Quentin Meillassoux, Lee Smolin and Rick Rosner (and the Problem of the Finetunedness of the Cosmos)

Quentin Meillassoux is an interesting and original contemporary philosopher from France; since new philosophy is probably the slowest thing to diffuse and penetrate the minds of the more educated population, not very much is known about him at present in the German-speaking world (although, taking the usual standards into consideration, he may actually already be quite popular). I got me an anthology of him, Trassierungen, and read an article by him in Realismus Jetzt – Spekulative Philosophie und Metaphysik für das 21. Jahrhundert (with many of the other contributions in this volume referring to Meillassoux), both published by Merve. Meillassoux argues that since all attempts to ground our fragile existence in a (metaphysical) necessity (e.g. God) have failed time and again, our existence is necessarily a contingency, with the only thing being absolute being a Hyper-Chaos as a grundloser Grund from which that what is factual derives. From the Hyper-Chaos all things and the (natural) laws that govern things emerge without specific reason, and could also be changed without specific reason. This sheds a new light on an number of philosophical problems, i.e. Hume´s problem of induction/causality, the question whether the „Copernican revolution“ in philosophy by Kant wasn´t actually a mistake, the problem of the event as well as problems of religion, the existence of God, the afterlife, and ethics. The existence of God, for instance, is rather ruled out by Meillassoux, since, upon reflection, God is obviously a perverse God (i.e. via the problem of theodicy) – which, however, does not rule out that God, heaven, the afterlife may come into being in the future, due to Hyper-Chaos (and there is still, if you want, a reason to be a believer (respectively, it is not much different from what many religions propose, e.g. via the Last Judgement, resurrection of the dead, the hidden Iman, etc.)). Likewise, as he does not rule out that natural laws may change, there is an indication that natural laws have changed or evolved in the past. One of the biggest mystery in physics is indeed the finetunedness of the universe, the fact that natural laws, constants, forces, dimensions are so incredibly finetuned that such a finetunedness, enabling life, a stable cosmos and stable matter is actually very, very unlikely – giving an indication that our universe may have well been made by some sort of „intelligent design“.

(Reading Meillassoux is somehow pacifying and comes in as some fresh air, I like to follow along the trajectory of his thinking, and he also says other things I like, for instance about the necessity to do away with ideology in order to progressively achieve clarity in order to gain wider competence (which I, on a more extreme level call the White Lodge). He also talks about the coming into being of the divine human being due to the partly divine nature of man (which I, on a more extreme level, call the overman). And he speaks about the virtual in existence which opens the possibility of introducing something really new and qualitatively different (which relates to genius, respectively the Chaosmos).

Lee Smolin is an eminent physicist, with his most well-known contribution to physics is being a pioneer in the development of „loop quantum gravity“, an approach to quantum gravity rivalling string theory (according to which the universe can be described as a network of abstract quantum states, indicating that spacetime itself is not a continuum but discreet and made of „atoms“ of Planck length and Planck time). There´s also a popular science book by him, Time Reborn. From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe which is also about the problem of the finetunedness of the cosmos and in which he argues that time is an actual entity: From Galilei to Newton to Einstein an understanding of physics has solidified that physical processes can be described by mathematical equations in which time does not play a specific role, indicating that time is not „truly“ out there in this world – of course, we experience time via the presence of clocks i.e. the earth revolving around itself, the moon revolving around the earth, the earth revolving around the sun or our bodies that are born and die away serving as clocks – which nevertheless does not mean that time is also „there“ when clocks are completely absent (I also recently read a book about Einstein and Gödel by philosopher Palle Yourgrau which mentions that Gödel found a proof that time travel (into the past) is possible – by looking at a somehow eccentric universe (which can, nevertheless be translated into our universe) time travel into the past is possible by moving across space with high velocity: (since that might violate causality, as we could manipulate the past then) indicating that time itself does not exist. Yourgrau mourns that Gödel´s proof has hitherto been largely ignored by both physicists and philosophers (and, indeed, it is not mentioned in Lee Smolin´s book)). Smolin argues that time is a true category (challenging our common understanding the other way round for instance as he suggests that space is not a true entity, but something emergent from a network of relations), and that natural laws may have evolved in time, hence have become ever more finetuned: unfortunately he does not give much indication how such a „meta law“ that governs the evolution of natural laws can come into being, but he says that in the 21st century cosmology will revolve to a good deal about that question. Concerning the mysteries cosmology proposes I at any rate happen to see an article about a new approach every once in a week on Facebook, and in that fashion I just happen to ran into this and that (where another pioneer of loop quantum gravity, Carlo Rovelli, proposes the opposite to Smolin, i.e. that time does not „objectively“ exist). (Concerning loop quantum gravity I read an article in Sterne und Weltraum some years ago about how experiments – measurements of signals of very distant gamma ray bursts which would be refracted if spacetime consisted of „atoms“ – nevertheless failed to indicate that spacetime is granular – despite also failing to explicitely rule out that possibility.)

