A Review of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol by Andy Warhol

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Warhols’ “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol” is a philosophy book with a whole lot of nothing to say. Reading Warhol is like reading a grocery list.  I mean it’s clear that he was a genius and I guess his own erudition is captured eloquently through his bland and catty musings. Yet in order to uncover any of the real meat and potatoes philosophy behind this book one finds it encapsulated in Warhols interpretation of  the American ethos. He goes into explicit detail concerning:

  • The transformative properties of consumerism
  • Business as the best form of art
  • Television as a way of life
  • Things that are glamorous and things that are fabulous

Now I wouldn’t say that Warhol is boring, moreover that he wants us to perceive him as boring.  One example is that when he describes his many philandering and  excursions with stars or celebrities he only really goes into detail about what they were eating at the restaurant or what the hotel room was like (and if it had a Television or not).  This whole book lacks any sort of felling or intensity.  It is completely amoral and dry like a JCPenny catalogue or a toothpaste commercial.

The only time Warhol describes any sort of sentimentality is when he goes into explicit detail about his love affair with television.  Warhol describes how he lives his life as if he was constantly on TV.  One of the most prolific things he had to say about this was that after he had been shot he realized that it felt more real watching others get shot in movies than getting shot in real life. 

It’s clear in this book that Warhol tried to make a simulacrum of himself like a soup can or a coca cola bottle.  He talks about he prefers being told what to do by others than to making decisions for himself.  To anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the American middle class labor system one can see Warhol’s alignment with the standard employee model of behavior.  A staple of the American zeitgeist.  Warhol was truly the quintessential American artist and philosopher.

Although this book is weird and dry it is a genuine piece of work and really exposes Warhol as the dreamy eyed simpleton that he was. You get a real sense of his philosophy or lack there of.

Science from Observation: On The Importance of a Qualitative Approach for Social Sciences

   Dunnell observes the approaches to science from a more analytical standpoint.  He states that “observation is Theory laden” and proceeds to address the many questions that had been being asked in the concept of science.  Up to 1970 he prescribes the techniques of theory to Archaeology.  He explains that there are different observations such as quantitative and qualitative and that up to a certain point science was only interested with the quantitative observations.  Quantitative is the approach to understanding things in accord with numbers such as in statistics.  Qualitative is firsthand accounts or words, video, places etc.  He is so bold as to state that there are scientists more concerned with asking “how” than asking “why”.  He considers common sense a form of ethnocentricity and that it contributes to more of the human understanding than does science.  In this sense common sense cannot be quantified because it is immeasurable.  In this sense he claims that there are some scientists which would deem it unscientific at all under these means.   He also states that one of the problems with social science is that theory is seen as the result of empirical research and not as the foundation of intellect.  He explains that there should be a more broad approach to the analytic methods used by social scientists.

Rorty, like Dunnell,  also criticizes the methods used by scientists for empirical testing and analysis. He refers to Scientists as those that throw jargon around and create vocabulary to explain the world. The invention of a higher vocabulary gives them authority over explanations.  Rorty goes further to criticize the scientific method.  In this sense I agree with him, the scientific (objective) method should not be the only method adopted by social sciences because it narrows the field down to a pinpoint.  If you open yourself up to the scientific method you essentially allow your fears and inquiries to correlate with your research not to mention the bulk of the scientific community. In this sense he expresses that rationality and method are neither “clear nor useful”.   He says that social scientists cannot utilize the scientific method and thus cannot be scientific in their endeavors unless they remain true to the Galilean model.  Galilean model in itself that “nature is numbers” holds a more quantitative approach to science.  As with Dunnell this is a highly controversial topic.  He explains that there should be a push for social scientists to adopt the hermeneutical method which is the interpretation of theory.  Objectivity being theory laden means that hermeneutics would bypass vocabulary to reach an understanding or interpretation. There should be a more qualitative approach to Social science.  The problem would be that the ontological difference would dictate a methodological difference.  The problem with X=Y is that you could not say you knew something about Y unless you understood X.  Things become stringed together, these form generalizations about ones environment and become subject to systematic empiricism.  Where did the fossils come from? The ground. Therefore they must be rock formations. What else comes from the ground? Rock, sand, dust, plants etc.  Therefore fossils must be one of these things. Then again one must construct interpretative means about ones environment.  What he mainly criticizes is the use of Vocabulary and Jargon by scientists to explain the universe and the closely knit community of scientist projecting their own theories and influence.

