Incels, Chads, Eco-Primitivists, Self-Betterment Guru’s and the Desire for the Real: A ‘heroes’ quest for the reproductive-system

What connects Incels, Chads, Eco-primitivists, Self-betterment Guru’s, and Terrorists? They are each failed ‘heroes’ in capturing and over-coming what they most desire: the reproductive system — whether that be Mother-Nature, God, The Strong-Self, or simply, a Woman. Each Object for each subject represents a value that both must be attained and reproduced for the survival and flourishing of themselves or society. They are ‘heroes’ because it is they who will go and retrieve from the rest of “us” what is lost to, or has been taken from, their kind: The Reproductive System (Woman, God, Mother-Nature, etc.). 

As any hero of value must contend with, they have to live through, fight, and become survivors to a system they deem decadent. Each subject are survivors, but not ones who adapt to their environment and stand-alone. Instead, they are dependant upon the idea, and eventual attainment, of the idealised Mother-Reproductive-Object. They are survivors who are left without (or has been taken from them) the object they deem they or the rest of humanity deserves. They are people for whom their lives and existence is dependant upon possessing this lost object, and as such, it is not only by acquiring the object in order to fulfill their experience, but give essence to their existence.

Survival in this sense turns out to be characteristically Oedipal, in which a child in fear of losing his mother to his father/society/Other-Chads, must fight — destroy — them in order to gain access to what is “rightfully” theirs — the reclamation of the reproductive mother-system. Except in a twist, this ‘maternal’ figure, whether Nature or Woman, turns out not to exist outside the fantasy that produces it. In other words, Incels condemn themselves as Orphans to a Mother that never existed, never abandoned, and thus, ought never to be repressed from. 

We can make a distinction between the insatiable attainment of the objet a and the impossibility of fulfilling desire for an object that never existed. There is no Mother-Nature for the eco-primitivist to return to, no God to turn to after his Nietzchean Death, no mother for the ‘orphaned’ child, and no Woman for the Incel or Chad because it is ultimately themselves that is the barrier to what they long to possess. 

And what does the failed-hero do once he realises his impotence? He terrorizes the system, society, or simulated object he thought impeded him from gaining access to his rightful desires. And so kills, kills — murders — with fashionable wrath. A spectacle indeed. Yet it is a war on Spectacles. As Crump shows in his essay The Aeneid for Incels, Roger Elliot’s manifesto “is a horrific and extensive explication of the development of, as he calls it, a “fascist” sexualization of the world — a sexualization that both terrorizes him and drives him to terrorism.” Further noting: “All objects becomes a means to a literal sexual gratification — a gratification that Roger never experiences.” We can see parallels with Baudrillard’s analysis of the “grotesque hyperreality” of Late Capitalism and Rogers’ “fascist sexualization” of society, wherein they both point to the pornographic structure of society itself — an ever-present and obscene display of sexually charged consumerism. Money is sex. Which only adds weight to the feelings of loss, missing-out, resentment, and inadequacy that incels necessarily experience. Because what they encounter is a society formally structured around the very thing they know to not have in their possession, which suggests not only a partial detachment of a particularity of living in a society, which is having sexual relations, but of being wholly detached from a society that is formed on the basis of libidinal relations. To not be apart of such a ‘natural’ stream of consumption is then to be deemed ‘unnatural’ — a sure sign of having failed or to have let oneself fail to a misaligned society. 

As Baudrillard notes, Hyperreality is there to signal or suggest, through its “grotesque hyperrealism”, that there does remain some real out there. Yet such a “reality” (in this case, the reproductive-mother) is a simulacrum of hyperreality itself — a copy without an original. Reality is an artificial production by the machine of hyperreality as to secure its own survival. 

One can also see this theologically, like access to the forbidden fruit, the mother/woman is a prohibited object to which the prohibition itself is the cause of desire. There is nothing being prohibited except the desire of prohibition itself. And as such, the subject seeks to both overcome and reinscribe this desire-producing prohibition as a way of perpetually maintaining a sense of desire whilst not killing and satiating it. Or, how a child only wants a toy the moment you say: No!

Thus the grotesque, malicious, evil and wrathful violence inflicted by the incel-terrorist is perhaps the one and only true object provided by themselves for themselves using women as a scapegoat in achieving what they wanted to achieve all along: Damaging the society that has so ‘wrongly’ made them insignificant. Yet there is a nuanced difference with the Incel-terrorists relation to weakness, it is not in simply being oppressed and dominated by all-powerful society, but of letting oneself be reduced to weakness, a lack of strength, by a socio-entity that is itself already deformed. This is what particularly connects the self-betterment guru’s often found in alt-right spheres — one has to be strong in a weak society. Self-betterment is as much, if not more, an attempt to repress those ‘natural’ tendencies to hurt and compete than it is to be genuinely good. It is the negative-theology of Ethical Living. ‘Goodness’ is only the Will and strength to not be Evil, following the Hobbesian idea of the natural, brutish man. An Ethical Leviathinism. 

Violence then becomes as much directed towards the outside as much as it is a reflected attack on their selves, which suicide after terror attacks seems to suggest. 

