NONSENSE PEDDLER (HYTHLOS DAIEIN)
Score produced for the publication 'A Return to the Island'
by curator Helena Lugo
for the exhibition
'De Regreso A La Isla' at
Casal Solleric, Fundaciò Palma Espai d'Art, Mallorca
Rodrigo B. Camacho
The name Hythlodaeus comes from the Greek hythlos‘idle talk’, ‘nonsense’, and daiein ‘to distribute’ or daios‘knowing’, ‘cunning’: ‘nonsense peddler’ for such. This was the name given by More to the Portuguese discoverer of Utopia, indicating that this island he spoke about was somehow just the fruit of a nonsensical imagination or delirium. It was yet a work that the author put many of his aspirations and dreams into, discontent with a political and social system of his present day society. Utopia solved many of the injustices and dissatisfactions that troubled him, yet it also opened up to many other questions of freedom and social control.
More devised a place unknown to the world until then, one which never came to exist even long after he was gone. This leaves us to imagine what the people of Utopia would have been like, if they would indeed have been fulfilled by the ‘good pleasures’ of life or miserably unhappy by the constraints imposed by it. 500 years after its construction, as Capitalism seems to have gone beyond its peak of endurance, we question what it would have been like to live the communal life of the Utopians, and what we could possibly take from it.
Created through instructions, in which More found such delight, the piece aims at an anthropological insight into contemporary living through a return to the island, addressing topics of prior importance to the ideals of Utopia. From an exegetic score, people were invited to participate by sending various recordings of their daily life, surroundings, as well as tasks and opinions. What at first may have seemed like a nonsensical exercise turned into a compilation of sonic fragments with similarities and contrasts between the ways people live their lives, according to choice or not, seen through the lens of More’s ideas.
In the end a comparison is drawn, not a promise of better or worse, but an insight into new modes of relation to and understanding of life, even if senseless for the most of it. The score continues open to realisation and invites continuous participation, so it may live on always reconsidering the present.