Sellers refers to the same concept as Dunnell but he uses a little bit of different vocabulary to describe the use of science and philosophy.  Basically there are those that look at the “how” and the “that”.  Ducks know how to swim or ducks know that water supports them.  These two generally differences are the basis to what scientific knowledge and philosophy embody. The philosophers however point toward analysis of analytic topics or things people already know about.  Sellers emphasizes the manifest image which is mans image of himself as in-the-world which is different than the scientific image in a sense that the manifest image was around before science.  He also refers to the classic philosophies which encompass the image of Man.  Basically this means that whatever we see or encounter in the world we must assume that the only reality we prescribe is reality in itself or self-awareness.  Like Plato said “I think therefore I am”.  In this sense we assume that the intrinsic principals governing the scientific method are only plausible under these circumstances I.E. by being aware of something you initially influence it.  Therefore analysis of a topic affects it and therefore strengthens it.  It is the observance of the “that” and not the “how”.  The “how” would be the observer.  However there is also an opposite of this image which he deems the “scientific-image”.  This “image” terms from the behaviorist approach to mankind to explain the world.  It still resonates with the man-in-world ideal however it is much more observable than the manifest image. 

   All of these methods correlate with practices in social science yet all seem to point to one another.  In my conclusion one should attempt to stray away from scientific however it is alright to study empiricism as long as there is an attempt to not fill ones head with direct ideas about something by this I mean to correlate vocabulary or to explain things on a field of study that already exists.  We must constantly assume that things are changing and never remain the same. 

                           

On Finding Your Artistic Voice and Making an Impact on the World

“Talent is when you have something to say but genius is when you have something interesting say.”

The Elements of Artistic Style

Art is your medium of expression. It is the platform by which you communicate with the world. In a world where everybody is a winner it is really hard to tell if your work is ingenius or if your just being placated by your peers.  You may have plenty of talent but talent is the result of years of labor intense building upon your craft.  On top of that you may have focused too hard on the technical aspects of your work making your study far too systemic for exploration.  Style is essential to having an impact on the world.

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Be Recognizable:   

Artistic style is like a thumbprint, it is particular to the artist who created it. Your art will have to embody your personal character.

If you get to know the work of Dali or Picasso you begin to see an overall consistency within the body of work. If I see a painting  with long flowing penmanship, a dynamic attention to detail, a precise layering of paint, like an old masters work, along with strange phantasmagorical imagery, I know that I am looking at an art piece by Salvador Dali.

There should be a distinctness to you work that viewers can only trace back to you.

Study the Styles of Others:

The study of Art can be omnivorous! Keep a database of all your favorite artists.  That includes: musicians, painters, sculptors, philosophers, entrepreneurs or anyone that inspires you.  Most likely the way that they inspire you, in some way,contributes to your own personality.  If you follow the element of artistic style your personality will be woven into the fabric of your art piece and so will  all those who you emulate.

Broaden your Horizons:

In order to make your art a lasting and meaningful experience you yourself have to have lasting and meaningful experiences.  Artists take people out of their reality.  If you have vibrant experiences or dreams then your art will be vibrant too and people are drawn to vibrancy and beauty.

Draw Outside the Lines:  

Don’t focus solely on technique. In order to create you have to play around.  Have tons of fun.  Treat your work like play.  When you reach a level of mastery those dynamic elements will be toys for your amusement.   Now you can draw from your vast experiences and put things together like an erector set or legos.

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To explore the realm of the human experience I like to study Philosophy.  For me I want my art to be deep and thought provoking and nothing is more so than the study of philosophy.

 note:  You can draw from whatever you want whether it be entertainment or your own history.  You don’t necessarily have to study philosophy in order to have an amazing message in your artwork.  

When we think of philosophy most people think of conniving old men in togas engaged in discourse about ascertaining the absolute truth.  Philsopophy is actually quite modest.  It is the most efficient modelling of human reality that we have.  Philosophy for ages has been obsessed with trying to interpret the human experience and draws upon a wide array of knowledge like:

1. metaphysics: the study of abstract dimensions.

