RE/Search #6/7 : April 1982


The name SPK derives from a group of mental patients in West Germany who, inspired by the Baader-Meinhof, set up their own terrorist unit with a slogan Kill Kill Kill For Inner Peace And Mental Health. This group, the Socialist Patients Kollektiv, blew themselves up while trying to make bombs in their mental hospital.

Since 1978, SPK has been the nom en hommage of an Australian entity revolving around one person now living in London. The "group" has released 2 LPs, 6 singles, 2 pamphlets, cassettes and a videocassette, and has made several tours of Europe and America. Their graphics are graphic—the front cover of the Industrial Records 45 was a photograph of a shish-kebabed male organ with the title Meat Processing Section by Surgical Penis Klinik. It was not generally displayed in record stores.

In San Francisco they distinguished themselves eating brains from a sheep's head (1981), and by using a live flamethrower onstage (1982), inadvertently setting a member of the audience on fire. In concert, their relentless sonic assaults are complemented by vivid (as in blood red) color slides, video and film projections.. Definitely sensational, but memorable.

In the near future SPK plans to release psycho probes into the soundtrack medium, troublesome videos, as well as more research reports on the proliferating epidemiology of mental and emotional disturbances. What follows is an interview with Graeme Revell, plus Dominic Guerin, James Pinker and Karel van Bergen, an aggregate for SPK's 1982 U.S. tour ....

R/S: Can you explain why in your work you present images from forensic pathology, venereal disease and hardcore sex?

SPK: I'm not so interested in sex images. Hardcore porn usually seems to follow certain obvious lines. Like there's always some kind of power relationship going on, even in sexual perversion—especially so here, because it's heightened. Probably the a la mode variant of the moment is SM—I guess that's been a la mode since the 1700s. . .

R/S: Now some major publisher is trying to launch a middle class S&M magazine—

SPK: That's just a kind of mirror of an almost archaic society—porn is like a spectacle state society in microcosm, and that's why I don't find it very interesting, really. To come back to Freud, even though I don't agree much with all that Freud says, death is a great deal more powerful than sex, or at least as powerful. And there's a real fascination with images of yourself as dead, or images of others as dead. Today, even, when I was shooting guns with Mark Pauline I was quite terrified of what they can actualy do: you're just holding this little lump of metal in your hand, and having seen forensic photos and things like that, you can all of a sudden imagine just one tiny slip-up in half a second and some guy's got a fucking red hole out the back and he's dead, you know. Somebody—it could even be a friend. That kind of image is realy basic dream material, I think. And to actually see it, especially in a fairly clinical sense, not in one of these B-grade movies' violence-for-the-hell-of-it sense, is very striking. It is to me, anyway.
Plus a lot of what we're doing is dirt, is filth, and we all live in a society that pretends to be exceptionally clean. It cleans up everything, it paints facades and makes things shiny and bright. I think the unifying theme is that we are very conscious that whenever there's a winner in a clean society, there's a filthy loser as well. But that tends to be just shoved away either in a back ward or a jail or a back street or a dirty little squatter, whatever you call it here.
We have got this childish, if you like, fascination with the genre—it may not be childish but I will always admit that I am fascinated at looking at it, for probably not very noble motives. A reasoning behind that fascination may be that we feel as though we are bitting at the soft underbelly of society... at an area where there's a great deal of vulnerability. And people often criticize us for being negative, but it's just a focus of attention.
There's another reason behind our medical interests specifically, and that is the pretentiousness of science. There are some things which science does: testing procedures, all kinds of procedures which are not at all different from rites. And in several years' time they will be looked upon as bizarre rites, simply because of the techniques involved. We're just trying to put ourselves ahead, say 5 or 10 years depending on the acceleration-of-history factor, so we can look at them, thinking, My God, how stupid....Yet this pretends to be the state of the art; this is what humanity has achieved. We look back on old medical procedures now and we think bleeding, and the putting of typhus victims in hot baths—the old Tchaikovsky stove—

R/S: What's that?

