Acting-Out Politics

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

The fascist Presidente (Aldo Valetti) shows his friends that he cares about the children’s’ morality-immorality issue – “Don’t tell about my misdeeds in front of innocent children whom we need to protect from the truth until the proper time”.

The fascist Bishop – Giorgio Cataldi (the picture on top) is irritated by his young victim who is being tortured by the guard in the camp of Salo: “Idiot, you are afraid that we’ll mess you up? You are dying of fear. You don’t know that we want to kill you 1000 times. So, we are not rushing. Get it? You are in our hands to the limit of eternity if eternity could have a limit.”

Torture in Salo is a warming up prelude to a group rape

Signora Vassari (Helene Surgere) is proud of the emancipated excellence of fascist Women

Signora Castelli (Caterina Borato) having a good time giving stories about torturing women

Bishop’s unleashed misanthropic fury

President (Aldo Valetti) likes to humiliate and torture women alone, face to face

Obviously stupid innocence of fascist jokes is not without meaning

The President (Aldo Valetti) likes to expose his naked rump for a dynamic public viewing – he is a buttock exhibitionist. For him human (superhuman) buttocks are always invitingly smiling (here, President’s face is impersonating his buttocks). The point here is that kiss by buttocks for the Presidente (in reality not that of the leader of the country, but of a super-prosperous bank) is the sweetest experience (so he claims) waiting for the always wandering human penis.

President’s buttocks are invited to a cheerful dinner. The Duke, Signora Castelli and the young guards are happy. But it’s not easy to imagine how the presidential buttocks will be gastronomically served.

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking “where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observe his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage”.
Matthew 2:1-12

Emil Nolde, “Adoration of the Magi”

In many of his paintings Nolde addresses “religious problematics” (which in reality is just human existentially spiritual sensibility). “Adoration of the Magi” is one example among many others. We see three Magi behind the Mary with baby-Christ and the children full of healthy curiosity about the infant-god who is just born. The black Magi on the left is with an astonished sad eyes. Why is he so startled – why the small baby Christ made him so struck? In between two Magi we see the angelic baby who cannot take away his cheerful eyes from the infant Christ. His amazed eyes, flame-like hair and joyful smile telling us that he seems to… recognized baby-Christ as someone like a close relative – he is, as if welcoming him into a brotherhood with himself and everybody else. His intuition seems to have grasped that infant-god and the human baby are close relatives – they look… identically.

But let’s look at Mary. Her particular love for her son, a way of worshipping him is concentrated on his head and face. He for her is not just her baby, but an exceptional child, about whom the world talks with admiration and hope. To the left from her we see the Magi occupying a large, second after Mary and her Son, place in the painting. He is, as if, asking Mary to let him keep the precious baby for a while near his heart, while the central Magi is waiting for his turn.

The human eyes looking at or dreaming to see the baby-Christ are the main subject in the painting. Children-angels’ curious, hopeful and cheerful gazes, the shocked gaze of the black Magi in disbelief that baby-Christ is somehow not black (as he expected him to be), and Mary and the main Magi looking at the godly baby with semi-closed eyes (Mary because of the power of her feelings for Him, and the Magi because of reverie and awe – he cannot dare to allow himself direct open gaze: his humility prevents him from staring).

Emil Nolde, “Adoration of the Magi” (2)

In another version of “Adoration of the Magi” Nolde masterfully changes the accents, trying to follow life in its versatility and multifaceted-ness. Here, tired and exhausted from having given birth Mary uses the moment to rest from her constant vigilance over the baby. She finally gave her baby to the Magi to adore and worship. The face of the one who keeps the baby-Jesus – expresses a solemn awareness of the preciousness of the baby. But the other Magi also wants to hold the precious child. He is greedily looking at him, as if, wanting to remember him forever, as if, to imprint his saintliness on his soul. The third Magi (in the upper left corner of the painting) – is observing the whole scene including Mary-the mother from a solemn distance.

Still, behind the two Magi holding the baby we notice the monstrous presence of a giant shadowy (animalistic) figure which, it looks, personifies the horrible danger for Jesus’s future and terrifying waiting tragedy for the Christian world.

Emil Nolde, “Adoration of the Magi” (3)

Nolde‘s third work on the same topic represents Mary’s completely different position towards her Son. We see her as a feminine, tender, playful and a happy mother who is proud of her baby’s healthy body and admires his innocence and curiosity towards the world. Are the five angel-children meant to represent future Jesus’s disciples?