2. Logic: Rationality and reason.

3. Aesthetics: Beauty and Art.

4. Ethics: Questions of morality and how men should interact with others.

5. Epistemology: Study of the empirical world.

I feel philosophy helps me to make my art deeper and more thought provoking.  Regardless of what study you find interesting in your studies the message you are trying to convey should come out seamlessly in your artwork.  Art is a way for us to see things through the subject of another.  It takes us out of our solipsism and helps us to engage reality in a whole new way.

COOL Beans

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The Freaks of Nature: The Caliph of California

  Holding nothing back we bring you a rare interview with one of the leaders of one of those hypothetical “NO GO ZONES,” that Fox News “experts” keep blabbing on about.    

It just so happens that this particular community is a Caliphate.  A Caliphate is a form of an Islamic community lead by a Caliph who is kind of like a king.  That doesn’t sound too bad does it?

Anyway the ironic part is that this Caliph is located in California.  So I introduce to you…the Caliph of California.

Sincerely,
Dr. X (the man in the mask)

nogo

 

xoxo

 

Jesus Was a Communist

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    So forget this hippie laid back image of the Christ man.  Workers of the world unite cause this guy was a fucking marxist super hero.

  Jesus christ was a communist, everything that he taught aligns with what we would consider to be communism.  He advocated a classless society, he preached collectivism, he told rich people to give up their belongings to follow him and he abhorred the elite ruling class authority. Just face it Jesus was a total commie. 

So then why is it that Christianity is the go to ideology for evangelist anglo-saxon neo conservatives you ask?   Brainwashing.  If you actually read the teachings of Christ you’d find it very hard to use is as a way to teach people to selfishly seek their own personal egotistic advantage and gain. 

   Once the church realized that it could make money it did its best to  obfuscate the central teachings of Christ.  In this way throughout history the Christian ideology has been molded to fit the needs of many  political agendas of ruling elites.

   However when you stay true to the central doctrines of Christ’ teachings  You’ll find that there is no way he was into any individualism or wealth seeking.  In fact he said “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” (Mark 10:25)  And where was this kingdom of God you ask? 

  Jeebus constantly alluded to where the kingdom of god is: “the kingdom of god is in you” “The kingdom of God is in your midst,” “The kingdom of God is near.”  Where oh where could it be near to?  Planet xarblocks 6? No…The Kingdom of god is on fucking Earth. IT’S HERE! Sure Jesus sometimes got into some serious spiritual hippie shit but he was mainly concerned with bringing his communist manifesto to the material world and helping people in the material world (Matthew 25:35-40)  Marx saw that history was shaped by  material forces.  As technologies and markets changed so did economy and society.  From this struggle of people to coexist there eventually developed conflicts because where there were those that prospered off of those that suffered.  Always the upperclass leeched off of the lower class.  Jesus saw this and decided he would put a stop to it by making a commune of his own in a bronze age social experiment.  

   So this kingdom sounds pretty good huh?  How do you join the Christ club?   

     Jesus made it very clear how to get into his tight nit community of followers.  To enter into the christian community you had to renounce the private ownership of your goods. (Mark 10:21-25) If you were to ask Marx to boil down communism into one simple concept he would say the exact same thing as Jesus did, “abolition of private property.”  Jesus fucking hated private property just like marx!!! (Luke 14:33) 

     He  stood behind the proletariat in fact he was constantly alluding to the power inherent within the poor. Likewise Marx saw the working class as the “revolutionary class” because they were the class, in Marxs eyes, the held the power to use revolution as a means to achieve its own ends and install a dictatorship of the proletariat.  Christ talks about the tearing down of the upper class and raising a society where the “humble” rules instead of kings, (Luke 1:52.) He places power directly in the hands of the poor.  This new society would be collectivized where people who abandoned their possessions to enter into the kingdom were taken care of by the community.  (Acts 4:32) (Acts 2:44-50) I mean isn’t Acts 4:34-35 just another way of saying “From each according to his ability to each according to his need?  

