The Frank Moore Archives

Hidden treasures discovered while digging through Frank Moore's huge archives.

Archives (page 2 of 26)


The following lectures are from Wandbua, the historian. Frank channeled these lectures at the same time that he was channeling Reed and the others in circa 1972. From the book The Art of Living by Frank Moore.


Hello, Frank.  As I said before, when the human creatures of the western woods on the Island of Mann started to have flashes of self awareness — that is, when the spirits of the Sons of Man started 19,000 years ago to enter into these animal bodies — these creatures had no way of coping with emotional shocks.  They had no way of using these flashes in their animal life.  At first, the spirits could only stay in bodies for flashes.  Some spirits who were overeager for physical experiences tried to stay in the body longer.  This caused the death of the body by the burning fever. These deaths started the personal karma of the individual spirits involved, and also added to the collective karma of Man.

Frank, I will go slower so it shall be easier for you to type this.  By the way, both Mr. Reed and myself enjoyed our meeting in the higher astral or alpha dimension of Andrew.  We had been looking for that meeting.  I still keep remembering the many times when I was a young woman on Atlantis playing with Andrew, as the child of my best friend.  When the group was about to leave for Egypt, I asked my friend to give me the child so that I could raise it as my own.  But it was impossible because of my friend’s husband.  I left the island in sadness.  To get back to the history, these deaths created fear of the unknown, of the worlds beyond death.  This fear, placed within these creatures even before they had real self awareness, is one of the roots of the superstitious myths of the underworld, of Hell.  It also was one of the causes of the illusions which trapped spirits after the physical death — trapped them in the lower astral plane until they were born again into the physical world.

Slowly, over several centuries, spirits could stay in the physical bodies for a longer time, first several minutes, but then for about an hour.  In these fleeting states of awareness, the human creatures were suddenly lifted above their automatic animal lives, lives based on fear and physical needs, and were shown themselves — both their physical bodies and their own spirits — and the physical dimension within which they existed, and of which they were a part.  At first, for many years, these creatures when they were in this state could only stare at the terrible beauty that was, and still is, the physical world and more importantly, was them.  After a long time, they began — the individual person in this aware state, began to see relationships, spiritual ties, between himself and his fellow creatures.  At first he saw these kinds of relationships tying to his mate. Remember, at this period, the aware state lasts not over an hour at a time; also an individual creature never had these insights more than three times at the most during his life span of from 25 to 30 years.  After an aware state had ended, after the spirit had departed, the creature had no memory of the insight, of what he had experienced during the aware state. Only vague shadows inside the creature’s brain remained.  But slowly these shadows changed the life pattern of these human creatures.  The change first appeared in the automatic sexual process of reproduction of physical bodies.  The process began to lose its automatic nature, emotional bonds appeared tying mates together.  This is the positive side of the change. On the negative side, the fights over mates in the packs came to be caused less by the instinctual drive to protect the procreation process – the process of producing physical bodies — and came to be caused by emotional jealousy left by the spirits.  Later, about 600 years after the first awareness flashes, this change started manifesting itself in the internal order of the human packs.  Because of this, family tribes grew out of the packs of the Island’s packs about 17,500 years ago and along with them came minor tribal wars.

In the aware state the person, while being aware of all of the tremendous beauty of the physical plane, was not aware of any dimension outside of the physical one.



The following lectures are from Wandbua, the historian. Frank channeled these lectures at the same time that he was channeling Reed and the others in circa 1972. From the book The Art of Living by Frank Moore.


Hello, Frank.  I have not been able to come through for a long time now. First because of the emotional chaos which has been around you, and then because your physical weakness caused by this chaos.  This physical weakness, which is around you still but is not a part of you nor is caused by you, is the reason why our talk this time will be rather short.

Before the Sons of Man entered the bodies of the creatures who dwelled mainly in the Island’s western woods, these creatures were animals of prey. They lived and hunted in packs of ten, hunting deer and goats.  The packs existed because of necessity, not because of group love or loyalty.  Alone a creature couldn’t move fast enough to bring down any game except sick or lame animals.  But a pack could maneuver a herd into an ambush.  The members of a pack only communicated with one another in a hunt.  They used a system or a code of noises which cannot be called a language by any means.  By these noises and body gestures they could move as one being. But outside of the hunt, these noises were not used nor was there unity. Each creature had to be forever on his guard against the rest of the pack. Every day, there were fights within a pack over food, mates and sleeping grounds.  But whenever the pack was attacked from the outside by hungry wild animals such as bears and wolves, or by another pack, the pack quickly became one to defend itself.

