Elevated Amorous Object (EAO) as a “Muse of Human Soul”, Soul’s Vital Spirit (its Anchor in the Visual World)

X looks at A not as at another human being but as his soul’s mirror image (elevated by beautification). This shot registers this magic moment of transformation of a gaze directed at the world, into self-reflective/self-transforming (by self-reflection) gaze celebrating one’s self-improvement through the unconditional love for the ideal woman.

While A is looking inside herself – into her own feelings, where is X looking: back, into “last year in Marienbad” or ahead – into his future with A after she is liberated by the mandate of love? In his and her case it doesn’t matter – they both belong to the super-historical archetype caught by Resnais’ film. They are beyond the profane changes of time. This shot makes us perceive that mutuality between X and A is cracked from the beginning. The visual formula of their relationship doesn’t include the unity. The togetherness of the two souls is split. The both persons belong to different spheres.

In this kind of relationships the role of physical intimacy is decisive – it is a symbol of coming liberation. How much genuine human intelligence and spiritual humility is invested into this amorous game of two souls looking for their elevated image in their offspring – the gracious soul of their love!

A’s gaze is not just oblivious (about what’s happened or didn’t between them last year in Marienbad) – it is a gaze refusing to see the past or the future behind the surface of the reality. It is the intelligence trying to subdue itself. That’s how we all look at reality from inside our archetypes – that’s how believers look outside their beliefs.

X, the romantic of the loving soul, confronts M, keeper of A’s soul, the proprietor of love. The antagonists are always capable of recognizing that their mutual military dance is not in front of each other (the tasteless jealous rivalry never overwhelms their minds) but around the same object they are equally dedicated to – the idealized image of the human soul in love incarnated into an ideal woman.

This shot refers to the scene of a sublime duel between X and M when the beauty of search for love (X) matches the beauty of guarding it against the profanity of the world (M).

In this shot we see how two destinies become one. The sacred moment between two souls makes X the knight ready to crush future obstacles for love, and A – ready to give herself to the inevitable super- and simultaneously intra-existential harmony of the triumph of the essence of life over life.

As sons and daughters of mothers we, humans, are obsessed with objects we can symbiotically tie to (and lose ourselves in this psychological embrace). Among inexhaustible versatility of symbiotic objects (delivered by various cultures in different historical periods), several seem to occupy a really archetypal status in the life of our species. The first amongst them is, of course, god(s), with whom passionate symbiosis tends to realize itself inside religious beliefs and through them. The second is love object (starting with sexual fixations and obsessions and ending with sublime amorous dedications). And the third is money (the irresistible lustrous lust for money and profit) which for us incarnates the super-human value not less than the heavenly power or political ideologies did for our forefathers. Resnais’ film can be perceived as a commentary (in monumental images) on the erotic cult of the amorous object which dominates human spiritual life in different historical periods and in some always existing souls chosen for the ordeals of love.

By surrendering to viewing Resnais’ “Last year in Marienbad” again and again for the last thirty five years in a kind of an admiring confusion, it took me about twenty five – to come to the conclusion that this film is, probably, a kind of barely possible culturological comedy. If it’s so, does it make sense to give laughter such a solid, to the point of being architectural, imagery? Of course, human cultures do this all the time. Individually or collectively, we, humans, tend to immortalize whatever we are obsessed with in particular periods of our life. So, why not to parody what we already consider laughable – our tendency to aggrandize in cultural monuments what we already aggrandize psychologically, often against our best judgment?

A is the muse of human soul incarcerated by a stable marriage or relationship which is inevitably adversarial to the song of amorous delight in the very process of being created. It is the role of X, the knight of human soul whose mission is to liberate the muse by the vital spirit of human love. People played this irresistibly beautiful game for centuries and eons. No doubt it is much more elegant than to murder each other in endless clashes/wars of humankind. M, the possessor of the muse of love, is no less of a mighty figure in his protectiveness than X in his spiritual search, and is not less beautiful.

The cult of amorous subject and object involved in a unique rapport of love is never an event or a situation. It is highly sophisticated and creatively demanding self-actualization and as such takes up whole human life and several destinies for its accomplishment.

Posted on Nov 3 2014 –   “Last Year in Marienbad” (1960) By Alain Resnais  by Acting-Out Politics