Acting-Out Politics

Weblog opens discussion about the psychology of Bushmerican style of behavior.

Three Types Of Profit-makers VS The 99% Of The Population Becoming Pauperized Through Austerity Measures

Georg Grosz, “The Decision-makers and the Plebs”

The artist represents the social world as two unequal parts – one the desk with three giants occupying three third of the space while the “plebs” are on the periphery and are represented as much smaller human figures. The Olympians of today’s world are occupied with mental activity – the chief (at the top of the desk) is observing the plebs and calculating the profits made on people’s pauperization. The center of the picture – the very nucleus of the world of wealth-and-poverty is the main profit-maker’s left hand covering the pack of money.

The three profit-makers are calculating the growth of their wealth as a result of mass pauperization. The main money-predator is looking at people in poverty. Among them we see a cluster of unemployed as a result of the shutdown of the factories. The four workers include those with faces burdened by emotional trauma and despair, but the one in the center (drawn as bigger than others) is not only suffering but he is trying to think – is it really possible to do something about the fact that they were laid up and if it still possible – what can it be? To the right of the upper third of the drawing we see the tiny figure of a crippled veteran of the WW1 (reduced by Grosz to the size of a child because of his powerlessness which makes him insignificant in his own eyes). The largest figure amidst the people is the woman – a mother and/or a grandmother who feels desperate and ashamed that her children-and grandchildren are without food. She understands that she can do nothing about it, and it makes her situation even more painful. In the background there are also two figures of soldiers guarding the closed plant (or today transferred to the III World country, where labor is much cheaper). They’re made by Grosz even smaller than the vet on crutches. Why? What does the artist want to say by this? Aren’t soldiers the main weapons at the disposal of the mighty decision-makers? Why are they shown as even less significant than a crippled person? Unfortunately, soldiers cannot understand semantic contradictions created by the artistic thinking – they’re too disoriented by propaganda elevating them into glorious heroes moved by megalomaniacal delirium of being the best people on the planet. They still think that they are needed to defend their country while in reality they exist just to protect the wealth of the wealthy and the power of the powerful. Militaries are servants of these three giants with superhuman ambitions whom we see in Crosz’ drawing.

Among them sitting at the profit-desk – the main profit-maker is predatorily watching at the people. To the right at the table we see a person without eyes – instead eyes he is looking with his glasses – his professional – profit calculating eyes. For this reason he looks like a blind, and he is blind, if to mean human sight. To the left we see a creature who doesn’t look around but up – he looks skyward – with gratitude and a mute prayer to someone up there not to leave the three of them without his supernatural support. This person most likely thinks that they’re getting so much profit because of the supernatural help. By this belief he stabilizes his trio’s confidence and stimulates their professionalism to transform people into money.

The Psychological Dynamics of A Young Or Even An Older Person’s Resistance To A Repressive Or An Oppressive Society Is Similar To That Of A Child’s Resistance To The Despotism Of An Adult Family Member

Alexander (Bertil Guve) (in the part of the film, dedicated to his confrontation with the Bishop Edvard Vergerus – Jan Malmsjo) personifies not only a child abused by an adult and not only a human being abused by another person, but any citizen abused by a totalitarian or a neo-totalitarian political system.

Bergman and Bertil Guve (Alexander) on the set of “Fanny and Alexander”

“Jag Hatar inte dig, Alexander. Jag alskar dig.” (“I don’t hate you, Alexander. I love you” (Bishop Vergerus)

We see here what can be called the first phase of resistance to a despotic adult family member (here to the step-father, who just married Alexander’s mother after the death of his father). Alexander knows that he, in the eyes of “this new father” is on the wrong side, but he cannot accept this man’s authoritarian ideas about forced obedience (that it’s natural and normal to force obedience). Alexander’s heart resists – why has a person either surrender or be defeated? Why between people or sides cannot be other way? Alexander going through the first phase of resistance, is, as if, hiding his disagreement with his mistreatment by “hiding his eyes under his lids”. Pay attention to how close stepfather‘s fist to Alexander’s face – it’s not only the warning, but step-father defense against his step-son’s resistance. The curious thing is, that Bishop feels that the child’s resistance is the real menace to him, that Alexander is an attacking side, not resisting one.

Alexander doesn’t want to follow this stranger’s will, but the gaze of the “dominant man” was pressing him, as if, trying to squeeze from him surrender to the authority of the new-paternal will.

And here it is happened like a stubborn sun-beam from the child’s will – the power grows with resistance.

Alexander’s gaze at Bishop Vergerus is not just challenging and not only resisting. It’s asking the question how an elder man can treat him – a child, from the position of power armed with righteousness. Alexander wants to understand how this radical injustice can exist – that an adult puts his power to brake the will of a child.