Rick Rosner is an American known for having achieved some of the most astounding results in the history of high range IQ tests. With an IQ that is probably 192 he is often considered to be the „second smartest man in the world“ (after Evangelos Katsioulis who probably has an IQ of 198). In the recent issues of Noesis – The Journal of the Mega Society (an IQ society for which you need an IQ above 175 to get into, where only one person out of a million can be expected to be this intelligent) there is an ongoing extensive interview with him (which unfortunately has not been printed in its entirety yet). In his eccentricity Rick Rosner occasionally has been calling himself „physics genius – or deluded about everything“, and as such he presents his theories on cosmology in the interview. According to his „informational cosmology“ the universe is information sharing and processing – to an extent that it is probably a conscious entity (though with a consciousness that is likely vastly different from our own). He says that the Big Bang did not actually happen but that the universe recycles itself in „ultra deep time“ around an „active center“ of active galaxies as opposed to the „outskirts“ of the universe where died out galaxies and matter reside, and where the current 14 or so billion years since the „Big Bang“ are more or less only a step in information processing of a universe gradually optimising itself. Protons that enter the active center and „light up“ new galaxies may have been formed from neutrons in collapsed matter or come from an „unstructured primordial matter“ from T=0 (i.e. the center of the „active center“ of the universe, mistaken as the Big Bang), therein forming „new information“, while collapsed galaxies gradually become re-ignited via particle exchange. The universe, Rosner says, has three dimensions because information is generally limited to holding open three dimensions; space seems organised so as to minimize the total distance traversed by particle interactions; time seems oranised to maximize the number of interactions per unit of time. Cosmic Background Radiation is „noise/uncertainty“, and that its temperature is 3 degree Kelvin means that for the universe it is much easier to organise itself than if it would be a higher temperatures. Dark matter is, in essence, collapsed matter, and collapsed matter is what stores information, is the „memory“ of the universe. Irrespective of that, up to now, Rosner did not say much about how the finetunedness of the universe came into being (which is obviously there irrespective of the universe existing in „ultra deep time“), however he says that there are (kind of) economical reasons for it, respectively reasons of consistency. I am, at any rate curious about the remaining parts of the interview to be published in the future.

William James Sidis (1898 – 1944) likely was even more intelligent than Rick Rosner. He was a star as the greatest child prodigy America has ever known but descended into oblivion later in life, which unfortunately also accounts for probably a lot of his work, and making it difficult to distinguish between myth and reality concernig many aspects of his biography. There are, nevertheless, indications that his cognitive abilities were so high above even the most intelligent people on earth that his IQ was suspected to have been between 250 and 300, and already at age 11 (when he gave lectures about mathematics to them) he had been hardly comprehensible even for the finest minds of his time (which likely explains his descent into privacy and opting out of academia, since there was practically no one able to „translate“ his thoughts to a more general audience and serve as a bridge). At the beginning of his twenties he published a book about cosmology, The Animate and the Inanimate, which failed to gain recognition. In this book, he argues that the universe is infinite and eternal and consistent of „positive“ and „negative sections“ which gradually turn into their opposite in ever repeating cycles. Unfortunately, most of Sidis´ writings can hardly be retrieved anymore. Some day, when I will be grown up, I want to write a note about Sidis, titled „The Transbodhidharma“.

In general, there is something brooding in me about those issues, which is, however, so embryonic that I cannot explicitely tell. Maybe I also refrain from sharing some thoughts in order not to possibly embarrass me, though I do not think this is the case since I am Yorick, the Fool and I can say whatever I like. I wanted to find an article about how supposedly improbable patters often arise since they aren´t improbable at all (due to some kind of path-dependency or so), but I cannot find it right now (fuck!).

