Acting-Out Politics

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

Robert Rauschenberg, “Pail for Ganymede”, 1959

The more we drown in technology the farther we are from natural grace (we have learned to see metal where our ancestors saw rivers and sea waves). To be a mechanic or an engineer (“trainers” and “trainees” of engines) means already not to be a human being as Ganymede was, because he was part of nature around us. The worst we could be then was being like predatory animals. So, we, who from the beginning thought that we are better than any other inhabitant of the planet, started to pretend that we were closer to the heavenly angels. But the fake predatory vacuum inside us was quickly filled by the technological trappings – metals, machines, mechanisms, pails, instruments, armors, helmets, weapons, etc. But animals still have a grace, even in their worse moments – but not a mechanic, an engineer, nor a tinker or an inventor, not even a technical scientist (who works with “intestines” of matter and microscopic screws of nature instead of nature and identify with what they concentrate on, forgetting about life as such). Technical science that is not soften by the natural grace is like the underarms and internals of alive nature, the mechanical and technical soil of life.

So, when we today, the commanders, generals and drill sergeants of nature start to think about what for Rauschenberg personifies Ganymede, we think about technological apparatuses inside and “under” Ganymede, about behavioral analogies with pre-life and under life, and then started to treat life, as if it is pre-life. But to be one not with nature, but with sub-nature means that we feel ourselves not the one with our nature, not with our living bodies and not with our souls, but with our sub-molecules, our atoms with protons and electrons inside us. We thinks here about the monstrous disproportion in financing technical and humanistic sciences that creates differences in how we perceive our world – as alive and even spiritual or as under-alive and under-spiritual. We start to create an emotional symbiosis not with our living but with our pre-nature, our pre-living. It’s, as if, a person who is living (while playing with and using weapons), step by step becomes part of the weapon and eventually as identical with weapon itself. It is like feeling ourselves as being semi-human-semi missile or our fingers as semi-fingers-semi-bullets. We already are considered by some specialists as identical with our genetic make-up. Are we elemental particles inside us? Are we their representatives in the world (no electoral procedures needed)? Before humans got into the habit of locking themselves up in cars and made our feet to exist for pushing the pedals instead of walking – the smell of horses and their manure was considered as more preferable than the smell of gasoline, but today our idolatrously pseudo-scientific culture is alien to our nature.

Today, we are in a process of forgetting one of nature’s gifts – walking as a natural relaxant – the freedom of goalless walk while looking around without any intentions. We have lost our relaxed walk because of the despotically seductive presence of smartphones making us obsessively and mechanically texting when we are surrounded by rushing cars. We don’t have a need for grace. We are carriers and consumers of financial transactions, but Ganymede lived amidst relaxed aesthetic of spirituality which is completely unavailable to us. What a grace it was in comparison with the industrial and military might the new generations identify with! Today, post-Ganymedes sweat for more muscles and marshal art, more “cosmetic hygiene”, body piercing and tattoos, fast food, pop-music and high-tech weapons. According to an ironic and sad Rauschenberg, some of this staff Ganymede will find in the “Pail for Ganymede” without having any need for using. Eventually, the Pail for Ganymede is a model of futuristic fashion style for technological youth.

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

Robert Rauschenberg, “Money Thrower for Tinguely’s H.T.N.Y.”, 1960 (Electric heater with gun powder, metal springs, twine and silver dollars)

Behind many technological novelties we (instead of seeing angelic faces of the inventors in eyeglasses who are moved by pure disinterested curiosity) find money calculations, and even where we find idealistic motives, technological idolatry or moral goodness, when we search farther we still find orientation on career and money rewards or, in terms of Rauschenberg’s mechanical “Money Thrower”, “money thrown at promising creative enterprises”.

Money calculations behind the disinterested posture of too many inventors are “coded” in Rauschenberg’s installation by visual metaphors of griminess, ugliness and grimness which refer exactly to the financial obsession connected with the passion to participate in particular branch of technological development. This dirt-and-repulsiveness mixed with grease and humidity we feel when we look at Rauschenberg’s installation – underlines the archaic quality of the imagination behind human orientation on money, the misery exuded by the primitivism of this coin throwing machine reflecting the prison-like limitation of our psychological condition. Indeed, if we are ready to be excited by our childish interest in playing with coins, there is no reason to be surprised by the fact that in the 21st century so many Americans impatiently dream of becoming billionaires. Rauschenberg’s work in this sense is trans-historical. If our mind is obsessed with technological toys like “money thrower”, it means that our hearts are hopelessly at the mercy of banknotes as talismans.

That’s what Rauschenberg shows us with his endless technical constructions – each more awkward than another – kind of technological monsters reflecting the monstrosity of cognitive processes behind. There are constructions in the world which are polished and shining and look cosmetically clean (for example, some electronic equipment), but it seems that according to Rauschenberg these instruments of human will always be irredeemably dirty and greasy by their association with basic calculations of profit. It’s spiritual, not physical dirt what makes us comparable with Rauschenberg’s basic constructions.

It’s unpleasant to touch the “Money Thrower…”. The worn out metal box with its stains and scratches has a scratched definition on it and dusty electric wires which are always ready to plugin – insert its hot hunger to every and any outlet – endless plugs around ready to serve and satisfy.

In the world of “Money Throwers” wires needs sockets like coins – human palms and fingers – like banknotes perfumed by the dreams of wealth. Rauschenberg’s “Electric heater with gun powder, metal springs, twine and silver dollars” is a real attribute of human civilization, bones of human past and present existence we have to brood over.

But pay attention to the very coiled springs-and-twines with coins. They have a form of a heart – the universal pop-symbol signifying love, and are rooted inside the very box of “money thrower” which humorously alluding to the fairytale treasure box of a monarch stockpiling in it the gold of his destiny. In Rauschenberg’s parody this box possesses the financial potential of human heart of love – wealth as a measure of human ability to love.

In his many installations human being is absent because now the very value of human being is in his money-crafting artefacts. Today’s technological fetishism made human soul lost (made it superfluous, at best a showcase in an empty museum). Ultimately, Rauschenberg’s artefacts are a depiction of the very identity of modern human beings. Congratulations to us all!

