  • Not one voice to challenge that invasion by the bureaucrats, okay, absolute fascist bureaucrats, okay,

  • with- who had a- They're like, uh, cancerous, okay?

  • There's so many of them, the faculty have completely lost any power in American Academia, okay?