Metapolitics of Truth
Dalibor Martinis against the democratic apathy
The origin of the current contempt for politics in both democratic and authoritarian societies does not correspond to the realistic state of the re-politicisation of the world of lives. The paradox seems impossible to remove. The more disgust is expressed in public for politics, whether elected or imposed by force, the more attempts there are at how to think and how to act from the other side of the historically-established rules of liberal democratic policy. Dictatorships, despotisms and authoritarian forms of government in the age of the global world disorder are spared at least the main ills of contemporary western culture – the democratic apathy. Whence this contempt for politics? And is not this aversion to the ancient Greek word, which has determined the destiny of our history, a proof that the being defined in Aristotle’s Politics as a middle term between the gods and the wild animals is not worthy to be a philanthropist to his own race, but always a misanthrope for himself? The crisis of the political in the contemporary world does not hit the concept of politics half as much as the figure of the contemporary politician. Corruption, greed, egotism, mendacity, moral deformity, hypocrisy, demagoguery, cowardice, opportunism, the reduction of the general interests of the community to the private affairs of a narcissistically ordered “society with no responsibility” – this is the description of the character traits of the contemporary politician. If at the dawn of the fall of communism at the end of the 20th century Pascal Bruckner with good reason called the structure of the politics of the western democracies the democratic melancholy because of the boredom of a technocratically alienated vocation of ordering life in the state and in civil society, it would seem that this diagnosis no longer corresponds to the condition of things. Global politics has become a networked empire of general indifference to the life of the anonymous individual. Great political struggles with various ideological denominators have not faded from the world stage. From frontal clashes of classes and socially heterogeneous groups, they have taken on a hybrid form, of new “wars of cultures” on behalf of identity (race, nation, religion, civilisation). The charismatic figure of the political prophet, independently of whether he is a totalitarian dictator of the mould of Castro, Mao or Tito, or a democratic autocrat, such as Churchill, de Gaulle or Mitterand, seems to have faded irrevocably into the imaginary museum of history.
This is the time of the marketing of the politician as populist leader who thanks to the collusion of the underworld, the dual Mob economy and the media industry has become the main figure of planetary spectacle. Politics is hence disgusting only because of the revelation of the lack of honour of amoral politicians. Everything else is apparently self-intelligibly good and noble. Such a picture is evidently mistaken and deceptive. At the moment of the aestheticisation of the political today in the media-produced world of real illusion and illusionary reality, the heritage of the artistic movements of the avant-garde from the beginning of the 20th century, it can be seen that the contemporary politician is nothing but the realistic incarnation of all our private ailments. He is the manifestation of the social unease brought about by the overwhelming loss of republican virtues such as responsibility to the community, civil courage, resistance to the distortion of democracy in the reign of terror of the elected minority, serving only for his own advancement and prosperity. What today is the figure of the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi if not the ideal figure of this soap-politics that despises the essence of democracy and instead of the mythical hero that sacrifices himself for the interests of the state-society-nation he cynically presents himself in the corporate media he owns as the new national liberator from the “communist mind set” that is corroding the otherwise sound and healthy body of a liberal-democratic country of tradition and the aesthetic model for Europe?
The new kulturkampf in the world of global apathy hence can be nothing else than an attempt to turn the post-ideological swamp of western politics, in which we amazedly witness the harmonious coexistence of right and left populism under the mystical name of the third way to its original purpose, that is, to serve the general good. All the inarticulate anarchic anti-globalisation movements, peace initiatives, struggles for ethic and minority rights of the colonialised peoples, the many new autonomous protects against the transformation of the democratic order in America and Europe into the centaurian complex of “voluntary post-totalitarianism” with the illusion of the culture of individualism, as free master of life and death, are guided by the urges of some kind of new metapolitics of truth. The power of its powerlessness reposes in the rediscovered utopian horizons of the world. The truth of metapolitics can indeed be only utopian. This is its immanent border. The fleshing out of utopia does not mean the accomplishment of an aim, of something projected into the future, but rather assumes the utopianising of reality as real space-time for the fulfilment of the essence of the political. The essence of the political is becoming metapolitical in every moment, in very situation. To be great, be whole, be all in every thing. Put what you are in the least of what you do – sang Fernando Pessoa, who as genuine artist of the European avant-garde and decadence of the 20th century did not in any escapist way just take refuge in dreams and the imagination. His metapolitical position of search for his own truth and that of the contemporary world was originally a redemptive and utopian strategy. Is it possible to make any kind of “positive” definition of what the metapolitics of truth is aiming at in the global disorder of the world? If the alternative to the modern order of the nation-states within which politics as primarily the legitimising of the rule over a sovereign territory is being changed into a trans-political alliance of a new form of global state and civil society, it is then clear that new subjects are getting into the game.
