third year: 1999 series of lectures: lectures / conversations with lecturers / lecturers

course for curators of contemporary art: course participants / study excursions / program collaborators / exhibition /


Dušan Rutar
Digital Aesthetics, Global Images and Ethics of New Tribalism


Major knowledge

A human being is essentially a subject. We should say: the subject of mind. Hence, there is a logical direction from Descartes to Freud and we can't subvert it(1). To be a subject of mind means to be a rational being. The mind is, of course, always already rational and Hegel's The phenomenology of spirit is an absolute book. It provides us with the final acknowledgement of the subject and his nature(2).

The subject of mind is also the subject of faith, and it is indispensable for him to believe in two things. First: God knows everything and everything is with god. Second: By faith we can become the subject of any knowledge that is "presently" or virtually with god. The subject of mind therefore necessarily believes in god. Descartes was sure about that. Freud also agreed with him. And there is no reason what so ever why he shouldn't.
How can we attain anything that exists (with god)? Only through god. Therefore, we would like to declare that god is indispensable if we wish that anything would exist.

The conclusion from our prologue seems to be this one: there must be something to restrain human belief and freedom, because different kinds of knowledge can not have the same value. The human being as a subject of mind should therefore endeavour to reach the best possible knowledge; he should not be satisfied with just any knowledge. A difference between best knowledge and whatever knowledge should be permanent and the subject of mind should insist to retain it. And how is that possible?

Only god can give us the power to insist. If we believe in god, of course, because his power is the power of our faith. Faith empowers us and at the same time gives us self-confidence and strength to insist. The basic condition of our subjectivity is our body. Hence, the strength to insist is basically the strength to insist in our body. [ Only later on does the subject annex himself to the machines.] But there is a problem: god never tells us what we should do in order to retain the power. God is voiceless. Even more: in god there are only possibilities of knowledge. The human being has a duty to produce knowledge out of the existing possibilities. The only tool by which he can help himself is his faith. Nothing else. He can become a cyborg but basically the facts remain the same.

By using our faith and by loving god we can produce good knowledge; at the same time we can refuse bad knowledge. We would like to emphasise once more that the human being has a duty in front of him: a duty to produce good knowledge. And what is good knowledge?

Before we answer this question we would like to introduce a distinction.

There is a distinction between mass produced or major knowledge and minor knowledge or the knowledge of minorities. Major knowledge is notorious; minor knowledge is usually absent or very distant.
We all live in a world of information and data: this world is not a world of knowledge and theories because information and knowledge exclude each other. Everyone is familiar with mass produced knowledge and that is all. But how can we recognise and understand it? We will see.

We can not deny the existence of minor knowledge or the knowledge of minorities. Is this knowledge in any way connected to the process of formation and preservation of social minorities and marginal social groups? Are we talking about the knowledge of marginal social groups? First we should look at the concept of major theories.


Major theories

In the social field these theories are constantly circulating, propagating and reproducing. Originally, they have been made as a series of metamorphosis and they spread in the field like metastases. In our modern world the decision has been reached that all citizens must be sent to schools. Even scientists grasped the decision with pleasure because they quickly recognised it is a new and powerful tool to spread the major theories and to popularise themselves. Today we are at the same time sad witnesses of this popularisation and powerless scientists, knowing that people believe in the wrong god. They blindly believe that schools, other institutions and media give them enough scientific knowledge, relevant information and good education. In a way they are right: people are getting more and more major knowledge.

On the other hand, the major knowledge is by definition conformist knowledge. As such, it has lost its emancipatory potential and power at the very outset. It has become an ideological form of knowledge and is now mostly in the service of capital whose basic capacity is to transform every knowledge and every piece of information or data into something useful and profitable. This capability has been put to profitable use since the very beginning of the capitalist era.

Nowadays, theories of world globalisation are major theories. They are popularised and spread all across the world. In fact, they are already global. We believe that other people believe that this is or can be the brute fact. The notorious truth is that at the end of twentieth century we all live in a so-called global information village. Capital is advancing rapidly and it penetrates life from all possible directions. Nobody is outside, nobody is excluded, we are all inside this gigantic global network. There is virtually no possibilities to remain autonomous and outside of this "natural" village community.

We don't like "natural" people because village people go to bed early, they slander each other and they are jealous. Does this mean that they have surrendered and bent their knees to the capital? Too soon.

Once more, we would like to look back to the film Truman's show. The film has been made like a laboratory where we can precisely analyse the ideological functions of major knowledge. We can see what does the world look like when it is closed. And what does it look like?

First of all, we would like to emphasise that Truman's world is not a natural village. It is completely artificial and it has been created on purpose and on the basis of certain knowledge. The purpose was clear and obvious: they wanted a new, original and fresh television show for televiewers. The show should be alternative, different, original and perfect. Of course. For that purpose they created an artificial and "unreal" world, a technological cyber-world that was perfectly suitable for a simulation of the real life. [ Of course, we should ask ourselves why they believed that such a simulation was reasonable and needed.] To realise the purpose, a large number of workers and assistants were needed, as well as a huge amount of money, of course. They have created a new technological world where literally every detail of Truman's life was co-ordinated by invisible assistants. His life was, in a way, created in advance, although everything in his everyday life was spontaneous. The co-ordination amongst the participants of his cyber-world was perfect and absolute.

