Acting-Out Politics

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

Of course, nothing exceptional or glamorous about Stalin complex – it’s rather a typical psychological attribute of human race throughout human history. In relation to monarchy and passions of monarchists it is like roots of a tree to the tree. This complex consists of quite ordinary ingredients of human nature – ordinary but sharpened to extraordinary degree by the efforts of too ordinary people.

The psychological soil of Uncle Joe’s complex is an innocent (in its immanence and widespread-ness) megalomania. This naive megalomania as a part of a person’s motivations acts through him – megalomaniacal person is not aware of his motivations. Megalomania is inseparable from self-centeredness of the self-aggrandized person who takes his worldview and opinions as objectively applicable and the ultimate example of “the best possible judgment” on any issue. Self-aggrandizement as a part of Joe Stalin’s complex implies not just personal but a collective dream of presiding over planetary world by those who are naturally smarter, better and righter than everyone else in the world. It’s not surprising that such a predisposition is usually combined with “exceptional and superior” people’s alert suspiciousness twinned with vengefulness towards everybody who could disagree with a megalomaniacal person and group. Millions of people in Soviet Russia deeply suffered from this features in Stalin and his cohort’s psyches.

As we can understand, the variants of Stalin complex can be present in many people who didn’t reach socio-hierarchical level of the country’s leadership – they can be a kind of mini-Stalins in their everyday lives. This complex is so widespread, that this fact only helps the bigger-Stalins to reach higher levels of the influence in their countries. The smaller Stalins support the bigger ones and another way around, and this diffuse identification of self-pride and intolerance makes the totalitarian systems combine mass worship of idolized leaders and simultaneously their imitation by the masses.

This contradiction is a curious psychological phenomenon, as curious as it is ancient – on the one hand people feel unequal to their leaders whom their worship – psychologically getting on their knees in front of them, but at the same time they are identifying with their leaders, trying to imitate them, be them members of Soviet Politburo, administrative authorities, monarchs, commanders, bosses or any incarnated social authority. How is it possible to simultaneously feel your contrast with rulers and to identity with them? Human psyche is really a miraculous machine – it produces unresolvable for a technical mind, paradoxes with ease of blowing bubbles. These irresistible (for the human believing function) paradoxes are alive, living miracles in which logical contradictions are ignored. Human psyche is oriented not on logic, but on… life, and it seems that for human life it’s often impossible to follow logical truths. People are busy living and to live means to jump over the semantic abysses.

People admire, adore and worship their leaders whom they consider to be like themselves and who at the same time have the power to sacrifice their worshippers in war and through austerity policies. And people are ready to be sacrificed. We see that one miracle magically resolving logical contradiction (I am identical to the one who gives me the orders) leads to the next miracle which suspends “me” from fear of death and poverty and makes me to be ready to sacrifice my life and my interests for the sake of my leaders. Of course, these two miracles are not the only ones in the assortment of the human soul under the influence of a totalitarian or moving towards becoming totalitarian society in which humanistic sciences either don’t exist or impregnated and neutralized by political propaganda and mass culture of entertainment.

Of course, today’s American Stalins are slightly different from Soviet-Russian ones because for them it’s not enough just to live in luxury (like it was for the leading Soviet Communists) – they have to have the feeling that they’re expanding their private wealth: becoming richer than they were a day ago. Here a curious bifurcation took place in the very identity of Stalins, between the Stalins of direct power (power through privileged decision-making) and Stalins of money-power. The mixed types of those combining these types of power are clearly discernible today – American pluralism of 21st century starts with this need to possess social power (by being an influential decision-maker) and simultaneously the power to possess more and more money. So, democratic reciprocity of having both psychological needs to dominate others is satisfied. For example, American Stalins’ dream about global domination is in a process of being realized not only through ruling by command and pressure by military means, but also through money in the form of strategic investment and bribery of the local power elites in various countries. Even in crude Soviet concept of global domination money and industrial and technological investments in other countries were a typical behavior.

