02 January 2013

Nietzsche's favorite poet was Hölderlin, who wrote in "The Course of Life" how "in the labyrinths of death/ you can find a straight path" but "love/ Forces all of us under./ Pain's necessary curve/ Returns us to our beginnings," repeatedly suggesting the importance of the unknowable, as in "Greece" - "his face is beyond knowing,/ He suffuses the air with art,/ And space and time conceal/ The awesome one." Hölderlin's use of the word "night" in his own "Night Songs" some eighty years before Nietzsche's "often signifies that state of spiritual numbness which follows upon the death of the gods." In "The Poet's Vocation," he celebrates the arrival of Dionysus from India to be squandered by the poet ("Nor is it good to know much") until, as recited by Fritz Lang at 8:49 in this clip from Le Mépris:

LANG: (in German) "Fearless becomes the man who stands alone before God. His innocence protects him, so he needs neither weapons nor cunning, until God's absence helps him."
FRANCESCA: (translates into French for screenwriter ) "But man, when he must, may stand fearless, alone before God. His innocence will protect him. He needs neither weapons nor guile, until the absence of God comes to his aid."
LANG: Very good.
FRANCESCA: It's Hölderlin, isn't in Mr. Lang?
LANG: (In French) Yes. "The Poet's Vocation." The last verse is very strange. Hölderlin first wrote "...while God is not there."
FRANCESCA: So god is not missing.
LANG:  Yes, and then he wrote "...until God is near."
FRANCESCA: So God is near.
LANG: Yes. The final version of the line contradicts the other two.  It's no longer the presence of God but the absence of God that comforts man. It's strange but true.

Poseidon (Neptune) appears at 1:57 of the screening scene in which Lang suggests "It is man who has created the gods":

Poseidon antagonized Minos when Minos refused to sacrifice the white bull to him, casting a spell over Pasiphaë which made her fall in love with the bull and hire Daedelus to craft the cow costume, which thereafter made Daedelus more important when he had to build the labyrinth for Minos to enclose Pasiphaë's offspring, fated to the 'arm both sides' mentality of troubadour Bertran de Born, a precursor to defense contractors:

Poseidon also became very angry at Odysseus for blinding his son, forcing Odysseus to delay his return to Ithaca and Penelope, and Godard cuts again to the statue of Poseidon when the screenwriter and protagonist is separated from his wife at 3:14 of the next scene:

Alberto Moravia's novel Contempt, or A Ghost at Noon has the film directed by a hack German director, but Godard as a tribute to pre-war German cinema casts Lang "who plays himself, or in effect the conscience of the film, its honesty," about whom, before his line in the projection room ("the Hitlerians said revolver instead of checkbook"), the screenwriter notes "in '33, Goebbels asked Lang to lead the film industry, and he fled," to which the producer replies: "But this is not '33, this is '63, and he will direct whatever's written," cuing the screenwriter's directive to make Odysseus less heroic and more neurotic, including the producer's ideas that Penelope has been unfaithful and Odysseus vacillates over returning to her. One of Godard's favorite books is Vercors' 1942 story The Silence of the Sea, wherein a Francophile German officer is quartered in the house of a French family, which was a starting point for the story line of Notre Musique.  In the final shot, Lang is directing the film in Capri after the producer (mild spoiler) has taken leave of the project, with Godard, playing his assistant, hollering "Silence" before the sea, where Dante's Ulysses faced his death. Vercors: "Once more the silence fell. Once more, but this time how tense and thick! Underneath our silences of the past I had indeed felt the submarine life of hidden emotions, conflicting and contradictary desires and thoughts swimming away like the warring creatures of the sea under the calm surface of the water. But beneath this silence alas! there was nothing but a terrible sense of oppression."

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