The condition is puppethood. Every minute of everyday lives responding to strings pulled. We appear to be responding freely to the randomness of life’s contingencies, but the pulling governs not only our bodies and the free will of our psychological expression, strings also regulate our communication in public spaces or the internet, and in political and economic spheres including our families and intimate relationships.
Borders of capitalist negative freedom are hidden and camouflaged in order to create an illusion of unlimited democratic participation and creative expression. The hidden agenda of contemporary art in a post-political, post-ideological world, is to bolster this illusion.
The rational response is to reorganise our everyday lives or even fight for political freedom, doing spontaneous things here and now, regardless of the future or the past. But we can only reach predictable and unsatisfactory results - or we can do nothing at all, which often seems the smarter move, or non-move. Either way, it is all about response; the complexity of contemporary economic and political conditions remains the same. Even defiance is surrender to the overwhelming force of life’s contingencies.
Bodies and minds are subject to natural decomposition and the market’s will. Our response is humiliating resignation, participative cynicism or no response - idiocy. Gravity pulls us back to the flat ground, to the brutal truth of our origin and to the inevitable end. Here lies the detached rationality of the Jehovian terror, an evil driving its dream to an apocalyptic finale.
Malevich tugged against his strings, or shackles. “Reproducing the beloved objects and corners of nature is like a thief getting excited by his shackled feet,” he exclaimed in The Manifesto of Suprematism.
From puppethood to human meant a separation from nature, a victory over nature, a Victory over the Sun.* Suprematic paintings don’t have the old bottom-top orientations that depend on gravity. Malevich’s Black Square is a new superordered space, a reality beyond the senses - perfect unchanging form.
And thus, Suprematism’s influence on the Bauhaus through Malevich’s student El Lissitsky remains connected to Plato.
The international style (in its purist De Stijl) chose forms for being ideal and impressed them upon the city state. The closer to an unchanging ideal, the better society will be. Individuals will change to match the forms. Puppethood. There is no denying Jehovah.
In the end, Malevich’s cosmism was theological.
Perhaps Le Corbusier defied gravity somewhat?
*Victory Over the Sun
El Lissitzky's 1923 analysis of the work as a celebration of man's technological capabilities: 'the sun as the expression of old world energy is torn down from the heavens by modern man, who by virtue of his technological superiority creates his own energy source.'
Acknowledgement to Arkady G. Aseev and his About soul organisation, choice and spiritual development for the prompting of this ruminative piece.
© John Dunn.