A Short History of Unnoticed Notifications

Gathered around the storyboard of a comic book describing an Eastern European art worker, an uncanny, quirky cast of characters find themselves in a heated political debate. Revealing layer upon layer of unanswered questions, forgotten convictions, eternal doubts, ethical inconsistencies and abandoned dreams, Milikić depicts a world in which art workers navigate between cynicism and ideals. With strength, conviction and lots of humour, he advocates for keeping one’s course in the murky waters of compromise and concessions.

This is a part of notes taken during the meeting with a draughtsman. Instructions are given for a comic book intended to explain the ‘ups and downs’ of the independent cultural scene in an unidentified transitional (Eastern European) country in the last few decades. However, the meeting turned into a symptomatic political debate.


Here we meet our hero for the first time. He looks quite ordinary but he is literally shouting at the audience in some conference hall: ‘Youuuuuuu, who swept bloody witnessing of Hugo, Dickens, Zola, Lorca, Kafka, Mann, Musil, Grass under the carpet of a middle-class cultural-entrepreneurial paradise that awaits just for youuuuu… …’.
He should look a little bit like a crazy street prophet and an enthusiastic yuppie from the early 2000s… On a wall behind the chairman is a banner with a motto: ‘Culture as a Motor Head of European Integration’  
One more image, now from the back of the conference hall. His boasting voice is spreading in a speech bubble above the audience: ‘Youuuu that used words like freedom, justice and equality! To rebrand and purify the system based on captivity, inequality, and injustice!!’  
Here a close-up of the speaker from the part of the audience where several participants from Eastern Europe are sitting together. It would be good if their clothes, maybe laptops etc. reflect some sort of show-off… but their faces are something between scared and shocked…
And you wannabe hipsters from Eastern Europe!! All the investment of the socialist system in your education, health, and housing you redirected so as to deny those rights to new generations!’,  
Now only his wide-open mouth with a white text written in the black hole of the mouth: ‘You still call it democratic change, even though you yourself know that without economic democracy there can be no democracy at all!!!


Now we see him waking up at the sound of an alarm… As he dresses, he is thinking: ‘What a terribly nice bad dream…’ While having breakfast he is mumbling phrases from the dream: ‘YOUUUU that did this… yoouuuu that are doing that…

Now the scene in the elevator. He is standing next to two neighbours, they appear almost dwarfish compared to him (this is to illustrate his inflated self-confidence). They are staring at his suitcase with many stickers on it (like in old comics, where such a suitcase was a sign of a bit prestigious status of the intensive traveller; here, just a vintage design), while he is seemingly modestly saying: ‘Nothing special, just another short trip to…
Now he is at the Berlin airport, but this time it is he who appears dwarfish, barely reaching half of the size of the most of the passers-by.
Here he is sitting in the conference chair, again dwarfed, with a thought bubble: ‘Better not to say a thing, my Euro-English is embarrassing’  
Two images of an ongoing conference, at this one a speaker preaches (in fact he/she could be drawn so as to resemble a priest on the pulpit): ‘It is time to get rid of our totalitarian heritage!’
And here, a close-up of a slide-show presentation: ‘One nice day even post-communist Eastern Europe could hopefully catch up with its more civilised Western counterpart.’  

Draughtsman: That cannot be, you are just making this up.

Storyteller: Yes I do, but this is a comic book, fantasy is allowed. I cannot present everything, just the essence, even if it was never articulated in that way.