SPK: They used to throw TB victims into boiling hot water and if they survived, It might get rid of the TB. They did that to Tchaikovsky's mother when he was very young, and that's why he deliberately drank infected water at one stage of his life and more or less committed suicide (and they threw him into the bath as well). We're trying to exhibit that kind of thing and show how close to magic it is. In a lot of ways we're not trying to say it's ridiculous, we're just trying to question the idea of truth associated with it, and isolate its mechanisms, its obsession with empirical verification of everything—that nothing can be true unless you can see it to be true. Because this acts to the detriment of the imaginative faculties which could come up with something in a surrealist sense (or whatever sense you like), but because it's only art, it's never accorded the value of other "truth" like sciences.
People think: Oh yes, that's interesting, but we would never actually form any belief in an art. But I think great art is the equivalent of science—you can believe in it equally as much as you can in science. It's very important to believe in the power of the imagination, and not just let the rationalistic function, the logical side of the brain, dominate.

R/S: Don't you think the roots of this comes from a convergence of scientific research and art? If you're reading Maldoror which was written over a hundred years ago, it's obvious that Lautreamont had completed a certain amount of scientific study, in biology at least, before he elaborated imaginatively. . .

SPK: All the way through 20th century art that's been very important. Our whole project is to independently get our sound production to a kind of a research stage where we can be totally precise about everything we do—do everything with a laboratory perspective. The same as Mark Pauline was talking about today: he says he's only just getting to the stage where he can almost challenge military-technological development using layman's technology—show that they're not the only ones that can do it. Obviously he can't get to nuclear technology, but he can build a helicopter, for example; he can build his own laser. And it's just to de- institutionalize the process of science, and to link it with art. I just hope the process can continue without requiring enormous sums of money.

R/S: Back to the problem of using medical images—some people think you're just trying to raise people's threshold of shockability—

SPK: That's really just a function of novelty. . . a strangeness index.We find that somebody who's been exposed to those sort of images for a few months doesn't really get shocked by anything at all. And none of that affects me like one particular guy in the mental hospital I used to have to wake up every morning. He had gangrene all through his body. He couldn't speak, and he had a leg and an arm on one side and nothing on the other side. He used to have pressure sores all over him because he sat all the time in a wheelchair, and he'd shit and piss himself in bed every night. So every day I'd pull back the covers and there'd be this pile of feces—a foul smell at 6 in the morning. I had to pick him up and get all this shit over my arms and chest—there was no other way to do it—and take him down to his bath and desperately try and—can you imagine how difficult it is to put somebody in a bath when they haven't got anything on one side of their body to hold them with? So each time he'd tend to twist and fall and go in headfirst. And if he heard a female voice he'd scream at the top of his lungs.

R/S: He didn't want any women to see him in that state—

SPK: That's right. That was the ultimate for me— there's nothing that's ever remotely bothered me since!

R/S: Another accusation made is—you're just engaged in criticizing society, but you have no positive suggestions, or vision to offer.

SPK: I think that's shortsighted to a very large extent. When we first started playing, I can't really think of many other bands who attempted to put out fairly uninterpretable noise walls like we do—probably only TG. So we were characterized as being just like TG. We thought we didn't sound very much like them at all; in fact we desperately tried not to sound like them.
Now, what happens when people first come across this sort of thing is: they can't differentiate between products like that, or between ideas. I think our sounds are an attempt to give an impression of a different world order. And we were being critical but we were also trying to be positive in the sense of trying to put in a lot of energy, because one of the things we were criticizing was apathy. And, we were giving impressions of different landscapes.
Also, being positive is not just our problem—it's the listener's as well. And we can put in a lot of energy, we can create our landscape, but if they can't see any differentiation, if they just find that whole thing anti-music (which we don't think we are), then I guess we've failed to a certain extent. But then I think they've failed as well to understand what we're doing.
I think our visuals reflect a bizarre world view. . .a sense of beauty in the bizarre. We're not totally stoic, depressive types who forbid anyone to have an idea of beauty, but what we do reject is any aesthetic idea which is dictated to us either by a convention, or a social more or anything like that—most of that's just Tinsel Town stuff, or overly stylized...it's just all watered down—it doesn't bear any relationship to any real unconscious processes. That's why in a way we don't really tamper with any of the images, we don't bring that kind of conscious learned art into it. We do do collages, but more recently we haven't been— reality seems to be sufficient. And I think there's a beauty in everything—me personally, I'm trying to surround myself with a kind of a world I would like to live in (even though I couldn't live in it). A Fellini or Jodorowsky landscape or something rather more obscure, inhabited by freaks—just so everything wasn't so fucking normalized all the time!

