Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why have UFOs changed speed over the years?

It is one of those little ironies of historical memory that we sometimes forget why we took an interest in some things. Take flying saucers. How many of us realise that the reason they made headlines in 1947 was not because Kenneth Arnold thought he saw spaceships from another world; but simply because he reported objects travelling at “incredible speed”? Our local paper headlined it “Officials Skeptical of Report of 1200 Mile-an-Hour Object”. The next day: “1200 MPH Flying Saucer Story Has Teller Up in Air”. The initial Associated Press dispatch specifically has Arnold saying that “he could not hazard a guess as to what they were” and ends with him admitting, “It seems impossible, but there it is.”

The reason it seemed impossible was because back in June 1947 aeroplanes were not capable of even half that speed. They had not even broken the sound barrier quite yet, although they were edging up to it. Chuck Yeager would win that prize a mere four months after the Arnold report. In his report to the Air Force, Arnold mentions an Air Force pilot suggested he had seen “some kind of jet or rocket-propelled ship that is in the process of being tested”. A subsequent communication to the Commanding General of Wright Field has him adding that he “felt certain they belonged to our government”.

Curiously, Arnold’s drawing of the objects he reportedly saw bears a significant resemblance to a plane of the period known as the Flying Flapjack. It was reportedly the fastest naval aircraft of its time, holding a forty mile-an-hour advantage over the F4U Corsair. However, it never got past the experimental stage to mass production, because of problems with propeller vibration, And the Flapjack was not exactly a secret. It had been featured on the cover of Mechanix Illustrated a month before Arnold’s experience. A few people during and after the 1947 flap felt it was likely that Arnold’s Flying Saucers were actually Flying Flapjacks.

After the event
With the benefit of hindsight we can confidently say that Arnold’s objects weren’t Flying Flapjacks. And this is not just because there were denials by the relevant officials and because Flying Flapjacks did not travel at supersonic speeds. The behaviour of the objects was all wrong. Arnold said there were nine objects in a chain and they displayed erratic motions. Test flights are usually solitary affairs with at most a chase plane tagging along. Erratic motion would be unusual for a properly functioning high speed aircraft, and erratic motion by a chain of nine of them rather bizarre. Arnold must have made a mistake somewhere.

Arnold’s speed estimate for the objects was predicated on the assumption they were at least twenty-five miles distant. He based this on the fact that he had seen them swerve in and out of the high mountain peaks and specifically noted them disappearing “just behind a jagged peak that juts out from the base of Mount Rainier proper”. Their altitude, he said, was ninety-two hundred feet plus or minus a thousand feet. When one looks at the geological survey maps of the Mount Rainier area, however, there is an interesting surprise: there are no such peaks in that altitude range. The nearest contender would be Pyramid Peak, and it stands at only 6,937 feet, far outside his range of estimates.

This suggests that Arnold experienced an illusion of some sort. The best guess is that the objects temporarily disappeared when they rolled edgewise in front of the face of the mountain causing a loss of visual resolution. The angular size estimates put them near visual threshold and the optical clutter of the mountain, unlike the sky, probably contributed to the sense of a disappearance behind a feature of the mountain even though there wasn’t one to disappear behind. Arnold’s objects were probably considerably closer and thus much slower. Given the erratic motions, the chain-like grouping, and the horizontal trajectory, the likeliest explanation would involve waterfowl. Swans would be the best choice at the altitude Arnold was travelling.

Copycat sightings
Arnold’s report excited great interest and generated a wave of copycat sightings. Ted Bloecher collected some eight hundred and fifty-three reports from this 1947 craze. The reports exhaust the thesaurus of speed superlatives. Phrases include: fast, very fast, extremely fast, high speed, tremendous speed, terrific speed, great, incredible, inconceivable, rapid, swift, amazing speed. They hurtled, streaked, and flew like blue blazes. Fifty-three percent of the reports emphasize the speed of the objects seen. A few slow saucers made it into the papers, presumably because their shape seemed relevant. The reports mimic Arnold’s report in other particulars. More than contemporary reports, there was an unusual number of sightings involving multiple objects. They favoured horizontal flight. Most of them took place in the daytime, a striking contrast to later years, when UFOs favoured the night.

Despite a considerable variety in the reports, the form of the objects was always consistent with a type of aircraft. Propellers were often seen, one witness even claiming it was larger than the rest of the plane. Jet pipes, pilot’s cockpits, glass domes, fins, legs, and antennae featured on some of the objects. Smoke, vapour hails, and rocket flames repeatedly marked their flights. A wide range of aerobatic stunts turn up among the reports: loop-the-loops, roll manoeuvres, banking, weaving, climbing, diving, tipping, circling, and swooping. Some “UFOs” buzzed cars, but unlike decades later, the car engines never died. It has been thought significant that animals sometimes reacted to the objects, yet a close reading suggests it wasn’t because of their spooky alien-ness; the saucers were doing barnstorming manoeuvres.

Notable by its absence is any indication of extraterrestrial technology: no lasers, heat rays, paralysis rays or gases, mind control rays, power rings, levitation of people or objects, denaturalisation, matter interpenetration, space-suited entities, robots, remote eyes, or even simple observation ports. Nobody was looking for aliens and nothing was seen to suggest any were there.

Things have certainly changed since 1947, and the oddest, simplest proof of this is in the statistics about the speed of saucers. Where 53 percent of the cases of 1947 emphasize speed, statistics from 1971 showed only 41 percent of cases mention it. By 1986 it had fallen to 22 percent. Inversely, there has been a startling shift in the presence of hovering in UFO reports. Only 3 percent of Bloecher’s 1947 population of reports involve hovering. That any are present at all may have something to do with either the fact that the Flying Flapjack was known to possess a vertical landing and take-off capability or with the fact that 1946 saw the first licensing of commercial helicopters. By 1971 hovering appeared in 39 appeared of reports and by 1986 it swelled to 49 percent. Hovering has moved from practical insignificance to become the dominant mode of presentation, showing up over twice as often as high speed.

