Acting-Out Politics

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

Social Status Alters Immune System (Low Rank In The Group Leads to Inflammation)

“Human health and longevity are linked to Socio-economic status… This link persists regardless of factors such as access to decent health care or clean water… Low-ranking monkeys had different proportions of immune system cells circulating in their blood… And in some of these cells activity in genes involved in immune response was dialed up. These changes are the cellular and genomic hallmarks of chronic, harmful inflammation. These types of inflammation is like a generic fertilizer that feeds the development of many chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease… Low social standing leads to elevated stress that harms the body… Being a chronically subordinate nonhuman primate and being a human mired at the bottom of socio-economic scale are similar in the most fundamental ways… You have remarkably little control and predictability in your life, your outlets for frustration are limited, and it’s relatively hard to access social support. That’s the prescription for chronic, stress-related maladies.”
Rachel Ehrenberg, “Social Status Alters Immune System (Low Rank in Group Leads to Inflammation)”, SN (Science News Magazine), Dec. 24, 2016 – Jan. 7, 2017, p. 7

Several decades ago, during “democratic” 60s – 70s it was considered by many politicians-democrats and scholars with democratic sensibility “not-elegant” to mention the probable connection between poverty, homelessness and chronic unemployment with physical illnesses and low life expectancy. Today, with the development of medical sciences this connection has become more evident, although far from being more accepted. In a world of “ideological justice” and slogan-equality factual injustice and inequality are seldom picked up by free speech.

The fact that being on the bottom of social pyramid causes high stress related maladies is telling us that people perceive their deprivations related to low economic status as injustice. It is this humiliation of being treated as less of a human being than others subdues one’s sense of worth and lowers one’s immune health leading to chronic inflammation which triggers number of illnesses. In really democratic society nobody feels “on the bottom”. But In the 21st century democratic societies are more and more deviating from democratic ideals. Conservative prospect of (profit oriented) privatization of Social Security and Medical care and the promise to eliminate even food stamps program (among other examples of conservative “negatively creative” socio-economic thinking) is not just undemocratic but typical pre-democratic behavior. When the “owners of jobs” put Americans out of work in order to save money by using foreign workers, it is a form of human sacrifice, when people are victimized by the proud conservative dream of austerity for the majority of the population.

As we see, American conservatives are becoming not only more conservative, meaning even less progressively oriented, but more progressively conservative, with more fresh-and-bright innovative vignettes on their outworn conservative worldviews. They’re, as if, have internalized the democratic creative modality of thinking about society in developmental context of change into their retrograde goals and agendas. They coopt the very idea of political innovations for the benefit of outdated – pre-humanistic socio-economic practices.

Artaud’s portrait of the real Jacques Prevel, juxtaposed with photo of the actor (Mark Barbe) playing Prevel in Mordillat’s film

Mordillat’s film is gloomy and tormenting, and its narrative melodies are often broken by, as if, blasted strings. After WWII, Paris is dirty, hopeless and full of people with no time for elegance and contemplation. People are rushing to work or to find a job – to survive, achieve, succeed – to hold to the surface of life, not to drown under its vain waves. Both main male characters (Antonin Artaud and Jacques Prevel) are on the verge of homelessness and solidly in poverty. The three main female characters (Prevel’s wife, his girlfriend Jany and the young actress Colette specializing on reciting Artaud’s poems) are desperate, overstressed and without much hope, they live from day to day. But in spite of all bleakness the film somehow suggests some positive expectation, some hopeful belief without concrete content. It’s not easy to understand, from where this current of fresh and warm air is coming.

Artaud is partially living in a psychiatric facility and we see him eating nothing except nuts. He is accusing himself in his inability to understand what makes a human beings to try to restore the prewar way of life which is responsible for the war in the first place (greed automatically leads to clash), what makes them so meaninglessly and absurdly indifferent and belligerent. Prevel (still a young man) is devastated that his poems are again and again refused for publication, while Artaud always mentions them to Prevel appreciatively. Artaud, to activate his own mental capacities needs drugs, he doesn’t take it to forget the reality or to feel himself in the center of the world or enjoy the relaxation or super-alertness (he is not an addict nor a recreational user). He gives himself to drugs to force himself to be more active and innovative thinker dedicated to the grasping about people and human society what he wasn’t yet able to grasp – how is it that people dream about one thing: consumption of goods, property and entertaining images, without understanding that this “innocent” addiction will ultimately destroy them and their world? How to awaken in people existentially spiritual rationality? – The question which torments Artaud every day and every hour.

Jacques Prevel, according to Artaud, should comprehend that art’s (here – poetry) value cannot be measured by the foam of the artist’s fame, but by its existential genuineness, refinement of verbal sensitivity and structural multiversity. Prevel is lucky to have two woman loving him, but he is not happy either, because he is too stressed and feels deprived. With Artaud’s help, he becomes a martyr by the calling of his soul. Through experiencing the film while observing the difficult life of the characters, we step by step are penetrated by the light of their immanent, unconscious hope – their silent belief that life dedicated to serious (not entertaining) art and meaning, life resisting conformism/philistinism and the posture of calculating and manipulating of the reality is what makes it disinterestedly joyful. People like Artaud and Prevel are… happy though knowing nothing about it.

