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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GOAL-IMAGES & HUMAN SURVIVAL

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Macro-systems like cultures and civilisations are driven by a goal-image stimulus so powerful that it permeates the habitus[i] and doxa[ii] spheres and seeps into the formation of all our identities. This is seen clearly in monotheistic religions with their goals of reaching ‘Heaven’ or at least avoiding ‘Hell’. But even materialistic drives, like consumerism, have goal-image motors (the drive to attain as much money as possible, in order to buy anything and everything one wants).

the most radical rejection of the macro-system, would therefore be a decision to have no goals: become a cynic and live in a barrel like Diogenes, or become a nihilistic saint like E. M. Cioran. Yet, to stay adrift after such a reaction, one would also have to have faith in the veracity of your cynicism, which means that your rejection of goals itself becomes your goal.

So, the goal is the essence of all motivation, and is the basis of all political, religious, cultural and economic ideologies. Our world-life narrative is an exposition of goals, moulding our personal aims into a doxa: a popular, cultural movement that gives us a sense of habitus and normality.

In order to make the world a better place, therefore, we have to create better goal-images.

Human history has been an anti-human dividing process, yet the basis behind each of the greatest goal-image ideas, has been the desire to unite the whole of humanity under one great singular motivation. The attempt to find such a singularity has had the most tragic consequences and has been the reason for countless conflicts – and yet, the need to find the answer to a viable world-uniting goal-idea may now be tantamount to our survival as a species.

For that reason, it is imperative that we keep asking the question – the question that all religions have asked: What idea would be strong enough to bring us all together?

In its time, the monotheistic idea was a great one, and it could have been perfect if (a) there had been some scientific basis to it, or (b) no one had come up with the idea that there could be very different interpretations of what the One God’s will actually was.

The singular goal-image won’t be found until the best goal-image is found. And the best goal-image will only be found if we have the faith to keep looking for it.

The discovery of the best goal-image is almost certainly a long way away, and it may well be impossible, or may simply never be found. But by trying to find it, at least we start a process towards discovery, which is much better than the dangerously decadent and depleted state of macro-system induced passivism we currently waddle in.

The first step to beginning this process of goal improvements must come from an acceptance that what we have so far is not perfect, and because of that it can be improved. Nor is it the least worst of all bad scenarios: we also need to get beyond the cynical idea that all the alternatives are likewise imperfect and therefore futile. The acceptance of this cynicism breeds Sisyphus-like rock-pushers, happy with in their labour until the rock slips back and crushes them. There are better goal-images, and we must look for them – we need them.

The first thing that has to be dismissed to get the now better ball rolling, is to accept that nothing perfect exists and that perfection is a process of becoming. This gives us the dynamic stimulus to act creatively and purposefully, but that creativity needs to be anchored in a goal-image, something meaningful that should be for the whole of humanity. We presently have such a concept: Our survival as a species. Our survival in the world, leading into our permanence in an eternal Universe.

SURVIVAL

Survival has always been a real human concern, as it is an authentic concern for any biological entity. So, what we are proposing should not be essentially anything new – and yet it is.

Survival is something that has come to be taken for granted in the so-called developed world of western Civilisation. And yet, it is the technological complexity that ensures our comfort and protection from the hostilities of our natural environment that has led us to the looming collapse of the equilibrium allowing the biosphere to be the life-supporting atmosphere that defines it.

There is something necessarily nostalgic in almost all goal-images. Religions yearn for the world driven according to the will of the original creator and harken to ancient texts to support their arguments. Nationalisms are maintained by cultural traditions. Marxism hopes to correct the exploitive course of the history of civilisations. Only consumerisms have a generally non-nostalgic drive, which is what makes consumerism the most dangerous force against the human-in-the-world partnership.

Of all our goal-images, therefore, consumerism is the worst.

The first step to imagining a better goal-image must come from a deep revaluation of consumerism. Here lies the first step forward.

 

[i] For more on Habitus see Paul Adkin https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/habitus/

[ii] Doxa, see https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/doxa-and-aletheia-truth-and-the-artist-part-one/

The End of Purpose and the Crisis of Creativity

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In his 1981 thesis, ‘Simulacra and Simulation’, Jean Baudrillard lamented the ruination of the university: “non-functional … lacking cultural substance or an end purpose of knowledge.”[i]

Perhaps we should not victimise the universities, the same can be said of our entire nihilistic culture, nevertheless, the idea that a university lacks a reason for learning is a tremendously sad one.

The crippling result of the lack of purposiveness allows societies to throw in their own self-interested crutches: the university becomes a simple place to prepare people for the work-force, or, on a more hopeful level, an environment that will stimulate creativity. But if there is no purpose or reason, why be creative? In fact, how can one be creative when nothing matters? Or the opposite is true: it’s very easy to be creative when nothing matters – too easy.

Either way, the result will always be a crisis of creativity.

“Today’s nihilism is one of transparency, and it is in some sense more radical, more crucial than its prior and historical forms, because this transparency, this irresolution is indissolubly that of the system, and that of all the theory that still pretends to analyse it.”[ii]

Baudrillard regarded Romanticism as the first great manifestation of nihilism; the destroyer of the order of appearances. The second great manifestation came through Dada, Surrealism, the Absurd, and political nihilism – corresponding to the destruction of the order of meaning.

But, destruction is inevitable when appearances and meanings themselves are devoid of substance; when they are castles made of sand. It wasn’t the Romantics or Dada that destroyed meaning; they were merely realisations that meaninglessness had evolved around them. The real destroyers were those in the institutions themselves, trying to maintain a system which made no sense.

Such a condition can only be perpetuated by dissimulation, and only whilst society swallows the performance in the staging of an ersatz purpose that the system offers them. Once the society grows tired of the theatrics played out before them they will start to yawn, or grimace if they are injured by it, and through that yawn or grimace they will see through the stage-craft to the emptiness behind it. When this happens on a massive scale, real revolution or a brutal reaction can take place.

This awareness is happening today, it has been bubbling for some years, but the train is turning toward the Dystopia rather than any purposive Utopia.

Buadrillard observed a similar scenario in the student revolts of Paris, 1968. Why didn’t a revolution happen then? Why is a purposive revolution unlikely to happen now?

According to Baudrillard, the staging carried out by the media is no longer a staging. He calls the media: “a strip, a track, a perforated map of which we are no longer mere spectators”. All that remains, he says: “is the fascination for desertlike and indifferent forms for the very operation of the system that annihilates us.” [iii]

In other words, we are enchanted and enamoured by the same media that is strangling us and numbing our brains. We love to see the violence and perversion that the society produces so much that we would probably fall into a kind of spiritual crisis if the brutality of the system was taken away from us.

[i] J. Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, Michigan, 1994, digital version p. 98

[ii] Ibid, p.104

[iii] Ibid

THE HOLY GRAIL IN THE MINOTAUR’S LAIR

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We have been driving a juggernaut along a road leading directly to a cliff edge. If we continue going straight, we will topple into an abyss. Obviously, we cannot continue the way we are going. To avoid annihilation, we have one of two choices: we can either turn left toward a Utopia, or right into a Dystopia. It seems obvious to us which decision is the best one. And yet … most of those on board started screaming to the driver to turn right … and he has. Why? Why did we choose to go in the direction of a Dystopia before a Utopia?

Part of the problem rests in the common perception that Utopia is an impossible space. That it is no-place and therefore must be dismissed straight away. Dystopia, on the other hand, is an inevitability and therefore linked to reality. If reality and pragmatism tells us that we cannot make the world a better place, then at least we can try and protect ourselves against the evil mess that surrounds us.

In truth, our present reality is limited. But limited only by the labyrinth built around us that we call Civilisation. This maze has always been a way for managing the limitlessness of potentials in order to control them for a central cause: The cause being, the accumulation of Wealth and the protection of the wealthy classes. However, existence in the labyrinth has become precarious. The world around it is being devoured by the Minotaur that we feed at the centre of the labyrinth itself. But soon there will be nothing left for any of us to eat, and storms will come and wash us away. If we don’t get out of here, we are doomed. In order to escape we need a map, and we have to tread carefully. But how can we manage a labyrinth from within?

First, one must get a mental overview of it. It requires an intellectual transcendence through reason and the abstract; through mapping and synthesis: and this is a philosophical process.

