Man himself continues to challenge the Earth, starting processes that jeopardize and twist the meaning of the existence of humanity itself. Using a rough, shaggy, penetrating mark, she draws the images of red, blood-colored mice, with deformed bodies that re-grow on themselves like horrible, fleshy excrescences, doubling, tripling, and developing more heads. Creation, as a process of infinite manipulations, continues and completes on the earth the creation ex nihilo, dreaming of conquering death.
It is possible to shape and dissect bodies into parts that can be implanted in other bodies absolutely equal in their functions; it is possible to reproduce and multiply bodies by cloning, therefore making the connection with others superfluous and useless, and affirming the self-sufficiency of an artificial, self-generating process. The power of the artificial, which has supplanted the natural, describes an estranged and estranging world, where real and virtual are confused, where the part dominates the whole that exists in the artificial only as an assemblage of undifferentiated pieces.
The artist may die but one hand, which is either her own hand, cloned and multiplied in the laboratory, or a sophisticated prosthesis, can still move, stroking the canvas with the brush. The subject is no longer necessary; the important thing is to create the conditions that allow a specific function to exist beyond the subject. In fact, since they serve the same necessary function, in a world that pursues only efficiency, the deadly tools live on the same horizon together with daily objects.
The atomic bomb is usable too. The womb of the bomber, which receives and carries the deadly tools, is confused and mistaken for the maternal womb that receives and generates life. The characters of the Coca-Cola trademark mistake the atomic bomb for a daily use object, eliminating the distance that should separate them.
The firm belief that both function on behalf of a legitimate need, and therefore so appropriate and necessary as to make nonsensical the distinction between them, crosses the dozing mind.
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The same principle applies to the Cluster-bombs flying in the sky, together with the butterflies, either to explode, devastating bodies and places, or to lie down on the ground like undifferentiated objects that will be kicked by somebody like ordinary stones, or picked up without recognizing their deadly function. The reign of usables, described by Libera Mazzoleni, refers to the rhetorical figure of the oxymoron, where the nonsensical becomes speakable.
As in the oxymoron, where terms of opposite meaning are present together within the same sentence, in the reign of usables death becomes life, war becomes peace, the explosive device becomes a toy, what is superfluous becomes necessary, what is strange becomes familiar, the object becomes subject, means become ends, the unconceivable becomes ordinary thinking.
The three panels, Figure ad una dimensione One dimensional figures , Il Violone delle comari The Housewives Violin , The Women and the War, trace an itinerary of violence that at first separates the body from the person, transforming the body into an empty shell, and then torments and tramples its feminine manifestation, as an intolerable vehicle of a difference that must be erased and humiliated.
It becomes image and loses its life and soul. It shows itself, occupying the ephemeral space of appearance, as an artificial mask, an empty form, each time filled with the character required for the performance. As a puppet, it performs the male or female roles, following the version decided by the on-duty puppeteer, and it mistakes this other-directed movement for life. The man and the woman, each facing the other, as one-dimensional figures needing support to stand on their own feet, cannot even see each other. These bodies, close and yet so infinitely distant from each other, describe the freezing distance of narcissism that, while pleased with a reflected image, affirms again Sameness, sinking and suffocating it in the desert of absence.
Libera Mazzoleni wraps these perfect bodies with the same green color that, instead of recalling blood and life pulse, freezes them as if to underline the anonymity of the empty sheath that deprives them of meaning. Uniform thinking is always a universal falsehood, for it negates the existence of the particular, and pursues an identity that is enclosed in itself, arid, and eradicated from any relationship with the Other, and intrinsically violent, since it rejects both exchange and diversity. Any uniforming and excluding universal is false abstraction and painful nihilism, since it is not articulated as the concrete and unavoidable coexistence of pluralities inhabiting the earth.
Uniform thinking, both in its secular and religious versions, is a universal untruth, and therefore is nothing more than a sinister ideology of intolerance. This ideology, as point zero of thinking, sinks into the blindness of a violence that celebrates death and the humiliation of Other as a necessary condition for its survival. The artist perceives this suppressed and violated diversity in the destiny of the female body, which both the Christian occident and the Muslim orient, because of their male-chauvinist uniform thinking, have driven back into the black night of absence, shame, and marginality.
