What does it mean to own something, to be wealthy, to have entitlement to a commodity of value? Is its value inherent or is its value derived from what that object means to the one who owns it? Can a value be dictated from external means simply by the superiority of the party in charge and does this necessarily mean that the true value has changed simply by a force saying so? These questions have no definitive answer but I am inclined to believe that everything has value based on the relative necessity of its functional ontology, whether that be food, printed currency, diamonds, or even the commodity of intellectual growth itself. It gains value as it becomes a useful requirement in the setting allocated towards its being, although the value of scholastic acumen is significantly harder to ‘regulate’ than diamonds or tangible consumer-oriented products. For the sake of argument, if we imagine X having value because its value is recognized, then what happens when X’s value is not recognized or even disregarded as having long-term value? Has the item become meaningless or is there value maintained because the object exists at all?
One who a lot of food may not recognize the real value of having salt, fresh water, oats, or milk if such things are but a trivial luxury for them, but to the lowliest individual having salt could mean preservation of their physical being, the ownership of milk the reason that they remain able-bodied and capable of continuing. Even the presence of fresh water signifies that death will remain at bay until its proper time. But this begs two questions which reign supreme over Husky’s latest artistic venture, what is a thing’s value if it’s unrecognizable to its owner and do those who sense the value of such underappreciated objects have authority to reappropriate them? Husky, Dima, Dmitry, the swindler of the mind if you will, has answered these inquiries in a wholly idiosyncratic way, choosing to flex his allegoric muscle through the usage of the ‘primordial’ Russian fable Ax-Porridge [or Ax Soup, Stone Soup, Nail Soup], where the intrepid hustle of a resourceful service man counteracts and ultimately prevails over the stingy habits of a well-off old kulak. The squandering of resources at the hands of those who appreciate them not and the abject poverty of the mind when your main purpose is to amass. Like Husky stated in 2016 for The Village, “But I don't want to offend the girls with the bags. It's not their fault that they have money. They are useless creatures, of course, but still.”
For those who are less familiar with this fable, allow me concisely reiterate it’s morally satisfying plot;
A soldier, evidently tired and ravenous from serving, knocks on the door of an old women. She lets him in, and the soldier then asks her if she had any food so that he may replenish his spirits, but the woman replies ‘No, I don’t have, I am so poor.’ The clever and astute young man knew this to be false and so he asked her if he could make ‘Ax-Porridge,’ to which she curiously agreed. He put an Ax in a pot of water and began to cook, but ‘needed’ some salt, so he melancholily said, ‘Oh I wish I had some salt, that would make this so much better.’ The intrigued old woman quickly rushed and grabbed him some salt, hoping to discover what this exciting new dish would be. He continued cooking, but again sighed and said, “Oh, this would be so much better if I had some milk to add,” and once again the woman rushed to satiate his request as her interest was ever-growing. Once again, and more earnestly he said, “This is almost perfect, but oh I am despairing as I don’t have oats to add,” but no sooner had he spoken than the old woman retrieved some oats and added them to the pot with great excitement. He thanked her and said it’s practically done but would be even better with a pallet of butter or oil, and the old woman once again swiftly obliged to his request and added some to the pot. “We are done! Ax-Porridge is complete,” said the enterprising soldier who knew that such ingredients were well within her ability to provide, “let us eat!” So they began to enjoy this peculiar delicacy and the old woman said, “I’ve never had such a dish before made of an Ax,” but all the soldier could respond with was a coy smile and meager laugh at his successful deception.
One may very well laugh and see the parabolic veins right from the get-go, but the true genius lies in the soldier’s cunning execution and the old woman’s complete submission to such obvious dupery. How could she have not seen his tricks? Even though she was uncharitable when the soldier first arrived [one could say ‘economic’], his suave delivery coupled with the natural human tendency towards acts of generosity and fellowship-building led the old woman to offer up her resources in the hopes of tasting this unknown concoction of elements both foreign and familiar. Despite there being a predominantly hustler-based connotation towards the story, Venkatesh Rao pointing to the disparity of value acumen as the overriding message of the manipulability of the wealthy fool, “the rich do not necessarily understand wealth any better than others, any more than the landed understand geology better than the landless. They simply have more of it.” But in that same breath, Venkatesh showcases what I believe the main tenant of the story is, one that is much more aligned with a compassionate angle and a self-realized perspective of the value of giving and what it means to give, “It [moral framework of the story] merely requires that everybody think about their transactions.” Through using this story as a fundraiser to raise funds, Husky is making an Ax-Porridge which relies on the viewer to assess what it means to ‘transact.’
I will admit, there is something a bit deceptive about the way the ‘fundraiser’ is being operated though, as the amount on the newly minted creator/crowd-sourcing platform called ARKA, a crypto-currency hub for artistic endeavours in need of philanthropic guidance and financial backing, far surpasses what the normal individual would be able to donate. The currency in usage by Husky is ETH, or Etherum, whose market prince for 1 ETH [2,313.31] is well under the cost of 1 Bitcoin [55, 132.95], but still far higher than anything able to be actually utilized by the common man at present. Ergo, the form of this ‘fundraiser’ is an Ebay-esque model of bidding, counter-bidding, and so forth until the time allotted for such activities is used up [at the time of writing this, there are 19 hours and 45 minutes left on the clock]. I would argue that using the idea of Ax-Porridge for such a monetary escapade is not only misaligned with the meaning of the tale about making the best in frugal moments through cunning alone, or as a Writer for CopperShop.ru had said the Slavic tenacity to find a way and the ‘ability to grow even through asphalt,’ but it showcases that Husky has now reached a certain level of financial freedom which has allowed him to shed the more ‘Gopnik’ aspect of his identity for a, dare I say it, bourgeois alternative.
He has been married now for over 5+ years and has a daughter, thus his priorities have changed from being that friendless, unrepentantly abrasive, super-charged ‘spark’ in the darkness whose devotion to freeing the mental serfs of Russia led his creative flow and pushed him to the edges of political dichotomies, to one who has responsibilities to uphold and a family to maintain, not to mention a necessity to be financially stable in the long-term. He had stated in a GQ interview in 2019 that he was looking for permanent housing for his family and it seems he has found it in Ulan-Ude, but this newest venture also seems to signify that he is becoming a bit more monetarily led than he leads on. We’ll see what happens, but all that can said now is that Husky has entered another chapter, one dominated by worldly life. In Hinduism, a spiritual tradition not far from his mind as indicated in 2020 by his Shiva-quoted maxim ‘Do everything beautifully,’ it is said he entering into the Grihastha phase [home life]. That friendless wanderer has found a place, what will he do with it?
The ongoing campaign can be viewed here.