Sunday, February 09, 2014

What People Do with Themselves

A group of adoring women surround Hitler in a photograph. Milena, a young Yugoslavian communist, keeps the photograph framed in her home as a potent reminder of how women sublimating their sexual urges can facilitate tyranny. Misdirected sexual energy in society and politics forms the subject of 1971's W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism. Half documentary, half fictional narrative, the film, especially in its fictional portions, is a sometimes effective meditation on the root of human hypocrisies and their violent consequences.

The documentary segments feature American disciples of Wilhelm Reich, a psychoanalyst and associate of Sigmund Freud whose books on the nature of sexuality were burned in the 1950s by order of the U.S. government.

Watching one of his followers use one of Reich's "accumulators", a wooden booth with a metal interior designed to focus positive energy, it's hard to believe U.S. authorities were perturbed by such a kooky and harmless philosophy. Though the fact that Reich and his followers met with such violent reactions in itself suggests there is insight in Reich's work.

The documentary segments also feature a man roaming New York City with a rubber rifle he pretends to jerk like a penis, which is amusing if rather obvious, and an artist who paints live, masturbating models. Which is interesting but feels something like a tangent. There are also interview segments with Jackie Curtis, a transvestite and associate of Andy Warhol, about his relationship with a man who proposed to him, which are sort of interesting as historical documents but the relevance of the scenes to the rest of the film isn't clear.

The fictional segments portray Milena (Milena Dravić), the Yugoslavian woman, initiating a relationship with a famous Russian figure skater, Vladimir Ilyich (Ivica Vidović). Milena is shown holding court in her apartment building, preaching the necessity of free love in a glorious Communist society.

In the film's best scene, Milena brings Vladimir home and the two discuss the nature of Communism while Milena's nude roommate Jagoda (Jagoda Kaloper) serves cookies.

In the middle of Milena advocating unrestricted physical love, a neighbour, a "veteran worker" that Milena despises, breaks through the wall with a pick axe, drunkenly sings a song about the workers and locks Vladimir in a wardrobe--to Milena's frustration but to Vladimir's and Jagoda's amusement.

This scene, like a few others, nicely emphasises the endless ambiguity of the subject.

Twitter Sonnet #594

Sofa indications pile onscreen.
Makeshift blockades net the arrest warrant.
Houdini is much older than eighteen.
Paprika infiltrates the fried sonnet.
Too cooked candy bleeds Valentine syrup.
Buried drugstores tally dirt pills for worms.
Horse cow hybrids moo at a slow gallop.
Tiny elephants agree to Pooh's terms.
Thicker gobans win passing praise from Cat.
We saw the bad dentist fall on someone.
Humming havarti rings taunt Saturn's rat.
Winds at the cold beach baked the cookie sun.
Repeated whispers remix the newscast.
Balloon jellyfish aim their limb ballast.

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