The "Real Real" in Cinema
Watching movies won't make you wiser, making movies will not make you better, talking movies will make you wiser and better.Films are much like life, an unexamined film is not worth watching! " In order to understand today’s world, we need cinema, literally.If you are looking for what is in reality more real than reality itself, look into the cinematic fiction." Slavoj Zizek Films can enable us to perceive not the reality behind the illusion, but the reality in illusion itself.
the reel real in cinema
Cherchez la femme ,
or the Symbolic in the myth of Oedipus (according to Cinema)
The myth of Oedipus is central for the psychoanalysis , but it is not the only myth that can help for the analysis of Human Psyche. The Symbolic power of Oedipus grows from Freud till now ,when he is really Oedipus Rex of “popular psychology” .
Oedipus Rex explains the whole symbolic order of the world ,filled with phalluses , penis envy and fear of castration. But in this world ,caged in passions and fear ,the rule of the old tyrant Oedipus is in it’s end. In search of other “working” myths in human psyche , brave researchers looks at the Cinema, as a infinite source of human characters. It’s turn out that Cinema gives more complete picture of the inner world than reading our dreams.
The popular Films are the dreams of civilisation , reading them helps understanding ,not only the individual ,but the psychology of the masses. Knowing Thyself is not enough now ,you need To Know the Crowd. So Cinema gives us infinite number of “preserved human emotions”.Using films as examples ,this text tries to fin strong opponent fo Oedipus in the face of a woman.
1.Impeachment for Oedipus
The first attack on Oedipus comes from Jaques Lacan in his “Ecrits”. Lacan states that Oedipus myth ,cannot keep the audience attention forever in a society where the meaning of the tragedy is lost more and more...One myth always goes with a some kind of ritual , but psychoanalysis is not Oedipus’s ritual.
Really , why Oedipus is still Rex? What keeps him on his tron, is it only the tradition ? May be the psychoanalysis in it claim for scientific validation is trying to squeeze human psychic in the old clothes of Oedipus ,The Shadow ,The Trickster ,The Old Wise man etc. According to semiotics the goal of every scientific theory is not explaining the world, but building it that way , so it can be explained. Against all the efforts the science is still an emotional human activity. The science is always humanitarian ,because is looking only for knowledge which “make sense” for humans.
Actually “Making Sense” is the main purpose of the whole human scientific and all kind of knowledge. The problem is that the life is a flux and everything changes with tie.The old orders ,laws ,formulas etc. , after being used for some time, eventually needs “refreshment” and “rearrangement”.
With the constant change in people, human psyche also needs new clothes to fit the her overweight figure. The new clothes are actually new myths and archetypes that are building bricks of the current culture ,or let’s say the Zeitgeist .
These myths are part of the Symbolic order of the civilisation , and if they are not “updated” on time , the civilisation itself has “discontents”. In “The Civilisation and it’s (more and more) discontents “ d-r Freud himself leaves a sign where to look for the new myth , which will take down Oedipus. This is the myth of Orpheus , which will be revealed later.
It turns out that the human psyche can grasp the world without it’s Symbolic order , that’s why the myths and archetypes are needed all the time. The Symbolic is the realisation of the archetype in one new mythology , it is a “Matrix”- virtual world which is based on reason ,not on chaos and chance. In the “Matrix” the life has meaning , but in order to exist ,the “Matrix” needs our energy to support it. If we accept a man as a simple battery , it purpose would be to supply energy and when he is empty, to be recharged.
The human life is constant circle of investments of emotional energy ,some of them are good, they bring interest, and some are bad loses. The man invests energy into the “Matrix” , but receives back too . To do that he needs the presence of a certain images an forms in the “Matrix”. Their symbolic value is so important for the human existence as food in the real world.