Violent attacks take shape when one is no longer able to withhold their repressions. Yet to be repressed about something signifies a real object which is lost — and as I have shown, the lost object never existed. They have been sold a product which does not exist and lacerate themselves, and others, for their poverty whilst angered and frustrated with the rest of us who supposedly possess the riches of sexuality. Thus the unrequited search for Sex/Love is as much an illusion as the wealth of images that distribute and exchange its representation. Repression is no longer of sex, but “through sex”, as Baudrillard notes. And this is the place of the Chad. He understands the ‘illusion’ of authentic sexual-intercourse yet is still unable to satiate his desire despite through his activity of copious and meaningless sex — often at the exploitation and manipulation of women. Sexual Promiscuity for the Chad defers the ever possibility of allowing himself to participate in genuine sexual relations. Sex keeps him from sex. The Chad, like other addicts, seeks to subvert the confrontation with their true condition by excessively indulging in the activity for which they seek to detach from. 

The “last cigarette” of any smoker, as Zupancic shows, is never their last. It only enables them to carry on indefinitely smoking with the reassurance of acknowledging their problem. In a footnote, Baudrillard says, “Sexual discourse is invented through repression, for repression speaks about sex better than any other form of discourse. Through repressions (and only through repression), sex takes on reality and intensity because only confinement gives it the stature of myth. Its liberation is the beginning of its end.” (my italics). 

Baudrillard: “Sex being an anamorphosis of the categorical social imperative”. Sex is always an End. This means, for the Incel, it’s not only a matter of finding a partner but a partner for who will consolidate with the gift of sex. But this is where prohibition comes in. The Incel wants sex but not as themselves, but as the Other-Chad. “I want to be like him” signals not only jealousy for the object in the Chad’s possession, but of the subject of Chad himself. The Incel unconsciously refuses sex, or the potential to grow a relationship that might end with it, on the grounds that it would eventually be he who has to perform it. It is their own body that is in the way of their desire. This emphasises that sex as the end is nothing but an idealised fantasy that can only ever cease once they commit to the idea that women (and others) are not objects of reproduction of the values of survival. Sex is not the end. But the social categorical imperative which the perverse ubiquity of the exchange of sex makes this irredeemably difficult for the typical American phenomena any typically male has to live through. 

 

“The problem with the Incel”, Crumps rightfully says, “is problematic to the very essence of how it desires”. And I would specify, such desire is as much directed outwards as much as it is a self-reflection, of how the incel sees himself through the eyes of the other-woman. 

The common query people raise with regards to this inexhaustible desire for sex is: “Why don’t incels just hire sex workers?”. And as Crumps suggests, “there is absolutely no reason to believe that acquiring the elusive utopian sex that Rodger [Incels] demands of the world would “cure” anything.” Because “sex workers cannot address the issue”, which is fundamentally, in Crumps’ view, about “Eros” and Sexuality proper. Someone like Roger Eliot isn’t an “alien” or an animal from outer space, he harbors exactly the same desire any of us are susceptible to which are “produced by the society around him”. 

No doubt society produces, governs, manipulates desire, but is it really the case Incels are referring to that aspect of Sexuality that is just too deep for them to reach? That they are heroes of sexuality, setting themselves the quest of finding what is most precious and rare? Instead, I think it is the opposite, Incels do care only about the explicitness of sexual intercourse, yet the reason they may refuse sex workers is that they refuse the ideological dressage, civil procedures, and the very commodification of sex which they abhor in society. It is rather that participating with sex workers holds with it an element of artificially constructed performance they’d rather not have. Reduced to spectators to their own enjoyment — is it really you performing sex or merely being performed on? Which means it would be remiss to suggest Incels desire something more than intercourse because whose to say sex with sex workers is real or even about intercourse as such? One would be too preoccupied with the Event that intercourse would become insignificant. Rather, it is once the ‘illusion’ or performance of sexual involvement is stripped and becomes only a primal and visceral engagement between you and your partner that intercourse becomes all the more desirable and the only thing to exist and matter. Incels are too wary of the abstract procedure that is involved with finding a partner and into finally having sex. And perhaps this is the very reason for their inability to accessing sex, because they wish to get to the end product without first traversing the social because such social bonding supposedly diminishes and makes inauthentic the sex they so desire. The Incel has refused to acknowledge the necessary movement of first being ‘inauthentic’ into then becoming your ‘true self’. And we can see this reflected in their attitude of good looks. They want women to accept them as who they already are because who they are is biologically determined — they are “blackpilled”. There is no becoming-chad. But isn’t such an attitude of condemning oneself to the biologically determinant features of their body already a socially-embedded construct they’ve pigeon held themselves in? You are what you do, you look as you do too. 

What any incel-terrorist seeks to destroy is the very fabric of sociality itself. 

 

 

 

toy story 4 — Love, Loss, Freedom, and Duty

Since it’s early uprising, Disney/Pixar has provided no shortage of producing propaganda, displaying dominant trends of ideology, and contributed to cultivating an immense aesthetic that can be seen through every doorway of consumer society — the signature style of the smooth and curvy, ergonomic, sparse, accommodable, timeless kitsch (and nor has it provided shortage of opportunity for critique, such as this). Yet since Disney is slowly consuming the rest of Hollywood like a parasitic Host feeding off of inadequate debris, it becomes apparent that such inevitable battles of Ideologies revolve around, and are spawned from, distinct organisms.

