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Part One: A Minoan Temple

Through many of CIVIC VIRTUE’S antics lies a game of history, one which historians are not necessarily invited to. CIVIC VIRTUE refuses to appropriate the language of artists who defend themselves from, or try to align themselves with the discourse of history, art-history, or the circle of scholars who are its heirs. Such exclusion is the only reasonable recourse to the laughable contradiction which has evolved, wherein enlightened scholars come to realize, again and again, that our sight has been blurred and distorted by those in power during the formalization of history [see appendix 1]. CIVIC VIRTUE refuses to be on the defense towards those who have provided the narrow restrains from which we are allowed to view past events! No longer is it tainted by the willful smear by which aesthetic form has been aligned with dominant structures, those momentarily in power, or those who happen to have fallen out of favour of the next generation of political influence. Once this position of refusal (if not disdain) has been established, then a vista of opportunity opens up, and the sensation of vertigo ensues: ALL OF HISTORY IS OPEN FOR US AS NEVER BEFORE.

Given this new panorama of opportunity, why not frolic in the modernist device of awe, re-appropriating the tones of prudent homage to order and progress, while enjoying a fixation on the heroic possibilities of the singular individual, group, or concept in the face of impossible circumstances? The plane of historic revival is thus a playground by which meaning may be teased from the mouth of past eras, when the future collides with the present, on the crossroads where asphalt, plumbing and cat-litter are to become ebullient building blocks of the game. This is the playground on which CIVIC VIRTUE has asked the Minoans to come out and play. Perhaps it is a Minoan which now lurks in the corners, like the pale spirit of a small boy in a Victorian ghost story. No matter, the playful at heart find elation in the dark undertones of the Gothic tale, when repressed memories are dug from the ground.

So why not address these questions of history, in the form of a séance, so as to return the voice to the subject, without interpretative intermediaries? A group assembles around a table and they seek contact with a bygone spirit. They ask it questions, so that the spirit may speak of itself as the passage of time, to those who care to listen to disembodied voices. As the forecast, the oracle, and other acts of divination provide a way for form to speak without intermediaries; so it is that divination is always right, though the interpretation may be wrong. As the element of chance is only the free will of form, it stands beyond reason. The question remains as to whether the promise of this game will be awarded with success. Do attempts to channel an imperceptible frequency open themselves to failure? Why does CIVIC VIRTUE allow the spectator to be subjected to the enormous gamble of an idea, which is neither fixed nor saveable by cynical irony? (Or, more importantly, not FORSEEABLE?) It is because (essentially) CIVIC VIRTUE believes in the alchemy of the aesthetic act – the transformative power of shape, just as shapes have had the power to transform the course of history. What else is propaganda other than the shape of thought which has made its way into the world?

CIVIC VIRTUE was therefore happy to collaborate with WaterNet for this enterprise of interpreting the rise and fall of Minoan civilization. Nothing after all, is more honorable than public service. And indeed, it is the plumbing of each age that remains for the archaeologists to explore when an a golden age has passed and ruins have formed. We should not sneeze at the internal biology of a society as something beneath [sic] us. These are the networks and the vessels, the collective circuitry through which a society as whole dines and digests. What better way to celebrate the life affirming essence of humanity, than through the contemplation of harmonious societies, wherein plumbing is the most apt metaphor for a successful body of action?

Part Two: The Movie

The Epic Movie has been eons in the making. It morphs and changes with the discovery of each ancient artifact, just as an archaeologist’s theory changes through such discoveries. This version of the epic movie starts with a Genesis, as it introduces primordial elements, it moves through history, and ends with a great finale in which Virtue is reclaimed by the universe. As bewildered tourists, our protagonists sally forth to find themselves in the decayed ruins of their reprieve.

The dreams of the prophets are open to us through the new age of technology. The psychological effects of controlling the flow of the universe, the rewind and pause buttons, were metaphysical rifts in the continuum; they may explain the level of shock from which it took a generation to fully recover. In the meantime, the awe of pressing “pause” and “play” in alternate sequence, resulted in two decades of a “no-history” myth. But why not address technology with the same wonder as may be originally be ascribed to it?

Video is the language of the 21st century and cinema is a way to push the language into formalization. Similar to the rigidity by which a statue from the Romanesque period is portrayed as to be legible to its contemporaries. Perhaps the Epic Movie of CIVIC VIRTUE is the TV of the medieval age, filled with postures and symbology, that speak of a natural symmetry between the stars and a life lead beneath them. It too is full of scripture, and the grandiose novelty of how things that are near, can so easily be adapted to express the totality of all the things that are far. And so it is, that the characters of CIVIC VIRTUE take on metaphysical properties of reality, with vices and virtues, as a useful impersonation of the elements, or updated version of the platonic solids. These mise-en-scènes are a process of free-association, by which the meaning of each gesture acquires autonomy. Through the help of humans as vessels, the past may speak for it self, and for us.

Appendix 1: The Game of Revision

Traditionally, the reflex to such a realization has been to confront and denounce such manoeuvres in academic circles. Yet the audience, the general population towards which the newly enlightened scholar seeks to address, will scorn the new prophet, and for good reason. This is because they have not shed themselves of the very same language, and of the same sense of logic by which the old narrative has found its validation. The general public, not having been indoctrinated into the details of justification, can make no distinction between the old guard and the new guard. This is justified their equal distrust of both.

More noxiously, the era of revision has been aligned with the idea of re-interpretation (the insult lives in the idea that a lie could never be called interpretation, and yes, it implies that post-modern rhetoric is a brand of new-speak). The idea of a re-interpretation, rather than a wholehearted revision, alarms people to the fact that the supposedly enlightened view is merely a new version of the same old lie. The scholars have apparently learned nothing about the nature of their own slavish adherence to the logic of the argument; the argument which is aligned with power, just as God has necessarily been aligned with whoever happened to be victorious at the time.

It is pointless to address such institutions in the spirit of correcting them. They know they are wrong. The purpose of such institutions is to convince you that your position is mere opinion, and opinion which is metaphysical in nature. The necessary response to this realization, once had, is to stop using this same language, the same logic, and to stop addressing these same institutions from the position of subservience; and to realize furthermore that we are under no obligation to defend ourselves from the institutions that have already served the lie for so many centuries.

CIVIC VIRTUE proposes an end to the Stockholm Syndrome of institutionalized history, i.e. the syndrome of treating the perpetrators as if they had a desire for self-betterment, if only they were to hear to truth laid out, first and foremost, in their own language. How could this ever work? The Institution is at home with this language, and you are an immigrant. Once the argument has been laid forth, the co-option begins, until meaning has been adjusted to the institution’s totality. The words are still there, but miraculously, when the institution recovers, the arguments now mean the exact opposite.