BEING AND SYNTAX
We have films and how they address the issues of sehnsuchti and nauseaii. The Modern cinema of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman addresses this through chiaroscuro lighting and extra close ups, where examples will be thematically addressed further on. German Expressionism, French Poetic, Italian Neo-Realism, French New Wave, and Iranian cinema all address this sehnsucht or nausea through varying degrees of realism, but none as direct as Bergman’s examples. Postmodern film addresses the issue to a certain degree, as well as experimental film, particularly the Soviet films of Dviga Vertov and Sergei Eisenstein and in a broader sense, Kino cinema.
Take for example Dziga Vertov’s Kinoks: A Revolution from 1922iii:
The mechanical eye, the camera, rejecting the human eye as a crib sheet gropes its way through the chaos of visual events, letting itself be drawn or repelled by movement, probing, as it goes, the path of its own movement. It experiments, distending time, dissecting movement, or, in contrary fashion, absorbing time within itself, swallowing years, thus schematizing processes of long duration inaccessible to the normal eye.
One must, in one’s becoming of being, become the nothingness with which their identity faces. One cannot become a literal word for word translation of an item sold to a buyer. If the possibilities in the external world present a form of becoming, then becoming becomes the goal of life. One may define oneself in terms of one’s identity, but still will evolve until death, subjectively. Ergo, film becomes a tool for propaganda, shedding an inkling of truth. Marxist ideasiv about the human senses becoming an object, becoming what they buy, or even Sartre’s ideav of unconscious objects having being hold truth in them.. But humans still have the nothingness, with which objects do not. However, Heideggervi talks about death as one of the “not yets”, and even film falls into the category of the “not yets”, they are dreams we have never pictured before, we experience them subjectively but at the same time are part of the “them” who watch the film with us. Vertov makes example of this in terms of time, where the dream film swallows years and even death as a form of the “not yet”. Therefore, there must be something said of the film as propaganda to take away the nothingness of identity, and that is where cinema goes wrong. Instead, film should expose the nothingness and explore the dark corners with webs of the spider-god like in Ingmar Bergman’s Såsom i en spegelvii, must confront as he does, the silence of God, in Nattvardsgästernaviii, or must explore the hypothesis of being outside of time, or time being absorbed in film, as in when the knight plays chess with death, in his Det sjunde insegletix.
Now the actors on screen and the auteur becomes a locus that one may idolize or strive to become, taking the focus off of oneself and neglecting becoming for an image. Again, they project a becoming, but also a becoming as part of Heidegger’s “them” which loses itself and its fears in a maddening crowd in sheer bouts of ecstasyx. Take for example the Nazis of Hitler’s Germany, or in this case, the film’s audience. We face death when in front of a crowd, and when the public speaker is fearful, tearful, joyful, the crowd feels this, and their own fears, sorrows, and joys are taken away. The same goes for film, when films deal with the nothingness of being, then the “them” must confront this juxtaposition subjectively and objectively. Cinema is currently testing out this motif within the context of the term “postmodernism”, although this does not encompass the nothingness of the “them”. If there were such a collective unconsciousxi, then that is where all propaganda lies, the fears of the nation and cinema itself.
The remnant of old society that still clings to a censored view is more or less a Freudian superego limiting an already apparent aspect which has been evident since Greek times. There arises a concept of non-identity, something similar to the Buddha’s concept of anattā, or non-soul or even Hegel. What happens if one talks to someone and the entire structure of words and language dissolves into nothingness? What of this when interpreted on film? When there are emotions like fear, paranoia, and anxiety that occur when there is a crumbling image of the self, shown on film in terms of editing or a shaky camera or through themes of death, then in front of the sans image, we make our claim against the self. We vow, from this point onward, to never gaze into the falsity of identity. Whatever was constructed by society shall soon crumble as we, forgetting the self, shall no longer know the face of cinema. As of today, we reject ourselves. We are not whole. We are not complete. We are porous. We are becoming. We are being-for-itself and being-in-itselfxii. The product of identity in society, this “them”, is cast once again into the flames to be formed by the hammer of the blacksmith by the sinews of his handsxiii.