Toy Story 4 is Disney/Pixar’s latest installment and for me, it is a film I couldn’t not watch. I am forever indebted to watching whatever Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Star Wars, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles film Hollywood throws at me and they know it too. There are more than plenty of other films I can all too happily ignore. But, like putting stakes in the big entertainment business, I have invested too much time, energy, memory, experience, emotion watching them; and to suddenly not feels like one of personal failure. I am trapped in my own homespun personal guilt for which if I do not act upon, my past, my memories, my childhood, my history will be destroyed. This is the machinic entanglement of guilt, emotional dependence, well-being managerialism Hollywood is so perfect at capturing. It provides itself as a sick Oedipal situation to which it can only be myself, Father to my own Childhood Fantasy, that stands in the way between me and my ultimate desire for satisfaction and nourishment, the nostalgic Hollywood engine. I am committed in these instances to a temporal continuity.

TS4 shows us what its predecessors couldn’t: that death – literally and metaphorically –  is not the final solution. When confronted with abandonment, witness to being outgrown for the need or want of interaction and play, stricken with feelings of Loss, and for which no other carer is adequate, what else is there to do for the Toys if not to either let oneself be killed, fight for one’s own right as worthwhile and necessary, or commit suicide. It is obviously the attempt to infiltrate ones way back into the home and heart of Andy that preoccupies the third and fourth film. And it is Woody in particular — that hysterical, short-sighted, obsessive, naive optimist — who continuously prompts and pushes the direction of the collective forward into the clean grip of Andy’s hand; because it is Woody, ultimately, who is Andys Toy, and he will do anything he can, even if to drag and string along his comrades, to get himself back to providing the fulfillment of Andy. There’s no doubt Woody is the leader for which all actions subsequently revolve around his own wellbeing, even if Woody puts himself out of way for the greater good of keeping the O’ Mighty One happy. Andy is God.

TS4 is unambiguously a film about the fear of loss and freedom and the consequences thereof of taking it. The Toys were never free to begin with, we know that, except that they embody the neoliberal subjectivity whereby freedom comes not from being set loose from the constraints of some organized Body, but of being able to work itself. To be Free, ultimately, is to be free to Work — they are puppets, after all, and life as a puppet without being played is no life at all. Because it is Work which both defines who we are whilst allowing us to express who we think we are (only if done through the confines of working life). Yet TS4 flips this on its head. As the final conclusion of the film shows, to be Free is to be a Lost Toy, cut loose from the manipulating fingertips of children pulling their strings and playing them like puppets. Yet it is only a particular freedom that becomes available only after the Toys have adequately fulfilled their duty. The Duty of sustaining unconditional happiness to their Master, even if not through the interaction of their own. And it is for Woody, sided with Bo, who is no longer looked for, no longer needed, not only by his Master-Child but his fellow comrades as well.

In tandem with Woody’s self-effacing libidinal waning over Bo Peep and his failure to leave work, his duty, and run off with her, is Buzz who re-finds himself as the agent he’s always destined to be: a leader. There comes a point of belated self-reflectivity Buzz who begins to ponder the ‘inner voice’ of his engineered body. Curious about his voicebox, his inner voice, Buzz follows blindingly the pre-determined catchphrase-directions in hopes of discovering how or what it is he has to do. In some sense, this is true freedom no other Toy has yet been granted. After disastrous attempts in following his own word, the self-imposed word of the Master-Other for which he must obey and dutifully provide for, he thinks for himself. More importantly, he thinks alongside his pre-determined voice. This is a self-consciousness no other minor toy has yet to possess, for they are still condemned to follow blindly either their voicebox or the doxa of dutiful obedience.  And this is the true quality of a leader for which cannot be reduced either to being Lost or held hostage under the authoritative commands of the Other, but Free to act, to think, to revolutionize within the system.

The final scene and dialogue of TS4 show Woody and Bo Peep left alone, lost, in a carnival as the rest of the toys are in the back-window driving away. ‘Now Woody is a lost toy’. Replied with faux-profundity, ‘oh, he’s not lost’. This, we are meant to believe, is that in place of the loss of Andy and Bonnie, physically and emotionally, he has re-found love in Bo Peep. But what does this say about freedom? Woody is no longer obligated to make Andy, Bonnie, or Whoever happy but Bo. Yet Freedom for Lost Toys comes at the cost of enduring a life of escape, fight and flight survivalism against the dirty mitts of children who will come to eventually tear them apart.

Love is the only thing that can set you free. Perhaps Freedom is only the struggle itself to be free — an antagonism between your desire and theirs.

 

 

The Fun House of Contemporary Art – Appendix

Appendix to: Aesthetics, or, The Capitalist Production of Cultural Logic  __

I.    The World with its many Rooms and its many Smells:

The World is divided into rooms and each room carries its own aroma. Yet it is not the case we follow the scent that we like into the room of our pleasing. It is not a smell we believe is good, but a simulated appearance for which we merely accept and embrace. Having ideas is adopting them. The Carnival is one such instance of a room with its smells of excessive enjoyment to the point of dis-pleasure and pain (Jouissance?). Its twists and turns turn strange and unfamiliar, provoking nausea and inducing us to coming away feeling uncanny to the point we become frightened of the very thing that’s meant to to do the opposite. Clowns are just another example. They’re exaggeration only highlights the fact their smiles are a cover up for a deeply disturbing world for which they run. The world is a Fun House.

