Future Dog in Cave with Artist

Written by
Karly Mortimer



An artist and a dog are hiding in a cave.

SUPERIMPOSE: Future Dog in Cave with Artist

PETER, the artist, sits with this back to the fire and cave entrance, watching the shadows on the wall. The dog, who Peter calls LUCKY, sits by the fire.

Peter has been pondering the value of his paintings and role as an artist through the night.

PETER

A shadow, a pure translation of form.

Jung

Ah, the Shadow archetype. This is an important moment in Peter’s process.


Socrates

Nope this is an obvious reference to my Allegory of the Cave. Get your own story, Carl.


Jung

Oh and get Plato to write it for me?


Socrates

That’s a low blow.


LUCKY

(licks paw)


PETER

The wall is like one of my canvases. Behold the truth of the world, Lucky.

Socrates

Shadows, truths, this seems like my territory. Plus I wrote about shadows about 2300 years before you Carl.


LUCKY

(glances at Peter, continues licking himself)


PETER

This week has been out of this world; it’s like a dream. As an artist, I apprentice myself to the language that structures the dream. I wonder if this will give you nightmares, Lucky, or maybe you don’t dream at all.

Freud

Freud here!


LUCKY

(snorts)


PETER

The unconscious is structured as language is structured. Articulation and rigour lead to the achievement of the artist: an expression of the chaos of the unconscious.

Lacan

I said that. I said the first part of that; he got the second part wrong. What was it I said about achievement?


LUCKY

It’s clarity.

(gets up and moves closer to the cave entrance, casting a large shadow on the wall.)


PETER

(startled)

What is it? Is someone out there?

LUCKY

(lies down further away from Peter, continues to groom himself.)


PETER

Your shadow looks like a wolf, but it is Man I am afraid of. You’re just a scrappy dog. Truly homo homini lupus est.

Platus

Man is wolf to man. Guys, I said that.


LUCKY

For fuck’s sake! This is the last time I leave philosophy references on.

PETER

(astonished)

A talking dog!

LUCKY

Shit.

PETER

I’ve finally lost it or you’re a daemon.

LUCKY

I’m not a daemon, but that doesn’t exclude your first proposition.
PETER

You’re the devil! Here to tempt me because I know too much!

LUCKY

Peter, stop messing up things you’re trying to reference. In Goethe’s version, Mephistopheles appeared to Dr. Faust in the form of a poodle. I’m clearly not a poodle and you are clearly not smart enough to be Dr. Faust.

PETER

So what are you, some kind of mutant?

LUCKY

No I am a dog. A German Shepherd with reverse mask markings. And my name is London.

PETER

But you can talk?

LONDON

Yes.

PETER

And you have a problem with my philosophy references?

LONDON

Yes, they are clumsy and you are confused.

PETER

Really? Well then, talking dog -

LONDON

(interrupts)


My name is London. I prefer to be addressed as an individual.

PETER

Ok, London, if my grasp of philosophy is not acceptable to you, let’s get to “des pudels kern” and tell me who you are.

Goethe

I win, guys. This one is clearly about me. “Des Pudels Kern!”: a German expression translated to be the core of the poodle. It means trying to get to the real nature of the deeper meaning of something that was not evident before. It also demonstrates how my writing was so important it influenced the German language.

LONDON

Dammit, I thought I told you all to be quiet! Peter, how come you jumble ideas so much but can make a joke using a German phrase?

PETER

I’m bad with details, alright? But why are you talking now, all of sudden?

LONDON

I could talk before too, I just chose not too.

PETER

So why talk now?

LONDON

It was in violation of my residency agreement but I couldn’t stay quiet any longer.

PETER

How do you know so much about art?

LONDON

I’m from the future.

*The reveal*
*London is from the future*

LONDON

I’m what you would call an art intern, I’m doing a residency and working on my thesis. But in the future we have expanded definitions of all those things.

PETER

You’re an artist too?

LONDON

In the early part of the 21st century Franco “Bifo” Berardi claimed that 25% of German youths will want to be artists (Kunak, 2013). That number just kept on climbing. As the definition of artistic practice expanded, so did the global recognition of its value. In the future, everyone is an artist. But we don’t really use that word.

