- Fluxus: The Practice of Non-Duality by Natasha Lushetich
by Natasha Lushetich. Rodopi, Amsterdam, the Netherlands and New York, 2014. 274pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 978-9-0420-3851-6; ISBN: 978-9-4012-1094-2.
Natasha Lushetich makes a valuable attempt to understand systematically how Fluxus is preoccupied with structures of power/authority and its convolutions, capable of moving from simple acts of refusal to deeper and open contestations of hierarchies, institutionalizations and cultural sedimentations. Such a pinning-down of the research scope benefits both the central argument and its intuitive dispositions. At various levels, in fact, this book structures itself around Fluxus’s urge to eradicate established dichotomies between content/form, subjective/objective, rational/corporeal, rituals/play and as a response sets to create alternative relational systems (pp. 21–22). In this sense, to fully understand the intellectual potential and pitfalls of its premise, Lushetich investigates Fluxus with regard to Derrida’s decentered play, Gramsci’s approach to the human as “processual,” and Zen-inspired inter-expressive aesthetics (p. 14) .
While a published version of her dissertation project calls for a stronger editorial hand and a more refined elaboration of the writing style, this book nonetheless traces an heuristic methodology for laying claims upon how Fluxus is both symptomatic and a product of the cultural paradigm that has perpetuated it. Underlying this argument is the practice of “non-duality,” interlaced here as a theoretical approach and explicated in seven chapters. Th e first, which technically accounts for the introduction, not only presents the volume’s structure and overall organization but also proposes to move beyond a rigid disciplinary approach.
In fact, Lushetich shifts her discussion from merely delineating some of Fluxus’s basic traits to opening up the scope of research toward more abstract categorizations related to its most distinguishing features: its “non-hierarchical heterogeneity,” categorical slippage, “its tendency to bricolage” and “its emphasis on performativity and interactivity” (p. 10). Once Lushetich anchors her project around these pivots, her argument benefits as she expands them into the subsequent chapters. However, in moving forward, the volume rehearses some of its methodological preoccupations. For example, the second chapter, on the one hand, indicates Lushetich’s dexterity with her topic but, on the other, the course of reading is often suspended as she drifts from one concept to the next, thus raising technical questions that, at times, are either left unexplored fully or remain unacknowledged. Nonetheless, this chapter sets out Fluxus’s response to leveling the dichotomy of content/form in language by “exploding the ‘playing field’ of signification, by emphasizing the gameness as well as the pervasiveness of language and by harnessing the interpolative powers of language” (p. 29).
Throughout the third chapter, Lushetich examines the practice of Fluxus with regard to the dichotomy of subjective/objective as bound to temporality. She transitions from “the two world theory, derived from the notions of fixedness and reification in the world beyond” to how “Fluxus compositions, films and durational performances perform and thus produce time” (p. 23). Despite its conceptual slippages and based on a speculative premise, Lushetich recognizes Fluxus’s dismantling of this dichotomy as a creative response to well-formed expectations about time/space relationality. From there, the principal concern of the fourth chapter is to read inter-expressive aesthetics in a somewhat delimited sense. By drawing connections along the inter-aesthetic scales of the rational/corporeal, she marks out the human body as the locus of interplay and implies causalities through the idea of interconnectedness.
If the inter-expressive aesthetic model is pressing here, then what strikes most is the dominance of modes that indicate how Fluxus disrupts congruent systems of signification, as in social rites, and pledges a full-fledged turn toward “a simultaneous multiplicity of realities” (Chapter 5, p. 183). There is, to be sure, a body [End Page 302] of Fluxus works (Flux Wedding, Flux-Mass, Flux Funeral, among others) that disrupt such dichotomy, but perhaps Lushetich’s argument would have gained if, at times, it did not reflect upon itself. In general, this chapter is complemented by the sixth, which examines the problem of value and sets...