“The more you walk this road, the farther you are from the ordinary ways of society.
You may see the truth, but you will find that people would rather listen to politicians, performers, and charlatans.”
I’m struck by the difficulty we have sticking to the basics. Continually struck by our insistence on increasing complication at the expense of living with complexity. We spin-out plans and tune the details of our elaborate procedures, remaining deaf and blind to the lack of any vital foundations for our actions and intentions, our expectations.
The subject of the last post, questions around exploring our vulnerability and finding the sources of violence, leads to, implies, an examination of the questions of complicity in relation to conspiracy.
As the objectivization of thought sends us following projections placing what we strive against outside us, we find it easy to see conspiracies everywhere. It is in the nature of this dynamic for our perceptions of conspiracies to proliferate.
The problematization of life is driven by the illusions of separateness. This can be confused with making distinctions of any kind, but they are not identical. That any well-recognized whole is made up of distinctive parts does not prop up the illusion of separateness. We recognize that our distinctions are the only way we can perceive the texture of complexity. Without distinctions being perceived no sense of wholeness survives with any useful meaning. If our sense of wholeness is of a foggy blankness we are as far from perceiving wholeness as we would be in carrying the evidence of distinctions so far as to convince us that there are gaps between parts that exist and are not merely the artifacts of our partial view.
We’ve heard this term spouted by those who want a gloss of legitimacy to pour over the violence of their actions, the hollow emptiness of their motivations. Everything from firing workers to starting wars has been done behind the rationalization that it is creative to wield destruction, after all, without that Asteroid killing those big, bad dinosaurs, where would we be?
Within the realms of art, usually at least a bit removed from doing actual harm, there is still the habit that we may willfully employ destruction as a creative act. Collage, for example, is based on the violent rending out of context of fragments and then the re-organization of these fragments into some new coherence.
Perhaps there is a point at which truths about creative destruction shift from an accurate reflection of the way things are into a toxic simulacra, a fetishized act of internalized violence that, while it is intended to reflect and take advantage of a truth of nature, is in fact, just another way willfulness does violence to the world.
Ivan Illich‘s work turns on two related concepts. One is of our need to dwell, to inhabit a home, to have a place. The other is our need for conviviality. We cannot exist in isolation. We are vulnerable and part of everything as everything is part of us.
This piece has grown during the writing, pushed ahead by the ambition of its title, only slightly modified by the insertion of the word “Notes…” I’m resisting the urge to break it up into my customary 1,500 words. I need to break that habit as much as we all need not to get too comfortable with the bite-sized nature of blog posts in general, a “rule” I’ve already stretched with my “average” post!
I’ve had this gestating inside me for a long time. Somehow it has surfaced now, with the catalyst of a post by Achille Mbembe, at the height of the “Dog Days” when we’re all distracted and feeling a bit lazy… So be it! I hope you’ll give it a look, and perhaps save it for later when crisper air brings renewed appetite. This may be as close to a “Manifesto” on Art as I come! So with some trepidation, here are,
“Notes on the Sources of Art”