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PostSubject: Antony Hegarty - Future Feminism Sun May 20, 2012 6:54 am

Below are some excerpts from an article about the American singer Antony Hegarty, who proposes that the future belongs to some advanced form of feminism. I find his thinking slightly ludicrous, as he appears little more than a member of some sub-cult, but mainstream culture, especially state funded institutions, seem to embrace his way of thinking. I would be interested to hear the responses from other forum members. Particularly interesting is his obvious feminine appearance, about which he says very little, but is surely in some way the root of his worldview.

Quote :
Antony Hegarty: 'We need more oestrogen-based thinking'

As Antony Hegarty prepares to curate this year's Meltdown event in London, he talks about the artists who have had the greatest influence on his life and career – and why 'future feminism' will make the world a better place.

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Though he has been an important figure in the New York avant garde for 20 years, Hegarty grew up in Chichester, west Sussex. He is 41 now, but he is so curiously boyish in manner that you can well imagine him still as the awkward British chorister, developing a bit faster, and a bit more unconventionally than his fellow descants; he still looks both at home and not at home in these suburbs, a big man who has got used to projecting his inner hermaphrodite quite comfortably.

The creation of his androgynous persona, and the discovery of the possibilities of his voice, was a mix-and-match of influence and experiment conducted over many years. His first forays into art were collages and cut-ups of magazines, which he still makes and exhibits from time to time, cultural references spliced together to form vivid and unsettling wholes. He takes the approach into other areas of his life, too, he suggests. "I like arranging all my friends as constellations, and I do love the process of curation, so this is perfect for me." To prove the point he sets his smartphone on his knee and starts scrolling excitedly through the acts he has lined up.

First up in an eclectic list – "mainly ecstatic female voices with a few queens thrown in" – is Marc Almond, whom Hegarty has persuaded to appear in his Marc and the Mambas incarnation, the side project of his Soft Cell years. Almond has become a friend, but in his teens Hegarty was the obsessive fan. "Marc pretty much singlehandedly determined my future as a musician and the style of music I would pursue," he recalls.

Hegarty moved out to California in 1981. The family were following his father's work as an engineer; they had gone first to Amsterdam, before ending up on the west coast of the US. Hegarty is not keen on public psychoanalysis and pretty wary of sharing even the facts of his life, preferring mystery, but he hints that the abrupt shift across the Atlantic was not an especially happy one for him. In Chichester he had enjoyed singing with the choir but that opportunity was not available to him at school in the US, where singing was considered "effeminate" and "shameful" among the boys. As he reached puberty and his ambiguous gender identity became more defined, he suggests he wasn't bullied so much as left to his own devices. His reaction was, he has said elsewhere, to confront his identity head on: 'I started wearing more makeup. That's the honest truth. I started probably about 12… 13."

As he applied his eyeliner, Marc Almond made him feel as though he was not alone. Previously his only musical crush, inevitably, had been on Kate Bush. But he looked on Almond as something like a cross between a role model and a guardian angel. "I always felt he had kind of left a trail of breadcrumbs for me, to follow him into music," he says.

Hegarty likes his singers to embody different kinds of courage, "people who deliver a vision of the world they totally believe in".

Hegarty has always been drawn to voices that self-consciously channel female mythic power.

His South Bank lineup will include not only the return to a mainstream stage of the ethereal Scots vocals of Liz Fraser, once of the Cocteau Twins, but also the "Edith Piaf of Turkey", Selda Ba˘gcan, who took up the people's cause against the generals of Istanbul armed only with a guitar, and Buffy Sainte Marie, who invigorated electronic and folk music with Native American wisdom in the 1960s and 70s.

"Well," he says, "I think it was but in just in a very typical south of England way. I was raised walking around on the South Downs at weekends on my father's shoulders. And with a sense that nature was for ever. The critical shift that has happened in our lifetimes is the idea that we are actually undermining that whole belief. Can you imagine the burden on the psyche of our species that has involved? How can we possibly process that without massive global summits on what we should be doing? Instead we are being divided and conquered by this terrorism scaremongering and half the world, including most of America, is tied up in patriarchal religions that believes apocalypse is the climax of what we are waiting for."

Once he is into his stride on this theme, there is no stopping him. Hegarty was an ardent Christopher Hitchens fan, slayer of "sky god religions that destroy our connection with the natural world and promote the idea that paradise lies elsewhere". As a transgender person – and he has no wish to define the "meat and potatoes" of his sexuality any more precisely – he sees himself as having a small headstart on most of the rest of civilisation in his intimate understanding of the need for feminine power structures to restore imbalances created by "patriarchal religion, patriarchal economies and patriachal government". In this way he has moved from the deeply personal emotional conflicts and epiphanies of his earlier songs to what he sees as a more political message. In this vision the drag queens and trannies that he came of age among in New York are not only defiantly transgressive but also prophetic.

"There was another article I was reading in the Guardian," he says, with a grin, "about a year ago that declared there was no fundamental difference between men and women. I mean, are you off your rocker? The whole problem is this difference between men and women and our lack of self-knowledge about it. Our bodies are like computers with two different operating systems. One is called testosterone, one is called oestrogen. The same body, different software. And within the transgender community you see this very clearly. You watch people take oestrogen or testosterone and you see them change not just physically, but their whole way of thinking, their whole approach."

Has he ever experimented with that process himself?

"No, but I have seen it very intimately, and the changes are not subtle, they are fundamental…" Hegarty has perhaps always been aware that he has the capacity to shift between these two operating systems, to try them both on for size and communicate in his highly allusive way how it feels. "The future," he declares in his stagey whisper, "is bringing more understanding of how we make the decisions we make on a biological level, and then to step back from that and see what is going on. We need more oestrogen-based thinking, basically."

If Marc Almond helped him to understand this calling, it was watching the film Mondo New York, about the lives of Manhattan performance artists, when he was 17, that allowed Hegarty to see where he had to go to be himself. One star of that film, Joey Arias, "is my New York hero really," he says. "In the film I saw this queen dressed as Billie Holiday, singing in the voice of Billie Holiday A Hard Day's Night by the Beatles. It was like seeing a black swan made out of razor blades or something. So elusive, so threatening, so androgynous, so sexual. I was still living in California, but I knew I had to go and see Joey."

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Not long after he arrived in Arias's New York, Hegarty formed the Blacklips Performance Cult, a drag theatre troupe with whom he put on weekly shows at Mother, a club in the Meatpacking District frequented by drag punks and "gender mutants". The Blacklips performed a surreal burlesque during which Hegarty rehearsed his spellbinding laments, in a show that also occasionally involved throwing offal and buckets of blood at the audience. The Johnsons (the name a tribute to Marsha P Johnson, a transgender activist and leader in the Stonewall Riots, whose body was discovered in the Hudson river after a gay pride march in 1992) followed on from the Blacklips. The band was always a shifting group of collaborators for Hegarty's voice, and though the first Antony and the Johnsons album was released in 1998, it was not until 2003, when an EP called I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy (the cover of which shows Hegarty lying in supplication before a naked Japanese hermaphrodite) caught the attention of Hal Willner, the music director for Saturday Night Live, that he received any wider attention. Willner passed the record on to Lou Reed, who insisted: "When I heard Antony, I knew that I was in the presence of an angel." Reed invited Hegarty to join him as a backup vocalist on his Animal Serenade tour, and the pair have been friends and occasional collaborators ever since (Hegarty is hoping that Reed and his partner Laurie Anderson, of O Superman fame, will both return the compliment and appear at Meltdown).

If for any reason they don't make it, there will be no shortage of friends from Hegarty's meat-chucking Blacklips days. He has, he says, of late helped to form a sort of political group called the Future Feminist Foundation, which has meetings in New York from time to time. They have been working on a manifesto, but it's not the most organised of groups, so they haven't quite drafted all of it yet. The basics are pretty clear though. "It's not a group that thinks women should just crawl towards economic equality in the way we have been engaged in since the 60s," Hegarty says. "That can't be the climax of feminism. It's like gay rights, as if gay marriage is the end point, as if we just want to be included in these business-as-usual institutions. That's not the point of being queer, just as mitigated reproductive rights aren't the point of being a woman. We want to move this forward. Do something great… overturn all these failed male structures of thinking, all this aggression in decision-making…" he pauses in his impromptu stump speech to the mother's union of Kingston upon Thames to laugh a little. "Sorry if I sound nuts," he says.

The unofficial leader of the Future Feminist Foundation, or at least the woman that Hegarty "would follow anywhere", is Kembra Pfahler. She fronts a glam-punk band called the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. "Kembra," Hegarty says, with a certain amount of jealous awe, is "the most hardcore future feminist really."

How so?

"Well, for example she does this one performance piece called Wall of Vagina, which is like seven girls spray-painted different colours and naked and they just pile up on top of each other and open their legs wide and create this wall on stage or in a gallery, this wall of vaginas, and you may not pass through the wall."

That does sound quite a hard act to follow, I say.

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PostSubject: Re: Antony Hegarty - Future Feminism Sun May 20, 2012 2:46 pm

Quote :
"There was another article I was reading in the Guardian," he says, with a grin, "about a year ago that declared there was no fundamental difference between men and women. I mean, are you off your rocker? The whole problem is this difference between men and women and our lack of self-knowledge about it. Our bodies are like computers with two different operating systems. One is called testosterone, one is called oestrogen. The same body, different software. And within the transgender community you see this very clearly. You watch people take oestrogen or testosterone and you see them change not just physically, but their whole way of thinking, their whole approach."
I don't see this at all. Transgender people still tend to retain the physical nature and appearance of their original gender, which is why men who take oestrogen still look like drag queens when dressed as women.

It's not just a software difference, it's hardwired.

Is there some need to not be seen as different which is driving Hegarty views here? Is Hegarty a nihilist at heart?
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PostSubject: Re: Antony Hegarty - Future Feminism Sun May 20, 2012 5:53 pm

Have you read my essay ? [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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PostSubject: Re: Antony Hegarty - Future Feminism Mon May 21, 2012 5:05 am

No I haven't. Thanks for the link I'll give it a read.
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PostSubject: Re: Antony Hegarty - Future Feminism Mon May 21, 2012 5:20 am

Recidivist wrote:
Is there some need to not be seen as different which is driving Hegarty views here? Is Hegarty a nihilist at heart?

I would say that it is more about self-hate. He wants to escape himself, to transcend himself and enter a new form in which he can then, presumably, love himself. The politics, I think, is an excuse.

What is tragic is that he will never escape his Y Chromosome.

Compare with this guy:

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It's the same thing. Body modification in pursuit of a new identity. Escape from the self.
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PostSubject: Re: Antony Hegarty - Future Feminism Mon May 21, 2012 7:57 am

apaosha wrote:
I would say that it is more about self-hate. He wants to escape himself, to transcend himself and enter a new form in which he can then, presumably, love himself. The politics, I think, is an excuse.
You think he wants to escape the fact that he doesn't have a fixed gender identity? Consider:

Quote :
And how, if we respect the binary logic of human biology, do we classify the idiosyncratic Antony? Even his own designation, transgender, hardly does justice to his mutability. One of his songs announces, not altogether happily: "Today I Am a Boy", which leaves open the possibility that he may grow up to be a woman. But another song, delivered with quavery vocal inflections and fluttering fingers, abandons lumpish humanity altogether and reports: "I Am a Bird Now."

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Yet Hegarty seems only to believe in this world, and is not interested in positing alternate realities:

Quote :
Hegarty was an ardent Christopher Hitchens fan, slayer of "sky god religions that destroy our connection with the natural world and promote the idea that paradise lies elsewhere".
Hegarty appears as some kind of neo-pagan.

Quote :
As a transgender person – and he has no wish to define the "meat and potatoes" of his sexuality any more precisely – he sees himself as having a small headstart on most of the rest of civilisation in his intimate understanding of the need for feminine power structures to restore imbalances created by "patriarchal religion, patriarchal economies and patriachal government".