These are no longer traditional political institutions like parties, unions, and corporations, mechanisms of government concentrated in the judiciary, media, and organs of internal and external security. Alternative strategies of politics in the global period are above all the new social movements created in the utopian nurseries of the student revolts of 68, when in spite of the rigid ideological dogmas of the western rebels (Maoism, Trotskyism, anti-imperialist rhetoric, the revolution of the countryside against the city, guerrilla wars with the mystique of the Cuban revolution as lasting terror against US imperialism) created the idea that utopia determined the “real possibilities” of reality, and not vice-versa. The metapolitics of truth hence is the thinking of the utopian movement beyond the traditional institutions of liberal democratic politics. But unlike working outside the system, like the non-parliamentary opposition in Germany in the 1960s, now the whole system of the world of life (Lebenswelt) is at risk from the global threat. The return to republican virtues thus is not a conservative politics of preserving the status quo, as radical left critics have always judged the anthropology of the politics of a Hannah Arendt, genuine representative of the embryo of a new relationship between truth, the community and the point of the political in general. The first assumption of the metapolitics of the truth is not a flight from the genuinely political in the environment of the liberal-democratic order of the rule of the elected “representatives of the people”. An alternative to the odiousness of the corrupted political world of the deformation of democracy insists on two things: the return to the essence of democracy as unified/united action for the general good and the manifestation of republican virtues in each individual (man as the universal subject of identity and difference) and the journey towards an imagined objective of the transformation of politics into what is outside of the mere human habit, into a metaphysical horizon of politics as the metapolitics of the truth of all creatures on earth. Utopia in this way of understanding does not mean the imagination of some idea city or the future or of some paradise island of happiness. The mystique of the Cuban revolution as isolated island symbolically presenting the figure of resistance to the neo-imperialist globalisation of America is still very largely encouraged as a truncated place of the utopian “subversive guerrilla”, like all illusions of Edenic islands beyond this world, is mere ideological opium for young rebels. This exoticism, this revolutionary tourism is unmasked fallacies of the pseudo-utopian consciousness of the permanent revolution of human needs. There are no longer any topographies of utopia as real places of political and cultural equality, justice, freedom and the rule of human laws, and there have never been any either. For this reason the totalitarian experiments of real socialism, as combination of the exotic and revolutionary tourism in the 20th century, have symbolically two completely opposite images – Brijuni and Goli Otok. An alternative to traditional politics, unlike the alternative to global capitalism, has backing in the original concept of democracy as rule of a free people. That is why the imagination of democracy as process or way to the realistic state of a unity of concepts, ideas and reality, of the political is in and of its nature utopian. Global capitalism is no kind of utopia, but a natural-necessity and world-historical system of production, trade, distribution and consumption of life as form of commodity. An alternative to democracy is not anti-democracy but the fulfilment of the original substance of democracy in reality. An alternative to global capitalism cannot be of a utopian character, even when one is talking of anti-capitalist movements (Zapatistas, anarchists), rather a radical movement on the far side of capital qua subject-substance of history. In the strict sense of the word, the alternative to the degenerate state of contemporary democracy is the metapolitics of the truth of democracy as utopian project. Global capitalism has no alternatives. Its only systematic weak point is in the limits of growth – the immanent overcoming of the self in the global metapolitics of truth that there is always the chance of the choice of man as self-aware being of the community. This case of reflexive risk has apocalyptic traits. What, then, is the metapolitical in the apparently modest demand for the return to the original democratic political culture or to republican virtues as salvation in front of the disastrous indifference of citizens and the terrible shape of contemporary democratic apathy?
