Acting-Out Politics

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

From Adolescent Rebellion To Creative Sublimation

Bach is for me one of the last figures in the history of German culture for whom there is not yet a divorce between what one might call the artist and the intellectual… there is not with him the slightest separation between intelligence, art and life, nor is there a conflict between “profane” and “sacred” music, with him everything is on the same plane.
Jean Marie Straub

Bach was precisely someone who reacted against his own inertia, although he was deeply rooted in his times, and was oppressed.
Jean Marie Straub

“Chronicle” critiques the exploitation of artist in the mode of production.
Jean Marie Straub

Throughout the film, it appears that piece after piece that Bach composes is commissioned after a loss, to be played as hymn. There are some works made simply in praise, but even then, these are often located in this chronicle aside another lost Bach child.
Ryland Walker Knight, “A glance at J-M Straub and Daniele Huillet’s ‘Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach’” (2009)

Bach’s compositions became a receptacle for the turbulence of his life, including the loss of his parents as a child and later his first wife and 12 of his 20 children before they had reached the age of three – well beyond the average, even at a time when infant mortality was ubiquitous.
John Eliot Gardiner, “Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach”

Bach’s education was troubled by gang warfare and bullying, sadism and sodomy – as well of his own extensive truancy.
John Eliot Gardiner, ibid.

We yearn to know what kind of a person was capable of composing music so complex that it leaves us completely mystified, then… so irresistibly rhythmic that we want to get up and dance to it, and then… so full of poignant emotion that we are moved to the very core of our being.
John Eliot Gardiner, ibid.

Jean-Marie Straub, Daniele Huillet and “The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach”

Jean Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, young and enlighteningly thoughtful

Genius starts with being a child

According to documents, in Bach’s first school (Eisenach Latin school in Thuringia, Germany) attended by the children of bourgeois tradespeople, the boys were “rowdy, subversive, thuggish, beer- and wine-loving, girl-chasing … breaking windows and brandishing their daggers… Many parents kept their children at home – not because they were sick, but for the fear of what went on in or outside the school. For punishment, boys endured beating and threats of ‘eternal damnation’”. “The Guardian”, John Eliot Gardiner’s ideas about Bach’s life.

Straub/Huillet’s semantic construction of this shot includes, it seems, not just humorous, but satirical connotations. Look, how wide and hard some chorus boys open their mouths while singing. It’s not just “severe training”, but a pedagogy hooked on perfectionism fed on imaginary, and based on child abuse and probably sexual exploitation. Composition of the shot suggests that in the worldview dominant in church schools during Bach’s time in Germany, there was place for two kind of “children” – the first are angels supporting the heaven (we see them behind the chorister boys who are the second kind and first of all need a strict discipline). In other words, the best kids are those who are doing the impossibly difficult job of physically supporting the universe by the fact of their angelic goodness, while the worst kids (kids as such) better learn – how to glorify god through church singing and mechanical obedience to teachers and social authorities.

Chorister boys and the young men during a session of singing training

Metaphoric landscape corresponding to a worldview which asserts that human beings are supposed to be above nature and must please god with their efforts to transform “pagan” nature covered by veil of sins through their redemptive efforts.

Johann Sebastian’s everyday work

Gustav Leonhardt in the role of Johann Sebastian Bach

Handwriting of Johann Sebastian

On the left and behind the musicians following Bach’s conducting we see again the angels keeping the Creator’s world from collapse – a widespread motif of the church‘s interior design: the courageous innocence that keeps the world existing.

The composition of the shot seems to suggest that the sublime beauty of Bach’s music makes the human soul move up, as if, closer to the throne of the creator.

Johann Sebastian (Gustav Leonhardt) as a chorus-master and spiritual pedagogue.

Personal life and dedication to art’s “organism” and otherness

Bach’s second wife Anna Magdalena Bach (Christiane Lang) is rehearsing, with her and Johann Sebastian’s daughter by her side.

It’s not easy to keep the amorous flame alive between a rigid social system, an incredibly difficult profession, cultural obligations, raising children, the call of the music and the expectations of Johann Sebastian’s talent.

Angel of creative inspiration again has kidnapped Anna-Magdalena’s husband from his family

Bach with Anna Magdalena (an accomplished musician herself) are working together

Johan Sebastian and Anna Magdalena are rehearsing together

When human development is the growth of professionalism and special talent

Bach again and again at the piano

Bach at the harpsichord perfecting his own piece

Don’t miss behind the chorister boys the motif of angel supporting the universe. Gardiner examined the records of the three schools Bach attended. “A villain of one place, where Bach was a chorister was a master and church cantor at Ohrdruf. The teacher was a sadistic disciplinarian inflicting on the pupils ‘intolerable punishments’. He was eventually sacked as ‘the plague of the school, the scandal of the church and the cancer of the city’, but the 12-year-old Bach had endured an ‘unusually close exposure to him’”, according to Gardiner.


