poison egg

The fact is, there are no facts. Only arts, maybe.
—Pixel Hone

For some years now, local micro-collective Autochthony has been tacitly leading the Art-Fact movement originally spearheaded during the threshold years by Zen-Lion Maul. [1] As Karl Overman explains in his introduction to the Kaleidoscope Codex, the meticulously cross-referenced compendium of Art-Fact exegesis published last year by the Punctum Group, the multifarious transnational movement is characterized by “a perverse, pseudo-religious zeal to reverse engineer facticty itself.” Rigorous deniers of all factical ontologies, especially those ordered toward understanding ‘objects’ as autonomously real, Art-Factists (despite a seemingly paradoxical obsession with concrete material things) disclaim object-creation all together and nominate their work in terms of interments, burials, and translations. Taking Zen-Lion Maul’s famous tripartite dictum – R.I.P. (Revert, Invert, Pervert) – as their methodological mantra, Art-Factists understand their work as the creation, not of facta or made things, but of arts or skillful joinings that activate an obscure meta-factual agency, a weird form of bi-worldly influence that remains eternally occluded or immanently eclipsed. [2] Here art is not the skill of making artwork, but the production of arts itself. [3] According to a counterintuitive neither/nor logic, an ‘art-fact’ is construed as an unseeable third thing externally interfacing between the inner and outer worlds of experience, an un-living entity that exudes or ‘evaporates’ a negative, dis-creative energy in both directions so as to produce a kind of ever-moving absent trace of itself. Art-factists refer to this trace as pure scent or empty scent. For although they vigorously negate all substantial relation between an art-fact and its sensibilia, they even more vigorously insist on its intuitable reality, an actual non-presence often described using a combination of musical and gustatory metaphor, permuted poetic images that uncannily leap towards the future. [4] Overman explains the art-factual phenomenon as further proof of the Atomic Imprint Hypothesis:

It is a well-documented yet hard-to-pinpoint truth that global atomic experience has effected the human psyche or generic rational soul in profoundly and perhaps permanent inversive ways. Popular discourse about feeling generally ‘upside down’ and/or ‘inside out’ may be easy to dismiss as scientifically ridiculous, but the pervasive conversion of values and practices related to imaginative life is definitive and unmistakable. The exponential growth of the art-market, the nearly dictatorial social power of certain galleries, the routine deference of the mass media to narratives of ‘spontaneous inspiration’—all these and more testify to the bombs’ ability to turn the imagination into something it was not. The Art-Fact movement demonstrates this with thesistic accuracy. Where pre-apocalyptic cultures conceived the imagination as liminal and indeterminate, a correlation between material and intellectual phenomena, post-apocalyptic cultures seem to automatically identify the imagination as extimate, an outside or non-present medium that is not at all between these distinct realms, but intimately external to both simultaneously. Art-factuality is the perfect inverse of the medieval concept of barzakh. Where the latter (barzakh) is typified by the thing you sense that is not actually there (the ‘line’ between two objects, the image in the mirror), the former signals a real non-presence that is unmistakably encoded in a distinct, actual thing. The Art-Fact imperative is psychic proof positive of AIH.

Autochthony’s Poison Egg both overtly exemplifies the generic, global principles of Art-Fact production and impeccably canonizes them as an individuated New York event. The title of the piece twistedly echoes Zen-Lion Maul’s enigmatic/meaningless last words, “eggs, poisons,” scripting their plural into an inviolable and dangerous singular sense that promises to deliver, as if in one fatal dose, the essence of his final vision. As the artists explain in verse upon the human parchment enfolding the greenish ovoid stone (?) form, [5] Poison Egg is codically created according to a triple procedure that strictly echoes the R.I.P. itself:

I. Distress
Hurt beyond repair
So gently I am still here
Eager to forever mar
Whatever comes this way.
II. Enclosure
Unopening in this place
The fatal burrowing
Sucks void from beyond
You cannot see.
III. Leakage
Never the same again
Is my blood everywhere
Flowing infinitely free
A deep secret red joy.

Can Art-Factism survive such overt self-encoding? Or is Poison Egg a death knell, a fatal nail openly auto-driven into its own coffin? Either possibility is full of promise. Not least because it so controversially reopens the apparently ineradicable question of the historical relation between Art-Factism and the idol-burying oblivionist cults of early apocalyptic New York, haunting us again with the spectre of their mutual complicity with the Anomalous Anonymity unearthed by Maul himself a mere seven days before the Destruction.

[1] ‘Threshold Years’ is a sentimental newyorkism for the period of pure yet sportive cultural stagnancy between the Destruction and the so-called Instant Refinement that followed 3 years later.

[2] As Overman explains, the moment of an art-fact’s monstration or show is generally conceived as an ‘apotheotic interment’ or ‘chthonic summation’, the “finalizing act of joining to earth that inaugurates the art-fact as telluric channel or broadcast hole.”Art-Factists prefer to address the art world as ‘The Grave’ and ‘Funeralopolis’.

[3] The paradoxical plural (‘arts itself’) registers the Art-Factist rejection of a singular or ur-Art. To their way of thinking, art is essentially plural and pluralizing. Art for arts sake.

[4] For example, outspoken art-factist Hermione Black closed her address at last season’s Ungeneration Expo in Sunset Park with the following promise: “I am unspeakably proud to preside over a show whose acosmic holocaust will tritonely perfume the invisible itself for at least two millennia.” Because art-factists refer every external and internal perception or statement of their work back to its strangely sensed omnipresent scent, they are almost continually supplied with exegetical intrigue, every citation or reference or repetition of the art-fact being read not as interpretively about its material adjunct or anti-twin, but as a vital index of what it is doing today. Overman calls this “a sublime idiotological anagogy.”

[5] The verso side of the parchment is marked with a simple curse on anyone who separates the egg-form from its pamphlet.


Nicola Masciandaro is Professor of English at Brooklyn College (CUNY) and a specialist in medieval literature. Recent/forthcoming works include: “Paradisical Pessimism: On the Crucifixion Darkness and the Cosmic Materiality of Sorrow” (Qui Parle), Sufficient Unto the Day: Sermones Contra Solicitudinem (Schism, 2014), Floating Tomb: Black Metal Theory(Mimesis, 2015), co-authored with Edia Connole, and Spheresy, co-authored with Alina Popa.

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