In the evening…

Our hero is sleeping in a hotel room. Strangely, a notebook levitates above him.
Now a close-up to a page in the notebook, where among the handwritten words two are discernible: ‘....my diary…’  
The sleeper reacts: ‘But I don’t keep a diary!’  
Still, in the diary there is a text: ‘But this is your handwriting… you remember a character of a sub-conscience secretary or administrator, whatever it was, in that once very famous Nikolay Gavrilovich Chernyshevsky’s novel ‘What is to be done?’  
Here you draw a page in a diary with few words like: ‘And then I decided to…’ through which a dreamer screams: ‘Noooooo!!!’  
Look what you wrote in 1993:I find being a cultural manager quite a prestigious position… in all this chaos it looks like a quiet and pleasant profession.”  
Dreamer ‘looks’ through closed eyes as he speaks (eyes painted on eyelids); he addresses the reader: ‘What?!?! I never wrote something like that…. I didn’t even think of it… Well, maybe only a thought or two but what… Let’s check everyone’s thoughts. Probably the world would turn into an open mental hospital…’  
Text in a diary: ‘I can see that something is wrong with this devastating deindustrialisation, unemployment… but let’s translate it into some form of historical burden of insufficiently civilised peoples with totalitarian minds…’  
Dreamer: ‘Pathetic cheap provocation!’  

Draughtsman: Let me ask you something. Shouldn’t it be authoritarian mind? What is a totalitarian mind anyway?

Diary: I don’t think, I just register thoughts.

Draughtsman: I ask because serious studies have confirmed that the so-called authoritarian personality is predominantly formed through the subordination and submission of individuals to the authorities in production relations and processes…

Dreamer: Anyway, NO!! That’s just lies, I would never write something like this!!!

Diary: Maybe you only thought of it. I could also be a diary of your thoughts.

Dreamer: I never thought about something like that.

Diary: Maybe you just dreamed about something like that?

Dreamer: No, you are manipulating!

Diary: But isn’t this your handwriting?

Dreamer: It is, but now you can produce it artificially.

Diary: You mean Artificial Intelligence?

Dreamer: Yup.

Diary: But the definition of AI is that it could be called AI only if it thinks like a human.

Dreamer: Ok, let me put it this way: I only thought that a socialist economy didn’t work because communists made people lazy.

Diary: Here, take a look. You wrote that you believed that socialist governments were resisting rational planning and inevitable reforms…

Dreamer: Yes, but…

Diary: … but, here are other perspectives, like the one by Agnes, which explains how and why the regimes in Eastern Europe were trying to save their economies and especially social policies. Or a lecture by Gaspar Miklos Tamás who is giving an overview of causes and consequences of the transitional disaster in Hungary that brought ‘populists’ to power.

Draughtsman: Look at those faces in the audience. They’d probably like to call him names, to label him as a ‘totalitarian mind’ but they can’t because he is such a famous dissident and today he is a stark criticiser and opponent of Orban.

Diary: One more remark: Now you complain so much about right-wing ‘populism’ but you still ignored warnings from the late nineties, in short, if democracy cannot provide for social integration and recognition/affirmation, the result will be a right-wing ‘populism’.

(Dreamer wakes up and now speaks from the tables looking at the readers)

But you are setting me up. It is totally crazy that I wanted to contribute to this transitional catastrophe.  
Let me tell you, the crucial problem was that socialist states approached the transition in a socialist way: ‘Let’s be free, equal, and brotherly’, while capitalist states approached in capitalist way: ‘Let’s see what we could make out of it; what profits, that is.’ Sorry, but this is the world we live in.
So, no hard feelings now please, everything is under control.
(In a thought bubble)
Maybe I contributed…’
(Maybe here the image of an old-fashioned table scale)
(In a thought bubble)
But not deliberately…’
(He is taking weights to and from the pans)
(In a thought bubble)

Anyway, the interpellation is a much more complex process, culture is not enough.’ (Now we see that there are inscriptions ‘good’, ‘bad’ on the weights.)

Storyteller: Yes! But that complexity is somewhat under your control! Let me ask you, in the EP resolutions against twin totalitarianisms, why there is no mentioning of the European colonialism? Maybe because it is still profitable for EU MPs?

Awakened dreamer: But why are you at war with me? What did I do to you?

Draughtsman: No to war between people, no to peace between classes, let’s check the conditions of peace here.

Awakened dreamer: But we are in the same class!

