ART AS ANTI-PRODUCTION

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Labour becomes productive only by producing its own antithesis (that is, capital)” Karl Marx

Let the artist not kid him/herself: no matter how much the artist creates, he or she does not produce. In order to produce, the artist must find an agent of production.

The agent of production is that which produces nothing itself, but knows how to turn the creations of others into commodities. The agent of production may be a capitalist, or it may be the State, or it may be an antithetical Mr Hyde character created by the Dr Jekyll artist himself. In whatever form the agent of production appears, once the creation is turned over to the agent it loses its autonomy and the artist loses his/her freedom in relation to the work. Even in the latter case, where the artist (anti-producer) becomes his/her own agent: a stress is produced on the artist’s creativity. The marketing of art, in any fashion, produces a stress on art.

The labour of art is, therefore, essentially unproductive. Art only becomes productive when the agent takes hold of the creation and produces it, i.e. turns it into a marketable commodity. In his or her essence, the artist remains an anti-producer; an outsider to the economy; an economic aberration in fact.

The fact that art can survive at all in an economic-political society is an indication of its enormous strength. In theory, it should have been made extinct long ago by both the capitalist and socialist systems that are both so deeply immersed in the politics of production.

Not only is this great anti-producer Art a tremendously powerful human drive and social force, it may also be a marker showing us the way to a post-production society in which capital, perhaps even the monetary system itself, has been rendered obsolete.

In fact, all truly positive, purposive political and social thinking will need to analyse the creative and unproductive force of art in order to revaluate and recreate the positive human society that we are all crying out for. The answer to all our problems lies in the anti-productive nature of art.

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PROGRESS, NEEDS and THE BEAUTY OF HUMAN MINDS

If we gauge progress according to the fulfilment of life’s needs through the satisfying of pleasure, then we could say that civilisation seems to do very well. This is a most hedonistic society, surely pleasure triumphs. But actually it doesn’t succeed at all. It tries hard but ultimately fails on the biological level of human life, and ignores over and over again the potential for creating pleasure on the psychological (artistic, spiritual and/or intellectual) level.

At the biological level civilisation operates in a rather perverse way. The needs to eat, defecate and reproduce have to be satisfied in a “balanced” way, whilst the civilisation of the homo economicus demands excessiveness and surplus. This in turn creates its own psychosis, as moderation is also a necessary part of the art of pleasure.

On the other hand, and this seems ironic, our psychological space needs to be constantly expansive in order to fulfil human potential. The art of psychological pleasure and the defeat of boredom has to be fundamentally concerned with finding the best way to unleash the creative and intellectual potentials of our minds. We have four areas to do this in: art, philosophy, science and technology. Four areas which are therefore interrelated as perpetrators of the art of pleasure at the psychological level, and which are retarded by the tools of Wealth.

The Big Economy reality that we live in deprecates the enormous wealth of creativity and know-how contained in the vast resource of the billions of thinking brains that make up the human race. Diverse thinking minds, all with an enormous potential that is unappreciated by the system of wealth-accumulation-for-the-wealthy that civilisation protects and propagates. The great cost of this is the enormous lack of exploitation of creativity. Yes, we do see enormous technological advances, but they are self-interested ones, and because of that “limited” advances, veiling the real technological progress that could be made if human creativity and thought were properly unshackled.

The culture of the homo economicus revolves around the cult of money. It disdains art, philosophy and science, except when it can ensure the continuation of the movement of wealth to the wealthy. In the place of these three elements of psychological pleasure we are fed another three more malleable ones: pornography, religion and sport.

But real pleasure is anchored in meaning, and the pleasure of meaningfulness is built through our humanity (unity, love, kindness and social intelligence); justice; transcendence (through hopes, humour, creativity, objectivity and spirituality); intelligence (curiosity, open-mindedness and love of learning); temperance (forgiveness, humility, self-regulation) and our courage and integrity. And in all of these ingredients lie our real potential to be authentic human beings.