In that world saturated by simulation every phantasm of its coordinators was possible. It was possible to create a new human life in every detail. Everything in this world has been created because everything was programmable to be created. And they have been creating: working days, "free" time, love, sex life, friendship, occupation etc. We must ask ourselves how was it possible to create a human life in such detail. Is something like that at all possible? The answer is rather simple: it was possible because the director of the film and his assistants knew the desires of the future spectators of the show. We all know that the media managers do exactly those things that they have been expected to do by the spectators, readers, listeners etc. They do nothing outside the desires of the so-called others.

And how do they know the nature of human desire? Did they read Freud, Lacan, Derrida? No, they did not, but they simply intuitively and spontaneously know what is going on. But how do they know it in the first place? They know because in a world we live in the nature of human life is predictable. We can know the future of our life if we listen to out social reflexes. They are reliable and we are free to use the analogy: if I like this, others will also like it. My desire is the desire of the others and vice versa. We can rely on others: those others, of course, whose beliefs are equal to ours. Those people who do not believe in the same things as we do, are the others of the others and they are strangers. They are different. And there are different people who live in a different and distant world. That world cannot be simulated and created.

But the majority of people believe precisely as we do. If they don't, there is always a possibility that they will start to believe in what we already believe. The media has been created a long time ago to serve precisely this possibility. The majority of people are namely reflexive and spontaneous creatures. If they are not reflexive and spontaneous in this moment they will become in the future. We can count on that as well.

Cyber-world is an artificial world and by the same token it is a perfect simulation and realisation of the human desire. In the cyber-world the human desire is always already satisfied. On the other hand, the cyber-world is a simulation of the major beliefs: the director of the Truman's show spontaneously believes that the spectators believe this and that, and at the same time he already knew that their beliefs are basically right and grounded. Continuation of the story is rather simple: the director offered them what they really wanted and expected. Of course he created the product before that and after that his task was again rather simple: he must have took care that he did not destroy or cut off the story; the story had to go on smoothly. Once the people were satisfied by what they got the circle has been completed: on one hand, people recently "really" want what they got; on the other hand, they "really" believe what was at the outset only a summary.

That was a short story on the nature of our modern living space. Let us offer you a word or two on the nature of our living time.

We all live in a pastoral time in which the most important role is played by our docile bodies as Michel Foucault used to call them. A docile body is accompanied by a docile soul: when the body subjects to ideas and practices the soul subjects as well. There is no other possibility although there is a virtual possibility of divergence when the body ostensibly subjects but the soul just waits for a suitable moment to run away. Nowadays that kind of behaviour is almost totally absent from our lives. The main reason for that probably lies in the nature of the infinitesimal power over the body. Of course, the power does not shape only the body and the soul but it also shapes the entire environment at the same time. That was exactly the case in the Truman's show. Therefore, our body is not something given to us, but it has been created under certain conditions. We can find the same logic in the case of our soul and environment. Nothing is given once and for eternity. Everything has been created. This is the truth of our cyber-world: Everything is created out of our phantasms.

The environment we live in is becoming more and more virtual and technologically mediated. Our most intimate and secret worlds are on the way to become cyber-worlds. Some day every possible world will be totally mediated by machines, computers and other cyber-devices. Right now we are already simultaneously living in different hyper-real worlds and not in one real world and that means that the old good real world has imploded and disappeared. The basic dimension of this new cyber-world is something which, thirty years ago, Herbert Marcuse used to call one-dimensionality. The hyper-world is always one-dimensional. It is not true that it has as many dimensions as we want or as we can create. On the contrary: the truth is that it has only one dimension. The other truth is that this dimension does not allow us to interpret our experiences of the world and life we live in numerous and/or different ways. There is only one interpretation possible. We no longer need old philosophical methods like transcendental reduction to return to the "real things". They are already here.

Life in cyber-world is pleasant, everything goes on smoothly, we communicate between ourselves without interruptions, problems, contradictions, conflicts. We are all citizens of One World and we are all We because there is One who is Truman. Without that One the spectacle would not be possible, the simulacra would not be possible, the simulation of the world would not be possible. There is always already One phantasmatic Truman and all of the world will be created just for him, that is, just for the sake of the phantasm. Imagine: the world created just for One man.

Truman never recognised that in "his" world something is terribly "wrong", "problematic". We would like to emphasise that Truman was wrong: the world is basically never "ours" (it is universal and neutral), therefore we should be asking ourselves, "whose" is the world anyway.

But there is a problem connected to the question: a question that Truman is never asking himself. In a way, he is perfectly satisfied: in "his" world everything is in order. On one hand, it would be nonsense to put such a world under question. On the other hand, it would be unproductive. When reality disappeared, questions about it disappeared as well. Flutter disappeared, discourses disappeared. Even thinking disappeared. In the cyber-world, there is no subject of the mind anymore. It has became unnecessary.

With the disappearance of reality the logic of simulation emerged. Truman lives in a simulated world: he is nothing else but the complete realisation of the phantasmatic object. At the same time he is the object, neutral being, normal man, satisfied creature, average human being who embodies the statistic manipulation, adapted guy, ego, person, personality. He asks no questions, he is mute and perfectly satisfied. He slowly lives his average life. Here and now: without a past, without a future. He is quiet, calm, he never raises his voice. He is a good consumer and he is slowly counting the days and hours that are still in front of him. Every day he goes to the office where he works correctly. He is just doing his duties. In his life everything is as it should be. Nothing is wrong or non-functional.