R/S: How do you relate your work to Dada?

SPK: I think that in all great movements there is an immense process of ideas very early; they get watered down in such a hurry, and don't get developed either. What happens is: the ideas get swamped in the products. The thing that annoyed me about Dada was that even though they were attacking the bourgeoisie, they were entrenched—doing it with a kind of flippant looseness. It wasn't precise enough. I'd like to show how a line can be developed from then to now, probably visually more than any other way. Man Ray's photographic work is just brilliant—

R/S: As well as the result of accident—

SPK: The solarization was completely accidental.

R/S: But it was his recognition of its potential that mattered, not so much the accident

SPK: So—there's a great deal still to be done, especially with film and video. That's what we really want to work on.

R/S: There's still so much potential, especially in film collage, moving collage. Max Ernst took the collage to an advanced development, yet he never used modern photographs, or modern scientific photographs.

SPK: I've always been very conscious that the most important thing about collage or Cut-ups is what you're cutting up. There is such an immense amount of material still to be cut up. After this bloody obsession with structuralism that we've had to go through in the 60s and early 70s, finally people are deciding that we've got to get content back into the thing, somehow.
And, most important, our work will be centered around the idea of an inorganic unconscious. I really enjoyed that short story by J.C. Ballard he rewrote the horoscope, saying, "We've got to get rid of these Chaldean farmyard animals." That's a really important realization: that the modern unconscious must be different from the blood-shit-piss-organic-womb-phobias Freudian-associated neurotic gamut unconscious of yesterday. We've still got a large organic hangover.
But, say if you were writing a prelude to a description of the insanity of a future society, you can easily imagine what all the psychos of tomorrow will have running around in their brains. You've got a lot now— radars controlling them, radioactivity, brainwaves being read, stuff like that, that hasn't really been developed yet. There's an immense scope there for future collage ideas, that also ties together dreams, the unconscious, madness. (But everyone's mad in a sense.)
So, I hope we can work towards a kind of formalizing the pluralistic possibilities; to open up the space for a much wider range of unconscious delusions and artistic/creative inter-possibilities . . .
Something you find all the way through philosophy is a basic idea of primum moveos: there is something in man that causes him to try to transcend himself. One of the big questions in philosophy seems to be why man alone seems to be like this. So, when you encounter the idea of man as, say, the desiring machines in Deleuze, I think that was limiting the idea to one kind of description. I didn't think that desire need be couched in terms of machine imagery. Then again Duchamp had quite a machine idea; he designed senseless machines, bachelor machines. A sad sardonicism in that.

R/S: Which of your aims do you feel is most difficult?

SPK: Something that I would personally like to achieve is the ability not to be able to discriminate between quantities of beauty. For example, making love with what appears to be a very beautiful woman and making love with a pinhead or mongoloid: questioning the differentiation in the sense of being able to overcome it. There might be an erotic fascination for making love with a "freak," but I think there's always that mental discrimination. I like to question every idea of beauty, but I think that seems to be one that's almost impossible to get around. Fetus Productions was showing pictures of deformed children and questioning the idea of Miss Universe, but as far as their own personal experience went, they never did anything to prove they believed their theories. And I think it's important to show how you can live in the idea.

R/S: The world's still ruled by the idea of eugenics—

SPK: Even though it changes subtly. Over a very short period of time (about 10 years), the model of a female body changes. Twenties skinny, Thirties quite plump, Fifties large breasts—Marilyn Monroe, Sixties thin again, Seventies getting taller. And maybe the very erotic response is dominated by that kind of motivation. It's disgusting really, but there's so much media overkill that even an intelligent person can't get around it. I guess we're just an extremely visually-oriented species at present in our development; our aural faculties are very, very poor. Certainly smell is almost ruled out—by pollution, body sprays and a million varieties of soap.... We can distinguish fuck-all as far as hearing goes—the minute you get any kind of noise signal coming in, the 20th century human being is still quite poor at translating that into any kind of meaning. . .

