The Psychic Soviet. Ian F. Svenonius

A lovely little pocket-sized collection of treateses critical of the current state of rocknroll, psychogeopolitics, religion, &cetera. Appealingly wrapped in weather-resistant pink plastic cover. Lightweight paper to save on baggage weight and compete with Kindle. Tactile: 8/10. Olfactory: 9/10. Would not stop a bullet however. I imagine if this is issued to U.S. servicemen they will include a hinged steel cover.

Content: patently absurd and yet right-on more often than not whether in spite of or because. Svenonius gives himself a free pass from the get-go:

None of this collection is to be confused with so-called “academia.” Instead it is a kind of free verse, outside of science or respectability and at liberty to flaunt its diabolical exhumations on its user.

Like other thinkers on the margin, Svenonius realizes that the intersection of sense and nonsense circumscribes the space occupied by human culture and that any understanding (especially now) of Western Civ. is (only?) reachable through attacking sensible discourse through vigorous polemic.

Psychic Soviet emblem

Svenonius’ influences are not clear, though we can suppose that like other brainy Washington, DC postpunks (he formerly of the notable Nation of Ulysses) he was exposed to his share of red propaganda as well as the (perhaps) more inchoate social critiques proferred by various of his peers within that scene. He himself cites the girl’s magazine Sassy as a literary influence in this blurb from the back of How Sassy Changed My Life:

Johnny Depp Sassy magazine coverA page-turning romp through the secretive and cut-throat world of teen journalism. Sassy was the one magazine that attempted to subvert the usual diet of mind control and hypnosis employed by its establishment peers. And while she may have destroyed herself in a fit of confused self criticism, she left a generation of precocious women in her wake.

From “The Bloody Latte: Vampirism as a Mass Movement”:

The penchant for a culture to imbibe drinks and drugs en masse, in a collective ritual-orgy, is a phenomenon which transcends mere fashion.

This, in itself, is unworthy of remark; the quest for transcendence through intoxication is as old as history itself. The cultural particularity of the proclivity is what is striking: the strange uniformity of every epoch’s beverage cult.

Personal taste amounts to little; instead, for each era, there’s a distinctive mass hysteria for the imbibing of a particular beverage or substance.

The drinks at this juncture in American history are indisputably coffee from Starbucks and the vodka of Absolut. The popularity of these drinks stems from their value as symbolic war booty from recent conquests. A culture’s adopted beverage represents the blood of their vanquished foe.

Drink is transubstantiation a la the Catholic cannibalism of Christ’s blood and body. The smell of coffee is the odor of the Sandinista hospital, maimed by Contra bombs. Ice-cold vodka is the blood of the Russians, raped and murdered by capitalism.

And so it has been through history. Each imperial culture imports a liquid memento from their vanquished foe to serve as a totem of their power and glory. Tea, the Englishman’s beverage, is falling out of favour as their neo-colonial hold on the Sub-continent wavers. For two centuries the English supped on their well-steeped leaves and tasted the sweat of the slaves in the Empire. Now, tea is for old mums, while beer swilling “lads” form the visible majority. The British love their beer; a cold pint brings fond memories of dead Germans, falling out of the sky in the battle of Britain.

Beer first attained great popularity in America immediately after the First World War, when the US had tipped the scale against the Kaiser in the last days of the conflict. That war had been highly unpopular to a then-isolationist nation, with American involvement cynically contrived by Anglophiles in government. The war transformed the country profoundly, much to the consternation of its activists.

The women who had raged for abolition and suffrage now turned their eyes to alcohol, successfully banishing it in 1920. Prohibition, then, was unconsciously a moral crusade against imperialism and the blood sucking and chest beating that followed the Treaty of Versailles. Of course, beer made a comeback, especially after the depression hit and veterans needed to boost self-esteem by slurping the entrails of the wretched Kraut. A cold beer in a bar with one’s buddies brought one’s thoughts to the bread lines in Berlin, with all its one-legged soldiers.

Tangentially related:

Svenonius interviewing Genesis P-Orridge

Warning: We cannot be held responsible. Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha