Manifest-Manifestation of the Procrustean Bed
of the Sots-Geo
Movement in Art)
The worst form of inequality is to make unequal things equal
At the nothing was yet known for certain about communists, socialists, or so-called levelers in general. Nevertheless, leveling existed and on very vast scale. There were levelers of “dancing attendance,” levelers of “knuckling under,” levelers of “the rod of iron,”and so on and so forth. But no one saw anything in this to threaten society or undermine its foundations. If a man was deprived of life for the sake of making him equal to his peers, then although this might result in no special happiness for him personally, it seems useful and even essential for the social harmony. The levelers themselves by no means suspected that they were levelers, but called themselves good and kindly guardians of social order, to the extent that they regarded themselves as tending to the happiness of those subordinate to or dependent on them….
“The History of a Town”
All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
Procrustes, the great robber-hero of ancient Greek mythology, engineered one of the most significant social revolutions by equalizing his victims before robbing them.
By placing his victim onto an iron bed of certain dimensions (now known as The Procrustean Bed), and either cutting him down or stretching him out to fit, Procrustes set in motion a hitherto unprecedented process by which an elementary particle called the Socium was created. Such standardization of the particle was doubtless necessary if the victim was to be utilized as such, and it also made him understand that he was predestined to be utilized by an absolute equivalence established according to a single criterion.
Procrustes’ endeavor is also a stunning performance that demonstrates the theatrical and artistic possibilities– and, at the same time, the value– of the social process.
The Procrustean Bed, already a symbol of utter irreconcilability, could and should become a sociological symbol as well. It could form the basis of an ideal social order where the greatest idea of equality for which mankind has striven over the course of its entire history is embodied.
That is to say, the Procrustean Bed came into the world as an engine of social equality.
If we peruse the labyrinthian course of history, we see that the greatest minds of humanity have always focused on the idea of strict form, and especially on the idea of the machine, as the ideal blueprint for the construction of the world.
Aristotle here comes to mind: he sought the cause of things and found an “architecton,” a master-builder. We recall Calvin’s Predestination and Puritanism, Descartes’ “mechanical philosophy,” and, of course, Newton’s Laws, by which he proved that the world is a machine. In accepting Newton’s gravitation as a basic property of the world-machine, “mechanical philosophy” asserted as its fundamental postulate the idea that everything in the world, both animate and inanimate, is a machine. This is how “mechanicism” appropriated the idea of “path” through its doctrine of “method” with persuasive and justified ease (to use Jacques Derrida’s terminology).
The reality of our history has affirmed the veracity of Newton’s Great Laws. That they have survived three hundred years is proof of their truth. The irrefutable action of these laws in both social and artistic structures convinces us of the strength, truth, and invincibility of the laws. This is the truest TRUTH. All that does not correspond to this TRUTH is UNTRUTH that cannot live and cannot exist.
That is why the objective of the Sots-Geo Movement, whose formative basis is the Procrustean Bed, is to affirm and artistically interpret this TRUTH, whose geography is infinite and whose GEOLOGY is strictly tectonic. The laws of physics, mathematics, and GEOMETRY confirm it. Its SOCIOLOGY is plain and simple: it is constructed with precision SOCIALLY. And its receptivity to the ideas of SOCIALISM is indisputable.
A given object, action, fantasies, or thought must, and cannot help but correspond to this TRUTH. All moral, ethical, and aesthetic principles must conform to this TRUTH and submit unconditionally to its rules and laws.
That is, everything must have specific dimensions and be definite and equivalent in form, or, to be more precise: everything must have a uniform. This applies to regimentation of consciousness and action as well. Therefore, everything must be measured, since everything that remains unmeasured will fail to conform to the definite rules and laws of TRUTH and will have to be discarded and destroyed.
“And he causeth all…to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name…count the number of the beast…six hundred threescore and six.”
The Bible, Revelation
Notable Examples Which May Form the Basis for the
Construction of TRUTH and the Ideal Social Structure, i.e.
- The establishment of armies is a distinct organization of interaction between social units and of uniform clothing.
- Strict and regulated prison regimen. Uniform clothing.
- The precise formulation of rules in games and the uniform clothes of sports teams.
- Orthodox religious groups and movements with strict laws and mandatory adherence to them, as well as the regimentation of consciousness and clothing.
Imperfect, albeit Superb Examples:
- Mandatory business suits at well-run firms and companies.
- A definite style of dress in the various social strata: businessmen, students, hippies, punks, etc.
- An excellent example and fact in the process of social organization of the social unit is fashion, as well as its dictates and the desire to conform to it.
- Here one might also cite the growth and spread of a specific taste, the consciousness of specific aesthetic values, and their standardization through mass-cultural endeavors such as parades, demonstrations, carnivals, shows television, cinema, advertising, etc.
- The “passportization” and designation of every individual, of every Socium, with a social security number are unconditionally welcome.
“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
The Bible, St. Mathew 10:30
A Genuine Triumph of the Image of the Procrustean Bed and Symbol of Civilization, Revolution, and Progress is the Computer
The Great Robber Procrustes’ dream of standardizing his victim is being realized in the modern age. We are witnesses to a truly bold and revolutionary process: the construction of the equal social unit.
Once input into the severe computer information net (grid) for measurement of its physical data and activity in the social structure, the unit is transformed into an object conveniently utilized by the structure, and it becomes a mere cog or commodity within the structure.