The bishop intensifies his crushing gaze, but the silent resistance of Alexander’s eyes, already as strong as the wall made of stone, is intensifying too. Human will is not supposed to be attacked and broken. It supposed to be addressed with emotional equality and rational argumentation. The second phase of resistance is reaction on abusive behavior triggered by the demanding and forcing manly hands which can spank, beat and suffocate the “vicious child” who resists. Step-father, as if, warns to deform Alexander’s neck, as if, suggesting that their physical closeness is of the bond to death. Here we see the closeness of child abuse to the bodily molestation. But the child resists now openly, eye to eye, will to will.

The stepfather’s sadistic excitement is instinctively changing the target – now instead of Alexander’s eyes it’s his mouth. And he continues to violate Alexander’s flesh – he is pressing his palms to Alexander’s head-and-face. But what intention the man has toward Alexander’s mouth? The abuser simultaneously wants the child’s mouth be closed – not to express any disagreements, and yet opened with verbal admiration for his stepfather’s words, actions and wisdom. In both cases, with opened or closed mouth Alexander feels himself outside of “moral law” – and he is resisting the ferocious spiritual and physical power of this new father-priest and his religious and secular credentials.

Father’s sadistic caress of Alexander’s head-face combined with his hypnotizing gaze at Alexander’s mouth is so unbearable that the boy’s eyes, as if, close again by the very bodily disgust towards the physical closeness of the alien despotic power. This is the third phase of resistance in a situation of enormously unequal power, be it between a child, adolescent or youth in relation to an adult male or a person resisting to a totalitarian/authoritarian regime. The stepfather-the Bishop becomes… almost ecstatic, and this symbiotic familiarity is especially unbearable (when the violator projects his intimate desire to force the weaker one into social, emotional and bodily obedience. In this moment abuse through physical molestation starts to remind the photos of physical torture of prisoners by the American soldiers, which we all saw during and after the war in Iraq.

Among the results of the Bishop’s righteous pedagogy by violent means, typical of fathers with conservative sensibility in many countries under various dominant religions, was lost belief in Alexander’s soul – belief in a world based on collaboration and positivity. Alexander was resisting stepfather’s violent pressure with closed or with open eyes (in phases 1, 2 and 3), but the price for it was his traumatized soul which started to become blindly and painfully aggressive. Here we see Alexander in company of his sister Fanny (to his right), their grandmother (between him and Fanny) and their uncles (on the far left and to the right) leaving the church and we hear how he pronouncing the dirty words expressing his frustration and hate for the world as it is – rude, manipulative, not deserving his love anymore. It will be not easy for those who love him to restore his belief in the basic benevolence of people and life and his ability to continue to live meaningfully. In our country – US, the equivalents of Bishop Vergerus in ruling elite today put many American citizens and children into despair comparable with that Alexander went through in Bergman’s film. Many Americans today are losing their belief in their country as really democratic one.

Bergman rehearsing with Alexander how to act in front of the camera fear of the doll-mommies and simultaneously is teaching Bertil Guve (playing Alexander) how not to be motivated by the fear of what seems frightening.

Robert Rauschenberg, “Gift for Apollo”, 1959

It is very difficult for us today even to imagine how much delight our ancestors were getting by imagining the very existence and life of gods. Mythology opened for them not just alternatives to their world, but the possibilities of completely different worlds. People identified with what their imagination discovered and it meant that while thinking about gods and godly presences they thought about themselves. And rather often they felt themselves as Olympian settlers, and this was as pleasurable as the absence of the necessity to prove that they can be really as gods. For most of our ancestors it was pleasurable enough. Of course, among ancient people already were “mad” creatures – those with godly ambitions – who tried to realize mythological motifs in life and play gods in life because they were desperate enough to attempt to prove to others and themselves that they are carriers of something like “godly genes”. They were obsessed with the possession of superhuman social and military power and the wells of wealth filled to the sky. These people impregnated with self-aggrandizement became the prototype of 21st century’s bill-mills (the supreme cast of billionaires/millionaires). And today these mini-people with maximal power are in a process of surpassing the very human imagination about what it is to have power and wealth. And because they’re lucky to be in charge of technical sciences and technology they can even afford to be condescending towards the previous deities. These people with a ludicrous posture of thinking that they’re in position to send gifts to gods are those whom Rauschenberg parodied in his installation “Gift to Apollo”.

