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The Amateur

Writing about “alternatives” is not easy, if not sterile. First of all, this word—like any word of our dictionary that is dialogic in its premise “alternative to what?”—has lost its currency. Being “alternative” is like one of those coins or banknotes from countries now belonging to the European Union. They are good only for coin collectors, for show, which is why today, you see the mainstream using the word “alternative” as if it were the new slogan, the new commercial expression for a brand called STATUS QUO. I wont try to explain our current state here. At the same time, there is no doubt that the world we knew, the world made by big ideologies—the set of ideas followed by the masses—no longer exists. In the current situation that is more nebulous, porous, and parceled, made by units, a world where we all have our own personal ideology (which is therefore not an ideology anymore), it is difficult to find an alternative to what is unjust, or solutions for happiness. My personal remedy is rooted in amateurism: like Franz Kafka, who wrote his masterpieces in his spare time, and never left his job as an accountant at an insurance company, or Spinoza, who never left his job as a lens grinder, I try to balance my daily job with “hobbies” that require me to invest the same amount of energy; hobbies that are intellectual and constructive, rooted in a dream, and this dream is to connect the aforementioned units, trying to create a space where we can share, grow, and learn together.

My second source of salvation is fiction. Once we realize how language has become obsolete, once we acknowledge how far our reality has gone from the way we describe it, the only way to understanding reality is as representation. If reality is representation, then the real reality is fiction, a fiction we are invited to invent with our dreams, our rules, our values. Looking at what I have written, it seems that I am not moving forward. I am still talking about hobby versus job and fiction versus reality—the old fairy tales of dialogue. In fact, the radical difference, the “alternative” to this dead-end is to move continuously between these two poles. In other words, the answer is not static and it’s not a choice. The solutions lay within the space we trace between two opposites. I am on my way. Are you?


Marcel Janco

MARCEL JANCO is the co-founder of Sabot in Cluj-Napoca. His essays and interviews appeared in the Last Observer, Oracle News, IDEA art+society, Maayan, and Pylône.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2013

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