12 Jul 2014
For the majority of the people even simplistic formulations about what determines human behavior seems enough to explain their motivations. For example, the commonsensical formulation that being defines consciousness – that our reactions, feelings and even needs are determined by the conditions and organization of our life, that how we live defines our ideas and beliefs rather than the laws of human thinking do – having become the axiom of modern reason. In other words, addressing other people with the arguments that made in terms of their “being” – in terms of their actions in the context of their lives is much more effective than to appeal to them while talking about their “consciousness” – theirideas of what is right and what is wrong, the question of moral truth, decency, etc.
Still, observing how human history is developing, especiallyin the 21st century – how intensely even the democratic West’s wealthy decision-makers fight for profits and domination and use their democratic cultural legacy more as an (idealistic /rhetorical) banner hiding economic calculations and strategic manipulations, we come to understand how reduced to flatness the very dichotomy between being and consciousness is, but at the same time – how it, indeed, corresponds to intellectually poor condition of people’s pop-consciousness. “Consciousness” is the function of being (and especially when it looks domineering over it, as it is so with the fundamentalist religious or fascisized secular ideologies) only for people without any interest towards independent truth, when their lives (including the givens of their psychological complexes) dictate their ideas and feelings which just react on the circumstances and conditions of their life. Be too dependent on your life, like too poor or too rich people, or be formed by a despotic milieu, and you will have too rigid and even extremist ideas. For example, it is meaningless or even dangerous to try to tell the truth about one spouse to another one – they form their ideas about each other based on “being”, not truth, and in a situation of their togetherness being means their dependence on one another based on narcissistic symbiosis of non-differentiation.
If god as an “absolute monarch” of being, or a despotic and belligerent secular ideology have exaggerated power and influence, the reason is that these projections/ constructions prosper on people’s feeling helpless in their socio-cultural being. In democratic conditions of life when prosperity is without consumerism and education is without careerism (when education is for living, for demythologized understanding of conditions of living) there is no chance for development of extremist religious or secular ideologies because with a healthy prosperity and truth-centered education human self-respect and the feeling of one’s social influence grow to a very impressive degree (that registered in growing of middle-class) and then prevent belligerency and intolerance towards the carriers of otherness and credulity towards leaders and bosses.
Austerity is an ingenuous strategy of transforming the masses into crowds susceptible to propaganda and overwhelmed with the militancy and scapegoating passion to search for people “guilty for our problems”. People without a healthy prosperity and humanistic education are intellectually and spiritually devastated, and then extremist ideologies can easily rule over them (by providing them primitive narcissistic compensatory pleasures – the right to hate, idolatrous pride and self-aggrandizing identification with the truth through believing and idolized authoritarian leaders).
Austerity for population is the basic strategy of de-democratizing the democratic countries. It quickly reduces democracy to pre-democracy (with its dominance of irrational beliefs over rationality, credulity towards wealthy decision-makers, militarization of the economy and the bastardization of masses becoming more belligerent, self-sacrificial and pro-war oriented.
If in pre-democracy traditional: rigid and dogmatic – conservative “consciousness”, indeed, dominates being, in the democratic conditions of life consciousness is in a friendly collaboration with being. Democratic being produces friendly forms of consciousness. In a healthy (not deteriorating into totalitarianism) democracy there is no domination of consciousness over being or being over consciousness – the both are influencing one another in free collaboration with one another. When intellectuality and spirituality are not authoritarian categories they don’t dominate being – they are part of it. There is no anymore the metaphysization of spirituality and intellectuality or their reduction into pre-scientific “common sense”. The very thinking becomes ontologized, and, on the other hand, being becomes sublimated and impregnated with disinterested rationality.
Being-consciousness dichotomy becomes dissolved when thinking becomes part of life in a form of humanistic thinking oriented not on technological domination over life but on the survival of humanity as whole in embrace with nature. The implications of this democratic rapport between what previously was being and what previously was metaphysicized consciousness, for pedagogy are very substantial. How from the vantage point of an existentialized consciousness to explain the truth to those who live, as we all do, in being? Consciousness cannot talk from the position of being – it could be pure authoritarianism. At the same time being without consciousness would be like the consumerist obsessions of the type today’s mass culture has been built on. Only in a society without domination – direct, like in traditional totalitarian societies, or accumulated in money, free consciousness will be able to freely embrace free being where genuineness will match refinement and where to live will also mean to think and to love – to have a different identity from those whom you love and to help your beloved to grow as human being.
