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Posts Tagged ‘collective memory’

Visu the Woodsman and the Old Priest

 

Many years ago there lived on the then barren plain of Suruga a woodsman by the name of Visu. He was a giant in stature, and lived in a hut with his wife and children.

One day Visu received a visit from an old priest, who said to him: “Honorable woodsman, I am afraid you never pray.”

Visu replied: “If you had a wife and a large family to keep, you would never have time to pray.”

This remark made the priest angry, and the old man gave the woodcutter a vivid description of the horror of being reborn as a toad, or a mouse, or an insect for millions of years. Such lurid details were not to Visu’s liking, and he accordingly promised the priest that in future he would pray.

“Work and pray,” said the priest as he took his departure.

Unfortunately Visu did nothing but pray. He prayed all day long and refused to do any work, so that his rice crops withered and his wife and family starved. Visu’s wife, who had hitherto never said a harsh or bitter word to her husband, now became extremely angry, and, pointing to the poor thin bodies of her children, she exclaimed: “Rise, Visu, take up your ax and do something more helpful to us all than the mere mumbling of prayers!”

Visu was so utterly amazed at what his wife had said that it was some time before he could think of a fitting reply. When he did so his words came hot and strong to the ears of his poor, much-wronged wife.

“Woman,” said he, “the Gods come first. You are an impertinent creature to speak to me so, and I will have nothing more to do with you!” Visu snatched up his ax and, without looking round to say farewell, he left the hut, strode out of the wood, and climbed up Fujiyama, where a mist hid him from sight.

When Visu had seated himself upon the mountain he heard a soft rustling sound, and immediately afterward saw a fox dart into a thicket. Now Visu deemed it extremely lucky to see a fox, and, forgetting his prayers, he sprang up, and ran hither and thither in the hope of again finding this sharp-nosed little creature.

He was about to give up the chase when, coming to an open space in a wood, he saw two ladies sitting down by a brook playing go. The woodsman was so completely fascinated that he could do nothing but sit down and watch them. There was no sound except the soft click of pieces on the board and the song of the running brook. The ladies took no notice of Visu, for they seemed to be playing a strange game that had no end, a game that entirely absorbed their attention. Visu could not keep his eyes off these fair women. He watched their long black hair and the little quick hands that shot out now and again from their big silk sleeves in order to move the pieces.

After he had been sitting there for three hundred years, though to him it was but a summer’s afternoon, he saw that one of the players had made a false move. “Wrong, most lovely lady!” he exclaimed excitedly. In a moment these women turned into foxes and ran away.

When Visu attempted to pursue them he found to his horror that his limbs were terribly stiff, that his hair was very long, and that his beard touched the ground. He discovered, moreover, that the handle of his ax, though made of the hardest wood, had crumbled away into a little heap of dust.

After many painful efforts Visu was able to stand on his feet and proceed very slowly toward his little home. When he reached the spot he was surprised to see no hut, and, perceiving a very old woman, he said: “Good lady, I am amazed to find that my little home has disappeared. I went away this afternoon, and now in the evening it has vanished!”

The old woman, who believed that a madman was addressing her, inquired his name. When she was told, she exclaimed: “Bah! You must indeed be mad! Visu lived three hundred years ago! He went away one day, and he never came back again.”

“Three hundred years!” murmured Visu. “It cannot be possible. Where are my dear wife and children?”

“Buried!” hissed the old woman, “and, if what you say is true, you children’s children too. The Gods have prolonged your miserable life in punishment for having neglected your wife and little children.”

Big tears ran down Visu’s withered cheeks as he said in a husky voice: “I have lost my manhood. I have prayed when my dear ones starved and needed the labor of my once strong hands. Old woman, remember my last words: “If you pray, work too!”

We do not know how long the poor but repentant Visu lived after he returned from his strange adventures. His white spirit is still said to haunt Fujiyama when the moon shines brightly.

This story reminds us of Washington Irving’s Rp Van Winkle. What conclusion can we draw from this? There is nothing new under the sun, is it not?  Stories from other lands travel freely like pollens in the air.  Some are sensitive to them and some are not. Creative spirits are such free spirits to spin a yarn out of what impresses upon them and sign it as theirs. Who shall be affected by the idea out of air and make a story is chance. Washington Irving clothed  his memorable tale with the praxis and modes prevailing of his time. In earlier posts I had discussed it as Cosmic Mind. For example  the story of Cain and Abel circulates down through ages. Presto! one rehashes this murder to mean  as ‘Jihad’ . Cain killed his own brother is it not?  Some clerics who have nothing else to do give it a cock and bull  story treatment. There are those who insist on literal interpreting such ideas passed through several hands so much so that the coin they tender is of no value. When they teach from pulpit there are fools who imagine they have divine sanction in slaughtering infidels. Some criminals who have not ever thought of doing a day’s labour carry it out using some others as suicide bombers. They are touted as martyrs. It is all play of words. Only that rest of the world catches fire. We see it happening in our times.

