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Baffler no. 3

Once again we are pleased to denounce the sordid art establishment of anti-establishment poseurs that burdens the American life of the mind; the talentless collection of would-be rock stars; the tired, ossified institutional avant-garde for whom image is in fact everything. Their blue jeans are far too expensive; their affected homeless-person fashions are a nausea-inducing parody of art’s traditional role, a whimsical nod at our society’s ethical collapse.

BLAST their sycophantic big-money openings, their (bad) poetry readings, their ever-more conspicuous attempts to outshock one another but still retain the patronage of their capitalist friends. THE BAFFLER calls for secession from this sordid, bloated culture of institutionalized rebellion. All down the line our professional vanguardists are in league with the cultural project of Madison Avenue, providing image and credibility to the machinery that would reduce the people of the world to brainless organization men. They are rebels in capitalism’s cause; pretentious purveyors of packaged dissent; the cutting edge of a corpulent business culture, helping to establish the consumerism of pseudo-rebellion and to enforce the iron law of planned obsolescence. They are the cultural storm-troops of The New, savaging “master narratives” so that the manipulation of the consumer can continue without interference from troublesome things like ethics and tradition. For artists—especially the brand name kind who appear in advertising for liquor and cars and clothes—are the model citizens of the new consumer ideology.

And meanwhile the whole consumerist project itself, the central motive force and organizing cultural theme of our age, has become unjudgeable amidst the fogs of “undecidability” our baffled inteligentsia have called down upon themselves. Impotent, powerless, fearful of forthright speech lest they privilege one discourse over another, they have left the world open to exploitation, manipulation, and control by those who know what they want: Wall Street and THE BAFFLER.

In a time when the “cutting edge” has become a powerful tool for mediocratization, we proudly rededicate ourselves to its blunting. In an age when the Hollywood glamor of the “avant garde” has long since overtaken its aesthetic usefulness, we happily devise new tactics to send it scurrying in disarray.

Are you SHOCKED?