Adulting, Responsibility and Collapse

Humans desire demise, more specifically their demise. It’s been this way forever. The only change is that of type. Which type of demise, collapse or apocalyptic scenario are you lusting for the most? Do you have pathological obsessions about the Black Death 2.0? Perhaps you wish for an exponentially hotter existence? Or is it just one of the classics? Either way, before man can begin any endeavour, inclusive of his own existence, he begins mentally sketching out the minute details of collapse.

 

Collapse: [kuh-laps]

1 :to fall or shrink together abruptly and completely :fall into a jumbled or flattened mass through the force of external pressure

2 :to break down completely :disintegrate

3 :to cave or fall in or give way

4 :to suddenly lose force, significance, effectiveness, or worth

5 :to break down in vital energy, stamina, or self-control through exhaustion or disease

; especially :to fall helpless or unconscious

6 :to fold down into a more compact shape

 

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Albrecht Dürer, 1498.

 

Even those structures that give us warmth and the illusion of safety grew their roots in eschatological forests. You may believe that true Good is to come, and the faithful shall be delivered unto the new era of Good; or Pestilence, War, Famine and Death may ride down and smite the heathen; or cometh the Day of Judgement; the Newton Occult; death of pre-1914. These examples still each a hot ember in the hearts of many, but the embers have burnt out and all but disappeared for others: The 2011 Rapture, When Prophecy Fails, Y2K, 2012, Heaven’s Gate and an apocalypse for every year (almost) have all been revealed as false prophets in the push for the end.

Even if one is to put pure-theological apocalypticism aside, political movements most notably Marxism and Nazism both strived for a state of perfection, and history will show you the results. More’s Amaurot, the Ballardian High Rise, Fordlandia, Drop City, Palmanova and Ordos all micro-failures in the stupefying realm of anthropocentric hope. And if reality wasn’t enough to nourish your end-appetite then why not turn your skinny necks in any direction: Films, novels, TV and some albums have all begun to act as distraction, medication or disclosure in relation to the end-times.

The opposite to collapse is a failure, why? Desire.

We are currently engorging on a feast of human failure and learning exactly fuck all from it. But why learn when one could, if they so wished, avoid the inevitable: For if you have the money and the audacity you may wish to become an ice-pop, a cryogenic test awaiting re-awakening post-collapse; or become literally vampiric and suck blood from the young.

Hey citizen! Scared of the oncoming collapse? Worried about yours and your family’s safety? Then we have 3 options for you:

Prolong: Why not grin ‘n bear it until it’s all gone away.

Avoid: That’s right, we’ll seal you away until the event is over and all is safe.

Health: Why not face the event head on? But at peak physical health and fitness.”

The desire for collapse is hedonistically transparent. This desire, that desire, the one we all yearn for in moments of despair, the encroaching want for removal of responsibility. To watch as the hierarchies crumble, the institutions cease, to witness the destruction of an infantile God, one without after-thought for its residents: The desire for a restart.

That’s what the majority of us believe, the ignorant mass who view the kill switch as a blessing. Oh shit! We fucked up! Better pull the plug! And as you rip the plug from the wall the building comes with it, your family is crushed and your left without skin. You back away screaming with realisation of the truth; a collapse is a restart combined with the cumulative burden of past failures, mistakes and wastes. The realisation that the collapse ‘event’ is embedded within our future, the mandatory single-line journey to demise, and we all have a ticket. Humanity gravitating towards the dead-time of post collapse, where we wonder aimlessly without hope, reason, use or practical purpose. The clean slate of our most narcissistic dreams is already smeared with shit and blood.

You cannot grasp the enormity of the universe and your atomic place within it, the fact that time and the world does not revolve around you. So you fantasize of the end, dreams of a world in which your life may finally have meaning. Suddenly the ‘store’ no longer exists, and so you’re driven back to your animalistic roots. You now exist in a world where survival is meaning. A world which by all accounts sound extremely hostile with regards to a bunch of vidya addicted shut-ins who rarely get up before midday.

The reality is that of a regrettable scat fetish, in which once the shit hits your face, you finally realise you’ve romanticised the hell out of being shat on. And that will be your collapse.

I’m getting ever closer to the point wherein my posts no longer need a ‘Why?’ as to their creation, that said, the seed that spawned this apocalyptic assemblage was a piece of terminology: Adulting. A term which repeatedly appears within the feeds and threads of left-wingers and liberals – often quite famous ones. For those that don’t know the meaning of this toxic signifier, here is a description. Inclusive of housework, booking appointments, cooking, cleaning etc., basically, it signifies doing practical jobs needed to survive in a world where survival is secondary. Don’t keep your house tidy? Oh well, untidy house for you. Can’t be bothered to cook? Just head to a take-out. Each and every need is catered for you by a third party, you sold out your nature to the cheapest bidder.

The term implies an inherent contradiction within society. For there’s a clear desire for a restart, and a very clear message that we’d have no fucking clue how to. For those who’ve yet to read David Korowicz’ Trade Off, read it.. A succinct 80 page paper on global systemic collapse, with its primary focus on economic connections. To compress this miserable delight, in short: The economy runs roughly off singular companies/groups doing singular tasks. Tasks which are then connected via multiple means to their next stage. This form of connection runs across all modes of economics, transaction, trade, travel etc. For example:

The farmer who grows the potatoes, knows not how to dispatch them to multiple retailers. And neither does the retailer know how to grow potatoes on a large scale.

So, put precisely, you remove one of these singular moments and all of a sudden the system risks collapsing in on itself, due to a diversified ignorance:

The implication being either, everyone is seriously reliant on the previously made, or, in a darker more post-Hobbesian turn, those who do-not-know are reliant on those-who-know. Don’t know how to grow food? Cook? Clean? I’ll show you, at a price. Work for me, or die.

The concern of post-collapse society will not be ‘How to Re-build’ but ‘How to (did we) Build.’. Ultimately it will be how to take responsibility entirely for oneself. The underlying problem with the term ‘adulting’ and the culture that surrounds it is the refusal to grow up: If one is Adult-ing there’s an implication that the person in question is a child. And what comes with childhood is a lack of acceptance with regards to mortality, structure and responsibility. ‘Adulting’ is the lie that one can truly bear responsibility without sacrifice.

If one is to look for other reasons as to why conservatism and right-wing political thought is gaining traction with youth, they need look no further than what it is the right-wing sells: responsibility. The disrespectful chaos of the left ultimately leads nowhere, and now more than ever the chaos has become physically emboldened by the ‘paradise time-islands’ that are Universities. And so when the young are surrounded by nothing but disenfranchisement, disrespect and blame, those who are sensible look for the groups taking the full force of the burden, those owning up to having to deal with the problem – whatever it may be – themselves. Those saying you can be part of something, as opposed to a free-floating identity in a sporadically pulsating political mess. Those who fully admit that to be part of something one will have to bear some weight, yet the alternative is simply to brush off the slightest piece of liability immediately.

And when the time cometh that society need be rebuilt, one shall find hordes of middle-aged ‘adults’ whining at the reality before them. One shall find refusal of cooperation, responsibility or practical burden combined with irony, sass and general irreverence en masse.

Considering my No Driver at the Wheel list contained ‘Stop Being Pathetic’, and the above post relies on one becoming practical I’ve added a few links and resources:

PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR AN ADULT:

HOW TO LIVE LIKE A KING FOR VERY LITTLE – THOR HARRIS

Jordan Peterson – The Tragic Story of the Man-Child

Jordan Peterson – Responsibility

Stop messing with your sleep – Download f.lux

No More Zero Days

Fitness

Build Muscle


FURTHER:

UtopiaThomas More

The Modern UtopianRichard Fairfield

The Hot Zone Richard Preston

Straw DogsJohn Gray

High RiseJ.G.Ballard

UtopiaChannel 4 (TV)

Idiocracy (Film)

The New World (Film)

On Idle Chatter

 

In writing my posts I realised there is at least objectively one thing I always strive to free myself from: Idle chatter, or idle talk. chit chat, banter, gossip, tittle-tattle, small talk etc. Actually, that last one is extremely apt. The talk of the small. I’d extend that to the talk of the most utterly boring, vapid, narcissistic, Z-Virus ridden shit-munchers.

The idle chatter I talk of is indeed inclusive of the most basic chit-chat, that of the weather, or ‘how one is doing?’ etc., those care-free seconds when faced with a retail employee both parties believe has to be filled. What a dreadful world to have to live in, where each and every mutual silence others feel compelled to fill.

 

Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.”

Samuel Beckett

It should be obvious to the reader as to why talking, as an act, is of such importance. The local and often global act of verbally spreading a message. This is often incredible when the message in itself is sincere, well-formulated, based off previous principles and is formed next to integrity, yet within the realms of idle chatter this is not so. For those 2 old ladies chatting in the queue who merely repeat information they’ve happened to hear to one another is…nothing, for the kids at school to repeat a news story and also repeat the ‘opinion’ is in itself a travesty. This simple act of unloading the ‘weight’ of information from one to another is something entirely lacking in structure. Free-floating tit-bits of information and knowledge dragged screaming from context or source, are remove from their rooted structure and thrown around aimlessly, often to simply fill a void of awkwardness; when one talks idly the possibility for conviction is taken out back and shot.

Not only this, but the lame project of idle chatter inherently decimates active thinking, opinion and thought. One can understand the picture of Corbyn, Trump or North Korea given to them in full, however detailed or vague that picture is, yet if they don’t actively mould that picture with their own tools, they are useless. Make it your own – however marginally – or shut the fuck up.

Anything can be dragged in, anything can be shat out. And none of it matters. No idle chatter matters, or will ever matter. For it was all born from the numbing spew of an idle brain and unrestrained mouth; if no thought or structure has gone into what’s being said, if what is currently audible has not been acted upon within the mind, then, in short, it’s human-static. The static of human life, the point in which all our advances: biological and technological, leave us momentarily as we become fearful of silence. Within a world in which all moves exponentially towards some undefinable ‘event’, moments of silence almost feel illegal. And so those who live in fear of social etiquette, awkwardness and the uncomfortable become slaves to their short term memory, and kick their idle motor into over-drive:

 

God forbid,

I live in silence

for just a second.

Hey Gary, did yo u he re ab out Sarah?

God forbid,

That nothingness lasts

for just a breath.

Gary h e s ting Steven.”

God forbid,

The original to come forth

and the existential to lay its root.

An y way man I’ll let you g t on.”

God forbid,

I live without approval,

or without ease of the day.

Oh my. I ‘ s raining. Again.”

God forbid,

I examine or intrigue.

What a miserable day.”

God forbid,

That I think.

 

The internet has become useful in eradicating idle chatter. The idea of saying ‘hey’, ‘hello’ or ‘how are you?’ before tweeting or commenting is absurd. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with asking ‘how are you?’ only that, if one is going to ask such a question they should have an actual interest in the answer. Which leads me to my main problem with idle chatter: The answers don’t matter. What is asked, said and repeated never matters, these people are just filling a void because they are uninteresting and haven’t a unique thought in their bodies.

2 overweight zombies in the retail queue feel compelled to open their top holes, for silence has come. What falls out is tit ‘n tat, ‘n lil’ bits of shitty gas, this odd hot air that I must back away from. Certain words break through the desensitized-mesh: Weather, doctors, you, me, I, want, need, have. Before long each word fragments into the next and my hearing draws deeper into my head, my vision locks onto the nearest point of interest and I’m taken into a place of deadened static. The sounds of the zombies is a low buzz, my blood no longer works.