Contemporary philosophical considerations of the concept of time are inescapably linked to the world event (Ereignis or ???ven???ment). Heidegger’s thinking takes this word as the secret for the solution of the relations between being and time. To be and to exist in time always happens as an intersection of essential relation. As against being in nature, as fulfilment of a priori set conditions according to which something must be precisely so and not other way (natural necessity), the human historical world is determined by the possibility of the modification of contingent situations. A change in environment is possible only because man has the capacity to be absolved from his natural environment. His artificial or artistic or creative essence as spiritual being permits him always to start over and to change the given and the found. The concept of “event” is not just a well-found “word” for something that happens in time as linear sequence of before-now-afterwards. The event is the absolutely new. It is when a completely different world crops up. On Heideggeran grounds, but with a kind of subjectivist intention to master the objective circumstances of man in the world of contingency and facticity French philosopher Alain Badiou has developed an exceptionally complex version of event as the truth of being in time. Truth is not just a metaphysical determination of the relations between being and logos, the coincidence of reality and thought, but impinges on the duality of objective knowledge about things as such, of their fixed state and the possibility of a radical break with the previous truth in time. A second, anthropologically potent theory of truth says that the truth is always the truth of something in time. Procedure truth starts only when there is a possibility of radical revolution, invention, transfiguration of the fixed the natural and the necessary order of the truth of some being. We cannot alter mathematical axioms, for example, but we can change the human world with a simple decision to set off a chain of causes of a new event. The event, the subject and the truth are aspects of the process of affirmation. Everything goes on in situations. Truth is hence the logic of the essence of truthfulness for something, independently of whether it is about the truth of a principle, person or ideal. The possibility of a genuine revolution of the fixed state in the human world, and then consequently in the limits of the natural surroundings, has always been granted to humanity from its self-creative being as free creature. The new event is the result of change of connection between the contingent situation, the factitious world and human free choice. The quadrivium of the area in which truth is made apparent as generic procedure consists for Badiou of love, art, science and politics. Love possesses an individual dimension and does not relate only to sexual attraction of interacting actors fulfilling their desire, but can be manifested as love for God, for nature or art. Contrary to this, politics is a collective act of responsibility for the community ordered on intellectual foundations. Art and science belong to the area of pure invention and creativity, discovery. All four areas are a unique set of events of truth in time. Freedom started all over again is, then, a world-historical event par excellence.
The fundamental distinction between the two concepts of politics as the space-time of “living together” (Hannah Arendt) in the vivification of republican virtues and practical operation in the previously existing situation (Alain Badiou) with an emphasis on the radicality of the change of the situation is the difference between the two concepts of constitutional republicanism, the American and the French. While the first does not impinge on the liberal-democratic accord as historically questionable, the second is the result of revolutionary activity from underneath. Reconciliation is possible only when in the concept of the metapolitics of truth the ideological contempt of the second for the first as mere maintenance of the status quo is removed. The political representation of citizens as in principle of all citizens of the empire-republic assumes a participatory political culture of controlling politicians via the media and the achievement of public independence. This kind of original republicanism is sheer illusion in contemporary American politics. The spectacularisation of politics as media staging of great popular entertainment surpasses any kind of melancholy for the republican traditions. The exaltation of politics as the creation of the “crucial event” is taken over by the cultural industry in constant illusory politicisation of the public. Global liberal-democratic politics from the moment of the symbolic act of the collapse of communism in 1989 shows that the story of the end of history has paradoxically not raised the cult of individual freedom and republican virtues to the peak of moral values, but with the ideology of the end of history there has come a period of the end of any illusion about the active citizen as the eternal ideal of liberal democracy. Only from the horizon of the metapolitics of the truth as return to the sources of democracy with the hope for the possibility of a realistic utopia of the globally networked world is it possible to understand why the new social movements (ecological, peace, rights of sexual and racial minorities, anti-imperialist movements in the countries of the so-called third world) condemn traditional republicanism and liberal-democratic policy in general.