The two Magi looking at the infant-Christ with so over-attentive gazes, that they, as if, trying to take with themselves the glorious image of a humanistic god of the poor and the pure souls who are alien to corruption tend to subdue the predatory hunters for wealth, resources and power.

The Duke is damn right – real equality is incompatible with what he calls “true happiness”. But what is concretely a true happiness for the fascist Duke? It is a situation when people like him are unconditionally above those who are under him by their place in social hierarchy – those who provide him extra happiness by the price of depriving themselves with even minimum of being happy. The Duke is happy because unhappy people keep him in “true happiness”. In Salo the happy Duke practically possess tens and tens of young people of both sexes who serve his delights, not to mention the servants, workers, security guards, etc. Indeed, only inequality makes the Dukes “truly happy” – the underprivileged majority.

Pretentious philosophizing is innocent pleasure for those who are hierarchically (socially) strong and wealthy. Here we see how the despotic and capricious leader of Salo camp is paying tribute to sodomy as an act of human free will as an experience of absolute self-realization. The reason is not so much self-assertion beyond reproduction, but the issue of absolute domination when another human being, woman or man allows the richer and more powerful one to dominate her or his will. It’s like the gate of paradise opens to the dominant person’s caprice.

Yes, indeed, to occupy a privileged place in society is the ultimate satisfaction for people poisoned by the genes of and irresistible obsession with privileges (over others) as a rudimentary, essential and basic form of corruption.

The subtle pleasure, Mr. Duke (Paolo Bonacelly) is talking about is exactly what the privileged people get from the oppressed who because of their pauperization and poverty have lost their self-respect and only dream about happy serving their masters.

The Duke and his company can, indeed, afford humor which is relaxing them after a prosperous over-satisfaction.

The essence of total domination over human beings is not only in controlling human mind and human soul, but in dominating human body. Slave owners understood it very well. When people serve you voluntarily, not only when they agree with you because you successfully brainwashed them, but when they surrender the most stubborn part of their being – their bodies, you can completely relaxed and feel yourself like a god invincible in your own world. That’s why body is so important. Only if you have crushed the bodily stubbornness you are the gloriously ultimate despot. It is here comes the importance of sexuality and the importance of torture. Real, ultimate power starts with Duke’s “Should we examine them closer? Undress! Show me what your body can do for me”.

There are few artists like Pasolini who have traveled to the outer riches of language and self, to the peripheries of the known world and the outlying islands of the ancient and the mythical, to bring us face-to-face with the present and ourselves.
Sam Rohdie

Social struggles are also linguistic ones. Poetry, in the broadest sense of Poetry, could be made to enter into struggles against dominant voices. It belonged to a struggle to be heard, struggle for a voice, for language as a critical practice, against language as an instrument of coercion and power, for languages and voices denied, repressed, forgotten, lost, eradicated, marginalized.
Sam Rohdie

The film’s images of evil have been both highlighted and exorcised by the strength and sublimity of Pasolini’s style.
Sam Rohdie

“Salo” was designed to show not the joy of sex, but its commodification and reification, of the human body in the unreal world created by neo-capitalism.

Sam Rohdie

Pasolini (in the center) explains the pompous suspiciousness of the guards and how to try to confuse them while they are checking you up

Pasolini is explaining to Paolo Bonacelly how the character he is playing in the film (the Duke) finds a way to feel himself very sophisticated while in reality being intellectually primitive and emotionally rude.

Pasolini has just depicted for the actors how the concrete scene of torturing should develop and now he is shooting it himself.

Pasolini elaborates for the actor Paolo Bonacelli that the Duke (whom he impersonates in the film), is proud of himself as a culturally refined person because he likes to quote the great thinkers of 19th century. By this he justifies his predatory nature of the “professional” sexual consumer of young people’s bodies. For Duke his high social position and huge wealth open all the doors and corners.

Pasolini points out to Paolo Bonacelli that the Duke’s “aristocratic” distance from the people not only attracts their respect for him but also stimulates their vulnerability in front of his seductive power.

Pier Paolo admires how Helene Surgere (Signora Vassari) is improvising right in front of the camera the dance of catching the stars from the sky. Signora Vassari is one of the monstrous ladies among the fascist leadership of Salo, seducing and then humiliating the young captives of both sexes.

Pasolini is explaining to the nude Bishop (Giorgio Castaldi) and his helpers prepared and ready for the torturing girls and boys – how to look not only “inspired” but also “pragmatically realistic” – matter-of-factly.

Pasolini is registering with the camera the predicament of the girls locked and manipulated in Salo – they are regularly checked: did they excrete (all together) at a “proper time” rather than excreting individually – anarchically that is when they feel they want to relieve themselves.

