Dear Reader – My short film, Diabolus Rex – Fleur Du Mal Moving Portrait, is an example of an authoritarian personality in relation to art. I have included in order to show that such a subject believes an attempted isolation of the psyche is not only valid, but also the preferred method in which spirituality is constructed using aesthetics.
I am using the term ‘ego-ideal’ in a Freudian manner, which for myself is simply condensed as an idealized-self rooted in narcissism leading to authoritarianism and bigotry. Such an extreme narcissist is completely seduced by ideals produced and maintained in an enclosed world, one where identity is shut in on itself; it is here that satisfaction from the libidinal drive is centered on the function of the imaginary. This form of ego-ideal is what I refer to as ‘fascist’ in regards to the satanic subject, as there is an idealization shown to fascism in an extreme, both in the subjects creative and social life. To further elaborate on my use of the word ‘fascist’ it must be made clear that an idealization of aesthetics regarding symbols of esoteric Nazism, antisemitism, anti-humanitarianism, and mystical obsessions for power are dominant in the ideology of ‘Diabolus Rex’ – an alias of Mark Nance, also known as Rex Church, who is a public figure as a satanist claiming to wield potent black magick and esoteric secrets of power while working as a full-time janitor of a storage facility in Portland, OR. In an age where the word ‘fascist’ is misused and overused in an effort to insult others, the traditional definition unfortunately applies perfectly herein. However, all people are capable of change and affected by difference; anyone may have a change of heart regarding their position on humanity/themselves. Therefore, nobody can be completely defined, or deduced into one word; I refuse to dismiss anyone so easily, such a lack of critical thinking is exactly what I am resistant against. We must hold ourselves accountable for being human, see ‘the plague’ (I am thinking of Camus’ usage of plague here) as present within us all, and in this refuse to except bigotry. We must ask ourselves how geographic and social worlds are translated within us, and explore how we use language (the always-already-there supported by others) to create our own understanding in an attempt to define who we are. We must ask ourselves; who speaks when a voice escapes the body?
“Every translation must fit one world inside each other, but not every work to be translated has been shaped by the emphatic opposition to the world into which it must be fitted (Adorno, ix).” This quote, which begins the translator’s introduction to Aesthetic Theory, by Theodor Adorno, reveals an identity of language shaped by its world. With this structure let us substitute ‘the work’ itself for the person who wrote it – and go further with identity of the author to the split-subject/ego itself. Here we would have something restated like this: every ideology must fit one reality inside [an]other, but not every act of the ego to be revealed has been shaped by the emphatic opposition to the wor[l]ds into which it/they must be fitted. By way of translation of the previous quote, this reconstructed sentence takes on a similar meaning, in a method of the question behind what the work is based on – its identity of origin; who speaks in the place of its author? Deconstruction is not a “leveling to the ground or leaving it (identity) in shambles but opening it to difference (Derrida 114).” The deconstructed identity of the work itself reveals multiple layers of what separates an artist from the work as they live separate lives.
Even a translators introduction can reflect a deeper delve into the identity of a work by the means of clarifying who speaks. With these ideas in mind, I would like to back away from the voice and see its framing; to suggest that the human face is capable of being an elaborate canto, novel, or repetitive war chant, in which language constructs the social reality that is framed in non-verbal communication. The human face speaks a story adhered to and yet separate from its owner; an addition to the question of who speaks for another’s work, face, or identity, as a fragmented concept being ‘who you are’ is thus accepted as whole in the quick glance of being in ‘the now’ – the stamp of such momentary identity is to delve into what makes up the “think” in the equation of the Cartesian cogito ergo sum; “I think, therefore I am.” However, this raises the question in response to the cogito; did I construct what I am thinking of which then validates my being? How may I use an object or another’s shell of identity to [de]construct my own? Is identity dislocated from its own observation – of self looking at self?
