The Body Politic: The Waste Problem

waste_problem_curators_notes

Explore ‘The Waste Problem’ at The Unstitute

What sort of ‘waste problem’ are we dealing with here? It is true that the health of the whole body politic rests on the sanitary measures taken to deal with its waste, but to reduce this ‘problem’ to a concern for hygiene in the regular sense would be to somewhat miss the object of CADE’s  enquiry. ‘Hygiene’ could conceivably indicate some form of ‘racial hygiene’, (attested by increasingly frequent outbreaks of fascism, like buboes on the skin of society,) a mendacious attitude towards ‘cultural cleanliness’ even, or a division of the clean and unclean; it may refer to a physical blockage in the waste-disposal system of the city, (as in the sewerage pipes we see stuffed with dog carcasses by operatives from Thames Water,) or it may even point towards a mental attitude towards waste which itself is becoming problematic – things formerly considered ‘useful’ are re-categorised unconsciously into the ‘useless’, provoking widespread nausea and apathy towards the value of things. One thing is certain however; CADE takes no moral stance on this rubbishing of everything – indeed, he seems quite at home, nestled amongst the spreading tendrils of entropy all around, a lotus-eater. His writings indicate no critique of post-industrial capitalism and its excesses; no Camorra-style syndicate is holding politicians to ransom with garbage; no general strike amongst sanitation contractors is prostrating the system. There is in fact no good reason why it should be so, but there it is: CADE presents a compromised system in which everything is in a process of ‘being-wasted’ – including its people.

On several occasions CADE himself displays the tendency towards purposeless drifting – swept along, object-like, mysterious to himself – to everything. His records are begrimed with apathy:

 “A machine for the production of rubbish.”

This phrase, written out several times in his journal, must make us reconsider what is meant by rubbish and by what is not meant by rubbish; are things becoming rubbish even before they are used? There is doubtless more, (or perhaps even less,) than meets the eye. After touching this material, watching it, hearing it, reading it, one gets a stale odour on one’s fingers, so to speak – used, spent, empty. This system, as it is perceived, is in the process of losing its useful energy at a highly accelerated pace, decay is encrusting every corner and every object in ambiguity, and the cohesion between the sensible and the impossible is becoming meaningless – is becoming rubbish, in fact. The apparently systematic methods employed by CADE in gathering this material is not one of retrieving something meaningful or useful out of the rubbish-heap; rather, in his method is a peculiar desire to join with this rubbish, to become part of a system which is in the process of becoming useless as we speak. And perhaps CADE’s ‘machine for the production of rubbish’ is some kind of entropic engine, devaluing the usefulness of anything, a Heraclitean cosmic-accelerator in which the cohesion of the meaningful tends ultimately towards dissolution and chaos. Another quote from his journal seems conclusive:

“The universe is a great pile of rubbish, heaped up at random.”

Bettany Unction

Chief Curator

View the entire project here: NEO-LONDON

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