I don’t like to go on the underground. I don’t like being locked up, surrounded by uncomfortable people like me. Is it perhaps the people themselves, or do I find the cave and its interconnected tunnels unpleasant?
The tunnel is the oldest and most intrinsic symbol of digging, of venerating the earth, of the link with the transcendent, but they are also those interstices through which death has always been known to creep. Both the tunnel and the cave are dark spaces that go into the unknown, where fear usually dwells. At other times we have managed to turn them into sanctuaries and points of pilgrimage. Places to survive, to undergo a vital process or simply to take refuge.
Yusuke Urameshi comes to my mind when he had to pass the final test of Genkai inside a cave in order to face Toguro in the manga Yu Yu Hakusho. The cave as a space in which to become stronger. Precisely “going to the cave”, in my post-teenager vigoréxic days, meant going to the gym. Roc got strong, for the first time, by going through tunnels and tunnels all over the world, riding on top of his motorbike Epona from Barcelona to Vladivostok.
You’ve travelled the world mate! At one point on that trip, while Roc was in the cramped, underground waiting room of Seoul’s underground, he was busy photographing the faces of the people in front of him and what they were staring at with their eyes averted. All of them in a “state of transit”, travelling through their screens in digital tunnels digged by computer algorithms, as they travelled through the veins of Seoul.
That infinite loop was like the underground city of Turkish Cappadocia; Derinkuyu. A defensive city carved out of stone over three thousand years ago, in which the hierarchies of levels were reciprocally linked like Escher’s biunivocal constructs or the Moebius strip. One way or another, despite the increasing directional sense of “we’re doing well”, we always seem to come back to the same point. The suffocating abyss of the indecipherable eternal return. In this strange loop, where the most everyday actions are traversed by an algorithmic culture that orders, classifies and hierarchies people, places, ideas, habits and colonises our intimacy, what margin is left for subjectivity? Do we have, if anything, that emancipatory power that would be necessary to be able to live outside the labyrinth, the loop or the cave?
— Guillermo Ros