Draughtsman: See it as a middle-class civil war, or as interclass war for the hegemony in class consciousness…. and sub consciousness as well.

Awaken dreamer: But this is not fair; in fact not normal, you are draughtsman, not a political commentator.

Draughtsman: Yes, but I refuse to become alienated from my work.


Now, draw a famous independent theatre director from Hungary, active since the mid-eighties. He is giving a speech at the opening of the IETM+TEH conference in Budapest, some time after 2010-2011. You’ll need three frames for him.

During so-called communism I directed some ‘problematic’ play, hence the state security invited me for an interview; or an interrogation, if you prefer’.
They insisted that the play was against the system and the state, etc. I denied their accusations. Word by word, it was probably the best discussion ever about my art/work. They did cause problems; it was not pleasant for me and my colleagues at all but they didn’t stop me from working; they didn’t endanger my material existence.’
Today I can really produce whatever I want. But no one is willing to finance it, so I could say that the censorship today is much more cunning.’

Draughtsman: And what is TEH?

Storyteller: Well, it is a network of independent cultural centres in Europe that depend on tail-wagging to any stupidity of European cultural autocracies. I don’t say to draw a doggy, maybe a very decent man with a dog’s tail? Or to put it less malicious: the association of cultural organisations that work in abandoned industrial venues, sugar-coating issues such as the social price of neoliberal deindustrialisation and deregulation.

Diary: They also have an active political agenda. For example, they righteously protested against the high-jacking of computers of the member organisation in the Ukrainian city of Donneck by pro-Russian rebels. At the same time, they elegantly stayed deaf and mute when it was about the state-sponsored devastation of socialist cultural heritage in Ukraine.

Storyteller: Maybe you can draw sort of a graveyard of destroyed socialist monuments that pile up to form a pedestal with a high-jacked computer on it?

Draughtsman: But who are the people who travel and attend these nice conferences?

Storyteller: These are cultural managers, artists, art entrepreneurs from all over Europe. Just draw a bunch of charming hipsters and several less charming, advanced hipsters. It is a bit of stereotyping and mocking but I bet that everybody will recognise who they are.

Diary: Of special interest are representatives of independent cultural centres from Eastern Europe. The word is that many of them are just faking independence and subversion while being very well connected with local political and economic elites (if they are not their friends and relatives, then protégées of various types).

Here you draw a pretty young women with a baby in her arms. She speaks before some audience in an astonishingly designed conference room: ‘You have to develop partnerships with a private sector, with successful businessmen interested in arts and culture.’
Now draw the surroundings of that house where the room is: a devastated industrial zone from socialism.
Awakened dreamer looks to the reader and wonders: ‘Hey storyteller, if you find everything so hopeless and depressive, why are you in this story at all?’

Draughtsman: Yes. How come? It seems that you know each other quite well?

Storyteller: Not an easy question. Let me say something in favour of our character: ‘Definitely there are sincere activists and good artists and organisers, whose main fault is that they reproduce the donators’ fantasies related to the ‘culturalisation’ of Eastern Europe. I am just a writer, an observer of that process. With my work I try to talk them into being confronted instead of becoming integrated into such fantasies. It is something like, how to say… like turning windmills into dragons, for example. Rings a bell?

Draughtsman: Yup, rings a bell of you trying to change the topic.

Awaken dreamer: To cut a long story short: I believed that working in culture was a way out of social problems—many social problems; too many in fact. Besides, working in culture is always somehow prestigious, fulfilling, challenging, and promising in terms of self-promotion and self-realisation. We are humans. Humans of late capitalism, it is not an easy thing for us to find opportunity for self-recognition. Check once again Wilhelm’s speech at the conference in Fridericianum, linked above. On the other hand, in this job you often dare to tackle and/or do things that no one else could or would. You also discover that these are exhausting and demanding jobs, sometimes at the very brink of existence. Contrary to the widespread impression that the NGO sector is rolling in money, I can openly say that I am broke most of the time. :-)