Nevertheless, contingency exists. Thank god! There is always a possibility that something unexpected and hazardous will emerge. The contingent element of our life is something surplus, something that no statistics, no model, no simulation can catch. The element is always beyond our predictions, calculations and plans, therefore we couldn't capture it. Thank god once again!

For the creation of the simulated world we need a proper object. The object that can be simulated. The object is therefore something artificial because we are not able to model the real or natural object. It is not possible to model it, and it is not necessary to do so. But the effect of simulation is always anomalous: when we start to model the object we come under the obligation to model it again and again in the future. This is an imperative. Really strange. Why is this imperative so necessary and indispensable? In the past we have believed in the taboo of incest because the world was possible only if the taboo functioned properly. And now? The taboo has gone.


Minor theories

In cyber-world there is no taboo of incest. Is therefore the simulation of the world incestuous? Is it something that cannot be done or created? If it is not possible to simulate the world, how have they created it? They have created a new world and they are still creating it: they are creating the hyper-world. The new world without a taboo.

But no, without an ignorant Truman the world would not be possible, no matter how strongly we believe in the contrary. When Truman eats from the tree of knowledge, that is, when he, by pure coincidence obtains knowledge, he leaves his artificial world that was created just for him. Can we, on this level, compare the ignorant Truman to Adam? To Adam Kadmon, the ignorant man? Moreover, is an ignorant man still a man? And what is the minimum amount of knowledge that goes with the human being? We must believe that the human being is able to obtain knowledge. Another imperative.

Truman lives in a world where everything looks spontaneous and original although we know that a deal was struck between the protagonists before the world was even created. That deal or contract determined all kind of situations that must not occur. Some kind of a border was established and it was strongly forbidden to transgress it. One thing was particularly undesirable: a coincidence or contingency. Unfortunately, the coincidence happened: man and woman met. Their meeting was the only real event in this world and at that moment it was clear that either the artificial world or the real world should disintegrate. Both cannot exist alongside each other.

Although the film about the world of Truman is fiction it is obvious that his world is OUR world. It is ours even if we do not want to recognise it as such. The world is literally closed and by the same token represents nothing but the realisation of our most secret phantasm about the spontaneity and kindness of the relationships between human beings. The phantasm is replete with the ideas of a friendly world, thereupon at the end of the film Truman, like Columbus with his ship Santa Maria, literally bumped into the "sky". He left the ship and ascended to the top of the stairs where the "exit" was located. Finally, Truman literally quit "his" world and even god was unable to stop him. Unlike the heroes in the novel by J. P. Sartre, Truman didn't close the door: he simply departed. He left behind a kind and friendly world, the world where everything was created just for him.

Truman became a subject.

The film we are talking about is a film about the emancipation of the subject. And the emancipation of the subject is nothing but liberation of the desire. There is, of course, a clear demarcation line between our concept of liberation and the common sense ideas of the liberation of desire.

The liberation of desire does not mean that we must break our iron clamps or steel chains. As human beings we are not powerless captives of our diabolic environment that does not allow us to live a free and authentic life. Just think of the so called sexual revolution in the sixties. What did it bring? It brought no liberation of desire; instead of that it brought perversity, anxiety and a compulsion to repeat. The instincts were liberated, not the desire. The same fortune came upon the other marginal social groups.

What happened contains a paradox because the instincts are always already free. Hence, we do not need to liberate them. They always reach their goals and they are not captured. The logic of desire is, of course, something quite different. The desire is captured in the phantasmatic scenario: there is no desire outside it. To liberate the desire means to transcend the scenario that is bringing us the feeling of satisfaction. The desire will be, after the break with the scenario, as free as it always was, but something more important will happen. Much more important, indeed.

When we break the scenario we ipso facto face, on one hand, the requirements of the desire, and on the other hand, its unconscious nature and origin. The basic condition for the emergency of desire is namely a lack in the Other, that is, the subject confronts himself, after he breaks the phantasmatic scenario, with the cause of the desire or with the lack of the Other. That is the reason why his emancipation is also his separation from the Other. The emancipation of the subject is therefore a recognition of the true nature of the Other and, at the same time, a separation from the admittedly non-castrated Other. We would like to emphasise that the separation from the Other is a key condition of his emancipation. Not the fight between man and women but the fight against imaginary scenarios and phantasms, against imaginary and artificially created cyber worlds, is at stake here. The basis of the fight is a deconstruction or a dismantle of the power relationships in the social field. Emancipation does not mean that a women who is a vassal of man's capricious power should fight against him in order to liberate herself. No, she cannot become free outside her relationships to a man. Emancipation is namely a process of becoming a subject. The subject is basically nothing at all or, more precisely, it is a lack of the Other. Its identity is a series of metonimic trials to resolve the problem of existence. The subject wants to "become" but its trials always fail. It is not true that some people live more spontaneous than others do. No, the problem lies elsewhere.

