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3am Interview





ART AND POLITICS - AN INTERVIEW WITH PETER MLAKAR OF THE NSK



"Our discipline as NSK members is based on this Principle. To be submitted to something, which does not exist, as does not exist the Principle, of which I am talking now, and which does not have anything in common with this world."

Mr. Greg interviews Peter Mlakar

COPYRIGHT © 2002, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

For nearly two decades Neue Slowenische Kunst has been shaking up art and politics with their totalitarian aesthetic in Slovenia, greater Yugoslavia, and beyond into the EU and America. In addition to their most well-known facet, the band Laibach, NSK is made up of groups dedicated to painting, performance art, and philosophy.

Peter Mlakar heads up the Department of Pure and Applied Philosophy. Fiercely intellectual and friendly, he agreed to an interview about magic, art, and politics.

3AM: NSK, as I understand it, is focused upon absolute loyalty and discipline towards its own artistic vision and aesthetic. Just as soldiers swear their loyalty to their country, the members of NSK do so to each other and their vision. Is this accurate?

PM: If we focus on a soldier's determination to be absolutely loyal, to obey the orders unmercifully, to submit to the will of his commander to protect his country, no matter what happens to him, and when death is very possible, this leads us to the analysis of the soldier's soul, to the essence of his own being, not to the importance of his country. In his determination, the soldier sees that something very strong is at work. Something which transcends his own particular, concrete life, but in which his life has its meaning, namely something which manifests itself as some kind of necessity, in which he finds satisfaction, a final fulfilment of his life.

If we try to describe what this necessity is, this Law, which we must obey, we find that it is Nothingness itself, the very last station of every Sense, pure enjoyment in its very essence. It is nothing, which is connected with life and world, but this is what to life and world gives Sense. . . . So this in its description proves that last Station, last enjoyment, is absolutely transcendent. Therefore is so empty, without a cause. Only when this Principle is at work, the obedience for country is meaningful and has its power.

Our discipline as NSK members is based on this Principle. To be submitted to something, which does not exist, as does not exist the Principle, of which I am talking now, and which does not have anything in common with this world. Our obedience to NSK discipline has no cause, perhaps 'in the sense of earthly pleasures' because of fame, women and money.

3AM: Do you believe that the art of NSK can effect political change? How so?

PM: There are thoughts that NSK predicted the Balkan bloodbath, which left us in the position where we are now. Speaking of Slovenia, at the gates of EU and NATO. There are thoughts that we have contributed something to the consciousness of the totalitarity, which is eternal, which is a virus, a hidden totalitarity of totalitarian praxis. We have also constructed the virtual state of NSK, which has more citizens than the Vatican, and which brings to light a new paradigm: the state without territory but in time, the global state that proves there is no ordinary state anymore, the state that gives sub-physical foundations of state, and which with its aesthetic views and ethical extremity establish joyful perception of a cataclysmic model.

3AM: Is NSK attempting to change the world at large through their art and actions? Or is it more focused on the artistic and intellectual worlds?

PM: NSK is mostly a spiritual state. The state which changes and fixes things in heads. Maps and borders are primary concepts, which are a material force that moves borders, produces maps. One may say that this attitude has nothing in common with concrete life, with real geography. What a na´ve position. We are the cause, the consequences come. When we say that politics is the highest form of art, this politics, which is the most encompassing, comprehensive force in the whole social world, this politics is art that triggers senses by mental power, which changes images in our heads, gives meaning to life. If we paint images of lost paradise to entertain, what soul could be more secure? Therefore we see ourselves as politicians, and in terms of its global character, the NSK state is the Internet of political subjects.

Magic

3AM: NSK is rife with magical symbols. How are we to interpret those?

PM: As I have stated before, symbols are a language, are forms of perception, are tools, which we are connected to in order to communicate with this Nothing. If I say we are the Structure of sociobiological, historical, etc facts, the Structure of an unconscious, objective process, this is so right because we feel ourselves as the Thing of something Negative, not demonic which is submitted category, but of issue, which creates mystery. To say in a manner of Heidegger that our bottom is Being, the truth itself, or in Freud's that things are decided on the grounds of pleasure and pain, these limits are weak in comparison with the ecstatic nature of that Negative. We investigate the fact that symbols can kill for nothing. That essential things are made of Emptiness. This Emptiness is the finger of Transcendence, where our full enjoyment is taking place. A symbol is just a black tunnel through which incomprehensible human substance is developed. The symbol is a signal of how empty human nature is in and of itself. This is the highest magic. The knowledge of the total Nothingness of being human.

