Derek Pell - Cultural Revolution run amok. Anarchic, turbulent, a vast sea of spam, spies, hoaxes, viruses, porn cults, hacker claques... Copy that!

Derek Pell, Little Red Book of Adobe LiveMotion: A Radical Guide to Flash Animation (No Starch Press, 2001)


“...a wordplay master and a parodist of great wit and cunning.” - Robert Coover

“the most wickedly funny writer in America.” - Larry McCaffery

"Written as an absurdist pastiche of Chairman Mao's red badges, which were to inform the citizens of "correct" political information, is a reference guide to Adobe's LiveMotion software. The text serves as a humorous instruction manual for using flash as a political tool to oppose corporate culture and to foster a political revolution against capitalism. Resignifying symbols, images, and texts, the book is an example of the fluidity of meaning and identity found in the World Wide Web.
Written as a warning, the book is framed as a rare surviving copy of a book of endangered species from England's Victorian period. The illustrations serves as puns and wordplay combine with nostalgia, pastiche, and found materials to serve as an absurd, but nonetheless less meaningful warning on extinction and humanities role in the environment."

"In 1966, Chairman Mao called for a revolution, demanded one, in fact, that would rid China of its bourgeois habits and customs, its history and customary ways of thinking. Mao's party made him sole author, as it were, of the propriety and legality of text and image, a process that led to the destruction of ancient buildings, art objects, and temples, not to mention loss of life. The revolution was supposed to criticize imperialism, regenerate the revolutionary spirit and purge "bourgeois" elements in the government. Mao made of the Revolution a kind of spectacular performance, at once scripture, drama, and revolutionary exhortation; all of China became a stage on which its people pronounced the great economic success that never came to be. Out of the Cultural Revolution grew the phenomenon of massive Mao badge production, those visual texts that provided the masses with correct political knowledge - correct being complete and utter devotion to Mao. The badges were fundamental in that they had the ability to both mark those who `believed,' and spread the image of this ubiquitous, indefatigably brutal man. And with that began The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
Mao's revolution is parodied and lambasted in Derek Pell's outrageous Little Red Book of Adobe LiveMotion: A Radical Guide to Flash Animation, a reference guide for LiveMotion, Adobe's version of animation software. Operating both as an instruction manual and send up of Mao Zedong's famous collection of sayings, Pell's Little Red Book stirs the revolutionary ghost of Mao Zedong from the tomb of memory as an act of wit and parody that informs the entire text, a scheme sufficiently lunatic to appeal to the nonconformist character of animators and Web designers. The book begins with an image of Mao followed by the quotation, "You move me," initially addressed to The People's Liberation Army. Both the image of the man and the text attributed to him gain meaning that is modified within the context of Adobe's animation software, the purpose of which is to manipulate text and software in the spirit of revolutionary technology. Pell asks his army of animators to infiltrate, animate, and dominate the Web, knowing that in this software lies a potential for both revolutionary and economic success that escaped the original Cultural Revolution.
Before getting into a discussion of the theoretical and parodic elements of this book, it seems to me necessary to investigate the book's primary objective of providing practical reference for the novice user of Adobe LiveMotion. Pell's easy to navigate guide includes information on how to sketch out designs for Web pages, how to integrate the use of Photoshop and Dreamweaver with LiveMotion (a critically useful skill for this type of software), how to employ toolbox, vectors, palettes, and LiveMotion objects (which Pell refers to as "Capitalist Tools"), how to use readymade shapes, styles, and textures in Adobe's Library, how to add and mix audio files and, of course, how to animate words and texts. Pell begins by describing how Adobe LiveMotion is superior to Macromedia Flash. While Flash uses a frame-based Timeline, LiveMotion uses video graphics logic in which you can layer objects equally and, consequently, manipulate each object separately. Separate handling creates an environment in which two or more animations, running on separate timelines, run simultaneously. In other words, LiveMotion allows for an animation within an animation. (However one problem with Flash that Pell identifies is that it reads each frame as one object and hence, can only manipulate one object per frame.)
