About pauladkin

Paul Adkin is a writer, theatre director, actor and educator. He runs the ÑU theater companies in Madrid, Spain. Ñu Teatro www.nuteatro.com and Ñu Accents www.nuaccents.es . He is the author of plays, novels,short stories and philosophical texts. His novels "Purgatory", "Art Wars" and "When Sirens Call" can be found at any of the Amazon online stores.

Dreams, Time, Death and Life

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TIME AND DREAMS

In María Zambrano’s essay on Dreams and Time[1], she argues that time in dreams is an ambiguous element because it doesn’t really exist, and that the time we experience in our waking lives is a creation of consciousness – an integral aspect of thinking. From this she comes to a very interesting conclusion, that time is a liberating force for consciousness.

Within this thought lies a profoundly humanistic proposal: the consciousness we are endowed with as human beings is a liberating force in itself, but only when that same consciousness is able to process time.

Of course, we are so immersed in time that this seems like a tautological statement: how can we not be in time? And isn’t time an oppressive rather than liberating force? Haven’t we heard so many artists and poets complain about the tyranny of time on our lives; the great dictator over existence, from which it is impossible to ever free ourselves. Yet, Zambrano’s point is that we do escape time. In fact, we escape it every time we dream, and that happens daily. Yet where we are truly free is not in the time-liberating dream, but in the time-controlled waking world.

Freedom lies in the power to decide and that is what is denied us in our dreams. The dream world is imposed on us, we have no choice unto where it will take us; we cannot make real decisions there. It is a prison-world, in which the mind seems to play cruel games on the ego-subject that slips into it. Decisions are not made, and problems are never properly resolved in dreams. Things just occur randomly, in a world with an absurd logic in which the subject experiencing the dream is essentially powerless.

Freedom lies in an ability to make decisions and all oppression resides in the power that can nullify any expression of such decisions or squash any acts of realization that may be regarded consequential of those decisions. To exist only in the dream world, would literally mean to be trapped in a nightmare.

But more importantly, the essence of being human, which lies in our conscious, sapiens mind, is also wrapped up in this freedom to make decisions, and time is therefore an integral element in that freedom. A: I am human because I can decide; B: I can decide because I am in time; C: I am human because I am in time.

Zambrano’s argument, however, is that we are both in time and out of time: in time when awake, and out of time whenever we dream. But we would take this one step further, we are also in time while we are alive, and out of time when we die.

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LIFE AND DEATH

Let’s assume that life after death exists: what then is it? If our individual consciousness can exist after our corporeal state has perished, where would that consciousness be?

In trying to imagine such a state, the best approximation we can make is to imagine death as something like an existence in the timeless space of dreams. “To die; perchance to dream” – or more precisely, not to dream but to live in the dream: perhaps in death we dream of being alive; of being in time.

But this idea of the dream-state of consciousness in death applied to Zambrano’s reflection on the totalitarian experience of consciousness within the timeless, turns all religious optimisms on their head. Death is not a release from the nightmare of life, but an immersion into the nightmare itself. The idea of reincarnation is therefore not a Buddhist notion of spiritual learning and evolution into the state that no longer needs to be reincarnated, but a yearning from the prison of death to return to the freedom of life.

The essence of modern religions, lies in the hope they offer of the after-life and their narratives that mitigate our fear of death. For the religious, death is a liberation from an imperfect, inharmonious world of constant suffering – but it is in fact quite the opposite of liberation. A consciousness in death would be drowning in the freedom-less dimension beyond time-space, in which every subject exists in an ambiguous reality, with no decision-making power and no control of the reality they float around in at all.

But what the religious lose here is humanity’s gain. Hope lies here, in this dimension of reality. Plato’s cave may lack the light of God, but it has the time-space that allows those within it to feel the power of freedom. A liberating force which has always been mitigated and undermined by all world religions and the civilisations and cultures that those same religions have architectured around their anti-human narratives directing all hope unto death.

Our greatest hope in death can only be that it is not a permanent condition: that from the time-less space of the dream of death we will reincarnate again back into time and the freedom of the deliberating, decision-making endowed consciousness.

