Acting-Out Politics

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

Two Human Obsessions – With Wealth Through Profit-making And With Religious Belief Giving the Chance To Feel Closer To Absolute Power

Francis Bacon, “Study for a Portrait” or “Businessman 1”, 1952
Francis Bacon, “Study for a Portrait of Businessman 1”, 1952

Francis Bacon “Study for the Head of a Screaming Pope”, 1952
Francis Bacon, “Study for a Head of a Screaming Pope”, 1952

Both protagonists of Bacon’s inspiration lived their lives more or less without fear, at least obvious one, as a “businessman”, and without anger, at least overwhelming one, as a “pope”, until something happened with their eyeglasses, something uncanny. It‘s very difficult to say exactly how their glasses were made dysfunctional, but something went wrong with them that threw the businessman and the pope out of balance. It looks that we can’t completely exclude the possibility of supernatural influence because both persons depicted by Bacon are of the obsessed types – one with business of wealth-making and the other with closeness to god. Obsessive desires are magic corridor for the entrance of the supernatural powers. Human proclivity for obsessions is their direct invitation. Obsession with something is a form of irrational passion and for this reason includes miraculous, magic element in its super-positive or super-negative aspects.

But what really could hurt the ability of a businessman and a pope to see like they saw before something happened with their glasses? Could it be a demon who played such a cruel joke on the businessman or was it angel who did the same with the pope? It looks that we cannot neglect the possibility that it can be a mysterious inspiration of the artist himself (here – Francis Bacon) that has pushed his subjects/objects into frustration.

Whatever it may have been, the businessman with a broken glasses is close to panic while the pope is in righteous fury. Their way of seeing themselves and the world is destroyed, their optimism and self-confidence have disappeared. The businessman has lost his belief that he will become a bell-billionaire. The pope has lost his belief that he is entrusted to preside over humankind in the name of God. But, really, how something like this could happen? The sacred right to make unlimited profit at all cost is now under question and the god given right to represent god before the people is under the pulpit.

Look at the businessman – he is screaming for help. And look at the pope – he is shouting out condemnations. Broken specs which, somehow, still clinging to their faces as to branches, made the businessman lose belief in himself – in his immortality guaranteed by billions – as for the pope – he has lost his spiritually hierarchical position in being much-much above those who’re obsessed with too petti sins and vices. It’s, as if, Bacon made an experiment with businessman and pope – to check – how they will behave if to destroy their habitual perception of themselves and the world. The both protagonists are so frustrated, that, if to consider their self-centeredness and megalomania, they can be ready for an extreme, vengeful and even criminal behavior. We’re already close to the situation of the 21st century, when majority of people who usually are expected to be prone to mutinous behavior, instead find themselves as victims of a minority of rich and powerful who today are directly occupied with dismantling the democratic principles of behavior and attacking the democratic social structures.

In the 21st century we notice a growing obstructionist and even subversive behavior of the centralized and secularized neocon/neoliberal clergy in the Republican congressional chairs. In the Soviet Union the majority was the object of a centralized and planned despotic manipulation by the theocratic (in essence) government of the Communist Party. In US numerous religious minorities activate their fanatic beliefs and prepare to join the neocons already united with neo-liberals to rule over the majority of neo-poor.

We Americans today are less and less prepared to learn from art (really learn, without propagandist didactics), and don’t like to think with art. We like to be entertained – it means that we like to feel ourselves the center of the world and have artists-entertainers as servants of our pleasure. Bacon is an exceptionally intuitive artist, but it doesn’t mean that he is alien to the meaning of his images. His connection to meaning sustains itself through his unconscious, but he recognizes it in and through the codes of his visual images. In the fear which has caught his businessman, Bacon recognizes its roots as merciless idolatrous drive for bell-billions incompatible with a human life (which traditionally is supposed to be enveloped with freedom and disinterested contemplation). In fury of his pope Bacon detects the unconscious suspicion (activated by his broken eyeglasses) that he is not at all a messenger of god’s wisdom, as he believed himself to be.