  So basically if you want to be a part of the christ cliche you had to choose between following him or money, cause one cannot have two masters. It’s ironic that there is a Christian company called “Not of this world” misrepresenting the John 18:36 where christ says “My Kingdom is Not of this world.”  It’s ironic because it is an example of the market mediating Christian doctrine to promulgate it’s capitalist agenda and sell goods on the market.  If you think it’s funny your either a Christian or a Communist.  

An Act of God on a Wednesday Afternoon

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“Do you want to hear about the most crazy thing that just happened to me?” My friend asks me over the phone.

I’m in the middle of eating and literally a piece of chicken is dangling out of my mouth and yet I am totally intrigued by that simple little sentence. “Want to hear something crazy that just happened to me?”  I think, “God that’s a riveting phrase to captivate an audience, I ought to use that as the headline of my blog.”

“What happened?”  I ask curiously as I am now locked into his every word.

“Get this, So today I had to mail out these items to clients. I figure I’ll swing by the post office around 4:00…You with me so far dude?”

I grunt something in the affirmative as I stuff down another piece of chicken into my mouth.

“So before I can take these packages I have to print up labels.  It usually doesn’t take that long to print em out so I put it off until 3:30.”
“The suspense is killing me,” I say sarcastically.

“Just wait.” he says, “So I sit down to turn on my computer and the entire system crashes on me.  I reboot it wondering why it all of a sudden dies on me, considering it had been working fine all morning.”

“It takes me like twenty minutes just to get everything working again.  I am getting frustrated as I try to get the label software working correctly but it keeps cracking out on me.  Something that was supposed to take me ten minutes ends up taking me over an hour.  By the end of it all I am seething in frustration and anger.”

“What was wrong with it?”

“I dunno,” he said, “It’s the weirdest thing… I finally get all the labels printed and applied but I am just too livid to even leave the house.  My wife, as she is walking out the door, sees me in this decrepit state of frustration and asks if I’d like her to drop off the packages on her way to work.And do you know what I say to her? ”

“No…what?”

“I say: You might as well, because the entire universe is conspiring to keep me from getting to the post office on time…the ENTIRE universe.

“That sounds crazy!” I say.

“That’s not the crazy part boss, I get a call from my wife about ten minutes later.  The entire place is sealed off with cops. Apparently at 4:00 a lone gunman walked  into the post office and holds the place up: At 4:00.”

I nearly choke on my food, “Do you mean to tell me that if you had made it to the post office on time…?”

“I would have had a gun pointed in my face.”

“Thats an act of Fucking GOD!”  I say.

“Divine intervention,” he says. “But the moral of the story…sometimes the things that piss us off and make us struggle are there for our own good in the end.”

Read about the actual post office robbery>>>>>>>>> RIGHT HERE! 

Do You Want to Always Be Right? That’s a Rhetorical Question

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Rhetoric is the Philosophers Jiu-Jitsu.

Philosophers think in different ways.  In order to conceptualize their ideas they use words and when they use words they meet with other people in the world and here a philosopher needs to be able to show how his/her ideas fit into the spectrum of human reality.  When you meet your argument against another persons argument then it turns into something called dialectic.  

Dialectic –Dialectic is just a super fancy way of saying ” We are having a spirited conversation about our opinions.”  

Philosophers, like Plato, thought that these discussions should be aimed at establishing truth.  In this way dialectic wasn’t supposed to be about being right because that was not the goal.  However people got carried away with their own opinions.  They had to change how they argued in order to be right and thats when Aristotle made rhetoric!

Rhetoric:

Have you ever heard of people who like the smell of their own farts?  People who use rhetoric absolutely love the smell of their own farts.  They love the smell of their farts so much that they think other people should be smelling their farts so they use persuasive tactics to manipulate others into smelling their farts.

The Rhetorician has an arsenal in his toolkit:

1. Ethos:  If you want to give credibility to your argument you have to be a valid source of authority.  If a greased up hobo came at you with a syringe saying, “You need your medicine,” You would run (if your smart) but if a doctor came at you with a syringe saying “You need your medicine you’d sit there and take your fucking medicine!” Ethos means we’ll take your word for it because your super smart.

  note:  You don’t necessarily have to be an authority on a subject you can always “fake it.”  

