What is Hollywood, you ask, dear children? A quorum of whores babbling endlessly on about fucking while the bordello is razed for a penny arcade -- Paul Bern

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Why is science feared? Why are people afraid that art might be crushed under obvious productivity and utility of science? Why this inferiority complex? It is true that today we read a good essay with much greater pleasure than a novel. Why do we keep repeating then, horrified, that the world is becoming more mercenary, more utilitarian, more materialistic? Is it not really marvelous that the development of science, sociology, anthropology, and psychology is contributing to the "purification" of art? The appearance, thanks to science, of expressive media like photography and film made a greater "purification" of painting and theatre possible (without invalidating them artistically in the least). Doesn't modern day science render anachronistic so much "artistic" analysis of the human soul? Doesn't contemporary science allow us to free ourselves from so many fraudulent films, concealed behind what has been called the world of poetry? With the advance of science, art has nothing to lose; on the contrary, it has a whole world to gain. What, then, are we so afraid of? Science strips art bare, and it seems that it is not easy to go naked through the streets.
The development of science, of technology, and of the most advanced social theory and practice has made possible as never before the active presence in the masses in social life. In the realm of artistic life, there are more spectators now than at any other moment in history. This is the first stage in the abolition of "elites." The task currently at hand is to find out if the conditions which will enable spectators to transform themselves into agents — not merely more active spectators, but genuine co-authors — are beginning to exist. The task at hand is to ask ourselves whether art is really an activity restricted to specialists, whether it is, through extra-human design, the option of a chosen few or a possibility for everyone.
The future lies with folk art. But let us no longer display folk art with demagogic pride, with a celebrative air. Let us exhibit it instead as a cruel denunciation, as a painful testimony to the level at which the peoples of the world have been forced to limit their artistic creativity. The future, without doubt, will be with folk art, but then there will be no need to call it that, because nobody and nothing will any longer be able to again paralyze the creative spirit of the people.
 Art will not disappear into nothingness; it will disappear into everything.
 Julio Garcia Espinosa, 1969

The above prophetic reflections show the Romantic Marxist Sublime in full huracan force. 
At the end of progress' rainbow everyone is a starving artist, and paid accordingly.

"In order to obtain a certain result, you must want to obtain precisely that result; if you want to obtain a certain result, you will obtain it .... I need only such people as will obtain the results I need".  T.D. Lysenko

Dear Lysenko was one of the strangest soviet artists. He was doubtless a double agent -- a poet in the clever guise of a scientist. He convinced the cadres that he could advance the future by teaching his wheat and potatoes to vernalize, which like unruly counter-revolutionary peasants, they failed to do. Let's pause here to cry a few crocodile tears (no more than six) for those useless idiots, Lysenko's victims, the Weissmanist-Morganist tools who still clung to the idealism of genetic determinism. The peasant taking his revenge on the intellectuals, people sneered. Lysenko certainly recognized that the only fact that mattered in that time, so unlike ours, was the fact of Stalin. There only needed to be that one color in the paintbox. All the others were illusory refractions of that person Lysenko amusingly called the Protagonist of Science.

Let's be clear, Lysenko was no fool, he was a hard nosed pragmatist. Since nobody (on either side of the iron curtain) had any real idea about how evolution worked at the nuts and bolts level, he launched a surprisingly articulate critique of the weak points of genetic determinism, from the standpoint of revolutionary ideology. Lysenko was slandered as an opportunist, a bootlick, when in reality he is the Machiavelli of science, the ultimate student of the praxis of power in the spectacle. Since contemplative theory was his particular enemy, the only way for him to demonstrate these realist principles was though poetic action. 

Despite the many propagandistic claims of western science as having a finer and more heavenly epistemological basis, today's scientists are in every way closer to Lysenko than they are to old Huxley. And these days, evolutionary geneticists, pursuing the more subtle mechanisms of epigenetics, are sounding more and more like neo-lamarckians, though they would never be caught dead using that blasphemous term. And genetic determinism, having triumphed in pop culture, and good only to scare the children of creationists, is looking at a dismal rout. Why? Because the potential commercial applications of neo-lamarckism are more fundable than a thousand dusty weissmannisms. Michurin: 'It is possible, with man's intervention, to force any form of animal or plant to change more quickly and in a direction desirable to man. There opens before man a broad field of activity of the greatest value to him.'  The logic of hyper-production applied to evolution itself. May one hundred Lysenkos and Michurins bloom!!