Yasujiro Ozu

Was im Leben uns verdrießt, man im Bilde gern genießt.


Look what a formidable master Yasujiro Ozu was! They say Yasujiro Ozu (Dec. 12 1903 – Dec. 12 1963) was the „greatest filmmaker movie buffs probably have never heard of“, (if I may say so) an explorer of the human condition comparable to Shakespeare! I came across him some weeks ago when I saw one of those „Greatest Films of all Time“ lists (a seemingly somehow reliable one), where Tokyo Story (1953) by Yasujiro Ozu was ranked #3 (after Vertigo and Citizen Kane). I also remember to have seen Late Autumn (1960) last year at the Filmmuseum when they had a focus on Japanese cinema of the postwar era – I was impressed by it, but had no time to dive further into that director back then. Yasujiro Ozu´s films usually are quite simple and not overcharged with plot. Tokyo Story is about an elderly couple visiting their children (and grandchildren) in Tokyo. Their grown-up children meanwhile have families of their own and it turns out that they have neither the time nor the motivation to care a lot for their parents (with one good – however also somehow exaggeratedly good – soul being an exception). The careers of them are middle class, but more humble than expected, the grandchildren show a nasty (though also childish/immature/harmless) behaviour and may not seem very promising. On their way home the mother suddenly dies, which makes the family come after them, but leaving soon again. Late Autumn begins with the burial of a wife´s husband, with three friends attending (and one of them being a bit late), consoling the widow and her grown-up daughter (although both do not seem to be particularly shocked, with especially the widow showing a near-idiotic grin almost all the time). The story then revolves around the three friends trying to find a husband for the daughter, who somehow stubbornly refuses marriage, wanting to stay with her mother instead, with one of them (a widower himself) trying to remarry with the mother: The first endeavour is finally successful, the second one not, condemning both the widow and the widower to spend the rest of their lives in solitude, respectively, in case of the widow, leaving them obviously unable to reinvent themselves anew and start a fresh life. I reiterate, very simple stories, not overcharged with plot – but in the result, Yasujiro Ozu´s films are extremely heavy, and when I saw Tokyo Story, it was extremely uplifting for (well, for what? – for) my mind. With a somehow Beckett-like precision and sharpness, though not in an abstract/absurd setting, Yasujiro Ozu reveals what life is about at such a level of artistic quality that he may account for a true metaphysical artist! On the one hand, Yasujiro Ozu heavily relies on what Paul Schrader calls „transcendental style in cinema“ (read his illuminating essay or watch his lecture): By withholding stuff, confronting the viewer with the unexpected, paradoxical construction of empathy in the viewer, constrasting images (e.g. happy music to rather, or silently tragic scenes), by using ellipses, delay on the verge of provoking boredom he creates multiplicity of meaning and depth, even spirituality. On the other hand, and seemingly in contrast to such qualities of creating „depth“, his films and characteristics of his signature style are simple and somehow „flat“: the uneventfulness in his films and humbleness of storytelling, often the lack of soundtrack, the lack of melodrama, the static camera, the tatami shot (showing people from the perspective of a viewer seemingly sitting on a tatami mat with the film´s characters on the floor around a table) – what is more, the seemingly flat characters with their flat dialogues, where it is always unclear whether they are supposed to be characteristic Japanese people being somehow lost in their overly formal behaviour and politeness or being rather expressionless and shallow human beings per se. Dialogues usually are shown as frontal shots on the character speaking and the other characters responding, creating the impression of a competition or fight between egos (maybe even manifestations of a Nietzschean „Will to Power“) or at least of an isolation of the characters in their (pseudo-) individuality – or their solitude. The static camera creates the impression that all shots are also to be seen as artworks or paintings (with Ozu being reported to have been obsessively careful in the meticulous aesthetic arrangement of each shot) – and with no shot usually lasting longer than another, giving them equal importance. Likewise, Ozu´s films usually don´t revolve around a single character (neither they ever seem to have someone resemblant to a hero/ine), but around a number of characters, respectively their mutual interplay, and, as already stated, there is a most obvious absence of melodrama in the execution of storytelling – in sum, creating a counterweight to Hollywood movies and Hollywood storytelling. And it seems to be that characterstics of „flatness“ that (in tandem to the „transcendental“ elements of style) are responsible for the „frightening“ metaphysical depth of Ozu´s works and his (execution of) worldview: Metaphysical depth in art is created by the interplay between reality and ideal, the expected and the unexpected, archetype and individual idiosyncracy and the like, forming self-contained units of universal appeal. Ozu´s approach maybe can be said to consist in bringing humble but also bright reality (therein usually the beauty of nature of of the colourfulness of the world) so much into coverage with itself that an extreme metaphysical tension that adresses the intellect, the senses, the soul is created. Bringing stuff not into full coverage with itself, respectively metaphysical art, opens up and adresses one´s own imagination, though not in a sense of using your imagination further, but adressing imagination per se. The perfect art of the genius are manifestations and examples of endgames won by the power of imagination, imagination perfectly realised, as such they are frozen and static, but there are a lot of explosions that happen around them and they are transcendent in themselves. Ozu´s genius and its metaphysical appeal is not, for instance, a „fiery“ one, his quality rather lies in bringing stuff so much into coverage with itself that the metaphysical depth is endless (and of course, people in real life are not exactly like portrayed in Ozu´s films, neither is reality exactly like that…). With his extreme precision of intellect and imagination, Ozu strikes us by creating so very universal situations and universal characters – it is a paradox that Ozu´s films have gained little international recognition for being „too idiosyncratically Japanese“ while on the other hand – as (for instance) German independent filmmaker Wim Wenders notes – being the most universal films ever made, and probably ever possible to create (of course, their universality is limited as they do not seem stuff a mass audience can ever be programmed to fall into, due to the lack of melodrama, artistic sophisitication, „transcendental style“, nonconformism, and, most general, Ozu´s core approach not to make movies for the purpose of entertainment, but to get closer to the mystery of life). Human relationships and the life cycle are the most general topic in the films of Yasujiro Ozu and the most defining elements and conflicts, like between stability and transition, loss, tragedy, failure, missed opportunites, but also warmth between friends and family members (which Ozu also portrays), trust, altruism, mutuality, the „follies“ of youth and the wisdom of age, are more or less the same across times and across cultures. It has been noted that it takes a lot of courage and self-assuredness to „always make the same movie again“, and Ozu at least made movies that are very similar to each other (and, superficially, simple), but also exhaustively distinguished. Late Spring (1949, #15 in the above mentioned list of 50 greatest films of all time) is about a grown-up daughter that (again) refuses to marry because she likes to stay with her beloved father, and her father being finally successful trying to marry her, with a pleasant present being cracked up into an unpredictable (and maybe more dismal) future for both, yet also as a necessity of transition in a world where all things must pass. Floating Weeds (1959) and The Only Son (1936) are about life games that do not exactly work out and remain humble. By contrast, Good Morning (1959) is a wonderful film about children who want to have a TV set from their parents (including farting jokes) (also, Good Morning is a loose remake of I Was Born, But… (1932) which also deals with typical problems of children), or What Did the Lady Forget? (1937) is about (humourous) ways of how to deal with different (and difficult) family members. Both Late Autumn or An Autumn Afternoon (1962) are also about friendship, altruism and taking care for each other. In his early days, Yasujiro Ozu made rather comic (but also tragic) films, like Days of Youth (1929) (however, many of them are lost).

