Guy Bleus, John Held, Carol Stetser, Friedhelm Schulz
UMBRELLA,P~O. BOX 3692, Glendale, CA ,91221 USA
Introduction by John Held
I received the following letters from Guy Bleus and Carol Stetser on the same day (March 29, 1991), and they seemed to encapsulate a dichotomy that is prevalent in Mail Art; namely the contradictory positions that the phenomenon should or should not, become historified, preserved, and unhinged as a free and unencumbered creative act very much in the tradition and spirit of Dada.
As I have frequently written about Mail Art, I take criticism as Carol Stetser puts forth to heart. Besides writing, I have lectured on the subject and amassed a substantial reference archive.
I have acted as if I want Mail Art incorporated into arthistory, and I do. It's important to me and a lot of other folks on the planet that have labored long and hard under its yoke.
We see Mail Art as having opened new avenues in a global approach to
thinking about art and life, an in breaking down the boundaries between
artists and nonartists (and exploring what the definitions and/or differences
are). By acknowledging its rightful place in the progression of twentieth
century avant-garde tradition, more people will be exposed to the medium
and become aware that the thrust of progressive contemporrary art is not
the commodification of the art object, but towards the elimination of boundaries
between people of different cultures, an understanding that we possess
a great many more similarities than differences. This is true no only in
the practice of international Mail Art networking, but of ist practitioners
But above all, this is art that is fun, pure and simple. Mail Artists
enjoy looking forward to the postal encounter every day and we all want
to keep it that way. The question boils down to: will all this selfexamination
ruin the joy of Mail Art?
I say no. Mail Artists have been their own curators, critics and archivists.
We have set outselves up as an alternative to the mainstream and have progressed on a parallel course. No one tells the Mail Art story better than Mail Artists. We are being ignored by the establishment that profits from artistic gain. They perceive us as weak and ineffectual, posing no threat to the status quo of art as commodity and investment.
Artists say that boundaries are made to be crossed. Just as the lines
between artist and non-artists are blurred, so is the notion of a quality
art object. Who dares set himself up as judge?
In Mail Art all contributors participate on an an equal footing, their progress only measured by the energy They devote to posting letters and communicating within the Eternal Network. The power of Mail Art is the energy one receives in return from the energy expended.
The essays by Stetser and Bleus represent a fortuitous convergence that encapsulate two divergent viewpoints I believe in the Ącorrespondences" which occur in the mailbox.
--John Held Jr.
WHERE A MAIL ARTIST DELIVERS THE MAIL
I've written about my travels all around the world, but I've never written anything about my experiences in mail art. I guess its because I'm still doing it. As Colette wrote somewhere, ĄmYou can't write about love when you're making love." But I can tell you the hows and why I got started.
In July 1978 Umbrella reviewed one of my self-published photography books. The periodical contained lots of interesting information, so I subscribed. I had no idea what the frequent references to mail art meant.
By January 1979 I still didn't know what it meant but I took a leap nonetheless. I can still recall my excitement when I mailed a postcard of a Martian umbrella into Judith Hoffberg's Umbrella Mail Art Show. And when I received the catalog full of so many wonderful images and such playful exuberance -- I was hooked. I knew what Mail Art was, but I couldn't explain it.
At that time I lived in a rebuilt ill tin shack that was once a miner's cabin in the small town of Oatman, Arizona in the Mohave desert. Wild burros still roamed the hills and the coyote trail passed in front of our house. Summers we had rattlesnakes on the front porch and scorpions in the bathroom. The water pipes froze in the winter and the asphalt roads melted in the summer heat. The human population numbered 200 and consisted primarily of retired people and bums. I had no telephone and no TV. The closest gas station was 15 miles away, the supermarket was 25 miles. But in this "authentic Western ghost town" of Oatman was a post office where I worked for several years. And in my mailbox was mail from all over the world.
