CAUSE FOR ALARM
According to Lacan, anxiety is the lack of a lack. Where there is no lack, a cataclysmic loss takes over, and the symbolic order crumbles. In anxiety, therefore, the symbolic finds itself submerged by the Real, and the subject is not able to find symbolic identification in the Place which should provide it with social parameters, positioning and placing it within the socially visible range. Without this vital distancing – an invisible deviation from the symbolic law to which it necessarily responds, from its very name to family roles and professional tasks – the subject eventually resorts to forced, compulsive behavior. Tina Gverović and Siniša Ilić define their subject matter as a premonition of disaster – a state in which one is no longer able to make one’s position arbitrary in symbolic terms and feels inundated by the Real.
For some time now, their joint-project cycles of drawings have invoked forms of forced existence in an alienated labor society. They present us with commonplace scenes: workplaces – places of public action, rather – scenes one comes across daily. The people around us, ourselves: facing the interface, at home or in offices, in parliamentary arenas, public assemblies, in waiting rooms. All are places with many seats one must take and find one’s Place. (Whenever I enter an auditorium, I get perplexed: where should I sit? Up front, in the back, left or right, in the sidelines? Where shall I feel more comfortable? And once I have finally sat down, there seems to be a choice: should I listen to the lecture or stare out through the window? Should I participate or not? I am not happy with either. I feel anxious.)
What is it in those drawings that actually produces a feeling of anxiety? Content-wise, they depict ordinary situations and objects; while panic anxiety may well be their thematic point of reference, nowhere is it discernible as a single, rationally recognizable motif. The drawings are ineffably eerie insofar as they behave as tautologies of sorts, pointedly skeptical about the power of symbolic representation. Utterly bereft of any kind of esthetic gratification or wish to please, deliberately failing to provide a logical link or a narrative order between their unrelated motifs, they express a complete breakdown of will and lack of faith in the power of representation. Their purportedly obvious content merely coerces the eye: its compulsive gaze offers no clue as to what those repetitive scenes actually mean to depict. Tina’s and Siniša’s drawings are to be impotently stared at: unable to see the forest for the trees, one seeks and fails to find the necessary deviation from representation-in-progress, which might provide one with the rational distance one needs to be able to grasp the whole. Moreover, the two-dimensional space of the image is literally invalidated as a place of mimetic representation. The drawings are book-bound, and exhibitions invariably feature them as fragments of ambient units, effectively nullifying the perspectival and geometrical objectivation of their content. One gets drawn into a story without an ending, helplessly exposed to the Real, which pounces on one’s consciousness with unspeakable banality of motif and performance. Within a frame out of place or time, there is an unchecked sequence of silhouettes – faceless figures, impersonal individuals or groups of people, office fixtures and material, fragments of abstract organic forms or outside environment: tools of manual labor, even firearms. Siniša and Tina use minimalistic means to create an atmosphere of ubiquitous repetitiveness, a monotone repetition of the one and the same thing. Far from any extraordinarily cataclysmic scenes, anxiety springs from a compulsive and forced repetition of the same motives in inconsequential variation, following one after the other with no apparent intention or sense, in an utter negation of any parameters of spatial or temporal extensibility. Thus, a commonplace work environment is internalized as an obsessive vortex of trauma: work turns into a pathological, neurotic state of an obsessed and tormented psychic life, where one feels compelled to repeat the very same action which has been causing the unease. In a society capitalizing upon this very state of collective neurosis, there seems to be no alternative outcome. Tina’s and Siniša’s work sounds an alert with no calling off in sight – a fatally never-ending state of siege. (translation Vlatka Valentic)
∗ Notes 2008-2010
(published in Uncomparables, Forming a Suspicious State 2, publication)
He deleted twenty pages of the text which he had been working on for a month. When he realized what he had done, he got up from the table and opened the window. The opening of the window points to the possibility that for a moment he had run out of air. The lost text became bigger than everything present. He opened the window and looked down the street. A woman was sitting on the bench across the street and smoking. With her head lowered she was blowing smokes. She could be sitting like that for days without raising her head.
How to make the body raise the head?
The text he accidentally deleted he will never again be able to write like it was written. He is left with partial memory of some fragments of the text. All those things that seemed good as he was writing them, he forgot. There is nothing left. A man exits on a desolate and demolished stop and Genoa cyclone is threatening from the sky. That is the only image that remained after the text was irreversibly lost. And a demolished house that is found on the way. Maybe the text couldn’t handle that many ruins.
A few hours later, after he forgot what had happened, he again stood at his window, but the woman was no longer on the bench.
