The Fall of Faust

Andrea Pagnes
ANDREA PAGNEZ /curator, writer, ARTIST

The Fall of Faust is the fall of the artist, the fall of the man who wants to create something or who has the presumption to create something. The artist’s fall happens, if he is objective and honest, because he understands that the creation of ‘something’ will inevitably lead to the following axiom:

ART Faust, the artist, faces his own creation and finds it is not as perfect as his pure idea - the idea that he wanted to translate in a tangible way, and he is not satisfied. He asks himself: “What is art? What does it mean?”

ART = VULGARITY He finds that what he has created is ‘vulgar’ – that to create is an act of presumption and he concludes that his creation, whether beautiful or not, has only been produced to declare himself to the world.
THE ARTIST’S REALIZATION He experiences revulsion of knowledge because of the pretension of knowing.
TRAGIC NATURE Because knowledge is so vast and far-reaching he realizes that, as a human being, he will never be capable of embracing knowledge in its absolute complexity. He has to accept that his nature is limited and therefore tragic and that he does not have the means to understand what knowledge is. He can only comprehend that ultimately he, as subject of knowledge, is the object of knowledge itself and the reason why knowledge exists. He defers to the infinity of knowledge, accepting that he has access to only a small part of it and that the subject of knowledge is the object of knowledge itself.
‘Tragic nature’ is consciousness. Faust, the artist, becomes ‘conscious’ of the only way of procuring some knowledge. He understands the limitations, his limit as a human being - a being that has the presumption of knowing and creating. He can only ‘know’ that his life is limited and that he has to accept it as such. His position is tragic. His only real knowledge is his consciousness of that tragedy.
KNOWLEDGE The tragedy of the knowledge of tragedy.
THE DIVERSITY OF THE ARTIST’S POSITION The presumption to create ‘ex nihilo nihil’ (nothing is created from nothing) is an act of will, of non-conformity - but ‘ex nihilo nihil’ is impossible; it does not exist.In the end, if art is just an act of will (and undoubtedly it is an act of will) Faust’s (the artist’s) final question to himself is the following: “Art qua Voluntary Act? Hence Vulgarity.” Every volunteer act is vulgar. Nobody can escape this statement. We can just pretend to be blind to it. Faust’s consequential answer to his final question brings him to the initial identity:

ART = VULGARITY

I. Art and science are free, and their teachings are free.
II. Man must not impose either limits or boundaries on art and science; they must be allowed free rein. If limits are imposed, art and science become filiations of man’s ego, an ego predisposed by internal
unease and social disquietude and, as such, they become ‘reflection’ and ‘subject’ and therefore inferior.
III. To impose is to oppose.
IV. Art and science are entities of a higher expression and maintain a propulsive force such that they can never be subjected to the dominion of man. Anyone who imposes limits and boundaries on art and
science are doing nothing more than imposing limits and boundaries on him/herself.
V. The limits and boundaries of art and science (as ‘entity-subject’) must be searched for in their autonomous freedom and existence.
VI. It is necessary for man to place himself dialogically before art and science, respecting the dignity and the essential existence of these entities.
VII. Aberration is borne out of the effects and accidents of the species (nature) including mankind. Aberrations are none the less necessary.
VIII. Art and science intrinsically harbour a force of rebellion when man commands them without ‘knowing’ them. This becomes a destructive force when man covets and abuses them.
IX. Consensus is only a quantitative appreciation - the adherence of many to one.
X. It is possible for one to consent to an effect or thing without necessarily feeling that it is a part of oneself - to consent only because that effect or thing is marvellous. This kind of appreciation happens as a
response to taste or pleasure but what one is actually recognising is the nuance of something that promotes a need for satisfaction, something that fills the desire of the instant.
XI. Whatever the question, if it is heard from outside our ‘being’ it should not to be judged at all, because it has not been understood.
Knowledge, ego, being.
Substance.
Search.
Reality.
Non-ego.