R/S: What do you think is the value of so-called primitive cultures?

SPK: Of course, to us the Aboriginals are very close. If you look at the Australian aborigine, they're almost decimated. I don't think another culture in the world's had their society destroyed like that—thousands were hunted down like animals. The Tasmanian aborigine didn't even know how to use fire, and that's primitive. I don't think there's another one being discovered anywhere who didn't know how to use fire, and it gets cold there.

R/S: Mastery of fire required some kind of intuitive leap. Everyone's trying to develop their instincts—that faculty by which you make intuitive leaps....

SPK: I think that the area of archetypes is one of the most important ones to look into—Jungian, post-Jungian.... A French anthropologist called Durand (whom I'm very influenced by) has this idea of archetypes as types of movement, as dynamic processes, rather than static forms of information. If you apply that to the unconscious, you could do something by looking at primitive societies and seeing how they reason, or un-reason, and come up with something different. Yet to leave everything to spontaneity is inimical to me. I've never been a great fan of spontaneity—I think you get a lot of rubbish turning up.

R/S: Then again you can also have the trance state—

SPK: Sometimes, sometimes. But sometimes a lot of drivel comes out of It! It needs to be directed in some way. This is the problem: I never feel anti-rationality—I don't think we should go into Irrationality pure and simple. That's just the back side of the mirror—you can't see much there. In a way, you have to be quite rational to be irrational, or to be consistently so, anyway. You've got to really look at logic— you get pre-rational consistency theorems, things that seem to have some claim to truth. I think logic's an important area of study—It claims to precede mathematics and be a complete science—there is nothing you can do with it, therefore it must be true. Hopefully someone will come along and disprove the whole thing!

R/S: The problem with logic is the often-present x factor; often there are not enough information bits to begin with.

SPK: Right. There're also the well-known paradoxes, which are sort of unprofitable, like Russell's paradox. And I read in an article on Artificial Intelligence about a problem which is basically this: whatever you think of, there's always something outside that which doesn't fit in with what you've just thought of, that can annihilate it.
I don't know; I would just hope that this whole "Industrial Counterculture" can have the ability to actually become a guerilla movement in some way, a propagandist guerilla movement, instead of just another little set of ideas.

R/S: Basically you look at the people actually involved very individualistic yet—

SPK: All quite cooperative in a way, as long as they don't have to live on top of each other—have meetings, and shit like that.

R/S: And some are conspicuously able to defend the convolutions of their careers—

SPK: A lot of that is the ability to rationalize yourself out of awkward questions... There's a lot of ex post justification of things that really you do just for the hell of it. Most of the people are sort of smiling when they come up with some kind of justification—there's a lot of humor that goes on. It's just the ability to handle the required argument systems. . .while continuing to entertain.... Entertainment—now there's a loaded word!

R/S: I think true entertainment involves new information or new angles or new ideas. There are thousands of new patents taken out every year—somebody should start a weekly magazine dealing with the patents taken out that week, just taken as ideas. The context could be the pleasure of invention.... I'm sure Mark Pauline gets a certain satisfaction out of piecing together meat and metal parts and a motor to create an entity, a rabot or centipede that actually works, that's got a life of its own—its own biorhythm, or bio-mechanoid rhythm....

SPK: Robot terrorists, for technical mayhem! No, I don't think they'd make great terrorists. To be a terrorist you've got to have a good publicity organ—a public voice and public opinion. And that's where the Red Brigades succeeded where the Baader-Meinhof didn't. They're precise—they don't blow up anybody that they're not trying to blow up. They don't put bombs in rubbish bins on trains—they go up to a guy and they knock him off, like the Mafia does. And they've usually got some bloody good reason. And from what I've read, they've usually got all the symbolic implications— when they kidnapped Moro they took him from a certain place like the Fountain of Youth to the Place of Death in Italy. It was beautiful the way they organized it—

R/S: Poetry and revolution—in the best sense!

SPK: Yes, it's a great shame they'll have to come to an end eventually. In fact it's a shame that they have to do it at all, but I guess they have a lot of fun doing it as well.

R/S: A short and exciting life.

SPK: Mark Pauline came up with the statement that he thought wars were fun! I said, Well what about Vietnam—isn't there a difference between that and. . .? He said he guessed so, but he still liked the idea gratuitous violence, out-and-out instinctual killing. That's something I find very, very questionable. I don't care if bloody America runs around killing itself, but to wander off into another country where it's got no fucking business and kill the natives for no apparent reason, is totally beyond....
I'm definitely anti-violence. Even though we might show violence, I think it's in a negative sense. I'd rather there were no violence. Given that there is, Malcolm X said once "Violence is neither right nor wrong, it's an aspect of the situation." Since there is violence, obviously there has to be more—in order to counter it. I think that's the way society gets away with a hell of a lot: it pretends to be passive with respect to violence when in fact it's committing atrocities all the time—but they're hidden. And that's alot of what SPK's got to do with it. We're showing their atrocity exhibition, whereas they don't choose to show it, even though they perpetrate it all the time. Such as when they try to make juxtapositions with accepted things, like drugs to mental patients, while the same drugs with the same side effects, when administered to soldiers, is the ultimate horror.
Also, the idea of distinctions between hardcore pornography and softcore pornography—if you do linguistic analyses you find just the same situation in both, men and women in the same situation, except the softcore stuff is a lot more sublime!—It's more dangerous in a way because of that. I find most of the soft things, the ordinary things that go on in a society, like advertising, quite atrocious—they're an atrocity on my brain, that's for sure. I feel as though I'm being needled all the time, from everything that comes in. It's possible to say I'm exaggerating, but really, if you have got a kind of self-respect for your own intelligence and your own ability to think, this sort of thing coming in at you all the time is insane.
Of course, any person who's adjusted can deal with it—that's what adjustment's called—filtering, really. Obviously you can't get away from it. I stay at home, I don't watch television, but it's always there, you know it's there. Every person wears it all over themself, and you can't get away from yourself. It's a paranoid unconscious space we live in.
Art Brut painters like Robert Gie whose painting I love—I always think: God, what would it be like to a psycho, and to actuary be able to hear all this crap over the airwaves all the time, and to not be able to get away from it. Imaginary or real, it doesn't make any difference—if you could hear, say, KUSF 24 hours a day, rattling away at your brain.... I guess we must thank 'god' that we are not telepaths—what would we be hearing? If it was just drivel it wouldn't be worth it.

R/S: Why do you like Art Brut?

SPK: Because it's so original. A lot of the trends in art have been pointed to, often very much before they became popular. And very unself-unconsciously, very primevally in a way, usually from no knowledge position.

R/S: No verbalized theory—

SPK: Just a perfectly sort of naive artistic attitude in a way, but still in a weird way reflecting the times. But I think even more are the little landscapes that are painted so accurately. I suppose all art is about the unconscious, really.
I respect Dubuffet for what he did—giving up his career, just devoting himself to be a researcher, collecting all that stuff. He tours it around Europe all the time.
Art brut is not necessarily mad art, even though alot of it is from institutions—jails and mental hospitals. It's also people who've died in their home and when they found them 6 weeks later sort of rotting away, their home was covered with murals orbits of writing. Some of it's quite ordinary art but the people themselves were so obsessive about what they did. So it's just a collecion of people that have no artistic training, not much knowledge of art, who just documented their mental processes. It suggests that there are millions more that do the same thing, except not quite so obsessively. . .who would never be heard of. In fact, people that never even documented what their capacities actually are. That's what it suggests....
Obsession's not necessarily about quantity but about commitment. Or, there are people who've almost had no output—wrote half a poem, but that half a poem was fucking good (there are plenty of people who've written a lot of poetry and none of it was any good). I think one of the most important things in art is the art of differentiation—the art of not copying.
It's too easy to be cynical. Not a totally original idea but one of those that needs to be hammered out and stated all the time. You can do a Warhol which you can do at once—that period of art makes me want to chuck up. You can almost make a statement about it, that it's not art. I don't know what it is. I like the way Robert Hughes attacked that.

