Skip to content

Hugo Delire The Evil Within The Assignment

PALGRAVE STUDIES IN THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE HISTORY is a series devoted to the best of theatre/performance scholarship currently available, accessible, and free of jargon. It strives to include a wide range of topics, from the more traditional to those performance forms that in recent years have helped broaden the understanding of what theatre as a category might include (from variety forms as diverse as the circus and burlesque to street buskers, stage magic, and musical theatre, among many others). Although historical, critical, or analytical studies are of special interest, more theoretical projects, if not the dominant thrust of a study, but utilized as important underpinning or as a historiographical or analytical method of exploration, are also of interest. Textual studies of drama or other types of less traditional performance texts are also germane to the series if placed in their cultural, historical, social, or political and economic context. There is no geographical focus for this series, works of excellence of a diverse and international nature, including comparative studies, are sought. The editor of the series is Don B. Wilmeth (EMERITUS, Brown University), Ph.D., University of Illinois, who brings to the series over a dozen years as editor of a book series on American theatre and drama, in addition to his own extensive experience as an editor of books and journals. He is the author of several award-winning books and has received numerous career achievement awards, including one for sustained excellence in editing from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Also in the series: Undressed for Success by Brenda Foley Theatre, Performance, and the Historical Avant-garde by Günter Berghaus Theatre, Politics, and Markets in Fin-de-Siècle Paris by Sally Charnow Ghosts of Theatre and Cinema in the Brain by Mark Pizzato Moscow Theatres for Young People by Manon van de Water Absence and Memory in Colonial American Theatre by Odai Johnson Vaudeville Wars: How the Keith-Albee and Orpheum Circuits Controlled the Big-Time and Its Performers by Arthur Frank Wertheim Performance and Femininity in Eighteenth-Century German Women’s Writing by Wendy Arons Operatic China: Staging Chinese Identity across the Pacific by Daphne P. Lei Transatlantic Stage Stars in Vaudeville and Variety: Celebrity Turns by Leigh Woods Interrogating America through Theatre and Performance edited by William W. Demastes and Iris Smith Fischer Plays in American Periodicals, 1890–1918 by Susan Harris Smith Representation and Identity from Versailles to the Present: The Performing Subject by Alan Sikes Directors and the New Musical Drama: British and American Musical Theatre in the 1980s and 90s by Miranda Lundskaer-Nielsen

Beyond the Golden Door: Jewish-American Drama and Jewish-American Experience by Julius Novick American Puppet Modernism: Essays on the Material World in Performance by John Bell On the Uses of the Fantastic in Modern Theatre: Cocteau, Oedipus, and the Monster by Irene Eynat-Confino

On the Uses of the Fantastic in Modern Theatre Cocteau, Oedipus, and the Monster

Irene Eynat-Confino

ON THE USES OF THE FANTASTIC IN MODERN THEATRE

Copyright © Irene Eynat-Confino, 2008. All rights reserved. First published in 2008 by PALGRAVE MACMILLAN® in the United States—a division of St. Martin’s Press LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010. Where this book is distributed in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, this is by Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited, registered in England, company number 785998, of Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS. Palgrave Macmillan is the global academic imprint of the above companies and has companies and representatives throughout the world. Palgrave® and Macmillan® are registered trademarks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and other countries. ISBN-13: 978–0–230–60821–4 ISBN-10: 0–230–60821–3 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available from the Library of Congress. A catalogue record of the book is available from the British Library. Design by Newgen Imaging Systems (P) Ltd., Chennai, India. First edition: December 2008 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Printed in the United States of America.

Contents Acknowledgments

vii

Introduction

1

1. The Infernal Machine

5

2.

The Sphinx

25

3.

Laius, Tiresias, and Jocasta

45

4.

Oedipus

57

5.

Dramatic Strategies and Stratagems

77

6.

Cocteau and His Monster

93

7.

Visibility, Invisibility, and the Fantastic

111

8.

Ethics, Alterity, and Designed Emotion

137

Notes

153

Selected Bibliography

177

Index

195

This page intentionally left blank

Acknowledgments

I

would like to express my gratitude to Don Wilmeth, the editor of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History, for his knowledgeable support in the publication of this book. I also wish to thank Farideh Koohi-Kamali, Kristy Lilas, and Brigitte Shull, at Palgrave, for their assiduous assistance in seeing the manuscript through its different stages. My thanks are due also to the Newgen team, for their attentive care in the production process of the book. Part of the research for this book was carried on while I was a Fellow at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina, and I would like to thank the Center and its librarians for their friendly and precious help. I also wish to thank the Département des Arts du Spectacle at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris for their prompt and willing assistance. Finally, I want to thank my husband, Michael Confino. Without his unfailing encouragement during all the years that I was working on this book, this book would not have been possible.

This page intentionally left blank

Introduction

A

t the origins of this inquiry lies a text, written for the theatre. Its narrative, which employs mythological figures of men, women, and gods, is supposed to be familiar. Yet it is not. Instead, it surprises by its detours and raises unsettling questions concerning its use of myth and fantastic elements, contemporary slang, and the theatre as a public cultural institution. This is why a different reading was required. The text is The Infernal Machine (La Machine Infernale), Jean Cocteau’s interpretation of the tale of Oedipus.1 That the hypnotic unease experienced when reading or listening to the chant of the Sphinx in Act II is the effect of its rhythmic structure, does not entirely explain the emotional response the chant elicits. To fully understand this response, one has to look where the chant comes from. Likewise, to understand the reason of the recurrent use of the monster, both as a trope and as an actant, one has to comprehend not only what a monster represents but also what a monster is, not only its semiotic value but also its phenomenological impact. The Sphinx is a visible monster and so is Anubis, while many others were still to be uncovered. The monster belongs to the realm of the fantastic, as do the Sphinx, Anubis, Laius’ ghost or Jocasta’s ghost. As a male who was briefly a female, so does Tiresias. Other monsters, metaphorical this time, would emerge in due course during my investigation. The recurrence of the monster was the clue to a hidden meaning, encoded in the fantastic, or so it seemed at first. For, as it will become clear, the monster was also the message. Form and contents were one. The next step in my investigation was the deciphering of the text. The monster, an emotionally powerful trope or being that evokes the realm of the fantastic, serves as the matrix of the play and embodies the theme of visibility, invisibility, and identity as no other. A composite and nonnormative creature, belonging and yet distinct from any known category of beings, its hidden disparities publicly uncovered and exhibited, the monster is the negation of binaries per se. The negation of binaries embodied by the monster is reflected on the dramatic, aesthetic, and ethical levels

2

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

in Cocteau’s play. Thus, Oedipus is at once a son and a husband; Jocasta a mother and wife; Tiresias a male and a female; the Sphinx a flesh and blood girl and a goddess, a ruin-come–to-life and Nemesis, a living human being, a dead monster, and an evanescent light in the sky. The tragic is mixed with the farcical, slang and clichés with poetic metaphors, realism with fantastic elements, and realism with expressionism. Taboos are deliberately broken, by Jocasta for instance. If, at first, Cocteau seems to keep and respect traditional binary notions, it is only to later deflate them. While his previous reworkings of Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos closely followed the Greek tragedy, only the last act of The Infernal Machine, Act IV, recalls it. The first three Acts of the play are of Cocteau’s invention and so are many of the characters in his play. Cocteau displays an irreverent use of myth and a cynical and ironic use of intertextuality, introduces cartoonish characters taken from contemporary gossip columns, and uses Parisian slang. The parallel between modern “consensus reality” and the mythical times invoked is easily inferred. The dialectical role of the monster is made evident by the blurring of the boundaries between the mythological past and the present, as between “real life” and the consensually fantastic realm—a blurring made visible by the change of settings on the stage. While Cocteau used the monster in his previous works, it is in The Infernal Machine that it reaches its most substantial expression and becomes a rhetorical weapon. The Sphinx is the dominant monster in The Infernal Machine, a shapeshifting monster, of indeterminate gender, and the possessor of a threatening sexuality. Each of its visible transformations is misleading and not one discloses its true identity: the Sphinx is none other than Nemesis, the Goddess of Revenge. By creating this character, Cocteau blurs the borders between the human and the nonhuman, the normal and the nonnormal, as between man and beast, man and monster, and the visible and the invisible. In this all-encompassing world, the borders between real life and the fantastic are in constant flux and so are the various masks that Nemesis will borrow. Beside the visibly defined monsters, the Sphinx and Anubis, there are metaphorical monsters, such as the aging Jocasta who, according to Cocteau, bears the burden of the incest, lusting as she is after younger and muscular males. Oedipus too is a monster, an invisible monster that will finally be brought to light. Young, conceited, and brash, he expects to find in the Sphinx (a monster of indeterminate gender) his double. And so he does, for, like the Sphinx, he is a scourge. When the Sphinx, under the guise of a young girl, suggests that he marry her to escape the oracle, he rejects her. His sexuality obscured, Oedipus will marry the older woman who lusts for him. A closer look at the nonmonsters among the