May be, real happiness is something we don’t know about. And it is joy which we don’t attribute to ourselves, while thinking about our poverty and problems and suffering. Artaud will die at the end of the film, while Prevel will soon after. But they shared with us not only their grief and their torments and despair, but their latent, “anonymous” but real happiness. American viewers will learn a lot from the heroes of Mordillat’s film. If we had more people like Antonin Artaud and Jacques Prevel, we would never open a new century as we did. Artaud and Prevel are seemingly “bizarre” and “extreme” characters, but a noble and remarkable role models.

Young Antonin Artaud

Artaud in his later years

Sami Frey as Artaud in Mordillat’s film

It Seems That For The Political Elites There Is No Other Way Beside Idealistic Slogans To Mobilize The Masses To Fight To Death For A “Future Better Life”

Russian “socialists’” with their icon-on-banner dream of a “communist” future for humankind is the first example of inspiring idealistic bubble in those who followed the solemn project of establishing the universal ideal society on the planet Earth. But how socialism, a concept with concrete operational definitions, can be an embryo of communism (a collective dream polished by the tears of human poverty and despair)? While “communism” was supposed to happen in socialist far-future, it is exactly this dream was an inspiration for the socialist fighters to sacrifice themselves when they were killing their enemies for the sake of their god – a shining communist future. It’s this communist knot of human idealistic imagination was the irrational power in charge of all the hardships on the way to achieve “a socialist way of life”. The mass people understood the communist idea generically – by the logic of pompous sloganeering teaching them the universal jingoistic patriotism, readiness to sacrifice their life for a future communist paradise and hate and contempt for other countries alien to their dream.

But even the socialist masses eventually become frustrated by the “slow growth of economy and consumption”, and the communist leadership itself finally decided to change the political system their grandfathers and fathers have built on blood and sweat of soviet believers in their revolution, because “socialism is not able to provide enough incentives for people to work hard and effectively enough to sustain the necessary material growth”. History itself shown that idealistic bubble of communist ideological belief didn’t work – were not productive enough in practical life and the real international situation, the socialist enterprise in Russia existed only a little longer than 70 years. Of course, another reason for dismantling the soviet socialism was that the communist leaders’ contacts with Ronald Reagan’s administration, which showed them that power based on money is a much more effective weapon for manipulating masses than power based on ideology. People can resist ideology but will surrender to Golden Calf. Soviet communists from the teachers of humanity are transformed into disciples of Capital’s miracles. To shift from USSR to Nazi Germany – is it possible to imagine that the German masses will follow their Fuhrer’s call to battlefields of the globe, if not their absolute belief that they’re genetically superior to all other people? Arian superiority is the goal deserving to kill and to die for. Could Nazi Germans become so indignant and righteous in their hate toward Jews if not their belief in their exceptionalism?

Even for the dreams of our American Founding Fathers it was not enough to push from our country colonizing us Brits and start to rule over our America by themselves. They had to create something like “the best political system on Earth” – the most humanistic and just among all political systems ever. Like Soviet socialism was organized around the future of a total and an unconditional happiness, US was centered on its future as a torch for other nations’ admiration and imitation. Today, in the 21st century, almost nothing is left from the orientation on a better future for all American citizens, the remnants of democracy are dirtied with neocons’ orientation on austerity for people, on destroying (through privatization) Social Security for the sake of maximization of profit for its future private owners, and Medicaid, on elimination of even food stamps program. On top of all these growing homelessness and joblessness, the recent trend of murders of unarmed civilians by police officers and steady preparation for new wars. It looks like that the idealistic bubbles of human socio-cultural dreams are not sustainable. It’s, as if, people want to look in front of themselves so humane that they exaggerate the sincerity and passion of their kindness and tolerance. But time passes, and humanism more and more used as justification of people‘s cruelty and indifference to others.

It looks like that the bubbles of idealism is the feature of countries’ ideology when they try to establish themselves – revolution in Russia in 1917 with its orthodox Marxism, the Third Reich growing from and against Weimar Germany, American revolution for independence. In these moments future countries (USSR, Third Reich, USA) try, as if, to justify extra-violence they needed to successfully establish themselves. Idealistic bubbles penetrating the new ideologies become the main source of recruiting people’s passions and mobilizing their readiness to kill and to die for the great future to come. But when life in a new countries becomes more or less normalized and social stratification leads to a stabilized social hierarchy – the very need for excesses of idealism goes down. Ideological and financial elites grow more confident in their social power. The greed, corruption and despotism of elites become more obvious and matter-of-factly.

It is amazing how psychologically similar can be countries looking so different! Of course, decision makers in charge are interested in emphasizing the absolute and always admirable particularity of their own country. Mass people are always easily buying it because it nurtures their narcissistic self-image (it’s very pleasant to think that your country and people like yourself are better than anybody else). The poor people, for example, are always ready to see themselves on the movie screen – embellished by the charisma of the movie-star to forget about their miserable social condition. People addicted to and corrupted by a falsified movie screen reality – more and more develop a false self-consciousness and the inability to understand themselves and others. Voting against their own interests and inability to grasp what’s really going on with their own country is only one of the results. Narcissistically aggrandized self-images of “our” unconditional greatness create jingoistic and conformist behavior.

