Happy little Accidents

These kind of Observations capture our daily behaviour in a way that rensesbilizes us for close looking, reading, and hearing of potentially everything which usually goes unnoticed. These works accept normality in it’s accidental nature in an anticlimactic way that makes you want to laugh and cry at once—leaving you as viewer, freed from both convictions, the absence and presence of Action. In his Essay “In Defense of the Accidental” (1984), German philosopher Odo Marquard argues that it would be pretty good for us to accept the accidental, because it would benefit man's freedom by doing so. Sounds good right? But apparently this seems to stand against almost the entire philosophical tradition. "Philosophical reflection has no other object than to get rid of what is accidental." Marquard argues, getting rid of the accidental would mean getting rid of humanity itself. Of course we do not want that and therefore he makes a stand for the accidental. A tool for living with the accidental is thorough observation, in Marquards case thorough Observation of what he calls “usual practice”, but more about this later.

The idea of getting rid of the accidental is what Marquard describes as “the program of making Man absolute”. In this Idea man „is or should be, exclusively the outcome of his intentions. He is then the acting creature, to whom nothing happens any longer. Nothing human is allowed to be unintended; nothing human is allowed to happen without having been chosen. Nothing is allowed to befall man any long. For only then is it the case that human beings are not their accidents but only and completely their choice.“ It's things like not accepting that you have to eat food, that you are tired or that there are absolutely to many combinations in the ABC to make them all—missing out is predestined. Because the deal is, that we humans are not absolute. We are trying to be, but it didn’t work out yet. Simply because we are alive. That is already an accident. And once this is over we are dead. Suicide is of course an option to become absolute, but than you miss out too.

So what stands against the program of making man absolute is our daily life. Our daily life is an ensemble of usual practices. The program of making man absolute negates the usual practices. It constantly questions everything in an unhealthy way. Can’t I eat the same shit everyday? That would be so much faster and easier. (more/better example?) But in fact usual practices are unavoidable. We cannot live without traditions, mores or usages in knowledge and in action.

What is to come requires what we come from; choice requires usual practices.

That doesn’t mean you are not allowed to change shit or critique people who act in protection of some old tradition. In fact it is quite useful to remember that „opposition came above all from groups with intact traditions“. Critique is, the conflict between your usual practices and the ones of your parents. To be able to change the rules of your parents, you first need to convince them why that would be for the greater good for all of you and not only for you. Eat your veggies if you can’t prove why that would be bad.

So that’s why it's quite important to defend the things we usually do from the jaundiced view that is produced by the perfectionistic demands of making everything an absolute choice. Marquard argues, that precisely because our today's world is so manifold and complex and because we apparently have issues with eating our veggies. We need to make some thorough observations in order to differentiate between what is simply bad, and our existing reality“. And the reality is your fresh veggies are healthy. Your parents didn’t came up with it, they just accepted this fact.

We human beings are always more our accidents than our accomplishments.

And for Odo there are two kinds of accidentalness. Oh boy, its getting more complicated. There is the arbitrary accidental—the kind of accidental which could also be different and changeable. And there is the fatefully accidental—the kind of accidental which could also be different but can’t be changed by us or only slightly.

If you think absolute, everything that you usually do becomes an accident. But luckily we can differentiate. The arbitrary accidental is not something we can actually use for our orientations in life, in stuff like action, knowledge, and living. If you call yourself vegan today and carnivore tomorrow you are a hypocrite. If you believe in buddhism today and protest with pegida tomorrow you are an idiot. (needs better examples) So do not continually exchange one orientation for another, you will end up lost again. That’s not very Normcore. Neither it is mastering slippness.

Luckily the fatefully accidental seems to be the dominant in our life. It happened to be that we are born, we live in cultures with established traditions, we have to obey the laws of nature and so far we were not able to change the past or become immortal. Our life is composed out of a mixture of our actions and what just happens to us. I bet Allen Saunders would agree.

Our usual practices are certainly always more our accidents than our choice, but they are not arbitrarily accidental, but fatefully accidental.

So how can we design our lifes and live our designs with the accidental? Marquard says: “A way to deal with the arbitrary accidental is certainly art (and design too)—the use of form to reduce arbitrariness.” We make the rules. “A way to deal with the fatefully accidental is religion—the transformation of extreme situations into routines.” God makes the rules. Boris Groys says that Design replaced Religion so let's forget about Religion for now.

When we make the rules in order to escape arbitrariness in art and design it is useful to remember that these rules stem from observations of usual practices. The rules you set are an attempt to transform them into something which will become hopefully, fatefully— accidental.