Diary: Here, maybe an educative quote from Hugo if I remember well: “It is not all in all sufficient to be corrupt in order to prosper.”
Awakened dreamer: (You have to draw him with a very wicked smile) ‘Maybe it is only a superstition but I thought that it was sufficient to be a spirit in order to be discreet or subtle’ (a wicked smile could be enriched with prolonged canine teeth like those of a vampire; check the Italian ‘Aland Ford’ comics, some characters show them when they become very angry).
Diary: No hard feelings here, Hugo was not writing about you, it was about some character in Les Miserables
Awakened dreamer: Really? But it’s all okay then, how stupid I was to be offended (now with an even more wicked smile, with even longer canines).

Draughtsman: Let me share something with you: I would draw a typical Eastern European cultural entrepreneur as a Cinderella. Really working hard under pressure, picking up hardest jobs dictated to you by the vicious phantasy of the donors. You do work hard so you righteously earn all the sympathy and compassion. The only problem is that you equally as Cinderella wait for a sort of a beautiful prince to save you from your misfortune. In fact the main horizon of expectation is a personal social climbing in an utterly unjust society. Or I am getting something wrong?

Awakened dreamer: You are ironising and bashing, playing good and bad cop. Sorry, but I did many useful projects. Educative, inspiring, emancipating…

Storyteller: Sorry, but who is being addressed with all these projects? When you see how eagerly people fall prey to the propaganda tricks of merchants, politicians, and demagogues; when you are appalled by their bad taste and wrong choices; do you not think that the education system is calibrated to reproduce class relations conducive to the dictatorship of capital and its massive need for unskilled labour, for reserve army of labour in fact? And, frankly speaking, it is only educated people that you address in your project ideas.

Here we need illustrations of typical NGO projects with identity-based groups, ‘young leaders’, ‘training of trainers’, seemingly multi-cultural and cross-class projects. The voice is continuing: Or you formally introduce a victim from minority
From underclass
Consciously or not, mostly to gain a more or less hidden joy of a good-doer, and in every case to improve your public image… sorry…

Storyteller: But it didn’t work, ‘you were all deceeeeiived’ as they explained it in Lord of the Rings. Or rather, self-hypnotised. Do you dare to read the reports of your projects from 1997, 2001, 2005 etc. until 2008, when you started to change your tune? I ask why that is.

Awakened and outraged dreamer: Bullshit! You in fact want to say that we deliberately faked social and cultural activism in order to promote our class interest??

Diary: Wow, even I couldn’t sum it up better than that!

Storyteller: In fact, the vaguely articulated interest of the (culturally superior) middle class was presented as the public interest, interest of the whole society.

Outraged and already a bit broken dreamer: Your negativity kills, that is what it is best at.

Draughtsman: Okay, it is a bit provoking… a bit… You do think that you are better than ‘them’, more diligent, more beautiful. And you also tend to show that clearly, for example with your dress and behaviour. The first feature of petty-bourgeois individuals: think of themselves as being better than the others.

Broken dreamer: Yes, let us all wear the same clothes. Mao’s uniform would be the best.

Draughtsman: But you are also in uniform. Dress code is almost more telling of a person than their accent. I can tell a cultural manager from a mass of middle-class people coming out of the busiest metro station.

Unbroken dreamer: No, wait a moment. If I do dress like a hipster this is mostly to mock the dress code of the elite, so do not mispresent and manipulate with my life style. It is so easy to mock hipsters, they are also a sort of social outcasts, frequently very intelligent, sophisticated, educated but unemployed, not just a bunch of lazy bags.