‘Aesthetic pleasure’ is thus a smell with which we accept and assume and take it as emblematic of our identity. We quite literally wear our smells. We are what we stink of! It is an acceptance of an experience we believe what has always already been the case. We are converted and seduced. No! We are proud of our discoveries! The discovery of something ‘new’ is really a finding of something that was always meant to be, of something lost, of needing to be re-found. The saying “I need to find true Love” is not a matter of being without Love, but of accepting the Love of the other that should have always already been present in our lives. Prior to the relationship the other is missing. What I was missing before I met you was not Love itself, but you. ‘Aesthetic Experience’ then, as being gifted or given to us as motive for us to find it is not to fill in the gap of aesthetic displeasure but of persuading us to accept the object of such pleasure as the necessary part that was specifically lost to us prior to our engaging with the art object. Meaning, the art object presented under the Funhouse of Late Capitalist Contemporary Art is providing us with the Love we think we always needed – and yet it turns out to be nothing other than a provisional stimulating simulation. Love in this instance is a lie sold to us so we can buy something else or subscribe some other romantic relationship – maybe adopting, and thus condoning, additional marketing ploys.

The Funhouse of Art sees itself as Destiny providing us with our Fate – the Fate of pleasurable experiences. Something specific has to turn out according to plan… except what? We can never have the capacity to know what Fate has provided for us; we are then left to our own intuition as to whether we accept a particular event as an act of fate or not. We are in charge of our own Fate. Under these false pretenses, it is here, then, that we choose our destiny.

 

Aesthetics, or, The Capitalist Production of Cultural Logic __

The Transfiguration of Objects

Capitalism is the corporal management of attitudes set and made standard practise under its own manufactured conditions.

I.    The Dead Flesh of Ouroboros:

Artists and their Art are deeply concerned with themselves. Not only do we take their megalomania as a symptomatic corruption by the ideal goal set by the self-initiating exploration searching for the sublime, but, conversely, their Art too has and now does only ever exist in spite of itself. All Art is born to be itself. Yet how at this point, tethering on the end of the history of Art, do such objects come to be conceived? The answer lies in what Art, as it has come to be know distinct from ‘mere’ craft, has preoccupied itself with, namely, the hysterical self-conscious questioning of its own existence and what it really means to be Art and in what way. The very moment Art began to question itself with the infamous hysterical insight “What is Art?” is the moment it began to dig its own grave. In short, Art has adopted the appearance of the pathological Artist-as-Human who seeks nothing more than to try and define itself. And if we take answers provided by the likes of Stirner, Hegel, or Lacan etc. that the subject is nothing but a void – and if Art is only just a hysterical projection or transference from the Artist – then the artobject too is nothing but a void. And quite rightly. Contemporary Art has still yet to shake off the dominant and persistent artistic movement of the 60’s; Conceptual Art. The artobject here is really only the many layered appearances apprehensively masquerading its own void by way of shrouding itself with ideas or spooks. In fact, so eager to disallow anyone from believing that Art is nothing, Artists frantically inject too many concepts into the work that it reveals to us the ever more potent fact that what they are hiding is literally just nothing itself. The eagerness to repress the secret is a sign of the Artist’s own acknowledgment – and cynical denial – of the void of the work itself. In psychoanalytic terms, it could be seen as a self defense mechanism of Reaction Formation which seeks to overemphasize what one or some thing is not in order to distract oneself and others from what it is. E.g. Homophobia could be a sign of one not coming to terms with their own homosexual desire which they seek to repress in the form of attack against oneself and (similar) others.

To reiterate, The History of Art has concerned itself with defining itself (subsequently pushing forward what it is to define art in the name of ‘progress’), and Contemporary Artists have taken what was once thought to be the end of Art – originating with Duchamp followed by Warhol – and make it their biggest strength. The perpetual pushing forwards of what defines art by creating non-art. Once thought to be a deficit and boundary of what Art can be, thus putting some limit on what can be produced, Artists have now taken this limit, and the perpetual breaching and extending of it, as their primary goal. The Artist of the 21st Century is the Transgressive Artist. Yet this transgression itself has been capitalised into a moot, flaccid and ultimately boring, myopic, bourgeois commodified fantasy. Artists of this sort eternally create for themselves an infinitely regressing attempt at creating what shouldn’t be thought of as art (as thought of in their own terms). In fact they long for such a chance to be captured and pinned to the ground, limited and confined so as to even have the motive for acts of transgression. They need reasons for breaking a cage they wish they had. As David Foster Wallace said about postmodernism: “irony being the song of the prisoner who’s come to love his cage”, or better, “irony is the song of a bird whose come to love its cage”. Any chance at being the champion who ruptures and break from the status quo. It seems now that everybody wants to be the Architect and no one the builder.

II.    The Anti-reification of Contemporary Art:

If reification is the process by which conceptual processes concretise into material objects (e.g. The wedding ring is the concretised object of an abstract process – the wedding itself), then the way Art is produced now is the reverse. It takes itself as an a priori artobject waiting to be confirmed and validated and bestowed the title as such upon its very questioning of itself. Just in the way an Exhibition might host “avant garde” or “Experimental” art – placing non-art in a space ready to be reified into the status of an art object by way of its merely being presented as itself (an answer exemplified by the Institutional Theory). The Art questions itself into existence. What defines the artobject here is not in any of the qualities the artobject might possess, but in the process which enables an object to be transfigured into an artobject – It is this process we must explore.

