[The Seven by Nine Squares home page] [YAWN 13] [Art Strike 1990-1993]

Real Life

Now that the Art Strike has begun, what is needed most is to renounce it. The thought that such an (in)action can be treated by some as a "work of art" is reason enough. This fetishization through esthetics is one of the tendencies the Art Strike had hoped to discredit. The best thing to do now is simply to stop referring to the Art Strike, which is, after all, just another plaything to make the mind do somersaults.

From this point we might now turn our attention to real life. What is required in doing this is still as poorly understood as the reality that makes it necessary. In spite of this, we can come to feel, intuitively, that a life lived is a concrete expression of a personal aggregate of ideas and beliefs, most of which come from outside of us, yet which result in a personal and subjective synthesis. It is in this synthesis that what each of us truly wants in life can be realized. This is ultimately much more satisfying than any art form, or even the refusal of an art form, for that matter.

What is it that we want in life? Much of human life is a quest for satisfaction. Lack is engineered into our biology. We crave food, shelter, companionship, and sex. Each of these fit into empty spaces left in ourselves. There are many chemical and mechanical reasons for this, which need not interest us here. Suffice it to say, many of us spend our lives fitting square pegs into round holes, trying to fill one of these sore voids in us with a mismatch, ineffectively. A morbidly obese person, for example, might be trying to answer a lack of companionship with food. This is obviously counterproductive.

The mass culture industry has much to gain from having entire populations engaged in futile quests. The cycle of production and consumption, which most of us think we understand so well yet which is filled with so many metaphysical subtleties, is perpetuated effectively by means of encouraging human beings to act like machines. There are many mechanisms in place for squelching those who fail to comply. Mindfulness is the thing we need most now in the world.

What's at stake in this is our own ability to listen to ourselves. We need to acquire the ability to shut out many external forces for long enough to figure out what we expect of ourselves, and the culture that we all tacitly support simply by functioning in it. All too often, the personal synthesis we construct from the external forces of peer group pressure, mass media, and the results of parenting and education, reside in us, dormant or hypnotized, to such an extent that many of us go to the grave without considering the real nature of our endless search for fulfillment.

All there is to it is to live. The real, honest things we feel (and constantly suppress) must not be prohibited. The forbidden practices of non-productivity and refusing to participate are what we must allow ourselves. Never again must we feel obliged to perform meaningless repetitive tasks that only exacerbate the waste built into the system and which serve to numb us. The creative changes we feel like making must be made. We must liberate the power of whim. We must carefully listen to what is said to us, and then invite further communication by commenting meaningfully. Our honest, insistent attempts to do these things can only result in an improvement of our collective condition.