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¶ Short of the Day #36: Rhinoceros; "Die Nashörner" - Jan Lenica, 1964
Topic Started: Mar 20 2017, 08:56:21 AM (189 Views)
Perception de Ambiguity
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you are your faith - lose it and you're not
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"Short of the Day" is the daily discussion of a short.

Tasks:
1) Watch.
2) Discuss.
3) Send me your suggestions for the next Short of the Day per PM, along with links to the shorts and comments, questions for the other users to think about, and/or info about the short.

Detailed project introduction: here




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Die Nashörner / Rhinoceros (Jan Lenica, 1964) Posted Image Posted Image

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNiUEnNfGYg
Length: 10 minutes 45 seconds

Suggested by: Carmel1379


I haven’t read Ionesco’s play, but the short film can be enjoyed entirely separately and it isn’t meant to be some exact adaptation. I also don’t think the short can be reduced entirely to the word “conformism”, and although it definitely deals with that in an überwitty and sarcastic way, for me ‘Die Nashörner’ explores even greater, more abstract and surreal territory. I’m hardly capable of explaining the multiple layers and themes I think occur within (and across combining) each detail, so I can only promote the short and hope you too will be amazed and pondering its intricacies, because it is, so far, probably my favourite short film, that I’ve seen dozens of times during the last 3 years.


The newspaper as the carrier of information that hits the perceiving mind and instantly makes it not think about elephants, imagine. How does ideation and fantasy work? And are they as salient as Humean impressions, exerting a significant influence on our feeble and biases-ridden mind such that it’s altered by a falsely generated set of reveries of its own making creeping up on the screen, always on a feedback loop? And what information does the newspaper present about the world anyway? Violence of violences et omnia violence, overwhelming, I’m just a skeleton.

The skeleton acquires the pale face of a Kafkian everyman. Let’s drink wine and mash in the infusing wonders that it makes by altering the composition of our malleable, physical body, just as other substances and drugs do. A bird bashes our head, but the bird one involuntarily imagines or feels turns out to be a manifestation of another human that’s clearly in reality. Ok, daydream is over, this is the first contact with another person. Nearby other people sit: small talk, consumer whorism, scrutable stuff, intellectual pretention, commodities, patata, patata, patata and all these strange, strange interactions such that we're uniform, yet different. The fundamental insight is that one behaves differently in the presence of other people, in a myriad of fluctuating variables and energies. Pretty nice attempt at cinematically capturing Gombrowiczian Form. It’s no surprise that there is some black beast looming nearby, part of it manifesting itself in other people already, its tentacles or phallic figure extending to our view of the physiognomy of others.

Cut to work, a different scene. A boss, power relations, attracitve woman, idleness, more daydreaming, bureaucratic mess, an abstract representation of human attempt at a database, classfication, structuring information and details, hiding them too, all of which is a mess with dangerous pits.

Cut to the grand orchestra, theater and opera, the supposed apex of sublime experience, culmination point of so many films & books, an archetypical, mystical place. Lenica obviously has to make a farce out of this.

Our fourth setting when counting physical places in the world and not levels of cognition or speculation, is the street, where the “hero” tries to solitarily rebel, struggle for existential authentication, say “non”. Is this not scorned, ignored and ridiculed by passersby and viewers alike? The all-consuming forces of appropriation and everything will eventually take hold of what we are.

10/10

All of that was poorly and haphazardly phrased, but maybe you get an idea of where I stand. I mentioned Franz Kafka and Witold Gombrowicz, and they’d be the seminal writers that give something of a framework through which I think about the short. And of course there is just so much wit and amusement to be found in it that it can be enjoyed on a most primal and thought-less level, which I often tend to prefer than spouting out weird and inappropriate ideas.

If anyone else like me adores the design and textures of this short check out some awesome screenshots from an unavailable feature film Lenica made here.


Comments by: Carmel1379
Edited by Perception de Ambiguity, Mar 20 2017, 03:26:30 PM.
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Perception de Ambiguity
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This film is a Doubling the Canon nominee, by the way.