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

When A Painting Is Squeezed By The Viewers’ Enthusiasm Transformed Into “Gold” Of Admiration

Viewers’ self-aggrandizing identification with a superstar has been resourcefully parodied by the artist’s work

Andy Warhol, “Gold Marilyn Monroe”, 1962

Is Marilyn lucky or unlucky for having become such a popular star, and is Andy Warhol lucky or unlucky that his “portrait” of Marilyn as a superstar became so popular not only in US but throughout the world? In other words, is this particular Warhol’s work monumentalizing Marilyn (as either a face, or her smile or her eyes existing not for seeing but for being seen, or, conversely – as a gold imprisoning her) successful?

Is Marilyn’s stardom made of gold of human admiration because she’s as ordinary as everybody else who worship her (as if, they’re secretly worshiping themselves – worship her in themselves and themselves in her – worship her as if they only dream to worship themselves – publicly, loudly confidently, matter-of-factly)? And isn’t Warhol admired by basically the same reason – “because everybody can create like this – by just copying photos” and be rewarded as a super-artist? Marilyn and Andy – Andy and Marilyn – two cases of mythological realization of basic human dream to be admired and worshiped because they are just human beings – a pretty female and a man prone to laugh at others and himself for being laughable. Indeed, isn’t being laughable a basic attribute of being human?

Does human emptiness or nothingness (before we are loaded with social rules, rituals, prejudices and ideals and learn how to glue to and hate one another) deserve to be disdained or worshiped? If we prefer the latter opportunity we, at least, look democratic, optimistic and even “good persons”. But, isn’t laughing at human emptiness including our own (being nothingness laughing at itself) makes us not completely empty? Isn’t the ability to laugh at the emptiness of the human soul a talent? Then Andy Warhol is talented – (empty talented?).

Does Andy laugh at Marilyn, at her emotional flatness, at her extrovert smiles, at her particular mixture of womanliness and girlishness, at her being everybody for everyone, her every-place-ness and belong-to-everywhere-ness)? – And so – at himself and mass-art, like a buffoon activating public’s attention because he needs to survive on small pocket crowds (basic financial reserve of mass-cultural market) and on pretentious middle-class idol-worshipers hooked on traditional prestige of art as ontological shininess.

We observe how “its midgetsty”-mass-culture becomes crowned into “its majesty” and anointed by society. Warhol knows how art and artist are transformed into mass art and mass-artist and he decided to make the best of it. Andy Warhol is a mass artist with contempt for mass art. More exactly, he is a mass artist who is intellectually dominating (in charge of) mass art’s cheap appeal and seductive winking (he is much smarter than naively tasteless mass-cultural artist). That’s how a smart mass-artist can keep his status of an artist – not to be completely psychologically identical with his mass-art. He is a mass-artist, but he transcends mass-art intellectually (by his understanding, not by his creativity). In the eye of mass-art-critics the artist who is a mass-artist is still an artist if he is laughing at himself and his own mass-art and other mass-artists! Because middle class art specialists trying to be in their own eyes people of high culture with refined aesthetic taste but they need mass-art to make mass-art money – mass-money (money smells in a standard way) they’re in the same position towards mass-art as smart (and even smarter than mass-art specialists) Andy Warhol.

Smartness grasps that the quickest and the most effective way to make art is to make mass-art – to make fame and money through mass art. The smart artist who understands the very mechanism of mass-art is in the best position to feel himself a master over his art, his career, his audiences and art critics, the very throne of art and his own life. It looks like a dose of cheerful cynicism in an artist doesn’t necessarily contradict his talent if the type of talent is an intellectual – contemplative kind, contrary to his own production perceived naively.

Isn’t this dynamic similar with that of today’s – mass-cultural politics? Serious politician (dedicated to serious policy-making) will be finished after just several speeches. “Naïve” frankness is a death of a political figure. But politician using slogans-and-slang oriented on the less educated (and more brutal) segments of population will win ruling positions, encouragement of donors-billionaires and self-sacrificial love of “mass-cultural masses”. It is not that the slogan is just imitation of masses’ ideas – it is supposed to be crafted in a way which look more truthful than masses’ dreams and not to be a copy of this dream. The mass-person is not without brains (or, more exactly, mass brains are also brains, although twisted and deformed). The mass-artist-politician uses this difference between mass dreams and mass brain to sounds “realistically” – in agreement with violent frustration of masses which want to grab from other poor what they dream to get. The mass-artist-politician is psychologically very close to mass artist who is smarter than mass art.

That’s how artist can slide into a mass-artist and art into a mass-art, like democracy into pop-democracy and to anti-democracy which as if just cheerfully imitating-through parodying – democracy. If you are laughing at your own mass-art – you are perceived not just as serious person, but as good businessman, while making policies through mocking democracy makes you being perceived as great politician. Truth today perceived as real when politician mocks real truth. This is why Andy Warhol is considered to be not just serious, but as great artist.

A monument to the skills of Madrasi master masons who built this residency in the second half of the 16th century (The World of Interiors, May 2018, p. 174-175)

The double concept of glorious (exceptional) people and super-human glory – is the basic semantic construction of this building invented by its creator/architect as a work of architectural art. The one of its two meanings, defines (and glorifies) what a beauty and magnificence people can achieve and deserve to spiritually enjoy and worship, and the other is a monadic meaning – independent from people – something else, something other and what people cannot appropriate as existing for them and completely feel as belonging to them, something from the same root but with different ontological destiny. The building itself is dedicated to tremendous people – owners, users and worshippers of this architectural perfection. But the second architectural sub-motif is represented by an exceptional detail – by the central, “suspended” panel of the structure. This “balcony” at the center of the frontal wall of the building is embellished and articulated by the three decorative windows. The “balcony” cannot be completely available for the curiosity and admiration of the people visiting the castle/temple. Under the “balcony” we can see a sculpture representing a human being, small in comparison with the grandeur of the building. Human feet cannot step onto the “balcony” – human beings can only observe it from afar.