10 Jul 2014
The Lama sat
his false teeth
in a big
glass of water
on the sunny
By Allen Ginsberg (Aug/’92)
Lama is a title for teacher in Tibetan Buddhism. The name is similar to the Sanskrit term “guru”.
According to the logic of the poem’s images there are at least three kinds of distancing by spiritual effort from the illusory/fallen world for a human being who is lama. The first is signified in the poem by using the “bed” for a sitting (the decaying body can envelop itself with the bed as a consolation and protection from and at the same time preparation for mortality). The second is signified by the use of “bamboo backscratcher” (when the body itching with desires can pacify itself without violating the taboos). And the third is signified by “glass of water” with “the sunny windowsill” at its disposal. The problem here is that these three or four layers strategies of distancing between Lama and his physical death are at the same time the wall between Lama’s spiritual dedication and his spiritual self-realization.
Death (and preparation for it) seems to be the magic key for reaching the spiritual alternative to earthly misery. But how much this alternative is really alternative to the symbiosis with the tools for reaching alienation from everyday life?
According to the poem, it seems that it is not only death ahead what separates us from the kingdom of spirituality. It is deadness incarnated into (dead) artifacts and our dead need to use them. It is, first of all, the dentures which meditate under the sun while experiencing it through double or even triple mediation – of the window, of the glass and of the water inside it. It is not even Lama himself who is meditating. Technology does the meditation instead of him.
Well, what is the Lama doing every morning besides that he is awakening and taking the sitting position in the bed? He is alienating-through-appropriating the “fallen/illusory” world through using its artifacts (the bamboo backscratcher in his rhythmically moving hand and dentures taking a sun bath in a big glass of water) in order to connect himself with transcendent spirituality, even if only by eliminating the obstacles for achieving it (the itch of the back or the need to chew). By doing this he will eventually join the transcendent symbiotically, by identification, by uniting with/melting into it.
The “False teeth in a big glass of water on the sunny windowsill” is it seems the model of a dedicated meditation for Ginsberg’s poetic Lama. But isn’t becoming a part of non-being as an alternative to being just changing the symbiotic environment without transcending symbiotic relations? From “immanent transcendence” from the itch into scratch and from hunger into chewing in the nimbus of the taste inside the mouth we are moving to “transcendent transcendence” where we will settle out as we settled in during our life time. Is Spirituality for Lama a symbiotic partner as it is the case in our earthly existence with almost everything we come to assemble our togetherness – with our cell-phones and chat-partners, our cars, clothes, our spouses, our referent group, things we buy, our dreams, beliefs and ideals? Don’t we settle in the spirit as we do in life, as Ginsberg’s lama does in the bed, as Ginsberg’s lama’s dentures do in glass on the windowsill?
Is then the Ginsberg’s image of the meditating dentures simultaneously sublime and ironic image of our after-death future in spirit? May be, the “false teeth in a big glass of water on the sunny windowsill” is an ultimate parody on our idea of post-mortal spirituality even when it means “meditation” somewhere between incarnations.
08 Jul 2014
“Contempt” is the first part of Godard’s religious trilogy, followed by “Hail, Mary” (1985) and “Woe Is Me” (1993). While “Contempt” examines the psychological mechanism of relations between humans and gods of pagan “design” – the human humans (people with the psychology of god-worshippers) and the human gods (people with the psychology of unconscious identification with gods), “Hail, Mary” analyzes the psychological roots of the Christian cult of Saint Mary, and “Woe is Me” – the return of the pagan gods into post-Christian modernity in a form of technological constructions, tools and toys dominating people’s life in the Western democracies.
In his analysis of religious psychology Godard separates the people from religious (in a narrow sense) practices and metaphorizes these practices by personal and social relations between people in order to make their religious essence more articulate and vivid for the perception of the viewers. Religious psychology does not necessarily create loyalty to despotic dogmas (many atheists are very religious by psychology). In “Contempt” Godard shows how religious feelings show itself in private relations between Paul (Michel Piccoli), a modest writer of detective stories but educated person with an exceptional existentially spiritual taste, and his wife Camille (Brigitte Bardot), a monumental beauty, and in social relations between Paul (identifying with Homer and Odysseus) and the mighty Hollywood producer Jeremiah Prokosch (the new incarnation of Poseidon/Neptune), played by Jack Polance in the only intellectually serious performance of his whole career. The both “gods” – Camille and Prokosch are depicted with tender and subtle caricaturishness, while Paul’s destiny Godard generalizes as that of all of us, the humanity‘s.