But what kind of a gift can today’s bill-mills offer to Apollo whose power was exactly overwhelming in the context of life, while our bill-mills work hard to be over-strong in the context of technology (sucking up money from the poor taxpayers and by seducing them with technological toys). Can gods of technological power and techno-immortality exist at all? Our bill-mills certainly desperately need immortality which in their psychology occupies a place of a savior from a deeply rooted fear of life. But the path to such salvation, it seems, leads them into becoming semi-human robots. Rauschenberg imagines and shares with us – how their gift to Apollo can look – like a miserable pseudo-chariot of technological artificiality, and this is for god who moves by the magic horses. This dirty, anti-hygienic and revoltingly looking stroller is the very essence of technology (when it’s under the socio-economic power of robotic misers destroying the natural world in order to build a robotically crippled kingdom of superhuman robots).

On a metallic surfaces of this corpus/corpse representing technological miracle (gift for Apollo) we see Rauschenberg’s reference to modern interest in interior design, traditional landscape and modern neckties (which Apollo, of course, will not be able to refuse – he will, no doubt be subdued by the height of civilized men’s elegance). The metal bucket for quenching the thirst of Apollo’s famous horses is unusable – the present condition of water can be dangerous for their health – they can be poisoned even while being imaginary. We need also to take into consideration the scratching/ screeching/rattling noise that might be produced by the wheels of this our present to Apollo, and let’s add to this the smell of gasoline, lubrication oil, etc., from which even Apollo can start to sneeze and cough and, may be, will even get asthmatic symptoms – all the things which he, before receiving our gift, didn’t know exist in nature.

In other words, mythology was created by our yearning for magic mirror, while the very idea that modern civilization is culturally ahead of the world of our ancestors is a dreadfully delirious attempt of technological self-aggrandizement. “Water, air, earth and even fire (the four classical “elements” that are common to the philosophical and mythic traditions around the globe) no longer correspond to our mental representations of what they are. The image of water that automatically forms in the mind… rarely includes plastic debris, mercury and lead, coliform bacteria and petroleum hydrocarbons. Thinking of air, we do not usually associate it with Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter from forest fires or fossil fuel powered factories. Whereas some of the elemental changes are visible (for example, those manifest in photochemical smog), a vast majority elude our senses and the cognitive apparatus… It should impel us to rethink the meaning of “natural environment” and of life, whether human or not, at an age when these are not only polluted but have been transformed into the by-products of the centuries-long blaze of energy derived from fossil fuels… the rapidly deteriorating state of the environment hit us with growing and disconcerting force. Drinking water is replete with micro-plastics, and, by 2050, the total mass of synthetic, human-made materials in the oceans will surpass that of the fish. Megalopolises on different continents languish under a stew of airborne toxins during the intensifying and protracted periods of extreme smog. Annually, forest fires consume large swathes of wooded land, due to a combination of rising global temperatures, droughts, monoculture plantations, and dearth of investments into (and unwillingness to rely on local knowledges for) fire prevention. Topsoil degradation, threatening the health and fertility of the earth, entails acidification, sharp increases in salinity, and toxicity, coupled with diminishing nutrient capacity and oxygen availability to plant roots.” (Michael Marder “Burning Ourselves to Death”, April, 2018)

Homo technologist‘s magic mirror is technology, not life, as it was for our ancestors, when the magic mirror was instant and pleasure it gave to us was instantly available and unlimited. But to make technology work we have to feed it on top of feeding our decision-makers. When people started to develop tools they, with advantages it provided, began to work for technology (on sustaining and developing it), but imagination was free. In the hands of people obsessed with wealth much more than ancient kings, technology is a parasite. The difference is that today’s financial kings (bill-mills) want to possess much more money than their ancestors (they are in habit to multiply what they have, not just accumulate), and this means that for us today it is much more difficult to provide unlimited luxury they want, than it was for our ancestors. The more we work for technology – the more technology develops – the more profit our possessed decision-makers glue to their souls and bodies. Profit through technology is directly proportional to destruction of life and technology-free imagination.

Here we are present amidst destroyed natural environment, with arrogance of our decision-makers. Technology which exist for providing more wealth for the wealthy will always be, as Rauschenberg shows it – dirty and miserable in their spiritual poverty. And those in charge of technology are in a process of transforming our planet into the same misery and dirt their souls live by.

“Frivolous Existential Genius” And “Moralistic Functionaries”

2 Clips from “Providence” (1977)

Alain Resnais and John Gielgud (Clive Langham) are preparing a scene on the set of “Providence”

Between a father and his sons – between Clive and – Claude and Kevin, the democratic culture stumbled and falls. Of course, the fall of such a massive socio-political edifice as culture takes place not immediately – as would a building collapse under bombs, but step by step, not letting people to rush to notice it (life deserves to continue regardless of the conditions!).

For several centuries novelists and philosophers were highly respected socio-cultural authorities – inspirers of democratic ideas and tastes. But in the last decades of the 20th century the laws as legalistic structures were gradually impregnated with protective functions towards the extreme strategies of profit-making. Democratic ideas of free competition were pushed aside and out, and monopolistic principle of market domination became the real driving force of an economy. Economic democracy began to look like despotism of the strong players who (through excess of profit achieved through drastic reduction of taxes for super-rich as governmental policy and also new super-strategies of profit-making) were able to support politicians which were promoting them back, and the permanent financial elites began to develop above the life of the majority, as it was in pre-democratic industrial systems. Social dynamism couldn’t form according to free and pluralistic tastes of the population but started to follow just few and selective channels of technological innovations based on intensified production of high-tech electronic toys distracting people from reading, thinking and spiritual development and high-tech military technology. Many lawyers have been transformed into tails and tongues of dukes and marquises of wealth as a mighty bureaucracy supported by the entrapping entrepreneurial spirit of the times and massive tax-payers’ money at the service of private investments. In the field of technical sciences the situation is similar – profit-makers decide how to use scientific discoveries and which branches of science should be financed. Profits of the financial elites makes decisions whole humankind depends on. What we just described is the context, in which the life of Clive’s two sons – a lawyer and an astrophysicist, formed itself in its cardinal difference from that of their father. And still, Claude-the lawyer and Kevin-the astrophysicist are not the worse human beings if to consider that they live in a condition of post-cultural feverish corruption making democratic truth out of game. Kevin is a good-natured escapist idealist, but Claude who is not serving private wealth, develops juridical intolerance toward violators of the law and justice fetishism.

Fictional and scholarly prose-writers and poets were the carriers of secular spirituality that opposed to the social power rooted in weapon-and-wealth and enforced by the reflexes of ideological moralism and economic oppression through austerity-strategy. Writers argued in the name of (subjectively felt, but not necessarily subjective) truth, while lawyers either in the name of particular interest, or misbalanced (exaggerated, softened or misnamed) truths, as Claude does. Here is the difference between Clive (the father) and Claude, democracy and post-democracy, the essence of things and their technicalities.

Here is the difference between – how Clive (John Gilgud) and Claude (Dirk Bogarde) pronounce their words. Clive’s words are delivered by his psychological wholeness (by his holistic personality). In the very emotional coloration of his speech feelings are not necessarily in full harmony with his ideas and rationality, but in interaction with them, like his heart influencing and being influenced by his mind and the other way around. In Claude’s speech, on the other hand, words are crowded in his mouth like a chewed mass before being swallowed, his existential emotions are not rooting it. His words are, as if, orphans and are secondary – colored in mannerist way. While Clive’s speech is existential, Claude’s is functional. While Clive’s discourse is full of jouissance, Claude’s is concise and to the point, minimal. Dirk Bogarde as Claude uses a specific manner of pronouncing words, as if, they are for swallowing, not for being released – flying out free from the mouth. This very manner, as if, underlines Claude’s speech as an artificial behavior (colored by the substantial degree of uncontrolled narcissism).

Where Clive’s talk is emotionally spontaneous, almost anarchical, Claude’s is ordered and obedient (agreed with a formality of law), where Clive’s talking is almost frivolous Claude’s is moralistic. When Clive’s speech is focused on the essential Claude’s is oriented on the cliché and anti-individualistic. Claude expresses aversion for the improvised self-expressiveness, and it‘s a symptom of what is exactly anti-democratic in Claude’s very sensibility. But, of course, between Clive and Claude there are Molly and Sonia (Claude’s mother, and his spouse), the abused woman and the liberated one, the woman who suffered her femininity and the one who had asserted it (but in a conventional – political emancipation sense), a victim and the adapted one. Can we see much progress in it, when emancipation is touched by superficiality and artificiality and as such quite an ambiguous?

Are lawyers today, in a post-Clive universe, a subspecies of technical specialists, while jurisprudence – of technical sciences, as soon as (serious) writers were an incarnation of humanistic and humane approach to life? Lawyers are cognitive masters of contested truths and technical – casuistic logic, while the 20th century writers in the tradition of 18-19th centuries were critical intellectuals of poly-subjective truths.

Cultural legacy of Providence as existential location of independent critical truth and the destiny of persistent spirit of inquisition in his father is in the hands of Clive’s son (Dirk Bogarde), a famous lawyer and a person in love with his wife Sonia (Ellen Burstyn).

At what is the old writer, Clive Langham (John Gielgud), a spiritually independent soul and an incredible personality with his incorrigibly challenging views looking at? At his death? No, he is too elegant and intellectually paradoxical for this. In fact, he is looking at human life locked in an impossible – barbaric mass ideologies (like exceptionalism and superiority) and crude behavioral patterns (like rituals of consumption and entertainment and primacy of militarism over culture). He knows that he’ll not see all of this already soon, and this makes him even more focused, though already in a superfluous, utopian way.