I look into the street and a thin man with tar for skin looks at me, smiling. His teeth are made from keys. He’s cleared the street. Before him, knelt, are integrity, wonder, intrigue, examination and awe. He says: “Don’t worry bucko, I’ll slaughter the other synonyms later.” And with that they all die. Quietly, slowly, a most unusual death, one in which the judged appear to be alive, yet aren’t, their skin goes grey, and they can no longer talk, as if their minds are witness to their own death repeatedly.

 

In fact, this can be the 6th addition to my ‘structure list’ from No Driver:

1. Leave irony and cynicism at the door.

2. Allow for maximum human enquiry.

3. Exit as first priority.

4. Rhizomatic conservatism.

5. Don’t be pathetic.

6. No Idle Chatter

A Patchy Discussion: Part 1

 

A PATCHY DISCUSSION

PART 1

 

I

 

It was a brisk night in November, and Toby Norant is heading to a bar. Toby had arrived in Pel-Co a day prior, spending his night in an appointed Traveller’s Motel, of which he’d now used up his allotted time. He has plans, large wobbly plans that couldn’t help but make him feel uneasy at heart, plans which are the reason for his visit to Pel-Co, where his father resides.

The motel’s reception was quiet except for the sound of Toby’s suitcase clinking and ruffling as he moved on through. The woman at the desk tracking him condescendingly as he approaches. “Right, that’s me.” Toby said.

“Let me see, Toby -”

“That’s ri-”

“You still have 8 hours on your permit. What are your T-plans?”

“Sorry, T-Pla-

“T-Plans…terminal plans. Look, what do you plan to do at the end of the 8 hours?”

“Ah, I see. Well, I’ve just got to head to a bar, then once that’s closed I should be back at the shuttle for a collection.”

“Which collection shuttle is that Sir?”

“It’s the one heading to DiviLet, the DL-3 I believe, leaving at 23:30 I think.”

“The DL-3 is to be arriving at 23:00 and leaving at 23:30. Please make sure to give your ID card to the E-booth before leaving. Until then make sure it’s viewable at all times, preferably around your neck.”

“Will do.” said Toby adjusting his lanyard, making sure his ID hasn’t become stuck in any way.

“Which bar is it you’re heading to?”

“Unither’s.”

“Ok, well make sure to stick to the eastern wall for at least a mile. You should see signs for the bar after that.”

“Ok, ta. Well, I best be getting off then.”

“Bye. And remember to hand your card over to-

“An E-booth yes. Bye.”

Awkwardly shuffling from the desk Toby reaches for his ID card so he can open the motel doors. Pastel coloured policy posters line each side of the door, along with a stand of official Pel-Co booklets to its right-hand side. The scanner plays 3 long low confirmation tones before it opens, a click, and Toby is away, entering into the street.

Toby follows the directions given to him, the eastern wall’s presence engulfing his entire form, as well as the houses to Toby’s left. His eyes scanning the surroundings hastily for a sign, yet always being drawn back to the wall, the faraway chatter descending from its top walkways. After a short while Toby begins to worry, he’s yet to see a sign, but as luck would have it a stranger’s passing by. The passer-by a tall, stocky man walking with a sense of determination.

“Excuse me, Sir?” Toby asks the passer-by.

“Yes? Sorry, hello.” Replys the passer-by, a little startled.

“Sorry, I was wondering if you could possibly give me directions to Unither’s Bar?” The passer-by’s focus flickering between Toby’s face and ID card.

“Uh, Unither’s?” The man looking a little confused, as if this was an entirely new piece of information. Drawing his hands from his pockets and putting them to rest over his stomach.

“Yeah, Unither’s Bar. I was told it would be roughly a mile from the Traveller’s Motel?”

“Ah! You mean The Legacy. It changed from Unither’s a few years ago now.”

“Oh ok.”

“Anyway yea, it’s about another 5 minutes or so. There’s a band playing tonight, so you should be able to hear it fairly soon. Enjoy.” The passer-by already on his way.

“Thank you.” Toby says loudly.

The man was correct, it was another 5 minutes give or take. Toby hears the twanging of guitars playing a folk type set – coincidently Toby’s favourite genre – as he approaches. Picking up his case just before the front courtyard Toby begins to look for his Father. The bar itself a quasi-British bar, complete with multiple taps of dark ale, worn carpet and a varied assortment of barrel-gut bearing middle aged men. Toby heads to the front door, which is currently being held open for an old man.

“Sorry mate, just gonna let the old boy through.”

“No worries.” says Toby, wheeling his suitcase out of the way.

“Cheers. Night Rod!” says the old man passing by.

“No wor-” Toby attempts to say.

“Night Steve!” bellows the man holding the door. “Come on then, come on in.”

“Thanks ma-”

“Wait, I’d best check your ID as you didn’t use the scanner.”

“Oh, sure thing.” Toby holds his ID up from around his neck as for the man to view it.

“Ah, I see.” says the man. “Well, to be honest I think you’d best scan it.”

“Umm, sure.” Toby drops his ID down to door’s scanner. From behind the bar come 3 low, but faintly distinguishable tones.

“Right, in ya go.”

“Cheers.” says Toby, finally entering the bar. The barman watching him intently as he approaches.

“Excuse me, do you know if David Norant is here?”

The barman lets out a faint yet audible sigh of relief, his shoulders slump down a little. “Ah, you’re David’s boy. He said you were coming. He’s just through by the pool table, through there.” says the barman pointing to a set of double doors.

“Thank you. Could I also get a whisky and coke please.”

“No alcohol for you I’m afraid mate.”

“Oh yeah, sorry I forgot. Just a coke then please.”

“Sure thing, I’ll bring it round.”

Toby heads through the double doors and towards a small bar, unaware his Father is to his left checking some information on a touch screen. Toby places his suitcase next to the bar and sits on a stool just as the barman sets down his coke.

“How are you paying?” the barman asks.

“I’ve got that Henry.” David says calmly “Place it on my tab.”

Toby turns his head as to face David. “Ah, sorry Dad. Didn’t see you there.”

“No worries boy. Doubt you’d have recognized me anyway, what has it been…10 years.”

“Something like that, and the beard’s…quite something.”

“Grown quite fond of it actually. 10 years you say, quite a while.”

“Around that.”

“How’ve you been then boy? All good back at home? Mother well?”

“I’ve been fine. And home’s home, you know it’ll never change, and Mum’s just taken early retirement actually.”

“Ha. She always did work herself silly.”

David heads back to the bar, where a drink has been poured for him. Perched up straight on his stool and with both hands on the bar. All that’s to be heard is the band.

“Folk music. Jesus Christ.” David says chuckling. Toby smiles and relaxes into his seat.

 

II

 

“I’ve got to be honest Toby, I was really surprised at your message.”

“A bit out of the blue I know, but I need to tell you some news.”

“We’ve not too much in common son, I know that, but you know you were and are always welcome to visit.”

“Of course I know that Dad.”

“Good, I didn’t want you thinking I’d abandoned you.”

“I don’t, I know how difficult communication is to non-networked Corps. Don’t worry. Damn, getting the pass took me at least 5 months.”

“How long is the pass for?”

“1 night. Well, 24 hours to be precise. From the time of arrival onwards.”

“Still as strict as ever. Good.”

“Ha, you haven’t changed.”

“And neither has PelCo which is relieving.”

“Aye, I hear, well I can see the wall’s getting thicker.”

“Yes, our side!”

“Christ, still have the pride then.”

“I don’t want to have the same discussions we used to have, but I must admit, I’m a bit disheartened your ideas are still the same as they were at 18.”

“What, open-minded…fair?”

“Right, yes, those things.”

“I don’t understand what’s so bad about our system back home?”

“You know I hate cliches, but you’ll have to forgive me for this one…because it’s true, you weren’t there son.”

“Where…when?”

“Before you were born, prior to any re-arrangement. Looking back now, God, it’s like the past is a fever dream. I just cannot for the life of me figure how it got so bad.”

“But what? What was so bad?”

“It’s so tough to put your finger on it. It was our way of thinking, our general scope of thought, it was just so suffocative.”

“That’s not really an answer Dad.”

“Indeed it is not. Well for one thing we ignored many crucial facts. We ignored our findings, our knowledge, as if much of what we knew was merely a part of its own time as opposed to ours as well. There was this entire part of history in which we, as a collective, ignored our roots.”

“Roots?”

“Evolution, the process of our creation.”

“I still don’t really see why that would be such a huge problem though.”

“Because to forget evolution is to forget this kind of…exterior, if you like. It’s to forget the real basics of life, of survival.”

“Such as?”

“Such as the fact we need water, food and shelter. That we need to be safe from harm.”

“OK, but they were all catered for…”

“They were and they weren’t. It was strange as I’ve said. Sure, we had water, food and shelter pretty much 100% of the time but that in itself was a problem. The ease at which this all came. To be born into a world where all of your basic survival needs and instincts are catered for on a platter, is to lose something of yourself, to forget something of your ancestry. But, really, most of all, you forget that other people also want these things…need these things. So we all just forgot about this kind of cosmic competition and became apathetic to instinct.”

“This seems a little, uh, rehearsed Dad?”

David takes a large swig from his pint, before composing himself a little. “One key part of living in such a society as PelCo is transparency.”

“Transparency?”

“Meaning, to live here, one has to understand the why of the system, if not, you’ll never understand your place, if you do, you come to respect it. Especially when you’ve come from a past such as mine and your Mother’s.”

“So you’re saying they have classes on it or what?”

“Nothing so formal, well, at least it’s never appeared to me that way. At first you receive a booklet, pamphlet type thing, and to be quite honest from that I’ve never known anyone to not want to understand further.”

“Sounds a little cult-like Dad.”

“I’d agree, except for one key factor.”

“Let me guess: ‘Exit’.” Toby sighed.

“Exactly. Generally cults aren’t too keen on you ‘Exit’. And it might seem obvious and easily attainable to you, but Exit isn’t just the physical type of exit.”

“I know, I know, you were locked in. Prog-virus ‘n all that. I still remember the dinner time conversations Dad.”

“Your Mother always hated me using ‘prog-virus’.”

“Well, she still is a hypochondriac.” Toby quips grinning.

David briefly chuckles, before taking a few quick gulps of his pint. The bands string banalities still mildly filling the airwaves. There’s a brief moment of silence.

“Anyway, back to the evolution thing.” Toby says inquiringly “We have come a long way since, you know…the ‘survival’ days.”

“Ha. Have we? I mean Earth is 4.5 billion years old and humans have inhabited it for what, like, 200,000 years, which is way less than 1 percent of its lifetime…way less.”

OK your point be-

“And of those 200,000 years we only have record of 5000. And of that 5000 years anyone with a little time and patience can see the underlying patterns haven’t changed. Yes, we have all this new technology etc. the intent of which is to make life easier, but behind all that is still the same old human needs, the same old humans, who, if don’t get what they need get aggressive.”

“But you told me that you learnt evolution at school? And with your schools it was the same curriculum for everyone, right?”