Speed shift
A fuller appreciation of this shift can be gained by illustrating it by reference to the most popular cases. In the early years, speed estimates were a standard detail. Mantell’s UFO purportedly travelled over 360 miles an hour. When the UFO in the Chiles-Whitted case kicked in its blazing afterburner it went to speeds of 500 to 700 miles an hour; Great Falls: 200 to 400 miles an hour; Lubbock Lights: 1,800 to 18,000 miles per hour; Tremonton: 3,780 miles per hour; Nash-Fortenberry: 12,000 miles per hour; Washington Nationals: 100 to 130 miles per hour; Lakenheath: 12,000 miles per hour; Levelland: 600 to 800 miles per hour; Trindade: 600 to 700 miles per hour.

Cases from the 1960s, by contrast, rarely give speed estimates. In the Socorro case there is only talk of a slow descent and an easy climb. In the Exeter incident we encounter a “falling leaf motion” and UFOlogists indicate this is a repetitive, one even says almost universal, feature of saucer motion. The Spaur UFO chase involves speeds of around 80 miles per hour, and nobody comments on how slow this is compared to the 1950s. Herb Schirmer was told by aliens that they can travel at 150,000 something, but he isn’t sure if it is miles per hour or something else.

We can find a couple of speed estimates in the 1970s. In the Coyne helicopter incident, we are given the figure of 700 miles per hour. In the Kaikoura classic we get the estimate of 10,800 miles per hour. We also get a hint of great speed in the Joe and Carol abduction of 1976 with stars said to be shooting by as they travel in the craft. Allan Hendry dismissed this as obviously inspired by Star Trek visual conventions.

When we come to the 1980s the most striking speed estimate comes from the Westminster flap where objects crawled across the sky at 25 miles per hour. This is argued to be too slow to be terrestrial. Similarly, in the Gulf Breeze incidents, proponents focus on the ability of the objects to perfectly hover amid a 15 miles per hour breeze as proof of non-terrestriality. In an analysis of the 1992 Williamsport, Pennsylvania UFO wave published in Timothy Good’s Alien Update the objects are all described as slow, very slow, or stationary. The statistics don’t even list a category for high speed! The UFOlogist professes they are extremely slow – much slower than a Piper Cub can safely maintain its slowest speed. In 1947 the saucers were faster than any aircraft known and prompted speculations they were powered by atomic energy. Now they are miraculous because they are too slow. The shift in rhetoric is such a complete inversion it would be hilarious if it wasn’t so astonishing.

Hovering wasn’t absent in the 1950s, but it had a curious habit of being associated with disreputable cases like the Maury Island hoax and Desvergers. All the contactee cases had ships which hovered inches or feet above the ground. In Truman Bethurum’s account the saucer could move faster than one could bat an eye, but as it landed it abruptly decelerated so the aliens could demonstrate “how slowly this monster could be brought down”. Interest rarely focused on this ability of hovering. In the Daniel Fry case the emphasis remained on speed. We are meant to be impressed when he tells us he went from White Sands, New Mexico to New York and back in half an hour. The given speed: 8,000 miles per hour. In the 1961 Eagle River case the flourish we are supposed to note is how a tree was bowed over in the wake of a saucer take-off. The Professor Johannis contact, revealed in 1964 (backdated to 1947), has the teller being rolled over and over in the dust because of the air-shock of his saucer’s take-off. I would guess the Father Gill classic of Papua New Guinea was the first reputable case to display hovering, but it was too little known for a long time to consider it a factor in starting the trend to slower saucers noticeable in the 1960s.

Why did this shift from fast to slow take place? The simplest answer has to be the fading of memory. Arnold’s report lost its fascination as newer, better, shinier cases crowded it out for public attention. Cases like Socorro, Exeter, the Swamp Gas saucer of Dexter, Flynn, and The Interrupted Journey of Barney and Betty Hill captured people’s imaginations and became the models to which later experiences would be compared. The search template of what should be considered wondrous filtered out what seemed irrelevant. In 1947 people looked for speedy things and things that looked like discs, and ignored the slow stuff and the lights floating around at night. There was a heavy bias to misinterpreting flocks of birds.

Later, people searched for bright lights and slow, hovering objects and, as Allan Hendry showed, people had a bias towards misinterpreting stars, planets, and aeroplane lights.

UFOs in the movies
It is possibly relevant to also consider how the image of saucers changed in film over the years. Initially, movies followed the model set by Arnold’s report. Bruce Gentry: Daredevil of the Skies (1949) and The Flying Saucer (1950) show brief glimpses of saucers flashing by at high speeds. The plots indicate they are not alien, but man-made. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) initially emphasises speed in radar tracking reports, but the landing involves the saucer settling to earth with a soft glow as befits a powerful, but peaceful visitor. The scene is aesthetically impressive and had to be a factor influencing contactee stories. It Came from Outer Space (1953) and War of the Worlds (1953) emphasise speed with craft trailing sparks and ploughing into the earth. The latter, however, also presents futuristic aerial tanks slowly rising and hovering over the landscape. Hovering and slow movement are presented in Invaders from Mars (1953), Devil-Girl from Mars (1955), and The Cosmic Man (1958). Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) suggests speed in many key scenes, but hovering and gyrating in place are also present.

The aesthetics of anti-gravitational hovering reached iconic status with the arrival of The Invaders TV series in the mid-1960s. The image of a slow landing was repeated weekly at the beginning of each show. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) reprises some examples of speed from UFO lore, but hovering dominates the pivotal scenes of Neary’s first encounter and the arrival of the mother ship. The ship in E.T. (1981) moves in a languid fashion even in its final rainbow-coloured acceleration. The TV series The Greatest American Hero (1981-83) presented a hovering mother ship with a glowing power ring that would serve as the model of the Gulf Breeze incidents. Wavelength (1983), Starman (1984), Cocoon (1985), Uforia (1987) and Fire in the Sky (1993) demonstrate a modem trend to slowness and hovering as a cinematic convention which parallels contemporary UFO trends. One could make a case that cinema showed an earlier trend to slowness than UFO lore and may have had a causal role in the shifting template of what makes UFOs mysterious, but it also can’t be denied the films initially imitated life. Its role is not dominant in shaping perceptions.