It has been noted that Yasujiro Ozu´s films revolve around the principle of mono no aware – which refers to an awareness of transcendental beauty of things which are bound to, nevertheless, pass, leaving behind melancholy about a basic sadness of life. As it comes to mind, great art, and therein also the art of Yasujiro Ozu, retrieves the things lost, or out of reach, in their transcendental beauty, and makes them tangible. Despite their simplicity, Yasujiro Ozu´s films come in with an enormous gravity, dass es dich einfach nur so aushebt, where it remains – as in the good things usually the case – a mystery from which it actually derives. Sure, from the slowness and metaphysical uneventfulness, their expression of artistic mastery, their depiction of life, their universality… but finally you begin to realise that the simplistic films by Yasujro Ozu are – sublime! Their gravity derives from being „something greater/deeper than you“ and of themselves, transcending themselves, like all true works of art do, opening up depths that can be explored forever. How do they make you feel? Ist es eine Komödie? Ist es eine Tragödie? The maybe most memorable moment in the entire oeuvre of Ozu is when at the end of Tokyo Story the youngest daugher, Kyoko, frustrated by the behaviour of her relatives, moans Isn´t life disappointing? with the exaggeratedly friendly (and silently lonely and depressed) Noriko nodding at her with a (frozen) smile: Yes, it is. – Well, you have to understand that there is finally no conclusion possible to be objectively drawn from life and from existence, but that your outlook on life is entirely dependent on whether you are mentally healthy or (have become) mentally unhealthy. When you are healthy, you can stand the sadness of life, and you might find Yasujiro Ozu´s bleaker films amusing. When you are unhealthy, you may not. But even (or only) then, Yasujiro Ozu´s films will strike you as a kind of Satori. That films like Tokyo Story have been a Satori-like revelation to them has been noted by many filmmakers. Satori is a general experience (across time and cultures) that is, however, very idiosyncratically experienced by few and for which no general description may be vaild (hence the reluctance of the enlightened ones to speak despite speaking a lot and the un/ambiguity of the Koan); it has been described as „the same experience of reality as usual, but only two inches from above“. In a way however, films like Tokyo Story or Floating Weeds are like the (finally inexplicable) Satori perspective itself, and the bleakness of life becomes illuminated (in the ambiguous meaning of the word). As it says in Zen Sand 16.3.: If only a single awakened spirit becomes DAO and views upon the Dharma-World / Leaves and trees, nations and the great Earth all become Buddha. Hence, if all else fails, the films and the spirit of Yasujiro Ozu remain, and the world is saved.


