This text is a part of the work Darkness Visible, which is a multipartite work in progress, at the moment consisting of 7 paintings, 2 CDs of music, a video and a text leaflet. More info about this multipartite can be found on www.teemumaki.com. This work should not be confused with Darkness Visible – Essays on Art, Philosophy and Politics, which is a book – published by LIKE / Academy of Fine Arts (2005/2007) – that contains the written part of my doctoral thesis.


MUSIC AND POLITICS #1 (philosophy is there in between)
my way is in the sand flowing

I do not know anything, except that I was born, will some day die, and am not able to be silent.

Samuel Beckett

MUSIC AND POLITICS #1 (philosophy is there in between)

(by Teemu Mäki, 6. version, 22.1.1999–19.10.2001)

...in the voice of an atheist, vitalist, perspectivist, sad(omasoch)ist and a kind of communist:

The basic philosophical questions are these: What is the world like, how does it function? Who am I and what is my position in the machinery of the world? What would I like the world and me become? What do I actually want? How and what do I actually feel? How should I live? Why should I go on living?

I make art because I hope it can be the most comprehensive form of practicing philosophy, facing these questions.


I'm a perspectiv(al relativ)ist. I believe that everything, also and in particular values, are relative, and there are no facts independent of perspective and interpretation. Most definitely there are no moral facts. So murder is not wrong, its just a very expensive commodity. Values originally result from a perspective, body is the original perspective, but later they reciprocally influence that perspective. I don't think deterministically that values adopted by an individual, and the whole spectrum of experiences from meaningfulness to utter disgust that result from them, could be directly traced back to the sum of environment and genes, to the perspective that those create. Even if we assume an individual to be a helpless subject printed into this world from the files of the environment and genotype, in practice the formulation of the outcome is so complex and lasts till the death of the individual, that the concept of free will can be used be it an illusion or not. Why this blabber about the contradiction of causality and free will? Because some kind of trust at least in the illusion of free will is the prerequisite of my kind of perspectivism. Perspectivism means that what something looks like, what something is, depends on the context, on who is looking and on the way of looking that the viewer has accidentally or intentionally chosen. Some perspectives are more useful than others, and the perspective, and values attached, that I choose would not necessarily be useful for others even if they were in my situation and body. Or me. The building site for the common good is the smallest lot in the world. What is good for me may be your destruction. An individual doesn't necessarily even want others to adopt his own values. To strive for a consensus about values is just a tool, a lubricant of social life, of co-existence. Our permanent disagreement about values is not just an unhealing wound of the social body; its also a fruitful soil that we cultivate...


...what are values? An outcome of the needs and desires of an individual. An individual adopts a system of values that he believes leads to the maximum satisfaction of his needs and desires. He is often mistaken. You can die of hunger because you perceive, from religious reasons, cows to be sacred beings, not to be eaten or milked, a perspective that from my perspective seems irrational the one who starves to death standing by a cow has chosen his values badly. Still, I can't prove it impossible that the one who starved to death at the age of 30 maybe lived a meaningful life full of vitality, perhaps more so than mine and perhaps precisely because of his cow-worship...


...what I said about morality applies to beauty too: Esthetical hierarchies are systems of signifiers expressing personal needs and desires. All kind of hierarchies can exist, all natural. Mainstream concepts of beauty, those that have been named as natural and universal on the basis of a fictional consensus, often violently collide with personal ones. Swallowing the esthetical mainstream hierarchies implies submission to the values behind them. These esthetics/values cater first and foremost to the needs of someone other than you; to the needs of the advertiser, the ruling class, maintenance of order in the class society. Esthetic propaganda is the whip and gun of consumerism. It instills in the citizen those desires that serve the accelerating an-end-in-itself-circle of production and consumption. This is why I think that for it to be meaningful art should not be beautiful in the popular sense of the word, but debate what is beautiful. Ask why. If it wants to have anything to do with the whole concept...


...beauty? no thanks, I don't smoke it.

I don't use the term, its too vague. It irritates me, often without proper reason, after all usually it just expresses that the speaker thinks something is nice, desirable, respectable. But often the term is used to make grounds and reasons seemingly unnecessary, questions redundant, by claiming some archetypical, universal, consensus producing good, whose manifestation the beauty is supposed to be. As a decent relativist/subjectivist I believe in no such thing. What can I replace the term beauty with? My proposition: meaningfulness.


Beauty is appropriateness, functionality. That is why its in the eye of the beholder. You see as beautiful the things you desire intensely, concretely or symbolically. You can desire peace, luxury, being slim, order, chaos, protection, safety, unexpectedness, intoxication or to see your neighbor's blood bleed. Anything. Esthetical hierarchies follow from the hierarchies of personal needs and lusts. Esthetics results from morality. You are only partly aware of your own hierarchy of values. Intuitive, esthetical predilections can then reveal more of those values, for him or her or for others.


...morality is the product of culture. The one who is on top can get his own system of values, a system that he believes benefits him that is sold to others disguised as the common good. If the norms of the ruling class don't sell, a class war can happen. That, however, is a noisy exception, impossible in a consumer capitalistic society: here the moral norms and standards of beauty are just as dear to those who suffer from them, as they are to those who benefit from them. This is so because the shared values and standards have been rammed into people's brains not with rifle butts but by seduction with beauty. So what you see as beautiful is not necessarily useful, functional, appropriate, good for him or her, but for someone else. When a thing that is beautiful is harmful to the one that sees it as being beautiful, we can talk about the illusion of functionality. There are more relevant examples of this than anorexia...


...by speaking, by drawing, by singing, by organizing reality in my thoughts, I represent my existence, train myself to like what otherwise just is. I play god, the most hilarious game of all: I recreate the world in my mind; impose my own interpretation against its overwhelming complexity. Maintaining this illusion of independence is essential in order to live, function and not become catatonic. I need no other motives.

By representing reality I strengthen my own experience of existence. The less vitality arising from physical danger there is in my life luckily the more important is the strengthening of the experience of existence through representation. I do not need purpose in my life, but only the ability to experience it as meaningful. The thought that artistic representation, non-utilitarian self-expression, is an absolute necessity as the way of maintaining and intensifying the experience of existence is vital to me. It unites the vitalistic and relativistic facets of my philosophy, plus it already as such blesses art with a role of deadly serious importance to justify my profession.


What is representation actually?

We really only exist in our brains. I mean that all things exist to me only as data files in my brain. There is no direct connection to the world outside. Visual and auditive pictures of things are formed in my brain from the data received by my senses or just from ideas already there. Even my body is just a picture to me, a picture constantly updated by sensorial information and my opinions. We can reach beyond our cortex only through representations. Representations of reality are more intense to us than reality, not only because factual reality exists only as representations to us, but also because factual reality as such is objective, unemotional. The idea that reality could be conveyed to us as it is, as a fact, by representations is a fiction, but an important fiction. When we notice something, unsurprised, not moved or touched by the view, seemingly as such, like just making a routine inventory of the composition of things at hand, we could perhaps say that a mildly creative interpretation takes place, a feeble picture relatively close to pure observation is born. However, when we notice something more important to us, it diminishes the purity, the objectivity, of our observation fast as the creativity of the interpretation grows more urgent. The more important the observation is, the more closely its connected to the perspective from which its made. Only when an individual observes factual reality from a particular perspective, only when we subjectively recreate it in our mind, process it into emotion-laden pictures, only then it becomes significant for us. The possibility of passion arises. Could I then, by awkward transition, claim that art, whenever it succeeds in its attempt to be art, is more (intensive) than life?

