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STUPID UNDERGROUNDS - MANN
Stupid Gurus - Page 29

in the name, that emptiness is all that was ever at stake in it.19 One is reminded of the wars for possession of the term "dada," equally vacuous and equally invaluable. Thus Cantsin is not only an anarchistic be-your-own guru, a figure of a "poesie fait par tous," but both the attempted subversion of this structure and the immediate failure of that subversion in a proprietary struggle.

[23] Dobbs, the all-American salesman messiah, the avatar of modernist simony, is constructed in that same empty place, but by a sophomoric priesthood who pretend-believe that he is real and never either abandon the illusion nor mistake themselves for him. He is always other and never a joke, no matter how ludicrous the limits to which he is pushed, because those who promote his absurdity insist on its literal truth even at those moments when they are most outrageously at play. SubGenius claims that Dobbs is the only truth, and indeed he is. Stupid force, stupid necessity. What I wish to mark here, in part, and as usual, is a perversion of criticism itself. Although everything one needs for a critique of the stupid guru is noted in the Dean-Massumi critique of the despot and leader, here we find none of the distance, separation, and rejection traditionally necessary for even so radical a criticism as theirs. The stupid guru of SubGenius is the image, the juncture, of criticism as dumb embrace, a delirious, mocking, hysterical, literal, fantastic embrace that in effect squeezes the life out of the Other (Dobbs has been assassinated at least twice) without ever admitting that it does so (he never quite dies); the cult of Dobbs crystallizes a rabid overparticipation in the stupid spectacle of the real that goes far beyond any "blank parody" or "postmodern pastiche."20

[24] We cannot leave this icon without noting another of its elements: the serial character of the stupid guru, the rock star, the "role model": never an absolute master, because he can be exchanged at any moment for another figure, another other; he is a place holder for a rapidly shifting field of empty, ephemeral, and tenuous attachments. No viable cult will ever grow around him, only an ever-shattering hall of mirrors, a high-velocity phase-space of weak and yet perpetual narcissistic identifications. One surfs through stupid gurus, as one surfs through cable channels or the channels in the video-porno booth, in a process that is the very

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