“Indeed we all took the same classes and lessons, read from the same textbooks. But in that time it was taught in an odd manner, when you were given this shabby textbook, which had already clearly been used for years, you began to form this idea of obsolescence. As if what we were learning was more history that universal fact. It didn’t helped that psychology and sociology were massively popular at the time.”

“Wait wh-”

“Sorry, yes I know, they both have their merits. My point being they were…advertised, or broadcast in such a way as to be superior, as if one could outsmart evolution with them. In fact, it was a little of that, but in reality we just seemed to ignore this…this elephant in the room.”

“Was it really that bad though?”

“Of course not, not then it wasn’t…but now looking back. Back then of course everyone wanted to ignore this elephant because it was the age of utopia! Of everyone holding hands and getting along all of sudden. Despite years of differences.”

“I kind of understand. How come that ignorance had such a bad effect near the end then?”

“Because if you don’t build your foundations for all that’s not cumulative on something factual, then you risk losing them all together.”

“You’ve lost me…”

“Ethics, politics, society…communities, all these lovely constructs, contracts if you like. If these are not built on the fact of difference, of variation, of our needs, then there’ll come a time when they down-right fail. They still teach not to build your house on sand, surely?”

“Ha, our system still loves it’s parables before assemblies. And don’t call me Shirley.”

David quickly put down his pint and laughed. “At least I taught you good taste in film.”

“You still think the sequels better?”

“Indeed I do…mostly for the bridge scene. One of the few times a comedy caught me off guard.”

“Has there been a pure-comedy to top Airplane!?”

“Maybe Withnail & I, or Office Space.”

The chuckles settle into a silence between them, whilst the folk music continues. Henry, the barman, brings them two more drinks.

“Cheers Henry.”

“Thank you.” Toby says shyly.

 

III

 

Toby takes a sip of his drinking, realising it’s a whisky and coke. “Thought he might do that.” David says upon noticing Toby’s expression. “Henry’s an old friend, don’t worry.”

“Couldn’t he get it trouble?” Toby whispers.

“Yes. So keep quiet.” David says sternly.

“Will do. So where were we?”

“Comedy films I think.”

“No, before that?”

“Human…needs.”

“Ah yea. I still thi-”

“I remember you saying you didn’t like talking about this kind of stuff?”

“I guess there’s nothing like nostalgia.”

“It does remind me of home I must admit. Your Mother’s face when I used to read the newspapers and grind my teeth.”

All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

“Don’t, I’ve already visited the dentist once this month.”

Toby laughs. “So, yes. Human needs.”

“What about them?”

“Well, OK, even if all of what you’re saying about evolution is true, and that our basic kind of need is survival type thing.”

“Yes…”

“Well, isn’t that a bit of a miserable life? Like, our entire existence is controlled by needing security or wanting to survive. I mean, what of happiness or health?”

David hastily sits his pint on the bar. “Happiness, well there’s a callback I didn’t think I’d hear tonight. God, the ambiguity of it all.”

“What’s wrong with happiness, you know Dad…being happy is quite nice, you should try it some time.”

“Very funny boy. Nothing is wrong with happiness, well at least not now, once it’s understood. But truthfully, the way I see it, if you want a fulfilling life, or at least a life in which fulfilment is possible, happiness has to come second…or third, it cannot be your first priority basically.”

“Eh, OK, I really don’t get this one.”

“Once again Toby, I’ve been there, it was an odd time. When I was younger it was seriously like living in this weird malaise.” Toby releases a large sigh. “When I was younger, well, more in my teens, everything was about happiness, and I mean everything. But it wasn’t the same as the happiness of seeing your kid grow up” Toby smiles and looks to the floor “or finishing some large project, you know that kind of happiness, that’s of real substance, right?”

“Sure, like when we built the shed in the garden? I was like 8 I think…”

“Exactly that, but you still remember it. The happiness of my youth, the one they sold us day-in day-out via any medium they could…as a way of control, now that happiness was toxic. It was just vacant. Go on holiday, eat some ice cream, watch some TV…you know, binge a fucking TV show…that was our example of happiness.”

“I mean, those things are a little dumb sure, but what’s wrong with ‘em?”

“Nothing…in moderation, I guess. The problem lies in their accessibility, everything was so easily attainable. Happiness was this easy thing, and the problem with that as a goal, or a criteria for a meaningful life, is that most people don’t really question it.”

“Why not?”

“Why would you? All humans have that unchangeable existential dread in them and it’s not nice, we all know that, so why would you question the thing, in this case ‘happiness’ which gets rid of that dread? Especially when happiness is so hedonistic and fun as well.”

“So then…why didn’t people?”

“Because that was the seen, well…subconsciously seen, as the end. The end-game of progress is happiness.”

“So what’s wrong with it then? I mean if it’s the end?”

“Because that entire fucking belief system was wrong son, this is what I was always trying to get through to you before I left. That belief, that belief in progress was…is just a delusion, a blindfold that gets tighter and tighter with each and every fact that comes to try tear it off. The problem is all these facts, all our human needs that are outside of the blindfold don’t change, cannot change, even if what’s behind the blindfold has.”

“Christ, OK. I got it, try not to be happy.”

“That’s not what I mean. I mean there’s always more to it. If something is fun, easy, cheap and in abundance it’s either bad for you, or a method of control.”

“Alright…Chomsky.”

“Hey…you know full-well I’m not Chomsky!”

“Why’s that?

“…because you’re not asleep.”

Toby laughs into his drink “True, you haven’t turned into a mumbly old fart just yet.”

“Yet…”

“So, back then, you weren’t happy, you know…when you were younger?”

“Sure I was, well, maybe content is a better word for it. That’s how I felt everyone was, content. Content with every-fucking-thing, however bad or transparently shitty and deceptive it was.”

“Shitty and deceptive?”

“The politicians. The worst part wasn’t that they lied. It’s the fact it was clear from the start and no one really questioned it.”

“Really?”

“I mean sure, it was in the newspapers if they had lied, but the problem was it was so fucking common that it became part of politics. I’d hear people say they voted for a certain party because they ‘lied the least’.”

“So how did that all end?”

“It didn’t. It evolved, it changed, just like everything is.”

“Into what?”

“Oddly enough, promises.”

“Promises?”

“Indeed kiddo, promises. What should be the backbone of any system, not promises in themselves, but kept-promises are of the utmost importance.”

“I feel like I’m from a different planet right now to be honest.”

“And I feel like I came from one…”

“Well, feel free to talk about this planet some more.”

“I’m glad I can talk about it as a part of the past. You’ve got it real good now kid. You don’t even really have to listen to ‘promises’ any more because, well, there’s no such thing. What used to be a promise is now an action, and it’s undertaken prior to you even being part of wherever it is you live. But back then, a politician would promise something and it just wouldn’t happen.”

“Sounds a bit like a Kafka novel.”

“It was! – and you finally got around to Kafka.”

“Yea, and frustratingly I agree with what you told me when I was 17.”

“I don’t recall.”

“You said: ‘The first time anyone reads Kafka they wished they’d read him sooner.’”

“Still true.”

“Indulge me in this Kafka-world then…”

“So yeah, as I said promises were, well, meaningless. I’ll give a good example. You go to a coffee shop and ask for a coffee, what do you expect?”

“A coffee.”

“Sure, but notice I said expect. The same applies for, well, pretty much any form of business. Say you went to that same coffee shop and they just didn’t give you a coffee, or it was pretty shit, what’d you do?”

“Go somewhere else.”

“You get ‘Exit’ yet?

“Just about.”

“Good. Well my point would be, a shit coffee, or a badly fitted window, or a late bus…all these things are harmless. But they’re also all a strange kind of unspoken promise, right?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“So what happens when you put your literal human…animal needs in the hands of someone else; you know needs like water, food, survival…security, and then they don’t fulfil them?”

“I guess there’s not much you can do.”

“Not when that’s the only system, and one that many people don’t know they’re ever in, no. You’re in the – bear with me – physical fucking embodiment of a social contract, one that’s supposed to keep you alive, and not only are those promising you security etc. not meeting your needs, but also, they’re apathetic to external factors that are actually anti your needs!”

“Damn.”

“Yeah.” David slowly sips at his beer.

“Right, I gotta take a piss. We got about 2 hours before I need to leave, so hopefully we can have, a more, you know, chill conversation when I come back?”

“Ha. Maybe. You still gotta tell me your news remember.”

“I know. Right, back in a minute.”

Review: Nishiki Prestige – XOXO

The factory of LOVECRYPT came to me via the incessant malaise of ‘Weird Twitter™”. A basic-bitch search for fresh music isn’t going coax it into appearance. It disturbed my interests due to its extrovert leanings on the esoteric, political & philosophical. – “Who taught you how to write about music?”

No one. But I jus’ listened to that there XOXO by Nishiki Prestige, and I sure as h-hell wanna dish my digits into the keyboard, see what falls out, you know?”

“nO one will hire you.”

“HELLO! And welcome to the album review for Nishiki Prestige’s XOXO, an album put out by LOVECRYPT FREQUENCIES. And boy oh boy oh boy, we have one hell of an album for you. Help help.”

To digest the few remaining ashes of music journalism, tasty little titbits of shit. The problem here being that the factory-esque vision of marching k-ants divulged by XOXO’s first track 10 Years has seduced me into a rotten disorientation. Thrown into an insta-nostalgia for a future within its own creation; I’m witnessing a labour-march, an assembly line.

 

And When Grew Up Way Too Fast climbs down, the disorientation diversifies into chasmic slows and rises; the birth of constant beginnings, every halt ‘n jerk is a possibility for another circuit and direction, towards another musical commodity. And this creative spasmodic zombie rides high into Haunted Stars hounding with it large areas of tonality and pressure, both of which are teased continuously; a melodic form of stress. The first of many tracks in which the past is captured and held in the background, seeping through when the pipe occasionally bursts: retro-static bulges and nostalgic urges of known music appear.

Let me tell you this boys ‘n girls. The whole damn thing is like Burrough’s dirty K-offspring. A big ol’ fancy pants article, that could well be non-linear. Deleuze would say oh boy maybe they just well damn get it.”

The fragmentary consumer aspect of Apply to Broke Skin shifts inwards. Commodified medical plasters for the album itself, cornerstones of thought – Zizek on ACC – key themselves in. But not before we’re told to Celebrate good times, Celebrate Accelerate good times. The mandatory cause for Acc-celebration is the Acceleration itself. All is immanent.

The night-circuit science fictions surrounding Zuckerberg come to life in a hyper-circus named Zuck Theme, where the fun is but a simulation – we’re all on this programmed holiday. The relaxation accelerates. A harder relaxation for a premium member! The fun gets better! Just prior to the k-collapse as the test ends. Holiday-terminated.

The mellow tick-work of human flesh, its evaporation. Its comfort.

The slow embrace of a singular heroic hum. Melting into acidic launchpad.

 

“I like fast music.”

Julie, would you agree that one could say…if they so wished, that the grandiose themes utilized in this sporadic album would seem arrogant when used elsewhere, but here, amongst the disjointed quasi-hedonism of acceleration, they become gentle reminders of history eating itself?”

Oh Jonathan, I would agree, but I hate your filthy gut smell.”

 

Downtime was never invented as we hurl another into the grind. K-Goth. Those textural relics once seeping through are subsumed into consumerist submission just as quickly as they’re re-written, re-packaged and sold. Cybermemory is failing. Amongst Lifetime of Grey Skies one believes, that maybe, oh just maybe, there was someone onboard who could impersonate a pilot, because this sure is a friendly minute or so. But that lack returns – in Baby, If You Come that need for something revelling in its cyber-vitality, that acidic pinch of the fresh-take ad infinitum.

 

And the guidebook says: N O S T A L G I A FOR TOMORROW: no hope for today.

 

An attempt, I think dear audience, at articulation of the fact that acceleration is not synonymous with speed, and holds its real purpose and eventual terminal-degree in reformulation.”

 

Imagine a piece of data facing its eventual death, breathing its last. – I’ll Be There For You.

 

Future is a Machine would work well as a traditional end, but there’s no end to acceleration!”

 

* applause *

AND OH christ. It’s all capital R real and the rag ended cyber-guts trail off into this ephemeral, anti-tranquil hellscape. And as we sit arm in arm, hand in hand, bearing witness to the consumer horizon overtaking humanity, an aural assemblage of all that was provides the soundtrack to our demise.


 

A link/player to Nishiki’s album can be found below, along with various other relevant links:

Lovecrypt Twitter

Nishiki Prestige Twitter

Meta-Nomad Twitter

No Driver at the Wheel

Highly recommend reading through ‘Prior Reading’ at the bottom before continuing.

 

 

No Driver at the Wheel.

 

We’re trapped in the belly of the horrible machine,

and the machine is bleeding to death

 

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Dead Flag Blues

A car with no driver at the wheel is very much the case for both right and left wing contemporary youth movements. With the right-wingers being sucked in and consumed by a lust for identity and individualism amongst the overwhelming progressivist pressure for all to enter into a framework of diversity, inclusion and tolerance. Whilst across the river left-wingers are willingly being absorbed into a western system of ideological language and supposed inherent moral superiority, without question of origin, evolution or history. [1]

Both of these cases however have something in common, they both lack structure. Both are too short-sighted to see beyond their immediate identity politics towards a higher goal. Neither has a programme of practicality or use beyond an ever-lasting present of which they’re fuelling. The discussion of a programme is one that many are reluctant to have, largely due to the fact that the reality of such a discussion would mean one has to exit from the comfort of meat-space’s name-calling reverberations and actually move themselves to another form of praxis.

I’m being careful here as to not signal that I find meat-space or real-physical-life synonymous with praxis, this would be a grave error. For the era of change via physical representation is long over, the viral assimilation of cyberspace into near enough every inch of day-to-day life put a stopper on physical primacy. Yet the ease of social networking, collective engagement and viral meme creation is not a move towards substance. In fact the general rate at which cyberspace moves often imposes fragmentary ideas. Ideas, theories and systems which are open, growing and developing one day and entirely closed, changed and even non-existent the next, a rate of movement which leaves the user lacking in commitment and attention for an underlying structure, often for fear of being made aesthetically redundant or seeming out of touch. This form of ‘social chaos’ is something mentioned in an interview with Nick Land for syntheticzero.net:

I’ve got a whole ankle-biting fraternity on Twitter now. I am not identifying you with them, let me make that clear from the start, but I think that their question is very much like yours. One element of it is age. Youngsters are highly tolerant of massive incendiary social chaos. – But I just don’t think you can make an ideology purely out of entropic social collapse, it’s not gonna fit together. It is not a sustainable, practically consistent process and, therefore, it’s a bad flag for acceleration. It produces a reaction that will win. All historical evidence seems to be that the party of chaos is suppressed by the party of order. – What I would say to these crazy youngsters now is, you don’t have a programme. What you’re advocating leads perversely to the exact opposite of what you say you want.

Nick Land, syntheticzero.net


Youngsters being “highly tolerant of massive incendiary social chaos” is of little choice to them, it is a tolerance of fatigue as opposed to excitable involvement. Various early youthful camps which have attempted to sway such a chaos only end up fanning the flames. For instance the Occupy movement was nothing more than a gasp of narcissism void of any ulterior motive other than to be anti-order, a movement who’s existence could only be made possible with such an order in place. One has to be tolerant of this chaos for fear of going mad, there’s little alternative other than to: Join a pre-existing faction that’s knee-deep in political malaise, feign ignorance or simply enter head-first into an overwhelming state of perpetual anger.

I am perceptive enough to understand I fall into the aforementioned ankle-biter fraternity, a fraternity I might add whose rhythms are getting increasingly more predictable. Multiple parties continuously attempting to hone in on the kernel of another’s thought, without the foresight to wonder of a conclusion or aim. Land – in the above quote – gestures, quite authoritatively, towards a possible aim, that of order. Of a programme which is strict in the knowledge of the underlying factor for previous young movement’s failings, namely: A programme which leaves the chaos at the door.

[1] In fact I’d be willing to go further and argue that the radical leftists that have been behind the scene for the past 20-30 years have simply fallen into a natural current, a current they believe to be epistemologically pure in its moral and social direction, a current that will eventually spew into a foaming sea and be swallowed whole along with its occupants, who, by this point are willing to be taken by any tide strong enough of persuasion via virtue. Any future the left – doubtfully – has is without both a driver and co-ordinates; entirely reliant on the infrastructural circuits, roads and pathways of external sponsors.

 


 

Leaving Chaos Behind

To watch a show such as The Brady Bunch, Happy Days or The Good Life in 2017 is to advocate for gun control amidst a firefight. This perspective however is glaringly obvious to us all in 2017, even those who grew up with such shows can now see through the kitsch smiles, upbeat intros and albeit ‘classical’ communal problems. The idyllic projections of everyday life may now seem frustratingly ignorant, yet it’s an ignorance of hope, as opposed to contemporary media’s reversal of such classical perspectives which is inherently toxic and degenerative.

The reverse of the romantic display is the bastard creation of producer and executive, a vision based on sales: The belief of what a dysfunctional family or life looks like, the depressing alcoholic, drug-addled teens, TV that mocks itself, satire so biting it lashes at those who are the purpose of its creation, TV of people watching TV. The viewer becomes clinically attached to cynicism, self-depreciation, and corrosive ‘edge’ – because these things are easy quasi-complexities, that help one to think that they’re getting it, that they’re above it.

We know The Brady Bunch doesn’t exist…couldn’t exist, but be damned sure, many of us wish they did, and many of us are trying to create such a world in which they can. Yet, to watch and consume the adverse is to inject vitality into a cynical-simulacrum; ‘That’s how it is in day to day life.’ you say, as you claw your eyes from the box as your overweight children sink further into the sofa, your hubby announces “It’s so true! It’s so true!”, the laugh track hits, hubby snorts, applause.

:the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny.”

I’m not going to direct this whole thing towards TV, that’d be too easy, it’s only that [2]TV was one of the primary mediums which utilized irony to the terminal degree, wherein it is no longer “Sincerity, with a motive.” once the motive has been destroyed in place of pure unalloyed, shallow consumer pleasures, you’re left with an irony that will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Once the motive of irony and active cynicism is lost it is no longer a phantom-sincerity. One of the intrinsic problems of irony and those who consistently utilize it as a means of control, is their agenda of choice is extremely difficult to identify. And as irony, not just as a cultural norm, but as a signifier of intelligence and experience becomes more prevalent, what’s really being exacerbated is not just the idea that it’s impossible to mean what you say, but in fact, it’s bad to be sincere, for this would signal one has a lust for conservatism, the old ways. A heartfelt need for a programme, for a structure; a want for something…stable.

And so the viewer is left with that which they believe has fulfilled them, but they will once again need in an hour or so, and as our attention span lessens the rate at which content will be destroyed and replaced with something holding a little more micro-toxicity, taboo and contempt for its viewer will increase. As I mentioned before – sort of – answers to these overarching questions are of course difficult, yet what seems to be the true difficulty is starting to even formulate a means to their answers, a programme or structure that bears its past failings, utilizing their mess to construct at least something.

But irony’s singularly unuseful when it comes to constructing anything to replace the hypocrisies it debunks.”

Irony here is really acting as one of the primary infectious symptoms of that which is royally fucking you: progressivism, with a large side helping of postmodernism. Let us focus on the latter, for much has been said of progressivism. I wasn’t one – at first – to entirely dismiss the benefits of post-modernism, it has quite successfully deconstructed/destroyed various forms of thought which were in part restrictive or suffocative, the problem remains that the cons of postmodernism greatly outweigh the pros – see my (old) essay here for a brief rundown of PoMo’s successes, failings and general problem of existence. But what’s the problem of postmodernism with relation to creation of a programme? This lengthy metaphor from David Foster Wallace [3] addresses some of my concerns:

 

For me, the last few years of the postmodern era have seemed a bit like the way you feel when you’re in high school and your parents go on a trip, and you throw a party. You get all your friends over and throw this wild disgusting fabulous party. For a while it’s great, free and freeing, parental authority gone and overthrown, a cat’s-away-let’s-play Dionysian revel. But then time passes and the party gets louder and louder, and you run out of drugs, and nobody’s got any money for more drugs, and things get broken and spilled, and there’s cigarette burn on the couch, and you’re the host and it’s your house too, and you gradually start wishing your parents would come back and restore some fucking order in your house. It’s not a perfect analogy, but the sense I get of my generation of writers and intellectuals or whatever is that it’s 3:00 A.M. and the couch has several burn-holes and somebody’s thrown up in the umbrella stand and we’re wishing the revel would end. The postmodern founders’ patricidal work was great, but patricide produces orphans, and no amount of revelry can make up for the fact that writers my age have been literary orphans throughout our formative years. We’re kind of wishing some parents would come back. And of course we’re uneasy about the fact that we wish they’d come back–I mean, what’s wrong with us? Are we total pussies? Is there something about authority and limits we actually need? And then the uneasiest feeling of all, as we start gradually to realize that parents in fact aren’t ever coming back–which means we’re going to have to be the parents.” – David Foster Wallace

 

Foster Wallace here was largely addressing artistic culture, or ‘liberal arts’ culture as he often called it, I’d like to stretch this metaphor to the present day and allow it to help us understand the problem of this programme. The chaos mentioned early on by Land is the party, which it seems we are currently beginning to tire of, the rate at which information is moving and memes – not just in the traditional image based sense – are flowing is reaching its limit, at least within the current systems of control, we’re at a point in which the ‘fresh takes’, ‘new memes’ or ‘hot articles’ come across as hastily sketched blueprints. We’ve seen this all before and as such we’re simply given more as a means of fulfilment as opposed to something of actual quality. And as fun as all of this has been, and as much as I’d quite like to do this again some time in the very distant future (for an allocated amount of time with parental supervision), right now I need some sleep, and I need to check my diary – and bank account – and remember where I was at, the revelling has taken too much of a toll on my house, a house which I’m only just realising the amount of effort that went into its construction, and if this house falls we’re all royally fucked. Some of the party dwellers think we should never speak to the postmodernists again and the house should be stripped of all their additions – some of which others think are actually beneficial. But wait, our parents aren’t coming back…ever, it is our duty to tell these postmodern fuckers to leave. But they won’t, so a few us retreat to a quiet room, where we make sure to never give in to postmodern revelling, we begin a micro-society or programme that focuses on life before the party mixed with contemporary technology.