Bacon destroyed the illusory picture of artificially constructed self-identities by opening to the protagonists of his two paintings the truth about their predatory existence. By destroying their glasses he shows not only their personal self-lies to themselves. He is inviting the viewers’ attention to a new and a dangerous period of history – the beginning of 21st century. Bacon’s truth about today’s social minority (personified by his businessman and pope) under the flag of global power and money and about their predatory dreams focuses on today’s attempt to declare the golden fist as a master of the universe. His “businessman” and his “pope” are “ghosts” of today back, to the post-WWII life of democracies (when Bacon has created his paintings). The first, motivated by the hysterical angst – in 21st century is ruthlessly transforming his billions into financial weapon in his fight for global domination, and the second, motivated by the hysterical fury (his pope) has an equivalent repressive agenda about absolute domination through control over social life and human spirituality (already transformed into credulity and conformism). The both paintings we present to the viewers today can be considered as Bacon’s diptych clairvoyantly focusing on human future.

Francis Bacon in his studio

Claws Of Despair And Claws Of Animosity

Irma and Aldo were happily married for years and have a teenage daughter. About two years ago they got a problem – Irma who was Aldo’s happiness and emotional support – fell in love. When she understood that her new relationship is serious she confessed to Aldo who took it as a decent person – not scandalously and not aggressively. But the moment came when Aldo couldn’t resist anymore his resentment, became irritated and… publicly beat Irma up, probably, “to restore the family honor”. After this incident Aldo had to leave, and Irma, who didn’t want to deprive him of daughter, brought her to live with him. But in one-two years of Aldo’s futile attempts to settle down, he was desperate enough to send Anita to her mother. And now he is back in the town he lived with Irma and Anita for years. No, he didn’t return to make a scene – he just wanted to see, how everything is. Through Irma’s window he saw her with a baby in her arms. In the shot above we see him looking at the factory he used to work for many years. He wanted to feel again, how it is to be on the factory tower where he was working and then was able to see from above the house, where he lived.

Irma, who by chance noticed Aldo through the window, sensed some danger and rushed out trying to find where Aldo went. She noticed him through the fence of the factory and ran towards the tower. We see her here looking up at Aldo on top of the tower. She wanted to call his name, but somehow was afraid.

Irma sees, that Aldo is losing his balance and can fall from the tower

Irma sees Aldo falling from the tower down

The film ends, when the horrified Irma and dead Aldo are seen together by Antonioni’s camera from the distance, in a wide shot.


Who is guilty for what happened? Is it Irma who wanted to love whom she wanted to love? Is it Aldo for not being strong enough to start a new life? No, detective story is closed by Antonioni without even having been started. But… something wrong with the system of life.

Something is wrong with a system of life which tries to modernize too rapidly and use artificial stimulation to make people rush into the future – the desire to make and spend more and more money, take pleasure from conspicuous consumption and from changing life styles. Practically, story of Aldo’s permanently changing women and occupations after separation from Irma is Antonioni’s parody on what is supposed to be modern happiness. To love the very way of life you lead (that is, of course, if it doesn’t include violence on your part or injustice and inequality you create, or deprivations which make life impossible) is an important and basic form of human spirituality. To feel one with your natural and social environment is beautiful and wise, it is to love nature and to love life. It’s from here, with the need to share our personal immanent narcissism with what is part of our feelings, the inability to adapt to the socio-economic anomie comes. Why should people be burdened by this anomie in the first place? Why should they adapt to the necessity of having to change the whole orientation of their life? Of course, the answer is that anomie is to a very substantial degree created artificially – by people with a pathologically exaggerated need for having more power in a form of technological equipment and wealth. For these people wealth-making becomes the only real interest in life – and they buy the political establishment to organize the excessive dynamism of life, according to which consumerism and self-enrichment become more important than love for life, the world and nature.

People became burdened by the inhuman stress which destroys the spiritual tonality of their living in the world. The aggressive dynamism of economic development is an artificial goal which promises super-prosperity, but is not capable to achieve it, and where and when moderate improvement of living conditions is still possible it often comes with psychological discomforts and emotional traumatization. In other words, the promised benefits of intense economic development and advertisement of dreams about enhanced personal happiness is a sophisticated form of socio-psychological repression and a shameful manipulation of the population. People have lost their existential “skin” – a peaceful, relaxed and a reliable environment. They no longer live – they “achieve”, they’re following the ideological ideal of becoming passionate and proud consumerists and entertained (served with entertainment) role models for the whole world.