The War Around Us

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There is a war raging in our midst. A war between the Reproducibles and the Unreproducibles, and there is a near certianty that the former is about to annihilate the latter once and for all. We sit in almost utter ignorance whilst this terrible conflict rages around us. Most of us don’t even see the effect it has on our own lives, but a victory of the Reproducibles would be tragic for humanity as well. We must wake up. It is time for us now to ally ourselves to the beleaguered Unreproducibles and turn the tide on this insidious genocide. We have been seduced by their Darwinian, “survival of the fittest” contentions, but the Reproducibles are now so ubiquitous that there is no room for the Unreproducibles to grow in at all.

What is at stake is the existence or annihilation of the originality and creativity that the Unreproducibles represent. The Culture of Reproduction no longer has to create new things. Now it can perpetuate its dominion of the market place by simply reworking old fashions, slightly modified to seem contemporary or even futuristic. And the market place is spreading so widely that the Unreproducibles are left with nowhere to stand. Authenticity is a withered concept now. Originality has been left limbless or lame. To find creativity, one must dig in the cemeteries.

Of course our own health has also been damaged by this one-sided war, especially our souls. We stand cold before the beautiful and glance nonchalantly at the awesome. We shake our heads slightly at the tragic and turn peevishly away from the difficult to comprehend. We gravitate unto anything easy to understand and digest. The Reproducibles have made us insipid, nihilistic, and, like the war itself, our Unreproducible individualities are on the brink of extinction.

The Sublime

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The sublime experience is one which is elevated and inspires awe. Some would say, an experience that touches us or moves us deeply. Many would say that the experience of the sublime is a feeling that behind the phenomena lies some substantial but inaccessible thing – like God, for instance. Because of this the sublime is often put forward as an example to demonstrate the presence of God in our lives. But, we think this is a total misreading of the sublime.

In fact, the experience of the sublime is not that which points toward the inaccessible at all. The experience of the sublime is really a discovery of the real substantiality of things. What the sublime experience tells us is that there is a substantiality in all things, but habit and closeness have robbed us of the magic of it. A magic which is really based in the simple fact that we are perceiving it.

The first great miracle of the Universe is that it exists. The second great miracle – almost more miraculous still – is that we can perceive it. And the greatest miracle of all is that we know we perceive it. The sublime is the experience of knowing that we perceive existence, and that that is a miracle. It has nothing to do with God.

When we see the light behind the grotesque or the beauty in the monster’s interior, we are making a leap from our subjective prejudice to the universal perception. All sublime feeling is an immersion in the universal, whether that be the universality of our species or the universality of the Universe itself. The sublime is a perceiving that suddenly blasts out of a state of not-perceiving. A great work of art can move us in a sublime way on repeated occasions because it is always opening up different doors for us to perceive things from. However, the sublime sensation of the work will not be generated if we have it hanging on our living room wall or if it is a recording that we listen to every day. The sublime has to be a surprise, a way of snapping us out of our subjectivity. Sometimes it can be an absolute shock, as if we were suddenly pushed under water at a moment of complete lethargy when we had practically forgotten we were even floating.

POLITICS, GOD OR ART?

God politics or art

Politics is dying and God is making a comeback. Could it be that the religions will save capitalism? As the impossibility of the consumer society becomes clearer and clearer, doesn’t it make more sense to reach out toward a purposeful impossibility rather than a nihilistic one? Or perhaps there is a more positive, creative alternative to both politics and God. Could the saviour of humanity be something like Art?

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Humanity has been tormented by eternity ever since it was able to conceive it. The great and magnificent eternal fantasy versus our own petty ephemeral natures. Eternity is the fundamental reason for all religions and all art. We can believe that God is dead or never existed, and we can tell ourselves that Picasso is shit and Da Vinci overrated, but we cannot escape the eternal void that envelopes our own existence.

Religion and art, and hence technology, politics and the economy, all come from the same anxiety: they are ways of dealing with ephemerality. Nevertheless, each of them has a completely different way of operating, with completely different aims. Religion is constantly grasping after another reality – one which is eternal. Within the eternal paradise of the religious lies everything that is good, having filtered out the evil components of this reality. Art, on the other hand, is a yearning to create the eternal in this world. It is an anxious struggle to uncover and preserve: a building process; a concept of eternity as a becoming rather than an enveloping reality that we eventually move into when we die. Religions try to remain eternal themselves – although this has been proven to be impractical and so it has adopted a politic of becoming.