Other useful topics covered in this manual include the "White Bones Demons" and the "Proletarian Preloaders." The "White Bones Demons," a reference to Jiang Qing, Mao's fourth wife, act as a sidebar warning label on the program's traps and pitfalls. The chapter on preloaders goes into great detail explaining preloaders - a nested animation that runs while your main animation downloads - in ways that are both efficient and interesting. The examples of animation, many of which are provided in glossy color pictures, allows the animator to see clear examples of what she is capable of producing with this program. Although some of the links provided in this book, including the titular www.littleredbooks.com, are no longer active, those that are active are neatly categorized into such subjects as Flash sites, image sites, and Lit and Art E-Zines. The book concludes with a bibliography that covers not only books on animation and website design, but also Chinese politics, Maoism, and absurdist literature.
Throughout this instruction, Pell makes countless references to, as well as provides countless images of Chairman Mao. Pell explains himself in his introduction to Little Red Book:
But you may ask, is it proper, that is, correct Marxist-Leninist-Mao Zedong Thought to publish a computer book filled with satire, puns, and visual mischief? Of course it is - especially when the goal is to revolutionize the computer book industry by defeating all big fat feudalist manuals and replacing them with svelte, absurdist guides bent on Web domination. And as the Web continues to evolve and revolutionize our lives, I think it's fitting that I resurrect the obese ghost of Mao Zedong to spur us on to bolder experiments, so that we may create great and glorious images and engaging, immersive, interactive animations for the Web. Web Workers of the World, Unite!
Pell begins by explaining the `revolutionary' capabilities of Adobe LiveMotion. Because Adobe LiveMotion allows a user to delete designs, Pell refers to this as purging "anti-Maoists design ideas." The system itself is revolutionary, in that it brings motion graphics to the codeless masses and destroys those systems that do not allow coding by "the people," allowing for the potential to revolutionize animation. Pell describes the program as inciting a revolution among animators:
Word of the new weapon spread like wildfire through cyberspace, igniting the imagination of rebel artists and designers around the globe, inciting downtrodden geeks and weary workers to rise up and cheer the New People's Interface (NPI). A better Mao's trap had arrived, and the ranks of the People's Army swelled. The beta was quickly branded a `Flash-killer' by the People.
Pell uses the image of Mao throughout his instruction to invoke the practice of image manipulation employed throughout the Cultural Revolution. The myth of Mao Zedong was circulated through the use of Mao badges, those (re)imagined images deployed and distributed by the Chairman. Mao badges were `pre-web design' images whose ubiquity resulted in the worldwide dissemination of Mao's image and proved instrumental in sustaining Mao's power by acting as agents of indoctrination. Like the Mao badges themselves, Pell insists on taking the recognizable image of Mao Zedong and completely reinterpreting it. Pell produces, alters, and invokes the symbols, myths, and values of the Cultural Revolution, resignifying these patchworks of symbols and producing new meanings for them in absurd contexts.
Pell's use of the image of Mao does not seem solely absurdist (although certain images of Mao, including ones in which he is used to peddle deodorant, Uncle Ben's Rice, and Red Lobster are clearly so) and arbitrary here but, rather, seems driven by the identity he is trying to construct for his audience. Pell is asking his audience to take collective action; he is telling us to forge an alliance of revolt against corporate culture using LiveMotion as a tool (the fact that this software is itself a product of corporate culture is one Pell seems to ignore). Pell's readers are supposed to oppose corporate culture and their identities are supposed to be partially defined by this political struggle (a clear victim of Pell's assault is the Microsoft Corporation; "Defeat Microsoft now!" states a character in one of his animations).
