To Live Between Being and Non-Being, Existence and Non-Existence, Life and Non-Life, Love and Non-Love, Sex and Non-Sex, Identity and Non-Identity – RWF’s “The Third Generation/Die Dritte Generation” (1979) and JLG’s “Every Man For Himself” (1980)

You can judge a society by how much truth can be told about it in the art. The problem is that most people these days don’t think art should tell us the truth about ourselves. They think art should be congratulatory. They want lies in politics and in their own lives.
Edward Albee

The title “The Third Generation” refers to the three generations of terrorism… The first generation was that of 1968. Idealists who wanted to change the world and told themselves they could do it with words and demonstrations. The second, the Baader-Meinhof group, went from legality to armed struggle and to total criminality. The third is that of today, which simply acts without thinking, which has neither ideology nor politics, and which, without knowing it, let itself be controlled by others like a bunch of marionettes.
RWF, 1978

Style is just the outside of content, and the content the inside of style, like the outside and inside of human body – both go together, they cannot be separated.
JLG

First there was Greek civilization. Then there was the Renaissance. Now we are entering the Age of the Ass.
JLG

I pity the French cinema because it has no money. I pity the American cinema because it has no ideas.
JLG
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Ingmar Bergman in his “From the Life of the Marionettes” (1980) shows how anomic conditions of life and commercialization of human tastes, communications and values make people lose the ability for intimate and private relationships which are possible only if people are disinterestedly and selflessly connected with their beloveds, spouses and friends. We see how the very organism of genuine love between two remarkable human beings became destroyed by a life which for years trivialized and devaluated the couple’s emotional reactions on each other. Fassbinder in his “Die Dritte” and Godard in “Every Man” emphasize not only how human beings are changing in their personal and social relationships under the influence of socio-economic environment, but how people psychologically mix with their surroundings which degrade and trivialize their souls – how the characters in the films become inseparable from a flat and miserable artificial environment. In both Fassbinder and Godard’s two films the personas of different human beings are literally swallowed up by the psychological complexes literally inserted into them by the system. People lose their individualities and dissolve into the sociological field as standard elements of the crowds and the personifications of chaotic times.

– ————–

From Dialogues between dehumanized souls from RWF’s film

I can only thank the German lawyers for not adhering to constitutional law in pursuing their investigation (referring to the Mogadishu hijacking and events surrounding it).
Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic to Der Spiegel news magazine in 1979

[Whatever happens under the skies] You always pull the short straw! Scrawled above the second urinal from the left in the public toilets on the corner of Schluterstrasse and Kudamm, West Berlin

– All Turks are bastards. They stink and all they think about is fucking.
– Exactly.
– Give Germany back to the Germans. Send all the others home, every last one of them!
– Yeah! Send the bastards back!
– Why bother to send them back? Just gas them. They should be wiped out, preferably gassed. Wiped out and gassed.
– But not the Jews!
– You a load of pitiful idiots.
– Nazi pig!
– Filthy communist!
– It will be your turn one day, so help me God!

Unattributed ongoing dialogue in the men’s toilets at the Kade department store, 18.1.1979

Cunts don’t make sweet music. They don’t sing you any songs. They are just a little resting place for your nice stiff dongs.
An old poem that popped up again in the men’s toilets at the Freie Volksbuhne, West Berlin 26.12.1978

Slave seeks master to train me as his dog. I have no ties and I am willing to sacrifice everything to do exactly what you want. Here again next Thursday at 4 p.m. Every true sadist will immediately recognize me as a slave. A slave that’s ever willing to sacrifice himself, whatever the consequences.
Message in the men’s toilet at Bahnhoff Zoo, cubicle on the right, W.B. 26. 12. 1978

____________

When terrorism is organized by the enemy of terrorism – when rebellion against meaningless social life became as meaningless and absurd as this life


From a casual exchange between a billionaire P.J. Lurz and the Chief of Berlin secret police Gerhard Gast (Hark Bohm)

The immortal ghost of strategic financial calculation


The expected appearance of the mighty global businessman P.J. Lurz (Eddie Constantine) in his German office looks as if he has suddenly incarnated from the air. The composition of the shot underlines the tiny area of humanity of disinterested (without any calculations) human feelings – the mini TV screen playing Bresson’s film “Devil Probably”). But the tycoon Lurz is just a contour on the grey sky.

Monsters of manipulation and the Woman-body, woman-beauty and woman herself


The father (the Chief of secret police) of Susanne Gast’s (Hanna Shygulla) husband (a creative musician) has an affair with his son’s wife Susanne. Here he is in bed before intercourse with her. He is laughing at her “idealism”. Does he know that she and his son are members of a terrorist organization (naturally, they call themselves with a more respectable names, like revolutionary organization or rebels against immoral status quo)? Only close to the end of the film we learn that he knew perfectly well all along that “his children” are terrorists ready for action. More, he wanted them to become more active.


Lurz and Gerhard Ghast both appreciate Susanne’s physical beauty blended with her intelligent emotional reactions


Here is Susanne herself split between her husband Edgar, his disgusting father, and her dedication she shares with Edgar – to alternative way of life.

Forced symbiosis between an emancipated woman-professor of political history – and a professional killer


When Hilde Krieger (Bulle Ogier) is explaining to her students the various and always controversial and tricky political situations from the past she tries not to insert her personal political views into the discussions and follows the college rule not to mix personal emotions and “objective” facts.


Because of Hilde’s secret membership in the “liberation organization” as she herself calls it, her life became intertwined with a professional killer (a new member of the organization) Paul (Raoul Gimenez) – male with conservative manners and quite traditional demands.


For the sake of keeping her belonging to the organization of resistance to the economy of financial fetishism Hilde has to subdue herself to Paul – to everyday life of archaic and humiliating domination.

Grandpa (Opa) – Klaus Holm, and his grand-son Edgar (Susanne’s husband – Udo Kier)


Pay attention to Klaus Holm’s facial expression – his character: Opa in a big upper middle class family, already for many years has been looking at the face of his teacher Arthur Schopenhauer and, as if, hears his magnetic words about the necessity to have wars for every human generation.


Opa’s grandson and Susanne’s husband Edgar seems sad – he is not sure how to understand the socio-political revolution. He feels that something like this is necessary but what and how? To the left of the shot we see out of focus the presence of his mother (Lilo Pempeit) – as if through fog personalizing the foggy condition of her soul.

The “Intellectual” and the “Genuine soul” joined the rebellious group by chance


The intellectual (Bernard von Stein – Vitus Zeplichal) is cynically killed by the police chief personally, while his friend with genuine soul (Franz – Gunther Kaufmann) out of despair let himself to be killed during a police raid.

Philistines as terrorists


This shot introduces us to Petra Velhaber (Margit Carstensen) who became a member of the terrorist organization because of her growing with years hate towards her husband – the banker.


While robbing a bank with her comrades in arms to get the money for their terrorist operation Petra cannot resist killing her husband. Behind her is the “genuine soul” who cannot believe that she is using the situation to kill her husband. Today, it’s objectively impossible to separate what is a revolutionary action from what is a terrorist one, what is business from what is robbery, who is a politician and who a crook.

Financial calculation as terrorism (I, 2, 3, 4)


Chat between the billionaire and the secret police chief, #1


Chat between the billionaire and the secret police chief, # 2


Chat between the billionaire and the secret police chief, # 3


Chat between the billionaire and the secret police chief, # 4 Chat between the billionaire and the secret police chief, # 4

The secret and precious political agent of the wealthy elite (inside the terrorist organization)


Person of many talents, appearances, personalities and functions (August Brem – Volker Spengler), who works not only for super-generous rewards, but for pure interest and for perfecting his professional virtuosity

Cognitive pearls of a subdued mind


Mother Gast (Lilo Pempeit – Fassbinder’s mother) is trying to help Bernard von Stein (“the intellectual”) to realize the absurdity of fight between the rebel-terrorists and terrorist police.

Terrorist act masked as a mass-cultural celebration or entertaining event looking like terrorist act


The leader of the group Edgar Gast (Udo Kier) dressed as a clown


Susanne Gast (Hanna Shygulla) with a real machinegun camouflaged to look like a plastic toy, and with masterful makeup masking her face


Terrorist as a transvestite. The just kidnapped billionaire P.J. Lurz is collaborating with the terrorist kidnappers on making a film confirming his capture. He hopes for a “reasonable” compromise between the sides – offering terrorists’ demands in exchange for the billionaire’s life.


Revolutionary terrorists and Lurz work together on an “official” proposition to exchange his life for terrorists’ demands


It looks like P. J. Lurz is ready to exchange his death for an incredibly profitable business deal for his company. You see, some billionaires can be ready to go so far as to sacrifice their lives for extra-money.

————-
Paul Godard (Jacques Dutronc), the filmmaker who cannot make films he wants to make


Pay attention to Paul’s almost completely crushed smile – the echo of an almost destroyed soul. It’s a semi-smile of a body socially separated from its soul.


Paul Godard looks for justification for being creatively shattered by the transformation of cinema into profit-making technology


Paul is losing his ability to fall in love. Here, he is sitting on the same bench where an obviously a proletarian family is enjoying its togetherness – Paul is, as if, trying to feel close to their family happiness which he personally has lost and frankly, never had. But soon it became obvious that this family is “fake” – these people just hope to make a little money by impersonating a family happiness.


Paul is suddenly “attacked” by a gay man (valet in the hotel where Paul was living) who started to beg Paul to use him sexually, without any commerce involved. Paul retreated like a boy running from police.

Paul Godard and his former mistress Denise Rimbaud (Nathalie Baye)


Paul and Denise already have stopped to live together but still like to see each other outside. It’s not that the love they had is broken or has ended. But life demands permanent hustling for money and search for opportunities – such life seems like multiple survival paralyzing existence together.


We see that Paul and Denise somehow are still connected with one another. It’s, as if, they needed their intimacy which at the same time cannot be realized


Sometimes, when a person doesn’t know how to realize love he/she feels it’s necessary to do something eccentric and absurd. Without understanding what he is doing, Paul frantically jumps at Denise over the table where they were eating. But in reality such impulses are mute. They’re just futile despair of togetherness.

Dreams and Plans of Denise Rimbaud (Natalie Baye)


No, it’s not Denise Rimbaud “flirting” with cows. But it’s a representation of one of Denise’s dreams or short stories about an alternative to vain urbanism – she is idealizing country life, preferring bicycle over car, imagining how the hit from cows is radiating in the cowshed, etc.


In many places in “Every Man for himself” JLG uses unexpected short stops (stills) with various meanings. Here we see the “spirit” of Denise on the bike amidst the field being prepared for the crop. It’s, as if, Denise is enveloped by the mist of the country life she loves so much.

Paul’s ex-wife and their daughter Cecile


On their daughter’s birthday Paul’s ex (Paula Muret) came with her (Cecile – Cecile Tanner) to meet her father to get their monthly check and presents for the daughter.


Pay attention to Cecile’s contemptuous grimace when she is looking at her father. Indeed, she feels just a disgust toward him who cannot be successful in society. In her age and in the atmosphere of the merciless fight for success it is easy to look down at losers.


In this shot Godard shows Cecile’s dream – she, as if, passing the orchestra playing in her honor. Technically speaking it’s not her dream at all – she just passing through the area, but Godard underlines the importance of moments of Cecile’s self-centeredness for our understanding of her perception of life. She is opposite of her father – she is still psychologically alive, but in a wrong way – she is a typical plant of her super-busy bravura society.

An episode when a girl refusing to choose between two guys


Corrupting consumerist concept of choice and its subduing influence on the human beings. Sometimes, acceptance of the right to choose is a conformist gesture. The choice between two or several objects as goods is a conformist behavior as soon as these objects have a purely consumerist value: superfluous and vain – existing just for appropriation, as a part of financial exchange.

Paul Godard stuck in between life and death 1, 2


Last minutes of Paul Godard 1


Last minutes of Paul Godard 2

Sexual function is appropriated for financial dominance over human love and life (the story of Isabelle Riviere – Isabelle Huppert)

Customer #1 (Fred Personne)


Sexual domination through financial function or financial domination through sexual function – aspect 1 (comfort)


Sexual domination through financial function or financial domination through sexual function – aspect 2 (choice)


Sexual domination through financial function or financial domination through sexual function – aspect 3 (appropriation)

Customer # 2 (Roland Amstutz)


Torments of power 1


Torments of power 2

Polymorphous prostitution as a modern condition


Hope as thinking and thinking as hope


Isabelle and Denise (human pact without optimistic – aggressive profitmaking)


Humane and gentle prostitution (with a milder/softer or even without domination is still prostitution because it’s still domination of money over human beings)


Isabelle Riviere’s sister (Anna Baldaccini) as a future, may be, temporary prostitute (the sacred breasts as wage earners)

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Life becomes less and less reliable for both – working people and for entrepreneurs, and this makes workers furious and xenophobic and the rich in panic and ready for any financial trickery and fraud. Employees permanently need to change their profession or to improve their qualifications (and this often without any guarantee of higher salary). For the business owners it’s often necessary to reduce or the freeze salaries for workers or to change the working conditions from full employment to part time or temporary jobs in order to pay less. All these and other stresses are reflected in high blood pressure, mental and physical exhaustion, growing despair, chronic fear of losing business or job, shame of being a loser, psycho-somatic illnesses, etc. Rising cost for the rent, medicine and medical care adds to the picture, etc.

Even more terrifying situation is for the younger people who are entering a world of intensified fight for money and success. They were dreaming to work in a more normal – more balanced conditions but instead have to face a world which is impulsive and permanently changing like planetary temperature under the global warming. They quickly learn that besides readiness to work honestly and well they have to permanently manipulate the circumstances and calculate and stage their success – not just compete but fight for the future. Growing drug addiction and suicide amongst the young are only two among other morbid reactions on this situation.

For all the people who are forced to function in an environment of high stress, the world looks like a monster. And they try to adapt, and one of the tools at their disposal is to change their perception of the world – to fight for themselves while ignoring and even not noticing the world’s monstrosity. Everything they touch, everything they see is in permanent and unexpected instability and changeability. People stopped to see the world as an existing miracle and other people not as competitors, but as human beings. They stopped to live. They stopped to live with the feeling of living. They stopped to live with meaning, they have started to live for the effectiveness of techno-survival – to live in between realities – just from effort to effort, from one attempt to the next attempt, from failure to failure, from failure to success, from success to bigger success.

The world has lost its existential concreteness. Some people try to create an alternative identity (AI), without or with acting it out. It’s not surprising that among such AIs can be some artificial and criminal ones. That’s why various characters in Fassbinder’s “Die Dritte Generation” became members of the underground political organization which before they were provoked by the secret police just existed as goal in itself without any revolutionary or terrorist actions. They were rather conformists but with the feeling that they’re different than the most people, although their human potentials were not able to develop. In Godard’s “Every Man For Himself” the conditions of life have provoked the main character Paul Godard feel and behave in absurd manner. He cannot even try to make a serious and honest film as he would have wanted, he is depressed and doesn’t know what to do. With his mistress Denise Rimbaud Paul is only capable for exaggerated and impossible acting out. When life is losing its existential concreteness – and when existential details are stopped to be perceived as reliable (full of themselves), human beings are prone to invent artificial relying points like recreational sex – sometimes like Hydra with many heads, like obsessions with movie-, athletic- or rock stars, high-tech guns, Ultimate Fight, Trophy Hunting, etc.

Indeed, with life provoking in us the desire for unlimited multi-entrepreneurship and for opening up of new local spaces for social success – we invent fetishes to balance our restlessness – populist political fakes, obsessive hobbies, wealth and property appropriation, alcohol, pills, drugs, money-money-money in order if not to forget, but at least to soften our worries, worries, worries. The world carries dangerous surprises, it can betray us at any moment. You need likeminded friends but even these common identity buddies for a common survival are like the world and their survival-success may not include yours. It’s felt necessary to make a group as one person – with a common, collective mind. So, totalitarian tendencies become stronger and stronger – group against group, ideology against ideology, difference against difference, team against team, country against country.

Because of all exhausting problems and dangers we, inhabitants of the postmodern world semi-unconsciously develop at least two obsessive-compulsive strategies – storing our survival (like people who’re afraid of the coming hunger store food) and consuming moments of our living – our very vitality, moments of our ecstasy. By storing our life and our joy – we with maniacal passion are trying to persuade ourselves that we are alive in spite of everything.

Storing our survival as an absurd – magical psychological effort is our greedy super-consumption of things including guns, techniques of self-defense (martial arts), services and entertaining images and means for this feverish consumption including money, career and fame. Over-consuming our vitality is the precious moment of our intense joy, pleasures and inspirations including the righteous feeling of hating others or feeling ecstasy about our dreams (in some cases creative like in Paul Godard’s mistress Denise Rimbaud in JLG’s “Every Man for Himself”) – when we give ourselves to these experiences we are forgetting what the world is doing to us and how we helping it. One of our most intense tactics to overwhelm ourselves with consumption of our vitality is our sexual abandon. Already for several dozens of years sex has more and more distanced and separated itself from love and has become even more independent from marriage then before. Sex is more and more used as a strategy to release stress and soften frustrations of living in today’s social environment.

Let’s focus on how some characters in RWF’s “The Third Generation” and JLG’s “Every Man for Himself” use “storing of survival” and “consuming vitality” to keep themselves socially functional, although already absolutely incapable of developing their own existential spirituality, moral fitness, psychological integrity and nurturing and keeping intact their humanistic orientation and control over their government officials’ behavior and intentionality.

Let’s start with P.J. Lurz (Eddie Constantin) who for the sake of getting more billions not only invests into a new surveillance technology but into surveillance of the underground terrorists (some of whom he knows personally) and into provoking them not just to sit quietly with their subversive feelings in their hearts as they prefer to do, but to activate them to come out and start to commit real terrorist acts. More, Lurz is risking his own life for the sake of becoming even wealthier than he already is. On the other hand, Petra Vielhaber-a house wife (Margit Carstensen) – a member of the terrorist organization and a person without any political ideology whatsoever, when being enflamed by the trapping actions of the secret police – uses the situation of robbing the bank where her husband is the manager-boss, following the impulse of killing him. While Lurz systematically, with stubbornness of a squirrel hiding its food under the soil, “is storing his survival” even so far as after his physical death, Petra Vielhaber with hysterical happiness “is consuming her violent vitality” into her last breath.

Gerhard Gast-the secret police chief (Hark Bohm) is also like Petra prone “to consume vitality” – his affair with the wife of his son makes him euphoric, almost like handling and eliminating terrorists. And so his son-terrorist Edgar Gast (Udo Kier), who with his infantile fear of police is prone to have paroxysms of panicky despair connected with the fear of being arrested – he masochistically consuming his panic, like Paul Godard in “JLG’s (Every Man…) dives across the space jumping on Denise, as if, he is god flying down from the mountain to catch an earthly female. Paul Godard’s foul language about his daughter’s sexual attractiveness keeps him kind of alive in a world that makes him depressed and apathetic, while Denise keeps herself hopeful by her petti dreams about her creative success “one day”.

Edgar Gast (Udo Kier) in RWF’s “Third Generation” with all the disgust he feels toward the philistinism of his family members likes to live in the prosperous family house and is troubled when the time comes to leave it, he is a little similar to Paul Godard (Jacques Dutronc) who cannot resist sharing the public bench with a family that seems to him is irradiating basic – primordial warmth. Paul Godard, Edgar Gast and his wife Susanne are people of everyday prosperity. P.J. Lurz-the-billionaire and Gerhard-the police chief admire Susanne not only for her beauty, but for her intelligence, though appreciation from them is far from being a compliment. In essence she is limited by being just a wife and a woman. Clients #1 and #2 of the prostitute Isabelle Riviere (Isabelle Huppert) in Godard’s “Every Man For Himself” belong to the same category of people as Gerhard Gast, a political policeman and an efficient murderer. They live and make sex like creatures of power. They command woman how and what to do. Isabelle Riviere is like a river clinging to every stone and every stump she is touching on her way. Godard shows her in the moments of being sexually humiliated and in a situation of her well-deserved luck when casual meeting with Denise Rimbaud provided her with chance for a softer-gentler prostitution – the one almost possible to tolerate.