The problem lies in the nature of power relations. The power is the main reason why some people become more equal in their lives than others. Those who are fighting against injustice produced by power relations are also those who are fighting for emancipation. They do not fight against each other or against abnormal and marginal people or social groups. No, they are fighting against power and against relations of subordination, exclusion and so called integration. They do not ask themselves how they (= so called marginal people) live or how they look like. They do not ask themselves whose is their world. They know that WE have created the world and that we have a duty to make it better.

On the basis of our previous arguments we should conclude that there is a strong connection between desire and ethics. When we behave in the name of ethics we, first of all, break imaginary paths that admittedly lead us to a better future and new horizons. Inside the imaginary world our way of living and our forms of subjectivity help to establish power relations and, at the same time, unconsciously support them. By supporting power relations we also create simulacra because power relations are always a kind of simulacra. In everyday life we only simulate those relations, although that does not mean that the effects of the simulation are not real and substantial. When we succeed to break the imaginary paths and structures, new and original forms of subjectivity or self-consciousness emerge. We can say then that ethical behaviour indicates new kinds of interpretations of the world. When we try to interpret the world in a new way we also put under question our previous forms of subjectivity and interpretations. By the same questions we try to understand the conditions of our existence.

With the break of imaginary structures, the concept of symbolic death is also strongly and directly connected. The concept was developed by Jean Baudrillard. Shortly, symbolic death is the end of the major knowledge and interpretations of the world. On the other hand, it is the end of the world itself and it is the end of the systems of beliefs for which we were unconsciously fighting since the time we spoke our very first word. The death of those systems finally destroys all praxis and politics of our everyday life because they have been established on the basis of our beliefs. Hence, the end is always violent but it is also logical and inevitable. As free subjects we can always develop the interpretations we believe in to their logical and inevitable ends. When we reach the end, that is symbolic death, we disembody the structures and systems. And what remains? Minor knowledge remains. Conclusion: minor knowledge is something intrinsically good.

Only minor theories can put the systems of beliefs and everyday practices under the question. Thus they can question the very conditions of the world. Moreover, minor theories are emancipatory whereas the major theories harden and consolidate stereotyped interpretations, practices, global pictures and ideas of the world. These ideas and beliefs are not, in essence, emancipatory: in fact, they support the logic of discrimination and exclusion. And what is the global picture of the world today? The picture is twofold.


Global picture of the world

In the first place, the picture is digital(3). A digital picture is a closed system, a structure of endless possibilities captured in a digital record. In that picture nothing is really forbidden; there is no taboo, nothing is impossible. In digital or cyber-world literally everything is possible. Even the impossible has recently become possible. And what will happen in the future?

Descartes was able to demonstrate that in real time faith in god is inevitable. Catholic church did not reward him for this although he deserved a reward. We may ask ourselves one more time why he did not get it.

As we can see even today, the Catholic church is unable to praise Descartes due to its faith in a non-castrated god. If we understood Descartes and his proof correctly, than it is not possible to demonstrate the existence of a non-castrated god. A non-castrated god is namely like an iron wood. The power of a non-castrated god would be too big and paradoxical: in that case he would be able to duplicate himself but god there can be only one god. The castration of god is thus inevitable and that means that in a particularly defined way god is powerless and bounded. Hence, we got some indestructible reasons to use a concept of ananke when we try to understand the structure of the world and its fate. Ananke is thus a necessity although it is not deterministic: in this perspective, the world is open and indefinite; god is whole.

Descartes was talking about indeterminate and indeterminable world, the church talks about determinate god and determinate or determinable world. If the world was not determinate the pope could not be declared infallible. According to Descartes, god is castrated, hence, only Freud can be infallible. The pope is, of course, a warrior, a chief.

Freud is infallible only in the process of analysis. A patient may be asking him to resolve her problem but Freud always remains mute. He offers no answers because he believes that only analysis is the proper place to create them. Neurosis is the question, analysis is the place, but the answer does not come from Freud. Never. The patient has the heavy duty of finding the answer. More precisely: he must create it at the end of the analysis. There is a duty here, an imperative of the analysis and the patient is left alone to confront it. To be free and autonomous thus means to be able to create and offer answers to the questions that have been set by the neurosis. The neurosis therefore is a kind of a radical problem and we should emphasise that the problem is in the neurosis, not in the patient. The problem is neurosis and the patient is never abnormal or problematic. And what is the structure of the problem?

The structure of the problem is as follows. The first problem is: what is the true nature of the Big Other? Our observations are that the human being can exist only in the field of the Other. There is no place outside it. And what if there is something, an obstacle for instance, that blocks the human being to find his "proper" place in the field, that is, in the Other? That was the situation or the problem in the case of Anna O. She was unable to find her place, peace and rest. Freud knew that "her" neurosis was, first of all, a question upon the Other and his constitution and not a question about her nature and constitution. Anna was not abnormal: she only set a hard question. In similar situations, most of us remain silent and powerless. Anna was not powerless.

Quite on the contrary, a man or a woman with a neurosis puts under question precisely those things and co-ordinates of the world that we accept as something normal. Everything that we understand as something unquestionable and perfectly normal or acceptable in our everyday life is problematic from the point of view of neurosis. But we can only notice that if we ask ourselves what is the true nature of the Other.

