We are the natives

Francesco Kiais

I chose to write

a wrong text

for wrong times

 

for a Person

which is not only one Person

but many

 

a girl named Ευρώπη*

 

*Ευρώπη = Europe: I'll use it as the name of a real

girl, that ideally goes through eras and places.

 

 

 

 

 

:: A matter of Love? ::

 

In The Republic (Plato, Πολιτεία) you can find the description of an allegory, which tells about slavery in perception of life, truth, reality.

Take a look in the Book VII, to discover incredible parallelisms between Plato's 'Allegory of the Cave' [1], and the current condition of today's peoples; citizens, watching all over the world in the same direction (into a device), and which are informed through the shadows of reality (that is: making experience of the facts through the dimension of the News).

 

There you can also find an idealization of despotism and an utopic description of society organization in an ideal City. One part of the supposed citizens of the ideal City is the mass of workers, whose quality class is defined ἐπιθυμητική [2] ("those ones who wish").

 

In a certain way, the same happens in our society, where an indirect despotism is exercised through the sublimation of Desire.

We consume mainly superfluous goods as if they were necessary for our surviving,  precisely because we react to an inductive stimulus to desire, persuaded by the media.

 

Eros, - and therefore desire -, has always been the motor of everything, already since the birth of the universe; and in fact you can find it represented in different ways in almost all known myths of the creation of the universe.

 

In ancient Greece, in  the mythical narrative, Έρως (Eros) was the privileged entity to represent the merging of two different elements, -whether natural, cultural, supernatural- , or the union of human and divine. One only needs to think at the myths of Apollo and Daphne, or of Shiva and Parvati [3] ,- and the role played by Kama (Desire) for the latter -  in the Hindu mythology. Ευρώπη herself was kidnapped for love. [4]

From those times, until today, a sort of erotic gesture, - a kind of dance to the limit -, was always shifting the boundaries of our physical and metaphysical knowledge.

 

Today, our societies impose a system of sublimation, and organized consumption of both, Eros and Death, through different means, but principally by giving space  to a parodied meeting, between our fantasies and the reality – which transforms the erotic game of knowing and perceiving*5 into ordinary pornography.

We are visually conveyed en masse to the virtual, and therefore to the metaphysical occurrence of the things and facts.  Limiting our capacity of perceive to the sight only, we nullify the rest of our body's ability to feel, perceive and interpret.

 

:: Displacing the center ::

 

Becoming accustomed to the metaphysical dimension of the media, we change the nature of our biological and psychophysical adaptation to the environment [6], displacing the source of our needs and feelings, from the balanced play between the senses, the instincts and rationality (which is different in each individual), to the privileged sense of perception (and convenient for unconscious inductions), which is the sight.

 

Today the optical frame of the devices replaces/displaces the common cultural frames of perception and interpretation of the reality, which are now sublimated in the fragmentation and transformation of the social space in individual space.

 

We have lost the urban common points of reference which were expressed, until recently, from the Square.

That is why, we can see masses of people go to the Squares in the last decade to find a confrontation with the Institutions; but they meet nothing other than their own reflection, -which is namely the democratic institution, but reduced to an empty simulacrum of itself. Its content -the Authority- has been displaced. 

 

The Authority returns to be unattainable, as in ancient times: it is omnipresent and omniscient, but impalpable as a deity; its judgment, unappealable, as King's word.

 

::

 

I remember

when the cities were built

around a concrete physical Center,

and the Center had many reasons to be,

and take shape.

 

You know

 

I'm not talking of Mall centers, no.

I'm not talking about shopping and leisure centers,

-not of this kind of holy places;

not of these new cathedrals of today's liturgies, no.

 

I'm talking of labyrinths,

first drawn on the earth by sacred dancers, surrounding

the powerful elements of nature, in a danced exorcism -

 

a danced prayer petrified over time, and becoming first         [7]

a spiral of walls, surrounding our primordial fears; a temple,

where humans once were keeping enclosed their superstitions

about life and death.

 

I remember that, only later,

as the Monster that had embodied our superstitions was killed,-

only then, our petrified fears left the center.

 

:: About Squares ::

 

Take a look at the Potsdamer Platz. I was there when it was built. When the gash of memory, still not healed, ran between the two Berlins. I was there, when the thousand skies of thousand different looks, had to return to be again like one unique look, under an unique sky.

 

A single look, a unifying look. As it happens in all big cities, when history changes, the Square, becomes again expression of a unique Center, a necessary point of reference.

 

But, what kind of center? And, who is the real owner of this center?

 

I remember that in the no man's land, -where angels fell [8] looking for humanity-, there was a time when Ευρώπη was breathing, and moving sinuous and sensual between the two cities. The wall around was gone, and in its place a rut of living flesh was regenerating the union of a body, (a cultural, historical, geographical, and biological Body) larger than the city itself.