But how on Earth could Stalin complex pop up in a democracy? It seems that the need for extra- and ultra-power is directly proportional to the growing fear of being violated by other people and the world in general. History is all too full of provocatively traumatizing events stimulating in people the psychotic sharpening of these events when they start to concentrate on them. Just to carry on and live without massive psychological defenses – god, religious structures, absolutized ideologies, high-tech weapons, money/profit or suspiciousness/hate is very difficult, almost impossible. It happens that with American Stalins the fear of otherness and animosity on part of others developed around 21st century in a degree of a fear of similar intensity which had overwhelmed Joseph Stalin in the beginning of the 30s – a situation leading to the Soviet GULAG. There are multiple of interwoven reasons as to why the psychological and behavioral Stalinism periodically in history jumps on its paws.

One is excess of wealth. For example, in US at the beginning of 21st century new soft wares opened up new horizons in what is possible to do in the area of making money/profit. So, people with wealth-worshiping complex could feel retarded if they weren’t jump on the new strategies of money-making. Wealthy identify with their millions/billions as believers with god-the protector and/or with political leaders and with weapon systems. Rudely speaking, the wealthier you are the stronger feeling you have of the danger of being robbed of your money and your money power. The more wealth you have – the more you are afraid to lose what you have – what you are. So, you need to protect your money – yourself much more than before. Private wealth is like an enlarged identity of a wealthy person. It’s, as if, the whole human personality swells up to include in itself the wealthy person’s financial success and social prestige connected with it. Correspondingly, the bigger and wealthier country (with fear internalized by human psyches) need more nuclear warheads and the more suspicion and hate for other countries to feel itself safe.

The absolute psychological identity between the totalitarian or close to totalitarian masses and the completely or partially totalitarian leaders and the, simultaneously, drastic social inequality between these two strata is a combination having miraculously stabilizing effect on life, in spite of existential deprivations, risks-and-worries and deadly dangers totalitarianism brings. It’s very difficult to hate people with whom “we” identify with. Who can without the “tormenting”, “boring” humanistic education that constantly challenges our complacency, resist being an ephemeral drop equal to the eternal ocean? Totalitarianism confirms our human dream about immortality without naming it as such – but just by basing human psyche on our identification with the stronger and the richer people and with the group of people with the same (totalitarian) ideology, while democracy in the perception of the not-educated people is just a pervert kingdom of rolling relativity.

The film is about how spiritual experience of gentleness, genuineness and sophistication is slipping away from human life into moments of disinterested meditation in musical form, which the talented and more than talented professionals provide us because of their love of music and for financial reward.

The film provides for viewers endless impressions of the absence of spiritual meaning and spontaneity in everyday life of the people we observe. Straub and Huillet while depicting the life of the intelligent people (connected with Protestant Church and with art) in the 17-18th century – don’t find in them any emotional spark or any impulsive smile. The directors emphasize that the reason for these people’s existential misery is not just the conditions of their lives, but their life style, their very manner of existing.

Especially for the American movie-audiences it seems necessary to add that the impression from the life of Bach and Anna Magdalena and other musicians or the children in the church music schools is as bleak as American life today if it wasn’t for the noisily pompous athletic events, pop-rock-rap…etc. music, the joys of consumerist shopping, TV-sitcoms or animation cartoons for children and adults and Hollywood entertainment magically lifting us up and out. Bach and his colleagues in the music world didn’t work (and searched for work) less than Americans today, but they look and move like people who don’t know anything except their everyday work. It takes some time for us the viewers to understand that for them having a job wasn’t so much a matter of survival through their profession but – salvation from a meaningless life. For them it was an ontological way out from the absurdity of a life.