The manipulation of images, for which the program is used, is itself symbolic of the fluidity of image, myth, and identity that Pell sees as the state of the World Wide Web:
The Web is the Cultural Revolution run amok. Or, if clichés are your cup tea, it's the Wild West. Anarchic, turbulent, a vast sea of spam, spies, hoaxes, viruses, porn cults, hacker claques, glittering litter... It's a cosmic supermarket tabloid gone berserk.
Language also becomes part of Pell's project of manipulation as he instructs "Liberation Animators" to animate words and take the static nature out of text, making the destruction of the signifier also part of the artistic project:
We've created a couple of animations that have effectively subverted text by transforming just object opacity and position, but that's only the tip of the iceberg - imagine the possibilities with stretching, skewing, rotating, and deforming type.
Pell defines himself as an artist coming to this project, "not as a technocrat or geek." He is a neo-luddite and a subversive, one whose sensibility is shaped by absurdists and avant-garde literatis. This book provides tools for the rebel in a language that the rebel can understand and enjoy by appropriating the technocratic nightmare in order to claim corporate tools for the artist, not the capitalist or the programmer. Pell goes on to state, "I began my life as an artist working with papers, scissors, and spray adhesive. Being self-uneducated, my medium of choice was collage". Pell is asking artists to take up these new media technologies in order to disperse their art and their anti-establishment beliefs.
Hackers and programmers are described as bourgeois because of their specialized knowledge and they are defined by Pell to be anti-art, while "Web workers" (read: animators) are described as lowly in opposition to programmers who produce software. When Pell asks that his readers use a minimal amount of code, he adds as an afterthought, "Hey, I didn't mean to scare you back by using the word code. I'm not now, nor have I ever been a code junkie". Adobe LiveMotion is opposed to Macromedia Flash, in that Flash becomes a prime example of a tool that is unworkable by the masses of artists, of one that gets caught up in the hands of "code-snorting geeks" and has a "big, steep bourgeois learning curve."
Because the possibility of popular struggle relies on the production of a communal identity, Pell's Little Red Book acts as a call to a community of resistance, a community whose denizens share an identity of outlaw socialist and insurrectional artist fighting against the constraints of capitalism and the specialized knowledge of the programmer. He transforms the animation software into a site where battles over identity and Web control are fought. Pell tries to construct a project that can unify animators under a collective will of political struggle, fashioning an identity for his audience that is at once politically subversive and technologically savvy in which the animator is identified as the excluded, the oppressed, the underground. Of course Pell's own project is doomed to exist under the same constraints as the anarchic Web, in which his own anti-establishment, Maoist animation Army will always remain only partially and contradictorily loyal.
Although the revolutionary potential of this software is real, Pell identifies the Web as being more hospitable to trained programming professionals and proprietary corporations than to animators, artists, and writers. Before an aesthetic and cultural revolution on the Web can occur, the "codeless masses" must be provided with the tools to transfer authority from the programmers and software industries to the artists. As the production of art is the animator's source of collective energy, the animator requires software specifically designed to be both technically savvy and user friendly. For Pell, LiveMotion acts as a tool without which The Animator's Revolution would be a manifestly futile expedition. LiveMotion, in other words, leaves animators armed for the fray." - Lisette Gonzales

