The dilemma ignited with human individuation is no mere confrontation of a poison to be expunged from one’s history. The projection into a mockery of what one can be is intrinsic to human experience. It endows one’s eventfulness with a problematic keynote, an exigency of tempering that lacklustre moment with a decisive lustre.
In the intentional process of thwarting by carnal action the lockdown of a persona, not only serious history becomes salient, but also serious finitude. As ushered into an effulgence of sensuous power, an alert intentionality attains to composure in dealing from strength with historical possibilities crowned with delight, and with the situation of being extinguished, thereby crowned with glee.
In the course of freely fulfilling its assignment to an infinitely fecund territory, finite intentionality maintains itself as a persona. A persona is not a mere self, a merely distinct and unique embattled identity. It is in essence a consort performing monumentally nuanced labors of love. As such it brings about a primordial history or saga.
If the gift of delight attains to major significance in face of perversities of intimate intention, it can be readily understood that that sustaining phenomenon for a positive correspondent comprises not only an indispensable compass but also a firewall amidst the pandemic of world historical engagements.
Elicitation of sufficient grounds comprises an expansive gusto encompassing love for others and love for that which sustains others and oneself. Such encompassment harbors a work of shifting and combining emphases. There is, about the ascending of intentional power, a persona straddling extra-earthly sensuality and most earthly sensuality. That range implies a deft mobility wherein uncanny individuation maintains a retainer upon intimate and public history.
How many are there who find employment in that workplace with its premium upon the packaging and not the product? Though no doubt overshadowed by simplistic motives of gorging oneself, filtering through the peacock-dance of public life are countless gestures launched for reasons largely unknown. Huge tracts of popular entertainment depend upon such throwaway moments to maintain a market share in catering to short and unscrupulous attention-spans. Despite the digitally enhanced stupidities of youth-targeted entertainments, its ludicrous-sounding conceit, that something is happening here which constitutes an important departure, is not entirely preposterous.
If we liken historical ambitioning to a two-way street in accordance with sustaining or suppressing sufficient grounds, we can observe in graphic terms the characteristic features of that movement. The route uphill would be sparsely populated, but would include many vehicles entering and departing at a dizzying rate. The route downhill would be bumper-to-bumper and would markedly include a homicidal species of road rage, whose practitioners would routinely cross the median to threaten those eschewing egoity, as working through an addiction to making losers of everyone else. Susan Sontag has helpfully spotlighted that venom with her thesis that, "The white race is the cancer of human history."
The florid violence of that statement speaks to a convoluted invention available for the navigational needs of the downhill direction (and as such a cross-current to the stabilizing gifts operative for the uphill climb). Venerable, dense, often complementary historical cargos of Christianity (prototypical of religion in general), science and humanism can give rise to such intoxicating dicta as that opportunistic jag cited in the previous paragraph. Just as Christians readily imagine themselves to trump with a claim to immortality and scientists pride themselves upon a supposed mastery of the grounds of the phenomenal, humanitarian humanists exploit their intimacy with misfortune as an automatic weapon with which to mow down those showing motives indifferent to squalid misadventures. As a Jewish lesbian Sontag could and did wield a supposedly irresistible weddedness to "victims" in order to squelch not only otherworldly religionists and mechanistic scientists (who would, as the history of thought demonstrates, largely aid and abet the egoity-based egalitarian calculus of humanism), but also to give vent to a final triumphal solution to the whole occidental enterprise whose incisive subtleties elicited in her a murderous frenzy. On an unspoken pretext of Western history’s perfidious comportment toward Jews and homosexuals (as thereby joining throngs of Africans and Asians), Sontag relishes playing what she supposes to be an unstoppable gambit of promoting those who find themselves vulnerable. Under the auspices of such cheap (and thereby popularly impressive) sentimentalism, she imperiously gives a thumbs-down to Western accomplishments in the sciences and the arts as possibly sparing occidental history from liquidation.
Compounding the problematic of human efficacy is the physiologically-implicated condition of maturation. Not only does one confront warring of various types, but one must needs grow into readiness to cope with that originary test. The perils entailed in that developmental situation have been exposed with memorable force by filmmaker Robert Bresson’s classic, Mouchette (1967). The hour and a half of dismay elicited by depiction of utter hopelessness in an adolescent girl’s life derives its peculiar weight from, not the moral, social and political discernments (too) easily culled from its surface, but from an unleashment of wounding so extreme as to speak to primal (not personal) issues. The only two highlights on view (encased as they are in crushing destructiveness) attend to the protagonist’s budding primordial allotment, as superseding any personal entitlement. A loving bond with her mother has been squashed into the form of mothering her baby brother and deathly ill and soon deceased parent. The wider context of a torturous poverty and a coldly brutal father demarcates the imprisonment blasting an emergence of her love for life. (The second upbeat, a turn, by way of a stranger’s gift, to play amidst bumper cars and to flirt with a young man on the course, is intercepted by a beating from her father.) Wider still are the currents of petit bourgeois recoil from one so unkempt (caring overtures from whom she cannot negotiate) and lawless peasants by whom the mouchette (hedge-sparrow) is met with carnage and rape. Her suicide does not engage any crusade for social justice. Its fumbling elegance attends to a (potentially) terrible contingency about primal power.
Juxtaposition of Cassandre’s brittle comportment, toward the subtleties of New York, with the visceral logic sustaining that wonder prompts a need for more precision about the carnal nature of fundamental competence. It can be imagined that, as far as recurrent patterns of devotion to originary uncanniness, Cassandre would muster more consistency than those who cover so much ground in Manhattan and distant points. The latter would not appear to harbor any commitment to unique resonance of manifestation. Much of their fulsome invention, affection and deftness would be lost to common one-upmanship and sentimental orthodoxy, not even possessing Cassandre’s dangerously discriminating self-criticism. And yet, to a wide enough purview, a special urbanity does shine through from tenacity amidst actions easily assumed to be old-fashioned. That urbanity, with the exception of the Balanchine-Kirstein foundation, has been virtually inarticulate, a remarkable state of affairs for such an erudite population, but in complete accord with a founding phenomenon departing the broad swath of world historical erudition.
