“…drifting towards (x)”

The filthy carcass of London is still twitching spasmodically. It jerks about like something is still alive inside it, even though everything else has stopped. Everything else has stopped.

David Cameron PM

On the occasion of the passing of the Rubbish Act, 2013, only two Members of Parleyament voted on the bill – The Chancellor Mr Osborne, (who has been sleeping rough on the back benches with several other refugees,) and Mr Cameron himself, who has the only remaining firearm.

Severe rubbish drifts prevented any other Members of Parleyament from gaining access to the House, and therefore the only people to know of the new law’s existence are the people still trapped inside the Lower Chamber, like a pocket of methane expelled from a dead body.

image

“My addiction to following pieces of litter around as they are blown to and fro in the wind often overtakes my walks these days, to the point where I usually cannot tell if I really am the author of my own movements, or whether I follow some long caravan of garbage on its meaningless journey from one dusty corner to the next. Today is no different.”

CADE, journal extract

image

See things from the right angle

“My bed seems to have developed some kind of gravitational or electromagnetic field all of a sudden, because I just cannot get out of it. It only started yesterday I think, but it feels I’ve been stranded here for aeons…a bit like those statues on Easter Island. I’ve tried climbing out, fold by fold, but my desperate struggles just seem to erode the chance of ever being set free…”

Dolly, victim of Evelina Mansions Housing Association SE5

image

“Shuffling myself into a spit-ridden corner where I might keep out of the vicious flows and undercurrents passing through the street, I decide to put the toilet under observation.”

[more]

CADE, journal entry

Dealing with the city as corpus, CADE explicitly approaches the breakdown of the normal functioning of the metropolis through the digestive tract, examining much as a doctor would the waste products of this body for signs of illness or disturbance.

In CADE’s notes, he explicitly makes the following assertion:

image

“The health of the whole state can be ascertained by its attitude towards
rubbish

image

Chief Curator Prof. Bettany Unction

“In conversation with CADE”

Copyright © 2014 The Unstitute, All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Long Lane: Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Introduction:

Long Lane, Southwark. The people here are in a desperate state, although it’s difficult to tell what exactly they are desperate for. Usually there is some ostensible reason why a young man might cry his heart out in a doorway – or why a woman might lead her partner about on a leash. There are too many whys and wherefores these days which are little more than vague gestures than real questions seeking out an answer. There are too many unsolved mysteries that double, treble, quadruple every day. One doesn’t wonder if people don’t unconsciously desire to be perplexed, acting in the strange ways they do. But there’s literally no good reason for being in Long Lane; this is the place people go to get beyond the pleasure principle. People’s behaviour doesn’t mean anything here. Not even a scream has meaning.
People only ever cry out for something. You cry out for help. You cry out in pain and you cry for joy. You cry in both orgasm and mourning. In Long Lane however, something highly unusual has happened to the normal sequence of the cry inasmuch as here, people cry for nothing. This ‘cry-for-nothing’, harmless as it sounds, signifies nothing. You cannot hope to find out what it means, and if you catch yourself doing it, you’re done for.

 

Cries-for-nothing

1) Man in doorway

This first recording is of the aforementioned young man in the doorway of a closed charity shop on Long Lane. You might think he was drunk or something, the way he lollygags on the pavement staining his trousers in phlegm, but you would be wrong. There is no reason for this behaviour. This man is in an abyss. From a distance, the sounds he makes are indistinguishable from those of a person in deep misery – indeed, all the sounds are correct, but the content is entirely missing. I listen several times to the recording of his ‘voice’ and find the sounds I interpreted initially as abject misery are in fact nothing of the kind – there are no words, ideas, concepts – and therefore no meaning to his cries. It is a cry-for-nothing.

2) Male voice from above

The second recording came out of a first-floor window further down by the junction with Wild’s Rents – a nondescript cobbled street with a gourmet food shop on its corner. This batch of noises are far more terrible than the first but alas, just as meaningless. I try to picture the person up there in that room above the shop, grunting and snorting until he practically vomits. It can only just be described correctly as a human voice.
Looking at the deli-style menu outside the shop, I am puzzled as to the fare on offer here.


I speculate momentarily on the possible connection between the sounds and the menu, but think better of it and move on. In this instance, I am glad for the cry to be meaningless. I rush back to the complex delta-like junction spews its nonsense all over Borough High Street like an ill mouth.