Woman, with her body, is not only living testimony to the indelible diversity of Other, and therefore radical denial of any single one-way and of any identity built within the solipsism of Sameness. Woman is also and overall, at the symbolic level, the space and place where the encounter and blending with the other occurs, together with the creation and the ongoing re-appearing of Other itself. The empty eyes of the self-portrait of the artist, placed between the pillory and the burka so as to suggest a tragic continuity between the past and the present, tell the blind story of hundreds of years of denial, which have imposed on women a way of being-in-the-world characterized by absence and being forced to waste away in the darkness of uniformity that attests to the death of plurality and diversity.
In the background, a figure emerges and evokes an ancient mother goddess, through the circular symbolism of the belly and through the arabesques, with which the small lithic sculptures were adorned. The rape, which is constantly re-enacted in all wars, as they fight to eliminate any alien body seen as a threat to the self-referentiality of Sameness, is the disgusting expression of the condemnation to death of We.
In the panel The Women and the War , the artist shows rape as an act that concludes and completes the meaning of war itself. With a few strokes, she describes the torment of a disfigured body that a blind and hateful violence deforms and, unable to tolerate the face of the Other, bends to the ground, throwing it in the dust, in this way reaffirming male power as subject and owner of life.
Libera Mazzoleni has revisited the path that man, as omnipotent demiurge, has been walking to impose his dominion on the earth. There are two myths that have articulated uniformity as a suffocating totalism and human failure: one is the myth of technological efficiency, which transforms nature, human beings included, into pure background to be infinitely exploited; the second one is the myth of uniform thinking, with its dowry of intolerance, war, rape, and practices for the elimination of others, as expedients to affirming and imposing an unsurpassable Sameness. Becoming a thing to be manipulated, molded, homologated, and sacrificed, the human being predisposed itself to exist in the form of objectification and submission to a Mono-Subject System that determines its modality of being-in-the-world.
The artist also evokes the abyss of Nazism, courageously weaving again the web of memory that gives back to the present and to thinking the depth necessary to awaken the ethical feeling about life and its quality, its dignity, its meaning. As a laboratory where the denial of the human was experimented with and pursued, Nazism represented — as Jasper already pointed out — the general rehearsal of a technical apparatus serving and supporting a totalism that exalted itself as a perfect machinery for destroying the right of every human being to live a dignified life.
The artist brings to light the terrible intermingling of the uniform thinking of the superiority of one race, and the construction of a technical-bureaucratic apparatus suitable for the highly efficient extermination of Others; and from that intermingling a political system and a social organization representing the horror and the shame of the 20th century was born. The artist recalls, as a mere technical problem, the search for the most efficient device for eliminating thousands of different others with the least possible waste and time. Trebling and Auschwitz are rationally organized factories that produce corpses at industrial pace, they are places for working, distributing and manipulating human materials, and they are functioning as any other productive apparatus.
The division of work, the parceling of the production processes, the superiority and perfection of the organization, which guarantees the efficiency of the whole process, allow the transformation of a murderer into a skilled and reliable director of production or into a scrupulous worker, only responsible for the modality with which they perform their part of the work, and not for the goals that through that work the system is pursuing.
No useless movements, no conflicts, no complications, no accumulation. They arrived and in less than two hours they were already dead. This was the system. Wirth invented it. It was working. And since it was working, it was also irreversible. The industrial complex of I. Farben, built not very far from the camp, is clearly visible.
The camp, organized to produce corpses, also provides workers for the Farben factory, which produces tools to make the extermination more efficient, and to improve the destructive potential of the wars fought by Nazism. THE NEED FOR A FUTURE Libera Mazzoleni, through her complex journey for giving back to time the depth of duration, painfully has brought to light: the loss of thinking in which we are all involved; the failure of the subject in its ability to live in the place of limits, and therefore capable of discerning, judging, and assuming responsibility for change; the vanishing, then, of a subjectivity included in the same essence that gives form to it as a primeval opening to Being and not Nothingness.
Our mutilated subjectivity, caged in the crowded and slippery present of real time, has forgotten those fundamental questions, precluding the way for being open to new horizons of meaning, and being cointent with living like a thing among other things. Is this oblivion of the self, this renunciation of what makes us open-minded, and thinking beings, the sacrifice that the subject has to make in order to continue to live in the one-dimensional world, fraught with fundamentalism and intolerance?
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In the panel the words composing the question are broken in short dissociated syllables, presenting scattered letters of the alphabet with an inverted graphic. Every liberation is overcoming the situation where we are, tracing the path leading out of the suffocating prison of the uniformity of the immediate, and the ability to imagine the future, unknotting the strings which strangle time by an asphyxiating repetition of Sameness.