In a small town you spend a lot of time discussing the weather, the potholes in the road, who is sleeping with whom, and who got drunk last night. The gossip bonds a community together and helps pass the time, but it does have its limits. My correspondence had no limits. Mail art opened the world to me. It brought me information and stimulation and friendship from all over the globe. It gave me hope and kept me from becoming as crazy as my neighbors.
Mail Art also taught me the relevance of my own life The artwork I received
fed my brain but the personal notes fed my heart. I loved receiving pictures
of my mail art friends, their families, their studios, their home.. I liked
to hear about their vacations, their jobs, their moods, their likes and
dislikes. And I finally realized that my correspondents liked hearing about
my life too; that I was as interesting to them as my artwork. Mail art
radically changed my perceptions of myself as well as this world we all
share. As the world became smaller, it became more open and more free at
the same time. Mail art is truly communication among friends. Thatís why
I continue to participate in the eternal network.
Carol Stetser 12 Feb.1991
At Leavenworth Jackson's suggestion, I wrote the above article about
my experience doing mail art and mailed a copy to Chuck Welch for his book.
But the more I think about it, the more I wonder about the motives behind
this sudden urge among mail artists to become historians. Those of us participating
in the network know why we're doing it. We donít need to read a definition
of mail art --we know what it is. We don't need to hear a lecture on its
aesthetics, on the original of its terminology, on its future direction.
As practitioners we are already engaged in its present and its future.
So why this need for exposition? Who are these books about mail art for? It looks to me like mail art is being pachaged for consumption by the art market. Mail art is being turned into a commodity. And turning art into a commodity is what we're all fighting against in the first place.
Iím also concerned about the need for chapters dealing with mail art and feminism. Participation in the network is limited only by your ability to pay for portage. Mail art by nature is color blind and sex blind. Are we now going to need chapters on mail art and homosexuals, bisexuals, Latinos, Blacks Tongans and Filipinos? Is mail art being codified as His Story the way mainstream "art history" has been? Will we hear while mail/mail art stars ask "Why are there no femail artist.?"
There are as many stories about mail art as there are participants.
The pathways of communication are infinite. How can anyone presume to write
a Ąhistory" of this netwok?
Carol Stetser, 27 March 1991
THE ADMINISTRATION CENTRE -42,292
1. Archives are cemeteries of memories, activities and curiosities.
They file the present for posterity. The Administration Centre - 42,292
is a living archive of Ącomunicationism", of the postal rituals and communicative
gestures of the Mail-Art network, It is based on the democratic principle
that "every" piece of mail (envelopes,postcards, letters,...) is meaningfull
in the socio-cultural context of the Mail-Art circuit So every artist or
non-artist is treated with the same care. The idealistic purpose was and
is to store up the entire narration of what happened by classifying "all"
the received results of mail-activities from the Eternal Network, But every
archive will tell the true story of its own web.
2. 1991' the whole collection comprises original works and/or information of (plus or minus) 2000 networkers from 50 countries. The classification is in alphabetical order and per country. Every artist has one or more files and/or archiv-boxes (if a lot of works are present) Individual numbers refer to an accurate index-system, so that everything can be found easily.
3. The Administrative Archive is divided into seperate units: artistamps, artists' books, artpaper, assemblings, audio-art, catalogues, computer arty, copy art, fax art, graffiti, magazines, mail-art, performences, postcards, posters, rubberstamp-art, small-press publications, video art, visual poetry, ect.
4. Over the year a lot of mail-artists and those interested came to Wellen for a visit at the Administration Centre. From abroad there were artists such as Banana, Baroni, Bloch, Dudek-Durer, Formentini, Graf Hauffen, Held, Janssen, Olbrich, Pernecsky, Ruch, Skooter, Stake, Küstermann, Lorenzi, Van der Hoef, Van Dijk, etc. Several students used documents of the Archive for research.
5. Since the foundation of the Administration Centre in 1978, a lot of exhibitions with works for the Archive have been realized at different place, e.g. ĄMail-Art-Party" Gemeentehui, Leopoldsburg, 1979; Gallery Ruimte z, Antwerp, 1980 (with emphasis on indirect correspondence and Mail-Art by children); I.C.C., Antwerp, í80; VUB, Brussel, etc.
