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[Nettime-nl] Still Living
SMART Project Space on 2 Nov 2000 12:47:44 -0000


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[Nettime-nl] Still Living


Still Living | November 11 - December 17
Work by Úna Henry, Javier Marchan, Claudia Schmacke, Karin Trenkel
Curated by Thomas Peutz
 
Opening Friday November 10, 21.00 hours.
 
We never anticipate evils before they actually arrive...So many funerals pass our doors, yet we never dwell on death. So many deaths are untimely, yet we make plans for our own infants (....); No promise has been given you for this night - no, I have suggested too long a respite - no promise has been given even for this hour.  (Seneca, De Consolatione ad Marciam, IX.1-2; X,4). With these words Seneca tried to console Marcia with the death of her son Metilius. The idea that a wise person should be able to walk away from all Fortune's gifts calmly, was Stoicism's most peculiar and extreme claim. According to Seneca a wise person can't lose anything, because he is self-sufficient and has everything invested in himself. Seneca's wisdom was however more than theoretical. Exiled to Corsica after having been falsely accused by Empress Messalina, he found himself abruptly stripped of all luxuries and wrote to his mother: Never did I trust Fortune, even when she seemed to be offering peace. All those blessings which she kindly bestowed on me - money, public office, influence - I relegated to a place from wich she could take them back without disturbing me. Between them and me, I have kept a wide gap, and so she has merely taken them, not torn them from me (Seneca, Consolation of Helvia, V,4). At the end of his life, when his friends learned that he had been sentenced to death by Nero, they blanched and began to weep, but the philosopher, in the account provided by Tacitus, remained undisturbed and strove to check their tears: Where had their philosophy gone, he asked, and that resolution against impending misfortunes which they had encouraged in each other over so many years? 'Surely nobody was unaware that Nero was cruel!' he added. 'After murdering his mother and brother, it only remained for him to kill his teacher and tutor' (Tacitus, Annals, XV, 62).
 
Life has been considered as a preparation for death from the times of Socrates. At the same time Epicurus has taught us that there is nothing dreadful in life for the man who has truly comprehended that there is nothing terrible in not living. Starting from there, one could even strive for happiness. Epicurus observed that of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live one's life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship. Such was his attachment to congenial company, that he recommended that one try never to eat alone: Before you eat or drink anything, consider carefully who you eat or drink with rather than what you eat or drink; for feeding without a friend is the life of a lion or a wolf (quoted in Seneca, Epistulae Morales XIX, 10). But how to deal with the death of a friend? The Romans would probably not say that he has died; rather that he had lived. Winter brings on cold weather; and we must shiver...And we cannot change this order of things...it is to this law that our souls must adjust themselves, this they should follow, this they should obey...That which you cannot reform, it is best to endure (Seneca, Epistulae Morales, CVII, 7-9);
Life goes on...and we are still living.
 
This exhibition is for Sara, Yessica and David.
 
SMART Project Space | www.smartprojectspace.net
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