...reason and art

...to be an artist is to mistrust reason. Unless you are a decorator disguised as an artist. Taking art seriously equals challenging the omnipotence of science. Reason isn't the best tool for sculpting a life more worth living it's just a tool. Thanks to intellect and science we are still here. And numerous. Reason also equipped us with innumerable ways of achieving instant but mild gratification. It also made it more difficult for us to reach soul-stirring passion. In this sense it has failed us. Like bungee-jumping and drugs. The experiences and emotions that we are after take place mostly in the unconscious. With reason we try to create a space for these experiences and emotions, but this space is not in reason. Reason is an ax. With it we build a house of timber and chop up the firewood to keep the house warm. But there is no use for it inside the house. The best art includes all the knowledge relevant to its theme and keeps on going from there in the dark. (Bataille 's non-savoir.)


I like music. I own thousands of CDs. When I was poor, I often didnt have enough food or enough money to pay the rent, but I still refused to sell any CDs from my collection. Instead I had sex with people for money, beat up people for money, and stole whatever I could. When I travel, half of my luggage is CDs: the ones that I can't be without right now. In my loft I always let the music play, except when I'm sleeping or watching a video. Wife and kid have adapted to this. Nothing beats sitting alone in the dark, listening to CDs, that is when I'm alive the most. I never go out without a portable CD-player and headphones. I press play before I close my front door. Running into friends, even those that I've missed, is usually irritating being forced to press the pause button is a distraction that does the music no favors. Often I move to the other side of the street before they notice me. What kind of a man am I then? I'd like to be more but I wouldn't want to be anybody else.


(by Teemu Mäki, 29.10.1998)

Somebody starves to death somewhere, somebody else feasts in luxury somewhere else. What is their relation? If the luxury is there at the expense of the starved, does it automatically cause guilt in the mind of the exploiter? If the feeling of guilt does arise, does the luxury lose its taste? If the guilt, experience of it, doesn’t arise, is the exploiter emotionally numb? To be without guilt, is it to be unable or unwilling to feel in general? Can you experience guilt, suffer from it, and yet whenever the time is right just switch to another mode and willingly enjoy feasting at the expense of others? Somebody is dying of hunger on the other side of the TV-screen; somebody else is feasting on this side of the TV-screen. This is a fact. Who is hurt by this? The one who dies of hunger. The one in slave labor in a sneaker factory. What about me? Who benefits from this? The owners of the sneaker factory? The one who feasts and watches telly. Does the ice-cream have more intense taste when on TV there is something to compare it with, ice-creamlessness? If on the other side of the screen there was somebody with chocolate, should I have the most expensive caviar to still have this luxurious feeling? If everybody gets caviar, a Mercedes and vacations in Bermudas, will we some day all of a sudden realize that a carrot, day care and sauna is enough? Tell that to the last cupful of rice. If everybody had TV and chocolate, would the paradise be not only here but everywhere? Or would at least the desperation be gone? An unemployed person who is more interested in alcohol than the public library: how much happier is he than the starving one? What do I use to measure the difference? Am I now getting rather gloomy? Lets get back to the point. What if I decide that the deprivation of the majority is not the result of the luxury of the minority, if the privileged are not feasting at the expense of the poor, do I still think that the poor must be helped? Does guilt arise? Does it lead to action? On whose behalf and against whom? Or do I choose pity? Maybe also charity? Unless it interferes with my mortgage payments. Are pity and charity the results of the ill feeling that seeing a being like me starve to death causes? Or are the pity and charity a result of the wealth? Because of my wealth I can afford them. Because of my wealth I need them. Why? I'm standing on top of the mountain of my riches, and to experience the sweet dizziness of it I have to look down, and down there in the abyss there must be people starving to death. The underprivileged must be helped; do I think so because that's just how it is, automatically, or because its in my own interest to do so, not to be faced with an angry revolt of the poor later? Is that what I'm afraid of? Or am I afraid that my indifference to people starving proves my affection to my child shallow and false? Does it? Shallow and false to whom? To me, to others or to my child? Can't the commandant of a concentration camp, in his spare time, be a good father?


(8. version, 1994–24/2001, written by Juha-Pekka Hotinen and Teemu Mäki )

There is no God and I don't believe in the existence of good and evil. Moral principles and ethical standards are the product of culture and always become tools for the society's power-elite, usually the rich, and adapt to the ambitions of those in power, maintaining the status quo. The common good only occasionally exists. Everybody is a beefsteak to somebody else. To live is to give birth, to live is to kill, and sometimes, simultaneously, its something else too, like humor. We are separate, discontinuous beings: Your good can be my evil and vice versa. Every man is an island but the water between gives us life. Harmony doesnt exist: existence consists of incompatible opposites that often attract.
Life has no purpose. Unless you project one onto it. I mean that life itself, the fact that we exist, doesnt give a person purpose, but only the drives for bodily preservation and propagation. These drives create needs because Im an animal. These needs are not sufficient as a purpose. The easier it is to physically survive, the less this suffices to give content to life as there is more superfluous time to be bored.

Many people, perhaps everyone, have of course some sort of answer. His life has some purpose, meaning, goal, or task. But he has invented them. Before that, his life was purposeless. He has projected this purpose he has projected in front of him like a carrot, so that he would chase it, for if you don't run, you sink into boredom, you stultify. So you really have to project a purpose onto your life: Boredom is the only human dilemma and self-suggestion the skill of life.

I think that all of a person's so-called problems, every single one, psychological, sexual, social, as well as economic, are because of frustration. Frustration arises when a person chooses his purpose in life wrongly. Frustration also arises when his ability to project this purpose into his life is weak; the suspicion begins to gnaw at him that his life should have some other filling besides the fulfillment of basic needs that he has and purposes he has invented and projected onto his life. I also become frustrated when I do not succeed in achieving even those goals that I set myself as a pretext to give my life fulfillment and purpose.

When I become frustrated, I become anxious, become bitter, become angry. This seems to be inevitable as long as I have emotions; life itself is will to power. Malicious pleasure is a mundane but reliable source of enjoyment; you can empathize with a victim but often it makes more sense to empathize with the exploiter. Only the forms of war can vary rationality can be adjusted: karate is more rational than throwing about hydrogen bombs. We are separate and discontinuous beings. Every person is an island but its precisely this ocean between us that gives us life.

Life is the functioning of nature's mechanism. It doesnt have goals, the way of this machinery seems to be just to consume energy and endlessly recycle matter. Nature gives birth to life only in order to destroy it. So nature doesnt give purpose to a person's life, neither does it give people morality; nature is invulnerable, because it doesnt wish anything, nor is there anything outside nature. A human's most surprising feature is his ability to both consciously and unconsciously observe this ritual of nature, even in himself. A person can move outside himself in his thoughts and even away from the physical into the abstract, become God that has no power but has the divine ability to play childish games with anything at hand. This is my goal. Everything that a person does is speech, which he speaks as a monologue and to which he also listens. The text that you are now reading is reality written as a text, which I speak to myself. Reality is a language. A person acts his/her life to himself. The play ends in death.