This was the life of survival, the first stage where no awareness was necessary.  Every action was automatic in a sense, governed by instincts. This was the world of mechanical reaction to outside dangers.  For a being with self awareness, with a spirit, such as one of the nonhuman villagers, such a life would be unbearable because it was based on fear.  These creatures, however, lived this life without being aware of fear, even though they were totally controlled and shaped by fear.  Understand, Frank, that fear in the state of unawareness is not negative, but as soon as awareness is born into either a world or an individual being, all fears become negative limitations which must be broken through before freedom can be reached.

Frank Moore – Out of Isolation, INTERDREAM

A piece written by Veronica Vera that was published in High Performance magazine, #53, Spring 1991.

Frank Moore communicates his world to his audience. It is a slow world built on trust. Because for a “crip” (Moore’s word to describe his cerebral palsy), time is elongated and things happen through cooperation. Frank Moore cannot move a distance of five feet on his own, but he can lead an audience by giant leaps through innerspace.

Out Of Isolation, Moore’s simple two-character video at The Kitchen, described the initial meeting and subsequent week of physical therapy between a spastic (Moore) and his nurse (Linda Sibeo). At first the patient was unresponsive to the nurse’s well-meaning but torturous, by-the-book approach: pulling at his limbs, massaging him with ice cubes and bristly paint brushes, petting and swatting him as she would a dog. Occasionally, she revealed a personal side, using the patient as her confidant. She decided to return on the weekend to pay him a non-professional visit, and by the end of the visit, they lay naked together, cuddling, sharing. Not only has the patient come out of isolation, but so has the nurse.

This is the pivotal message of every Frank Moore performance: that physical interaction—the sharing of energy, the sensual “eroplay”—is essential to life, and the more we strip it down to its basic level, the more we benefit from the force of the interaction.

That same weekend, Frank Moore and Chero company presented INTERDREAM as part of New York University’s “New Pathways For Performance” conference. Body painting, massage, primal music, chanted poetry—INTERDREAM contained all of Moore’s favorite methods of communication, including the shaman’s tent where he lay naked ready to receive audience members, collaborators, who chose to go deeper into the cave. Among the audience were members of “Disabled in Action” and “Artists With Disabilities. Inc.” They greeted his performance with enthusiasm, and contributed to bridging the gap between artist and audience.

Because I had performed with Frank Moore twice, I thought that if I entered the cave as merely one of the audience members, I might feel a let down. Blindfolded, I was led to a clear space on the shaman’s mat. I reached out and felt bodies, some clothed, some bare-skinned beneath my fingers. My clothes were a barrier, so I removed my blouse and bra. I felt Frank, his thick tongue and glasses, then I felt a woman’s breasts, legs and arms, and I couldn’t tell where one person ended and another one began. I lay with the god Shiva, half-man, half-woman, cradled by warm human flesh, so vulnerable, yet so safe. And then I began to cry. I cried my way out of isolation.

—Veronica Vera

Out of Isolation was presented at The Kitchen in New York City, October 6, 1990. INTERDREAM was presented at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, as part of “New Pathways In Performance,” October 7, 1990.

Veronica Vera is a literary artist. She is creator of The Theory of Sexual Evolution.

The article as published in High Performance. Photo by Eric Kroll.
Poster by LaBash.
The cover of the issue of High Performance that the article was published in.


The following lectures are from Wandbua, the historian. Frank channeled these lectures at the same time that he was channeling Reed and the others in circa 1972. From the book The Art of Living by Frank Moore.


Hello, Frank.  You should know that the group of human spirits which became trapped in the influence of that physical planet Earth numbered five billion; this group has come to be known as the Sons of Man.  You can see the number of physical bodies suitable for human Self-Awareness was vastly smaller than the number of human spirits.  The number of bodies could be increased gradually until about the middle of the last century.  Moreover, most bodies of the creatures which were to become human were not at first ready to be inhabited by spirits, not ready for self awareness.  They were not ready for many reasons.  Because of this some of the spirits stayed in the emotional state of the astral world, while most went into higher dimensions of Spirit to wait until the right time for them to enter physical form.  These few spirits who stayed in the astral world, remained near to the physical plane in their bodies of color lights — bodies of emotions.  Here they could observe the physical world, but could not experience it directly.  These spirits attempted to enter the world of Earth early.  At first they tried to enter the bodies of the two races which already had spirits, self awareness — both the race of which the island’s villagers were a part and the more advanced race which has come to be known in the Jewish myths as the Titans.  This attempt failed without the individuals of these two races becoming conscious of the attempted influence.  This attempt failed because the two races had healthy, positive self awareness — that is, these people didn’t have inner fears or self-doubts.  It has always been impossible for a spirit to enter, possess, a body that is inhabited by a healthy spirit without that healthy spirit consciously willing it.