Freud and Jung revived the mythological understanding of the inner world , a virtual inner image which people can “project” onto reality. The problem is in the growing demand of stable powerful myths , that are needed for the ever growing demands of the psyche. The power of a myth is equal to the amount of emotional energy and fate invested in it by the people. Gradually the fate is lost and even the quantity of myths is growing , their quality is not , or they become less powerful.
The demand of myths looks so crucial even in 21st. Century , that one can say that we never left the “mythological time” of Homer. In that kind of time , the myth are “real and true” for the people’s inner world , even not real in material reality.
So if something is Real for the psyche , it is Real enough for us . This brings the notion of the platonic idea of the only one ideal absolute .
This concept is accepted on fate by people , who always try to find “the best” , “the ultimate” , “the one and only “ etc. Actually everybody finds his own reality , man can create his own truth. The feeling of reality in certain moment and the emotional investment in that moment , is the only proof of reality for a man.
We life in infinite number of realities and all of them are truth for somebody , it depends of the viewpoint.
Even a broken clock I exact two times a day , is the old saying. Michael Gladwell is speaking about this shift in the culture from the idea of the One Perfect Thing , their isn’t perfect Pepsi , there are perfect Pepsis , with different taste and sugar content for different tastes. And this is not all , time changes everything . The judgement of real and truth is not only individual, but is changing with time.
Material reality exists only an instant ,before disappearing in the infinite flow of the Time. Time is the only reality that we know , time is the ultimate judge of everything. Time is also the ultimate terror for people , trying to stop their precious moment of happiness.
Art is one way to slow the time , to freeze images of emotional life energy for centuries. The movies teach us how to create and cherish these images in time . Cinema is an art which can save us from the inescapability of time, it show us how to live slow. The Time can create reality ,if given enough time everything is possible and nothing is constant and certain - no laws , morals, meaning , reason , logic etc. These categories are temporary ,they change with the time.
According to Monkey and Infinity Theorem from sir Arthur Eddington (the scholar who proved Einstein’s Theory of Relativity ) : If we leave a “herd” of monkeys to hit randomly the keys of typewriters ,it is almost certain that one day ,given enough tie ,they will write the full works of Shakespeare . So for know is it clear that even the myth of Oedipus looks stable and certain to fit human psyche for some time ,this is not some archetype recollected from previous lives , it is not an absolute law of psychology.
But is it possible to have a absolute certain scientific theory in general? Kurt Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem states that : None complete theory ,which express elementary arithmetical truth, can not be fully logical and complete at the same time. The key work here is again time , it can be both at the same time. There is time for everything , as it said in Ecclesiastes . It is mathematically impossible to have Theory of Everything ,things Stephen Hawking , which can be stated with a finite and final number of principles. It turn out that science is long way from the absolute certain that often claims . Much of that certainty in science is emotional, it is the ancient human fear from the cosmic chaos.
So science is trying to “make sense” it’s way , like religion and art do. They all share the use of a “great secret” which will explain the chaos. “ The secret “ is something like the secrets of magic ,they keep the audience amazed as a secrets , but once revealed it turns out it’s just an illusion . People enjoy to believe in absurdity , but in science and religion after the illusion is dead the fate dies too. Only the art and the Cinema in particular are going further.
Movies are using “the secret “ tool and the revealing of the illusion brings no disappointment but more interest. Cinema accepts the Chaos through catharsis , the films are not necessarily looking for order and meaning. Even more , sometimes they are touching the ancient philosophy of emptiness and nothingness , which is the eternal principle of the cosmos.
Director’s like the holy trinity: ”Ozu ,Dreyer and Bresson” managed to reach real state of complete peace in their films , the viewer of these films almost feels like in a state of “nirvana” . Cinema can be much more than mere entertainment ,it can be total revelation and salvation from the burdens of material reality . It is the way how to watch , think and speak about Cinema , the process is like hypnosis where you are free of “yourself” and “the world” , free to feel the core of existence.
The cinematic experience is an ultimate “gaze at the abyss” , but without the madness of Nietzsche . Instead the end is cathartic emptiness and peace , harmony with the eternal flux of universe . Cinema is a religion , but without God .