Derek Pell, X-texts (Autonomedia, 1995)


«Collection of iconic sexual and erotic literature, in which each story is a meta-story, or treated version, of the original. Examples include Lady CHatterley's Loafer, Lolita, Over the Hill, and 9 1/2 Weeks: The Long March

"Derek Pell is a wordplay master and parodist of great wit and cunning. In this volume, he sets his sights on some of the classics of "dirty literature," producing such masterpieces as "Naked Lunch at Tiffany's," "Up Fanny Hill," "Sexlus," and "Lady Chatterley's Loafer."


Derek Pell, The Marquis De Sade's Elements of Style (Permeable Press, 1996)

«Introduced as a "found book" originally published by Marquise de Sade while in an lunatic aslym, with pictures and edits done by the "author", Derek Pell. Presented as a book on style, it is divided into four sections, Elementary Principles of Composition, A Few Matters of Form, Words and Expressions Commonly Misued, An Approach to Style, and an untraditional index, with wood print images either designed or found and incorporated throughout.»

Derek Pell, Assassination Rhapsody (Autonomedia, 1992)

"A pataphysical interpretation of the Warren Report on the assassination of JFK, which Pell argues should stand as a hallmark of postmodernist fiction. We can testify that, in the annals of conspiracy theory, no one has ever seen anything like Pell's document. A poetic expose of curtain rods, bullet design, and grassy knolls, with a journey through Oswald's secret diary."

"A deconstruction version of the materials in the Warren Commission Report. Examples include the use of collage and absurdism mixed with mechanical manipulations and transformations of the Commission texts' in A The Nature of the Shots, illustrations in A Bullet Theory Poem, and lipogram in The Magic Bullet."

Derek Pell, Doktor Bey's suicide guidebook: Introduction and collages (Dodd, Mead, 1977)



"Never feed your sexual appetite leftovers.—Doktor Bey, in Derek Pell's Doktor Bey's Handbook of Strange Sex
In order to ease the sense of discomfort reported by some readers during their initial textual encounter with his previous books, Derek Pell has asked me to greet you here in this introductory parlor (as it were), where I will offer a few words about his background and provide some information about the sort of literary "ride" he'll be taking you on in just a moment in X-Texts. Lest there be any misunderstanding, you certainly should not mistake me for one of those zoot-suited literary pimps who hang around in front of establishments spouting the usual blurbabel about the naughty pleasures awaiting you inside this or that text, or how happy this or that writer is going to make you, etc. etc.. Rather, my role is merely that of someone already experienced in "the pleasures of the X-Text" (to paraphrase Barthes) who now can offer you a relaxing Intro-aperitif[3] and who will then escort you directly to "Aphrodite Aviary"—the doorway (as it were) to Pell's custom-built "hot rod" that is gassed up and waiting to take you to realms of X-Textual pleasures you never dreamed even existed.
Derek Pell: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Happy Hooker
If by literary "prostitution" one refers to making a living by helping readers "get off," then Derek Pell has been an active “member”; (so to speak) in good standing of the world's oldest literary profession since the heady days of the late 60s, when he left a brief stint at Chicago's Art Institute and began publishing the first of his scandalous unclassifiable text-and-collage works, which were soon quietly circulating among discriminating readers of magazines and journals.[4] By the late 1970s Pell’s “Doktor Bey”; books began to appear from commercial houses.[5] These works—which included his first major meta-pornographic book, Doktor Bey’s Book of Strange Sex—began to attract for Pell a devoted following among readers whose taste in text ran towards something a little more kinky, transgressive and playful than the kind of linearly organized, missionary-positioned, slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am experiences they endured at home with traditional realism.
The reactionary, sexually repressive Reagan years, however, found mainstream publishers "cleaning up their acts," and Pell, along with many other writers deemed textually "promiscuous" or "literarily incorrect," were rounded-up en masse and told to either get outta town or sanitize their works so that "decent readers" would no longer have to be solicited by "morally and aesthetically reprehensible" authors every time they took a stroll through their neighborhood chain bookstores. For a writer like Pell—whose very essence as a performer had to do with exciting his customers with textual acts that reeked of the very sense of shock, irreverence, and liberating energies now being deordorized by an 80s culture increasingly dominated by a humorless political correctness and safety-fascism—the choice was very obvious: he found alternative ways to textually excite and delight audiences in less publicly visible haunts. That there was some legitimate grounds for certain readers regarding Pell's textuality as being "perverse," "painful" and "disgusting" is undeniable; that others could just as accurately describe their responses as "excruciatingly pleasurable" remains an ongoing vindication of Pell's refusal to revoke his commitment to polymorphous textuality.
Thus began an odyssey of nearly a decade in which Pell found himself mostly plying his trade once more on the pages of the strange underground world of small presses and literary journals. From a personal standpoint these must have been frustrating years indeed for Pell; ironically, however, having to perform for a much smaller but more aesthetically experienced and demanding audience also pushed him to further refine his skills (albeit regressively so) as a writer, visual artist, and satirist.
This “regressive refinement”; is evident in a number of pieces included in X-Texts —for example, "Aphrodite's Aviary,”; "The Kama Sutra of Rabelais,”; “The Nonsexist Sutra of Vatsanaym,”; “Sox,”; “Lolita Over the Hill,”; “The Elements of Style,”; “Up Fanny Hill,”; “Tropic of Crater,”; “Sexlus,”; “Anais Nin’s Architecture of Desire,”; “Lady Chatterley’s Loafer”; and several pieces that might be termed “strip tease”; performances. In these works Pell intertextually provides his audience with a glimpse of a series of texts by several of the most venerated and respected authors associated with “serious”; pornographic representation—Nabokov, Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Sade, Rabelais, Jean Deberg, Stein, Burroughs, Nicholson Baker, etc. Liberated from the uncomfortable “proper”; narrative garments which usually cloak pornographic discourse in a deceptive veil of logic, rationality, causality, and rhetorical “high seriousness,”; they are verbally retrofitted by Pell in garish, outlandish costumes and then pushed out onto the page-stage; there, sternly “disciplined”; by Pell’s choreographed word-play, they perform a ribald series of naughty and nutty skits that display their charms in a manner that most readers should find both delightfully absurd and perversely sensuous.
At any rate, the blend of aesthetic anarchy, black humor, social commentary, and irreverence found throughout X-Texts confirms for me that Derek Pell is 1.) almost single-handedly keeping satire alive as a serious art form today and 2.) currently the most wickedly funny writer in America—a country that suddenly seems to have lost its sense of humor." - Larry McCaffery (Read more:
http://spinelessbooks.com/mccaffery/pell/index.html)


