redefining autonomy in contemporary art
Love – I am told does not exist,
by such intellectual giants as support the Humanist Association
as well as the purveyors of soft porn and suppliers of luscious ladies of the
night who more often than not sell ice-cream and fags to kids outside school in
the daytime – It’s a choice.. A Lifestyle choice, and if I want to survive in
this world - Well, I had just better get used to it! Right? I guess I sound as bitter as
someone with an unwanted rash and no doctor to supply the antibiotics..
There is it seems no antibiotic for either the fact or the notion of Love anyhow .
It [love] affects all but the most incurably insane – and possibly one or two of
that uniquely autonomous group may have become insane as a result of just such an
entanglement. [It’s an irony that in real life, I’m allergic to antibiotics.. and require regular
flu jabs to keep me ticking over] But, how can one argue with this aggressively
determined view espoused by such a broad cross section of society? Well firstly
buy suggesting that this particular cross section is neither broad nor wide nor
genuinely representative of the kind of society I want to live in.
They are in fact merely a set of well established heretical minorities with almost
site specific sets of self-interest.. Dissenters and Prostitutes have been
written about since ancient times and met very similar fates then as they meet
today. This is not much comfort, as I, the commentator while representing a
vast cross section of identities - queer, feminist, post-feminist, outsider –
foreigner – non conformist - under class degenerate, and chic-lit subject etc
am an autonomous or autonomone (not an automaton) a zero, in a free thinking
minority of one, or so it would seem.
This is a notoriously difficult position or proposition to hold. Many have tried,
and many have quite literally died.
The trick in avoiding the juggernaut of imposed and undemocratic (authoritarian) conformity is
to know the precise moment to jump from the tracks to avoid being struck by the
train; And, being bloody minded enough to hold your course in the meantime. It’s
a bit like playing an intellectual version of Russian roulette, but which may in
the endgame result in precisely the same consequences. This process of thinking
is both one of the problem of autonomy and of integrity – whether of an
individual or of a group.
Both are sometime mistaken for their lesser quality substitute – Reputation, which has nothing
to do with autonomy or integrity at all in the modern or post-post modern world. For
institutions in particular, reputation merely means PR. $$$$ dollars!
Reputation is therefore synonymous with conformity rather than with autonomy.
I reject wholeheartedly the possibility of autonomous communities; they are a fallacy created
out of desperation with and from the inability to control political
elites – leaderships who change the rules the moment they achieve high office and
power without the consent of swathes of previously conforming participants.
It’s quite a simple mistake to make – and it seems to me what most people mean when they
discuss autonomous communities or institutions is Cooperative groups,
communities, affiliations, parties, and institutions who may have a shared
ideology or common purpose. [or alternatively it relates to fitting in..]
But there will always be divergent paths; ideas and opportunities that present themselves may
be of more interest to some than to others. And this necessarily results in splits and the formation
of new groups within elites, as within society - or formulates new desires.
Ergo the desire for a reinvented stimulated art (elite) with its finger on the pulse of the new or
I’m not quite as agile a I once was – and recently I’ve had one or two near misses.. with the
juggernaut. But I draw some comfort from a couple of things – One, I used to run in the relay team –
this allows one to stop and take stock, and draw breath, having passed the baton on, the other is
related to appropriated attitudes held in Japanese society. […]
Anyway to return to my original theme, about the existence of Love, this load of waffle was started from trying to grapple with particular notions, and analysing them, not scientifically, but philosophically, in
order to better make decisions: In order to untangle the tentacles of desire, lust and love. Or more importantly to find justifications, to live with the decision(s) made. And to find my own way forward.
I think I came to a sort of X-factor point. The decision process was made simpler, rather than easier by having a list of priorities. What was it that mattered to me most. Would I give up my
children for a more amorous love life. Would I pay for sex. Where is the ethical line drawn in the
process of euthanasia. Am I capable of killing or would I be killed in a war. I didn’t like all the answers I
came up with – but that didn’t mean the answers were wrong or that they had to be changed. Some
had to be lived with or if not lived with then endured, sometimes stoically and sometimes not.
In this kind of exercise one uncovers ones own character flaws – and this new found awareness can
be unpleasant knowledge. Am I likely to be a great artist… becomes a less problematic question when
dealing with questions of the depth and seriousness of the previous ones being wrestled with,
especially if one has to make those decisions not in a theoretical and sanitised institution, but in
its real, raw, living and murky context. Being an artist is an ongoing situation – it’s always a work in
progress. It consists of precisely those (autonomous) decisions being made; And is simultaneously
reflective and spontaneously expressive. Autonomy is or could be a rare life form which justifies not
only the existence of the artist – but of the very concept and nature of humanity.