I do not want to project just any purpose onto my life, to keep apathy at bay, I choose the best: I approve purposelessness. This approval of purposelessness becomes the purpose of my life. I observe what it is, how the world functions. In front of nature's all-swallowing superior force, I want to be a scale-model of nature's mechanism, absorb its purposeless vigor, vitality, as my own but preserve my human ability for greater emotions than mere sensory perceptions. To be alive is to be in pain, this is the definition of life. Life is composed of pain and relief in turn; without pain there is not even the transitory illusion of happiness that we can experience when the pain for a moment ceases and the relief is just about to begin. Nothing makes me happy but many things make me laugh. Laughter is not happiness. Even the most wholehearted laughter can just as well be a burst of bitter irony as a flash of joy. Pain, our attempt to escape it, is the only motivator of sentient beings in nature. Pain is the foreshadowing of death and death is all. Only mortality gives me the possibility to project meaningfulness to my life in the purposeless world.

I do not know anything except that I am born, will sometime die, and am not able to be silent. By speaking, by drawing, by singing, by organizing reality in my thoughts, I represent my existence, teach myself to like what otherwise is. By representing reality, I strengthen my own experience of existence. The less, for example, vitality arising from physical danger there is in my life, luckily, the more important is the strengthening of the experience of existence through representation. I do not need purpose in my life, but only the ability to experience it as meaningful. The only way to achieve some sort of feeling of autonomy in relation to nature is to understand, examine, and exaggerate nature in the world of thoughts. I play god, the most hilarious game of all: I recreate the world in my mind; impose my own interpretation against its overwhelming complexity. Maintaining this illusion of independence is essential in order to live, function and not become catatonic. Other motives I do not need.

Approving purposelessness is not meant as submission or apathy, spiritual self-castration. I must be active in my chores, for many false life purposes obstruct me: values, events, effects, and their consumption. I must relinquish every purpose, and those, that I cannot give up, those I must expend, so that at last I reach the crest of purposelessness. For on these crests I spend my life. Without boredom. One day at a time, until I die.

When I can swallow purposelessness, I do not need anything else. I do not ask in the morning why to get up, for me its enough that I need to go to the toilet to relieve myself, and that there are many thoughts waiting to be thought. Living is meaningful when it has no frustrating pseudo-value, when it just is.

When I set myself as nature's scale model, I step outside of myself at the same time, observe myself from the outside, like God. I leave myself and approve purposelessness. Its not apathy, depression, closing my eyes or denial. Its traveling through, not around.

Purposelessness is not emptiness. Its something, precisely no thing. In that lies the difference. My embraced purposelessness, nature, as whose purposeless but industrious machine's model I present myself to myself, is not the opposite of purposefulness just as carelessness is the opposite of carefulness.

Purposelessness is not behind purposes but in front of them. Purposelessness doesnt oppress me because its always on offer, open, in front of purposes and reasons. It doesnt need to be looked for and if I look, then I find.

Its difficult to give yourself permission to live without purpose. Quite as if it were not allowed or appropriate to live without reason as its inappropriate to live without work. People before me have long felt guilt about purposelessness. As one philosopher wrote, a person is guilty even before doing something wrong, before anything has been done. I am not guilty. I do not choose guilt.

If my life is externally modest, if Im poor, and I use my time unproductively, as is said, is it insubstantial? Is it callous? Is it also useless? To whom? I ask: Is my life purposeless enough?

When I swallow purposelessness voluntarily, embrace it, it leads to sacredness. Even from an atheist the sacred doesnt disappear, but can slip into the profane, mundane and dirty, like to the body, to the outrageous, to cruelty, to lust, to humor, to shopping trolleys and dishwater. Because the sacred is in the dishwater, I don't need to search for it in moon walking, in the conquering of Africa, or in Money.


(by Teemu Mäki, 1998–2001)


What is globalization? Its the liberation of capital and commodities. Capital and commodities are made free to roam, without the limits that countries individually or together used set for them. Its said that this increases cost-effectiveness. And it does. Commodities are manufactured there where the raw materials and labor force are cheapest, the burden of taxation lightest. Commodities are sold there where the populations buying power is biggest. Participation in global capitalism is not voluntary. It penetrates your life by force. To understand globalization you must comprehend the sly disposition of violence. I'll now try to compare two of the many variants of violence: the explicit and the institutional/structural.


Explicit violence is that which is recognized as violence by almost everybody: wife beating, bullies in the schoolyard, rape. The victim of explicit violence and the bystanders plus usually also the aggressor him/herself see the act of violence as violent. Explicit violence often results from the institutional never the other way round. A person anguished by his/her own unemployment can end up beating his/her kids, which could be an example of structural violence giving birth to explicit violence. Violence results so often from the structural to the explicit that it can be difficult to tell the two apart. Its still worth trying.


To feel rich you need the poor. To be good you need the evil. As the point of comparison.

What is institutional/structural violence? Its organized, consciously or unconsciously, on the community, company or state-level. It presents itself as something else than violence; it presents itself as plain voluntary commerce, as rationalization of production, as cultural heritage, as humor. Global capitalism is the largest form of this exploitation.

The institutional/structural violence of global capitalism, rationally organized, industrially manufactured and seemingly transformed to work and production, causes more death and fruitless suffering than the explicit, physical, desperate violence that appears in society as disorders and exceptions, not as accepted practice. Why does it? Why is institutional violence so much more destructive than its private and senseless little cousin, explicit violence? One reason is its technical superiority, efficiency, and the superiority of economic stranglehold when compared with the miniscule power of a lonely stiletto. A more important reason is the way in which the institutional violence complicates, conceptualizes, makes more multi-interpretational and abstract the relationship between the exploiter and the exploited, to such a degree that its basically violent nature is invisible often both to the exploiter and to the victim. This is why it doesnt provoke the kind of primitive gut reaction of fear, disgust and empathic sorrow in the exploiter and reflex of disgust and hate in the exploited that open blood shedding would. This makes it easy to commit acts of structural violence. So a benign office-worker and mother can, semi-consciously, just by her consumer habits and voting behavior, commit more violent acts and more often than a serial killer. Her mere will to power, competitiveness, greed and even possible sadism would, as such, not demand this. They would settle for less blood. We have in our civilization sanitized and disapproved explicit violence out of sight, so creating the belief that we are almost nonviolent, civilized more than anybody anywhere before or now. But actually our violence has not withered; it has just put on a mask and grown interest.


A multinational corporation branches out to Indonesia, buys a big slab of natural forest from the state and cuts it down. The timber is used on furniture manufacture whose markets are in the U.S.A. New trees are planted on the area, the forest is replaced with a timber plantation, an unfit environment for the natives who used to live there. The corporation exports both the products and the profits, pays dismal salaries to its workers and little or no taxes to the Indonesian government.  The natives of the ex-forest have no option but to send their young to the big cities to earn money. In the city you can get work as a prostitute, as a worker in an international sneaker factory, or as the guy who washes windshields at traffic lights and then begs for money. These occupations bring in just enough money for daily survival, but there is no possibility of climbing the wealth ladder even though now the integration to the world market has taken place. The sneakers are sold in Europe. At this end of the chain of exploitation I am every year wearing a new and improved pair of sneakers that somebody stitched together on the other side of the globe, as a part of a 12-year-old's 16-hour working day. Each year the sneakers are a little better and cheaper. However, when in the shoe store, I am not a sadist and neither are you. The new sneakers feel good and as long as they are new, they look good, quite like the starting point of a new and better life. The pleasure of the new pair lasts for a week, and its a pleasure that does not arise from the fact that the pair was paid with some unknown nigger’s blood, on the contrary, the whole sophisticated idea of structural violence is that the blood it sheds remains invisible for those who consume the fruit it bears.

