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)