Politics has a circular moving dynamic, dependent on separation and ideological dialectics to keep itself alive and seemingly evolving. But the circular implies a process of devolution as well as evolution. The economy is a layering distraction, placing us firmly in the present with a yearning towards the void of the immediate future.

Our capitalist economy, however, is completely devoid of the eternal. In fact, it could be considered an anti-eternity, which is why some have associated it with the devil’s work. It uses money to flow through reality in a way that makes it seem the blood of reality. Its great force of exchange and communication works in a meshing, netting way over our lives, entrapping us all.

But despite this entrapment, we cannot escape the eternity that envelops everything. It haunts us with its enormity, with an idea of tremendous possibility and great purpose – that the reason and purpose that fades away in the ephemeral world has to exist out there in the infinite void. The great empty void – if only we could fill it. In the beyond is the purpose that the economic mesh lacks. But we are likewise trapped by the ephemerality of our own reality. The spiritual and religious are impossibilities that can only be embraced via faith. To make the eternal seem practical we need another force, another way of stepping over – the practical results of our intellectual and spiritual creativity that we call art.

THE GALIMATIAS INTERVIEW (PART FOUR) – Art and Mathematics

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GALIMATIAS: But if art is to save humanity, mustn’t it be a bit more pragmatic?

ADKIN: There is plenty of pragmatic art around now. But it’s not saving anyone … No … Definitely not. The less pragmatic art is, the better.

GALIMATIAS: But surely, one of the prime causes of art is communication …

ADKIN: Perhaps the prime cause. Communication might be the very essence of art, but wrapped up in art’s communication is the question –what must be communicated by art? – or – when is communication art and when is it not? Communicating an interesting story is not a priori art. The communication has to be given another cause, which is bigger than the mere need to communicate itself, in order to make it art.

GALIMATIAS: The Big Question, for example.

ADKIN: Yes, the Big Question … or the final cause … something that will create a resonance and lift veils that reveal landscapes that open out into realms that take us beyond the story itself …

But I’m starting to feel the direction of this conversation is seeping into dangerous areas – as if I were actually suggesting some kind of methodology for artists.

All I’m really saying is that art needs to have questioning artists if it is to remain a meaningful phenomenon.

GALIMATIAS: And implying that you think art should remain a meaningful thing.

ADKIN: Ah yes, of course … but each artist to his or her own method. And there are many different methodologies to choose from. But the important thing is not to let the methodology limit the scope of creation. Use as many different methodologies as you like. If the methodology is any could it will not be a closed circle. That means that you can colour your work with different approaches.

GALIMATIAS: Like a collage?

ADKIN: It doesn’t have to be so extreme. If we look at theatre, for example, it is undoubtedly, since Stanislavsky, the most methodologically based of all art forms.

GALIMATIAS: Especially if we consider that students in art schools these days are encouraged to abandon aesthetic principles and shun drawing.

ADKIN: But while the plastic arts abandoned methodology in the 20th century, the theatre world suddenly embraced it and preached the importance of the laboratory. Stanislavsky created a Husslerian transcendental phenomenology for theatre based on the power of the interrogative …

GALIMATIAS: Which you use yourself in your writing …

ADKIN: … in a different way, but, yes … However, I firmly believe that taking Stanislavsky’s approach to acting or directing is not enough … as did Meyerhold and Brecht, and Grotowski … and none of them are completely satisfying either. When an actor gets too much Method it becomes impossible to act and we have to teach them how to act without thinking … This is not to say that learning the methodologies is bad … or that a painter should not learn how to draw … Knowledge – like the Big Question in novel writing – has to be confronted. But also, like the Big Questions, it has to be wrestled with then left alone.

All musicians know that there is an excruciating process of mechanical repetition needed in order for your body to learn how and where to place one’s fingers on the instrument. And that this torturous process has to be endured before one can ever play anything well. Yet the actual playing should only happen when you’re able to play without thinking where your fingers need to be at all.

GALIMATIAS: I’ve heard you say several times that the essence of art is music.