3) Man on leash

This whimpering and grunting animal has been clumsily dressed in a suit by his wife who, in a crude effort to provide him with a familiar identity, has revealed her denial about her husband’s metamorphosis. It may be that this man-thing can only get around anywhere on a leash, perhaps due to laziness, idiocy or lack of motivation, but whatever it is he has become entirely dependent upon his wife for survival. Were she to abandon him he would no doubt turn feral and run wild all over the area, posing a threat to husbands and other dogs in the neighbourhood.

Tar Pit

The road engineers are at it again. For weeks they’ve stood at the junction across the way, resurfacing that same bit of road, over and over. We had a letter about it. It said they can’t keep up with the rate of decay around these parts, you see, so they’re trying to repair the repairs as fast as they can, but of course, it’s impossible for them to get anywhere doing a task like that. Well, its so futile, isn’t it? But still, they carry on. No sooner have they laid one bit of tarmac than it needs to be taken off, ground away by the little machine and then replaced with fresh, rich tar, and they work continually in this way to ensure the integrity of the road surface.
But I don’t believe they actually work for any of the agencies licensed to perform such repairs. That used to be taken care of by one of the big contractors before they all went into liquidation. They do look the part however – they have the right uniforms, the right PPE (personal protective equipment), the right materials for repairing roads, the right vehicles, the right mannerisms etc., but despite all that there’s just something about them that doesn’t sit right. Do you know what I mean?

Like for instance this morning, at about eleven o’clock, Gertrude from downstairs went out to the shop to see if she couldn’t bribe the owner to sell her some food. We’ve been running pretty much on empty you see, and we already ate everything we could find when we ransacked the other apartments in the building, so we drew lots to see who would go. Our last run to the shop was a disaster. Brian from downstairs never came back. God knows what happened to him out there. Anyway, Gertrude goes out and just saunters down the street just like normal, so as not to attract any attention, when she walks past those engineers, doesn’t she? Well, she’s walking along, right, and it all seems to be going alright, (she was already past the half-way mark to the shop,) when she suddenly veers off course, straight towards them engineers. Well, I thought maybe she was going to ask them a question or something, but she just marches straight past them, straight into that hot bitumen and gets stuck, doesn’t she? She tries to free her legs, pulling at the corduroy fabric but then she totally loses her balance and goes down on all fours into the black, sticky surface.

And I’m up here, watching through my binoculars, waiting for the engineers to help her get out, but they just stand there, watching. And that’s when I saw it. Right in the middle of the tarmac, right where all the vapours are thickest, there’s this crate. And inside this crate…well…you’ll never guess what was in the crate. A smoked ham. There’s this bloody hock of smoked ham in the crate, just a bit too far away to reach from the safety of the pavement.

And then I understood.

hole in the wall

Gang spend weeks digging tunnel under Tescos store to steal customers from cashpoint in daring raid

  • Gang dug beneath a Tescos in Bermondsey in carefully-planned heist
  • Dozens of people stolen from supermarket in raid
  • Police suspect the gang may have sold victims as meat
  • The raid has been linked to the so-called ‘mole-in-the-wall’ gang
  • Police Officers are appealing, says Superintendent

By TIPPI SKILLET
PUBLISHED: 20 March 2013


Out of order: The cashpoint, situated on an external wall of the shop, was not working today after thieves stole people from it

Thieves dug a 500ft tunnel under a building to steal dozens of shoppers from Tescos.
The gang spent weeks digging the ‘complex structure’ from nearby wasteland to get at the people at the Tescos store on Jamaica Road last Friday. The elaborate heist has been linked to the so-called ‘mole-in-the-wall’ gang notorious for bringing ‘meat’ to the black market in an illicit economy which is thriving due to city-wide food shortages which have sent the price of meat soaring.

A substantial amount of people were stolen from the supermarket after the gang tunnelled their way in from a nearby wasteland

The Metropolitan Polis Detective Superintendent Felicity Polygon said: ‘You may have seen people acting suspiciously on Friday night, possibly covered in soil, dragging people kicking and screaming down the tunnel. They may have transported victims in a police-style van and may even have been dressed like policemen and women.’
‘I would ask anyone with information about the robbery, or with any information of any kind, to keep it to themselves or they could find their mouths filled in with cement.’
A spokesman at the police barbeque later in the day confirmed that the amount of people taken was probably a new record.