In our attempt to think about what art is, we can no longer ignore the moments and ways in which it is produced – the production of art (commodities?). With Art and Late Capitalism increasingly intimate relationship, it’s no wonder the production of art-making itself have become at the forefront for what it means to be art. Art has become self-conscious of itself. It is a reified product created only to be created, produced only be be apart of a cycle of production. The artobject now, under the influence of Late Capitalism and the Market, exists and is defined and valued solely on its very own capacity for existing and being. In the only way the Market knows how, how we seperate, distinguish, and categorise artobjects from each other is in terms of their revenue, status, monetary value, and/or fame (The Indistinguishables alluded to by Danto). ‘Value’ can even be hereditary. In once sense, ‘great’ art is produced only by ‘great’ artists. This means that not only are there moments where the aesthetic joy given off by artobjects always has to be traced back to some creator or author, but, that ‘great’ artists are themselves produced from the status and monetary value which their artwork has acquired. In fact, it is no longer possible – if it ever has been – for a once heralded and championed artist of his time to no longer produce work that is not art, or non-art. He/She may produce bad art, but this never seems like a disqualification of what it ought to be for it be art. And yet, under Late Capitalism, is this a surprise? If bad publicity is good publicity, then any bad art produced is ultimately the successful route on towards being an artist if art is to be defined by its ability to have fame, status and subsequently, monetary value. Is it any surprise then that a place like Tate reveals once every year a series of bad artworks? Bad in the sense of knowingly causing public upset under its own rubric of middlebrow transgression – eager and in anticipation of the very publicity stunt that’s used in order to up the ante and status of the work in question. “Quick, come look at all the Bad Art we are showing”, “Just look how terrible it all is!”. Media Commentators storming in through the entrance lapping up all the delicious content to booster their own ego wherein they are merely playing into the fantasy role of the puritan. Capitalism interpellates us as brutish and puritanical in order to paradoxically keep us in control from our selves whilst exposing us to its own transgression. At one and the same time, the image of the people in the eyes of Capitalism is one of either the transgressive and barbaric violent individuals, or, when it comes to culture, of that of the prudish lower class philistine who doesn’t know any better. And all this remains so, however, for as long as we judge the quality of the artwork, its artness, in terms solely of fame and monetary value.

The status any artwork achieves is through an anti-reification process of a very neatly constructed Event. It is the Event which allows us to see anything in this circumstance as becoming art. The Event is, in some respects, an ideological tool for propaganda used for profit.   

III.    The Artistic Fallacy:

Under this logic of Contemporary Art, an Artistic Fallacy is born out of the consequence of judging art only by its globility, recognition, status, fame, money and value is that we are no longer able to discern the difference between what is art and what isn’t. Now, although it is my project that any object – whether created with intent or not – can have the capacity for being art, this does not mean everything is art at one and the same time. And yet, under the Capitalist criteria, what stops something such as the iPhone from being Art? The point is not really to say iPhones ought to be considered Art but that this reveals yet another contradiction and hypocrisy to the function of Capital by subverting what it appears to be providing on the surface whilst secretly providing for itself new rules and regulations with which enables the art world to secretly manage for themselves a set of criteria for what can be considered art (or presented in a nice museum) by exploiting the system and the people who lose out (other artists and its audience). It reveals and concludes and already known yet often ignored reality; that an organisation as big as the artworld is running an exclusive club handing out vip tickets. What this means is that in fact they don’t really care about transgression, they care only for the objects which draws themselves profit, usually by providing provocative art, and refer to this as that which can be only transgressive. It is a particular bourgeoisie transgression that turns out to be a conservatism, by distancing themselves away from the more trashy, punk/pop, filthy, ‘low’ transgression in favour of a middlebrow anarchy that is all too concerned with the state of their own house after they trash it. It seems that from institution to institution – Tate to Moma to Guggenheim and back again -, they hold for themselves a private-language accessible to those who don’t speak it and barred from ever having the opportunity to learn it. The additional point is despite their agenda, they really dont have for themselves a coherent system of curating artobjects. There is no criteria with which they go by because it purposely is constricted, limited, and confined only to those who they want to be apart of it. There is nothing anyone can ever do to allow themselves to join the party because it is about controlling the heads within and without of that party. Art Institutions are scouters, picking out and thus creating and forming (or manipulating) and curating their own version of Art History. Yet the problem is not what a Institution has to do in order to contribute to a history of Art, it’s in the very way they conduct their methods to how they contribute to history. And so there are two reasons why the iPhone isnt art under their framework: 1. It wouldn’t provide them with the type of Transgression and subsequent audience provocation to produce the desired Event needed to validate it as art, and 2. That they in fact hold to some degree a standard (orthodox) quality of Art using a list of mediums and techniques we can count on our fingers; painting, sculpture, installation, performance etc. – An iphone is neither one of these things. Not even a readymade. Which means, crucially and maliciously, the production of the so called transgressive artobject is used only for the purpose of capitalist exchange for those at the top. With no real care, trading art objects like their trading cards in an attempt to satisfy themselves.

