Montag, 23. Januar 2017

Mark Fisher and the disappearance of the "new" in capitalism/depression/ Scheler and Seneca


The british author Mark Fisher, who died a couple of days ago, was obviously one of the most interesting writers about our society and the diseases that are linked to it. He himself suffered from depression and wrote about his fight with it in a book called “Ghosts of my life”.

He argues that depression and other soul problems are not merely personal problems but strongly linked to the situation in which we live, that is the capitalist society. 


In one of his other books „Capitalist Realism“ he discusses the idea of the „new“ that is so important for capitalism in a way that supplements our thoughts which were related to Max Scheler.

Fisher argues that despite all the idealizations of „innovation“ the idea of something new has vanished from our world and even worse: from our imagination. We are not able to see a new future in the sense of something that has overcome capitalism.

Fisher says (with Slavoj Zizek): Nowadays it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.

This is a good and important point. Innovation goes just as far as to the new „generation“ of smartphones and maybe selfdriving cars. But looking for something new in a deeper sense, a more human society, a life that is guided by something that makes sense, is a very difficult thing to do for us.

For our question of the artist in capitalism, I think that the artists are the ones who still have some relicts of this ability to think (and act) differently. And this is why we need this inner distance from the spirit of capitalism that we are looking for on this blog!



Mark Fisher won´t be able to help us any longer. He lost his fight against his depression and his „ghosts“. Depression is a disease that quite a lot of artist know somehow.  If you look from outside, becoming depressed seems like an adequate reaction of the situation of the world as it is in these days. Artists, being sensitive creatures, are predestined to show this kind of reactions.

When you start to recognize this interdependence of society and soul you might start to see that your illness is not just “your fault”, but something not just personal. And this might help you to relax a bit and get rid of a part of the burden you take on.

One of the traps of capitalist thinking is that we believe in the idea of self optimization. We believe that we have to become better and then problems will be solved. (even a big danger for the voice work…) This is of course an illusion. Seneca is one of those who can tell us that we better accept that we won´t become perfect and that we - instead of trying to change ourselves - better start to change the way we see ourselves and the world.

Then we might find ways to transform the energy that led us into depression etc. to something healthier and more encouraging.


This issue and others you are invited to discuss with us at the next colloquium about "being artist in capitalism" in Cologne at the 18th Feb. Details in the previous post.

Sonntag, 22. Januar 2017

Trump: the ideal capitalist?/der ideale Kapitalist?


english below

Trump, der ideale Kapitalist (?)



Mit der Wahl Donald Trumps ist vielleicht zum ersten Mal in der Geschichte ein Mann Präsident der USA, den nur noch kapitalistische Motive bewegen - wenn man darunter das versteht, was wir hier mit Scheler den Geist des Kapitalismus nennen.

Alle Vorstellungen und Werte, die dem Gemeinwohl nutzen könnten, gegenseitiger Respekt oder Solidarität werden in seinem Denken offenbar fast vollständig marginalisiert bzw. bestenfalls für die wirtschaftlichen Ziele, die er erreichen will, funktionalisiert. Trump orientiert sich ganz klar an den vier infantilen idealen des Kapitalismus: Das Neue, das Schnelle, das Große, das Mächtige. Er will in jeder Hinsicht, die ihm in seinem kapitalistischen Denken in den Sinn kommen kann, der Mächtigste und Größte sein.

Trump ist der kapitalistische Egoist par excellence und wir werden wohl erfahren müssen, in welche Richtung sich eine Welt entwickelt, in der der immer noch mächtigste Staat alle nichtkapitalistischen Werte über den Haufen wirft.  Dazu wird die Demokratie zu einer Despotie umgebaut, in der die Interessen eines einzelnen als die Interessen eines Volkes ausgegeben werden (eine Strategie, die auch an anderen Stellen der Welt gerade ausprobiert wird: Türkei, Russland, Ungarn, selbst Syrien).