Take, for example, pop-entertainment American movies – how entertaining directors and producers address the audience and how actors psychologically interact with viewers is scandalously and astonishingly similar in all three countries’ cultures “baptized” by the presence of idealistic bubbles in their past. Movies for mass consumption try to fascinate, to hypnotize audience, to glue viewers’ emotions to the actions and emotional reactions images and try to generate mass response based on suggested stereotypical ideas. Instead of encouraging unique interpretations mass-films cultivate (totalitarian) standardization of the population. In USSR and Nazi Germany the movie hero had to be the carrier of standard cognitive reactions and be the object of identification on part of the viewers. Even American commercial/entertaining movies follow the same principles of antagonism between the hero and the villain (or positive and negative characters) where the hero is a model for everybody inside our country while the villain or negative character shown as simpleminded and schematic personification of evil, as it is the case in American or Soviet and Nazi propaganda movies. The very semantic structure between propaganda movie and entertaining Hollywood movie is depressingly similar – it emphasizes the incompatibility between “us” – personified as generic patriots without humanistic education and “them” (only humanistic education orients on truth which is always non-identical with propagandists contrast between standard official, “our” truth and standard, evil lies of “non-us”). Commercial movies are immanently propagandistic – their task is to flatter the consumers and by this unzip their pockets as “free market” of uninterruptible hospitality. Moviemakers become richer-wealthier with easiness of animation cartoon.

Propaganda and mass entertainment reveal their common psychological nature – that’s how a totalitarian elite approaches the totalitarian masses, with global intention to conquer worldwide market by flattering mass consumers by confirming and encouraging their unconscious and psychologically identical self-aggrandizing archetypes inseparable from their hate for others with the same psychology (dressed with different ideological clothes). Totalitarian community of propaganda and/or entertainment consumers is based not on spiritual, psychological and characterological individualism, but on people’s ego-identification with similarity with one another and super-ego identification with leaders and celebrity-stars as their idealized personifications.

Woman as A Face/Thighs (More Elaborately – As A Face/Smile and Thighs/Legs)

Bellmer was perceived by the art audiences not so much as an artist but rather as a personification of male sadism towards the women (of course, he had a narrow group of passionate enthusiasts admiring him for the same wrong reason of being fixated on erotic sadism). Human psyche is calibrated in a funny way – what is perceived as problematic or ambiguous has to be reduced in such a way that the observer would feel morally superior in comparison with the one who is observed (for example, the artist and his work). But art is not identical with the complexes of its maker, more – very often it’s artistic inspiration where the artist finds himself. In other words, he invents what becomes his artistic ”complexes” – his topics and style. The artist finds himself (becomes himself) not in life but in… art. It is his imagination, not his existential container becomes the magic of his pencil or brush and paper or canvass. And it’s already ambition and responsibility of his art to penetrate life – to find itself in it and to help viewers to make existential sense of the work.

Hans Bellmer’s “Destiny”

What a springy combination of movements/dynamism of limbs of the female body, making the macho man’s heart – beat as if, before jump to nowhere with an impossible hope to wake up in a better world! Butterfly-like gesticulation of thighs/legs as if they are arms/hands! Gesticulation of involuntary resistance and defeat! Is Hans Bellmer laughing at us or he is touching the tip of our dream, much more primordial and incomparably more universal than the “American dream” or that of becoming a millionaire and billionaire.

The very torso of the female body – between face/neck and thighs/legs have somehow been swallowed by Bellmer’s drawing – the soft and resistant (like a consoling swamp during drought of everyday life) feminine flesh which, as if, exists for being held by the male’s bones and muscles during intercourse – doesn’t need, it seems, to be visually represented. Of course, it has certain relief challenging climbers, and the appealing energy emanation, but this is less important than its “function” – to be leaned on, relied upon: creating in males the feeling that they’re categorically in charge of their sexual satisfaction.

But the smile (of the feminine smooth-skinned face) is fundamental for providing male sexual ego with a minimum of self-confidence to perform/project/inject himself into the porous screen of femininity. And so is the shy grimace of pain which, for macho taste should be fused with smile (exactly like Hans Bellmer represents it) to enhance male confidence even more. Smile without pain will be quickly felt by the male as insincere or even sarcastic welcome. The readiness of the female object to suffer is necessary to persuade the macho man that he is really desirable and safe in his irresistibility. Man’s ego needs sacrifices, just positive woman’s readiness is not enough, more – it will be perceived as always ambiguous and suspicious.

Man’s sexual ego is not confident and for this reason – macho demands unconditional acceptance – it’s impossible even to imagine that macho-groper will meet “his match” – a woman who’ll give him a lesson and squeeze his arrogant vulnerability in response. The macho’s psyche is ravaged by complexes, because for him to reach sexual culmination in his – narcissistically dominant way is psychologically a very complex process (too much of the reality must be despotically controlled – to perform sexually he needs to be treated by the woman at least as a Duke). To resolve it successfully it’s necessary to impregnate his performance with a highest degree of emotional indifference and despotic/aggressive posturing. The womanly face (welcoming the male subject with a smile mixed with pain from the male’s mechanical penetration) turns on the feminine thighs/legs’ pantomime which simultaneously invites and seduces the macho to perform and at the same time is hypnotizing him to do it without reservation/hesitation. Yes, even in her dependent posture, the female object finds a way to take a manipulating – hypnotizing position towards the male subject!

We come to the main and the bitterest problem for the macho man with female object. While on the obvious level the woman does not challenge the male subject’s dominant position, she “with her twisted witchy mind” finds a way not only not to resist the macho’s domination, but… to take pleasure from her situation in spite of it! Like a masochist outsmarts the sadist, the female object simultaneously resists, seduces and finds her own jouissance in her sexual responsiveness to the male in the very dance of tights/legs she ecstatically uses as arms/hands to manipulate/hypnotize the macho male and take full pleasure from it, “like Gorgon with her hairs, like an octopus with her tentacles, like Black widow with her webs”. What we see in Bellmer’s “Destiny” is a paradigmatic knot of macho perception of female object.

