Constance A.

Dunn interviews Smetnjak
- Do you consider yourselves satirists, philosophers, writers or common folk? We are that we are. We're not saying that because we would want to be something special, it's just that we are able to think better through tendencies than through subjects. The civilization of curriculums vitae just makes us cry. LinkedIn is such a miserable place. We really try not to see any hierarchy between the roles/functions you mentioned. But judging from our local, Slovenian culture, satirists are horny old goats, satyrs, or party-sponsored jesters, pseudophilosophy spreads like a virus becoming the world brand, writers are this Sartrean characters that believe the world should stop revolving when they start talking – and, yes, they talk even when they write. Common folk is something very similar to an ordinary detergent from ads: a phantom in order to sell something concrete. At the same time, common folk is something that can turn a blind eye on gulag as long as there is some supposedly egalitarian peace and quiet. Identifying or non-identifying shouldn't be about nouns, it should be about verbs. Writers? Absolutely not. But we are interested in writing, in this imperfective, infinite form of doing it, we are trying to do it and we are kind of doing it, yes. Not being, becoming. Maybe it's not even writing. It's doing this montage that shows – and is somewhat sad at showing – there are more similarities than differences. Maybe we are a subject, after all. We are dialecticians that are seeing too many similarities and too little differences. Crooked, non-functioning dialecticians. Then again, it's in the eye of the beholder. So let's pluck that eye out. - What began the memes? First, something that goes beyond our will. The sheer reproduction, proliferation of memes which – at one point – started sucking on our energies. Second, this idea of a whole new language that we wanted to learn. The joy and pain of being illiterate and than gradually adopting this peculiar discourse – or being adopted by it. Third, meme as this pure randomness, haphazardness, authorless chaos. So thought should be as near to it as possible. It's this Deleuze&Guattari, Joycean blahblahblah we believe in: the composition of chaos, you know, chaosmos. Fourth, ethics. The shame of it, the pure shame of things. 15 minutes of fame, the eternity of shame. - You've taken people in power positions to task: political, cultural... well, everyone etc. Do you think all power should be questioned? Are you anti-authority on principle? Well, we call ourselves Smetnjak, we treat ourselves as trash, so that gives us the upper hand of thrashing, presumably. Anti-authoritah (to be read with a South Park accent) sounds very teenagey. For sure, there's some of that in us, in our doing of things. But as Foucault says, kind of: power is not something big and fat outside of us. It circles round and round and passes through us. Like memes. So the question would be: how to fight power beyond the Bartleby formula of „I would prefer not to“, this nothingness of the will and therefore nothingness of power. Not Good Will, but No Will Hunting. How to fight it beyond this evaporation, this fading away, basically? „To be or not to be“ is de facto „to will or not to will“. So „anti-authority on principle“ is an expression that sums it up brilliantly. There's a prince (princip) in principle. Who is a prince? He is a king-to-be, he's not king yet. So there's still some chance of a change, chance of something happening other than

reproduction of the same. As we know, Hamlet does not become a king, but he does not survive either. We love something Berdyaev has written: God is not an authority. We believe – at least in this sentence. - Is the target of your criticism the individual? Or hypocrisy in general? We would criticize individuals but we don't see that many of them. Then again, if we found them we would rather embrace than criticize them. Not collectivism, the imperative of individualism erases individuality, singularity. We also do not believe in hypocrisy since we do not believe in the discrepancy between words and deeds. You can always detect one's ways from one's way with words. - Will we ever read an essay of admiration by Smetnjak? There's this assumption in „they are just criticizing“ as if critical thought were something easy. It's not easy, pure and simple. We know our Deleuze, of course, and his insistence on „positive enterprise“, that more American-than-Americans part of him, this great naiveté from the time of Genesis. But we also know our Adorno – this European-as-Europeans-get – who – according to the respective scheme – was being negative most of the time. But let's not defend ourselves too much. Our hour-long interview with John Maus is our love letter, our heart on the sleeve. We don't know what he thinks about it, he remained silent about it, but we are still amazed, moved, shattered, fuck it, inspired – it's our inspirational video – every time we watch it. This thought, this fragile thought that has to stutter because it is so rare, so delicate. Thought is a wound. At the end of the day, and we are willfully using this horrid expression, the ethics of everyday life is everything that matters. No silly left-right structuralisms left, no excuses. It's only this smallest of stages that is of any value, forget stadium rock. The thing is, we are doing our criticizing in the name of things we admire and hold truest and dearest. The things that are hidden between the lines and have to stay there. The things that are supposed to be dead, but for us are more alive than anything or anyone else. - In general, I've found that Slovenians consider themselves the most „civilized“ of the Balkan people. In your opinion, is your method of questioning influential persons civilized? Are Slovenians „civilized“?
„There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of

