the falsity of permissivity
September 18, 2012, 11:42 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

I had such a father too:

“My psychoanalytical friends are always telling me that we once needed classical therapy to free us from internalised repression so we could do it. But today you feel guilty if you do not have wide-ranging sexual desire and experience. Once enjoyment becomes permitted it slides imperceptibly toward the obligatory. You have to do it and you have to enjoy it. Think about extremely hedonistic gay communities in America: life there is totally regimented. They eat the same food, take vitamins, watch the same films. We live in a permissive society but the price we pay is that there never was so much anxiety, depression, impotence and frigidity.”

“the falsity of permissivity: … Say you are a little girl and I am a totalitarian father. It is Saturday afternoon. I say, ‘I don’t care what you want to do, you have to visit your grandmother.’ You go but you secretly hate me and try to revolt and that is OK. That is good. But the monstrous permissive father will say: ‘You know how much your grandmother loves you, but visit her only if you really want to.’ Beneath the appearance of a choice is a much more severe order. Not only must you visit grandma but you must want to and like it. I had such a father, which is why I hate him.”

Slavoj Zizek: The World’s Hippest Philosopher, The Telegraph


a coincidence between two stories
September 13, 2010, 4:33 pm
Filed under: unseen world | Tags: , , , , , ,

Learning to Love:

Sometime in the first 20 minutes of Michael Haneke’s film La Pianiste, we learn that the perfectionist piano teacher Erika, played by Isabelle Huppert, sleeps in the same room as her mother.  Much further along, we find out that she is a regular at the live sex booth in a porn shop.  Shocking images, perhaps only at first:  the beautiful, accomplished piano teacher with a shameful home and inner life.  Haneke’s speciality:  truth masquerading as shock.  Or more accurately truth that we continue to pretend is an aberration and continue to allow to shock us.

Erika is like Norman Bates (from Psycho), only a little more socially acceptable.  Erika merely slept in her mother’s room; Bates embalmed his, and kept her in the upstairs room in a rocking chair.  The point is both moms controlled their children, and both children went far far into their adult lives allowing themselves to be controlled.  As a result of this control, Erika’s intimate life was reduced to watching other people have sex in booths and engaging boyfriends in sexual domination games.

There is an interesting side story in La Pianiste.  Erika has a student, a young girl, who has a neurotic and domineering mother, not unlike her own.  The teacher has a complex relationship with the girl and near the end we see her sneak into the concert hall’s cloak room, smash a drinking glass and put the shards in the young girl’s winter coat while she plays a recital in the hall.  After the recital, the girl badly injures her right hand on the glass shards.  It’s a malevolent act, and curiously it’s an act of salvation:  maybe this injury will set you back, she is saying, will alter your life course away from the one I took of perfectionism and isolation, will cause your mother to leave you be to live a normal life.

So, La Pianiste is about Erika’s attempt to form a real human bond with a lover.  It is a violent attempt, for she must confront and rebuke the control her mother and her own prolonged adolescence has over her.  Ah, the violence of family life.  Is it real or an aberration, a cheap trick used by a director to shock?

A Critical Coincidence:

The following quotation has nothing to do with the writing above.  It is Huppert’s description of what it means to be an actor.  She says to be beautiful, the story she has made about Erika and the story the director and writer have made must coincide.  Here is her description —

When you make a film, actually you make two films.  The director’s film is being made.  And the actor’s film or actress’s film is being made.  And the actress’s film is like a very intimate story that she tells to herself, which is within the director’s story.  And hopefully there is a coincidence between the two stories.  Ultimately, of course, it is the director’s film, but I think an actor always chases a very personal quest when he makes a film and very intimate and very secret and not invisible because I think it’s on screen, but it’s a whole personal fantasy, you know, that is not necessarily 100% according to the director’s fantasy itself, you know.   And I think that the mystery, the chemistry between an actress and a director is how these two personal fantasies make a coincidence, between the two of them, and it makes a film.

-Isabelle Huppert, interview, The Piano Teacher

April 19, 2008, 9:04 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , , ,

This is about a fearful place.  Fear makes us protect ourselves, aggress, fight.  It ultimately drives from each other.  In truly fearful places, there is no real intimacy except in the bedroom.

Intimacy is fearless – not timid.  True intimacy is living fearlessly in a fearless place.

Intimacy in principle means not to be timid or “timide”(in French).  But of course In is non. Inconscience, Incontinent. So the meaning of in is non. So its non-timide. And that’s what is intimate. The interesting thing is that we change intimacy to a very small space, a very safe space where you can be intimate, we think. But what we mean with intimate is not “timide”, is open to everything, is borderless, is every protection away, in principle. And it’s not just a small space where you can….

And then of course in history it’s got a very sexual connotation. For me ideal for society would be if we did not use the word intimacy. A society that is not timid. Timid is not a quality. When someone says someone is shy “Oh he or she is so shy”- you have fear, that’s why you are shy. Intimacy is not a quality. Intimacy is a quality but it shouldn’t be called intimacy. It’s just that you are open. In this fearful society where everyone is putting daggers in each others’ back, usurping each other – the neo-capitalist society is like this – in this society intimacy is reduced to the bed, or to the most private space where you dare to be without protection.

So intimacy is the space where you are without the fear that forces you to protect yourself.

-Jan Ritsema, from Sleeping Beauty’s blog, searching for intimacy