IV.    The Incentives for Creating:

Why does one (begin to) create? Certainly not with the hope of ever getting enough money to make a living from. And yet Young Artists are still nonetheless perfectly emulating the role of the Successful Artist they most admire by producing mintaure simulacrums of their works in hope they too may be discovered in a similar fashion. No single Artist – including all icons of our contemporary age – started off with the belief or motivation to create as a means to get rich and famous. It’s not that Capitalism produces the incentive for creating art but that it provides us with a map, a guide, a cookie-cutter shaped empty form, which expects us to nicely and tightly fill ourselves in – follow the path to success – in order to be rewarded with what it can offer. And as a result, all artistic production that aspires to traverse the same road laid out by the Market/Capital slowly synchronises into a single, unified, frankensteinian coagulation of dead matter made up of monotonous, boring, uncreating, bland, uninspiring, insincere parts. Yet by saying this, what alternatives am I really proposing? To not follow the path of the capitalist layed out with the assurance that this is the way towards their hopes, dreams and aspirations? By condemning them to a life of poverty? No. Although this does reveal the malign options Capitalism presents us with. Follow me and you can achieve Glory, and if not, you’re on your own kid and there’s nothing you can do that will guarantee your success because we simply won’t allow it under your terms! What is the incentive for choosing your own path in a step towards creative sincerity if what artists get rewarded for are works that are less and less uncreatively imaginative? Art is competitive, no doubt. But what are the rules for competing? These are the criteria set by the artworld. As generally conceived, it is not to create a technically brilliant drawing/painting/sculpture to be considered as a necessary criteria to be art but instead for a work to transgress and redefine itself as an art object. The more outrageous you can think to un-create art, the more likely you are to create an object to which you wish to destroy straight away, to transgress once more. Because the very moment you create art is the very moment it becomes canonized and no longer transgressive. All contemporary art is historical. In a competition like this, why should one bother to create a sincere and true to themselves artwork if one can be rewarded for doing much less and much worse? What incentive other than pride keeps me going which sinks like a ship in this economy? There’s nothing to be proud over, says the face of Capitalism. In its eyes we are the Hobbesian ideal of the brutish and nasty subject ready to terrorise and willing to fight to the top. Yet this is nothing other than a fantasy projected onto us. Another empty form is provided for us for us to fill so it can have the motivation and reason for keeping us at bay – from invoking violence. It wants to protect us from ourselves by constraining us. This empty form shows what we are and what we have to do to get out of this mess, to get out of ourselves – the only way out is through capitalism, holding its hand.

V.    The propaganda of The Museum: (And Whither Doest This Experience Cometh From?)

The means provided by the Transfiguration of the Event (The Museum) is a production and provider/host of a set of faux-aesthetic experiences received by its audience as genuine, authentic, internalised and thus ‘authentically’ attributing any feeling to the objects under the condition of the Event (Museum) itself. In other words, the ‘positive’ experience we may feel from any given artobject is then not necessarily from the object itself but, in harsh terms, manipulated and prescribed for us by the means or process of the hosting of the Event itself. Because if we agree that the kinds of Art that make its way into the golden towers of Institutions, it’s not because of what the artobject is per se – its quality and artistic value – but the very process into getting that once-upon-a-time non-art object into a process that leads to its transfiguration by way of placing it in the very conditions of the Event itself – thus allowing it to achieve its value. Which means, whatever feeling you may feel is not necessarily from a projection of the artobject itself but from the apprehension of witnessing and spectating the Event in which you are in and in which you play a key role. What this entails or reveals is the possibility of being duped into associating quality to the work itself rather than the Event which gave rise to it. For if the art object is in a Museum then it must be genuine!

An example for this kind of trickery is in the way we react to Celebrities. Much like the alchemical transformation of an object into an artobject, so too does the object of celebrity have its own transfiguration formed from an Event. Just think of how one can go about fooling a mass of people, along with their followers online, into believing one is a celebrity by way of adopting the appropriate symbolic imagery – the stereotypes, the commodities, and the attitude. The Event of ‘celebritizing’ yourself is what induces people into acquiring and adopting the false belief and experience that you are a celebrity. Where celebrity was once defined in terms of consensus and social recognition – lots of people knowing you. We now only have to adopt the image of being already-known, already a valid celebrity, by wearing its trademarks. For instance, walk into any shopping centre with some sunglasses, quality high art street wear, a couple of bodyguards and even some friends to take your picture as ‘paparazzi’ or have them sign autographs – from this you will have made for yourself an Event in which people can fall into and hook and invest their fantasies into. What’s more, the reason this works more than ever, much like the famous Contemporary artobjects, is because of the growing self-aware ego of the individual who knows full well about the nature of the Event. Just evident by the fact that they are constantly creating an Event of their own identity, presenting themselves as something they long to be. And so, it’s not that the fake-celebrity itself, as object, who affects the hearts of those who wish to interact with a celebrity (maybe some), but that people wants to be seen with the image of a celebrity for their own gain, for their own solidification of their Event. And isn’t this what Trend really is? A network of Events being created with no discernible reality to them? The Instagram stars of the world want only to appear to be in the presence of someone appearing to be a celebrity. A matryoshka production of simulations. Debord is still more pertinent than ever when all that matters is not to be, or to act, but to appear! At least he looks famous! Why else would this artwork be in a museum? The point to this is that those pleasurable aesthetic experiences we have – although real – are really only the appearance or deferral of some other entirely different experience. And it is the job of the Market to capitalise on this appearance by substituting the artificial Event for the art object. Because they cant sell processes…

The question to all this is not in asking what is an art object or celebrity, but in how those object came to be. It is not What is Art, but, What is the thing we call Art.

