Like A Dialating Cervix

April said...

I think you are too caught up in the whole masculine/modernist romance-of-the-death-throes thing to see what’s really going on here. The only point where you really seem to get it is when you talk about the birthing scene. You said, “the festering corner of a bedroom somehow gives birth to W.K., regurgitating him onto the floor in peristaltic spasms, where he thrashes and screams.”

If this DVD is about anything, it is about birthing pains and the celebration of life and music.

Look at the very beginning. We (the viewers) move closer to the title and are ushered into the film through the vaginal ‘O’ of _WHO KNOWS?_

The tired, patient voice of the narrator fades in and out like the voice of a parent or doctor when one is sleepy. It doesn’t really matter what is said; the smooth monotone gives your eyelids a heavy feeling and makes one feel warm and safe. We are being reassured that what we are about to see has already happened. And when the images become frightening, this voice guides us through.

And it is disturbing in parts. Yet, this is to be expected when encountering images of men giving birth. Take, for example, the classic novel _Frankenstein_ which problematises the idea of man’s ability to create. The intense isolation of Doctor Frankenstein is mirrored by Andrew who is seen alone in his clinically white clothes which seem to have been dirtied from his efforts. The jerky movements of the monster are reflected in the scenes where Andrew climbs the stairs and wanders down a hall. Are we supposed to be scared of the creation? Are we supposed to be feel sorry for the one who is trying to usher in a new life? Is Andrew both Frankenstein and the monster? The mix of feelings created by these dissonant interludes are the same produced by Shelley’s classic work.

Entertain the idea for just moment that Andrew is a surrogate parent. In countless interviews, he has talked about “the music” and denied ownership. He does not seem himself as the author, just the vessel of gestation. The inherent discomfort of birthing is most easily seen in Andrew’s protracted screams where his mouth opens over-wide like a dilating cervix which will inevitably release the creation.

The sound of the train in the finale indicates (not as you assume, departure) but arrival. The creation has come. This is clear from an earlier point in the film where there are a few frames of what looks like a shinkansen arriving at a platform. Clearly, read in this context, the phrase “We love you, goodbye” is that of a surrogate family (Andrew and the band) letting go of that which has been born and giving it away.

The key answer that everyone wants is missing. Who are the parents? Where is this all coming from? Wherein lies the moment of conception? One might immediately answer, “the piano - of course.” But, no - the womb imagery is too strong. Already we are too late. Take a close look at the curled foetal position of the pianist and note the glowing warmth of the light and the red haze the envelops the image. The hands seem attached umbilically attached to the dark placental piano.

We have extensive genealogy from Andrew on the DVD and the insert gives us information about the background of Andrew himself but in reality it explains nothing. The music is alien from all these facts and figures if Andrew is just a surrogate. The history is meaningless. But do we really need to know the origins of this music?

In the insert to the DVD, N.S. suggests that we (the fans) are the family for what has been given birth to in this movie. I say then, it is our responsibility to foster it, nourish it, and support it no matter what it turns out to be like. We must love the music unconditionally.

L.M. said...

An interesting, if somewhat gyno-centric reading of the DVD. Still, you do make a compelling argument, and I see that perhaps my reading of the film is influenced too heavily by my own feelings of bereavement. While my writing may make it appear as though I am unmoved by the passing of the "Your Friend" persona, nothing could be further from the truth. And as much as I applaud the counter-hegemonic value of creating and destroying such an image I must admit that like many of us, I had invested certain feelings in the character, and as such, have mixed feelings at it's departure.

It is much the same feeling of low-level depression one might feel at the end of a favourite television show. For five or six years you have followed the adventures of a character, you have seen them change and grow, face trials and tribulations, and perhaps feel that you have developed some relationship with them over that time. Of course you understand that this is all in your head, and that were the actor playing that character to meet you in the flesh, they would not recognise you, nor feel any kinship with you, nonetheless, the feelings you have cannot be denied. Ridiculous though it may be, perhaps you even cry during the final episode, understanding that this narrative you have followed so ardently is now over, and that you now carry the responsibilty for sustaining the world it created inside yourself. It is likely too, that you will feel some resentment toward the actor who played the role so well for you, and may be unwilling to see them in another role, or acknowledge their right to change and grow as an artist. Gradually though, the sense of loss will fade, and you will look back only with fondness at the times you shared in the company of those characters and the world they created.

And so, for many of us, the passing of the "Your Friend" persona is greeted with a confusion of feelings. And despite my interest and excitement about what the next stage will bring, I feel the loss of that warm-hearted big-brother figure as keenly as the next man