Leonora Carrington, “Unicorn”

Is unicorn apparition (that we are witnessing here) a result of magic powers produced by the secret yearning of a dreaming soul(s) or is it an imaginary love (hallucination) overwhelming the childish believer in unicorn’s existence squeezed in a narrow space behind the tiny window? In other words, had the unicorn come to the window by its own will and interest or is obsession with unicorn made this “erotically sublime” creature press itself to the window with the “profile of its own head”? Is unicorn a unicorn or its own sublime wonderful wandering destiny?

Carrington’s unicorn has an exotic color of expensive toy and its mane is like a playful flame, while eyes are like a dense blue sky – may be, this unicorn lives in the sky and is looking at us with gaze of the heaven. The first impression from this gently-red unicorn can be a shock from the feeling glued to seeing a creature right outside the window looking at you, as if, expecting to see your reaction, more, as if, “he” is mutely signaling something to you. His physical “inseparableness” from the window glass makes him as if, locked in there, behind the window frame, as though inside it and carrying the desire to interact with humans, as if, he wants us to… open the window. Does He, indeed, intent to tell us something? Can it be a warning? A request? We feel involved with it, we want to somehow to resolve this. We want to understand why he is there, looking at us through what separates us.

The creative twist – the intuitive decision of the painter’s unconscious is to position the unicorn’s face too close to the window. It’s as if the unicorn’s head is unnaturally close to the window which then, as if plays role of the viewers of the painting. It’s a situation when the window incarnates the human vision of the unicorn – makes us to see it much closer than if we could see it through realistic distance between the window and the unicorn behind it and our position in the room looking at the Unicorn. In other words, Carrington masterfully achieved much closer distance between us and the unicorn and through this she is satisfying our desire to see this magic creature as close as possible. By the artist’s effort the viewers have the illusion of being closer to the unicorn and take pleasure connected with such a closeness.

But together with the pleasure of our curiosity, our souls start to flame as Unicorn’s mane and forget although just momentarily about our poor or prosperous life, about our animosities or (symbiotic) friendships and our sins and death. Touching and/or kissing the unicorn through our eyesight becomes the castle of Uniform’s dreamers, at least for a time of their contact with Leonora Carrington’s painting.

What could the Doctors of Law or Theology or Political science, etc. teach the child-Christ? Nothing, because all their knowledge reduces, belittles Being Christ. It’s putting imperatives (even when the right ones) instead of freedom of critical loving. “Doctors of Law” can only help baby- and child-Christ to physically grow and protect him from self-serving people, but we, regular humans need not only protection from hate and lies and cruelty, but from illiteracy.

Emil Nolde, “Christ and Doctors of the Law” (1)

The clear sky is the background of Nolde’s painting, the clean sky and the absence of sun. The sun, as if, has melted away into the sunlight, and the sunlight, as if, densified in the figure of the Christ-child. It is Christ who irradiates the sunlight onto the world in Nolde’s painting.

The sublime energy of the sunlight symbolizing existential wisdom is so intense that it almost distorts the facial features of the Christ-child, but it’s not the face of the Christ is distorted, but the intensity of the God-Sun’s encouragement of Christ’s life. It is this godly – light-child radiates existential wisdom into the world. The person to the left of Christ is the beneficiary of the main portion of the sun-light radiating from the boy-Christ. It’s not only his face expressing compassion for the child-god and the desire to help him in a dangerous world is a highly important presence in the painting. But also his chest – his soul is radiating a bright sun-light response to the very presence of child-Crist. Between this person and the child we see, as if, an ontological break – as if an invisible wall, which he breaches with his friendly hand inspired by the presence of the godly child and emphasizing the meaning of his presence before the people.

It is amazing to see the intelligence and sensitivity on the faces of the “doctors of the law”! The persons to the right from Christ are sorrowful because they know what kind of future awaits this child, who will grow up to be tortured and crucified. They have the facial expression of those who not only know what a terrifying thing will happen, but why it will happen and who can be motivated to commit the criminal actions to destroy the god-light inside the very human life. These human beings know – the impossible – the crucifixion will happen (a human life becomes too corrupted: impregnated by the credo-creed of consumerist greed and yearning for power and weapons).

Especially the last centuries stimulate in people actions in life instead of search for meaning of life. Feeling of suffering as an emotional ingredient of reaction on life – humility – is subdued by the bombast of the very vulgarity of self-enrichment as a banner-goal. Element of suffering as a part of the background of meaningful actions in life is absent in the existential abyss of emptiness where we joggle coins and grease banknotes, as if, magically multiplying their quantities and value. Casino optimism and gambling bravado become the heartbeat of today’s life.

Emil Nolde, “Christ and Doctors of the Law” (2)

Nolde’s second painting “Christ and Doctors of the Law”, contrary to the previous one (above), although identical to the previous by the title and topic, is rather confusing and challenging us, the viewers. The positive atmosphere has radically changed. No blueness of the sky and no sunlight. Instead we see a chaotically reddishly flaming brown walls of a cave and a monstrous column of light forcing us to imagine that the child-Christ (encircled by the doctors of the law) is in an enclosed space that reminds hell. But the light covering his figure is, as if, a kind of bubble, which somehow, as if enveloping him, while his face is in the shade of darkness of the cave, not in the light. We see that the boy-Christ is reading the white pages (with whiteness as if connected with the hellish light of the moving column of flame in the middle of the painting).

The very facial expressions of the specialists in law don’t (contrary to the scholars in the previous painting) don’t display any signs of their dedication to and compassion for the child-Christ. Rather they are painted negatively, as monstrous caricatures. It looks, that these people surrounding the godly child are… scheming and plotting something – they are trying to use and exploit Him for their own manipulative agenda! The “doctor” to the left of Christ with his thumb pointing at something important for him, and maniacally glassy eyes is, as if, trying to put the child against something. The second personage right behind the child doesn’t even need description – his animalistic rude mug is ambiguously chuckling. The next character in the right upper corner of the painting, as if keeps himself distant. He is “observing” the child-Christ from the distance, as if, to find the right manipulative approach to the situation. And finally the figure with vertically coned head and artificially red lips is trying to seduce the child into a “proper” actions. They’re all trying to coach the boy-Christ into concrete behaviors good for them instead of helping him to grow and form his own impressions about the universe.

The curious fact is that the comparison of scholars in the first and the second Nolde’s paintings reminds us the difference between two kinds of American congressmen who recently participated in the Impeachment Hearings of Pres. Trump. By hearing the public speeches of the democrats we see that the semantic level of their thinking is much higher and much more sincere and objectively oriented than the heated speeches-preaches of the republicans. Democrats are much more rational and non-imposing and uninterested in inflammatory exaggerations – permanent motif of conservatives. Observing the adults figures in the second Nolde’s painting we recognize the hateful, maniacal and pompous republican politicians.

The two paintings of the same master, the same topic and title – and so different semantic elaboration! Indeed, two different worlds. In the first painting the adults love the child-Christ, trying to protect and help him, they admire him and suffer about his future. In the second painting the adults with identical education and profession are only interested in mentally exploiting the child-Christ, in taking advantage of their status in seducing him to serve their own dogmas and intentions. Don’t we all live in this double universe where democratically oriented scholars and writers are trying to help us with their altruistic, objective, disinterested approach to the reality and conservatively oriented specialists trying to propagandize us into their own way of thinking in order to use us according to their own goals.

Nolde understood before us the double nature of our world divided on a more decent people with sincere democratic orientation and the self-centered wealth- and power- oriented conservative manipulators.

Torture of a human being is for torturer like a sunrise

Torturing a human being for a fascist is like getting a license of a super-hero

Torture of a human being for a fascist is like a guarantee of Eternal Life

The President, Bishop and Duke (on the left) celebrate the beginning of a punishment for those who while living in “Salo” – “fail” to behave according to expectations. On the right we see the senior torturers ready to start the orgy of retribution.

The young fascists are learning the feeling of power and superiority over their victims.

Primitive (by today’s standards) electric chair is ready to be turned on. To the right we see a Senior Guard ready to activate the electricity, the President and the Duke. In the background we see the next victim – blond girl. Of course, she is not waiting for her turn to be tortured – is she hopping that somehow her destiny will spare her?

The President (Aldo Valetti – to the right) and his entourage of senior guards are preparing to burn Renata’s nipples

Franco (Franco Merli) has been put through a procedure named (by multinational cast of hired torturers) – mock execution.

The murderers are in the process of slashing Franco’s tongue. “Justification” for this is that Franco, besides getting a girl-friend, dared to discuss with her how to run away together from the camp.

The procedure of burning some areas of the human body. On the left we can easily recognize the back of… the President presiding over the event.

Here the fascist leaders’ game is to “jokingly” tease the youngsters like dogs by offering them pieces of food and then taking it away only to offer it again and again. The “pedagogical” idea here is that the victims learn to impersonate dogs.