It is in this context, in the shots above we notice something very particular in the very moments of Irma’s agony, when she sees Aldo on the tower losing his balance and falling straight down right at her very feet. Look attentively at Irma’s right hand in the 3rd and 4th shots – her fingers, as if, forming into claws. It’s, as if, her right hand fingers try to catch the falling Aldo, save him from his death. This instinctive movement is a utopian, an absurd attempt of Irma’s unconscious to prevent the tragedy. But her finger-claws, claws of despair, makes her, in this moment not only a human being but personification of a politico-economic system which abuses people by putting them under an incredible stress and at risk of mental breakdown. It’s while Irma-the-human being makes an attempt to help Aldo, Irma-the-personification of the system wants to hurt him with her claws for not being able to adapt and accept reality as it becomes.

What Antonioni depicted for us in his “Il Grido/The Cry” we see around us every day in a form of an impossibly high statistics of legal and illegal drug addiction, suicide and homicide, obsession with guns, sex without love, separation from children and proclivity for politics of hate, exclusion and aggression.

Antonioni’s point in “Il Grido/The Cry”, is not, of course, that life is supposed to freeze in an inertia and that any change is dangerous for people, but that too quick economic and technological development, while satisfying greed of the rich minority – tends to destabilize the wider population and is a historical and an anthropological mistake. People have to very seriously start to think about re-stabilization and harmonization of the conditions of life, free liberal education and de-consumerization of human experiences.

Posted on 23 Aug 2014 – Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Il Grido/The Cry” (1957) – Shattering Of Intimacy Between Man And Woman In Industrial And Post-Industrial Modernity by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on Oct 2 2014 – ”Il Grido/The Cry” (1957) By Michelangelo Antonioni by Acting-Out Politics

Similar Predicament Of Some German (In The Beginning Of 20th Century) And Some American Kids (In The Beginning Of 21st Century)

A staggering 2.5 million children are now homeless in US. This historical high represents one in every 30 children… An estimated 61,265 family households – were identified as homeless. In these families 120,819 were children under the age of six.

For 20 years, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has helped states subsidize health coverage for children from low-income families. But on November 30, 2017, American senate approved a massive corporate tax cut projected to cost the government a net $ I trillion over ten years. Senator Orin Hatch addressed the issue on the Senate floor. “The reason CHIP has trouble, – said the Utah Republican, – is because we don’t have money anymore.”
The Editors, “A Gift for the Corporations, Nothing for Children”, “The Christian Century”, Jan. 3, 2018, p.7

Egon Schiele, Boy with Hand to Face, 1910, watercolor on paper

A permanent – “systematic” and systemic hunger and absence of care in the life of this child makes him disoriented and feeling sick. He is kind of frozen between sitting and standing – he doesn’t know whether he is standing or sitting. He doesn’t know anymore what his body is – what it wants and what it needs. The painter uses watercolor in extremely “sketchy” way to emphasize this loosing of body by self-awareness, loosing of any certainty of what “my body” is about – the “my-ness” and “it-ness” of the body is disturbed – almost lost. Schiele paints with crude, as if, chaotic strokes, intentionally, to characterize the boy’s chaotic perception of his being’s disordered existence.

The thick uneven, not “realistic” white line marking the contours of the child’s figure accents the loss of psychological connection with the world. The child is alone and lost in his aloneness. The pantomimic configuration of the child’s posture tells that he is still trying to concentrate on his internal being locked from the surrounding, and can’t feel what is around him and what he is. He is, as if, losing his mind and can lose in any moment his consciousness.

His face is pale and, as if, becoming transparent. His facial features are, as if, in a process of melting, but his hands are big – the left one, with articulate fingers feeling his head and felt by it, marks his feeble attempt to keep his mind from being shattered to pieces. But his right hand is lost – he doesn’t feel it, as if, the child doesn’t know what is it – what to do with it. Schiele paints this hand exactly as the boy feels it – like a piece of wooden stump. The painter visually materializes the perception of his protagonist. We don’t see his feet on the ground, and that reinforces our impression that he may fall in any moment.

The incredible sensitivity of the painter’s talent makes him capable to feel the psychological state of his model, while his ability to depict it with minimal expressive tools which he transformed into plenitude, makes us once again to bow in front of Schiele’s artistic greatness.

Egon Schiele, “Two Guttersnipes”, 1910, watercolor on paper

Probably, not so many Americans even know today this word – guttersnipe (meaning a dirty clothed street urchin but also can mean something metaphorical like “dumpster bird” (the one looking for food amidst garbage) – the word with an archaic air of rotting. But it looks like the time comes for us to re-remember this and many other words about which we thought that they became outdated forever – austerity eats mass prosperity, like decision- and money-makers’ jaws – conditions for human life.