Introduction

3

characters will show that they have one thing in common: they are young and “innocent” and they lack sexual experience, while the monsters possess a nonnormative sexuality. The scope and significance of the monster for Cocteau are brought to light by the study of his earlier writings. In The White Paper, Cocteau had revealed his nonnormative sexuality and protested against the homophobes who regarded him as a monster. An anti-Freudian, he regarded sexuality as inborn, a mystery of the nature that had to be accepted as such. In his portrayal of Jocasta as the temptress and of Oedipus as the guilty person—for other reasons than those mentioned in the myth—Cocteau suggests that we are all monsters. Those who are not will yet be, because there is no “normative” sexuality; sexuality may be shape-shifting, regardless of one’s will. It is this nonconformist argument that is encoded by the fantastic in The Infernal Machine, embedded as it is in the monster both as a concrete being and as a figure of speech. Cocteau’s play was the end product of a long aesthetic and contemplative process, initiated by the prevalent interest in psychoanalysis and the Oedipus myth in France after World War I. Nonnormative sexuality, a component of one’s identity, has been more or less secretive till the 1970s. Threatened by homophobia, religious rules, cultural taboos, and legislation, it endured mainly beneath a mask and in encoded texts, while mainstream culture often turned it into ridicule, as gender and queer studies have shown. For Cocteau, in 1934, the embodiment of the complex theme of visibility, invisibility, and identity in one trope and one body, the monster, was the only way an artist could publicly portray an existential ordeal without being ostracized and yet hope for greater understanding and tolerance. Cocteau chose the theatre, a public institution, to convey not only his private truth and show that his truth was that of each one of us, but also to give it the imprint of collective legitimization that the theatre could provide. Cocteau’s stance denotes not only an interrogation of moral values, philosophical notions, or aesthetic standards but also a subversive act intended to establish, on the stage and in front of the audience, a more humane and humanistic ethical code. He did so by using the fantastic within a realistic discourse. The theme of visibility, invisibility, and identity is a recurrent one of the fantastic in general and the topic of numerous plays. Other playwrights, beside Cocteau, used the same rhetorical strategy—the fantastic within a realistic discourse—in their attempt to validate on a public stage subversive propositions, without risking censorship or social opprobrium. The fantastic is not only an exploration of the limits of knowledge by means of mythical characters and magical acts but also a critique of consensus reality.

4

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

The use of the fantastic mode in the arts is common practice today and “the monsters have moved from the margins to the center,” as William A. Senior has remarked.2 Regarded by its commentators as a transgressive reinscription, the fantastic mode finds a privileged site on the stage, where it reaches in full its emotional power sometimes in fantasy and most often within a realistic discourse. Fantasy, whether in literature or in theatre, like J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, is a genre built on the shared convention that the fictive narrative belongs to the realm of fantasy with rules of its own.3 In such a self-contained world, the supernatural is comprehended as an integral, ordinary part of it and hesitation has no place here. Conversely, the introduction of the fantastic into a realistic narrative—built on the assumption that it reproduces the everyday experiential world of the audience—disrupts and negates what is conventionally regarded as “the real.” Such a mode distorts the spectator’s sense of perspective, perverts his perception of space, time, and sound, and inflects his emotions and thinking long after the performance has ended. Unlike the study of the fantastic in film, the study of the fantastic in theatre has not yet been given the attention it deserves. The collection of essays edited by Patrick D. Murphy Staging the Impossible (1992) includes articles only on Yeats, Strindberg, Ionesco, Cocteau, and Leivick, while a mere handful of articles in this field of research have appeared till now in scholarly journals.4 The purpose of the present study is manifold: first, to uncover the role of the fantastic as an encoding system in the theatre; second, to throw a new light on Cocteau’s unheeded fight for sexual tolerance and for gay liberation; finally, by examining Cocteau’s play as an exemplar, to demonstrate and comprehend the import and scope of the workings of the fantastic in the theatre.