But why should I be against this global class society, if I am a member of the advantageous minority? This is a relevant question for everybody, not just for a relativist like me. Many people say that it goes without saying that you must fight exploitation, not only the exploitation of yourself but of others too, because, like they say, otherwise you lose your self-respect, or the starving nigger will come here tomorrow and take his revenge. I do not believe that. Is not our way of life a crushing proof of exactly the opposite? We see proof of the misery of the majority of the world’s populat ion daily on TV-news, but despite that we can buy six-dollar-per-litre premium ice cream to enjoy with tonight’s film. In principle we know that those 6 dollars would be enough to give 6 months more life to some starving family on the other side of the globe. We know this, but it does not spoil the taste of the ice cream. So why fight it?


What is capitalism? An economic system where the means of production are owned by private individuals. The owners of capital and the means of production decide about their use and direction of development. The goal of the owners is personal profit. The capitalist says that the vigorous striving for personal economic wealth increases the output of production and as a by-product automatically results in the common good. I disagree. When chocolate accumulates on the top of the pyramid of wealth, it wont necessarily ever trickle down to the ground floor.

Capitalism increases economic activity and intensifies technical progress but this is not necessarily in our common interest. Capitalism increases production and our consumer ability, but selectively: only the production and consumption of a chosen few things grows, namely those that are the most profitable. These most profitable products and services are not necessarily the ones we urgently need. Thats why the fastest growing branches of production are things like the gambling industry, prison industry, entertainment industry and brand industry. With the last mentioned Im thinking of a bottle of water whose physical content is exactly the same as tap waters but which can be sold with an unit price 100 times greater because of the mental associations that have been attached to it by marketing efforts, very different mental associations from those attached to tap water. Capitalism is a system where selling alcohol to adults and the trendy toy of this Christmas season to minors is more profitable for the enterpriser than taking care of the sick or the production of experiences that are as intensive as religious fervor (but without the side effects of religion and heroin). Capitalism is a system that makes the richest man in the world to be, by turns, the owners of the Mars chocolate emporium, an oil baron, a stock-exchange speculator and a businessman who terrorizes the computer market with his monopoly.

Capitalism claims to be the most effective form and platform of production, where the consumers are the decision-makers, democratically. A system where the needs, desires and demands of consumers, instead of an arrogant bunch of state officials, guide the flow of production. This is false. Capitalism is efficient in figuring out new ways of production, because competition in business is so ruthless, but the branch of athletics that the capitalists compete in is not the satisfaction of consumer needs but the production of consumer needs. The kinds of needs profitable for the one who brought those needs about. The law of supply and demand does give a calculatory exact price for each commodity but it doesnt prove that the commodity in question is good for the consumer or for the common good in the long run.

The victim of institutional/structural violence often doesnt even know that he/she is one, and if he/she does, there is no way to articulate the hurt, because the common language is the language of the exploiter. And as the exploiter in the system of institutional violence doesnt see or acknowledge him/herself as the exploiter there is no room in his language for the voice of the victim. An anorectic is silent and defenseless. To adopt the mainstream concepts of beauty means submitting to the values behind those concepts. These values work for someone else, the owner of the commerce whose products are marketed, the ruling class, keeping up the order of the class society. The whip and rifle of the consumer society is the esthetic propaganda with which the citizen is equipped with the desires that serve the an-end-in-itself ritual of the acceleration of production and consumption.

The fruits of structural exploitation have a confusing feature as commodities: they are mild and they have an almost solely relative value. It is confusing because to acquire these feeble pleasures the exploiter too has to work very hard: he has to organize and maintain the huge global machinery. The result is an endless amount of TV-channels, trends of fashion, chocolate and a life expectancy of an unheard-of length – all pleasures that do not make you cry out of joy. The fruits of consumer capitalism are instantly gratifying, but feeble and quickly evaporating effects that slowly make us numb. This is our real dead-end, not the suffering of the poor that is the cost of these fruits because we, the rich, can stand all the suffering that the poor can suffer. Actually we even need the suffering of the poor. Seeing the slaves on TV working for us in the engine room of global capitalism gives us the point of comparison we desperately need, and all of a sudden our personal empire of commodities, which fills our homes, appears real and valuable, at least for a moment. This is the first reason to be against the consumer capitalistic global class society.


…the nature of capitalistic business is the nature of war. That business operates by seduction, with private property and illusory individual freedom, on a seemingly voluntary base, only makes it that much more dangerous. To be exploited without really knowing it is in the long run more harmful than to be openly enslaved. In the latter you know the reason for your hurt, and can locate the violator and then work against him/her. In the former its difficult to even realize that you are being castrated, decapitated, when the blade is nowhere to be seen and your misery is covered with quick-fix surrogate pleasures...

The unemployment rate is now permanently high in the rich countries. Either openly or covertly. The latter means that a big segment of population is either working only part-time, getting insufficient income for normatively decent living, or having many jobs simultaneously, so badly paid that even the combined income from those is insufficient to support a family. It has also become common to label the unemployed as lazy parasites and then take away their social welfare and force them to become below-the-nonexistent-minimum-wages-servants of the rich. In a society where the number of truly necessary and common-good-producing jobs is steadily decreasing, thanks to the vast increases in productivity, productivity increases not only because of technical progress and feverish competition but especially because the society is built only the growth of production cost-effectiveness in mind. Why then, despite steadily growing national gross product, do societies find it more difficult to maintain or develop public education, care of the elderly and health care? Because in short-term plans those functions of society merely lessen the competitiveness of the nation and companies in it.

Those activities that produce the common good, that which is good and necessary for everybody, are automated and become a private property and profitable business of a small minority. This is why the majority of labor force is losing its useful and productive role in society. There are fewer truly necessary jobs in need of workers. Instead, more often people are forced to take any humiliating and ridiculous job offered them, to attain the normative consumer ability, to reach your human worth. There are not even these kinds of jobs for everybody. The workers fight for their survival as workers, competing against each other and when they lose they are told: Work harder. Educate yourself to be better qualified than others. Start your own enterprise. Make yourself wanted and needed! But, the new forms of private enterprise are increasingly artificial, forced and more frequently harmful to the common good. We need continually more laborious brainwashing and self-suggestion to convince ourselves that we still are able to enjoy more TV-channels, chocolate bars, types of sport, kitchen gadgets and the weather forecasts you can get on your mobile phone.

The social function of production and work changes. It is no longer about organizing the maintenance of society effectively through specialized professionalism guided by collective decision-making in order to liberate ourselves from toil and anguished competition, free to fulfil ourselves. It is now more about trying through strained collective self-suggestion to figure out yet a few more seemingly profitable forms of production, in order to make us seemingly useful not to ourselves but to the machinery of production. Simultaneously consumption is transformed into work, we try to deceive ourselves into being charmed by the insignificant commodities others produce, in order to be able to trust that the others in turn will be thankful for the meaningless products we manufacture, at least till the moment of purchase. That means the position of the owner of the means of production becomes more and more advantageous while the position of the worker simultaneously gets worse. The worker has to all the time be more flexible, give in more, work more efficiently, commit him/herself to his/her job, because otherwise s/he can be replaced with a greedier, more desperate worker. How did this happen? Was not the main point of civilization to liberate us from the need to commit ourselves to work, to liberate us from the stress of living with the knife of competition held to our throats? Capitalism liberates the effectiveness-boosting competition but not us. What used to be labour force, the workers and the middle class, is becoming useless as workers and useful, to the rich, mainly as consumers of frozen pizza, Tittytainment and profitable trademarks, and as house-niggers, as well.

