What transcendence could mean and what Mayakovsky might have wished for


Because we are all bombed with the need to compromise, it becomes even more urgent, more awe-inspiring to push for transcendence until the last air from our mouths gets pushed out.

It could be Mayakovsly’s misfortune, that he lived in perhaps one of the more turbulent times and spaces of all time – early 20th century Russia confused after the seeds of a once unguessable idealization finally landed on the soil of their resolute country. Art, and the artist had to confront another condition – an ironic one, because in as much as it was so novel, it was also so much dreamt about it might have worn out — and Mayakovsky apparently was not persistent enough, or optimistic enough to keep on producing art as a weapon, a shield of the producing self against a material setting perfectly in turmoil, a setting asking for only some decades to have a semblance of stability.

The face is always half-shown. sabi ni Zizek
The face is always half-shown. sabi ni Zizek

To wish to be resurrected for another time – a time when all the failures of his present will have been vanquished by the actualization of what he could only envisioned – is not poetic or cute of Mayakovsky, it’s plainly timorous and pathetic.

He wrote:

“Resurrect —

I want to live out my life!

So that love won’t be a lackey there

of livelihood,

wedlock,

lust,

or worse.

Decrying bed,

Forsaking the fireside chair,

So that love shall flood the universe. (Russell 1985, 202)”

He had to pin his hopes on a future that will fulfill his once visions-on-fire, visions crashed by what he had seen in the Russia of his time. Again: the conflicted self, much more an artist, much much more, a bourgeois artist (if you don’t find that a bit redundant or inept), dwindling in the face of her society also in conflict with itself. Mayakovsky was not able to make the necessary, perhaps the appropriate compromises. And he was not able to transcend either. A fine illustration perhaps of the much common debacle in living, even an avant-garde died in the same suffering.

Oh, what a glorious thing to say, and much more to do, definitely: to transcend. Perhaps that is precisely why this art group, Pedantic Pedestrians, does not want to imply that it seeks to transcend art and its current configurations policed by several institutions and apparatuses; or precisely why I still look up, again, to those who recognize that transcendence (social, economic, political, artistic, romantic) is futile in this late capitalist frame, and hence, would do something concrete to alter such frame and abolish the need for transcendence; and lastly, that I suddenly remembered this song by Dreamtheater, who affirmed that the “soul will transcend.”

In itself, to transcend is to make an unavoidable, impurifying move in order to arrive at some purity. To compromise only appears to be the most necessary. But: it only appears. There could be transcendence, there could be non-compromises. Try to look at the successors of the people of Russia which depressed Mayakovsky.

Look.

Not in the center of your eye, or mine, or the center of this ruinsome blog post, or the glamour of the television or your tablet.

We cannot talk about where to look, only where to NOT look. Look not in Harvard jeans, or in Godard films, or the sushi or kimchi on the table; not on a male porn star’s torso, not on shopping malls, not on the roads from the rural to the metro.

Look.

Apparently, to compromise is a necessary prelude to transcendence.

We have a whole life to lose — and perhaps, perhaps, all wagers begin with this, and all events in life somehow begin with wagers – a whole new life to gain — maybe the life Mayakovsky wanted to gain, but did not.

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