Acting-Out Politics

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

Dora Maar, “Handstand”, 1934, Barcelona

Why is this child of early adolescent age standing in front of photo-camera and viewers on his head? Is he preparing for school competition? For future athletic profession fertilized by solid investment? Is he entertaining the passer-byes (passer-buyers) for coins or banknotes reward? May be, he is bragging about his prowess in front of his peers? Looking at the boy’s face it is obvious, that it’s not pleasant for him to stand on his hands. The boy is without any bravado we can see on kids’ faces in sport photos.

But why Dora Maar could get the idea to make a photo of the boy doing] handstand? Was her intention casual or “instinctive” or just a “why not” idea, with the hope that the photo can look “interesting” or “unusual” – motivation of many photographers looking for success? Dora Maar is a meaning oriented photo-artist – she “disinterestedly, selflessly thinks”, not just “wanders” searching for images.

The variant of Dora Maar’s “Handstand” – “Hanging on the Ceiling”

As we see in the second photo (which is just a turned upside down version of the first), it doesn’t matter is the kid standing on his hands or “hanging from the ceiling” – it’s his great attempt to do so the point. The circumstances made him do this instead of inspiring him to do something more meaningful, for example, to study for better understanding life, not for “survival”, but for the development of the soul and mind, instead of preparing himself to serve to protect the wealth of the wealthy and power of the powerful.

Of course, mass orientation on pop-sport today is supported by pop-taste for mass-cultural prevalence of building up of human body and developing mental control over loco-motions – to the drastic neglect of humanistic education, of reading poetry and prose, giving oneself to un-entertaining art and to experiencing serious films instead of action movies. The cult of professional sport helped by intensive money investment. The result – the teens and teenagers become involved with high-risk sport, Ultimate fight in all its variants, skateboarding sport and more and more attracted to speed, height, high level of physical exertion and highly specialized gear. Modern military training, intense sport and big business united into one super-efficient sector of mass pedagogy and propaganda of strength and prowess as an ultimate value.

In the 30s this tendency to train kids, youth and adults for obedience (in front of rulers) and domination (instead of contemplation and grace) over others was developing in countries with intense authoritarian-totalitarian tendencies, like some European countries and in Soviet Union. Number of Dora Maar’s photographs including her “Handstand” are dedicated to the historical analysis of this tendency of preparing children to endure tough and rough self-treatment for being able to fight with the “external and internal enemies” of militaristic States. Children are especially vulnerable to influence and manipulation by adults, even when they think that they’re in the center of the world or on the rock-music stage. Ultimately, it is adults who finance children’s childish and anti-thinking orientation – on developing muscles instead of existential brains. It is the ruling adults create the obstacles for the young to mature intellectually and spiritually.

For money, success, rewards and trophies for courage in self-sacrifice for the sake of the adults they have idealized, children learn how to stand on their heads or how to hang from the ceiling, clouds and sunbeams, like Dora Maar’s protagonist will do everything to deserve the encouraging smiles of adults, like animation cartoon superheroes, like today’s champions and winners, like future conquerors of the planet Earth. The abused boy in Dora Maar’s photo is a recruit into adult males’ dreams of unlimited power.

Children from their childhood are cultivated to remain infantile. Ruling adults organize the structure of education in a way that children cannot develop into authentic adults. Thinking about future money and social success overburdens their souls. Children and child-like adults (the majority) are more gullible and easier seduced to follow any fantasy of any tyrant. Homo-childish is a creature who dreams just to work very hard by playing games in order to get rewards. Homo-childishness as an adult condition includes hard work unrecognizable by the toy artificiality of the childish worldview.

Dora Maar, “Apres la pluie/After the Rain”, 1933, Paris

The artist has chosen to characterize Paris as, from the first glance, nearly a monstrous stony landscape – the wide asphalted pedestrian road with the stoned bordure, the massive “cargo” wall on the side, the tiny figures of a mother and child at the distance and not a tree or shrub anywhere in sight. Can this be Paris we’re looking at?

Of course, there are generous shadows of trees on the side wall and some deformed dry leaves lying near the pedestrian way. So, trees are somewhere nearby, and this gives hope, although Paris, as it is well known, doesn’t need to appeal to tourists and hopeful. Asphalted road is shining, as if, polished by the remnants of the rain. The shadow reflection of the trees is embellished with the some sunlight on the wall. We start to enjoy not only the shadow of the verdure but modest although reflected by the walls and pedestrian way sunlight. We feel that Paris is far from being hopeless.

But what if the reflection of the tree branches with leaves on the giant sidewall is not reflection at all and instead – phantoms of trees which already don’t exist and belong to the category of the memories – of people who remember Parisian trees, or, may be, even belong to the memory of the walls themselves. May be, Parisian trees continue to live in the form of being the shadows of their previous vitality? May be, it is a sign of previous trees’ vitality – to be alive while being dead and to be still noticed by the passersby, by, if you like – by the surface of the walls itself which is to the wall as human skin to human body? Probably, some cities, like Paris, never can die, only sometimes the form of the living may look like after-death experience. Besides, Dora Maar in her “After the rain” doesn’t depict the whole Paris but only its tiny part. And if to think like this we can even feel that this Parisian area not without some poetical touch, a drop of poetry amidst the passion of living. And the tiny mother and her child inhale the Parisian air recently purified by the rain, while going from their past to their future. And we are the witnesses.