Woman’s thighs/legs acting as her sexual organs’ hands/arms (observed by the male gaze from all the angles) is the strongest visual aphrodisiac created by the human nature. But at the same time it’s the basic phobic object for the macho’s psyche. Female body’s chaotically moving thigs/legs refer to the male’s victory, but in macho perception they are also moving arms/hands threatening/dangerous for man’s security. The both aspects of feminine thighs/legs-arms/hands create the very flood of sexual stimulation and the potential for the macho man’s future defeat.

The fact that Bellmer depicts the woman’s face, neck and tights as though covered with sheer fabric is, it seems, the reference to the hymen – the carrier of the spirit of virginity. While physical hymen is important in inter-gender relations in concrete situations, it is a psychological hymen what is of overwhelming importance in macho perception. Hymen is really a magic object for a macho man – for him woman must be psychologically a virgin. Even a harlot must emotionally “play virgin” to make the man able to sexually perform successfully – to do so he needs to feel with the woman the first, the only, the ultimate man. According to Hans Bellmer, woman’s hands as hands must not look as important for sexual rapport – for macho man it is safer to have woman without arms and hands. The male must feel himself not in a barn but on the stage, woman must not to emphasize her human status by showing her “animalistic” naked feet.

Antonin Artaud and Jacques Prevel – Guru and Disciple of Secularly Spiritual Resistance

Art allows to approach images of devastation… to cure viewers’ blindness to violence and persecution that continue to lead to the dehumanization of others and ourselves… You become aware of the effects of the violence done to others, now and in history – witness to an event in which you didn’t participate, and a proximity to those you have never met.
Bracha Ettinger

Only by renouncing what Freud calls instinctive gratification – what we are doing when we read, we are free to enjoy what we read.
Richard Howard, “A Note of S/Z”, Roland Barthes, “S/Z”, Hills and Wang, 1974

I have nothing, but I resist, I work, I am in hell
Antonin Artaud to Jacques Prevel

I am beautiful but ugly, only beautiful because I am ugly
Antonin Artaud to Jacques Prevel

Sickness is a state. Health is another, baser one, I mean – more cowardly and viler… Sickness makes you stronger. Health makes a traitor of you, to escape sickness… I have been sick all my life and it suits me fine… Being in a state of want taught me more about my power than bourgeois beliefs like: health is wealth.
Antonin Artaud to Jacques Prevel

-You don’t know how I suffer, Mrs. Prevel. Unless I use sarcasm, I sink into chaos.
– Mr. Artaud, what about the forces of good?
– Mrs. Prevel, there are only the forces of evil. Even when someone has a good thought, by defining it as good he deprives others of free choice. Which proves that he is on the side of evil.

From the dialogue of Antonin Artaud and Mrs. Prevel (the wife of Jacques)

A grave injustice has been done to you. Since I have been in Paris I’ve only seen one man who was alive and torn – you, Jacques Prevel.
Antonin Artaud to Jacques Prevel

The events of the film take place in 1946 in post-WWII Paris, where we see how rare people with heightened moral sensitivity and intellectual refinement, who understand the base motivations behind international domination and as a result – wars of aggression and revenge, didn’t have an interest in participation in rebuilding of pre-war type of society. These people understand war as a dead end and think about how to change human sensibility to prevent economic and military clashes in future. For them (personified by the main characters of the film) to restore the old society means to prepare and promote new wars. While majority of people were returning to pre-war way of living for the sake of becoming more materially prosperous, technologically savvy and entertained by mass culture, the heroes of secularly spiritual resistance tried to develop an alternative sensibility and help other people to understand better the human philistinism as another side of hate and intolerance.

Antonin Artaud’s monologue (scene from the movie “En compagnie d’Antonin Artaud, 1993”)

Antonin Artaud (1896 – 1948)

Artaud at a mental health facility

Gerard Mordillat, novelist, documentary filmmaker and the director of “My Life and Time with Antonin Artaud/En compagnie d’Antonin Artaud”

Antonin Artaud

“The poet is the son of his works, perhaps, but his works are not by him; for whatever is of himself in his poetry has not been expressed by him, but rather by that unconscious producer of life, who has pointed life out to him. Well, I don’t want to be a poet, but rather in rebellion against the ego and the self.” (Antonin Artaud, “Anthology”, City Lights, 1965, p. 101

Artaud (Sami Frey) dreamed about the possibility for the human being to reach a more existentially spiritual state of human soul and by this to overcome the “fallen” condition of the world, a new Being when humans not fight for domination over one another and the world and live in freedom.

Putting the knife against his head is sign of Artaud’s frustration about his inability to thoroughly understand the reasons of human fixation on rivalry, economic and military wars and obsession with calculative/manipulative thinking.