1. The Infernal Machine It is the custom to call the unusual accord of discordant elements a MONSTER: the Centaur, the Chimera are defined as such for those who do not understand. I call all original, inexhaustible beauty a monster. —Alfred Jarry, “Les Monstres” (The Monsters)1

O

ne figure, used by Cocteau throughout his The Infernal Machine, dismantles the binaries that order the play as a whole and informs his interpretation of the Oedipus myth: monster. The monster, whether as a synecdoche or a metaphor, does not appear in Cocteau’s two adaptations of Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos that precede The Infernal Machine. Nor is it found in Sophocles’ play, for the simple reason that the term “monster” as we understand it today first emerged during the Middle Ages.2 Instead of “monster,” the Sophoclean text employs the emotionally and ethically charged terms “impious” and “murderer” to describe the unsuspected author of parricide and incest, Oedipus. The libretto for Stravinsky’s oratorio Oedipus Rex (1925) was Cocteau’s first attempt to rewrite Sophocles’ play.3 Written in French and translated later to Latin by Jean Daniélou, the libretto follows closely the Greek text. In its final version, it brings in the monster as a trope only in the Chorus’ finale: CHORUS :

Look at King Oedipus, he comes out a putrid monster, the most putrid monster! 4

At once a portrayal and a condemnation, the trope “monster” encapsulates here both Oedipus’ now despicable achievement and his pitiful downfall. The monster does not appear in Cocteau’s play Oedipe-Roi. Adaptation libre d’après Sophocle (Oedipus the King. Freely adapted from Sophocles) (1928), which is a reworking of his earlier drafts for the oratorio.5

6

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

The title of Cocteau’s play La Machine Infernale written a few years later, in 1932, can be variously translated as The Time Bomb, The Explosion Device or The Infernal Machine. It is interesting to note that one of its earlier versions defines the play as a mystery play and bears the title La Machine Infernale (Vie d’Oedipe). Mystère en 4 actes, en prose [The Infernal Machine (Life of Oedipus). A mystery play in 4 acts, in prose].6 In its final version, the lengthy title was dropped and so was its definition as a mystery play. The play was accepted by Louis Jouvet for his theatre, to be first produced in 1934 and published the same year.7 To the English-speaking audiences, the play has come to be known as The Infernal Machine. Cocteau had for a long time played with the idea of writing a piece for the stage that would have Oedipus for its protagonist but would scoff at the classics. A dramatic poem in prose from 1926, written soon after the completion of the libretto for the oratorio, illustrates his intentions: Here is my theatre. They play Sophocles in a lion’s cage. Oedipus, with a lion’s head and a trainer’s costume, declares: “Salvator! Salvator!,” perched on a pile made of package boxes that contain statues and drawers full of mortal secrets. It is noon. On the right, below, a small fire exit leading to a street in Nice at seven o’clock. One sees there men, women, dogs, cyclists.

The poem is duly named “Le Théâtre de Jean Cocteau (The Theatre of Jean Cocteau).”8 Neither a king nor a king’s son, Oedipus is a hybrid creature, a trainer with a lion’s head, trapped in a lion’s cage and crying for help. He is at once a victim and a perpetrator, trapped in an impossible situation. After this short scene, the setting changes to a shipyard (Nice is a seashore town), where the Argonauts build their ship. They have Athena’s head instead of a helm; the head is made of wax, with hair made of gold. The head talks and introduces itself as the goddess who is “the key to the dreams, the sad column, the bust with the iron pince-nez.” A messenger suddenly enters: MESSENGER :

Citizens! Jocasta’s divine head is dead. Jocasta was reading in the living room, lying on the red couch. Suddenly her limbs fall apart, dropping down on the floor. She was shouting: “I am my uncle’s sister! His plaster head is there, atrocious, hung by the chandelier and linked to the carpet by a column of blood.”

To which the Chorus immediately responds: CHORUS :

What shall I say?