The incessant eye of the computer is one of the more notable and fundamental realizations of ingenious Procrustes’ ideas, for the social unit senses its own equivalence, equal rights, and free recognition of necessity while under constant control.
Humanity’s dream of freedom and equality is becoming a reality. In other words, a Great Thought has determined that the social element must freely and equally be included in the computer’s system of information measurement.
The social element is presented with a choice: “To be or not to be?!” For only on entrance into the system of computer measurement does the element acquire the right to be an equal member or equivalent particle in the society.
Conversely, the social element that isolates itself, or is not accepted into the system of measurement for some reason, or is excluded from it, becomes an exile and is destroyed.
We therefore consider the system of computer measurement to be one of the most perfect phenomena in the creation of the ideal society of the future and in the realization of the ideas of the genius Procrustes.
Any artistic endeavor is part of the social process, both in the organization of the social unit and in the imparting to the endeavor of the requisite qualities of a commodity. The ideal form of the Procrustean Bed is the standard of measurement: it should be the dominant image in any artistic endeavor or activity, even though this image can be interpreted in different ways, depending on the various objectives pursued in expressing the social necessity of the moment.
The ideal demands ideal form. Therefore, it is necessary to utilize both classical forms and the ideally geometrical forms of Suprematism and Constructivism such as the square, circle, triangle, ellipse, cube, sphere, pyramid, etc.
It is indisputable that all artistic discoveries of the past and present must be utilized (including Socialist Realism as a forerunner of Post-Modernism). Moreover, it is necessary to make use of a system of measurements, which demonstrate the strict laws of the social structure in diverse variants, including the commodity application of the social element.
The thematic structure of the artistic endeavor must conform to the fundamental idea and reflect potential variants in the pathways of creation of the social structure within the ideal.
On the basis of the aforementioned, we consider it necessary to create an image of the Procrustean Bed.
The best place for these performance-demonstrations is Red Square in Moscow.
The main reason for choosing this location has to do with the ideological symbolism of the realized ideas of socialism. In English the term “Red Square” connotes also a red square, which is an ideal geometric form used in Suprematism.
The color red is also the color of the Russian Socialist Revolution and the Soviet flag.
Red radiates the greatest color energy; it is a life-affirming color. It is also meaningful as a color, for it is the color of blood and, moreover, the root of the Russian word for red (krasivy) is “krasny,” the word for “beautiful.” There are, for example, the expressions “fair maiden” (krasna devitsa), “smooth-talker” (krasnobai), and “eloquent” (krasnorechivy).
This color is used to advantage in mass culture and advertising throughout the world.
It is no accident that Red Square in Moscow is usually chosen as the site for organized demonstrations, performances, and political-artistic events on Soviet holidays.
This square is also associated with ideas of the social organization and its monuments of the past.
The so-called “lobnoye mesto,” or place of execution, is found here, where the Tsar’s writs of execution were proclaimed against criminals who had attempted to violate the laws of the Russian Empire.
The executions took place near this spot and remind one of Procrustes’ principle, since they took the form of quartering, that is, the gradual dismemberment of the extremities and the head.
A monument of the present day is located here too: Lenin’s Tomb. He was the founder of a socio-governmental system based on an idea of equality and justice, with freedom understood as recognized necessity (in the words of Engels, one of the founders of Marxism).
Hence recognizing the necessity of conforming to the laws and rules is the greatest manifestation of freedom. By linking this idea with the postulate that all are equal before the law, the socio-governmental machine realizes the dream of mankind on the path to equality.
Thus it follows naturally and necessarily for Red Square in Moscow to be the site of performance-demonstrations devoted to the ideas of equality and freedom, and embodied, ideally, in the image of the Procrustean Bed.
We consider the establishment of an active monument to the Procrustean Bed on Red Square to be the ultimate performance-demonstration. In our view, moreover, the best location for the monument would be the place of execution, since it expresses a connection between ages and ideas.
These performance-demonstrations should take place every Sunday. Nations, groups, or religious organizations that celebrate Friday or Saturday as a day of rest, however, may hold these performance-demonstrations on those days. In other words, the demonstrations should constitute a culmination in the labor process of the social element, whereby he demonstrates his freedom to be an equal particle within the mass on the day of holy rest.
Inasmuch as the ideal social structure has become a reality in our day throughout the world and for all of humanity, the Sots-Geo Movement, in conforming to these ideals without exception, is in a position to realize and set up the artistic processes that answer the tastes and nagging questions of the present day.
Only the Sots-Geo movement can artistically direct the ideas of the ideal future.
The Sots-Geo Movement is the Movement of today and tomorrow. And there is no end to the Movement, because it is the Movement of Truth.
This Movement calls on all the peoples of the earth to support artistic endeavors, performance-demonstrations, and exhibits throughout the world– in the greater cities and museums– and invites the assistance of all the artistic geniuses of our planet.
And this is only natural, since the Sots-Geo Movement is a movement unique in the contemporary world in its recognition of the ideal path to happiness as the path toward equality of all the elements of the social order.
In short, the Sots-Geo Movement plans to build cities like Campanelli’s Sun City, as well as factories for the mass-production of the Procrustean Bed, both for its designated use and for demonstrations, shows, theatrical performances, and advertising.
Since the Procrustean Bed is a contemporary image of the social order and the artistic symbol of the Sots-Geo Movement, we hereby offer the Procrustean Bed project.
New York, 1987-1988.