Peter Vahlefeld
Say Yes – Do No or keep up with the Joneses

As Einstein famously pointed out, we cannot solve a problem by using the same type of thinking that created the problem in the first place. Over the past 30 or so years, most people have chosen to pursue the rewards of conformity instead of the fruits of revolt. What they have been left with are boring und dull lives, ugly and stupid places and a planet pushed to the very edge of destruction by capitalism’s efforts to keep feeding them new promises of consumable happiness, and elaborate architectures of lies and selfdeceptions.

Influence has replaced representation and spin now substitutes for honest communication. The biggest problem is a silent tyranny of consensus. All too often you hear people say that they can’t do things because it has not been approved. Fuck this – you are the leader. The object is to collapse the system by undermining pillars of support. One of those pillars of support is public opinion and the media to labels us. It was the beginning of a symbiotic relationship between advertising and media, where even politics will be advertised.

Media chokes us, coerces us, makes us believe that being more than human is better than being. I see women desperately seeking perfection, enslaves by their magazines’ false ideals – too much of nothing.

I see selfishness. I see caricatures and parodies aspiring to become iconic. I see posers paddling in a media pool waxing lyrical about life, believing that they know. They know nothing. They swim in style, adrift in champagne politics. True, we live freely within a capitalist ethos of consumption and we all work to live.

The wealthiest and most fashionable people have been made even wealthier and more fashionable – by poorer people who pay to look at pictures of them going to private parties and expensive restaurants or to read accounts of their luxurious lifestyles and love affairs.

This is the era of what Baudrillard called »cool money«, wherein financial instruments flow within an independent sphere, seemingly detached from the real economy, as if finance was its own self-perpetuating reality.

Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. The truth is we are not in control. But that’s not the worst of it.

We suspect, indeed we know, that no one is in control: no God, no glorious leader, no benevolent dictator, nothing and no one. It’s even worse than the fantasy behind the »Wizard of Oz« and the »Emperor’s New Clothes« – there is no wizard and no emperor.

It is as if we are living in quicksand. We try to dig ourselves out and we dig ourselves deeper. Why do we have a general feeling of powerlessness?

One reason is the profound separation of politics and power. The fact is that today politics and power have fallen apart in liberal democracy. They are divorced. We know this.

The referent of power is not the people and is not located in national governments. It is elsewhere: with financial institutions or the European Central Bank. And these are the institutions that European governments serve, not the people.

The casualty of this separation of politics and power is the State. The state has become eviscerated, discredited, and its credit rating has been slashed (Greece, Brexit, etc.)

Why did we allow a cavalry of marketing hits to assail our minds every minute of every day, each of them telling us the same lie: that to live is to consume and to consume is to live?

Change the way information flows and meaning is produced. Break through the commercial monopoly on the production of meaning.

The past is a rush of data streams cut and rearranged into a new mashup, while truth is something you assemble yourself on your own screen as you jump from link to link.

We are now in the middle of a second Gutenberg shift – from book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality.

Google will digitize all human cultural heritage. Should we expect that it will all be sponsored? It already happens in Google Book Service – you can read a book with advertising included in the pages.

Mass media vs. mass people. The effective units of power are now huge corporations, inaccessible government and a grim military establishment.

It is because of the ineffectiveness of smaller human associations, that the classic liberal public has waned, and I in fact being replaced by a mass society.

We feel that we do not belong because we are not – not yet at least, and not entirely – mass people.

Not even do we connect with that, on the contrary, this notion of mass people distracts and obscures my chance to understand myself or my world, by fastening my attention span upon artificial frenzies, socialized factories of social media, and mass media pseudo-worlds.

The internet became the real world and our physical reality became the thing that needed to be defined and set aside.

The internet has pushed the gas pedal on the culture of consumption harder than ever before. The capitalist algorithm of Crack, Ritalin and a Viagra society.

Let’s play jazz. The only way to turn back a straight line is with a curve! Or follow Miles Davis’ advice on how to play jazz: be spontaneously alive and play what’s not there.

Lets splatter ink across a page. A black spot is the anti-logo, a logo to wipe out logos, a brand that no one can own.

It represents ... nothing ... or maybe what it feels like to be alive today.

Blackspot selfies on Instagram. It’s nextlevel graffiti, the tag of rebellion ... not art, exactly, but life as an art project. Black is a shade of negation.

The black flag is the negation of all flags. Black is a mood of anger and outrage at all the hideous crimes against humanity perpetrated in the name of allegiance to one state or another.

It is anger and outrage at the insult to human intelligence implied in the pretenses, hypocrisies, and cheap harassments and freak shows of governments.

People in a highly connected yet deeply fragmented society can no longer rely on a central canon for guidance. They are forced into the modern existential blackness of creating their own cultures, beliefs, markets and identities from a sticky mess of interdependent pieces.

Since all gods have been created by man, man is free to create further gods who are far more credible than him.

Abstraction, the last flicker of the Western imagination.

Theory makes little sense unless it is understood as part of the desperate effort to find a way out, to create cracks so that the light gets in.