Dear Bret (KIRAC June 28, 2020)
I am Stefan Ruitenbeek (artist) and together with my partner Kate Sinha (archaeologist), we make films about paradigm shifts within our culture. These films are viewed by thousands of people on YouTube, despite the fact that we, for ideological reasons, have no access to all the major cultural institutions in Holland and Europe.
We often study the small environments in which cultural Trojan horses and decadence evolve, processes that you referred to as: ‘uninterestingly […] hiding away in some corner of your university where you don’t have to listen to them’*. – One finds these environments within the academic humanities, but also within the commercial art world and art museums, where they function as infection hubs for the rest of culture. This dynamic tends to be overlooked by the dark web discourse, and I think this hiatus could be a good reason for us to get in touch: we are specialized in this specific art world dynamic, and you, with your experience in- and talent for thinking about evolutionary processes, are extremely well equipped to fully grasp the meaning and relevance of the information on cultural evolution that we have to offer.
The artworld is a hyper-capitalist environment where wealthy individuals, ranging from (higher middle class) millionaires to (Davos level) billionaires, like to gamble over “the next big artist”. As these speculators need museums and other public institutions to validate the art, and as these institutions are drenched in critical theory on all possible levels (art-historians, curators, the people who become managers and directors, etc.), and as these rich people can, on a very basic level, go along with critical theory from a sort of default protestant-capitalist-charity mindset, and as they invest in these public institutions, the result is a huge and well-funded propaganda machine. In Holland, numerous major protest movements against colonialism and the patriarchy actually started out in contemporary art museums. The iconoclastic call for renaming streets and taking down statues, for example, started decades ago in Witte de With, a contemporary art institution in Rotterdam.
As a film platform, we approach the humanities and the art world as Petri dishes in which emerging cultural tactics are honed and experimented with, knowing that these seemingly marginal cultural pockets can produce far-reaching consequences for the rest of the world, as has become apparent with critical theory and black lives matter, which are the type of anti-scientific movements that now pose a very distinct threat to the specific scientific objectives of hard sciences such as evolutionary biology; the major distinction between hard sciences and art and philosophy being that hard sciences are driven by a clear scientific objective, whereas the realms of art and philosophy necessarily force their participants to fully accept the fact that nothing is at stake** (you could argue that great artists are GREAT charlatans). Since very few people are truly capable of accepting this, art and philosophy are vulnerable to the invasion of cultural priests and quacks: artists, curators and critical theorists who distinguish themselves by finding the next idiotic critical statement. It is therefore within this realm that the stubs of radical thought can freely develop into fully-fledged trojan horses, with their specific bizarre characteristics and strengths, unchecked by other objectives, before they spread out into the world. Like a virus improved in the lab.
Perhaps it’s important to mention that style is an essential part of the way in which we work. As I touched upon in the previous paragraph, the power and attraction of art resides in the fact that it doesn’t bear the burden of proof, moreover, subjecting art to scientific methods and objectives inherently weakens its potential, because the kind of truth-seeking that artists engage in functions on the level of perception and psychology; novel discoveries are always made by experimenting with subjective experience, and among the most valuable tools that an artist has at his disposal are mimesis, deception, lies, charm, beguilement and irrationality. Art is able to investigate the madness of dark, irrational human passions because it is able to mimic, infiltrate and manipulate on that level of human experience; the artist becomes part of the madness itself, rather than remaining an objective (scientific) observer whose power consists of being able to describe and predict. I believe this ability to happily descend into madness is a quality that we, as a platform, have to offer the dark web discourse. Cultural viruses such as BLM and #Metoo, but also far-right fascism, are extremely adept at caging the most gifted cultural critics in a loop of rational critique that of itself fails to match the attraction of the dark and irrational passions that these viruses continue to rise within society. Our aim is not just to criticize these viruses, but to capture their magnificent presence by mimicking them on the irrational level at which they operate, thus creating an insightful portrait of contemporary society, much in the same way that Dostoyevski did in his novel Demons.
What I realised when I watched your conversation with Dawkins***, is that science is no longer fighting a religion outside of itself in the form of the church. It is in this old standoff with religion that Dawkins was tempted to dismiss eusocial catholicism as a failure of Darwinian selection and to categorically dismiss the possibility that memes are phenotypes. Today, science is fighting autoimmune disease, a new ‘religion’ which nestles itself within science (the Trojan Horse ‘Critical Theory’), it is the old ethic of dividing the irrational and rational that is now (among other factors) causing DISC**** and stagnation and atrophy and decadence of the scientific institutes. Dawkins is an old warrior with old weapons. And on a whole, the boomer generation is using their old weapons to keep the innovative good guys with the new weapons out, weakening the system, making it decadent and corrupt, ready to be pillaged by Critical Theory.
To understand these processes, to understand what is happening to science, we actually need philosophy, psychology, history of science and art. The problem is that these faculties are deader than dead and that there is no point in trying to resurrect them: that is why we have developed our own artistic and philosophical methods, and that is why I am reaching out to you because I recognise a similar desire to explore new alleys for high quality scientific, artistic and philosophical discourse and exploration. I hope that I have been able to at least arouse your curiosity, enough to open up a conversation that I think could be a very interesting one.
All the best,
Stefan Ruitenbeek & Kate Sinha
** Kirac 8: The art of Stefan Simchowitz https://youtu.be/dK5zh8ZTKO0?t=1900
All of our films are up on www.kirac.nl, and are either subtitled in English or English spoken. This is a selection of 2 very different approaches, just so you get an idea:
In our most recent film, we tell the tale of a brilliant artist in search of an audience and money, frustrated with pc culture and seeking refuge in drugs, paranoia and decadence, who, in the course of the film, becomes entangled in the perverse ‘critical theory’ dynamics of a millionaire museum sponsor and the cultural-Marxist museum director.
‘King Philip and the Pied Flycatcher’ 66 minutes: https://youtu.be/boOr8hHCMYs
In our more essayistic film, ‘Indigenous Flags and Modernism’ Kate argues how modernist aesthetics and identity politics form an ideological bond, in this case, practised within the context of post-war German cultural hegemony within the European Union and big international cultural art events like the Documenta festival. (In the middle of the Greek debt crisis, Germany decided to host a cultural art festival in Athens.)
7 minutes https://youtu.be/HkL4MpGkXSg
June 28, 2020
On June 28, 3 days before our son was born, we sent this letter to Bret (but it’s also for Eric Weinstein, Nassim Taleb, Lex Fridman, RedScare, Jordan Peterson and Joe Rogan) in an attempt to reach out to the Americans. It’s a pity our discourses don’t mingle. This could be very synergetic. Meet Team-KIRAC!
June 28, 2020
#greatcharlatans #phenotypes #criticaltheory #iconoclast #evolution