On power, pain and…
…when I say power, I am not only thinking of the power of the state and of its institutions but also of the hundreds of different powers that become intertwined, coming from different sides. They come from states and from individuals, from East and West, from “friends” and from the administration. These powers are to be found everywhere: in the newspapers, in language, in the arts, in the “given freedom”, in the truth and in my fear.
I have always wanted to write how subtle power was. And I did. Power is cynical, occasionally subtle (can that be) but more or less crude and open. Power is characterized by the total ignorance of others. That cynicism of power is caused by not knowing about things and even the desire not to know.
In the middle of the day it (power) says good night and looks me in
the eyes and I feel ashamed for it. I know that one day I shall repeat
good night (for one learns by repetition even unconsciously), but
through repetition one does not learn only to repeat but also to forget.
In my art I showed that cynicism of power convinced that in comparison with that cynicism art was nothing, absolutely nothing. I am convinced that art is nothing. Nothing, pain. A manifestation of powerlessness, visionlessness, a blindness, deafness…, a pain that lasts…, in zero.
When I say pain, questions are immediately raised: what pain, whose pain, wherefrom the pain, as if pain had to be explained, analyzed. There’s nothing to be explained… the pain is there.
“Together with language you’ve learnt the notion of pain” said L. Wittgenstein, and I say: in a twofold way, as pain and as pain language. Pain is not in language. Language inflicts pain. “Words that you hear inflict pain and the words that you pronounce. Nothing hurts, because you do not know what it means to feel pain, and everything hurts, for you do not know the meaning of anything. Since you do not know the name of anything, everything inflicts pain, although you do not know that it hurts, for you do not know what the phrase “to feel pain” means. (P. Handke: Kaspar). The artist is Kaspar. Just as Kaspar learnt from Wittgenstein so Wittgenstein will learn from Kaspar.
a – pain abed – pain aboard – pain
aback – pain abet – pain all – pain
abandon – pain abeyance – pain abode – pain
abash – pain abhor – pain abolish – pain
abate – pain abide – pain abolition – pain
abbey – pain ability – pain abominable – pain
abbreviate – pain abject – pain abortion – pain
abdicate – pain abjure – pain acclamation – pain
abdomen – pain able – pain acclimatize – pain
abduct – pain abnegate – pain acclivity – pain
etc. whole dictionary.
Mladen Stilinović, 1994.
First time published in Preoccupations, Galerie l’Ollave, Lyon, 1994