 

If only we had saved the idea, the desire of Ευρώπη for love, fraternity, sisterhood ... If we had followed the thread, she delivered to us at the entrance of this new Labyrinth, after the second Great Massacre of the twentieth century. Now we should not deal again with the idea of the Monster, of the Center who periodically devours young men and women [9], asking a sacrificial tribute to a war, an economic crisis, an act of contempt towards the Other, the underdeveloped, the colonized.

 

Ironic fate. Jokes in bad taste; find today Greece, birthplace of our Ευρώπη, in the place of the colonized, invaded by the Banks-Tanks [10] of an economic-Blitzkrieg.

 

This time, is not the Fascist Italian army or the German National Socialism, which is raping Ευρώπη, but is the same expansionist logic of certain industrial and economic mechanisms that were behind them. And all States of the Union, and their public and private Banks, are aware of it, and are therefore complicit in this cannibal feast.

 

Here is a historical body that emerges; a body of common nightmares, of reciprocal hatred, of suffocation of heretics, massacres of innocent ... is it possible that our body of memories can be reduced to this only?

No, of course not, that would be terrible. It's not enough, not enough!

 

That's why Ευρώπη, the Other historical body, is there. To balance the body of hatred and contempt, the arbitrary abuse of power, the cancellation of peoples and generations. She is here to neutralize the historical body/Monster with an historical body/Hope.

 

Ευρώπη the young, the young idea, the young hope, expression of survivors of two Great Massacres, today is raped by a new monster in the middle of the maze of our common memories: namely, the Labyrinth of our histories, cultures and traditions, which contained us all, and that are disappearing now behind the miserable attempt to nullify centuries of growth to the way of Democracy.

 

Also this is Europe/Ευρώπη, this is us all: flirting with the Monster, believing that we can govern it. And this is a part of the red thread of my wrong discourse.

It is a double thread, which binds the double soul of our (European/ευρωπαϊκές) cultures. It's the thread that guides us to the Center, when the Center becomes invisible and untouchable and seems to be lost again.

 

But, as I said, it is twofold. One of the threads leads us to the Monster, to kill him. The other thread, is the one leading the next monster to the center of the Labyrinth, to win back the place of the government.

 

:: Cannibalistic estrus ::

 

A theory[11], says that there could be a connection between the birth of the language, and the abandonment of the estrus (as a biological function which causes the coupling act, for to give continuity to a species) on the part of females of  anthropomorphic apes (Hominids), millions of years ago. In fact, it seems that cannibalistic behaviors of dominant males towards the progeny of other dominant males, pushed the females to a change, for to protect their children.

 

To prevent, the new dominant male to kill and nourish himself with the progeny of the previous dominant male (thus ensuring his own genetic predominance), the female has matured a continuous fertility, making herself constantly available for coupling. The mother would so attract the attention of the male in an exchange "sex - instead of - meat", saving the progeny and ensuring the continuity of the group.

 

This radical change in anthropomorphic communities implied new forms of communication, starting a process of development in language and behavior.  

 

Strange: from an ancestral feeling, of motherhood in nature, an instinctive gesture is giving us an ethical lesson about the condition of the weak, and its unbelievable, silent strength.

 

:: Killing the King ::

 

Between us, children of the modern and contemporary Metropolis (Μήτηρ πόλη, i.e.  city-Mother), and the rebel inhabitants of the ancient Polis, the Bacchantes [12]. there is a creeping bond: the need to understand the meaning of things beyond the absolute and anonymous character of the Law. They kill the King of Thebes, Pentheus, because he is refusing the coexistence with the instinctive side of society expressed in Dionysus.

 

This is another red thread running through history, giving continuity to the double soul of Europe/Ευρώπη. A fine role reversal, in which Ευρώπη swap her role with the role of the Monster. Pentheus has been torn apart.

 

::

 

Under the skin of our cultural identities, runs and vibrates this continuous exchange between opposites (which it is the result of the interweaving of the two historical bodies).

 

In the Cathedrals of our cultural heritage (Museums, Churches, ..) you can find the big misunderstanding about this play between opposites, like love and destruction, prevarication and grace. Because history is always written by the stronger, the winner, the richer, and therefore we must be able to recognize and distinguish, which kind of truth we want to see and believe.

 

The traces of this discontinuous historical path of another truth are visible everywhere, like in Bernini's Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, as in the Sleeping Venus of Giorgione; in Goya's Saturn devouring his son; and range from the mythical couplings of ancient myths, up to contemporary novels, -like in Pasolini's last book “Petrolio”, for instance.