 

[1] María Zambrano, EL SUEÑO CREADOR, Turner, Madrid,1986

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OUR WINDMILLS OF IMPOSSIBLE FANTASIES

 

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The gospel of St. John, translated by King James, begins with the announcement: “In the beginning was the Word,” which is a glorious way of saying: “It all began with a word.” On the surface this may sound like little more than a nice piece of poetry, but within it is buried the simple but deep metaphysics of Idealism. Existence cannot really be said to have begun in any qualitative sense until there was the first named-thing.

It is unlikely that the first word uttered would have been an abstract concept like God, as St. John proposes. More likely it would have been a familiar object, or even more likely, the expression of a feeling; or an indicator you or me.

Language is our first musical relationship between the world and our perception of it. But did it begin musically? Perhaps not: perhaps language was first created graphically. Two lines intersecting representing a tree, the tree on the plain, where two hominoids would meet and wait to hunt the invisible beast.

This would have been a clearer beginning. In order to communicate the invisible, the invisible has to be recreated from memory and then turned into a representation of it. Rendered via some abstract – either graphically or through vocalisation. But, it’s not important which came first; the importance lies in the fact that eventually one always becomes the other – the graphic form must evolve into the vocal utterance and vice versa.

Of course, once the vocal abstraction was grasped by hominoid societies and developed to its full potential, it would nearly always be preferred to the graphic communication: it is simpler and more versatile through that simplicity.

Once language has been absorbed, minds can think and expand. It is our capacity for grasping complexity through the tool of language that makes us homo-sapiens human. But from where comes this need for complexity? Why do we bother? Isn’t the good life the simple one? Could complexity be a mistake? After all, this search for complexity was the very reason for our Fall from Paradise.

The religious notion we have that we must suffer for a nostalgia for the Paradise Lost, can be affirmed by psychology. Nevertheless, psychology would also argue that the nostalgia is more realistically our yearning to return to the perfect autocracy of the womb rather than some primordial memory of a Garden of Eden.

That is our human condition; buried in the word, and the complexity that word yearns to unveil.

Our nostalgia for simplicity, on the other hand, is a (non-Sapiens) animal one – the un-special part of us: the part without language; the non-Sapiens side of the homo sapiens.

The human being then is a dual being: both animal and Sapiens. The animal side yearns for a simple life of satisfied needs, whereas the Sapiens strives to unravel the complexity of reality in order to understand and preserve it. These two forces are, in practice, basically antagonistic to each other, even though there seems to be only one entity at work.

The struggle works on both the micro and macro-psychological levels. It is as much a battle between ego and Id as it is between Power and the People. On the personal level one may get bored and distressed by the lack of challenges in one’s life, or over-stressed and panicky by their over-abundance. In the socio-political realm, the will to simplicity and the quest for comfort is generated in order to create a passive herd of the animal class whilst the same Wealth-driven power that creates the herd, separates itself in an aristocratic way. By doing this, Wealth can appropriate the Sapiens ideal for itself; albeit through gross, anti-human segregation.

Meanwhile, words themselves become absorbed into the human struggle between simplicity and complexity. The forces of simplicity struggle, in a linguistic way, to make expression as minimally clear as possible. The lucidity and clarity of the slogan: if you can say it in a sentence, why write a chapter? If you can say it in word, why write a sentence?

Nevertheless, one can’t understand complexity by simply reducing it. An abstract of the complex does require a reduction of its complexity in order to become clear, but that reduction can never be an over-simplification of the complex nature, when by over-simplification we mean a loss of meaning via simplification.

The result of over-simplification is the creation of a perception of reality that does not quite make sense. Thus, we may live in a freedom-loving country and yet not feel particularly free at all. In the same way, one may marry the person one deeply loves only to shortly find out that they hardly love him or her at all. This radical shift in our perception of reality occurs not, as we immediately think, because conditions have profoundly changed, but rather because the words we defined our relationships with (in this case “freedom” and “love”) were never properly defined to start with.