Clive is doing what he has always done – for most of his life – he is thinking about human and societal life and history, about the psychological state of human beings. It is obvious in this shot that without the wine of immortality, in his own words “this exquisite chill”, it would be very difficult to hang onto an even minimally optimistic perspective.

Clive feels the coming end of not only his own life but all the sophisticated and seriously humane dreams of the previous epochs.

Clive still enjoys the sarcastic remarks of his own verbal exchanges with himself.

While holding in front of himself the photo of his wife Molly, Clive gives himself to the only way of feeling objective unity with her who committed suicide few years back. By placing his still vital gaze on Molly’s gaze as if at him from her photo – in the same visual space, Clive is, as if synchronizing their gazes.

Clive imagines himself as he will be soon

Clive having a bout of torments with processing his own survival which is more and more bothersome and unattractive.

Clive is preparing for a near future. He has to agree with what, according to his words, he “disapproves“.

Clive’s family

Look at Claude Langham (Dirk Bogarde), the elder son of the main character of the film – look at the emotional pain in his eyes. Why is Claude suffering so intensely? Here, he is looking at his half-brother Kevin, an astrophysicist (who is illegitimate son of their father). Of course, what we see is visualization of literary imagination of the father, the writer (Clive Langham – John Gielgud). But what is the point for Clive to concentrate in his final book on the hidden hate Claude has for his father’s “bastard” child, his younger brother who is a cheerful and kind-hearted person without any animosity? Claude’s dislike for Kevin is made obvious in the film, but it doesn’t correspond to the image of real Claude (not as father represented him as a character of his novel), whom we see in the final part of the film where Claude impresses viewers with his goodness and positivity. It seems that Clive in his book (and Resnais in his film) are really concentrated on the phenomenon of hidden hate – the one which in real life is hiding itself behind the other self-expressions. What is this hidden hate and why should it be so important for Clive Langham-the writer and for Resnais himself? Hidden hate can be more potent than obvious one. One of the examples are the militaries on our side – we don’t perceive them as hating people, haters of our enemies, and they themselves usually don’t express yourself as such, we see them rather as defenders of our country, as patriotic lovers. Another example is the behavior of the 1% of super-wealthy – occupied to the obsessive degree with money and the ways of money-making. But very quickly it becomes apparent that these people’s money obsession is based exactly on hate if we focus on the social consequences of their accumulation/appropriation – on policies of austerity for the majority of population, on principle of internalizing/privatizing profit and externalizing/socializing cost of their business. In other words, other people and nature have to suffer exactly because of their obsession with money. The third example is Claude himself – a successful lawyer, a rational person and a dedicated family man, but not only, according to his father’s intuitive sensitivity. Of course, Claude doesn’t do many unattractive things usual for today’s bill-mills (billionaires/ millionaires), but the issue in his case is a question of being intolerant to other people. Isn’t hidden hate more and more important as characteristic of our civilization, when destruction of life takes place not so much directly, but indirectly, for example, as a destruction of the very environment of life – air, water, food, or the destruction of human soul through consumerism and entertainment? We are already getting a little bit closer to understanding Clive as a writer, Resnais’ film and Claude’s a bit megalomaniacal righteousness as a psychological defense against massive moral disappointment not only in today’s society, but also in his own irresistible father.

That’s how Resnais personifies Clive’s idea of Claude’s unconscious projection of his feelings about his “illegitimate brother’s” (Kevin – David Werner) inferiority.

That’s how Clive imagines himself in his old age – old, culturally outdated, lonely and hunted/hounded and hiding in the forest. Pay attention to the impeccably young hand on the trunk of tree, which represents such contrast with Clive’s condition that it can be felt by him, as if it is pulled-out saber over his head.

Clive imagines the situation, when Claude (his elder son-the lawyer) is questioning in the court, on the side of prosecution, his younger son Kevin, who felt compassion towards the old man and didn’t want to kill him, his father, in the forest.

Clive always likes to talk with Sonia (his daughter-in-law) and be in her company. Her closeness, somehow, unburdens him from his intellectual rigors and contradictions.

During lunch on the day of his birthday with his family Clive cannot resist serious criticism of Claude’s political position and moral principles.

Clive Langham’s last birthday

Clive’s family celebrates his 78th birthday. We see Clive himself (John Gielgud) at the top of the table. To his right arm – Sonia, Claude’s wife (Ellen Burstyn). To Clive’s left hand – Claude (Dirk Bogarde). And to Claude’s left arm – his half-brother Kevin. Farther we see the castle’s senior cook and her husband – the majordomo.

