There is a certain beauty in disintegration. I know I am exaggerating, but had you lived here you’d have probably looked for it too. This beauty has nothing to do with economics, politics, society, not even with everyday reality –exactly because reality is by necessity an everyday thing. I might be broke, but I’ve read my books and from the ivory tower of my parents’ house, 35 years of age, I still afford the luxury to contemplate and marvel at the ethereal essence of our hardest cores.
Ok, off with the lyricism. What I am witnessing, in ironic awe, is nothing more than the disintegration of my society, the violent unhooking of signifieds from their signifiers, with a little (or more) help from the visible hand of a deus absconditus –the evil God of tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and, oh, financial disasters. I hate to sound like a moralist, but contemplating on people’s lives (including mine) is not necessarily a practice in moral philosophy. Those lives, from the ones about to be re-invented to the ones thrown off of windows, are violently, abruptly and fiercely been ripped off from even more essential belongings than those of their private economies. For, along with the houses, the cars, the businesses and the weddings, people have been also being deprived of their own meaning. Greeks run around like headless chicken, their bodies fleeing in panic while their heads lie there screaming repeatedly like a broken record.
In contrast to the silent promises of bank loans, disjoint heads scream promises exotic, sometimes recalling a glorious nationalistic past, sometimes evoking the vision of a just society be it left, right or middle, exempt from any accused share (an even newer Atlantis, haven’t we grown tired already?) and sometimes announcing the coming of a disaster that is both unprecedented and foretold. They scream while their bodies jump from balconies, bleed from sneaky stabs on the back, drive furiously in abandoned roads or line up in tax offices that would ridicule any kafkian nightmare. And they sweat, oh how they sweat under that ruthless July sun, mixed with smog, tobacco and fried olive oil.
Why are they doing all this? They don’t know. For whom? They look at their children, their wives, their husbands, all the mother-in-laws and all the grandpas and the uncles and they don’t recognize them. What have they become? A question that cannot be answered if a certain historical, personal -and in both cases ruthless- distance is not yet assured. All that can be collected as evidence are the traces of what they had, objects that will be either confiscated or not replaced for a long time (cars, houses, vacations, tv sets, x-boxes, sport watches, shoes (lots of them) but also degrees, studios, hair-salons, fast-foods, movie theatres and wedding vows).
The issue here is not consumerism, the old and tired critique of a society of factice affluence. The issue here is individualism, the thought that our societal facade was founded somewhere “out there”, that we had nothing to do but feed it with aspirations, loans and other paraphernalia and that in return (a very important economic term), it would protect us from anything that could threaten it, not by virtue of a perennial natural state of suspicion , but through the peaceful guarantees of market cohabitation, the “good for you” carelessness of Montesquieu’s doux commerce. But now that the water is gone, we found out that there is no soil either. We are desperately looking for it, only in order to find out that there never was any, our anger for this lacuna being essentially self-destructive, because we will never forgive ourselves for having invented us.
However, I cannot reserve a nietzschean laughter for this spectacle. Even I, trying to steal away my anxiety through this probably nihilistic contemplation, I find myself disjoint and torn. However necessary, the realization of this lacuna is never of the order of beauty. It is a terrifying everyday experience of a sublime that can be tamed only though the Christian practice of turning your gaze away from temptation. Leaving your head behind screaming, while you walk with the sometimes tragic, sometimes comic (for Nietzsche there is a common, manic and irrational root) assurance that you have one –but with no insurance whatsoever.
Hoping that someday you’ll get out of here, again.