People were taken from the Tesco Express store on Jamaica Road in the tunnel heist, which police are not investigating

It is thought to be the fourth time in the last few months the same ‘tunnel’ method has been used to steal people from cash machines across the Bermondsey area which police have failed to investigate. ATM machines are scarce in this area and draw poorer people from all over the borough, acting as a honey trap to hungry shoppers.
At the scene today, there was no police tape to mark the spot where the gang began their dig – only a sign to say that the cash machine was not in use.

The scene of the crime: Tescos which thieves TUNNELED into

The wasteland where the tunnel was started is an overgrown former coach and lorry park, left fallow for several years according to locals. Nobody ever goes there, and the place is known to local children as ‘the wilderness’. The six-foot entrance gate to the yard is locked – but there are numerous holes under the fence allowing easy access to the wilderness next to the supermarket.

A local councillor who arrived at the scene in a butcher’s van said: ‘Your local council is gravely concerned about this spate of subterranean abductions, and I assure you that I, as well as my fellow councillors, are doing everything in our power to get in on it.’

Anyone with information about the latest raid is asked to come to Bermondsey police station alone.

Golden Lane: a discontiguous topography

golden_lane2

Note to reader:

There is no ‘Golden Lane’. Yes, it’s marked in all the maps, wedged between the fortress of the Barbican Estate on the south side and Old Street along its northernmost perimeter. Likewise, it is marked on street signs and addresses, just as if it was really there – mail is delivered, taxes are paid. People go in and out of buildings as though they were really real. But that is during the day. During the day it is always easy enough to misconstrue everything and, to the casual onlooker, the conceit is successful enough; this place, this substitute, functions just as well as the real Golden Lane would have done – if not better in some respects. But all this is literally neither here nor there; ‘Golden Lane’ is now merely a subterfuge – an empty signifier of the thing itself.

[My decision to explore Golden Lane in detail was first prompted by a series of rumours I had heard around town, all of which were hostile, denigrating the area as ‘separatist’ – as though Golden Lane was in the process of being annexed by some form of rogue political movement unique to the estate. Rumour is an indispensable indicator of popular opinion and carries its own pragmatic importance during a crisis of this kind, and thus I have made every effort to accurately record the conjectures of people even when they are fantastical indeed.]

golden_lane1

Derive #1

I begin my first study in Paul Street at the northeast edge of the subject area in an attempt to access Golden Lane directly. This area does seem to be more heavily fortified in contrast to the south London locations I have been charting recently, and my approach was immediately hindered by a cordon – constructed in an amateurish fashion – from Herras fencing panels which block each of the four exits to the adjacent roads. It is inaccessible from any direction, save for climbing over the fences – which is easier said than done – and I am forced to re-think my strategy for getting to Golden Lane. Under normal circumstances you would assume that this is a sign that gentrification is about to take place here, some exclusive new enclave of gated apartments to be constructed and sold to the eager and upwardly mobile. But in this instance, no works are to be carried out; this area has been blocked-off just to keep it from being useful – as it is in its present state – its final state. There is no sequel to these building works. It is simply wasteland. I shall call it terrain vague; a waste of space, a disused space, an inaccessible space, an ignored space – and the corresponding mental absences produced by these spaces in the mind.

golden_lane9

More and more terrain vague is appearing in this area, linked as it is to the attitude of non-productivity which has become so prevalent in these neighbourhoods, (which is an uncanny fact, inasmuch as it spreads from under the shadow of the neighbouring towers of the Financial City just a stone’s throw away.) This territorial degradation, this terrain vague, has created what people are now referring to as ‘blisters’ or ‘buboes’ – eruptions on the surface areas of the City which are manifest sometimes as islands of uselessness, sometimes as blockages or impediments to movement, sometimes as pockets of resistance, sometimes as polarised states of inertia and nihilism. Golden Lane is one such island. People quickly become stranded on these islands; houses, parks, roads, even entire postcodes are swallowed up as the islands join together to create much larger flotillas of uselessness, a Wilderness developing right here in the heart if the metropolis

golden_lane10

Having walked about for several futile but beautiful hours without reaching Golden Lane, I can only conclude that I am entirely lost. As night begins to fall the landscape appears to spontaneously modify itself as though it were little more than a series of interchangeable slices arranged on a flat plane. All points of reference are gone. The fabric of the city has evidently decayed to a startling degree, the area having been subject to divisive politics for too long, and the sense of danger, of threat, is so strong I am compelled to find a blind spot in which to hide, an out of the way corner some where I can continue to observe developments.

