What is to be done?

A question we as a society ask ourselves constantly: how to solve the current and foreseeable challenges and problems that we face? How to go about life, how to lead a good life? What is it to lead a good life? A question Nikolai Chernyshevsky asks himself in more ideological terms, he focuses on a social utopia and the fight for the rights of people who are not getting their fair share. A saying which was then co-opted by Lenin for his communism and later by others like Mario Merz. What is to be done? It is a question at the same time wide enough to englobe all of humanities’ travails and possibilities and one very specific, which artists asks themselves constantly. What shall I do now? Is it relevant, for whom, and in what way? Can I do it, is it physically possible? Will the concept translate well into reality? What is to be done regarding one’s career, is it worthwhile to continue? Should the question be even framed in this way?

With time these questions and others are answered, ignored, lay undiscovered, and dormant or completely buried. With time, one creates a narrative, through this narrative we define ourselves, we set how we see ourselves, what is our character, and our identity. Regarding the self, we pay more attention to the narrative than to the actions this self takes. Who controls the narrative then? Ourselves? Not only, we are infused by everything that surrounds us, by the people we talk to, by where we live, what we do, our genetics, and so on and so forth. We are a mixture of different strands of narrative. From these strands, we take what we want, what we can, what we think we want and what we are forced to take and weave it into our narrative. It is a constant and ongoing process at multiple levels. As a society, we also weave our collective narrative, again with different strands, but there is a main one. History is a clear example of this, how we always look to the past with today’s eyes, as it would be impossible to look at it any other way as one is only present in this time frame and cannot, that we know of so far, access other time frames. This leads us to constantly recycle history and adapt it to our current point of view. It is in a way a positive endeavour as it is the way to understand history and again weave it into ourselves single and plural. It is a construction process based on past realities, which is then used for knowledge dissemination, control, identity creation/fabrication and legitimisation. For this there is the need for creativity, here artistic endeavour is the prime mover, it is necessary to filter our current reality into atomized views, which together form a general societal view, a social creative output one could say and this output is consumed as a product and or idea and digested into the common consciousness. This again is used to choose what to weave into the common social thread, the one we all subscribe to, in general, if we are not to renounce the society, we live in.

What is to be done? A bit of everything and nothing at all, both at the same time.

Martim Brion