Draughtsman: Hey, I am a visual artist, I know. Maybe you have a point in some odd reasoning but from my point of view, when you sport stylish second-hand suits, when you arrange your cafes and bookstores to:

Look like orphanages… (Here a typical hipster cafe in Berlin or Belgrade or Prishtina or Seoul, no matter where, they are all the same. Uniformity is obvious and obligatory.)
You do it to emphasise the contrast of your sublime personality, or rather, you bring yourself to the fore that way… (Here sophisticated people that stare at laptops in an orphanage ambience.)
And you know that cultural-consumer choice and taste are a matter of the socio-cultural environment in which one grows up and that no one can choose that for themselves. (Now some shabby café in the suburb or glossy café in the tourist zone.)

Storyteller: One that ignores that precondition frequently ends up a cultural racist.

Unbroken and up-risen dreamer: But this is a show trial… pure Stalinism!


It is the year 2012. Many fractions of the middle class are endangered and hopelessly redirected to precarious, unwanted jobs. The cultural sphere is now reflecting on this, even starts to question the capitalist system. Critique and alternatives do appear but there is no ambitious work, not even in arts and culture, on producing a substantially different world view that would focus the critique and make alternatives look realistic. The superficial idealisations of the West, of Europe, of bourgeois freedoms and ‘opportunities’ in capitalist society are fading. The policies of cultural foundations, with their contests and guidelines are barely scratching the surface of the problems, not daring to support digging up their roots and exploring their cores.

Now draw our hero as he sits and writes projects, with bulging eyes staring at the computer: ‘Just one more dead-line.
In a thought bubble: ‘I will write so that it fits the guidelines and then we will do what we like.
He speaks to himself as his own Superego. It could be presented as his own face, huge, with an accusing expression: ‘But don’t you—in doing this so meticulously—nurture that empty and even more dangerous, censorship-charged project language?
He answers gingerly: ‘But this makes it easier for EU bureaucrats to approve my project!
Superego: ‘Possibly, but it helps the process of further degradation of an already sterile language of the bureaucracy, which consequently begins to believe that it is only possible to use this atrophied language and its vacant, status-quo formulations… leaving in the end only opportunistic terms and phrases in the official discourse - dead ideas scenario!’
Now we see the folders with refused projects, a pile of papers and a cross over each one.
Here the project titles appear as yellow leafs floating in a huge paddle. The first one reads: ‘Measures to oppose the destruction of socialist monumental culture’; On the other: ‘Training in collective decision-making and trade union organisation in private companies’; On the third: ‘Health insurance and trade union protection for all migrant workers’; On the fourth: ‘Memory politics and policies of real socialism in the light of declarations of EU institutions’.

Storyteller: I especially liked this one: ‘Programmes of consciousness’. We wanted to question the concepts of remembrance and memorialisation of massive war crimes. But it appears that the foundation that was established to improve such concepts and related public knowledge is not interested in questioning its own concepts.

Unbroken dreamer: A typical complaint of a failed project writer. Everybody is against, him, his/her genius is unrecognised. which will bring the world to the end; a conspiracy against such a talent!

Diary: I can see you are back to your pre-2008 shape! But even then, an older friend, a former dedicated protester and dissident in socialism, timely advised you: ‘Let me tell you, these project applications work in the same way as censorship, only then you had the means to at least do something, so you might had been banned, while now you don’t even have the means to try.’

Here we see a party leader from some ‘communist’ country, boringly dressed, with a comic posture: ‘See what was funded in the totalitarian system… (Now all in cloudy frames, as a fairy-tale) books, films, plays…
Even some about the ‘violent, anti-civilising brutality and primitivism of the communist authorities’…
Yes, some films and books and plays were banned, some people were maltreated and imprisoned for it, but how many of them? Bearing in mind the anti-communist and bourgeois values that they promoted?
Communist party official, in a suit: ‘When you write projects, when you participate in discussions, you keep silent about what has been financed and approved, and you emphasise only what has been banned or punished.’
Showing some graph: ‘Why don’t you bring both sides of the problem to light and ask how many projects that portray capitalism and the EU in a bad light receive financial support from the capitalists and their agencies like the EU?
You are jumping from one topic to another, with the same old problems of capitalist societies branded in new terms: multiculturalism, private-public partnerships, intercultural dialogues…
Diary: Yup, and look what somebody wrote here: All those grandiose topics and guidelines display—after removing well wishes—underlying inherent racism, legitimisation of privatisation robbery and incitement to identity wars…,
Unbroken dreamer: Okay, okay, please do not give me a speech from the party congress. But… didn’t we vote for it? Didn’t we crush all those petrified regimes ourselves?
Party official: Regimes you righteously crushed! But why did you crush the far fairer and more human system?