The height of the building and hemispherical dome decorated with intricate plasterwork tracery (The World of Interiors, May 2018, p. 174)

The punctum of the temple, it seems, is this Balcony, where no one human can step to (without massive ladders). Why is this balcony made, while it is not accessible to the visitors of the temple? The answer which comes to the mind and heart is – it’s because this very area is not for human feet, not for human beings, as respectable they are as guests of the castle/temple. It’s a place which can be observed only with unconditional admiration and awe, mainly from the down below. The balcony signifies a sacred place, the place where spirit/s of perfection and glory is/are silently dwelling and silently accepting the silent admiration through the space of humility.

The temple as an architectural discourse combines two semantic accents – glory as the substance of humanity – a substance in a subordinate position – in a position of adjective “serving” the nouns “humanity” or “people”, and, on the other side, glory as a goal in itself, as the ultimate noun. In this separation of glorious sacredness as such – sacred glory, from glorious human creativity, like the one which inspired to create this building (this marvelous castle/temple) – we see the holy nucleus of the very feeling/thinking in the creative intuition of the constructors of this building.

The motif of centrality of an empty inner balcony with three windows/doors underlines a place for the entrance of “gods” in comparison with the parts of the building available for the expression of admiration of the metaphysical essences (“gods”) by the people visiting the temple (who can be identified through the study of Indian pantheon of gods or through projections by the people of various religious beliefs visiting the place).

The Unexpected Similarity between The Characters Of “From the Life of the Marionettes” And Bergman’s Conclusions About Human Condition Registered In His “The Serpent’s Eggs” (1976)

During my second year in Munich (in 1977) I had begun writing a story I called “Love with No Lovers”. It was heavy and formally fragmented…
Ingmar Bergman, “Images (My Life in Film), Arcade Pub. New York 1990, p. 209 – 210

From “Love with No Lovers” I carved a steak that became a film for television “From the Life of the Marionettes”. It was not liked, but it is among my best films.
Ingmar Bergman, “The Magic Lantern (An Autobiography)”, Penguin Books 1989, p. 264

In “From the Life of the Marionettes”, Bergman evokes the attempt to escape from the world of desiccated conventions into the “nearness of violence” – possession of a reality synonymous with destruction.
Paisley Livingston, “Ingmar Bergman and the Rituals of Art”, Cornell Univ. Pr., 1982, p. 162

Why don’t we shatter a society that is so dead, so inhuman, so crazy, so humiliating, so poisoned? People try to cry out, but we stuff up their mouths with verbiage. The bombs explode, children are torn to pieces, and the terrorists are punished… But they are victims like their own victims, just as we are.
Katarina in the script of “From the Life of Marionettes” (1980)

In the very beginning of “From the Life of Marionettes” the color comes to the screen, because the human passion to live (in the main character and in his perception of the world) can come to unity and unison: because his passion becomes the world and world – human passion. But at this point the human being is already so frustrated that his passion is mixed with aggressiveness (the color of the screen turning red – mixture of eroticism and aggressiveness, instead of the main color in the film we’ll see soon – gloomily depressed black-and-white). Frustration and aggressiveness is consequences of the fact that a human being is not free and not human – he is robotic and subdued by necessities or seduced by becoming a rewarded marionette of the politico-economic system and its decision-makers. When human being is limited by survival-success (in our time combined with compensation in a form of super-consumption) he becomes more and more uncontrollably greedy, and greed is a facet of aggressiveness and twin of hate. The very organization of society blindly creates sociopaths and criminals inside citizens, while the decision-makers and financial elites are “too busy” and intentionally indifferent to this issue.

For people whose intuition is sensitive to the conflict between intimately loving someone and losing self-centeredness – dominant position over the person one loves (whose intuition is able to notice this conflict which is universal and tragic) – to love is truly torture. The stronger your love is – the stronger your conflict with your love becomes, because your need for self-centeredness and self-assertion grows stronger and stronger as a psychological compensation for dedication to your beloved (which loves implies). The more you are dedicated to the other – the more you feel that you’re losing yourself and become an appendix to your beloved, the less protected and more vulnerable you feel yourself. Your irrational fear is growing together with your aggressiveness.

Ch.1 – Ingmar Bergman on the set of “From the Life of Marionettes”

Ch.2 – The psychiatrist as a specialist in domination, through technical knowledge, over human souls (today’s version of such an agent of domination would be medical representative of Big Pharma)

Ch.3 – Regular life is crawling on…

Ch.4 – Katarina and Peter Egermanns as genuine and helpless beloveds (when love is truly present in intimate togetherness it is very difficult to avoid its incompatibility with self-centeredness)

Ch.5 – Peter and Ka (Katherine Craft) “locked” in the brothel with hygiene posters and photos of Hollywood stars on the walls

Ch.6 – Investigation of murder

Ch.7 – Meeting on the “sea-bottom” (Katarina and Peter’s mother, Cordelia Egermann)

Ch.8 – Silent Asylum of the prosperous slum

Ingmar Bergman on the set of “From the Life of Marionettes”

Bergman is trying to convey to the actors playing the main characters, Katarina and Peter Egermanns (Christina Buchegger and Robert Atzorn), the proper psychological modality for a demanding scene (actualizing Peter’s imagination)

Bergman is psychologically positioning Rita Russek (playing the prostitute Katharina Kraft) and Robert Atzorn (Peter). On the far left we see the legendary cameraman Sven Nykvist.

Psychiatrist as an agent of Domination over the human souls through technical knowledge

Professor Mogens Jensen (internationally famous psychiatrist) thinks about the imperfection of the human nature. For him the phenomenon of intimate love (with its irrational passions) often triggering violent reactions, can be considered as a proof of human emotional primitivism – a lack of rationality in human emotional life.

Peter Egermann, a sensitive and socially very successful young man visited Dr. Jensen because his relationship with a beautiful and an intelligent woman who already for several years been his wife, produces in him a horrifying recurrent desire to… kill her. And this is in spite of obvious amorous mutuality which both have expressed to each other many times and proved it again and again. Peter is in panic of not being able to shake this obsession off and appeals to the psychiatrist – he can’t understand how this monstrous impulse to hurt the very person you are in love with, can exist.