Dora Maar, “Arcade”, 1934

How pleasant it supposed to be – to sleep right on the floor under the giant arcades. It’s like to sleep right under the protection of the universe – so great the distance between resting so far down from the very height of the borderless world. To sleep under the castle of arcades it means to be protected by what is, as if, opened, when the ceilings are very openness itself, more exactly – when openness is ceiling.

And still the danger can come – danger is coming. Not from the up where we are opened and at the same time sheltered by protection, but from the earthy soil, from the underground waters. They are coming to the floor of the arcades. They are covering it with its foam. They are conquering the world from under. They’re like the poisonous saliva of the primordial dangers.

Aren’t we ourselves guilty? We enjoyed protection from above – protection by the very openness. But we forgot to protect ourselves from underground. We try to protect ourselves from the sky and what is above the sky, but we, children of the earth, forgot the dangers of the earth we ourselves are part of. We wanted to conquer what is above us, and we invented anthropomorphic god(s) – our dream of being protected from above. We didn’t take into consideration the dangers of our earthly nature to us ourselves. Now we are victimizing ourselves with our own megalomaniacal stupidity and greed. The foam of revenge is coming. Our blissful sleep under the universe’s “high ups” is interrupted by our own earthly nature. We are sadists of our own life and masochists of our death.

Dora Maar’s Photomontage “Le Pisseur” (1935), Gelatin Silver Print

We see in front of us a magnificent but not imposing interior of what looks like a castle-temple as a monument of traditional aristocratic culture in its double nature (castle aspect and temple aspect). The castle aspect refers to the sociological meanings of the building, and the temple aspect to its aesthetic (secularly spiritual) quality. Historical changes can easily dismiss the value of sociological meanings of traditional architecture – revolutionary moods of people who hate everything aristocratic serve as a justification for vandalism and destruction of the old historical sites. But cultural value of traditional culture is universal and timeless – philosophers and artists of the past are “immortal” and are always needed for spiritual functioning of the later generations. The palaces’ architectural and interior-designs as examples of human creativity are inalienable from humanity in its wholeness, from our past and future.

Still, it’s not only the desperate revolutionary crowds can be destructive to the traditional secularly-spiritual culture. It seems, that the real destroyer of serious culture is subcultural organism named “mass culture” (which is based on psychological “mechanism” of repressive desublimation) helped by human consumerist reflex and megalomaniacal need to be entertained. Mass culture doesn’t destroy the walls of traditional monuments, but the spiritual side of human aesthetic sensitivity, it undermines the human soul with gradual but radical erosion. Everything mass-cultural mind is focusing on is reduced to rudimental forms and ideas. Here, we are already close to the very semantic nucleus of Dora Maar’s photomontage “Le Pisseur”.

In the upper left corner of the photograph we see something happening that is challenging our expectation of what is possible to see in work of photographic art. We see that an adolescent boy is… urinating not just on the internal wall of the castle, but right at the adult person who is trying to protect the place’s interior from being scandalously dirtied and defiled – the precious relic from the past. The boy is obviously intending to damage and dishonor the castle, but the woman is desperately trying to protect its interior by, literally, putting her body on the way of the hooligan. She is, probably, the curator and an educator, a person feeling that thinking that it is her noble obligation to help the younger generation to become more culturally competent and aesthetically refined. By observing today, in the 21st century, mass orientation on consumption, entertainment and fight for higher social position and wealth we can easily imagine how “successful” this heroic woman-defender of cultural values can be in a situation depicted on Dora Maar’s prophetic photograph. How can you stop the new generations from neglecting and defiling serious culture then and today, after more than eighty years after Maar’s photomontage was made, when children are formed by animation cartoons and very often – violent video-games?

This encounter between the barbaric teen and “self-sacrificial” educator is the punctum of Dora Maar’s photomontage. But now let’s focus on the relations between the ceilings and the interior walls of the castle-temple – and its polished floors meant to reflect them but already losing this “reflective” ability because of “urine of contempt” for the cultural heritage on part of the liberally uneducated generations. Here Maar’s photomontage forces us to differentiate between a work’s of art plot-as-action and plot-as-meaning of action (plot enlarged and ennobled by its meaning). Of course, this particular hooligan boy is not able to destroy the whole floor of the castle-temple’s wide hall, but the group of young people inspired by collective excitement to destroy what they don’t (and don’t want to) understand triumphantly can, and this is exactly what we see in the photograph. Dora Maar’s photographic art is not an example of mass-cultural photos depicting actions and sentiments. “Surrealistic” style gives her the chance to make photographs semantically multi-dimensional. She is interested not only in the lives of concrete human beings but in lives of human societies in culturological perspectives, in their development or degradation.

