Acting-Out Politics

Weblog opens discussion about the psychology of Bushmerican style of behavior.

Degas “Reclining Nude”

Edgar Degas, “Studies of Nude”

Just imagine that “Reclining Nude” is covered by something like artificial fog – an opaque/cloudy as if veil – blurring the features of the female figure and our visual field. May be, Reclining Nude is “protecting against” the viewers through a semi-transparent optical obstacle, a form of soft isolation.

But let’s return to the “Studies of Nude”. Of course, we will not spend ourselves by the view of the woman/mother with baby (with all their attractiveness) and even with the amazing legs of the girl closest to us in spite of the fact that the upper part of her body is kidnapped from our visual field. But we’re absolutely overwhelmed by the lying nude protecting and in the same time attracting us with her body.

The girl’s right arm, as if covers her body, while her embraced both legs block her potential openness, while her left arm is reinforcing her two legs-two arms combination by keeping her foot as a guaranty of comfort. The static dynamism of the girl’s body makes the intensity of her self-protection dynamic. Her body became gently intense. Her body became, as if, acting, as if, active. To such a degree that her body that is protecting her is activated, as if, stretching into the world, stretching up!

Is it possible to create such a miracle? We don’t see the girl’s face. But we are learning her… face, as if, we know her. We see her protecting her body. We see that her body is yearning for the height of the sun and, as if, we can see her face directed toward the sky. And we are ready waiting to see it. We are ready to wait until the evening, until we will see her. And we will be ready to tell her how unusual, how tremendous she is. From the shore to the world. From the world to life. And from life to Degas’ art.

Her body locks by her bodily movements. Her hands and legs closing it off. And because of it, because it has, as if, barred itself and has closed itself off – it is impossibly wanted, extremely needed. She should open it with the sky, the sun, tenderness, warmth, wind. She should. Shouldn’t she?

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Fighting scene between mother and son

Dance scene in a café with Franco Citti


Joe Silvery’s (Matthew Barry) mother Caterina Silvery (Jill Clayburgh) is a famed opera-singer. Joe is an adolescent boy with a bit of a compulsive mind. Joe’s father and mother are separated (father an Italian who continues to live in Italy, but Caterina and Joe left for New-York when he was very small). Joe’s mother married an American in New-York and Joe thinks of his stepfather as his real father (his New-York father is an amazingly witty person). Joe’s relationship with elder girls eventually led him to risky/crispy interests. Joe started using drugs but the situation is more complicated than this – his love for his mother made him need her more and more (retrospective paradox of two fathers?). His mother was devastated because of her husband’s sudden death in New York and decides to go away… return to Italy. Joe desperately needed her so they leave together.

Bertolucci doesn’t clear it for us – whether the hero of the film (Joe) remembers his Italian father. Later Joe’s mother explains to him that her love with his father wasn’t too successful because of grandmother (mother of Joe’s Italian father). While being very good to baby-Joe she was very jealous of Joe’s mother’s relationship with her son (Joe’s father). You know – “old mothers of young men can be jealous of the young women in their son’s lives”. In short, after the death of Joe’s American father everything changed! The mother-singer started to talk to Joe about his Italian father because she did everything to pull Joe out of his drug-obsession and things got even more dramatic and created additional traumas not without Joe’s fixation on drugs. The grandmother perfectly well remembered baby-Joe’s sweet nude little body and she tried really well to embrace and accept Joe and his mother.

It was a time when mother and son were living in harmony – mother trained her voice and rehearsed her partituras and her son felt close to his mother. They lived prosperously and quietly.

Here is Joe, shining and serious. He, may perhaps have some bright thoughts. And his gaze is trying to penetrate through his youthful hairdo.

Joe touchingly likes to keep close to his mother, be near her. She is beautiful. She cannot avoid him. And he likes to joke remembering his late father who recently passed away

Everything is well, mother and son are sharing their good feelings and smiles. They are happy. Just the two of them together. After the recent death of the father and husband they are both trying to readjust.

But suddenly something happened. Joe frightened his mother. Now it’s difficult even to recognize her. Yes, it happened – Joe was using drugs. But why? Mother and son lived so… quietly, so positively, so… mutually. But, thank god, Caterina knows and feels how to help him. Look, how professionally she holds him – her arms is reaching around his chest. She is with him, but how keep him from falling? Mistakes are not supposed to be repeated.