The matter is simple. The essence of politics as spectacle of the real power of the rule of the world happens somewhere else, not in the institutional frameworks of representational democracy. The resistance strategy hence rigidly returns the matter to the beginnings of the socialist alternative, looking for that cult of individual freedom that in collective actions does not bend to the party principle of obedience, to ideological leaders or any kind of overriding principle of the oligarchic structure of power. The metapolitics of truth then is a living zone of autonomous actions against the institutions of global capitalism and against the symbolic representation of citizens within the fold of parliamentary democracy. The metapolitics of truth is the truth of the metapolitical struggle for some more than the mere electoral contest of ideologically hybrid parties. It finally after many decades of celebrating the Other and difference (queer culture, native politics, feminism and the racially different), which had its justification in the philosophical texts of Derrida, Lacan and the post-colonial critics, had to change direction and return instead of civil rights to the fundamental right with which the French Revolution set out on the battle for a new democratic world – the right of Man. We are not different and do not have to learn the tolerance of so-called differences. We are the same. The metapolitics of truth then is just and only a return to the sources of enlightenment in which instead of God the rule of the role was taken over by emancipated humanity, not be the French, the Americans, the whites, the exalted or the noble, the superior or the “condemned of the world”. The simple perception of the universality of the human person as the same in all its different incarnations does not wipe out cultural differences, rather holds them of secondary importance. The fate of the global world is nomadism, trans-culturalism, migration and transitions into new and hybrid forms of identity. The return to the idea of man does not mean henceforth the continuation of modernity or enlightenment with mother means. On the contrary, everything is in the change of directions, for the utopian ecstasy of the future is not just a linear “not yet”, but the open area of the uncertainty of the adventure of freedom. Man from the horizon of the metapolitics of the truth is no longer the same man of the modern age. This is the other man of the post-modern crisis of identity, someone completely Other, a global Nobody who everywhere and never has his homelands and asylums. There is no longer anything suggestive of pathos when on behalf of the sameness/universality of the human fate someone addresses the Other originally humanly as man to man. This is the first and last possibility of genuine communication of “living together”, naming the place and the time in which democracy is not a mere institutional emblem of remembering historical past, mythical narrative about the fate of heroes, founding fathers of the polis and the republic, civil wars and the ???tatisation of politics as spectacular manipulation of the awareness of the masses. The return to Man and man’s right to decide about the manner of living together surpasses the simple arithmetic of the election game, although it is not repelled from it with the gesture of the irresponsible criticism of ideology that behind its contempt for politics as such conceals lack of credibility of thinking. On behalf of this primary, pre-reflexive metapolitics of the truth with the utopian horizon of fasting until the imaginary objective, like the architectonics of Plotinus’s ecstasy on the road to the being of the divine, democracy can be understood esoterically as a process of self-awareness or, still more radically, as the genuine life of man to whom the universality of freedom in the act of an always new beginning has been granted. Can a contemporary artist be a participant in this remarkable and ambivalent process of the metapoliticisation of truth without falling into the traps of committed art, which is always so dangerously close to some new ideological servitude? Can he announce with the language of realised iconoclasm the path of enlightenment of all who through sacrifice to the good for the community agree to renounce their private narcissism, accepting the vocation of the political as a duty to serve the truth? How can contemporary multimedia art at all respond to the challenge of the repoliticisation of the world of life (Lebenswelt)?
At the end of the 20th century the great stories of social theory were marked by a post-ideological euphoria. That today all the relevant debates are reduced to a consideration of the phenomena of globalisation and terrorism,, globalisation and bio-technology, do not tell of the ennui and tedium of the theoretical global game but rather of the pushing of all the other small narratives of the post-modern into the background. Both Fukuyama’s end of history and the clash of civilisations of Samuel Huntington, as positive and negative forms of response to the imperial march of the globalisation discourse over the world have wiped out the possibilities of alternatives to the natural and historical necessity of liberal democratic ideology. With them, the subversive and critical protests against the iron terror of necessity have almost faded out. The logic of binary oppositions in the meantime has become the only dialectic of social development in the age of post-history. Put very simply, you are either for globalisation, or for fundamentalism. Tertium non datur. In this frontal culture war it was just a matter of time when the critical awareness of contemporary art as eventful sign of the time would move from the stage of social escapism to that of repoliticisation. Its imaginary-utopian third way between the two homogeneous world historical ideologies marked a new, totally new period in the social engagement of artists. If not a return to the social critical commitment of Joseph Beuys, but certainly as a heterogeneous area of interactive, multimedia working of the collective intellectual sensitive to all the moral deformity and cynicism of global capitalism. Through the “ethics of the new solidarity” the contemporary artist in the communication community does not appear as prophet or shaman of utopia. His mission is much more modest. To reply with his work to the event of the only remaining provocative fact and shock of the contemporary world – to the universal wretchedness of man from the edge of history and the degeneration of the political into a consciously produced mass apathy as the consequence of cultural depression and narcissism. This kind of turnabout in the public perception of the contemporary artist as social agent provocateur and unmasker of illusions about the best of all world, as the phenomenon of globalisation is presented in a Leibnitzian way, has hit all forms of event: conceptual art, performance, land art, cyber art, body art, multimedia experiences. The media aestheticisation of politics as a new exaltation of technocratic managers coincides with the wide-ranging transformation of the world of lives into life styling. The whole of contemporary art is thus the repoliticised work of the interaction of the surrounding world, the world of events of dispersed participants, theorists and the anonymous voices of digital democracy. The subjects of intervention in the public space of the political in their ideological and worldview multi-anarchism, in spite of so many clear differences, are characterised by a primary sameness. They all work now and here on the utopianisation of reality with different forms of the criticism of political dishonour and programmed global chaos. Repoliticised art no longer imitates or describes or symbolically produces objects for the comfort of the user or audience of works or events that are still being put on in museums. Its function is the autonomous participation in the utopianising of reality with the means and devices of public engagement. Its only weapon is the new critical theory of globalisation and the ethics of the new solidarity. But this does not mean the reduction of the artistic act of invention and creation to the logic of political power. The metapolitics of truth means something very different and other. It is the way to an objective for which the thinking of Denis de Rougemont about an active politics of pessimism holds, in which it is the only way to the spiritual and metapolitical conversion of the individual.