The Infernal Machine

7

A Greek chorus has usually a lot to say, but not this one. Athena’s next lines turn the scene into Grand Guignol, first by enumerating a too long series of disasters awaiting the sea voyagers and then by describing her costume, which is hidden from view. Hers is the unexpected campy costume of a femme fatale, such as the audience would see in a murky cabaret but not on the revered goddess. To disprove her calamitous predictions and show that she lies, Jason hurls a white hoop on Athena’s head, like a lasso. Weakened, Athena’s voice starts now to emit a series of numbers, four by four. Unmoved, Jason orders his steersman to “make a note of the numbers and take a bearing.”9 The goddess-as-helm has returned to her duties and functions now as a regular navigation tool, Jason will continue his journey, and the short piece ends. Irreverent, subversive, and mockingly anti-Freudian, the spirit of The Infernal Machine is already present in this rough draft. Jocasta is comparable to a dismantled puppet that fell into pieces when she tried to figure out the entangled kinship of her family. She dies while witnessing a fantastic phenomenon, that is, blood running from a plaster head. The goddess Athena, whose costume denotes a shady past, is no more than a navigation tool, and the mythical Jason acts like a regular cowboy. The red color that marks Jocasta’s couch will reappear in The Infernal Machine, in the settings and lighting of Act III, the “Wedding Night.” So will the contemporary street scene with its characters and sounds. However, in the play, the street scene will no more be perceived through a slit in the auditorium’s wall but will be enacted onstage as well, with present-day characters speaking present-day idiomatic French while still trying to disentangle kinship relations in the family.10 It is Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos that serves Cocteau to construct the finale to a series of genuinely invented dramatic sequences in The Infernal Machine. As expected, Cocteau’s play is neither a faithful illustration of the ancient mythological source nor an illustration of Freudian theories that were fashionable in France at the time the play was written.11 On the contrary, by subtly displacing and replacing the Sophoclean narrative, which had served Freud so well, Cocteau turns it into an undisputable support for his own iconoclastic argument. In addition, Cocteau expands the scope of the play by borrowing scenes and characters from other Western cultural icons, such as Shakespeare, Racine, or Wagner, as well as from various ancient mythologies. So, for example, the first scene in Act I echoes Hamlet’s first, and Jocasta’s dream during the wedding night is a parody of the dream scene in Racine’s Athalie. Mythological figures such as Siegfried—made famous for contemporary audiences by Wagner—are called in as witnesses. The Sphinx, left by Sophocles in the wings, now revels in the limelight with

8

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, at its side. Contemporary events, too, find their way into the texture of the play—such as Jocasta’s death, which echoes that of Isadora Duncan who died strangled by her scarf.12 Intertextuality is routine and serves Cocteau as a rhetorical weapon in his attempt to demolish current established notions. However, among all the intertextual references, it is ancient myth that is the most prominent. “The word ‘myth,’ which is one of the fetishes of contemporary youth, has proved the most potent of all in sending admirers back to Greek texts. Anthropology and psychoanalysis are the two goddesses worshipped by many who refuse to see nothing but literature in literature and must fill it with problems that they promptly proceed to solve with ingenuous ingeniousness.”13 More than fifty years have passed since Henri Peyre wrote these lines and myth is still with us, not as a fetish but as one of the apparently unquestionable foundations of civilization. Bernard Valette affirms that Cocteau’s use of myth stems not from a drive to actualize or modernize the “classic storehouse of our dreams and fantasies,” but from a deliberate refusal of the anecdotal and the commonplace in order to turn to other sources of knowledge.14 These sources of knowledge are in no way restrictive in their meaning. Far from reducing human experience to wellcut patterns and categories, they blur the borders between the empirical and the supernatural and thereby open limitless vistas for reflection, speculation, and imagination. As Eric Gould affirms, “myth is a structural network, a value system even, but not an absolute truth. . . . We identify in myth, not with specific characters. . . . Rather we link up with their circumstantial tact and compromising equations, with their aphoristic and vicarious solutions to human compromise. In myth we enter the therapeutic of sheer inventiveness.”15 Of the many myths that have shaped literature and drama in the twentieth century, none has been as powerful as the Oedipus myth, and many have variously explored this cultural phenomenon.16 No doubt, Oedipus’ transgressions—parricide and incest—have greatly appealed to the artists’ imagination and will do so as long as our civilization continues to condemn these acts and consider them as taboo. For Cocteau, myth offered a parallel narrative of human experience, worked and reworked on from immemorial times. Moreover, for Cocteau the many existing versions of a myth—its open-ended narrative—served as an exemplum that established, legitimized, and consecrated the unexplainable and the supernatural as integral elements of human experience. If at first glance The Infernal Machine may seem only a reworking of the Oedipus myth in the guise of Cocteau’s The Wedding on the Eiffel Tower (Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel) (1921) with its snapshot-like scenes, hilarious