ADKIN: Yes, and the essence of music is mathematics. Theatre is all about rhythm and harmony, and so is novel writing and painting. And good art will always have its geometry. Art is linked inextricably to mathematics because mathematics is our first abstraction of the universe and art is the same thing. Language also is music, is mathematics. Best not to forget that.

THE GALIMATIAS INTERVIEW (PART THREE) – Can art save the world? Paradoxes and causes.

This is part three of an interview with Paul David Adkin carried out by the Spanish literary magazine “Galimatias” in March, 2015. We have translated it here into English.

GALIMATIAS: In your philosophical writings you point over and over again to the existence of paradoxes in the fabric of reality, and you say that truth can only be found by analysing these contradictions. Is that where the truth of the novel resides?

ADKIN: I don’t think that I’ve ever said that the truth can only be found by analysing paradoxes – but yes, it helps if we do … and novels are a great place to analyse truth in. It’s the ability of novels to rummage in logically impossible realms of juxtapositions and contradictions, or paradoxes, that can make them so important. But the uncovering and resolving of paradoxical contradictions is not unique to the form and identity of the novel: it can be a vital ingredient in short stories and plays; you see it used in good films and even in some good TV series now. However, it is probably true that this kind of narrative investigation and use of the impossible emerged because of, and was perhaps was even made possible by, the historical development of the novel, which is the king of all narratives.

GALIMATIAS: Is the novel an endangered species?

ADKIN: Humanity is an endangered species – so the novel must be as well.

GALIMATIAS: Can the novel save humanity?

ADKIN: Only if we take it seriously. That means that the novelists have to write well and choose their big questions intelligently. But, it also means that readers must read intelligently as well.

GALIMATIAS: And yet the novel has been around for some four hundred years … what has the novel achieved for humanity so far? Has it made the world a better place?

ADKIN: I think it’s helped civilisation not be a worse experience than it presently is. Art is the antithesis of ideology. It is a humanising force, interested in universals. Ideologies … and religions are ideologies too … separate humanity and retard real human progress for all of humanity. To some extent, art offers a balance against all the damage that ideologies do … But, at the moment at least, ideologies are more powerful than art.

GALIMATIAS: And ideologies use art for their own destructive purposes.

ADKIN: Yes, and I would include technology with the positive, progressive, humanising forces of art … it is obvious, when we think of technology, how easily it can be used for destructive rather than creative ends.

GALIMATIAS: Can Art save humanity?

ADKIN: No, only humanity can save humanity. But, yes, art could be a positive vehicle for a universalising process of humanity to move forward with. However, it is very hard to imagine an army of artistic crusaders conquering humanity with art … except in the most absurd kind of comedy.

GALIMATIAS: Nevertheless, we could try harder, couldn’t we?

ADKIN: We should try harder, but simply trying harder is not the place to start. Trying harder implies a simple continuation – a “keep doing whatever you’re doing but with a bit more effort.” The first thing we need to do is think more about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. The what and the why needs to come before the how can be possible in an enriching way.

GALIMATIAS: Finding the big question?

ADKIN: Yes, in phenomenological terms the big question is the eidos of the work, or what Aristotle called the formal cause. Applying Aristotle’s causes toward finding our reasons for things would be a good place to start.

Aristotle physics book cover

GALIMATIAS: Aristotle’s causes?

ADKIN: Yes … well, first we have to learn what those causes are. Reading Aristotle’s Physics would help.

GALIMATIAS: Can you really expect budding artists to read Aristotle?

ADKIN: I’m just suggesting good ideas.  Aristotle pointed out that there’s not just a singular cause for something, but everything has its different causes. Aristotle, I think, thought of five possibilities. Firstly, the material cause which is that which constitutes what a thing is. For example, the material cause of this table is wood and nails. The material cause of a novel is, in the first instance, paper and ink unless it’s a digital edition that makes it all binary numbers on a plasma screen. At a second level, it’s all words that flow into grammar and syntax.

GALIMATIAS: How does that knowledge help?