The concept of god is washed by the ancient idea of Dao - pure energy , path , enlightenment ,harmony with the flow of the universe , emptiness , something that can’t be describe ,but only felt .
It’s not a surprise that the “apostles” of Cinema , devoted their lifes to this path. Yasujiro Ozu’s grave in Engaku-ji temple, Kita Kamakura , Japan , famously ,doesn’t bear his own name , but the symbol “ Mu “ ,instead.
This is a full selfless dedication to a cause , to dissolve Yourself in space , complete peace. “Mu” or “Wu” , stand for void , none , no meaning . Mu is connected with “Wu Wei” concept of doing without effort , go with the natural flow , do not oppose Yourself to natural force .
“Do or not do . Don’t try “ says master Yoda “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.” Believed or not , Jediism is a registered non-theistic new religious movement ,over 500,000 people declared their religion as Jedi . They just felt “the Force” in Cinema.
The revelation of the Cinema is like religious act of purifying .It follows the classic Hollywood Script writing plan: “ Peace - Accident - Reaction - Peace again “. The so called “Hollywood happy end” is actually the most natural end of everything . Everything ends in peace . War and peace ,again and again ....in infinite life circle .
This is the principle of life ,of art and of Cinema . This is also the principle of Hitchcock’s famous MacGuffin . It is some secret that everybody are chasing after ,but it’s never revealed , because the more important are people looking for the secret ,that the secret itself. Actually the characters are looking for themself’s , not the secret ,the film structure is a journey of self searching , so it is natural to reach peace , at the end.
The same theme is found in Umberto Eco’s book “Foucault's Pendulum ” ,where three friends created their own conspiracy theory - prophecy , called “The Plan” . For their terror it turned out that the Plan is true and holds the secret to control the world.The Fiction becomes reality and cost the life of Belbo and the health of Diotallevi ,who got cancer. At the end Casaubon finds out the emptiness of the Secret and reflects about the power of imagination and the reality of fiction.
It turns out that people can create reality if they believe in their creations.
The “famous” self-help book “The Secret” claims the same magic power which people posses . It is called The Law of Attraction : 1. Know exactly what you want. 2.Ask the universe for it. 3.Feel, behave and know as if the object of your desire is already yours (visualize). 4.Be open to receive it and let go of (the attachment to) the outcome.
So if you “ really ,really “ want something it will come to you eventually . The "Secret" is inside us. With the Secret inside every man alive Plato’s ideas of absolutes looks outdated . Accepting the new post platonic reality , we should abandon all labels like - the best ,the one and only , the absolute , number one ...... Among all others there isn’t a perfect myth that can fit the ever growing and changing human psyche , even the poor Oedipus.
Of course Oedipus is not dumped ,but the idea is that other myth can be use to explain the psyche ,or even that every human myth created by man contains the secrets of it’s creator.
It is like the apple seed contains the idea of a tree and an apple , and every human cell contains human DNA , generations back . This brings the idea that every stable in time and popular among masses of people human myth contains the structure of it’s creators mind.
Every cultural artefact ,every myth ,narrative ,novel , painting ,musical peace and more than all film (I think) can be use as step for the path of self knowledge. The true wisdom is not in the thick books it is everywhere ,every good joke contains same information about human mind as a philosophical thesis.
The old Oedipus did his job for years ,but the problem is that he is no longer helping understand the psyche , but ruling again as a Rex . People just reached Lacan’s “mirror stage” in their path of self knowledge , it means that when people already know about Oedipus complex they start to “see” it everywhere,to look for it .
It is a self-suggestion , caused by the Observer effect , the impact of observing a physical system .
People can be an subject and object of the observation at the same time.
As Observers of our self’s we are always affected by it and in a same time it affects us , it sounds like non sense , but writing about it I suffer the same problem .
