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PASOLINI
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"Where are you going, my youth?
Where, my life?"
(from Pasolini's Oedipus Rex)
 
 
QUO VADIS?
The Fate of Pier Paolo Pasolini
     

 

To this day the photos of the burnt, mangled corpse of Pier Paolo Pasolini lying on the beachside in Ostia, Italy are still among the most shocking images one could ever see. How could such a vivacious, multi-talented individual, who some have ranked among the greatest artists of this century, have met with such a gruesome end? The answers can be discerned only if one forgoes traditional conclusions (and the prejudice that usually accompanies them.) For it is the considered opinion of some that Pasolini simply met his fate. After all, this director - whose first film, Accattone, begins by proclaiming "IT'S JUDGEMENT DAY!" and whose last film, Salo - The 120 Days of Sodom, is perhaps the bleakest, most repugnant vision of humanity that anyone has ever committed to film - seemed to be on one continuous downward slide towards self-destruction.

"MEN SPEAK of deserved and undeserved fate, of reward and punishment, retribution and karma.

All these are only part-designations of a Law resting in Creation: The Law of Reciprocal Action!

A Law which lies in the entire Creation from its earliest beginning, which has been inseparably interwoven with the great, never-ceasing evolution as an essential part of creating itself, and of development. Like a gigantic system of the finest nerve-strands, it supports and animates the mighty Universe, and promotes continual movement, an eternal giving and taking!

Plainly and simply, and yet so aptly, Jesus Christ has already expressed it: "What a man sows that shall he reap!"

These few words render the picture of the activity and life in the entire Creation so excellently that it can hardly be expressed differently. The meaning of the words is inflexibly interwoven with life. Immovable, inviolable, incorruptible in its continual operation.

You can see it if you want to see! Begin by observing the surroundings now visible to you. What you call Laws of Nature are, of course, the Divine Laws, are the Creator's Will. You will quickly recognise how unswerving they are in constant activity; for if you sow wheat you will not reap rye, and if you scatter rye it cannot bring you rice!

This is so obvious to every man that he simply never reflects on the actual process. Therefore he does not become at all conscious of the strict and great Law resting in it. And yet here he faces the answer to a riddle, which need be no riddle to him.

Now the same Law which you are able to observe here takes effect with equal certainty and force also in the most delicate things, which you are only able to discern through magnifying glasses, and, going still further, in the ethereal part of the whole Creation, which is by far the larger part. It lies immutably in every happening, also in the most delicate development of your thoughts, which also still have a certain element of material substance.

How could you imagine that it should be different just where you would like to have it so? Your doubts are in reality nothing more than the expression of your inner wishes!

In all existence, visible and invisible to you, it is no different, but each kind produces its own kind, no matter what the substance. Just as continual are the growing and developing, the bearing of fruit and reproducing of the same kind. This process runs uniformly through everything, it makes no distinctions, leaves no gap, it does not stop at some other part of Creation, but carries the effects through like an unbreakable thread, without interruption or cessation.

Even though the greater part of mankind, in their limitation and conceit, have isolated themselves from the Universe, the Divine or Natural Laws have not ceased on that account to regard them as belonging to it, and to go on working without change, calmly and evenly.

But the Law of Reciprocal Action also stipulates that whatever a man sows, thus where he causes an effect or consequence, he must also reap!

Only at the beginning of every matter is man free to resolve, free to decide where the Omnipotent Power flowing through him is to be guided, in what direction. He must then bear the consequences arising from the Power that was set in motion in the direction willed by him. In spite of this, many persist in asserting that even so man has no free will if he is subject to fate!

This foolishness is only meant to serve as a narcotic, or to be a grudging submission to something inevitable, a discontented resignation, but mainly a self-excuse; for each of these consequences falling back on him had a beginning, and at this beginning the cause of the subsequent effect lay in a previous free decision by man.

This free decision has at some time or other preceded every reciprocal action, thus every fate! With a first volition man has each time produced or created something in which he himself has to live afterwards, sooner or later. When this will happen, however, varies greatly. It can still be in the same earth-life in which his first volition made the beginning for it, but it can equally well happen in the Ethereal World, when the gross material body has been laid aside, or later still in yet another gross material earth-life.

The variations are not important here, they do not free man from the consequences. He carries the connecting threads with him continually, until he is redeemed from them, that is to say, "detached" through the final effect that ensues through the Law of Reciprocal Action.

The one who forms is bound to his own work, even if he has intended it for others!..

How often does one hear otherwise very sensible people say: "It is incomprehensible to me that God should allow such a thing!"

But it is incomprehensible that men can speak thus! How small they imagine God to be with this remark. They prove thereby that they think of Him as an "arbitrarily acting God".

But God does not at all directly intervene in all these small and great cares of men, such as wars, misery and other earthly matters! From the very beginning He has woven into Creation His perfect Laws, which automatically carry out their incorruptible work so that all is accurately fulfilled, forever taking effect uniformly, thus preventing any preference as well as any prejudice, an injustice being impossible.

Hence God has no need to trouble Himself especially about this, His Work is without flaws.

