Death Ontology


Shall it appear that the origin of representation is in its opposite?
– death.

Could it be that the rift between life/death is the condition of possibility for representation? Is it out of this oppositional binary that representation seems possible and comes into being?

The unfolding of representation directs itself towards that general equivalence: the grand Spectacle of the world become representation to itself, programming the end of the world with every new calamitous invention. A counterfeit value of representation turned into production – from a natural value into a law of value and exchange, before transforming into the general equivalence where capitalism’s march into the ceaseless production of the world is harmonious with representation unfolding itself by moving further and further from death. This is Baudrillard’s history of simulacra.

In regards the binary of life/death it seems that the farther one drifts from the other the more powerful representation becomes. Tracing out a history of death, or a history of being towards death, as a death ontology – the taboo of all power structures of society where death has been exiled.

A system that exiles death, despite the fact that all of us are desperate in our thrownness-into-the-world as being-towards-death. This death exiled in the regime of the life appears to be crucial, since the representation would loose its very excuse to exist. This exclusion of death at the advance of representation is saddled into how capitalism has unfolded, bringing everything into incessant circulation under the general equivalence by making everything exchangeable. Everything ought to be revealed. From this logic it follows that death ought to be abolished.

The horror that everything functions. This incessant mode of revealing, of stockpiling and using-up, seems to be this move of representation towards its ever deepening nihilism.

And so it appears to be that we are impoverished without our brotherhood and sisterhood of death.

That seems to be it: the anthropos, which appears exactly as that which may be swept along in the planetary technicity. – The anthropos as an activity driving the world to the brink, whose nihilism spreads over the earth to use it up. It appears to be a metaphysical endeavor.[1]

Everything must be made to fit into the scene of exchange and privy to the eye of representation. Yet this entire enterprise rests ofn nothing – it must at all costs ward off this nothingness by its incessant activity and arranging of material goods and services. Art is one of these incessant activities.

And our lives unfold in this way as well: all of our lives consigned as they have been towards an economic quota, including the value of our life whatsoever by a system of zeros. We go through our lives hurriedly – always filling in the emptiness of Being with all of our activities and projects. It seems to be the lack of insight on death that drives this incessant arrangement. No surprise, then, that this arrangement ignores and exiles death for if we were to see death for what it seems to be – specifically, as a mode of reversibility demonstrating the death in life and life in death, through which we are already dead – then we would witness the entire enterprise unravel.

(A side note: this seems to be also that fundamental insight as to why power has always hated the mystics.)

Existentially it must be an unraveling of this system from within ourselves foremost. To hell with power.

To bring it out symbolically as a tracing across the work of art by the being-towards-death. Further, to know that you  – the reader of this post – are also going to die like I the artist will, can become for the both of us the content for an authentic communication. ‘Authentic’, in other words, as an art that is something besides ceaseless spectacle and entertainment; an art delivering you your brotherhood and sisterhood of death.

A death ontology.

It comes across a contradiction (I hope you have also noticed): it emerges as the contradiction of trying to bring into play that thing which evades representation and trying to do so through art (which operates as a practice of the ways representation can get itself done). Therefore a dilemma exists whose only solution in my opinion seems to be to point at the x indirectly, and by having – and this is crucial – the means of representation subject to its own death.

Response: I’ve turned towards the geologic in my approach to art out of an intuition that it may act as a means towards the irruption of representation. I sense within the materiality of the artifact its immanent being-towards-death, swept along just as I in the torrent of the Flesh.

The geologic of the work, therefore, as the primal material – the first condition of the Flesh that conditions beings to come; and this whole process of muddy dynamics evades the representation by means of anticipating its emptiness, i.e., of going out ahead of our ability to fix the world into a stable form.

Everything is changing into something else.
To truly get a sense of what this vision means would be to confront death intimately.

Or as Morrison said in America Prayer / A Feast of Friends,

No more money, no more fancy dress
This other Kingdom seems by far the best
Until its other jaw reveals incest
And loose obedience to a vegetable law




[1]  I am reminded of Heidegger’s quote, “The consumption of all material, including the raw material “man,” for the unconditional possibility of the production of everything, is determined in a concealed way by the complete emptiness in which beings, the material of what is real, are suspended. This emptiness has to be filled up. But since the emptiness of Being can never be filled up by the fullness of beings, especially when this emptiness can never be experienced as such, the only way to escape it is to incessantly arrange beings in the constant possibility of being ordered as the form of guaranteeing aimless activity. [Pp. 106-7] “











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