enterprise. Apple has no obligation to carry Supervert books in the iTunes store. I remain free to sell the books elsewhere or to give the things away. Anyone can still access supervert.com on an iPhone. But the situation changes if Apple begins to filter what I can access on a web browser or if bandwidth providers decide to moralize about the traffic they carry.
SDk: Anyone with a computer and internet connection can put whatever material they want on the internet, and they do. Do you think there is any material on the ’net that should be censored? Do you think there is any material that should be illegal, whether in print or on the internet?
S: In principle I am opposed to censorship, yet I am… ermmm… philosophical enough… or perverse enough… to recognize that I ought to approach any “principle” with skepticism. It doesn’t take much effort to imagine some benefits of censorship. Allow me to do the censoring…
I forbid corporations from putting logos on Vincent Van Gogh.
I forbid intellectuals from appearing on television.
I forbid the celibate from touting the virtues of celibacy.
I forbid novelists from putting product placements in satires, bodice-rippers, anti-novels.
I forbid Americans from adorning their cars with bumper stickers that say “Be nice to America or we’ll bring democracy to your country.”
I forbid advertisers from bastardizing philosophy with “I shop, therefore I am.”
I forbid the terminally ill from renouncing their beliefs.
I forbid terrorists from vlogging the execution of hostages.
I forbid control freaks from issuing instructions.
I forbid anti-semites from using smilies.
I forbid legislators from making decrees about love.
I forbid reporters from sticking microphones into the face of misfortune.
I forbid doctors from prescribing antipsychotics to children.
I forbid the sane from proposing definitions of sanity. It’s a conflict of interest.
I forbid suicides from writing notes that pretend there are reasons.
I forbid the sexually frustrated from discussing atomic secrets.
I forbid coroners from filing autopsy reports on matters of aesthetics.
I forbid the CEO of death from issuing his annual report on nihilism.
I forbid God from the practice of literature.
SDk: That’s quite a fascinating list; it could spawn a battery of new questions, but I’ll keep it to one I find particularly intriguing: why would you forbid intellectuals from appearing on television?
S: Schopenhauer once said that “whoever writes for fools always finds a large public.” If he were alive today, he might modify this to say that whoever addresses a large public has to make himself into a fool.
I’m being cheeky. After all, you could rightly ask, “Why stop there? Why not forbid intellectuals from posting to YouTube? Why not forbid them from every form of public appearance?” But then I think of how enjoyable it can be to discover online video of, say, Georges Bataille. The joy, though, has nothing to do with his intellect or what he says. Instead it is a matter of a
nonintellectual experience of the man – his voice, expressions, gestures, dress, composure. So if intellectuals are to appear on television, perhaps they should do it in the manner of Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests or the recent vogue for “long portraits.” They should relinquish discourse for the difficult art of posing, concentrating their powers of thought in an expression of the eyes or the movement of a pinky across an eyebrow.
Schopenhauer once said
that ‘whoever writes for fools always finds a large public.’
SDk: How difficult do you think it is, or what problems are involved in, defending artistic and literary freedoms when the internet is flooded with material that claims to have some kind of artistic or literary intention but is of very poor quality? Will the Henry Millers and the William S. Burroughs – or even the David Brittons – of tomorrow be banned by corporate decree, if not by law, before their work has had a chance to be recognised, and be lost along with the third-rate outpourings of a multitude of bloggers and scribblers?