If structural violence abuses not only the helpless poverty-stricken people on the other side of the globe, but also the relatively poor in my rich homeland, I am in danger of slipping from the role of the beneficiary to that of a victim. Everyone who is mainly a worker and not a financially sound owner is in danger. Structural violence numbs the exploiter into a quick-fix-junkie and pummels the exploited, inevitably the house-niggers too, into minced meat that the bwana’s dog is fed with. This is the second reason to fight against consumer capitalistic global class society.


(by Teemu Mäki, 2000)

Hello again, my name is Sade, Marquis de Sade. Is this all still very gloomy? Faltering and absent-minded blabber about violence. Why not something more entertaining? But this is entertaining. A pastime. You look at these pictures, look at your own mirror image, listen to these words and when you dont feel like going on anymore you leave, go home, and nothing has changed.

I like violence. Im probably meaner than the richest man on earth. Often I indulge myself in malevolent pleasure. And I practice violent sports because I like hitting people and Im fond of playing with pain. There are persons whose death would make me glad. I also have nice dreams about killing certain individuals. You might not be like me, but still: even for you, violence equals not merely misery, but also utility and pleasure. Its superstitious to think that violence could be completely sublimated to common-good-producing work and harmless frolicking.

Structural and institutionalized violence is violence that hides its violent nature. When the taming, sublimation and transformation of violence into work only seemingly succeeds, it retains it destructiveness and behind its rational facade grows like cancer. Violence becomes fuel for the machine that says it manufactures public utility but actually produces mere calculated personal profit. This machine for the production of usefulness, wealth and comfort has an insatiable thirst. Its fuel-intake can grow endlessly. In this utilitarian process the joyful and fruitful side of violence, its ability to revitalize and turbo-charge our experience of existence by reckless expenditure of life, is lost. Violence becomes merely an instrument of exchange. What is bought with it? A step to the next level of consumer ability, a bit cheaper but better tasting coffee, a faster car, a more automated job, a more versatile home entertainment center, a more superabundant and exotic holiday resort. But the violence of exploitation remains hidden from the exploiter. And the victims pain is real for the victim.

Structural violence doesnt have the kind of cathartic, orgasmic, life-affirming effect that for example martial arts violence can have. Violence that masks itself as anything but violence easily grows into a mountain. Instead the violence that is an end in itself, an embodiment of the will to power flowing as it is, conscious of itself, stays diminutive. Why? We need or find pleasure in experiences of winning, controlling or destructing others or ourselves. We need or find pleasure in losing ourselves in some bigger exuberant whole, forgetting ourselves, melting into something. But these experiences do not need big external constructions. And like sexual, empathic and nursing drives, the self-expressive drives of the will to power are regenerative and not growing: the will to power and appetite for food and sex are outside of the logic of economic and material growth. The amount of rewarding experiences with food, sex and struggle needed for satisfaction stays the same year after year. They are drives that spend themselves today and are born again tomorrow, in the same size. Appetite doesnt really grow by eating. Violence as an end in itself is meaningful expenditure, enjoyable overflow of fertility.


(by Teemu Mäki, 1999–2001)

...the original relation between sentience and self-extension, between hurting and imagining, has been split apart and the two locations of self have begun to work against one another. In the first phase, the original work of creation entailed a double consequence, the projection of the body into the material object and the reprojection of the object's power of disembodiment back onto the about-to-be-remade human body. The first would have no purpose if it were not accompanied by the second: There would be no point in a person projecting the nature of "seeing" into the lenses of eyeglasses, if that person or another could not in turn put on the eyeglasses and be physically remade into one who sees better. When, however, the material object then goes on to generate new versions of itself, one of these two consequences remains stable throughout its successive forms and the other becomes unstable. In its final as in its first form, the artifact is a projection of the human body; but in its final form, unlike its first, it does not refer back to the human body because in each subsequent phase it has taken as the thing to which it refers only that form of the artifact immediately preceding its own appearance...

Elaine Scarry

…the capitalist has lost the connection between his mind and his body. Property is your substitute for body. To maintain this illusory body he keeps it growing, forcing it to imitate organic sentient beings. By consumerism he protects himself from physical pain and at the same time makes up for it by punishing his surrogate body for its nonsentience, trying to wake it up. Imitating interaction of mind and body. Useless exorcism...

...the artifacts of this culture do not refer back to sentience or reciprocally have influence on the sentient body, instead they drown you into comfortable numbness where you continuously increase the dosage of alienating objects and services to comfort you, to save time and effort in order to save more time and effort, maintain the illusion of sentience...


Can commodities carry absolute values, can there be commodities that are undiminishingly good, things that do not lose their ability to inspire us even if they become certain, reachable for all and taken for granted? I think there are none.

To believe in the existence of undiminishingly good commodities is a dangerous illusion. The believer builds his/her well being from building blocks he/she believes to be eternal. When their ability to vitalize him/her falters, he/she gets frustrated. All is well, this has to feel good. He/she says, and says it to others as well, to those who do not give enough respect to the goal-directed building of welfare. He/she says it with the same voice, and as much in vain, as the mother of chubby child says to her child if he has no appetite: Eat your cereals, right now! Dont you see that on the other side of globe there are people who are starving to death.

Not even health is an undiminishing mental commodity. Its often thought that you are just either is healthy or sick, in pain or well, but its not true. You arent just simply healthy or sick, instead you appear to him/herself either as a healthy or as a sick person depending e.g. upon what is the average level of your own-teethedness, walking ability and life expectancy in your society.

Things exist, are real, to us only and precisely as representations. The common sense hierarchy between the real and the imagined can thus be demolished. Reality is overrated. Both the weak reflections of physical reality, and the leaps of imagination fabricated from those reflections, are, to our minds, just images. That is why the fact-based images ability to move us cannot automatically be bigger than the ability of the fabricated images. To grasp the facts of physical reality, to some extent, is necessary so as not to die of hunger or accidentally walk out through a skyscrapers window, but this basic level of understanding of necessities of physical reality is quite modest. The majority of human activities are attempts at imagining existence as something meaningful, not attempts at physical survival.

What is bourgeois materialism? Its to believe that material good things a long average duration of life, effortless physical survival, maximal variety of optional instrument of entertainment positively correlate with meaningfulness and the pleasure potential of life. The pre-condition of consumer capitalism is the belief that the swelling of the mountain of commodities results in the swelling of pleasure. Our desperate trust in consumerism is revealed by the fact that while most people do not believe that the rich are happier than the poor they still think that their own lives would improve if they moved from their salary grade to the one above.