The new project of contemporary multimedia artist Dalibor Martinis, I am addressing you man to man – Stations on the road to democracy is an autonomous act of intimate repoliticisation of the artistic event-in-time. There are three conceptual determinants of this unique utopian attempt at persuasion to democracy. From the horizon of the perceived intention of the metapolitics of truth for which a rephrasing of Gandhi’s maxim “there is no path to the truth; the truth is the path” Martinis’s project is based on 1) a communicational post-enlightenment return to the value of man as universal being of community; 2) mysticism of travelling through space-time in which every person takes on the responsibility for the general good through the act of his own decision; 3) the utopianisation of the banality of everyday life through the critical procedure of destroying the image of the world as mass media message.
Addressing the Other authentically as man to man is an almost forgotten manner of pre-reflexive communication of self-aware beings that joins together nothing else by primary humanity. Nobody in the cynical and ironical culture of spectacle of the global era addresses anyone else any more except through some intermediate role. Multimedia art of the late modern period in all its deconstructionist operations into the actual vanished subject of the speech constantly replied to the shock and provocation of the commodified illusionary image of the world as supermarket of consumer magic with irony, with the adoption of the very same techniques of casting a spell on reality like all good ad-industry manipulation. Every media preacher or political demagogue right back to the Bolshevik or Nazi movement addressed the Other as fiction of the collective will (people, class, society). Even the developed democratic technique of ruling the masses with the aid of convincing groups of the public to endow their electoral vote to the party and its leader by invoking the will of the people never mentions man as man. Let us forget stories about the pathos of a native concept in language use. The borders of modern humanism are not knocked down by the rational criticism of conservative nominalism or nationalism that from Joseph de Maistre, thinker of the aristocratic political reaction to the French Revolution, considers man simply a political illusion: “I have never seen man as such. But I have seen Frenchmen, Germans…” On the contrary, its borders have been set by a historical reduction of man to the regent of a territorial limited sovereignty of the nation state. The citizen is the embodiment of political man in modern democratic states. Roman republicanism set the foundations for this exalted figure of generality, but reduced him to the common denominator of the imperial power of Rome.
Authentic communication with man as such assumes an internal criticism of the restricted achievement of representative democracy. The whole of the 20th century of the development of western democracy is the history of the permanent crisis of the legitimacy of the representative liberal democratic order. From Rousseau to the anarchists, social utopians, Marx, Korsch and the movement of the new left of the sixties against the borders of capitalism and the illusoriness of political parliamentarianism there has been a basic suspicion of the point and effectiveness of political power alienated from man himself. To be a genuine metapolitical subject means to address the Other in the way of his conceived and lived universality. Hence Martinis in the communicational post-enlightenment return to the value of man as universal being of community does not address the Other as special case of the individual will. He does not communicate with the Other as bearer of national characteristics, different in race, diverse in sex. Addressing the Other man to man is a primary act of resorting to the consciousness, to what links us at all in the common life. This is a humble appeal to a return to humanity. We are not primarily different, that is, Other, but the same. By being the same, acknowledged in universality as beings of the community, the political community being just a closed framework of a broader community (the world, the cosmos), and the characterised political act of a highly reordered life in the world cannot refer only to the tyranny of man over other creatures and nature in general, it is possible to understand the metapolitics of truth in a utopian way as a journey to democracy. But democracy is not an aim, rather a political means so that the humanity of humanity in the community of living creatures should fulfil its purpose. That is why the way is consecrated. In it can be recognised the point of what was set from outside as objective and target – the metapolitics of truth.