 

In the latter, which is a requiem for our (European and Western) innocence, Pasolini uses exactly this kind of mythological promiscuity [13], replicating an ancient orgiastic exorcism toward the dark truths of the West.

 

:: Eros-in state of- meat ::

 

Carlo/Ευρώπη [14], meets and joins carnally the Monster, which cyclically devours us in the form of a dictatorship, of contempt for the Other, of indifference, and ethical compromises, repeating unconsciously a known liturgy.

 

Sex-in state of-meat. We, the European citizens- workers- artists- intellectuals-, we cyclically yield to the strength of the Monster, thinking that we can save something of what has been built, in terms of peace, beauty, culture, equality... Are we too much tolerant of the Monster?

Like Carlo Tetis/Polis (-Europe/Ευρώπη), who unveils the two souls of our culture, [Monster vs. Hope], we are both: flirting and fighting with both; succumbing to both.

 

Carlo-Ευρώπη carries the weight of responsibility for all the sins of Europe:

the never declared civil war between the ideologies of the post-fascism, played on the body of Europe/Ευρώπη. The selective cancellation of shared historical memory. The liquid, black and sticky mass, which overwhelms us from decades now, and that is the Great Flood commanded by a new stupid and vulgar deity, called Homo sapiens technologicus. To the latter should be dedicated the last novel of Pasolini: “Petrolio”. Petroleum, oil.

 

:: We are the natives ::

 

Pasolini wrote: "the decline of the crisis and poverty creates something new," [15] meaning that the younger generations were the result of the economic development succeeding World War II. [16] He also wrote that to the development of bourgeois industrialization, does not necessarily correspond a progress of society. In fact, the economic growth of some, does not change the fact that, for most of the planet, crisis and poverty are and remain the normality.

 

In light of the facts that occurred recently in Europe, we must sadly overthrow the sense of the phrase by Pasolini in "the decline in the crisis and poverty creates something new"!

 

Lately, in fact, I heard it said that every crisis is good for creativity.

If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that such a crisis is good for the creativity of those who contemplate passively, consuming the crisis experienced by others, and not for those who live in it and have to face it.

 

One is reminded of the rich Parisian bourgeoisie that, at the time of the Impressionists, inventing the taste for the exotic, fell in love with the African masks and Japanese prints.

Something similar happened when the American Bourgeoisie fell in love with the European artistic avant-gardes, taking a part of Ευρώπη one more time across a sea, and maybe closing the circle of an era.

 

The European intellectuals and artists of that time, turned themselves to other formal languages and other contents. For instance, the unsettling and primitive chiaroscuros of the African art, which was devoid, to their eyes, of unnecessary linguistic superstructures, and therefore more authentic.

 

Think at the ballerinas by Degas, and then tell me if the Demoiselles d'Avignon of Picasso are something simply new, or if they are just the unmasking of a pleased hypocrisy, already living in Degas. I mean, not so much in Degas himself, as in the eyes of those who were pleased, in front of his ballerinas.

 

The same goes for the neoclassicism of Ingres and the realism of Courbet.

But I could say the same about the scandalous Olympia by Manet and the Mona Lisa (LHOOQ) by Duchamp; about the deliberate lightness of the Cabaret advertising posters, made by Lautrec, and about the cold serigraphs of grisly auto accidents, made by Warhol.

The same is true, in reverse, to the ideals of architectural space and functionality theorized by the Bauhaus, and the use that has been  made  of them in different areas and periods (in Berlin, for instance).

 

Or, to end with an image opposite to these previous -but perversely consistent with this logic of confirmations and contradictions-; think at the catastrophic fanaticism of Hitler and then, at the bright triumph of the Good over Hiroshima, Dresden, Nagasaki.

 

This was the closing of our circle, as a civilization, and the beginning of another era. It is from there that our present-time begins; from that bright triumph of atrocity, from that last End.

 

A part of Ευρώπη died exactly in that moment, when the concept of ethic and science have been separated, creating a new mythical figure: technology. 

 

Today, the central Square (the heart of our Labyrinths) has been taken from another Revolution; not that of the peoples, but that of the historical- body/Monster. A counter-Revolution against the historical-body/Hope, which remains faithful to Democracy, and which is watching stunned the merciless vehemence of the Robespierres of New Liberalism.

 

The secret of the Labyrinth is that there are no more secrets in the Center of it. Because the Labyrinth itself has disappeared, and we are now orphans of its presence. Instead of it, the Monster has built an Ark, in which we store, and store, and store all knowledge existing on the planet.

 

::

 

Can't you see? The Europe of the Protestant ethic married to capitalism cannibalizes Ευρώπη, the South [17].

 

We are the natives, my friend, because we didn't marry the Monster, and therefore we must be colonized. This is the logic.