When we ask the question we ipso facto become creative. In this perspective a hysteric woman is creative because she does not allow the world to possess her and make her "normal". She is resisting to become "normal" and, at the same time, represents a certain repressed possibility of the world: the possibility of impossibility.

We should understand this statement in two different ways. Firstly, hysteria is something that is possible. It is one possibility among many different possibilities. On the other hand, it is something very special and very different because it is a particular way of how we can represent the universal impossibility of the world to become closed and satiated. Secondly, hysteria is a possibility of impossibility in a way in which other people usually do not recognise it: they recognise it as something abnormal and absurd. They are not able to recognise it as a legitimate and very special possibility of the world. And even this misrecognition confirms hysteria as something impossible. Hysteria is therefore something which should be understood not and something which should be healed. Only an analytic with his falcon eye can recognise hysteria as a question that has been set to the Other. In our global and wired world this is no more possible. The panoptic view is definitely absent, it was replaced by the antioculocentric discourse, a view from nowhere, as Martin Jay used to say(4). All our senses and even our memory have became virtual and digital.

Possibilities of our digital and wired world are without history because techno-worlds and cyber-worlds have no history. The problem that emerges by this recognition is not so small that we could omit it: without a history there is nothing to be invented or created. More precisely: today something new can emerge only in the process of restoration and renovation. An outcome of this process is, unfortunately, clear and obvious: only new techno-worlds can emerge. Hence, we are no longer in a position to create since we all live in techno-worlds. In a way, these worlds are a kind of onefold worlds.

Jean Baudrillard once said that we can create only with the aid of nostalgia(5). In the real world new things are always connected to something that was first, to something old, even archaic. Nostalgia is an attempt to go back, to return to something that we would like to understand as the first time of the universe or time zero. Why would we like to go back to experience the first time? Because we unconsciously believe that we can abandon this world and go back to the ancient world that was without stress. Freud created a proper name for this wish: Thanatos.

Within the historical world retrospective thinking is possible whereas in the cyber-world there is no history; the world is static and satiated. This is also a reason why in the historical world creation of something new is possible and even inevitable. When we create something new, we are not retrospective, we do not look back. No, we do not look anywhere, we do not even look at all. We just create and creation has nothing in common with looking.

New is authentic. It is not digital and it is not a result of combination. In cyber-world, on the contrary, nothing is really new: everything is just a sort of a realised phantasm. Cyber-worlds are themselves realised phantasms. Hence, a new feeling of freedom has appeared: nowadays everyone can realise without problems his most secret and obscene phantasmatic scenarios. This can take place in the form of cyber-worlds.

The end of history which runs parallel to the birth of cyber-worlds is not only the end of the real world but it is the end of the body as well. They proclaimed the body obsolete. In fact it was the end of the docile body that was investigated by Michel Foucault. And what is the main characteristic of this new body that replaced the docile body?

Perhaps the absence of pain. The so-called soft technologies became the organic part of the body, in fact they are its indispensable part. By these technologies a perfectly new (cyber) body was born. The old (docile) body was captured in the process of perpetual transformations or, as Foucault used to say, in the process of infinitesimal power. The cyber body is something quite new: it also transforms itself but the reason for that is not the power of the spirit but the power of technologies. A dictate over the body and its transformations does not come from the inside: it comes from the outside. Technologies are now intrinsic, organic, they are a part of the body. But, on the other hand, because of the nature of this connection between technologies and body, even the body became something that is completely outside. It is not the soul that is outside the body but the body that is outside. Outside of what? Outside of itself. The consequence of this plan is clear: we can create a body by a combination of different elements. We put them together and with a little technological help we get a phantasmatic body. With the technological advancement especially our new body will increasingly become the object of our secret unconscious desires.

Technological transformations are captured in the spell of linear advancement that long ago reached the final frontiers of the real world that meanwhile became obsolete. It is true, our nostalgic memory can recognise the history of that world but now the memory is something superfluous and something that cannot be useful. The scenes have changed: the environment has changed, the world has changed. The changes were radical and dramatic: new digital scenes have emerged.

Even the body is a new digital scene. Maybe it is not the central scene anymore but, on the other side, it is still the key arena for the constitution of human's identities. Nevertheless, the body as the arena has radically changed: the inside of the body is no longer something hidden. The inside became external and is visible on the surface. On the screen, on the monitor. We can control it by computers: there is no intimacy, no privacy, no mystery of the body. We already behave as if we knew how the cyber bodies function.

The modern body is captured in digital models. There are many models of the body that we try to colonise. What is the model you would like to build? Which cyber body do you prefer?

And what about the consciousness? How do you know you are not a cyborg? How do you know you are not a duplicate of some other and distant person? How can I possibly know who am I? And who are the others if they are not duplicates of even more distant persons? Do all these questions have sense?

Of course they have sense because the body can never resemble other bodies. It is true that genetics believe that all bodies resemble each other but we believe that the body can be radically transformed and even reshaped. The fact is that human being is able to develop self-consciousness and that is the key to understanding the idea of how and why we can transform the body. In the moment a human being is aware of himself he is also aware of nothingness. The awareness of the absent nothingness in the middle of a human being is the basis for any other awareness. With the awareness of nothingness a human being got the awareness of his absolute loneliness and alienation in the field of the Other. There can be no consciousness without this absolute absence and loneliness. And the lonely human being is not the organic part of an empirical crowd. Then, where is he?