VI.    Low Art, Pulp, Outsider Art, Transgression and the Clean Arsehole of the Bourgeoise:

If High Art under capitalism is created in order to transgress itself – born out of its own transgression, and if low art, pulp, outsider art etc are genres of art that seek to transgress the status quo, – to be a reaction against High Art – do they then not contribute to the growing tendencies of the fetishisation of the transgressive that capitalism capitalises on? Does it not add to the continuing production of newness in hopes of only attating innovation for the sake of innovation? No, I say. Because here there are two types of transgression. Or more specifically, one real transgression and the other an subtle appearance used as a mask for some underground standards or criteria.

What does a prude, a puritan, a fake middle class citizen, or the bourgeoisie member really do when they transgress? In fact, being in the upper social sphere, what is there for them to transgress? Because they are the status quo they have to transgress themselves. Yet in such a way as to not dismantle the socius with which they rest on. And for reasons unknown why there really is a split between Low/High Art, so too do they subscribe to a distinction of Low/High Transgression. Thus, for instance, what ‘norm’ does the prude transgress? Having Sex only after Marriage? Only with one woman? Only for conceiving? Only once a week? No. Instead they use the mentality of transgression to give them the excuse of delighting themselves in the appetites of lowly forms such as polygamy, cheating, roudyness etc with the point of not being reduced to a low person who just pleases himself on these delights anyhow. What distinguished them here, in the eyes of the upper class, is in the acknowledgement of the very indulgence in the transgressive act itself. They don’t just feed off their “inner selfish” instincts. No, they have proper taste… or so they say. This reminds me of a Joke by Zizek: about a group of Jews in a synagogue publicly admitting their nullity in the eyes of God. First, a rabbi stands up and says: “O God, I know I am worthless. I am nothing!” After he has finished, a rich businessman stands up and says, beating himself on the chest: “O God, I am also worthless, obsessed with material wealth. I am nothing!” After this spectacle, a poor ordinary Jew also stands up and also proclaims: “O God, I am nothing.” The rich businessman kicks the rabbi and whispers in his ear with scorn: “What insolence! Who is that guy who dares to claim that he is nothing too!”. The point here being that only the upper class can get away with being dirt! To join in on the delights dined by the working class without associating themselves with them. Spilling some tea, not having coasters, eating whenever they like, wear anything they like, never sleep, never rest, party all the time; these are there lowly indulgences. It becomes of no surprise when we read stories that confirm the secret perversity of the prudish and the abusive power of the Holy.

Real Transgression has no limits and conforms to no image, no identity. It is not a limit set by a puritanical capitalism that giggles when it farts yet covers its senses when anything else goes further. High Transgression is destroying your house with the worry of having to clean up afterwards. True Transgression is the dirty arsehole in all its full back glory! Not the squeaky clean arsehole of the Upper class.

Transgression under capitalism becomes traditionalism and made standard practice.  

A Sexy Odyssey

What can maybe be said to connect or preoccupy us all – regardless of where we are in the world, what culture we’re raised in, what race we feel we belong to or the differences in identity – is a feeling and acknowledgement of the want/need to be noticed by others. Now this isn’t a cynical comment about obtaining a sense of self-gratification but that of not being lonely, of being apart of a community and a reciprocation of identity formation.

And of course, this desire to be noticed manifests itself differently relative to the level of culture, community and individual identity itself. And while this post will refer exclusively to where I am situated in (England) and where I am enveloped in (America), I wanted to take the opportunity to semi-seriously make note on the preoccupation of the desire to be noticed, as emphasized on the media I am involved with, which in my opinion is characterized as the desire to be seen as Sexy. (and what I can extrapolate out of the seemingly trivial subject of sexiness)

This is not what is sexy but how.


 

There is no being sexy – in the same way as there is no being sincere – as it suggests intent on doing and artificially constructing a mode of being or doing and of being seen that is not true to itself (in other words, inauthentic). It is what is presumably what happens to you, without your acknowledged doing. Except, as we will come to see, such a basis for authenticity, sincerity and even sexiness is through the process of ideological cynicism and a performance for an other and oneself.

Authenticity is one of the primary and fundamental criterion for any being – having the capabilities of possessing and carrying out what could be described as Attitude – to be seen as sexy. As such, authenticity suggests a being for oneself which instigates confidence (another criterion of sexiness).

Confidence is the link between performer and spectator, an exuberance that can be spotted, if not, called for from the performer. Ideological cynicism is what allows a performer of sexiness to both act as if one were sexy and, as a result, be sexy from such action. Any act of sincerity performed enough times inevitably puts oneself into a position of sincerity (even if only from an on-looker. Yet if both performer and spectator believe in the existence of either sexiness or sincerity, does it matter at all?).

It is not only authenticity and confidence needed to be sexy, and such a rigid and well kempt definition surely goes against the lure of sexiness itself, but here is to my mind, a litany of sexiness: appeal, charm, allure, seduction, concealment/secrecy, allusion, teasing, eroticism, contentedness, and the spectacle etc.

