Sopho Akhaladze

‘V – For Victory’ — I’ll conquer, but not today!

Procrastination, unpunctuality, idleness, and the inner condition of chronic refusal of performing jobs or daily activities, might be a common characteristic of the sedentary workers of a post-industrial society. The state of mental idleness while performing daily jobs is an effective tool for unconcerned automation of duties. Efforts are undertaken only to evade mental inclusion in the processes. That kind of idleness, as a symptom of procrastination in general, creates topologies of culture, where performing activities becomes a two-phase tautological act, constant reproduction of the process — ‘performance for performing’, rather than locally descriptive. As a result, only formally justifying/legitimating the existence of a particular self.

Absence is a new presence!

Herman Melville’s protagonist, refusenik “Bartleby, the Scrivener” is starving himself to death, as he constantly refuses to do his share of work in the context of preferable denial: “I WOULD PREFER NOT TO“.  Generalizing the notion of preferable denial, in turns, establishes the new processes in culture — ongoing Potentiality VS Actuality / Permanent Delay VS Abruption. The potentiality of preferable denial in teleological time, results in forming deviant phenomena of an outcast — being beyond the culture, ultimately leading to death. Death might be a choice. Procrastination might an extension of this choice within a particular time frame (temporality): I’ll die, but not today! Displacement of the death from the metaphysical realm into prolonged actuality, while keeping it unnoticed.

Time-based art

The notion of procrastination is explicitly displayed in time-based art movement aiming at a reflection on actuality in repetitive perspective, thus creating a metaphorical/symbolic form of art via conserving a single process and abstracting it from sociopolitical, economical, or historical contexts. Mainly criticizing the paradigm of historical progress, it draws an emphasis on its cycling nature.

The animation of Belgian artist, Francis Alÿs “Song for Lupita” is a classic representation of procrastination in culture and the emergence of wasted time as a result of experiencing temporality. The girl pours water from a glass into a glass and mumbles “the fantasy of perpetual desire”: Tomorrow, Tomorrow. Tomorrow is an unrealized idea of progress, accompanied by the implications of endless delays: I’ll conquer, but not today! I’ll die, but not today! 

A cadre from Francis Alÿs’ “Song for Lupita”

In his video work “Politics of rehearsal”, Alÿs displays and draws the parallels between the atmosphere of the stripper’s workplace and the fragment of Harry S. Truman’s incentivizing inauguration speech, who sees the idea of progress in cutting the poverty of underdeveloped countries. During the recording, Alÿs articulates actuality as temporality and emphasizes its pornographic nature — reality is pornographic, with the stubborn referent of spectator’s constant arousal, as the stripper keeps time to detain one in a certain atmosphere.

A cadre from Francis Alÿs’ “Politics of rehearsal”

Dissipative arousal with an ecstatic sense of victory

In a post-industrial society, incentives to call for action come from the outside of the personal “Philosophy of the act”. Incentives are mainly derived from the realm of social advertising vectoring the philosophy of reflection (Vita Contemplativa) towards a concrete action (Vita Activa) of consumption.

In 1977, Nike launches its first advertising campaign “There is no Finish line”, featuring the process of ongoing potentiality — permanent running (endless delay) — as an ultimate goal itself. Permanent running, in Nikes’ advertising message, is converted in repetitive production of upgraded sneakers, like conserving a single process and applying it to the ultimate goal of teleological progress — the progress that tells nothing rather than confirms to be immanently derivative.

Nike advertising campaign “There is no Finish line”

Francis Alÿs’ “A Story of Deception” — “Patagonia”

If we look at the illustration of “Patagonia” — “A Story of deception”, Alÿs displays particularly the same picture: symbolic vector of infinite movement at Patagonia desert highway that ended up with the projection of mirage, the metaphor of the allure of social-economic reforms in Latin America and Mexico, — strived for, yet never achieved.

According to Kierkegaard, reflective age is an era of unconcerned contemplation, deprived of the virtue of acting and abundant with multiple forms of resentments. As Boris Groys concludes, reproduction of vain time could be interpreted positively, since we exist only in temporality, beyond political and economic projects.

Photo from Arcade Fire’s album: Refketor (2013) — picturing Orpheus and Eurydice.