6. Attention: Donít throw it away. Problem to store your superflous Mail-Art related things (old or new envelopes, postcards, documents, magazines,ect.) Donít burn it. Send it to
(old or Send it to:
The Administration Centre -42,292
P.O. Box 43
WHAT IS THE QUESTON? THERE ARE CERTAINLY NO ANSWERS
The problem is this: Will the examination of Mail Art rob it of its power? The beauty of Mail Art is the mystery it can evoke. Every visit to the mailbox is an adventure in a brasve new world. There is an unseen friend around a corner we didnít know existed. Peeking around those unknown corners (of the planet, or of the mind) is what holds us to our chosen medium. If we delve too much into the reasons of the mystery, we run the risk of its power.
But I find that the deeper I investigate the medium, the more wonder
I find. This is not shallow groundt after the formation of the New York
Correspondance School of Art by Ray Johnson, Mail Art has attracted a vast
array of people who have given generously of their time and talents. Each
has a story to tell, and together they point to directions toward which
the progress of artistic, cultural and social history is moving. I find
it a fascinating parade. By ignoring it we miss a rare opportunity to examine
not only the beat to which we collectively march, but our own reaction
John Held, Jr.
-John Held, Jr.
it's a long time ago, I heard something of yours. I hope you are OK! But whenever I see your name onna list somewhere, I see your nice portrait with the both pigtails and I have your beautiful photobook in reminder, which I keep in my behalf private. You are private, I'm private, and nobody is private. We are all listed and calculated, we are all members of an official language, nation, town, family and its history.
This times I heard something of yours either only indirectly across a statement by John Held with your letter about Mail-Art.
But, if you like to read my essay " art as a signal of my existence" you see, I understand Mail-Art like you in the main as a private communication. I wrote this essay for a book about Mail-Art between East- and Westeurope.
My Mail-Art archives became destroyed. All archive-boxes - about 150 or more, they stood at shelves, - were poured out outside, tramples down, carriages drove about that and I needed six months, in which I fetched every three days a plasticbag full with documents in my roomful and cleaned and dried each piece . Mostly it was impossible to establish the date or the
names. I packed all in thirty big Chinese carrier-bags with zipper.
Therefor I renovate at present my house and I instalate the museum in a new way - now with the topic, "philosophy in Mail-Art" or "Mail-Art as a philosophy"., and I am just thereby, to translate the blue slip of John Held into German (with his, yours and Guys essays about Mail-Art), because I see there not a contradiction, as John, between Administration Center and Carol Stetser, on the contrary, I see this as philosophy as the man's main problem. To explain this I should start with Adam and Eva in Paradise, - but I put this nice Genesis-story at the end.
You should be happy, not to speak German because you would have to read some hundred of pages with very complicate text about it; I could never translate it into English, and I didn't find somebody of the students in the nearest University of G"ttingen, who could translate it, I could pay. So the corresponds about it will be mostly in German language.
But I will try to , to execute the keystones - the cogitation's with my simple words so good as I can speak English.
With it my Mail-Art museum is actually a virtual one and a museum of its own as a presentation of its own problematically.
The Mail-Art-Museum will have two contrary pole. The first one I call "The Skyline of Mail-Art". There I stress all directions of sentiments, wishes, ideas, intentions, political directions, such as they are at this moment on my desk, - but with the idea, that the real Skyline is outside wherever Mail-Art takes place at the world. The other pole is one special room, it is called ¯Museum zur billigen Erstarrnis(r) ("MUSEUM TO THE APPROVE GROW STIFF" or "MUSEUM OF THE CHEAP STIFFNESS") (in suggestion to the dadaist Carl Einstein;) among of the room dances a life-size female doll made of wood, iron, electric engines, Relays, magnets, lamps and much wire .It's the names "PAROXISM DE LA DOULEUR" (in suggestion of the dadaist Francis Picabia, who has painted such a picture "Proxime de la Douleur".) And there will be also a prokrustebed. So the contrary of this conception it is not live and cemetery, such as Guy Bleus feels these, but on one side: live (to it belongs as well the latter ends) and on the other side: the "grow stiff" as each form of ISM as dogmatism.