Mogens Jensen is also shocked by Peter’s confession (and he is disappointed in these prosperous and successful couple about which people think as an exemplary). By his visit Peter reinforced Professor Jensen‘s general suspicion about human love as a feeling rooted in irrationality. Of course, Jensen also doesn’t really believe that Peter is completely serious and sincere when he is talking about his obsession. He is not sure that violent impulses in a person as civilized as Peter Egermann can end up in actual violent behavior. From the one side, Mogens Jensen always suspects the presence of violence inside love, but from another, in Peter he doesn’t expect the possibility of surrendering to such a primitive level of feelings. It seems that as a psychologist Prof. Jensen is quite a superficial observer of humanity because for him dedicated love on irrationally deep roots is rather a façade, a courteous superstructure, pretentious makeup of prosperously living people, a kind of upper middle class theatrics.

Jensen’s (Martin Beurath) skepticism about Peter’s ability to… kill his wife, Katarina, is reflected in his barely hidden manner of ironic questioning of Peter about his obsession and in his sarcastic explanations to him how monstrously ridiculous the act of murder can look.

After Peter has left, Mogens Jensen immediately called Peter’s wife to delicately alert her (he was a kind of a social friend of this glamorous couple popular in society because of their professional achievements)

But we would underestimate Mogens Jensen’s calculative-manipulative mind, if we could think that his rush to alert Katarina was motivated just by his care about the couple. May be, professor wanted to show Katarina the path to liberation from the burden of love (this sticky and predatory feeling), and may be, he even wanted to show her a more “elegant” way to be intimate – without love connected to it, and therefore, without the danger right in the midst of which Katarina has stuck with Peter, but his proposal to her was to start an affair with him, Mogens Jensen, which he made in a business-like, very modern form – to make double-amorous intercourse, without postponement, directly in his office, “right now”.

On the level of denotative storytelling – the psychiatrist didn’t know that Peter didn’t leave, as he thought, before Katarina’s arrival. So, whole professor’s conversation with her was available to Peter’s knowledge. But Peter is intelligent enough to imagine the verbal exchange between Mogens and his wife (he and his wife knew him well). It is knowledge of his wife influenced his decision to save Katarina from his destructive compulsion. In the still above we see how Peter, while hiding is listening to their conversation. Bergman uses the traditional idea of theatrical mise en scene in order to help the viewers of his film to understand its semantic essence through conventional depiction – to get the point why Peter has to use a substitute object in order to actualize the nightmarish push from his unconscious which he wasn’t able to resist – his murderous drive.

Professor Mogens Jensen (Martin Beurath) is giving information to the investigator concerning the prostitute Katharina Kraft’s murder.

Regular life is crawling along…

Peter is dictating to his secretary a letter to his firm’s client – another firm, as a part of an important financial renegotiations. And, as usual he is asking her to make copies of it for the management of their firm, for the main file, for him, for her and for the archive.

Katarina (Christine Buchegger) and her business partner and friend Tim Mandelbaum (Walter Schmidinger) are preparing the show of new fashions by their company).

Katarina and Tim’s more than decade long friendship was not typical – it allowed and encouraged sharing the truth about their personal problems (of course, besides chatting about everyday emotional trash everybody cares in dusty corners of their intuition). Today the accent was on Katarina’s family life and Tim’s disharmonious destiny of wandering gay man.

Peter as a “good son” was always visiting his mother on “her special dates”. But the role of a “grateful son” is not easy for somebody like Peter who feels, understands and accepts the differences between the perceptions of the reality of an aging mother and adult son (when both for decades carry self-centeredness as a part of their relationship). In this situation it’s difficult to avoid a bit of pretension. Pay attention to – how hard Peter is trying to be unconditionally nice with his mother and play her emotional games. But with some attention we can detect the terrifying grimace on his face which shows itself through his loving smile that went unnoticed by his mother who lives inside her blind ego-supportive self-myths.

The text on this still doesn’t belong to the character we see here – Arthur Brenner (Heinz Bennet), but to Katarina during a scandalous exchange between her and her husband, Peter. Arthur is a family friend of the Egermanns and an authority figure, alternative to Professor Mogens Jensen. He is present during this scandal between Peter and Katarina to prevent farther deterioration in their relations.

After an exhausting working day Katarina has decided to have a couple of drinks instead joining Peter in visiting his mother’s place. So, sulking Peter has to go there alone.

Katarina and Peter Egermann as genuine and helpless beloveds

Several stills in this chapter have been taken from Peter Egermann’s visual letter to Prof. Mogens Jensen

Peter and Katarina seen through Peter’s imagination – we see not only a loving couple, but two human beings thinking together and also analyzing themselves. Pay attention to reflective positions of Peter’s hands.

Here, we see that Katarina unconditionally trusts Peter, she intuitively resists the understanding that he is becoming obsessed with killing her.

Here, we see that Katarina unconditionally trusts Peter, she intuitively resists the understanding that he is becoming obsessed with killing her.

Katarina could see how tired and exhausted Peter is, and she took him to the bed to sleep another two or three hours.

Peter has an interesting “mystical” experiences

When Mogens Jensen, an old friend of both, Peter and Katarina, offered her his “erotic attention”, she, to his surprise, took some time to explain to him, how really close she and her husband are in spite of mutual sexual freedom they have given to each other.

Katarina and Peter were really happy, many times they were holding eternity in their hands

There were moments of mutual irritation and infuriation…

…the moments, when tender and caring Katarina was becoming somebody else…

And her animus started to clash with Peter, and this could continue for a while.

In such moments the couple played their battles through, but everything eventually developed into cessions of mutual thinking about what happened, and mutual regrets and reciprocal forgiving.

