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Eric Amling & Jon Leon Together AT LAST at BOMB
Eric Amling interviews Jon Leon for BOMB. Amling, remarking on the “soft lens” over the pages of Leon’s new book, The Malady of the Century (Futurepoem 2012), talks to Leon about the attraction of the bi-coastal lifestyle (“It’s only attractive to the limit that anything out of reach is potentially attractive”); freedom (Amling quotes Lisa Robertson’s notion that the structure of freedom is entirely synthetic, that “the most pleasing civic object would be erotic hope”); fashion, natch; and God…here Leon says, “I think God looks upon me as one of his children, and ever since The Fall of Man he has looked forward to whom that would return humankind to paradise.” Criminy. Back to the synthetic–it’s good to hear Leon address this section of the book:
EA Let’s then talk for a moment about fashion; the freedom, monetarily and psychologically, that it provides your characters. In the sequence “Right Now the Music and the Life Rule” you describe fashion model pictorials with euphoric consideration: “Lydia Hearst is truly stunning in a dress by Missoni . . . . [her headband] makes me want to be content and forget politics.” Again the theme of Escapism via Inanimate Object. Walter Benjamin, in The Arcades Project, said, “Every fashion stands in opposition to the organic. Every fashion couples the living body to the inorganic world. To the living, fashion defends the rights of the corpse.” In the poem “Money Bags” in my book the narrator states “Clothes don’t say much about a person anymore.” I’m talking outside of having the means to obtain an object, I’m talking about the actual expression of individuality. The models in this sequence are so painfully stylized you can only guess at their free wills. Would you agree?
JL Within the context of the fashion editorial, and further, within that sequence of my book, these models don’t have free wills. They’re all at work. They’re all being photographed for money. As do the magazines that employ them, I find them to be evolutionarily superior and worth paying to drape fabric over. I believe in the value and creativity of the fashion industry and the way in which it operates. It’s an appealing and functional art form in which one’s health is prioritized. I believe beautiful talented people should win. And I disagree with Benjamin that fashion is inorganic. The inputs to the manufacturing process of clothing necessarily originate from the natural environment. Clothes may not say much about individuality, no, more importantly, they tell us about an economic hierarchy, and they assist in attracting more money and more sex, while providing a unique context for the deep culture of the present moment. Money and sex are two pursuits that can bring a great deal of pleasure and joy to an individual’s life, and hopefully the pursuit of money and sex will act as a catalyst for healthier lifestyles. I’m not really sure what an “inorganic world” is? There is only one world. Everything is organic.
EA An “inorganic world” is the artificial snow that falls nightly on the Kremlin suntans in a Brooklyn-Russian discotheque.
JL I’ll concede to a synthetic world. The star projectors Drake mentions in “Crew Love.” It’s true one can make the world in their own image. God did it. The first chapter of Genesis states, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Perhaps The Malady of the Century is just a crystallization of that drive—wanting to recreate Eden like God, the greatest artist, the most perverse author of the most serene peace. If the holy scriptures tell me I’m part God’s image then I take the malady as my responsibility, and I promote its manifestation in reality. Some people might call this a Messiah complex, but God told me I’m The Messiah.