R/S: What did he say?

SPK: He was really sarcastic about it; he just said that it was public art, and that you can always take the piss out of anything. . . parody's not amusing. Warhol's like a parrot or something.
Getting back to the idea of differentiation—it's a whole recognition that art is a real sort of convulsive change, or it can be a convulsive change....
I could ask you a question I've always wondered. You always talk about information, in the sense that you're researching information, trying to make it more available. What about concentrating equally as much on imagination as non-factual information?

R/S: We're always looking for suggestions, ways to trigger the imagination, bringing it into actual usage more and more. That's why reading even a biography of a relatively uninteresting artist may yield an account of how he (or she) got an idea or inspiration, and that will be more interesting than anything the artist ever created. Basically, the big goal is changing the process of perception, rather than selling people a set of perceptions or life 'styles' to consume—you know, this year's fashion selection. People should be able to look at anything themselves and make an independent judgment. And not even so much a judgment as a differentiation based on—

SPK: Taste?

R/S: In another part of this handbook, Boyd Rice talks about the necessity for no taste—the necessity for absolute abolishment of the whole idea of taste I know what he's trying to get at—

SPK: I sort of know what he's trying to get at, too. It's like, as I said, the idea of (to put it blatantly) screwing a Playbody girl and screwing a Mongoloid. It's the purest idea, the idea of no taste. I wonder if it works....

R/S: I think he means a sort of all-around aesthetic cleansing process.

SPK: I think as far as taste goes, most of us just discriminate on the basis of originality.

R/S: Well, that's one way I always try to find out who did anything first—Where have I heard that before? Seen that before? You can't help it. At the same time I hate to see in print comparisons—art in any form compared to other art.

SPK: That's part of the conditioning of classification—everything has to be classified.

R/S: Well, that's kind of the way memory works, doesn't it?

SPK: How much do you actually subscribe to the old animist psychological ideas? That perception has something to do with humans all going through stages of perceptive developments: from age nought to 6 we open our eyes. . .after the age of 14 we develop our abstractive capabilities—things like that. I think to a large extent a debate like this is political because it is useful to those who gain from any justification of inequality, that suggestion that some of us are endowed with this capacity to be geniuses and brilliantly imaginative and perceptive, while unfortunately the majority aren't. And therefore if I happen to be one of these people who are thus endowed I can get a lot more money and become king of this state—and you shall be the serfs.
Now this is an enormous problem, I think in some ways there is a large justification for this theory that there will always be that 90 percent of the population which is basically incapable of doing anything imaginative—

R/S: Or 99 percent.

SPK: But I'd like to refuse to believe that.

R/S: So would I, because—I look back on myself at certain stages and shudder.

SPK: Yeah, well I think everybody does. But we try not to fall prey to facile rationalizations like: It's only human. That's one of the most loaded phrases in the English language!

R/S: To deal with this problem, I usually think of Charles Fourier, who proposed that even the most apparently untalented of us have certain talents which usually just remain latent, but could be put to admirable use in a more enlightened society like, even simple-minded people might make wonderful mud sculptures that more rational people could never do.

SPK: Well, that's what art brut's about, in a way. You wonder what goes on in the mind of a retard, because we don't have the facilities to understand them—they don't happen to fit into our communicative structure and system. Once we have probably the greatest invention to ever come to mankind—the ability to actually put on a screen a dream or what is going on in another person's mind—that's got to happen in our lifetime. That would be the most important thing to happen in our lifetime. And then actually animate it—that's the next step. Science fiction stuff, but beautiful.

R/S:: Well, computer manipulation of color graphics is getting more sophisticated. You can now bring a tree from the background to the foreground, put people in the picture who aren't there, quickly and easily.

SPK: Some holograms aren't bad, but I actually think it's still quite poor. There's a lot of things we could do so much quicker if only we didn't have a fucking capitalist motive for everything; we didn't have to make immediate cash out of everything. On the other hand, capitalism is probably the most efficient system we've come up with so far to develop technology. Certainly the communists didn't develop the microchip....

R/S: I'd like to hear a bit more about your theory of the history of philosophy being the history of syphilis, which you're writing a book about?

