* *

Reviewed by Don Webb

The title page says, "Stewart Home asserts his moral right to be identified as a rampant plagiarist bent on reinventing world culture in its entirety." The book itself carries the helpful blurb, "In the tradition of Skinhead, Suedehead, and Bootboys." This collection of short stories by Neoist Stewart Home is a sweet introduction to sado- anarchy. Some of the stories, "Frenzy of the Flesh," "Anarchy,""Straight," and "Pusher" appeared in various Neoist art publications before the Art Strike of the early nineties. The remaining stories are from early 1993, and show the increased venom the art strike brought.

Neoism might not be a household world to people who are a long way from the underground press scene. Certain aspects of Neoist writing include:
1) Radical leftist/situationist thought.
2) Praxis of cultural terrorism.
3) Participation in the Art Strike of 1989-1992.
The first of these is an easily found thread for most current critics. The second pushes at our ability to talk about it a little. We may look upon the radical plagiarism of Kathy Acker, or the money graffiti art of Istvan Kantor with fond memories of Fluxus. We can deal with games to subvert "the system," but it's a different challenge to see Kantor's blood art (painted with his own blood) or read the golden shower scene in "Bondage Boy" (perhaps the best story in this collection) and keep the same tolerant smile. We suspect that either these people are bug crazy, or we suddenly glom onto the fact that they're serious. The third criteria of Neoism, the Art Strike, leaves most people puzzled. When the Neoists announced that they weren't going to do art for three years, it was seen as a media joke. Surely they were bidding for attention, and a sorry bid -- who misses poetry in cheaply produced underground rags?

But the Neoists were after an entirely different experience than pulling Old Man Media's leg. In what can only be called a magical exercise, they refrained from art in order to build up rage. The poets and writers reading this -- who know what hell it is to have writer's block -- will understand this. The Neoists put themselves through this state -- three years of sitting on their hands -- in order to become mean. To gather the energy for their art to make a sufficient attack on the world. This is not the joy-driven art of hippies, but a dark chthonic approach to art -- a postmodern Satanism that would have made Lord Byron pale.

Stewart Home with his nine tales of sex, violence and riot is the leading practitioner of the school, and certainly his publisher AK Press has done a good job of cultural terrorism by publishing him and America's only noteworthy revolutionary, peter plate. AK Press brought out the first field guide to Neoism in the seminal The Assault on Culture: Utopian Currents from Lettrisme to Class War. Although the particular forms of cultural terrorism for many Neoists consists of money graffiti, pseudepigraphy, and the manipulation of the media (and identity) under commonly held names (Monty Cantsin and Karen Eliot); Stewart Home's preferred mode is anarcho-sadism, a political act with magical overtones. Although jokes about dominant and submissive sexuality abound on network sitcoms, this can only be taken as a sign of just how taboo this form of sexuality remains. Today many sexual variations have been accepted, if not condoned, by the establishment. However, Sadean sexuality has enjoyed little of this acceptance. The fact that D/S or S/M sexuality remains so taboo is a barometer of its power.

The language that Home uses to describe sexual acts reveals the bio=mysticism of sado-anarchy. Every time semen is referred to -- whether in an auto-, homo- or heterosexual act -- Home describes it in terms of genetics, as "liquid DNA." Every anus or vagina is always termed mystery, and it becomes an important act of communion to share this substance either between willing partners, or of communication when semen is used to mark the targets of the class war -- either rubbed in their cuts, or stolen from them just before they are killed. Only during orgasms or scenes of ultraviolence is there transcendence. From "Straight": "Orgasms over, they found themselves returned to a world fractured at its very core by hierarchical relations." Or again in "Pusher": "But as the wash of simultaneous orgasms receded, the pair were returned to a world held in check by hierarchical madness."

The nine stories are: "Frenzy of the Flesh" featuring an Art Action (which turns out not to be art but real) involving lit cigarettes and pricks, and a discourse on the incomparability of DNA and Christianity. "Grrrl Power" which has a strong message on how to deal with the gender slur of transvestism by having violent Riot Grrrls catch them and beat them on stage. "Anarchist" a tale of sex and violence in a three-story abandoned squatted house, along with a discourse on Werking Klass Kulture. Significantly H. P. Lovecraft, pulp poet of the chthonic, is among the heros of Werking Klass Kulture, an overt recognition of the magical side of sado-anarchy. "Straight" is about two art-whores who actually manage to sell their shit during the height of their popularity, but wind up blowing all their money on smack. "Bureaucrat" is the tale of an estates agent who abuses his daughter and has the highest eviction rate in the UK, and his bloody end. "Class War" is the education of Ostroki, in addition to being a near anagram he's also a hopeless believer in the specto-situationist movement and his own heterosexuality. He learns, after killing an anarchist who's fucking the woman he's obsessed with, how much he needs a master -- fortunately the woman's boyfriend, and leader of Class Justice, shows up and, turned on by the murder, fucks Ostroki. "Bondage Boy" is the story of a writer whose latest work is a fictionalized biography of H.P. Lovecraft. His work doesn't sell well, but he does get abused in the manner of his preference by his publisher. Unfortunately the forces of evil, the publisher's brother, who looks only at the bottom line, eliminates the profitless Raymond from the list. "Pusher," which is a classical moral fable, tells how Adam Stanovich conquers the worlds of politics, crime and religion. In the height of his power -- shooting up a hospital ward -- a well tossed bedpan brings him down. The last story, "New Britain" is a visionary tale of anarcho-sadists burning down boring publishing houses. The words of the closing paragraph describe a Neoist paradise, "Girls punched their fists in the air and boys fainted as Hamish wiggled his pelvis. Clothes were thrown in heaps on the floor and very soon a huge orgy was in progress. This wasn't the new Britain dreamt of by the Guilds, but a society in which the imagination had seized power! . . . In the new society, great writing would be made freely available to the people, while literary bores who wanted to read traditional crap would be shot."

The message of Stewart Home's book will be lost on most of its reviewers. Modernists will look upon this as a "Cry from hell." In reality Mr. Home is writing a How-To book, and this falls beyond the language and scope of current criticism. Neoism isn't nice art, that sits there and doesn't do anything. Its practitioners are quite serious about destroying and remaking current culture. Home's work is the work that the religious right does fear -- he hopes that it is a model for behavior. A model for violence that will disrupt capitalist patterns in the objective world, but Home and the Neoists are interested in a far more radical power than that. Although the work of sado-anarchy is keyed to the experience in the objective universe, its ultimate domain is in the subjective universe beyond the constraints of this world -- and ultimately beyond Heaven or Hell. Satan's revolt was as naught to this.

Promo video for No Pity

Books & Writing

No Pity by Stewart Home cover
UK edition.

Np Pity by Stewart Home cover of Finnish translation
In Finnish with additional stories.