I'm trying to understand these contrary with the example "language and grammar". Our species has spoken 1 million years, unknowingly oddly grammar. A child learns the language in three years - without to be aware something of grammar such as subject, predicate, object, - - and the child speaks better, than I do with my English after six years school and plenty of learning grammar. And after one million years the human being discovers the grammar (Aristarchos of Samotrake -217 to -145 .Chr. and Aristophanes of Byzantion -180 .Chr. substantiate the scientific grammar); and after a normal child can speak, it learns at school and the teacher teach: "To speak it is only possible, if you know the grammar". One might say, to speak is private. grammar is an official law with the criteria wrong and true; and at school even in terms good and vicious! (if a child speaks wrong , one calls it vicious.) one could say, "I do not need no regulate and commandments how I like to speak. One could say: "grammar means inquisition and control and the end of the freedom to speak, as I want to, and it is a disruption from the root, from which the language came into being." And it is true, after mankind found the grammar, it had to leave a paradise of the freedom for ever. After the languages in Europe found respective their own grammar, they were going to be separate for ever in French, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish or German etc.and it is true, the equal phenomenon exists with the foundation of the science with their criteria of wrong and right of any structures, without forms we can't realize a contents. But where we try to ascribe the contents at the form, or to identify contents and form, such as the French structuralism, it is superstitiousness., with the theology with the ethics of good and bad and the science of art with the aesthetics criteria with beautiful and ugly or good and bad. Both the comparison of scientifical laws with the rules of grammar as well as the named arguments against a grammar seem indeed on the face of it absurd, but they show clearly at a still notunderstood problem of each culture and civilisation, each religion and science - as well of the arts.With all these we have to leave a paradise of freedom and unbiasedness. I started with Mail-Art, as and because I was in big troubles in Berlin: my studio became more than six times broken open, destroyed and desolates, there became put fire and the fire brigade destructed my pictures with water. I lost my family and all friends, I lost my job. The hoop of my car were pierced, the brakes were cut through. the screws of the wheels were loosened, and one wheel knocked off at the motorway. it's been psycho terror and I had to learn the feeling of panic.- I've had big fortune, that I hasn't met with an accident.. At that time it was impossible to make an exhibition for me of my images. I didn't understand real at that time, what happened. It was, because I published critic about a dirty deal of the Berlin government. They've to kill me and they've to make me untrustworthy and to disturb, to check and to publish furthermore this dirty affair. All this belonged still to the pathological outgrowths of the cold war.
Then I started my first Mail-Art action mainly to find friends or for minimum to find some public. I got even more than thousand letters onto my Mail-Art question "What is belief, knowledge and fantasy." and I was very thankful. I couldn't answer all, because I hadn't any more money. With the last money I made a large Mail-Art-exhibition in New York and then in Berlin. But yet in Berlin I got again difficulties. From six rooms, which were promised to me for the exhibition, I got only three. The German television rolled up, but in the last minute, my name became eliminated by the reportage. But already before that a German Mail-Artist made me clear: "You can't simple start Mail-Art, you have to start small, you've to make a special way of sexuality and Mail-Art isn't for Christians." But I replied: Mail-Art is free like jazz: The Jackson can sing "Oh My Lord" and Armstrong can sing "Ice-cream" or what ever you want, if you don't discriminate somebody.
But these are already two contrary regulate of Mail-Art inside of Mail-Art. You see the devil in the paradise: and he's not the face of this or the other rule, but the problem is absolutely basically,: because even if thou sayest, "no rule!" so is this already a rule. And you know, that even the chaos and the entropy elapses according to determines. It is like the grammar.