The Infernal Machine

9

juxtapositions and bitter-sharp ironic witticisms, a closer look will dispel this notion. Considered today as Cocteau’s best play, The Infernal Machine is also regarded as one of the best French pieces for theatre of the twentieth century. Moreover, for the past two decades the play has been counted as one of the classic works in French drama. As such, it is included in the curriculum for high school diploma (baccalauréat) in France and has generated a cottage industry of critical studies designed to facilitate its study by the younger generation which discovers now a play that bears all the marks of today’s postmodernism.17 In addition, the play enjoys a long due celebrity all over the world and is frequently produced.18 An open text, Cocteau’s essential argument in The Infernal Machine has been overshadowed not only by the play’s brilliant theatricality and entertaining wit but also by the critics’ confident belief that it is an examination of the Oedipus myth in the light of Freud’s teachings. However, a closer look at The Infernal Machine will throw a new light on Cocteau’s stance. The first act of the play opens with a short Prologue spoken by an unseen narrator, “the Voice,” who will also introduce each of the next three acts.19 Cocteau had already used this narrative strategy in his oratorio Oedipus Rex, his play Oedipe-Roi, and his film The Blood of a Poet, as he would for the revival of his Antigone at the Théâtre de l’Atelier in 1927. In this production, instead of having a chorus and a coryphaeus, Cocteau opted for a single voice that, according to his stage directions, spoke loudly and quickly “as if it were reading a newspaper article. This voice came from behind a hole at the center of the backdrop.”20 Clearly, Cocteau recognized the powerful sensorial and emotional impact of an unseen voice and used it again in The Infernal Machine. In this play, it is the unseen Voice that delivers the oracle’s prophecy in the Prologue. Thus, Oedipus’ mythical tale is vocally spread out before the audience, framing the narrative of the play and emphasizing the inexorability of the rule of the “infernal” gods: “He will kill his father. He will wed his mother.” After the Prologue, Act I—named “The Ghost”—begins to unfold. It takes place on the city walls where, during their night watch, two soldiers discuss the disaster brought on Thebes by the mysterious Sphinx. The only young man that managed to escape the Sphinx’s grip, so they tell, went mad. The two soldiers discuss Laius’ ghost, whom they had seen on the ramparts. Summoned by the soldiers’ superior, Jocasta arrives. She cannot see the ghost, bewitched as she is by a young and muscled soldier. She will soon bring the young man to the palace. Laius’ partly delivered message, warning her of a young man approaching Thebes, will not reach her. Act II, “The Encounter of Oedipus and the Sphinx,” is synchronic with Act I and takes place on a small hill

10

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

overlooking Thebes, where the ruins of a Chimera are scattered. Young, beautiful, clad in white, a girl is calmly talking to her attendant. She is the Sphinx; he is Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead who wears a jackal head. An unnamed Matron with her two children, a little boy and a little girl, pass by and stop to chat with the Girl in White about the mysterious Sphinx that causes so much trouble to the city. The Matron believes that female vampires, like her sister-in law or her future daughters-in-law, threaten the well-being of her family. The body of one of her sons, slain by the Sphinx, bore the mark of the vampire’s kiss on the neck. With the Matron’s and the children’s exit, young Oedipus enters the stage looking for the monster, the Sphinx. The Girl in White falls in love with him, although Oedipus has no eyes but for the monster he seeks. When she suggests that he marry a younger girl to fool the oracle, he refuses and gallantly gives her his belt as a token of comradeship, in case she needs his help. In her turn, the Girl in White promises to help him and disappears behind the Chimera ruins. It is now that, out of its ruins, the Chimera comes to life and its head is that of the Girl in White. Hypnotizing him by its chant, the Sphinx reveals to Oedipus the answer to the riddle while he is in a trance-like state. Once awakened, Oedipus evidently solves the riddle. He tosses over his shoulder the monster’s dead body, that is, the girl’s body bearing the jackal’s head. Oedipus will marry Jocasta and rule over Thebes. Act III, “The Wedding Night,” unfolds in the royal bedroom where Jocasta still keeps the cradle of her baby, who was removed from the palace soon after his birth. Her boy would have now been of Oedipus’ age. In spite of an obvious omen— Oedipus’ pierced feet, reminiscent of her baby’s feet—she is determined to consummate the marriage. Neither reason—Tiresias’ arguments—nor the supernatural (a sudden bout of blindness, a vision of the future, and the sight of his belt in Tiresias’ hands) can convince Oedipus to give up queen and throne. Act IV, “Oedipus King (Seventeen Years Later),” is bound to illustrate how Oedipus becomes, as the Voice says, a man. From a king challenged by still another riddle and by the task of saving Thebes from another scourge, Oedipus turns into a self-aware human being. The “filthy beast” that brought the plague on the city turns out to be none other than Oedipus himself. He leaves Thebes, a blind man led by his young daughter Antigone and Jocasta’s ghost. The first thing that strikes the reader or the spectator of the play, produced according to Cocteau’s detailed stage directions, is the sharp disparity in tone and mood between the Prologue and the opening of Act I. After the somber tone of the Voice and the gloomy foreboding that reminds the audience of Oedipus’ tragic tale and fate, a change of scene brings along a

The Infernal Machine

11

change of tone and mood. Act I shows the walls of a city but only the reader, not the spectator, would be immediately informed that this is Thebes. It is a stormy night (with the appropriate lighting and sound effects) and two soldiers, one younger and one older, are on their night watch on the city ramparts. Is this Hamlet’s opening scene? Not quite, because the sound of drums and popular music (coming from the working-class part of the town, as indicated by the stage direction) brings us back to modern times. After a short joyful sequence introduced by the music, the mood changes to one of énervement (nervousness), brought on by the soldiers’ conversation. It takes now only one minute for the spectator to grasp that the city is Thebes, for the information is provided now by the spoken text. The Young Soldier says that he wishes to put an end to the overall anxiety and the “appalling lack of action” in the city by volunteering to go and face the Sphinx. The mention of Laius’ ghost that haunts the place finally situates the action in the time and place where it belongs: that of myth. That is, the action may take place here, there, now, then, everywhere, and anytime, for, the sound of contemporary popular music is still fresh in memory and so is the proximity in time and place suggested by the familiar idiomatic language spoken onstage.21 The colloquial language, as well as the sound effects and the music, brings the dramatic action closer to the reader’s or the spectator’s experiential reality. Soon after the two soldiers’ chat about the Sphinx, two voices are heard offstage: one is that of a man, the other of a woman with a distinctive foreign accent. The man addresses the woman as “Madam,” while the woman calls the man “Zizi,” a term that in French is more than a nickname. From their conversation, it is clear that the almost blind man is a seer and the woman hates climbing stairs. Soon after they enter the stage, Tiresias the seer steps on Jocasta’s long scarf and she cries out. An audience familiar with Isadora Duncan’s tragic death, only seven years before The Infernal Machine’s first night, would not miss the allusion. Isadora died strangled by her own scarf. However, by the time she died, the famous dancer had become a ridiculed celebrity, an older woman whose lust after young males brought on her untimely death. The intertextual use of the piece of costume, the scarf, has a mirroring effect and it defines Jocasta as another ridiculed celebrity. With the introduction of Jocasta and Tiresias, first heard and then put on view, the mood changes again. Are these two pathetic figures a caricature of royalty and statesmanship or are they two clowns enacting Isadora’s death? Isadora’s long scarf became entangled in one of the wheels of the open car in which she had been riding with a young man and strangled her. Now, it is Tiresias who steps on Jocasta’s scarf and he is almost blind and failing, although his nickname “Zizi” may hint at a