 

[2] In fact TV hasn’t helped at all in the push of identity within political fringe groups: “For 360 minutes per diem, we receive unconscious reinforcement of the deep thesis that the most significant quality of truly alive persons is watchableness, and that genuine human worth is not just identical with but rooted in the phenomenon of watching.” – David Foster Wallace, E Unibus Pluram

[3] As I’ve put a large amount of David Foster Wallace references in this piece I would like to clarify a common miss-reading of his work, especially as I’m talking about irony a lot here, DFW is by no means a postmodernist, the man knew the workings and failings of PoMo fiction better than anyone. Some like to state he’s a meta-modernist, or post-irony, or new-sincerity etc. some piece of highfalutin for what we once called sincerity.

 


 

Taking the Wheel

This brings me to the abrupt end of this piece. That of gaining a programme. Or at least, in part beginning very early formations of what a programme may entail at this juncture, whether it’s too late, too early, or we’re simply too deep into the chasm of labyrinthine malaise that any programme at this point would only be a heavy manifesto in-favour of whatever other programme assimilates our minds that week. It should come as no surprise that the end of this would be a matter of pushing for coherent structures. Structures and programmes based of complex research, historical documentation and rigorous routine – hopefully. Taking the wheel of a driverless car may seem like a larger task than it actually is. You may worry that to ‘take the wheel’ is to be in the care of the other passengers; fear not, for if they don’t like your driving there’s always the option to pull over and let them out, another car will come along soon. You may ‘take the wheel’ and realise you have no map, or that no one wants to head in your direction. But let’s make one thing clear: The person who is too scared to take the wheel of a car without a driver, shouldn’t be angry nor surprised when they plummet off a cliff. So, how does one go about undoing their back-seat belt, climbing the seats and safely strapping themselves in for the ride ahead:

First – and in my mind foremost – within this new programme is sincerity of voice. To build another movement off the laughing stock of any other, is to build on sand. As fun and rebellious as Kekistan, /pol/ or calling others silly names may seem, it achieves nothing in the long run. This system of irony in which the majority are deep within eludes its users at every turn. Users of irony emit quasi-experience and seriousness via their cynicism, each and every ironic quip can better the next, for there exists no hierarchy in a world that takes nothing seriously.

Secondly, restoration of natural human enquiry: To pursue scientific endeavours and invent without restraint, to shop around between sovereignties, jurisdictions and ideologies, to engage in industrial and commercial activity with minimal state intervention.

Thirdly, fixation on the definite possibility of free exit:

“We believe that giving primacy to the right to choose one’s social contract, including creating a new one, cuts through the unresolvable tangles of determining exactly what universal human rights are and what type of society is just. As long as people voluntarily join groups, and can voluntarily leave, we have neither the right nor the need to judge the details of how those groups organize themselves and define their rights. We seek neither the right to dictate how other people should live, nor for the burden of figuring out how to make utopia, but only that each of us may live as we see fit.” – The One Universal Human Right

Fourthly, a return to dignity without hierarchic nostalgia. The roots of conservatism intend to drag from the past small, applicable, practical parcels of data which will benefit the present, yet, with them come traditions, aesthetics and ideas of old. The contemporary lusting over the ‘classical’ is a pitifully transparent gesture as best, and pathetically short-sighted at worst. One can return – in a sense – to these forms of behaviour, activity and inquiry without attending to their repetitive output.

Fifthly, attending to your own routines. Understanding something that a vast amount of the left doesn’t: No system (at least currently, or pre-singularity) is going to sort your life out. It will, may or should give/attend to the tools necessary for communal and personal success, whether or not one makes the decision and effort to take up those tools and master them is their choice. No system, at least not one I’d ever want to be part of (remember choice & exit), is going to get you out of bed everyday, provide adequate nutrients via feeding tube or make sure your laces are tied, and be sure to be wary of one that promises such things. Attending to yourself is inclusive of attending to ones own personal well-being, once more, a state, system or structure may allow for the means to ‘get better’, whether or not you or another wants to get better is personal choice; a choice that should remain strictly outside the public sphere.

1. Leave irony and cynicism at the door.

2. Allow for maximum human enquiry.

3. Exit as first priority.

4. Rhizomatic conservatism.

5. Don’t be pathetic.

 

 

Non-mandatory prior reading/viewing:

The Dark EnlightenmentNick Land

Patchwork Mencius Moldmug

E Unibus PluramDavid Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace – The Problem With Irony

Between Irony and Sincerity – MN

Between Irony & Sincerity

DRAGGED FROM THE ARCHIVES SCREAMING FINALE-5:

 

BETWEEN IRONY & SINCERITY: IS IT POSSIBLE FOR AN ARTIST TO BE SINCERE IN 2017?

 

ABSTRACT

In this essay I shall be discussing whether or not it is possible for a contemporary artist to be sincere. Post-modernism has taken irony for its own, meaning it has become unstable in an artistic culture of anti-sincerity and meta-ironies. This text will also articulate that it is not solely a certain style(s) one can consider sincere. The irony that post-modernism uses has become the opposite of sincerity, a place in which it does not belong. This text shall also briefly touch upon post-modernism as a free-floating signifier and why this is toxic.

INTRODUCTION

In this essay I shall be covering what it means to be sincere within the contemporary art world, and whether or not it is still possible for an artist to be sincere, without that sincerity being irony through sincerity. I shall also make it clear that there is no correlation between style, zeitgeist and irony. Alongside discussing how post-modernism as a free floating signifier has turned irony and sincerity into opposites.

Chapter 1: Defining Irony & Sincerity

The purpose of this chapter is to articulate to you, the reader what I mean when I say irony and sincerity, to find clear definitions of each before praising or possibly denouncing either. Alongside ironies original definition this chapter will explain the specifics of stable and unstable ironies and what effect they can have on a work of art, or more importantly a work’s meaning.

Chapter 2: Is Sincerity Within the Contemporary Art World Dead?

Within this chapter I shall cover why I believe sincerity within the fine arts has not only disappeared, but is dead, or more specifically has been killed. I shall discuss which art movements I believe unwillingly helped in its death and which movements willingly watched as it passed away.

Chapter 3: The Toxicity of Post-Modernism as a Floating Signifier.

This chapter will explain why I believe the ambiguity of post-modernism has become a toxic force within the arts, especially where irony is concerned. Discussing how post-modernism has skewed original definitions which in turn create instabilities within meaning. Though post-modernism, as contained within everything is up for criticism, I shall explain how its internal-elitism protected by pretentious and pompous language almost creates a non-criticisable movement.

Chapter 4: There is no Correlation between Zeitgeist, Sincerity and Style.

This chapter shall touch upon the presumptions the reader could make from the previous chapter’s ideas on style and sincerity, and will use examples to prove that neither zeitgeist, artistic style nor sincerity have any correlation, and that more specifically no ‘certain’ style is always in-keeping with sincerity.

Chapter 5: Is it no Longer Possible for an Artist to be Sincere?

This chapter, with the foundation of the previous chapters shall now discuss in confidence, why it is I believe it’s no longer possible, or at the very least extremely unfavourable for a contemporary artist to be sincere, that is, without treading into the realms of meta-irony and being ironically sincere, thus proving post-modernism’s ambiguity has caused a troublesome Catch-22 for irony and sincerity.

CHAPTER 1: DEFINING IRONY AND SINCERITY

Irony is the song of a bird that has come to love its cage – Lewis Hyde, 1987

They say the opening sentence of any text is the most important, this being that sentence; an aggravatingly-erudite attempt at very quickly articulating to you, the reader, as to what irony is. This of course being one of two things: a sincere attempt at showing what irony is, or irony in its purest form, not just the first two sentences but this entire paragraph may be an attempt at pure-ironic-articulation of what irony is. Thus we enter into irony’s intricate workings. There is no real concise definition of what irony is, in fact if there was to be such a thing it in itself would be ironic. However this gratuitous rhetoric is of no help, so first we must deconstruct.

In that first paragraph I made it very clear to the reader that not only are they reading a text, but they are also reading the opening sentence, which is declaring that it must be the most important sentence. Now of course, this could be seen as post-modern self-awareness, the line between said awareness and irony is thinner than any metaphorical line should be. The dictionary definition of irony is:

“1. The use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning:

2. Literature.

1. A technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.

2. (especially in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.”” – (Irony, 2014)

This is what irony is, at its most basic. A definition shall never be agreed upon. This is a fact the reader must take on board, as something upon which there is no established definition can become toxic. So one must find a modus vivendi for such a situation, enter stable and unstable ironies. Named aptly for their stability and instability when addressed by more than two parties, to paraphrase from Wayne C. Booth’s A Rhetoric of Irony the four marks of a stable irony:

1. They are all intended…they are not mere openings provided unconsciously, or accidental statements.

2. They are all covert, intended to be reconstructed with meanings different from those on the surface.

3. They are all nevertheless stable, once a reconstruction has been made the reader in not then invited to undermine it with further reconstructions…unless they choose to do so on their own.

4. They are all, in some sense, local or limited. – (Booth, 1974)

From these four marks we gather that a stable irony is just that, stable, intended to be there, not intended to be found unless one is sensitive in detecting such a thing and its subject’s scope is limited. For instance: “as pleasant as a root canal” if someone was to say this to you, you would at once recognize two things, the word pleasant, and root canal, and that both are opposites, as in a root canal is not pleasant, thus…irony, a very stable irony.

For an artistic example of irony one has to look no further than Marcel Duchamp, in particular his magnum opus Fountain . There is the irony of course that a urinal is art, which has long since been discussed in intricate detail and thus I shall not bore the reader here, that however is one of the stable ironies at play here, the pre-conceived notion of what art is vs. the vulgarity of a porcelain urinal. Fountain was one of Duchamp’s ready-mades, a collection of objects he found…readymade. This is not where the irony lies however, if one is to look at the table of illustrations, more specifically Fountain, one will realise that the image of the readymade below is actually an image of a replica. In fact all the currently existing Fountains are anything but readymade, they are all replicas. This is a clear example of an irony that is stable, yet not so obvious that it erodes the soul with its banality.

So it becomes clear what a stable irony is, stable ironies however are easier to discuss due to their stability, fact is fact and fiction is messy. Unstable ironies are a more ambiguous matter, for with a stable irony ‘if you and I elect an ironic reading, we shall prove either both right or both wrong (Booth, 1974)’. With a stable irony one has a clear stopping point, I mean to say it is ironic that Duchamp’s existing ready-mades are in fact all replicas, that is a clear stable irony and thus we can either both be wrong or right about it, but to continue down the path or ironic reading would only lead to instability ‘…irony dramatizes each moment by heightening the consequences of going astray (Booth, 1974)’ e.g. the further one ventures into a separate ironic reading the further one may be from the author’s original intention, thus the irony becomes unstable. Anti-art as a whole could, arguably, be called consistently ironically-unstable due to its proclamation that it is not art; therefore it is only in their attack one can begin to consider their work

And so we move towards the calmer seas of sincerity:

1. Freedom from deceit, hypocrisy, or duplicity; probity in intention or in communicating; earnestness. (Sincerity, 2014)

The ease that is sincerity, to be sincere is to whole-heartedly mean what you say, do and present, without tricky-erudition, covert-meaning and a stable ‘image’ that is what it says it is. As simple as if a friend was to open your front door (from the inside) and tell you that it is in fact raining, thus meaning your plans are altered etc. Your friend is being sincere; whereas an ironic or post-modern friend may say something quirky like: “Boy, it sure is looking lovely outside!” (That is, this would be said ironically if it was raining.) To articulate sincerity artistically, John Constable in 1821 painted The Hay Wain a picturesque oil painting of the River Stour between Suffolk and Essex, there is within this painting no furtive brushstrokes, or elitist-clandestinity, no. This is genuinely just a painting of a scene. The image therefore becomes sincere, within its own paradigm it is the truth, and there is no hidden agenda.