Whats going on? Consumer capitalistic commodities are lighting-fast effects, flickering representations that often have too slowly decomposing material form. I knew an old farmer that refused to watch TV, except the news, because, as he said: Those action serials and all are not true. The consumerist may watch the telly until his/her eyes fall off but he/she still resembles that backwoods granddad. The analogy is that the consumerist too only takes seriously those representations that have a factual, measurable, dimension, despite knowing that we live in a spectacle society. The consumerist takes spectacles and experiences seriously only if their value can be exactly communicated to everybody: they have a price tag, the measurable factual dimension. A new car and a just achieved ability to go annually to vacations on the other side of the globe are icons (icons like the icons on a computer screen) of wealth, clicking of which produces an experience of being wealthy only as long as you can remember the less-affluent days gone by and only as long as not everybody can afford these icons. On the other hand, people admit this by phrases like Modern man has to have an indoor toilet, a micro-wave-oven and more than four TV-channels, just because he has got used to them. What does this mean? It means that the belief in technical progress and better future has been replaced by rat race fatalism. We dont so much believe that we can make tomorrows world a more enjoyable place that what we have now, instead we settle for admitting that tomorrow we have to consume more and better commodities because by tonight well be tired of todays commodities.

Who dares ask whether it makes sense endlessly to focus on constructing an endlessly more safe and comfortable society, populated with endlessly more fit and long-living individuals? What is the price we pay? Is this endeavor worth it if it doesnt result in a community of happier individuals, a life more meaningful and full-bodied? Is this work worth doing, this external diligence, constructing with the bricks of fictitious benefits, if the pleasure comes not from what is built the monstrous apparatus but from images of overcoming physical obstacles, from representations of progress, that are consumed during the construction work? Is our consumer ability worth boosting if what we are dealing with is purely relative wealth? When we lust for commodities we do not lust for the actual functional qualities of the commodities. Instead, we want to devour the difference in quality between the good and the better commodities. We lust for the first sip of this difference between the mundane and the surprising. Its that vault over the gap of quality difference that tickles and makes us swoon, not the commodities themselves.

Consumerism is claimed to be about consuming mental commodities. Use value is the most important feature of commodities in war and medicine, but not in everyday life. You can no longer seriously reprobate gorging on mental commodities, because gorging is not a vice; there is no vengeful god; and its not a brain-shrinking form of masturbation either. So the only problem with it that a critic, who thinks criticism of consumer capitalism has died, can see is technical: who to give nature enough bearing capacity for it to sustain the destruction and waste that our lust for consumption causes? But this is not all, and I think this is not even the most important problem. Whats more important is that consumer capitalism might actually equal inability to consume mental commodities.

The important aspect of mental commodities in consumer capitalism is their exclusiveness (price) and the quality gap between the old and new commodity, and therefore what is actually acquired and used is not the material form of the commodities, which loses its charm quickly and transforms the goods into a concrete waste problem. What is actually acquired and used is not the mental commodity packed into the material object or service, either. The promise of the mental commodity sells the object or service, but the thing that consumer actually consumes is an orgasm of buying: the swooning moment of becoming the owner of a mental commodity. Thus the consumer is not a happy hedonist full of the zeal of life, instead s/he becomes an obsessive-compulsive hamster who is unable to enjoy its loot, but who exhausts itself in the effort to gain more. So the obscure object of desire is not to enjoy and consume the mental commodities, but to pay for them. That is why the unemployed in welfare society become depressed despite of having more free and cheap sport, culture and entertainment facilities at their reach than the majority of world’s population will ever have. They get depressed because in this culture it is almost impossible to value that which is free, and hence it is humiliating to be insolvent. Their insolvency makes them impotent in their own eyes.


Mercedes is a fine car. Not because of its technology, safety, durability, comfort, drivability, and not because its looks, the beauty of its streamlined body but precisely because few can afford it. The culture that puts special weight on commodities like Mercedes makes people work hard, increases commercial activity, as its said. In the same breath you can notice that when Mercedes has its special value precisely because its unattainable for the majority it means that its value works against the interest of the majority the aura of Mercedes is good for the rich, as a victorious sign of relative wealth, and bad for the majority because for them its only the source of an insatiable thirst. So the political difference between the right-wing ideology and left-wing ideology remains the same: the former thinks of lack mainly as an incentive, the latter as misery. The former thinks of that lack as natural and says that you always strive for the better (so you should always have that motivating lack present), or something equally banal. The socialist on the other hand has at least the possibility of trying to understand that the culture of purely relative wealth is a construction, man-made. That is why consumer capitalism doesnt act for the common good. Consumer capitalistic production is not the production of happiness and fulfillment; its the production of dearth. The other essential feature of consumer capitalism is its insistence on the permanent growth of production and consumption, which is simply needed to give the impression of progress. In speeches capitalism praises the ideals of equality, progress and wealth but its fruits, commodities, have almost solely relative value, which means that class inequality must remain the same to keep the participants of the rat race hungry. Class inequality must be retained to guarantee that the hierarchical differences in consumer ability will keep on maintaining the meaning of wage work struggle and the allure of commodities. Consumer capitalism markets the icons of wealth but only to create the need for the next icon of wealth as soon as the previous one has been sold and has withered in the consumers hands.

In reaction to this, when socialism fights capitalism its aim is not only to redistribute wealth and power more evenly, but also to change our perception of wealth, power and commodities themselves from that of a neurotic, desperate hamster to that of a Bataillean hero, perhaps capable of truly ecstatic and amoral expenditure, both tender and violent, of all things material and immaterial, but without side-effects that would corrupt the social contract...


(by Teemu Mäki , 1995–20.8.2001, 15th version.)

One death follows another. Christmas never comes. The presents have already been given. Everything you can own is in your skull.

Know your enemy from your friends. You dont need anything that you dont already have. You are not dying of hunger so how meaningful your life is to you depends not on what you do but on what you think.

I dont believe in the existence of good and evil. Moral codes in any society are the product of culture and always become tools for the societys power-elite, usually the rich, maintaining the status quo. The common good only occasionally exists. Everybody is a beefsteak to somebody else. To live is to give birth, to live is to kill, and sometimes, simultaneously, its something else too. We are separate, discontinuous beings: your good can be my evil and vice versa. Harmony doesnt exist: existence consists of incompatible opposites that often attract.

Families exist because alone you are deaf, and the deaf cant sing, and if you dont sing, you cant feel. Through brotherhood you can recognize yourself in a few others and so see more of yourself, feel more existent.

I dont believe that there is happiness. In the machinery of nature pain is the prime motivator behind all and nothing can be outside nature. To sentient beings to be is to be in pain. I believe that life consists of pain and relief. Only when both the pain, and the relief we feel when the pain occasionally for a moment ceases, exist, and are of suitable size and in bearable balance, its possible to find life worth living. The pain is the stone dick of void and all you can do is become a willing pussy itll fuck you anyway.

For an atheist, humor can be an indispensable way to become God. Ridiculousness is our privilege.

Only mortality gives us the possibility to project personal purpose and meaning onto our lives in a meaningless world.

I do not know anything except that I am born, will sometime die, and am not able to be silent. By speaking, by drawing, by singing, by organizing reality in my thoughts, I represent my existence, teach myself to like what otherwise just is. By representing reality, I strengthen my own experience of existence. The less, for example, vitality arising from physical danger there is in my life, luckily, the more important is the strengthening of the experience of existence through representation.

Life = death at work.


(by Teemu Mäki, 2001)

Well, I was well-off, but I turned to drugs, just in search of commitment. And commitment I got.

