“Betraying Ambition”. First edition of 100 exemplars published by CIRCADIAN.
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PART 1. DISSECTING AMBITION
Etymology of Ambition – Definition of Ambition – Ambition in the Ambience – Professionalism and Publicity – Desire to Be the Chosen One – Self-Promotion – The Opportunistic Mind and Networking – Capitalism and Ambition – The Ambitious Artist – Levels of Recognition – Parameters of Success.
PART 2. NEGLECTING AMBITION
The Reason We Do Something – Exercising Our Capacities – Initiative – Side Effects – The Cardinal Virtues – Dilettantism – The Non-ambitious Artist – Train Your Absent-mindedness – Decline Invitations – Artworks Are More Important Than Artists – The Will to Affirm a Different World – Co-apprenticeship: Training the Political Body.
PART 3. MISCHIEVING AMBITION
To Betray Your Own Ambition – Mischief: the Art of Swerving – Irony: Performing the Paradox – Practices of Infiltration – Anartism – Experimenting in the Art of Living.
What Moves You?
Nowadays, the term ambition is used indistinctly to name many different things at the same time. As a consequence, ambition has lost its specific meaning; it means everything and nothing: on one hand, it vaguely refers to any driving force that attempts to accomplish any kind of goal. “Ambition” is synonymous to challenging oneself in undertaking a difficult enterprise. On the other hand, there is a benevolent understanding of ambition coming from the context of innovation, creative industries and business. These optimistic rhetorics, supported by the dominant ideology of professional success, present a heroic version of a subjectivity that is in a constant process of self-improvement. On the contrary, the etymology of ambition reminds us of the pejorative connotations that ambition was characterized by from the beginning: vainglory, competitiveness, social comparison, eagerness for fame, excessive determination to achieve a position of power, just to name a few. A suspicious mind will immediately try to find the reasons behind such a benevolent understanding of how the word’s meaning was once negative. Why is the belief in the social construction that ambition implies convenient for dominant ideologies? What are the illusions, hopes and dreams behind ambition and why are they necessary to make people move on with their lives?
The premise of this book is that we are made to believe in ambition because ambition is something good. There is a mantra that tells us “be ambitious”, but, who dares to dissent from it? What if ambition would have been politicized and ideologized? The reason for writing this book is not to clarify what ambition actually means, but to unpack the ethical implications behind its different meanings.
The book is divided into three parts that correspond to three different ethos or ways of living in relation to ambition: being ambitious, not being ambitious and finally, being ambitious and not ambitious at the same time. At intervals, you, the reader, will find a series of exercises and instructions that invite you to bring these ideas contained in the text into play . The whole book can be understood as an exercise for self-examination to scrutinize oneself, returning to some fundamental questions that exists around the notion of “driving forces” such as: Why do we do what we do? What moves us? Where are the origins of our impulses behind our actions? How many different driving forces can we identify in us? Which ones are the most dominant? Is there struggle between these forces? Which driving forces are worth cultivating, knowing that the world will be necessarily affected by them? What really matters, where to invest our energy, and what is the responsibility we assume? What is worth initiating and what motivates us? How do our driving forces support the world to move and function in a particular way? How do we participate and engage inside the social sphere, and what motivates us? What are the reasons we make art? How do we perform the truth? How then, do we live our lives accordingly? How do we live the paradox?
So, what moves you?