The cultural dimension

Saucers flying like blue blazes are no longer a dominant part of our definition of a UFO experience either in film or lore. In an age where supersonic transports routinely cross the oceans, multi-mach jets are a staple item in every country’s military, and space shuttles regularly escape the bounds of earth, speed no longer seems so magical as it did at mid-century.

Levitation unassisted by helicopter rotors and rocket flames remains impressive and so defines alien-ness in a way high speed no longer can. Twelve hundred miles per hour is no longer incredible.

Does this prove UFOs are unreal phantoms that blend in with their times? No. Strictly, it only proves that there is a cultural dimension in our assumptions about what constitutes the behaviour of a flying saucer. People do not report everything that is present in the sky but select only what is presumed to be interesting. What is interesting changes year to year, decade to decade, century to century. We’ve forgotten that Kenneth Arnold was interesting for reasons that no longer interest us. That, in itself, is interesting.

Text by Martin S. Kottmeyer
Source: TPM The Philosopher's Magazine
This article is taken from Why Statues Weep edited by Wendy M. Grossman and Christopher C. French, a collection of the best articles from 21 years of The Skeptic magazine

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

'Walden; or, Life in the Woods

Original title page of Walden featuring a picture drawn by Thoreau's sister Sophia.
Henry David Thoreau, 'Walden; or, Life in the Woods', Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854.

Never-Never Land

Photographs by Miguel de Guzman

The motivation behind the House in Never-Never Land of the Architect Andres Jaque is to create an environmentally responsible project that respects the beauty and biodiversity of the valley, to provide a means of financial security for the owner, and to construct a space for possibilities and desires, related to the traditions of the Ibiza island.

Never-Never Land is situated at the Cala Valdella, Ibiza, Spain
Source :

The Ark. Old Seeds for New Cultures

Pavilion of Greece at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia

Construction and Sowing introduce a double dimension to architecture, as the organisation of what has been built, but also of open-air spaces and the ground. With this proposal we want to bring the sites of culture back to contemporary architectural practices taking the word culture in both its versions, that of civilisation and that of agriculture. "People meet in culture".

Seeds constitute the organic departure point of landscape, the morphogenetic software of its architecture, the core of a process of continuous transformation. In Greece, the economic and social crisis of agricultural land is connected not only to the explosion and diffusion of the metropolis, but also to the extended degradation of the landscape. Intensive agriculture with specialised single-crop farming, fertilizers and pesticides has limited the practices which above all, offered variety to a natural landscape. On the other hand, the predominance of a universal monopoly in the circulation of seeds controls and impoverishes the diet of the urban crowd, in view of the universal food crisis. This impoverishment is synonymous to the impoverishment of memory and history which in the case of Greece is rich in variety and in depth of time. Ultimately, the morphologic denudation of the lowland from elements of its environmental and cultural memory conforms to the even more unfavourable and irreversible overpumping and degradation of the subsoil.

The purpose of the proposal for the Greek participation in the 2010 Venice Biennale is the presentation of the phytogenetic variety of the Greek landscape which is in extinction and the presentation of the local cultures which correspond to the variety of the Greek local reserve. A variety which can be "resowed" in the terms of today's prevalent urban pattern.

Commissioners-Curators: Phoebe Giannisi, Zissis Kotionis, Architects, exhibition Design and Installation: Phoebe Giannisi, Zissis Kotionis

Source :

Crowed Bees

The bees got a little too crowded in their hives and decided to move out

Source :

The First Cavalry

A.Rodchenko and V.Stepanova Cover and case for the photo-album The First Cavalry, 1937

Peasants' professor

Not many university rectors can fire a Sten gun. Even fewer have lived through Siberian exile, endured starvation, raised a siege, defied a government, founded a discipline, and in retirement returned to serve the land of their boyhood persecution.

So if Teodor Shanin, 71, is the toughest-looking gong-holder at Buckingham Palace next month, when the Queen awards him the OBE for services to Russian tertiary education, it is because life has made him so. Otherwise the eminent sociologist and creator of the first Russian-British university would never have survived.

Despite his harsh childhood experiences under Stalin, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Shanin felt "an obligation", as one of the few British academics who spoke Russian, to help rebuild the country. His idea was to create a new Russian-British university to train and retrain Russian professionals and academics.

By 1992 he had raised money from the British Council, the Macarthur Foundation and the Hungarian financier George Soros, with the Russian government agreeing to pay 10% of the cost and provide a building. Neither materialised. After a series of broken promises, he called a meeting with the Russian education minister to cancel the project.

Eventually, in 1995, backed by the Russian Academy of National Economy, but not the Russian government, the new Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences opened. Today it runs MBAs and masters courses for Russian sociologists, lawyers, social workers, political scientists, and cultural and educational managers, taught predominantly by Russian academics trained in England, and validated by Manchester and Kingston Universities.

Shanin, who is now retired from Manchester and spends four weeks out of five in Moscow as the school's first rector, still has battles on his hands. The first year's promised Russian money did not arrive. This year, academy rents and facilities charges rocketed unexpectedly.

It sounds a typical story of corruption and chaos - the only story westerners tend to hear about Russia. Concerned about precisely that, Shanin has for some time been taking groups of lawyers, businesspeople and journalists to Russia to see the self-sacrifice and idealism - including that of his own staff - which never make the headlines. "For a year my staff worked on two-thirds salaries. Now we have another crisis and they have agreed to cut their salaries by 10%. To work with such people is an honour."

But nevertheless not combat-free. Though would the professor want it otherwise? "Moscow is a most peculiar environment: difficult interesting, exciting. When I come back to England, for my first few days there's an incredible relief. To be somewhere you don't have to fight like hell simply to survive, where people smile at you in the street.

"But after a week I often begin to feel under-used. I am ready for hard work. Not for a row. I don't look for rows. I am a gentle man. But I will not give way if I think I am right."

Until Teodor was 10, the Shanins had led a comfortable and secure life as wealthy, intellectual, Polish-speaking Jews in the Russian city of Vilnius. His mother was a university graduate; his father, who fought as a student alongside workers and peasants in the 1917 Revolution, ran the family galoshes factory.

Then, in 1941, Stalin's police arrived at the Shanin bourgeois front door. Teodor's father was to be imprisoned in Siberia. Teodor and his mother were to follow him into exile. Teodor's younger sister, a frail four-year-old, was left behind with their grandfather.