The very complicated phenomenon begins, if you give a name , whereas the reference and difference of name and term on one hand is simple and on the other hand contains the whole problems to understand human existence. But for me both belongs to the skyline of Mail-Art. If a French or Italian Mail-Artist provokes me: "I want to fuck your wife" it belongs to the skyline of Mail-Art, but sure, it is not the whole skyline of Mail-Art .If several grasp to make Mail-Art towards an ideological sect, it is not the complete Skyline of Mail-Art, but it belongs to. If Guy Bleus registers all this tendencies in Mail-Art, I think it is very important. The "Administration Center" belongs to the Skyline of Mail-Art and your manifesto, Carol, belongs to the Skyline of Mail-Art on a good place (with a translation into German). You see, on my behalf this Skyline of Mail-Art I relate with the language, with the normal live; the cheap stiffness I compare with the grammar, with science, theology and science of art.
But this is not yet the philosophy of Mail-Art. (have no trepidation, I'm not going to talk about any ideology or tendency of Mail-Art as it should be, or as live or art should be, but I will talk about "PAROXISM DE LA DOULEUR" and "THE PROCRUSTEBED" in the "MUSEUM OF THE CHEAP STIFFNESS."
I am not an adversary of science, theology and science of art, and I am neither an enemy of language or the grammar. I would like to know the English grammar much better as I do. I think grammar is correct and useful. What my teacher taught me at school about subject and predicate for instance in the sentence "This is a table." It is correct. I have read a lot about the language. I know, the American philosophers are leading in the analytic philosophy of language. But I know, that my teacher did not understood, what it means subject and predicate. and I fear, there's no philosopher either in USA, who understands and could say, what it means: subject and predicate in the sentence "This is a table." And the little bit, which mankind know or guesses about that it is so complicated, that a normal human being and more than all not a child, if it begins to learn the first conversation, would not understand it.
The simple rules I learned in the school, they are OK, they are right and useful, but they are only simplifications, approximations of the function of language. But even the language itself and all the words are only a grammar of my thinking and only an approximation of my thinking and what I would like to say. In the same way all science, all theology and all science of art are simplifications and only approximations of men including its thinking, feeling and what he is; in the same way as of the world. I asked in Mail-Art and I asked many German philosophers: "Were are the colors?" without answer. Nobody knows.
Would you accompany a bird, which flays in fifteen minutes over all
borders of Germany, France, Luxenburg, Belgium back to Germany, you could
think perhaps, that all languages, nations and whose cultures are nothing
but artificial names and definitions. But you know, it is not thus just
like that: so as the laws of nature indicate or become absolutely something
real, and one can make with its help both arms as well as tools , so is
certain the different nomination of people as French, German, Belgian etc
the why and wherefore for 2000 years endless wars, as on the other hand
the grammar means the possibility, to translate the one language into the
other.The rules of grammar, of scientific, theological or arttheoretical
knowledge, as we call it, are correct and useful and necessary, they are
OK and right and useful. But certainly, naturally and doubtlessness all
these regulate and even all words become wrong, if I dogmaticate or if
I believe them. You know, the German Nazis and nearly all Germans believed
in the last war in science and Darwinism and they loose with that their
humanity, the feeling of esthetics and the basic of civilization. If human
beings realize a law of nature for instance the function of a human beings
in society or in the nature - not only the motion of an arm - it is necessary
to think and to understand this, but to take and believe this as the truth,
that is a mistake, if they do not reflect, that such human grammar of language
as well as of nature is always only human knowledge and always only approximation,
it means -and this is particularly for Germans an important distinction
- you have to think and to understand but not to believe it - then it could
and will become a very juggernaut and an embarrassing catastrophic superstition,
because I would see human being like a robot or a machine in the one way,
and in the other way, if my doing or making art or thinking about others
is made more automaticly without feeling and respond like the reaktion
of a real robot;. And - please on't see this not as blaspheme - in the
same equal way can become not only science, but also theology ( as we find
today much in the fundamentalist Islam) to a automatic -religion (theology
is not religion!) and even science of art can led to an equal social illness,
and imaginable are still more worse derailments as we saw in this century.
