karl marx gives a peace sign artMy Tuesday mornings consist of a boisterous academic soiree revolving around the concept of modernity. At times I like to walk on the edge of insanity and attend class without my daily booster shot of caffeine, but the lesson’s quickly learned that this will result in a public flogging with Dunce Cap leading the charge. Not for the faint of heart, not for the weak; Karl Marx and modernity walk hand-in-hand on Tuesday morning, and aren’t afraid to fight for their love.

Each morning we are led into a two-hour discussion of the importance of cognitive thinking. The awareness of surroundings, the importance of questions and a dialog of objection against ironclad systems and depriving governments– all manoeuvred to our intellect by a simple man standing at the front of the class. Professors are always fickle creatures. Reminiscent of actors on the stage of a Broadway production; I spend most of my time attempting to filter the fact from fiction. To weed out their scripted plagiarism and honest opinion pertaining to their educator manifesto. It’s the most elaborate performance a creature can admire, the act of learning and being taught. This particular professor is a cacophony of contemplation, as if his brain is chronically set to revolution. Yet, something about him wafts the persona of expensive architecture, luxuriant automobiles and custom tailored suits. Preachers of communism, Marxism, modernity and sustainability always are the greediest capitalists at heart…

His words are powerful, his ideas are congruent with artistic revolt, revitalization of an independent humanity that thrives on individuality rather than suckling at the lucrative tit of scum-bag corporations. Pin-stripped businessmen in the gang of stock-market and insider trading; he wants us to embrace our talents and flip this world on its head. I can’t disagree; I too challenge the system and push for a fresh perspective on contemporary. For the artists in this cracked globe to generate ideas rather than profit. Then again, I could just be bitter at the fact I furnish my apartment with garbage day surprises and thrift store clearance sale delights. Being a starving artist isn’t as “rah-rah revolution” as we imagine…

2008 Dems Facebook artAt some point during the lecture, I found fantasizing about new Jacob boots more appealing than the Haussmannization of 19th Century Paris. Can you blame me? I’ve been wading in this discussion for years, and while interesting, these boots are the cats-meow folks. Sex on my feet…but what brought me back into the reality of my academics was the notion of co-habitation between Capitalism and Sustainability; is it possible for the rich bureaucrats to use sustainability to a moralistic advantage? His parallel of Facebook – a website of practically nothing of relevance or functional value – has a net worth of over 50 billion dollars. It doesn’t bring awareness of the depletion of the coral reefs, the bordering of extinction of the Tasmanian devil due to a facial tumour that is unexplainable, increases of tuition fees that will see many students wallowing in debt until they are on the cusp of retirement, or hell, the current wave of suicides amid gay youths in North America. Facebook is a vanity of greed that we willingly feed into each and everyday; your drunken self portraits are helping to keep the rich richer, and well, entertain thousands of folks with your rendition of Showgirls laid out so tidily on the social network. You and all your “friends” are committing gluttony by sucking at the capitalist tit, and refusing to flick on the light bulb and contemplate returning to the days of old, when your ancestors gave a shit about living off the land and SURVIVING.

Ask anyone on the street what sustainability means, and chances are that their hamster is neglecting to turn the wheel inside their skull. Ask them about the latest updates to Farmville, and they are happier than a hog in shit.

Mac tonight ad campaign by McdonaldsThe lecture continued, and I found myself wanting to throw caution to the wind and debate with our fearless leader that yes, capitalism and sustainability can be loyal lovers. They can produce offspring named Hope and Change. But then Facebook, Google, Burger King, Democrats and Republicans, Conservatives and Liberals, Walmart, Ticketmaster and Air Canada careened through my head. When you have money, you have power. Screw moral ethics. Screw your fellow man and this rock we inhabit; Darwin said I deserve this position of power. Survival of the fittest, and that fat cat capitalist is rolling in his cat nip, pissing on your uprising and displeasure. You’re just a crystal in his odor-saving litter-box folks.

This train of thought continued until it was time to exit. It’s a dangerous time in the modern world, ladies and gentlemen. Why are we laying down and letting this condemnation bulldoze us into an apocalyptic decay?

Then one student asked a question that resonates with me still, and I challenge all creative minds to ponder: How can we, as artists, shape modernity today?