Peter Egerman and Ka “locked” in the brothel with hygiene posters and photos of Hollywood stars on the walls

Peter is not able to bring harm to his wife even if he wants to – he is in love with Katarina and always wants the best for her. At the same time they’re a couple with liberal sexual mores. He loves women and for him it means that he also loves to make love to women, even if temporarily, but dedicatedly. Of course, to appropriate, to possess a woman was for Peter delicate, tender passion, but what sex and what kind of love is possible without the feeling that the woman you want is yours in body and soul. Peter never was a consumerist, as we, Americans, today – in social and economic sense, but Peter consumed women as amorous and sexual precious beings. May be, he just loved domination through appropriation and possession. Was it just phase of his slow development of misogynous unconscious? Peter felt being in a kind of amorous trap in his marriage – it is his love for Katarina made him to feel desire to hurt her – to get rid of his dedication to her forcing him to melt, to feel himself as just an appendix to her body, as a kind of amorous shadow of his wife.

Peephole movies at the brothel reminded him of his youth

Twosome nude dance kindle his sexual desire

Nude sexual dance on the stage intensifies his fury against the power of female body that can transform a man into a crawling worm

Ka (Katherine Craft), the prostitute, for the first time sees Peter – the consumer of sex at the whore-house where she was responsible to help to sustain smooth functioning operations.

This still of Katherine Craft (Rita Russek) emphasizes the tragedy of her destiny (to be part of men’s sexual desires and their psychological ambivalence)

Chatting between Katherine and Peter was about her job at the brothel, the condition of the place, and how good or not money it is possible to make). Everything was o.k..

Ka professionally prepares herself for the acts of her job, while Peter hoped that he will not do anything he doesn’t want to. He found her “attractive”. Ka was “a good kid”.

Peter tries to overcome his hesitations to continue his rendezvous with Ka

Ka feels Peter’s emotional turmoil and tries to pacify him – she tries to close his eyes to what is tormenting him. Colored light surrounding his sexual need and his ambivalence to it, intensified

She was trying to quiet his head, to make it relaxed

The first bout of impulsive fury in Peter frightened her

She ran away to the stage, still with hope that he’ll get tired and become normal. The red light (eroticism and blood) intensified.

But Peter followed – to use her conventionally or in a particular way?

She hides behind the pompous bed on the stage for sexual performances

He attacked from behind, quickly suffocated her, put her in proper position.

He had anal intercourse with her body. The dense red light transformed back into the usual foggy black and white of Peter’s life and Bergman’s film.

Katarina and Peter’s mother

After the catastrophe and police and legal procedures followed it, Peter’s two women – Katarina and his mother, Cordelia Egermann (Lola Muthel) met in Cordelia’s “old house”.

In the beginning both women felt united in feeling screaming emptiness not because of Peter‘s physical absence from their world (he was committed to prison‘s mental asylum), but because of his radical psychological destruction of their lives and identities. It is as if you become somebody else you don’t know whom.

But soon Peter’s mother started to concentrate on her own tragic solitude – on the difficulty of suffering injustice which has ripped her destiny apart. “Can somebody tell me – what did I wrong?” Like most people she never thought about how society is organized and what influence this organization of life has on human behavior. Cordelia took life as a roles offered to the actors – as something given – take it or turn it down. She tried to play her role of mother well. Katarina pointed out that right now she is just trying to understand what happened with Peter and with that “poor woman” who was killed.

What is this morbid process of transformation of an impish angel into a demonic monster? What is behind it? How could it all have happened?

Silent asylum

In the hospital’s atmosphere of colored sterility Peter finds mental immobility instead of peace. What is he looking at in this still? At the chess board – he is playing chess with an electronic opponent. His thinking now, like that of the technical sciences specialists doesn’t include human life. His thinking now is as clean as the light at the hospital, as the colors of the rooms and corridors. There is no erotic and aggressive red of bursting/blasting moments of Peter’s life anymore, and there is no depressive foggy BW (black-and-white) of his depressive mood, which Bergman used for in the largest part of the film. Now, Peter is a perfect marionette-robot.

The prison pretending to be a hospital is like hell stylized as paradise. Peter’s mind surrendered to his criminal impulses and deeds, and now he is rewarded for not even trying during his life to find a third way, between a mindless conformism and criminal outburst – rewarded by a humane society sparing his life. Trilogy of his destiny is conformism, criminality and silly and silent asylum. But in the middle of his life he still was vital, alive (tragically and perversely), but human.

The super-relaxed atmosphere of Peter’s new life kept him beyond his irrational psychological impulses, but also outside the ability and the need to brood about what happened with him.

Peter never was a complete philistine, but now he was learning how to live like the majority of people do outside psychiatric hospital – people who are not able to express and even feel genuine reaction on the world.

Philistines (in mass-cultural societies) work like a fork, eat like meat, sleep like clip, copulate and mechanically follow society’s rules including semi-legal and semi-illegal ones. Plus they’re generously rewarded by consumerism, entertainment and all sorts of electronic toys. Peter plays chess with an electronic gross-master – alt-rival, and he likes to keep a little teddy bear in his hand – himself like teddy bear in the hand of society

Katarina regularly visits the hospital, where her husband is getting an exemplary treatment. She learns to accept Peter without the need for a deep and vibrant intimate relationship, without passion in sex, without any interest in the world, without any interest towards her personality. His mother is not able to visit him – still cannot see him – she can’t confront her own failure.


“From the Life of Marionettes” starts as a color film about a colored life. A brothel client expecting a pleasant bodily exchange suddenly, in the middle of the preambulary embrace is producing a bout of fury looking like a reaction on strong pain. His aggression is directed against the very object who was to satisfy him – a prostitute – his outburst is mixed with sexual excitement (Thanatos reacts against Eros). Bergman intentionally misleads us here – he wants us to take Peter Egermann’s (the main character of the film) condition as being beyond explanation (in order to make his point by creating in viewers a cognitive dissonance and by this stimulate in them the effort to overcome it by finally finding explanation to Peter’s behavior). In other words, the director puts us in position we’re today in our society where we are prone to take bizarrely aggressive actions (we encounter on a daily basis in TV news) as unpredictable, without objective determinations. We prefer not to connect human rage or criminality with the very organization of our society and way of life.