3AM: How do you respond to the argument that Magic is inherently evil versus those that believe that Magic is an enlightened path to self-awareness and social change?

PM: If we say with the words of Crowley, that magic is the highest, most absolute, and most divine knowledge of natural philosophy, which is based on the principle, that in nature one event follows another necessarily and invariably without the intervention of any spiritual or personal agency (let's say, without any transcendent intervention), that nature is a continuous phenomenon, that the things are connected, and that therefore magic is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will, so that the connection between nature and human will to cause changes in nature is the practical ability to set in right motion the necessary forces. Man, if he is doing his true will, has the inertia of the universe to assist him, he may thus subjugate the universe of which he is conscious to his individual will.

Does this hold? No. Bad is when we believe that this is the case, that in the final phase we are gods. That means that we can fully control nature by our will. Why is this bad? Because this conception is an illusion. If our will and nature are One, there is no problem having absolute impact on the outer world. So, Americans, you just have to want, and without the help of other instruments, and then you will get Osama Bin Laden. Or when you just say with the help of some magical words - 'Saddam Hussein is dead,' he is dead. As you know, this does not go. There is no magic to help you even in these two relatively simple examples. The real existing power to influence nature by will is technology and science, but only in a finite sense. Nature and its laws are 'materialization' of finiteness. The causation is nothing 'in itself,' it is the model of mind confronting the objective world. But the paradox is that even in this act of mind, this law cannot be changed by finite, human spirit itself. There is something in us that is more powerful than us. The problem of Transcendent Non-being, which is beyond nature and our ability to influence it, is that impotence, the Opposite side of our spirit, lies exactly in the basis of him. The Oneness of nature and our will is therefore possible only with the Non-existing Non-being of Transcendence. Only there the One is achieved.

3AM: Do you personally believe in magic?

PM: There is of course an impact on nature or the outer world by our will. There are of course changes in nature due to our decisions. The whole human praxis proves it. Tools are reason, emotions, instinct, desire for pleasure, love or hate. Changing objective reality with our will, which is accompanied by knowledge of natural laws, if we call this magic, this is OK. But if we base it upon, for example, some hidden words, on 'abracadabra,' which gives us absolute power over nature, and they denote the inner essence of nature's behaviour, this does not work smoothly. To say, do what you will fails in an absolute sense. Life, universe, experience, power of materiality show us this. I leave some room for the possibility that there are formulas, special words and objects, methods, oracles, curses, prayers that can move things outside me according to my will, but these are instruments which are given to us by the mercy of Unknown God. These methods are perhaps the 'simulacra' of something we do not know yet, but they have limited effects.

3AM: You write a great deal about God. How do you see God?

PM: God is God. The absolute of the absolute. Pure transcendence. Beyond Nothing and Being. Yes, even Nothing is after him. He is before it, but not in a sense of Being. Everything is inside, under or above Him. For Him we cannot say whether things are or are not. Once I wrote: 'Because infinitively more of this, that Earth is round, is God God.' Neither any fact of experience, nor any science can give us anything more truthful than this, that God is God. This is an extreme, radical term; more accurately, Non-term in Non-world with No-life and Non-logic.

3AM: Do you think a person can grow closer to God, or do God's Will, by practicing magic?

PM: No one reaches God just by practicing magick. Practicing magick is not enough. Or if I put this way: No magick can reach God, because God in ordinary meaning of Being or Non-being does not exist. If the magick is attached to love, chances are greater that he will let us come to his Closeness in his eternal Distance. If it is attached to evil and hate, the problem is ours, difficulties emerge, effects are poor, the goal is unreachable. Yes, all must be very, very evil that gets His attention.

Further asides on the NSK by Mr Greg

Frankly, there has been little to nothing published about NSK in the West's pop press other than shimmers of Laibach's militaristic mystique and one book pressed in the early 90s.

They also do films. One documentary of their work covered a zero-gravity performance piece done in a Russian plane that's used to train astronauts. No shit. Also, shortly after Russia's police ice really started to break -- early 90s, I think -- NSK travelled to Red Square and unveiled a giant black piece of fabric to form a black square within the giant Red Square, recreating the style oft used by Malevich.

Peter often provides cultural criticism on radio & TV in Slovenia. Several months ago he apparently suggested that Milosevic would be helped best if prostitutes (I believe with an S&M bent) were hired to ease his tension. Before Milosevic was finally knocked down his thugs would often attend events by NSK/ Laibach in order to act as a force of intimidation. It never worked. If facing down the secret police for art ain't ballsy, I don't know what is.




ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER

The mysterious Mr. Greg lives and works in the equally mysterious Humboldt County.





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