Friday, June 02, 2006


I'll Cut off their Heads and Charge it to the Corporation was a departure for Sternime. It appeared as part of the Schwarzes Leben series created in the early nineties. Despite his advanced middle age, he successfully transferred his angry detachment to the medium of visual arts. Having enjoyed a medial success in the art circuit cinemas of Europe and North America, he had sunk into a protracted depression and produced little in the eighties, often characterized by him as "my personal dark ages".

He sprang to the fore once again with his Blackened Life outpouring that garnered as much confusion as praise. Those familiar with Sternime's work quickly realized that there was much consistency of purpose in his newly chosen medium with his cinematic works. Sternime had become somehow more youthful in this example of externalized anger at those "who peddle self-induced spiritual lobotomy". He seems to poke fun at the entire culture of crass capitalism that had begun to pervade the seemingly unconnected realm of the religion. It occurred to Sternime that there had been a blurring of the realms of Capitalism and spiritualism. Tony Robbins merely served as a personification and an embodiment of this newfound "Salvation for Sale" that merely seemed to carry on the ancient strategy of charging a fee for enlightenment. These new cultural developments however were much more likely to succeed according to Sternime simply because religion finally fully appreciated and exploited the realm of advertising and promotion. As is the case with the world of advertising, much is highlighted and much is left out of the message.

These self-help strategies espoused by Robbins et al refer to "the power within" that needs to be unleashed (intentionally mis-spelled as "unleased"). It implies that the secret to success simply lies in unbridling those powers that surge within us. Sternime referred to this new spirituality as "a turning on its head of two thousand years of Christianity". It lays religion topsy-turvey because instead of encouraging the repression of "the power within" it encourages an unleashing. What is reprehensible to Sternime is that this strategy ignores the true force of this unleashing. It disregards that true self-awareness must involve a full acceptance and recognition of all the "leashed powers within us" including the unpleasant ones such as the need for domination, sexual savagery, and presence of overwhelming anxiety.

Millions of years of savage existence cannot be repressed that easily, especially after unleashing the powers within. We cannot simply choose to retain some of these leashed powers while picking over those unpleasant powers within. Learning about and addressing what you really want will inevitably make you dirty. As he said in an oracular manner in a 1981 interview, "When we stand too close to the fire of our desires, we are blackened by the soot of the ember of our ancestors"

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