ADKIN: Hardly at all. Material causes are involved with common sense, but the important thing is to think beyond the material causes. A lot of thinking stays there. If we think about the causes of society, for example, someone might say – for the people – because society is constituted of people. But that’s just like saying that the reason for this table is that there was some wood and nails around somewhere that needed to be put together. Sometimes you read a book and you think – the only thing that this author seems to want to show us is how clever he uses words and grammar. That of course is bad writing. And we see it in small talk, when we hear people talking because, we say, they like the sound of their own voice.

GALIMATIAS: Yes, although small talk has its social functions as well.

ADKIN: True, but at first that social function is not obvious. We have to look for it. We have to think a little harder to find it.

GALIMATIAS: Ok, so you are saying we have to question the most obvious.

ADKIN: Yes.

GALIMATIAS: And what are Aristotle’s other causes?

ADKIN: The efficient cause.

GALIMATIAS: The builders.

ADKIN: Right. The artists themselves. Here we can start asking for the reasons why the builders decided to make tables, and why novelists bother writing novels. It helps if we can give quality answers to the question why do it? In our nihilist society the answers can very easily be: because I couldn’t think of anything better to do – or – because I was bored. If we are going to do something as important as write a novel, there have to be more qualitatively good reasons than because I want to, or because it might be fun and make me some money.

GALIMATIAS: Or someone might just have a good story to tell, or an interesting experience to relate.

ADKIN: Yes, but even those people will benefit as artists if they slide a big question under the framework of the story or the picture, or music, or whatever they’re creating. Involved in the causes of things are the eidos, which is the real essence of the thing, and the telos, the cause that is the finality. The final cause of a table is to have something that we can put things on, but … what is the telos of civilisation?

GALIMATIAS: Isn’t the final cause of a book to be read by someone?

ADKIN: Sure, but let’s give the answer a bit more quality.

GALIMATIAS: Ok, what is the telos of When Sirens Call?

ADKIN: It is in a Being which is always becoming.

GALIMATIAS: How is that a final cause?

ADKIN: It’s my final cause – the final cause of the artist. Like the big question, I don’t want it to be explicit. But if you look for it, you’ll find it.

GALIMATIAS: I’m not sure I understand what I’m looking for.

ADKIN: Then don’t look for it. Let it find you. I think there has to be an art in reading as well as in composition. For me the art of reading is knowing how to let the causes of a novel find you.

GALIMATIAS: Is there a methodology for that?

ADKIN: Not that I know of. I think I can do it, but I don’t know how. Not that I think that knowing how would be helpful at all.

GALIMATIAS: You’re starting to make this sound mystical.

ADKIN: Whenever we run into paradoxes things start to sound mystical. But that’s because the mystical can only be appreciated through paradox. The mystical is always paradoxical, but the paradoxical is not always mystical.

THE GALIMATIAS INTERVIEW (PART ONE)

This interview with Paul David Adkin was carried out by the Spanish literary magazine “Galimatias” in March, 2015. We have translated it here into English.

GALIMATIAS: We want to centre this discussion on essences. Your writing is quite diverse: apart from your three novels, you have a large number of plays and short stories and philosophical essays, a couple of books of aphorisms and you dabble in poetry and songs. So, my first question is: is there an essential theme running through all this work?

ADKIN: Nothing that I’m conscious of. But I’m sure you could find an unconscious link. Or, perhaps the essential theme is a search for that unconscious link.

GALIMATIAS: You’ve said that art is an invitation to the unravelling of ideas. But isn’t that the role of philosophy?

ADKIN: Yes, but art, of course, unravels those ideas in a different way that philosophy does.

GALIMATIAS: What are the questions that you as an “artist” are concerned with? Are there any central questions, or any singular central question, that you are wrestling with in your work?

ADKIN: In my philosophical writings I’m mainly concerned with why humanity has made such little progress in establishing itself as “humanity” – which implies a simpler question: why do we keep making the same mistakes? But whether that question is buried in all my work … I’m not sure.

GALIMATIAS: Let’s take your three published novels: Purgatory, Art Wars and When Sirens Call. Is the question embedded in them?