As we know from Freud ,learning the truth about human mind and psyche lead us through the nightmare of existential abyss ,but if we endure this terrible knowledge ,we hope that we will find the peace at the end.
“No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human beast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.”
Sigmund Freud , Complete Psychological Works, Dora (1905)
WHY POPULAR CINEMA ?
Popular , mainstream ,commercial , mass produced , Hollywood , genre , studio controlled ..... all the bad words , among movie lovers. It looks like all the movie talks are restricted only in judging and labeling . Films are nothing more than just : "good" , "bad" , "amazing" , "intellectual" , "deep" , "art" , "independent" ,"author" , "new wave" , "no wave" , "5 star IMDB" , "verite" , "top ten" , "dogme" and etc. Nothing wrong with that , but the real interest of Cinema , not only as Art , but as a phenomenon with cultural importance , should be free of any stereotypes and labels . If a movie is popular and like fro the Masses , it only means that millions of people around the world had the same emotional response to a cinematic image . It is a perfect opportunity to understand human psyche and mass psychology , and the "mechanics" and the role of Cinema . Popular is not a bad word , means "well liked from a lots of people". Vox populi , Vox dei.
Mass society and Global culture are not some kind of new danger , as Global Waring.
They are our reality , we all are mass people , even "one dimensional" people , but there is no place for worries. We are common people and we are proud of it.
21st.Century will be ruled by the masses and fil isthe ultimate mass art form.
Only through the Cinema the masses can see and know itself ,in there multitude.
In a global mass society the Cinematic Image becomes the new religion that unites , leads and governs the crowds.
THE WORLD OF CINEMA AND THE CINEMA OF THE WORLD
I strongly believe that Cinema is in the key for understanding human nature.
The ancient Greek aphorism "Know thyself" , finally is revived ?(“Gnothi Seauton“gr. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and “Temet nosce”lat. Matrix film series.)
I call Cinema the “real Apocalypse” , “the ultimate Revelation” ,coming from the “holy” images oh thousand gods , created by humans. Only because , Cinema represents millions of worlds created by man ,it is the perfect tool to understand the inner world of human psyche . Cinema is short from “Cinematography”, meaning “the art of recording visual images” , so through the human eye , Cinema is recording images adding human feelings to it. Cinema is the art of recording human feeling . The cinematic image is a symbolic image , an icon with human meaning. Cinema takes the “Real Real “ world and puts reason and emotion in it ,in a best way. The cinematic world is filled with human thoughts , feelings and models of human behavior.
As a object of humanitarian scientific research Cinema offers unique look inside the human nature. Not better ,but different than any medical experiments , psychological observations , sociological polls , psychoanalytical readings of human memories and dreams , biological researches on DNA , astrological signs etc.
The difference is that the cinematic experience includes “Empathy” , and this is part of it .
Cinema Studies are true humanitarian science ,a science with emotion. “Empathy” and emotion are needed fro the researcher if he wants to understand truly the “ object” of his research , he must be subjective ,this is the beauty of it .The Cinema Studies are not afraid of the “Observer effect” (in physics, the impact of observing a physical system) , because this “impact” is expected, it is called “Art” ! The power of “Art” is in it “impact” , which is called “Empathy” with the passions and emotions of the character. The Cinematic Scholar is expected to feel when watching an speaking about movies. The conversation about movie is highly emotional one and is it not finished with shallow review – rating -judgement – “ 83%” , “Amazingly Trilling…” etc.
The passing time is the only Judge of films .They are going nowhere , even if we do not see “ the newest ones”,they are waiting for us somewhere. The only goal of a film is to find it’s audience and to be reborn, as a virus . The film will find us eventually. The audience is “the Observer” , and if the film is “good” it is really “effected” , but this is not the end. The film is now “planted” in a human organism and stays there till it’s activated . The activation occurs when the “infected observer” happens to be in a situation close to a “Cinematic Image” , witch is emotionally attached in his memory..