There is not much to see, however. The area became completely desolate by seven o’clock just as if someone had raised the alarm and everybody had scurried indoors. It concerns me somewhat that I am the only person out of doors on this territory, and so I do my best to conceal myself as well as possible in a thicket at the edge of a small park which I do not recall seeing before. Upon closer inspection, I realise that this is not a park at all, but a barren piece of scrub of the kind which usually develops in the year after a building is demolished; a few withered yellow flowers, green dandelion spurs pushing up all around the edges, rubble and litter confetti. I have become caught in a patch of terrain vague – most likely due to having become so lost – and everything here is foreign to me.

I decide against remaining here much further into the night because of the strange noises, and resolve to continue my investigations tomorrow.

***

Derive #2

golden_lane4

If you were unsuspecting enough to imagine that by following the directions on a standard London A-Z map that you would be able to get to Golden Lane with relative ease, you might then very easily be caught-out and exposed in this place at no little hazard to yourself. Upon further examination of my A-Z, I discovered that the place names were all correct for London, but the picture itself was a map of Stalingrad – and thus navigating by it is worse than useless. I can’t imagine what kind of clerical error can lead to such a gross invasion of London by a former Soviet city, but you wonder if it hadn’t been done on purpose, maliciously. Discarding the A-Z by an overflowing bin I press onwards by using street signs to approximate the location of Golden Lane, but all approach is useless. It seems to have moved. Having been there only yesterday evening, I am perplexed that I cannot now remember where I left it. I wander about up and down roads to see if I haven’t simply missed the turning, but that only succeeds in getting me utterly lost. It still appears to be physically possible to get to Golden Lane, but somehow I am unable to reach it. This worries me to the point where, whilst walking backwards and forwards, I mull over the possibility of some psychological impediment as to why I can’t find Golden Lane; am I subconsciously denying its existence, as though perhaps something terrible happened there yesterday? I doubt it. More than likely I am caught in some kind of malicious loop of conflicting signs which has led me astray over and over again. I make an effort to adjoin Golden indirectly, avoiding all adjoining roads and pathways – but this proves to be no improvement to the situation. The pavements, the roads, the buildings – none of these things seem to have any integrity left, straight lines no longer seem to agree with each other and the boundaries which once seemed static enough now migrate and move about. Growing suddenly concerned at the prospect of becoming permanently lost in this bizarre labyrinth I quickly resolve to mark the street corners with urine, which will help me to remember my own smell, and thus, find my way back out again after exploring.

golden_lane3

This appears to work, inasmuch as I am once again able to govern my own direction, but I am however left with a horrendous nausea or sea-sickness – as though the ground were all still moving. I vomit all over the pavement causing several old ladies to tut at me in quite an intimidating way, and I fight my way to some out-of-the-way place where I can settle my wits for a few minutes, drink some tea from my flask and try again at walking down the street. But my second attempt is still worse than the first, attracting more ire from the locals. It feels as though I am lost not only here but in life in general, and it contents me to sit against the kerb where children drain the silence of the street and bleed the evening dry. Pressing my ear to the ground I hear the movement of concrete blocks as they shift and slide about, creating what amounts to an ingenious puzzle or trap, abolishing territories and, furthermore, disorienting people into adopting the nomadology so clearly displayed by the residents here.

golden_lane8

golden_lane5 golden_lane7 golden_lane6

I take photographs where I can, draw diagrams and jot a few notes, though the effort to be bothered to do so is overwhelming. I do not know if this place can even be accurately recorded, but I
comfort myself in staying semi-active. The sky is grey as concrete. We may as well just pretend that this is still Golden Lane, and spare anybody else the knowledge of what has happened here. I fall asleep in the park.

