Monday 10 December 2012.
The Guardian reports: ‘Shoppers at Toronto’s Ikea store are surprised to see a monkey dressed in a smart sheepskin coat. The tiny, confused and seemingly lost pet monkey is believed to have escaped from a car in the Ikea car park and entered the store.’
The name’s Darwin. And he’s tiny, confused and seemingly lost. In a shop. Just like in “Lost in the Supermarket” by The Clash, a tale of depersonalisation of the world around us.
His gaze lost in space, he stands there.
In the following days, the Internet goes crazy, and Darwin goes viral.
Tuesday 18 December. Darwin makes it to the Guardian’s Top Fashion Icons list.
Memes all over the place, but not the usual meme, “OMG”, “Challenge accepted”, “Me gusta”, “Fuuuuuuu” and all that kind of brainless, funny-for-three-minutes, childish and intellectually vacant stuff.
No, we are talking big meanings, metaphors and symbolism here. A quasi-Cabalistic situation.
1. The Tyranny of Brands.
‘Public figures from the pope downward bombard us with injunctions to fight the culture of excessive greed and consummation – this disgusting spectacle of cheap moralization is an ideological operation, if there ever was one: the compulsion (to expand) inscribed into the system itself is translated into personal sin, into a private psychological propensity, or, as one of the theologians close to the pope put it:
“The present crisis is not crisis [sic] of capitalism but the crisis of morality.”
Let us recall the famous joke from Ernst Lubitch’s Ninotchka: the hero visits a cafeteria and orders coffee without cream; the waiter replies:
“Sorry, but we have run out of cream, we only have milk. Can I bring you coffee without milk?”’
Slavoj Žižek / The Problem Is Capitalism
Brands Own Us.
The brand swallows the consumer, takes possession of she/him, rebrands her/him, and sells her/him to other consumers.
Brands twist reality and adopt it to their own purposes.
A “tiny, confused and seemingly lost” expression can become a “I’m a complicated fashionisto, who thinks a lot but never forgets to travel in style” or “Confused? Me? Nah mate, I’m just high, young and f***ed up.”
3. The monkey as a metaphor, from Nietzsche to Stanley Kubrick.
‘Nietzsche’s camel was a beast of burden. Modern man in his most basic state. A social animal who blindly causes learns all that is taught. The camel’s basic feature is that it is reverent to religion and God. It allows itself to be ruled or lorded over. It carries the burden of imparted education, leaving no room to inquire or learn about “truths”.
Nietzsche’s camel was dedicated to learning the details of social tradition, but never in receiving real meaning. Nietzsche described the camel as a “factory worker”. Someone trained to dutifully fulfill a predetermined role.
In 2001, Kubrick’s apes take on the role of “camel”. They are stuck in their own primitive, rigid society. They go in circles. They do not progress. They treat the monolith, an object of seemingly divine power, with blind reverence.’
We go in circles. We do not progress. We treat the monolith (Ikea), an object of seemingly divine power, with blind reverence.
Metaphor 1 / The common man as a monkey – your flatmate/schoolmate poses as the monkey. He is the monkey. The monkey is us.
Tiny, confused and seemingly lost.
Metaphor 2 / The uncommon man as a monkey – Porn legend James Deen poses as the monkey. He is the monkey. He is the animal swallowed and exploited by the industry.
Although every man would like to be him, Deen is not happy. Au contraire, he feels tiny, confused and seemingly lost.
4. Darwin / Art
Leonardo / Remixed
One of the most symbolically complicated art work ever gets revisited: Darwin is now sitting in between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, which Leonardo dressed diametrically opposite, in a Yin Yang pattern.
She was an unmarried, wealthy woman who used to roam around with a band of unrelated men. The plot thickens.
Mary is the first person to talk to Jesus after his resurrection. Because of this and similar reasons, many feel that Mary was married to someone in the group – perhaps Jesus.
Is Darwin trying to prevent the dangerous affair?
Loneliness / Nighthawks
Edward Hopper on Nighthawks: “Unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.”
5. The Psychedelic Fur / Darwin in the Sky with Diamonds.
Pure Ikea-induced trip. Woah, man.
6. The Girl with the Monkey Tattoo.
Monkey business forever.
What do you think?