Weeks after the family's departure, the Nazis marched into Vilnius and murdered every Jew in the city. Teodor and his mother traveled first to Siberia and, a year later, by cattle train to Samarkand.

Samarkand's black marketeers almost immediately offered the newly arrived 11-year-old a "job" carrying loaves stolen from the state-owned bakery. Over the next two years he and his mother lived off his earnings until his father arrived: "It was impossible to do the bread any more. To me it was a game. But my father was afraid of doing something illegal. You can only do this when you are not afraid. Once you are afraid, your eyes will give you away."

Instead his parents sent him to school. He raced through the grades, matriculating a year early at 17 when his family left Eastern Europe for France. On their way they stopped in Vilnius, searching fruitlessly for his sister. Enraged by her loss, he was spoiling for a fight: "I was a violent Zionist. I wanted to get arms and go to Palestine. That was my reaction to what had happened to me."

By March 1948 he was there. He spent two months learning Hebrew, and then joined Palmah, the SAS equivalent of Israel's proto-army.

When the war ended he trained as a social worker and took a job in the poorest Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. His clients' conditions appalled him. He entered left-wing politics; took a part-time degree in sociology and economics and then made his way to Britain.

When Shanin arrived in 1963 at Birmingham University's Centre for Russian and East European Studies, he was homeless and jobless. Despite making angrily clear his lack of interest in the subject suggested by his supervisor, he began a PhD on the peasants' role in the Russian Revolution. It was the start of an academic career that would last almost 50 years, and an entirely new research field known as peasantology.

Peasants inhabit an economic structure entirely different from either capitalism or socialist state ownership, he came to argue. Their work, food and housing are dependent on what he calls the "informal economy" - the network of family, unofficial and even criminal activity.

Marxist and market economists had always dismissed such activity as marginal. He argued: "How can you call it marginal when half of mankind lives like this?"

His books included Peasants and Peasant Society and The Awkward Class. Colleagues, unsurprisingly, nicknamed him Awkward Teodor. He had a burst of cult status as a Sheffield University lecturer in the late 60s, when radical students and academics fell upon the argument that Vietnamese peasants, secure in their informal economy, would not want to be "liberated" by American capitalism.

In 1970 Shanin left Sheffield to become professor of sociology at Haifa University, which then had the most Arab students in Israel. Almost at once he was embroiled in a row. The university, on security service advice, had dismissed a Palestinian lecturer whose uncle was a political radical. Shanin and three colleagues protested in the senate: "We had a vicious argument. It's not like Britain where everybody is polite and nice even if they hate each other. It's Israel. So we shouted."

They also lost. He joined the political opposition and the Peace Now campaign. He had fought for Israeli independence under a promise that Arabs would be equal citizens in the new land. None of it had made any difference. His eyes are watery now as he remembers: "After three years I said I wouldn't live in a land like South Africa. I said I never took from this country anything. I always gave it. I am going."

He returned to England in 1973, together with his wife, Shulamit Ramon, professor of social work at Anglia Polytechnic University. After a brief spell in Oxford he was offered a chair of sociology at Manchester. He stayed there for 25 years, taking British nationality, travelling to research the informal economy, the Russian Revolution, the development of Africa, peasants across the world.

During the 1980s, on a visit to Russia, his Soviet "minders" warned him against meeting unapproved academics. They picked the wrong man for a fight. "I told them to get lost. I said, I am not your subject. I am a subject of the Queen of England." The Russians refused him a subsequent visa; he encouraged the British Council to retaliate by refusing visas to Russian academics. The stand-off lasted four years before the Russians caved in.

Text by Karen Gold

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes, no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

William Stafford

Voyage on the North Sea

Marcel Broodthaers, Un Voyage en Mer du Nord, 1974

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sakata Kaidomaru Wrestles with a Giant Carp

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Sakata Kaidomaru Wrestles with a Giant Carp, c. 1837. Color woodblock print, 15 x 10 1/4 in.

Life without Democracy

Life without democracy, 2009
3.90 m x 1.90 m x 42 cm

Fallingwater model

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1934, Fallingwater® is perhaps the most famous residential home in the world. Open to the public since 1963, this masterpiece exemplifies Frank Lloyd Wright's organic architectural style by intimately merging man with the surrounding landscape. This highly-detailed LEGO® model, co-developed and designed by architect Adam Reed Tucker, captures all of the distinctive features that make Fallingwater an architectural landmark. The assembled Fallingwater model stands 10" (256 mm) wide on a gray base with printed name label and includes a booklet with facts about the building, its construction and its history. A striking and imaginative display for your desk, bookshelf or mantelpiece!

* Replica of real-world architectural landmark Fallingwater!
* Booklet included with details on design and history! (English language only)
* Measures 10" (256 mm) wide



Botty shop, Zurich, 2010

Away and Boil your Head

The Athens Biennale is proud to announce the opening of "Away and Boil your Head", curated by XYZ, selected works from the 1st & 2nd Athens Biennales. The exhibition includes works by Alexis Akrithakis, John Bock, Savvas Christodoulides, Lydia Dambassina, Peter Dreher, Electronic Voice Phenomena, Tadeusz Kantor, Em Kei, Joachim Koester, Lotte Konow Lund, Mark Manders, Domenico Mangano, Nina Papaconstantinou, Ioannis Savvidis, Christoph Schlingensief, Gregor Schneider, and Ettore Sottsass.
"Away and Boil Your Head", selected works from the 1st & 2nd Athens Biennales | an exhibition curated by XYZ | within the project "OTHERS: Mediterranean views on contemporary art. The biennials of art of Marrakech, Istanbul, Athens in Palermo and Catania" | July 9th – November 7th 2010 | Fondazione Puglisi Cosentino, Palazzo Valle
Via Vittorio Emanuele, 122 Catania |

Between Direct Democracy and Socialist Politics

(excerpt from an interview at Art Pulse Magazine)

Daphne Vitali - The tendency towards a utopian consciousness, and in particular towards the utopian politics of modernism, is present in your sculptural work. The title of your recent work, Memorial to Collective Utopia, condenses your artistic pursuits and alludes to the Russian avant-garde, the Bauhaus, the May ‘68 movements, and other particular collective utopian moments in history and art, with which you deal in your work. Could you talk about your interest in the utopian consciousness and historical political failures?