Johann Sebastian, Anna Magdalena, their children or their colleagues didn’t know today’s demonic structure of mass consumerism and entertainment – so, for them the choice was between a crude nudity of just living and sublime challenges of spiritual creativity (available to them in the measure of one’s talent). For these people the way of indulging into Marcuse’s “repressive de-sublimation” was, thank god, historically absent – not created yet. So, for them the channel of making living and searching for meaning was the same – from everyday life to meaning and sublimation, from meaninglessness to a sublime world of (musical) meditation. But the problem of this situation is that the way back from spiritual creativity elaborated as profession to life again is not effective because of structural incompatibility of professional competence and craft (with particular emotional sensitivity) and existential matrix itself. On its way back to life the trembling artistic inspiration blended with spiritual experiences, like in serious music, is unable to become part of life (sensitivity to spiritual music continues to exist as a special isolated part of the psyche not only in artists but in the music lovers as well). In other words, the artists and admirers of the serious music are continue to live according to a not attractive existential logic – no matter how strong influence the emanations of spiritual music may have on their souls. When even the most sensitive listeners of spiritual music feel the dissonance between “rudeness” of life and the “beauty” of music they will tend to continue to live according to the laws of factuality and necessity. Here, we are getting close to the “nucleus” of Straub and Huillet’s concept of their film. Even a musical genius like Johann Sebastian Bach lived a typical life and even his music wasn’t able to “change the world” – the “moral dirt” of everyday survival and rivalry is as intact in front of a genius as it is in front of the messiah.

This is the tragedy of Johann Sebastian’s being as that of an artistic genius, according to Straub and Huillet. We see Gustav Leonhardt playing Bach with a combination of modesty and ambition. He always shows Bach as being much more “solid” than everybody around without making him look, as if, on emotional stilts, and still his Bach is part of dreadfully despondent life. It’s almost the inevitable paradox of artistic genius locked in a desolated ordinary life. And we today who have unexpectedly found ourselves under a twofaced monarchy – a military power with a face of profit-money and a profit-money with a face of military power – are especially sensitive to Straub and Huillet’s portrait of Bach’s life – in their film about how spiritual experience of gentleness, genuineness and sophistication is sliding away from human life into spiritual moments of disinterested meditation in musical form which exceptionally talented professionals provide us for the sake of love for music stronger than their love for life.

Gustav Leonhardt impersonating Bach

Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet in the beginning of their cinematic life

Jean-Marie Straub almost a decade after the death of his wife and creative collaborator Daniele Huillet

Usually in Straub/Huillet’s film the scenes where Johann Sebastian and Anna Magdalena are together, depict their playing music or rehearsing with each other. Here, we see Bach and his wife in a moment of intimate touch.

In this still we see Straub/Huillet’s satiric representation of two kinds of children according to the worldview dominating in Germany amongst the church music circles during Bach’s life time. The first type consists of the little angels supporting the heaven from falling, as a part of church architecture. But the second are real kids as a choristers boys in a church music school. According to John Eliot Gardner, a recent Bach scholar, Johan Sebastian in his childhood was mentally and physically abused exactly in several church music schools, which Straub/Huillet depict in their film.

Posted on Jan, 15 2018 –   Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet – “The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach” (1968) – How Creative Genius Can Triumph Over Life-As-Work And Work-As-Professional Specialization by Acting-Out Politics

When Humanistic Sciences and Serious Art Are Underfunded For The Sake Of One-dimensional Technological Development and Financial Calculations

When Social Conformism Is Rewarded While Creative And Critical Worldviews Are Discouraged

Images left by Anna in her diary after her suicide

Maria and Anna are sisters – one is of a pragmatic orientation, while the other is a “dreamer” and a thinker in a critical and artistic way. For people like Maria the doors of education and a professional future are widely and promisingly opened – business and technical sciences are solidly financed and school kids plan well in advance to fill in the reliable and generously paid future jobs. But for people like Anna the situation is much more difficult – humanistic sciences and not entertaining arts are more and more deprived of investments. Human soul as an existential phenomenon (as a participant in everyday life) is neglected. Anna couldn’t continue to stay financially independent from Maria. She became more desperately frustrated – she felt abandoned by a modern society where entertainment functions instead of artistry and consumerism instead of spiritual intellectualism. Eventually her feeling of not being needed in societal life led her to suicide. The balance of happiness in today’s democracies is broken (and von Trotta was one of the first among serious film directors to notice and react on this abnormal situation when only “instrumental” – worldview is supported, not a contemplative and rationally critical).