The boy on the left is so tired and depressed – more, astounded, that he cannot even look around – at the world. He looks, as if, right in front of himself, but in reality he is not looking at all. The world is not noticing him, and he is not interested anymore – where he is. From being “on the streets” the whole day he got an artificially sunburned face, and from him being outdoors the whole night – his hands have also become red, with swollen skin.

The boy to the right is so exhausted that his face is absolutely bloodless. And he is permanently hyper from hunger – look at his artificially “enlarged” eyes. He is trying to care about his younger friend. His right arm is on the shoulder of his companion in gutter-sniffing – he himself needs the support of this nearby shoulder, and at the same time, his arm’s as if generous gesture is friend-protecting – look at his preventively challenging gaze at the passing adults! And how big his right hand (habitually searching for remnants of food) is, how by grabbing his friend’s shoulder it, as if saves them both from aloneness. His gaze at people is already not begging, it’s silently accusing.

Today, in a new century we have to prepare ourselves for seeing more and more kids like this, not from Germany in the beginning of the 20th century, like in the painting of Egon Schiele, but those born in US of the 21th. But how can adults today effectively help, when they’re themselves exhausted by heavy-handed national austerity policy, which neocon decision-makers have been scrupulously planning and implementing today methodically and consistently?

Schiele’s greatness is not only courage to be occupied not with embellishing everyday life entertaining art and staying with reality, but in challenging himself with, as if, modest expressive means (which he knows how to apply to achieve refined artistic results). People breathe with the same naturalness as Egon Schiele draws and paints – so “instinctively”, as though art like breath – were also a gift from creation.

Tennessee Williams/Elia Kazan’s “Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) – Representation Of Macho-sissies As A Human Type (Personified By Stanley Kowalski Impersonated By Marlon Brando)

When Stanley’s wife Stella was in the hospital giving birth, he (a decorated army veteran) was “courting” Blanche (Stella’s sister) – courting for Stanley meant putting himself in the proper mood to rape. Left alone with Blanche Stanley (Marlon Brando) quickly and not without a certain resourcefulness improvised a funny theatrical number – “artistically” masked and by this made even more articulate the act of masturbation. As “metaphors” he used a bottle of beer with gushing foam. Besides being extremely insulting to Blanche, Stanley’s short pantomime was a hymn to his tremendousness and irresistibility as a male and was a prelude for physically (“naturalistically” and sadistically) raping Blanche. Machoism needs megalomaniacal and dominating self-assertion to cover up a deeply rooted inferiority complex typical for macho-sissies.

The composition of this shot suggests that embrace we see in this shot is not really Stanley’s embrace of Stella and is not a mutual embrace. It is Stella’s embrace of him. Stanley here is the sexual object, not she and not both of them. Stella is consoling him like a mother – a child, and she’s taking pleasure from doing so. The camera is not showing his hands at all, but her embracing hands are centralized, as if magnified. Embrace of Stanley by Stella is motherly, not feminine gesture – Stanley needs her like emotionally dependent, not equal person. And it is through being dependent, he, as a psychological compensation, manipulates her, like some crying children are pressing mother to buy them a toy they want.

Stanley feels insulted and even abandoned because Stella doesn’t unconditionally accept his crude and loutish behavior. The macho-sissy wants to be treated by women as a prince while insisting on his right to behave as a roughneck.

As a typical macho-man Stanley is a sissy – without being supported by a woman’s unconditional and worshipful love he cannot exist, like a soldier can psychologically die without dreaming about admiring applauds for his heroism or his great self-sacrificial act. When a macho-sissy happens to be with people dissimilar from him in background, life style and worldview, like foreigners, opponents, rivals, etc. (who by their very existence provoke his inferiority complex), he can become emotionally disturbed. To feel well he needs to be in the company of people with similar behavioral patterns, ideas and tastes. He is hypersensitive to the issue of being respected and appreciated or not and then he is prone to sulk and sometimes become hostile and aggressive.