The organizing myth of science for centuries was the discovery and emulation of those immutables, the laws of nature. Evolutionary genetics, traditionally, is ideologically reactionary and secretly authoritarian: 'Weissmannism-Morganism serves today in the arsenal of contemporary imperialism as a means of providing a "scientific base" for its reactionary politics.' It disarms practice and orients man toward resignation to the allegedly eternal laws of nature, toward passivity, toward an aimless search for hidden treasure and expectation of lucky accidents... This "theory" leads to a passive contemplation of supposedly eternal phenomena of nature, to a passive expectation of accidental variation'. Today's scientific establishment has no need of this false humility -- they deal in commutables, and will tailor their science particularly, at the drop of a hat, or grant money, or to fawn in the presence of technocratic state power.

ARTISTS, like Lysenko, have always willingly served the state or the ruling classes. No shame there. Cultural production is always optimized by a warm fire and a pair of slippers, yes, even for a barefoot scientist. That was the price genius paid for embodying the fawning aspiration of the little man, with their carefully unarticulated proletarian hostilities toward the bondage of culture. The peasants could seek erotic dissolution into something greater than themselves, and the artist could despise the mass that needed to so acclaim them. Culture as barely sublimated hate-fucking. And over time, the efficient carpet bombardment of cultural material through the multiplicative force of technological means has only increased the resentment.

The time for mutual revenge is now.

Now that every person, through conscription, is an artist, even and especially your neighbor in the adjacent cubicle, we should not be surprised to find all of these eager little Lysenkos clawing their way over the pile of bodies to please current masters. And it is good that we can have more puritan vigilance, more hit squads in white lab coats against the fraudulent -- against the stupefying world of poetry. This egalitarian footing for pseudo-cultural activity, call it ArtRoulette for the EveryElites, is a first in human history, and no doubt poor Ayn Rand is turning over in her grave, shuddering at what a sino-guatemalan collective of lesbian filmmakers might produce. After all, ten minutes on youtube can produce a better critical synthesis, history, and destruction of the cinema than that tedious Swiss pedant Jean Luc Godard could produce in a whole lifetime. The beauty of it is... everyone can do it!
Haraszti: Brecht is an example of how even the most unruly minds can bring themselves to enjoy the beauty of power, once they have committed themselves to the planned society. The happiness of preparation is surpassed by the joy of execution. Socialism, contrary to all appearances, does not suppress artists' Nietzschean desires but satisfies them, offering responsibility and a constructive role to those people of quality hungry for power. 
The irresistible allure of "positive" INFLUENCE in the social matrices offered by these technological networks will no doubt corrupt the souls of the largest number of people, good people who under their own recognizance would commonsensically reject the useless bootlicking practices of the artist. The path toward gesamtkunstwerk is highly dubious, and strewn with traps, to say the least. As Haraszti says, when someone offers you dazzling new freedoms of expression, look out! The gilded cage can't be far behind.


Once upon a time, History was the structure of human cultural activity. We recognize today that this was unprogressive, tedious and retrograde, like frantically trying to row with anchors. There were some quixotic and alchemical attempts by people like Vico, Hegel/Marx, Nietszche and Spengler to derive the future out of the sifted matter of the past. Nonsense, really. The future was once mere rhetoric. No longer. We need to fabricate the future directly by reference to its epistemology, which is science fiction. Applied science fiction is the future as narrative, an enfolding tale, brooking no contradiction, that we are forced to believe in, and inhabit. 

Our new Virgils are Verne, Lem and Lysenko.

"Glass is the symbol of the Future Society, which will be free, luminous, and open--an image derived from the Crystal Palace in Nikolai Chernyshevsky's socialist utopian novel, What Is To Be Done?"

"In other words, science fiction is a kind of realism: but it is a realism of what Deleuze calls the virtual, rather than one of the actual here and now. For Deleuze, the virtual is fully real on its own account; but it is a special sort of reality, real without being actual, ideal without being abstract, and symbolic without being fictional."

“It was actually quite a problem for writers and artists of that time to even find dramatic situations. Because the future was supposed to be optimistic and great. They found a solution in ceding little pockets of capitalism that somehow travelled in time, or were rediscovered in the future. And they were the source of discomfort or drama – dramatic situations.”

"It's only when you have a future-oriented world that you need the notion of risk, because the notion of risk is a confrontation with the future, essentially. It's about future time and the management of future time. What's happening now is that we live in the most future-oriented society that has ever existed. Therefore, the notion of risk for us infects more or less everything, including personal things, like the decision to get married, say. The decision to get married, where it's an institutional or tribal decision, a kind of transition in life, was a pretty straightforward thing in the past because you knew what you were doing. Now there's a certain sense in which you don't know what you're doing because the nature of marriage and relationships is changing. You have an open environment. You are involved in a kind of risk universe there."

A good soviet bloc joke: “The future is what we put our faith in, because the past is always changing and is so unreliable.”

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