 

 

 

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Man’s needs, say for a specific example his social needs have configured his anatomy accordingly. No one will dispute the fact he as a social animal requires speech in order to communicate. Apes also are gregarious and live in social groups and speak in a manner of speaking but speech of man is altogether of another league.
His speech owes to the larynx or voice box, that sits lower in the throat than in chimps, one of several features that enable human speech. Human ancestors evolved this roughly 350,000 years ago. We also possess a descended hyoid bone — this horseshoe-shaped bone below the tongue, unique in that it is not attached to any other bones in the body, allows us to articulate words when speaking. Add to this the use of hands where we can bring our thumbs all the way across the hand to our ring and little fingers. We can also flex the ring and little fingers toward the base of our thumb. This gives us a powerful grip and exceptional dexterity to hold and manipulate tools with. Thus man although he bears many similarities to other species have cut the bridges behind him so to speak. Research has shown that monkeys that live in larger groups grow bigger brains. If man did learn to speak at first with signs or clicking his teeth he went further to perfect speech. Here also modulated speech served him well to give different shades of meaning to his thought. Wisdom and power in the case of man was put to a specific purpose.

By inventing writing around 3100 BC he added his skills to strike a different path from other species. Writing led to other skills art and literature,- each step keeping his progress so unique, and reversal would never mean going back to the state where he began. Life experience of one has become common for all. His personal experience has become part of collective memory of his species.
Experience and his social back up are the two pinions that keep the species survivors. Miracles and ability to move through other dimensions are as trivial as a conjurer’s tricks. It does not add to the common experience.
ii
No man lives for himself and his pioneering work adds to the common fount. Have you thought the invention of wheels by a nameless inventor is even now crucial to human advancement? Invention of movable printing freed man’s thought from the Church of Rome’s stranglehold. Man’s progress is fuelled by unrestricted exercise in setting goals for individual advancement and in meeting them experience has added to the whole.
We as humans traded off working with many dimensions in order to get our image of the physical universe in focus. Our body thus is made to prioritize our goals since we are mortals and bequeath our gains to our children. Our genetic push is not only in terms of hereditary traits but also our civilization. Is it not better to live focused and be vital in one’s short life than live useless playboy style of living for some 200 years, and competing with our children for livelihood and place in the sun? Nature also indicates this point according to Malthusian theory on Population and Resources. Under threat of limited resources wars, plagues and calamities Nature clears off the old, useless and the weak. The idea is that the young and strong stand better chance of passing on the gains forward.
In such trade off what we call as miracle is against natural laws. Every day Prophet Muhammed did not ride up his winged horse to commune with the Angel Gabriel. Nor did Jesus of Nazareth make five fishes and loaves multiply to go around. This being the case a man being able to enter another dimension or distort time holds for the world no practical value or merit. Nowadays the Church of Rome needs to propose a name for sainthood more often and ascribe miracles to the candidate, which seems more an exercise to distract the world from looking at the all pervasive sex abuse and corruption that goes under the Holy See.
benny

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Jeux interdits in French is a film by René Clément and based on François Boyer’s novel of the same name.
Let me sketch out the opening scene:

