‘To Hell with Herbert Read’

Mel Jordan, Andrew Hewitt, Dave Beech

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Abstract

Freee write manifestos by taking a pencil (or a laptop) to an historical text, usually belonging to the entwined traditions of the avant-garde and political activism. Sometimes, as Tristan Tzara advised, we choose the text according to its length, while other times, such as in this instance, we selected the text according to the conditions of the invitation that triggered the writing of the manifesto. Our manifesto ‘To Hell with Herbert Read’ was written originally as a contribution to a conference held in Manchester that took its title from Herbert Read’s book ‘To Hell with Culture’.
‘To Hell with Culture’ is a book that cuts itself off from the world whereas ‘To Hell with Herbert Read’ relocates Read’s book in a world of cultural, social, economic and political actualities that are part of common experience. Read rejects culture because he thinks it is a useless, wasteful, elitist, puffed-up, decorative supplement to the functional, factual, palpable, purposeful world of things. He is a positivist kind of modernist who presents himself as the opposite, an enemy of the status quo. He is an anarchist of a particularly bourgeois hue: he wants us all to have decent pots and pans, not the inferior ones that are supplied by market forces cheaply. Rather than taking his aim precisely to target the dominant forces of his day - the industrial capitalists and their financiers - he rejects the world and all its inhabitants. He not only despises elitist culture but popular culture too.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-46
Number of pages8
JournalAnarchist studies
Volume23
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2015

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Keywords

  • Manifestos
  • Herbert Read
  • Spoken Choir
  • Dissensus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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  • Cite this

    Jordan, M., Hewitt, A., & Beech, D. (2015). ‘To Hell with Herbert Read’. Anarchist studies, 23(2), 38-46.