by Monica Mody on Jul.31, 2011
late 14c., an astrological term, “streaming ethereal power from the stars acting upon character or destiny of men,” from O.Fr. influence “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny” (13c.), also “a flow of water,” from M.L. influentia “a flowing in” (also used in the astrological sense), from L. influentem (nom. influens), prp. of influere “to flow into”.
What Joyelle I think does in her essays is equate Art with Influence itself—a delicious, archaic idea of Influence (that later branched out into words we think of as unrelated: ‘influenza’ on the one hand and ‘influence’ as ‘exertion of power’ on the other) with its astral, otherworldly origins wherein humankind can be struck unseen—although it’s less a being struck by than being influxed/streamed-in/drowned/infected/bloated/leaking with/of ethereal fluids; also with its latent semantic burgeoning/doubling/proliferation/excess.
• Since Influence is an astrological term, it is no surprise that Art is a superstition. Either you believe in it, or you don’t. Can art & its actions infiltrate the Impossible? To the extent that you choose to believe (with a wounded eye) in the metaphysic of art and what it can visit upon you. Or you could be ambivalently mutating (but mutate you will, afflicted by the stars).
• Influence the Inhuman, Influence the Terrible, Influence the Noisy, Influence the Messenger. Is there any point in identifying it solely with human ancestors? In a world whose realities/realizations are permeable & holey and which exists across multiple dimensions, the canons we embrace/espouse cannot but be host to the demons that possess humans: theories, media, language, texts, social & political ideas and movements, spatial practices, art, catalogues, stories, animal spirits, plant spirits, spirits of the dead & not-living, archetypes, guides, angels. Yes, it is an inundation. What sticks in your throat?
• In a dream-state &/or awake, dead-zone &/or alive, I wrote: “Art lives shattered like glass in your buttocks. Archetypes in you shift to a coma.” I’ve been thinking a lot about where art comes from and why. (Though really isn’t the search for origins located in patrilinear beliefs about genealogy + time? And if so, might it not lead to a policing of boundaries based on what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong’?) How do I frame art, how does art frame me, as I explore a spiritual self? I’m realizing that all of my writing is an ongoing how-to book, a manual on how to be of the world and not-of the world, a manual that dreams itself and destroys itself and destructs what it seeks to instruct and to dream, a manual that is perpetually outdated. It’s a loop.
“Jacques Derrida is also this collection of texts.” Art, my other-body, a host-body for the undead-uncanny which it has the uncanny ability to simulate (fail), also has an authentic if illusional, delusional relationship with the psyche (and body and politics and history). Art, the supernatural emanation, bewitches (the human) me, it causes the human to be reeked/wrecked either ecstatic/ethereal or monstrous/grotesque. This “magical metamorphosis” which in art may happen with weird delays and interruptions or a waiting, cave-in.
• All of this is an attempt to conceive for myself a complexity – so as to reconcile spiritual concepts with aesthetic concepts: ‘higher self’ with ‘Dada’, ‘healing’ with ‘art’s poison’, ‘sustainability’ with ‘expenditure’, ‘natural’ with ‘unnatural’, ‘wholeness’ with ‘exhaustion’, ‘planetary evolution’ with ‘no future’. There are many points of connection: outsides & insides are crossed, membranes of real/reality/realism are fickle, reality is augmented, there’s death, syncope, the ludic, the ecstatic, rituals. (Maybe the antinomies are in my own head!) In any case, the point is not resolution nor accommodation nor ==> simplification. Binaries, of course, merely reduce, separate, oppose and therefore must be resisted, no, held in tension within a paradigm where complexity can irrupt—where the presence and pressure of every complementary/competing practice or theory can be registered—and so can instability and ambivalence and paradoxicality.