Secondly, one has to have an anchoring in order to move confidently and lucidly within the maze. An Ariadne’s thread that will enable the hero to retrace his/her steps. With the anchoring one can creep into the unlimited enclosure and look for a way out into the limitlessness beyond its walls without feeling lost; always in touch with the overview, the mental map which provides the hero with an understanding of the maze.

The maze of our Civilisation is infinitely complex and the way out is too far away for any individual to find it in a single lifetime. In fact, it has required tens of thousands of years of intellectual mapping to get to this point we are at now. But that does not mean that a way out is impossible. There is a parallel between the labyrinth and the Grail myth.

The Grail, which cannot be reached, is the goal. It is the learning made on the journey which makes the Grail. So, in reality the Grail does not exist now, but will exist, created out of our endeavours to reach it. The goal/Grail is only holy and spiritual until we see the physical reasons for finding it. Once the physical purpose of the Grail is believed in, then authentic purpose becomes manifest.

Psychologically, the Big Other is resolved. The Big Other doesn’t exist but will exist, through rational, human endeavour.

But to get there, we have to start believing in the possibility of Utopia. In order to get the perspective needed to map the labyrinth properly and see the potential of Utopian limitlessness, a revolutionary thread is needed that will anchor humanity in partnership with the Universe as a vital element in the Universe itself. Only be flying above the maze into the ever-expanding space outside can we find a way out of our doomed enclosure. The enemy to this anchoring-in-the-absolutely-unlimited, is Wealth, which is the force maintaining the labyrinth that we call Civilisation. Utopia is an antithetical concept for Wealth, which thrives on models of Dystopia. Our Wealth-Civilisation is the enemy of Utopia, maintained by an anti-human historical narrative that it itself has created.

Nevertheless, once the lethal aspects of Dystopia are recognised, the Utopia becomes a necessary driving force; a Utopia which is itself envisaged out of necessity.

Zombies, the Brexit and Dystopia

“…man is in the world, and only in the world does he know himself.”

Merleau-Ponty, PHENOMENOLOGY OF PERCEPTION, Preface, p. xii

 

Man is in the world … And if this is true for humanity, we need also to remind ourselves of it whenever we examine societies and our civilisation.

Civilisation is only realistic when it is perceived within the context of the world – or, in other words, within its ecological context.

Nevertheless, democracies largely ignore their relationship to the environment and give precedence, time and time again, to their own self-made fantasy-reality that it calls ‘the economy’.

Civilisation has always been a challenge to the natural world; an audacious move by human beings to harness nature for our own ends in order to create a mode of existence that is superior to nature itself. But what Civilisation has gained by developing beyond the in-the-world context, it has also had to sacrifice its authenticity. It has become a fantasy form of its own potentialities, manifested in the madness of the economic doctrine of perpetual growth.

For authenticity to be returned to civilisation, there needs to be a re-establishment of partnership with the world, rather than a continuation of conquests of land-spaces and a pillage of non-renewable resources.

We are driving a juggernaut along a road which leads directly to a cliff edge. If we go straight, we will topple into an abyss.

To avoid this, we have two choices: we can either turn left toward a Utopia, or right into a Dystopia.

Given this scenario, why is it so hard to decide which way to go?

Driving forward the way we are, will only bring about deeper and deeper systemic crises. Technological advancement has to create more automation and the digitalisation and robotisation of societies, combined with the continual increases in population density, can only further decimate jobs. Concentration of wealth and the centralisation of job opportunities to the growing megacities will continually draw desperate, poverty stricken outsiders to those centres.

The easiest solutions are the Dystopic ones: the erection of walls to keep the immigrant invaders out. Ties between capitalism and zombie invasion metaphors have been made over and over again by many bloggers[i] and intellectuals like Slavoj Zizek[ii].

In the Brexit, we’ve been able to witness how easily a society can be swayed toward a Dystopic solution. When the outside world is too frightening to face, then the safest thing to do, say the Dystopics, is to retreat and gather together in a fortress with walls that are strong enough to withstand the encroaching invasion.

The idea of the Brexit is to allow Britain – probably in a diminished form from what it is now – to do its business with the world in a safe position, removed from the very chaos that that ‘business’ has created and will continue to create.

