The Invention of Dissatisfaction

Okay, so I haven’t totally grappled with Urvater’s last post, you  know, just woke up with this notion, and thought I’d pass it on.

Let’s say: Twig Creature is an artist.  Invents painting on the wall, telling stories, shadows on the cave wall, or something.  In so doing, e creates the possibility of something other than reality.  Ideals; utopias; beauty; the future; and in so doing, invents falling short of ideals, distopias, ugliness, the unhappy present.  The invention of comparison — between our actual lives and one that exists in the form of smeared bug guts mixed with flower petals ground up to make a colour on a rock that looks like a really successful hunt.  The marvellous beasts we could have found and killed if we’d been more lucky or clever; the hunt we might have in the future; how life would be if we weren’t so hungry.  The imagination.  The chain of desire and suffering.  The old ones, the ones that lived before the invention of art, are like monks.  The new ones are entangled in a net of hope and disillusionment, because they, you see, made the mistake of allowing art to corrupt them, just like the audience has, by coming to the theatre.  So maybe: the invention of art.  The invention of illusion.  That kind of thing.

Maybe there’s something in that.

About Judd Trout

Judd Palmer is one of the Old Trouts.

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21 Responses to The Invention of Dissatisfaction

  1. Neandertaler says:

    Haha, funny!!!

    Though I don’t think anybody would be fooled. They would recognize something uncanny, some magic, some voodoo shit that doesn’t fit into ordinary reality. But I don’t think anybody would have confused paint-on-rock with buffalo jerky. But I do like the idea of the bullshitting involved in the life of an artist, and the life of a shaman, as a matter of fact. There’s dung and dung.

  2. cking76 says:

    without meaning to derail the discussion, i wonder about the initial impulse to scrawl those marks on the wall. which i suppose means that i wonder about the impulse behind that first distancing from reality.
    noble as the invention was (in terms of providing an escape hatch) and disastrous as it was (in terms of dissatisfaction) i wonder why he should have done it and, if you’ll forgive the fact that it probably gives more away about the worst demons of my own nature than is correct on a first post, i can’t help but think that it was to get away with something. the inciting incident was probably an attempt to escape the consequences of something he really should not have done in reality.

    to explain: i’ve always wondered what happens if, in an existence that is defined by need (to feed, to shelter,etc), you wake up one day and just can’t get out of bed and decide to sleep in? I’m going to presume this is very unacceptable behviour. what if our chap did something like this and in his worry over consequences made the great leap to inventing another story. the first excuse.
    maybe, trying to keep this first great lie straight, he scrawls beside him some pointers to make sure he can keep his story straight and all of a sudden look at the beautiful mess he’s created.

    • Terminator E says:

      he sleeps in, misses the hunt of the day. instead, he paints a buffalo on the wall. when the hunting party returns with their catch, he is like, “and I got this big buffalo here.” nobody has learned the difference between wall painting and real buffalo yet, so they are like, ” Oh. Yup. One Buffalo… you’ve met your hunting quota for the next three weeks.” and they go on tallying up the other animals they caught.

      over time a discussion over the meaning of “buffalo”. “is it buffalo if you cannot eat it?” “what if I just throw mammoth dung at the wall and call it “buffalo”, does that make it buffalo?” “buffalos are scarier…make it’s eyes look meaner” they tell the artist, et cetetera.

  3. Neandertaler says:

    I think Judd Trout’s post is at the heart of it all. We invented a way to distance ourselves from reality, to estrange ourselves, in a way no one else had ever done, neither monkey nor donkey nor fish nor fly. We invented a magical escape hatch: to be, or not to be. And that’s what made all the difference. And that’s what led us astray. Good tidings of comfort and joy!

  4. libidoless says:

    I now think of your zoo-person seeking his monkey,,,
    ,,, opening the cages and letting them free,,,
    ,,, it’s kinda like being in that stage of Life and in conversation with a friend departing in another direction,
    “.. so where do you think you’ll go?”
    “.. I dunno, you?”

    I suspect the carnivores (being in close proximity to eachother) knew their neighbours and knew where the live feed was,, all those Charloaise (<sp?), the bears would of bolted, the cougar too,,, now the Tigers, they would have gone for the elk or elans,, but eventually they would have wandered,,,, poor Doukabour village, never expected that, so quick they thought it was fable,,, this of course if we let them freeee and didn't tell anyone.