Unfortunately, when in our everyday life we try to improve our ability for intimate love with our intelligence (occupied, mainly, with strengthening our psychological power to become socially and financially successful individuals able to climb up to the social hierarchy’s rocky mountains) – we develop in ourselves the ability to be dominant and then lose our tunes with love. Our fighting/competing skills necessary for achieving social and financial success become the most argent goal – the more complicated and stressful becomes socio-economic life and the higher the standards of success the more under-attended becomes our amorous life. The very logic of love contradicts the logic of socio-economic achievements. Bergman’s “From the Life of Marionettes” analyzes what happens with human soul when our ability for intimate love is not supported and nurtured by a person’s scrupulous attention and understanding that the ability to love another human being demands much more education than putting food on the table and roof over the head.

In the first segment of the film we see that regular colors of life abruptly change into amorous/aggressive red color and later, not less unexpectedly – into a sad foggy and blueish black-and-white of everyday life. Spontaneous intuitive intelligence of the two main characters – Katarina (Christine Buchegger) and Peter (Robert Atzorn) is impressive, but it’s obviously not enough to prevent the murder of Catherine Craft (Rita Russek), a prostitute and a substitute object (used by Peter in place of his wife Katarina as a victim of Peter’s inability to tolerate his love for her). Their internal world and genuine love is melodiously interpreted by the director and the actors. We see their souls sharing with us their vibrations and tribulations with a frankness of confessions. It’s very difficult to witness that these smart, attractive and responsible people full of initiative and self-reflection are… abandoned by a society, in which people’s personal problems are considered private matter and the responsibility of parties involved.

For the society working for technology, economy and business log-logic, there is no time to learn, how to play the amorous strings of human soul and study its partituras. In our country especially there is no culture of private love, if not consider as such culture the classroom lessons of how to put properly condom on man’s tribal attribute. It’s very often love as a private matter becomes in our society a detective story. Proper promiscuity (taken as sexual freedom) is trying to compensate for the absence of secularly spiritual amorous education as a kind of sex-relaxation after the stress of our jobs, looking for jobs and our careers. Sexuality as recreational drug didn’t help Peter and Katarina, to the surprise of the psychiatrist and psychotherapist Professor Mogens Jensen (Martin Beurath). Conversely it became part of the crime scene.

The very ability to love in a context of intimacy – in a condition of modern life is devastated on a psychological level by the splintering of holistic personality. Sex and the inflated need for sexual victories are taking the place of love. Violent crimes proliferate like fleurs du mal. The action of Bergman’s “The Serpent’s Egg” (a film the director made several years before “From the Life of the Marionettes”) takes place in the late 20s when the mental soil of German life was in a process of warming up for a Nazi style of social and personal life. Similarities between these two films socio-psychologically symptomatic and this can help to understand better “From the Life of the Marionettes”.

In “The Serpent’s Egg” human intelligence in 20-30’s Germany, besides being dedicated to techno-scientific research focused on elaboration of new weapon systems, also covered medical research in order to control and manipulate the very human nature for the purpose of using it according to the needs of the “New Germany”. The film shows us a number of such experiments. In “From the Life of the Marionettes” depicting our times this kind of experimentation is not addressed. But the scrupulosity of control over human life by the very intensity of social dynamism and corporate hunting for profit is a giant experiment with the whole population, which includes the intensity of consumption and overstimulation of human nervous system by and through entertainment. Stress of living and the always awakened need to prove one’s successfulness plus the burden of recreational drug use, and also the necessity of permanent upgrading one’s professional level, and shame of failure, etc. makes modern life alienated and unnatural. We, today are going through a pseudo-existential experiment, with a result of permanent exhaustion from tireless risk-taking. All this hell exists to provide money to a minority of elite profiteers and decision-makers which doesn’t want people to live but instead to overwork and overconsume. In this context what happened between Peter and Katarina Egermann and how cynically Prof. Mogens Jensen treats them are consequences of an absolutely impossible way of life.

To live like this means that the best resources of human intelligence and vitality are wasted on alienated ways of living, on satisfying artificial needs (created in people through their manipulation by the very locking them in the kingdom of overachieving according to artificial dreams). Our very values are volumes of absurd phantasms put into action by those who are accumulating trillions on our childish ambitions based on our unconscious desire to be worshipped by other people and nations. The financial elite of decision-makers seduce us into “greatness” and “exceptionalism” by the price of losing our humanity.

Intimate love suffers especially radically from this kind of organization of things as the area where body meets soul and where human spiritual potential either wins human destiny or fails in this mission. Peter and Katarina Egermann didn’t succeed in their love for one another not because of their “weaknesses” – defects in their humanity, but because despite their intelligence they were too existentially exhausted to resist the conditions of their life which were created not by them, but by the rulers of politico-economic system that transforms human beings into self-aggrandizing marionettes and worshippers of wealth. Instead of orienting people on humility and wisdom these manipulators teach people how to fight with one another and to brag in front of the sun-beams and clouds about how strong and superior they’re in comparison with the less successful. The same decision-makers torture people with austerity measures to castigate their victims as criminals. And they use self-aggrandizing ideologies which humanistically not-educated people easily surrender to while feeling themselves heroes of the planet earth. Only the development of emotional intelligence – spirituality of feelings as a psychological “agency” able to balance the capacity for loving and the desperate need for self-assertion stimulated by pervert social and international relations as abodes of calculations, manipulations, fight for domination, for enrichment, etc.

Instead of developing the ability to love, we’re taught to be occupied with “sexual relations”. Obsession with sexuality includes the so called liberalization of sex and creates similar disastrous consequences in the realm of human love as “neo-liberalization” of economy in the realm of economic relations, as genius of human sciences became perverted by the greed and arrogance of those who are in charge of the application of technical sciences to life.

People don’t develop enough the capacity for intimate love – and this deprivation expresses itself in a vacuum in the soul.