Another fascist self-entertainment – victims are supposed to learn not just how to eat dog’s food, but how to exactly imitate the very manner of dogs eating. O, some fascists have their own philosophical perspectives – “the obedient dog becomes a man, the disobedient man becomes a dog”.

Fascist leaders (alerted by “secret information” about the natural amorous attraction between boys and girls in the “school”) rush to the dormitory to stop the disgusting heresy of spontaneous love and dreams of living beyond the despotic “commandments” of fascist wisdoms.

Fascists having fun feeding their young captives with food with small nails hidden inside it

Renata (in a wedding gown) and Sergio (to her right arm) are among many killed in “Salo”. Fascist mentality (despotic and self-centered) destroys not only human beings (including human souls), but the meaning of human nudity making humans god-like creatures. “To discover god’s image in yourself one has to be naked or a beggar.” But fascist posture vis-à-vis the world transforms human nudity into object for consumption (and simultaneously shame), into a human vice, and being poor into criminality, while human body made into Jack in the box of money-making.

Fascist leaders of Salo sometimes like to observe torture (from the comfort of their private rooms) through miniature binoculars.

“Are you afraid? You’re an idiot if you think that death would be so easy. We intent to kill you and those who are like you a thousand times – to the end of eternity, if eternity has an end”


To make people die during torture (not after it) is especially exciting for the fascists.

Stravinsky – music as a soul of the body

Milein Cosman, Igor Stravinsky, 1959

Why to make a drawing of the composer’s back? Especially when the composer is conducting? Why is it not the front of his body including the face – the face of the artist, the face of inspiration? Yes, the back is what keeps the front, and front means inspiration! You can proudly say that the chest of a musician is the heart of his inspiration. If the face is the carrier of the code of the artist’s inspiration, the chest keeps and radiates the inspiration’s energy. But what can the human behind radiate? Physical stress?

But physical stress (which is especially intense if the conducting composer happens to be Stravinsky and if he is conducting his own music, which is most likely the case here) is not only physical. There is the emotional and a purely technical (performative) stress which adds to the physical and audial intensity. Stravinsky’s is not just a music belonging to the human soul, it is a metaphoric imitation of the pagan reality of nature and life of the universe. Physical exhaustion for Stravinsky conducting his own music is his ability and readiness to simultaneously accept several channels of energy’s waving/spending which is necessitated/imposed by the situation.

Stravinsky’s arms are that of a physical worker. And his shirt is full of creases, lines, vectors, folds, wrinkles and waves and vibrations of his music. Let’s his face and chest – his code of inspiration be for the audience in the concert halls. But his music – alive, made, controlled, released, squeezed, blessed and joggled by the body of the composer, we can hear in this mini-sketch by Milein Cosman.

Rostropovich – music-the Spirit, cello-the craft and human soul-the artist

Milein Cosman, Mstislav Rostropovich, 1960

What do we see-hear here? Music, musical instrument and the musician? The big baby/wunderkind-cello, its scrupulous and simultaneously tender and demanding nurturing nature and its tireless nurturer?

We notice a mistake – too obvious for it to be a mistake, of course, it’s the paradox of creativity, more – its miracle. We notice that the right shoulder of the cellist (Rostropovich himself) doesn’t correspond to the position of his right arm’s elbow. The impression is that something (the logic of the musical phrase?), as if has “disjointed” the elbow of the performer. In art this kind of disproportions happen very often when the impulsive idea spins the inspiration of the creator – as if, making it jumping over the expected connections between things, when anarchy of creative energy neglects the expected “proper” balance. In the situation we observe here – the right arm/hand of the artist-musician is trying to achieve proper sound, as if temporarily disjoining itself to reach genuine tonality. Viva, Rostropovich! Viva, music! Music is spirit!

The artist’s gaze is suspended. It’s, as if, Rostropovich’s eyes temporarily join his ears and rather just guard what the artist is hearing. His facial expression is that of torment, of almost unbearable overconcentration. But it’s the suffering of a victor, suffering as a part of triumph. When an artist is suffering it can be a sign that he may really be on the right path. Is my cello right – are my hands right? Is the sound of music right? Is my body in tune with the demands of gods of music?

To temporarily lend your sight to your hearing, to let borrow the muscles of the body to the caprices of musical demons is a dangerous obsession. For the musician to control the cello means to command his body as if it is an army’s private, for the sake of being at the disposal of the spirits of the music and still sometimes allow himself to twist their power and bend their excitement by his own risky and irresistible creative elaborations Rostropovich is known for.

Milein Cosman, 1921-2017

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