In the afternoon a man tried to jump off the bridge. He stepped over the fence and stood with his back turned towards the river. Both river-banks were covered with snow that had been falling for the last few days. The police stopped the traffic on the bridge and put fences around the place, not knowing what else to do. A man with short hair was holding himself to the fence with one hand and waved with the other holding a cell-phone. He had demands. One of the demands was to have his cell-phone, whose battery died, charged. He wanted to let somebody know something, maybe explain why he was standing on the outer side of the fence and threatening to throw himself into the river. People passed by the scene and some of them stopped. It was the time of day when people return from work. For some, fatigue is larger than curiosity. A mother of two children, whose car was trapped in the crowd on the bridge, placed her children in front of the man who wanted to jump off and took a picture of the whole scene with her cell-phone. Children in the foreground. Man who wants to jump off in the middleground, and dirty sky and tops of naked trees in the background. The scene is completely flat. The layers are sequenced one after the other, in a line, from left to right. The mother bends her knees, wanting to put everything in one frame. If somebody were to ask her, she probably couldn’t remember when exactly it came to her to do something like that.
Later: someone heard somebody saying the man who wanted to jump off should be helped to do so. Some other man with a camera in his hand filmed it, and someone else edited it. After it finished the circle of its media path, the news of the man who wanted to jump off, but was saved when they grabbed him by the hand, was actualized in the reaction of others to someone’s attempt to throw them self off the bridge. From the reaction of others to the action, it becomes clear that society is on the way to its end.
Somebody introduced this thought as a conclusion.
He already sees them eating each other.
It is apparent at first sight that he is not comfortable in his own shoes. He either hides his feet or puts them under the chair he’s sitting on, or tries to stand so that the view of his feet is always obstructed. He notices that men here have large feet, and accordingly, their stance looks somewhat harder. It is hard to determine a right-wing radical in relation to one who is not. If he was to be really honest, he would have to conclude that there isn’t a difference in the shape of the head or the size of hands. Next to him on the city bus stood a young man with a Greek profile and a thin white neck. If a Greek profile suggested courage or wisdom, a thin neck could only mean malice. He was careful not to meet the young man’s gaze. He was pretending to look out the window of the 706 bus at the War Island and the slow, heavy, spilled river.
My language is becoming like unkempt hair that is impossible to comb through. That is what Jelinek says. He feels the same. His language is starting to expand, adding parts according to its own need. Sentence structures, words and orthography that he learned are mixed with those he brings from his travels. Mixed language encourages unkempt thought. What if, at one point he won’t be able to name the language he speaks? That could easily happen. Can a man use a language that is impossible to name?
During winter days, Walter Benjamin lies for entire days in his Paris room.
He doesn’t go out.
He didn’t go out.
Yesterday košava was blowing.
He had a dream of T.G. i S.I.’s exhibition. A dream without a conotation. Or a very clear conotation. He’s not sure. First, in the papers he sees pictures from the gallery that show that the exhibition that opened just a few days ago was taken apart, that drawings have been taken off the walls, put on the floor and covered with nylon, as the workers are again painting the gallery walls in white. Then in the dream, he finds himself in the gallery whose pictures he had just seen in the papers and convinces himself it is really so. Drawings are lying on the floor covered with nylon; workers are painting. The whiteness of walls is, however, astonishing. Walls so white he had never seen. He’s trying to convince himself that what the workers had done was legitimate. In the drawings, the world has already started to fall apart. Somebody tells him that they must wait for the walls to dry and then they will put everything in its place.
He saw a young Franciscan marching down the street, with each step inadvertently revealing Diesel sneakers hidden under his habit. Habits are here to conceal the beauty of the body and smaller details. With the young Franciscan it didn’t manage to hide anything.
He thought: what a waste of time.
He avoids conversations about time.
He avoids conversations about life.
He avoids conversations about the past.
He avoids conversations about the future.
He avoids conversations about fears.
He avoids conversations about himself.
He avoids conversations about dreams.
He avoids conversations about work.
He avoids conversations about expectations.
Author = an individual who begins to write a text which will develop into a literary work.
The state is generally bad.
In the evening he goes out. Dusk makes him almost blind. He doesn’t recognize people who are coming towards him. He feels hunger. The described situation causes an unclear fear in him. When he turns from the main street into an empty passage, in which there are only a florist and a sex shop with windows covered with posters, he tries to convince himself that he is being chased. Nobody knows his name. He didn’t do anything wrong, but to the mind an inexplicable need to run is present. As he’s going through the passage, he’s trying to find a place where he could hide, a niche in the wall, a hole covered with a board, an entrance into a building. He doesn’t find anything. The world is completely aligned; there isn’t a place to hide.