Maar’s photograph also focuses on the importance of the function of reflection not only in mirroring but in the intellectual sense. She makes the physical reflection of the castle’s interior by the floor a metaphor of the very ability of life to reflect about its own past, roots and ability for growth and modification. The inability of human civilization to reflect – to disinterestedly think about itself and the world is a matter of the difference between serious culture cultivating interested in real humanistic knowledge instead of stimulating blind emotional reactions on the world and other people and mass culture based on exchanging entertainment on financial profits. The boy (trying to debase the castle’s interior) is a product of mass culture which taught him how to have fun instead of intellectually loving the world of otherness he is born into. His ability to reflect about the world is radically hurt, as the function of the floor to reflect the interior of the castle-temple. This floor signifies disintegrating civilization which has lost its humanistic (not technically “mechanical”) reflective ability – it is transformed into ruins, the floor in the Dora Maar’s photograph looks like.

Look attentively at the floor in the photo – eroded by human waste. It looks not like chaotic piles of unorderly rocks as pre-civilizational crude landscape, but like post-civilizational disaster – as rocks ripped out by the cosmic catastrophe of human making – as a fiasco of human culture, the inability of human societies to disinterestedly reflect about themselves, life and the world.

Dora Maar in her “Le Pisseur” is trying to alert us – by mobilizing her own experience of knowing European life between two wars – about the dangers of technological fetishism and mass-cultural distortion of human reflective abilities.

Dora Maar (1907-1997)

Dora Maar, “Portrait of Paul Eluard”, 1933-34

Looking at this photograph we see a person who has completely given his gaze to us, the viewers, who is straightly looking into our eyes. Without having uttered a word, he is already talking to us. With his silence Eluard, as if, telling us – “I am a poet – a human being who is looking into the eyes of people when they are interested in poetry or reading or listening my poems”.

We see a person who – while looking at us keeps his hands on the open surface of the table – as if to show us his craft – writing poems. Paul Eluard is quietly alert, when he is ready to write he is listening to the silent presence of language. He is in tune with us – through his eyes, and with language – by hearing its readiness and through his hands encouraged by the bright light.

Eluard is a frank person – in his openness to us confidence and humility enrich one another – he is honest with us and honest with language. With him la parole is authentic and la Lange is organic. We, as if, see his poetic confessions – and we are prepared – we are becoming impatient to hear his poetry.

Look again at his gaze combining his mental alertness with relaxation, the two together help his talent to coin unique verbal combinations in his poems.

Dora Maar, “Portrait of Jean Cocteau”, 1936

Contrary to Paul Eluard, Jean Cocteau in Dora Maar’s photographic representation doesn’t create unconditional emotional bonds with people. He, it seems, has recently awaken after his internal journeys and his gaze is a bit over-tough, as if, protecting his inner discoveries from the factual world full of conformist fears, human prejudices, vulgarities and intolerance. Cocteau’s facial expression is of a stubborn determination – as though he is guarding what he has recently understood and needs to think through. Cocteau is not rushing to open himself up. He is not trying through Dora Maar’s photo-camera to characterize himself in any way – just his being. His all body is a little compressed, as if – hermetic, but look at his resolute gaze – he needs to win over his environment including other human beings.

His coat on the chair he is relying on is for him like an animal hide for a hunter, but the sleeves of his jacket is slightly rolled back. Cocteau doesn’t need dandyism for a psychologically defensive purposes. He is an authentic spiritual dandy. And this identity helps him to develop the perspectives and trajectories of his art. Cocteau is a knight of secularly spiritual dandyism.

If in Eluard the eyebrows follow the arch-lines of his eyes like the borderlines of his hair emphasize the noble curves of his forehead, Cocteau’s eyebrows are straight as his gaze and as his mouth, straight as a verbal arrow which he soon will send to the world to spiritually hit and seduce – with his intuition and determination – with his tireless versatile artistry.

Posted Sep, 11 ’13 – Paul Eluard’s (1895 – 1952) Poem “Honest Justice” – Humanism of Honest Justice As An Existential Position, With Man Ray’s “Portrait of Paul Eluard” by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on March, 16 ’16 –   Jean Cocteau’s “The Testament of Orpheus” (1959) – Psychological Alchemy of Poetic Creativity and Self-reflection (Phases of the Artist’s Spirituality) by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on April, 13 ’16 –   “The Testament of Orpheus” by Jean Cocteau (1959) by Acting-Out Politics

Dora Maar, “Portrait of Assia sleeping on fur rug”, 1934

We see a face which is indifferent not only to the world because the person is sleeping, but to the very sleeping – Assia is not only with sleeping face but with sleeping soul (it’s possible to see the faces of the people sleeping, which keep the traces of awareness of sleeping). But a person with such a facial none expression, with a facial indifference even to her own sleeping, can give herself even to the sun just to get some tan, not more than that. Assia is more than relaxed, she is turned off, she is turned off to the degree that nothing in her knows or even less – guesses that she is turned off. This condition, probably, can come about when a human being doesn’t really know who she is or doesn’t care what she really can be. But is it possible that this kind of individual can exist? May be, such a person didn’t ontologically awaken yet? She exists but not really lives.