Godard deconstructs the relations between humans and gods as known in history – as sociomorphic relations between human beings as such (personified by Paul) and the human gods (personified by Camille and Prokosch). On the level of the plot the film describes the disagreements between Paul (the author of the screenplay), Fritz Lang (the director) who plays himself, and Prokosch (the producer) – all trying together to make a film based on Homer’s “Odyssey”. But Godard’s scholarly intentions in the film are not limited to symbolizing a certain type of relations between human beings into relations between humans (human humans) and gods (human gods).
The second important scientific contribution of Godard in “Contempt” is his classification of the types of bonds human beings are inclined to establish between themselves and our historical past, and themselves and any work of art they perceive and react on. Here Prokosch personifies the type of perception of a past which is based on our projection into the historical past of our self-aggrandizement (our megalomaniacal need). For him Ancient Greece is a kind of Olympus in comparison with today’s life. This is, essentially, a conservative position based on authoritarian/totalitarian behavioral habits including our proneness for religious or secular cult of ancestors.
The second position is represented by Fritz Lang who tends to “objectively” study the human past without the need for any identification with it. This position is that of the many liberal scholars – it’s the accumulation of a kind of an archival knowledge about the past without any worshipful or critical emotions.
The third position is represented by Paul who sees in people of the previous epochs our existential brothers. He learns from the past and from the arts and understood that people who lived before us made their own attempts to resolve their problems with gods as idealized models (theologized, from the Olympus, or living on the Olympus of the tops of the social hierarchy), as we today trying to with the human gods of our own times. Existential identification with our ancient ancestors is simultaneously brotherly and critical.
The same three positions – projection of our self-aggrandizement (or its negative version), “objective” position of “neutral/truthful” representation, and existential identification Godard discerns in our relations with works of art.
“Contempt” occupies not only a unique place in the history of cinema and Western culture in general, but a distinguished place of an exemplary work of art.
The humorous poster of, as if, both films – Godard’s “Contempt” and Lang’s “Odysseus” inside Godard’s film. Lang in agreement with his concept of Odysseus is shown to be in scrupulous rapport with the viewers. Godard is shown as occupied with two projects at once, as the director of “Contempt” and as the assistant of the cameraman in, as if, Lang’s film. And Paul (Michel Piccoli) and Prokosch look at the distance – at Camille’s split destiny, both with the hope of being the one she’ll choose.
07 Jul 2014
“Tunes of Glory” is analytical as an intellectual film and it is also intense realistic acting-mediated in the best tradition of British theatre. The leading actors – Alec Guinness and John Mills – make the life of emotions of their characters the main vehicle of directorial analysis, with the help of the plot which is semantically crystallized with the articulateness of architectural motifs.
The film dismisses the commonly held belief that wars logically precede the existence of militaries (that armies exist to protect countries from enemies). The opposite is true – that armies “invent” wars to justify its existence. The main point (story) of the film is fight between two colonels for the commanding position in the Scottish battalion. The film insists that war is a function of an extremely hierarchical (based on unconditional subordination) structure of the army as a social institution. Fight for a higher place in the social hierarchy as a specific social behavior is, according to the film, a prototype of war-mongering and war-making. Societies with more intense competition for higher positions are more prone to be war-oriented. People for whom career-making is more important than contemplative and spiritual values are more belligerent and pro-conflicts and pro-war oriented.
The director and actors do a psychotherapy with the viewers by making us identify with charismatic characters and their glorious and deeply psychologically rooted fight for superiority, and at the same time they make us come to feel revolted by the inhumanity and immorality of this fight (whatever patriotic and humanistic justification for it our macho-shining heroes use). While experiencing the film we turn against ourselves, against our own unconscious belligerency and taste for winning.
The film analyzes the logical mechanism of tactical-strategic thinking and the psychology of human emotions involved in competition/fight/war. The film also provides the description of the types of women in relation to machoistic values and norms, and classification of the positions towards violence among servicemen.
While watching this film I, who long ago served for three years in a Soviet army as a private and remembered the psychology of Russian “warriors“ in the officer corps, couldn’t believe my eyes and ears. On the screen people talked in English with impeccable British intonational mannerisms, but I was hearing Russian words pronounced with the same emotions, when narcissism of unconscious self-glorification is blended with intolerance for contradictions, toughness in personal clashes and with permanent readiness for war. When I emigrated to the West I was naïve enough to think that I luckily will never meet again this race of military males with their hypertrophied masculinity and pathetic pride. Ronald Neame’s “Tunes of Glory” for me was a masterful negative prophesy of the 21st century of mass totalitarization and militarization of Western democracies.
