2014-04-30

Michael and his Drones Fought Against the Dragon




Our times resemble more and more the Book of Revelation. The central intelligence agencies of the Empire embody today the archangel Michael, as he weighs the souls of the mortals to distinguish between the righteous and the sinners. Then, he commands his army of angels-drones pitiless to execute the divine plan, beyond any worldly law. Indeed drones meet all the features that the tradition gives to the angels: they are heavenly, ethereal, incorporeal beings, watch over the borders of the nations, intermediate between the divine and the human.

Image after Hans Memling's Das Jüngste Gericht (Last Judgment, 1467-1471) [pd], CIA's seal (1950) [pd], White House's United States twenty-dollar bill (2003) [pd] and various drones types [ua-fu/fd].

2014-04-29

The Trinity of Capitalism


The so-called Thrones of Mercy show, unlike common crucifixions, God himself literally showing the Crucified. As usual, "anomalies" hold keys, harder to find in "paradigms" (Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962), which allow us to better understand the whole. In this case, this "anomaly" demonstrate, not only that the symbol of the Cross is based on the typical sacrificial dissociation of body and spirit, but also that it is a representation, an elaborate ritual, similar to a deux ex machina behind the scene orchestrating the show. But what differentiates capitalist religion is that God appears as a void. In fact what happens is, as Benjamin said, that "God's transcendence is fallen" (Capitalism as Religion, 1985), that the capitalist mechanisms themselves now embody God. Violence, as it used to be from the beginning of man, still holds the whole show. But now who suffers is the productive body, while the ethereal, volatile dimension corresponds to the financial spirit

Image after Austrian School's The Trinity of Christ Crucified (ca. 1410) [pd], United States' marine corps uniforms (1991) [pd] and Dow Jones' index chart.

Christian Frame


We must not lose sight that the Christian crucifix is​​, first of all, a frame for a representation, like that of an artwork or the stage of a theater. In fact, Byzantine crucifixes used to integrate scenes from the life of Christ or icons of characters from the Gospels. We could go even further and say that, if the capitalist religion has internalized the Christian religion in the immanence of its functioning, in its incessant ritual practice, without dogma, in the same way the crucifix is ​​now the implicit and inescapable frame, although not perceived, of all our representations.  

Image after Benvenuto di Giuseppe "Cimabue" 's Crucifix (1287-89) [pd].

2014-04-25

It Is Worth its Weight in Gold


In the dialectic of "use value" and "exchange value"essential, as Marx showed (Capital: Critique of Political Economy, 1867), to understand the functioning of capitalism, a simple pallet and a gold bar represent its extremes. Thus, although in practice any commodity would have, even if minimally, some proportion of both, the fact is that the gold bar could be considered to have almost exclusively "exchange value", while the pallet would in turn practically only mean "use value". Yet both share particular characteristics with regard to weight, size, density, transportation, storage, etc. Then, what if the pallet, usually hidden and neglected, used to support proper commodities, becomes an artwork, precisely the commodity with almost only "exchange value"; and what if, similarly, the gold bar is taken out of the dark treasury chambers to be showed in the common spaces, to be used...

2014-04-24

Narcissistic Civilization


"The religious eye projects earthly images into heaven" (Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason, 1983). One needs only turn the myth of Narcissus upside-down to understand how it illustrates the condition of the Judeo-Christian world. Thus, once the man had deprived the pagan nature of its divine breath, he remained alone and deceived himself by recreating in the mirror of the cosmos an idealized image of himself, disguised as one ethereal god. Bewitched under the gaze of this unique, false god, Judeo-Christian civilization still believe today to be the favorite, the chosen people, in such a way that it doesn't understand that the distant Echo, the call of the others, is nothing but desire.

But this structure is also at the basis of psychoanalysis, as Jean Baudrillard showed: "A 'transferential' desire (that is non- or irreferential), a desire fuelled by lack, by the vacan place, a 'liberated' desire, desire caught in its own vertiginous image, a desire to desire thereby also abyssal [en abyme]: a hyperreal desire. Stripped of symbolic substance, desire flows ever more intensely into its double, drawing its energy from its own reflection and from its own disillusionment" (Symbolic Exchange and Death, 1976).

Image after Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio's Narcissus (1597-99) [pd] and Étienne-Louis Boullée's Newton's Cenotaph (1780-93) [pd].

2014-04-20

The Dark Side of the Earth


The world looks more and more like a great mechanism. The prophet of communism, Karl Marx, already warned us: capitalism is characterized by developing a production system increasingly independent of men, a "vast automaton" which operates outside of their desires or their control (Capital: Critique of Political Economy, 1867). In the realm of capitalism, it is no longer the man who produces the things, but the things who produce the men. The man becomes, in one way or another, another thing.

There have always been varieties of rule of man over man, but what distinguishes the capitalism from previous regimes is that in this one the mechanisms of domination increasingly tend to be embodied in the system itself. Everything works as an increasingly perfect clockwork device in which no one would care about the whole. In this sense should be explained the words "God's transcendence has fallen" by Walter Benjamin (Capitalism as Religion, 1985). In the capitalist religion there is no dogma or distinction between the sacred and the profane, the cult is permanent and, what is more worrying, atonement is not possible. The machine needs to keep running.

Under these circumstances, understanding the Earth as a metaphor for the cosmos seems more appropriate than ever. If the Ancients intuited the deep affinity between the microcosm and the macrocosm, the fact is that the models they conceived to recreate these relationships are making our world to reproduce the relentless order of the heavenly bodies.  

Image after photographs of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Titan, Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys, Dione, etc. [pd-fu/fd].

2014-04-17

Commodity Fetishism


The "fetishism of commodities" is a key notion to understand our times (Capital: Critique of Political Economy, 1867). If capitalism, as Karl Marx wrote, is based on two seemingly separate spheres: that of production and that of market, the "fetishism of commodities" would be, so to say, what links them back. Thus, the magical power which embodies consumer products would not be anything other than the masked spirit of class domination. In fact "commodity fetishism" continues to be today a key element to understand the mechanisms of contemporary consumer societies, in which the separation between these two spheres increases more and more, the propaganda used by the system to hide this reality is more and more subtle, and the market conquers more and more areas which used to belong to the natural life.

In this context a reflection on this notion of "fetishism" is proposed, particularly in regard to the specific world of art. As a matter of fact it is rare that the public has access to the
stage machinery that lies behind the artwork, as it is displayed in the exhibition space. But in fact the artwork participates, in the same way that the rest of commodities, in this phenomenon of "fetishism", what contributes in a significant way, sometimes disproportionately, to the whole ritual.  

Image after historic naturism photo [ua].

2014-04-10

Porn Crucifixion


If we consider the phenomenon of internet pornographymuch more widespread than what the official hypocrisy is prepared to acknowledge, as well as its religious dimension, as a daily "ceremony" (Andrés Barba and Javier Montes, La ceremonia del porno, 2007) practiced by millions of faithful of the capitalist religion, then the comments posted by its users can be more revealing in order to understand our times than the high literature. This is, as could not be otherwisea distorted, exaggerated, borderline reality, where many characteristics of the "sacrificial mechanism" can be observed, but precisely for this reason, more meaningful, more accurate, more honest, less masked... Or more masked, depending on your point of view.