Artaud (Sami Frey) is teaching his disciple (Charlotte Valandrey) – how to utter poetic text (how to recite his poems properly)

“I ache in all the places where others get pleasure. That’s what’s unbearable. I desperately need a body I don’t have, while so many bodies are idle. All those with guts got tortured or got suicided” (Artaud)

Jacques Prevel, His Wife and His Girlfriend

Jacques Prevel’s wife (Rolande – Valerie Jeannet) is an impressive personality, a person able to understand Artaud’s points of view. She is dedicated to helping her husband to be spiritual outsider. And she accepted the fact that he has a girlfriend – a woman even younger than he himself, who admires his poetry and is as lost in life as he is himself. With a maternal Rolande and sisterly Jany, Prevel (Mark Barbe) is able to avoid a breakdown and continues to nobly suffer, write poetry rejected for publication and build a mentor-disciple relationship with Antonin Artaud, who for him is the very personification of a spiritual savior. Through his dedication to poetic magic Jacques is trying to get rid of the impossible world through the cult of poetry-creating refuge, which allows him to take distance from the social world and feel vital and confident while being irredeemably poor.

Jany’s (Julie Jezequel) physical closeness makes Jacques (Mark Barbe) not to completely lose the desire to live. The magic power of Jany’s presence over Jacques’ body is revealed in an episode of their lovemaking, when during intercourse both, as if, feel that they are searching for something not bodily at all – metaphorical window providing them with the chance to grasp the contours of alternative reality they both are yearning for. Sex is eroticizing their poverty and abandonment, charging them with hope, making them feel their dreams as more real.

After overdosing Jany collapsed at home and soon will be helped and saved by Jacques, like in few years she will be a loyal presence at his funeral. Behind all these sufferings Mordillat emphasizes the presence of meaning and worldview – refutation to join a society where robotized souls boil with jingoistic idolatry and hate for other nations and countries.

Artaud and Prevel

Jacques Prevel (in the center – Marc Barbe) among Artaud’s devotees who are full of adulation of him as a poet and a “revolutionary against poetry”. Indeed, whole his life Artaud was a philosophical rebel against poetry as a refuge from life.

Prevel is overwhelmed with personality of Artaud (Samy Frei), powerful, monolithic and confident even in moments of hesitation and uncertainty

Collete Thomas reciting Artaud’s poem on the stage during special event dedicated to his art

The young actress Collete Thomas (Charlotte Valandrey) is on the verge of a nervous breakdown while rehearsing with Artaud. Jacques Prevel, who unnoticed had a chance to observe them rehearsing was struck by seeing how Artaud “mistreats” the young woman by the despotic intensity of his demands.

Artaud (Sami Frey) sees in Prevel his own youth, his own confrontations with the world, art and art-bureaucracy. He remembers a period when he also received refutation to publish his poems, like Prevel now, and by the same reason – by their excessive, not balanced poetic vitality

Artaud is checking the “medicine” which Jacques was able to bring for his master’s mental stimulation

On the wall behind Artaud (Sami Frey) we see his drawings. In the middle is the sketch of the reciter of his poems – the young actress, Colette

Because of Artaud’s presence in life, Jacques Prevel began to feel encouraged in his existence, although he was as poor and socially not successful, as before. He felt that to be oneself is one of the strongest encouragements life can provide

Artaud is in a café where he usually meets with his disciples and admirers.

Artaud (Sami Frey) senses that Jacques is in poor health, but he doesn’t want to discourage his spirit of vitality and confidence

Jacques Prevel learns from Artaud‘s gaze at the world – penetrating without being focused on a concrete thing, a gaze not of a detective, but a philosopher-mystic, not a philosopher of science. Artaud not only looks at the world, but simultaneously to the human soul (as if, comparing and elucidating the synchronization or the dissonance between the two).

Prevel is discouraged and even shaken by the fact that specialists of poetry refuse to publish his poems. But Artaud is trying to orient Jacques on poetry without cult of the lyrical form, on poetry of vitalistic intensities.

Here we feel Artaud’s power of observation and contemplation mixed. And we also notice Prevel’s power to sense Artaud’s concentration. The world remembers them together, exactly as it is registered in this still.


Something is deeply and stubbornly wrong in the so called peaceful life, which periodically demands wars and produces them with permanency of lion pride needing hunting episodes. But peace between wars are in reality also not peaceful – wars are planned in advance and are inseparable from predatory international economic competition, and everyday life during peaceful periods is full of hateful rivalry and impregnated by matter-of-factly or proudly proclaimed ideology of austerity for the lower segments of the population. In such societies the very condition of the human souls is much worse than it can be explained by the proneness of human nature for sinning. The street crowds in Mordillat’s film are comparable with those in Bresson’s “Pickpocket”, only messier and dirtier – (events of the film take place in 1946). The shots of the urbanistic crowds, by the efforts of the camera work of Francois Catonne are more surrealistically “smashed” than in “Pickpocket” and are feverishly chaotic.

Artaud-the character of the film is dedicated to finding aesthetic/philosophical cure for the illness of the modern soul which is rushing to forget the cruelties and devastation of the war and give itself to the calls of industrial prosperity, rivalry and consumerism. Artaud doesn’t have an ideology of salvation – for him political tools are at best utopian and at worst fraudulent, and he torments himself by trying to intensify his attempts to understand better the fallen-ness, morbidity and crookedness of human societies. Prevel, at the same time, kept himself at the periphery of the society, living in poverty, making love and writing poems asserting joy of existence. The both, Artaud and Prevel are sublime non-conformists – their lives are situated somewhere in secularly spiritual alternative to the modern ways which for them are only a more grotesque version of the old ways. Indeed, something naively cynical in the very idea that after WWII it’s natural for people to bath in our victory and dream about material prosperity and make money. What we had to be occupied with instead is to think how to prevent the next war and how not to rival with one another achieving personal enrichment, like profiteers during the war. Jacques Prevel and his mentor Antonin Artaud represent in the film the very contours of spiritual alternative to social and psychological conformism.