In Tokyo Twilight (1957), which is considered as Ozu´s bleakest film, characters are not of the „Beckett-like“ precision as you have it most explicitely in Tokyo Story, instead, they are much more intransparent and opaque and, as they seem to lack a solid inner core, fickle and easily drawn in opposing directions (in a effort to find love and support, that may nevertheless be also strongly egoistic) – and therefore quite realistic. Ozu himself was said to have been somehow unhappy with the preciseness of his characters in Tokyo Story, as he was usually favoring a more nuanced approach in the protrayal of people and of reality (and, as not all people and all realities are alike, it is good to see how Ozu masters all the different approaches alike). Early Spring (1956) is about young adults and about their monotonous average professional lives as salesmen, their not very fulfilling marriages and occasional infidelity, including personal tragedies and early losses of lives, twens having arrived at an early dissatisfation with their lives and the prospect that more of it is what just will ever be about to come, with the prospect that finally what you find out is that „life is just an empty dream“ as an elderly salesman mourns, contrasting, therein, the widespread optimism due to the economic boom in the 1950s. It ends with a tacit (respectively neutralised) happy end and the message that it´s probably the small things that count in life. In Early Summer (1951) you also have younger grown-ups at the verge of trespassing into the more mature period of adulthood. Apart from the rascally (respectively „sensitive“) children you have people that are likeable and supportive of each other. It (more losely) revolves around marriage (and the increased autonomy of women in post-war Japan) and you have an absence of true problems, despite at the end a temporary melancholia about the impermanent nature of life and the transition of things (via wonderful shots on fields respectively the cyclical character of nature). Tami´s (i.e. the mother of the prospective husband) happiness is very cute and infectious, and I think I will remember her. Equinox Flower  (1958) was Ozu´s first movie in color, and it again portrays the conflicts of marriage – though this time it is not the daughter that refuses to marry but the father who, in a mixture of fear for the daughter´s future and losing his daughter to another person, stubbornly opposes the marriage his sibling has chosen out of love (while nevertheless promoting marriage on the reason of true love over „sterile“ marriage for the sake of convenience), with his opposition slowly crumbling under the friendly efforts of his family members to convince him otherwise. A tacit comedy, Equinox Flower indicates (though not explicitely shows) a happy end, as the intentions and the hearts of all the individuals involved are, each in their own ways, pure and the characters show responsibility and awareness for themselves and for their loved ones. There Was a Father (1942) was shot during the war and therefore also contains some patriotic elements (that had been cut out of the version now widely available), The story of a father and his son, the grand theme of the film is responsibility and sense of duty – and its ambiguities: while „doing his duty“ seems to prevent from a slippery life course and failure, it hinders emotions and authenticity. Woman of Tokyo (1933) is a silent film in which Ozu developed from his early student comedies to a student tragedy. It is the story of two siblings, Chikako and her brother Ryoichi. Chikako works hard and makes thorough sacrifices to provide her brother with the financial means and emotional/moral support to complete his studies (since that is what would make her so proud). When Ryoichi  gets confronted with his sister also prostituting herself for that end, he turns angry and desperate and commits suicide, obviously due to worries of damage done to their reputation (respectively because he is a weakling, as Chikako mourns in the final scene), leaving his grieving sister alone.

