Friday, 26 August 2016

Purpose manifesting.

The Dark Mountain artist collective ( calls for new modes of writing in their manifesto, or to be more precise, they want artists to rewrite the map to match the condition to reinstate the importance of the narrative even if our narratives are devoid of that authority that the master's voice gave it in the past.

”If we name particular writers whose work embodies what we are arguing for, the aim is not to place them more prominently on the existing map of literary reputations. Rather, as Geoff Dyer has said of Berger, to take their work seriously is to redraw the maps altogether — not only the map of literary reputations, but those by which we navigate all areas of life.

Even here, we go carefully, for cartography itself is not a neutral activity. The drawing of maps is full of colonial echoes. The civilised eye seeks to view the world from above, as something we can stand over and survey. The Uncivilised writer knows the world is, rather, something we are enmeshed in — a patchwork and a framework of places, experiences, sights, smells, sounds. Maps can lead, but can also mislead. Our maps must be the kind sketched in the dust with a stick, washed away by the next rain. They can be read only by those who ask to see them, and they cannot be bought.” (

The thing I most appreciate about this manifesto is that it uses the metaphor of cartography to understand literature and its function; the stories are our maps and they frame and contextualize the ideas we have and thus have direct implications on the systems we lead. The biggest thing, the reason why we really are in need of new modes of literature, is that literature along with practically all forms of art have become useless as the post modern condition of late capitalism rendered everything equally meaningless as even scientific narratives have been rendered equal with fairy tales, just stories among stories all of which have no other purpose then that of entertainment if we assign to this absolute cultural relativity, and this I mean collectively, because it is granted, that on individual level some of us have faith – righteous or not. 


Meaning requires a context, but if we are that obsessed with freedom that we cut ourselves loose of everything, never commit to any narrative (out of fear, uncertainty or alienation), neither pain nor pleasure can have any purpose other than itself. Art for art. Me for me. My cock for my cock.
So, what we actually need is criteria to evaluate the stories, something to help us assess what is actually a "good" narrative. If we are all beyond good and evil there is no way to make such assessment, and if we interpret all contextualization as totalitarian and evil as has been the tendency since the philosophical revolutions of the 20th century, we end up in the same position as the authors of this confusion, like Derrida, for one, who couldn't even say that apartheid is wrong without contradicting himself.

Maybe what the writer should ask him/herself is what purpose does the writing have? With all we know to be uncertain, is there any point to say anything? For me it is obvious, the map is useless if it doesn't even have the possibility of taking you anywhere. If the symbols refer to conditions and places far from where we are, we can't understand our place here. For the tribe lost in the desert, the one who at least says he knows where he is going becomes the author of their collective fate no matter if he knows where they are going or not.
We know that there is no certainty, since all knowledge in this day and age is approximate at best, but even if our map is an approximation, if it gets us out of the desert, it is good enough for that purpose.

If we live assuming that our systems will not be checked by any natural or physical limit, we might hit a wall we never knew about. So we need a reference, something to tell us what is real. And if the world is lost in the milliseconds between hearing and understanding, if nothing but the text is real or relevant to the text, then the text stands alone without a purpose – empty language games. Only the words that have reference have meaning, so, even if we can't go back to the time of just two books, that explain each other; the world and the bible, because we have lost faith in the absolute word that was propaganda to begin with and there is no divine authority we can refer to, we still need the authors who have a sense of place and time to give us the context, to give us the maps, so that we can cross reference our experience of the world and try to make sense of our place in time, maybe even alter the collective course, but only after it becomes obvious which stories get us out of the desert, and which make us lose our bearing. 


The bible is a book, and as such, literature, words inspired by the divine author of the world, but if God is omnipotent, surely the laws of God are unbreakable, like the laws of nature, thermodynamics and gravity, still with room to maneuver, but no matter how we trust that the coffee in the cup will stay warm, it will cool down in time, that is the law, and we know it, because we can touch it and taste it, and that it is real.

If, in stead, all is but a dream, maybe you can sleep off the nightmare?

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