Essentially, the Brexit is riddled by the paradox inherent in all Dystopic solutions. The Dystopian is terrified by our world, but, instead of trying to imagine that world as a better place, it continues throwing more fuel into the motor of the chaos that scares it so much. In a sense, we have the capitalist Doctor Frankenstein hiding himself from his plague of monsters, but it doesn’t mean he wants to eradicate the plague. Quite the contrary, his retreat is merely a tactical one, in order to observe his beasts from a safe place: behind the walls that are heavily guarded, and with special forces that will occasionally venture forth to stir up the chaos even more.

Utopic vision, on the other hand, embraces our world, and looks for ways of turning technological advances into a working alternative that offers an immensely better world – primarily much better because it promises a long-term survival for humanity in this world.

[i] https://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/are-we-the-walking-dead/

[ii] http://revoluciontrespuntocero.com/the-walking-dead-y-la-ideologia-del-capital-post-industrial/

 

 

THE PROBLEM OF MORTALITY

Of all human problems, ultimately, the greatest problem of all is our mortality. One day we will die. Add to this the ancient notion supported by modern physics that the Universe is headed toward an inevitable annihilation, and we find that humanity is subjected to and conditioned by a tremendous pessimism. Everything must come to an absolute end. Any will to permanence is an illusion. Vanity of vanities.

The more sensitive ones: the artists, the sensualists, the hedonists, call out Why? They all have a longing for permanence. “This is good and should not end,” is the optimistic attitude. And yet no-one, and nothing, can escape it.

From the dismay this causes come the religions who promise the eternity that reality denies us. The message of religion is essentially that the dictatorship of death can only be transcended through the faith in the idea of another reality – the authentic reality which is permanent.

But the faith does not change the material reality, in fact it needs its pessimistic inevitability to justify itself. However positive faith in the afterlife is, it ultimately creates a pessimism here on Earth. In fact, religious hope for the eternal in the transcendental creates a nihilistic attitude. It was a blind faith in the absolute afterlife, the Paradise of the monotheisms, that created nihilism, not the turning away from that faith.

Once the objective became to get to the Paradise, real reasons for living here on Earth were no longer important. The only thing that mattered was Absolution or Providence. The idea that humanity itself through a manipulation of the physics of reality, could prolong life expectations and control nature through understanding, were condemned as ideas that came from the Dark Side. A dark, magical side that eventually evolved into science, which offered enough illumination to return human faith to itself again.

Perhaps the most positive idea we can have at the moment is that there is no limit to what the magic of science could achieve. Perhaps eventually humanity could become immortal and even the dying Universe itself could be resuscitated by our most advanced science and technologies.

The authentic world is here, and we are tiny in it, although our minds enlarge us. But the positive idea can only be truly positive if it is seen as a possibility. The most likely future for humanity is the dystopian version and positive thinking and action have to be a contemplation of how to escape the Dystopia and arrive at the Utopia. Or to get away from the process of becoming Dystopia and more into the process of becoming Utopia.

Human Destiny – do we care?

To what extent can human beings concern ourselves with the abstract question of human destiny? – assuming firstly that the beings we are concerned with know, or think they know, what human destiny is. To what extent can any eschatological stand point be directly admitted to?

This is the basic question behind all religions. If the ultimate truth is known to be this, how must we accordingly act? Our duty as Sapiens is to perceive, learn, investigate, discover, LIVE, etc., but what will happen to those who prefer to be lazy?

The old system of separations creeps back in once more. Once we say: “We know what to do,” there will be those who will contest us with: “Fine, and I choose not to do it,” or: “But that is too hard. Please don’t make me exert so much effort; let me go about my life my own way.

This is our human failing: a failing which has no other finality than endless squabbling and, ultimately, internecine destruction. All separations emanate from the freedom-driven will to choose to differ, and any absolute truth will immediately run up against its absolute opposition.

Nevertheless, this has never stopped belief and inspired behaviour before. Ultimately it must boil down to convictions. Al action must stand on the knife-edge between success and failure; or rather success itself is the mere act of standing on the rope over the abyss of failure.