Jean Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet are an exceptional phenomenon in filmmaking. They’re “on the side” of the quality of human life rather than unconditional admirers of human professional achievements. Although the division of labor and specialized work are inevitable in the order of things and human professional achievements deserve respect, for Straub/Huillet it’s the holistic human creativity that can transform life into something more morally fit and dignity oriented – what deserves the ultimate praising.

Straub and Huillet are artists combining in their films their aesthetic and existential aspirations united in their unique and organic image-aggregates, like not so many film-directors are capable to do. Of course, they’re doing it in their own manner, not like Godard who crystallizes the semantic structure of his narratives in an “abstract” architecture-like constructions following a logic compatible or almost compatible with visual images, and not like Resnais, who dissolves the political aspect of reality in waves of human emotional reactions. Straub/Huillet intentionally “flatten” the aesthetic side of their representation so as not to cover the presence of political motivations and determinations in human life. In this sense they’re something of ascetic aesthetes.

For Straub/Huillet Johann Sebastian Bach’s life is very important inspiration and challenge because they detect Bach’s latent proto-political passions inside the composer’s very genius, but who couldn’t sympathize with many specialists’ reduction of his existentially rebellious motivations in his unconscious to his professional achievements as a composer and musician. Of course, Bach was a religious person living in a religious epoch, but it’s the unconscious mutinous segments of his sub-personality – what attracted Straub-Huillet’s curiosity and attention for his existential limitations (of a person who is so exceptionally gifted in his musical self-expression).

At this point Edward Said’s review of Christoph Wolff’s book “Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician” can help us to trace the roots of Bach’s social life. “Steeped as he was in Protestant belief, drilled in its practices, immersed in its music and lore, Bach remains a pious-seeming Christian… Yet, there is something unmistakably demonic and frightening about his fervor. Of course, he worked on his study of technique and on his scores, but in always all of them he achieved feats of creativity that must have left him deeply impressed by his own gifts. One cannot help wondering whether all the piety and expressions of humility before God weren’t also Bach’s way of keeping something considerably darker – more exuberant, more hubristic, verging on the blasphemous – at bay, something within himself, which his music with its contrapuntal wizardry also communicates… “. (Edward Said, “Cosmic Ambition”).

The existential conformism and non-conformism came together in Bach’s musical genius. The first is the under-skin of his “deep-rooted devoutness” (Edward Said) and his “lifelong striving for musical perfection” (E.S.), but his existential non-conformism found way to express itself through his “unappeased, unappeasable creative energy” (E.S.).

John Eliot Gardiner’s phrases “J.S. Bach was a hooligan in his youth” and “Bach was a reformed teenage thug” reflect the fact that as a kid Bach was able to express his resistance to rigid and often repressive nature of society he was born into – only through childish strategies of “hooliganism” and “thuggery”. Children don’t have yet “sublimated” and rational ways to react on oppression and child abuse. As an adult Bach was already capable of resisting through his creativity. Victims of despotism of adults (anti-pedagogical zealots in the role of teachers) are doomed to express their protest through childish stubbornness, self-defensive capriciousness and petty criminal behavior. But Bach-the adult was able not to repress his past but to connect it with his creativity – with the glory of his achievements.

In their film Straub and Huillet were concentrating on the anti-existential “coloration” of Bach’s everyday life dominated by monotonously systematic efforts to perfect his musical craft and train his creative exuberance. We see Johann Sebastian and Anna Magdalena working with scores and rehearsing alone or with other musicians, but we never see them… living. If we consider, how much time our contemporaries spend looking for and changing jobs, fighting for their positions, trying to upgrade their careers and perfect their work performance to achieve higher salaries, even if we minus the time they spend on consumption and entertainment (Bach to our joy didn’t have this trashy luxury), their time swallowed by the demands of their survival is comparable with what was during the Bach’s time. We, today don’t have much time for living. And with all of this we don’t have many people who in their professions could be compared with what Bach could achieve in his. Instead today we have myriad of jazz-rock-pop and -mop creators and performers, each of whom possess much more luxury than Johann Sebastian (occupied with much more essential values), ever could think about.

Petra is a successful fashion designer of women’s clothing, Petra-the beauty, Petra-the shining, Petra-the glamorous, Petra-the wise, Petra-the center of the universe, Petra-the everything, Petra – more than everything. Of course, we are not having a deal here with one-dimensional capricious/despotic queen from Hollywood movies. Petra, first of all, is gentle, modest, sensitive. This is the psychological “soil” of her immanent humility which she is not even conscious about. Petra is able to be “more than everything” in a sublime – real sense.