barbarism,“ states Walter Benjamin's 7th thesis. There is no great civilization without great barbarism. So let's assert this: Slovenians are the least civilized and the least barbaric of the Balkan peoples – whatever is meant by Balkan and peoples. It's a double loss for us. Yet, there is some sleazy patriotism in proclaiming one's nation as the world champion of anything, even of blandness/mediocrity. So let's rather say we're second best. We don't know who took the first place and we don't care. We're certainly not competing in being civilized, well, evidently we're not competing in anything. And politeness, civility, goodmannerism is something very different from kindness, gentleness, mildness. When Kafka is describing the passing of knife from one executioner to another at the end of The Trial he speaks of „the repulsive courtesies“. Of course, we're not trying to be noble savages either. This opposition of civilized vs. savage is already happening within culture bringing the answer to Lichtenberg's dreaded aphorism: „The humanity will cease to exist when there are no savages left.“

- What are the metaphysics of trend? One can recognize an idiot by him saying: „I don't follow trends.“ It's the proof of his free will, you understand? Well, you don't follow them, homo sucker, so what?, they are following you. Trends are body snatchers and they don't ask you for permission. Basically, it's a jab at all those trendy-by-profession creatives or curators who love to mention, cite, parasite Kant or Hegel or Nietzsche in passing. What does not kill you, bores you to death. Metaphysics deals with the first things, and trends are, of course, always the very last thing. So you have an alpha and an omega in the same slogan. A slogan should always tell something about you, right? And ours says something about us and everything about everything. But seriously, we are worried about time, the time itself. It's not just that it is „out of joint“, it's much much worse. Something happened to the very tissue of time. There was always this consoling, haunting thought of „Only time will tell“. Not anymore. Time won't tell us anything. It's a fuckin mechanical dog now. - Is anonymity comfortable? Will we ever know you? Anonymity as a comfort zone? It sounds like a good idea and it certainly goes against the grain. Everyone wants to be famous and we want to be anonymous. But let us not get carried away, it's not like we're celebrities hiding our identity. We're nobodies posing as nobodies. Losers posing as outsiders. Yet, we're actually not anonymous, we have a name, it's Smetnjak. So what's the problem? Police says: „That's not enough, Smetnjak is not enough, you have to give us your real identity.“ By police we don't only mean the Police, but everyone that says or wonders: „Who's behind it, who's Smetnjak?“ Let's get you individualized, that is, dividualized. But we don't have to answer and we don't want to. We are not guilty and we are not in an interrogation room or the court. And we're not using a pseudonym, but a heteronym. So the answer would be: you can always get to know us, if you reach beyond the police parameters of identity. - Where does Smetnjak go from here? Being against everything is very comfortable, very profitable right now. The commodity of rebellion. So we're kind of embarrassed, aghast, obsolete. We don't want to profit from being negative. We do it only as long as it is damaging our so-called credentials. So is it time for being positive? For love and admiration? It's always time for that. However, that's intimate, non-sharable. The flower closes and there's nothing to see from outside. But inside: all things shining.

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