Phy! My interpretation is quite a bit simpler, which is that it is about fun and games versus seriousness and a sense of duty. Lazying about and daydreaming versus working and caring about stuff, etc. The sense of duty is represented by the rhinoceros or just the horn of the Nashorn. And "PATATA" I would describe as comments that in the ears of our protagonist have too much pretensions of importance. To our protagonist people often take things too seriously and pretend too much that their work matters. He's a bit of a dreamer, you could say. Others would say that he is simply lazy. In the end when he finds that even at a foolish theater play everyone starts to take things overly seriously he gets fed up with it to the point that he more actively tries to protest it (like: "All those things really aren't that important! So just lighten the fuck up, people!") but quickly changes his mind when he sees even a bird and a child sporting the horn. Finally he is seen struggling to give a fuck (about duties, about social issues, about politics, about literature, etc.), like everyone else seems to.

But that's just me, and granted, I haven't seen it dozens of times.
Edited by Perception de Ambiguity, Mar 20 2017, 06:00:08 PM.
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Carmel1379
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My comments are nothing but PATATA, noisy pretensions of importance, obfuscatory over-analysis, misguided aberrant zeal of a young, infantilised person (more on that later) that eventually capitulates to the horn, I know.

I like how you mark a simple dichotomy and succinctly show that it's quite a sufficient view (although I obviously prefer a "philosophically richer" one, but that really just comes down to what one knows and is personally interested in, even if all that is patata). One thing I'd add is that along the unimportance (or even meaninglessness) of "seriousness and a sense of duty" the (young) protagonist perceives, the behaviour of everyone around him is also characterised by a certain energy-dissipative exuberance, i.e. the commotion of every day behaviours of and interactions between people becomes ridiculous to the point of grotesque obscenity, and that it can only be portrayed (or perceived by the protagonist) in this satirical fashion. "Seriousness" is inextricably linked with appearances and "infantilisation", that a young, daydreaming, lost and perhaps lazy person will definitely feel at some point of his life. The existential rebel actually grows the horn upon contingence with a child. The overwhelming energetic string of (pseudo-) literature/philosophy/academia, consumer products (that are called "goods"), make-up, alcohol, rubbish art (the theatre), media (the newspaper) etc. as well as quite basic interactions and phenomena generate this Form (as portrayed by the horn*) whose corollary is the inability of ("self"-)expression, the breakdown of the notion of an "identity" as the "self" is addicted to and formed by others/other things, again exemplified by the globally connecting super-human symbol.
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*which is admittedly a little too centralised-a-symbol, giving the sense that it's exclusively about control/power and hence that it can be fought/revolted against -- which the protagonist (falsely) thinks he can too at some point. But at the same time the short nicely shows that it "grows from within" (and isn't given by some external source) while there does exist a looming dark running shadow of a rhinoceros nearby. Form (with a capital F) is the name for this general immanence, and forms are how it's manifested in different situations (in the mind, after chemical alteration, in various types of conversations at a cafe and ones perception of them, in the workplace, in a theatre).

Gombrowicz (from who's 'Ferdydurke' I'm mostly, crudely drawing from), uses pupa (ass, bum), gęba (mug), kupa (shit) and other body-related recurrent symbols.Posted Image

So the horn symbol then seems quite misguiding (since the phallic horn is usually associated with power, stability, masculinity**), but to still save my views, to recap, and actually come back to what you said, I think seriousness and a sense of duty becomes pretentious and ridiculous to the point of the grotesque, and hence why Lenica's horn and Gombrowicz's pupa, the two absolutes in the world, can be linked and not seen as paradoxical within an interpretation.

**so here this "masculinity" is an appearance as it actually has effeminate, infantine properties
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Carmel1379
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Btw, The Faint's 'Agenda Suicide' music video (one of my favourites) (dealing with even colder and sombre states and themes than Lenica's short) also involves the world and people degenerating (as it is or within the protagonist's perception) by acquiring and growing body parts of other animals. The metro (one of many ways someone can die/kill oneself), becomes a rhinoceros with a horn. I like to think of the two together, despite very diverging styles both follow trapped "everymen" for example. I can hardly write a more rigourous and cohesive comparison right now though.


Edited by Carmel1379, Mar 21 2017, 03:34:10 AM.
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