Karin, an unemployed attractive young woman desperately looking for success, appears, full of hopes, in Petra’s world. But how organically Petra’s fragile, subtile body blends with the stylistic excess of her semi-dress! Also, pay attention to Karin’s clothes, when she for the first time has been invited to Petra’s place as a guest – in a style of Amazon warrior. Her breasts and neck are, as if, armored, first against caresses, and second against suffocation. Again, we here are experiencing – Fassbinder’s film where symbolic meaning is preferred to a naturalistic one. Here, Karin’s defense of her neck and breasts is rather a hint at a warning than “material”, actual defense.

But why to start a business relationship by preparing to defend yourself? Many people start a new job without fighting predisposition. Probably, it’s either because some folks are not too sensitive to inequality or because they are ready to accept it for the sake of having a job, career and social success. Of course, in Fassbinder’s film even potential conflicts are coded from the beginning.

Petra tries to fascinate Karin with the multifaceted glamor of her personality without being conscious that Karin in her situation would agree to everything even if Petra were less irresistible. Anyway, Petra kept irradiating her aurora lights – for her it wasn’t something like calculative seduction, but in Karin’s presence she felt a kind of creative exuberance, inspiration to feel a taste for life.

With Karin Petra was smart, versatile, admirable, emotionally sophisticated, masterful, and adorable and – look at her right shoulder (with her arm on the footboard of her bed)

The master and the future disciple and protégé were closer and closer to a double deal with two Champaign bottles. In her offers Petra was generous but without losing her head.

For Petra the attractiveness of Karin as a certain type of femininity seems to have been her fruit-like plum-ness or berry-like excess of not yet spend fertility.

But what happened to Karin here? Why such a suffering on her face? And this after such a triumphant beginning of a Petra-Karin business collaboration, reciprocal creative efforts of an artist and model plus a more than satisfying personal relationship? Why Petra prostrated before Karin is trying to persuade her of her love while a little earlier there was no shadow of doubt about Karin’s success as a model and an equal partner in love?

Karin is going ahead with her obvious desire to hurt Petra. For what? For being too generous? For being too generous. For being an irresistible mentor? For being a master and enjoying it? Karin could find only one vulnerable point in Petra’s mighty self-image, and she decided to go after it with all the power she could muster. But how could this kind of ingratitude take place? Why? Karin is not envious and a vengeful person, she is very compassionate and tender. And Petra really cares about her, genuinely try hard to build her future.

Petra is really hurt, but she can afford to use the whole palette of her suffering “because of being so unjustly mistreated and treacherously betrayed”. In our time of “naked pursuit of social success” it’s, probably, the last luxury to sincerely suffer. Only a person who had triumph in life could lose it, and suffering can always remind about successful times.

Eventually Karin releases her main power (the trump card of Hannah Shygulla’s expressiveness) – her incredible – relaxed and disarming laughter, with which nature always defeats even the most extra-ordinary cultural achievements. This Karin’s laughter which always put Petra right in the middle of bliss from any worry, Karin uses again, and Petra again is ready to forget what’s happened. But it didn’t eliminate the basic problem.

Karin has left. And for Petra the only thing left is to wait for her return. She believed, that Karin’s return will happened.

Dem-3 Photo. Helene Jeanbrau © 1996 cine-tamaris.tif
To be completely under and in the hands of a master, even if these hands are gentle and caring and loving, but the kindness and love is like… charity, when everything is completely up to the master. Karin was fighting for her dignity – for being morally an equal partner in relationship. Karin and Petra must become allies in their fight with inequality in their own relationship. Their love should change – it supposed to be more respectful towards the one with less authority and initiative, towards the “junior member” of togetherness.

We, Americans today unexpectedly find ourselves very close to Karin’s problem in her relationship with Petra. The Republican majority’s recent Tax Bill gave chance to some billionaires to loudly boost about their intent to give the workers working for them generous money gifts. Neocon masters always preferred not to be obliged to take care of their employees if the law tells them to. They could like to help sometimes, not systematically and voluntarily, like charity because they like to be benefactors and hear gratitude for their kindness. But when the democratic government helps the needy, it is because they feel obliged to do this, and the reason they feel obliged is because they think that people who need help own this help in advance, that help belongs to those who need it. The more handouts the wealthy will sometimes throw to the workers, the unemployed, children or elderly and sick, the more inequality will grow in the country and the more will grow the proclivity of the poor to be idolatrous towards the rich (to treat them as super-humans).