Unbroken dreamer: We only wanted to be young, beautiful, and free!! What’s so wrong with a bit of a middle-class optimism??

Draughtsman: What is wrong is class society itself!

Unbroken dreamer: What if we really saved our nation from communism?! Or at least we believed so? We can freely say that we enriched the failed deteriorated factory venues and boring socialist houses of culture with new concept and content. We introduced new media tools, networking, new fashion styles and so much innovation on so many levels, including the ones of artistic expression.

Storyteller: Ok, I don’t say that you didn’t work hard and produced a number shows, performances, exhibitions. But for whom? Or, rather, for which sections of middle classes? In fact, that is totally legitimate.

Draughtsman: But what about working class in our country and internationally? What about workers being forced to go abroad, leaving their families to scratch for living? Confronting prejudice, contempt and discrimination for being too competitive in the labour market? What about girls being sold to macros and pornographers as sex workers and sex slaves? What about disaster in distant provinces, deprived of all infrastructure and resources that you are seemingly providing now with ‘better cultural policy’ projects?

Party official: Let me ask you something. Is the support that you receive through European funds an adequate compensation for the extraction of resources and profits from the periphery? Did you know that the budgets for the development of undeveloped countries are thousands of miles (and billions of euros) away from EC abstract programmes and deceiving rhetoric?

Superego (with disappointed face): ‘Even if you know all that, you still fantasise about well-meaning capitalists just waiting to support your cultural aspirations. How sad; I cannot even be angry about such miserable behaviour.
Diary: A quick flashback: The director of the Association of Independent and Alternative Artists complains to the audience of its independent magazine: ‘Banks should buy contemporary artwork to make their clients feel better on their premises.’ I wonder if after the collapse in 2008, they continued cultivating such hopes…
Diary continues: Here, you are asking for taxation of tycoons and enlightened capitalists in general to be reduced by investing in art enterprises, probably those of their kids, relatives, friends, and mistresses?
Diary: Here, a note after the lecture by an expert from Switzerland. He was a bit secretive, warning you at a cultural management workshop:Never let private money decide the existence of art and culture! Never!
Superego (with suspicious face): ‘Did you really intend to replace the seriousness and stability of public education and infrastructure for cultural production with your workshops, training of trainers, and summer camps?
Party official: ‘Why did you crush the system that invested much more in culture by comparison? Do you know that strangers cannot believe how well-projected and equipped cultural houses and centres from socialism are?’

Unbroken but again a little bit broken dreamer: Yes, yes, yes… I am guilty of everything.

Party official: And just to add, we did all that without relying on colonial plunder and crime.

Storyteller (ironically): Enough with communist propaganda, no matter how truthful it is. The thing is, we were happy with the rituals of imitation of the middle-class culture of the West, to have similar cafés, to listen to the same music, and to dress alike. Don’t get me wrong, I am ironising but I was also happy to do so. But try to understand this as if each of our bookstores-cafes was one village library less, each festival project was one cinema less in the suburbs, which in the end meant less and less people interested in your production.

Unbroken dreamer: What a constructing… like, the world would be saved, culture would flourish, workers would be kings, only if we didn’t commit all these crimes.

Storyteller: Ok, sorry for the pressure. Nothing is that simple, but this is the focus now. Please let me remind you how disappointed and offended you are by the low culture of suburbs and provinces, worried and often desperate because of the cultural level of the population and especially because of their political role models. But do you ever wonder why in the most developed economies in the richest societies of the world such a huge percentage of the population is prone to vulgare entertainment, kitsch, political demagoguery, even conspiracy theories?