"PELL, Derek (1947). A various and eccentric writer/artist, he published a series of Doktor Bey collage books with a mass paperbacker and more experimental visual-verbal texts with smaller presses. Under the witty pseudonym Norman Conquest he has initiated yet more radical acts such as applying first-class postage to a dollar bill, rubber-stamping it, and mailing it to a friend. This got him in trouble with the FBI for “defacing U.S. currency,” which might rank among the few artistic acts to generate the G-men’s interest. His single most extraordinary text is Assassination Rhapsody, which is refined commentary on the great modern mystery of John F. Kennedy’s death. Its pages include in both visual and verbal forms lots of pseudo-information that are superficially credible but finally ridiculous. To quote Larry McCaffery: “This blend of aesthetic anarchy, black humor, social commentary, and irreverence establishes Pell as currently the most wickedly funny writer in America.” The Little Red Book of Adobe LiveMotion is, no joke, a witty guide to computer animation." - www.richardkostelanetz.com/examples/dag3.php



Derek Pell, Naked Lunch at Tiffany's, JEF Books, 2015.


Treat yourself to a hot and hilarious lunch—served up by the author of Assassination Rhapsody, the writer The Review of Contemporary Fiction hails as "the postmodern master of parody." This collection of satirical texts skewers and roasts every major work of classic and contemporary erotica, from the Kama Sutra to Fifty Shades Of Grey. John Strausbaugh in The New York Press said "Pell's deft lampoons are like precision sniper fire." Novelist Robert Coover said "Derek Pell is a wordplay master and a parodist of great wit and cunning." D. Harlan Wilson calls NAKED LUNCH AT TIFFANY'S "...a true work of literature." Includes a shocking and inflammatory introduction by Nile Southern, author of The Candy Men: The Rollicking Life and Times of the Notorious Novel Candy. Curl up in bed with NAKED LUNCH AT TIFFANY'S and enjoy some seriously wicked fun.



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