Clive is enjoying his guests – his two sons – Claude (Dirk Bogarde) to the right, and Kevin (his son out of wedlock) – David Warner (on the left), and Claude’s wife Sonia (Ellen Burstyn).

Clive between Claude and Sonia who is trying to keep Claude from intervening into the bristling currents of his father’s ironic wit.

The composition of the still suggests Sonia’s “amorous respect” for her husband’s father, for his profound stubborn mind and talent for sublime fury and philosophical improvisations.

After the “last supper” Claude and the other guests leave the table, one at a time, following the request of the old man. Claude’s last gaze at his father.

Robert Rauschenberg, “Pail for Ganymede”, 1959

The more we drown in technology the farther we are from natural grace (we have learned to see metal where our ancestors saw rivers and sea waves). To be a mechanic or an engineer (“trainers” and “trainees” of engines) means already not to be a human being as Ganymede was, because he was part of nature around us. The worst we could be then was being like predatory animals. So, we, who from the beginning thought that we are better than any other inhabitant of the planet, started to pretend that we were closer to the heavenly angels. But the fake predatory vacuum inside us was quickly filled by the technological trappings – metals, machines, mechanisms, pails, instruments, armors, helmets, weapons, etc. But animals still have a grace, even in their worse moments – but not a mechanic, an engineer, nor a tinker or an inventor, not even a technical scientist (who works with “intestines” of matter and microscopic screws of nature instead of nature and identify with what they concentrate on, forgetting about life as such). Technical science that is not soften by the natural grace is like the underarms and internals of alive nature, the mechanical and technical soil of life.

So, when we today, the commanders, generals and drill sergeants of nature start to think about what for Rauschenberg personifies Ganymede, we think about technological apparatuses inside and “under” Ganymede, about behavioral analogies with pre-life and under life, and then started to treat life, as if it is pre-life. But to be one not with nature, but with sub-nature means that we feel ourselves not the one with our nature, not with our living bodies and not with our souls, but with our sub-molecules, our atoms with protons and electrons inside us. We thinks here about the monstrous disproportion in financing technical and humanistic sciences that creates differences in how we perceive our world – as alive and even spiritual or as under-alive and under-spiritual. We start to create an emotional symbiosis not with our living but with our pre-nature, our pre-living. It’s, as if, a person who is living (while playing with and using weapons), step by step becomes part of the weapon and eventually as identical with weapon itself. It is like feeling ourselves as being semi-human-semi missile or our fingers as semi-fingers-semi-bullets. We already are considered by some specialists as identical with our genetic make-up. Are we elemental particles inside us? Are we their representatives in the world (no electoral procedures needed)? Before humans got into the habit of locking themselves up in cars and made our feet to exist for pushing the pedals instead of walking – the smell of horses and their manure was considered as more preferable than the smell of gasoline, but today our idolatrously pseudo-scientific culture is alien to our nature.

Today, we are in a process of forgetting one of nature’s gifts – walking as a natural relaxant – the freedom of goalless walk while looking around without any intentions. We have lost our relaxed walk because of the despotically seductive presence of smartphones making us obsessively and mechanically texting when we are surrounded by rushing cars. We don’t have a need for grace. We are carriers and consumers of financial transactions, but Ganymede lived amidst relaxed aesthetic of spirituality which is completely unavailable to us. What a grace it was in comparison with the industrial and military might the new generations identify with! Today, post-Ganymedes sweat for more muscles and marshal art, more “cosmetic hygiene”, body piercing and tattoos, fast food, pop-music and high-tech weapons. According to an ironic and sad Rauschenberg, some of this staff Ganymede will find in the “Pail for Ganymede” without having any need for using. Eventually, the Pail for Ganymede is a model of futuristic fashion style for technological youth.

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Robert Rauschenberg, “Money Thrower for Tinguely’s H.T.N.Y.”, 1960 (Electric heater with gun powder, metal springs, twine and silver dollars)

Behind many technological novelties we (instead of seeing angelic faces of the inventors in eyeglasses who are moved by pure disinterested curiosity) find money calculations, and even where we find idealistic motives, technological idolatry or moral goodness, when we search farther we still find orientation on career and money rewards or, in terms of Rauschenberg’s mechanical “Money Thrower”, “money thrown at promising creative enterprises”.

Money calculations behind the disinterested posture of too many inventors are “coded” in Rauschenberg’s installation by visual metaphors of griminess, ugliness and grimness which refer exactly to the financial obsession connected with the passion to participate in particular branch of technological development. This dirt-and-repulsiveness mixed with grease and humidity we feel when we look at Rauschenberg’s installation – underlines the archaic quality of the imagination behind human orientation on money, the misery exuded by the primitivism of this coin throwing machine reflecting the prison-like limitation of our psychological condition. Indeed, if we are ready to be excited by our childish interest in playing with coins, there is no reason to be surprised by the fact that in the 21st century so many Americans impatiently dream of becoming billionaires. Rauschenberg’s work in this sense is trans-historical. If our mind is obsessed with technological toys like “money thrower”, it means that our hearts are hopelessly at the mercy of banknotes as talismans.