Jeannette – L’Enfance de Jeanne d’Arc

„Ein Heavy-Metal- und Rap-Musical voller (selbst)bewusst schlaksig-tapsiger Tanz- und Gesangseinlagen, dargeboten von Laiendarstellern mit teils recht eigenwillig-eindrücklichen Gesichtern – über die Kindheit von Jeanne d’Arc, basierend auf einem modernen Mysterienspiel aus dem Jahre 1910?! Ganz genau. Und so findet in JEANNETTE zusammen, wovon man nie glaubte, dass es tatsächlich etwas miteinander zu tun haben könnte: die (scheinbar) religiös-vergeistigte und die (oberflächlich) humoristisch-groteske Seite von Bruno Dumont. Hier, bei diesem spirituell durchaus ernsthaften, minimalistisch-bizarren Camp-Gustostück, kann man endlich einmal sagen: Das habe ich so noch nie gesehen.“ (Stadtkino Wien)

WOW, wie dieser Film drei Elemente enthält, die für mich so wesentlich sind: Tanzende/singende/springende Kinder, deren Seelen gleichzeitig älter sind, als die Zeit selbst, Heavy-Metal-Musik, sowie das Streben nach Heiligkeit – der Gernot hat gemeint, wir sollen uns diesen Film rasch ansehen, da er unglaublich schlecht läuft, meistens seien nur drei, vier Leute im Publikum: und tatsächlich waren dann neben dem Gernot und mir nur noch irgendeine Alte im Saal, wobei der Michi dann auch noch dazugekommen ist – scheint zu unterstreichen, dass Leute wie Jeanne d`Arc, die ganze Nationen und Großgefüge spirituell zusammenhalten, dabei gleichzeitig meistens radikale Außenseiter und Einzelgänger bleiben. Die Geschichte der Jeanne d`Arc z.B. mit Heavy-Metal-Musik zu vermengen, mag gekünstelt wirken von der Intention her und paradox im Ergebnis, ist es aber nicht; die scheinbare Heterogenität sei vielmehr ein Tribut an die Vielschichtigkeit und Tiefengestaffeltheit der Welt, die tief ist, und tiefer als der Tag gedacht, und ergibt somit eine vollkommen homogene Perspektive, einen perfekten Kreis, eine vollkommen Sphäre. Der Über-Humor ist die Methode, der Welt (und ihrer Psychose) mit vollkommen tiefsinnigem Ernst und in spiritueller Feierlichkeit begegnen! Ein achtjähriges Kind, das versucht, ultratiefe Moral zu verwirklichen (also Moral, die über das gegebene menschliche Maß hinausgeht und so einen neuen Markstein in der Geschichte, eventuell sogar der Evolution der Moral errichtet)… da verschlucke ich mich fast vor Begeisterung, und fühle mich erinnert an meine Jessica Simpson aus St. Helena… (wobei ich am nächsten Tag dann in eine gewisse Depression verfallen bin, zusätzlich zu dem, mit was ich sonst zu kämpfen habe, als es sich irgendwie aufdrängt, dass die Geschichte des Verwirklichers ultratiefer Moral, der nicht nur ein Hyperset bildet, sondern sich gleichzeitig auch von der Menschheit abnabelt, im Leben mit einer gewissen Wahrscheinlichkeit nicht so gut ausgeht). Der Text, der verfilmt und vertont wurde, stammt von Charles Péguy, der bei uns kaum bekannt ist, und den ich also lesen muss.