La Notte presents no sustained campaigns for sufficiency, and therefore the transparencies of struggle come to prominence by way of the scenario’s skilful deployment of structural elements. The film is framed by two exceedingly disquieting scenes of individuals in the course of death throes. At the outset, a couple visits a writer friend in the hospital who is on morphine palliation, and remarks that the rare free time of recent days has yielded a sense of an avenue for exploration new to him. Early next morning, at the end of the concentrated narrative, that same pair come to terms with the end of their marriage. She reads to him a testimony to a love which does not own another but shares a great challenge. He has to be reminded that he was the author of that ode, prior to becoming a celebrity novelist. His protestations that love remains culminate with fiercely embracing her, forcing her to the sandy turf of the park setting, and the camera draws away from their writhings. Although she musters the presence of mind to terminate a lost cause, the course of the day discloses that she is at one with him in a confirmed cynicism and attendant gloom. In accordance with the protractedness of that distemper, their meanderings in Milano bring to light disconnection aplenty but no threads on behalf of finding a way. Accordingly, the preponderance of their actions is shot at some remove, with virtually no close-ups.(The superb, world-weariness specialists, Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni, discharge this onerous function with an authority precluding overtaxing the viewer’s concentration.) Many of the pithy situations are visited by her, including delicate handling of a forcefully textured material (in this case, a rusted piece of a building), abysmal outskirts of the city and decency in face of her former tutor’s misery and the possibility of breaking up a brawl. Also present is slippage into cheap diversion, in the form of gawking at a fusillade set up by amateur devotes of rocketry. But without the factor of urgent motion in engaging a playable emergency, they emerge as squibs, each inconsequentiality fuelling a mounting toll of dead weight. Together they encounter at a nightclub a performance by an African woman stripper-contortionist whose impressive bodily control is (almost) completely overtaken by its format of tawdry stunt. The implication here for an appointment with truly wild sensuality is throttled by their deadpan adjudication and not at all activated by his patronizing remark, "She’s quite good." (That afternoon they had descended upon the publisher’s launch of his latest book, titled, La Stagione [The Season] – perhaps holding forth, with some discomfort, upon the one-dimensionality to which his reflections have abandoned him – with an emotional investment more suited to shopping for clothes.) The next and last stop on their what-the-hell tour is the home of a wealthy industrialist who has an interest in the uninspired competence and PR instincts of the famous wordsmith. Now a big party at a vulgar suburban mansion apropos of being offered a position of company historian and staff relation’s trouble shooter is, next to tying up the heroine on the railway tracks, one of the most readily interpreted gambits imaginable. And, sure enough, there is a healthy quorum of boozed-up bores, ditsy gals (young and old) and chicks being thrown into the pool. But on making his pitch to the writer, the tycoon refers to forming and operating a business as a creative effort and the writer makes an affable, though hardly sincere, observation as to the concreteness of practical constructs in contrast to the supposed void from which literature arises. Not only does the multimillionaire possess, against cinematic convention, some purchase upon poise and integrity, but his wife, on greeting the late and distant arrivals, refers to his work and replies to his question, " Have you read my books?" with, "I’m not so foolish as that." At the center of this hardly predictable household is the persona of their daughter, played by Monica Vitti. She is in the course of reading one of his books during the party when first noticed by the writer’s wife while wandering about the unanimated region of the house, and when approached, with hopes of establishing a liaison, by the writer, she greets him with, "You’re too old for me." With some surprise, we have entered close-up time, and her cajoling him into the above-mentioned board game upon checkered floor tiles – her little purse as the disc – brings about a consequentiality about goofing off. Attention to the sensuous factors of the cinematography leads to understanding that all bets are off in this eventuation about a poor little rich girl, only too susceptible to pat dismissal. In conversation with him, wherein he trots out sentimentally fetching, well-used nihilist repertoire, her body and voice present serious turmoil, as, filmed from behind, she remarks, "Sometimes I feel sad as a dog." As they bat around forgettable pensees about losing "heart," she hits him with, "You’re weak, like me." And that raises the question, though there can be no doubt about his weakness, how weak, in fact, is she? She opines, like Proust, that interpersonal love is a trap, and then plays for him a tape of some literature having occupied rewards of solitude and silence in the face of a startlingly throbbing nature, about which it may be said that "everything" is intent upon glee. She admits to being the author, and in response to his wanting to hear it again, she deliberately erases it, by rerunning the machine. Around this time she indicates that with her family she enjoys hopping over to America to see hurricanes when in season. And filling out the picture of a constellation productive of an unstable urbanity, skimming with only slight control, she finds amusement in her mother’s homily that staying indoors writing and reading most of the time is bad for her skin. (Purchase upon some degree of extemporaneous, playful intent may lurk in her response to his asking her age: "Twenty-one years, and many minutes.") While her engagement of sufficient grounds remains in play, he proves competent enough at defusing a fascist citation lobbed his way by a would-be suitor on returning to the party from a joyride with his rain-drenched wife, but lodged in a prison of secondary securements. On offering to help the soaked gadabout dry off, Vitti’s presence of workable solicitude is repulsed by Moreau’s flinty reserve and suspicion. The scene in question thereby offers a juxtaposition of functioning and dysfunctioning physicality. She sees them off with, "You two have exhausted me." But she has established a level of resilience, however endangered, in contrast to their absolute exhaustion.