Marcell Jankovics - Indubitably Rightist Oct 6, 2018 3:59:11 GMT
Post by Napoleoff (INTP) on Oct 6, 2018 3:59:11 GMT
Marcell Jankovics - Indubitably Rightist
Through the lens of how he has manifested himself most widely to the world, his animated films, we can clearly see that Marcell Jankovics is not a leftist artist. Whether this makes him a rightist one is up to the reader to decide, but his work provides strong circumstantial evidence (often the most instructive kind of evidence when judging the inner world of artists) that he is indeed philosophically rightist. In this essay I will make the case for him being such, and my lens will mostly be his 2011 animated epic Az ember tragédiája (The Tragedy of Man). I will attempt to find his rightist credentials, by taking what is known in theology as the via negativa (the negative way); looking at the ways in which Jankovics is not a left-leaning artist.
My springboard for this discovery will be the supposition that leftists do not generally regard man as a fallen creature, and therefore base their worldview and aspirations on variants of the "perfectibility" or "essential goodness" of the collective "man", or at least on belief in his cumulative moral and temperamental improvement across the centuries and millennia. This leftist view takes on the appearance of a grotesque paradox when considered in light of the fact that leftist materialism usually coexists in the same brains with the opinion that man is technically an animal. It is my contention that modern leftism can be usefully seen as a hollowed-out version of Christianity which houses diverse, capricious, misguided and often malevolent sentiments in the lodgings formerly occupied by Christ the God-man and by the acknowledgement of man's fallen nature, and which consequently amounts to a system at its core devoid of orienting metaphysical substance. Shaped by Christianity, leftists yet reject its most fundamental doctrines and manifest a kind of inversion and negation of the original belief system.
If this metric is applicable then Marcell Jankovics' film The Tragedy of Man provides abundant circumstantial evidence that he is not a leftist film-maker. Of themselves, the facts that he chose Imre Madách's 1861 Hungarian-language play The Tragedy of Man as the basis for his animated film of the same name and that he saw fit to spend nearly three decades from when he wrote the screenplay in 1983 until its release as a complete work in 2011 working to complete the film against all obstacles (mainly funding), show that his preferred narrative framework is traditional, perennial and right-leaning.
The first scene of Jankovics' animated film The Tragedy of Man, the first of fifteen scenes as in the play it is based on, takes the form of a dialogue between God and Lucifer in Heaven. After the creation of the universe, the "great work", is accomplished, God asks Lucifer, "Doth thou not find a word of praise for me, or doesn't my creation please thee?" to which Lucifer returns the challenge, "What should please me in it?" This exchange sets the theme for the whole film, which is the negation of the light by darkness. The darkness in question can be seen as the evils to which man is subject, that come from without and within him. In this context we see in the fourth minute of the film a trademark motif of Marcell Jankovics' animation, namely that of suggesting the ying-yang symbol while not explicitly drawing it; as the stars form a swirling S-shape and the round celestial bodies orbit, the form and intention of a ying-yang is strongly suggested while Lucifer lectures God thusly:
"Midst thy conceits didst thou not feel the void which put a barrier to all existence, and thereby forced you to create? That barrier was named Lucifer, the primeval spirit of negation. Thou madest matter; I thereby gained space. Where life is, death stands nigh; depression follows after happiness; shadows are cast by light; in hope there's doubt; where'er thou art, thou wilt see me there. And I who know thee, should I do thee homage? Jointly we have created; I claim my share."
Consequent to Lucifer's rebellion, God sends him to earth with these words: "Be it as thou dost desire. Look down on the earth, amongst the trees of Eden. See those two slender ones, just in the middle. I curse them, let them be thine." This seems like a scant allocation given Lucifer's declared ambition, but Lucifer professes to be satisfied with it, saying: "With niggard hand thou metest out, great Lord as thou art. Yet one foot sole of earth will be enough where negation can get a foothold. It will overturn thy world!" Lucifer's two trees are the tree of knowledge and the tree of immortality.
From there we are taken to the second scene, in Paradise, where Adam is happy in the garden with Eve under the watchful eye of God who commands him not to eat from the two trees. Lucifer sidles up and slyly suggests to Adam that he should seek to be self-conscious instead of having God supervising and protecting him like a shepherd a sheep. Adam replies: "Am I not fully conscious? Do I not feel the blessed beams of sunshine, the sweet joy of existence and the infinite goodness of my God who placed me here to be the prince of this world?" Lucifer continues to press the point, holding an apple with a wriggling worm in it and saying:
"So too perhaps deludes himself that little worm which eats the fruit in front of you. In what respect dost thou hold thyself more noble? Aye, one thing there is, and that is thought which all unconscious lies torpid in thy breast; that can give you manhood, making thee confide in thy own strength, to choose 'twixt good and evil, thyself to plan out thine own destiny and free thyself from tutelage. But perhaps 'tis better for thee like a worm to pullulate in a soft couch of dung, in ignorance to wear away thy life."