In fact, if we follow Lacan’s chain of signification into that which does not exist, we find that neither of these terms really point to anything that exists either. They are therefore impossibilities, and because they are impossibilities we can only have the vaguest notion of them. To truly achieve clarity, we should abolish them. But instead, we do the opposite. We grab onto them as fulcrums from which we can form our own impossible fantasies around.

The impossibility of the Utopia is not one of praxis, it is a linguistic impossibility. If we want to create a better world, we have to choose our words more carefully. The word was vital for humanity and it is vital if there has to be any real human progress in the Big Arenas of the eradication of poverty and hunger; crime and war; and for real human to be made in health, creativity and technology.

Of course, the impossible desire is always functional, and it creates its own accidental results: some of which even seem to make the impossible seem real. For example, whilst one could argue that very mush been achieved in the name of “love” and “freedom”; our argument stems from the realisation that in fact so much has been overlooked, precisely because of that same obsession with the windmills of impossible fantasies.

PLEASURE, DESIRE & CULTURE … SADOMASOCHISM & ART

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There is an idea in Lacan that desire is always thwarted by pleasure. Perhaps the always is an exaggeration, but in trying to envisage how this could be, we start to see how the relationship works between desire and culture.

In fact, the development of the art of prolonging pleasures, that comes from the process of satisfying desires, is an integral part of culture. Likewise, cultural differences could be gauged according to the different ways they have of thwarting as well as prolonging, perpetuating and interpreting the pleasures of satisfying our desires.

Again in Lacan, desire is really desire for the other, and this psychologically tendency, that points toward a basic human altruism, is exploited by our Wealth-driven cultures to establish itself as the Big Other (either in the form of the nation-state or the God) in order to mould societies in ways that will ensure the fulfilment of its own needs. And, as such, by doing so, at the same time diminishing authentic human altruism in favour of nationalism and religious chauvinism.

However, aside from nationalist, racial, religious and class identities, most cultural differences can be measured by the kind of food on your table. The art of defecating is also cultural, although in a wider sense, as is the art of achieving orgasm.

Once we examine the cultural controls over our most basic needs, we enter a sphere of what Foucault called biopolitics, and hence bioculture.

Once this perspective on culture has been established, it could be interesting to analyse how nationalisms need to exploit the culinary extension of our satisfactions – which is decent – leaving the art of defecation – which is not – to the multi-national designers of toilets. The latter has relegated the hole in the floor to a curiosity status, whilst the sit-down stooling water closet has advanced into mostly all cultures without too much nationalistic resistance.

The other indecency, sex, has traditionally been put in the hands of God and, with the invention of bedrooms, performed out of sight, behind closed doors and curtains. What one does to prolong the pleasure is fine, as long as it’s not with a member of the same sex or a different species of animal. Because of this, the biopolitical-cultural struggle in terms of sexuality, has been as much one of opening the door and an attempt to make one’s particular indecency as legitimate as everyone else’s indecencies.

The cultural effect of such a revelation is that there are no cultural boundaries in sex at all, but rather they overlap all boundaries. As for the religious, well, it must be becoming clearer to them now, how they were duped into looking after culture’s dirty washing. In fact, it often seems that the laundering of sheets and towels is the only thing the church is good for.

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But let’s return to our point of departure: pleasure thwarting desire. The thwarting of course is seen as the experience of desire itself, which wants to satisfy itself as quickly as possible. Desire is always urgent in its essence.

Lacan’s original idea was expressed in an essay on “Kant and Sade”.

The thwarting of desire and the subsequent pleasure derived from it, is made obvious in sadomasochistic rituals, but it is this same process of refining desire through the act of thwarting pleasure that creates cultures and forms the highest and most refined cultures.

But, does this then mean that high culture and sadomasochism have the same nature? Or that culture is a sadomasochistic thwarting of our basic drives? Affirming this doesn’t say much, but it might help us to be more honest with our motives. Which is not to say we must dress our gourmets in latex, yet if they did, at least we can now appreciate the logic behind it.

