Wednesday, February 28, 2007

on the exhalted guru and why he still so tortures us

Everyone I know is still haunted by this character from art-school.

Those of us who have experimented with mysticism and mystical apparatus and all those chanting, breathing-exercise goings-on find him (yeah, usually it's a guy) terrifically annoying. Particularly as the Exhalted Guru's chief experience today is usually made with reference to market factors, dealers (they're just down to earth people, man) and those creepy gallery people, you know, the buzz-cut women in their fifties and the art-clown in his alterna-costume.

I've written some pretty mushy things here, things that make the institutional artists cry. Like about Ancestory and Subconscious stuff... and trying to be honest, making art for personal reasons first.

But I hope I've made it clear that even real, mind-blowing enlightenment kind of stuff is really pretty low-brow for artists. Dude, we've been there, and it was like, WOW, ok, not going to save anyone with that heightened consciousness, now matter how high, broad or deep. That's low-brow mysticism. Admittedly, it's not as bad as the market-based stuff, but still...

The idea comes from this modernist thing, the fringe character on the edges of society, who has been to the top of the mountain, and heard god talking there. Not freaking Derrida, not some mamby-pamby who went to Brown and got a degree in talking to herself. Was talking to GOD man! It's a bit older than the 20th century really.

OK, so let's say for a second you accept that artists have been interested more or less in mysticism for like the last 7 or 8 thousand years. Before that everyone was living pretty much in the Mystical Soup, right ? Well, sadly, no, that is wrong. That 7 or 8 thousand years marker is good for the actual start of Mysticism but it happens to coincide nicely with the invention of agriculture, food surpluses (and thus POWER), and yes, sedentary living.

So my fellow nomads, I am sorry if I have lost you with this ramble. The next time someone tries to impress you by taking on the "I been to the top of the mountain" schtick or the "I talk this way cause it makes me seem like I know something" schtick, just say "dude, we are moooooving on, would love to stay and chat, but we really gotta eat tomorrow."


  1. by that scribbly guy? really? haunted? i mean he is a bit ethereal, perhaps. ;)

    i am probably more often bombarded with people who try to impress with cynicism, which i personally find twice as dull as any who feign enlightment...or is it the same thing?

  2. yes, cynicism is definitely part of the problem with people who know everything. The Guru first showed up in a post way back here.

  3. Interesting that when I click on the "here" of where the Guru first showed up, I go to a page "not found", which is, of course, a page.

    Low-brow mystics are the downwardly noble.

    So. . . does it circle around to just making beauty in spite of it all?

    Assuming we, this, is god, nothing and everything is mystical?

    Maaaaan, I got to go to work on a stupid mural and you stuck a dirty brush in my drinking water.


  4. On the thought of gurus and pseudo-enlightenment... I agree with the apologetic mexican that one is generally more likely to encounter people "trying to impress with cynicism." That said, I went to a very thought-provoking yoga lecture the other night about inquiry vs. authoritarianism - in yoga, religion, and life in general. The speaker pointed out that when someone claims to have been enlightened, they have put themselves in a position of knowing - such that they are no longer learning.

    Anyhow, doesn't Krishnamurti have some of the best ideas on this topic? I feel a call to read more of his writings...

  5. If we see smoke is there a fire?

    I like to believe I'm a cynical mystical masturbator of sorts but fuck trying to make sense of what my thoughts mean.

    We do in fact have to eat. Even if it's shit.