The result of this attempt was the creation of the first karmic thread of the rope which now ties Man to that physical world.  These few spirits next tried to enter the bodies of the creatures which lived in the island’s eastern woods.  This caused about half of these creatures to die from a burning fever.  The villagers found a few of these dead bodies in the wild grain fields, and were moved to bury these bodies just beyond the holy meadow in the same manner as they buried their own dead.  They never had done this before, nor did they have a logical reason this particular time. But they had a characteristic of following their impulses or inner feeling which was the base of their communal songs.

The human spirits who had stayed in the astral dimension next tried to come into the bodies of the lower animals — horses, cattle, birds, fishes, wolves, etc. — all over the planet.  The result was the burning fever and death for the individual animals.  This event is the base for the animals in myth such as centaurs, mermaids, werewolves and also the half human/half animal gods of the primitive religions of Earth.  This event was handed down orally in myth form and finally was written down in the first book of the Jewish Bible.

The effect of these attempts was to tie Man, or at least the group of spirits, to the physical world Earth.  These spirits had to stay from then near that physical plane until they had corrected this karmic imbalance they had caused in that world.  They could have corrected this imbalance from the astral world at that point.  But they didn’t.  By that time the bodies which were to become human had evolved finally to the point where they could physically accept the spirits into their bodies.  The rest of the Sons of Man again entered the astral world, and prepared themselves to enter the physical world.  They prepared for material experiences which they needed for their growth.  But what had been a balanced world was now imbalances and spiritually dangerous.  This added to the possibility for growth for those spirits who could remain positive in that world.  So the few spirits entered the world within physical bodies while the others waited in astral world for turns.  As I have said before, the first crossings, if you will, were made on the Island of Mann.  At first these were flashes within a fraction of a second.  These flashes of awareness, of insight, left the creatures — mostly older children and young adults — stunned and frightened minutes after the flash occurred.  Moreover, they quickly pushed its happening immediately out of their memory and went back to their lives of animal survival.  This was the best because these animals had no way of handling the emotional shock of being snapped out of the animal darkness to total awareness — not to total enlightenment, but physical awareness.  These flashes expanded very gradually over a number of years.

I must leave now.  I shall continue this within a week.  I shall focus on the history of the island and how it brought about a new spiritual order. But know that self awareness came to the creatures which we must now start calling human (came to the land masses which now are Asia and Africa where the humans were hunters and food gatherers) about 200 years later than the island.  The awareness quickly dulled and the history was physical and carnal.  The historical pattern would have been the same, on the Island of Mann, if the spirit who in the first life was known as Kaliva, and in the second life as Kadham hadn’t taken the responsibility of Man onto his own karma.  Goodbye.


The following lectures are from Wandbua, the historian. Frank channeled these lectures at the same time that he was channeling Reed and the others in circa 1972. From the book The Art of Living by Frank Moore.


Hello, Frank.  Let us continue.  The nonhuman villagers never went outside their wooden wall except in groups of three or more, even to drink from the river.  As I said before, the main reason for this was protection against wild animals, and especially against the creatures which lived in the woods on the island’s west side.  These creatures had been meat-eaters, preying on animals up to the size of deer.  They also killed any villager they found alone in the plain.  These creatures at first killed only for food. The villagers were slender and graceful; by the standards of that primitive world, they were tall — about five feet, four inches on the average.  They would have been physically no match for the stocky creatures, even if the villagers had not been passive.  They had no weapons save fire which they used to scare the creatures away whenever the creatures came too close to the wall.  The villagers were content with staying within the safety of a group and with using their awareness to keep the creatures at a distance.

These creatures were to be the earth homes of human spirits.  These creatures were starting to have flashes of self awareness at the time we are talking about.  The way for these flashes to take place was prepared — Frank, relax.  I am having a difficult time coming through.  I have to try again later today or tomorrow.


