Von Trier & Strindberg


So, after a long delay (this had been scheduled for last November!!) Friday’s the day we’re going to discuss Lars von Trier’s film Antichrist and compare it to August Strindberg’s The road to Damascus. When I first heard about that, I thought it was a strange idea…how to compare both?? But that was because I had seen the film only once, and hadn’t read the play yet…now I’ve read the play twice and seen the film 3 times. Which is very little, considering both objects are so complex – I don’t use the word complicated because when you say something’s complicated, it seems you block yourself and dismiss it as being way too hard to understand, and give up on it. That’s not my attitude towards anything academic. I’m always very curious to find out what things are about, and what other people think about them.
Lascia ch’io pianga
Mia cruda sorte
E che sospiri la libertà
Il duolo infranga queste ritorte de’ miei martiri sol per pietà
  • Isn’t it beautiful? This is an aria from Handel’s Rinaldo (based on a work by Torquato Tasso – in the story where there’s a woman called Armida, queen of Damascus and a powerful enchantress), originally sung by a castratto…(in Strindberg’s play, there’s a part where the Eumenides – the vengeful ones from the mythology, you know, who were born from the drops of blood from the castration of Uranus by his son Chronos – are cited, attention!!!) – not that the existence of castratti was beautiful, noooo! LOL I mean the song in itself…I’ve found the sheet music of it. If you know how to read music, you’ll be able to tell how beautiful it is, even if you’ve never listened to it…

  • Quotes I’ve selected from Strindberg’s The Road to Damascus:
” A woman-hater? Every healthy man is one, in the secret places of his heart; and all perverted men are admirers of women”
“In the old days nothing was of value to me if I couldn’t lay it at a woman’s feet. Not as a tribute to an overbearing mistress…but as a sacrifice to the beautiful and good.”
“You talk of pure love for a woman! That’s lust, young man, lust after a woman. You say you don’t desire her. Then why do you want to be near her? You’d like to have a friend? Take a male friend, many of them!”
Causa finalis, or the first cause — you can’t discover that! For if the serpent’s to blame, then we’re comparatively innocent — but mankind mustn’t be told that!”
“Nothing in themselves; but everything for us, through us! Our honour and our shame; our greatest joy, our deepest pain; our redemption and our fall; our wages and our punishment; our strength and our weakness”
“But if she’s a devil, how can a devil make me desire virtue and goodness? For that’s what happened to me when I first saw her beauty; I was seized with a longing to be like her, and so to be worthy of her. To begin with I tried to be by taking exercise, having baths, using cosmetics and wearing good clothes; but I only made myself ridiculous. Then I began from within; I accustomed myself to thinking good thoughts, speaking well of people and acting nobly! And one day, when my outward form had moulded itself on the soul within, I became her likeness, as she said. And it was she who first uttered those wonderful words: I love you! How can a devil ennoble us; how…? No, she was an angel! A fallen angel, of course”
“We resemble two drops of water, that fear to get close together, in case they should cease to be two and become one”
“What a joke life is, if you take it seriously. And how serious, if you take it as a joke!”
“A moment’s happiness is worth ten days of blows and pinpricks”
“Well, you know, a man marries to get a home, to get into a home; and a woman to get out of one”
“I was annoyed to find a spy always at my side, watching my inmost self”
“WOMAN: A man in love is always ridiculous
STRANGER: If any man who loves you is ridiculous, how can you respond to his love?
WOMAN: We don’t! We submit to it, and search for another man who doesn’t love us.”
“I’ve never understood how that holy night, the first in which two souls embrace each other in love, can end in the shedding of blood, in quarrelling, hate, mutual contempt”.
  • Poem by Robert Herrick, Upon some women, a part of which was recited in Antichrist:
THOU who wilt not love, do this,
Learn of me what woman is.
Something made of thread and thrum,
A mere botch of all and some,
Pieces, patches, ropes of hair ;
Inlaid garbage everywhere.
Outside silk and outside lawn ;
Scenes to cheat us neatly drawn.
False in legs, and false in thighs ;
False in breast, teeth, hair, and eyes ;
False in head, and false enough ;
Only true in shreds and stuff.Thrum, a small thread.
All and some, anything and everything.
Scenes, coverings.

 


Source:
Herrick, Robert. Works of Robert Herrick. vol I.
Alfred Pollard, ed.
London, Lawrence & Bullen, 1891. 93.

 

  • About the corvus…it’s an animal, but also a constellation and in the mythology it is as follows:

Once the crow had beautiful silver or snowy white feathers and could speak to humans, but that all changed. As Apollo‘s sacred bird, the crow (or Raven) was told to watch over his pregnant love, Coronis. Coronis slowly lost interest in Apollo and was attracted to a mere mortal. The crow, who was secretly spying on her, reported her unfaithfulness to Apollo. In a rage of anger he unfairly turned the loyal raven’s feathers black and took away its ability to speak. Coronis was killed by Apollo’s twin sister Artemis. The child of Coronis and Apollo was rescued and raised. He then became known as Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing.

  • Oedipus…the boy sees the dad having sex with mom. The boy’s feet were hurt by his mom when she put the wrong shoes everyday the previous summer at Eden….mmmm…
I’m really looking forward to this discussion!!! I should probably read this http://www.filmquarterly.org/webexclusives/antichrist/ before going to uni tomorrow, but now it’s late and I’m off to bed.
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