Addressing the Other as man to man goes beyond the modern self-intelligibility of democratic policy directed to the materialisation of civil and political liberties. The real aim of communication with the Other is the confirmation of the rights of man, achieving the experiences of that irreplaceable freedom that is without foundation, contingent and factual, and enables something such as change or situation or freedom of choice. In his artistic project, Dalibor Martinis almost esoterically rises over the modern reduction of political communication with citizens. As universal enlightener he knows that humanitas of homo humanum in general enables every possible degeneration of humanity and every possible degeneration of the original meaning of politics. Martinis is thus a repoliticised artist of utopian power of human statement without any fall into the pathos of the lie of propaganda. The cynical and ironic structure of the contemporary language of the media for this multimedia artist is the real pathos, the kitsch of horror in which since speech and addressing the Other as a man has been lost forever. This critical post-humanism of the prophetic-reflexive speech with its persuasion to democracy in fact just repeats the list of democratic or republican virtues, and nothing else, in the new context of overwhelming democratic apathy. The messages that the artist leaves in the lonely stations along the road are not the philosophical aphorisms of some anonymous charlatan. They are there in parallel with the vast pasted-up jumbo posters, the omnipresent graffiti of the unbridled alternatives on the walls of the bunkers and huts, and the weird highway architecture of Croatia, not comparable with anything else precisely because in its originality it is irreducible to any recognisable model of construction. The addressing/conversion of man in the serious play of the election strategy of persuasion to democracy is accomplished by the textural message – the only media of authentic communication with man as man. The multimedia artist has replaced the traditional picture with the realised iconoclasm of the text. The exalted statement of the artist prophet takes over text as media abstraction of consciousness. But this is not a matter of any kind of prophecy of the future, rather of the act of persuasion to the democratic right-obligation-consciousness of the anonymous traveller: to choose the right to choose independently of whether there is anything positive to choose in it at all. The act of election in an esoteric sense shows the freedom of man to vote for the universality of the democratic idea. The project of the scrupulous actionism of Dalibor Martinis is a genuine appeal of an artist for a change of consciousness about the possibility of changing the democratic apathy of society. This is a gesture of radical opposition to every individual flight from responsibility. On each one of the elected stations of the way to democracy one message indicates a response to another station. The linear sequence is not endless, just as every human path has its beginning and ending.
The mystique of travelling in space-time in which every person takes on some responsibility for the general good by the act of his own decision is practically Martinis’s individual creative copy of the (oc)cult film of Wim Wenders Paris, Texas. The road architecture of the Istrian and coastal moorland province conceals some kind of station of redemption, because the buses are here mainly late, and the time measured by the clock passes flows like the sand in the hourglass. Every traveller in these concrete resorts of rest and meditation is exposed to the view and persuasion of the Other. Irrespective of whether they are advertising messages, obituary notices, vulgar graffiti or pictures, the carved signs of subculture groups, names of rock bands, posters for concerts of ethno-music - all of these constitute the everyday iconosophic inventory of a media produced reality of a traveller. Martinis has cast a spell on the idea of travelling to democracy with his own choice. He has chosen the repoliticised act of intervention in the space-time of the media suffocation of an unknown man as lonely traveller. That is why the project I am addressing you man to man is indeed a metapolitical intimate act of truth. Without noise or raising the voice, without the manifested violence of neo-avant-garde provocation in the squares of the false thrones the artist has come from the interactive video work Coma via his Binary Sequence to the simplest, primordial message of addressing/converting man on the way to democracy. His physical absence is the presence of the fragile sign of the artistic message: no, it is not I, the ARTIST. This from the spirit of the feast-day of the metapolitics of truth speaks forth the event of the persuasion of man to sacrifice for the general good. I, the ARTIST, that is someone else, speaking with the Rimbaud-Pessoa language of way out of the pure subjectivity of the individual. The stations are to Martinis’s project understood as unavoidable ecstasies of the wisdom of the journey that requires the gravity of enlightenment. In this sense in the new repoliticised surrounded of care for the good of the community the artist goes back to the ancient esoteric and Gnostic sources. This kind of procedure, then, is nothing new. Martinis respects the tradition of the avant-garde from Duchamp, Malevich, Beuys, Klein, Kiefer all the way to the neo-modern conceptual artists who set up syncretic spirituality as alternative