Posted on 8/20/2015 – R. W. Fassbinder’s “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” (1972) – The Art And Science Of Amorous Domination (Feminine Touch In A World Of Masculine Competition) by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on 10/9/2015 – “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” (1972) by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (RWF) by Acting-Out Politics

posted on March/1/2009 – Film Review of “Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” (1972) by Rainer Werner Fassbinder by Acting-Out Politics

The Director’s Effort To Defeat The Distortions Of Historical Narratives By Communicating To The Viewers The Hidden Truth And Its Explanation

Bertolucci’s “The Spider’s Stratagem” is constructed with semantically interconnected visual metaphors trying to explain to the viewers of the film – how historical narratives written according to the logic of the spider’s stratagem are cognitively organized for the purpose of fooling and cheating people (through offering them ideologically concocted versions of historical past, which support the decision-making elite’s interests).

In Bertolucci’s film depicting through flash-backs the time when the main character Athos Magnani Sr. lived and tried to fight fascism, three other individuals created a propagandistically solemn narrative about Athos as a great/brave antifascist hero (so, what is the problem then? – will be the feeling of some viewers). These three figures are – Costa (Tino Scotti), the owner of an open air movie theater, Rasori (Franco Giovanelli), the teacher, and Garibazzi/Gaibazzi (Pippo Campanini), the maker and local seller of salamis, versatile and respectable cook and opera lover. They, according to the surface structure of the film, are the “good guys” – antifascists belonging to the same underground antifascist cell, like Athos himself. It’s them, who made Athos Magnani the legendary hero of Tara (a small country town where the protagonists of the film live), a person people talk about with admiration and gratitude and pride, because they unconditionally believed in the popular legend about Athos. The four members of antifascist organization were all together, until… Athos told his friends that he gave secret information about their organization to the local fascist leadership. This was the reason they transformed him into a legend of the local land, a person who was beastly tortured and killed by Mussolini’s gang. In reality Athos was killed by his comrades in arms – Costa, Rasori and Gaibazzi in agreement with his own plan!

The shot above registers a much later time, when the war has long been over, Athos Magnani-the hero became his own bust, and Athos Magnani-the son, who was born far away from Tara and whose existence almost nobody there knew about, suddenly arrived to the town to pay respect to the memory of his father and find details about his life and personality. But the more the young Athos Magnani tried to search about new facts the more our tree previous antifascists became worried and suspicious. And history suddenly took a turn in the direction of repeating itself.

In the still above we see that our three senior hero-antifascists are doing something very strange. Gaibazzi (to the right) is producing absurd intimidating vocalizations, while Rasori (to the left) and Costa (in the center) are striking the giant dumpster with clubs creating menacing sounds. Whom do our brave fighters with fascists intend to frighten with such bizarre and rather comic behavior? The point here is that Gaibazzi, Rasori and Costa actually can think that beating the dumpster is intimidating for those who can hear it. Did they wanted to intimidate Athos Magnani Jr. to stop him from trying to find the truth about his father’s murder? The young Athos is smart enough not even to react on such awkward way of threatening him to throw his corpse to the dumpster. But three previous antifascists were always prone to create this type of pseudo-fighting behavior – for example, long time ago they were occupied with the idea to kill Mussolini during the opera performance. Besides, exactly in this way, through beating dumpster they were trying to intimidate Athos Magnani Sr., who, as they believed, really betrayed their common cause of antifascist resistance. It seems that this trio of antifascists are in reality dumpster-beaters, not fighters at all. They are just clowns-antifascists. Their behavior throws light on the real reason of Athos-the father’s despair, who understood that with people like his friends it’s impossible to efficiently fight fascism.

Athos Magnani Sr. is not only a martyr-fighter, but the martyr-truth seeker. More, he is also a martyr-truth hider. He needs to become a heroic victim of fascism in the eyes of his own and the next generations, because he understood, that there is no another way to make people hate fascism – only through cathecting the revolutionary, anti-fascist tradition of mythological heroism. He knows that regular people, like Costa, Rasori and Gaibazzi will not fight fascism – will not risk their more or less comfortable and quiet everyday existence. He sees, that people will passively collaborate with fascist power. The tragic clairvoyance of the elder Magnani is especially impressive today when in the 21st century we see totalitarization of democracies, growing austerity for population, intensification of inequality and widening support for authoritarian leaders.

Posted on Jan 4 2015 – “Spider’s Stratagem” (1970) By Bernardo Bertolucci (based on a short story “Theme of the Traitor and the Hero” by Luis Borges) by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on Nov 24 2014 – Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Spider’s Stratagem” (1970) – We In the 21st Century, Three Athos Magnanis And The Historical Process’ Spider’s Strategem (The Analysis of BB’s “SS”) by Acting-Out Politics

DESTROY SHE SAID (Marguerite Duras, 1969) from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.

Unfortunately this clip doesn’t include English translation but it’s visually expressive.

