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Btfsplk Techne

Btfsplk Techne

(prototype), 2009 Materials: foam, latex paint, steel cable, 2000 lb winches, Arduino, Nintendo Wii Chuck,

A black rain cloud always followed Joe Btfsplk, a reoccurring character from the Li’l Abner comic strip in circulation from 1934-1977, created by Al Capp. Btfsplk first appeared in June 1942 and his ever-present cloud became one of the most iconic images in Li’l Abner.

One storyline in the early 1970s features him trapping his cloud in a special anti-pollutant jar. Joe becomes romantically involved with a gal for the first time—until her crazed ex-boyfriend shows up to kill him! Joe reluctantly opens the jar and releases his cloud in order to take care of the boyfriend, and wistfully realizes that he wasn’t meant for any other kind of life. As he returns to his normal, loner existence, his cloud once again in tow, he is for the moment satisfied to be who he really is. –

The Stoics consider techne, the craft of life, to be a complete and unshakeable understanding of the universe. Epictetus wrote, “sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy,” thus positing a “completely autonomous” individual will, and at the same time a universe that is “a rigidly deterministic single whole”. Roman Stoics focused on promoting a life in harmony within the universe, over which one has no direct control.

Joe Btfsplk is a true Stoic. The goal of Btfsplk Techne as an installation is to impose this happy hopelessness on an unsuspecting member of the public.