  5. libidoless says:

    That’s it,,, the field became very uneven with our tool making,,, we couldn’t be kept in check,, we bred and tooled and bred more and improvised and bred, until we were like rabbits,, our necessity for invention was to keep our overpopulating selves fed.

  6. libidoless says:

    i’ll probably spell the word wrong but the notion of anthropomorphisising our fellow “animals” maybe wrong,, as to say we attribute human qualities upon them,, I think we may have picked up nuances of their characteristics and incorporated them into who we are and how we behave. I would probably find a wild giraffe much more intimidating than Fred was, but considering their height, it stands to reason that they’re gentle; they’ve got to watch the world like a giant TV, with us included and they can run very fast. I should have noted that camels kill more zookeepers than any other “animal” in captivity, and they will only associate with people on their level but just a nitch below their arrogance,, if you come off as “Me superior human you dumb beast”, well nice knowing you, they will spit at you then herd you and stample you.
    Zookeepers love the “animals” in their care, zoo owners just see money (think Seaworld), I’ve many negative stories on that aspect of zoos but I’ll stick to the positives.

    It’s all relevant, Urv started this thought train by bringing up dog sledding;

    To get to the laundry room, you had to pass thru the nursery. Because I was covered in blood on a daily basis, I did a lot of laundry.
    Depression (ok that’s negative),, we know that all youngins need their moms and dads and in zoo world uncles, aunts, second cousins and so forth. While waiting for my wash and dry cycles to end, I’d pass my time, doing the rounds of creature comfort at the nursery, as cute as youngins are, they are equally depressed, you can smell it, feel it,, a baby camel would just lean into me and waul (not wail, think an octave lower),, another zookeeper couldn’t bare it, the sadness was overwhelming,,, the Mother of the baby camel was equally despondent. Bob, who was the Camel keeper was kept captive after the youngin was seperated from his Mom,,, they wouldn’t let him near the gate or near anywhere he could climb out, they trusted him and now This? Well Bob, Fuck You!!! let’s do a prisoner swap asshole. It really fucked Bob up, he loved them and now he’d betrayed them by doing “standard” quarantine. They kept him for almost 4 hours. Funny scary!

    Anyhoo,,,, if you really want to see clan structure, get a zoo job and watch Tigers,,, I wish there were more Giraffes so Fred wasn’t just waiting for me to finish my rounds and to play at bedtime.

    while I’m here,,,, we had two snow leopards (carnivores yay!!!) and the mechanism for feeding them (and entering the cage) broke, so their area was completely overgrown with the native grasses and high at that. Sometimes when I was feeding them thru an improvised portal, I was to be careful that they couldn’t get to my hands, which was tough because they were virtually invisible in the long grasses,,, remember those stupid pictures where you had to go crosseyed and out-focus to determine that you were looking at a UFO or a boat, well I had to do that to figure out where they were. On one occasion they were both just 4 feet from me while I was doing the crosseyed thing.

    I just now think, that we resent the “beasts” and our first conquest was saying “HaHAAA!, I can conquer you, HaaaHaaa!” because not that they had to rely on me for food but they never let up in any way that they are still the Masters, “I will eat you if you let me out,, nothing personal”.

    Fred the giraffe was on 3 acres (WoW, I miss him) and I had to enter his area and climb a ladder to give him carrots but I knew that he could kill me quickly, and he knew that I knew, so it was all good.

    Zoo stories end now.
    P.S (… and yes, we’d all talk about opening the cages and letting them all go free but that talk would inevitably end with people having a reason to hunt them down.)

    • Terminator E says:

      I think what we consider “human nature” may just be a pastiche of traits that we have copied from other animals since before the cavetimes , and it is they who are misanthropomorphtermating us.

