Thursday, July 30, 2009


Slobodan Škerović

All creation is impermanent


Esthetics originates from the nature of things. One should not look for it within the effect, within the feelings of pleasant and beautiful, or within the consummation. Esthetics is the expression of the subject’s functionality, it is the image of creative energy which exists in the expressed form. And by the nature of things, energy is the indestructible and eternal, while form is empty as such.

Signalism as movement does have this function to apparently destroy form, aiming and searching for the “new”, and actually, by exposing the change of form, points out to what is always here, independent of the form. The esthetic momentum lies in that act of expressing the force which eternally creates – that’s where all beauty and pleasure come from, all intensity, all joy.

By pinning the look to the buildings of spirit one cannot reach the esthetic. Questioning: how does spirit create – are futile. Search for order within the created only results in false ideology which sees the cause of existence in projection. The analysis of the creation of art may result as a mathematical formula – as an alchemist’s receipt for the “golden mean” – but no one has yet, by applying that formula, ever created a piece of art.

What is nice and pleasant, is wrong to understand as esthetic – esthetic originates from undisturbed action of force, expressed as free movement of perception. As soon as the need for conservation arises, for freezing the seen, for preservation of the image, esthetical moment disappears. Conservatism always has a problem of energy source deficiency. Freedom of movement suddenly becomes orderly movement of the ray of light forever reflected within the given system. This is why conformism appears as the ideal in which the esthetical is traded for the feeling of beautiful, i.e. pleasant.

Exchange of the decorative for the esthetic is frequent – of psychological function for the existential one. While esthetic appears as a gesture of spirit, or a gesture in honor of spirit (as Castaneda would say), the decorative appears as a replacement for spirit, i.e. as a compensation for the absent spirit. Decorativeness puts to sleep, benumbs, while esthetic forces people out in the open, into that realm where the force is the only law – and more than sufficient shelter from all suffering.

Esthetic means perceptual, but knowing that is same as knowing the nature of perception – as emanation of the incomprehensible. How else would it be possible to always listen to the different music, and at the same time enjoying the music? One enjoys the joy at the source, not in the memory of it. Esthetic, i.e. the consciousness of the esthetical, is a sign of fullness, of state in which nothing is missing.

Esthetic is inseparable from ethical, not because these two are interconnected, but because their cause is the same – how can the singing one think evil[1]? Thinking about art, as of esthetic practice, separate from the ethical, opens doors to all kinds of intentions which will inevitably be expressed as self interest – i.e. as its final expression – conformism. The oblivion characteristic for conformism, for false esthetic, is the oblivion of that which is common to all, and so from it originates the fall of human being into alienation. And this relationship of man towards his own self is the expression and the cause of the ultimate immorality.

And while psychology deals with the infinite list of causalities, ascribing the constant refocusing to the effect of one thing upon the other, art does the opposite – it shows that the change of things doesn’t have the cause in itself. Psychology which acknowledges the reality of the manifestations, unavoidably rushes into the conformism, and by doing so into the immorality, because it takes away from man responsibility for his condition, it pronounces causality for the basic principle – human animal, social animal – man-instinct (where instinct is a genetic program), man-member (where man is just a function in society) – and comfort of survival is the highest goal, Platonic “good”, which in history constantly realizes itself as the highest evil – totalitarian system.

And the word comfort itself, which in modern times stands for pleasant, originally means to sooth in distress. Comfort for the one who suffers, but the state of suffering is caused by the loss, and personality which allowed itself to possess what is impermanent, doesn’t have another choice but to suffer. In esthetic experience there is no suffering.

Modern time is the apotheosis of comfort – the age of all-out soothing, therefore the overwhelming presence of the non-esthetic in human lives. While in mythical times the emphasis was on the urge to enrich one, for one’s ascension, by one’s deeds, up into the gods’ spheres, in modern time all effort is directed to bringing down gods into the tangible world, to the switch of thesis, to the creation of the idée-fix of the right to live comfortably. With the appearance of Christianity, the esthetic was dethroned from the list of priorities – instead of the esthetic, the idol of hope was established – a confirmation and enthronement of suffering as human inevitability, and a tiny ray of hope which is just about to asphyxiate in such reality. If from esthetic only hope was left, then actually everything is lost.

