This meme would have never come to pass if Ackerman had not met Florian “The Neoiste” Cramer. Florian was, other than myself and Graf Haufen, probably the youngest person involved with that great cosmic fiasco known as Neoism (at least at the time)–and he was a real go-getter. If anyone in Neoism was actually “learned,” it was probably Florian (now a full professor in Rotterdam)–who at the time struck the figure of a handsome, suit-jacketed, possibly brilliant, definitely a little nervous young man, and was well kept in the German fashion.
You must imagine that he strode into Ackerman’s inward bookstore ecosystem in the mid-90′s and charmed Ackerman (and a few female members of the scene) pumping hands and smiling with his mastery of off-kilter theatrics and deliberately obscure intellectual gambits. It was a week that left an impression on us all, and Baltimore left an impression on Cramer, too.
Shortly after his visit, Cramer produced an issue of SMILE, the Neoist zine of multiple origins, and sent it to Ackerman. It contained a fake academic paper that proved that all of Neoism had been based on the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy — Steiner, who could “see little winged things crawling on the legs and arms of his loved ones” with his second sight.
Ackerman, a hater of technology and true Luddite, immediately began cooking up his “Technocrats for Steiner” mail art, and may have sent the first pieces to Florian the Neoiste, as he called him. Most Ackermemes gave Cramer, who hadn’t been familiar with their origins and context, a lot to puzzle over, but this here was an easy one.
Another departure: I made the mistake of telling Ackerman, several years after Cramer’s visit, that Cramer was involved in a radio show that was at least partially about boxing (a side interest of his; at that time, he was a fan of Roy Jones jr. and his Berlin local hero, super middle weight champ Graciano Rocchigiani. I don’t think he ever boxed himself, though I like the image). Although this was a short-lived project for Cramer, for a decade after, Ackerman would frequently bring up Cramer and ask, “Now John… is Florian still doing that radio show about boxing?” and then sort of chuckle to himself for a minute or two. It never mattered how I responded—my response was utterly unimportant.
I guess you could say Technocrats for Steiner had won.