Craig Schuftan


Der Kultur Club

What to say in front of a Warhol, how to tell the difference between early video art and The Muppet Show, a short history of very long notes, and how to tell if your piano has had enough to drink. Twelve modernist manifestos, ten reasons to love Yoko Ono, five poems in favour of total war, four kinds of irony, three ducks, two sheds, and one radical Grandpa. Fluxus and the Flaming Lips, Duchamp and Dizzee Rascal, Bauhaus and Acid House, Dada and Nirvana. See, hear and learn about all this and more at my monthly Berlin evening, Der Kultur Club: An inspiring, entertaining and 100% jargon-free introduction to modern art and ideas in a cosy cafe. If I called it a 'literary salon', that would make it sound more serious than it actually is. More like the kind of night where you get pleasantly drunk but wake up the next morning feeling smarter.

Unreadable Books and Unspeakable Crimes 
March 2013

Meet Marshall McLuhan - media theorist, troublemaker, and inventor of the phrase, 'the Global Village'. Find out why, over three decades after his death, people are still calling him a prophet, despite the fact that he was wrong about almost everything.

While You Were Sleeping
May 2013

Nobody cares about what you dreamt about. Everybody knows this is true, except modern artists and rock singers, who have spent the last hundred years or more trying to get us interested in that dream they had last night about that burning giraffe alien metropolis invisible businessman holding a bunch of grapes which later turns out to be a galaxy or something. Amazingly, sometimes it works.

Mind The Gap
June 2013

On the widening gulf between art and life, and what Yoko Ono, Ben Vautier, the B-52s and Beat Happening did there.

A Very Brief History of Very Boring Music
July 2013

In 1920, Erik Satie composed a piece of music you could play in the background while people talked and ate dinner. Annoyingly, the first time he performed it, everybody stopped what they were doing and paid attention to the band. The Kultur Club is pleased to report that this problem no longer exists in the world today.

Lady Dada
August 2013

Hannah Hoch, Linder Sterling, the secret life of magazines and the cut and paste revolution.

Dirty Books
November 2013

A pornographer and a purveyor of filth, or a champion of free speech and sexual liberation? While you were pondering that question, Maurice Girodias made a small fortune selling dirty books to lonely sailors. By the time you came up with the answer, he'd spent it all on cars and cognac. That's just the kind of guy he was.

The Actual Ping Pong of the Abyss
December 2013

Meet Antonin Artaud, poet, playwright, amateur percussionist, Balinese gamelan enthusiast, and author of a 1947 radio play that was so damn weird it was pulled off the air and locked in a cupboard for almost fifteen years after it was recorded.






I Life

"Could it be that we come to the city in order to achieve solitude? Such has been the unspoken premise of the modern city of utopian individualism. By solitude I do not mean isolation. Isolation is a state of nature: solitude is the work of culture. Isolation is an imposition, solitude a choice."

walkman | ipod | iphone | isolation | solitude | city | the crowd

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Infancy and Progress

"The whole human species, looked at from its origins, appears to the philosopher as an immense whole, which, like an individual, has its infancy and its progress … The totality of humanity, fluctuating between calm and agitation, between good times and bad, moves steadily though slowly towards a greater perfection."

Said nobody, at any time in the last one hundred years. Nowadays, our view of the future is more like the one seen from the middle ages than the Enlightenment. But from where he stood in 1750, or perhaps sat, on a chair a bit like the one pictured above, the French statesman and economist Jacques Turgot could look back on the past five centuries and see a gradual transition from primitive agrarians torturing and killing each other over superstitious nonsense, to the confident era of the Enlightenment, with its stupendous advancements in astronomy, medicine and physics.

enlightenment | progress | history | kubrick | 2001


Lost Paradise

'Thus it is well known that a child learns to walk, talk and to know his way around the world just by trying something out and seeing what happens, then modifying what he does (or thinks) in accordance with what has actually happened. In this way, he spends his first few years in a wonderfully creative way, discovering all sorts of things that are new to him, and this leads people to look back on childhood as a kind of lost paradise. As the child grows older, however, learning takes on a narrower meaning. In school, he learns by repetition to accumulate knowledge, so as to please the teacher and pass examinations. At work, he learns in a similar way, so as to make a living, or for some other utilitarian purpose, and not for the love of the action of learning itself. So his ability to see something new and original gradually dies away. And without it there is evidently no ground from which anything can grow.'

guns n roses | axl rose | daniel bohm | childhood | creativity

Rolling Stones

No Satisfaction

'That human life must be some kind of mistake is sufficiently proved by the simple observation that man is a compound of needs which are hard to satisfy; that their satisfaction achieves nothing but a painless condition in which he is given over to boredom; and that boredom is a direct proof that existence itself is valueless, for boredom is nothing more than the sensation of the emptiness of existence. For if life, in the desire for which our essence and existence consists, possessed in itself a positive value and real content, there would be no such thing as boredom: mere existence would fulfil and satisfy us. As things are, we take no pleasure in existence except when we are striving after something—in which case distance and difficulties make our goal look as if it would satisfy us (an illusion which fades when we reach it) ...'

rolling stones | arthur schopenhauer | philosophy | rock and roll | desire | boredom


Moral Motifs

'There is a sentimental rhetoric which readily waxes emotional about deserving paupers and unhappy millionaires alike, and which rails against money... These melodramatic and moral motifs are part of the everyday lives of poor people. Verbal propaganda of the rich, they make up the greater part of the average person's ideological baggage. Disguised as an indictment of money, they justify wealth by reducing it to a mere accident of the human condition...'

mo money | mo problems | lefebvre | biggie smalls | notorious BIG

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'The bigots, the hysterics, the destroyers of the self - these are the writers who bear witness to the fearful polite time in which we live... Ours is an age which obsessively pursues health, and yet only believes in the reality of sickness. The truths we respect are those born of affliction. We measure truth in terms of the cost to the writer in suffering - rather than by the standard of an objective truth to which a writer's words correspond. Each of our truths must have a martyr.'

kanye west | spike jonze | susan sontag