I prefer to hold the thread in my hand and follow the steps of Ευρώπη, which I hope will help to create the historical body of a different Europe.

 

::

 

 

Post scriptum from Ευρώπη:

 

“Isn't it maybe art, the Other historical body? This infinite attempt to dialog, to seduce the aggressiveness of the Monster?

Don't you feel, dear artist, your sisterhood with me, Ευρώπη, with Ariadne, Antigone, and the Bacchantes? [18]

If it is like that, then art can save the world; or at least it did it, whether desired or not, until today”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] see: "Allegory of the cave ", presented by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work The Republic (514a–520a) Plato has Socrates describe a gathering of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall, casted by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and they start to give names to these shadows.

 

[2] In greek, the word ἐπιθυμητική is closer to the meaning of desire than to the one of wish. Fact, the latter moves the weight of the significance of the

word to the meaning  Έρως, έρωτα (Eros, love).

 

[3] Siva and Parvati: "The meaning is that of complementarity (and, therefore, the substantial unity) of opposites, a concept similar to that of Yin and Yang of Taoist philosophy: masculine and feminine, spirit and matter, intelligence and energy, thought and action, static and dynamic , are two halves of a perfect and complementary whole cosmic: the Creation itself." (Quoting Wikipedia, from the link: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiva#.C5.9Aiva-.C5.9Aakti)

 

[4] I refer to the myth of the abduction of Europe by Zeus, which symbolizes the invasion of Phoenicia by the Hellenes of Crete. On that occasion, the worship of Zeus prevailed on that of the goddess-Moon, represented by the princess-priestess Europe. This is symbolized by the rape of the priestess (Europe). The pre-Hellenic peoples of Phoenicia and Crete represented the Priestess - Moon triumphantly riding the bull, her sacrificial victim. (See: R. Graves, "The Greek Myths", p. 176. Longanesi 1982 Milan).

 

[5] see Duchamp's "Étant donnés", New York 1946-1966. In which the artist plays with the role of the onlookers in art, treating them as Voyeurs in an ironical erotic game

 

[6] "With the advent of symbolic systems (natural and artificial languages, religious beliefs and world views, celebrations and rituals, political ideologies and cognitive systems, moral precepts and aesthetic), which deeply permeate social systems and technological, the adaptive function .. is veiled, and dissociated from [the original] function [of the systems themselves]. "In many cases human action is so exposed - often unconsciously - to the necessity of choosing, between contribute to their adequacy by means of a symbolic system or by means of a social system or technologic; reaching not infrequently to contribute to the survival and the reproduction of such systems, perhaps even more than his own. This could even be on a different level, a way to survive in other forms, incorporeal or non-organic. " from: Adaptation. Encyclopedia of Social Sciences (1991). Treccani.it

 

[7] It is supposed that the labyrinth may have been initially a liturgical dance

 

[8]  Der Himmel über Berlin, (The Sky over Berlin, translated in Wings of desire), Wim Wenders, 1987. In the film you can find a metaphor of eternal time in the no man's land, the  space between the two Berlins, where the Angel, protagonist of the history, falls from the sky.

 

[9] It is a clear parallelism to the myth of the Labyrinth, the Minotaur, Theseus and Ariadne

 

[10] Banks-Tanks: I quote Y. Varoufakis, who meant that nowadays it is to longer necessary to use  tanks in order to invade a country.

 

[11] "The circuit of suffering. An Evolutionary study on madness ". pp. 142, 143. Volfango Lusetti  Armando Editore.

 

[12]  "The  Bacchantes", an ancient Tragedy by Euripides, 405 b.C. I use the Bacchantes as an exemple of traumatic passage from a condition of contiguity to the nature, towards a civic condition, more detached from nature, and regulated by another system of values.

 

[13] Carlo Tetis and Carlo Polis, [the same protagonist, schizophrenically divided in two figures], flirts with fascism, corruption, vileness, and the indifference of the bourgeois respectability, symbolically represented by different specific persons, or groups of  anonymous persons.

 

[14] Carlo/Ευρώπη is the name I use to allow the meeting betweekn the protagonist of Petrolio, Pasolini's last  novel, and  Ευρώπη, the Person protagonist of my text.

 

[15] P.P.Pasolini,  "Petrolio", published by Mondadori,  p. 575

 

[16] "Corsair pages". Pier Paolo Pasolini, "Development and progress." Unpublished, now by Walter Siti, “Pasolini. Essays on politics and society” [Corsair writings] Meridiani Mondadori, Milano 1999

 

[17] Could be helpful to read: “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”, Max Weber.

 

[18]  Ariadne, Antigone, and the Bacchantes are female figures of the Greek myths or Tragedy, which represents an act of rebellion toward the authority and the law.