Kostis Velonis - Sometimes I get confused with utopias since they signify a refusal to face the particular conditions of the present, but mainly because in many cases they represent a kind of an inversed nostalgia for the future, which is an apotheosis of an idyllic past. I wonder why I do this. It could also signify a certain narcissism, a way to escape from contemporary capitalist ethos, and finally to negotiate your own failures as a virtue. I would prefer the last one. Movements, ideologies, and modernities are usually used as the background of personal contradictions. Sometimes I’m tired of utopias and, at the same time, I’m tired of myself. Indeed, in the Memorial to Collective Utopia something changes. It is homage to the people that were denied in the name of revolution when no one yet knew exactly what those ideas were. No one knew exactly how they would be developed…

D.V. - Your solo exhibition at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens focuses on some recent political works. The sculptures on view take the Russian avant-garde and ancient Greek democracy as their subject matter. However, you do not attempt to examine these ideas in their historicity, but rather rethink several timeless social and political issues. You engage in a dialogue between the ideas of direct democracy and social ideals. Why do you choose to juxtapose these particular issues?

Kostis Velonis, At the End of Demonstration Day, 2009 (detail), wood, acrylic, 5.9” x 16’. Courtesy of the artist and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (Greece)

K.V. - It is worth noting that, despite major differences in approaches and interests between the two different models of power, I found some similarities that are related with the nature of authority. It happened rather gradually from the fact that I was thinking about analogies in all forms of political systems. The Athenian democracy and October ‘revolution’ both tried to demonstrate a ‘constructivist’ zeal. There was a similarity between the five-year plan of the Soviet economy with the ‘building’ plan of Pericles that guaranteed a great number of craftsmen, artists, and traders for the construction of the Athenian empire. There is a ‘constructivist’ paradigm around the foundation and the regulation of authority from which democracy is not the exception. Also, the circulation of speech and thought is an extremely important part of the collective consciousness, and definitely for the emergence of the public space as something that belongs to everyone. The revolutionary years of the October movement were logocentric talkative. That was common to the revolutionaries, the communist intelligentsia and the citizens of Russia, but more than this, it was a principle of the Athenian democracy while the citizens themselves decided such matters as whether to go to war or put generals to death.

D.V. - In the work How to Build Democracy Making Rhetorical Comments (After Klucis’ Design for Propaganda Kiosk, Screen and Loudspeaker Platform, 1922), the ideals of direct democracy encounter the ideas of the revolution and the Communist visions through the Constructivist practice. This work has a participatory dimension, since the ‘propaganda kiosk’ that you set up is an empty, practical construction directly intended for the audience, for expressing ideas around the notion of direct democracy. Tell us about the importance of the participatory aspect of this work.

K.V. - There is something cynical about the way that direct democracy expresses itself. The construction of the kiosk has the function of the gulag tower, one of the constructions that correspond to the permanent visual experience of the militant, communist artist Klucis in the last years of his life. There is no doubt that sometimes a citizen pays the cost if he is involved with public matters. There is an aspect of political cannibalism within public manifestations. But the question is what people actually do with these rights, and this installation with the tower and its platform refers to the intentions of the decisions. This helps us to understand that the contemporary notion of democracy has another frame of focus than the original one. Decisions on common affairs in the way that citizens met on a hill (Pnyka) and voted by a show of hands directly is different from contemporary architectural devices of how someone is allowed to intervene in the public sphere in democratic states. The Athenians never let a citizen become so powerful that he could take complete control of the city, but the problem was that in some cases the involved citizen took the risk of being ostracized for reasons that were justified or unjustified.

D.V. - “Loneliness on Common Ground: How Can Society Do What Each Person Dreams.” The title of your exhibition suggests the individual’s relationship to society, one of the topics that you treat in your work. In many of the works of the exhibition, you subsume the individual into the collective. Could you explain your interest in this relationship?

K.V. - It is not possible fully to understand problems and facts in society without considering its members. It soon becomes clear that society and individuals are really two sides of the same coin, and the problem begins from an ethical question: to what extent should one try to convince an individual to be ruled? Is moral autonomy a virtue or not? If it is, one can easily understand why sometimes anarchism and liberalism are very close, more than any other political doctrines.

D.V. - Your political works have at the same time a very personal aspect. You create narratives characterized by the linking of personal stories with the re-working of historical events. How do you bring together your personal experiences and reference points with your political concerns?

K.V. - I am trying to put individual against history, against its “principles,” because if the law is not given by God, then we can take the risk to avoid or to reject it. The line of demarcation between individual and obedience to collective norms is continually being redrawn. We are collectively responsible for our personal freedom, and the contribution to democracy means this permanent involvement for the ‘common good.’

D.V. - In your work Gaining Socialism While Losing Your Wife (After Popova’s Set Construction for “Le Coçu Magnifique”, 1922), apart from your interest in the industrial structure of Popova’s Constructivist set, you have also been inspired by the play’s idiosyncratic plot. You associate the destructive and tormenting love felt by the husband of the story with the utopian and passionate objectives set by the artists of the avant-garde. In this work, you question the relationship between domesticity and revolution. Do you think that collective political ideology shatters individual consciousness?

K.V. - I would like to affirm a kind of social solidarity for the private world of citizenship, and in the case of the October revolution, domesticity was a negative term usually identified with the values of bourgeoisie. Cromelynk’s narration for the ‘Magnanimous Cuckold’ is based on the concept of a family comedy, but Russian constructivist-through the mise en scene of Meyerhold and the set design of Popova-systematically decomposed the domestic aspect of the plot. For me, this architectural installation is a chance to understand how sculpture partakes in the daily reality of domestic space. Can we finally ‘reconcile’ with it? And how is that possible to require historical changes through revolution in abstract terms without any serious regard to our domesticity? Freedom begins from privacy.

D.V. - Although the work Révolution essentielle belongs to a series of works in which you allude to the May 1968 uprising, it epitomizes your primary theoretical and artistic pursuits for an ‘essential revolution.’ What form, do you think, ought a revolution to have today?

