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the spoon-fed ant heap



 

“Ultimately, the criminal and the madman are pure objects and solitary subjects; their frantic subjectivity is carried to the point of solipsism at the moment when they are reduced for others to the state of a pure, manipulated thing, or a pure being-there without a future, prisoners who are dressed and undressed, who are spoon-fed. On the one hand are dream, autism, absence; on the other, the ant heap; on the one hand, shame and the impotent hatred that turns against itself and vainly defies the heavens, and on the other the opaque being of the pebble, the ‘human material.’ “
Jean-Paul Sartre, Saint Genet

 


Let’s not say the eighties were good or bad. Let’s take a spiritual attitude toward the music, the clothes, the art, the popular films and their dripping montages. Radical acceptance: it happened and it needed to happen and we accept it completely. We are pebbles. We love our hair.

Not only did I watch 9½ Weeks (1986) this weekend, I even PAID to watch it. Only $2.99, but still. I had to hit the fast-forward button a few times, to preserve my dignity. But mostly the movie held my interest, in spite of its generic S&M tropes and the poppy popcorn courtship in New York City (grittier and prettier then.)

“Elizabeth” is a bobby-socked, baggy-sweater-wearing, overgrown college co-ed in need of a spanking. (Beautiful Loser) “John” is a mysterious, possibly criminal, uber-rich Wall Street banker. (Sinning Winner) Oh, those sinning Wall Street winners are a dime a dozen now. And so are the beautiful losers, especially the ones with southern accents. They live in big houses with generators.

Radical acceptance: it’s not good or bad that John orders Elizabeth to crawl around on her hands and knees and pick up crumpled, one-hundred dollar bills. It’s not good or bad that he probably beats her with a belt. She doesn’t do it, after all. She refuses to crawl. Free choice under capitalism. Self-determination. Life is good.®

Oh, and let’s embrace the Hollywood portrayal of the Soho art world in the eighties at the height of its sophistication and flair, or so we thought. The glassed, storefront loft spaces look the same, twenty-five years later. Art appreciation and exchange still take place in high-ceilinged rooms with white walls and hardwood floors. Human beings pack themselves into parties with wine, crackers, and social debt. The spoonfed ant heap. SOLD.

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Amazing but true — many (most?) gallery openings no longer feature free wine because social media created a feeding frenzy of people after a free high.

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