What is Joe doing? – Is he preparing the stuff? He is heating up the spoon. He is getting ready to…

The heroic mother is trying to grab Joe’s hand, but he is putting up a fight. He is resisting her! Something is unforgivably growing between mother and son…

This is the girl who brings Joe the drug. Take a look at her – her eyes are, it seems, like glasses, she is frightened and, as if, mute. But Joe’s gaze looks decisively. Is he blind in this moment?

Joe is trying to use a fork (!) to open his vein. How could he reach this point to agree to put himself through this poisonous sensation? Joe is preparing and is almost ready.

The mother is trying to save her son

How for Joe to stop his drug addiction and simultaneously how for his mother to be able to return to Joe’s Italian father with her love? The task is not an easy one. First Joe has to overcome his own drug obsession, and of course, it will be possible only with the help of his mother. Second of all – he has to be able to persuade his mother to believe that he needs and loves her and will try to overcome his drug addiction for her sake. Third – he has to convince her to believe that he loves her with absolute dedication and will not betray her again with his drug use. And fourth – he has to not only establish his own ties with his father but help his father to love his mother like Joe loves her and then their family can recover and become the best of families in the world! Now, they are in Italy and his mother and father have to love each other!

Joe, who was sometimes “super quiet after the influence” became for a while better than before in helping his mother, himself and their future family, which had completely shattered, but has to be recovered. That’s how many tasks Joe has right before his demanding mind. He wants to… recover their awkward broken family. He wants to prevail, not more not less.

How Joe’s mother was trying to save him from the demon of his drug addiction. Joe for a first time felt himself adult with his mother. He felt bigger than she who, as if, became smaller – as in this picture above. It’s, as if Caterina had to lose, taking away from herself – to give him strength.

He never forgot how his mother nurtured him, how she suffered. She and he overcame his drug addiction. He and she both became normal human beings, both caring about one another. Joe started to believe that he can make it, achieve it – mother was able to help him with his addiction. Joe put up a lot of fight and resistance but she didn’t give into him. Joe was happy that his mother will be able to love his Italian father whom she left years ago.

Caterina and Joe have recovered. They both started to talk about their previous conversations, about his stepfather who recently passed away in New-York and about his real father, the Italian who is waiting for them both. And, it is Joe, he believes, is the one who will unite them.

Caterina even tried to entertain Joe by pretending to be interested in this absurdly behaving “looker after” (casual man flirting with her).

Caterina even started to restore her singing voice and her son restores his curiosity and started proudly observes his mother’s success on the stage, success like it was before in New York.

And it happened – real father together with his real son. Can it be after so many years? To the right in the distant background of this shot we see the fathers’ mother (Alida Valli), who nurtured baby Joe when they all lived together in her house for a short time.

Life returns to where it all began. Pay attention to the legs and pants of Joe’s real father – past and future father. We see Joe’s mother from the back. We see baby Joe in front of her. And we see the barefooted father in Jeans. God save the new family! God save the two men, big and small for being near the mother and wife. And the grandmother and grandson together!

What a magnificently shining and purely white wild horse! She, as if, underestimated the virile muscles of the jaguar embracing her. She is looking at us. She, as if, feels her impeccable beauty and, as if, doesn’t know that the jaguar’s teeth are already kissing and pressing her flesh. She senses that the admiring eyes of the jungle is upon her, but she already feels the wetness of her blood. Poor grace – poor beauty. No one here in the wild jungle will come to her rescue.

Henry Rousseau, “Tiger in a Tropical Storm – Surprised”, 1891

The tiger here is, obviously, a militant neo-conservative. He doesn’t live in civilization – for him who is the strongest creature around – the world is not reliable, everything here is dangerous without reasons. He is irritated and furious that the storm has “dared” to bother him: is trying (in his mind) to belittle and undermine his power. Continuation of the storm will make him not only bite the trees and branches and tear apart leafs, but will drive him to bomb the world and its inhabitants.

Henri Rousseau (1844-1910)

An energetic but a bit tired father-breadwinner obviously working hard for his large family. His two sons have a very particular – over-sensitive and over-fixated gaze. The newborn baby kept by the mother and enjoyed by the little sister – are, probably, also happy to feel himself sweetly sleeping in family’s hands.

Everything here leaves us with a very pleasant feelings. Everything is about universal happiness. Sunny heads, smooth bodies, fine skins and slightly dark-haired mother tell us a quiet and healthy family.