To survive physically after being exposed to catastrophically inhumane experiences – after being extremely violated by another humans, is not only difficult and more often impossible, but it’s not by itself a moral victory over one’s tormenters and torturers. Some people with personal courage are able to physically and psychologically survive the disastrous traumatic injustices and mistreatments. But only the spiritually exceptional people are capable of surviving such darkest episodes of their life without becoming hateful and revengeful, and emptied of psychological resources to accumulate the spiritual energy for rational understanding of forces determining inhumanity.

People able to survive such periods only physically and psychologically often cannot resist transferring their emotional pain into new situations and then with symbolic vengefulness they target new groups of people which have nothing to do with those who abused the victims in the past. This phenomenon of transferring hate as a purely symbolic psychological reaction – as an attempt to have a cathartic relief, includes impulsive scapegoating “desire”, which deserves compassion and psychotherapeutic attention. Such “scapegoating transference” is based on essentialization of historical memory (on unconscious mixing of historical memory and actual experiences, which in this context is very psychologically difficult task to differentiate). But in Duras’s film we observe people who are spiritually capable to rationally contain their psychological reactions and their traumatic experiences (in their case connected with the Holocaust).

Duras’ film gives us chance to meet the rarest category of people who not only survived physically and psychologically protracted systemic abuse (if not themselves, but through their families and relatives), but who are capable to be morally superior to victimizers of past and present– to the degree that they will never repeat actions of the oppressors towards anybody in the world.

The film’s main characters (there are no secondary characters in “Destroy, She Said”) combine their “disinterested interest” in other people’s lives and worldviews with an emotional openness towards them which has an intimate taste. Three “gurus” (without any guru-posture, of course, or any superhuman authoritative air) – Stein (Michel Lonsdale), Max Thor (Henri Garcin), and Alissa (Nicole Hiss), then one person who needs “participational” and spiritual help – Elisabeth Alione (Catherine Sellers), and the witness – her husband Bernard Alione (Daniel Gelin) – this is a human group of equals representing the cast of the film. Three gurus don’t have any special importance in comparison with other characters, and their exceptional role is rather their particularity than their status. Their extraordinary personalities and behavior are so far from being perceived as objects of idolatrous admiration.

The atmosphere of the interactions between the characters is simultaneously, challengingly frank, almost borderless, but also chaste, erotic and ascetic. The protagonists are at the same time – intimate and “individualistic”. Actors’ style of acting is not imposing on the viewers – it keeps the spectators free, nobody can be expected of becoming crazy about anybody on the screen or “fall in love” with a character or “star”. No one actor or actress is trying to be “liked” or create in viewers the desire to see him/her again in some other film. In other words, there is no smell of “hollywooding” (seduction into identification with hero/star) as a part of interaction between filmmakers and the audience.

The “gurus” (Stein, Max Thor and Alissa) are trying to build in themselves and other people a new psychology which can become an existential model capable of making barbaric and genocidal events and style of life corresponding to them – impossible.

Posted on Oct, 21 2017 –   Marguerite Duras’s “Destroy, She Said/Detruire dit – elle” (1969) – Three Kinds of Destruction by Acting-Out Politics

A Tale About A Victimized Hero Whose Halo Functions As A Mythological Consolation For Future Generations

Spider’s Stratagem Falsifies Historical Legacy So As To Absolutize Utopia Of The Past

Athos Magnani (Giulio Brogi), a man neatly dressed, with a face thoughtful rather than decisive, has just left the shade of trees for an opened sunny space. Courage is part of his facial expression, but this courage is not a macho kind (for Athos to fight doesn’t necessarily mean with enemies, but for what he believes, for his ideals). Still there is no doubt that this person is a fighter. He is trying to awaken and organize a really massive and potent resistance to the fascists united under the leadership and authority of Benito Mussolini.

Pay close attention to the spot on his pants – What? Is Athos’ identity stained? It doesn’t seem so, when he is standing in the opened space under the light of the day. May be, this spot is just meaningless – casual and innocent. But, of course, it cannot be in Bertolucci’s film, where the smallest detail can be meant to help the viewers to grasp the deeper issues. Athos recently confessed to his friends – members, like Athos himself, of an underground anti-fascist organization, Costa, the owner of the opened air movie-theater (Tino Scotti), Rasori, the teacher (Franco Giovanelli) and Gaibazzi/Garibazzi, the salami maker (Pippo Campanini), in his cowardly betrayal of their common cause of their fight. And they resented him, felt contempt for him as a result and started to think what punishment he deserves, and Athos agreed to be punished.