But I'm optimistic, I like science, theology and science of art and it
should be operated still more and intense.
And this is not yet the gist or the main object of my museum.
With the application or with the doing and realizations which based upon of such modern knowledge the modern civilization and the modern art made a bifurcation, it means, they went two different ways or directions.
Science, theology and science of
all they are nonart and they are going to the object.Mail-Art and modern art are going the direction of subjectivity.
In simple words it means: With Science we built machines, we made polities, mail, police, laws, justice, schools, class books and artificial social services for instance money, boss, employee and worker in firms and administrations etc. With theology we made different churches and denominations and their criteria for good and vicious, with science of art we made museums, galleries, schools of arts and art-marked. All this, I think, it is good, it is our civilization and cultural infrastructure we can be proud about. And - even if all this would be ideal without mistakes and inequity, without war and without discrimination against human rights, all this would be our prokrustebed, if it becomes a doctrine I have to subdue me and if I had to stop or to deform my thinking and feeling in this artificial structure. And even if there would be an artificial Carol Stetser, perhaps more pretty, more sexy, more intelligent and strong as you, ( I would buy it) but as your dress your protective covering or your fig you'd die in it, you would be not you and not Eva, not the truth and not the real life. All that I call nonart in its intention. The big question behind this is "What we are doing, if we chance the whole world in this way? How far a machine is a special form of dogmatism, if I have to obey an instruction of it? (I don't have and there is not another simple answer about the difference between socialization and indoctrination, between culture and "THE CHEAP STIFFNESS", between education and dressage as my own freedom, independence, autonomy or sovereignty, but all this words are even only settlements and I love the biblical genesis, you may read at the end of my letter, because it demonstrates, that already the early civilizations of humankind in Egypt and Ur 5000 years ago understood, that the beginning of language and science is a fundamental problem of mankind and a loss of the paradise and the unbiasedness.)The modern art - starting on Manet and Cesannes and particularly with DADA and even Mail-Art went an other way of realization and action. This I call modern art. These distinction of art and nonart is little bit another differentiation and more radically perhaps than the one of John Held. He means something inside of the art-business and art-discussion. These other direction in modern paintings, in jazz and in Mail-Art try to find again or to keep the own subject behind all doctrine of school, of arts, behind the doctrine of seeming truth or likeness or quality, but as well behind the state and his logic, behind the technics, behind church's, behind the morale, behind the language and the artmarked and all official forms (you could call it grammar) of languages and ISM. It is an intuiting reaction. By DADA it has been a reaction against the official logic of the 1. world war. Millions of people in Berlin and Paris queued up and were exalted to kill each other.
But modern art is not against old art or against civilization or language
or grammar or an enemy of the sciences or the technics, it is conflicting
mixed with the sentiments by the enlightenment; modern art is no opposition
against the state; and modern art is shiftless and impatient to correct
the deficit in the language, in science or in the religion, because it
would be otherwise only another language, another science, another state
etc. with the same basicproblems.
The difference you may feel if you compare "science of art in a museum" and the thoughts of an artist in front of the empty screen: any science, science of art and in the same way grammar based on pictures or on language on something, which already exists and it is always destined by something foreign .
The normal reaction of a human beings, if he talks as well as the situation
of an artist in front of the empty screen based not on the intention, to
make something, what already exists. One makes something new, own and self-determined.