But why the boys who are so good looking seems so alerted, anxious? Who is alerting them? And why in such a seemingly prosperous family – with the father’s generous hands touching both his sons don’t seem to be relaxed? It’s for sure that husband and wife love one another. And it’s certainly impossible that they just can’t relax in the best way possible? But their children’s gaze are alerting. Where are they looking? Are they expecting something unpleasant to disrupt their life? Some negative surprises, a dangers, sudden attack, hate towards their family?

It already happened in the Germany of the ‘20-‘30s (20th century) – the painful paroxysmal polarization of the population. Contradictory, disagreeable ways of life, a pathological tendencies like the time before 1945 and in the beginning of the two decades of 21st century in US there is a similar levels of intolerance and hate between different groups and individuals (with different – antagonistic tastes and orientations), when hate is always against Democracy. Starting with the praxis of unbearably pathetic pathology of using military type of weapons on the streets and vicious robberies of stores or invasion of private homes or stores, or use of dangerously addictive drugs which is spreading like cancer and taking hold of various spheres of life. But the unstoppable devastation of increasing individual or collective violence and hate (against various groups of population and individuals) are politically motivated. People hate because they want to dominate and be richer than others. Thuggish and violent verbal physical attacks become popular today in US and the way for Powers and wealth to triumph over the population.

That’s why children in this German Nazi propaganda poster have such a heavy and suspicious gazes. They have already come to believe that some people and groups (of people) are not only suspicious but are very dangerous and can inflict physical harm to them and their family. It’s very easy to lie to children and people who are poorly informed and have a limited education or are under the influence of authoritarian personalities who know how to weave the reality with their words. The boys in the Nazi propaganda poster easily believe in what the masters of lies are suggesting. The results are always – wars and catastrophes like WWII or “Hiroshima-Nagasaki” or even the attack on the Capitol building and crimes of political lies from all directions.

The absence of humanistic education opens the doors for the lying mouths of the profiteers who for the sake of their profits are ready to manipulate and entertain the crowds and make them do whatever the masters want. The poor are seduced by handouts and are ready to repeat hate against democracy, instead of getting education in modesty, decency and truth.

Existentialist Sensitivity against a Life of Obsessions, Seductions, Career Rivalries

It’s suggested from the one side that Jean-Paul is a rare and a tremendous person as an actor, and from another side that he is poisoned by bravado and idealism. It is this which leads to sometimes pop-structure solutions to his films which he can be redeemed by being criticized.

The point of a revolutionary dream for the heroes of “Breathless” Michel Poiccard (Jean Belmondo) and Patricia (Jean Seberg) becomes the very genuine depth of their love. In philistine couples, on the other hand, the content of their dream is determined by the “tautological, flat and vulgar content of their love”. A genuine revolutionary dream (for example, a humanistically democratic dream) is very difficult to approach and to nurture it – will be always “not of this world”.

With Michel she couldn’t resist putting him through the ordeal of having to prove his love. Of course, he passed the ordeal only too well. His death at the hands of the police became the proof Patricia is left with – the proof of his love at the price of his life.

Michel’s critical posture toward the society Michel’s mimic formula of people’s conformism

Michel’s last communication – his mimic critical formula of people’s (Patricia’s) conformism – greed to consume fun provided by society in exchange for obedience, polite and happy smiles trying to persuade those who like a smiling person loyal to everyday life, and serious in making career and success to please the decision-makers and their bodyguards.

Jean-Paul Belmondo 1933-2021

Jean-Paul Belmondo

Federico Fellini (on the left), Michelangelo Antonioni (on the right) and Donald Sutherland (in the center) discussing “Casanova”. Fellini seems ready – ready with two fists. Antonioni giving him a generous smile. And Donald Sutherland is already well inside his role. He is talking with the two of the greatest directors in the name of great super-historical character.

How difficult to explain Casanova – look at Fellini and then look at Federico’s eyes, not only eyes, but face and gesticulation. Can Donald Sutherland first of all become – Casanova, but then second of all become Fellini, or another way around – first become Fellini and then – Casanova? It looks like he ought to and he will.

The first acquaintance. No need to laugh at Casanova because his task is to awaken “her” – making “her” alive. Fellini and Sutherland’s great and unbelievable task! It’s not like the creation of robots – technological miracles! And it’s not like using people like robots for money. It’s awakening the dead or sleeping creature into a humane one. To transform a servant into partner, companion and colleague, loveliness into love, love into lovemaking, lovemaking into loving.