As for us, as Sapiens creators, the question that now arises is: if art is to be linked to pleasure, what is art’s relationship to desire? How does art thwart desire? What is the pleasure being prolonged in art?

Of course the answer cannot be pronounced generically, but the question may be pertinent for any analysis or criticism of art. It also may be key for understanding why art works for some people and not for others, and why some works of art are more universal than others. Likewise, it might give us some leeway into discovering why some works of art are more profound than others by examining profundity through the depth of the prolongation of the thwarting of desire. Art appreciation now becomes an analysis of the sadomasochistic experience.

Obviously, many art lovers would be surprised or offended if we analysed them as masochists. However, this may also explain why great art can so very often be rejected, and that the difficult is often too cruel for its audience to bear. Great art and high culture knows it needs an audience that are prepared, committed and willing to endure its torture in order to be appreciated. And fine, yes, let’s repeat it, the audience don’t want to be considered sadists any more than the audience want to be masochists, but, in truth, we must be, if we are to create and appreciate great works.

The artist must work at the sadistic art of thwarting the object of desire, for it is in this thwarting that the art takes place. Going directly to the object of desire is anti-art, or pornography.

BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL

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Between good and evil there exists a certain rebelliousness or naughtiness rooted in our capacity for cynicism. A lot of bad or anti-social behaviour stems from an intelligent appreciation or common-sense intuition that what is going on around one is a great deception, an enormous waste of time based on hypocritical notions of what is right and good. Where there is moral inconsistency and hypocrisy there will be cynical rebellion. Every criminal begins as a cynic, either through a reasoned discovery of the hypocrisy or through cynical education from family and peers, artists and rebels.

The “general good”, when it is neither particularly good or general, can therefore perpetuate a general naughtiness. Values are soft and flexible, everything can be moulded to suit one’s needs. Survivors in the dog-eat-dog world turn life into a joke: something that needs to be twisted and played with in an intellectual way in order to be bearable — even if this intellectual way is hardly ever clever at all.  The more the joker suffers, the crueller and more unreasonable his or her pranks become. A society of cynics cries out for comprehension, until the permissiveness of society is interpreted as a free-rein for even crueller prodding into the ribs of anything trying to be authentically good and do the right thing.

In order for anyone to want to do anything, one has to feel capable of doing it. The criminal does the wrong thing because that is what he or she does best. For someone to think that he or she is better at doing bad things than good things, there has to be a learning that gives the criminal or pervert the notion that this judgement is right. The psychological schools, on the one hand, and the sociological methodologies, on the other, give us tools for appreciating what we do best even if our best behaviour is ethically wrong. Education, in the capitalist civilisation is a crutch, supporting excuses for doing what is humanistically wrong if that is what you do best. In this way society becomes plagued with geniuses of the craft of deception; masters of the arts of insults and rulers of manipulations that will get them exactly what they desire.

Opposed to these are the submissives who learn that the best they can do is follow orders and smile, or lower their heads when they are insulted.

The pleasure principle of psychology begins to poke its head in here. What we are good at; what we should be good at; and what we could be good at. The one good at receiving orders should also be good at giving orders – after all, one learns through submission the reasons and needs for orders to be handed out. The pleasure will come from one or the other, for those who are good at both.

One learns that radically shifting one’s own personality, and even identity features, can be a pleasurable game. Discovering a space to role play in – to delve into the naughty space between good and evil – brings pleasure, but it also undermines our capacity to do authentic good and recognise real evil.

When the answer to “what should I be good at?” amounts to “whatever gives me pleasure” society has a problem, because a society made up of ego-centric parts cannot function as a society. The prime question of society, and its members, has to be “what should we be good at?”.

But once we do ask what we should be good at, to then answer, “whatever gives us pleasure,” is immediately seen as problematical. Pleasure is never an objective, universal phenomena, even though all totalitarian regimes try to make it so. Pleasure must be a subjective phenomenon, and this makes it an inappropriate aim for society.

But what then is the answer to the question? What should we be good at?