Jessica Simpson, 9, entdeckt, dass alles auf der Welt ein Herz hat

Duncan Wylie: Construct and (Various) Disasters of Democracy in der Galerie Dukan (Leipzig), 13.4.2018 – 9.6.2018

Inmitten von Moden und ephemeren Trends widmet sich Duncan Wylie der eigentlichen Aufgabe der Kunst und der Malerei: die Tiefenstruktur und Vielschichtigkeit der Welt zum Ausdruck zu bringen, die Potentialität inmitten des Realen, das Geschrei des Seins (auch, wenn es möglicherweise nur die Lautstärke des kreativen Geistes ist, der sie wahrnimmt). Große, geniale Kunst lässt in der Welt, die sie abbildet, immer auch noch eine andere Welt sichtbar werden und hat ihr Leben im gegenseitigen Widerspiel und dem gegenseitigen Durchdringen dieser Welten bzw. Seinsbereiche. Das ist die ewige Aufgabe der Malerei und ihr eigentlicher Sinn! Duncan Wylie bildet die Tiefenstruktur der Welt ab in einer Zeit, in der, physikalischen Spekulationen zufolge, unser Universum in eine unendliche Vielzahl von Multiversen eingebettet ist, in denen wir selbst unendlich oft, mit alternierenden Geschichten, auftreten. Duncan Wylie hat neue Lösungen gefunden, den Reichtum und die Tiefe der Welt darzustellen.

Geboren 1975 in Zimbabwe, fällt ein gewisses Nomadentum in der Biographie von Duncan Wylie auf – der gegenwärtig in London lebt und arbeitet. Ausgehend von der Erfahrung der Vertreibung von (in Zimbabwe weißen als auch, und zahlenmäßig umso mehr, farbigen) Siedlern und der Zerstörung ihrer Häuser als auch dem Versuch der Zerstörung ihrer Identitäten und ihres Gemeinschaftsgefühls, bilden Akte der Zerstörung bzw. devastierte Architekturen ein frühes Grundmotiv in den Werken von Duncan Wylie – reflektierend verlängert in die Aufgabe, den „Augenblick“, dem Impakt – möglicherweise „das Ereignis“ – einzufangen, sowie den Zufall, das Schicksal; inmitten dessen die metaphysische Unbehaustheit des Menschen innerhalb des Seins, dessen Sinn offensichtlich abwesend ist, oder erst konstruiert werden muss. Zutiefst existenzielle Motive.

Wenngleich in seinen Bildern meistens keine Menschen vorkommen – von zeitweiligen rätselhaft unverblümt-unmittelbaren Porträts unter anderem von Robert Mugabe abgesehen – ist es in letzter Zeit die Figur des Seiltänzers, die öfter bei Duncan Wylie auftaucht. Ein Gradwanderer, der sein autonomes Selbst mühsam konstruiert, ein originärer Künstler, der zwischen Kosmos und Chaos als den Elementen wandelt – die Selbsterschaffung und graduelle Selbststabilisierung des Menschen in einer potenziell chaotischen Welt, die Erlangung autonomer, den Zumutungen der Welt gegenüber souveränen Subjektivität, ist die Botschaft, die Duncan Wylie dem Menschen mitzuteilen hat – weniger als eine harsche, autoritäre Aufforderung denn als Vermittlung von Hoffnung und als Zeichen des Respekts für die individuelle Gradwanderung, den individuellen Lebensweg, die individuellen Kämpfe jedes einzelnen.

In seinen jüngsten Arbeiten, die in der Galerie Dukan erstmals gezeigt werden, scheint Duncan Wylie bei einem Subjekt angelangt zu sein, das über eine etwas sicherere Bahn (Eisenbahngeleise) wandelt, und das beginnt, von seinem inneren Material, seinen Innenräumen produktiv chaotisch überlagert zu werden, das zunehmend komplexer und reichhaltiger wird. Er nennt sie „self constructing figures“. Die Doppelbedeutung von „construct“ scheint eine wesentliche Inspiration zu sein: insoweit ein Konstrukt eine definitive materielle Konsistenz und Objektivität haben kann, aber auch etwas Subjektives (z.B. „ein ideologisches Konstrukt“) sein kann – damit eben auch ein Akt der Schöpfung. Haben wir es mit einer Verhältnisbestimmung Subjektiv – Objektiv zu tun? Dem Ineinanderspielen von beiden? Man bemerke, wie sich die „explodierenden“ Subjekte und die Welt, der Hintergrund, in den sie eingelassen sind, offensichtlich überlagern. Gleichermaßen figurative wie auch abstrakte Kunst. Die Architektur in diesen Werken ist nunmehr intakt, die Welt scheinbar „heiler“.