2. Pathos:  Try and get your audience all stirred up.  Appeal to their emotions, win them over with arguments that “Just sound nice” or use flowery language. Using music can be a good way of manipulating your audience.  Music choice gives you a good basis to know when to cry and when to laugh.

3. Logos:  This is probably the actual nuts and bolts of rhetoric as you can’t really have an argument without appealing to a persons sense of reason.

Rhetoric is the fine art of learning to win battles with your words.  Your to craft your ability to use language along with some other attributes to influence your opponent to accept your position.

 My Favorite Rhetorical Stratagems

Extension:  Extend a proposition way past your opponents given propositions.  Take it to the outer limits of craziness and then exaggerate it even more.  Make his argument into the most absurd notion ever wiped from someones intellectual derriere.

Sophism:  A sophism is an argument that “seems” valid but is really untrue.  So start from the proposition “I am a white man.”

opponent:  No way! You’re as dark as the night sky.

You:  Then smile and show him your teeth and say:
“My teeth are white and my teeth are a part of me ergo I am a white man.”

Per Negatium Consequentiae:  The argument itself is directly refuted simply by denying the conclusion.  Even if your opponent gives you a valid logical argument like:

1. Everything that is blue is a carrot

2. The sky is blue.

Ergo the sky is a carrot           (This a logically valid argument)

To refute this all you have to do is disagree with the conclusion.  Keep saying, “NO THE SKY IS NOT A CARROT!”  Completely ignore the premises and just focus on the conclusion.  Keep doing that until it becomes really annoying and your opponent gives up.

Ad Hominem: This is my personal favorite. Ad Hominem means simply “Toward man” Or “At the man.”  Ad Hominem is when you bypass your opponents argument and you directly begin making stabs at his personal character, judgement, protruding stomach etc.

My favorite Ad Hominem statement is : “FUCK YOU!”

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Love is Diabolical: Sartres Existentialist Love

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Society is composed of human beings in convention with other human beings. Mankind as a whole can be defined through these relations. In fact at the individual level we come to realize a part of ourselves that exits only through our relations with other humans. Though experientially we only perceive our fellow humans as nothing more than objects in the world no different from the way we experience other objects such as a table, a computer a glass of beer etc. And on the grounds of these objects behind them we encounter the void of our own subjective consciousness yet realize an objective quality we own which is wholly alienate from our own experience. It is therefore that a relationship formed between human beings called romance. For Romantic love arose as a power struggle between this objectivity and subjectivity. For the lover desires that the world be revealed in terms of their beloved in order to escape from being just an object among a multitude of other objects and likewise the lover desires to become the absolute ends to their beloved and the key to revealing to them the world.

Paradoxically this supreme value with which we place upon the beloved in their own freedom can disintegrate at any given moment for none wish to be used as just an object towards an end but to be the end in itself. There is no definitive way to know absolutely the intentions or perceptions behind the other. This insecurity leads lovers to aim at possessing the object of ones love. However it is not so much the aim of the lover to control entirely the beloved but to unify consciousness with them. This is reminiscent of Platos symposium which painted the first humans as strange creatures possessing four legs four arms and two heads male and female genitalia. When the humans challenged the Gods Zeus cut them in half so that from that moment on their was aim forever was to find the other half which had been lost to them. Yet unified consciousness would transcend itself entirely diminishing the intrinsic freedom of the objective quality of the other which is necessary for ones process of self discovery. Therefore the goal of lovers becomes to make projects of themselves and to use a relationship as a catalyst for that self discovery. Aiming to possess entirely the beloved inevitably generates conflict for being loved due to obligation or subjugation and not for ones independence is entirely unfulfilling and inauthentic and non conducive to interdependent self realization.

So love inevitably leads to making a project of oneself to be the object loved. Yet in this project lovers can commit the atrocity of bad faith for one cannot make oneself into an object of love because lovers desire to share their romance in their own free will. Though neither party desires to be used the whole project is to convince the beloved they are not just a means to an end even though they really are.

In turn the process of love requires an act of seduction so the other, unbeknownst to them, be objectified by the seducer who attempts to capture the seduced in their state of freedom. The seducer wants the seduced to idolize them and for the seduced to realize their own void in consciousness through the idealization of the the seducer as a supreme object. The problem is that so often the seducer finds the same tactics by the other part.