Firstly, we should be good at being us, which means humanistically good; good in the sense of the universal community – and that goes beyond the humanistic restrictions of the nation-states or any kind of empire that is not universal. Only once that sense of universalism is established and the pillars of good and evil are clearly established, can we freely seek the pleasure that lies between those two columns.

For crass naughtiness to become purposeful rebelliousness, good must be clearly defined as a purposeful aim, and evil as the deliberate attempt to negate all authentic purposefulness.

From Khaos to Being, via Sapiens

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The original Greek χάος comes from the verb to gape and is therefore the dark emptiness, the black abyss in the yawning mouth of the Universe.

In Greek cosmology this was the word used to describe the state of non-being prior to creation. Our modern cosmology could use the term to describe the state of non-being before the Big Bang, but it doesn’t – probably because the concept is hardly a very scientific assumption; the void of Khaos would imply that there was space before the Big Bang, rather than the more generally held notion of space and time being created by the Big Bang. What’s more, chaos, as it is usually spelt, has come to mean other things, which is why we write it as khaos.

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For us, our interest in Khaos lies in the idea of a moment when non-being became the process of becoming that leads to Being, and an affirmation that such a moment was not the Big Bang. In fact, it took place millions of years after the Big Bang. The shift from a state of non-being to the process of becoming Being was a very quiet development, more like an unheard oozing than any noisy leap or an explosion of light.

Being has always been a slow process of becoming, an evolutionary unfolding, rooted in perception. It began with the first bleeps of perception from the first perceiving micro-organisms, and has developed into those complex life-forms capable of understanding and communicating their awareness, self-consciousness etc., that we call Sapiens.

In the beginning was the word …” The process to Being started with the naming of things. Being is the product of an unveiling. The Creation is not a creation as such, but a discovery or reaffirmation of the existence that would otherwise be pointlessly trapped in the yawning mouth of Khaos.

From the original notion of Khaos came the cosmological notion of a primordial state in which our cosmos in potentia is waiting to be formed in the yawning mouth. From this notion came the erroneous assumption that such a formation could only be managed by a Demiurge, the Creator, while in fact that creator is Sapiens. The Creator is all of us. Creation occurred when the yawning mouth of humanity spat out the first word.

The creator is Sapiens, and humanity (homo sapiens) is a part of that Sapiens entanglement with Being itself. Each time we utter or think a word we are taking part in the divine process of becoming that is embedded in all Being. The difference between the Universe and the Void, flows through us.

This placing of Being in the language of Sapiens, means that being is not just what is observed, understood and perceived, it also exists in the language of potential and conditionals. Being is what is, what has been, and what it could and will be. Being rejoices in us: not just in itself reflected in our perception of it, but also in our vision of its own potentials.

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Let us not be mean with Being. Give it all our love – our appreciation, understanding and preservation – and all our desire for the unleashing of its most incredible potentials, guided by our own unlimited imaginations.

ON HAPPINESS

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HAPPINESS

Let us make it quite clear: Happiness is not our goal.

But how could happiness ever be a goal in the first place? It is illusionary to assume that happiness can be searched for and then found, and if this sometimes does happen it is always brought about by accident rather than via any law of cause and effect. Happiness is always only a possible emotional result of something else that has occurred or has been striven for.

That is not to say that happiness is impossible, and we do believe that a strong, enduring kind of happiness can be found through fulfilment. This is the happiness given through the satisfaction of getting important things done; or of being in the process of doing important things; the satisfaction from the feeling that one is on the right course.

There is nothing new in this idea, but the anti-human historical process of civilisation has pushed fulfilment away from any universal purposiveness toward subjective profit-making ideas of pursuing the right course. It is in the interests of our System of Accumulations that the fulfilment of one’s right course will trample over the rest and perpetuate the competitive elements of all societies that allow social injustice and economic tyranny to thrive in an almost uncritical environment. Thus, we find ourselves driven by the right course of the nation or the empire; or the family or the company we work for; or a placing of the right course in some god’s will. But really, the subjective decisions we make when deciding on our own course of action are hardly our own decisions at all, but products of constant, systemic propaganda.

