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Jean-Luc Godard
and
the Search for a True Image
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    Jean-Luc Godard has constantly walked a tightrope between the depiction of his basest desires and the expression of an inner urging to seek a higher, more spiritual road. In this way his work embodies both the worst and the best tendencies in world cinema. Though his films ultimately seem to indicate a certain kinship with Jean-Paul Sartre's philosophy of the absurdity of human existence, there is something more to them. And every once in a while a little gem will sparkle forth to prove it, such as:
     
    "The image is a pure creation of the soul." (King Lear)
    "Who is it who can tell me who I am?" (King Lear)  
    Quotes like these would seem to indicate that this artist is still seeking on some level to understand why art (as well as the artist) really exists. Doubting, fearing, sensing impending doom, Godard lives in a fragmented world devoid of true understanding of the world around him, and his films accurately reflect this state of spiritual fragmentation and incompleteness. Indeed, it can be argued that Godard has yet to make a "film", and that he is actually continuously in the act of making a film and that his resultant films serve to document this ongoing process. He is, if anything, restless, edgy, perturbed, disturbed and uncertain, reflecting in his own way the words of the French philosopher Blaise Pascal, written over three centuries ago:
    "When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space I fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of space of which I am ignorant, and which knows me not, I am frightened, and am astonished at being here rather than there, why now rather than then."
     
    Every now and then Godard is indeed astonished at the world around him. There are sublime moments of genuine beauty and simplicity: a shot of clouds against the blue sky, the full moon, a flower, a fragment of Mozart's music or a snippet of dialogue - something approaching "a pure creation of the soul". Though, in all honesty, where is there in all of art an image that could be said to be an absolutely pure creation of the soul? And if there is indeed such an image present in our world, how could we, in our present state of spiritual malaise, ever recognize such an image for what it truly is?
    And who can forget Godard's impassioned televised response in 1966 to Robert Bresson's masterpiece "Au Hasard Balthazar". Not every artist has the ability to lay down his own ego in order to praise the work of a colleague. But Godard was a tireless supporter of Bresson's work, which, along with the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, epitomized the apex of spiritual cinema in the Twentieth Century, and has also publicly lauded Sergei Paradjanov's sublime "The Color of Pomegranates", Kiarostami's work and others. He even once created a collage of his favorite things for a 'Cashiers du Cinema' special issue and included in it a CD of the great spiritual conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler's legendary 1951 live performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony! This is surely evidence of a truly seeking individual, who knows great art when he sees it and doesn't hesitate to let others know about it. Indeed, it is clear that this man loves great Art with his whole being and this will undoubtedly help him in the World Judgment, where all that is false is shattered and all that is genuine is uplifted by the Power of the Light.
     
     
    "HAIL MARY"
     
    And it was no accident that this sensitive man was granted one indisputable masterpiece: the very controversial film "Hail Mary". Despite a plethora of nudity, it is a pure contemplation of the body as a sacred vessel for the spirit and has one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. The sincere commitment to the search for truth and beauty fills each frame with a special kind of longing that just a few films have ever attained to. This is why we have placed it in the #8 spot on our Cinemaseekers Honor Roll. That said, there is present in this film - despite the brilliant updating of the traditional story of the "virgin birth" of Jesus - the same egregious mistake that well-meaning Christians have been making for two-thousand years.

    "THE IMMACULATE conception is not only meant in a physical sense, but is more especially meant in a purely spiritual sense, like so much else in the Bible. Only he who recognises and perceives that the spiritual world really exists and is in vital activity can find the key to an understanding of the Bible; this alone will make the Word come to life! To all others it will always remain a book with seven seals!

    Every conception arising out of pure love and a heartfelt looking upwards to the Creator, in which the sensual instinct is only an adjunct and not the basis, is an immaculate conception in the physical sense.

    In reality this occurs so seldom that there was every justification for laying special stress upon it. The relegation of sensual instincts into the background was assured by the fact of the Annunciation, which for this reason is especially mentioned, because otherwise a link in the chain of natural happenings and strict co-operation with the spiritual world would be missing..."

    "...Now man must not think that because it had been promised that the Saviour should be born of a virgin that therein lies a contradiction!