Unlike the photographic image, in which we have a frozen duration of constructed ‘reality’, we have our original understanding of reality in text; that of language in which words stand in as the symbolic big Other (Law, God, Name-of-the Father, etc..), and in context of the texts surroundings (other text in proximity – see a metaphor for the person as text here too) we take the meaning of the whole. With the contrast of portraiture (as symbolic language of the human being as replacement of text: the novel of being) against text we begin to see a separation of the planes of existence of the human condition, an approaching of the Lacanian definition of the Real; the state of nature from which we have been forever severed by our entrance into language. This is always-already-there state of language used to construct identity is what I call a ventriloquism of the subject, as humanity uses borrowed language (from others) to seize onto reality and construct the world into which it must be fitted. The act of projecting another’s image into composition – as an addition to building one’s own identity – the work of art being a work of the self through others is clearly a field of study on its own regarding applications of ethical agency. The artistic portrait is a perfect example of identity in reconstruction, if done with haste it acts as narcissistic seeds of the ego; the aesthetics of reconstructing others under personal ideals. The portrait’s primary use today is to sell products that may have nothing to do with the owner of the face or such identity. The capitalist use value of the portrait advert is within the object for sale itself; a portrait within a portrait. If we can agree that politics relates to activities associated with the governance of an area, the area of the other (referring here to the idealized aesthetics of portraiture versus the constant history of the authentic Subject) is governed by a representation of identity into an ideal that qualifies itself as fascist, and in doing so is breaking apart a loose epithet – into authentic authoritarian roots from the ego ideal – methods which have been described by Walter Benjamin as the aesthetization of politics apply quite well.
The obligation an artist has to others is expressed perfectly in this excerpt from Albert Camus’ Nobel Peace Prize Speech in 1957: “For myself, I cannot live without my art. But I have never placed it above everything. If, on the other hand, I need it, it is because it cannot be separated from my fellow men, and it allows me to live, such as I am, on one level with them. It is a means of stirring the greatest number of people by offering them a privileged picture of common joys and sufferings. It obliges the artist not to keep himself apart; it subjects him to the most humble and the most universal truth. And often he who has chosen the fate of the artist because he felt himself to be different soon realizes that he can maintain neither his art nor his difference unless he admits that he is like the others. The artist forges himself to the others, midway between the beauty he cannot do without and the community he cannot tear himself away from. That is why true artists scorn nothing: they are obliged to understand rather than to judge. And if they have to take sides in this world, they can perhaps side only with that society in which, according to Nietzsche’s great words, not the judge but the creator will rule, whether he be a worker or an intellectual.”
What is ‘Resistance’ in relation to the ego ideal? It is not a -response- to the ego ideal which would promote a continued sameness of the self based on an ideal object of identity, on the contrary, it is an openness and awareness of/to the other, while keeping a sovereignty to the self that is only obtainable through such an openness. A “response” is often something that uses the same ‘language’ or framing, and never escapes the reality it intends to escape – it becomes what it claims to be against in a re-framed ideology. The deconstruction of identity is an opening to difference; to the other, and the self in transformation – a process leading to personal sovereignty if taken to the end while preserving difference. Intelligence means nothing if one lacks compassion, with such a lack is a further promoting of an idealized imaginary object within the self or specific groups. I have witnessed too many intelligent people who have yet to develop the emotional maturity to value others, and through motions of condemning humanity they reveal their own hurtful position of self hatred. No matter what uniform of identity, the only counter culture that holds any validity is one that is both selfless and sovereign.
Adorno, Theodor W., Gretel Adorno, and Rolf Tiedeman. Aesthetic Theory. 1st ed. Univ Of Minnesota Press, 1998. ix. Print.
Derrida, Jacques, and John D. Caputo. Deconstruction In A Nutshell, A Conversation With Jacques Derrida. 1st ed. New York: Fordham Univ Pr, 1997. 114. Print.
Albert Camus’ full Nobel Peace Prize speech may be found here: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1957/camus-speech.html