The Art of Change Opera is an opera that has been commissioned to the composer and multimedia artist Jean-Baptiste Barrière on the occasion of The New School’s Centennial celebrations.

The following is the opera’s libretto, conceived and developed by the philosopher and writer Chiara Bottici. In accordance with the spirit of the Centennial and of The New School’s legacy, it will be an ongoing and open libretto: we invite all readers to suggest changes, to propose quotations from their favorite authors, or to develop the various narrative threads, by leaving a comment below.

Every sentence, every act, can change on its own, but it can also change along with the other parts. All changes are welcome. We will periodically update the libretto by incorporating changes that have been recommended and recognize individual contributors by name. A prelude of the opera will be performed at the Centennial Festival on 5 October 2019, whereas the first result of the opera workshop will be presented on 16, 17, 18 and 21 January.

Synopsis: A city decides to radically re-organize its life by adopting the principle of accelerated change (AC) and apply it to all and every aspect of social life. The result is a utopian (or dystopian) world that may (or may not) turn out to be ours.

ACT 0.1

“I cannot understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I am frightened of old ones,” (John Cage).

Economy is stagnating.

We need new ideas.

We need to fight inertia, indolence, idleness.

We need to reorganize social life from its very fundaments.

We must change our habits, our statutes, our constitutions.

Change has been too slow. We must change change itself.

This is the road to success: We must install the new Accelerated Change (AC) Laws:

The AC Laws declare that:

I. It shall change, it shall increase

The labor force shall be separated from the means of production so that the latter can be accumulated incrementally, exponentially, incessantly -enabling uninterrupted investment in scientific and technological research.

The change of change will bring progress, the progress of progress will win the market, the marketing of the market will increase productivity


will increase

will increase

will increase

II. They shall change, they will not stay

The produce we eat shall change

the crops we plant shall change

the commodities we sell shall change.

Nothing will ever be the same – Again.

The genes we modify shall change every five hours

The produce we consume shall change every five minutes

The commodities we sell shall change every five seconds.

III. You will change, you won’t remain

Nothing shall change unless you change, so you will change too.

You shall change your private properties every month

You shall change your life partner every week

You shall change your personal wardrobe every day

You shall change your body

You shall change your habits

You shall change your I-phone

Every contract will automatically expire within a month

Every relationship will be consensually dissolved after a week

Every screensaver will be randomly replaced at the end of the day

Change your settings

Everything shall change!

ACT 0.2

“All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and [wo]man is at last compelled to face with sober senses [their] his real conditions of life, and [their] his relations with [their] his kind” (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

We feel the heat

We feel the cold

We are all on the same boat

– and the boat is sinking


All that is solid melts into air

All that is solid melts into air

All that is solid melts into air

And comes back to us as acid rains

And comes back to us as carbon dioxide

And comes back to us as greenhouse gases

An asphyxiating mixture of wet and dry acid components keep depositing all around us Precipitations have changed, they are unusually acidic, there are too many hydrogen ions in this world: on our fields, on our crops, on our skin, on our lungs, on our keyboards.

The rain is wet, the rain is dry

We need more studies

But they must change, too


All that is solid melts into air

All that is solid melts into air

All that is solid melts into air

And comes back to us as sulfur dioxide

And comes back to us as nitrogen oxide

And comes back to us as their endless combination

One and many, many and one

NOy, NOx, NOz

The nitrogen oxides pollute the molecules we breathe,

and even those they themselves breathe.

The rain is wet, the rain is dry

We need more studies

But they have changed, too

I did the change

You did the change

It did the change

Who did the change?


All that is solid melts into air

All that is solid melts into air

All that is solid melts into air

And comes back to us as nitric oxide [NO]

And comes back to us as nitrous oxide [N2O]

And comes back to us as nitrogen dioxide [NO2]

And comes back to us as dinitrogen trioxide [N203 ]

And comes back to us as dinitrogen tetroxide [N24]

And comes back to us as tetrafloromethane [CF4]

And comes back to us as hexafluoroethane [C2F2]

And comes back to us as sulfur hexafluoride [SF6]

And comes back to us as nitrogen trifluoride [NF3]










ACT 0.3

“A war has its cause in those who unleash it; the climatic change, amongst others, in the leaders who clamor for ‘yet more studies!’ even though the planet already advances, tranquilly, towards asphyxia” (Reiner Schürmann)

At the beginning was the imagination, with its capricious, subversive nature. But a charming guy arrived on the scene and promised to bring bread to every-body. People believed him, although he turned out to be more interested in actually enriching only some-body.

Market productivity increased but labor became boring, repetitive, alienating,

Until, one day, a mob of angry kids stood up and cried:

“Let’s stop it! All the power to the imagination! No more one-dimensional [wo]men!”

And the guy, being quite smart, timidly replied: “Let’s try it out. Let’s be creative and express ourselves. We will get digitalized machines to do the repetitive work of the factories.”

And now we have too many images and too little imagination.

Too many identities and too little time to test them out.

Too many climate change studies, and too little faith in them.

We asked for more creativity and ended up with too many screens and too little vision.

Can there still be place for imagination in a world where the latter has been enlisted to the production machine? Can we imagine something new in a world that is so full of the old, because every new has already been sold “just-in-time”? And what if imagination itself proves to be not a faculty that we possess but the homologated imaginary possessing us?

At the beginning was the imaginal, that space which is neither an individual faculty, nor a social context, but pure immanent flux of images, re-presentations that are also presences in themselves.

Re-orientation of images can begin the revolution of our times.

Re-innovation, Against Compulsory Innovation!

Consumption phagocytized innovation, time has come to start re-innovation.

The old to create the new,

Strata of images to digital flatness,

Lost words to re-discover new, living ones.

Re-innovation, Against Compulsory Innovation!

A straight line, against the phantasmagoria of commodities.

Fixity, against the constant flux of capital.

Repetition, against the compulsion of acquisitive desire.

Continuity, so that interruptions become possible again.

Re-innovation, Against Compulsory Innovation!

The new, through the same.

Eternal return, against empty difference.

Bodies, against flatness.

Touch, against the excess of seeing.

A mountain against the sea: next to the sea, made by the sea.