Art in the 21st century

“Despite all its powers, society cannot sustain the artist if
it is impervious to the vision of the artist.” – Henry Miller

What is art today? More precisely, what does art convey? Art has become an adornment, mere embellishment to our mechanical society. It is what you hang behind an office desk, in the hallway of a bank, in the solitary confines of a museum. It is what is read while we travel between two points, what is listened to while we drive to work, what we assist to in moments of laziness and passive submission to entertainment. It is that which is viewed askance, situated in the periphery, unobtrusive to the real function of society: business.

Art is no longer an expression of a deeper vision of reality; and if it is, we, at least, no longer perceive it as such. It is aesthetic, no doubt. But it is not beautiful enough to secure a prominent role in our routines. As far as we are concerned, it is pastime, an elegant but inferior activity in life. It conveys no truth or doubt to the spectator. Life is predetermined and already decided; art is solely an amusement, even if it constantly fights against modern life. It exists as a hallucination, a sort of intoxication that can easily be dismissed as unreal and irrelevant. The serious business of life cannot be questioned; it has no room for the artist and his or her artwork that challenges the unconsciousness of its drives.

And yet some artists do become idols in this culture and their art known universally, but is their artwork studied as profoundly as we study engineering or business administration? The artists’ message, their restructuring of our understanding of reality, their incessant re-questioning of our basic assumptions, remain quite below the general level of public attention. We all recognize the dripping clock of Dali or the visual massacre of the Guernica, some will recognize the dreamy seascape of La Mer or the cavernous sorrow of the Adagio for Strings, the name of Humbert Humbert or Harry Hope may be familiar to a few, a minority will recall The Waste Land or a Season in Hell; but what is noteworthy here is that recognizing these works of art by their name is no sign that we have delved in them and studied them profoundly. We care only superficially of what they imply, what the message is all about. There is no understanding that an artist is a transformation of the human being and is attempting a redefinition of what is to be alive in a mysterious universe. We assume art as a gift to culture by one and the same kind of individual that already lives in that culture.

Art has now been banalized, it has become a career and today there are flocks of artists that operate as businesses, as factories manufacturing objects to be bought and superficially enjoyed. The true artist is rare these days, he or she is muted and oppressed by this contradiction. How to bring forth a genuine work of art in this spurious world that is driven by money? The voice of art is being drowned by the roar of commerce and trivial entertainment. Society has absorbed art; and the artist has docilely submitted to his or her new harrowing role of ornamentalist. The commandments of art are now thus: you shall entertain, you shall impress, you shall produce the beautiful, you shall be famous, but under no circumstance should you dishonor your loving parent: society. Society does not want individuals to think and act differently, to produce controversies that may outstrip the authority of the status quo. Art may produce change insofar as it remains within the parameters of the socially digestible.

The artist is no longer an artist. He or she has forgotten that divine calling of making of life an experiment. The artist must suffer eternally, must wrestle with the incongruities and absurdities of living and dying, must explore the unknown realm of the spirit and  (in the words of Rimbaud)become a seer. The work produced thereafter will be only an inkling, an announcement of vaster realms accessible to all, it is an opening at the roof of an abyss for those who dare plunge into it. The experiential adventure of consciousness is now going extinct, there are few enthusiasts left. It is a form of wisdom that society ignores and lumps together under the heading “esoteric mumbo-jumbo”, or more spitefully, “madness”. (Hasn’t history shown that many great artists were deemed mad in their time, only later to be proclaimed visionaries?). And yet this wisdom is no particular statement or philosophy; it is an active engagement with the mystery of creation, what once was the domain of the artist and religious fervent. Today art as well as religion is downplayed as historical curiosity, still operating as long as they leave intact, and even follow, the new order created by the God of modern civilization: money.

a study of consciousness


I am a self insofar as I remember my past. I am a perspective. Would I been born without the hippocampus, or should my memory vanish in a quick flash of nothingness; I’d become holy boundless present: unaging infinity. To exist boundlessly as an immeasurable universe without tribulation in its acts, because in such scenario nothing is feared – the future would not have been invented. A vast field of vibrant being; the most outlandish, yet, innocuous dreams would take place every moment – a placid sleep within the robes of existence.

 

Nihilistic Poetry

initimations

Eternity poem 

How it happened exactly I will never know. Suddenly everything became worthless, everything human per se, that is. This veneer of generic pleasures and conventional raisons d’être became illusory, life taken at face value, submission to the established order; well, I was done with all that long ago. The magic began when my intuition fumbled upon a veritable prospect of infinity. How many different orders of life are possible, how many universes made of other realities must exist simultaneously, in such way, I began to break the biased assumption that this is the only world there is. What an experiment this life here is, to emerge from a field of interconnected activity, full of evolutionary processes. Humans begin to appear unreal and yet beautiful in their playing out the habits of their biology and history, their customs in this unique, relative mode of being we know as ‘life on earth’. From the way we speak, sleep, drink, dress – a rare collection of revocable attributes, a lonely arrangement in the infinite spectrum of eternity. I caught a glimpse only. Glimpses of just one dream unfolding in a god’s sleep; a god that never dies. That god has had an infinite number of dreams in the past and shall have an infinite number of dreams in the future, no two alike. In this ephemeral presence how can I regard anything as immutable, or ultimately, even as real? The very foundations of this world, with its geometry and physical laws, its life forms and civilizations, its space and time, are nothing more than an evanescent chapter in the phantasmagorically boundless ground of being.

So here I stand as raw nothingness, the happiest nothingness to ever breathe the cold air under a yellow winter sun, amidst the foundationless relativity of this dreamlike existence.

The rest I will never know.


 

Nihilistic Poetry

killing time

Killing Time

 
 
 

 

Feel the beating of the prison heart? Time deals the future as cheap junk. I’m an addict just like you. No need to run, there’s no escaping. It’s useless to be optimistic or pessimistic about it. Everybody wants to change it, but who’s ever watching it? It is a remarkable thing to be a body. A body of evidence, who knows how many millions of years of evidence. The evidence points to mediocrity. If you have ever witnessed a murder, then you must know how I feel when I witness human nature. It’s atrocious. Everything is tangled up inside, confused by language, made insipid with repetitive thoughts and drives, full of sadness if you want to hear the truth. The valiant acts of art? Muddled self-pity, if you ask me. Art is a sweet kind of poison, but it is still toxic. Life, culture, art, all of it once made me sick to the bone. I am learning to deal with it now. A feeling of disgust is merely a form of disguised utopian mentality. If existence is unbearable, we are assuming or hoping for some kind of alternative worthier reality that is being spoiled by the current state of affairs. But there isn’t any and if there is, what makes us suppose we will be the ones to solve the conundrum when so many others have failed in the course of history. We wait for our time to pass, often fixated with a future state of well-being. It’s a compulsion but it does the job. It kills time. There is just too much of it and we’re running out of ideas. Take this loathsome piece of prose or art or self-pity; whatever you call it. I’m just killing time.

 

 

Nihilistic Poetry

A modern crisis

 

 

 

We were born after a whole deal of postures and attitudes had been tried and dismissed. It seemed to me that this was the first time in human history when life was unbearable even while we have all the basic conditions for survival and a surplus of commodities. We live in the absence of a raison d’être and our very lives could actually be defined as the search for that sacred reason. We would and probably will travel around the globe and consume every possible experience in search of that elusive understanding that could justify and make sense of all the seemingly senseless gyrations between birth and death, hunting for that catharsis that would erase our feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency.   

If I am allowed to make a stand on the current emptiness that governs the modern rebel (and I must state that this rebel is even reluctant to assume this label), I could place him or her within a crisis of value. Let’s formulate this crisis. The ‘fortunate’ human being that is born in a middle-class or higher family is bestowed an excess of leisure, which is occupied with an endless parade of distractions, vague and short-lived entertainments that do not provide deep-rooted satisfaction. This repetition of material hedonism is deceiving and can engage the individual in a merry-go-round of renewable pleasures that are futile in their long-term effects. What an overwhelmingly urban and global society presents as the content and purpose of leisure is more often than not a distraction, a veiling of our impoverished consciousness. The value crisis in which we are situated stimulates thus, within the rebel, a sort of antagonisms against life in general and humanity in particular. Is this a wise human race encumbered by trivial pursuits? 

The rebel stands in an existential agnosticism. What can replace the insipid routines, what solution can one offer to resolve the dilemma of human baseness? If leisure represents the time humans can delve in their purpose, our reasoning would lead us to suppose that the average human lives for unchallenging and ready-made experiences. What about the higher fields of art, music, religion, love? Have these been explored sufficiently by the modern man? Do they offer any comfort? All questions with no ready answer, the rebel is obliged to ask without answering, merely pointing to the emptiness without offering a substitute.
 

