Work 2016, No.3 »By the Way...«
By the way: beside the self-defined goals and those which were given from others (and sometimes secretly), art has always written some kind of existential notation during its long history of development. Today there is no other aim left than to define how the "existential notation" can be realized.
Let me give you a noteworthy instance. lt can happen that violence over-reaches the bounds of the taboo in some way. lt seems – it may seem – that once the law has become powerless there is nothing to keep violence firmly within bounds in the future.
Basically death contravenes the taboo against the violence which is supposedly its cause. Most frequently the subsequent sense of rupture brings in its wake a minor disturbance which funeral rites and festivities with their ordered ritual, setting bounds to disorderly urges, are able to absorb.
But if death prevails over a sovereign whose exalted position might seem to be a guarantee against it, that sense of rupture gets the upper hand and disorder knows no bounds.
Caillois has described the behaviour of certain oceanic peoples.
"When social and natural life" he says "are summed up in the sacred person of a king, the hour of his death determines the critical instant and looses ritual licence. This licence corresponds closely with the importance of the catastrophe.
The sacrilege has a social nature. It is committed at the expense of the kingship, the hierarchy and the established powers.
No hint of resistance is ever offered to the frenzy of the people. This is considered as necessary as obedience to the dead man was.
In the Sandwich lslands the people on learning of the king's death commit all the acts looked on as criminal in ordinary times: they set buildings on fire, they loot and they murder, while women are expected to prostitute themselves publically ...
In the Fiji lslands the consequences are even more clearly defined. The death of the chief gives the signal for pillage, subject tribes invade the capital and indulge in every form of brigandage and depredation.“
George Bataille, Transgression