To combat this power struggle one could very well adopt the place of a masochist to become completely submissive to the will and power of the other in order to displace the subjectivity as mere object and thus ensure the merger of consciousness. Yet still the utilization of the dominant party for these means results again in a transcendence over the dominator towards the subject.

As such sadistic control of the other does not disclose to the controller their objective existence. It merely utilizes the other as an object of desire. This merger of consciousness is indeed futile for no amount of love could ever close the endless abyss between subjectivities. Furthermore love can be problematic for more than not each party sees the other as fitting into some sort of ideal framework. So often do lovers misidentify the other to find that in their total exposure nakedness of true self that their beloved undermines these very ideals. Thus love is anxious and diabolical dance for who is to judge that the other, perhaps, does not perceive us as we perceive ourselves. Yet despite the various dangers of love men and women still find themselves in its throws. Completely oblivious to its outcome with no guarantee as to the future or to the extent of their lovers commitment. However if two are willing to brave the anxiety of coupling there t is possibility for intense discursive reflection for self discovery.

A Brief Introduction to Post-Modernism

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The structure is crumbling. No longer is there a prevailing monolithic permeating absolute for us to gaze upon and collectively fall to our knees in submission. The golden calf has forever fallen into the fissures of the earth and the commandments from the heavens cracked and left on the mountain steps.
Even the power of scientific knowledge cannot contain the budding multidimensionality of humanity.
The Gods of our fathers have been torn down from their perch in the heavens and made to dance in our sideshows as we throw them peanuts. We are the children of the post-modern age.
Post-Modernism suggests the succession of modernism hence the latin prefix “post.” Modernism was a school of thought among intellectuals during the enlightenment period .They said human progress came by weight of reason and scientific knowledge. But in the early 20th century the modern age brought with it things like gulags and concentration camps that were built in the name of human progress. Since World War II people no longer agree that modernism held all the answers to our problems.
To explain post-modernism I need to first give a counter example. I’ll start with Feudal society. The twelfth century Europeans had a prevailing structure that formatted their lives. This was the manorial caste system which regimented them into categories and subcategories of Lords, Clerics, Knights, Artisans and Serfs. A feudal society was homogenized meaning that each person existed as a subject part of a larger corporate body. There was a place for every man and every man knew his place. Think of their culture as a chain, each link being welded to the other by one central permeating theme. The theme holding them together is a glue and that glue was the the biblical narrative. The stories of the bible provided a centralized constant by which every man could identify himself as being a part of a bigger history. Big stories like these help groups of people to unify their knowledge and consciousness. The myth legitimizes itself through the society to which it is told. Big stories are called “meta-Narratives” in Post-Modern lingo.getThumbae8f
But look at our society nowadays. Historical identity is fragmented we can’t unify past-present-or future to recover a normalized historical consciousness. The glue of the meta narrative is no longer strong enough to hold the chain together and all the links break apart to form smaller stories. We call these small stories “micro-narratives.”
Think of 911 for example. There was the commission report which was basically a government big story which attempted to dominate all other narratives to provide an absolute fact or truth. However because we live in a post-modern society we aren’t satisfied with one single story claiming a monolithic worldview. Now we have thousands of eye witness accounts, micro-narratives, detailing the experience of the attack. There are stories of 9/11 as it happened within the towers as people watched their coworkers cooked alive or the accounts of those that watched from the streets as the last desperate individuals leapt from the smoking heights of the tower. We have the stories of the fire men and police officials who threw themselves into the fray of the furnace and pulled the corpses from the rubble. There are those who watched the cataclysm unfold from the comfort of their own homes and for many the events were interpreted to them through the media. On top of that theres an endless stream of conspiracy theorists and religious clergy completely distorting and rearranging their own interpretation of the events. There is no dominating narrative It is just this onslaught of disjunctive and excessive mediated imagery and information that penetrates our private space like a schizophrenic mania. This is why the modernist intellectual ideal of social progress could no longer dominate as a singular world view. Post-Modernism is a world of diverse interconnected catalogues and rapidly changing codes of identity, reality, culture, gender, technology, economy and cyberspace colliding into one another and growing again into something else entirely constantly changing.
Everything in post-modernism is so drastically destabilized that reality itself inevitably collapses into fiction. We are so incapable of mapping our subject-position to this center less heterogenous world we need to create simulations just to interact with reality.