(???)In the equal way simplifies another comparison, but it is better to
demonstrate the difficulty of such distinction if you distinguish:1.
of a motion by a machine (with engines, electricity, switches and softwaresystems
as my Doll "Paroxism De LA Douleur") and 2. to move your arm, if
and how you want it .(1.)The motion by the machine is determines to a hundred%
by laws from the physics.(2.) The motion of your arm (in the same for me
to write this letter) it is to a hundred% self-determined, because you
want it (because I want it). It is assured. But at the same time also the
motion of your arm is a hundred% determines by the laws of the physics,
of muscles, bone, sinews among other things (just as the machine) ....
but not only this. For instance my letter to you, to Carol Stetser, it
is in the same way to a hundred% determinate by you, because of your letter
to John Held. So it is to 200% destined by something foreign, - more than
Everybody know naturally , that the answer about "to be free" is still much more difficult as only this antinomy by law of nature and freedom in all our doing, (what could be not understood by science, philosophy, theology and arttheory until today : the question for instance if the individual style of an artist is determines by the nature of the artist - in opposition to his freedom -, whose evidence is still the main criterion of quality on the trivial art market;) against what it is even the complexity and the multitude of the values and responsibilities in a free society, which determine the quality of a culture widely much more than those 200% and which would be according to such simple reckoning even much more than thousand% - if you take into consideration only the ten commamdments without the thausend other reason, »why« a human kind find to a free decision.
Therefor more than ever my answer and my definition can only be a simplification of Mail-Art and DADA and any free doing of mankind. But I think, modern art and DADA has been only a first intuiting step. A next step of realization may be Mail-Art. Nobody needs any complicated theory to make Mail-Art. You can't do anything wrong. I would be happy, if everybody in the world would know this possibility to ask something or to get friendship, kindliness and answers. Mail-Art is in some way like a paradise. I understand very well your anger, if you fear, we will lose the paradise and we will lose the paradise of communication as friendship, if we try, to understand Mail-Art as a part of the modern intention in the art. But you can't stop the thinkingness of human beings. There are hundreds of books about Mail-Art. You can't prohibit to think, and you can't prohibit to read these books - in the way, as the catholic church prohibits to read certain books, or as Hitler burnt certain books, or such as the former communist part of Germany has forbidden certain literature and music etc.. Mail-Art would become a goal and an abnormal curiosum, - a doctrine. And I think Mail-Art can bear this.
The closest step of modern art can only be to understand the understanding, if we don't want to become only the reproduction (as a machine) to follow and to repeat the actions of our grandmothers and grandfathers by DADA and by the expressionism e.g. or by the first Mail-Artists, but as an understanding in this other direction. But like a child, you don't have to know the grammar to make a real Mail-Art.
I heard a lot of good jazz in Berlin, in Copenhagen and in Casablanca. In common with John Held I say, it is fun. Never I heard one of the famous stars. Only a few of them were world-wide known. This is not the sense of jazz. But the intensity, to become famous exists as well in jazz, - and certainly as well in Mail-Art. Mail-Art can tolerate it.
Well then to the finalisation: the relation of knowledge and belief correspond in many wise with the relation of arttheory and art, of science and life, of theology and religion (faith), but it is not complementary - because it not to separate. Perhaps you could say: in contrast to a life which is dominates and overgrows by science, technique and theory and strangulated by thousand rules, laws and social constraints there is only the happening of art itself complementary to it, as a reaction, perhaps as a mirror, or as a seismograph to the background of the danger to become a doll or a prokrustebed, - modern art and particular Mail-Art is in fact something like this and can mediate the feeling of your own opportunity to make something self determined. With this point of view I demonstrate the skyline of Mail-Art as the relation to the danger of stiffness, of Paroxism De LA Douleur and the prokrustebed in the background of our culture and life. But very sure, there will be never a theory or another program, another theory, another science or another theology or religion and even not a piece of art or any ISM of art, which could be the complementary to our knowledge it makes no difference in which way and science and theology or arttheory.
The only and natural complement to all knowledge is only the single human being, who know something , with his and through his self confidence, when he reflected at himself and the knowledge as something, what is in him. Therefore this letter can't be a philosophic answer to or against any arttheory, philosophy or theology with theirs rules of argumentation. I'm trying such in my letter to the Mail-Artist Birger Jesch and in a letter "the artist to the museum" to Kornelia Röder and in my letter to the philospher Gerold Prauss. And I hope, in some years there could be inside of Mail-Art and Internet a seriously contraposition to structuralism, empirism and materialism. only then, so long as outside of the art and only outside of the Mail-Art via these media reflected becomes a consists the danger of a misinterpretation and whose irritating influence.
