Tag Archives: Christopher Knight


T.A.Z. versus the Kleefeld Art Museum at CSULB

The author of “T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism” died three weeks ago. If only he could lived long enough to see the cultural debacle that’s taking place at California State University, Long Beach, so that he could savor why his book still remains so relevant! Or better still, if only he was still in good enough health so that he could be hired by CSULB to pass out free copies of his book to anyone with enough schadenfreude to visit the exhibit that is currently up at CSULB’s art museum.

Christopher Knight’s commentary in the LA Times pretty well sums it up.


Since Knight cites specific titles of some Kleefeld’s writing, I would like to add this postscript:

I remember all too well encountering Kleefeld’s Climates of the Mind when I worked at a bookstore in the late 1970s, which was founded by several people including two friends, Lenny and Randy. We had various writers and poets read at that store: John Rechy, Patricia Hampl, Dennis Cooper, James Krusoe, Leslie Scalapino, T.C. Boyle, Richard Howard, Kate Braverman, Ted Greenwald. I was in charge of that store’s reading series and I can assure you that Ms. Kleefeld had absolutely no chance (as in ZERO chance) of reading at that store.

I also remember not that long ago reading about the donation of ten million dollars to the CSULB art museum back and feeling utterly helpless. “Clueless,” I thought to myself. “This is going to be like the fate of a certain opera singer in Citizen Kane.”

I’m not sure how CSULB’s art museum can recover its dignity. It would be far better for the campus’s art museum to still be confined to the fifth floor of the campus library, which is where it was located when I visited the campus around 1980 and had the pleasure of taking in an exhibit of Jim Dine’s pencil work. It was the first time I’d ever realized pencil drawing could be as accomplished and meaningful as painting. Does anyone believe that visiting Kleefeld’s exhibit is going to be a memorable encounter?

I suppose CSULB should be grateful that nobody reminded Christopher Knight of a certain exhibition of tape recordings at the campus’s art museum a few years back, an exhibition that seems to have gotten shut down because it made someone at the Chancellor’s Office uncomfortable. Maybe on the other hand if a generous benefactor had given the university ten million dollars, somehow that exhibition would suddenly not have been seen as quite so confrontational. The contrast between these two exhibitions is a rather daunting indictment of wealth’s presumptuousness and institutional gullibility.