Dora Maar, “Assia”, 1934

Look at the Assia’s body – perfect like a sculpture, but without sculpture-like idealization. Assia is athletic, but her body is without any appeal, any “romantic” air or sensual aura. May be, Assia doesn’t like her body – her face is not with her flesh. She looks, and very decisively, to the side, somewhere else. She looks away from herself, as if, she is turning away from her being.

Dora Maar shows us what Assia’s attention is completely outside her body – she looks rather at her shadow. It looks that in the shadow of her own body Assia finds herself. May be, she feels that her very being is in her shadow, not in her face and not in her body? If so, how can it be?

Assia’s shadow is different from her body by the fact that it… is moving. Her body is frontally positioned and static, but her shadow has her own… will, it’s not a passive reflection of her psychological (face) or her physiological (body) existence. It’s, as if, Assia’s soul is frozen in passivity, but her shadow is prone to impulsive moods. Look at Assia’s gaze at her shadow which is going out of control. On the one side, she is a kind of fixated on it, on her other she is suspicious about it, even afraid of it. It looks that Assia is afraid of… herself, of her real personality incarnated into her shadow.

Assia’s body is athletic, but her shadow is a giant, like the shadow of a human goddess in a modern Western sense when omnipresence of sport blended with omnipotence of money investment are much more important existential factors than human being’s psychological nuance and moral sensitivity. But Assia’s shadow according to Dora Maar is much less typical – it is her new being as a woman-giant not as emancipated like women competing with men for jobs and positions and happy to become policewomen, female soldiers, CEOs, or technical scientists working for NASA, but as a new superhuman anthropological breed which will create a new human world populated with new generations not corrupted by the conformist values.

You can bet, Assia’s shadow doesn’t look too attractive according to male taste (men generally prefer women smaller and physically weaker than them), but Assia’s unconscious (Dora Maar’s intuition) tried to create a woman form congruent with the power of goddess able to achieve what ruling males are unable – not only to sustain human life and care about it, but to sustain and care about life of humanity.

*Assia Granatouroff for several years was working with professional photographers including Dora Maar. During WWII she as a Jew was arrested by Gestapo, but was able to escape and joined the Resistance.

How The Artist Becomes An Admirer, Defender And A Representative Of Nature

Balthus, “The Golden Days”, 1944 – 1946

Is the heroine of this painting a disgusting dirty little creature trying to seduce the honest worker, probably hired by her parents, to fix the fire-place? How dares she with her vain self-adoration try to distract a person from his task? Look at her sensual pose, at her frivolously naked shoulder and her playful little mirror, already not to mention her legs, as if hypnotizing the worker’s attention. But the noble man sweating near the fire doesn’t dignify the nasty little seductress with his attention. He is a reliable citizen of his community. But what if the precocious young girl enjoying her own mirror reflection and the very feeling of her bodily existence, doesn’t care much about the proletarian “guest” in their house. Can it even be that his presence at the distance makes her enjoy her own delicate appearance much more in comparison with his rude and crude look, with dirt of his clothes, with his dependence on the pay (for the sake of which he came here)? Indeed, her self-admiration is innocent because it’s enclosed on itself, isolated from the world, a goal in itself. May be, that it’s just a phase of discovering her own body – part of growing up, and without this kind of solitary experience our next generation will be inferior, under-human, robotic and stuck in emotional immaturity. And, in this sense the artist’s painterly attention to the girl’s bodily self-discovering is the care about the psychological completeness of future human beings.

Balthus, “Girl with Cat”

The girl feels herself confident in the presence of the cat (look at the size of the cat’s head – he is a real jaguar near her – her bodyguard. She feels herself so natural, so herself. It seems, she is thinking about nothing particular – she is just living, feeling herself, her legs, her arms, soft springiness of her being. She doesn’t need to be fancy dressed or wear makeup, she is alive, and this is more than enough. She is real. And she is precious just because she is real. Nobody needs to bother her with achievements, with material worries about her future, with becoming a child prodigy and superstar. Every minute of her life she learns to be a human being of her age and gender. And she is healthy in her emotional reactions when she meets another human beings. And she is not shy and is not trying to be particularly attractive in front of the painter and the viewing audience.

Balthus, “The Room”

Yes, girls masturbate, but, as you see, only when their breasts start to look womanly (when a girl reaches the legal age for masturbation). Of course, this is a joke, but Balthus, not without reasons, wanted his painting like this, and we have to follow the painter. The servant-governess opening the drapery on the window to frighten evil spirits in the room, is indignant that the girl allows herself to give her body and soul to the demonic seduction. But for the girl’s orgasm is not a stolen moment of bliss, but the center of her healthy curiosity toward her own body. For her orgasmic sensation is confirmation of the fact that she was allowed by god to sense and to witness one of the deepest miracles of the universe – the overwhelming physical pleasure right in the center of her being, like a blast if a delirious bliss. The governess thinks that masturbatory pleasure is a dark and dangerous indulgence, that the power of daily light will frighten the crawling demons away, but for the girl still protected by her youth from the superstitious dogmas of human yearning for power and suppression, orgasm is liberation, not enslaving, life, not death.

Balthus, “Terese Dreaming”

Is Terese really dreaming? The cat near her legs is eating with closed (from pleasure) eyes. What if Terese is dreaming like the cat is eating? In other words, Terese is dreaming not with dreams, but with sensing her body feeling the pleasant coolness of the air around her face, legs and opened arms. May be, she is enjoying the very contrast of the quiet cool air and hotness of her body. May be, she is mesmerized by the tender contrast between herself and the world, contrast as the first step towards a passionate embrace with the world she will be able to realize later, as a woman, in her life.


For people whose sexual education is prudish and as denotative as a condom to see a young girl sensually dressed and posing in a chair of blissful solitude is a sex-show for shameless collective consumption. It is because for them sensual grace is de-sublimational, naturalistic experience, not creative inspiration. So, it is not surprising that when they see Balthus’ pre-pubescent girls (jeunes filles) looking in the mirror through the vantage point of their still sharp knees they feel that they have been invited through the opened doors to the vulgarity of free sexual service. In other words, these viewers don’t understand that Balthus is not interested in representing situation signaling to public that the time comes to start to physiologically manipulate their sensual anatomy. For him the girls swallowed by the world of their imagination are in another universe different from the one of sexual function. These girls are as far from sexual interests and desires as butterflies dancing with the air. If they knew about what sexuality is they would be shocked as Catholic nuns. What they’re experiencing when they make themselves objects of mirror-reflection and sensual self-examination is sensually spiritual involvement with a moment, not sexuality invented by the god of nature experimented with human reproduction, physical domination and the psychological mechanisms of amorous seduction, surrender and domination.

Freudian “infantile sexuality” is different from sexuality as adults learn to understand it, what convention knows as “infantile sexual games” is stubbornly autonomous from what “pragmatic” orthodoxy sees as a perspective of “sexual maturation” into “mature forms of sexual self-realization”. Balthus’ pre-pubescent or early pubescent girls are fixated on their own strange autonomous self-world full of mysterious and irrepressible surprises. This world is centered on sensual – pre-sexual orgasmic sensation where the very creaturely-ness of pre-female body-soul became the focus of girls’ glorious self-absolutization.

The fragile and dependent pre-adolescent girl in her unconscious eyes become princess without any intentional perspective of becoming a queen. In her imagination she, as if, becomes bodily – eternally angelic, without any dream of “maturing” into goddess. She becomes eccentric miracle of nature or its magic trick. She becomes unexpected, extravagant flower of nature.

In other words, Bathus’ girls are a work of art. They’re first a self-creating archetype in collective unconscious, before particular girls could chose it as their absolutized but temporary identity and Balthus as an artist could notice it. The girls of Balthus’ imagination are rebellious “phantometts” in the very depth of human psyche. The term nymphet is a male-centered – a projection of adult men defining the object of his sexual desire, and is inapplicable to Balthus’ context. Sexual desire and sensual self-admiration/self-adoration are cardinally different passions and carry different rituals. Balthus’ girls are, as if, challenging the mandatory nature of the phases of human maturation as a biological obligation, as a law of life.

The girl-phantominas/phantomettas of Balthus’ art are examples of how life may transform into works of art. This mutation of human sensibility is isolated from the world and the time regular people live by. It’s example of self-mobilized moments of childhood giving battle to conformist normality, frightened and despotic, routinized and routinizing. The girls – sensual heroines of their own imagination, want to be something – not gay, not transgender, not deviants, not sexual pets of males, but carriers of their own irresistibility, tremendousness and uniqueness.

Balthus admires them for daring, and he encourages/creates their daring and at the same time is grateful to them for giving him the artistic chance to build his art on their existence.

Balthazar Klossovski Count de Rola (Balthus) Self-portrait

Alain Resnais’ And RWF’s Two Films As Repercussions And Variations Of Each Other

Eccentricities, Banalities And Creative Potential Of Heterosexual And Homosexual Libido


Sudden enigmatic meeting is love’s first strike

In the castle of baroque décor X is looking for somebody. Does he really know for whom? Or, may be, he just wants to find out.

A appeared to X through an ornate mirror. But could X notice her with the same power of the magic immediacy – as his instant and eternal fixation, had he seen her, let’s say, in one of the halls or corridors?

Under X’s gaze A (Delphine Seyrig) is or tries to be impenetrable

X and A are, as if, alone in the universe

Why is A still in the hall though the guests have left? Is she waiting for somebody? Perhaps, for X?