Youíve said in your letter to John, one canít speak about love by doing. Iím not sure. You can and you have to speak by doing language, by speaking about language. Anyway I am agreeable to your clause, because the deeper sense is: whatever one could say about love, about any structure, about life, about language or about art and Mail-Art, it is always something else than love, life, language or art or Mail-Art. And what I'm going to say is just the thing, it canít exist a theory to distinguish both. Nevertheless each human doing, whether love, life, language or art and Mail-Art it is always incidentally to knowledge and is dependent as well from knowledge such as my identity is subject to my corpus. Between both remains the whole world and all knowledge of all present and future.
However, this diminutively moment of selfreflexion, the short lift of
the eyebrows with a frowning, it seems too plain, too poco and too small
to be the counterbalance to the big machinery of the universal history,
of the worldhistory, of the world order, and even too fragile as counterbalance
to the eternal treadmill of the everyday life. Perhaps I can ignore the
power of the grammar if I am talking without thinking about that, but against
the laws of nature - even compared with the state - I appear to be nothing
of no significance and validity. If others see me and my consciousness
such as nothing, it is the "Proxime De LA Douleur", the height of pain.
But if my own self begin to see and to understand me such as nothing, I
do not feel the agony any more, then in my behalf personally I need my
God without any explanation. I see the towers of the cathedrals and
minarets as pointer to the biggest power, from where I 'm valid, and you
see, both these meaning as well as my validity you'd find neither outside
there in the cathedral such as object neither with a microscope or thousand
other physical instruments, nor with the scalpel somewhere in myself. Anyhow
it is the only reality and validity of a human beings and naturally not
only the counterbalance.
But I hope, my letter is Mail-Art and therefore an exception
and I hope to get a gracious and kind reaction of yours . Friedhelm
PS.: Here the oldest theory about this problem, and if you read little bit more, you will see the bad proportions we come from.:
$2/15$ And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of
to dress it and to keep it.
$2/16$ And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the
garden thou mayest freely eat:
$2/17$ but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not
eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely
$2/18$ And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone;
I will make him a help meet for him.
$2/19$ And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the field,
and every bird of the heavens; and brought them unto the man to see
what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living
creature, that was the name thereof.
$2/20$ And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the
heavens, and to every beast of the field; but for man there was not
found a help meet for him.
$2/21$ And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he
slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead
$2/22$ and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a
woman, and brought her unto the man.
$2/23$ And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my
flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
$2/24$ Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall
cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
$2/25$ And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not
$3/1$ Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which
Jehovah God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said,
Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden?
$3/2$ And the woman said unto the serpent, Of the fruit of the trees of
the garden we may eat:
$3/3$ but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden,
God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest
$3/4$ And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
$3/5$ for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes
shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.
$3/6$ And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it
was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make
one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave
also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.
$3/7$ And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were
naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
$3/8$ And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in
the cool of the day: and the man and his wife hid themselves from the
presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the garden.
$3/9$ And Jehovah God called unto the man, and said unto him, Where are
$3/10$ And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid,
because I was naked; and I hid myself.
$3/11$ And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten
of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
$3/12$ And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she
gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
$3/13$ And Jehovah God said unto the woman, What is this thou hast done?
And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
$3/14$ And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done
this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the
field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the
days of thy life:
$3/15$ and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy
seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his
$3/16$ Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy
conception; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire
shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
$3/17$ And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice
of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee,
saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake;
in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
$3/18$ thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou
shalt eat the herb of the field;
$3/19$ in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return
unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and
unto dust shalt thou return.
$3/20$ And the man called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother
of all living.
$3/21$ And Jehovah God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins, and
$3/22$ And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to
know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also
of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
$3/23$ therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to
till the ground from whence he was taken.
$3/24$ So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden
of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way,
to keep the way of the tree of life.
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