The following lectures are from Wandbua, the historian. Frank channeled these lectures at the same time that he was channeling Reed and the others in circa 1972. From the book The Art of Living by Frank Moore.


Hello, Frank.  This is Wandbua.  I have described the Island of Mann on which at the time of which I am speaking, about 19,000 years ago, there was a culture striving.  This was the culture, rather the tribe, of the nonhuman race which had developed Self-Awareness.  This tribe never numbered more than 204 members on the island.  In the world as a whole, this race were only 4500, compared with the 3100 creatures which would become human and the 4700 of the third race which had Self-Awareness.  On the island this tribe had developed a farming culture, that is, they tended fields of wild grains which grew west of their village, and they also picked berries and a few kinds of fruit in the woods on the nearby “mountain”.  They dried these fruits and also some roots and stored these in common to be eaten in the mild winter.  In the summers, they ate mainly grains and honey.  They lived all together in one village beside the river beside the bay near the “mountain”, which was holy to them.  Their village consisted of primitive huts surrounded by a six foot wooden wall to keep out wild animals, especially the creatures who lived in the woods on the island’s west side.  An individual never went outside of the wall alone. At the center of the village there was the common storage hut for food. Materially these beings were not very advanced.  They only had a communal fire which they never let go out because they didn’t know how to start it again; they had only two stone tools.  One was for digging and another one was for cutting wood.  But inwardly, spiritually, they were very advanced. They lived together in harmony.  Their religion and government were merged into one.  But there were no outside signs of either existing, except for several rituals of coming together.  The first of these was collecting around the communal fire at each sunset and each dawn and singing together until they merged together.  Each individual above the age of eight went into himself and found his own personal song or chant for the coming day or night.  The group stayed around the fire until a group song or chant developed and until every individual’s song had melted into the Group Song, while retaining its individuality.  When this took place, the village would break up to either the day’s work or the night’s sleep.  It is rather interesting to note they hadn’t any musical instruments at all or any formalized concept of what music should be like.  The songs came out of each of them differently, and then went back into them when the songs had combined and everything felt peaceful and whole.  They had a ceremony whenever there was a marriage.  Moreover, whenever there was a child born, the whole village would welcome the spirit back into the village by dancing and singing during late afternoon and by a slow, low chant around the communal fire during the early evening.  Each birth was a happy homecoming of an old friend returning to the village.  After the evening Song, each family would take a flaming stick from the large fire and carefully light a fire just outside of the opening of their hut.  Through the night, three middle-aged persons tended all of the fires in the village, while two more guarded the narrow entrance in the wall.  The middle-age of physical life for these beings was at the age of twenty.  There was one other important ceremony which was burying their dead.  These beings believed that the spirit of a dead person had left the village for just a little while and had gone to a land, which they only vaguely remembered.  They expected the departed spirit to come back in a short time in the body of a baby.  Their burial rite had nothing to do with the departed spirit, but the body now empty, itself.  Three persons went to the valley which was just below the summit of the “mountain”.  This valley was a grassy meadow a half of a mile in width, with a thick wood.  The largest of the island’s fresh water springs was located in this meadow with a large creek flowing down the mountainside until it met the river.  These three would spend a day digging a grave, a hole big enough to put the corpse into, curled up into the fetal position.  While the three persons were doing the hard task of digging, they would sing and chant joyfully together.  But they were sure of being back inside the village before nightfall.  The next day, all of the women of the village above the age of twelve carried the body up the mountainside, singing happily all the way, to the holy meadow.  There they put the body into the fetal position and buried it head up in the grave. By doing so, they were giving the body to Earth from which it had come. They were also giving thanks to Earth for their own bodies.  Births and these burials were the happiest and the most sacred of times for these beings.

Frank, you are getting tired.  Rest tomorrow and we shall continue the day after.  By the way, the remains of this village, as well as the city of Mu on top of it in ruin, and the burial ground, as well as the ruins of the White Brotherhood on top of it, are still there under the sea, covered by twenty-three feet of rock.  Goodbye.


The following lectures are from Wandbua, the historian. Frank channeled these lectures at the same time that he was channeling Reed and the others in circa 1972. From the book The Art of Living by Frank Moore.


Hello, Frank. I am Wandbua. I was describing the land and climate of the physical Island of Mann. But before I continue, I must tell you, Frank that recently you have come in contact with some information on the subject we were discussing. Some of this information will be the same as the history I give. But most of the information you have heard was incorrect and the manner which it was told you set you on guard, quite rightly so. But the correct information can carry the tint of the incorrect surrounding it.