For the most of the people the intelligence of the human face is suspicious, while simple-minded solemn positivity of the face (the attribute of the positive heroes of Hollywood Westerns and detective stories) suggests an absolute reliability of this person. But Bertolucci, as if, wants to “train” us to believe exactly human intelligence, not faces without contradiction, but faces with signs of problems a person is struggling with. The farther we get into the film the more it looks like that there is something wrong with Athos’ very confession in betrayal. May be the spot on the Athos’ pants does refer not to the problem with integrity of his personality, but to the… falsity of his confession? But why would a person want to destroy his own reputation among his own people?

The more we watch the more we see that Athos Magnani seems rational, civilized, a democratic man and, no doubt – a tough fighter against the anti-democratic forces carrying fascist banner. And something wrong is with his comrades in arms – Costa, Rasori and Gaibazzi. Step by step we see, that for them just membership in anti-fascist organization is enough to respect themselves. They are like American democratic politicians – they are ready to create progressive legislation but are not able to fight for new progressive laws in a real – risky, effective way. What Athos Magnani SR. was supposed to do in this hopeless situation? Who is then the real betrayer of anti-fascist organization, Athos or his hopelessly cowardly friends? But Athos not just lied about his betrayal, he has a plan how to help people of the future to fight with future incarnations of fascist ways of living, if it is impossible to effectively fight totalitarianism in his own time.

People of the future need to have a chance to believe in the heroes of the past and the progressive ideas created before them – the noble humanistic tradition. It is like the idea of American democracy which is so good and so strong that it is able to sustain itself even against new fascist attempts to subvert it. The problem here is that even powerful and morally noble humanistic tradition still cannot protect itself – itself, it still needs people like real Athos Magnani to stand for it against its ultimate enemy – the fascism with its ability to reincarnate again and again with all it attributes including inequality, cruelty and austerity for regular people. In the 21st century democracy is dissolving in front of our very eyes – the enemies of democracy are acting while democrats are even talking less and less and retreated in something like a “tactical-strategic” silence.

Here we come back to the spot on Athos Magnani Sr.’s identity. As a liberator he is a tragic figure. As a fighter against fascism he is futile – he understood that people, while suffer under fascism also try to adapt to it, collaborate with it. He agreed to be killed by his comrades in arms (and claim that the fascists did it) with the hope that he as a mythological hero-antifascist will help future generations of his country to fight for their rights. He came to the conclusion that the real fight with the decision-makers hooked on power and wealth is impossible until people don’t have another values than power and wealth against others. People more often than not support leaders who betray and exploit them because they can’t resist admiring them for their success (they dream to be like billionaires and generals – they believe that this kind of success is a sign of such people’s superiority). To fight with the rich today means for the today’s poor to fight with their own deepest and the most vital dreams. The film ends with the son of Athos Magnani (played by the same actor Giulio Brogi) who faces a similar dilemma which faced his heroic father. And we like Athos Magnani Jr. are confronting the task of uncovering the lies of history (the spider’s stratagem) and then we will find our way out and understand what we should do.

Posted on Nov 24 2014 – Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Spider’s Stratagem” (1970) – We In the 21st Century, Three Athos Magnanis And The Historical Process’ Spider’s Strategem (The Analysis of BB’s “SS”) by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on Jan 4 2015 – “Spider’s Stratagem” (1970) By Bernardo Bertolucci (based on a short story “Theme of the Traitor and the Hero” by Luis Borges) by Acting-Out Politics

It looks like Godard wanted to help the immortality of the old story by Merimee (vocally framed and reinforced by Bizet’s opera) by saving it from anthropological tautology. Indeed, what is so big deal about an amorous affair and its noisy betrayal? We know thousands of stories like that – love-betrayal-and-revenge – human thinking’s narrow range. And that’s all – the melting of two souls together, intercourses, orgasms and dreams about new intercourses and new orgasms with the same or new partners. Can our spacious specie do better than this? Godard provocatively transferred this bunch of anthropological banality into our epoch, when horrific wars, incredible technical-scientific discoveries, unimaginable works of art and ambitious political revolutions were already created. Can it be, that Carmen and Joseph-Jose are the new faces of humanity?

How does the modern Carmen love, better or worse than the previous one? How does Joseph revenge, bloodier or less bloody than his forerunner? May be, lovers have become smarter and are able to resolve the incongruity of their passions in a more learned and advanced manner? Oh, don’t expect anything like “progress” in human wisdom or education, etc. Development in history is not going from just worse to just better. In short, according to Godard’s “First Name: Carmen”, development took place from meaninglessness to even more meaninglessness, and from messiness in thinking to even more mess in thinking.