Among Casanova’s magical attributes people have already seen his amazing little creature. It’s the metal bird that represents Casanova’ erotic fantasies, readiness and potency. The bird is metal-hard. And it is a shining-metal body. And it has a voice made of metal – the voice of the bird’ body-ness.

When it happened for the first time Casanova was devastated. To just say – he was overwhelmed – he was over-turned – would be too poorly address it.

Amour needs delicateness, amour needs gentle step-by-step-ness, and amour needs amour-ness. Look at the woman’s hand which is not touching Casanova’s body, not yet body, not yet.

The kiss needs distance. When man’s kiss touches lips, the lips of the woman not opens – woman’s hand still not touching man’s body. Only light in the bedroom is loses light of contrast. This light became – of morning.

Lovers are sharing movements – dancing and distanced touching. Everything here is only moments, it is just a return of a return. It is just a turning of a turning. It’s just a representing of a representation.

Fellini is not only teaching Donald Sutherland, he is teaching himself and the doll – how to be human. They’re also teaching themselves how to learn to become human, to be gently human.

Federico is grateful to Donald, while Donald is in tears being next to Federico, near forever – near together, near art, near creativity.

Beautiful monsters never leave art but art never leaves the beautiful monsters

MM 1 (magnificent monsters)

BM 2 (beautiful monsters)

BM 3

BM 4

No one can resist the moment of bragging, even Donald Sutherland’s Casanova

Margarethe Clementi plays the “exquisite” nun in “Casanova” by Federico

BM 5 (Beautiful monster in “Casanova”). She is trying to outdo Margarethe Clementi and is doomed in triumphant vanity.

To the Memory of Chantal Ackerman (1950-2015)

The smile on Chantal Ackerman’s face in this photo is, may be a kind of a bitter smile or, may be, the smile of bitterness. But her face is softened by her wise and even tender gaze and her gentle wrinkles.

Jeanne Dielman (Delphine Seyrig) is looking at her son like, indeed, only a mother can – by appropriating his very presence, his very existence and even enjoys his very white skin that matches her own.

Mother and son loved late hour talks, and she never neglected serious topics with him and he didn’t try to evade either. For them pre-sleeping topics were a precious preamble of mother-and-son routine exchange of two minds.

The woman of the house and her son were living more than modest. Here, we see a not too often client paying Jeanne Dielman very accurately for his visit. Jeanne and her son lived quietly and were never bothered by any visitors. Pay attention to the position of Jeanne’s hands, waiting for the money – this position is not out of the extraordinary, it’s rather a habitual one.

Jeanne Dielman very seldom had the chance of buying for herself a rare thing. But when eventually she did she was enjoying it. Her elegance was a matter of taste, not matter of her closet. Look at how she is matter-of-factly enjoying it, with a pleasant accentuation.

Every day at a regular time Jeanne prepares the meal. She is never too sad or melancholic. She was always ready to explain or respond to anything her son asked her. Sometimes she was even very talkative.

Sometimes she was expecting visitors. Then she, indeed, became a bit depressed. She looked at herself – just sitting while waiting for her visitor. It was she, the mirror and the waiting. In such situations when her son returned from school he would try to entertain her with modest jokes.

The necessity to “wait for clients” made hygienic bathroom habitual. From one side it occupied Jeanne, making her busy but from another – as if, forgetful and bored.

Sometimes it was possible to think that Jeanne is crying instead of washing herself in the bathtub.

At times Sylvain (Jeanne’s son) had the impression that his mother is sitting in the same posture in the bathtub without moving for a long time and would try to call her from his room through the closed door.

When Jeanne was modestly but elegantly dressed up it usually meant that she was expecting a client – mother needed to make money for her son. But this very point doesn’t seem too important for Chantal Ackerman’s film. This film seems to be totally emphasizing a different point. It’s not so much that life is difficult, as it’s well known, and that prostitution is widespread. But closer to the end Ackerman has prepared a much more radical idea for us. And we cannot avoid it.

Jeanne Dielman is a person who tried to earn some money to improve the life of her family. But suddenly her new lover has… awakened her orgasmic capacity. Jeanne lived honestly by trying to take care and feed her family, but unexpectedly her strange and unpleasant sensuous discovery took this very right from her to make money through her sexual function. For the first time Jeanne had started to feel herself as a money-maker through her body. Awakening her sexual potency… destroyed Jeanne Dielman’s honest sexual life for money. Jeanne has sense of tormenting shame for starting to feel an erotic excitement when she was with her clients.