Unbroken dreamer: What can I do? It is not my fault that there are millions of simpletons and there will always be a populist to mobilise and manipulate them.

Superego: And I was stupid to believe that all intelligences are equal, as Jacques Rancière explained in one small book that I read with you. Common, do you know what class struggle is? Do you participate in class struggle? Let’s face your .


Storyteller: You complain that there is no interest, that there is no audience for your work, and that there is no ‘middle class’. Well, but you keep saying that the communists destroyed the middle class and that it will re-emerge due to capitalist freedom of speech and entrepreneurship. And now what? Why do the average petty bourgeois suffer so much in these hard times? Is it maybe because they are not even needed in peripheral capitalist economies?

Draughtsman: Sorry, please do not move. I like your enlightened face, I want to draw you, as you fantasise, spurred on by expert advice on an idyllic private-public partnership that never comes.

Unbroken dreamer: But wait a minute! Was it not socialist economists, politicians, artists who promoted and supported ‘The Wind of Change’? Even party rulers insisted on opening up the economy, encouraging private initiative, partaking in international division of labour as they defined it. Now it is my turn to ask if you have read Agnes’ analyses!

Superego: I am becoming confused now…

(At some street demonstrations) Diary: Here are we at those glorious protests. Have we forgotten that it was us and our political role models and favourites who were in power while economic disaster was developing?
Hero answers: ‘But look what is written at placards: FREEDOM, FREE ELECTIONS, and WE ARE HUNGRY!!’ What can be wrong in that?
Party official: ‘You are lying about hunger. Hunger strikes yes, but hunger, no. In fact the overall standard was better than today.’
Party official: And employment was guaranteed too. It is now, while you show off in hi-tech equipped independent centres with the logos of your sponsors’ companies overshadowing works of art that your countries are becoming champions in low-paid seasonal work and sex trafficking.
Party official: ‘How is this related to the sophisticated discourse of your productions and sophisticated interiors of your venues?
Unbroken dreamer nervously asks: But who the hell are you?!!
Party official: ‘I am the officer who interrogated the theatre director from Hungary, mentioned above

Unbroken dreamer: But… didn’t you disappear once and forever? Aren’t you an extinct species?

Storyteller: They are but they still appear in bad dreams…

Unbroken dreamer from now on looks as if becoming more and more broken as the accusations sprout from all directions: ‘You organise workshops, for ten to fifteen people, on the injustices and problems inevitably caused and dictated by the capitalist system.
But you keep silent about that cause-and-effect relation. And then you call it ‘information’ and ‘education’. You fight the corruption but turn a blind eye to its main global source and base
In fact, you almost train your and others’ eyes not to see it…
(Here we need some good illustration related to the mentioned ‘eyes wide closed’ metaphor)
But your interventions are insufficient even for very urgent needs! You cannot ‘educate away’ problems caused by capitalism! (Here we see him as giving a lecture to some bad-looking young people.)
Think about it, are you just a colourful fig leaf on the brutal nakedness of injustice and deprivation? (We should avoid obvious illustration here, maybe just him while reorganising the letters N, G and O from the word ‘wrong’ to make NGO…)
Super ego: Here, I can accuse him here for corrupting the public by the fight against corruption!
Are you just a Hegelian beautiful soul? One that is not fighting for anything other than the survival of the global middle-class bubble, while the global working class are literally bleeding on the plantations, factory plants, migrant routes, construction sites, side roads and subspaces of the ‘developed world’.

More and more broken unbroken dreamer: Right… so, it was only me that was mindlessly pushing for joining the EU and the developed world?

Storyteller (ironically): But, in some way you have developed things for yourself and some of your classmates. Check out this scheme, which side are you on? Or, which level are you on, if it is easier for you? That is Kamendin, a suburb in Belgrade, one of the recent social housing projects that is slowly turning to a ghetto as will probably be the case with all social housing projects after the end of the socialist housing project. It was partly built with the help of EU, probably as a pull factor for asylum seekers.