He moved somewhere else: he escaped to the cyber world. We do not know this other space and we do not want to know it. The other space should remain the space-without-knowledge. The space we are moving out of is namely replete with commercials and it is like a container whose elements are trying to connect with each other in an endless dance of permutations. The container is without knowledge and nobody really wants or needs it. The question is this: what shall we do when the orgy is over?

Baudrillard offered an answer: today we live in a world of simulation. We have nothing left to do, we do not need a recognition that we live inside the simulations. We do not need to accept them: we need to live them and ask no questions. Every part of the world has became the object of a simulation: communications, existences, bodies, souls, spirits. We behave as if we are in a position to create new things and discover new worlds although everything was already discovered and created. The sciences are no longer able to develop because all scientific revolutions have been completed. Nothing new, different, alternative can be found. We are allowed to simulate simulations and we are allowed to recycle what has been already recycled. In virtual and cyber worlds we can repeat and rotate old words, useless statements, bizarre pictures. We are continuing to behave like naive children who don't recognise the structure and nature of the world. A new question: what can we do anyway?

The truth is that major theories have done away with the revolutions. After the second world war the revolutions were wild eruptions that emerged out of chaos. Jean Baudrillard soon recognised the true nature of what was major. He invented a concept of metastasis. Revolutions in the social or theoretical field gave birth to the logic of metastasis. Everything started to spread with ungovernable speed in all directions: information, signs captured in wild circles and ellipses, rhizomatic and fractal structures. Something very dramatic was taking place: revolutions have persisted through time. Hyper-reality suddenly emerged; the revolutions were the key lever that helped to create it. In that reality things, people, existences blindly persisted and nobody was able to say why all this happened. Once upon a time a revolution began. Since then the structures of our new cyber worlds became unchangeable.


Total supplement

Now everything is everything. Nothing really exists. Every detail is Everything: there are no differences. The capital is free and in the last fifty years it successfully abandoned every threat of a revolution. The capital itself is the only really autonomous thing in this world and it lives in a transcendence: like a machine. We are not able to control it, we are not able to determine it. It creates hyper structures, cyber structures, structures that were even yesterday unimaginable. Nobody can control them and there are only a few of them that understand how they work. All other people ca not imagine them because they change and transform themselves too quickly. Yes, basically those structures are like metamorphosis.

We developed the concept of total supplement of the world out of the concept of mana signifier. The concept of mana signifier was created by Lé vi-Strauss who showed us that the world always needs something special in order to become a world. It needs a pure form, an empty signifier, something that is nothing but a surplus. And everything can become that surplus signifier. When this happens the world obtains potential meanings. With the birth of a human being as a symbol creature a symbol space as a space of potential meanings has been created and opened. The structure of the world has not changed, only new possible meanings have emerged; new possibilities were created. Hence, we can use different interpretations and we can satiate the world in many different ways. The world does not change by that; only the meaning changes. The world is always the Same.

By using new interpretations, we change the knowledge of the world. The knowledge is neither true neither untrue because there are many different ways to produce knowledge and contingency is the basis of either kind of knowledge. The other aspect of this statement is that with a reflection of knowledge we can change and transform it in order to create absolute and ultimate knowledge. All this happens when epistemological cut (Bachelard) or paradigmatic passage (Kuhn) takes place. In either case we can recognise that beside knowledge we can also create so-called metaknowledge, that is, a knowledge of knowledge. Metaknowledge helps us to become aware of how knowledge has been created and what are the co-ordinates of its existence.

Why are these passages so important? They are so important because they direct our attention to the totalitarian logic of supplementation we have been talking about. In modern age a human being as a subject was always an indispensable supplement to the real world. We would like to emphasise that the subject has been supplementing the world by his free subordination. The world has consequently became satiated, the subject has got a sense of security and membership to his community. That was also a reason why he has, when it was necessary, so violently defended his identity. He also believed in loyalty, patriotism etc. But this was only a game that enabled him to develop and complete his forms of subjectivity. Last but not least: the modern subject has also believed that if his subjectivity would collapse the world would collapse.

Today the situation is rather different. Cyber-worlds and techno-worlds are completed and satiated from the outset. Hence, they do not need a subject and they do not need his subordination. The subject is obsolete; he is something superfluous while the cyber worlds are self-sufficient.

The question which requires an answer is: is there anything we can do to save the subject? What shall we do with all those cyber worlds? Is it possible for the subject to exist if he is not needed?


Digital aesthetics

Aesthetics is not a supplement to the world: it is a continual supplementation of the world. It also models the human's perception of the world: after his subordination, of course. It also creates and governs gestalt, impressions of the world. Hence, aesthetics is nothing but the development of all that is given because infinitesimal power can never reach its goals. That is a reason why we understand aesthetics as a basically political function.

The world is never given but it is a construction, a whole that cannot exist without a supplementation: there is always something that should be added to the construction of the world in order to make it whole. We can say that the world on zero level is nothing more than a potential, an endless series of possibilities. On this level there is no sense of the world, no facts, no meaning. All that will be constructed or produced later, in some other or future time. The world will get its meaning(s), its shape(s) only in the future. But this will happen only if the supplementation will happen. In its raw or fragmented state, the world is never a whole. All elements of the world(s) are there, of course, but something more, something original should happen in order to tie up the elements of the world into gestalt, into a whole empirical world.