That’s what Rauschenberg shows us with his endless technical constructions – each more awkward than another – kind of technological monsters reflecting the monstrosity of cognitive processes behind. There are constructions in the world which are polished and shining and look cosmetically clean (for example, some electronic equipment), but it seems that according to Rauschenberg these instruments of human will always be irredeemably dirty and greasy by their association with basic calculations of profit. It’s spiritual, not physical dirt what makes us comparable with Rauschenberg’s basic constructions.

It’s unpleasant to touch the “Money Thrower…”. The worn out metal box with its stains and scratches has a scratched definition on it and dusty electric wires which are always ready to plugin – insert its hot hunger to every and any outlet – endless plugs around ready to serve and satisfy.

In the world of “Money Throwers” wires needs sockets like coins – human palms and fingers – like banknotes perfumed by the dreams of wealth. Rauschenberg’s “Electric heater with gun powder, metal springs, twine and silver dollars” is a real attribute of human civilization, bones of human past and present existence we have to brood over.

But pay attention to the very coiled springs-and-twines with coins. They have a form of a heart – the universal pop-symbol signifying love, and are rooted inside the very box of “money thrower” which humorously alluding to the fairytale treasure box of a monarch stockpiling in it the gold of his destiny. In Rauschenberg’s parody this box possesses the financial potential of human heart of love – wealth as a measure of human ability to love.

In his many installations human being is absent because now the very value of human being is in his money-crafting artefacts. Today’s technological fetishism made human soul lost (made it superfluous, at best a showcase in an empty museum). Ultimately, Rauschenberg’s artefacts are a depiction of the very identity of modern human beings. Congratulations to us all!

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

When A Painting Is Squeezed By The Viewers’ Enthusiasm Transformed Into “Gold” Of Admiration

Viewers’ self-aggrandizing identification with a superstar has been resourcefully parodied by the artist’s work

Andy Warhol, “Gold Marilyn Monroe”, 1962

Is Marilyn lucky or unlucky for having become such a popular star, and is Andy Warhol lucky or unlucky that his “portrait” of Marilyn as a superstar became so popular not only in US but throughout the world? In other words, is this particular Warhol’s work monumentalizing Marilyn (as either a face, or her smile or her eyes existing not for seeing but for being seen, or, conversely – as a gold imprisoning her) successful?

Is Marilyn’s stardom made of gold of human admiration because she’s as ordinary as everybody else who worship her (as if, they’re secretly worshiping themselves – worship her in themselves and themselves in her – worship her as if they only dream to worship themselves – publicly, loudly confidently, matter-of-factly)? And isn’t Warhol admired by basically the same reason – “because everybody can create like this – by just copying photos” and be rewarded as a super-artist? Marilyn and Andy – Andy and Marilyn – two cases of mythological realization of basic human dream to be admired and worshiped because they are just human beings – a pretty female and a man prone to laugh at others and himself for being laughable. Indeed, isn’t being laughable a basic attribute of being human?

Does human emptiness or nothingness (before we are loaded with social rules, rituals, prejudices and ideals and learn how to glue to and hate one another) deserve to be disdained or worshiped? If we prefer the latter opportunity we, at least, look democratic, optimistic and even “good persons”. But, isn’t laughing at human emptiness including our own (being nothingness laughing at itself) makes us not completely empty? Isn’t the ability to laugh at the emptiness of the human soul a talent? Then Andy Warhol is talented – (empty talented?).

Does Andy laugh at Marilyn, at her emotional flatness, at her extrovert smiles, at her particular mixture of womanliness and girlishness, at her being everybody for everyone, her every-place-ness and belong-to-everywhere-ness)? – And so – at himself and mass-art, like a buffoon activating public’s attention because he needs to survive on small pocket crowds (basic financial reserve of mass-cultural market) and on pretentious middle-class idol-worshipers hooked on traditional prestige of art as ontological shininess.