  7. Judd Trout says:

    Jesus that makes me want to be a zoo-keeper. Did you ever see the movie Underground, by Emir Kusterica? Amazing movie. It begins with the German bombardment of Sarajevo or somewhere (not sure which city) in World War 2, which (as I remember) is shown entirely through the effect on the zoo — animals dying, escaping, panicking. Makes it ten times more awful than shots of houses and buildings and people being bombed would have been. One of the main characters is a kind of half-idiot zoo-keeper, who I think spends the rest of his days wandering Serbia looking for his monkey. Or maybe I imagined that. At any rate: a powerful scene, that might inspire something, since it seems to deal with some of the themes we’re talking about here. A gorilla hunting scene?
    I just started reading The Inheritors by William Golding… I think it’s about neanderthals (who are meant to represent ideal primitives — they seem to communicate through telepathy I think) who are wiped out by evil modern cro-magnons I think by the end. Like gorillas, you see.

    • Neandertaler says:

      I never thought of it as telepathy. For me they were communicating pictures. Everything not actually there right before your eyes is a “picture” — a dream remembered, a thought, a memory, an idea of how to solve a problem. How do you tell someone else what’s in your head? How do you show it?

  8. libidoless says:

    I was once a zookeeper, my charges were primarilly carnivores plus a giraffe named Fred, 100 Flamingos, a dwarf hippo and a family of Racoons,, I still grapple with refereing to them as animals,,,, Tigers were quite content being in the zoo as far as I could tell as were the other exotics,, but the bears and cougars brought in from being caught in poorly set traps had other ideas about being kept captive,, I lived at the zoo so I could hang out with the animals after closing time and (in particular the cougar), the Western Cougar is Huge and this feller was being kept temporarilly in a very small cage and was miserable,, he lost one front paw and was suffering a nasty infection (he didn’t like the dressing and there was no way in hell we were going to get a lampshade on his head). So every night after supper, I’d go and read to him whatever book I was reading at the time, and he’d stare “I could eat you if you let me out” kinda stare. About 3 weeks later, I was reading to him and he started to purr, and when big cats purr it’s loud, pipe organ air moving loud, and he fell asleep. Tigers can’t purr but they greet you with happy blowing-raspberry sounds, tigers also spank their young, do yoga/isometrics before bedtime and fast once a week, and I had to feed them first as their dinner had to be as fresh as possible,,, if they could play chess they’d win everytime, terrifyingly brilliant animals. Fred the giraffe was exceedingly polite and when I had to put him to bed, he’d play like a 15 foot tall Irish Setter puppy.
    They do stress but worry? I’m not sure.
    The camels would act almost slighted if you didn’t greet them in passing, wonderfully arrogant.
    A funny note; Louis Riels great grandson took care of the Buffalo.

  9. libidoless says:

    … neither here nor there but ,, petroglyphs “I was told” are no more than roadside signs similar to “Rest Stop”, “Services Ahead”, “Boat Launch”,,, placed along canoe routes and wandering paths,,, what can I expect ahead?, is it worthwhile continuing?,, petroglyph of eagles or bears or both or a village.

  10. libidoless says:

    You two just riggered me (Nea & Urv),,,
    what if it the set weren’t a cave at all but a constant travel, walk, it’s in travelling and walking that the greatest discussions occur. The set would require a very big treadmill like they have in airports or several or the act of walking could be acted with projections providing the illusion of travel through a very vast landscape (that could include very very quick instances/flash of future foibles,, czernobyl as a passing background, Dachau, the big dam in china ((forgot it’s name)), the walk to alcatraz by the Manhattan, etc)

  11. Urvater says:

    In War and Peace, the peasant, Platon Kataev, with whom the billionaire aristocrat Pierre Bezukhov ends up in prison, gives thanks before reclining for the night in the straw. Platon thanks many saints. One saint, Pierre has never heard of. Pierre says, “that saint, who is that?” Platon explains that that is the saint of farm animals. “We don’t get far in life without them, now, DO we?”

  12. Neandertaler says:

    Hey Urvater, you do me kind, I am honoured. You yourself are a ball of constant energy, a forever burning flash of inspiration! And yes, this play will be great.

    How come these dogs just go? Smiling and laughing and panting and pulling that crazy two-footer through mountains of snow? How come the two-footer himself sat himself down one day and decided he’d go a different route? Go play with fire, make some wheels, write some poetry, invent… a god! The world suddenly flipped, showed a shadowside, made itself scarce. We know where we came from, or do we? We know where we’re heading, on a sled pulled by dogs, and cows, and crows, and whales, and planes, up, and up, and down, deep down.