When Adam, thinking Lucifer to be "a man like us," asks Lucifer who he really is, Lucifer replies that he is from the spirit kingdom which is beyond Adam's range of vision and that just as man disdains dog and stands over him as destiny, "we look down on thee, proud of our membership of the spirit world." When Adam asks, "Why then didst thou not stay in the bright sky, why to this world of dust com'st thou amongst us?" Lucifer declaims the lines: "I require strife, a want of harmony, which begets new strength and gives us a new world, where in himself the spirit may be great; thither who dares may come along with me!"
In toto, Lucifer is offering the Faustian bargain, writ large and in its original form which leads to original sin. There have been many specific instances of people accepting the bargain of Faust and I see no justification for asserting that leftists do so more often than rightists, but what is certainly not leftist is apprehension of the true nature of this bargain; spiritual sophistication is not the forte of left-leaning people generally-speaking because if it were then they would not be leftists. In showing us that he understands what the Faustian path as explained by Imre Madách really entails, Marcell Jankovics demonstrates to us what he is not, namely a leftist.
Eve finally persuades Adam to eat the apple from the tree of knowledge after she herself is inveigled into it by Lucifer, Adam says, "Let come what must befall us. Let us be wise like God." To which Eve, her mind set now on eating from the tree of immortality, chimes in, "And as well, forever young." Lucifer beckons to them, "This is the tree of immortality. Make haste." As Adam and Eve hurry towards the tree, lightning strikes and shrivels the tree (which is inhabited by Lucifer) and the voice of God cries out from heaven, "Adam, Adam, thou hast abandoned me! I too leave thee. See what thou canst do by thyself." We here perceive similarities with the sad Pandora's Box-like moment in Jankovics' other great film, Fehérlófia, when the Old Father cries for the disobedience of the women. To the strains of Mozart's "Lacrimosa" from his final work the "Requiem" (which Mozart composed from his deathbed), Lucifer asks Adam, "Are you discouraged?" and Adam replies resolutely: "Not at all. This is merely the shiver of awakening. Let us away my wife, anywhere-away! This place is now most strange and desolate..."
The land no longer green but now darkened and the sky overcast, with Mozart still playing, they walk away from Lucifer, leaving him standing on the edge of a cliff before the screen fades to black. So begins "the tragedy of man."
From there, beginning with the cavemen, the film follows Adam, Eve and Lucifer through history in chronological order, and we soon get the impression that the real "tragedy" of man is not any factor external to himself but his own restless heart animated by the thirst for power and knowledge; this is where negation lies, and duly throughout the film it negates all good things, spurring Adam to discard successively everything he creates and to try some "new" path.
The scene in Ancient Egypt, with Adam as Pharaoh, incorporates this theme of man's wandering heart. Waited on hand and foot by slaves and harem and the whole host of his population, Pharaoh suddenly jumps to his feet and knocks over his throne, prompting Lucifer (who appears here as the dog-headed Anubis) to approach from behind and ask, "What can it be which does not let the great Pharaoh take his repose upon his cushioned throne? Why dost thou renounce the pleasures of the day and the sweet visions which come by night when already, all the glory and power of this great world belong to thee?" Adam complains that these things are not freely given to him by others and that he makes no effort to obtain them nor has he himself to thank for them, but then he goes on to expound the majesty and durabililty of the pyramid which he is having constructed for himself and claims that man is now more powerful than God.
When asked by Lucifer whether this makes him happy Adam answers that, on the contrary, he feels "an unutterable void," but that it does not matter because he has aspired to fame as opposed to happiness. Into his view then hoves a pitiful scene of a slave being beaten to death while a woman (Eve) tries desperately to stop the beating. Adam feels sorry for them and drawn to the woman, and Lucifer says this thread of human feeling is a form of weakness implanted by God to remind Adam that he is inescapably a "caterpillar" subject to God. Adam embraces the woman and the slave dies. When Adam, actuated by pity and fellow-feeling, proposes to free the slaves and speculates on a new way to run affairs which is opposite to the "millions for one man" system of Pharaonic Egypt, Lucifer gives a stunning and devastating "definitely not leftist" speech:
"Pharaoh, thou art a fanatic. Surely fate has destined the crowd to be a beast of burden, a thing to turn a mill without cessation, since for that end it was created. Today thou giv'st freedom, yet what thou throwest away it will not get, and tomorrow will look out for a new master. Canst thou suppose that thou couldst yoke its neck if it did not feel that it must have a master, if it were fully conscious of itself? [Adam asks why the crowd groans as though it suffers] It suffers though it does not know the cause. All men aspire to domination. It is that feeling and not brotherhood which towards freedom's banner drives the great crowd. The people is like a sea into whose depth no ray of light can pierce the obscurity. Only the wave upon its surface shines, in whom the people's instinct has become conscious, and who acclaimed as freedom's champion dares thrust himself up to thy splendid place. The folk meanwhile gains nothing. The master is still there, but has another name."