SPK: In a way it's a book of humor, really. It's in the same vein as any book which questions the validity of knowledge as some kind of structured and unified theory. Just another questioning of truth, where you can look at people like—probably most of the Greeks had syphilis, what with their bestiality. The Romans as well. A little less recurrent in recent history—you have people like Nietzsche and Idi Amin—I wouldn't classify Idi Amin as a philosopher—

R/S: A very practical philosopher, actually!

SPK: Getting back, it's not so much a tongue-in-cheek laugh at philosophy and the great human knowledge, it's also an attempt to verbalize bacteria, if you like. And I think in a sense that's what that kind of philosophy did—it was more or less speaking for the bacterial component of the earth And that's why I'm interested in also writing something similar about viruses. The theory of viral cancer is fascinating, especially the idea that it's in the genotype of the human population. It's in everybody, but it's only expressed in about 10% of the cases. It's on the increase in the phenotype.
There's a theory that they actually travel in space and the earth contracted them because of the meteorites that fell onto earth. I believe satellites have seen them floating around in scans. They're quite extraordinary. They don't need a host, but they have a helluva lot of fun when they find one!

R/S: That's their art.

SPK: It's their self-expression for a bit.

R/S: Viruses from space kind of blow the old moral system out the window.

SPK: Yes. It's been quite a difficult book to write, sort of like a focus point for an idea of the human imagination as being influenced by some idea of a partnership with primitive life forms....

R/S: Why are you concerned with mutations?

SPK: They still represent the disgusting side of the society that we still live in.Why are all these mutations occurring in society at an increasing rate? It's crazy that they're all kept away from public attention—

R/S: I'm always trying to find out the real motivations for anything. And trying to become more scientific about death as well.

SPK: People actually believe so many different theories about life after death. Like New Guinea tribesmen have no understanding of the western idea of what life after death is. They couldn't even understand the body as a physical being in certain ways—wouldn't understand the electrical and genetic processes going on inside the body which are narrowed down to a cause-and-effect explanation. They have no faith in that kind of rationale.
Jean Baudrillard wrote a little book called The Mirror of Production. In it is a long chapter on the modern western inability to accept violent death—it has to be slow, peaceful and quiet. It seems to be a dynamic that we can't accept anything abrupt—it's got to be in some way cause-and-effect, an obvious, perfectly explicable decline or something like that. And even taking it down to the supposedly liberal idea of getting rid of capital punishment—maybe it's just that we can't stand the idea of violent death.
On the other hand you've got modern society where everybody delights in seeing bloody stupid TV programs with people getting shot up and killed in car crashes and things like that. But that's an attempt to make the violent thing—

R/S: Romantic?

SPK: I would have thought more a joke! There ought to be laugh tracks and whoopee and shouts when somebody gets killed in a cowboy movie or something like that—there's no horror involved in death whatsoever. How many people come into contact with an actual death? Very few.
The funny thing about all that is, in that sense we can almost make a claim that we are not sensationalists, and that we show death as real and in fact not sensational at all—those are real photos of people being shot and blood going everywhere—

R/S: I don't think many real images of death have been seen. In Street Cops there was only one photo in the whole book that affected me. It was of a guy who had just been shot by a shotgun in the stomach—there's vomit dripping everywhere, his mouth is full of vomit, and he looks sick....

SPK: In that book Violence In Our Times, there are photos like the one of the Jews all piled up. That's become a popular image—sensationalist in quantity, you know, and people've seen it 100,000 times. It's almost—respectable. But to show just one pathetic mangled body covered in vomit....

R/S: Incidentally, what ideas of yours have died on the vine, so to speak?

SPK: In our first album we tried to put a sperm capsule in every one. We lined up about five hundred capsules...and started putting the sperm in. After working hours, when we were finishing up the 500th, we noticed the first ones had almost dissolved—

R/S: Sperm's very acidic—

SPK: Yes, that was a tremendous waste of energy! It was kind of corny. We weren't going to say what it was. I just wanted to see how many people would put it in their mouths.

R/S: Of course people would—this is a pill society. People will take anything.