But one of the principal mistakes so many people make is that they only judge according to gross matter, regarding themselves as the centre therein, and taking into consideration one earth-life, whereas in reality they already have several earth-lives behind them. These, as well as the intervening times in the Ethereal World, are equal to one uniform existence, through which the threads are tightly stretched without breaking, so that in the effects of a particular earthly existence only a small part of these threads therefore becomes visible.

Hence it is a great mistake to believe that at birth an absolutely new life begins, that a child is thus "innocent", and that all happenings can be accounted for in only the short life on earth. If this were true, then the existing justice would naturally require the combined causes, effects and reactions to occur during the span of one earth-life.

Turn away from this error. You will then soon discover in everything that happens the logic and justice which are now so often missed!" (Abd-ru-shin, "IN THE LIGHT OF TRUTH: THE GRAIL MESSAGE", chapter "Fate")

One would be hard pressed to find anyone, who had more of a profound reverence for the natural world around him than did Pasolini. No other director comes to mind, who so often pointed his camera upwards. Through cinema Pasolini sought to express his conviction that the sacred quality of life is to be found not in any religion, but in life itself, in its naturalness. "All is sacred," so used to say this self-professed atheist. When asked at a press conference in 1966 "Why do you deal with religious themes, you yourself being an unbeliever?", Pasolini replied: "If you know that I am an unbeliever, then you know me better than I do myself. I may be an unbeliever, but I am an unbeliever who has a nostalgia for a belief." No religion could express the depth of his feeling for the sacred naturalness of life - and so he prefered to renounce them all. His unique contribution to the TruthQuest is in taking the concept of holiness out of the religious context and placing it where it belongs: in everyday life. This perception of the natural sacredness of life enabled him to make such films as Accattone, Gospel According to Matthew, Hawks and Sparrows, Oedipus Rex and Medea. In them the sacred quality is poetically conveyed by the very naturalness of the cinematic language.

"ALL IS SACRED! ALL IS SACRED!"

(from Pasolini's Medea)

 

It is more than interesting to contemplate the fact that it fell to the lot of an "atheist" to make the best film on the life of Christ. This graphically shows us that what is decisive for a man's fate is not his outward designation of belief or disbelief, but his INNER state of being (his secret longing for something more than what this world has to offer.) Pasolini himself observed this phenomena, when he related how, during the shooting of the Gospel According to Matthew, he made a conscious decision to make this film "from the believer's point of view" and how later, upon viewing the film, he recognized, all of a sudden, that he actually made it "from my own point of view." It is this kind of self-honesty that distinguishes Pasolini from other filmmakers.

It is, therefore, with honest intentions (and not for the sake of sensationalism) that Pasolini took his search for the meaning of life into the territory of sex and violence. From this as well we can draw a valuable lesson for ourselves: one is free to take one's quest in any direction, but NOT without becoming subject to its consequences. The forces thus unleashed will come back to and overpower the spirit, who made the unwise choice and persisted in that choice. The returning reactions will then oppress and bind the spirit, making it more difficult for it to take its quest once more in an upward direction. The choice of direction is therefore critical for every seeker of Truth. The longer one chooses to seek in a downward direction of base instincts and/or trivialities, the weaker and more oppressed his spirit becomes. If one ignores this feeling of spiritual oppression and persists on this course, his spirit will eventually become so weak that he will be unable to exert his free will to get himself out of the mire (and may even no longer see any need to do so.) In essence, he will have enslaved his free will and wasted his spiritual strength by seeking for too long in the wrong places.

"The more conscious I was of 'the good and the beautiful,' the deeper I sank into the mud, and the more likely I was to remain mired in it. But what struck me was the feeling I had that, in my case, it wasn't accidental, that it was intended to be that way, as if that were my normal state rather than a sickness or depravity; so that finally I lost all desire to fight my depravity. In the end, I almost believed (perhaps I even did believe) that it actually was my normal state." (Dostoyevsky - Notes from the Underground)

This is, essentially, what happened to Pasolini; both his art and his life testify to that. Pasolini himself noticed something of this. Renouncing his Trilogy of Life, he commented that he used to feel that the young were beautiful and that their bodies were beautiful, but now he felt that they were ugly and that their bodies were also ugly.

Beauty belongs to the spirit alone. The body must serve as a tool for the spirit. If the body is elevated to an unnatural position of dominance over the spirit, then only distortions in perception, thinking and living can result. As long as Pasolini was seeking in an upward direction, trying to find through his cinema the connection with the Natural Holiness of All, he saw that everything, including the body, was beautiful and had a purpose. Once he abandoned the upward path, he became entangled in low propensities and obsessions and lost all connection with the naturalness and true meaning of life. His world and his films became ugly and sank into the abyss of darkness and despair. At the end of his film Teorema, Pasolini captures this state by showing an unclothed man running through a desolate landscape, screaming into the void.


"At times the man, shuddering at the alienation between the I and the world, comes to reflect that something is to be done. As when in the grave night-hour you lie, racked by waking dreams - bulwarks have fallen away and the abyss is screaming - and note amid your torment: there is still life, if only I got through to it - but how, how?..."  (from I and Thou by Martin Buber)
In order to successfully advance on our TruthQuest, there is no need to reveal the body - there is, however, every need to reveal the spirit within us. Let us take that as a lesson learned from Pasolini on our quest with us, and in doing so we will also be helping him in his struggle to return to true life.