Asked by Adam what can be done about this unfortunate situation, Lucifer recommends installing a few individuals as nobility, a notion dismissed as a tempting sophistry by Adam. On the matter of Lucifer's speech, it bears asking whether a leftist director would expose his audience to the explication above, which beyond doubt comes from a mind that has thought deeply about the aristocratic principle in contrast to more democratic ones. As it happens, Imre Madách was himself a member of the Hungarian nobility and we can reasonably surmise from how well-developed the thoughts in this speech are that he believed these words and was here, consciously or unconsciously, ventriloquizing through Lucifer. In its message that there is no essential moral advantage in being the so-called oppressed it also happens to constitute perhaps the most focused and eloquent refutation of Marxism and general leftism that I have ever seen, although I must qualify this by allowing for the possibility that I have not seen very much in my life.
This speech to me also obliquely conveys a cognizance of what we would call the cthonic, underworld element; the earth-cult referred to by Evola and Paglia. From our perspective, this cthonic earth-cult represents something truly terrible and its elite-directed release onto the stage of Western civilization is captured in this quote from chapter 10 of "Lord George Bentinck - A Political Biography" by Britain's Jewish Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli:
"They may be traced in the last outbreak of the destructive principle in Europe. An insurrection takes place against tradition and aristocracy, against religion and property. Destruction of the Semitic principle, extirpation of the Jewish religion, whether in the Mosaic or in the Christian form, the natural equality of man, and the abrogation of property, are proclaimed by the secret societies who form provisional governments, and men of Jewish race are found at the head of every one of them. The people of God cooperate with atheists; the most skilful accumulators of property ally themselves with communists; the peculiar and chosen race touch the hand of all the scum and low castes of Europe! And all this because they wish to destroy that ungrateful Christendom which owes to them even its name, and whose tyranny they can no longer endure."
Moving through democratic Ancient Greece, the power and excess of the Roman Empire, the ingress of new blood into the tired Roman Empire during the barbarian invasions, the rise of Christianity, medieval Crusader times, the Renaissance, Kepler, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Age, the Victorian Age, the dictatorships and wars of the 1900s, American cultural domination of the globe and capitalism, a future scientific dystopia, outer space, returning to a frozen Earth populated by wretched Eskimos, Adam waking up in a cave again back to the hunter-gatherer days and ending up in another conversation with God, the film follows the vicissitudes of man's panoramic history through the avatars of Adam, Eve, and their constant shadow, Lucifer.
After endless disappointment of Adam's ambitious soul and the tender moment when Eve informs him she is with child, causing him to fall to his knees with his head on her stomach and say "Lord, thou hast conquered," The Tragedy of Man concludes with God telling Adam to "struggle and have faith." This obviously leaves no manoeuvring room to hold leftist pity parties. Definitely not leftist.
Two of Marcell Jankovics' other animated films are worth mentioning here, both of them shorts under two minutes long: the Oscar-nominated Sisyphus (1974) and Prometheus (1992). Sisyphus is a masterfully-composed account of a man, representing the Sisyphus of Greek legend, pushing a boulder up a hill with extreme effort. Apparently, to create the strained moan-and-groan sound effects, Jankovics walked over to a wall and pushed against it to capture what Sisyphus might have sounded like. It is another example of the ultimate vanity of man's endeavour, very similar to the decidedly non-leftist messages Jankovics transmits in The Tragedy of Man; very perennial in its conception, and once again the effort, not the result, seems to be the point. Interestingly, he omits the rolling-down of the boulder. Prometheus can thematically be viewed as a version of "The Tragedy of Man" condensed to under two minutes; Prometheus steals the fire from the gods at the top of the mountain and runs back down with the torch in his hand. However, the further and longer he runs the dimmer the torchlight gets and the more tired and shrunken he gets, until the end when he is a shrivelled, old-looking figure and the light has dimmed to almost an ember. Signifying once again man's Faustian belief in his own ability for knowledge and mastery, the implied message is that man shrinks and fails the further he gets from God, the mysteries of life and the universe, and perhaps humble sentimental human fellowship. Man cannot just rely on his intellect, and man by himself is insufficient.
Public service announcement: Consider what you're getting into when you say you're going to be able to produce a public-access subtitled version of a 2 hour 46 minute foreign-language film that is not yet subtitled in this capacity. I present to you "The Tragedy of Man," with English subs written by me (I also used my own discretion), free to view on Youtube:
If anyone wants to download any version of "The Tragedy of Man" from Youtube, try to get 480p from someone other than me. The above file is over 3GB had to be combined in windows movie maker from a sound file and a no-sound video file and took Youtube 10 hours to upload from my computer. I could have gone 360p but I had come this far in making the subtitles so I decided to go the whole hog and do 480p but for some reason I couldn't find a straightforward way to just download it 480p with both sound and visual. The srt. (subtitle) file I have produced can be used offline as well, by putting the text file in the same folder as your video and then giving it the same name as your video file and appending .srt on to the end of the text file name. So if your video file is called 'The Tragedy of Man', to use the subtitles in an offline media player like VLC you need to name your subtitles text file 'The Tragedy of Man.srt' and voila, you can get subtitles on a downloaded video on your computer.
If anyone wants a copy of the text file to use offline they can PM me.
Here are the other films mentioned in the above essay: