What no one will remember
A flux of metal, light and mind. June 18, 2013.
A flux of metal, light and mind. June 18, 2013.
you heard the extra elle
let’s get down to the facts.
There’s this thing, civilization.
Outcome of humanity. Yes,
Humanity. If it could speak collectively,
it would say, ‘yes, it was moi, I made
civilization out of my disposal to progress
in my creative adaptation’ but let’s re-examine
that posture (not to mention that cosmolomania,
if moi, the poet, can coin a neologism).
That anthropogenic posture that humanity,
or little clusters of near-humans, created
civilization is far-fetched indeed and in deed.
The modern individual does not take into account
what s/he means by the word ‘individual’,
which is fundamental to the concept of humanity,
especially when it comes to the ‘feats’
humanity has achieved. The individual of today
will have you believe that s/he has been,
to some degree, in control of their personality
(the exact age is imprecise, perhaps inaccessible,
but they will say something between the ages of 7
and 10), that this awareness of theirs has been
the same entity carried through time, up to the present
moment, of which they are the agglomeration
of any events, reactions, decisions and postures
taken in that period of time. Wonderful, I say.
But there is this assumption of control, you see.
Humans today assume they are to some degree
in control of their personalities. Whereas, through
introspection and plain observation, we can become
aware that we’re in no way conscious of many processes
that enable (that allow) our personality to subsist.
For example. The learning process or method. We
learn things, yes. We memorize things, yes. But these
so-call feats are generated effortlessly by our
own cognitive substratum. Let’s not get too complex.
I said up there, let’s get down to the facts.
The facts are, as far as one can be honest, there are
abilities or capabilities that enable us to do the things we do,
and we don’t know how we do them. Things such
as memory, imagination, learning, poetizing;
that are not in our direct conscious control. In fact, they
operate without our consent. In a way, we are the
outcome of these underground mechanisms that
dictate our perceptions, actions and philosophies.
So, we have this thing. Civilization.
Expressing itself and we’re its own audience and stage.
Just playing around, for a while it seems.
And it’s not really our doing. It arose from the interaction
of so many intertwined factors that it’s not computable. Oh
I can already hear the technologist of infinite progress
shrieking in dismay. But that’s my story folks. As they say
in these lands. Skål!
“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.
where’s the off switch
the icicle of reason
leaving a small puddle
at my feet
and we will build
assemble great systems
to the outer edge of the milky way
the civilizations, the civilizations
with its civilians hooraying
their democracies pushing
the sciences inventing
the artworks embellishing
the museums and the highways accelerating
the capital erecting
of the great laughter of achievement
while the black smoke of reality
into nothingness dreamt.
It is no accident
that we grew civilizations
on the first day
we became pubescent
instigators of chaos
the profligate erosion
landscapes on the arc
of this catastrophic planet
the erotic sapiens
complexity as fetish
how the tables have turned
served in Smörgåsbord style
for queuing prole
while the offices are
pulpit for the priesthood
of the abstract totem – $
and the day comes
clearing the malaise of cogito
the terrible sunshine of noon
falling on the
playground of the earth.
Since these are all eyes pouncing upon their own light
since these words are still in the air we breathe
nobody has yet seen the cruelty of today
nobody has measured the necessity of crying
to be sick and living
asphyxiated with desires, unclothed by opinion
the taste is in my mouth:
progress has vomited a sickly herd.