PETER

What is “Kunak 2013”?

LONDON

It’s a citation. Let’s use proper references from here on.

PETER

How can a world exist where everyone is an artist?

LONDON

Well, we’re all interns.

PETER

Interns?

LONDON

Yeah, no one really gets paid. The whole world functions like a bunch of people standing in a circle, and when they all sit at once they become chairs.

PETER

You could make a Kosuth joke here.

LONDON

Do you have one?

Peter

I’m working on it. How do you afford materials?

LONDON

We don’t make stuff.

PETER

So, in the future, everyone is an artist, no one makes anything, and no one gets paid?

LONDON

Yes. You should really take more time to exanimate the morality of making. There’s a lot of stuff in this world, and even more in the future. No one needs to make any more stuff. Have you ever read any Peter Singer?

PETER

No.

LONDON

In his 1971 essay “Famine, Affluence and Morality” he proposed a frustratingly simple argument. It basically goes like this:

Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care are bad.

X = bad

If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought morally, to do it.

If you can, you should prevent X

It makes no moral difference whether the person I can help is a neighbor’s child ten yards from me or a Bengali whose name I shall never know, ten thousands miles away.

Distance ≠ΔX

The principle makes no distinction between cases in which I am the only person who could possibly do anything and cases in which I am just one among millions in the same position.

# of potential helpers ≠ΔX

So no unnecessary purchase if anyone anywhere is facing preventable suffering or death. It worked, people stopped starving but the non-making stuck. Action, service, and presentation became more important.

PETER

And this essay was from 1971?

LONDON

Yeah, Peter Singer’s ideas really caught on after a while. He also helped popularize the idea of Speciesism in his 1975 text Animal Liberation. An individual’s value or rights aren’t determined by their species membership. The general understanding of personhood was expanded, but it took a long time to really affect change. In the future, I’m considered a person.

PETER

So, in the future, no one eats meat?

LONDON

For a time, they didn’t. The argument expanded to a place where people were arguing for the sentience of water and it just got too extreme so people just started eating whatever again.

PETER

I’m a vegetarian.

LONDON

No one uses labels like that anymore; binaries are just wrong. Richard Dawkins argued against Speciesism, saying that it was a product of our discontinous mind, that our minds are always dividing the world up into groups that reflect nothing but our use of language (Dawkins, 1993).

PETER

I guess the future couldn’t solve the problems of language either.

LONDON

Well I’m not going to spoil that one for you, just wait and see. Gender binaries are dropped in the future. I cringe every time I am called a “good boy.” Does a dick really have to say that much about my identity? Anyways, I am here to figure some things out. Like I said I’m on a residency, working on my thesis. In the future, we don’t have the luxury to do residencies in romantic and remote spaces. There’s just too many artists, so we don’t do residencies in a place but in a time.

PETER

Time-travel?

LONDON

Yeah, did it take you this long to figure out that we could time-travel because I’m pretty sure that I told you that I was from the future.

PETER

You did. I was more caught up in the talking artist dog thing.

LONDON

I suppose this is a lot to take in. Sorry, I’ve never explained this to anyone before, perhaps I’m moving too fast.

PETER

It’s alright, I think I’m keeping up. You’re working on your thesis?

LONDON

Yeah. It’s on Transitional Servitude. For a few years I’ve been wondering around Canada, kind of town-to-town looking for people to help.

PETER

Oh, that’s why you found me in the alleyway when Big Al and Sam Strawberry were wailing on me.

LONDON

Yes. After a while, it can get very easy to find people who need you.

PETER

Thanks again for chasing them off.

LONDON

Don’t mention it, it’s my thing. I’ve met a lot of people that way, including Chuck. After I worked with Chuck, he went on to write Stop! Sit! And Think: The Only 20th Century Manual for Educating All Dogs (1968), The Better Dog: The Educated Dog (1976) and A Dog’s Day in Court (1983). Chuck was all about having dogs think for themselves and challenging them, and that is what eventually became the attitude towards all persons, and that’s way the future is full of artists. I’m into helping people out. Ever since I was a pup there’s been these voices in my head… maybe I should…

PETER

Should what?