William Burroughs

The power of mental pictures doesn't necessarily depend on their truthfulness. Art, like religion, can cause vast surges of emotion even when its thought content is absolute bullshit. Is striving after truthfulness, honesty and profundity, art, then of equal value as escapism? Art is not science. It can include big splashes of science and logical ponderings but its main justification for its existence is generally thought to be beyond the reach of verbalizable rational reasoning, meaning its ability to arouse subjective experiences of pleasure and meaningfulness. If then the main thing is there, in the dark, what does it matter whether a work reveals or conceals truth if the potential for producing extraordinary experiences is the same.
Whitney Houston and Charles Gayle , James Cameron and Robert Bresson , Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Iannis Xenakis : if art and entertainment have the same potential, there is no significant difference between them. We just have to put a label on the entertainment jar: "This product includes no tools for investigating and becoming aware of your problems, and it doesn't help you to understand how the society and your brain works. In fact it discourages you to even try." This, as such, is relevant: entertainment, the images of advertising and the hidden strategy behind them, influence values, desires and behavior at least as much as do politics, education and religion and the audience's own reasoning. Still, if this is all that can be said about the difference between art and entertainment, it's not much, from the perspective of the artist it's too little. The art in question is so taxing to make, emotionally, financially and yet so unpopular, hard to digest, that it's (economically) senseless when compared to entertainment. Instead of art we can concentrate in manufacturing enlightened entertainment that doesn't excessively distort audience's view of reality and perhaps even encourages the audience to do useful things. How to get out of this impasse, if you still want to make art or cling to Nietzsche 's claim that "...the less self-deception one requires to survive, the more one is alive, regardless of morality..."?

One way of justifying art is to claim that in a work the level of truthfulness and the ability to produce extraordinary experiences do in fact have positive correlation. Hard to prove. Still, I maintain that a work that tries to be a beautiful counterweight to ugly reality, is a bad one. It's bad because if you take it lightly like a chocolate bar it produces very mild and short pleasure and it's precisely the means to instant but mild gratification that we have in dangerous oversupply. It's also bad because if you take it seriously and want not just to make a short ironic visit to its make-believe but to permanently move there from the supposedly unbearable reality you end up in an impasse, like an alcoholic. You can't escape reality just like you can't escape your body. So the more you deny reality, the more frustrating is the inevitable collision with it, again and again. I also believe that you can be more enraptured by visions based on acceptance of reality and drives than by visions based on the rejection of them. Art gives more. Am I convinced?

Another fragile way to justify art is a pragmatic one. To defend artistic production even though its not economically viable or a profitable branch of production. To defend art not only for arts sake but also and mainly because it could function as an example of all things incompatible with capitalism. My starting point is that art as a profession or as an enthusiastic activity is a calling, a vocation, in other words, people make or consume art because making and consuming it is rewarding as an end in itself. However there is, or at least there should be, a difference between art and other pleasurable activities like sports, entertainment or other hobbies. There should be, otherwise art as an economically unviable profession cannot be justified. This difference could be that with sports and entertainment you get relief and escape from mundane daily existence and its world of weary facts, whereas art should not be a way of turning your back on reality, but a comprehensive way of contemplating and solving the difficulties and questions of human existence. To put it really bluntly, and admittedly naively too, the difference between art and entertainment in this sense would be exactly the same as the difference between culinarily well-prepared lean meat and a bottle of vodka. As you can see, Im not a vegan but Im not teetotal either.

I just tried to tell art apart from other externally unproductive but experience of existence-intensifying activities, by claiming that in art the focus is on pondering and understanding, instead of escapism. There is another big difference between art and other ends to themselves activities. Its often claimed that art, clinical therapy, gardening, sailing, badminton, wine connoisseuriship and collecting stamps are similar therapeutic activities. I disagree. In art the relationship between the artist and the audience is different. In clinical therapy there is no audience. In sailing, gardening, stamp collecting and badminton its also quite obvious too that although there is an audience the inspiring and experience of existence vivifying effects of these activities mainly take place in the personal experiences of the doers the pleasurable emotions in the viewers are pale by comparison. The hard-core sport fans are not an exception to the rule; their desperate escapism results in an experience that is extremely thin despite its fanatical nature. However, in art its quite common that looking at or hearing a piece of art can be equally therapeutic (for the audience) as the making of it (for the artist). This latter difference is a result of the former: Art can animate the viewer as much as it can animate the maker because the viewer goes into the artwork not to hide from yourself but in order to think about yourself and your relationship to the world exactly like the maker of the piece.

The capitalist would say that this is no problem; Ive got no beef with art, if people want to make art, hey go ahead, the freedom of speech is all yours! And if other people want to consume art as a form of therapy, they are free to do so, and if they really are willing to do so, they are also willing to pay for it and this gives birth to another interesting branch of economy where the law of supply and demand guarantees a healthy outcome. That is what a capitalist would say, I guess, but I disagree with him and choose to be a communist.

In what way is art then incompatible with capitalism? The first, already mentioned dissonance is the fact that its a calling. This means that artists do their work anyway, even if nobody is paying any money or attention. Its also important that most of the art produced is of a physically lasting nature; paintings for example are traditionally made with techniques that produce an object that can survive thousands of years without any perceptible change. Usually its also so that artworks can not be worn out, a painting or a film can be seen by any number of people, a piece of music heard, without any signs of wear and tear. Even more important is that artworks can be shared without them being diminished in any way. In other words, if artwork would be an automobile, it would be a car that someone would make mainly out free or very cheap or even non-existent materials, then give it away for all people to use. The car would also not automatically become outmoded or technically outdated with time. The car could run forever, no refueling or fixing needed. Even more curious would be that it would be a car that everybody could use simultaneously, and for his or her own personal destinations. It would be a car that could be endlessly copied without material costs and without it losing any of its value. That kind of car doesnt exist, and if it could be made, it would be extremely expensive and banned for being copied. Artists however make that kind of commodity and then simply bring them out, make them public, give away and share the fruits of their labor.

This destroys the art market in the real sense of the word. If artists anyway do their works, then voluntarily make them public and share them with all people without fee, and if the commodities they produce really have these almost impossible features I described, what motive could be left for society to actually pay for this labor, for this wild grass that flourishes on its own? The law of supply and demand doesnt apply here. The labor of the artists isnt really visible in the national gross product or turnover, quite like the work of the housewives (or the -husbands) is not economically visible either. Yet its there, and who could claim that its not significant?

10 million copies of a hit record can be sold. Capitalistically this is a wonderful thing, the capitalists get their dividends of the profits made, the jobs of the people in the CD-factories, of the magazine reporters, advertising people and of the salespeople in record mart outlets are saved. And as the consumers bought it, they must have enjoyed it. Even the musician gets some. But there are other kinds of albums as well, and I do not mean those that were calculated to become hit records but failed. I mean CDs containing music by Luigi Nono, Derek Bailey, Galina Ustvolskaya, Tim Berne or Bernd-Alois Zimmermann. How many of those have ever been sold? Not many, often their music has been released on CDs of which only an edition of 500 or 1000 has been made. Capitalistically they are a dismal and complete failure. It doesnt cover the costs of its own production, to do so it should have a unit price ten times of that of a Puff Daddy CD. And if it would have a price tag ten times heavier it would not probably sell even those 500 copies, which, for the capitalist, proves that its not a commodity worth making.

