Tuesday, March 1, 2011

That Vagabond Narcissus the Hunter and Horseman of the Apocalypse

After viewing Mike Calway-Fagen's art work at Vox Populi I decided to delve a little bit into his self myth and went through his website and read his artist statement there.  I came across a word that I hadn't seen before: anthropocentric.  Loosely it is the idea that humanity is the center of the universe and that everything is here to benefit man, be it at the expense of other lifeforms.  To distill it further, that as a race we are egocentric.   Mike states that this is the cause of our past, current, and future apocalypse.  In a quick effort to bring us to a similar vein of thought and into my first assumption. . . I don't believe Mike means apocalypse in, what most of us associate the word with, the biblical sense.  I assume he is using the term as "a major misconception of ourselves", a "veil to be lifted" from our metaphysical egos.

Setting those semantics aside for now I want to address the idea of anthropocentrism.  To start off many people consider this a negative trait.  That viewing the universe through an exclusively human experience is bad.  I believe that one should remain open to multiple view points but retain an opinion.  There have been many times I thought for sure that 2 + 2 = 5 to discover that the idea wasn't as solid as I thought.  However, its the thinking part that is important.  Instinct is to be respected, but thought furthers things a bit, huh?  I don't think that anthropocentrism is a negative trait.  I believe that it can lead to negative traits, but one can take cleanliness to a negative place as well.  We are in competition with other species for resources.  They more so than us, (ego?) but a natural competition anyway.  Jump.  Lets examine competition in a more facilitative way, say an Olympic foot race. . . and use this as an analogy for anthropocentism (and use an anthropocentric game to do so) In an Olympic race its fair to say that the athletes are in similar, if not the same, physical condition.  What separates the medalists from the non-medalists are their view points of themselves.  Winners tell themselves they are the best, the race losers tend to have nagging suspicions, lose focus.  In effect Ego wins the prize.  If you are running this race and a fellow sportsman falls, breaks an ankle, do you stop in the middle of the race to help or finish and come back to make sure he is tended to, or assume he will be attended to?

The crux.  In an effort to achieve is it not right to assume we are the best, to tell your self, "I can?"  be the little engine that could?  Exclusive and excess outlooks of anthropocentrism could very well lead to a biblical apocalypse in addition to the other definition earlier talked about.
In Mike's work I see the Hunter.  His pieces exude an outdoors man's, a huntsman's aesthetic including taxidermy, boats, animal motif's, weapons, and totems.   Is this what it boils down to?  An idealistic hunter who believes that he needs to manage his game population to continue both species well being?  Or to keep his resource from depleting? Does he wonder if the animals have a mind/soul?  Does he pick out their personalities and translate them into human terms?  I can't translate my thoughts into a sparrow's or a deer's.  Isn't that ego?  To bend the terms of their understanding into yours?  Colonialism at its worst?  Are we trying to colonize the psyche of the animal kingdom with our own agenda?  Of course we are.  Does PETA have their own agenda?

Have they consulted with the whales and seals, or do they rely on human data?  Maybe.  I don't know.  Its just a spur question.  Is it really the thinking and trying that matter?  Or is it only the actions?  Or is the original message/action irrelevant? Was Aleister Crowley correct? "Do what thou wilt?"  Is the only thing important the receiver's interpretation of the message?  Francis Bacon's "Anything can mean anything" relies upon an agreed code.  Can we alter the coding in our own nature or just how it is received?  Anything can mean nothing.  Are the veils of reality that we wear needed to be lifted?  Are we afraid of what we might see?  Would we sacrifice ourselves for beings separated/different from ourselves in order for our own apocalypse to happen? Mike Calway-Fagen's work is up for your own message receiving.  At least its asking questions.  I think.  For more discussions and work visiting questions in an aesthetic manner visit the PostColonials Show at Linda Matney Gallery in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Openings will take place on March 18th at 7 p.m.

Be there or be ^2.

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