It’s not that progress didn’t take place at all. Jose-the soldier is transformed into Joseph-the policeman – not a big difference, but today’s Carmen is certainly more intelligent and not less feminine and she is no less able to love, but… in a civilized and prosperous France of the 80s, she is, somehow, stifled much more than the Carmen of the past, much less able to open herself to the world with a freedom of her amorous passion. Today’s Carmen is suffocated by the calculating strategies of competing and fighting socio-political structures having transformed human beings into its pans-fighters. Today’s Carmen is a “progressive activist” in and against equally corrupted and ideologically bankrupt enterprises. Jose/Joseph, a person with conservative sensibility, didn’t change, but Carmen as a progressive person is changed for the worse. Left (progressive) or right (conservative) orientation in politics today are both inseparable from big money machine and, therefore, from greed and strategic calculation/ manipulation (both oriented only on success over the opponent). And when the opposing political parties use ideological motifs they always (artificially) propagandize them because their chief strategists think only in terms of success and money.

The corporate face of any socio-political organization chokes the very possibilities for it to have any existential sense. Carmen’s participation in any revolutionary operation is meaningless, as Joseph’s participation in the police‘s attempts to protect the bank from robbers outside (banks are robbed through manipulative financial schemes by the bankers themselves). Carmen sacrifices her life for her revolutionary ideals, like the historical Carmen – for her obsession with her future lover – a “courageous” and a “powerful” super-person. Both Carmen and Joseph are psychologically idolatrous. Carmen is as corrupt and meaningless as a progressive activist, as Joseph as corrupt and a meaningless conservative. Joseph understands only one note in the melody of love – betrayal (my possession can in no way leave me). Godard’s Carmen/Joseph souls’ common denominator is not love – their loving each other is as different as intercourse between an elephant and a lioness. Culture could create interpersonal field of meaning of love, but humanistic education in Western plutocracies is in a process of being shattered, and with it a common language of meaning and amour.

Virtuoso way Godard has put all of this into the film is admirable in its cinematic versatility and beauty. But beauty today is that of ugliness. So, as viewers we have to do with both, the sky and earth, with paradise and hell, with meaning and meaninglessness, with amour of nightmare. Only later, with a new century, Godard made a tremendous effort to modify his cinematic style.

Oncle Jeannot (Jean Luc Godard) is in the sanatorium faking mental illness to avoid the poisonous cultural atmosphere in the country

Love between Carmen and Joseph starts as its opposite – as a clash between revolution (which Carmen in her mind personifies) and counterrevolution (as social order and security of life, as Joseph understands it)

Carmen-Joseph’s fight continues as their love – it’s not surprising that physical closeness to Carmen (which fighting provides) made Joseph change tactics

Yes, it looks, that a quickly changing circumstances demanded drastic reorientation – love suddenly started to look like itself, not as its opposite.

But life, rather as usual, again didn’t give love a serious chance. Here we see, how a revolution in order to impress the public is preparing a terroristic “show”. On the left (close to us) we see an ambitious philistine who has in advance paid money to lunch near the prime minister’s table. In the center (of the background) we see our lovers (Carmen – in the white dress and Joseph) sorting out their disagreements. To the right from them we see Jean-Luc himself who was ready to start shooting his film but somehow smells something opposite to filmmaking in the air and wants to leave. And to the right of Godard we see the alternative heroine of the film, Claire keeping rehearsing serious music.

Waiter (to the dying Carmen who already has been shot by Joseph) – Is something wrong, miss?
Carmen – What’s called… on one side, the innocent…
Waiter – I don’t know, miss.
Carmen – Think, stupid!
Waiter – I don’t know, miss.

Posted Sep/23/’17 –   Jean-Luc Godard’s “First Name: Carmen” (1982) – Emancipated Heroine, Guard Of The Status Quo, Psychologically Debilitated Artist And A “Revolutionary” Terrorism by Acting-Out Politics

Giovanni Angelo del Maino, “Saint John The Evangelist” (1520-30), Lime wood, ht. 143cm.

Whom we’re seeing in front of us is a person right from the 16th century, stretching out his hand as if asking for a handout. His facial expression supports the meaning of his extended arm and open palm – it’s an appeal to people for help.

But this person before us is not a beggar or at least not of the usual kind. He is asking people for something much worthier than money – he is asking folks to find in themselves the desire to receive – to be baptized into the sacred reality.

As the ritual of baptism is an introduction to the world of Gospels, to writings and popularization of the Gospels, the offering of the sacred message is in essence a ritual of initiation of human soul into sacred text.

The beggar – Saint John the Evangelist is inviting/asking people to be converted into Christian belief. He is showing his dedication to open to them a new life, and putting out his right hand with which he wrote the Gospel he is as if offering to the people his hand and palm to help them to become different than what they are – living (to use terms of today’s worldview) to rival, compete, “survive” and succeed, to win and be rewarded by consumption and entertainment.

Saint John the Evangelist is begging people to allow him to help them to become different human beings who’ll live spiritually – for a moral purpose in life – caring for others and for disinterested meaning of life instead of trying to dominate other people and nations and transform people into tools and objects of power and wealth.