ADKIN: Purgatory and When Sirens Call are both about trying to find our way Home with a capital “h”, and both of them contain an idea that our real home is not where we are but where we are going to. Contained in this is the philosophical idea, albeit unstated, that our final destination, in order to be truly purposeful, has to lie beyond our own lives, and that its purposefulness is far greater than our own lives. An idea which, through a philosophical link between aesthetics and human purposefulness, also links Art Wars.

The Terra Australis Incognita Volume 1

Art Wars is about finding a purpose through art, or through taking an aesthetic stand point. Purgatory is about finding an aesthetic, and human position between art and the world through an alchemical search for eternity. And, When Sirens Call is likewise a debate around purposiveness and a search for life’s meaning which goes beyond our actual experience of life.

GALIMATIAS: And so we always make the same mistakes and fail to progress because we can’t see the real purpose of our existence?

ADKIN: Yes, in a nutshell, that’s it.

GALIMATIAS: Is your aim to point us in the right direction.

ADKIN: In my essays, yes. I tackle the problem of purposiveness head on. Philosophy has to be direct … like shooting an arrow, as Nietzsche said. But in the novels there is no deliberate exhibition of that idea. There can’t be. If there had been the novels would be unbearable. I think that would be a general rule in novel writing – if you’ve got something you really, passionately want to say, forget about it before you start writing. The question will remain if it’s truly important, but you need to let it sink into the subconscious and come out accidentally.

GALIMATIAS: And yet, art is about unravelling ideas?

ADKIN: Yes, but for a novel to work, the unravelling has to be part of the process of the creation itself. The big question being asked in the novel must always be the subconscious one, buried in the subtext. It’s the secret one. But a shaky secret because it’s the one that will always reveal itself whether you like it or not, and that is why it can, and should be, forgotten.

GALIMATIAS: What you mean is that all art has its subconscious question to ask?

ADKIN: Yes, and the essence of all works of art have to be found in the subject behind the image itself. They say that the essence of the Mona Lisa is her smile. But it’s not … it’s something deeper. A question between the lifeless representation and life itself. And a crying out for eternal life. The Mona Lisa, like all great art, is a bridge between the actual and the eternal.

The difference between art and philosophy is that philosophy attacks the ideas head on in a fully conscious way. A philosopher can never be shy about ideas, but a novelist must be.

GALIMATIAS: And what about the playwright?

ADKIN: The playwright is somewhere in between. Plays can be more direct than the novel. In my case they always are. I write plays when I want to scream directly at my audience, whereas I usually try to be more seductive with my novels.

GALIMATIAS: When Sirens Call is about seduction?

ADKIN: Yes. Sirens are seductive creatures. I wanted to write something that was, above all, atmospheric in When Sirens Call. But its ultimate purpose is to be useful, rather than to drive us against the rocks, as the Sirens do.

GALIMATIAS: It has very strong resonances.

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On the other hand, Art Wars is not seductive at all.

ADKIN: No, it’s not. I made conscious, aesthetic decisions in Art Wars to deliberately not seduce. In fact I consider Art Wars as a kind of anti-novel. I made very conscious decisions to make things not as they should be made. Not that this was such an original standpoint – Dostoevsky did the same with his characters. There’s always an element in Dostoevsky’s characters that makes them seem inconsistent, even wrong, but it is that inconsistency that makes them appear so human.

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GALIMATIAS: And Dostoevsky was exorcising his own demons through his characters, right?

ADKIN: Perhaps. We could analyse all art from the perspective of catharsis and it would be a very valid stand point, but a conservative one that undermines the purposive role of art. If catharsis exists it’s a cleansing and clearing process, pushing the pain of the past aside via direct confrontation, in order to clear the road for a positive future. But once we get immersed in the mess it’s not always easy to push through it. And for that reason catharsis is also a dangerous process. Kafka or Beckett probably never could get through, but the fact that they insisted and persisted with the creative act indicated the need for the positive results of the catharsis. Catharsis is an important element in art, but it is not the reason for art.

GALIMATIAS: Some of your own plays: The Clown or Hamlet Rex, for example, seem cathartic.

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ADKIN: Yes, but both of those plays are basically comedies.

GALIMATIAS: Tragi-comedies.