It’s like the story of the map maker who made a map so precise and accurate that it covered the entirety of the terrain it was meant to represent. This map was so accurate that the people of the country just started living on it as if it were the land itself. In this story the map becomes a “Simulacrum”. Simulacrum is a Post-Modern vocabulary word for a false copy of something which overshadows the “real” thing itself.

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Simulacra are used to create hyper realities. A hyper reality is like “Disneyland.” When you go to Adventure land or Pirates of the Caribbean it is meant to be a simulation. If you thought pirates of the Caribbean was real you’d pick up a sword and start jabbing the animatronic pirates, walking the plank and gutting the park patrons. But no, you sit in your boat and quietly watch the simulation unfold. But once you leave the park you think “On I’m in Anaheim, I’ve left the hyperreality of Disneylands simulations and now I’ve entered into real reality.” No! You’ve simply entered from one simulation into another.

Here’s an example of why we are living in a giant simulation. Think of a boy who is raised by wolves. He acts like a wolf and identifies himself as a wolf, he howls at the moon and hunts elk with the pack. Post Modern people are like the boy raised among wolves only they are the people raised among these false copies of reality or Simulacra.
Throughout our lives we are bombarded by endless solicitation from advertisements of market products. These commodities gain their value through a type of fetishism that causes them to take on deeper theological meanings. For example Coca-Cola becomes a hyper-real projection that transcends simple indulgence in a beverage beyond itself toward this point of ecstatic simulation of itself. As consumers these commodities help us to find meaning in our lives until our culture becomes just a hodge-podge of hollywood stereotypes and faux mickey mouse religious experiences.  On top of that you have the media no longer giving us reality but instead using competing forms of spectacle and rhetoric try to to convince us of ITS OWN version of reality.
Look at capitalism. It functions on crisis constantly destroying itself and recreating itself with new products on the market. Like the phoenix it dies and emerges a new. Self sustaining, self revolutionizing with new products rapidly changing the landscape around us. Everything is a giant rhizome constantly budding and flowing in such a hurry we have no time for history. We’ve become an amnesiac culture casting off lessons of the past to voraciously feast upon the great spectacle of new products, new celebrities, new technology, new ideals. A battle cry can be heard from the mountaintops of the post-modern, it says: Make it new for the Avant Garde!

The Artist and the Institution: The Writer Who Refused the Nobel Prize

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Jean Paul Sartre was one of the leading French intellectuals of the 20th century.  He Incorporated his existentialist philosophy into  the many essays, novels and plays which he wrote. His works endeared the spirit of humanist values and engendered the reader to discover their own meaning of life and happiness.  To this day his works remain highly debated and discussed around the world.

On October of 1964 at the age of 59 years old he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his literary and philosophical contributions.   However Instead of accepting this high honor commemorating his achievements Jean-Paul Sartre refused the award.

He proclaimed:

 “A writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution.”   

This was not the first time Sartre had declined to accept an award, in fact he had similarly declined to accept an award from the Legion of Honor for his internment in a German POW camp  as well as an invitation from the Collège de France. It appears that all official honors sent Sartres way were immediately rejected.

But Why?

How does accepting an award institutionalize an artist?  

One way to understand Sartres decision is to understand what he called bad faith.  Bad faith is a kind of self deception in which an individual tries to escape free will by pawning off their responsibility. He stated he did not wish to be made “Jean Paul Sartre, Nobel Prize Award Winner.” An example of this is that I could say that I have the choice to smoke marijuana on national television but if I were the president I could say “I can’t do that because I am the president” instead of saying, “I can’t do that because I don’t want to.” A person in bad faith places responsibility for their actions on object they try to make of themselves instead of owning the matter of their own free will.

According to Sartre by accepting our ethos as individuals we are always free to make choices and guide our lives towards our own chosen goal or “project”  An individual is solely responsible for creating purpose in their life. By accepting the award of an institution he would thus associate himself with it and it’s laureates.  If the artists aim is to be genuine he must stand on his own free will and accord.  Thus it is the responsibility of the artist as an individual to stand alone without the brand of an institution.