speculation


Over the course of watching some Buster Keaton 2 reelers, the following question came to me: are silent films better at representing humans and their social relations with things? Furthermore do the genius of  Chaplin, Keaton, Harpo etc. inventive physical relations with things demonstrate the possibility of different relations?

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Why are the Greek anarchists called “self-styled anarchists?” in the mainstream press coverage of the ongoing protests? Have they failed to meet the standards of some designated government committee or NGO in charge of anointing who is or isn’t an anarchist? I mean what’s the deal?

But in all seriousness folks, I can only think of a few reasons why the mainstream press- by which i mean The Guardian, BBC and AP- have taken this line;

(1) They are lazy sycophantic echo-chambers of conventional wisdom. (this is the press after all) They haven’t done their jobs and they haven’t investigated what the “self-styled anarchists” mean when they use the word anarchist. Instead of a political movement with a history and ideals, they think anarchism is some sort of trite love of chaos and destruction. So instead of a political ideology, it is the opposite of conventional wisdom, and is absurd. Therefore, describing yourself as an anarchist is “self-styled” because it is impossible to be anarchist. In reality, anarchy is an empty justification for  destruction.

(2) The mainstream press are condescending and hate the fucking kids. Here, in contrast to (1), the kids are posers because they arent real anarchists. They are “self-styled,” then, because the press assumes they will not become professional revolutionaries who dedicate their lives to anarchist struggle. They view the students and youth as flash in the pan radicals who will grow up and give up their silly ideas:

In both cases the mainstream press seems to have found a gap between political rhetoric and reality. They seem to have demonstrated that it is impossible to be an anarchist because all attempts to meet their criteria fail. The youth are “self-styled anarchists,” then, because they fail to meet the reality created by the mainstream presses assumptions. But, the mainstream press is being inconsistent. Shouldn’t this logic be applied to all politics? If so, after discarding the mainstream presses conventional and condescending assumptions and replacing them with an objective basis, in looking at the actual gap between political rhetoric and reality- wouldn’t we find it was entirely accurate to describe Bush, Berlusconi and other politicians as “self-styled democrats”?

I more anti-Oedipus then pro-Oedipus, but I do love speculation.

Following up on my earlier post about Pasolini’s unacknowledged influence on Bertolucci’s The Conformist— I came across this Pasolini comment on his influence on Bertolucci:

“I think more then being influenced by me, he reacted against me. I was rather like a father to him, and so he reacted against me…Maybe I gave him something indefinable, but he was always able to tell the authentic from the inauthentic. I always had a very general influence on him, and as regards his style he is completely different from me. His real master is Godard.”

This new information indicates that because 1) Bertolucci is extremely Oedipul and 2) Pasolini’s influence on Bertolucci was general and not the stylistic influence of Godard he jettisoned in The Conformist,  perhaps there is some substance to my speculation that Pasolini is the only father Bertolucci did not kill in The Conformist.

Today it struck me that Pasolini’s definition of conformity is a concise summary of how I remember Marcello, the conformist in Bertolucci’s Il Conformista.

Today’s Guardian has an interview with Bertolucci about the film. He has this to say about it:

“The conformist understands that the reason of his desperate look for conformism is that he realises he is different and that he never accepted his difference. In that last scene, he understands why he became a fascist – even the worst fascist of all – because he wanted to hide and forget what he feels are his differences in his deep, deep consciousness. It’s like realising that even fascists have a sub-consciousness.”

With the Freudian influence the movie has, you could then say the conformist’s repression of his difference articulates Pasolini’s point;

You could say it [conformism] is the decadence of integration into society. The average man is proud of being what he is and wants everyone else to be the same. He is reductive; he doesn’t believe in passion and sincerity, he doesn’t believe in people revealing themselves and confessing because the average man is not supposed to do these things. But the other characteristic, equal and opposite, is that this consciousness is not a class consciousness, it’s a moralistic, not a political consciousness.

Yet, Pasolini only makes a brief appearance in the Bertolucci interview, where it is mentioned that they were friends and that Bertolucci worked for Pasolini. Instead, the majority of the article focuses on Bertolucci’s Freudian theory that his work was an attempt to kill both his biological father; Attilo Bertoluci, and his cinematic father; Jean-Luc Godard.

In Godard’s case this is played out in his rejection of Il Conformista with the note he gave Bertolucci that read; ‘You have to fight against individualism and capitalism.’ Bertolucci attributes this break to the oblique fact that “I had finished the period in which to be able to communicate would be considered a mortal sin. He had not.”

The unclear meaning of this leaves room for speculating that Pasolini’s influence is unacknowledged. For in contrast to Godard, Pasolini’s conception of capitalist conformity is that it eradicates individuality and communication, and in doing so stymies political consciousness for morality.  Does this make Pasolini the father Bertolucci’s hasn’t killed? or is his just a massive unacknowledged influence? What i know of Bertolucci’s later works would seem to confirm both. Further, does Bertolucci’s reductive Freudian interpretation wreak of another type of conformism that evacuates broader social, cultural or historical influences?