Frank, you must test what I have to tell by your inner feelings and objective research.

On the east and north sides of the Island of Mann, there were sheer cliffs along the coast dropping off into the sea. These cliffs averaged 340 feet high, rising out of the sea, and with the highest cliff 408 feet. The inner plain was almost flat slanting southwest. The island had been a part of the land mass now known as South America, about 55,000 years ago. Then it was at the mouth of a great river. The inner plain still had the fertility of a delta at the time of which I am speaking. The climate was milder there than it is there now, almost as the middle part of your California by the sea. There were a few woods on the plain especially on the western side of the cliffs and on the “mountain” on the southeast side of the island. There were five fresh water springs on the island. The water of three of these springs ran together forming a river which emptied into one of the two bays. This bay, more like a cove, was a mile and a half north of the “mountain”. The plant and animal life was the same as was on South America at that time. But there were two exceptions to this. One was the race which had had Self Awareness a thousand years before the time of which we are talking. This race was peaceful, rather inward. These ate plants and were very passive. The other exception was the race of creatures which now are human. These two races had appeared in other parts of the world but never in that half of the planet, except on the Island of Mann.

Frank, rest now. I shall come through tomorrow and shall try to finish this.


The following lectures are from Wandbua, the historian. Frank channeled these lectures at the same time that he was channeling Reed and the others in circa 1972. From the book The Art of Living by Frank Moore.


Hello, Frank.  I am Wandbua.  We got to where human spirits first came into animal bodies for flashes.  I am having a difficult time coming through.  Relax, Frank.  Know that your spirit is your self-awareness which is eternal.  So when I say spirits started coming in and out of animal bodies what I really mean is, the creatures that were living on the physical planet Earth, who were living the animal existence before or after their physical life, suddenly had flashes of self-awareness.  At first these spirits dwelled in the bodies only for a few seconds at a time.  I am still having a hard time getting through, but I will try to continue.

This coming into bodies of spirits has been known in our religions and myths as the Fall of Man.  Coming into physical bodies, however, wasn’t a “fall”.  The human spirits needed to experience things which could, and still can, only be experienced within a physical body within a physical world.  The physical plane is a garden of fruit trees.  Everyone must taste and enjoy these bitter-sweet fruits of physical and material experience. If one sees that world as a beautiful garden and starts tending it, he shall have the fruits and will rediscover the gate which leads to the next garden.

However, these first spirits to enter human bodies in that physical world became tempted by the bitter-sweet fruit, and put these fruits above the fruits of other dimensions.  They stayed in bodies longer and longer, experiencing more and more, especially physical sex.  Finally, these spirits existed totally in the physical world, confident that they could leave their material bodies and return to the astral world at any time they so willed.  But the physical world, and especially their bodies, hardened. It hardened because of the effect this new group or race of Self-Awareness, or spirits, had on this physical world.

Any self-aware being can’t help affecting the situation, world and dimension surrounding him; he can’t escape the responsibility for everything around him.  When the first human spirit came into the planet Earth on the Island of Mann, for that fraction of a second, the whole Earth changed radically, its mineral and chemical substance changed, its plant and animal life took a new turn in their evolution.  Even the karmic timetable of the two other races of Self-Awareness was speeded up; their lessons on Earth could be finished sooner.

As long as the effect of these human spirits on that dimension was positive they were free to come into and go out of that physical world, free to leave the situation.  But once the human effect became negative, the human spirits had to stay in that physical world, with only brief stays in spirit between “deaths” of their physical bodies to the great explosion of energy of the physical human sexual orgasm which rents a hole in a veil between dimensions through which a spirit can pass into a human body.

The human effect on the planet Earth when the human desire or will became carnal has never happened before or since in any other part of the multi-dimensional existence!

As I have said before, the first flashes of human self-awareness in animal bodies happened on the Island of Mann.  This island was 308 miles west of what is now Peru.  It was only 26 miles long and 12 miles at its widest points.  It was just 600 feet above sea level at its highest point at the southeast end of the island, but its inner plain was just 250 feet above sea level.  There were two bays or coves on the east side.


The following lectures are from Wandbua, the historian. Frank channeled these lectures at the same time that he was channeling Reed and the others in circa 1972. From the book The Art of Living by Frank Moore.