A product doesn’t seem to happen. He is so focused on the process that the product simply evaporates. He can’t let something like this happen today. Everything around him is letting him know that he’s doing it incorrectly. Despite the warnings, the product is still not here.
At the entrance to the clinic they ask him to give them his personal information. Out of all the questions, the hardest for him to answer is the one about his occupation. Even if he succeeds in forcing himself to say that he’s a writer, until now he hasn’t been able to do it without
Lately he’s been thinking about utopia. He doesn’t know anything about it. On the way to the city’s center he passes by the window of a bookstore and every day he sees a hard-bound book entitled History of Utopia. Despite his belief that precisely the topic of utopia would be of great benefit in working on the piece of text he’s not really sure what to do with, he’s still not entering the bookstore.
He thinks about that text as a play, although in the text there is nothing that would call for communication. Of any kind. Still he thinks of it as a play. And he thinks that utopia will save the day.
The rural countryside gets calm faster than the rest of the world. The night begins to fall at the same time from all sides of the world. Little time is left to close up all the hens and rabbits, to lock the back entrance into the house, to close the front gate. The recently installed street lamps are almost twenty meters high but more than half of them are not working.
He enters the room. He knows exactly what he needs but he can’t remember what he needs it for. He takes the thing in his hand, turns it around a few times, and then returns it to the place he took it from. He sees another thing he had already forgotten about. He doesn’t remember where and when he bought it. The thing is here, he recognizes it, even today he would decide to get it. Nontheless, he forgot about it. He takes it in his hands. Then he returns it. The same with a few other things. The more of them he takes in his hands, the more of them he’ll recognize. He puts back all of the things in their place and leaves the apartment. He remembers that three days ago he arranged a meeting. It is why he even entered the room. The room is a way to the exit of the apartment.
He entered the University building. He ran into only a few people in the empty hallways. It was already after 9 in the morning. He moved towards lecture hall number seven. He hesitated and then opened the door. The sweet smell of human breath hit him in the face. The lecture hall was overflowing with students. All the windows were shut. People were sitting crowded into the narrow benches. Nobody even noticed when he walked in. He stood on the side and for a while followed what was going on. Somebody gave a speech after which the whole hall clapped. Then somebody else took the microphone. Someone noted that this is the ideal time for a student revolution because the dean had traveled to Brazil. He’s laying on Copacabana. He fell asleep in the sun.
The apartment turned into a fortress. Everything he owns he brought into the apartment. He arranged the things so that they’re not in the way when he’s passing through and that they’re easily reachable. He marked the content of the boxes with labels. Everything he owns is within his reach. When everything was finally in its place, he realized that he doesn’t need three quarters of those things.
A photograph shows.
Books on the desk:
Doris Lessing: The Golden Notebook
Terezia Mora: Day In Day Out
Nadine Gordimer: My Son’s Story
J. M. G. Le Clezio: The Interrogation
Peter Handke: A Moment of True Feeling
Peter Handke: The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick
Judith Butler: Bodies That Matter
Max Frisch: Gantenbein
Max Frisch: Bluebeard
Max Frisch: Sketchbook 1966 – 1971
Max Friscx: Sketchbook 1946 – 1949
Martin Walser: Runaway Horse
Lars Saabye Christensen: The Half Brother
Michel Foucault: Knowledge and Power
Michel Foucault: The Order of Things
David Foster Wallace: Infinite Jest
He wants to share with somebody:
That Workers’ Day seems more festive than other days.
That he forgot to go shopping and his refrigerator is empty.
That stores are closed.
After an eye surgery, the world seems to be an obstacle course. Everything he passes by he names so that he would be completely sure that it is not going to find itself in his way again as an obstacle. Door. Table. Chair. Again table. Bed. Shoes. Mirror. Man. Woman. Child. Dog. The world is blurry and his demands are getting bigger. He got a sample of the world from Gerhard Richter’s painting. Instead of clearly outlined eyes, nose and mouth, what appears are stained residues of melancholy. This state will last for at least another month. It takes that long for peeled corneal epithelium to regenerate.
It should be insisted on the process of work because exposure, recording, and presentation of the process provoke the ideology of capitalism, which neglects the process and insists on the finished product that it can offer, distribute and eventually sell. Instead of talking about the finished work, that which preceded it should constantly be talked about – telling of stories about the time before the ending. That way the ending is also partly postponed.
