Letter to Artforum (04/94)

re: interview with Laurence A. Rickels (author of The Case of California, in Artforum, Oct 1993).

To the editor:
Though there was a lot to read in the October issue, I turned to the Rickels piece first to see if there was any more to it than I’d found in his book The Case of California. But the vast self-promotion on Rickels’ part—speaking of his works as “major,” etc.—and the mindless generalizations of both interviewer and interviewee were staggering. Rickels’ so-intricate game-playing with Freud et al. was a series of slipknots, and the California they were talking about was more recognizable to me from old Newsweek features than from anything in situ. I doubt very much if the equivalent of “In much the same way that Californians believe that everything can be cured” would have gotten past you if “Californians” were replaced by “Mexicans,” gays, black people, white males, etc.

If you see Rickels around, you can tell him that when, after a lifetime in California, I visited Germany last June, I did feel uncannily at home there and did not feel like a foreigner, not even as much as I do in New York (or as Rickels obviously and delightedly does in California). But the reasons for that lack of foreignness, I’d guess, are almost entirely personal and particular. Rickels can put that in his thesis—which seems to hold that in a construct like California there are no individuals, no personal and no particular—and smoke it.
—Greil Marcus
Berkeley, California


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