The character beyond identity is ambivalent. For this reason, we must forgo all tautological evidence and suspend the cycle of eternal recurrencexiv. We have already been plunged through the depths of insanity, and survive outside of the postmodern television or modern cinema. The imbalance is psychological: to know who we are and understand that we are not the persons we know to be ourselves, that in a world of zero identity doubled with the loss of context, there comes a complete sickness. After living with this sickness for a while, one comes to understand that one has always had this sickness, its symptoms simply becoming apparent at the moment in an overwhelming clarity, enough to induce vertigo.
We have realized that we are not alone in this struggle, and although we are told that everything takes place in our mind, we need, for ourselves, to have some sort of external reality representative to the internal reality. This form expands our world so as not to be so suffocating. We have been drowning before, as in La rivière du hibouxv, where the soldier goes under and it is difficult as a viewer to inhale that next breath, being submersed with the protagonist, even in dream. The dreaded undertow is talked about living in a coastal community. “Swim parallel to shore,” they are told. When that extreme moment of panic hits, flailing arms and gasping for air, it is difficult to conceptualize when one’s head is being dunked under the surface, when the struggle for oxygen becomes the mother’s milk, when death has one in it’s grasp.
This manifesto proclaims a Collective Unconscious of the Nothingness of the Them in terms of cinema. The audience must together absorb the identity altogether of the character with this lost identity in terms of the Otherxvi, both internal and external as a whole, and for the individual, this issue is for their own “Other” that is both internal and external. The Other, in terms of lost identity in film, is useful here because the character lacks representation that everyone else’ language is not the very “subject” of his/her own symbolic, self reflexive ego. This sums up the theme of Dunkirkxvii (2017). The theme is one of melancholy: a feeling of pensive sadness. While the critics call it more of a hopelessness, this is despair, which is spot on in terms of the movie theme, but the keyword here is pensive for the audience, because we are engaged in an active “reflection of deep sorrow”. This is something much more true than the flaws of language and its traps, that of movement and the image.
Nothing in this manifesto should be radical if these thoughts have pervaded one’s mind before. Even more substantial, this exploration of a new form of film is intended to be a quest for identity, a search to find the ultimate source of being, that of one’s identity, if it so exists. Even if it does not, the process that one forgoes to attempt to render said identity is at the core of art. Like MGM’s signature Latin phrase, Ars Gratia Artisxviii. If this manifesto accomplishes nothing else, it should inspire a new generation of filmmakers, but in doing so hopeful that the process may turn into some success, whether private or public, to where down the road one may look back and say, “When I filmed, the filming process, I had some sense of belonging, of being,” and that, in that, one may find hope to continue on through the drabness of this sehnsucht.
i. German word. Difficult to translate. Closest English translation being “to hunger-for”.
ii. Jean-Paul Sartre. La Nausée (Éditions Gallimard, 1938).
iii. Annette Michelson. Kino Eye: the writings of Dziga Vertov (University of California Press, 1984), 19.
iv. Annette Michelson. Kino Eye: the writings of Dziga Vertov (University of California Press, 1984), xv.
v. Jean-Paul Sartre. L’Être et le néant (Gallimard, 1943).
vi. Martin Heidegger. Sein und Zeit (Martin Heidegger, 1927).
vii. Ingmar Bergman. Såsom i en spegel (1961).
viii. Ingmar Bergman. Nattvardsgästerna (1963).
ix. Ingmar Bergman. Det sjunde inseglet (1957).
x. Charles Mackay. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (Richard Bentley: London, 1841).
xi. Carl Jung.
xii. Jean-Paul Sartre. L’Être et le néant (Gallimard, 1943).
xiii. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The Village Blacksmith (1840).
xiv. Frederick Nietzsche. Also sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen (Ernst Schmeitzner 1883-1891).
xv. Robert Enrico. La rivière du hibou (1962).
xvi. Elisabeth Roudinesco. “Jacques Lacan and Co.: A History of the Psychoanalysis in France 1925-1985 (Free Association Books: London, 1990).
xvii. Christopher Nolan. Dunkirk (2017).
xviii. MGM. Ars Gratia Artis: Art for the sake of art.