Our proposal for finding happiness, is to abandon your own pseudo-subjective course in order to anchor it in humanity itself: redrawing our right courses from a cosmologically-centred, Sapiens’ point-of-view. In this way happiness is found through a universal purposiveness, which is possible for all, and because of that an authentic happiness that can be durable and life-fulfilling.

ON HUMAN HISTORY

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Human history: the study of that which has never been allowed to be. It would have to begin with a description or definition of what it could have been.

Human history is a fantasy tale: a story of constant distraction away from the human; the constant narration of other histories over the authentic human one, but often in the name of the human one.

An authentic human history would be one of displaying the constant undermining of the greatest potentials; the constant befuddling and confusing of the common human experience so that it always appears as something that needs competition and bloody conflict in order to achieve the tremendous meagre crumbs that we are told have been won.

It’s too late now to believe in a historical process for humanity. There needs to be an entirely original idea that goes beyond that of humanity itself as a species. It is time to begin a new, authentically historical process toward an evolved human species full of real human potential – it’s time to start writing the book of Sapiens History.

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“What can mankind do?”: the question comes from André Gide at the turn of the 20th century. It should have been phrased, what can humanity do as humanity?

Once we see how depressing the answer is to this fundamental question—for as soon as we indagate in the idea of human history we realise there has never been one – we see an immediate need to rectify the mistake. It’s time, long overdue, to do justice to humanity and infuse it with an authentic historical process.

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How much love for everything non-human: all these animals and plants; these rocks and landscapes, and yet … How much hatred we have for humanity itself. But of course we must hate it, because unlike nature and the non-human it has not been allowed to grow naturally. Humanity has forever been lacerating itself, uglifying itself, disdaining and hating itself.

The Metaphysics of Evolution

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How far back does natural selection go? Is it just a biological phenomenon or can we attribute natural selection to the creation of the biological itself? Could we even go so far as the first beginning? Was the Big Bang an act of natural selection?

If so, what choice did the sub-atomic-particle intuition behind the Big Bang have when it made that natural selection? Simply choosing between To be, or not to be would have been satisfactory enough to start something. This could have developed into an intuitive but unexpressed sub-atomic longing for Being or Becoming? – implying a choice between the forever static or the always changing – and may have evolved into the particle-affirmation of Becoming into Being Known – the Being which is loved: appreciated, understood and preserved. In other words, an intuition which longs for an evolution into a state of being that is capable of understanding and appreciating that its own existence is the reason for that existence and hence the reason behind everything that it does, which would be a full and purposeful kind of existentialism (intuited at a sub-atomic level of course – despite the profound philosophical consequences of these suggestions, we are envisaging primitive decisions being made here in the same way that primitive DNA makes primitive decisions).

BUT HOW CAN THIS IDEA HELP US?

The inanimate singularity of the Universe, does not know what it does until what it does has succeeded in creating a Sapiens entity within it which is capable of interpreting what is going on. Only with the creation of Sapiens can intuitive forces become real by being known (because Sapiens entities are the only ones capable of knowing).

If this idea of a Sapiens partnership with the Universe were accepted as a truth, and became a purposeful interpretation of reality, then doors would be open for the history of humanity to radically change from an anti-human process to an authentically human historical process, because it would be the first time that human history and human purpose would be projected in a truly omni-human way.

Ingrained in this simple, metaphysical idea, is that knowing is the essential purpose of all life.

Once a human (Sapiens) partnership with the Universe is accepted, it opens the possibility of a new kind of civilisation through the creation of an authentically-human, purposeful driven empire, fuelled by the universal purpose of Becoming into Being Known – i.e. into being loved; i.e. appreciated, understood and preserved.

Some Tests: Macauley’s Trial

Some Tests

Wayne Macauley is one of Australia’s greatest ironists. He writes from within the great bubble of Australian society in order to reveal the soapiness of that bubble. Some Tests is Macauleyan irony in its purest form, and the soapiness is everywhere.

Some Tests is also Macauley’s most Kafkaesque work, a comparison which Macauley himself could not complain of, for Kafka runs thick through all his work since his adaptation of “The Hunger Artist” in the early 80s.