But from the Ideal-reality perspective, everything humans do contributes to the framing of reality, and in this way the framing is never finished until humanity is finished – which is the only truly undesirable outcome. Here is a deeply existential idea – anything is permitted as long as it does not incite extinction, and also, everything is welcomed, and should be encouraged, that encourages learning and framing. And by framing we mean the representing of reality and the communication of knowledge about that reality, as well as the unfolding that takes place from such communication and representation.

History needs the science of history to exist. An existence, the finality of which can never be reached until the science itself is no longer understood or practised. It is the framing of history that makes it historical, and that framing is forever being developed or disfigured by the continuous nature of that same framing. While humans are Sapiens the process is constant, and past and future unfold in a constant framing in the present continuous.

THE DANGER OF DESTINY – AND HOW TO OVERCOME IT

 

Once a destiny is accepted, nihilism is vanquished but dogma threatens. Dogma as a killer of creativity can only be thwarted by elevating creativity against it. If the ultimate purpose of humanity as Sapiens (that the new dogma is derived on) is to create as well as know – to be original and inventive and as critical as an inventive wit must always be – then the negative effects of dogma will always be mitigated. Freedom is intrinsic to creativity and so, if the purpose is to be creative, the ethical results of that dogma of creativity will be an anti-authoritarian one.

To be able to frame, one needs to know. To be able to know, one needs to have an agile mind. To have an agile mind, one needs to have freedom, time, and the resources to develop that agility. A Sapiens ethics would have to encourage the creation of an environment in which the human mind is freed, allowed and encouraged to fulfil its potential. The real great revolutionary step for humanity will have to be one of unleashing Sapiens’ potential in order to liberate humanity from the stress and tyranny of our current, economic-singularity framing, and its tremendous anti-Sapiens structures. Only when productivity is measured not in terms of dollars earned and spent but in terms of our accumulated capital of ideas and know-how, will humanity start to rightfully perceive itself as the Homo sapiens sapiens.

PUSHING THE BRICK FROM THE WALL: EDUCATION IN THE PRAGMATIC DREAM

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Pragmatism stands opposed to all Utopias. In place of aspirations for something better and other dreams of human progress, it offers and breeds its own Pragmatic Dream. A fabricated fantasy that is accepted by individuals in the System even though this pragmatism itself does nothing to provide substantial advantages for the majority of the individuals dreaming it, or even protect them. Inculcated with a fear of Utopias, the hopeful individual must depend on the Pragmatic Dream to drive them forward. Even when, in the case of excluded sectors of society like the unemployed or the homeless, where that dream is obviously restricted or even prohibited, the pragmatic ideal will create a self-flagellating tolerance of the oppressors.

Our tolerance of it is needed by the System in order to hold it up. Without it, the Pragmatic Dream System would be unable to maintain its so-called democratic veil. Once it loses the tacit support of any sector, the democratic mask of the system quickly peels away as draconian measures are implemented. Once support wanes, freedoms are reduced and the Pragmatic Dream devolves away from its only good argument into an obviously bad argument, trying to sustain itself through pragmatic acceptance and a fear of bad alternatives.

However, for pragmatism, essentially, all real alternatives are necessarily bad. According to pragmatic ideology, the alternative to the system is the anti-system: chaos and anarchy. Utopias are impossible things from the pragmatic point-of-view, and any alternative to the Pragmatic Dream is a castle in the air. Of course, what this kind of thinking does is stifle political creativity. “The least worse of all systems is the only possible system,” says pragmatism. There is only one possible narrative: our dictatorship.

Underlying the Pragmatic Dream’s power is an unquestioning belief in its legitimacy, what it calls “democracy” – the legitimacy won through the ballot box. However, in actual fact, it is this tacit acceptance of the Pragmatic Dream that sustains not a democracy but a dictatorial system. Bipartisanism seeps through the system’s pragmatism to create a single idea working in favour of power, rendering the democracies of pragmatism to something that is hardly democratic at all. Politics succumbs to economics and the influence of corporations makes the Pragmatic Dream a plutocratic paradise.

When we look beyond the paradigm what we must be focussed on is what can be gained by doing so, and also what will be lost. This double-pronged question must be asked by anyone who wants to achieve something. Through each acquisition and ascension, there must be a sacrifice, and perhaps there can be no greater fear in humanity than throwing it all away for a futile dream.