Zusätzlich präsentiert sich Duncan Wylie in dieser Ausstellung auch noch auf eine neue Art und Weise mit seinen Gravuren „(Various) Disasters for Democracy“: Kaltnadelradierungen, die an das Dämonische im Dasein gemahnen und die an Alfred Kubin erinnern – entdeckt Duncan Wylie auch die Möglichkeiten des Surrealismus für sich?  Duncan Wylies Kunst bleibt, wie es heute selten der Fall ist, universal, und in ihren Aussagen von universaler Gültigkeit. Nichts entkommt letztlich ihrem Blickwinkel; in der Hoffnung, die sie vermittelt, liegt Mahnung, in der Mahnung Hoffnung.

Philip Hautmann (geb. 1977 in Linz) ist Schriftsteller und Philosoph und lebt in Wien


In the midst of fashions and trend dictates, Duncan Wylie dedicates himself to the true purpose of art and of painting: to express and portray the deep structure and the multilayeredness of the world, of potentiality within reality, the clamour of being (even if it is only the loudness of the creative mind that perceives such a reality). In great art, in art of the genius, you always seem to have another world emerging within, or beneath, the world that is ostensibly presented, and seems to live in the mutual osmosis of both worlds, respectively world visions. Isn´t that the eternal purpose of art and the true meaning of art? Duncan Wylie portrays the deep structure of the world in an age where, according to scientific speculations, our universe is embedded in an infinity of multiverses, in which we, most personally, appear with alternating biographies. Duncan Wyle has found new solutions to portray the richness and depth of the world.

Born in Zimbabwe in 1975, a certain nomadism is evident in Duncan Wylie´s biography –  who currently lives and works in London. The experience of the expulsion of (in Zimbabwe not only of white but also, and at distinctly higher magnitude, black) settlers and the destruction of their homes, not least also with the purpose of destroying their identity and sense of community, acts of destruction and devastated architectures become a basic motiv in the works of Duncan Wylie – transcended into the task of portraying „the moment“, „the impact“ – maybe even „the event“, as well as of chance and fate and the metaphysical Unbehaustheit of man within an existence in which meaning and salvation is obviously absent, or needs to be constructed in the first place. Deeply existential motives.

Although there usually are no people portrayed in his paintings – apart from intermittent enigmaticly blunt and direct portraits, for instance of Robert Mugabe – it is the character of the tightrope walker that emerges in Duncan Wylie´s more recent works. A wanderer between worlds, who laboriously constructs his own self, an original artist, navigating between chaos and cosmos as the elements of art – the self construction and gradual empowerment of man in a potentially chaotic world, the acquirement of autonomous subjectivity, sovereign against  the impositions of the world seem to be the message Duncan Wylie wants to transmit to man – to a lesser extend as a harsh, authoritarian appeal than as an indication of hope and as a sign of respect for the individual tightrope walking within one´s own challenges of each and everyone of us.

In his most recent works, which are presented by the Dukan Gallery for the first time, Duncan Wylie seems to have pushed forward to a subject that wanders on a somehow safer track (railroad tracks) and that seems to become overlaid by his own inner material, in a productively chaotic way, a subject that seems to become ever more rich and complex. He calls them „self constructing figures“. The double meaning of „construct“ seems to have been an inspiration: since a „construct“ can have a definitive, material, objective substance, yet can also be something rather subjective (i.e. an „ideological construct“) – a materialisation of creativity at any rate. Do we have an exploration of the interdependence subjective – objective it that? The osmosis of both? Also take a look at how the „exploding“ subjects and the background of the world they are situated in obviously interfere with each other. Both figurative and abstract art. The architecture in those works is meanwhile intact, and the world seemingly a safer place.

 In addition to that, Duncan Wylie presents himself in a new fashion with his engravings „(Various) Disasters for Democracy“: Drypoint etchings thar are reminiscent of Alfred Kubin and seem to refer to the „demonic“ in the world – does Duncan Wylie also explore the possibilities that lie within surrealism? Duncan Wylie´s art remains – what is rarely the case in our days – universal, with messages of universal significance and validity. Nothing escapes its focus, in the hope that is transmits there is admonition, in its admonition there is hope.

Philip Hautmann (b. 1977 in Linz, Austria), is a writer and philosopher and lives in Vienna

Duncan Wylie, Contemporary Metaphysical Painter