The soul sweeper

I thought social media was hell until I arrived at this social gathering and a guy, without me asking, tells me he works as a coach. I’ve just arrived and already at this young stage of the night my soul is desperate about detonating the ninja smoke bomb and getting the hell out of the place without saying hello. But I don’t listen to my soul, which lately is soft and tired, I overcome its desperation, I give the night a second chance. 

Stay, something can happen. Something out of this brutal normality. Two more cigarettes, Adrian, two more. 

When you start measuring time in cigarettes you lose your fear of death. When you lost the fear of death you lost the fear of failure. When you lose the fear of failure you know that life is a mistake worth living as a miracle. Until someone plays 80s music. At full volume. Music we all know. Music we like because we all know it. 

Now a talk. Which first starts promisingly and then ends like almost all talks: to have them or not to have them, it wouldn’t make any difference. Patience, Adrian, patience. Will a madman or a madwoman arrive at this round and detonate this plague of common sense, this plague of expected endings?

Another person joining us. Will she be my candidate? Will she honour to be different? No: she says she also works as a coach. Me struggling. To stay. Not to go home. To give a chance to the night, to life, to death, to tobacco, to failure, to the miracle. To me. 

Now listening to the conversation. Prices, inflation. How boring Vienna is. But I have even worse news: we’ve just been joined by another person who also happens to be a coach. And they’re laughing, drinking. Wow. What a coincidence. The only non-coach is me. And what do you do for a living? Going home, that’s what I do for a living, most of my time I’m going home.

Down the Margarethen street the winter cracks my face. Thinking that I’ve committed a horrible sin: I’ve pretended to please. I’ve accepted an invitation to a party so I wouldn’t be alone. I went to the party and I hate parties. And I’ve stayed at the party. From the moment I entered that house I knew there was nothing for me. And I stayed. Out of interest, out of convenience. It’s just that the times are insane. I realise that we are trying to conform to what we think we have to be and we are not being conformed to what we are.

The other day I accompanied a friend to an experimental music jam session. My friend wanted to get to know the scene. He wanted to be part of the scene. He got on stage with other musicians and I saw the disappointment on his face. Nobody was listening to anybody. Every musician was on their own. Everyone was there to be part of something. We went home with my friend and he went to bed early. He told me he felt empty.

How much of the conforming attitude comes from cyber platforms and the invisible effects they have on us? Brands make products according to what they think their audience wants to buy, artists produce art according to what they themselves think the famously stupid algorithm most distributes among audiences, people do and are what they think others think people in general should be. I’m tired of it. And artificial intelligence becomes the ultimate expression of this mirror system of horror. The machine will command what it thinks the human should do and the human will obey and execute what the machine says. The great virtual bubble is underway. There is the smell of fakery. There is a smell of role-playing, of inauthenticity. And it is out here, not only in virtual life. It’s here, in this street, in this world, in the Margarethen, in me, with the wind breaking my face, on my way home.

The social platforms are full of indistinct people. Streamers, artists, entertainers thrown at the whim of what to be today and the whim of what to be tomorrow. It is incredible how much we do to satisfy an algorithm, an electronic brain. Today we are coaches and tomorrow we will be artists. All to satisfy the idea we think someone else has of us or the wrong idea we have of ourselves. Well, I have good news: we are going to die, never mind all that.

Now buying cigarettes from an automatic machine. Yes, I have sinned of conforming to others and to my self-image. The night is freezing and lonely. In front of Pilgramgasse station there are mice coming and going from a construction site to a kebab stand eating the leftover food of the night’s drunkards. The mice don’t know it. But we are in the age of the Great Sweeper that sweeps away the different, the one who does not submit. He or she who does not behave like the majority is out of the game.

When I was a teenager in the 90s, guys like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs were the enemy. They were fucking oppressors who subjugated us all with inventions that, according to their own beliefs, would benefit humanity. And perhaps they have done so. But I refuse to call these people benefactors. In my universe, the only benefactors of life are the different ones. The poets, the madmen, the artists and the philosophers, those whom today the Great Sweeper is about to sweep away. There they are, like the cultural section of the newspapers: at the end and on the verge of extinction. The world of art, the world of a serious, personal and intimate work has disappeared. A painting is painted in two sessions and published on the internet. Art, if it still exists, is about to be swept away.

In the government of the Great Sweeper, the poets of life, the distinct live on the margins and are a danger to the standard. The different have distance. Distance from things allows one to not be involved in things. Not being involved in things makes it possible to see. Like a painter when he moves away from his painting, it allows to see the Big Picture, the Matrix. Seeing the Matrix is dangerous for Power. And also when you see the Matrix you are alone. And who wants to be alone. Tonight I didn’t want to be alone. I have committed the sin of going against who I am.

The success of the Great Sweeper is due to this fear of loneliness. It’s a survival reflex. Anyone knows that jumping out of the pack leaves you alone. Anyone knows that a step towards yourself is a step back from the others. But not everyone knows that a step towards yourself is a step towards humanity, towards diversity, towards heterogeneity, towards the Whole. At the end of us there are the others.

Most don’t dare to see the Big Picture because the Big Picture is a Horror Picture and, if they do see it, they return to the painting in a panic of loneliness and get so close to the painting that they become the painting. And once they become the painting they are no longer different. They are the same. They can now sleep in the company of the great majority.

I go home again, closing the door, leaving my sins and the world outside. Thinking of my friend Agustín, alone and with panic attacks, in Buenos Aires. Thinking of Mariela, also in Buenos Aires, who never learned how to cook a fried egg. Thinking of my friend Nicolás, wasting all his talent in a marijuana field in California. Thinking of my friend Paoletta, in San Sebastian, alone in Enea Park at night looking at a star in the sky. Thinking of my friend Melina, in Berlin, with some guy sprawled over her body. Thinking of Stefan, on the other side of the bridge, in Vienna, stuck in a university that drives him madder than he actually is. Thinking of me. Alone and cold, smoking with the windows closed.

As usual in Pig News, I share a gem with you. I leave you here the artist Robert Filliou doing his performance in which he obeys the orders of a T.V. with his own image.

© Adrián Dozetas


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