ADKIN: The tragic is part of the comedy. Nihilism is a tragedy in itself. In those works I was portraying, and laughing at, our nihilist society and the nihilistic direction of our civilisation.

GALIMATIAS: And yet your anti-nihilism is not obvious in those plays.

ADKIN: Not obvious for a nihilist. But really those plays were not at all subtle. Quite the contrary, I was trying to hit hard and they are full of the irony of the overstatement.

GALIMATIAS: An irony which is also crafted in Art Wars.

ADKIN: Yes, which is also overtly anti-nihilist.

GALIMATIAS: Can Art Wars be classified as a novel?

ADKIN: It is closer to a novella, and sprang out of my reaction to reading a short story by Thomas Mann, Gladius Dei.

GALIMATIAS: Which is very moralistic.

ADKIN: Correct. And Art Wars is moralistic as well. Which is why it couldn’t be developed as novel would be.

GALIMATIAS: You’re implying that there is a large aesthetic difference between the novella and novel?

Where are we now? and What’s to be done?

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We live in a two dimensional society: there is length and width but no height or depth. Our world is a flat plane, a cartoon reality replete with caricatures. Lacking is the third dimension that will pull us out of the flatness and allow us to properly see things for what they are, by allowing us to perceive things from all angles. The artist knows that depth is achieved by adding perspective, by understanding illumination and being able to master the shadows cast by the impenetrable and opaque. Depth is added by knowing and only by mastering shadow and perspective can liberation from the monotonous flatness of our two-dimensionality begin. Only when we have depth because we have been able to pull the flatness up will we know what to do.

The tautological knowledge creates knowing is profound. Knowing is a continual process of becoming, it is the process of unveiling, which in turn is a process of pulling forth, lifting up, stretching out, moving around, flying over and crawling under … All the things which we cannot do on the flat plane unless we know how to manipulate the art of generating perspective.

This is not a concern confined to the present: historical and futurological perspectives must also be deepened. Objectification is also required: an artist’s ability to step outside of the paradigm that is being described and lived – to stand at a point outside of the space, and outside of time, in order to perceive everything that has been hidden and understand real necessity. Objectification is needed to be able to stand over the current of the river of time in order to understand where the continuum has been flowing from. In order to perceive the reasons and mistakes that have determined certain courses of history; in order to redirect rivers, ensuring cleaner, more transparent waters that are capable of irrigating the possibilities of our optimistic futurologies. Muddy rivers will only give us a muddy, carp-full ocean of little future hope.

And so we have two tasks to concentrate on: a) the act of discovering perspective and uncovering depth, and b) that of eradicating the factors that cloud our rivers and have been pushing the historical continuum to a false inevitability for centuries.

The answer to the question must ultimately lie between what ought to be done and what has seduced our attention away from the goal. The utopia is No-Place because we are not going there. We will never get to Timbuktu if we are walking across the Americas, but that does not mean that Timbuktu cannot be reached. Maps must be drawn so that we can see why we are trapped in the maze, but in order to draw such maps we must achieve altitude and be able to stand over the labyrinth. It is a contradiction that turns the path back in on itself and to understand the labyrinthine nature of the system we must reveal the tremendous contradictions which work in its favour.

Art as Anti-production

Edvard Munch's, The Scream, auctioned at Sotheby's New York

“Labour becomes productive only by producing its own opposite (that is, capital)” Marx

From this it can be said that the labour of Art is essentially unproductive. Art only becomes productive when the capitalist – the production company; publishing house; gallery or auction house – takes hold of the creation and “produces” it, i.e. turns it into a marketable commodity. In his/her essence the artist remains an anti-producer; an outsider to the economy; an economic aberration.

The fact that Art can survive at all in the economic-political society is an indication of its enormous strength, for in theory it should have been killed off long ago by the capitalist and socialist systems that are both so deeply immersed in the politics of production.

Not only is Art a tremendously powerful human drive and positive social force it may also be a marker showing us the way to a post-production society in which capital, perhaps even the monetary system itself, has been rendered obsolete.

Paul David Adkin is the author of Art Wars http://www.lulu.com/shop/paul-david-adkin/art-wars/paperback/product-21434340.html

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