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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Reading Elise Through Gradiva In Hades: Orpheus and Eurydice

Spencer Tunick Installation in Montreal (Montreal 1)
I have changed the photo into black and white as that is the way Eric Packer sees it in his mind when he closes his eyes.  Like an old timey noir film.

Reading through Gradiva and the last meeting between Zoe-Gradiva and Norbert Hanold which takes place at the Villa of Diomede:

A real Hades:
....a very extensive building and concealed within itself a part of the history of the destruction of Pompeii not invented by imagination. A confusion of extensive ruins formed the upper part; below lay an unusually large sunken garden surrounded by a well preserved portico of pillars with scanty remnants of a fountain and a small temple i the middle; and farther along two stairways led down to a circular cellar-vault, lighted only dimly by gloomy twilight. The ashes of Vesuvius had penetrated into this also and the skeletons of eighteen women and children had been found here;...and the deceptive refuge had become the tomb of all.

.....the place of refuge best suited to his newest mental needs. These longed most insistently for gravelike loneliness, breathless silence, .....so he had been wandering around through the portico since his entrance; 

Still feeling mad and disoriented concerning Zoe-Gradiva he notices it is growing darker and darker around him. And sees high up on a stone ruin, Gradiva. About to run...he involuntarily gave up the attempt to get away, stood there, helpless, and looked at the two feet, which now, as if somewhat impatient, were swinging back and forth; 

Zoe-Gradiva then tells him it is she, his neighbor and former childhood playmate. she tells him she found him intolerable when he developed his passion for archeology and his indifference to her.

"...But that your head harbored an imagination so magnificent as here in Pompeii to consider me something excavated and restored to life__I had not surmised that of you...and, in spite of its madness, it was not entirely displeasing to me. For, as I said, I had not expected it of you."

He then goes into a long description of what she is wearing, the folds, the material, the cashmere scarf, her extraordinary appearance. And then says,

"Yes, now I recognize_no, you have not changed at all_it is you, Zoe_my good, happy, clever comrade_it is most strange_" 

"That a person must die to become alive again; but for archeologists that is of course necessary."

Then he discusses the etymology of her name which has the same meaning as Gradiva signifying the one splendid in walking.

And then she tells him how they are going to convince her father of their betrothal. so all ends in marriage, family and a normal life.
The last scene with Eric Packer and Elise begins in the dark among naked bodies piled up for a film shoot.

He felt the presence of the bodies, all of them, the body breath, the heat and running blood, people unlike each other who were now alike, amassed, heaped in a way, alive and dead together. .....but the experience was a strong one, so total and open he could barely think outside it...

"Hello," someone said.

It was the person nearest him, a woman lying facedown, an arm extended, palm turned up.

"Are we supposed to be dead?"

"I don't know," he said.

Nobody told us. I'm frustrated by that."

"Be dead then.".....

"I assumed an awkward pose intentionally. Whatever has happened to us, I thought, probably happened without warning and I wanted to reflect that by individualizing my character. One entire arm is twisted painfully. But I wouldn't feel right if I changed position. Someone said that the financing had collapsed. Happened in seconds apparently. Money all gone.  This is the last scene they're shootig before they suspend indefinitely. So there's no excuse for self-indulgence, is there?"

Didn't Elise have sorrel hair?.....If this was Elise, wouldn't she react to the sound of her husband's voice? But then why would she? It was not an interesting thing to do.

"But I suspect we're not actually dead. Unless we're a cult," she said, "involved in a mass suicide, which I truly hope is not the case."

They call for stillness and silence ......he saw the clustered bodies as the camera did, coldly. Were they pretending to be naked or were they naked? It was no longer clear to him. They were many shades of skin color but he saw them in black-and-white and he didn't know why. Maybe a scene such as this needed somber monochrome.

It tore his mind apart trying to see them here and real, independent of the image on a screen in Oslo or Caracas. ...But why ask these questions? Why see these things?  They isolated him. They set him apart and this is not what he wanted. He wanted to be here among them, all-body, the tattoed, the hairy-assed, those who stank. ...He wanted to look around but did not open his eyes until a long moment passed and a man's soft voice called, "Cut."

He took one step and extended an arm behind him. He felt her hand in his. She followed him into the boarded off section of sidewalk, where he turned in the dark and kissed her, saying her name. She climbed his body and wrapped her legs around him and they made love there...

And here we have the resonance with Orpheus and with Eurydice being led out from Hades. And like Orpheus, Eric Packer turns to her in the dark kissing her.

....The instant he knew he loved her, she slipped down his body and out of his arms. ....She was the lone stroke of motion.....and she was cool and silvery slim and walking head high with technical precision...she would find her clothes, dress quickly and disappear. Into the dark, like Eurydice. (C 178)

John and Yoko

Disappearing all Elise's money into the void: Let it all come down. Let them see each other pure and lorn....Let them see each other clean, in killing light.(C 124)

If the film and the daydream are in more direct competition than the film and the dream, if they ceaselessly encroach upon each other, it is because they occur at a point of adaptation to reality – or at a point of regression, to look at it from the other direction – which is nearly the same; it is because they occur at the same moment: the dream belongs to childhood and the night; the film and the daydream are more adult and belong to the day, but not midday – to the evening, rather.[3]

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