However, it is precisely this paradox, that is both intellectual and sentimental, that sustains the Pragmatic Dream system. Pragmatism means the end will justify the means. What this really means in the context of the Pragmatic Dream is that that which will be acquired by my efforts will surpass what has been sacrificed to achieve it. Of course, in reality, most of the time one does not realise what one is losing until it has all gone – this is the moral message in Citizen Kane and his infatuation with Rosebud.

At the same time, however, the potential dissident who has very little or nothing to lose will be more likely to become an activist than the one who has plenty to lose. This is true even though the one who has possessions may be more conscious of the corruption and anti-democratic oppression perpetrated by the system. Nevertheless, the nothing-to-lose dissident has no resources to operate effectively and in order to find those means, he or she will have to let themselves be recruited into a group of activists led by an ideology which may well merely be looking for cannon-fodder in their own violent struggle.

In this sense, the victims remain victims no matter which side they join. They are the result of several millennia of violent hiccups that have exploited the needy with the same hypocrisy as the Pragmatic Dream has. This hypocrisy encourages most of the hopeless class to shun the intellectuals and their politics and reject any other dissidence other than the public display of their own wretchedness. The intellectual paradox that the system is favoured by rests in the fact that those who think about and denounce its evil are not the victims of that evil, and those who are its victims very rarely get a chance to think and talk about it. If the Pragmatic Dream is to be exposed and superseded by a more consciously necessary system (or non-system) then the victims must be given more cultural baggage or capital in order to visualise an escape for themselves. But, of course, that would be impossible within the Pragmatic Dream itself. That Dream depends on the existence of an apathetic class that is devoid of intellectual-culture baggage.

Neo-liberalism reacted against that kind of intellectual dissemination that was prevalent in schools and universities in the late 60s and 1970s and there has been a subtle undermining of the culturally creative and intellectually dynamic learning programmes since the 1980s. Now, we can most assuredly claim that universal education in the Western World is in a reactionary process of controlled segregation, anti-humanitarian specialisation and creative-thinking decline. It is this kind of education system that makes the Pragmatic Dream possible even though it offers no real progress for the masses that bolster it up. Pink Floyd summed it up perfectly: “All in all, we’re just another brick in the wall.” The only way to get us out of the wall is through self-education and through teaching what is learned by that autonomous learning independently, outside of the Pragmatic Dream itself. Such spaces beyond the wall exist and can be found. We are in such a space right now.

PURGATORY AND ANTI-HUMAN HISTORY

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If human history is the description of human progress towards fulfilment, then the real historical process has not yet begun. Instead of an unfolding toward a better world for all of humanity we are immersed in a process geared unto the satisfaction of the greed of power. True human fulfilment, or the procedure towards it, only exists in our fantasies and our projections of Utopias.

When I immersed myself in the historical archives of Spanish libraries, to start research on my novel Purgatory, now more than twenty-five years ago, I was conscious that I was not creating a work of historical fiction so much as opening a door towards the human historical dream within a background of anti-human history. In the 16th century the Terra Australis was such a dream: a potential paradise on earth that could, once it was discovered, redirect humanity towards real human fulfilment. Or, at least, that the journey itself towards this “impossible” and unreachable Utopia would take us there.

It is no accident, therefore, that the first of the three Spanish attempts to reach the Terra Australis Incognita (what we now call Australia) was inspired by an alchemist. The alchemists knew that human fulfilment could only be realised through science. From the alchemist’s point of view, the myth of the Fall is inherently misunderstood – it is not the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge which has caused human perdition, rather it is the discovery of that fruit that will allow for human salvation as Humanity living in harmony with the world. Knowledge and the technology that is the fruit of that knowledge, will bring humanity back to the Earthly Paradise as Humanity.

Purgatory, then, is a fictional recreation of that historical dream, spawned with a deep conviction that the Utopian dream is important. Perhaps it is the only guide humanity has. But it is also important that we understand that the magical processes of the alchemists were ignorant attempts at what can now be achieved through science.

The human historical process only begins when humanity starts to move toward the Paradise on Earth, a process that does not come through prayer but through the advancement of knowledge and the power of creative thought.

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.