Alec Guinness in the role of Jock Sinclair gave us chance to understand the very soul of universal conservative sensibility, but also the very incompatibility of this human type with life and humanistic development of humankind. We, viewers, understand, although suffer with Sinclair’s daughter, the fact that she couldn’t continue to have relations with her father as he is. Even if you have sympathy for conservatives and empathy for their ways of perceiving the reality, it is only through radical refutation of their ideas you can develop as human being.
Jock Sinclair, without understanding what exactly motivates him to behave so impatiently, insists on sleeping with his mistress exactly when he feels humiliated with the appearance of the new colonel (situation that automatically makes him second in command). She is refusing him by the same reason he is insisting – with the arriving of the new colonel, Jock is in a weaker position in the battalion. By pressing her to “surrender” he (unconsciously) hopes to restore his self-esteem, but if she will “support” a person in a weak situation she will “lose hers”. For her at this point it’s more pleasure to laugh at him than to love him. To return to Jock she first needs to see how his fight with the new superior will go. She can feel herself in stronger position and be really sexually aroused by exciting Jock to fight to the very end, like in real war. She is exactly the opposite of Jock’s daughter who is trying to persuade her father not to fight but to collaborate with the new commander.
06 Jul 2014
“Detective” analyzes the changed role of humanistic (public) intellectuals in Western societies (a trend that started around the last quarter of the 20th century and, as we can see today, it intensifies in the new century), and how this change has influenced everybody’s behavior and world view. From around the 18th century the Western intellectuals had a leading role in European historical/cultural development. They were people who tried to root spirituality in socio-political realities. They were carriers of democratic sensibility and tried to create a unity between culture and the masses of people, they risked their comforts and sometimes lives for the sake of existential truth. According to “Detective”, it is not true anymore – today intellectuals are transformed into technical specialists hired by the social powers.
Godard represents such culturally mutated intellectuals in the film. One of them – a private investigator with an air of a philosopher and a poet (Laurent Terzieff with his charm of other-worldliness), but his thinking about life is reduced and flattened. His nephew Isidore (Jean-Pierre Leaud in his top performance as a comic actor) is the personification of today’s liberal sensibility (gentle-dry and conformist) and the main focus of Godard’s tragic vision of today’s advanced societies where intellectuals betray their traditional historic-moral mission.
In “Detective” Godard offers his classification of human groups/clans today’s post-industrial societies consist of. One group are those who live by investing money – they are personified by an intelligent and educated married couple (Natalie Baye and Claude Brasseur – both are masters of elaborate characterization, through art of acting, of the states of the human soul. The other group consists of those who multiply money invested into their entrepreneurial adventures – they are personified by sports events businessman (Johnny Halliday who proved to be a very sophisticated actor). But the main clan Godard metaphorically names “mafia” – it is the people who live and make their fortunes on extorting money (Godard’s Mafiosi take from people money with a matter-of-factness of a tax collectors and righteousness of users of taxpayers’ funds for their personal self-enrichment through government contracts).
The film is dedicated to the analysis of relationships between these clans and to the depiction of the private love life of those who belong to them. The emotional and intellectual condition of the young people is characterized by Godard through several personages including “the wise young girl” (Julie Delpy‘s first irresistible performance/ presence) – this point of the film is especially important for the American viewers today to contemplate on, in order to be able to understand better the future of US and Europe.
It is, as if, the social function of the young people in our society is to be used and to amuse the elder people with money, in exchange for living like flowers in the spring air, until the wrong combination of cards will mark the time of their sacrifice which even the decent people among the “adults” will not be able to prevent.
Monstrous couple in a luxurious hotel, where people cannot be differentiated from the Mafiosi, intellectuals from detectives and secret agents, love from attempts to love and sex from social self-assertion.
The boxing champ is going through a transition from his profession to becoming the husband of the princess of Bahamas. How far semantics of Godard’s cinematic visuality is from today’s Hollywood’s naturalistic visual effects, how sophisticated it is in comparison with ad-like Hollywood perception of the world!
Godard’s representation of a love triangle between Arielle (in the centre), inspector Neveu (Jean-Pierre Leaud, in front of the mirror), and William Prospero, a detective by call of his heart (Laurent Terzieff) is like a picture of the emotional ruin of their life. We don’t see, in these people too much positive or negative libido (love, hate or jealousy), but a lot of personal suffering (in Arielle and Prospero), and “generous distance” of a “mature person” according to standards of post-modernity.
Posted on February 26, 2013 – Jean-Luc Godard’s “Detective” (1985) – Transformation of Western Culture into a Detective Story – Couples, Clans, Clashes and Collapses into Blood Spills by Acting-Out Politics