For Jeanne Dielman to feel “orgasmic monster” means to stop to be a decent human being. Jeanne felt herself as a pseudo-erotic organ. Nobody knows what happened with so called “man” who was responsible for Jeanne Dielman’s “perverted awakening”. Nobody knows where this terrifying man is today, is he alive or already dead?

Only Jeanne Dielman can know what really happened to her, if, of course, she could be inclined to share it with others.

Jeanne Dielman knows. Look at her hand. Look at her head to the side. Look at the spots on her blouse. What happened? And what will come? That’s how simple everyday sexuality can turn out… fatal. And that’s without any demonic connotation. Many women who knew Jeanne for years and respected her very much for her purity and orderliness really suffered for what happened to her!

Young Chantal Ackerman

But the point of Chantal Ackerman is different – the point is the role of sexuality in human life – its need in human life. Human beings cannot live only by work and money. Sexual deviations appeared because people cannot… love, because instead of love people invent – lust, pure physical satisfaction instead of love. Many think they need sexual satisfaction instead of need for love. Or they need love instead of sexual satisfaction.

Sexual satisfaction is a basic human need. Eros enlightens human existence. It is what Jeanne Dielman will be able to discover. Eros is not Lust! Eros can be serious – much more serious than money and power.

Clive’s idealistic dream is a disappointment – usually strong people become richer-preacher and ruder-cruder and more hermetically protected from the danger of going down. The weaker and more desperate people become more aggressive and despotic. They are ready to fight and they are ready to rob-grab. Clive was “rich”, but lives modestly as only a writer can – he was writing – “wasting himself”. What appears like a thick “rope” behind his head and back is not a rope but the part of the window. But Clive felt as if he was on the rope. He couldn’t just go on with life.

By his face he is crying. Together with nature life is going out. Together with life nature is going to nowhere. Together with thinking talking is transformed into fight. Together with fight hate is activated more and more. But Clive’s sense of torment is absolute. It’s unstoppable.

But a little joke helped – Clive’s oldest son Claude to openly admit that in their last intellectual verbal quarrel father had won. So, Clive repeats it to himself with pleasure of what Claude had said – “Set and game to father”.

And Clive repeated again what Claude said, Claude who was his pride. That is ages ago.

Clive is older and older…He knew that his son, probably, joked at him among friends, but it’s still pleasant to repeat after his son about the triumph of the father. Look at Clive’s child’s face. It’s happiness itself. It’s like a joy forever. It’s like eternal youth or even eternal childhood.

After Clive’s wife Molly fatefully cut her wrist in the bathtub he cannot forget it – not only the cruelty with which she did it, but with the desire to do when Clive was in next room. He heard, as if something wrong, and he was right… After this Clive’s face was transformed into something like a wet cotton. He lived in this state of mind for a while.

Many times Clive was positioning Molly’s photo next to his own reflection in the mirror – he, as if, became obsessed with seeing her simultaneously together with his own guilty features, a stupid ritual he couldn’t stop. Yes, there were moments when he behaved so desperately ugly – when he detested the world and couldn’t tolerate it, which had nothing to do with Molly – but with the world. Children don’t understand the burdens their fathers had to bear. And they don’t understand how fathers are in reality helpless, hopelessly helpless.

It was the last time Clive meets with his family, and he was especially disappointed – especially irritated with his elder son Claude. Lawyers are different from writers – they build thinking like it is a brick wall. They are unlike writers who create ideas as alive matter. Oh, artistic prose – lawyers don’t like it, for them it’s like psoriasis. They prefer victoriously chew and swallow bricks.

On this day Clive’s family visited him, and after lunch Clive gave a solemn speech and said goodbyes to his children. He knows that he will not live for much longer and that he will not live long enough to finish his last book. Clive never cried, but his particular “ephemeral” crying grimace is all he allowed himself. It’s his particular facial expression. But it’s a realistic expression of the human soul. It’s the human soul on his face. The truth of human soul on his face.

He remembers how he and his wife Molly were held in a barbwire fenced field, where many were killed by soldiers, but they were lucky and survived.

He again and again was imagining himself under autopsy by the scalpel of the pathologist… He was without panic.

John Gielgud with his beautifully, disproportionally complicated features (1904-2000)

John Gielgud with his multi configured face

John Gielgud towards his more mature age

« Previous Entries  Next Page »


September 2021
« Aug