The Official World
Suspended Worlds: Men in Self-Curved Space
This chapter takes up the crisis of the work of art in the epoch of social systems from another side.. The crisis of the art work now has become a way of posing the problem of action and intention in autotropic (self-turned) systems. The art work now resembles a practical joke: a staging of reality that one for a moment takes as real and that collapses when exposed. The sudden collapse of the Berlin wall, triggered by a media confusion, serves as one example. The novels of Agatha Christie—the most popular writer in world history—provide another.
The staged and stagy microworlds of murder mysteries resemble bureaucratic comedies. These stand-alone and repeatable artworks make the world of modern office work appear in the world. It makes a world of repeatable motions plausible. Agatha Christie’s novel, Appointment with Death, is a virtual blueprint of the media union of modern society. In effect, systems theory through the shortcut of kitsch. The recent novels of Tom McCarthy-- particularly Remainder, a crime novel of sorts too—provide another live blueprint of art in the systems epoch, and outline what social and aesthetic forms of repetition and citation mean today. These fictional worlds are working models of the official world.