***

Derive #3

no-nothing

What happened here? Perhaps by writing it down, drawing diagrams of it, I can bring things back into line again, or at least shake the memory of this place back from the oblivion in which it lies. I can fix the fragments of Golden Lane in my records, provide coordinates, and once more be able to navigate this reef without running aground, without being taken in again by the fluid consistency of the shifting blocks all around. There are more people around on the street today and everything generally seems to be in better order than during my previous two studies. People are walking all over the place like termites, as though there were some connection between the topographical shifting of the location and the movements of the residents here – a co-dependency. I begin to research this behaviour by following one of the elderly women who cursed at me yesterday to try and find out how things work here.

golden_lane_woman

From a static position, her movements look normal enough. After following her on several circuits around the estate however, it soon becomes apparent that she is following a set path, as though she had explicit instructions how and where to move about – though whether she knows about these instructions is impossible to tell. Whatever it may be, she seems to be charting a stable route through this maze that I cannot see, inasmuch as I experience no further nausea or disorientation when I duplicate her movements. Everybody else seems to be shuffling along in their own way, perhaps following similar invisible paths learned by trial and error, and I am able to switch between paths where they cross one another, all of which form a large network of paths through this Wilderness. Each person has a path to follow over and over, playing on a loop if you will, until seven o’clock comes and everybody disappears inside. By ensuring the stability of their environment by repeating the same actions over and over again, day in, day out, the residents have established a very secure enclave here that only they know how to negotiate safely, like rats in a laboratory maze learn quickly where the traps are. I am of the opinion that this is some kind of a security measure – infinitely more subtle than the physical barricades constructed in other enclaves around the city – a form of architectural encryption applied over the area to keep non-residents out. But as to who has applied these measures or exactly how they were implemented is in no way comprehensible – at least, not to me anyway.

As I pass by an elderly couple I overhear fragments of a hushed conversation in which the word ‘separatists’ is mentioned several times. This strikes me as a trifle odd at first, but by paying careful attention to other fragments of information spoken by other people as they pass I am able to put together a sketch of the situation here in Golden Lane. There is clearly a great fear of ‘nomads’ moving in here, and some concerted effort is being made by the whole community to ensure that this does not happen. Their singular movements during the day and their sudden disappearance at night concurs with this hypothesis, and whether or not there is any real threat of an impending ‘nomad invasion’, or if perhaps a well-oiled machine is at work here churning out xenophobic propaganda for some political end remains to be seen. But whatever it is, ‘Golden Lane’ should be treated as a litmus test for what may soon break-out in other metropolitan areas in the future.

 


 

 

Non-conductor

no-nothing

There’s a lot to be said about inertia. I myself have been inert for…seven years now, ever since the old Routemaster buses were taken out of service. Yeah, I was a conductor, see. Oh, It was a merry old life we had back in the old days. Great times, they were…yeah…nah, hold on a minute…that’s a lie. A complete lie. I just told you a complete…listen; I had an awful time back in the old days. Working every day for sod all money, having horrible people shout at you for no reason on that filthy old bus that stank of vomit half the time…thirty-eight years of it. Even then I used to nag about how things were better in the old days! And now here I am, saying that even those old days I used to hate were better than these days are now. How do people go on like that, always complaining about the present, in the present? If anyone sours the taste of the present, it’s me – let’s face facts here! It’s not as though its got something to do with all this progress that’s…what do you call it…decadent, is it? You know, like how even though we’re progressing into ‘a better world’ and all that guff, somehow life was always better in the past. I mean, it must be me who’s wrong…it can’t be ‘our age’ that’s up the spout, can it?

Sorry…rambling away there…completely lost my thread. Don’t get much chance to speak to anyone these days. Where was I? Oh, yeah, I used to work on the Routemaster number 38 bus that ran from Clapton Pond to Victoria Station ‘til it was decommissioned seven years ago. There was a big hoo-ha about cutting down on expenditures, and how my job was seen as expendable, you know, unnecessary…so I got made redundant, didn’t I? Well, it had quite some effect on me, that did. You see, it all happened when I was reading through the redundancy notice the bus company sent me. Hold on a minute…I’ve got it somewhere…here it is. I’ll read it to you, shall I?

Dated April the 9th, 2005

Dear Mr Bus-Conductor Man,
(that’s me, see,)
Dear Mr Bus-Conductor Man,

This bus company don’t need you no more, right, so you better get yourself gone real quick. If you don’t, I’ll eat your children, though you probably don’t have any ‘cause you’re such a massive tosser.’