So now , we have “Observer effect “ ,but in psychology, where people change their behavior when aware of being watched . The viewer feels like he is being watched , “Peeping Tom” , becomes Winston Smith from “1984”.
Cinema is such an important phenomenon in the human civilization that it can’t be an object only of one narrow scientific discipline . That’s why Cinema or Film Studies are called this way , they have enough space to grow in the future ,to include all the new branches – cinema epistemology , cinema and mass society , cinema hermeneutics , cinema psychology etc.
Cinema can be use as object for research from any humanitarian science , it is something so powerful that is shaping the world .Cinema represents so fully all human activities that studying cinema is actually studying human nature , which is the core of all knowledge.
The whole 20th. Century went under the sign of Cinema , so most likely is 21st. Century to use the Cinema as an “archetype tank” for a base ,to create it’s new design. So if anyone wants to be on level with the uncertainty of the upcoming times , it is all in Cinema. If all this is partly true , then why Cinema is not studied in the schools of general education ? Even in Plato’s ideal Republic , Art’s must be studied from children in order to understand their dangerous effect on people ,”to move them powerfully and stir their emotions Poetry connects with human passions and emotions , which is the lowest part of human soul , according to Plato. Art “feeds and waters our passions.” If we want to control these passions we must study the theory of Art.
The ideal citizens of the Republic must learn how to conquer their lowest passion and emotions . In our postmodern society we often use the term “intelligence ” , actually in psychology there are three types of intelligence -Fluid , Crystallized and Emotional. Emotional intelligence or El , is ability to identify, assess and manage the emotions of self and others. It looks to e that this type of intelligence is the most precious one for a person who is looking for happiness and peace in life. But there is a catch , of course. The path towards the Peace is going trough the facing of the Truth of Reality. The hardest and most dangerous thing for a human to do.
WHAT IS “REAL REAL”
It is Slavoj Zizek’s term , it means to face the Terror of the Ultimate Reality. The material reality , without it’s symbolic order , without reason and meaning. The Earth is not “Mother Earth” ,it is just “ the third rock from the sun” , the nature is not in “harmony”, but in chaos.
This is the world outside the “Matrix” -“Welcome to the dessert of reality”.
To gaze into Nietzsche’s Abyss , to accept the Real Real ,one needs the whole wisdom of the world , but most of all knowledge of thyself . The knowledge of being and nothingness. I know that I know nothing. That nothing ,that emptiness is the scary thing to accept. The notion that the concept of Self is an illusion , and there isn’t a “grand plan” and “causa sui” in your existence , leaves you only the “Unbearable lightness of being”. As they say ,”As good as it gets” ,or “Whatever works” and like “Anything else” , Cinema has all the answers.
But still , these answers are not so easy do understand ,it takes a long way ,watching a lot of movies ,to accept “The Awful Truth” or “The Ugly Truth” of existence. Cinema keeps this Dangerous knowledge , the Great Secret which is the main principle of the Cosmos. Space is emptiness , vacuum ,nothingness . Existence ,not only precede essence , but existence is a temporary problem in the infinite emptiness. Matter ,doesn’t matter , it is just energy which will destroy everything one day and just change it’s form .We are just energy in a different shapes , energy can only be transformed ,but cannot be created ,or destroyed. As an energy we will live forever even after a Big Bang. ,we just need to “.....learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb “.
This is a project which looks of a new way to speak and think about the Cinema. For a movie lover, doesn’t seem how the films are treated these days. “Trilling .....83% rating....Entertaining....box office....”.
Movies are much more than that ,even the so called "stupid" and "shallow" ones.
Films are cultural artifacts and they hold the key for understanding the human nature , not only that ,but to live in peace with this “awful truth”.
Studying the impact of Cinema on society ,can increase the level of the Emotional Intelligence and understanding the principles of a global society. Studying Cinema gives the ultimate knowledge , to know thyself.
So it looks like a good cause to start writing some words for the World of Cinema and the Cinema of the World.