Hello Frank, I was known a long time ago — seven thousand years ago, in fact — as Wandbua, which meant “look you to the sea”. It was the time when we, the spirit who is now Debbie, you and I, were in a group of thirty people who attempted to save the culture, the science, religion, art literature of what is now known in your myth as Atlantis. We tried to keep the knowledge and wisdom in the physical world when that island, then thought of as a continent, went down, caused by the people who forgot the reason they had bodies, brains and powers.

What happened on Atlantis, happened once before. Nine thousand years ago, about 300 miles off what is now known as South America, on an island known as Mann, there was a civilization known as Mu. There what you call Humans lived first in material bodies. In the world then there were also two other projects, experiments, programs of Self-Awareness in bodies of dust. These three co-existed, but didn’t mingle, except for a rare intermarriage. One of the two other “races” was more inwardly advanced than any others were then or now. This race or project, which mainly lived in what is now southern France and Spain, had faded from the physical world of Earth, having learned what they had to there in physical bodies, before Atlantis was inhabited.

About 19,000 years ago, on the Island of Mann, the spirits of man started leaving their astral bodies and coming into material bodies, which were already created by the Spirit of the Self-Awareness of Man and had been put into the physical plane. To put it another way, about that time men, primitive men, on this island began to have flashes of self-awareness. Before this, before and after these flashes, they were just bodies, just animals. At first these spirits stayed in the physical bodies only for very brief time periods. They could come into the bodies and leave them at will. To put it another way, these bodies, these animals had flashes of self-awareness, of consciousness that was even more total of that awareness that men have there now.

A page that Frank typed with his head pointer from the original manuscript that now resides at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Mainstream Avant-Garde?

By Frank Moore, December 28, 1996. Published in P-FORM Number 43. Also published in Open Forum #13, Greece, and The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary #7, both in 1997.

I suppose this is a review of sorts. Two things evoke this review. First Martha Wilson of Franklin Furnace asked me to comment on the Furnace’s plans. The second event was our going to a Karen Finley reading [which cost $3 as opposed to $30 for a Finley performance….which I could not afford].

I have to start by saying I consider both Wilson and Finley powerful voices of the avant-garde. When other performance galleries were making artists create “acts” that would fit into “avant-garde” cabarets…fit in terms of both time and fashionable subject matter…Wilson at the Furnace was giving both artists and the art absolute freedom to perform magic…until THEY shut the Furnace down for “fire violations”. Karen and I were among the artists who enjoyed this freedom.

In other reviews, I have likened Karen’s poetry to Ginsberg’s, and her performances to Lenny Bruce’s in their intensity and laser commentary on the social injustices. Her poetry makes me cry. Her passions within her performances have transported me into very deep states of reality.

So it is always tragic to see figures like these get sucked, seduced, absorbed, tricked, bribed into “the mainstream”. It is tragic not only in personal terms for the individual artists, but in terms of the big picture. When an artist sets herself up as being an artist who goes beyond the normal frame, who tells the hard truths, who explores the unknown…not to be hip, or controversial, or to be interesting…but because that is how our tribal human being evolves, so it has to be done…when that kind of artist then goes after money, personal fame, and/or glamour while still claiming to be doing avant-garde art, it is denying society the real evolutionary function of the real avant-garde. It tells people, audiences and artists alike, that the avant-garde is just a branch of the entertainment complex with the same rules, goals, reality as television, rock music, Hollywood, and sports. This is like telling people a can of Slim Fast is a balanced meal of real food. It is a lie. And the scary dangerous thing is artists are buying/selling this lie.

Why am I on this rant? About a year or two ago, Wilson sent out a mass mailing in which she defended art [maybe to funders] as a profitable industry which pulls money, people, and jobs into cities. [True…if you want to make a lot of money, buy property where artists live/create now to sell to the yuppies when they discover the area!] This logic is a very steep, slippery slope indeed. The first glaring danger of this commercialized logic is art, according to this logic, which is not profitable or sellable is not and can not be successful worthwhile art! [Hey, ain’t that the American way?] I am sure Wilson does not believe this.

Although another mass mailing I received from her in November [I have been mulling it over until now] makes me wonder if she has fallen down that slope into believing the lie. Avant-garde art is art that tells the truth, explores the taboos, pushes the limits. Obviously this kind of art, if it is honest, can not be focused outwardly. Historically, often “The People” [who are not the same thing as “the mainstream”] have identified with the avant-garde because it was telling the truth about their lives. The focus of the avant-garde should always be on telling the truth, not on popularity polls and bottom lines. The focus of the avant-garde has been, and should be, on doing art that is as “pure” as possible…not on mass media entertainment of reaching as many people as possible by shaping “the product” to that goal.