Yours with deep affection, etc, etc,

Sir Frederic Cunthole, CEO

Well, apart from this personal letter I received, (which I thought was lovely, you know, that ‘personal touch’ helps soften the blow in these instances, dunnit?) I also got an information pack about why they was making blokes redundant, and I was reading about how ‘by cutting down on unnecessary labour the company could save money and deliver a better service, ready to face the challenges of an uncertain economic future’, etc, etc, etc, etc. Well…I was struck – suddenly – by an idea. I mean, what if it was true? Perhaps I ought to treat this redundancy note as a word of warning, you know, sent by providence? Perhaps I should cut down on excess labour – that might help me progress into an uncertain economic future, ready to face the challenges I might find there? I mean, blimey! What’s this future going to look like, eh?…I got…well, I got bleedin’ worried about the future, didn’t I, and I thought…well, I’d better get my arse in gear and start cutting down on unnecessary labour.

Well, I started out small; you know, by sitting at rest and not bumbling about all day. I don’t know if you ever been put out of work, but you tend to bumble about all day, worrying about bumbling about all day. So I just sat in my chair. I thought it’d be best to meet this uncertain future by expressing the minimum amount of effort physically possible. It was weird though, ‘cause I’d been travelling along that same route every day now for the past thirty-eight years, and all of a sudden, I has this sudden great change in velocity thrust upon me, like a lifetime’s movement suddenly stopped, and now there’s, there’s nothing but this…inertia! But I tried to keep calm and carry on, you know, being inert. Well, since then, I haven’t moved from my armchair. No kidding…I’ve resisted every impulse to get up and move about, and taken my redundancy completely literally.

You know, things really spiralled out of control after that, cause, you know, my wife tried everything she could think of to get me out of my inertial state, (which she took to be some kind of melancholy, albeit a lot less psychological, ‘cause, err, ‘cause I got less psychology than the average man, according to my doctor,) and there were doctors and social workers here all the time, prodding me about and asking questions. But I just sat here, and after a bit, they buggered off. Well, after my wife left me, strange thing happened…I had these people round from the TV company, see, and they wanted to do a story on me. I didn’t mind, ‘cause, err, I just sat here. You know, it didn’t affect my inertia one bit, ‘cause, you know, I’d taken remedial measures against the uncertain future, like. But then, right, weird thing is, is after this programme goes out on daytime TV right, all these young people started coming round. Yeah, they would just…sit…you know, all over the place. I could have as many as two hundred people round here at any one time, just sitting about. On the landing, the stairs, the cooker, all over the place. It was like…I started some kind of movement or something…except it weren’t moving nowhere! Or, or, like I’d become the conductor of some kind of force…some kind of resistance or something. It was like being back on the bus again, with these people coming in and sitting about before moving on. Except we didn’t go nowhere.

Well, then they stopped comin’ round all of a sudden, didn’t they. The youths. And then some geezer from the Department of Health comes round, and he prods me about and asks me a load of ‘questions’. I mean, ‘questions’! The bleedin’ cheek of it! And he tells me it’s a ‘Risk Assessment’ or something. I mean, what’s going to happen to me! I took all these measures against the uncertain future, didn’t I, and now me future’s all bleedin’ uncertain again, isn’t it!

Bleedin’ council!

 

View the entire project over at The Unstitute: NEO-LONDON

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Manifesto #6 (A Departure from Ideals)

www.theunstitute.org

I have a problem in my ideas which is causing me pain in the department of artistic realisation. It would seem that I am suffering from an excess of conception, a bloating of the theoretical faculty – hot air – followed by a reluctance to actually give birth to anything afterwards. This problem is diagnosed thus:

The Idea, (the Abstract Idea,) which I shall call ‘the conception’, is realised in its entirety, either in the head-thing or on paper. Everything is still just fine at this stage. However, at the point of ‘real-isation’, (which is the concretisation of the idea into a tangible object of apprehension – the representation of that idea,) the impetus has suddenly vanished; the desire has dried-up, the fantasy is killed by the flesh. “Oh well, the object would never have lived-up to the expectations of the idea anyway – another embarrassing abortion averted.” The idea has discharged itself in thought alone and has insufficient remaining force [potential force] to become real-ised. The real has suffered [a loss] from the delusion of the ideal.