Unlike fantasy, which is escape from reality, since it is a construction of parallel universes inhabited by a completely private subjectivity that having left the common world is unable to see and hear others, imagination is rooted in the sphere of what is perceived, holding past perceptions and projecting possible ones through a movement that, in the present, connects past and future. Imagination, continuously integrating and enriching perception, creates associations that widen the limited space of the immediate and allow us to see what happens as a partial and temporary manifestation of another occurrence, as an opening to one more possibility.
Imagination reminds us that each manifestation is also concealment, since our conscience is always embodied conscience, namely located in a specific space and time, and therefore subject to a perspective limited by its own nature. As Merleau-Ponty says, we have an eye that sees by lines and by planes, that is, through concealments and profiles. In fact, perception offers only certain aspects that refer to other ones in order to complete their own meaning.
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Presence then evokes absence, and the wholeness of anything lives precisely in the link connecting what is manifested and what is possible in its different and successive manifestations. The imagination, composing everything as a unity of presence and absence, releases it from fixedness and opens it to that ulterior meaning that is kept in the shadow and always accompanies it. Springing from the perceived reality and transcending the immediate in the possible, imagination leans out into the future that holds and prolongs the lived experience while orienting and leading it, on the thread of memory, towards its future.
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To imagine is to discover and bring to light new connections with what is closer and accompanies us in our daily life. Arendt would say — dependent on her caring. The last panels, Bagdad, Alfabeto Alphabet , Gli altri colorano la nostra vita Others Color Our Life , trace a line of continuity, which establishes a narrow link among measure, a different language, plurality.
A woman shows a unit of measure recalling and pushing war to the background, another woman speaks of her passion for the other, celebrating plurality as a gift coloring life and, between these two, the imagination of another woman, the artist, traces the letter of a different alphabet, and inserts the symbols for a different numeration, from which combination a different tale of the world, where the future announces itself as a new possibility for the living subject, might be born.
In the panel Bagdad , the artist represents herself as in a negative, holding a Sumerian sculpture, which represents a crouching goose corresponding to an ancient unit of measure. The delineated space has the colors of an unreal sky, crossed by glimmers charged with death; in the foreground a figure, possibly evoking all women, designated victims of every conflict, moves forward; in her hands she firmly holds the clearly delineated unit of measure.
The woman, as a fragile outline in her apparent evanescence, seems to come back from the abyss of death to oppose, with an ethical request for measure, the nihilistic violence of war, defending life and protecting the earth. The woman holding the symbol of measure, repels from herself and from the world violence as point zero of thinking, barbarization of the word, immoral duplicity of an impoverished human being in decline, imposing his selfish and deadly interests as universal values.
I ask your forgiveness.
The second was a rattlesnake hunkered down in the rocks beside the house where our grandchildren sometimes play. We asked it to leave all day long, pulling the dogs away from it repeatedly. We sent metta , loving kindness, to it on and off during the night and hoped for its safe retreat. But in the morning it was still there, just out of reach.
The noise startled the dogs. Some years ago, Coyote Trickster, as our Pueblo neighbors might say, played a serpentine trick on us. Ondrea was driving, and out of the heating vent near the floor on my side of the front seat I saw the head of a snake appear.
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I thought at first she might be playing a practical joke on me with a rubber snake, but the snake kept drawing itself out through the vent onto the floor of the car. I asked Ondrea to stop, to pull over, to get out of the car! But she thought I was just kidding about a snake in the car—a practical joke from me—and kept driving. But Ondrea was not clearly seeing the markings of one of our local rattlesnakes, which had probably followed the scent of a mouse up into the engine compartment when the car was parked.
I had to reach over and tap her on the elbow to please look over before we were going to be forced out of the car in some Keystone-cops tumble on the side of the road. By now, about four feet of the six-footer had made its way into the cab. Ondrea looked over, the car wobbled a bit, and we pulled quickly to the side and jumped out of the now snake-inhabited SUV. It was a gopher snake, fake rattles and all.
We invited the harmless creature something of a poser out of the car next to a grassy meadow.
We still laugh about that one. I learned a lesson and received another moment of serpent wisdom. Ondrea and I have long had an aesthetic and heart-nourishing interest in old cemeteries, ever since we saw a small family plot from the eighteenth century whose tombstone read:. Practicing mindfulness and mercy is the perfect preparation for death.
And so, for some reason, perhaps the recent rains or some underground disturbance, multiple shiny, excessively harmless garter snakes appeared that day in the old New Hampshire cemetery, coming from around and under numerous gravestones. We had never seen anything like it. There may have been a hundred swaying, tumbling, racing, lovemaking Olympic participants.