The Cultural Deus ex Machina27 Jun 2017 5 mins read (1000 words)
As Nietzsche’s famous dictum in his The Birth of Tragedy (1872) goes, “it is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified”.1 If art dies, then so does the way we look at our world and existence: nothing is no longer eternally justified, but becomes secularized — dead. And here we are, living in a dead world where everything called “aesthetically pleasing” — is an arrangement of rotting matter spreading through the deceasing corpse of our global culture.
To demonstrate the determinations of our modern consumer global culture, and the way we are easily persuaded to mask our reality with an Apollonian idea; Nietzsche makes a great analogy, of how when we forcefully attempt to gaze at the sun, we see dark spots in front of us as we turn away blinded.2 These dark spots in front of our vision, are, as it where, “cures”. By analogy, when we look at an image of, say a Sephora commercial depicting a overly photoshopped progressive multi-sex human object holding a new fetish product; we contrast this image with the figure that we see in front of our mirror, and think, how gruesome we would continue looking if we won’t buy the product depicted in the illusory commercial.
This is the Apollonian image of our culture, that is not just a figure of Cara Delavigne, but thousands of other models lined up during Fashion Week shows — like the ones you may find in a brothel. These models just blindly claim they support various equalities, express support for capitalist-Ivanka-Trump-Hillary-Clinton form of womanism-feminism, different body types, anti-discriminations, etc. etc. — all while contradicting themselves. The contradiction comes when millions of people will be living according to the illusory Apollonian images these model help to fabricate; which compel the petty-consumers who seek to reach their illusion of freedom, only sometimes to realize how they are enslaved by their own illusory idea — as we are compelled to learn from Requiem for a Dream (2000).
To triumph what the moral order imposed by the Apollonian images, our culture has returned to a state where it degenerately expresses a primordial form of individuality through a narcissistic, subservient manifestation of a vision.3 Our liberal values, have become an instrument to the well-oiled capitalist machine; so much, that our primordial expression of individuality is directly correlated to the growing stock prices of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Sephora, Zara etc.
But this subservient funneling of our inner predispositions, perhaps, can be explained by the fact that we no longer feel comfortable with a moral order imposed by a Nazi deus ex machina: dictating how living matter of our bodies must be arranged, what aesthetic judgement we must have, how the human must evolve to not ‘degenerate’, and what non-‘degenerate’ art 4 humans must create. Our capitalist-neoliberal world is frightened by the idea of such an order, while it fails to recognize that it has become submissive to something more-or-less equivalent — the global capitalist deus ex machina, where individuality is a naive fantasia, where culture is just a mass of programmable automata — waiting to be programmed by Google, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix.
This deus ex machina that I’m referring to, is very much like the kind that Karl Marx already described in The German Ideology (1845):
Those who are oppressed nowadays in society, think only about how to achieve the society which is right for them, and is this consists primarily in abolishing the present society on the basis of the existing productive forces…Those who need the machine (for example, in order to make money) find the fault in the machine and try to alter it, etc.—…they are setting themselves the task not of putting the machine right, but of discovering the right machine, the holy machine, the machine as the incarnation of the holy, the holy as the machine, the machine in the heavens.5
This holy capitalist machine, can be interpreted as “a convention of Greek tragedy where a seemingly unsolvable problem is resolved by an unexpected intervention of some new event, ability or object. An invention like money, is an example of an invention that not only allowed humans to overcome decaying processes of nature, but also altered the human condition where natural processes no longer interfere with the human processes of accumulating and securing labor power.”6
Our society welcomes the expression of individuality; where soon instead of sex and gender, we will have an asexual hermaphrodite — a biologic body that is able to self-reproduce, just like an amoeba, and dissolve all form of individuality based on the chemical and neurological instructions that get programed by the global capitalist deus ex machina — the epitome of a Queere, so it seems. The individuality will be happy regardless; naively claiming it is expressing its unique individuality through its own agency when in fact, its agency was determined and converted into a determinable quanta long beforehand — this is the simplification and reduction of individuality that humans are subjecting themselves to. Welcome to the humanism of the future.
Nietzsche, The Birth of Tradegy, sec. 5 ↩
Nietzsche, The Birth of Tradegy, sec. 9 ↩
Nietzsche, The Birth of Tradegy, sec. 20 ↩
(German: Entartete Kunst)—A term adopted by the Nazi regime in Germany to describe Modern art. (see Wikipedia) It is important to note the Nietzsche had alluded to degenerate art—among numerous other ideas—half-a-century earlier than the Nazi’s eluded to their terms. Nietzsche is sometimes dismissed as a provoker of Nazi thought, but those who claim so, unlikely have the mental capacities to comprehend his thought in an Absolute form; contrary to a dissected, labeled, fragmented reading of one the greatest philosophic minds. Thought this also has to do with improper translation of Nietzsche into the English language. ↩
Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels. The German Ideology (Prometheus Books, New York). 1845. ↩