However, I think the capitalists conclusion is not the whole truth of the matter. What follows, is an argument that would be difficult, but not impossible, to prove. Let us think of it now as a mental experiment. The aim would be to reason that a CD that sells only 1000 copies could produce more common good than a CD that sells 10 million copies. How could it? I will call the former difficult music and the latter hit music from now on. It could be that the hit music, in spite of its apparent popularity, is used in a halfhearted manner, as a backdrop, and that even its purchasers think of it as old-fashioned corny rubbish already after a year. It could be that the hit music is used as a brief escape and relief, as aural wallpaper, as muzak, if so it could be said that the pleasure it brings is instant but short-lived, accessible to many but alienating from reality and what is the most important feature: of a low intensity.

A CD of a difficult music may have a pressing of only 500 copies but it could be that those that buy one often have such a thirst of music that they'd rather have their arm amputated than be without the music. They might also be willing to pay ten times more than the regular price for it, if they had the money. It could also be that they listen to this CD with extreme concentration, again and again, the enjoyment undiminished, quite the contrary: the rewards of listening growing as the increasing familiarity with the music opens new and ever more versatile and rich vistas into its content. It could also be that this enthusiasm with music would be not an autistic activity, not a way of forgetting the world but a way of grasping it, a way of finding and molding a meaningful position in it. If all this would be true it could be said that the rewards of this difficult music reveal themselves slowly but are long-lasting, accessible only to those who put in enough time and effort to grasp the complicated language, that this music doesnt alienate but is life-affirming instead and that the rewards of this music are of a burning intensity.

How could you test this hypothesis of mine about the difference of intensity and function in listening between the layman and the art buff? Maybe by looking into this: Observing music buffs, it can perhaps be noticed that the bigger the record collection and the more often its listened to (= the more important the music is to them) the more unpopular (= generally perceived as difficult), according to sales statistics, is the music on their shelves.

Let us suppose that all this could be proved. You can say that its a naïve and romantically lofty view about the promise of art. I just say that its possible. If all aforementioned was proved to be true, wouldnt the real weighing between these two types of commodities be this: Is the lame and even, because of its escapism, hazardous pleasure of many more important and more common good producing than the intensive and thought-provoking pleasure of just a few? Which actually is the more popular, the music that kills the time for the 10 million people, or the music that makes the life of 1000 people worth living? How could we measure these two against each other? Its stated that the hit record touches a much bigger number of people than the difficult one, and its hazardousness is as mild as the hazardousness of alcohol, in other words bearable when balanced with the pleasures it brings. We could also remind ourselves of the jobs it guarantees, of the economic activity it produces. But on the other hand we could say that, yes, the entertainment of the lowest common denominator pleases many, its side-effects are maybe bearable, but shouldnt we still encourage ourselves to turn to something more constructive and in the end more intensively rewarding? Isnt that what we actually crave for? When we complain and are bored in spite of all our wealth, are not satisfied with the innumerable TV-channels and chocolate bars and the new Mercedes, when we then turn to drugs and bungee-jumping, even base-jumping, isnt it then obvious that what there is an over-abundance of is instant mild pleasures, and what we fatally lack is slow but intensive experiences of existence that require concentration and commitment?

So, my claim is this:

The vocational nature of artistic production, the extreme durability and share-ability of artworks and the lasting ability to trouble and interest us that artworks have, make art as production, artist as a profession and artworks as commodities capitalistically irrational and useless but valuable for the common good and mankind. If this is true about art, isnt it likely that there are other activities as well, professions, branches of production and even meaningful positions of existence that produce common good but are not only capitalistically insignificant but are even persecuted by capitalism?


(by Teemu Mäki but also modified fragments from the writings of Georges Bataille included, 1995–2001)

...the squat is the best metaphor of life made worth living that I know. I go down with the weight, regularly, as often as my body can take it, keeping this routine on year after year, even though it don't give me money, it don't make me a better athlete anymore, it don't improve my looks it's just an end in itself. Down there with the weight is just the shittiest place I know, that is why getting up gives me such an enormous feeling of relief, verging on the brink of ecstasy. Maximizes my mortality and so maximizes the intensity of the experience of my existence...

Life = (death at work). Kickboxing religion is this: A death follows another death. This is the ridiculous rhythm of existence. To which I choose to Dance. Pain is the dick I am rubbing against my void, clitoris. I wake up, open my eyes. And see the face of the Devil, and it says: I am time. Then I ask: What am I?, and it answers: You? You are nothing, you are just death at work. Kickboxing can save your brains. Eroticism is non-alienating consumerism without the accumulation of artifacts and waste...

I want to feel how the lines of age are cut and drawn into my body and mind as death works its way through me in the guise of life…

...two contrasting basic desires form the/a fundamental tension of human existence: the desire to be autonomous and the desire to unite. Each being is distinct from all others. His birth, his death, the events of his life may have an interest for others, but he alone is directly concerned in them. What is good for him may be bad for someone else. He is born alone. He dies alone. Between one being and another, there is a gulf, a discontinuity. This gulf exists, for instance, between you, listening to me, and me speaking to you. We are attempting to communicate, but no communication between us, even if communication were possible, can abolish our fundamental difference. If you die its not my death.

You and I are discontinuous beings. But I cannot refer to this gulf that separates us without feeling that this is not the whole truth of the matter. Its a deep gulf, and I dont think it could be done away with by any kind of bridges or empathy it. None the less, we can approach this gulf from opposing directions, look at each other over it, and look down into the abyss together, experience its dizziness together. It can hypnotize us. This gulf is death and the dizziness is eroticism. For us, discontinuous beings that we are, death means the continuity of being. In eroticism the concern is to substitute for the individual isolated discontinuity a feeling of profound continuity. Continuity is what we are after, but generally only if that continuity which the death of discontinuous beings can alone establish is not the victor in the long run. What we desire is to bring into a world founded on discontinuity all the continuity such a world can sustain...

You've got to admit that violence brings us all pleasure too. Maybe its because of the will to power that boils inside us. If there is not enough violence in our life we go for a taste of it in our imagination. In the utopian, understanding our own violent desires could make it possible for us to plunge into violent pleasures with such control, in such circumstances, so selectively, that there would be no need to burn down the house, set up a concentration camp, wage wars of religion or try sublimate or escape the forbidden fruit of violence into consumerism…

…the breakers of joy can only take place on one condition: that the ebb of pain be no less dreadful. The doubt born of great sorrows cannot help but illuminate those who enjoy we can fully know happiness only transfigured, in the dark halo of sorrow. Reason cannot solve the ambiguity: extreme happiness is only possible at the moment I doubt it will last; it changes on the contrary into heaviness the moment Im certain of it. So we can live sensibly only in a state of ambiguity. There is never a clear-cut difference, for that matter, between sorrow and joy: the awareness of sorrow on the prowl is always present, and even in horror the awareness of possible joy is not entirely suppressed: Its this awareness that adds dizzily to the pain, but by the same token its what enables you to endure the torments. This lightness of the lifes game is so much a part of the ambiguity of things that we feel contempt for the anxious, if they take things too seriously. The common ideological mistake in morality and dogma is that they confuse the tragic, which is a game, with the serious, which is a mark of labor.

(Epilogue: a poem by Samuel Beckett :)

my way is in the sand flowing

my way is in the sand flowing

between the shingle and the dune

the summer rain rains on my life

on me my life harrying fleeing

to its beginning to its end

my peace is there in the receding mist

when I may cease from treading these long shifting


and live the space of a door

that opens and shuts