So, If love does not exist, if the key moments in life are merely biological and can be explained
by science then what we are saying is that the key moments in life, like birth
(& consequently childhood) and death (loss & grief) are utterly meaningless bio-chemical reactions
within groups of inter-connected cells and deserve no special consideration. [or study..]
Life itself therefore has no intrinsic special value. The planet is ours to destroy. This analysis
obviously leads to some pretty alarming conclusions. If we are not concerned about death, why
should we be concerned about poor health that may lead up to death? If we are
not concerned about health, why should we be concerned by harms such as torture?
To harm either an adult or a child would be immaterial; irrelevant emotional hyperbole. Many activities currently outlawed would only be the actions of an individual or group through another chemical process we call thinking. We would alleviate ourselves from guilt and the need to punish anything that may
currently be perceived as harmful or wrong and possibly save a lot of tax being paid in the process.
We could downsize with impunity!
This theory posited by those who deny the existence of love is based on the Desire for and hence the justification of, unfettered sex, sex without love (lust, fulfilment of carnal desires, to the exclusion
of all else) and renders meaningless all of the other fundamental and complex considerations
we give to the status of being human. The claim is that the constraints we
place upon ourselves in order to preserve the “sanctity” of life are a mere
hindrance to our free will and to even greater liberty.
These ‘constraints’ are therefore imposed on us not by our own reason or even common sense,
but by the market (laughs) capitalist economy. It never actually seriously occurred to me that
prostitution was anything other than part of the capitalist economy.. So why don’t I just shag
every woman in town, and staple my trophies of conquest to the wall (literally and/or
metaphorically) and not give a stuff if she and she consents or not. Maybe it’s because my suitcase
is too big to travel on Ryanair. And maybe, just maybe – I made the decision not to for myself.
Marriage and the nuclear family are socialised constructs – which is no doubt true, and therefore freeing ourselves from these artificial (and HARMFUL) constraints would be for the greater good…. We would
/ could all be sexually liberated, we could reduce the age of consent?? And build giant crèches (Rousseau)
so we didn't ever have to see or care for our progeny. What age of consent?? Isn’t that a
social construct? If we are bio-chemical beings why would we need to protect –immature specimens
of a chemically formulated compound [Children]?
As an Autonomone I am thinking of Babies and bath water……… Not very original, but I’m sticking to it.
What I want to know is what’s BETTER about creating a world with this version – rather than that version
of Freedom, when it authenticates by default one form of social conformity and rigidity over
another – one set of laws for another set of laws, which debunks all attempts at critical thinking and the
very autonomy and liberation one claims to be seeking. Is politics a concrete set of
ideas based upon an irrational concern for the “other”, our mirror image – (Lacan)
our confirmation of our own existence?! [And difference.. (Butler)] What the fuck is our all
consuming concern then with our fellow man all about?!
What one cannot escape is that sexual liberation and sexual freedoms are one side of the same coin – the other side is all that boring responsibility! And that is why the libertines and some communists are accused
of not growing up. Are they afraid of death, or at least of growing old which is another denial of that
bio-chemical argument used as a justification and an excuse for being susceptible to that
peculiar bipolar disorder…. (meow) anarchy.
Ultimately we would be saying there is nothing that special about being a human being, or an artist.
It’s ok to kill a group of chemical cells, So why march against the war in Iraq or any other war
anywhere else for that matter? Why bleat on about the deaths of children in Afghanistan?
Only the conforming and the religious would have a stake in the continuity of life.
I’m not sure, but I think the left is in crisis – and asking itself if it can be autonomous of, or from
its own doctrine. Perhaps the left fell out of love with itself?
Who broke the mirror.. Anyone?
There are choices to be made. Decisions that are difficult. They are not a lifestyle.
They are a part of Life. The more critical autonomous thinking we can engender the better that we
may be served and be able to serve others.
The alternative is not unthinkable – it’s just unbearable.. And there goes that scythe carrying juggernaut again……. Like a thieving ghost in the night.
No, I didn’t refer to any august and revered texts – I got all this from my monotonously monogamous and uniquely autonomous little brain.
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