Prevel’s women – his wife Rolande (Valerie Jeannuet), psychologically a mother figure for him, and his mistress Jany (Julie Jezequel), his peer, psychologically, for him a sisterly figure, are attracted to his alien-ness to the standard norms and values and his search for the meaning of life. His wife, a person with an introspective experience is able to overcome her fear of Artaud and is capable to keep a meaningful conversation with him. She tolerates her husband’s affair with a girl who is even younger than Jacques himself – she understands what he is searching in this love. Rolande nurtures Jacques’s ability to live inside poetic coordinates, but with Jany Jacques could identify with her courage and madness (a combination that can already characterize Artaud’s position in the world) to live outside standard frame of reference.

In a rare and a daring footage Mordillat shows how Jacques and Jany make love, as if, with each thrust towards each other trying to discover an invisible alternative world. Being together and loving each other allows Jacques and Jany to stay in their imaginary and genuinely real world. Jany admires Jacques’ poetry because in his poems she recognizes the world they share and know through their love. Mordillat makes us hear his poem as a part of the lovers’ emotional playfulness with one another. And we see that Artaud perfectly understood Jacques’ poems, not as unconscious imitation of metaphysical alternative to life, but as existential sensitivity (the version of existential, not supra-existential spirituality).

Artaud‘s pedagogical point to Prevel is that the core of spirituality (its environment) is life, as also the main point of poetry. The weak point of Prevel’s poems, according to specialists in poetry is their strong point, according to Artaud, although what takes place here is transcendence of the very poetic canon. “Since I have been in Paris I’ve only seen one man who is alive and torn – you, Jacques Prevel.” (Antonin Artaud). Does it mean that Prevel’s poems are too existential and don’t have the paradisiacal tranquility of a metaphysical frame? Prevel’s problems as a poet are very close to that of Artaud himself (starting from his youth). As Prevel’s poems were refused for publication young Artaud’s poems were returned to him many times as “not ready”, “not mature enough”, “not poetically elaborated”. Here, we have a deal with two kinds of poetry – metaphysically framed and existentially “unleashed”, and with two kinds of spirituality, spirituality of tranquility, when a poet is emotionally pacified by “joining the heavens”, and spirituality of self-contradictions allowing the poet to remain in life in the world.

Even after reaching fame as a poet Artaud radically resisted of being a celebrity. In an important episode in the film we see the beginning of public celebration of Artaud’s life and art in a theater full of people. We see that Artaud cannot enter the theater – he approaches the back door and waits when one of the organizers of the event will come to meet him and accompany him inside. Prevel’s humility and shyness echoes that of his teacher and personal friend – when after the celebration including recitation on the stage Artaud’s poetry, he asks Jacques why he didn’t sit at Artaud’s table on the platform, Prevel answers with trembling that he couldn’t dare. Both men don’t care about people’s admiration. Artaud is occupied with – how to help people to overcome the seductions of luxury and power and to turn to a life of meaning, and Prevel is trying to endure without surrendering to the common philistinism. Artaud and Prevel belong to a rare “animals” amidst androids. If androids among humans want to successfully function, and many – by any price, the exceptional characters dare to want to live only on certain ethical and cultural conditions – a position which makes universal philistines unjustly accuse them in sin of pride/hubris/superbia because they take conformism for humility.

Engulfed by poverty and exposed to early death Artaud and Prevel are like gems on a manure heap of common prosperity, poverty and vulgarity of the plebeian dream of being millionaires. With Artaud’s psychological help Jacques Prevel prevails over the human ant-civilization by his and his poems’ fragile vitality. And Mordillat’s film gives the viewers the story of his and Artaud’s victorious mortality.

Regressed Perception of the World as a Primordial Womb for Fascist Person as Predatory Pseudo-Embryo

“Fascist” here means anti-humane, anti-nature and pro-power through weapons and money

Regressed (in a fascist way) perception of life (and other people) transforms the world into something like a giant “womb” – the object of unconditional consumption, which is, as if, a property of the man-embryo (the subject of fascist regression). If other people “inhabiting” the world-womb take a disagreeing posture towards the man-embryo’s actions and intentions (based on the ideology of his exceptional worth in comparison with any other people) – the subject of fascist regression treats them as arrogant and criminal enemies and will be inclined to subdue or eliminate them from the picture – from the environment of “his” world-womb.

The fascist regression is a disturbance of, not only perceptual function, it’s affliction of the human soul – the inability of the individual regressed to the fascist condition to accept “not-me”/not-us” – people with different existential tastes, ideas, pictures of the world, customs, different habits and independent will (peaceful freedom to be autonomous). All concerns of the fascist individuals are about power and domination over the world, nature and other people. This yearning for dominant position in the world is not just one obsession among others, but the one that impregnates and colors all human desires and motivations. Another side of this intolerance towards the otherness is heightened, feverish consumerism, the compulsive desire to use and manipulate the world and other people. Such “demanding” and “aggressive” predisposition includes the right to be irritated, furious, hateful and violent towards the world and people if they disappoint “our” expectations and our consumerist needs. People regressed to fascism are dedicated to self-empowering, they pursue power like fire the forest, thunderstorm the soil, like twisters homes, like fossil fuel corporations – American and foreign lands. Today, in an epoch of return of despotic propaganda the idea that it’s possible to live without seeking advantage and power again seems bizarre and even decadent.

