Bunker. Fake Opera - Wojciech Błażejczyk

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In 2003, two documentalists: Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda built a hypermarket mockup at the Letňany in Prague. They organised a smart marketing campaign around the undertaking, hiring a professional agency, coming up with the supermarket’s logo and name: Czech Dream. Soon, they start promoting products that would draw new customers, and planned an opening ceremony. Buyers wait for the opening since the early hours, only to be massively disappointed. 

The hoax enabled the two film artists to gather material for a documentary that insightfully analyses the social mechanisms and anxieties related to consumerism and publicity. For members of a society that has undergone two decades of regime change, watching this film is particularly painful.
Some Prague residents, especially from the older generation, unused to manipulation techniques in the public sphere (posters, promotions, gadgets: how anachronic compared to today’s microtargeting!), initially treated the hoax with an almost emotional trust, unaware of the extent to which publicity plays with reality or downright lies. Then they felt rightfully ridiculed. The film is also a confession of professional marketers who made the filmmakers look like trade executives. They must have been asking themselves about the point of their work and the moral costs involved. Is playing with reality at the expense of hapless victims alright? 

Similar questions are asked by embarrassed employees of major internet corporations in the 2020 film TheSocial Dilemma. Formers Facebook and Google workers are unanimous is stating that if relative order could be introduced in printed media, radio, and television, similar regulations for the internet and social media are absolutely necessary. Otherwise, we are ripe for election fraud, manipulations by secret services, and boundless profits for global giants. The founding fathers of the major websites, originally hypnotised by freedom of opinion and the limitless availability of information, now agree that a mistake was made and we need to step back: unlimited freedom is being misused. Are the tools they invented to blame? It seems the issue is actually with ourselves: the phenomenon that was called “human nature” by nineteenth-century philosophers. “My dear, the real truth is always improbable, do you know that? To make truth sound probable you must always mix in some falsehood with it. Men have always done so,” so goes the famous saying by Verkhovensky in Dostoevsky’s The Demons. It perfectly fits the definition of post-truth, fake truth, and “visual content.” Anyone can take a technically perfect manipulated photo or film today that will be taken for real; the only thing you need is an impulse: jealousy, controversy, ingenuity, madness...? Playing with reality is addictive. “Nothing is true; everything is permitted,” is the motto of the cult game Assassin’s Creed, borrowed from German–Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt. As soon as we detach an idea from its bases in real-life experience, it becomes easy to combine it with and relate to any other idea. Chaos is born. 

And where there is chaos, there appears a space for manipulation, with its beneficiaries and victims. In his legendary analysis Discipline and Punish of nearly fifty years ago, the French thinker Michel Foucault reflected upon the phenomenon of prisons in the modern era. He derived it from the kinship between knowledge and power. The cultural invention of prison is supposed to replace mindless torture with ever-present and powerful control. We experience this with CCTV on every street, in every park and workplace, with our mobile phones which are so easy to track, and finally, on the internet. We would like to escape that, wouldn’t we? 

This is the situation of the protagonist in the short story known in English as The Burrow. Franz Kafka’s story is a dense, parabolic monologue of a subject who builds a refuge that with time, becomes a sort of fortress, supposed to provide security in an uncertain world. However, it turns out the refuge isn’t perfect, and its resident cannot feel secure. He keeps thinking about refurbishing and perfecting his burrow. The fear of his refuge being exposed soon becomes an obsession, and the burrow now appears as a trap: the source of anxiety is within our own minds. It is hard to give order to the world when we are chaotic. is short story by Kafka gave birth to the Bunker. Fake Opera, in which the language of politics, media, and our presence in them have been written into voices. 

Waldemar Raźniak 


Libretto:
The Bunker. Fake Opera

Waldemar Raźniak

Before entering the show’s space, the film crew asks randomly selected spectators about their expectations with the show. The action has the structure of an improvised media interview.

Nothing is true; everything is permitted

***

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being
What has come into being.
The individual right
of every one of us
is freedom
to express our own opinion.
The right of the state
is shaping the public opinion.
Our opinion. The duty of the state
is to discipline
and to punish.
Each truth is
a subjective truth.
Your truth,
My truth.
It is always word against word, if not minority against majority
or the reverse.
A lie told a thousand times
becomes truth.
The bigger the lie, the easier
people believe in it?
There will come a day,
when all the lies will collapse
under their own weight,
as Goebbels said.
What drives the world
is not knowledge but belief.
Jesus did not supply evidence
in the sermon on the mount.
Obvious truths do not need evidence.
And the Word became flesh
and lived among us.
And the Image became flesh
and lived among us.
And the Representation became flesh
and lived among us.
and memes and fakes and press releases
my opinion, your opinion
and with it, my truth,
your truth,
our truth,
their truth,
and post-truth.

***

Today will be remembered as the day
in which people took power
in this country.

