TWO STORIES OF PRIVATE MORALITY

One by ANA PRVACKI: Let’s Make Paying Taxes Sexy! 2014 Video

This video was made in response to an invitation from the European Union initiative called New Narrative for Europe. “In his ‘State of the European Union’ address, delivered in September 2012, President Barroso invited artists and people of culture in Europe to contribute to the development of a genuine European public space and to be involved in a wide debate on the future of Europe.” 

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SIZE OF THE SHADOW ECONOMY in the top 10 countries losing to tax evasion in absolute terms:

U.S. 8.6 % – Brazil 39.0 % – Italy 27.0 % – Russia 43.8 % – Germany 16.0 % – France 15.0 % – Japan 11.0 % – China 12.7 % – United Kingdom 12.5 % – Spain 22.5 %  (According “Tax Justice Network” using Worlds Bank’s data)

During the debates two issues resonated with me. One was the issue of taxation. Many of the participants brought up the problem of taxation and tax evasion and the effect this has had on arts and culture. Tax evasion is a real problem, in Europe as in many other countries that are suffering and collapsing due to the lack of contribution. Then there was the question of “How to make Europe sexy?” a question that deeply addresses the physiology, the fluidity and the experience of pleasure in our society. I proposed a two in one solution, a union of the economy with the libido; “Let’s Make Paying Taxes Sexy!” is a playful yet serious proposal to transform our contemporary narrative of taxation and reconsider what is sexy. I presented this project to the delegates, colleagues and President Barroso as a spoken statement at the Berlin convening. (A.P.)

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ANA PRVACKI, still from video: Let’s Make Paying Taxes Sexy!

The second by ANDRE´ GIDE, from his Prometheus Misbound, (Le Promethée mal enchainé) 1899

Between four and five o clock of an autumn afternoon, Prometheus left his chains on the top of a mountain (Caucasus) and walked down to Paris, on the boulevard between the Madeleine and Opéra.

 “Gentlemen, anything I could say would have so little relevance. … I don’t even see how … in fact, the more I think of it … No, really, I can’t possibly say anything. Each of you has his own story; I have none. You must excuse me. […] it is hardly two hours since I came to Paris. There hasn’t been time yet for anything to happen to me—except your invaluable acquaintance, which makes me feel most keenly what a Parisian conversation can be, when clever people begin to …”

But before you came here,” said Cocles.

You must have been somewhere else,” said Damocles. “Yes, I admit it,” said Prometheus, “but, I repeat, all that is quite irrelevant to …”

It doesn’t matter,” said Cocles, “we’ve come here to talk. Both of us, Damocles and I, have already brought out our story; you alone make no contribution; you only listen; it isn’t right. It is time for you to speak, Mr. …”

The waiter felt with all his tact that it was time for an introduction, and, slipping the name in as if to complete the previous phrase: “Prometheus—” he said simply. “Prometheus,” resumed Damocles. — “Excuse me, sir, but it seems to me that this name has already …”

Oh!” interrupted Prometheus immediately, “that is of no importance whatsoever.”

But, if nothing is important,” cried the other two impatiently, “why have you come here, my dear Mr. … Mr. …?”

Prometheus,” repeated Prometheus simply. ‘My dear mr. Prometheus—for after all, as I had occasion to remark just now,” continued Cocles, “this restaurant invites conversation, and in any case, nothing will persuade me to believe that the peculiar name you bear is the only thing that marks you from others; if you haven’t done anything yet, you must mean to do something soon; what are you capable of doing? Show us your distinguishing characteristics: what have you that no one else has? Why do they call you Prometheus?

Under this deluge of questions Prometheus bowed his head, and was obliged to reply, submissively and in a tone graver than before, though still confusedly:

You ask what I have, gentlemen?—What I have, I personally, is —ahem! an eagle.”

A what?” “An eagle—or a vulture, perhaps—people aren’t quite sure.”

An eagle! That’s a good one!—an eagle … Where is it, then?”

You really insist on seeing it?” said Prometheus.

Yes,” they said, “if it isn’t being indiscreet.”

Then, all too completely forgetting where he was, Prometheus abruptly rose to his feet and uttered a great cry of summons to his mighty eagle. And there occurred the stupefying event that follows:

THE STORY OF THE EAGLE

A bird, which seemed enormous from a distance, but at close quarters was seen to be not so large after all, darkened for a moment the sky above the boulevard, fell like a tornado in the direction of the café, smashed the plate-glass window, and alighted—dashing Cocles’ eye out with a blow of its wings, and uttering a shower of affectionate but none the less imperious chirrups—alighted, I say, on the right hip of Prometheus. The latter immediately unbuttoned his waistcoat and offered a morsel of his liver to the bird.

“Come, come now!! It’s nothing but a conscience, at the very most.”

 

 

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