In her letter, Martha refers to the avant-garde art as “once unpopular work…formerly at the non-profit fringe”…art that Franklin Furnace, according to the letter, has groomed for 20 years to get it ready for the mainstream…and now “Franklin Furnace is in a position to lead the avant-garde into the mainstream…” This hurts my head and heart. It is as if Martha does not see her own historical contribution of giving daring art a home. Instead, she tries to take credit for gravity and decay. The mainstream entertainment, by it sheer mass, has always sucked artists out of the fringe, the underground. That is just gravity. In reality, it takes a lot to enter, and to stay in, the underground. The underground is where the real freedom and the real ability to change society are to be found. This is why artists CHOOSE the underground instead of the mainstream. This is also why, when an artist is pulled into the mainstream, this freedom and ability decay. In my own career, I have worked very hard to stay in the underground…this work has been hard precisely because some of the pieces have turned out to be “popular” [whatever that means!]…attracting the mainstream sharks.

The mainstream has always tried to create a fake avant-garde with fake controversies, fake taboos, fake “hipness”, etc. to give the marks a controlled fun-ride through a Disneyland to keep them away from the real edge of life. This is because the powers-that-be can not control or exploit what is in the real avant-garde.

All of this is business as usual…and doesn’t scare me.

What does scare me is that someone like Martha bought into it and is becoming a producer of it! Her letter read like a bad Saturday Night Live skit. She is selling Franklin Furnace to get money to match a $100,000 N.E.A. challenge grant. With this money, and by teaming up with the corporate and media America, Franklin Furnace will be a “content provider for new media” that sniffs out “emerging alternative artists”. [Emerging from where to where? Alternative to what?] These artists and their art must be suitable to be packaged as “alternative comedy [a.k.a. performance art]”. The letter tells us this new alternative comedy will be “funny, yet provocative”. There will be a half-hour t.v. show of this. Plus they will produce short pieces to be aired “through” Saturday Night Live [as if that show has been cutting edge, or even funny, in the past 15 years] and MTV [with its history of censorship!]. Moreover they are seeking other ways of giving “audiences a glimpse of the avant-garde world” [whatever the hell that is!] “in an entertaining and easily consumable fashion”…like avant-garde artist trading cards…funded by Philip Morris Companies!

The marketing phrase “alternative comedy [a.k.a. performance art]” is very damaging to performance art because it trivializes art. In fact it avoids “art” all together, selling “alternative comedy” as a weird, consumable form of entertainment which will give you a laugh for your buck. This is not what performance art is. Performance art is the performing/doing/experiencing the act of art. It is going on a physical journey into the unlimited realm of art. Sometimes this journey may be funny or entertaining. But these are not the true goals or rewards. The suggestion [promotion] that these are the rewards of art results in denying people, including the artists, the real full freeing experience of art.

All of this is selling the art, the artists, and the audience way short. I am not questioning Martha’s personal commitment to the real avant-garde art. But realistically such art can not exist in such an environment that she is envisioning. Moreover it is misunderstanding the new media such as the internet and zines. In these media, artists can relate to their audiences directly without middlemen, without compromises, without limiting concepts such as “mainstream”…all for very little money…so why sell out?

But this concept of “alternative comedy” is disturbing. I guess the Karen Finley reading was an example of alternative comedy. She read from her parody of Martha Stewart [why bother?] which she obviously wrote just to fulfill a book deal. The reading was empty schtick, a passionless exercise in cleverness with no content or message. The audience responded with reflex laughter, like a laugh track. The problem was Karen was trying to be an entertainer, a comedian. Karen is not a comedian or entertainer. That is not her function. Her function is to inspire, confront, transmute…to tell the truth with passion. That is why people come to her. When she does not do that, the people are not fulfilled. When she ended her act, the people just sat there numb. Then I asked Karen to read her very deep, very moving poem “Black Sheep”… I just happened to have a copy of it with me. As she read it, magic, life, and power started flowing through her body and out into the audience, uplifting them. When she finished reading, people stood up and clapped…because this was why they came.

Oh, by the way, do you consider yourself mainstream? Do you want to be?

Also from the book, Frankly Speaking: A Collection of Essays, Writings & Rants by Frank Moore, published by Inter-Relations in 2014.