One begins the act of sexiness by first being dishonest, insincere, inauthentic, and incomplete. Sexiness is a reenactment, a construction or playing out of being, a productivity, an action, a performative rhetoric. By literally doing the actions of sexy, one tricks oneself into believing and thus invariably become sexy (but of course, one must know what sexiness is in order to perform it, yet, in my opinion, it is not so much what is performed as it is the performance itself that is sexy. Which is to say, there is no being one way or another, there is only being).

This acting or Performative (Procedural) Rhetoric is nicely described by Levi Bryant on an idea thought by Ian Bogost as to how we learn through playing video games such as SIMS. “A Performative Rhetoric is a rhetoric that persuades not through language, but through situating an audience in an activity. The audiences understanding is transformed through the activity of doing. In this regard, games are a form of rhetoric. They change us through their play.” Interestingly, the audience described here is the one playing the game, in other words, the actor performing or ‘playing’ the role of sexiness. Yet because such an act of sexiness is characterized by its being an act for an audience, a spectator, then a second audience exists and can be said to also posses the understanding of sexiness – the receiving of pleasure – by being put, as well putting themselves through, the act of doing, the act of being a part of a spectacle or an audience.

This Performative rhetoric can also be considered along the lines of Ideological Cynicism, following the procedure of belief. The difference is, where or to who the feeling of sexiness exists, in the performer or its audience? The rhetoric allows for oneself to believe in oneself, effectively tricking oneself into becoming, in order to finally become, so others too can witness it. Ideological cynicism, on the other hand, allows oneself (the audience) for the option of having the potential to see, witness and experience sexiness where ever it may not ‘actually’, or intend to, exist.

The similarity is in a shared truism: Fake it til’ you make it! Zizek has a lot to say about Cynicism, and so I will go through two ways in which I can appropriate him for my own cause (without just referring you to him).

The first is in the way such an actor produces for themselves a sense of authority confirmed by their apparentness, attitude, confidence and supposed authenticity (to the eyes of others). This authority plays a crucial role in Lacan’s symbolic order, whereby we treat the subject of authority only with regards to their authority irrespective of what they are like without it. As Zizek says, this takes the form of a fetishistic disavowal: “I know very well that things are the way I see them /that this person is a corrupt weakling, but I nonetheless treat him respectfully, since he wears the insignia of a judge, so that when he speaks, it is the Law itself which speaks through him”. Sexiness, then, replaces the Judge. Regardless if one is actually or truly sexy, the confidence and performance with which the subject is enacting, takes the role of authority,  receives from it all the gratification and acceptance of its audience for whom can only believe that it is a sexiness irrespective to how they actually feel.

Another example of fetishistic disavowal is, as described in one of Zizeks stories, how one can perform the same lucky ritual or superstition even if one disbelieves in it, and have its effects still ‘work’. “seeing a horse-shoe on his door, the surprised visitor said that he doesn’t believe in the superstition that it brings luck, to what Bohr snapped back: “I also do not believe in it; I have it there because I was told that it works also if one does not believe in it!”” It could be said that if only one believed what one hoped to see or experience, one would end up experiencing that very thing, if not only a fiction produced via ones own imagination. Its how the dirty mind sees sex everywhere! 


 

Sexiness is a technique of seduction, not in search for a partner to fill the gap of sexual inadequacy or to confirm its (sexiness) existence, but of acquiring an audience. Sexiness is a play of the spectacle, set up as an Amphitheater home to an all-seeing audience competing among each other over the cause of sexiness and over the acquisition of the experience of sexiness itself. It is also this competition that further emphasizes, even rarefies such a feeling of sexiness to both performer and audience.

If one were to pinpoint the sexy in the subject, one would come away empty handed and exhausted. For what we can only find is the reflection of our own idiosyncratic eccentricities and fetishistic desires that transposes the sexy from the performer into the mind of the spectator.

In his book Mythologies, Roland Barthes describes Wrestling as a spectacle of excessive, exaggerated and most importantly, grandiloquent gestures. Yet these gestures are nothing without its audience, for what makes of wrestling without them? Two people limply fighting, unconvinced of their own performance? This is to say that sexiness – and wrestling – is a direct relationship between performance and audience.

I’m inclined to say that it is with the apprehension of never being able to achieve, attain, or gain full satisfaction from the object of sexy is what constitutes sexiness itself. It is a never full-filling eroticism that goes beyond the mere illusion or caricature of sex appeal. Yet what constitutes the erotic? Barthes asks, “Is not the most erotic portion of a body where the garment gapes? In perversion (which is the realm of textual pleasure) there are no “erogenous zones” (a foolish expression, besides); it is intermittence, as psychoanalysis has so rightly stated, which is erotic: the intermittence of skin flashing between two articles of clothing (trousers and sweater), between two edges (the open-necked shirt, the glove and the sleeve); it is this flash itself which seduces, or rather: the staging of an appearance-as-disappearance.” The slow reveal of the clothing (or obstructive toy) that masquerades the object of sexy.

This disappearance is the curiosity a spectator feels that is diminished through an eagerness to see more – such as the trouser leg raising beyond the ankle, exposing too much, yet not enough –  and yet what is more is not what is there, as it is what is not there is what we actually want. The libidinal intensification one now feels is a result of now having endured the prolonging of sexual teasing.

Paradoxically, after all, there is no audience a performer of sexiness can/does perform to directly, as if the performer were just as aware of the audience as they were of the performer. Except, one performs believing such an audience exists, even if not to be watching. Which is to say that sexiness is as much for an audience as it is for oneself.