Science didn’t contribute much to overcome this disaster, it mostly avoids to face the problem of morality, it hides within the objectivity which is apparently partial. Only art emphasizes this priority and this in all human times, only, it was too often burnt on stake, as in “dark times”, and in this age of “illumination”, it is put away by a more elegant method – it is removed from the “consumer’s basket”. Art is not necessary, the esthetic is understood only to the highly educated people, and this masses are not. Masses need comfort – bread and games.

This struggle between conformism and art does not happen on the field of social classes’ battle. In known totalitarian societies, art was put in social function, but the result of that was not the art. In consumers’ society, the non-artistic, pop-culture, was pronounced as art – but it isn’t that. In the Information age, the very medium of art is pronounced as art itself – but it also isn’t that.

Where, then, survives the esthetic? Wherever there man exists, there exists the esthetic. Where man is deficient, there gapes the emptiness which needs to be filled. Art took the lantern from Diogenes – but the search is just a symbol for something already found. This search goes only in one direction – towards the divine. Both Odysseus and Descartes travel to Ixtlan – but Ixtlan is not a home on Earth.

Signalism clearly relates itself towards the esthetica and, thus, towards the ethical. In Signalism one can clearly distinguish the created from creative nature, but interstellar drive is powered by creative power. There are no dilemmas here – man in Signalism doesn’t appear as a tourist who travels through fantastic archipelagos in search for himself, but he creates those archipelagos with his own movement. The consciousness of this is clearly emphasized in Signalist works – “Verse should not invoke picture, but be picture”[2].

Maybe the best example in world literature for this tandem, esthetic-ethical, is Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dante, who like some tourist travels through various worlds-levels of consciousness, doesn’t only paint the world of human society, but he also especially points out the ethical moment, without which there is no way out of that hell. Esthetic value of Dante’s work goes shoulder to shoulder with his ethical position, and these two moments are clearly represented as originating from the common principle.

It is clear, also with Dante, that hell must be experienced to the last circle, and so in modern Signalism the contents of the work represents exactly the human world overcome by artistic position, i.e. by understanding of that apparition-medium in which man is losing himself (and because of that suffers) if he allows himself to be dissolved in it.

But it is wrong to think that art talks to the uneducated and lost. It can not reach them. Esthetic affects conformism in a destructive way, it rips away from people that for which they so much crave – comfort. Esthetic offers, instead of comfort, genuine joy – but where joy is replaced with comfort – there is no more room for joy. Here we deal with the decision that there is no joy – for joy to reach such a man, one must make a new decision. But how can one who is conditioned make decisions? He can only calculate and manipulate – and here again we have the switch of thesis, mathematics instead of esthetics.

Esthetic cannot overcome conformism. Esthetic is not turned outside of itself – it is a toponym, a boundless refuge. Here is also the realm of ethical, “yourself as others” – the sameness of subject which doesn’t allow differentiation by the formal. Michelangelo versus Michelangelo – an excellent work of pop-culture, the Sistine chapel, versus unfinished sculpture “Slave”. Although history did not hide the mentioned sculpture, it pushed it under the carpet – and pronounced it to be unfinished! This transformation of stone into man is incomparably stronger esthetic experience, which shakes the observer from his foundations, than the Sistine chapel or “David”, which fascinate by their perfectionism rather than by their clear sign of spirit. That force which was given to Michelangelo was not wasted in his interaction with the masses, but in this neglected creation, where dead mass transcends into life. But who will admire the slave, even sculpted by Michelangelo’s hand? That is simply uncomfortable.

The relation of esthetic and non-esthetic is the relation of the abstract and concrete. The abstract can not be concertized, and only the unfinished form, as wasted/non-consumable, finds its place within the concrete, but as rubble, as unneeded thing. This unfinished form is the abstraction. Unusable in the world of false modernity – the art itself.

[1] Serbian saying: :”The one who sings – means no evil.”

[2] I. Bakic and Z. Saric, “With Light Stroll in all Directions”, Beyond the Border of Millennium, FENIKS, Belgrade, 2005, p. 5.

(From the book "Chimera or Borg", Himera ili Borg, Tardis, Belgrade, 2008)

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