Ex –sistere: a halt in the absence of ourselves

The word “exist” comes from the Latin ex –sistere meaning “out of standing”. The word indicating our journey through life, our coming into the world, originally meant to make a halt in the absence of ourselves. But arriving does not imply awareness of being, awareness of existence, which occurs after one’s own recognition at the first reflex, the first reflexion. Before that, before reflexion, arriving in the world is to be made welcome, to receive a name.

Arriving at speech: being named, having things named for us: beginning to be in words.

Arriving in the world is arriving at speech, arriving at art is arriving at speech. Imagining languages is the origin and the meaning of art: imagining lives. Only imagining them, creating is a necessary ficion. Imagining is to be made up of signs: coming to be the reflexion of images.

Telling is to construct the reflection. Reconstructing is another fiction. Nothing is reconstructed, still in ruins, everything must be reborn.

Preparing the contexts to receive the reflexion of images is the task that in any culture begins reception into the world: preparing speech to pronounce signs, cadences and rhythms, to be the wirror of metaphors.

Being still is not stagnation, it is the quietness required to contemplate what is happening, to approach rhythms, languages and signs, to delve beyond the surface, beyond the barriers that protect or exclude or gag intimacy. Being still generates time. In the time of being still the transfers between the invisible and the visible flow: time for listening.

Not being heard, not being able to speak would be like not existing. The image without signs opened by others does not exist. It was not sufficient, in reflexion, to perceive oneself, it was on being thought by others when appearance began to arise out of invisibility: the reflection that inaugurated the awareness of being was the reflection in others’ eyes.

To speak of stillness, of created times, is to speak of tempos, strata, simultaneous worlds that coincide, but do no always converge. Reflexion always requires a tempo. The slow strata that are inevitably displaced by the strata where speed is reinforced by technology and the most diverse reflective elements distort intimacy or, in their public projection, merely confuse it with versions of pornography.

Art cannot turn its back on the world in which it lilves, but neither can the world in which it lives turn its back on those broad expanses of the ego that are not recognised, but buried by media hum. Art is forced to procure the convergence of the worlds that need it in order to live. By definition, what is most intimate is most profound. The intimacy of public art would therefore be the most deeply buried and, perhaps, for that very reason, what most urgently demands our aid. And, there where all seems to dissolve into the languages of silence, it would not be contradictory to conceive an intimacy that could be shared with the collective, to imagine it, to procure the dialogues that reciprocally encourage each of the imagined voices, for when the spirit of the voice takes on an image is when it is once again given to us.

The truly collective finds its meaning in caring for the intimate by caring for what is shared. Too often we expect that by the word “public” care for what is shared falls to the others, and, although words are not what set the world right, they can lead us reconsider it, for if, as Wittgenstein suggested, the limits of language represent the limits of my world (Tractatus 5.6), the awareness of those limits place me at the boundary point of my world where conflict occurs. Language places me in that conflict and finds support for me to proclaim that what holds my attention speaks some sort of language, shares some sign or gesture that we can both understand.

Reflexion is dialogue with oneself only insofar as we delude ourselves to give voice to the enigmatic eloquence of silence. The extreme silence of before and after struggles for a reflexion that allows the illusion of its existere: to reflect itself in the fleeting stasis of an image that by some sort of chance passed close by him, it or her. To only have those moments of that chance to obtain the only possibility of seduction arising out of the inert: the emotional steps towards a common centre of attraction between you and her or it or him: a common skin shivering under the touch of the inexistent.

If that voice that must arise unheard is the sole reason for the existence of art and its artifices, what sort of art do we produce for its advent to depend on the lips of a prince or princess that must tear it away from an unjust sleep?

We know and do not want to know that an art can flow more easily through the dried up mud of hovels than through the shining tiles that reflect our absence. And someone among us suddenly wants to buy all the hovels, as if art were one and absence could disperse the smoke of aeroplanes.

There are rites in which the initiate makes public his surrender to the powers of some arts through the symbolic destruction or mutilation of his own body, thus abandoning the being that restricts it: that initiated spirit will never more be able to flee the place that receives him, that wounded body will be cared for by the collcetive and, in exchange, will receive more than mediation: that being from which it is released, that support in transformation, will make the transformation shared, will make the pain common and the wound indelible.