to the institutional monotheistic religions of the West. If in the metapolitics of truth alternative action resides in the micro-communities of solidarity and interaction with socially outcast, the weak, the humiliated and the abandoned, becoming part of the heretical movement of social subversion of the system of neo-imperial globalism, then it is self-intelligible that spiritual of the primordial is found “somewhere else”. Neo-gnosticism is not completely against the exposure of the body or substance in space-time. Its intention is nevertheless much more exalted: to show that the process of human redemption from original sin and from ignorance occurs in ecstasies. Instead of the circles in which in his suffering man as man rises to the divine essence of his own humanity, the contemporary traveller, the nomad, the drifter is constantly on the road, looking for some longed-for place of utopia. On this way he sees nothing else. Images of landscape slip past his area of perception, because he is always reading something, sending SMS messages, listening to music, chattering with other travellers, thinking emotionally shaken or very pleasurably of the pleasure in the look on the face of the Other. All his sufferings are the universal sufferings of humanity. The world of late modern globalisation is a locally networked system of countless stations on the way. This neurotic kinetics of necessity and freedom of rest must have within it the toleration of pain. The traveller thus instead of the natural images of the landscape catches other sensory perceptive signals. The media chaos of information has its own borders. Dalibor Martinis knows this well. That is why his maxims for the democratic traveller are simple messages like the new age aphorisms after a tasty meal in a Chinese restaurant. Only in this is it possible to find the ironic treatment of the textual message.
But the real model of the utopian game of the persuasion to democracy is nevertheless binary. One thing is the positive recall of the elementary democratic values – solidarity, freedom, the separate rights of women, workers, the handicapped, non-violence, active reform of representative democracy, respect for the diversity of worldviews, justice – and the other is the negative manipulation of the democratic process of rule. The binary sequence of democratic virtues has its negative reflect in the deformation of virtues. Martinis’s textual manual for the enlightened (metapolitical) traveller of the truth does not run from the reality of contemporary political practice. The rule of mediocrity and the lack of civil courage, indeed of civil disobedience to unjust laws of the politocratic minority is the demon of reality of every democratic illusion. That is why this is a genuinely utopian project. At the end of the route we are not awaited by the real glory of divine democracy. In this Martinis is a kind of neo-Gnostic agnostic. For democracy is not just an idea of the rule of a free and wise nation existing on earth, but a faith, a civil religion of redemption. This is the last nook of patriotism without any relapse into blind hatred for other “homelands”. The home of democracy is a-homelandish, like that nomadic camp in the desert that the ancient Tibetan legend tells of. Whoever wants to be enlightened, will be. It is up to everyone to make the decision to choose his own path. Martinis has taken the path of quiet and unobtrusive presence without body/sign, dematerialised even of the repoliticised practice of the artist-in-the-community. His address to man as man, finally, requires the last step of the breach of the visual and semantic network of the banal mass media quotidian.
The utopianising of reality by the persuasion to democracy needs a completely reflexive art of the metapolitics of truth. When the artist resorts to the human dignity of the person urging him as person to take on responsibility for the community, this kind of conceptual act requires something very exalted, which Pericles in his final address to the dead fighters for the freedom of the homeland, the polis, Athens, put down as the one pointful act of politicians at all: the sacrifice of self. Sacrificial communication surpasses tragedy, because this is a post-tragic age of banal and absurd deaths on the journey through the space-time of the global nausea of living. The other utopian mark of Martinis’s internal communication with Wenders can be found in the actual claustrophobic structures of these lonely stations on the road. In the film Sky over Berlin, the Angle comes down from the sky and in trams, tubes, talks with weary travellers/sufferers about love, death, friendship. Martinis does not assume the function of the Wenders angel of addressing someone man to man. The absent and decorporealised artist of the subversion of the political in general leaves through his messages to persons the identity of the artist-at-work. Only the work and the event of this fascinating project of an intimate democratic school for a different world is the text. This is a project for literate people. And although in the age of racial discrimination, in the America of the sixties this was the last reason for the enlightenment mission of the fighters for human rights – making people literate – today it does not seem any the less current, this basic thought of enlightenment education. To know how to read the signs on the road to democracy is more than an artistic act. And what else did Dalibor Martinis as artist wish to say, addressing Thee, lonely traveller, man to man?