Für den Widerstand gegen diese Entwicklung scheint es mir wichtig zu sein zu erkennen, dass mit der Präsidentschaft Trumps der Siegeszug des ungebremsten Kapitalismus eine neue Ebene erreicht hat, auf der der destruktive Charakter der kapitalistischen Ideologie auf eine Weise durchschlägt, die „kein Mensch“ wollen kann. Es stimmt also nicht, wenn man sagt, Trump sei kein Ideologe, weil er seine Meinung dauernd wechselt und sich selbst widerspricht. Das ist Teil der kapitalistischen Ideologie, die er verkörpert.

Was bedeutet das für die Künstler im Kapitalismus?

Trump ist ein Phänomen in der Welt, Teil des  großen Zusammenhanges und nicht etwa eine dämonische Erscheinung, die aus dem Nichts entstanden ist. Als Künstler können wir den Geist des Kapitalismus an ihm studieren und sehr genau erkennen, wovon wir uns verabschieden und distanzieren wollen. Aber Vorsicht! Dämonisierung allein ist nur eine Projektion der eigenen „kapitalistischen“ Anteile. Diese Anteile sollen aber nicht abgespaltet, sondern umgewandelt oder – gut psychoanalytisch – sublimiert werden. Nur dann wird sich uns vielleicht die Alternative zu dem kapitalistischen System, das zur Zeit unbesiegbar scheint, eröffnen. 

Diese und andere Aspekte können wir gemeinsam diskutieren beim nächsten Kolloquium zum "Künstler sein im Kapitalismus" am 18. Februar in Köln. Details dazu im vorhergehenden Post!





Trump, the ideal capitalist (?)

With the election of Donald Trumps, perhaps for the first time in history, a man is president of the US, who is only moved by capitalist motives – in the sense of what we call with Scheler the “spirit of capitalism”.
All ideas and values ​​that could be used for the common good, mutual respect or solidarity are apparently almost completely marginalized in his thinking, or at best functionalized for the economic goals he wants to achieve. Trump is clearly oriented on the four infantile ideals of capitalism: the new, the fast, the great, the powerful. He wants to be the most powerful and great in all respects, which he is able to conceive in his capitalistic mind.


Trump is the capitalist egoist par excellence, and we will find out in the near future the direction in which a world develops whose still most powerful nation, the US, gives away all non-capitalist values. For this aim, democracy is going to be transformed into a despotism in which the interests of an individual are expressed as the interests of a people (a strategy which is also being exercised elsewhere in the world: Turkey, Russia, Hungary, even Syria).
For the political duty of resistance against this development, it seems to me to be important to recognize that with Trumps presidency, the triumph of unbridled capitalism has reached a new level in which the destructive character of capitalist ideology has overtaken in a way that "no human being" could want or like. It is not true, then, to say that Trump is not an ideologist because he constantly changes his mind and contradicts himself. This is just part of the capitalist ideology that he embodies.
What does this mean for artists in capitalism?
Trump is a phenomenon in the world, part of the great context and not a demonic phenomenon that has emerged from nothing. As an artist, we can study the spirit of capitalism through him and see very clearly what we want to give up and detach from. But we have to be careful! Demonization alone is only a projection of ones own "capitalist" parts. However, these parts should not be split off, but be converted or sublimated. Only then an alternative to the capitalist system, which at the moment seem invincible, might show up to us.

This issue and others you are invited to discuss with us at the next colloquium about "being artist in capitalism" in Cologne at the 18th Feb. Details in the previous post.

Donnerstag, 12. Januar 2017

das zweite Kolloquium/ the second colloquium

english below

am Samstag, 18. Februar findet das zweite Kolloquium zum Thema "Künstler sein im Kapitalismus" statt, wieder durchgeführt von stimmfeld e.V. und dem Salon K der Freihandelszone. Infos dazu unten! Diesmal mit Vorträgen der Künstlerin Agnes Pollner zum Begriff der Resonanz und einem Vortrag von mir zum Feld zwischen Individualität und Kooperation. Außerdem wird Georgia Hüls wieder systemische Aufstellungen für die teilnehmenden Künstler anbieten! 
Wir freuen uns auf einen starken Tag!

Saturday, 18th of Feb. the second colloquium about "being artist in capitalism" will take place. Again in Köln at the Freihandelszone. This time with lectures from artist Agnes Pollner about "resonance" and myself about the field between individuality and cooperation. Georgia Hüls will again lead some systemic work for artists. We are looking forward for another strong day!