Death – or even already ageing … … there is something that is so well expressed in Michael Ende’s Never ending story: the Riddle of Time, the dependency and indeed relationality of future, presence and past. With every moment of our life we gain experiences – and gaining means filling the storage which is the past; and with the past and presence we encounter future which is then presence. However, while there is more and more past, future is decreasing.
So far the individual perspective. Now we face the question if such law can also be seen societally, here and now, claimed as orientation:
It is not only that every little helps – the tesco-slogan at some stage – but it is also that every little kills. I don’t want [and I cannot] enter deeply into this debate. But there is no doubt, that we live today, follow a lifestyle for which the future generation will have to pay – killing them softly, the piecemeal strangulation of the future (generation), literally breathing today the air, they cannot breathe anymore. Moreover, we deny not only their right but also the right of nature.
No, I am not going to be vegan from now on (and I will still not eat any sausages …). But there is some truth in what Frances always said when I wanted to help her in the kitchen. She gave me the knife, and when I approached a tomato she said, scaringly looking at me:
do you hear them screaming?
Of course [really of course?] it is not about single tomatoes, single trees…. But the genre, the “collective nature” may well have and should have rights – some countries are not only thinking about it, but have respective legislation in place.
A complicated debate, indeed. But obviously pointing out that the demonstrations and activities of the “Last Generation”, “Extension Rebellion” and others are not about the interests of activists and for instance the “general interest” or environment activists and those who are interested in free movement [and the free choice of the means of transport] or the imagined/supposed “interests of the state”. The interest of nature – life against life; or living of a few today against the sur-life of nature.
Indeed, the seemingly abstract question of death turns into a very concrete one.
Bottom line, I suppose: it is simply a paradox. Talking about life means acknowledging death as part of it; talking about death means being or becoming able to live. And death is so to say only the extreme, the final point on a scale. Final meaning absolute? Not really, as it is still part of life and living in the true sense, namely the understanding of relationality = processuality = totality.
Allowing others – or an other – taking one’s place, taking and giving part, including partialities.
Triage – one has to leave; not because there is not sufficient space but because there is “not enough to do”. In other words: not leaving means taking part which is at some stage about taking the part of somebody else, ignoring the other.
The challenge is balanced-managing and administering.
Inequality as permanent dissolution of entities. As such it is not a matter of distribution [though it appears to be “only” that]. Relationally is a matter of distribution as production, as such a matter of given and/as taking. Now the majestic equaliser emerges as an instrument of bringing production to a halt. The result is another dimension of the same paradox: permanent overproduction… of something that is useless, because it does not have any value. Sure, it has exchange value:
More years, not active years, but years that are only about maintaining life. Visiting doctors, physiotherapists, mobility exercise groups and social gaming events that are little social and not playful at all. Doing crosswords and jigsaws, … and in the extreme case it is even a brainless body … breathing, nutrition is artificially maintained.
Less extreme: the strive of old men and women to maintain whiteness, pushing then young to the edge, leaving them in the role of witnesses of decay. And even worse, forcing them to make the same mistake(s)!
Euthanasia, is for very good reasons – especially in Germany, but not only – hugely problematic, problematised and prohibited; and it is still a matter that is also problematic in the commonly/mostly forgotten way: it starts from the presumption of negativity of death [interestingly in a society that claims to be Christian, where religion suggests death being redemption].
This negativity is not least an expression of the obligation to Permanently Perform Perfectly – the basic and general pattern of PPP, reading in today’s terms Power Point Presentation, and then translated into politics: Public Private Partnership.
And of course, it is not allowed to leave, to say
I did what I wanted and could do, I am ready to leave ….
Sure, there are or can be very different reasons why somebody wants to leave; as much as there are or can be very different reasons for the want to stay [leaving aside that in both cases there can be reasons out of control of the person concerned].
The problem behind all these remarks is that the system, solely concerned with the production of worthless exchange values, is reflexive in the sense of extensively reifying itself – Andy Warhol perfectively confronting us with the jester’s mirror: design, originally used as means of presentation and advertisement, is elevated and presented as arts – Campbell sends regards. And both, arts and food alike are perverted after their death, i.e. the end of living and resurrection as commodities, the presentation of life in form of symbols.
The effect depends on volume, on momentary hyper-presence, which in the extreme contains its own destruction:
The shredding of Banky’s Girl with the Balloon, just at the moment when the hammer falls – at one end, at the other end of a kind of scale, the light installation, where one can argue about whether it is really still an original piece of art when the curator replaces the defective original neon tube with one bought at the DIY store.
And indeed the new understanding of the character of arts is symptomatic for the entire range of new lifestyles. With view on Andy Warhol, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh points out that
[t]he systematic invalidation of the hierarchies of representational functions and techniques finds a corresponding statement in Warhol’s announcement that the hierarchy of subjects worthy to be represented will someday be abolished ….
(Buchloh, Benjamin H. D. (December 1, 2001). “Andy Warhol’s One-Dimensional Art: 1956–1966”. In Michelson, Annette (ed.). Andy Warhol. The MIT Press. p. 2)
(to be continued)