If man tends to be easily insulted or has moods and tantrums it can be an indicator of his sissy-machoistic tendencies. The inability to discuss disagreements without feeling rage or impulse to verbally attacks the opponents and proclivity to “love” firearms – can be signs of macho-sissy-ness in a seemingly regular people. Tendency to readily or even with characteristic excitement to participate in clashes, fights or wars is the basic characteristic of machoistic sissies who are inclined to be recruited to the military forces because they try very hard to prove that they are not sissies. For these people the scandal, clash, fight, beating someone up or shooting is a relief from stress of self-restriction which regular peaceful life in a civilized society demands. One of the unconscious reasons why macho-sissies “love military community” is that they’re happy to surrender their will and mind to the commanders and transform themselves into marionettes following the despotic orders of their superiors. With them our macho-sissies feel themselves protected, relaxed, excited. They make the common mistake of implying that their readiness to kill and be killed is a proof that they are not sissies. They like to believe that machoism is contrary to sissy-ness, but in reality machoism is (machoistic) mask of their sissy-ness. To feel pride for being part of the army means to feel protected by the army – “enemy is strong but we are stronger”, “we are together, we are many”, and “our country is the strongest among countries, and it’s always behind us”, take these beliefs from the machoism and what we’ll find is the very substrate of sissy-ness. These not too flattering ideas about macho-sissies in military uniform they themselves cannot attribute to themselves – they don’t know what really motivates them (military force doesn’t exist for studying psychoanalysis).

Sissy machos prefer to get rid of the smell of otherness, because they’re afraid of alive, living dissimilarity. If really courageous people are able to tolerate and appreciate those who disagree with them or just being different, and are able to discuss with them their dissimilar existential experiences – sissy machos prefer not to be even exposed to contradictions and otherness against which they use psychological armor – suspiciousness and hate. Real courage and bravery doesn’t need guns or dogmas against those who disagree with them. Real courage is exactly being able to peacefully withstand disagreements about important issues and analyze, soften and dissolve them peacefully. To maintain peace with somebody who disagrees with us is a sign of confidence and internal power. Machos are so cowardly that they can live peacefully only with dead or intimidated opponents.

Machoistic sissies are in panic that disagreement, opposition or resentment on part of others will kill them, that people with another ideas about life will destroy them and their world – it is for this reason they feel that they must destroy others first. The fear of otherness as if it is a nuclear weapon pointed at them makes the sissy-machos to want to use nuclear weapon first, “preventively”. Dissimilar ways of life frighten them so much that they need the most destructive weapon to put an end to the presence of other/dissimilar people. They cannot be peaceful because they are afraid exactly the peace – they’re afraid that peace makes those, who are different from “us”, more dangerous with each hour of peace. In this sense the cowardice of macho-sissies is really extraordinary. They’re not afraid of war, but they are afraid of peace. They’re not afraid of death, but they are afraid of life. They’re not afraid of nuclear holocaust, but they are afraid of peaceful negotiations (not supported by menaces, pressures and bribery). This is what it means to be macho-sissies. Their sissy-ness is fear of life (because life includes otherness). Their machoism is a psychological armor on their living. Sissy-ness turns machoism automatically inside the instinctive depths of these people’s souls.

While sissy behavior inside life destroys democracy as a joy of life, machoistic behavior in the kingdom of murder – war or homicide, destroys life itself. To be able to enjoy democracy means not to be a sissy, it is really a courage and valor. The more human weaponry becomes mass-murderous and the more technological greed becomes human nature-destructive – the most obvious it becomes that to be able to enjoy and sustain peace, life and democracy means not to be sissy and not to be macho.

Sissy-ness and machoism – two extremes created by human psyche frightened by death, corrupted by weaponry and money, and mentally sick because of the absurd belief in immortality, in unlimited wealth, in totalitarian unity and group “exceptionalism” (that today is only a synonym of the perverse “right” to dominate others). Sissy-ness and machoism – two extreme weaknesses, which are so weak that they’re combined as an ultimate human psychological vice endangering human nature, human history and destiny of humanity and its “younger brothers”.

Posted on March 8 2012 –   Elia Kazan/Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) As An Unintended American Dystopia – From Streetcar As A Metaphor of Blanche’s Sublime Desire to Streetcar-Stanley (Focus On American Intellectual Film-Classics) by Acting-Out Politics

From Adolescent Rebellion To Creative Sublimation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jean Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, young and enlighteningly thoughtful

Genius starts with being a child

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

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

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

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

Johann Sebastian’s everyday work

Gustav Leonhardt in the role of Johann Sebastian Bach

Handwriting of Johann Sebastian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johan Sebastian and Anna Magdalena are rehearsing together

When human development is the growth of professionalism and special talent

Bach again and again at the piano

Bach at the harpsichord perfecting his own piece

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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