Typically, this is referred to as ‘artistic failure’. The degree of success achieved in the realisation of the idea is taken as the gauge of the artist’s powers-of-action, (either potent or impotent – as related to ‘potential force’ or ‘bringing something into being’.) Any reproductive, sexual or even godlike metaphors encountered in this understanding of the artist however serve only to contribute to a certain idea of the artist – the artist as creator – the Classical project of art under which the artist labours to bring this idea of him/herself into being as the Ideal artist. This heavyweight conception leads us necessarily to the root of the creator idea which is again part of the godlike metaphor – for we are talking about fame; fame of the immortal kind, of the timeless kind. I am not saying however, that the artist bears this ambition in his/her upmost mind – only that, as the background or tradition of Western culture has fostered such an Ideal, it continues to linger in the air like a foul smell and often the artist unknowingly upholds it. We must of course remember that this is only a metaphor or literary device – one which ultimately derives from Homer’s Iliad – and it is one that has been maintained in its approximately 2800 year existence, (which is hardly an eternity,) by a collective desire to maintain it.

I have no desire to expostulate on any such myth of the artist, but there is hardly any denying that the artist is at some level concerned with the way the work of art, (and ultimately, him/herself,) is going to appear to others at some later date after its creation – for the best part of the artistic creation resides in its apprehension. But this isn’t getting me anywhere. I wanted to talk about how this Ideal, as I see it in my own brain-thing, forms part of a nihilistic complex of denial: the Ideal artwork on the one hand, the conception, balanced by the fantasy of a future apprehension by the public on the other hand, forms a hard objection to the expression itself.

I formulate my problem thus: the Idea, (the Abstract Idea,) has itself become an objection to its own realisation. Something perfect never likes to be made grotty through an encounter with the dirty world, least of all an Idea. An Idea is nice and clean, serenely perfect and – bland. And when an Idea has become exhausted by working it out and thinking it through and through and through to the point of perfection, its realisation – the prospect of its concretion – suddenly becomes a compromise. There arises a certain anxiety about allowing this perfect thing to encounter the imperfect world. Unconsciously, one asks; “How can I get out of this mess; how can I avoid this painful exposure to failure?” But no answer is forthcoming – instead, a million questions are born from this initial doubt, variations on the same theme; “Are my powers of action too frail to execute on the Idea?” At this stage, any question will suffice to delay the action, and what is revealed is the neurotic undertow of Idealism in which the vague, abstract perfection of a conception becomes an excuse not to perform it, becomes the thwarted realisation of an impetus. The mental conception discharges the impetus in thought alone. And I wonder if the conception metaphor is even useful at this point? I wonder if further analysis of the problem only serves to enhance the weakening effect over the powers-of-action?

Can you see what has happened already? Realisation has been side-stepped altogether in one, graceful, mental movement.

To cease this recursive loop in thought, the procedure goes thus: the Idea goes out the window. At least, for now. Or if it does not go completely out the window, it at least doesn’t get time to get all puffed-up by excessive reflection and high-filutin talk. It is a mental object, it spurs action and is valuable only insomuch as it spurs sufficiently to actuate potential. Acting on the impetus, (the powers-of-action,) is the only measure of success; if it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t exist. Value-judgements are likewise irrelevant. “I’ll conceive of what its worth later, at my leisure. Or maybe never. Or leave it to somebody else.” If the Ideal has been suspended, or chucked out the window, who needs judgement anyway? I must act on the instant, before thinking out the consequences, (as in Macbeth,) or suffer to get snared as an actor in thought alone, (as in Hamlet.)

Is that a monstrous conception? To abandon judgement, the fear of consequences and long-established Ideals? If it was a moral judgement, perhaps it would be monstrous. But it is not. It is a thought-experiment and it is amoral. I am not idealising this method, nor am I extending it to anybody as a prescription – it is not a model conception of Man as he/she ‘should be’. It is not an Ideal.

Having rejected the primacy or even the relevance of the Ideal, a different perspective is revealed – one in which the word ‘should’ loses its currency; after all, it is only a command, an attempt to move a latent power-of-action under the pretext of morality. And any such moral disguise…well, it is only a disguise, a mask – there is no concrete reality underneath. Appearance is all there is. The realisation of the lack of or untenability of any form of moral reality is the field of action in this concern. The impetus, the drive; that is what interests me here, and I shall go so far as to say that I will make it my project to follow whatever impetus arises and has the power to move me, regardless of where it might lead, right up to its very conclusion. It is an adventure, if you like. An odyssey.