The forgotten men and women of our country
will be forgotten no more.
Their pain is our pain.
Their dreams are our dreams,
and their success
shall be our success.

Everyone is listening to you today.
You have shown up in the tens of millions to be part of this historical moment,
one the world has never seen.

And at the centre of this movement lies the crucial conviction
that the country exists
to serve its citizens.
The establishment has protected itself
but not the citizens of our country.

Their victories
were not your victories.
Their triumphs
were not your triumphs.

The time of empty talk is over. Now is the time to act. Do not let anyone tell you that something cannot be done. All this will change. We start here and now because this moment is your moment; it belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here and everyone watching us in this country. I will fight for you with my every breath and I will never, ever let you down. We shall win again. Win like never before. We shall bring back our wealth. And we shall claim back our dreams!

Only the community can be strong, and the community
needs to be rooted in the past.
Without a past,

a common past, without the consciousness of that past there is no community.
This, I repeat,
is the foundation of our identity,
but also the foundation
of our national feeling

of dignity and pride.
We are worried by atrophy and nihilism. We reject defeatism, upon which nothing can be built, but only ruined.

We should continue politics which are founded
on trust.
We must
live up to our promises, this is the foundation
of democracy. Where there is no
trust, empty

slogans are created,
nothing is done,
and democracy
is eroded.

But I repeat, this is just the first step. The first step that leads towards justice and leads towards credibility. Because we need credibility. We need it because the rebuild of our country will certainly be a process protested by some. We will be opposed. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there will be opposition. And this is where your support is needed. is strengthens us and weakens them.

Our difficult history is part of
global freedom. Freedom is the foundation
of our thinking.
We have shown incredible courage
and patriotism.
Our entire nation has stood together,
side by side, with our minds and hearts
to understand the essence
of the relationship between our generations,

like our ancestors.
We have always believed we are one nation.
I am still convinced that our opponents
will undertake
a decent
and objective appraisal of the actions
of people that have led
them where they are today.

From our side,
we shall do everything in our power
so that they survive
this difficult period.

We shall make them return to the path of growth. We shall overcome the difficulties that they have created in the last few years. And of course, we shall strive to overcome and we shall overcome all issues that other countries are forcing on us. Their tactics shall be fruitless! We are again powerful, determined, courageous, we have power, we have money, we have energy sources. We are one nation! We share one heart, one home, and one wonderful destiny!

This is your day, this is your ceremony, this country is your country, and this opera is your opera!

***

From lies
From lies
they make the essence
of the world order.
– a reason for a little despair.

despair.

Perhaps impressions
are true to
reality?
I lack the right perspective...

Circumstances
do not reflect
the entire
picture,
no-one is using them.
But why?
Why?

***

On screen, the current activity log is shown of an individual named K, similar to the timelines of a social media website that tracks him. The text shown on screen follows this pattern: date, time, IP address, activity recorded on the internet or on CCTV.

***

The world
needs us
more than them
more than them
And most critics
again us
have bad intentions,
bad intentions.

Our relations
Our relations
are at a good stage
a good stage
And the issue of migrants
the opening of chapters
is provocative provocative.

Our people
have shown
courage,
incredible courage.

Our people have shown patriotism.

Our entire nation
has stood together
side by side
with mind and heart
...to understand!
...to understand!

As our ancestors
centuries, centuries ago,
we must believe,
we must believe,
that all extremes
all extremes
are dangerous.
Dangerous.

We shall do everything
in our power
to survive!

survive all difficult periods
survive all difficult processes
return to growth
growth as quickly
as possible.
So we shall overcome difficulties
So we shall overcome issues,

and we shall live better
and we shall grow better
and we shall work better
and it will be will be better.

We deserve more
much much more.
We need to stop
depression, recession and crisis.
and create independence
and create security
and build
and kickstart
and limit.
Because we are strong,
we are very strong
determined
we are also courageous,
Because we have power
and we have money
and we have everything
yet.

***

the result is probably perfect
perfffect
hole hole
...
I am a coward
So I live peacefully within my own home
I grow old
...
they are coming they are
...
narrow, seccccccure holes
It is beautiful to have such a bunker for the forthcoming old age
I listen, I listen amid the silence
...
I lie here,
I gather stuff
I gaaaaaather it
I start breathing deeply
control my bunker
control!
...
my skin is growing thinner
I am naked and bereft
greeted by the howling of my foes
...
I do not dare move
...
I think too much
I think too much of the bunker
...
go to the bunker
go there!
see the bunker
see it!
disclose
it closes!!!
but it is not just a burrow where I seek refuge
...
I lie under moss
nothing bothers me
I can finally lay down
rest
laziness, curl up, sleeeeep
...
emptiness
EMPTINESS
take your ear from the ground
control, defense
...
Who’s coming! – It’s a beast!
...
I listen