IS SINCERITY DEAD WITHIN THE CONTEMPORARY ART-WORLD?

The next real literary “rebels” in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching…Who treat plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. – David Foster Wallace, 1993

One would be lying if they were to say that contemporary galleries today were sincere, when I speak of contemporary art I speak of artists who are currently working and have exhibitions in at least nationally recognized galleries, for some this may seem rather specific, however if one was to include all ‘contemporary’ artists one has to include local watercolour painters and the like, whose efforts are sincere (bless them), they are not however studied at an academic level or renowned for any further advancement of art.

Pre-1960’s the art-world was to a certain degree, still very sincere, yes there were occasionally pieces of significant merit which went on to become aesthetic-martyrs such as Duchamp’s Fountain or the DADA movement as a whole. Before this point the reason for a picture or a work was to sincerely articulate an idea, though sincerity and realism do not go hand in hand, one can be sincere about creating a work with an aesthetically-emotional view in mind (Monet, Van Gogh etc.). Artists such as Monet or Van Gogh however lived in entirely different times to ours, this is unarguable, the times we live in have become fractured and information has become insincere, that’s not to say the times Van Gogh lived in didn’t have their own troubles it only seems that art as a whole is at a loose end, or at least redefinition is becoming more difficult to achieve. There is no more original only refinement. Though to say ‘it’s been done before’ is just a banal platitude.

Let’s take an exhibition pre-1917; one may ask why 1917 and not 1960 as I previously stated, I would argue 1960 was when a more mainstream change to sincerity and artistic values happened, whereas 1917 is when the value changes first started happening. The exhibition in question is Lex Fauves Exhibition at Salon d’Automne (1905), one of the most famous Fauvist exhibitions, if not the Fauvist exhibition including Henri Matisse and Andre Derain to name a couple of artists, I am no expert in Fauvism, this is simply an exercise in taking a random exhibition pre-1917 and assessing its ironic or sincere merit.

The exhibition contained images alike Woman With a Hat of a Fauvist style: painterly qualities and strong colour over realism and representation, though a certain (large, in comparison to post-modernism) amount of realism remains. This, a randomly selected exhibition pre-1917 has no attachment to irony; there is no erudite reason as to why the colours are vibrant, or ironic-deconstruction of representation. One could however argue that pre-1917 there are still leaps to be made within the idea of realism and painting, and that pre-abstract art irony would not have been used gratuitously (if at all) due to basic barriers that were still yet to be crossed within the realms of taboo and aesthetics. One could say these images were some ironic rebuttal against realism, this would be rather pedantic. I would argue that the images were a sincere attempt at something other than realism, the artists are sincere in their semi-impressionist aesthetics; this of course carries across many art movements.

This chapter clearly a vague exercise in proof of the matter that post-1960’s the art world was to a certain degree still sincere, or at least sincere about its insincerity. That last sentence to some may seem rather hypocritical, sincerity however does not have to come in its purest form, only to be sincere, and that the artist is being sincere about something, this is where the new-fangled-unstable irony of post-modernism becomes entirely insincere, they are neither sincere about their insincerity or their irony, as in, they are not sincere about being ironic. Let us take another exhibition example, in this case an exhibition I feel a medium between sincerity and irony:

MOMA’s 1965 exhibition Recent Acquisitions: Assemblage (1965), the exhibition in question a collection of assemblage artworks including Pablo Picasso’s Guitar and Hannah Hӧch’s Indian Dancer, a couple of key names in art history. It is not however the art that interests me, it is what has come from the art, the theory, and one quote especially caught my eye “The question interests me, not the answer. The question is infinity; the answer, too definite…Art for me is the possibility of plurality.” (Bauermeister, 1963) With sincerity you find the definite, with irony you only work with a question, with ambiguity. There still is some sense of sincerity here however, for Bauermeister is being sincere about the plurality she is seeking. One should note that such an example begins the sway of the stability pendulum; there is no mention of irony thus-far, only a certain sincerity of being insincere, a search for the plurality, or duality of meaning. I once gain shall return to E Unibus Pluram for a quote I find favourable, yet antagonistic towards this kind of artistically favourable eruditeness: “the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny” (Foster Wallace, 1993) what I find interesting and relevant about this quote is that Foster Wallace talks of the ability to interdict the question, not actually to deconstruct a pre-existing question. Whereas Foster Wallace talks of the future where questions are created and not answered, Bauermeister is taking a question that may have once had a ‘definite’ and deconstructing to pluralize that definite, however she is acting this out with sincerity, there is no pluralism is her attempts to pluralize. 40 years later in 2005, the Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea, New York exhibits the works of Rudolf Stingel, the self-titled exhibition (2005) in near enough an empty [white] space, with the addition of a hyper-realistic portrait of Paula Cooper herself, who was Stingel’s dealer for more than 10 years (at that point in 2005).

“The white floor turns the gallery space into a vast immaculate expanse, which will progressively become stained and mottled under the footsteps of gallery visitors. Stingel’s floor installation transforms our perception of space and the well-known “purity” of the white cube, so ubiquitous in critical discourse on contemporary art in the last 30 years. Overlooking this blank, pristine landscape will be one photorealist painting of Paula Cooper, who has been Stingel’s dealer for more than ten years” (2005 [internet] ) An interesting combination of post-modern meta-theory and the self-awareness of the foundations which helped in the creation of that theory. There are multiple factors of interest at work within Stingel’s installation: Firstly there is the clear absence of art, bar two pieces, firstly: the space, as is said in the gallery statement will noticeably be walked on, thus the space becomes self-aware, the space that usually houses the artwork becomes the art work, a kind of meta-art wherein the foundations housing the ideology or aesthetic become their own. This very quickly causes an instability, for one without knowledge of the gallery statement the viewer may come to believe that there is just the painting and that the artist only intended for it to simply have space, and that the ‘white-space’ (Further reading: Inside the White Cube) as an idea is not part of the work, this though a possibility is pedantic and unlikely. However, once the viewer figures that the white-space is part of the work questions begin to arise which are left unanswered, are their footprints part of the work? Are they, as in the audience, as they are within the ‘space’ part of the work? (This is never a question when the gallery is simply used as means of housing and showing and not articulating the art.) Though these questions may seem interesting, there’s a definite instability here as multiple ironies exist. One could argue the artist is being sincere in their attempts to allow the space to become the work; however a counter-argument would be that Stingel is being insincere, or even ironic about that abstract-sincerity. The second piece within this installation: the painting, also implies another level of self-awareness, though not as ‘meta’ as using the actual foundations of the physical artwork as the art, it does imply the artist is using the non-physical aspects of the artworks existence and placement as the art, as in using an image of the person who in a certain way will have funded his i.e. the artist’s career and created the ability for him to exhibit within this space (i.e. Stingel’s art dealer Paula Cooper). These multiple levels of cognizant process and articulation create an instability between intentional and unintentional irony, which, if an audience member also became aware of could add another layer of confusion, Wayne C Booth once again clears up these seemingly unattached aesthetic and ideological ambiguities: “…brought to profitable terms if critics made clear which kind of contribution they are attempting…redefinition of terms…illumination of meaning…exploration of significance…the final significance of any work might be thought of as the accumulation of what all “private sensibilities” could make of it.” (Booth, 1974) One, again, could argue that post-modernism from the off cast aside ideological underpinnings and thus this exhibition is purely iconoclastic, post-modernism’s escape from the utopian-esque answers of Modernism can only be articulated and perhaps to go as far as to say proven by the manipulation of Modernist ideas, again creating an instability.

THE TOXICITY OF POST-MODERNISM AS A FREE-FLOATING SIGNIFIER

A ‘floating signifier’ is word that doesn’t point to any object, or actual agreed upon meaning, I cannot think of anything more apt than post-modernism to fit into this category; a movement which almost prides itself of not having an ideological foundation, and of its iconoclastic values, addressing the fact that its main qualms are with modernism’s ideas of a total or utopian view of the world. The only problem here is that post-modernism can only move forward by referring to those who they are ‘post’ thus, they are creating a new foundation, which is the idea of no foundation, there can never be a ‘non-foundation’ in the same way that a blank manifesto is still a manifesto. Post-modernism as a floating-signifier very quickly becomes toxic, as the term is a constant, especially within the contemporary art world, the term ‘post-modernism’ is in constant use, yet has no clear definition. Of course, no art movement worth its weight within art history could be explained within a page, however most can be explained within 1 book, post-modernism simply cannot be explained due to its lack of inherent explanation; at least the primary objectives of post-modernism cannot be explained in their relation to external movements or theories (often those that they are against). One could argue that nothing can be explained without any relation to past or adjacent ideas, this is true, however once such movements have been articulated they come into their own and are released from their burden of comparison, something which post-modernism has yet to achieve. Art without any footing begins to be interpreted in unstable ways, the lack of post-modernism’s inherent footing is due to the fact that for them to take on any foundation or ideological footing would be entirely hypocritical, thus they become stuck in a catch-22 wherein as soon as they allow a clear interpretation of their work a foundation can be constructed. Thus to call yourself a post-modernist, is only to say that you a ‘creative’ that works after-modernism.

When however the floating signifier that post-modernism is takes something for its own, such as irony, it becomes disjointed such as post-modernism is; so an irony that would have once had a footing; previously discussed by Wayne C. Booth as “…redefinition of terms…illumination of meaning…exploration of significance… the accumulation of what all “private sensibilities” could make of it” (Booth, 1974). One can almost conclude here that post-modernism creates a fragmented idea of irony in that due to its loose ideological foundations the viewer has nothing to grab onto as a reason to interpret the present irony into a stable interpretation of the whatever the pluralism is the artist is trying to address, meaning that not only is the work itself unstable, but post-modernism as a whole becomes unstable.

THERE IS NO CORRELATION BETWEEN ZEITGEIST, SINCERITY AND STYLE

Thus far in this essay, one would get the impression that there is a certain correlation between sincerity and style, wherein dated (that is dated in terms of post-modern duality of thought) romantic styles and methods e.g. realism, romanticism and expressionism to name just a few are always being sincere about their overarching idea. Pre-1930’s the use of irony or being not-sincere was scarce and un-favoured, at least in the mainstream art world. One could argue that if I was to reference this chapter, there, then the duality of meaning and self-reference of this chapter would in itself become a certain style, which is definitely not of the romantics or realists, yet this chapter is attempting to be sincere, this, just one example of how there is no correlation between sincerity and style, this is however linguistically, to look at the art world:

Within “Kosuth’s work there is not one hint of humour, or that Kosuph might be looking at the relation between aesthetics and semantics in a way which seems nonsensical, this work is working with the instability of semantics, however it is stable and sincere about that its dialogue is about that instability within semantics; the instability being that the meanings are congruent in certain semantic fields and incongruent in others, therefor this is a clear example wherein the style is unlike the previous sincere-style examples (expressionism, realism etc.) yet is still sincere.