    "The contradiction lies solely in the wrong interpretation of the word "virgin" mentioned in the prophecy. If this prophecy speaks of a virgin, it does not infer a limited conception of the word, much less the opinion of any State, but it can only be a question of a broad conception concerning all mankind!

    "Putting aside all thought of procreation, those who take a limited view of the word should note the fact that pregnancy and birth of themselves exclude virginity in its ordinary sense! The prophecy, however, does not mean such things! It meant that Christ would definitely be born as the first child of a virgin, that is, of a woman who had never been a mother. In such a case all the organs that have to do with the development of the human body are virginal, that is, they have never before come into activity in this way, meaning that no child has issued from this womb. The organs of the mother's body must be virginal in the case of every first-born child. Only in this sense could such a far-reaching prophecy be understood, because every prophecy can only be fulfilled within the strict logic of the active Laws of Creation and is so made on the basis of such reliable foresight.

    "Thus in this prophecy 'the first child' is meant, and therefore a distinction has been made between virgin and mother! Any other distinction is out of the question because the conceptions of virgin and married woman have merely arisen out of the purely civil or social institution of marriage, which are in no case meant by such a prophecy!

    "The very perfection of Creation as the Work of God makes the act of procreation absolutely necessary, because the All-Wisdom of the Creator has ordered all things in Creation from the Primordial beginning so that there should be nothing too much or superfluous! He who thinks otherwise must also hold that the Work of the Creator is imperfect! It is the same with the person who affirms that the birth of Christ occurred without there first being a normal procreation, as is prescribed by the Creator for all mankind. A normal procreation through a human being of flesh and blood must have taken place! Even in this case!

    "Every man who truly understands this praises his Lord and Creator more than he who wants to permit other possibilities! The former shows such unshaken faith in the Perfection of his God as to be convinced that any exception or change in the Laws He has ordained is absolutely impossible. And that is the greater faith! Besides, all the other events entirely agree with this! Christ became a human being on earth. It having been thus resolved, as the Perfection of God ordained, He was obliged to submit to all the Laws God had decreed for physical procreation!

    "If it should be objected that 'with God nothing is impossible', such a concealed explanation brings no satisfaction, for again another and quite different meaning lies in these words than that which so many people imagine in their indolence. In order to refute the wording of this sentence as commonly understood, it need only be said that imperfection, want of logic, injustice, arbitrariness and many other things are impossible with God!

    "It could further be argued that if in this sense nothing is impossible with God, He could just as easily with a single act of His Will have made every man on earth a believer! Then He need not have permitted His Son to become man and exposed Him to earthly hardships and death on the cross! He would have been spared that stupendous sacrifice!

    "That things happened as they did shows the inflexible nature of the Divine Laws which have been active in Creation from the very beginning, and the perfection of which makes a forced intervention for the purpose of changing them in one way or another quite impossible.

    "The blind and contentious opponent could now stubbornly assert that the way it happened was according to God's Will. That is quite right, but in no way a counter-proof! On the contrary it merely confirms the previous reasoning, provided one drops the more naive interpretation and follows the deeper explanation necessarily demanded by all utterances of a spiritual nature.

    "It was the Will of God! However, that has nothing in common with arbitrariness! On the contrary, it means nothing less than the confirmation of the laws God placed in Creation and which bear His Will; it means absolute obedience to them, allowing of no exception or circumvention whatever! It is just in the necessity for compliance that the Will of God reveals and manifests itself! Otherwise Jesus need not have been born of a woman on earth, but could quite simply have made a sudden appearance!

    "In order to fulfil His mission Christ had therefore inevitably to submit to all the Natural Laws, that is, to the Will of His Father. That Christ did so is proved by His whole life - His normal birth and growth, His feeling both of hunger and fatigue, His suffering and finally His death on the cross. He was subject to everything to which man's earthly body is subject. Why then should His procreation alone have been different, when there was absolutely no necessity for it? It is just because of the naturalness of everything that the Saviour's task appears even greater, by no means smaller! Likewise Mary was no less blessed in her high calling on that account!" (Abd-ru-shin, "IN THE LIGHT OF TRUTH: THE GRAIL MESSAGE", chapter "The Immaculate Conception and the Birth of the Son of God" - Read the entire chapter.)
     