Some Tests is in fact a kind of mirroring of Kafka’s The Trial. His heroine, Beth Own, a nemesis of Joseph K.: Macauley changes the sex of the protagonist; the personality is inverted; K. is arrogant and pseudo-cynical, but Beth is polite and complacent; where K. struggles to resolve the procedure against him, Beth Own has a passive, existential acceptance of what is going forward. But the most disturbing thing (for Australians) about this comparison, is that Macauley makes his Kafkaesque style work just as well in the Melbourne suburbs as it does in Kafka’s Prague; and it makes just as much sense in 2017 as it did in 1915.

But how can that be? What similarities can there possibly be between Melbourne in 2017 and Prague in 1915?

Of course, the central theme – death – is universal. It is not an Australian question but the human condition that is under scrutiny here. Some Tests brings the death theme that is in The Trial right into the foreground. Kafka’s universe is grey whereas Some Tests is full of pastel-toned primary colours. There is always an arrogant tension in The Trial where everything seems utterly incomprehensible, and everyone appears hell-bent on making everything more difficult and complicated than it should be, but Some Tests is tuned with the sweetest, polite people, full of understanding and always helpful. Yes, things are moving in an illogical manner, and things do seem more complicated than it should be, but the Australian bubble is a very soapy place with as many illogical trials as Kafka’s universe, and that is what Macauley’s irony reveals.

Yet perhaps the greatest unifying element between The Trial and Some Tests, is the ubiquitous nihilism that permeates both suburban Melbourne and bureaucratic Prague. Both K. and Beth are looking for an explanation and both Kafka and Macauley know that such an explanation is impossible in a system that is deeply nihilistic.

Macauley is also focussing on society within the biopolitical world, as Foucault called it, in which the State controls not only our social life but takes possession of our control over our physical bodies as well. Of course, biopolitics wasn’t invented by Foucault, he just put a term to the phenomenon, and Kafka’s society suffered from the same malaise on different levels, but the idea of biopolitics is probably more unsettling in the so-called democratic world and the perfect societies like Melbourne’s suburbia.

In the sense of perfection, Some Tests turns Melbourne into a new set for Huxley’s Brave New World. Australia is the lucky country, think Australians, but there is something existentially wrong in the Utopia they live in. So wrong that the Utopia is really a Dystopia. The suburbs of Some Tests sits at Fukuyama’s The End of History and Beth Own is a personification of Nietzsche’s Last Men. Beth’s world is a polite and nice place to be in, but nothing else. Struggle is not really struggle anymore, for there is no authentic purpose behind the struggle, and that creates an existential vacuum that turns the paradise into a purgatory. Beth Own has a lovely family, but that is not enough. She is really biding her time until death comes. She might as well get it over and done with as quickly as possible. Within the nihilistic scenario, we have to think of Beth Own as happy with her fate.

ON THE STRUGGLES BETWEEN EMPIRES

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All successful attempts to resist Power have eventuated in a succumbing to Power under another guise. After resisting Darius and Xerxes the Greeks were swallowed up by the economic tyranny of Athens. That brought about armed resistance from Sparta, who were victorious in a very debilitated way until all Greece succumbed to Alexander. He marched them all off in ordered phalanxes through Asia … already we must ask, where is the freedom here? … Alexander’s empires were replaced by Rome, which transferred itself into a monotheistic power by adopting Christianity, inspiring a monotheistic-power reaction in Asia via Islam. This was resisted by crusaders wanting to expand the freedom of their markets to the silk spice routes, the provoked a counter-resistance by Islam, who tried to liberate themselves from Christian aggression by pushing into Christendom, which …

It’s the same song over and over again: and there is always the same call to defend one’s freedom. Freedom from the usurper or the invader. But the lesson to be learned from this, is that the liberation is always only ever won at the price of another subjugation.

Power has never been defeated, it has only changed its appearance. Call it tyranny, empire, monarchy, dictatorship, communism, democracy – it is all the same thing: Power.