Gustav Landauer: Art and Revolution

“In our times, an artist is defined as someone who has a vision: someone with visions and rhythms that form a separate inner world: someone who can manifest this world on the outside; someone who can create a new, an exemplary, their own world through imagination and creative force; someone whose ideas leave their inner being like Pallas Athena left Jupiter’s head; someone who then, like an Italian trader of plaster figures, packs the result in a basket and hawks it in the “the other world,” ordinary reality, where they sell the figures of their dreams and sacred desires to the goblins and caricatures of their artistic mind, all the while advertising, calculating, haggling, arguing, cheating. This is the contemporary artist’s mixture of detachment and participation.
But mine is another: I want to use reality to create; I want art to be the process of imaginative and communal social transformation, rather than the expression of individual yearning.”

Gustav Landauer, REVOLUTION and Other Writings: A Political Reader. Edited and translated by Gabriel Kuhn. PM Press.

I changed the masculine, personal pronouns.

I was probably 22 or 23 when I read the essay on Landauer, in Martin Buber’s Paths in Utopia; it would be hard to imagine how any, indirect meeting with any thinker, could have a more powerful, influence, than the ideas in that essay had for me—over the course of whole life. Three years later, I was living in a commune—where expenses were covered, each according our means. Though it would be 45 years before, my involvement with Occupy Philly, led to the next experiment in communal living, I never gave up my search for a means to realize my ideas on communal living, and this time—I’m sure there was something of Landaur’s ideas of art and revolution, what freed me, to return to what I had been doing when I read that essay: making art.
I only last week bought a copy of this book, and in reading it, began to discover how much—from such minimal acquaintance–the seeds Landauer had planted, have meant to me over the years. The perplexity I feel, and have expressed in posts on this blog and elsewhere, on how survive as an artist in this capitalist wilderness–and as a revolutionary–without losing one’s freedom to create, or submitting to slavery of the market–I didn’t learn from Landauer, but, as in the above quote, I find, this too, I share with him—if from another side, as an artist.

Revolution is an act of imagination

Revolution is action.

Revolution takes place in the present. Now, and now, and now, or never. There can be no waiting

for the “right conditions.”
Revolution is an ever present necessity.

Revolution is every act of the imagination, made real in every present moment.

Solidarity, Love, Imagination, RESISTANCE!


Imagination as a Way of Knowing

Theory of Knowledge: An Alternative Approach

Imagination as a Way of Knowing          

“What,” it will be Questioned, “When the Sun rises, do you not see a round Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea?” O no no, I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

“I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight: I look thro it & not with it.”—William Blake from “The Last Judgment”

 “I know of no other Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty of both body & mind to exercise the Divine Art of Imagination” (Jerusalem, 77).

Blake newton Newton by William Blake

It may seem odd to begin discussing Imagination as a way of knowing by presenting a copy of William Blake’s Newton. Isaac Newton is shown sitting at the bottom of the sea, naked and crouched on…

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What is to be done?

Genocide and capitalism are inseparable, and inevitable.
If you pose a serious challenge to the order of the capitalist state–you will be marked for extermination.
I suspect that any STATE, any order dependent on coercion and violence, will degenerate into authoritarian, elitist rule. For a capitalist state–that will take the form of fascism.
As capitalism founds itself on a claim to representing an order of Nature, it follows–as sure as natural law–that all opposition will be declared, whether by eugenics, or other theoretical justification for the extreme inequality created by capitalism, as pathological–necessitating the extermination of those carrying the disease.
Genocide and capitalism are inseparable, and inevitable.
If you pose a serious challenge to the order of the capitalist state–you will be marked for extermination.
In a pseudo-democracy, it will come about it stages… but it will come about.
Understand, that if you are serious about challenging the capitalist state–they want you dead. And will find the means to satisfy their desire. There is nothing you can do to change that.
The question, as always… what is to be done?

Theory Matters

Larval Subjects .

In my intro philosophy courses I would say that one of my main priorities is to persuade my students that ideas matter.  The argument is drawn from Plato and is very simple.  Many actions– I say many, not all because any number of things can lead us to act –are based on our beliefs.  A belief is simply any statement that can be true or false.  Knowledge, if it exists, is one variety or species of belief; whereas opinion is another species of belief.  I keep it basic at this point.  “Opinion” is not synonymous with “subjective”, but is rather a conviction or belief that we hold to be true without knowing the demonstration for that belief.  In short, as problematic as it is, I take Plato’s thesis from Theatetus that knowledge is “justified true belief” when introducing this claim.  Thus, for example, I have the opinion that the…

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5 Watercolor Painting Hacks Perfect for Beginners

Max Mallie's Blog

In Transit

Artist Kathryn Keller Larkins risks everything by embracing gigantic dimensions and a radically limited palette. She?s no longer a novice artist, but she still has some of the best tips for beginners to try.

kathryn keller larkins, artistsnetwork, beginners

Through Security by Kathryn Keller Larkins

Larkins’ work is distinguished by many things. It?s distinguished by her decision to use a highly restricted palette, to start. She uses primarily Winsor & Newton. Her paintings are dominated by grays and blacks, which she then augments sparingly with soft colors. These often serve as accents. They lift the work away from an insistent monochrome and suggest a world of color.

The effect is distancing — perhaps even alienating in some way — as though color has become little more than a memory in some sort of dystopian future. That?s why its use adds to the highly charged atmosphere of her work.

“I like how the eye begins…

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Philosophy in Fragments

Larval Subjects .

Somehow it seems like the professionalization of philosophy, which began in the 19th century, was a disaster.  I suppose there’s something suicidal in saying such a thing.  If there weren’t such a thing as professional philosophy, then I wouldn’t have a job.  I’ll grant that.  However, when I look at what professionalization has wrought, I wonder if it hasn’t been catastrophic.  Through professionalization, the questions of philosophy have become rarified and abstract, generating all sorts of fascinating philosophical riddles and puzzles, yet one is left– especially the outsider –with the general question “why does it matter?”  At the end of the day, what difference does any of this make?  How pathetic is it that we endlessly pour over Chinese Rooms and what Mary learned and brains in a vat?  This is what we’ve been reduced to?  Grue?  I can, of course, tell a story about why this or that matters…

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Neuroscientific Exploration of Strange Relations: Between The Fantastic and the Paranormal

Southern Nights

Tzvetan Todorov in his classic study of the fantastic, The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre once defined it this way:

Which brings us to the very heart of the fantastic. In a world which is indeed our world, the one we know, a world without devils, sylphides, or vampires, there occurs an event which cannot be explained by the laws of this same familiar world. The person who experiences the event must opt for one of two possible solutions: either he is the victim of an illusion of the senses, of a product of the imagination – and laws of the world then remain what they are; or else the event has indeed taken place, it is an integral part of reality – but then this reality is controlled by laws unknown to us.1

The fantastic occupies the duration of this uncertainty. Once we choose one answer…

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From Spirit Park to Spirit Dark


Spirit Dark after Guernica, in progress

Spirit Park

The evolution of today’s post:

The Pacific Spirit Regional Park in Vancouver is a beautiful jewel in our city, a place of peace and tranquility that I have posted about many times, and as recently as this week’s Photo Challenge from The Daily Post. On our last visit there one of my photos inspired me…

…to set up a number of sheets of newsprint on the studio wall and see where it took me with charcoal, crayon and paint.


I was happy that the image was progressing well and was close to being finished…

…and then yesterday morning came the news from Spain of the horrific terrorist attack killing and injuring countless innocent men, women and children from all over the world, enjoying a summer’s evening in Las Ramblas in Barcelona.  The images were heartbreaking, and one particularly…

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