Jack Vettriano’s The Singing Butler is actually a complex example of how style, zeitgeist and sincerity can cause confusion and instability. Vettriano is a ‘best-selling’ contemporary painter, his works can be found on calendars and cheap-mall-canvas’ alike, however what one; at least post-1930, could find intriguing about Vettriano’s work is that there is not one hint of irony, and that he isn’t even being ironic about not being ironic. Which leads one to believe that Vettriano is entirely sincere in his soft-core romanticist stencils of humans, this causes instability, because work such as Vettriano’s seem entirely out-of-place in the contemporary art ‘scene’. Many would find Vettriano’s style retrograde, a type of now-irrelevant kitsch, with a certain amount of egotistical-misogyny thrown in for good measure. Wherein Kosuth’s conceptual-style in actually being entirely sincere, it is doing so alongside an out-of-place style, that of Jack Vettriano, this is a quick exercise in mirroring two pieces of art attempting to be sincere, however their styles are worlds apart.

IS IT NO LONGER POSSIBLE FOR AN ARTIST TO BE SINCERE?

This question has many problems attached to it, firstly if an artist wants to be sincere and is working and wants to be known as working within post-modernism, they would either have to grin and bear the cringes of their friends, and the statements that no likely would be along the lines of banality, or asking if said artist was doing so ironically? Either that or they would have to make it clear they are not a post-modernist, which seems to have failed thus far. Take for instance the Stuckist movement, founded in 1999 by Billy Childish, a movement which is very opposed to conceptualism and believes only in painting, though has been known to venture to other mediums as long as they’re not conceptual. The Stuckists themselves seem stuck, it’s been made clear that what they are doing is not furthering art and is simply stuck in its place, arguably they have gained world recognition, though ironically its more for their thought and concept on the matter of conceptualism rather than their aesthetic rebuttal against it, thus their attempts at sincerity were faltered at their first hurdle, their idea has and always will be before the work, for if you weren’t creating the work knowingly sincerely then you would not be a Stuckist. Another attempt at sincerity within contemporary art comes from Andy Holden’s manifesto Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity (Holden, 2003) in which Holden and his peers agree we are “in an age of irony mourning for sincerity…the ironic whale that swims in the sea of post-modernism.” I find it quite apt that Holden says that the sea is not ironic but it is only a small thing swimming about within it, there is however far too many sightings of this rare whale, to the point where whale-sightings within post-modernism are getting gratuitous and just as ‘dull’ as the sincerity that remains without it.

“Let us not be ironic about our sincerity, let us be sincere about our irony. (Holden, 2003)” I do believe many artists are sincere about their irony and about the fact they are being sincere, however there are some that are ironic about their sincerity, if this is the case, at least for contemporary art does it not then become impossible for an artist to be sincere? To what it is you are trying to prove. For a statement about your sincerity would only make people question it further. Sincerity then, at least where the art world is concerned has simply become a counter-part of irony, an opposite, which is not where it belongs. If one was once again to travel down the routes of post-modernism and become self-aware and referential, once could as an audience member wonder if what it is I have written is sincere, or ironic. I have not mentioned if I want to redefine terms, or illuminate meaning or even question significance. For if I am writing this ironically it then becomes a work, if I am writing this sincerely then it is but research, what is there here to connote whether it is ironic or sincere?

CONCLUSION

In conclusion we find that if a contemporary artist wants be sincere they either find a way outside of post-modernism to say that they are being sincere. Or they become ironic about their sincerity, which to any artist genuinely wanting to creating impressionist or modernist works would be rather upsetting, wherein if an artist is to paint in an old or ‘dated’ style, such as previously mentioned contemporary romanticist Jack Vettriano, they are going to be thought of doing so ironically, thus entering themselves into a catch-22.

The one thing that it becomes impossible to do is be sincere about your sincerity, at least within the contemporary art world. Post-modernism’s scorn at retrograde styles creates a problem, wherein it is the un-idea of those works that becomes scorned at, as in, those working in a retro style are more often than not being entirely sincere, therefor it’s sincerity that becomes frowned upon and not the aesthetic step backwards. The post-modernist belief that those who are being sincere are automatically considered to be unaware and ignorant to contemporary shifts within the art-world.

REFERENCES

Booth, W.C. (1974). A Rhetoric of Irony. 2 edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. P5-6. P16. P23.

Foster Wallace, D (1993). E Unibus Pluram. The Review of Contemporary Fiction reprinted in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again (2010) p81. P68. New York: Little Brown & Co.

Holden, A (2003) Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity, [Internet], http://www.metamodernism.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/MIMS.jpg Accessed November 2014.

Hyde, L (1987). Alcohol and Poetry: John Berryman and the Booze Talking. American Poetry Review reprinted in the Pushcart Prize anthology for 1987, Dallas: Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

Irony (2014) Definition of Irony [Internet] available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/irony Accessed November 2014

Paula Cooper Gallery, (2005) Statement on Rudolf Stingel exhibition [Internet], http://www.paulacoopergallery.com/exhibitions/26 , Accessed November 2014.

Picabia, F (Author) Lowenthal, M (Translator) (2012), I Am a Beautiful Monster: Poetry, Prose and Provocation. Massachusetts: The MIT Press

Sincerity (2014) Definition of Sincerity [Internet] available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sincerity Accessed November 2014

 

Aguirre, the Wrath of Gnon

 

Aguirre, Wrath of God Gnon

 

‘Gnon’, the modification of ‘Nature’s God’ into “the abyss of the unknowing.”[1], an overbearing…overriding fate of acceptance to Reality. That which not only avoids intentionality, but annihilates it prior to any amount of construction; the disinterested super-ego of the il y a. Potentially dragging it into context may do it a disservice, for  Gnon shall never be illuminated by the eyes of humanity, nor even cast a shadow upon them. Once more we’ll find ourselves clutching at a nothingness, pining for hope.

Romantic notions of bleak voids aside Gnon has its origin amongst reactionaries, acting as a practical acronym of “the God of Nature Or Nature.”. – these are your only choices, as Land states, Gnon is not Spinozistic [1] – An acronym which amongst reactionaries attends to aligning two camps: the religious and the non-religious, whether it is Nature or a God it is acceptance of an order beyond all doubt. Utilization of such acceptance allows the two camps to lay down looping discrepancies and debates in place of thoughtful mutual work towards the ‘here-and-now’, which itself is undoubtedly controlled by Gnon at base level. But what of Gnon?

One might say to coax the idea of Gnon through the standard ‘film as metaphor’ analysis would be redundant or gratuitous, to align this arrogant behemoth alongside plot would seem down right absurd; one might add that to cinematically encapsulate Gnon one need only watch a hurricane decimate a town, or footage of a hawk gobbling on some young for one to understand their place. Yet when Gnon surrounds desire, power, fame, duty and honour one garners the full effect of its disinterest.

Aguirre, The Wrath of God: 1560 amongst the freshly conquered Inca Empire in the Andes mountains we’re faced with the gruelling march of some Spanish conquistadors, a hundred Indian slaves, a few family and an oh-so human desire to discover the fabled El Dorado. Herzog sends us forth on our journey with this maddening vision of ascent and descent. The mountain effortlessly still as knees lock and armour clangs, sodden, humid exhaustion berates.

From here it will be easier.”

These words spoken early on of course could be repeated again and again, for the next 2000 years if one wished. The commander, whose name I need not mention, orders a group of men to scout down river, taking with them Don Lope de Aguirre as a stoic military man, the fat nobleman Don Fernando de Guzman and Brother Gaspar de Carvajal; military, royalty and religion cast down river amidst the rainforests dense suffocation. Ultimately none of their honoured affiliations comes to help them, nor allows them any comfort.

Many of the Indian slaves begin to die of colds.

As one of the 4 rafts made to tackle to river gets stuck the insanity and tension of the camp only heightens, a sense that the foreign reigns supreme, that if one was to arrive at El Dorado, it needn’t matter for they wouldn’t be themselves, a journey akin to Colonel Kurtz yet what in Heart of Darkness could said to be an anthropocentric arrogance is replaced tenfold with a pathetic confusion. Acting not as if a flood were a sign or even a subtle hint of the right to return, but that which is to be justly overcome; once again it is supposedly the water in the way of us and not the reverse.

Obstacles only acting as fuel to Aguirre’s infectious rage. As the first raft becomes stuck and its crew are slaughtered in the night, the only action is to allow Gnon, destroy the raft and let the river clutch its victims. With the remaining rafts also consumed the commander thinks it best to return. Leading a mutiny – and encapsulating a loosely packed collage of human emotion – Aguirre continues to push the group further into that which has already fucked them.

The increasing tightening of the micro-community only worsens the heat and emotion. Aguirre’s new found leadership releases his oppressive inner nature, and thus the orders mutate into fear and terror. Shots of heavily clad men coated in dirt, blood, sludge and dust are frequent. Midway in their journey two options are stated: “By water or by land.” or ‘By Gnon or by Gnon’. This is not to confuse Gnon with the Nature-as-environment cliché, only that each option forthwith is under obligation to a higher acceptance, the knowledge of which is beginning to seep under the skin of Aguirre.

The correct answer to “What is Gnon?” should always be followed by “like that, but more red in tooth and claw.” [2]

The final raft holding the remaining few, all starving and lost. Eventually all meeting their death to the arrows of strangers never seen. Aguirre alone remains:

“I, the Wrath of God, will marry my own daughter, and with her I will found the purest dynasty the world has ever seen. Together, we shall rule this entire continent. We shall endure. I am the Wrath of God… who else is with me?”

A typical interpretation would see Aguirre’s loss as related to his desires, filled with passion and lust upon adventure to El Dorado, to become the one who found the myth. Yet there is none so blind as those who will not see. Aguirre need only look backwards mere days, hours even to see he’s lost, abandoned and defeated, it was always that way, he merely wanted to venture a step too far for proof of failure, a wish that maybe, just this one time man will win, in whatever minor way.

Aguirre approaches the inconsequentiality of humanity more sincerely every passing minute, until all the viewer is left with is a single human defeated by its own supposedly ‘unique’ nature, adrift and alone within a hellish terrain. A sweaty speck of humanity caught in the unstoppable fever of Gnon.

 


[1] http://www.xenosystems.net/the-cult-of-gnon/

[2] Taken from a Reddit comment

Origins of Gnon in Nick B. Steves’ links: https://nickbsteves.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/going-meta-on-meta/

Aguirre, the Wrath of God

Sisyphean Retail

 

 

 

I already have a varied list of jobs and experiences on my CV, though I imagine if one could create such a document, an abstract CV would harness the static-noise of the majority of these jobs into 1 word: Sisyphean. For those who haven’t had the pleasure to read Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus I highly recommend you do before proceeding.  Camus’ Myth is seen by many academics as philosophy-lite, starter philosophy or generally that which is a little too loose to ever be allowed to enter into the ring with the highfalutin pumped masters. That said, I don’t particularly care, it’s a text I often fall back to on the more wearisome days; days too bright for Cioran and too dark for Levinas, that text which rests at the continually pumping heart of humanity.
That said my medicinal CV still exists – unfortunately – bureaucratic warts and all, it’s there plain as day, allotted time, numerous shifts condensed to a single line. Each job I could more than likely only mention between 3-20 unique experiences, memories of merit, memories that fail to blend into the meaningless void.

