A Letter to our Readers

AH reaches over 1,000 subscriptions!
—JL II.
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#Aesthetarchon

To all those actively supporting Archive Humanitas, users connected via WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.,—your philosophico-archivists—Thank you for helping us reach our first 1,000 followers!

AH is in its infancy—and yet, there is so much we can’t wait to share…

• Upcoming Blog Series: Mad-Love Monochrome. #1 will include an interview with LA Historian Kim Cooper.

• May 11th. Carolyn Thompson’s Exhibition: After | Burroughs: Syntax.

• The release of our Journal Mad-Bionic-Writing-Machine. Vol. I.

Sincerely,

Lead Writer/Admin. Jeffrey Lucas II & Editor/Admin. Alvin Mayorga

Such L o v e l y Pictures

Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange: a hermeneutic—contra apologia

J. Lucas II. a.k.a., Aesthetarchon


Here’s how New Critical lemon-squeezing works. Question: what’s the theme of Clockwork? Answer: the moral dilemma of science and technology in criminal rehabilitation; specifically, where the possibility of immoral decision and action is removed—and “genuine” ethical responsibility becomes nil; consequently, we face the binary oppositions: freewill/determinism, individual/state, mind/matter, etc. Congratulations! This sophomoric term paper is en route to an ob(li)vious A+! Yet, some of us witness the continuation of this modus operandi and its ready-moral platitudes, and we’re. . . just. . . bored and old. We sigh and fight the perpetual urge to declare, “Could anything be more passé, academically, philosophically, intellectually?”

What makes Clockwork an unparalleled post-Joycean masterpiece…? The heart of the work resides in Burgess’ self-manufactured rebel-youth colloquialism, i.e., a language he calls Nadsat. The meter or rhyme is nothing we would want to schematize: an onslaught of hurly-burly neologisms that brush against a mania uniquely reminiscent of Ludwig Van’s 9thsymphony, itself. Through onomatopoeia and the morphological play of affixing heterogeneous roots, the reader can pick up a textual orchestra—finding the feet moving and flowing, despite the carnage and violence of whatever mis en scène Burgess is choreographing in the semantic content of his lines. It’s no wonder Kubrick captured the balletic aspects of his menacing prose so well (McDowell’s improvisation of “Singing in the Rain” was so inexplicably fitting, Kubrick shot the scene for a week prior to acquiring the rights). One does not come to know the milieu of Alex and his droogies, but plays alongside the hyper-colored hedonism, e.g., there is a jollying-along to the “Old Town” robbery, outright, or there is a lost and offended reader. A reader of the kind we spoke of earlier (s/he missed the Yale Critics but read enough Aristotle and Kant to annoy us for life).


Aesthetic Bliss—of the Nabokovian variety! That’s where we ought to journey, but only by way of a distinct detour from today’s reinvigoration of Nabokov studies—which ceaselessly looks for any element, autobiographical or fictional, to mount a logically coherent apologia for his aestheticism. These “scholars” are so ideological and politically charged, they even find reason to ignore Nabokov’s declaration of what constitutes Orwellian “topical trash.” This is an unabashedly popular cause. One comes across it everywhere. One can’t read about Fitzgerald’s life without hearing a tangent regarding how much, at heart, Scotty “actually” hated wealth, privilege, and elitism. –I am Jack’s perpetual disillusionment with the upper-echelons of academe—. At this point, I don’t care if Scotty bootlegged hooch for a year in an effort to self-publish This Side of Paradise, buy designer suits, and coerce Zelda into marrying a cat-fish author. The age of Apologia is over. Neo-Marxism is over. The Frankfurt School is over. We’re all still asleep in our (under-) graduate-level epistemology lectures…and, deciding now, on the precedence of . . .“s u c h lovely pictures”. . .  to choose falsity before mediocrity. 

Pop-Princess Fatale: Lana Del Rey & the Art Deco, Los Angeles Style

“ […] we imagine a brunette singer who reads Proust with sexy tattoos—out of place, in a cool-blue, historiographic dream.”

J. Lucas II. a.k.a. Aesthetarchon


In 2016 James Franco released a small poetry book, Straight James/Gay James, dedicated to Lana Del Rey. The work’s ostensive homosexual theme is illustrated in the cover art: “Lana” is tattooed on his forehead; the image of her face trails down his neck. He stares into a mirror, gazing at himself, allowing his other-self(“Gay James,” perhaps), in turn, to gaze back at him, reflecting the duplicitous identity that ruptures the product— “James Franco.” He rather be Lana Del Rey, but qualifies this longing in an early stanza, “Not because I don’t enjoy my man/Body […/] but because I love yours.[1]” So he is left to lament the tragedy of having to wear a mask; one face, the surface of the mask itself, is “branded,” concealing the “naughty face,” and “A secret devil/Beneath/The slick surface/Of the Gucci smile.[2]” At night both merge in a singularity, “They are but/One: me.[3]” What strange phenomenon is at play that desires to split the actor’s persona? This love for Lana Del Rey, the pop-star, consumes him so completely, reducing the authentic to the sleepy shadows of private-midnight? The answer, I dare entertain, resides in a sinuous captivation of Lana’s two-fold aura. When she alludes to David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, for instance, we feel ourselves collapse into that smoky nightclub, hanging on every word the neo-noir singer electrifies. For the duration, I am the criminal mad-man “Frank,” infatuated and bewitched, while equally assuming the naïve, inquisitively pale, awe-struck role of “Jeffrey.[4]” The latter, an enticed school-boy, out of his element, and the other, a crazed addict, whose only distraction from nefarious cruelty is the antiquarian tune of the velvet singer. We might trace the origin of the fracture Franco speaks of in the dichotomy that is Lana, herself. The faces of Franco are, or so I conjecture, an aesthetic-response to the mid-century Los Angeles aura she embodies, coupled with a contemporary celebrity style, i.e., the art deco, beach-bikini princess. This is what draws us in. A juxtaposition of irregular qualities (e.g., we brush against this same feeling when we consider the psychological appeal of steampunk): we imagine a brunette singer who reads Proust with sexy tattoos—out of place, in a cool-blue, historiographic dream. We rhythm with the base while tuning in to her subtle references, e.g., Nabokov’s Lolita, post-modern filmmakers—all staged in a monochrome mish-mash reminiscent of Los Angeles in 1944. The grasping of both faces, simultaneously, produce an auratic emergence, and an alluring marriage of distinct horizons. The songs of the West-coast siren[5]break us apart on the California shore. There is no one identity to Lana or ourselves when we enter her contemporary noir-pop milieu. For a small interval, we are taken to the past, but only as a slippery past-presence, summoned by our current-present. Neither can exist on its own. Neither is a hindrance to the other. One opens the other. This is a hermeneutic of iconography.

End Notes


  • [1]Franco, James. Straight James/Gay James. New Jersey: Hansen Publishing Group, LLC, 2016. 
  • [2]Ibid. MASK, 14. 
  • [3]Ibid. 
  • [4]Frank: Denis Hopper; Jeffrey: Kyle MacLachlan 
  • [5]Ironically enough, “Sirens” is the name of one of her early, pre-chart albums.

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J. Lucas II. a.k.a. Aesthetarchon


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