Broken unbroken dreamer: Okay, I didn’t fight for the poor, the minorities, for the excluded, for the invisible. Or, rather, I did it for my own class prestige. Are you happy now? What else am I guilty of? Let me confess everything, or, even better: you confess it for me, it is more practical.

Draughtsman: When they say a thousand times that you lived in a totalitarian system, and you are not quite sure of it, did you take to reading something about it? What it is, is that it’s a scientifically quite problematic term coined in fact to disqualify all the achievements of socialism and equate communism with fascism, which is a true alchemic if not exorcist thought experiment. Have you ever tried to explain to yourself and not to others that kind of ‘misunderstanding‘?

Diary: And why do you think you haven’t read it, even though it’s a quite known topic and a quite known fact? How many times did you write in the application that your work is conceived as a confrontation/remedy/protest against the heritage of totalitarianism? Look, here, here… and here.

Storyteller: Have you heard that in most socialist societies people have been depoliticised en masse…? What does it mean to be depoliticised? Are you and how are you politicised?

Broken again dreamer: You are all crazy… All that actions, demonstrations, petitions, and protests that I initiated or took part in… No, you are really idiots.

Draughtsman: Okay, okay, actions, protests, claims you took part in, they were all mostly welcomed, but hey, this was not politics, that was strictly policy levels. You do not question the system, you just want to improve it somehow… magically…

Broken unbroken: Enough of this game, let me know the verdict so that I can report you to the police.

DREAM of broken unbroken dreamer

You draw him working at some old-fashioned drawing table for architects, and speaking to himself: ‘I have a difficult task, to put it simple: an engineering task; days and nights in a mission.
Now you draw him worried, as the doctor examines him and tells him: ‘You have palpitations, the cardiogram is strangely conflictual.
Now you draw a heart from which arms and legs protrude in all directions, fighting, pulling, biting, and stretching each other: ‘Yes, you petty bourgeois entrepreneur in culture. Your heart is a site of class struggle.
No? You are leftist and at a distance from the vulgarity of political life? Well, take a knife and try to peel an apple with the hand you don’t use a knife with and you will realise how hard that internal fight between left and right is in yourself… and often bloody as well.
(maybe some technical image of a hand cut by a peeling knife)
You’re bleeding all the time but sometimes you feel it as euphoria, or you call it depression, or explain it as workaholism or a burnout. (Here you could draw two merged faces on him, whose halves are terribly happy and terribly sad, terribly tense and terribly swollen.)
Draw him lying in a cradle, but as an adult: ‘It’s always nice to be helpless and cared about and pampered.
Draw him as being still led by a big hand, in spite being an adult: ‘Well done, you’ve already walked, very advanced, just stay so positive.
Draw him sitting in a school desk, also as an adult: ‘Yes, you look like being at a parent meeting, but no, it is you, you only gave birth to a new person, a transitional subject!

Storyteller: Unfortunately, this is not your dream, it is an introduction to one of Boris’ texts, which ‘reveals’ the belittling forms and formats of transitional philosophy: ‘The Cradle of Freedom’, the ‘First Steps of Democracy’, ‘School of Human Rights’.


Broken dreamer: I am broken. I promise that I’ll become something or somebody else…

Storyteller: Just a moment, finally, a question of today: Who is migrating/travelling through your country now? Weren’t these same people coming here to study just a few decades ago? What do your travels, your mobility grants, and open grants have to do with immobility, that is, roadblocks and the incarcerated lives of these people?

Diary: How about a glimpse to good old times of international friendship and brotherhood? How about summing up a transitional experience? Checking someone else’s diary…

Broken dreamer: I am not reading other people’s diaries like you do.

Diary: That’s okay but how about reading your own?

— End of notes —


First time published on RESHAPE website.

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