A Brief History of My Reactivism: An Interview with Michael S. Moore

Michael S. Moore is a California artist. He spoke with 10 Years + Counting’s Sandy Maliga about his essay, A Brief History of My Reactivism.

[SM] Please describe the project.

[MM]  The “project” is my ongoing response to America’s war[s] with the world at large as well as its corporate controllers’ war with the American environment and economy.

[SM] What motivated you to do it?

[MM] I despise hypocrisy.

[SM] Were there any surprising outcomes?

[MM] That it has gone on so long [and that, although this is naïve,  the inspirational circumstances have continued unabated for so long, ongoing].

[SM] Does the series speak to issues about war in general?

[MM] The war is in men’s minds for men’s minds, eternally.

A Brief History of My Reactivism

A year after it became obvious that the Bushwhack Crew was coming to power [as the media’s sudden re-demonization of Iraq in September of 2000 clearly indicated] I was In Manhattan just before their remaining agenda was inserted and just after the towers fell.  There was a brief euphoric lapse of rationality among some [“…dancing in the cafes at night and revolution in the air”, but that shit never lasts] in recognition that a desperate message had been sent to which we as a nation could respond with empathy, possibly initiating the beginning of an era of reconciliation, but, nah, wrong recipients; the worst, in fact. So within weeks we went to war, never-ending, with the world, ostensibly in the name of Democracy but in actuality on behalf of an evil and desperate cabal of unsustainable extractionists.

During that brief interim I was staying on the upper west side, worrying as planes in holding patterns from JFK or Newark would circle the city; returning to the west coast I painted a painting called “Two Airliners” – the sky had certainly been recontextualized.

Within a very short time “we” were using our awesome military superiority to yet again fail to overwhelm a backward third world country and every day I felt obliged to produce a scatological cartoon in reaction to whatever outrageous piece of propaganda du jour the media spewed forth most infuriated me, a collection   loosely titled “Demockery, or, With Liberty and Justice for Oil”;


This went on for a couple months, gaining an enthusiastic if limited audience until I decided the whole enterprise was just “allowing the ‘terrorists’ to win” and returned to my own work.

Of course, despite my best efforts to ignore them the terrorists kept winning, or at least pushing, on all fronts, and soon enough I became embroiled in a struggle to keep what came billed as the “largest coal plant in the west” out of my Nevada backyard.  Strangely, but fortuitously, that degradation was defeated, though not immediately and not without cost.  It is doubtful, in the political climate of 2011, that such an outcome could be repeated.

Meanwhile on another front the terrorists, shockingly awful, made good on their intention to invade Iraq, and with war all around and more people getting pissed at the US of A every day I revisited an earlier, less strident, series, a selection of drawings and paintings called “Pacific Theatre” [2004 – 2008, roughly].  These works were based on souvenir photographs of various engagements during the Second World War my father had collected during his time in the Navy, which I found tucked away in his desk after he died.

Midway through this re-visitation of the War in the Pacific my seldom-seen but ever-cryptic son announced he was enlisting in George W. Bush’s Army, which inspired a good deal of discussion and analysis to say the least, and put the project in a whole new context not to mention our several relations to the war, generally.  Out of his service came a further – into 2009 – extension of the project, as while he was stationed in Korea he sent me photos from those military archives to work from.

The most recent and personal investigation of this subject, as war goes on on all fronts, has been to use Bryan’s actual photographs from Afghanistan, where he was deployed in 2009 -2010 [and will be again, most likely] to make simple, meditative ink drawings, which by now, without the benefit of any distance at all, become merely a way of reaching towards an experience which is, for the most part, men and machines in a landscape and  tribal culture that passionately wishes them away. For me this is strictly personal; the drawings merely depict what is there; my judgments remain implicit, but suspended.

Increasingly these bloody and bloody-minded spectacles seem to be mere circuses dedicated to distracting us from the war being waged here at home by shadowy corporate entities dedicated to the demolition of the most essential aspects of our survivable environment; as I said above, prevailing against a coal plant backed by the might of empire [as opposed to the might of the much weaker – ten years ago – Cheney empire] would now be unthinkable.  Thanks to the sleazy stealth of the Obama BLM in recent years tens if not hundreds of thousands of acres have been auctioned off to be fracked for “clean” natural gas, with no oversight and the potential to completely destroy aquifers and local waters from sea to shining sea, as they say.

Without “energy independence” though, the “terrorists” win, they say.  Whereas, once our air’s destroyed and the waters are gone, no terrorist in their right mind will want anything to do with us. Clearly a ‘win-win’.

On the other hand, who are these “terrorists”, anyway?  Some poor fuck in a turban with an RPG who’s willing to sacrifice himself because he hates the freedom we assume to incinerate his family with a mouse-click from a windowless bunker in Riverside, California, or the individuals who perpetrate infamy in the demented spread of meaningless “democracy” across the world while destroying all potential for life that doesn’t pay them for the privilege here, there, and everywhere?

Or, as my usually cheerful brother Kirk Moore [ http://www.wmkirkmoore.com/] put it;

“The unfathomable depth of the warmongers’ greed has plunged us and the world economy into inescapable debt and looming ruin.   But they don’t seem to care…as long as they keep getting richer at everyone else’s expense (poverty or death…doesn’t matter).   Everyone has drunk the Konsumer Kool-Aid…and now we’re caught in a vicious, self-perpetuating circle to the bottom.

Without massive production/consumption the system breaks down and we starve. With it we deplete all our resources and starve.  Anyone with half a brain viewing our species from outer space would just shake their heads and fly away, saying “those assholes are fucked”.

Not to worry, however…Nature bats last and will remove our blight from the planet.  It won’t be pretty, but cancers must be dealt with.”

Well, to paraphrase Scoop Nisker, “If you don’t like the news go out and make some of your own”…just don’t expect that it will, in these triumphal times, be reported…and don’t get me started on the so-called “free” press; as Allan Weisbecker says “the bullshit is relentless and it comes from everywhere”.

Michael S. Moore


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