John the Evangelist didn’t know yet that in the 21st century wealth and power will be named as the very instruments of humanism and that people will be happy to readily serve the masters of power and wealth because they will be rewarded by their masters with crumbs of the same power and wealth.

In the beginning of the 16th century Giovanni Angelo del Maino (1470-1536) through his sculpture is begging us to become independent from and indifferent to the seductive might of power and wealth – as the only way to prevent fight amongst people and wars and destruction of life on earth.

Independence from and resistance to the most pathological obsession of human nature – with appropriation of power and wealth without limits (making inequality extreme), is the ultimate meaning and the message of the ritual of baptism and the sacred narrations of the Gospels.

Giovanni Angelo del Maino, “Saint John The Evangelist” (1520-30), Lime wood, ht. 143cm.

To Love the Feeling Of Being In Love Or To Love Another Person

When Audrey Klebaner met Jeremia Lippmann for the audition for the roles of Eglantine and Perceval for the future film by Edgar (Bruno Pudzulu) – a gifted and independently thinking young man trying out himself as a film director – all as a part of Godard’s film, she perceived her love for Perceval as serious, as if it happens in life (may be, even more serious). Audrey’s exceptional sensitivity towards her role – towards the love she was supposedly to impersonate, becomes an artistic model for the type of love that can take place in real life.

Eglantine perceives love as an exceptionally valuable feeling, as a spiritual challenge for everyone who meets love in their life, as an enormous responsibility and an overwhelming happiness, which should not be profaned and wasted. She, if it’s possible to say, is a real “knight” of love, an alchemist of loving, a dedicated amorous nurse of her beloved. She calculates, as if, with a mathematical exactitude, how to amorously care for her Perceval.

Eglantine (Audrey Klebaner) loves not only internal world of Perceval (Jeremia Lippman marginalized and “dwarfed” in the shots and in the reality of the film’s events), but his very reactions on the world – his very attention to the world. She loves his gestures, body, feelings, thoughts, interests, and she loves his very existence in the world. Her love loves him almost too much, if such a thing is possible at all. And if super-love is, indeed, possible, it’s Eglantine who can be achiever of such exceptional love. May be, she is exactly this unique person who can prove – who, indeed, proves in Godard’s film that it’s possible.

Eglantine/Perceval episodes occupy the minimum of screen time. Is it enough space in a film with multiple mini-narratives for elaboration of such difficult topic?

Person like Godard who as a film director combines several professions on a high competence level expects from us the viewers to concentrate on the images and issues as quickly and intensely as he does himself.

Eglantine is exhausted with the reality of Perceval. It’s much easier to love without loving, to love frivolously, temporarily, ephemerally. But, may be, what happens with love of frivolous fascination can sometimes be more stable and even more real than “serious” love including scrupulous, heavy, methodical efforts of trained loyalty? May be, human love itself doesn’t mean to be too unique and profound? May be, we are not supposed to mix love and beloved – to project our love on another person? May be, loving and beloved are categories which too easily can be in “rivalrous” relations with one another? And then too tremendous love can a kind of – compete with the person we love.

Can it be that too strong and too profound love have aversive influence on the beloved? That real love was meant to be somewhere between heaven and earth, between zero of emotional investment and maximal emotional investment, even – between indifference and “care to the core”. May be, it is true about everything connected with human matters. We, like everything, are the fruit of approximate Creation, which includes cruelty and violence of life against itself. It’s, as though we weren’t meant to be perfect.

Eglantine/Audrey pronounces “the moment of youth” as “the moment of truth”. But what can be the moment of truth/youth? Can the truth of love as a youthful truth and, therefore, as the one perceived with over-passionate attention, pseudo-rationally “processed” and grasped, and intellectually controlled be successful? It’s not by chance that while pronouncing “the moment of youth/truth” Eglantine closes her eyes, as if, to keep the truth of love to herself – finalizing what she knows about love in front of herself, as if, the very “mechanism” of love came to be for her something that is part of her and, therefore, completely monitored. Poor Perceval. Poor Eglantine. Sublimation (intensification through sublimation) has reasonable limits or if it becomes fetishized it produces fetishes which are prone to dominate and manipulate our beloveds as much as ourselves.

Posted on Dec 19 2014 – Jean Luc Godard’s “Eloge de Amour/In Praise of Love/Eulogy to Love” (2001) – Godard’s Introduction To The New Century (Spiritually Intellectual Souls Amidst A Growing Social Anomie And Cultural Degradation) by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on Feb 8 2015 – In Praise of Love/Éloge de l’amour (2001) By Jean-Luc Godard by Acting-Out Politics

« Previous Entries  Next Page »


January 2018
« Dec    



Recent Comments