    My greetings, to you.

  13. Urvater says:

    This play is going to be so fucking good!

  14. Urvater says:

    You know, there really IS something in this idea of inventing — discovering — dissatisfaction. There could well have been a defining “moment” (a few thousand years, or hundreds of thousands) in which humankind started to carry around within enself stuff that made en worry. I don’t think animals worry. So, we discovered this tension. Stress. A sense of what is wrong. Imperfection. Injustice. The other side of right. A vast polarity. The void in which we struggle. And, yes, this IS the beginning of consciousness. Abstraction.
    I drove a dog team the other day. Only time in my life. Those sublimely beautiful creatures were running their hearts out for me, just totally happy. Not a judgement in the world. I was (sort of) in control, because I see all the sides of the thing. (How I “own” them, how they “serve” me.) Result: I have the power to blow my peers and myself to hell, and they, the dogs, don’t even think of that. They just pull the fucking sled and the guy as fast as they can go. Joy!
    Now, I’m thinking, the caveperson discussion group I’ve mentioned elsewhere: this could be a good subject for their discussion. How they’ve let dissatisfaction creep into their lives, and how this has opened up huge responsibilities. It means they have judgement. How very sad this is! It seems to immobilize them, when their ancestors just ACTED. What has happened? How did it go wrong? What does it mean?
    One suggests that maybe it’s progress. They argue about how in hell can you consider this PROGRESS, for fuck’s sake? What’s the good in it? They argue.
    Maybe the whole roundhouse discussion, of where the cavepeople see us going, just looks grimmer and grimmer the further it goes. The play ends with really depressed cave people, wishing it could either stay the way it was, or, go in some better direction. This is just not working out. This is not looking good. But, what can we do?

  15. Urvater says:

    Neandertaler’s writing: fuckin’ beautiful! Fuckin’ beautiful. I read it to a woman trying to get to sleep, and she’s inspired and can’t sleep. You know, this site is alive.

  16. Neandertaler says:

    I do think Touigtuigg is an artist. If anything, art is what defines us as human, isn’t it? Rats laugh, dolphins play, monkeys make tools. Not that this is so important as a distinction, since we are nothing more or less than a monkey that fell out of a tree and started messing with his environment. But imagination, the uncanny ability to call forth what is not there, not here, not now, is really the root of everything for us. It’s what makes us paint Sisteen Chapels, write Harry Potters, and ship dinosaur land oil to China.

    Touigtuigg must be sensitive; e must be odd. Painting a hand on a cave wall took hours, says the French expert in the beret I referred to earlier: you chews your charcoal, you spits it out, all around all of your fingers, until the negative image delineates itself distinctly on the cave wall. In Nepal, future shamans were selected (i.e. discovered) when children turned out to be overly sensitive: a four year old might start to shake uncontrollably, for instance, when a chicken’s neck was slit in preparation for dinner. So Touigtuigg might be one to talk to birds, or to know where twins go when they are banished, or eat inedible roots, or call animals by blowing on the bones of an ancestor. But whatever es power is, its also es curse. No tribesperson trusts en, even if they rely on en for difficult matters. E does the jobs no one else wants to do. E paints faces so that enemies flee and animals approach. E puts hands on a rock in a way that opens the rock to reveal a dreamtime, to connect with elsewhere, elsewhen.

    And yes, there is much danger in that. The grass greener than green, the ultimate kill, the glorious beast jumping forth from stone, the unknown flowers, the outlines of the dead revisited. Even if Touigtuigg may end up sacrificed for the sake of es peers, e invents humankind, is the ultimate ancestor, the first of es kind, mitochondrial Adam&Eve to a worldfull of poets and idiot savants.

    E is the one who pulls us all from the bone pile. Even as e falls into it.

  17. Urvater says:

    Maybe in my scenario, where they are sitting discussing cosmic issues, and one of them starts drawing on the cave wall, and when some of the guys ridicule the guy for making the marks, maybe this leads to exactly the discussion J. Trout outlines above, in The Invention of Dissatisfaction. Maybe the group contemplates this possibility, and therefore decides against art as a viable human activity. Something like that.