The rebel doesn’t conclude hastily but is eager to explore any alternative. The contemporary paradigm is of a successive development from school to career, love to family, wealth to belongings, material accumulations to distractions; yet all this is seen as a deception, a reductionism of the natural potential for a human life.  The rebel is apt to adopt a cynical skepticism towards the replacement of one mode of life for another. Life becomes an experiment, a lonesome journey through the limbo of uncertainty. Could religion fill this gap, could music appease this anxiety, could art express this loneliness, could love heal this wound? The experimenter enters them all and many others with caution but will urgently surrender if any of these would deliver him from the surrounding emptiness. Yet traps abound, the guinea-pig rebel still has within the seed of conformism, soon things lose their depth and life abandons its impetus. How to keep the zest for life awake without returning to the dullness of a repetition-ridden soul? 
 

It may seem we are doomed, that any experience by force of repetition becomes insufficiently satisfying for the abyss of hunger that grows inside.  

These reflections surge from a modern crisis. A crisis from our lack of meaning, our absence of value. This, in other words, can be called a spiritual crisis. But the themes of this crisis are not god or original sin, it rather belongs to practical ontology, that is to say, a transforming of the quality of being, producing a reality that becomes not only bearable but powerful enough to sweep away the myopic awareness of normal human life. A new understanding might be wanting, a new wisdom of what we understand human life to be, what we do and what we aspire to; a journey that requires a mixture between philosophy and adventure, a compendium of revolt, daring and openness.
 
 
Return to homepage of Nihilistic Poetry
 

Coherence

 

It is impossible to remain coherent. It is an effort beyond human ability – and wonderfully convenient, it is only humans that desire coherence. Life, if you allow it to be, is too intense; and if you look for the words to describe or preserve it, then this intensity travels from wonder to monotony. There is not one single day that is ordinary – only because we are so intimidated by existence that we willingly enter that repulsive state of awareness called “normality”, which is to say, a trivial encounter with known and familiar objects. So, hours may seem like pleasant arenas, where nothing may occur too unexpectedly; but certainly the night comes, or leisure, or what bothers us immensely: waiting comes and hours turn into monsters, ordinary things into blasphemies. We then need to escape, leave this desolate stability; we need chaos, disorder, frenzy! Why? Because all along we’ve faked our pretty little ordered world. We did not want to see things too deeply, we ignored them so we could continue our 9-to-5 placid existence. So, when our hypocrisy is too heavy to bear, we desire madly to return to the world we ignored – we want to embrace the enigmatic, to unite with what is becoming and does not yet bear a name. So we rush away from ourselves only to wake up the next day sick with regret, as if we betrayed ourselves by indulging too much in the irrational. We bounce from one end to the other, grasping for complete coherence on the one hand and on the other, we strip ourselves naked for our plunge into unadulterated confusion. We are unable to leave permanently the false illusion we’ve created, but we fear to stay too long at the other shore, where laws, customs, languages, thoughts and egos break down.

Beyond Language Blog

Indulgence: our common road

Materiality is the common road. We tread its trail; we pursue the scent of rock. We are — these two words so inappropriate — herders of demise, we are bearers of disease. For what delicious goal we repeat the nausea of our desire, for what exhausted orgasm we repeat expectations for the future. We are really bound to this world of rock and air, we are truly sterile penises focused on ejaculation, while knowingly incapable of delivering results. And however putrid the atmosphere of habits may be, we continue in them, we wallow in boredom – because someday, we like to imagine, our collected decay will metamorphose into beautiful bliss. That day will come, we say hollowly to ourselves, when the sacrifice of wasting time will pay off and we can excuse ourselves by declaring: I had no choice but to wait.

So, what are we waiting for? We are – again these silly words – nagging children passively waiting for chance or fate to transform, deliver, or elevate this all-too-familiar playground into something we are not ashamed of, something that is more dignified than us. This is clearly shown by the regret and emptiness felt after festive events, after the euphoria of drinking and eating, after the ecstasy of sex, after the pleasure of spending – what’s left is only a longing that comes from a weakened being, somehow mutilated by its indulgence in these material things. And this road that we’ve fashioned for our descendants is barely challenged; we dare not look straight into the eye of our times and threaten these irrational and immeasurable cravings. We will always find alibis to justify our lack of concern, we will be too distracted, too immerse in this playground of pleasure to be blamed for our negligence. Yes, we care for matter too deeply, we’ve placed it at the center of our consciousness…

and we will burn for this……….

 

 

 

 

Modern Disgust