    THE IMAGE
     
     
    In Wim Wenders' film, Tokyo-Ga, the German director Werner Herzog makes the statement: "There are no more images!" But does not the image need an eye to behold it? A more accurate statement might have been, "There are no more eyes left to perceive sublime images!" Why is it that we never hold ourselves accountable for anything? Just because we can not see something, that does not mean that something isn't really there. Even when it comes to our "ordinary" reality, this has been proven again and again with advances in exploration and technology. So, it is simply logical to say, if we wish to see new and pure images, we must become new and pure ourselves.
    A film like Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi (Life Out of Balance), certainly shows us our self-destructive world in a completely fresh and truthful way. Here the director wanted to see the world from a higher perspective and was granted the eyesight to do so. But how many people who have watched this masterpiece actually have the same "eyesight" as the director, so that they could honestly see a reflection of themselves in the film? There are literally thousands of helpful images in this one film, but even these images have gone beyond mankind's capacity to see. If we can't even bear looking at ourselves honestly anymore, how can we possibly see an image, which is a "pure creation of the soul"? Obviously, there is a monstrous gulf that has formed in ourselves between the wordly and the spiritual.

    THE LOSS OF BEAUTY
     
    As a whole, humanity has lost its sight, as well as its instinct and desire for the truly pure and beautiful. The movie camera now sends us images that are only superficially beautiful. An image that is spiritual will lead the viewer spiritually upwards. Such a pure image would be marked by utter refinement, grace, dignity, longing, wonderment and joy. In this regard, the depiction of the nudity of women or men can never pass for true beauty in art, can never be a "pure creation of the soul". No matter how perfect the body of the model/actress/actor may be or how skilled the artist/director, the image will always lack the necessary spiritual qualities of modesty and shame. Godard, like the Pre-Raphaelites (and most great artists), liberally uses female nudity, finding in it an unsurpassed harmony with nature. This, however, could not be further from the truth, because women have long since stopped functioning in harmony with nature! Nature is pure and true unto itself and its Creator. A dignified human being, who is knowledgeable about the spiritual responsibilities, would never in a million years denigrate the sacredness of Creation by exposing their bodies for all to see, nor would they allow themselves to be exploited as such for any reason whatsoever. This is a very nasty intellectual trap that humanity as a whole is falling into deeper and deeper by the second. In today's world, if someone does not disrobe, they are regarded as unnatural. What could be greater evidence of our spiritual blindness, indeed, deadness?!  

    "The body, like the soul, must be regarded as something precious and therefore untouchable, something that should not be exhibited in order to entice! Thus in this particular respect also the body on earth is inseparable from the soul. Like the soul it must be equally respected and preserved as something inviolable, if it is to have any value at all! Otherwise it will become rubbish with which one soils oneself, deserving nothing better than to be thrown into a corner and picked up cheaply by the first passing hawker.

    If today an army of such hawkers and second-hand dealers came swarming over the earth they would discover untold quantities of this rubbish. At every step they would find new heaps waiting to be added to their collection. And truly such hawkers and second-hand dealers are already wandering about in great numbers. They are envoys and tools of darkness, who greedily seize their cheap booty to drag it triumphantly down further and further into their dark realm, till they are all swallowed up in blackness and can never find their way back to the Light." (Abd-ru-shin, "IN THE LIGHT OF TRUTH: THE GRAIL MESSAGE", chapter "Marriage" - Read the entire chapter.)

    In fact, a properly functioning human being would simply inform the misguided artist that true beauty radiates from the spirit and that the spirit knows only how to be pure. A woman seen in public in scant clothing or in a movie with no clothing inflicts spiritual harm onto herself and onto every man, who is striving to ennoble himself. The beauty inherent in modest dressing cannot be underestimated! Sergei Paradjanov may be the only director who properly intuited this (especially in his last 2 films). If the artist/director could only learn something of the true nature of womanhood, they would immediately embark on a different course - one that would support and advance them instead of constantly setting them back. And in the process, they just may discover that elusive image, which is a pure creation of the soul.

     

     
     
     
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