Peter and Katarina Egermann, Katherine Craft, Prof. Mogens Jensen, Cordelia Egermann and Tim Mandelbaum are martyrs of incompatibility between today’s society and human need for intimate love. Peter Egermann is its psychological victim, Katarina Egermann – its amorous victim, Katherine Craft – its physical victim, Mogens Jensen – its intellectual one, while Cordelia Egermann is the ontological victim of such a pathological incompatibility, and Tim Mandelbaum is its philosophical victim. Bergman himself, who, probably knew very well personally all these types of victimization of human beings by the organization of society (which formed them in a twisted and distorted fashion), was able to overcome them – not empirically, of course, but through their meticulous studying, knowledge and understanding in his art.

Whity Trailer

Fassbinder wrote the following text about his own film almost simultaneously with the date when “Whity” was opened for screening. The importance of his opinion about the main character of the film (played by Gunther Kaufmann) is emphasized by the way the film talks to the audience – by simultaneously addressing two historical periods: the viewers as they were at a time around the release of the film, and us today – in a new century, in a period of drastic totalitarization of American democracy, when the financial and ruling elites are fighting without gloves for their absolute domination in archaic and pre-democratic sense of the word. Here is a brief version of Fassbinder’s statement – “Whity always hesitates and fails to defend himself against injustice. In the end he does shoot the people who oppresses him, but then he goes off into the desert and dies, having come to realize certain things without being able to act… I find it OK that he kills his aggressors, but it is not OK, that he then goes into the desert… Had he truly believed in his action, he would have allied himself with other suppressed individuals, and they would have acted together. The single-handed act at the end of the movie is not a solution.” RWF, 1971, “Fassbinder”, The Museum of Modern Art, 1997, p. 46

Fassbinder, obviously, considers that for Samuel King (Whity) being together with Hanna means to be single-handed. She is far from being stupid and she dreams about becoming a modern liberated woman, and to a certain degree, in spite of being emotionally symbiotic with Whity, she proved that she can be much more than what she is. But the paradox involved here is, that Whity is much more radical than she and this is the tragic point of her failure. Whity’s extreme political radicalism is too much not only for Hanna and not only for Fassbinder of his own words we quoted, but for human life in general. Whity’s holistic mind pushes him farther than human life’s frame of reference. This makes him not just premodern, but anti-modern – outside of techno-structural (calculating) mind as an instrument of gaining power – be it unjust or progressively-humanistic.

Whity’s moral sensibility is absolutist, borderless, ultimate. It’s not too practical, but it’s difficult not to be fascinated by it, if you live in a historical period when the “moral” climate of living is naked fight for your own and/or your side’s advantage. The anti-democratic (neo-conservative and neo-liberal forces) have succeeded in destroying the chances to fight for improvement of life conditions of the majority peacefully. By taking a belligerent and very often – insulting and malicious fighting posture they have made the fight for existing democratic laws and progressive changes through using democratic socio-political tools ineffective and near impossible. Today the fight for a better and more intelligent life for everyone is not only unable to produce discernable results, but becomes psychologically unbearable (cultural people don’t have a right to behave like conservative political thugs). The fighters for humanistic improvement of the living conditions for majority started to be perceived as any fighters for their own advantage and agenda. Left and right in this situation have both started to look equally predatory and militant.

This miserable cultural (anti-cultural) condition didn’t exist (or existed in much lesser degree) when Fassbinder was creating and working on his “Whity”. The incredible achievement of his intuition was that in spite of his rational critical remarks about the hero of his film, he felt that his Whity’s moral radicalism transcending the borderline between life and death (and as such looking like fruitless extremism) is somehow proper and justified. From the one side, Whity’s father, step-mother and his half-brother Frank were so unbearably disgustingly criminal and immoral, but from the other side to kill them in the corrupt atmosphere of a society in which they will never be punished by law (being exceptionally financially fortified tricksters), means to commit a crime, and this crime will not allow Whity to continue to live meaningfully. Today, the open enemies of democracy armed with money they use as a crushing and corrupting weapon and as a protection against any prosecution, cannot be defeated by rational means of democratic socio-political instruments.

In this situation only… martyrdom seems as a rational, logical reaction on the order of things. Whity‘s self-punishment by death in the desert should be understood as such a martyrdom. He already in the end of 19th century felt the nightmarish possibility of the appearance in future of an ultimate enemy of morality. So, Fassbinder simultaneously, agrees and disagrees with Whity’s “desert” solution. He disagreed with such an end around 1970, when political and moral atmosphere was allowing such a disagreement (when “suppressed individuals” were uniting and acting together for their liberation), and he agreed with it, when, as it‘s happening today in the 21st century, there is, it seems, no another way – when the legions of conservatives storm the heavens as dark clouds – the sun. But in a way Whity was in a better situation than we’re today – he could punish the evil and then punish himself. Today, we cannot succeed with the first part – the enemy is too protected by technological, financial and propagandist tools and their own ruthlessness. We only have the second part as available reaction of protest.

How can a film which from the first glance look oxymoronic – as a “reformed” and a sophisticated Western, with real connotations, not only denotations looking like connotations, can address so different realities coded in various historical periods, and can contemplate so easily – without sentimental dramatization about such tormenting areas of human experience?

Whity has been transformed into a lizard – having been beaten up and thrown out of the pub

Corner of the kitchen at the mansion of Whity’s father Ben Nicholson (Ron Randell), – with a pheasant in the cage (waiting for its glorious end), where Whity and his mother work everyday.

Hanna, a singer in the saloon and a prostitute (Hanna Shygulla) dreams to go live to Chicago with Whity (Gunther Kaufmann) as a place of freedom

Fassbinder (to the right) plays a pretentious money hunter with a pompous dream of becoming a millionaire (in our time these types dream of making billions).

Fassbinder’s character in the film, a person who recently organized collective throwing Whity out of the saloon, stopped to be racist by magic when he learned that Whity got money and is ready to play cards. Whity’s money quickly disappeared in the future millionaire’s pockets.