SPK: It would have been funny if Customs had opened up the luggage and found this, and then run tests on it. You couldn't be prosecuted though, I think.

R/S: It's art—Body Art, so to speak.

SPK: What if you had any sexual disease? Could they get you for smuggling?

R/S: Oh, like Columbus and the Indians? The Indians had syphilis, except to them it was like a cold. The white people got it by raping the Indians. It was amazing how fast it spread over Europe. Within a year it was all over Italy, down from Spain.

SPK: Today's fashionable disease is cancer. I'm most convinced that cancer in some ways involves a faith or belief mechanism. I don't think it's purely physical— don't think any disease is. I think that maybe the cure even involves trying to cooperate in some way.... It's only in the last couple hundred years that we've had the conception of progress, and with that we've gotten cancer as well. I definitely think cancer is a byproduct of this civilization because it's on the increase in spite of how much they spend on research. It's perhaps psychosomatic in the purest sense—you can't separate the mind from the body.

R/S: How does cancer fit into a modern mythology?

SPK: To begin with, Durand analyzed and integrated all these symbols into massive cross cultural myths, organizing these archetypes into:
Heroic, i.e. the sword and the spear, the penile erection, and things like that which are in some ways moving upwards. Like a cobra....
Then you had the intimate images; things like digestion, or going down—the mother, water....
Then you had the great cyclical myths: Taoism, Nietzsche—more like the great cosmic circle. The ultimate in philosophy seems to be the idea of the eternal return. The yin and the yang.
But I think you can go on from that. Take the idea of proliferation, which seems to be extremely relevant to our society at the moment. This is the age of everything proliferating—information, nuclear armament, cancer, disease, psychosis.... So I really think that's worthwhile analyzing in terms of modern archetypes, and probably would be for the next few years.
After that, the idea of the convulsion of everything: massive rapid changes, total upheaval, an age of extreme mutations—things like that which might come after the proliferation age....
All you many need to do is look at wave forms and imagine the kind of overriding dynamics which might create certain eras on the earth. I think we've gone through the progress era—that great romantic era. We probably went through the great mystical cycle era as well very early on—pre-Christ. Maybe the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages were the great intimacy, lost-in-the-wilderness type of era. But now, everything is in massive expansion, moving all directions at once. And not necessarily toward apocalypse. It seems like that's about to happen, but that's been a popular belief for a very long time. If you read about what happened in the year 1000—there was mass hysteria all over Europe because they all thought they were in a millenial age then. We've always been in the millenial age! It's sort of natural that when you come up to the year 2000, you expect it all to happen in 1999. I don't really think we're coming into any great Nostradamus-type prophecy.
I would like to see the convulsive age. That's the one I would like to theorize. It's really the anarchist idea of total revolution—continuous revolution where everything is in constant change and you no longer need any landmarks to get a fix on. I think that would be the eternal return really, because everything would be happening at once. And in that sense I think we are reaching that kind of situation where it's almost impossible to keep track of what's going on.
Technology has reached an unbelievable degree of sophistication, where computers are actually designing parts of other computers.... But I don't think there's really anything in there that defies the human brain. All it is, is the number of combinations and the speed of combinations that the computer can go through; the options. There is nothing on an individual scope that the human brain does not understand. It was the one that programmed the bastard to start with—to generate those structural options. I'm afraid that I'll always disagree with the idea that technology is moving that fast....

R/S: Technology specifically for the art of living isn't developing all that fast, but secret military innovation continues—

SPK: There's so much going on that we won't find out about for another 10 years, if we do find out. For instance, the Americans have these huge air fields on the west coast of Australia that have been landing American Air Force planes for years and years, and the Australians have never scrutinized one of them. They've only just found out about them, because of that 5-year (or whatever) lag in information. In some way a document was "leaked" to the press that the Americans are flying B-52s in and have built some actual underground cities in the desert. But—that's only a small fraction of what's going on.

R/S: Sometimes the information gap seems so enormous it's discouraging—trying to close up the gap. How do you keep on motivating yourselves to do more?

SPK: Through confidence and blind optimism! All the criticism we've gotten doesn't mean anything—I always think I know what I'm doing. We've had a long history of being outsiders....


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