Some of the article is so choice I have to quote it here. Perhaps the first quote a hint of his nihilism?:

Quote :
I was walking round Madrid this morning thinking that it's a done deal with the human species. It's all over thanks to capitalism and Catholicism - or maybe I should say patriarchal monotheism. Why do we have to have endless evolution, perpetual change? Why not stability, balance, keeping things sustainable?"

Quote :
The equilibrium between the genders is, for Antony, a model of how the world should conduct itself, making peace between opposites rather than provoking friction. He then began a quiet rant about global salvation and the need for a "profoundly feminine perspective". 'Jesus was a girl, you know - or she will be, when she reappears. My song "Holy Mountain" is about a female Jesus who's born in Afghanistan 70 years from now, with the oceans rising all around, the human race dying out, only a few dogs and deer left. And the other night at my gig I started talking about Benazir Bhutto. Why did we kill her? John Lennon got so much more airplay, but was he as saintly as Benazir? She was a Joan of Arc, she went back to Pakistan to save her country, even though she knew she'd be murdered. I think I'm going to write an album about Benazir, I can feel it cooking in me.

Quote :
"And look at our new president: sure he's a man, but see who he's married to. Michelle was a senior lawyer when they met, he had to beg her for a date. Everything he does is serving and honouring the feminine. People say it's the end of testosterone politics, of all that bullying and swaggering by Bush and Cheney, but why can't they celebrate the emergence of oestrogen? All Obama's family is female - remember how he loved his grandmother, he has two daughters ..."I interrupted this eulogy to Magna Mater by reminding Antony that Bo, the Obama dog, possesses an inconvenient pair of testicles. He pursed his lips tetchily. "Well, I do have a sense of humour, but this is serious. That's why I'm evangelising. I'm not a Christian but I am prepared to worship Jesus if she's a girl, and all leaders in the world should do the same. And you know why I'm allowed to say this? Because I'm a transgender person and that makes me a witch!"


In this last quote he appears as just another pathetic victim of fashion, a reflection of the zeitgeist at a particular time and place, but nothing more. Completely peripheral to the central strands of human evolution.

Quote :
The kids Antony recognises as the next generation are less than a decade younger than he is, but the pace of change has turned him into a marginalised granny, wishing the juvenile avant-garde well. "Culture is organised so differently now, and it's more elusive. If you're staging radical events, you do it where you won't be observed by CCTV. The internet has made the whole scene virtual, so the city's kind of obsolete. Someone makes a video in their bedroom in Perth, Australia, and then becomes the talk of three continents. I suppose there are still subcultural extremities in America, but not in New York - in Appalachia, maybe?"
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PostSubject: Re: Antony Hegarty - Future Feminism Mon May 21, 2012 12:08 pm

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You think he wants to escape the fact that he doesn't have a fixed gender identity?

I think he doesn't want to be a man. He is male, but he mutilates himself mentally and physically to such a degree that he can pretend he is not.

He's nihilistic to the extent that he posits alternatives to reality that he finds preferable, as the whim takes him.
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PostSubject: Re: Antony Hegarty - Future Feminism Mon May 21, 2012 6:18 pm

People deny that appearance matters. They consider it superficial.

Appearance is more than visual...what appears is what can be perceived using any sens organ yet for man the predator sight dominates his sensual awareness.

The ones born of an inferior stock find solace in the idea of malleability: the concept that centuries of the past can be wiped away with some cosmetic surgery, and some nice threads...the tabula rasa.

Here they find their Will freed, so to speak....but only superficially.
You can change your face but pass on your genes and ....there it is again reminding you that you've only hidden it using technologies.
But appearance is also about all activities that the mind can interpret using sensual stimuli: smell, texture, sound...and more so the image is not simply a look but a movement.
For example, this sick fuck can alter his physical body to appear catlike but he will not be able to move or see or smell like a cat...his genetics still persist to place limits upon him.

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