My current vocation is the ultimate cliché of them all: retail, that which draws the human spirit vampirically. A subtle latch to the neck, head and heart as one enters the door for the first time, intending to tend to the room in which they’ve walked indefinitely.
I’d like to avoid writing here which is the in the vein of the so called ‘millennial’, I wish to avoid mere complaints, grievances and whining of the personal aspect of such jobs, there do not interest me, for they are symptoms of a far larger crisis. The crisis of the human spirit – whether or not that spirit is pessimistic, cynical, toxic, cybernetic, optimistic, satanic, angelic or dull. For even the dullest and most monotone of people should have something to say when they die. Yet, the time that one exists within that job nulls the possibility for authenticity. As if the walls of all retail establishments house a dead time, one in which humans become mere automatons, zombies if you like (not of the consumerist kind.).  Pandering to a deity that wishes only to steal their time, energy and possibility, only to annihilate it instantly once out of sight. Let’s stop there. It’s easy pickings to be cynical of those helpless in their ignorance and aimlessness…especially when one is on the edge of becoming helpless themselves.

What if one was put in such a position that all reason is stripped entirely, to the nth degree, in which one exists within a reverberation of time, single days, hours and minutes at a time, all culminating into a…’work-day’, a ‘shift’. A time in which the present is always the same each time it is anew. Each present, each now, as in each minute, hour and day as a present or now is the same as the last, all merging into a confused ‘new’. One attains an uncanny sense that even the deepest of their feelings, emotions and conversations have been experienced prior, and that the only differences are superficial: Talk of the storm the night before changes the conversation slightly, yet it feels the same as before; a smile from someone usually miserable, yet they seem unchanged; a vintage car slowly glides past the storefront, yet it could easily be a plump people carrier. It could be any other day, any other hour, any other second – it is, but in your reality it isn’t. The call of the void grows louder and louder, you want to lunge, expand your lungs to max velocity, paint the walls red and listen to records of shattering glass, if only to break the tension of infinitesimal presents. To take an instrument – musical or sharp – and strike thorough through the weakest part of dullard time, create, live, ‘n love as they say.
Those last 3 terms seem vacuous to you now of course. And that’s not just because of consumerisms general insistence towards the profitability of each, no, it is because they very quickly get swept into the general feeling of mere existence. Neither standing, sitting, perched or talking, nor acting, dancing, laughing or screaming, merely existence, the feeling of a heavy form within its exact shell plonked mercilessly into an endless sea of insufferable animals, vibrant sensations and bright experiences – “Not really!” says the plonk-er, as one realises that an endless sea is rather larger, and that a wave of interest is few and far between, patterns emerged and have existed forever, those who try to ignore them become confused and drown – often on purpose.

“…deep feelings always mean more than they are conscious of saying.”

So how does one avoid this hyper-ambiguity, this place void of deeper meaning, a place in which the idle-chatter has founds its home, ticking inside the pipework and electric cables, infecting not only conversation but transaction, warmth, views, feelings, tasks, skills and life-itself, that which is void of all essence? You imagine. Lull yourself into a woken sleep and imagine that one is happy, bored or angry…however you want it needn’t matter for the chance of conclusion is already lost at the door, evaporating.

For give a man a job in which he can reach at least some form of conclusion. For the designer views his completed design, there to aid a business; the schoolteacher witnesses the growth of a student and watches as they leave the doors an adult; the baker knows his loaf will fill a stomach; the lawyer helps towards accommodation or strife; the builder constructs and the doctor heals…but what of the third party, the tired middle man handling the transactions, those on low wages and low energy dealing with the most mundane of life’s quandaries. Those working jobs in which one day is sewn seamlessly into the next, each and every action part of a repeatable conveyor belt planned for years to come, in fact their very future is already jotted before their very eyes on posters, emails, memos, booklets, pamphlets, reviews and store announcements, in fact the very idea of spontaneity and difference is entirely alien to these kinds of jobs. Day by day, minute by minute, second by second, the job itself acts as the most monotonously exhausting filler in existence. Repetition so unified one’s being begins to disintegrate.

“True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care—with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.” – The Pale King, David Foster Wallace.

Those who’ve been following me for a while will know of my love for Foster Wallace’s work, yet, I feel this is an area he has hastily suffocated into an idealistic box. I do not feel however, as I imagine many will, that his use of the word ‘heroism’ is a grave overstatement, no, for from his perspective it rings true. Yet, I still would replace it with the word ‘submission’. True submission is to accept one’s fate at the claw of a machine the size of which you cannot comprehend, to act as if true defeat of all possibilities – actual and metaphysical – is a lifesaving gift, that, the small town job you were just offered is something of a complement, an addition, a part of life all must partake and continue without overt scorn, noise or frustration, neither towards the ‘gift’ itself or the giver.

“No one there to see or cheer.” Indeed, because no one waits in the hallways of life, you’ll find very few sane people standing around talking to clerks or bin-men, there’s little time to lean against within the hospitality sections of the world for risk of losing one’s energy and charisma, alongside the fact of course that there is “No one there to see or cheer.” Because everyone else is also at their occupation of ‘choice’, dwindling their resources and energy over some small bureaucratic form which seems pointless to them but they must feign care in fear of expulsion. Not just expulsion from the job, no, that in itself is a strange gift. No, fear of some form of failure, that other’s perceptions will change and all that surrounds will begin to crumble. And so Foster Wallace continues:
“The truth is that the heroism of your childhood entertainments was not true valor. It was theatre. The grand gesture, the moment of choice, the mortal danger, the external foe, the climactic battle whose outcome resolves all–all designed to appear heroic, to excite and gratify and audience. Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reality–there is no audience. No one to applaud, to admire. No one to see you. Do you understand? Here is the truth–actual heroism receives no ovation, entertains no one. No one queues up to see it. No one is interested.” – DFW

I understand Foster Wallace’s point here, that there truly is something so be said for those who help others with no promise of reward or thanks. No one is interested because the community has been disassembled, no one’s interested because the majority have become disenfranchised…no one is interested because those shows you speak of that taught us the stereotypical form of heroism numbed our senses into a predictable mulch. Foster Wallace is only striving for an answer to the mundanity of reality much the way we all are, and often I feel his material/physical answer is far more applicable than Camus’. For at least therein from the acceptance one can continue in a direction with their spine intact, not bowing down to a laughable whine.
Camus writes: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” And that’s where we are left, our imagination is our only shelter from the world, imagination and belief that we and others are happy in our needless pursuits and exertions. For as we begin to push the infinitesimal boulder for another day we click in a hook to each side of our mouths and grin wide as our skin is pulled by force. The beginning of each and every day is submission and nothing more. Make of it what you will. Grin without hooks when possible, but never imagine, never hope for the happiness of another or oneself (if happiness is your aim in life), either make it so or wonder what of other directions, purposes and possibilities.

Camus writes “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”  I say fuck that. Imagine Sisyphus angry, mad, sad or even melancholy that he once again has to tackle this clunky metaphorical boulder.

Admin: #1

Hey all, the blog admittedly has been fairly quiet of late. Well, there’s been the House of Leaves and The Familiar posts etc., though I haven’t actually produced anything original recently. Firstly, some stuff is in the works, many, many things actually, the problem in being I haven’t concentrated on anyone too much. Anyway, a few things. The House of Leaves posts and The Familiar posts wont be anywhere near as frequent, as they were getting sloppy and I want them to have some merit at least. I’m not going to put a date on when the next one will be etc., just know that I am still working.

Please feel free leave any comments below, or follow me on Twitter:

 

The Caustic Man and the OCD Boy

Part 2

The Caustic Man and the OCD Boy

 

‘One step, two step, three step.’ The Boy says over and over and over in his head before finishing his cigarette, preparing for the addiction, the anxiety reliever, the advert for the product he must buy into.

 

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Taking the last tar filled drag and plunking the cig into the plant pot utilized as ashtray. Repeatedly stubbing it into the pot making sure not one ember survives. Now, to begin. The rules are simple, so simple in fact they have become subconscious.

There’s a plain matt just before the door step, adjacent to it, the Boy knows he must step onto the matt, then off again, 3 times in succession. Each time he steps his feet must be in line with each other, parallel, neat. If they’re not, well, he’ll start again.

 

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The front garden, by many accounts is ‘well kept’. It’s between 11pm and 4am and so the precise time doesn’t matter, for the air and time all acts the same, possibility of mist, for the il y a to creep over fences and upset your footing.

The houses populating the road are fairly dull, tiled rooves, predictable structures and cracking gloss window frames. The neighbour has a big van, it wakes the Boy up early on weekends, he doesn’t mind, the owner is nice and so, is forgiven.

A pleasant street, you’d say “I’d like my kids to grow up somewhere like this.” They’d only grow up, then stay, stagnate. It’s a tough little town wielding comfortable barbs, ripping into your flesh causing agonizing ignorance. You thank the barbs and hooks.

 

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And so the Boy makes his steps as the smell of a Rothman lingers, rubbing against the brickwork, filtering away. Ends and corners in small towns at night. All are blind.

 

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The end of the road is 50 or so metres away, a junction, a left and a right, with a detached house sitting in front. Currently the junction and the house are both shadowed in a dark light.

The ‘presence of an absence’, Levinas came up with that, I think he must have spent a lot of time in the dark. Darkness has been ‘done’ time and time again, yet we still worry.

 

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It’s the idea of anything, from human to fox, a tumble of leaves to a passing car. Anything can enter or leave with or without permission. This time it’s a man.

Couldn’t really tell you what he’s like, or what he’ll be like for that matter. All I know is he erodes, personally acidic, the most minor of migraines forever.

The Boy’s wearing big soft hiking socks – bad blood circulation. His feet slighter pat on each step. Feeling little rocks and twigs stick into the cotton. There are bones elsewhere.

 

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“Oh no! What a pity.” The voice is soft, with warm inflections at the ends. “You get right back at it. I’ll come over.”

 

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“Again, oh no.” And sometimes, you think all perspiration is mean-spirited. Just imagine your lower intestine – and twist.

“The road’s all – ha ha – cold on my feeties.” You don’t wanna turn, you know it…ain’t.

 

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III

 

“That’s not a goody good one is it.” As a little kitty cat up the road screeches, at another cat, a lil’ fight goin’ on.

You feel the bedroom light in room. It’s on, it’s warm, there’s a whir and hum from your laptop.

“Ain’t no hummies or wherries out here, nothing-thin warmeo ol’ pal-y.” And you think, oh just eat me up, gobble please.

 

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“You! You! You! Ohhhh you did it right! Yea…”

 

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“Oh narh, you messered up da F-urst wan. Dippy.”

The breeze all neutral, as if the dead-time rolled in.

 

 

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“Wowza compowza! You got. . . URT ROIGHT! First time-

– With me ‘ere ‘ere ‘ere.”

As a car passers far away, a subtle, comfy revving.

 

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“That’s a 2-er.”

 

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III

 

“Oh combATZA! At thee last ‘urdle!”

Soft paw footsteps.

 

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“And we start allllllllllllllll-

– Over err-GEN!”

The lavender plant sways.

 

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“Close.”

 

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And the Boy peaks to check that his cigarette definitely went out, all embers gone, looks down the road, turns to his left, then his right, then is left A CONTORTIONED MUSCULAR MESS. Then he heads inside, the doors has a click as he inserts the key to lock it. He steps back from the door just 1 pace. Puts his right hand on the door –

 

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III