That is a moment of passage and it is very important for the construction of the (whole) world. In fact, it is decisive. Namely, there are two radical possibilities when we would like to create a world. First is when we create a world that is whole. The second is when a world is something not-whole although it is accomplished. The world can be whole or not-whole.

When the world is whole, the infinitesimal power is an indispensable part of it. Only with this power the world remains whole. Aesthetics is perhaps the most important co-ordinate of this process. We should also conclude that in the process of constitution and preservation of the world we always recognise the aesthetics of the whole and the aesthetics of the infinitesimal power.

But there is one more possibility: a possibility of the aesthetics of the not-whole, not-satiated. We can live in a world that is not laden with the logic of wholeness. We can live in an open world, in a world that is accessible to another logic: a logic of passage. A whole world is never receptive for it. On the contrary, it is receptive only for the logic of evolution inside the frames of the given horizons. In such a world the changes are in fact only mutations of the same.


Ethics of new tribalism

Nowadays we all live in the age of reshaping, as was stated some decades ago by one of the last Marxist, Zygmunt Bauman(6). Even cyber- and techno-worlds have recently became the object of the process of reshaping and remodelling. Hence, it is not enough to say that cyber worlds are not given because the truth is that they fulfil dreams of the empirical and positive sciences and they are always something given.

What can we learn from the recognition that we all live in the age of reshaping? What should we learn if we take into account that the human being can not stop to learn? Perhaps the most important thing to learn is that in the age of reshaping no idea can develop itself and become old after its own appearance. Ideas are soon forgotten regardless of their value, truth or power. The only important function in this age is ideological and commercial. It seems that in the end ideas have no power at all: they are not able to interpret the world if we forget for a while that it is much more important that they are not able to change it.

We would like to emphasise this conclusion. If the major ideas are becoming more and more commercial, then their function is obvious: they prevent, because there are so many of them, non-commercial or minor ideas to interpret the world, that is, they prevent them to function as ideas. Because of these ideas there is nothing really important in the world: everything is captured in the circle of reshaping. Every part of the world can suddenly change or transform itself or simply disappear. And why are we still saying that the world exists if everything is in the process of disappearance?

How is it possible to learn something if everything is in the process of constant change? What has to be learned in the age of reshaping cyber-worlds and techno-worlds? And what are we thinking about when we think of a human being? Perhaps there are too many questions for this article. We will see.

First conclusion

There is no doubt that personality and even a psychological human being is an invention of the modern times. Such a notion did not exist before the 18th Century even if you tried to find it with a magnifying glass. It was impossible to find a psychological human being because he simply did not exist. A new concept was requested in order to define and create him: the personality was its invention or product. And that modern personality is now captured in this new time of representations, that is, in the time of expectations and retroactions. The world of representations is also itself represented: it is constantly in action, in motion, in slide.

The time of representations is human time and not godlike. It is also a time of awareness that a task or, more precisely, a duty lies ahead every man and women. Every human being has a duty to accomplish. Regarding that duty, the world is no longer something that is given. No, the world has radically changed: it is a product, something that was made. It was made not by god: the human being made it; ones, twice, many times. Not by himself, of course.

Although the world has been made, a human being, a psychological human being of modern times or a personality has to create and transform it because modern scientists believe so. The psychological being is not free to decide how he would create the world because ethics thought him that the world should be created in a way that would be useful for the community. It is true: the world should not be made just for some people. But, on the other hand, that is exactly what happens all the time: the world has been created just for a few.

In the 18th Century a human being with all his potentials finally replaced god. Two centuries later the situation changed once more. Theories have taught us that one more substitution should be made. A personality and a psychological man should be replaced by a subject. It is better to be, not a person or a personality, but a subject. We can put this even more directly: a subject in essentially a subject of a sense, as Sigmund Freud recognised him. By the beginning of the 20th Century the subject of a sense was slowly and painfully recognising that in the centre of the universe there is neither god neither a human being. In the centre of the world is something unusual and even terrifying: a lack. A castration, as Freud used to say. The subject has been castrated and even god has been castrated. The Big Other has been castrated, the world has been castrated, hence there is no possibility to become whole.

The recognition of the logic of castration was exceedingly important. A question that followed out of it was this one: where can a human being put his leg if he wants to create a new world, a good world, a world for everyone? The answer was obvious: he should put his leg upon the lack.

The lack is solid rock and a basis of any real world. It is not a basis of techno-worlds and cyber-worlds because in them there is no place for a lack: they are already satiated. We can live for a short time in cyber-worlds or techno-worlds only because we always have an opportunity to step out of them into the real world. But what will happen when some day the real world will disappear forever?

On this level of our analysis we would like to emphasise that the real world was never made for all of the people. It is even not possible that it was made for all people because the nature of its structure does not allow this to be so. Free human beings create the world but their freedom is relational, as was pointed out by Bauman(7). The relational nature of freedom means that the human being is able to fulfil his intentions if and only if he is free. Then, he can reach his goals, he can fulfil his dreams. But, on the other side, at the same time somebody else is not free to choose his own goals and his own way of life and he is not free to create it. Not everyone is free to attain the goals and live as free as possible. There are certain people and certain goals. Some other goals do not exist, some other people do not exist. In this world it is not possible to set all goals. There is always a selection of goals and there is always a selection of people.