The image above (from Anna’s diary) represents combination of subject and object, of external and internal perspectives on life – it simultaneously depicts angry, condemning world and a person horrified by the world. It focuses on how a human being internalizes what s/he observes, the condition of life outside the individual and the state of her/his internal world. This monstrous face irradiates a terrifying, monstrous grief for being psychologically banished by the world. While life outside individual perception grows more despotic, severe and rude, the human internal world became more and more impregnated with worries, dread and fears.

The image of this lizard-like creature is, it seems, representation of a human being as if degraded into a lizard by human despair bleeding with suffering. “Human lizards” are emotionally thirsty – they need to be “warmed up”. Their pained spiritual needs appeal to be attended. For human beings it’s not enough to make a living, to “survive” and to “outcompete” fellow men. They have a need for an existentially spiritual space around. Psychologically reduced to the condition of lizard-ness, people like Anna will only suffer, will no try to survive.

Finally, Maria sees in Anna’s diary the relief representation of semi-human bird, held and protected by the hands of death.

Maria’s nightmarish vision after her younger sister’s suicide

Using the idea from Renee Magritte‘s famous painting, von Trotta modifies it for semantic context of her film – she lets us see Maria who in her night dream is approaching the mirror (to look at herself), but instead…

Instead of seeing her reflection in the mirror Maria sees her own back.

Her head in the mirror slowly turns and Maria instead of her own profile sees Anna’s profile. Maria understands that the figure in the mirror is her dead sister Anna dressed in Maria’s clothes and having Maria’s hairdo (ironic reference to the fact that when Anna was alive Maria desperately tried to help her to become successful by, as if expecting her to behave like herself – like Maria-the elder sister).

Suddenly Maria sees how Anna slowly but not hesitantly turns away from Maria

Maria is starting to feel that her irrational, crazy dream of contact with Anna after her death (dream motivated by Maria’s guilt for not being able to really help Anna to respect herself amidst the despotic world) is impossible, that their spiritual separation is inevitable because it reflects their difference which they both have a right to. Shouldn’t the existence of similar inequality between humanistic and technical sciences or entertaining and serious art today be amended? The balance of human happiness should be restored.

Maria’s night dream is interpretable as a metaphor of her basic mistake in relation to Anna, when she was trying to help her, forgetting about the difference between people, about the naturalness of personal and cultural dissimilarities. Anna had a right to have her own ideas about her life, her own ontological taste and her critical position towards a dominant life style. Anna was never meant to be like Maria – a pragmatic extrovert having a matter-of-factly chance in modern society because the minority of decision-makers are trying to make whole population oriented on technology, “rivalry and survival” and on consumption and entertainment while being indifferent to cultural interests, humanistic sciences and serious art – to the needs of human soul.

Giorgio de Chirico’s painting

Giorgio de Chirico, “Two Heads” (1918)

De Chirico’s two heads remind us of Von Trotta’s sisters, Maria (to the left) and Anna. In the painting Maria’s head has streamlined forms and absent eyes, while Anna’s tragic destiny is emphasized by the dark abysses of her gaze directed at the world. The fact that the both figures are stylized as mannequins is hinting that the condition of human beings today is preliminary, even hypothetical – that history (if to take into consideration cosmic time) is just began or even only beginning.

Posted on 22 Jul 2013 – Margarethe von Trotta’s “Sisters, Or the Balance of Happiness” (1979) – Being Oneself and “Keeping Another Persons, As If, Inside” – The Task of Identification Based On Difference by Acting-Out Politics

Posted ON Sep 3, 2014 – “Sisters or the Balance of Happiness” (1979) By Margarethe von Trotta by Acting-Out Politics

Is it possible that the difference between the two wives, “mine” and “my friend’s”, could depend on the yellow or red color of the clothes they wear?

Chronic excess of alcohol no doubt makes life bearable but at the same time it can make distinguishing between people more and more difficult. Even the sexual reflex (the very reaction on the sexual object) becomes approximate – blurry and foggy. Or, doesn’t it? May be, the point here is to rather resourcefully find the excuse (alcoholic delirium) for indulging in a “healthy” versatility of sexual life.

For close neighbors, workmates and friends Masuda and Kawaguchi their perception of the identities of their wives became dis-focused and – dependent on the yellow or the red color of their wives’ skirts, pants and blouses and/or even of the doors leading to them and walls (of the two neighboring constructions where our families dwelled).