K.V. - I am very suspicious about any idea of revolution, since in most cases revolutionary groups conclude to be the victims of their own phantoms. To take one of the most well-known: the practice of the revolutionary state in Russia. Is there is anything revolutionary in the use of concentration camps, the massive extermination of people, or the slaughter of the peasantry? What is at issue is not so much the precise idea of a fighting definition of life’s experience. This option cannot function as an intellectual and sensational evolution of ourselves that inevitably guides us to a certain generosity for others. That’s why the May 1968 poster from which the work is inspired is different from other ones in the Atelier Populaire group of the fine arts students in Paris. It represents something outside the usual political and conflicted language of the group; it is a political poster with a red sun behind the branch of a tree, which cultivates the concept of ecology and comradeship in the family life and community. This statement escapes from the usual forms of conflict. If the state is viewed in the modernist mythology like Kafka’s castle then it should be finally replaced, but not only by a rational protestant capitalistic tower. West societies cannot survive following the current political model.

Kostis Velonis, Life without Tragedy, 2009, ceramics, wood, acrylic, 13.4” x 13.4” x 10.6.” Private collection. Courtesy of the artist and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, in Athens (Greece).

D.V. - Notions such as the revolution, democracy, freedom and utopian ideals that you treat in this exhibition are for you an awakening, a demand to seek ideology and social change. Does your sculpture constitute for you a political action?

K.V. - Contemporary sculpture replaces the meaning that theater had in ancient Athens, raising the question about the practice of power through tragedy or comedy. The reasons for arguing all this, however, is not just because the plots by the writers are the only important points. The same social practice of the theatrical performance is equal with the displayed character of sculpture. The real importance of those changes in the sculptural field opens the way to understand sculpture as an architectural construction for the public forum that confronts discussions and actions. Sculpture is becoming the estia koine (common place) for politics, not only in the institutional sense but politics in a sense that there is a site for reflection and re-evaluation of what a political society is.

The exhibition “Kostis Velonis. Loneliness on Common Ground: How Can Society Do What Each Person Dreams,” organized by the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, and curated by Daphne Vitali, is taking place from May 11 to September 5, 2010.

Daphne Vitali is an art historian and curator based in Athens, Greece. She has worked at the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) since 2005. Her recent curatorial projects include the group exhibitions “In Present Tense, Young Greek Artists” and “Expanded Ecologies, Perspectives in a Time of Emergency,” the solo show of Kostis Velonis and the new program EMST Commissions 2010.

Between Direct Democracy and Socialist Politics / An Interview with Kostis Velonis
Art Pulse Magazine
Vol. 1 No. 4 Summer 2010

Between Art and Anarchism; Horizontalism in New Social Practices: Revolutionary Autonomous Communities and Artist's For Social Justice

From a small 10-foot plot of truly public space between MacArthur Park and the street, the smell of slightly overripe fruit sweating in the sun emerges every Sunday morning. Young and old residents of the community stand together in the piercing midday Los Angeles sun, beads of sweat pricking their temples and children scrambling underfoot. Each person sets two squash, four potatoes, four cucumbers, a bunch of grapes, and so on into a succession of nearly 200 overstuffed cardboard boxes. Around 2pm, a line of people of every age and color, begins to form. They wait patiently to receive their boxes of donated excess fruits and vegetables, bag of rice and beans, whole wheat bread, and a fruit pie. The volunteers and the needy are often one and the same. After the flurry of activity from handing out food, everyone finds a place on the shady hill near the sidewalk. They examine the bounty and swap amongst themselves, a second redistribution among neighbors.

This food program is the soul of an anarchist organization known as the Revolutionary Autonomous Communities. It has been occurring for nearly two years around MacArthur Park. Self-sustainability is the watchword for this organization. Enabling poor or underserved communities of color to support themselves through simple acts of mutual aid, like food redistribution (rather than relying on charity) is its primary motivation.

Similarly engaged in self-support strategies, a growing group of young artists meets monthly at the California Institute for the Arts in Valencia, CA gathering for forum discussions, guest lectures, and to plan collective actions dedicated to social justice issues. Known as the Artists for Social Justice, several members recently participated in a one-night performance entitled “Free Free Market” in Chinatown focusing on aesthetic exchange and participation as an alternative to the object-driven art market. One gave voice lessons from the rooftop of the small strip mall location, drawing diners out of their restaurants and passersby off the sidewalk. Others wrote letters on demand – greetings to friends, thank you notes, expressions of love. Another gave away small objects he had begged, borrowed, and stolen – trinkets that were imbued with narrative and the possibility of further exchange. These artists, many newly embarking on careers in a fraught art world, have banded together in a non-hierarchical collective to explore alternative opportunities closely connected to real socio-political issues.

In the shadow of the current economic crisis, it is unsurprising that non-hierarchical organizational techniques and responsive self-support networks are increasingly emergent amongst communities of artists and thinkers. Confronted by baffling sleight-of-hand economic strategies like the bundling of mortgage-backed securities and out-of-control leveraging, our traditional understanding of industrialized production has been fundamentally shattered.

This crisis of understanding has led to a climate of deeper questioning than this country has seen for decades – if our economy could fail so drastically, what other precarious values have we unknowingly embraced? What else could fall apart? This questioning of complacency has traditionally been the provision of avant-garde artists and anarchist radicals, who made objects and organized direct actions designed to “shock” the public out of their blind acceptance of systematic domination. In the past few years, however, these dramatic tactics have been replaced by process-based organizational techniques carefully aligned with socio-economic-political complexities and built on self-reflexive horizontal structures.

In the modernist avant-garde artistic tradition that coalesced after the First World War, art objects possess unique and immediate qualities that, as Walter Benjamin notes, shock the viewer into “a heightened presence of mind.”(1) As art historian Grant Kester explains, these objects are designed to rip viewers out of an uncritical state, forcing them to almost violently “challenge their faith in the very possibility of rational discourse.” Aligned in many ways with radical leftist ideologies, the avant-garde believed that Western society had, as Kester puts it, “come to view the world in a violently objectifying manner associated with the growing authority of positivistic science and the profit-driven logic of the marketplace.”(2)

These views overlap those of communist anarchism (3), associated with most revolutionary leftist social movements and influential to groups like the Anarchist People of Color, initiated by Ernesto Aguilar. Anarcho-communists emphasize the abolishment of class structures under capitalism, and strive to create autonomous spaces in which mutual aid and self-sustainability negate the need for a state apparatus (4). To shake the public out of complacency, anarchists frequently engage in marches, boycotts, sit-ins, and other such demonstrations. These can utilize either violent or non-violent tactics, designed to “create such crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. [These tactics] seek to dramatize the issue so that it can no longer be ignored.”(5)

The similarities between the avant-garde and anarchism extend beyond their similar “shock and rupture” tactics; political theorists and art historians alike have declared both to be failed movements. In the avant-garde movement, this failure arises from a paradoxical hierarchy encased in the primacy of the art object. If the art object itself contains the power to elicit epiphany, than the artist is elevated to a status “uniquely open to the world,” and viewers that are open to the transformative experience of the object are likewise more educated and socially aware than those who are not.(6)

Anarchists struggle with a similar created hierarchy, often denouncing those with any connection to institutions and systems of the current society. This has led to an insular mindset dominated by ideologues, with adherence to extremism serving as a measure of commitment. The desire to completely dissociate has undermined the goals of systematic revolution and greater freedom, replacing one hegemony with another.

Complicating these intrinsic problematics is the proven ability of capitalist systems to subsume and harness radical tactics into new forms of control. Belgian political philosopher Chantal Mouffé writes: “The aesthetic strategies of the counterculture: the search for authenticity, the ideal of self-management, the anti-hierarchical exigency, are now used in order to promote the conditions required by the current mode of capitalist regulation, replacing the disciplinary framework characteristic of the Fordist period.” (7) As mass marketing employs the surface aesthetics of the avant-garde or revolutionary iconography to imbue brands with “cool,” strategies of the alternative arts movement are now foundational pillars of the worldwide art market, and corporate structures (as in Google or Apple) embrace a superficial ideal of egalitarian self-management, the “shock and rupture” tactics of the radical left are effectively deflated.

Because of this systematic adaptability, many have claimed “any form of critique is automatically recuperated and neutralized by capitalism.”(8) In the past few years, however, both artistic practice and anarchist organizing have come to embrace new strategies of radicality that are distanced from “shock” tactics in their commitment to a social and spatial awareness. Exemplified by the two Los Angeles groups (the anarchist RAC, and artistic Artists for Social Justice) that started in 2007, this radicality emerges in self-reflexive organization and practical exchange.”

A distinct feature of the Revolutionary Autonomous Communities Food Program is its status as a “truly horizontal organization,” where the givers are indistinguishable from the receivers. The political purpose of the program is not charity, but “self-empowerment, where working class neo-colonies are feeding themselves, and organizing to feed themselves.”(9)The program’s organization is constantly evolving, steered by members of the community and the RAC, who carefully consider the effects of distribution techniques on the creation of competition and the larger goal of self-sustainability. Since the program’s inception, the RAC has moved from numbering families in line to calling names (in order to get to know the regulars), and has increased its volunteer and membership corps to include many members of the community. Although the program runs into occasional disorganization and even some contentious arguments among members, a consensus-based, openly horizontal process allows for new ideas and growth.

Meanwhile, across the city, the Artists for Social Justice attempt to bridge class hierarchies in the art world by working collaboratively in a non-hierarchical group of 87 members. The collective has organized shows, performances, and discussions around various political and community issues; their most recent being an event affiliated with the Performing Economies show at the Fellows for Contemporary Art gallery in Chinatown. “Free Free Market” involved dozens of ASJ member projects that focused on gift economies, the exchange of aesthetic and social experiences, encouraging dialogue, and inhabiting spaces that are nontraditional for art (such as public space, strip malls, and classrooms).(10) Founder Evelyn Serrano says the group is dedicated to the process of working collectively and cooperatively, especially in analyzing ways of using dialogue tactically and allowing the structure of the group to shift and reform.

For both of these groups, their strategies of internal organization are not means to an end, but radical of themselves. Yet unlike traditional radical groups, who carved out strict “autonomous” zones designed to be separate from larger society (thereby creating their own hierarchies of exclusion within these zones), the RAC and the ASJ organize with a keen awareness of the multiple discursive layers of their social and spatial terrain. A member of the RAC noted “how we organize is how we are received by the community”. He acknowledged that their strategies, far from ossified, are constantly and critically reevaluated from week to week. He went on to admit that not all members wished to be identified as anarchists, that the purpose of the group was not to promote a specific ideology, but to facilitate the empowerment and self-sustainability of the MacArthur Park community itself. “You can’t eat theory,” he quipped.(11)

Likewise, although the Artists for Social Justice bills itself as a forum for people that are interested in non-traditional artistic practice, its commitment to social justice comes primarily from its working method as a collective. The group experiments with its own horizontal structure as a way to problematize the hierarchies of the art world and market-driven society in general. Its members approach art-making in much the same way. Strategies of exchange, dialogue, and social analysis are made overt in these art (?) practices, wherein the object produced is only meaningful as a way of understanding the process of questioning issues like public space, market exchange, or art world hierarchies.

These groups are markedly different from the traditional avant-garde (12) and radical left (13) because they internalize the notion that no terrain is neutral, and that durational dialogue between disparate groups is both necessary and futile according to rationalist thinking – there can be no dialogical endpoint, no rational consensus between discourses. Chantal Mouffé calls this “agonistic” political thought – as she explains, “an agonistic conception of democracy requires coming to terms with the contingent character of the hegemonic politico-economic articulations which determine the specific configuration of a society at a given moment.” (14)In other words, there can be no rational consensus without exclusions, and an organization built on the belief that a consensus between pluralities is desirable (and possible) is necessarily hierarchical.

This kind of thought is indeed radical; it throws into relief exactly the hegemonies of capitalist society, and critiques the “imaginary environment necessary for the reproduction” (15) of these power structures and hierarchies. But how is this radical thought utilized, and how do the manifestations of these organizational strategies sometimes fall short of their ideals?

In some ways, the RAC is a step ahead of the Artists for Social Justice because they are equipped to define a political ideology that preserves the integrity of these new strategies, as well as a measure of self-accountability. The goals of community self-empowerment are clear, and the actions of the group are directed aligned with certain desired outcomes (empower members to be leaders, address the needs of the community, engage the community in creating self-sustainable economies of exchange and mutual aid). Yet the accompanying anti-statist, anti-authoritarian articulations tend to be reductive in their language, and self-criticality on a broader social scale is less evident. Certain elements of traditional radical strategies still prevail, such as denouncing all funding and support from entities perceived to be part of “the system.” Though this is aligned with anarchist ideology, it begs the question as to whether the group can expand and promote its agenda beyond a small circle of supporters. (16)

For the Artists for Social Justice, the challenge of applying these strategies to affect lasting change (to the art market or broader social hierarchies) seems almost the opposite. The theoretical questioning and formation of new discourses is rigorous, and self-reflexivity in the practice of collective action is a primary activity of the group. But without a specific guiding goal or political thought process in the larger social arena, the projects that the group produces (like the voice lessons and letter-writing of the “Free Free Market” project) tend to remain soft, insular, and somewhat watered down among so many individual ideas.

Both groups share the problem of the creation of competition. In the RAC food program, participants occasionally squabble over scarce resources. Sometimes the food runs out before all the needy are fed. The Artists for Social Justice acknowledge that they exist within an art market, and are composed of a membership that is attempting to make a living as artists. For some of these members, being selected for a show or organizing a well-publicized project is crucial to their careers. As an 87 member collective cannot practically produce projects that include everyone, jealousies and individual competitions are inevitable. These shortages of resources are in some ways part and parcel of the horizontal organizing of both groups. Acknowledging and confronting this creation of competition has kept both groups experimenting with their structures in creative ways, and has kept them resistant to capitalist subsumation. This responsiveness and self-reflexivity will ultimately allow each organization to morph and grow tactically, allowing for the possibility of a more widespread critical questioning of intrinsic societal values.

Text by Sue Bell Yank

1. Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Shocken, 1969), 238. (back)

2. Grant Kester, Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004), 27. (back)

3. Communist anarchism theory influences groups like the RAC, as well as the larger Anarchist People of Color (APOC) movement. The main theorists of communist anarchism are Peter Kroptkin and Murray Bookchin (Wikipedia) succinctly defines the movement as one that “advocates the abolition of the state, private property and capitalism in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations, workers' councils and/or a gift economy through which everyone will be free to satisfy their needs.” For more, see Peter Kroptkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (London: Freedom Press, republished 1998). (back)

4. “Revolutionary Autonomous Communities, Los Angeles Food Program,” Anarkismo, December 18, 2008 . (back)

5. “Direct Action,” Wikipedia. (back)

6. Kester, 27. (back)

7. Chantal Mouffé, “Art and Democracy: Art as an Agonistic Intervention in Public Space,” Art as a Public Issue 14 (2008), 7. (back)

8. Mouffé, 7. (back)

9. “Revolutionary Autonomous Communities, Los Angeles Food Program,” Anarkismo, December 18, 2008. (back)

10. Evelyn Serrano, founder of the ASJ, interview with the author, July 20, 2009. (back)

11. Mauricio, member of the RAC, interview with the author, July 19, 2009. (back)

12. By the traditional avant-garde, I refer to a long tradition extending from the post-impressionists of the late 1800s to the post-war New York School of abstract artists including Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, David Smith, and Morris Louis. Theorized most famously by Clement Greenberg, avant-garde discourse is characterized by, as Grant Kester puts it, “a concern with policing the boundaries between true art and kitsch” and an “opposition between conventional forms of language…and the metalanguage of art, which eludes the constraints of symbolic discourse to confront the viewer with immediate and overwhelming aesthetic force.” For more, see Kester, 25-49. (back)

13. The “radical left” encompasses a long tradition of revolutionary thought, with anarchism typifying the rejection of capitalist domination in favor of a free society. Many of the social movements associated with anarchism occurred in the late 19th and 20th centuries, and were often violently repressed by nation-states. Some of these include the labor movements of the early 20th century, including the Makhnovist movement during the 1917 Russian Revolution and the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939. In North America, the student movements of the 60s and 70s had strong anarchist influences and utilized direct action tactics. For a brief history of anarchist movements, see Wikipedia, “History of Anarchism.” (back)

14. Mouffé, 9. (back)

15. Mouffé, 7. (back)

16. The modest scope of the RAC Food Program could be a deliberate feature of horizontal organizing, a recognition of the limits of this structure. If so, this would represent a drastic break from the revolutionary ambitions of the traditional anarcho-communist thought, the end goal being a complete overthrow of the current system. In my interviews with members of the group, however, goals of expansion were clearly evident; they talked about securing premises, setting up food storage, and expanding into neighborhoods across the city and possibly country. In terms of the practical logistics of setting up such an operation without the benefit of traditional forms of funding, however, the members cited a need to find “creative alternative solutions” based on the ideals of exchange and self-sustainability. This sets up a massive challenge for the group as it attempts to grow, but also the opportunity for innovative strategies.

John Aimani of RAC-LA clarifies ... Our 'modest scope' is indeed deliberate. Our goal was to focus upon the most vulnerable portions of this society, the working poor, the homeless and the undocumented migrant workers so as to demonstrate that we (and I say "we' for RAC is, in the main, composed of these elements) can work together to make our lives a bit better even in the throes of this downward spiral of capitalism. Yet, RAC is no social group. Nor is it a charity group. RAC is a revolutionary-organization-in-the-making dedicated just so to the "complete overthrow of the current system". We come forward with no spelled out "10 point program", no Gotha program, no bible, no Jesus, no leader. We come forward only with an eye as to how it is that we, as a people, can begin to work together, to study together, to eat together and, most important, to learn together. And we do so with the idea of not only survivial in this dying decaying decadent system but with an eye towards destroying it. RAC is a long-term project. Those with ideas of quick fixes need not apply. Those with ideas of leading us to this or that place, this or that state of mind, similarly will find their services not needed.