Posted on 3/27/’18 –   Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Whity” (1972) – Sublimation Of Western Into Analysis of The Transition From American South/West To Industrial East/North by Acting-Out Politics

Eve’s breast as a seductive apple for Adam

Max Beckmann, “Adam and Eve”

We see that the both, Adam and Eve are trying to hide their own sexual organs, but while Adam’s hand knows very well the magic power of masturbatory touch, Eve hasn’t yet embarked on this “sensational” miracle able to move clouds. She is really trying to hide what she doesn’t know yet until the time will come.

Adam is much smarter. Eve’s face is, may be, pretty but her gaze is absent, as if, she is blind – it’s not understandable can she see or not. Adam’s face is activated by his experience that he better hide his diffused sexual intentionality, and for this reason his space-piercing eyes so inquisitive – every second he is ready to detect the danger of being discovered and frightened.

The serpent is much more entangled with Eve, than with Adam, can it be that the serpent is… her mother? Pay attention to the serpent’s tail coiling around Eve’s leg, and its head is turning away from Adam’s presence nearby. It appears that the serpent agrees with Eve’s destiny with Adam only because of God’s instructions, without any volunteering participation.

Adam is hiding his “kingly scepter” and in the same makes it seen while directing it towards the world in universal manly manner. But “frank ambiguity” of this gesture is even out-franked with exclamatory denotation of Eve pushing her breast to Adam – with her status of a beginner she cannot be sure of this gesture – it’s, obviously the will of God what made it possible – Adam ought to be occupied and by this pacified, otherwise even God might not know what can happen. Adam should learn that sex is not an autonomous pleasure seeking function, but a noble and responsible reproductive/ procreative necessity.

Eve the size of Adam’s rib or Eve as a hatchling out of the Serpent’s Egg

Max Beckmann, “Adam and Little Eve”

What is Adam looking at? The horizon? Depth of space? Clouded transition between heaven and earth? But, perhaps, Adam is not looking at all – may be – he is blind, or is overwhelmed by his responsibility of caring about Eve. Look at his pompous posture of keeping Eve on his palm.

May be, Adam’s gaze is paralyzed. Can it be that he bitten by the snake, by the very Biblical serpent became paralyzed, frozen, may be – petrified by the snake’s poison. Perhaps, it is in this condition Beckmann’s inspiration saw Adam in the first place and then the artist decided that sculpting Adam is a proper way to represent him.

To nurture and protect Eve was the basic task for Adam, which God assigned to him while determining the meaning of whole human history. Here we can grasp that being temporarily paralyzed, with the gaze without looking around was the first phase of Adam’s learning to become what later was called… a husband of his wife, her protector and provider, and a father of their children! It seems, that something like family values was in God’s imaginative intuition from the beginning.

We see snake’s head on Adam’s shoulder, it is like a tireless guardian of Adam’s task for all times ahead. Eve will grow – become more adult and experienced and soon will multiplied together with Adam into human race of all versatile variations. Yes, Adam and Eve will change, although in a way remain the same in a pluralistic way. Isn’t it the same with the very institution of marriage which while “radically changing” stays the same… in its “sanctified” essence?

According to Beckmann‘s sculpture, Adam and Eve’s union is not only a symbol of amorous unity and marital bonds, but of heterosexual symbiosis. Isn’t the serpent’s poison making Beckmann’s Adam petrified inflicts the same petrification on the social institution of marriage, although it’s corrected (and by this stabilized) by the financial taxation through divorce and encouraged by financial benefits to its loyalists.

Pieter Breughel the Younger, “A Compassionate Wife”

The peasant couple we see in the painting is happy – both, husband and wife have a soft and harmonious facial expressions. Life together hasn’t made them impatient or irritable with one another. And their subjective truths – feelings each might have regarding any situations involving the two of them aren’t identical – each obviously has her or his own perspective and at the same time are tolerant of disagreements between themselves. The wife compassionately and tenderly looks at the hen, which the husband has fetched for their family dinner, and the husband looks compassionately (although not without some humor) at his wife’s compassion. He understands what she is feeling – “how great it would be if they could just live with the dinner-bird in peace and friendship”, but their children need to eat. He knows what she is thinking and he likes that she thinks the way she does. It looks that the bird soon will be eaten by the happy family commune.

Look again at the peasant woman’s gaze at the bird, look at her hand caressing the bird’s head. And look at the husband’s hands – hasn’t he brought the doomed bird to his wife as a baby in need of mother’s touch and care? And the maternal smile of the wife doesn’t look anxious by the bird’s impending destiny. Her husband’s face communicates his affection for his wife who always a little sad when the time comes to kill god‘s-creature for the family meal. Still, look at his nose, not only red but swollen – we can bet that the man will be enjoying the taste of the chicken dish so much that it won’t be a place for melancholy at the dinner table. The husband is so touchingly patient, he will give his wife time to say good bye to the bird who was a member of the family… for a while and will be focus of collective memory until… next dinner. Compassion softens the cruelty without which life in the rural settlement couldn’t be possible. But so what that the exemplary kindness of our spouses has realistic limits! Survival is the first priority of life, nevertheless the ability for compassion is like a soft pillow for the peasant head which needs a dense restful sleep.

The both spouses are in tune, they’re co-experiencing, co-feeling their togetherness, not only with each other, but with life, and this is a feature of tolerance and softness of traditional country life, when nobody was selling tones of cattle or dreaming about luxurious existence yet. Bless the love of the traditional peasants for one another and for their domestic animals, and for sacred soil pregnant with food, and this paradise of produce will be interrupted only by the peasants’ king with his animalistic scream-call to fight with another monarch for “our” glory and more land. The blood will fertilize the soil. And eventually even peasants will start to think with techno-scientific ambitions – they become agro-industrial-farmers, invent machines and new forms of weaponry. Civilization – as a white horse will rise on its hind legs.

*We are not sure about the real title of this painting by Pieter Breughel-the younger. It can be a fragment of the bigger painting. We will be very glad if someone among the readers will be able to clear the origin of this painting. But it is beyond the doubts that the artistic aptitude of the painter to simultaneously appreciate human nature and humorously criticize it stays stronger with each century.

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