CULTURE IS SLAVERY

Pedro Riva

A brief word from the editor:

When I was in school I won my first prize. I was barely adolescent. The prize confirmed I was a great artist and would go on to achieve acclaim later in life. The competition: design a pizza. And so I did. I drew a face on mine, with mushroom eyes. How unoriginal I thought to myself. Perhaps I captured something in those mushroom eyes the judges recognised that I was too young to appreciate myself. Too close to the work. I took not a great deal of time in the execution of my pizza drawing and thought little of it until I was notified I had come first in the competition. I was to receive a prize of 20 vouchers – for free frozen Chicago Town Deep Dish pizzas. Not full size ones, rather, mini ones. Like small pies. Nobody likes these pizzas and to this day I’ve never seen anyone either purchase or eat one. Because the vouchers were valid for a short time our freezer ended up overflowing with small cardboard boxes. I would have to eat every last one of them. As such, I learnt an early lesson in life: Success tastes like hot cheese scolding the roof of your mouth.

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In the Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, Kojève develops the master–slave dialectic. Here, the origin of history and the origin of human relationships is raised. History begins when two thinking desires are connected. The desire of one human desires the desire of the other. Humans want the other humans to recognise them and submit to them.

Humans want desires. The animal wants things and eats them. The conscience of human is desire, it is not an interiority, humans are thrown outward wanting things. The two desiring consciences present a fight to death, it is resolved when one of the two consciences is afraid to die and submits. The one who is afraid of dying puts the fear of death before the desire.

The dominant figure is the master, the other figure with fear of dying is the slave.

The master depends on death. The slave depends on life.

This is the beginning of human history. The master does not kill the slave, the master allows the slave to live and only destroys the slave’s autonomy. The master needs the slave to stay alive and to be recognised. The master must subdue the slave.

The slave does not risk life anymore, and the master becomes lazy.

The master is totally dissatisfied. The master risked their life to get recognition, but the recognition has lost all value. The one who recognises the master as a master is a slave, someone who is no longer autonomous.

The slave works for the master, the master is paralysed in passivity, leisure and enjoyment. The master receives what the slave gives and becomes an idle being. The slave works the matter. The slave begins to build the culture because the culture is the work that the human exerts transforming the matter.

The slave creates and feels more human than the master. Working with matter the slave discovers humanity and creates history. The slave transforms nature, owns nature, masters nature. The master stays passive, and the slave becomes active. The master only consumes what the slave makes, the master destroys what the slave has made.

The slave develops the culture. The slave rejects its instinct to consume right away the raw material, the slave transforms nature. Work is the negation of desire, it is formation and education. When forming the object to be consumed by the master, the slave educates themselves.

The slave denies the master by taking power over the culture.

The revolutionary transformation done by the slave negates the given nature, negates the matter by transforming it, and negates the given world by not accepting it. The origin of this negation happens because of the terror the slave feels when they are afraid to die under the hands of the master. The master unintentionally ferments the slave’s freedom. At the same time, the only way for the master to experience freedom is dying. Death must take place in combat.

This is the master-slave dialectic.

Later in history appears god, and both slave and master become slaves of god. It is equality in the servitude of the divine. The religious human is slave and master at the same time, master of the universe but slave of god. Slave to the capital, but not to their own capital. The unhappy religious humans believe their actions belong to god. Sad lonely workers serving the divine. The religious humans do not know that they are reaffirming their individuality through the action of work, transforming the matter.

The church is the seed of the state.

The human must forget the misery of the awaiting and become active in the state. The slave is now the citizen of the state, and voluntarily chooses to work. The real bürger is the citizen, the synthesis of master and slave, the soldier that works and the worker ready for war, the private owner.

Hegel expresses the triumph of the bourgeoisie, and the appearance of a new historical subject. Marx, develops a philosophical thought that starts from matter to express this new historical subject. The proletariat works with matter in the factory of the aristocrat/bourgeois. The proletariat is based on the slave of Hegel who works the matter.

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The Artist made a print on a white fabric referencing the Battenberg cake.

The Print has 4 rectangles of around 40 centimetres each, 2 pink, 2 yellow, same colours as the cake. The same as The Artist, the cake originates in England, and the same as The Artist, the concept and the history behind the cake is obscure, could be made on a production line or belonging to aristocracy. On the sides of the print we can read “Battenberg Cake History Again”.

Let’s say the cake feeds the lazy aristocrat, feeds the master, fattens the master.

Let’s say the cake was cooked and materialised by the slave, the working slave making culture.

Let’s say the slave appropriates the symbols and colours of the master.

Let’s say the slave replicates the master’s orders.

Let’s say The Artist’s print made by The Artist’s hand fattens the culture, fattens the art world.

Let’s say The Artist remains trapped inside their architectural studio walls, working the culture, making more cake for the master.

Let’s say The Artist: “Battenberg Cake History Again” is just the malfunction of the instructions received by a left out worker from the big English family, a rotten cloth hanging in a forgotten room.

Why has The Artist decided to work their culture in foreign lands? What is to be a foreigner? What is it to be an artist in a foreign land? How is it possible to create culture in a land that is not our land? Is The Artist colonising Norway with foreign culture?

Is The Artist replicating the foreign culture inside Norwegian monarchy? What is the cake of the Norwegian aristocracy?

Who works the material for the Norwegian aristocracy?

Who owns Equinor (formerly Statoil) and Kulturrådet?

What is the government of Norway?

How different is paying tax to the government and paying royalties to the king?

Is The Artist a joyful, inactive and pacific artist?

Am I talking about The Artist?

Why do they fight if there is no victory that can change their nature?

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The structures of art facilitate the spreading of the artists around the world, as the exotic and as the universal truth. The traveler artist, bouncing around thanks to the universal language of art. Anyone around the world can relate to the creation of the individual, the individual represents the universal, the exotic becomes the familiar. The traveler artist conquers. The traveler artist does not name the places conquered, more likely these places name the traveler artist. The cosmopolitan artist belongs to the world, and any art should be comprehensible in any corner of the universe.

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In a foreign land where sugar and carrots mix together, a small totem was laminated with the tongue of every newborn. After a while the small totem disappeared, the people of the foreign land banged their heads and started chanting war hymns, one which went like this: Hammer and Plutonium bring our ashes from the clouds, so we can be brave enough again to spit lava into the More Enough. As soon as the chanting was extinguished by the frenetic rapping of each other, they took one shot of Cognac and marched against their foreign land neighbour. The foreign land’s neighbours were peacefully eating flowers from the trees and drinking river water. They collected their pee and fed it to a giant goat that nurtured the new borns. When the invader finally arrived, the goat was sleeping up in the mountain, and the people were laying on the ground already dead. As a dog feels fear they felt anger. The invader was sad and desperate, and the Cognac effect was over. The problem was relinquished.

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All this and much more in the next “Culture is Slavery”, stay tuned and be part