XII. Knowledge (whether of the many or the few makes no difference) is an incommensurable force, often non-existent.

 

The ‘author-demiurge’ is a tragic entity in that he does not create, but rather realizes himself only temporarily, or put another way, he produces ‘time’ - a time that is represented, vis-à-vis the work, as a‘phase-of-knowledge’. He tends to attain knowledge or at least to possess a part of it. In truth, this coincides with the limitations of the author, his individual deficiencies and the paucity of his intents. He only ‘follows’ the idea of knowledge, an absurd idea that is absolutely extraneous to knowledge in and of itself.
In art, producing time is a negation of the concept of time itself. The executing procedure of the ‘author-demiurge’ is an attempt to realize and steer the idea (that he possesses) ‘from’ – ‘to’, but this movement in fact debases the nature or the ideal of the idea. Idea is an entity that makes sense only in that it ‘is’. It does not ‘represent’. Realization of the idea is therefore inferior. The ‘author-demiurge’ commands, with the ability that he is convinced he possesses, and leads the idea to an equally lofty or intense (expressive!) level. Whatever the final result, the level is always lower because the result is always the end result of imitation. The ‘author-demiurge’ must be absolutely aware of this, otherwise he would not only be an imitator but a deplorable liar. He ascertains, in this failure, tragedy itself - the tragic end of an idea and the tragic end of the author of the transformation (from idea to realization) who thereby becomes an ape. By imitating the idea, the author even debases the ape, he kills the idea in order to give life to an image, but the image is a mirror, a mere aberration of the idea. The ape is the ‘mirror-aberration’ of the author. It is the author himself who is incapable of attaining any other knowledge, or rather the knowledge of himself or his tragic simian performance.
What allows us to differentiate the ‘vulgar’ from ‘art’? What do we mean by vulgar? Is nature vulgar? Never. What about Man? Man is often, perhaps always, vulgar. Art is therefore the highest level of vulgarity, ergo what is vulgar is art. It is the same thing. However, this is evidently contradictory, as art is different from vulgarity, or at least we think there is a difference between the two. If nature expresses itself through us, via art, what detaches and distances man from nature is technique. Thus, technique is undoubtedly vulgar.
Art and philosophy are identified with freedom of thought, thought that is free to err through necessity. Art does not evolve! Technology evolves. Those who speak of the evolution of art and proclaim its death are vulgar. It is purity, ingenuity, and honesty that save us from vulgarity. However, it is difficult to ‘find’ ourselves in times that smell of death, corruption, and rot. But reality does not have a stench; it is corpses that smell and the cities are full of them. In the hands of these corpses everything is vulgar, even nature itself. I suffer immensely from having to see nature made vulgar, and even more so from having to admit that this is possible. “Bodies, indeed, must be disposed of more than excrement itself.” Heraclitus
By exasperating the Greek concept of art, modernity has rendered the concept of creation an absurdity. Creation is an absurdity as ‘ex nihilo nihil’, meaning nothing is created from nothing. The modern artist, like the ‘author-demiurge’, is a presumptuous madman as he is devoid of the sense of necessity. He is an ungainly ape - a tragic ape. The tragedy is underpinned by fixed, insurmountable canons: the subject of deciding is the subject that must be decided. This is the revelation of its comic nature. The ‘author-demiurge’ becomes a mad, pathetic clown, aping himself; a tragic ape persuaded of the fact that the being is nothing. Faced with necessity he seems to be limited in his movement, stupidly haughty about something that does not belong to him. Because he has been persuaded of the fact that he creates his own works he is firmly convinced he is the author of these works.

 

ON THE CHARACTER OF ART
Art (and hence literature) has no gender; it is neutered and ambiguous. More than a ‘being’ it is a ‘being-able-to-be’. Eugenio Montale was one of the first to say as much. It is a perennial question that never gives an answer. It always asks questions, putting in doubt the sensitivity of those who would question it. It is ungraspable, unspeakable, a suspension, an altering of the logical rules proper to the kingdom of paradoxes - a contradiction that cannot do without itself. It lives through imitation, simulation, and fiction. The only form of sincerity that can be gleaned is that it does not deny the drama of existence, the tragedy of human life, precisely when it is called on to give an answer to these questions. But even if it managed to propose solutions, these would be impossible to realize in reality, because art is always a fleeing from real time, a temporal negation that, in order to affirm itself, annihilates the concept of art itself.
 

Andrea Pagnes