Fear, permanently eating the soul, is for sure, an important factor causing the psychological state conditioning fascist regression. It is radical fear of the world and dissimilar others. It is a condition when insecurity is so strong, that even weapons serving panics aren’t enough – you also need money as a weapon – money in a form of permanent, self-sustaining and self-enriching profit feeding the ability to bribe/to buy people whom you want to act according to your wishes. There is nothing mythological and supernatural in fascist regression to primordial panic and obsession with destruction – it is a pathological desire of the absolute centrality in the universe, where nothing unchanging exists. Individuals regressing towards fascist condition want/dream to find absolute protection in their absolute power over the circumstances (although it is ontologically impossible). At the depth of their fascistized souls they know that they are not gods, and they are ready for extremes of hate, destruction and immorality to achieve what contradicts the very basic logic of creation. Their despair is forever undeletably added to their absurd efforts at self-protection through control over situations, and this makes these efforts even more destructive. German Nazis and Soviet Communists found themselves in this very predicament before.

In similarly desperate condition our ancestors’ intuition invented religious systems and religious wars to persuade themselves in the existence of a benevolent upper authority which makes “us”, a particular group and individuals His “heirs”. But, of course, there is a substantial difference between religious fanaticism and fascist fanatic regression. The first is just an organic childish condition of having the need to be selected, supported and protected while living in an environment where it’s more than natural to look for absolute protection. But fascist regression is attempt to get confidence from destruction and elimination of everything that is otherness to our fragile identity.

Fascist regression is the result of the weakening of belief in the reliability of a supernaturally strong and benevolent authority to protect “our” life and future. It is a very moment when fascistized human beings feel the necessity to, so to speak, take protection of their glory into their own hands and rely on themselves – on their own inventing and calculating/manipulative mind. The technology is hijacked and more and more at the service of fascist regression. Today, technology’s goal and task is to protect our global monarchic pretensions. Fascist projections into the world – ideas, feelings and actions are “materially”, not just imaginarily apocalyptic. And our human nature has maneuvered and cornered itself into apocalypse-creating behavior. By dreaming to save the image of their glory and belief in their invincibility, fascist individuals are apocalyptically punishing everybody including themselves.

The subjects of fascist regression unconsciously do what they feel their god didn’t – didn’t save their self-image of the chosen ones and them themselves in a precarious world. So, they are trying to save themselves with their nimbuses of their noble pretensions to be global rulers. Surrounded by a surge of twisters emanating from their own ill will, they in their despair, as if, demonstrating to their god what is necessary to do, in order to save them. Their weapons including money are part of their policy of military and economic globalism and their robotic indifference towards others – their systematic policy of austerity for and disenfranchisement of others. Transformation of otherness into the enemy is a universal leverage which individuals regressing into fascist condition use in order to guarantee their absolute dominance in the world.

Fascism, it seems, is a “fallen” condition of metaphysical sensibility, the anomalous unconscious fixation on a reality beyond life and death (that explains people’s with fascist regression indifference to human and even planetary life). When they dream about physical yet eternal life for themselves and absolute protection from the world it means, that their unconscious concept of life is beyond human life, and beyond their concept of protection. The subjects of fascist regression worship power as mightier than the very difference between life and death. Their actions are so transgressive that they are pseudo-transcendent. And in the depths of their intuition they don’t understand (understanding is too existential for them) that by destroying the world they are destroying their lives which are already without existence. They sincerely believe that they can be saved by the super-technology. The fascist condition can be defined as existential indifference and metaphysical violence, when consciousness of violence is over-sublimated and de-existentialized. Individuals who have regressed to fascist condition are prematurely – in a “fallen way” – “spiritual”: pseudo-spiritual. And their destiny is demonic, to the horror of us, “regular” human beings. But their phobic sensitivity was there from the beginning of creation, of course, stimulated by extremely insecure condition of the world and today – by extreme population density and over-exposition to otherness, and availability of technology to exploit and abuse life. The ability for compromise between metaphysical sensibility and worthiness of life is chronically and fatally underdeveloped in human history.

“Lola” by Jacques Demy is a comedy of not laughter or mockery (it is very pleasant for the viewers to laugh at somebody or something – it makes them feel superior and great, and that is good for the success of movies and profitable for filmmakers). “Lola” is a comedy of compassionate smile addressed to life and love. It’s the first and already original and refreshingly bold feature of Demy and it’s full of the director’s love for life, for childhood and childishness of the grownups, and for maturity in love and way of life.

Besides being stylistically very articulate (communicating with the viewers not so much through the plot, events and actions, but through the emotional atmosphere and rhythm), the film is also very curious as a sociological research. It depicts a way of life which for us in the 21st century seems unbelievable – nobody in the world of the film, it seems, is worried about “survival”, as we under austerity today are occupied with money, jobs, careers, social success and retirement. Everybody looks satisfied with what they get, and happy to be occupied with something else than dreams and plans about enriching themselves and moving up in the social hierarchy. Even Michel, the father of Lola’s child who left France years ago and at the beginning of the film has just returned – the white knight on white horse (his American car), became rich only for the sake of his relations with Lola (Anouk Aimee). He returned to confess to her about his love, and he is not burdening himself with the matters of business realization/extension of his American success in France. And even Roland, the other relationship of Lola, although he is lost his job because of not paying attention to his working obligations – is not producing visible signs of worry – he is occupied with his amorous problems with Lola. Watching this film you start to feel the heaviness of the mutation in the way of life between the 60s, when people were more relaxed and happy, and today’s US and Europe (is it politics of globalism what created this mutation?)

