I accept. I accept the terms of use. I agree. How many times a day do I click on an “accept” button in the browser, only to be able to proceed, to get what I need at that point in time, or simply to get rid of a nasty pop-up? My lifetime would probably not be sufficient to really read all the conditions of use accepted by myself. The conditions are, contrary to what they suggest, not supposed to be read. They are also not there to be rejected. The conditions are simply there to be accepted.

The education towards accepting and agreeing manifests itself in real life too. Entities in a position of power clearly state that there are no alternatives and that no disagreement is tolerated. The only option left is to agree to the prescribed rules. Accept. That itself is nothing new, only an escalation of what existed in many different forms of latently passive violence around us since ever. Changes take place at the level of technology. Through an increasing efficiency of means of enforcement their effects get more noticeable.

What does it mean to accept something that one cannot understand and that cannot be rejected? What do the words next to a single checkbox on a form mean, if one has to tick the box in order to advance further anyway? The absence of an alternative to acceptance makes the verb “accept” devoid of its original meaning. It disintegrates into the letters of which it is constructed.

A child learns to recognize letters in order to pronounce words that are constructed out of them and in order to connect them with the meaning they stand for. What happens if we are confronted with words that we can read, but whose meaning does not conform with our experience? The words fall apart into their individual constituents – letters. The words revert to the state prior to the emergence of meaning.

The elementary structure of the alphabet is a simple means of ordering the letters anew in an attempt of creating at least a semblance of an understandable order in this state of unknowing.

The task at hand is in fact similar to that in primary school. Learn the ABC first. The ABC of accepting and agreeing.


A note for English-speakers: The work consists alternatively of the German phrases “Ich akzeptiere” (I accept), “Ich stimme zu” (I agree) and “Ich akzeptiere die Nutzungsbedingungen” (I agree to the terms of use) where the letters contained in each phrase were ordered according to the alphabet.