Nevertheless, the structure of the world offers us the possibilities of resistance. We can resist certain orders and this resistance is also a consequence of the subject's freedom. We are not dealing with freedom of the modern psychological personality but with freedom of the subject. To create a world ipso facto means to create an order that is an useful tool to predict what will take place and what will not take place in the future. The order is always such that some people have opportunities to choose their goals and some people do not have them. The order of the world has never been set in a way that would satisfy the needs of all people. The reason is that it is structurally impossible to create such a world.

A description of the world that we have just sketched shows that it is very important for people to resist orders. Only resistance can prevent a creation of the world that will be made for all people. There is only one way to create a world for all people and Freud has described and named it: mass psychology. Only by mass identification a world can be made for all, that is, only by mass identification every man and women will become all men and women.

The fight against globalisation of the world needs strangers because rebels were always outsiders: they can resist the world if they remain outside it. Exclusion is therefore a final destination of a rebel because it is an inherent possibility of resistance. A world is a whole only if strangers, marginal people and outsiders remain outside of the world. But that is also a fine opportunity to resist the entire world. Of course, it is also true that rebels with their resistance help to create the entire world. There is always something paradoxical in resistance.

A global world is a whole world and this world has its own global picture. The picture is always already whole but the world should not be just a global picture.

Nevertheless, the problem has a solution. Fortunately, we are familiar with two different co-ordinates of resistance. The first one is ethics, the second one is indetermination. The real world is by definition indeterminable while the cyber-worlds are determinable. We cannot resist the cyber worlds: we can just refuse them.


Second conclusion

First co-ordinate. An autonomous human being is a rebel: he put his leg upon the lack of the Other. This is a heroic act because to be human means to be social; and it means to depend also on other people. A rebel is a social human being but, on the other hand, he depends more on the lack of the Other. Thus, he takes a risk of exclusion and isolation in every human society. He also takes a risk to be recognised as someone who is uprooted and queer. Anyway, he is a stranger in every possible real world.

But, his insistence is very important because we recognise the ethics of human life precisely in the possibility to maintain the possibility for a rebellion in the future. If a rebellion would not be ethical we would not be in a position to hope that a rebellion will ever happen again. And why is rebellion so important? It is so important, because it resists the world and, at the same time, it prevents the imago of the world to collapse or implode. We should take a carefully look at a detail: a world always maintains itself by exclusion. This idea is also very important because it opens a way to some other important ideas: rebels are always on the side of the excluded.

Second co-ordinate. The excluded rebels create marginal worlds, useless worlds, superfluous worlds. They also create minor knowledge and minor theories that are good. A rebellion is good. Creation of a marginal world is very important especially in this time of techno-worlds that are going to replace real worlds. There will be more and more techno-worlds and there will be less and less real worlds. And rebels?



(1) We should read Descartes Meditations and works of Freud together. Particulary those works where Freud develops his thesis on transference. The main work on transference is, of course , Group psychology and analysis of the ego. This work is wery important even today, because human siences are one of the most exploited maids of modern ideologies and politics. And the worst thing is that they show no signs of resistance.

(2)The truth is that since then the subject has disappeared and today we can't cover our eyes and think that many have accepted his death with a relief. New, global and paradox images and forms of subjectivity have emerged shortly after his death.These forms are: seduced moralist, digitised consumer, blind voyeur, electronic turist, obsessive therapist, ascetic hedonist. The paradox of the seduced moralist is the voice of democracy: today this voice is voice of seduced, uniformed and unanimous people, and it is no more the voice of the oppressed, excluded and exploited people. The paradox of digitised consumer is a subject that has disappeared. After he has reached his goal, he simply disappeared. In digitised worlds we are not able to find the subject because we can't digitise him. The paradox of a blind voyeur is that he is no more able to see anything. The main reason for that is that he is looking at the world too closely and too directly. In fact he is looking from nowhere. The paradox of an obsessive therapist is that he is obsessive. He is very active and by his actions he is trying to protect himself and other people. To protect from what? To protect them and him from becoming free and spontaneous. The paradox of of an electronic turist is that he is constantly travelling and visiting different worlds; and all those worlds are alternative. Suddenly , every world is different , but the fact is that there are no different and alternative worlds at all. There is no world that would help us determine which world is common and which alternative. Where all possible worlds are alternative, there can be no worlds at all. the paradox of an ascetic hedonist that he is trying to plan his spontaneity. (cf. Tony Fizpatrick , Social Policy for Cyborgs, Body and Society, vol. 5(1), 1999, pp.93 -116)

(3)Cf Sean Cubitt, Digital Aesthetic, London: SAGE 1998.

(4)Cf. Martin Jay, Downcast eyes:the denigration of vision in twentieth-century French thought, Berkley: University of California Press, 1994.

(5)Cf. Jean Baudrillard, The system of object, London, NY: Verso, 1996 [1968].

(6)Cf. Zygmut Bauman, Culture as Praksis, London: SAGE.,1999 [1973].

(7) Cf. Ibid., p. 12.