Marina Abramović, “Rhythm 0,” 1974

Marina Abramović, “Rhythm 0,” 1974

Marina Abramović is best known for her performance pieces, in which she tries to explore what is possible for an artist to do in the name of art. Her best known piece was the recent “The Artist Is Present,” in which she sat motionless for 736.5 hours over the course of three months, inviting visitors to sit opposite her and make eye contact for as long as they wanted. So many people began spontaneously crying across from her that blogs and Facebook groups were set up for those people.

Her bravest piece, however, is my favorite. This piece was primarily a trust exercise, in which she told viewers she would not move for six hours no matter what they did to her. She placed 72 objects one could use in pleasing or destructive ways, ranging from flowers and a feather boa to a knife and a loaded pistol, on a table near her and invited the viewers to use them on her however they wanted.

Initially, Abramović said, viewers were peaceful and timid, but it escalated to violence quickly. “The experience I learned was that … if you leave decision to the public, you can be killed… I felt really violated: they cut my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the public. Everyone ran away, escaping an actual confrontation.

This piece revealed something terrible about humanity, similar to what Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment or Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Experiment, both of which also proved how readily people will harm one another under unusual circumstances.

This performance showed just how easy it is to dehumanize a person who doesn’t fight back, and is particularly powerful because it defies what we think we know about ourselves. I’m certain the no one reading this believes the people around him/her capable of doing such things to another human being, but this performance proves otherwise.

This really got me thinking. Sad as it is it’s so true, and so common for people to push buttons, test the limits of others. If they realize that they don’t retaliate for some reason – often because they’re too weak to – they take advantage of the situation, at the expense of the other person. In Milgram’s experiment, participants were exposed to the sounds of the tortured and thus felt like they should stop – but in this case Abramović didn’t react to the pain or humiliation that was brought upon her.

That’s why they violated her.

What pops to mind? The nurse that ill-treated that elderly woman at the daycare. The rape of mentally-challenged girls. 

It makes me feel sick.

I hope none of you are like that.

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John Mayer at 4am is bliss.

So many people ask why I don’t go to bed earlier.

I think the simple answer is I don’t want to. I enjoy being able to do what I want at my own pace, being alone with my thoughts, evaluating and re-evaluating stuff, appreciating finer things I might not have had the time to, doing work in silence. All this without having to worry about where I’m going, who I’m meeting, or being self conscious around others.

And when I’m done with all that I need to do and feel settled about myself, it’s then I can settle down and wake up to a new day with a new set of challenges.

 

What keeps you awake?

 

About death

The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating…and you finish off as an orgasm.

George Carlin

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

T.S. Eliot

Introverts, in contrast, …

Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.

Susan Cain, Quiet