Stylistically, Kurosawa represents our friends Masuo (Masuda – the yellow guy) and Hatsu (Kawaguchi – the red one) as two fools on the circus arena. But we are not suppose to underestimate their hidden intelligence. In a way they’re lucky, with reliable job providing them with steady money for a roof, alcohol, food and waffle wives. For many people the situation is much less funny, but in both cases human beings are reduced to basic survival and some very elementary compensations/distractions.

Exposition – two neighboring married couples

Masuo Masuda (Hisashi Igawa) – to the right, often visit his neighbors – Hatsu (Kunie Tanaka) and his wife Yoshie. Usually Masuo comes with his wife (as habitual gesture of friendship between two couples), but this time he came alone and full of complains about his wife – about her indifference and rudeness. His friend Hatsu (in the center), supported by Yoshie (to the left), promised to help – to have a serious “talk” with Masuo’s wife.

After Masuo left Hatsu and Yoshie felt somehow bored in their monotonous red room. Look at Yoshie’s gaze. To where is she looking at? Probably, at what she could prefer not to look – their miserable life in their tiny room of dirty-red color.

Yoshie’s yawn looks a little bit artificial – she, probably, intents to show her husband that she is tired and wants to sleep.

Inter-marital maneuverings put coefficient of happiness up

Something strange started to happen with Masuo. After complaining about his wife to his friends he started to feel a strange attraction to the red color walls behind which Hatsu and Joshie lived.

Sometimes (pre- or post-drinking) Masuo was wondering why he, who is dressed in color yellow and lives in a place with yellow walls was coming towards the red house. Then he felt confused, didn’t know what to do and often left the place without knowing what’s going on.

Eventually the situation somehow cleared in Masuo’s mind – he knocked on the door and met inside a natural and unambiguous hospitality. Is redness more erotic than yellowness?

The situation very quickly slipped to the matter of the two human hearts. According to Masuo, his heart wasn’t beating at all, but Yoshie insisted that his heart was ok and even moving with its beats her hand.


Nobody knows how many days passed since the bodies of our clowns-friends Masuo and Hatsu began to wander about the world detached from their identities. Here we see that somebody with a familiar confidence opened the door, and Tatsu, Masuo’s wife and Hatsu’s girlfriend, not without difficulties recognized the habitually drunk red-panted Hatsu, who was surprised to see with her his best friend Masuo lying on the floor. To explain to viewers what happened we have to mention that exactly in the same day but earlier Masuo during his working hours was offered a generous dose of Whiskey instead of usual sake, a drink which somehow made him able to do what he wasn’t for a while – with a magic exactitude to find his home (through matching yellow color of the walls with the color of his shirt).

Hatsu was surprised that Tatsu called his buddy Masuo her husband. But friendship is above everything. It unites identities, aspirations, dreams. If my buddy is a husband, I am a husband too. I can be two husbands in one.

For a while the lady of the yellow house wasn’t sure – who exactly are these two bodies, whom they belong to and why they are in her place.

It was a moment when Tatsu (yellow clothes wife) felt that she is dealing here with one creature having two bodies. And she, somehow, enjoyed the feeling.

And these two bodies, no doubt enjoyed their belonging to one identity in two colors. Men of delirious souls need sober women. Long live the souls delirious with friendship! Long live sober women delirious enough to forgive men their deliriums. Life continues. Hatsu will soon return to his red wife in their red place. And they will start again to visit their friends in their yellow color dwelling.

Posted on May 26, 2012 – Akira Kurosawa’s “Dodes’kaden” (1970) As Anthropological “Map” of Human Psychological Condition (Kurosawa’s Contemplation on the Living Art of Archetypal Crystallization) by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on Sep/4/’14 – “Dodes’kaden” (1970) by Akira Kurosawa by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on 11/19/’17 – Imagination vs. Being (The Spiritually Pauperized Architect And His Doomed Son) – From Akira Kurosawa’s “Dodes’kaden” (1970) by Acting-Out Politics

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

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