remember your life up to this point, then forget it

Marshall Henrichs, Poster #3 for the “Blueprint for Counter Education”: Modernism as Meditative Environment / Post-modernism as participatory environment …

In honour of main man Phil Ford‘s latest spate of alt-pedagogical ramblings over at Dial M, here are some excerpts from a Norman Birnbaum review in Change, vol. 2, no. 5 (Sep. – Oct., 1970), pp. 69-74. Thanks Jeffrey Schnapp for alerting me to this. -GL

Before us is a Blueprint for Counter Education, described as “curriculum handbook, wall decoration, shooting script,” and prepared by Maurice Stein (age 44, formerly professor of sociology at Brandeis and now dean of humanities at the California Institute of the Arts) and Larry Miller (age 24, one of Stein’s students at Brandeis). Blueprint consists of a box with the following description:

Inside this box are three charts and a book, the tools for creating a new educational environment. This counter-university makes obsolete the traditional university process. Surrounded by charts, the participant will be confronted by ideas and issues that compel him to interact with everything going on around him—from movies, to riots, to political campaigns. There is no textbook, no syllabus, no final exam; and the “Faculty” includes Marcuse, McLuhan, Eldridge Cleaver and Jean-Luc Godard, The Revolution Starts Here.

The book contained in the box consists mostly of poor reproductions of the covers, title pages and tables of contents of other books. The actual text matter is about fifty pages. There is a bibliography of what might be called the modern mind and to be sure, a set of suggestions or directions, 101 in number. These begin with No. 1, “drop acid and fuck the charts,” and continue through No. 22 and No. 23, “revolutionize your society, revolutionize your life.” On to No. 36: “have a sexual fantasy about Susan Sontag,” continuing with the wise admonition of No. 37, “remember your life up to this point, then forget it,” and the even wiser No. 64, “ignore all this, if you want to,” followed by an entry like No. 80, “place a copy of Heidegger’s Being and Nothingness on top of the charts and then screw the whole mess and forget it,” and concluding with No. 101, “turn out the stars.” […] The whole thing would only make sense if it were a true mixed-media presentation with film, lights, and sound, or very possibly a traveling guerrilla theater complete with agitational technique of the sort calculated to throw even the most somnolent campus into turmoil.

Stein even tried to found a curriculum on the basis of the Blueprint in his capacity as founding dean of the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts. Alas he did not succeed. – GL


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