In memory of Bowie


Reference: Heroes album cover shoot, 1977, photograph by Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita, courtesy the David Bowie Archive


Dr. Caligari

Helloooo people of tomorrow. I’m sorry for my absence. I’ve been trying to un-digitize myself. I’ve been struggling with writing some short stories these past months. The work is tedious, and writing is a dark universe. I had to step away from the digital cloud for a while.

More than ever today we’re experiencing a narrative deficiency. It’s so fashionable to say that today we don’t have just one narrative, that we have multiple ones, of which each one has its own unique place in the world. We are all, so it goes, just stories that we tell ourselves, that each of us can have a little piece of the universe. But what if this is the wrong way to approach the problem of multiplicity (or multiple narratives)–whether it be the multiplicity of political parties or the multiplicity of races. What if instead of saying that you have you’re culture, and we have ours; what we should say is that we need a new grand narrative?

The other day I was re-watching “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” the 1920 Robert Wiene horror film. It’s about the story of a Dr. Caligari using a somnambulist as a instrument of murder. But the films twist is that the entire incident was merely the hallucination of Francis, the protagonist, who is finally reveal twards the end that he’s a patience of the asylum. The film was made during the Weimar Republic, the short Democratic-trauma of the WWI aftermath of Germany. What if we’re in the same situation today?


What if we live in one big insane asylum, and all of our contingent experiences are just a mere hallucination? I think this is the horror we are facing with today: to discover that our so called “permissive-liberating society” is actually a hox, a hallucinatory ideology. We live in a era of inconsistencies, of what Peter Sloterdiyk calls sphere implosion. It is when the protective dimension of our grand narrative breaks down. At the level of personal freedom, we seem to have limitless possibilities (we can read anything we want, we can travel anywhere we like, we can have as many sexual partners as we desire, etc.), but on the level of political freedom we’re more and more constrain in a straitjacket, as if changing any small parts of the political-economic system will result in a domino effect towards disaster (e.g. universal healthcare, raising the minimum wage, etc.). I think this so call “liberal-permissive society” is deeply ideological, in the Marxian sense of the word (i.e. ideology as a essential illusion that mystifies a certain problem). While, yes, we have freedom on the person level (and this level is also important), we loose the fundamental choice of the frame work that determines these personal choices. As Jane at the end of the film says, ” we queens…are not permitted to follow the dictates of our hearts.” Do we not live in an age of disheartened individualism?


Looking Back at High School Sketches