During the Nazi invasion of France in 1940 the road out of Paris is clogged with those escaping the city. They are strafed by Nazi fighter planes. Among the panic stricken crowds we meet a 5-year-old girl named Paulette, with her parents. Paulette’s little dog runs onto a bridge. She chases it, and her parents desperately run after her. Bullets kill both parents and fatally wound the dog. Paulette, lying on the ground next to her mother, reaches out a hand to touch the dead cheek, and then touches her own cheek.
Is this a simple war movie? Of course not. In that very unconscious act of a child we note the slow contagion of man’s violence has visited on her, and she speaks for all who have been thus tainted; surely as night follows day every act, good or bad is carried on by our next generation. She may not rationalize death of her mother but connect that mother’s cold cheek to her own to give it a place as it were. This is a powerful movie and it is also  an indictment of the world of elders who lay down the rules and add their litte riders to justify their breaking them. They shall speak of ‘Peace with honour or peace that passeth all understanding’ and at the same time wage war to bring their own brand of democracy to some country that holds no borders with them or has nothing by way of culture or religion in common.
A child cannot reason so must invent other means to cope as a hungry child will bawl till it is fed. Forbidden Games is that twilight zone, a  territory the child must create for the sins of its parents whose ways are far beyond its ken. A child who takes his father’s pistol from home to school plays a game and it is a forbidden game. Is it forbidden? No, not if we look at the way NRA defends the right to bear arms. Coming back to the film, the traumatized orphan child is taken in by a peasant family and thus Paulette meets ten-year-old Michel Dollé (Georges Poujouly) She quickly becomes attached to Michel as her big brother and the two attempt to cope with the death and destruction that surrounds them by secretly building a small cemetery where they bury her dog and then start to bury other animals, stealing crosses from the local graveyard. “Paulette has never really dealt with the deaths of her parents. She acknowledges that they are gone, but they are gone in theory, not practice; that they are truly dead forever seems to elude her. Yet she becomes fascinated with death, and Michel joins her in burying a mole that was captured by an owl. Soon they are burying every dead thing they can find, even worms, even broken plates. At one point, while they are lying side by side on the floor doing his homework, he stabs a cockroach with his pen. “Don’t kill him! Don’t kill him!” she cries, and he says, “I didn’t. It was a bomb that killed him.”(quoted from Roger Ebert,- Dec18,2005)
Film critic Leonard Maltin has said: “Jeux interdits is almost unquestionably the most compelling and intensely poignant drama featuring young children ever filmed.”
‘Catch them young’ so says the old saw. Naturally the cemetery of Paulette and Michel grows larger as we in adult world enlarge the extent of war memorials all across the globe. Didn’t we learn that from the shadow of two world wars? The two also learn the importance of symbols in a curious way. A grave is no good  without a cross they know from their very limited experience. So they begin to steal crucifixes to put above the graves. This entails a subplot involving a feud between the Dolles and their neighbors, the Gouards, who accuse each other of stealing crucifixes. There is also a scuffle between two in the cemetery and falling into a grave. All the while the secret cemetery in the old mill grows more elaborate.
The film was initially turned down by Cannes, then accepted after a scandal. It was turned down by Venice because it had played at Cannes, but accepted after another uproar, and won the Golden Lion as best film, with a best actress award for Fossey.
The film has a scintillating musical score, composed and performed by legendary Spanish classical guitarist Narciso Yepes.
“Forbidden Games” was attacked and praised by adults showing  children inventing happiness where none should exist. Film critic Roger Ebert cites the Japanese animated film “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988) as another rare film that dared to tackle this theme.
Cast

* Georges Poujouly – Michel Dollé
* Brigitte Fossey – Paulette
* Amédée – Francis Gouard
* Laurence Badie – Berthe Dollé
* Suzanne Courtal – Madame Dollé
* Lucien Hubert – Dollé
* Jacques Marin – Georges Dollé
* Pierre Merovée – Raymond Dollé
* Louis Saintève – Le prêtre

Awards

* Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, 1952
* Venice Film Festival Golden Lion award for best picture, 1952
* New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Foregin Language Film, 1952
* BAFTA Award for Best Film, 1953
Directed by     René Clément
Produced by     Robert Dorfmann
Written by     Jean Aurenche
Pierre Bost
François Boyer
Music by     Narciso Yepes
Cinematography     Robert Juillard
Running time     102 min.
Language     French
(ack: Wikipedia)
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The Spirit of the Beehive  (1973, Victor Erice)
Au Revoir Les Enfants  (1987, Louis Malle)
La Fracture du Myocarde  (1990, Jacques Fansten)
Europa, Europa  (1991, Agnieszka Holland)
Hope and Glory  (1987, John Boorman)
Strayed  (2003, André Téchiné)
Father of a Soldier  (1965, Revaz Chkheidze)
Ezra  (2007, Newton I. Aduaka)
Cria Cuervos  (1975, Carlos Saura)
Empire of the Sun  (1987, Steven Spielberg)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Is Paris Burning?  (1966, René Clément)
Les Maudits  (1947, René Clément)
Gervaise  (1956, René Clément)
The Day and the Hour  (1963, René Clément)
La Bataille Du Rail  (1945, René Clément)
Monsieur Ripois  (1954, René Clément)
Barrage Contre le Pacifique  (1957, René Clément)
Au-Dela Des Grilles  (1948, René Clément)
Other Related Movies
is related to:      Fanny & Alexander  (1982, Ingmar Bergman)
(allmovie)
Trivia:
#  In a television interview (“Vivement Dimanche Prochain”, France 2, 17 April 2005) Brigitte Fossey, who played the little Paulette, revealed that the film had originally been shot as a short, and then it was later decided to extend it into a feature film. Unfortunately she had lost her milk teeth and Georges Poujouly (who plays the boy Michel) had had his hair cut to play in Nous sommes tous des assassins (1952). So, in many scenes of the movie Paulette has false teeth and Michel is wearing a wig.

# Brigitte Fossey’s first film.
(ack:allmovie,wikipedia,imdb)

for films check out the author at cinebuff.wordpress.com
compiler:benny

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