Another impressive achievement of the film is its depiction of two kinds of love – immature in its naïve and childish perception of love between a man and a woman as a gift from life, and the mature kind, when love is felt as a part of life and shares life’s ordeals and problems. The first type is personified in relations between Lola and Michel (a rich man returned to Lola and their son from US), and the second – in relations between her and Roland (a kind of wavering intellectual). Of course, Demy doesn’t see any “antagonism” between these two types of love, but rather treats them as two phases of general human ability to love. The film suggests the pedagogy of tolerance towards immature love and pedagogy of positive (non-authoritarian) encouragement towards the mature one.

Unfortunately, Demy didn’t reach his 60th birthday, and in him serious cinema lost one of its innovative and sensitive masters.

Demy’s films with their humane and gracious emotional emanation should be insistently and passionately recommended to viewers especially in the age of technological impersonalization of human and cinema’s soul and high-tech fights, killings and wars on the screen and in real life.

Parisian cabaret girls dance with American navy sailors

American navy sailors enter the Parisian cabaret and dance with the girls whom they remember from their previous visits. The stylistic suggestion here (the time is post-WWII recovery period in France, when people wanted to live and when this desire was still not poisoned by money/profit obsession) is that the best thing the military sailors can do is dance with cabaret girls – celebrate being healthy and alive.

Lola’s charm is based, it seems, on the contrast between her spontaneous emotional eroticism and her not trivial (intelligent) appearance. She is, as if, “too above” to be perceived as pretty. But it looks that it feels very-very worthy to get her positive attention.

What is Lola (Anouk Aimee) doing in this very moment? She is dreaming about the present from her destiny – unconditional mutual love wrapped in metaphysical guarantee.

What do we see here? A girl of adolescent age and sailor are walking along the empty narrow street without pedestrians to some secret place in order to do, god knows what (where are those endless American and European detectives?) Oh, no, all of this so far from what Demy’s film is about. It is Cecile (thirteen-year-old) by chance met an American navy sailor and spent with him short time at the amusement park, before he left France for Chicago. They never will meet again, but this brief time will be left in Cecile’s memory forever. The ability for love starts to develop much before love. And, according to Demy’s film, it is necessary to accept (not repress) immature forms of love while educationally encouraging the mature ones.

The moments of feeling confused and lost are, sometimes, probably inevitable on the road to adulthood.

Jacques Demy (1931 – 1990)

Posted on Dec, 19 2016 –   Jacques Demy’s “Lola” (1961) – Pockets of Childishness in Adults and the Ordeal of Psychological Adulthood by Acting-Out Politics

Emil Nolde’s “Masks and Dahlias”, (1919) – When Monarchs Became Outdated (Solemnly Became Part Of Still Life), And “People Took On The Responsibility For Their Destiny”

Death Of Masks As Human Faces’ Psychological Essence

When Gods as personages of human soul, monarchs as decision-makers, and religious and secular intellectuals became outmoded, and regular people took the responsibility for the destiny of humankind by squabbling for success of personal and group survival…

E. Nolde, Masks and Dahlias, 1919

When a king became a flower in a bouquet which itself became a part of a still life of human historical memory, liberated man and emancipated woman (both painted by Nolde with some “pan-mongolistic” hint, above king’s head – alive or a part of king’s corpse), find themselves in close proximity with devil. Of course, regular people were always sinning, but now they found themselves in the friendly company of devil, which stopped to be the prerogative of the kings and dukes.

Only the king in Nolde’s “Masks and Dahlias” has traditional mask (emphasizing, according to the painter, an essence of human soul). The mask-face of the devil Nolde intentionally made under-expressive – let’s not forget that devil is not more than an (over-powerful) robot of human invention, but masks of the man and woman are not expressive at all. These two neo-human (post-monarchic) masks are faces without souls, faces as a tautology – as identical with their surface, with their appearance.

If gods are aggrandized but profound aspects of the human soul, human face is the area where gods meet humans, and then this encounter is registered by the facial expressiveness of the traditional masks. King’s face-mask has a tormented expression. King became a dahlia in the bouquet of dahlias – is transformed into this late summer-middle autumn flower (Nolde intentionally paints dahlias generically, as if they have lost particularity and on the way of being wilted – the human historical memory is prone to dry up).

The self-identity of the two “just human” faces – the man and the woman’s are the faces of the deprived – crumbled and thrown away souls. Whom exactly do these faces without facial expression can belong to? Today’s analogy would be – the nominees for the new Cabinet of Ministers – chosen by the imp-named-trump – this post-demiurge of post-politics. On the other hand, the king’s mask/face is still with emotional code, face pained by his pre- or post-death solitude, with powerlessly maniacal and at the same time – a phobic expression.

Let’s take our hats off before the cruel but human past killed by the present for the sake of future without human facial expression, without non-entertaining/non-advertising/non-propagandizing art, without soul in the permanent tormenting fight with itself, with banal generic robotic faces of Nolde’s dahlias, males and females.

And only alert statuette as part of still life (nature morte) – the punctum of the painting pointing at the alternative to the solemn death of alive history. It is the potential of life in what is still life, a potential, which is all that we today, in the 21st century, can rely on. It is nothing more than a potential of life inside that which is non-life. May be, Nolde’s painting of non-life (nature morte), is saving our vitality by coding it into sign of life.

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