Men’s deadly and immortal rivalry for a woman’s love

The rituals of men’s competition for hetero-amorous objects are rooted in their legendary jealousy capable of destroying mountains

Game and a match between X (Giorgio Albertazzi) and M (Sacha Pitoeff)

The spectacle of men’s competition for a woman, success and glory collects more and more spectators

According to a famous saying “who is lucky in cards is not lucky in love” M wins over X, but not before the both competitors were turned upside down (not before their reflection on the glass table was transformed into an image by Alain Resnais)

Love as a meaning of life

The fact that A allows X and the viewers to see the impressive interior of her room for the first time suggests that X is becoming successful with appreciating A’s genuine and overwhelming charm

The more X became fascinated with A the more versatile and multifaceted she became, and even more charming

Now, A is for X much more than just an irresistible woman. Is irresistibility something like the essence of feminine attractiveness?

Every day A becomes for X more and more surprising in her appearance and behavior, more and more exotic and impressive

A and X have stopped to be, correspondingly, beautiful and handsome aristocrats. Now, they’re just two human beings in love

Beloveds’ first shy and delicate intimate touches

In the luxurious park around the magic castle he and she became a couple. To be in love for aristocrats it means just to be human beings – a rare luxury. But in Fassbinder’s “Querelle” we shall see that for the poor the luxury of just human love is almost not available.

Simple physical tenderness as an experience made the destiny of A and X inseparable.

Finally X felt that it’s possible for him to make an offer to A without a need for a quick answer.

After all we come to see A and M in a social setting again. What does it mean? Reconciliation? Coming back together? What will happen to X? But can it be just a positive mutual “goodbye” between the old couple?

Querelle as he is – as he is made by the deprived environment of his childhood and youth

In contrast to the rich or the middle class people guys like Querelle (Brad Davis) were not educated and never lived in a tolerant atmosphere. For young people like this but with decency of soul – misbehavior, crime and social and sexual deviations are not only result of fight for survival but a kind of ordeal, a sort of initiation ritual of proving their riskiness, courage and masculinity – their strength to resist being subdued in a ruthless fight for domination. That’s why we see, that Querelle in his readiness to use a knife in a physical fight – has such a naively solemn facial expression.

That’s why anybody who like Vic Rivette (Dieter Schidor, a co-producer of the film) expressed doubt in Querelle’s courage, had to, in this milieu, be killed.

To become a real macho – super-macho Querelle is challenging Nono (Gunther Kaufmann), the owner of the brothel. Querelle is fixated (what is typical of youth from his background) on overcoming his “sissy-side“- he invents an “ordeal” for himself – readiness to be sexually used in the most “insulting” of ways – a tergo. Through this Querelle wants to be recognized as already not just masculine but as a super-masculine who has overcome the very fear of “femininity”.

Querelle is able to go through this “humiliating” procedure to prove to himself that he’s no chicken, but super-courageous person.

But together with pain and being “branded forever” the feeling of belonging to a tough masculine brotherhood comes to Querelle (Brad Davis).

Similar ordeal of being “reduced” to a “passive role” Querelle is going through with Mario (Burkhard Driest) the port’s police captain.

These victories over himself in order to be stronger in spirit than everyone else made Querelle into a kind of local hero. He lives in an imaginary world of romantic ordeals. He felt that he is above everybody who are afraid to be used sexually because they’re not sure of their masculinity, as if, for them being used like this is a confirmation of being a sissy.

From now on he can afford to say what he really thinks about these two guys, Nono and Mario keeping the port under control, to their very eyes.

Querelle and Mme Lysiane, “the madame of Brest’s port town”

Madame Lysiane is intrigued by Quarelle’s independence and power of his character. She, wife of Nono and his partner in business, allowed Querelle to be intimate with her – it meant he can visit her in her bedroom, and while masturbating – simultaneously using a rather rare privilege of talking to her frankly. Querelle‘s elder brother Robert (Hanno Poschi) is Mme Lysiane’s official lover and a local crook.

Mme Lysiane and Querelle’s very specific amorous connection became more and more dense and serious

At a certain point Lysiane (Jeanne Moreau) understood and theatrically confessed to herself that it’s very difficult to emotionally control Querelle

Mme Lysiane even lost her self-composure when she came to the conclusion that Querelle will not become one of her loyal lovers.

Qurelle and Lieutenant Seblon

Lieutenant Seblon (Franco Nero) is the only educated person amongst the film-characters with lumpen-proletarian background. He is differentiating Querelle (Brad Davis) from the other sailors not only because he is sexually attracted to him, but rather his physical fixation on the unusual sailor grows deeper and more dramatic because he yearns for human contact with a person fatally separated from him by the iron bars of social hierarchy. Sometimes Seblon feels himself as Querelle’s elder brother, but he is not able to make his predicament obvious.

Seblon is more and more disappointed with himself for his cowardice for not being frank with Querelle – to open what for him is so scandalously clear. He feels guilty in front of the young sailor who is trying to understand something but without humanistic education won’t be able.

In despair Seblon starts to visit the dark corners of the port only to reproach and condemn himself even more

At the bar of the whorehouse Robert, Querelle’s brother is dead drunk-drugged, as usual. But behind, in the background we see Querelle himself drunk enough to make a Nazi salute to Nono. Of course, his saluting is not serious – by this Querelle is mocking Nono’s sexual prowess and his presiding position as a power authority in the area. Appreciate Fassbinder’s creative trick in this shot – the two stools on the customer side of the counter look like Nono’s legs – probably to emphasize his omnipresence in and around the bar.

Step by step Querelle and Seblon started to establish a mutual frankness but the sailor could never really expect that a leading officer of the ship will have and express human interest in him.

Finally, Seblon made a step – he felt that he is obliged to explain to Querelle the difference between pseudo-problems of life from the real ones. He understood that if he will not try to intervene Querelle can drown in drug dealing and crime and that he has to stop Querelle’s absurd megalomaniacal complexes – his super-masculinity and super-courage – and to help him in developing rational thinking of nuance and verbal patience.

Will the officer of the ship and low-rank sailor be able to help one another in becoming more reasonable in thinking about himself and the world (Querelle) and more in need of another human being to be together (Lieutenant Seblon) in a world where fight and rivalry are the ultimate principles?


The immense castle with majestic architectural decorations, with men in tuxedos and bowties, postures and profiles – or the ship polished by the sailors’ torsos, sweat and slang.

The elegant men with sophisticated women – or muscles and armpits of the working people (cast of the ship’s grooms).

The hypnotic rituals of aristocratic reciprocity (partnership or mutuality can be granted only through distanciation) – or improvisatory drug dealings in smelly back streets of anonymous ports.

Love with sexual overtones – or sex with or without amorous connotation (subdued by shame). What is this magic castle with a park and what is this magic ship with a nport – which transform life as (it’s) [a] given into life as willed, discovered, created?

Is Querelle Marienbad’s X? Is Madame Lysiane Marienbad’s A? Is Lieutenant Seblon Rob-Grillet’s authorial presence? Is Fassbinder’s directing moving away from, but still echoing Resnais’ auteurship? Does Mario-the port policeman in a way remind us of M, not in relation to A, but rather to X and Nono? In both films the results of amorous interchanges are hidden by the future, in Marienbad not just doomed, but locked, as the castle is locked onto itself, and in Querelle – as foggy as a trip to other lands and by itself is like one of these trips.

Love/sex/amorous/sexual/competitive/sado-masochistic obsessions are destabilizing agency in our world of self-regulation and stabilizing ritualism where the wealthy are supposed to behave as wealthy, and workers as workers. But some things happens in this lawful-awful division of emotional labor – Marienbad’s aristocrats start to behave like regular human beings: they fall in love/sex like laborers in sex/love. And this fact messes up the defining points of the universe. A becomes X-excited, Madame Lysiane Querelle-excited, and Querelle – world-excited, while the world – XA excited and by Querelle’s multiple and passionate and courageous curiosity.

Libido liberates A from the castle like it liberates Querelle from the ship. Libido inflames imagination like rocket takes the satellite to the sky over the abyss.

X inspires A to follow him out of the conformist castle of status quo into amorous bubble of isolation from the frozen social world (X + A = survival of the future generations’ potential for freedom from existing values, norms, aesthetic prejudices and tastes, habits and desires we’re programmed with as every generation before and, most likely after us). But the liberation from ridiculously pompous and frustrating reality is only possible in a condition that it’s a liberation into private life of personal amour and emotionally sexualized inexhaustibility supported by hetero-erotic reproductive fertility.

Contrarily Querelle unintentionally inspires Lieutenant Seblon not for exceptional entry into the bubble of private happiness, but to stay inside the existential structure of social/private relationships positioned in the alternative modality in comparison with the existing (outdated) values or sentimental rebellion against them. Social dynamism of conservative orientation – social mobility on the wings of money (the great like grave invention of the 20th century) and techno-scientific sophistication of private wealth-making in post-modernist democracies of the 21st have proved that private cave of heterosexual love belongs to the same castle where the idea of something more humane outside can be born. It’s this conservative in essence fake and agitated social dynamism X and A were instinctively trying to keep on the periphery of their life. Historically speaking, homosexual libido in the style of “Querelle” was in the beginning oriented on existential alternatives to the status quo. It looked for not for private amorous conclave but for sociality morally transformed and sociologically modified. Yet, the objective development of today’s democratic societies uses philistinism to make homosexual relations as stationary as traditional heterosexual middle-class marriage. It looks that in the conditions of modern “civilized” life homosexual philistinism is as well trained in hierarchical living, normative mutuality and games of “soft” domination as its heterosexual double. It seems that homosexual libido’s conformist potential is not weaker than the heterosexual one, as soon as its right to exist has been granted. As we see, conformist reaction can be the expression of gratitude for non-persecution, not only reaction on persecution.

Of course, like Resnais in “Marienbad” aestheticizes all the satiric energy at the disposal of his talent not to distort the genuineness of the film’s beauty, Fassbinder tries to be sure that his film’s depiction of homosexual libido is not soiled with “romantically propagandist intention” – that two basic characters of “Querelle” (Querelle and Seblon) are interesting not by themselves but by their attempts to position their libido in socio-politically meaningful way.

Obsessive amorous desires had always been used by the decision-makers as a channel by which people’s energies of protest (reacting on human disappointments and frustrations) were taken out of public space. Resnais’ choice of castle as a signifier of socio-political status quo (as a metonymy of the castle inside human soul) is made possible by the knightly cult of the lady as a personification of sublime soul and by people’s fixation on the ideal of eternal sublime redeeming the unity of the two sexual sinners – man and woman. It is this sacred unity which hides the amorous couple inside a blissful eternity.

On the other hand Fassbinder’s choice of the ship is not, of course, a metaphor of settlement of split and unified amorous monad, but of a destiny based on a dedication to life as a creative existential search with its risks and challenges not only in personal, but in social sense which includes amorous nucleus only as a part of existentially-spiritual meaning.

The upper class aristocracy’s ritualistic life-style in Resnais’ “Marienbad” is barely compatible with the crude and violent proletarian life in Fassbinder’s “Querelle”. Resnais not only rewards us aesthetically, but by providing us with a relevant ironic condescension towards even the most “perfect” castle personages. But at the end of Fassbinder’s film we amidst uneasiness of witnessing the raw life of poverty, illiterate worldviews and violence of animosity and friendliness feel some hidden-hinted perspective on the very possibility of an alternative life. The very Genetesque combination of proletarian theatrics and poverty-ridden (compensatory) megalomania makes these sailors as “negative aristocrats” a lost and forgotten shadow version of Robbe-Grillet’s castle’ inhabitants. But living in a no-way-out-ness triggers in them imagination which opens to them much more “impossible” perspective than the aristocrats on the top get from their titles, heritage, privileges and impeccable mannerisms. Those who live and die in gold are locked forever in golden cages, but who live and die in between dust and wind and rain and dirt and blood and lust can dream and for this reason can be oriented on essential change.

Fassbinder in “Querelle” emphasizes that in order for social life not to be just power-ridden, defined by career-success and materially prosperous, but humane and moral, permanent communication between the under or uneducated and culturally illiterate and those who are existentially competent and psychologically sophisticated and refined is the very necessary prerequisite for a possible benevolent historical development. It is existential pedagogy that is the nucleus of a prosperous, successful society, not monarchy of technological ruling over and colonizing life and world.

The Waves Of Cognitive Breakthroughs Vs Tormenting Tears Of Desperate Compassion

Otto Dix, “Nietzsche”, 1912

Dix’s sculpture of Nietzsche’s head is a depiction of swarming clusters of intense metaphorical transformations characterizing through the mutual imaginative echoing the philosopher-poet’s perception of the world of humankind’s destiny.

Nietzsche’s bust is a combination of a strong head and a strong neck (without the second the first one cannot become itself) – without a potent stubbornness of the neck the head will not be able to develop and sustain its vision. Both are like two mountains combined by the imaginary logic of sculptural composition into wholeness. The cognitive power of human poetico-philosophical thinking (personified by Nietzsche’s intellectual phenomenon) is, by the Otto Dix’s inspired effort, ossified into this bony relief of a magnificently animated face and petrified into mighty neck.

Nietzsche’s forehead is athletic like a rock. It receives the oceanic ebb signified by the philosopher’s dense and vital hair. But Nietzsche’s intellect inspired by the world’s energies – by the vital symbols of nature’s and human passions, by the primordial prototypes of human and culturally elaborated naturalness, is… over-exhausted by the task of trying to be the megaphone of the worldly soul.

Over decades the cognitive power of Friedrich Nietzsche accumulated through his sinciput as his reaction on the wild: the oceanic energy waves (Dix’s analogy of Nietzsche’s hair with ocean’s waves), is transformed into a deep and hidden for years suffering of his soul spent on empathic observation of human and natural world. It took decades for this tormenting exhaustion and decay to tragically complete itself. The energy of Nietzsche’s philosophical concentration morbidly but inevitably transubstantiated into tears of sorrow – into a meditative life of grief and pain over human illusions, follies, cruelties, torments and despair. And looking at the bust we see heavily “teary” Nietzsche’s eyebrows and mustache – the bodily matter in a process of losing its materiality, its environment and its meaning. Nietzsche’s eyes which were sharper than the tops of mountains and more enduring than the gaze of the night are transformed into black holes, abandoned settlements of a mind which was alive forever.

What we see in Dix’s sculpture of Nietzsche head is not only how a human being who was as spiritually inexhaustible as Nietzsche, became deadened, but how human reason itself can be shattered by the irresolvable contradictions between human civilization (with its spiritual ideological wrapping) and its barbaric seamy side, and by the very life in the universe, the very life of the universe.

Nietzsche’s life and death gave chance to an exceptional artist, Otto Dix to feel the universe as if it is an incredible giant, tremendous and glorious, simultaneously smart and dumb, over-powerful and over-weak because its power itself is weakness and its smartness is inevitably stupid, as life is impregnated with death – carrying death and at the same time receiving it as a gift of redemption. And god then is, probably, just a robot inevitably smartly serving and controlling the crudeness of the very existence with its pathetic blind fight for itself, which carries its own destruction, like an optimistic cheerfulness – its pessimistic inner layer.

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