LONDON

Sing you my thesis. But it’s okay, I really don’t want to be one of those people who goes on and on about their thesis.

PETER

It’s a song? Let’s hear it.

LONDON

Okay, but it’s really just an initial draft, it’s pretty raw.

PETER

Lay it on me, we’ve got time. I don’t think it’s safe to leave this cave yet.

LONDON

Don’t judge it too harshly, it’s still in its beginning stages.

PETER

Okay.

LONDON

I’m nervous, I haven’t sung it to anyone yet.

PETER

Don’t worry, I’ll look away. I’ll just watch your shadow.

LONDON

Okay…

(singing)

THERE'S A VOICE THAT KEEPS ON CALLING ME. DOWN THE ROAD, THAT'S WHERE I'LL ALWAYS BE. EVERY STOP I MAKE, I MAKE A NEW FRIEND, CAN'T STAY FOR LONG, JUST TURN AROUND AND I'M GONE AGAIN.

Jung

(singing)

MAYBE TOMORROW, I'LL WANT TO SETTLE DOWN, UNTIL TOMORROW, I'LL JUST KEEP MOVING ON.


LONDON

(singing)

DOWN THIS ROAD THAT NEVER SEEMS TO END, WHERE NEW ADVENTURE LIES JUST AROUND THE BEND. SO IF YOU WANT TO JOIN ME FOR A WHILE, JUST GRAB YOUR HAT, COME TRAVEL LIGHT, THAT'S HOBO STYLE.

Socrates

(singing)

MAYBE TOMORROW I'LL WANT TO SETTLE DOWN, UNTIL TOMORROW, THE WHOLE WORLD IS MY HOME.


LONDON

(singing)

SO IF YOU WANT TO JOIN ME FOR A WHILE, JUST GRAB YOUR HAT, COME TRAVEL LIGHT, THAT'S HOBO STYLE.

Freud

(singing)

MAYBE TOMORROW, I'LL WANT TO SETTLE DOWN, UNTIL TOMORROW, I'LL JUST KEEP MOVING ON.


Lacan

(singing)

MAYBE TOMORROW, I'LL WANT TO SETTLE DOWN, UNTIL TOMORROW, I'LL JUST KEEP MOVING ON.


LONDON

(singing)

THERE'S A WORLD THAT'S WAITING TO UNFOLD, A BRAND NEW TALE NO ONE HAS EVER TOLD. WE'VE JOURNEYED FAR FAR AND KNOW IT WON’T BE LONG; WE'RE ALMOST THERE, AND WE'VE PAID OUR FARE WITH OUR HOBO SONG.

PLATUS

(singing)

MAYBE TOMORROW, I'LL WANT TO SETTLE DOWN, UNTIL TOMORROW, I'LL JUST KEEP MOVING ON.


GOETHE

(singing)

SO IF YOU WANT TO JOIN ME FOR A WHILE, JUST GRAB YOUR HAT, COME TRAVEL LIGHT, THAT'S HOBO STYLE.


LONDON

(singing)

MAYBE TOMORROW, I'LL FIND WHAT I CALL HOME, UNTIL TOMORROW, YOU KNOW I'M FREE TO ROAM.


References


Berns, S., Dew, S.C., Miller, P., Richardson, E., Hadley, M.W. (1979-1985). The Littlest Hobo (Television series). Vancouver: Canadian Television (CTV).

Bush, Terry. (1979). Maybe Tomorrow. Lyrics by John Crossen.

Dawkins, R. (1993). Gaps in Mind. In P. Cavalieri & P. Singer (Eds.), The Great Ape Project New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Eisenmann, C. P. (1968). Stop! Sit! And Think: The Only 20th Century Manual for Educating All Dogs. Syracuse: Pratt Printing Co.

Eisenmann, C. P. (1976). The Better Dog: The Educated Dog. Marina del Ray: Gemini Graphics.

Eisenmann, C. P. (1983). A Dog’s Day in Court. Toronto: The Bryant Press Limited.

Kunak, G. (2013). Hito Steyerl: Zero Probability and the Age of Mass Art Production. Berlin Art Link. Retrieved from http://www.berlinartlink.com/2013/11/19/interview-hito-steyerl-zero-probability-and-the-age-of-mass-art-production/