We observe how “its midgetsty”-mass-culture becomes crowned into “its majesty” and anointed by society. Warhol knows how art and artist are transformed into mass art and mass-artist and he decided to make the best of it. Andy Warhol is a mass artist with contempt for mass art. More exactly, he is a mass artist who is intellectually dominating (in charge of) mass art’s cheap appeal and seductive winking (he is much smarter than naively tasteless mass-cultural artist). That’s how a smart mass-artist can keep his status of an artist – not to be completely psychologically identical with his mass-art. He is a mass-artist, but he transcends mass-art intellectually (by his understanding, not by his creativity). In the eye of mass-art-critics the artist who is a mass-artist is still an artist if he is laughing at himself and his own mass-art and other mass-artists! Because middle class art specialists trying to be in their own eyes people of high culture with refined aesthetic taste but they need mass-art to make mass-art money – mass-money (money smells in a standard way) they’re in the same position towards mass-art as smart (and even smarter than mass-art specialists) Andy Warhol.

Smartness grasps that the quickest and the most effective way to make art is to make mass-art – to make fame and money through mass art. The smart artist who understands the very mechanism of mass-art is in the best position to feel himself a master over his art, his career, his audiences and art critics, the very throne of art and his own life. It looks like a dose of cheerful cynicism in an artist doesn’t necessarily contradict his talent if the type of talent is an intellectual – contemplative kind, contrary to his own production perceived naively.

Isn’t this dynamic similar with that of today’s – mass-cultural politics? Serious politician (dedicated to serious policy-making) will be finished after just several speeches. “Naïve” frankness is a death of a political figure. But politician using slogans-and-slang oriented on the less educated (and more brutal) segments of population will win ruling positions, encouragement of donors-billionaires and self-sacrificial love of “mass-cultural masses”. It is not that the slogan is just imitation of masses’ ideas – it is supposed to be crafted in a way which look more truthful than masses’ dreams and not to be a copy of this dream. The mass-person is not without brains (or, more exactly, mass brains are also brains, although twisted and deformed). The mass-artist-politician uses this difference between mass dreams and mass brain to sounds “realistically” – in agreement with violent frustration of masses which want to grab from other poor what they dream to get. The mass-artist-politician is psychologically very close to mass artist who is smarter than mass art.

That’s how artist can slide into a mass-artist and art into a mass-art, like democracy into pop-democracy and to anti-democracy which as if just cheerfully imitating-through parodying – democracy. If you are laughing at your own mass-art – you are perceived not just as serious person, but as good businessman, while making policies through mocking democracy makes you being perceived as great politician. Truth today perceived as real when politician mocks real truth. This is why Andy Warhol is considered to be not just serious, but as great artist.

A monument to the skills of Madrasi master masons who built this residency in the second half of the 16th century (The World of Interiors, May 2018, p. 174-175)

The double concept of glorious (exceptional) people and super-human glory – is the basic semantic construction of this building invented by its creator/architect as a work of architectural art. The one of its two meanings, defines (and glorifies) what a beauty and magnificence people can achieve and deserve to spiritually enjoy and worship, and the other is a monadic meaning – independent from people – something else, something other and what people cannot appropriate as existing for them and completely feel as belonging to them, something from the same root but with different ontological destiny. The building itself is dedicated to tremendous people – owners, users and worshippers of this architectural perfection. But the second architectural sub-motif is represented by an exceptional detail – by the central, “suspended” panel of the structure. This “balcony” at the center of the frontal wall of the building is embellished and articulated by the three decorative windows. The “balcony” cannot be completely available for the curiosity and admiration of the people visiting the castle/temple. Under the “balcony” we can see a sculpture representing a human being, small in comparison with the grandeur of the building. Human feet cannot step onto the “balcony” – human beings can only observe it from afar.

The height of the building and hemispherical dome decorated with intricate plasterwork tracery (The World of Interiors, May 2018, p. 174)

The punctum of the temple, it seems, is this Balcony, where no one human can step to (without massive ladders). Why is this balcony made, while it is not accessible to the visitors of the temple? The answer which comes to the mind and heart is – it’s because this very area is not for human feet, not for human beings, as respectable they are as guests of the castle/temple. It’s a place which can be observed only with unconditional admiration and awe, mainly from the down below. The balcony signifies a sacred place, the place where spirit/s of perfection and glory is/are silently dwelling and silently accepting the silent admiration through the space of humility.

The temple as an architectural discourse combines two semantic accents – glory as the substance of humanity – a substance in a subordinate position – in a position of adjective “serving” the nouns “humanity” or “people”, and, on the other side, glory as a goal in itself, as the ultimate noun. In this separation of glorious sacredness as such – sacred glory, from glorious human creativity, like the one which inspired to create this building (this marvelous castle/temple) – we see the holy nucleus of the very feeling/thinking in the creative intuition of the constructors of this building.

The motif of centrality of an empty inner balcony with three windows/doors underlines a place for the entrance of “gods” in comparison with the parts of the building available for the expression of admiration of the metaphysical essences (“gods”) by the people visiting the temple (who can be identified through the study of Indian pantheon of gods or through projections by the people of various religious beliefs visiting the place).

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