In the dark auditorium, he can barely discern the man next to him. Light on the stage is deceiving his eye; he can barely see. At one point he starts to search for the meaning of what he sees on the stage. He fell into a trap that the world alone fell into. The search for meaning opened Pandora’s box. The world can’t be saved. The search for meaning is actually the need to understand. Again, there is a double reason for understanding. It is Pagan belief that a man can reign over what he understands, and there is a need to create concrete matter from abstract de-matter. That which can not be named is impossible to sell. That which can not be sold is outside of the value system. The naming is needed to become a part of the system of capitalist profitability. Always again.
A man is a being that slowly develops, just as slowly man’s awareness of boredom develops.
He is reading Dürrenmatt. Commissioner Berlach is dying of stomach cancer. But before that, in the last scene, he devours, as follows: sardines, red shrimps, cucumber salad, peas, tomatoes, heaps of mayonnaise and eggs, cold steaks, chicken meat, salmon, bread, pâté, pork, mushrooms, red wine, veal cutlets, rice, french fries, lettuce, champagne, cheese, radishes, pickles and leek.
List of works that end with an open sentence:
Joyce’s Ulysess, The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace. Bach’s Art of the Fugue.
(continue the sequence)
He found on You Tube reconstructions of the biggest plane accidents in the history of commercial air transport. He doesn’t feel anything towards the solutions that the reconstructions lead to at the end of each episode. What holds his attention is the process of reconstruction. He is sure that he could find the reason why the concept of reconstruction moved from the field of criminalistics and diagnostics to the field of art. Reconstruction is used as a method at the moment in the art process when thinking about things starts to dominate the concept of production. Reconstruction is the reflection on the process, in place of the process itself.
Reconstruction is the analysis of progress and relationships towards history.
Reconstruction is an attempt to find mistakes and their analysis.
Reconstruction is doubt in progress.
Reconstruction is an attempt to undermine capitalism which, to survive, always needs a new concept. He can’t escape the thought that sometime before (in a previous life) he possibly witnessed one such accident. The crashing of an airplane into the ground, he had to have seen before.
There isn’t a way better than this.
Somebody took a jellyfish out of the sea and left it in the sun. Fathers and children gathered. None of them were brave enough to touch the jellyfish. Somebody said: yuck! When they split up and forgot, the jellyfish melted.
A time volume of three months is impossible to mark as anything other than three months.
Again the feeling that everything had already ended and that everything passed without us.
In a conversation, he comes to the conclusion that the economic power of an individual in the 1970s was so great that the Americans had to produce a jumbo-jet.
As a present, he got a glass snow globe on a black ceramic stand, in which sits a black ziggurat and around it are swimming shiny black pieces of the rest of the world. Like the ashes of the burnt Tower of Babel. He can look at it for hours and not connect the beauty he sees with any known thing, with any association. Snow globe? Who thought of something like that?
The Tower of Babel wasn’t burnt down. Just never finished.
There needs to be found a way to break the formalism in the recording of chronology. Otherwise, it is maintaining the passivity of the successiveness. He is more and more convinced that things don’t happen continuously and that there is very little connection between cause and consequence.
A photograph of West Point in Liberia is in the newspaper. The worst slum in the world. People urinate and defecate in the street and on the beach. Women sell themselves for one American dollar. To a careful observer, details in the photographs reveal that everything is under the colonial patronage of America and Europe. Postcolonialism. We realized everything on time and still nothing good happened.
Rural countryside. The whole day the north wind has been hitting the slope of the roof. Every now and then, he stands in the window and looks at the fields behind the houses. He just can’t notice the difference between then and now. Big plates of frozen old snow are covering the fields like tailored crusty sheets. Afternoon light stays the longest on them. The dark scene is not seen as a sight of poor quality, but as the absence of light. He hears voices from the kitchen. In the house only two rooms are heated, the kitchen and his study.
The trip to Vienna interrupted by a transfer due to the repair of the train tracks between Maribor and Graz.
We can not be angry at our own era without getting hurt at the same time.
The 65th anniversary of victory against fascism is marked with a parade in the Moscow Red Square. In the daily newspaper they made a letter mistake and instead of fascism they wrote fascisom. Airplanes are flying over domes of St. Basil. Vehicles carrying an intercontinental ballistic missile Topol-M are passing in front of St. Basil. A veteran in a WW2 uniform is standing in the crowd and talking on a cell-phone that is tied to his belt with a metal chain.
He is aware that these are not real living conditions.
* * *
(Translated by Isabella Francesca Germek and Sandra Šević)
* Goran Ferčec, Notes 2008-2010