12 The Fantastic in Modern Theatre glorious sexual past. Like Isadora, whose attraction to younger men proved fatal, so is Jocasta drawn to young men: she now feels the Young Soldier’s muscles like a peasant checks a horse at the marketplace before buying it. Attracted by the young male, she is oblivious of anything else, including the desperate attempts of Laius’ ghost to draw her attention. The Young Soldier too steps on her long scarf. The changes in the mood in Act I are abrupt and disorienting, passing from amusement to laughter, pity, anger, helplessness, and contempt. A rich diversity of dramatic strategies is employed by Cocteau in the play, in a never-ending parade that plunges the reader or the spectator into a universe at once strange and familiar: farce, parody, pastiche, displacements, atypical juxtapositions, irony, slang used for tragic scenes, irreverent representation of sacred myths, and expressionist cinematic techniques, among many others. The Infernal Machine challenges the dramatic conventions prevalent in the early 1930s and offers instead a “nonnormal” mixture of genres, discourses, and intertextual sequences, while it manages to eschew any overt affinity to artistic movements such as Dada, surrealism, or expressionism. As a play, The Infernal Machine is a monster-like aesthetic construct that not only speaks its own language but, by a masterful sleight of hand, it is also clearly understood by all. Or so it seems. Simplicity seems to be, at first glance, the mark of Cocteau’s play. However, this simplicity conceals a rich and often puzzling complexity, because the apparently ordinary and the commonplace subtly lead to the invisible and open up the imaginary and the unexpected. The Infernal Machine is a multilayered construction, in which the representation of a concept, be it by means of a character, an action, a word, a form in space, a color, a sound, or a tangible object, embodies or follows a well-established set of conventions while it blatantly contradicts another; out of the clash between the two sets of aesthetic conventions emerges the grotesque or the caricature. The dramatic construct of Jocasta is such an instance. Like one of the protagonists of the neoclassic drama, she is a queen, she belongs to the upper class, and adopts—as indicated by the stage directions—the “accent of royalty.” That she is a troubled woman, like Racine’s Phedra, does not yet set her apart from the neoclassic pattern. Jocasta, who suffers from a recurring nightmare, seems obsessed by the loss of her son who, had he lived, would have been nineteen, the age of the Young Soldier. She might readily find in the latter a fitful substitute, were it not for her Isadora-like desires. Her outrageous behavior with the Young Soldier—which is duly interpreted by the Older Soldier as an overt sexual invitation—singles her out not as a déclassée but as a character akin to the whore of ancient comedy. By a process of ironic reversal, she is not the one

The Infernal Machine

13

who is paid for her sexual services but the one who pays: she will bring the Young Soldier to her palace. Furthermore, she is fully conscious of the incestuous aspect of her behavior, as she makes clear to Tiresias. By the decontextualization and ironic distortion of their conventional representation, the once easily identifiable representation of mythical figures is partially stamped out. On the other hand, because of their being “updated” and humanized, they seem now closer to us than ever before. For contemporary audiences—both now and in the twentieth century—the Greek gods and Sophocles’ heroes are distant fictional figures about whom one learns at school, reads in books, or sees in B-movies; not very often, one also sees them in the shape of museum exhibits. Now, by letting them speak a colloquial language, act foolishly, reveal their weaknesses and surprise us, Cocteau turns them into close kinsmen. The human protagonists of ancient tragedy provoked respect and awe, but not so Cocteau’s human heroes. His stance is ironic, disrespectful, and bold. The gods alone escape his mockery. Jocasta, pathetic and driven by desire, cuts a ludicrous figure while a goddess merely provokes curiosity and deepens the mystery around her. Jocasta is not the only one who is driven by desire, the Goddess Nemesis alias the Sphinx alias the Girl in White, who delivers the answer of the riddle to Oedipus and thereby triggers his downfall, also is. Is the Sphinx’s self-immolation an act of love, or is it an act planned by the gods and meant to activate the infernal machine? If it is a predetermined act, why does the Girl in White return among the humans shortly before Oedipus’ wedding to Jocasta? If there is no answer to this question, it is not because Cocteau believed in fate and predetermination, but because he sensed and comprehended the part of the unknown and the unknowable, the fantastic, in human experience. The fantastic is an inherent part of the gods as they are portrayed in mythology and as they appear in The Infernal Machine. But, as Cocteau shows in his play, the fantastic is also an integral part of daily life. One may encounter it at the turn of the road and not recognize it. One may overhear its echoes, as Jocasta hears Laius’ call, or one may not. The fantastic is the common ground of interaction between the known and the unknown, between the human and the nonhuman. While Cocteau’s play is framed within a realistic discourse that integrates elements from the Sophoclean text, it is the integration of the fantastic that restructures his play on a distinctive basis and contributes to the construction of its multiple significations. Kathryn Hume, who expanded Tzvetan Todorov’s groundbreaking study on the fantastic, defines the fantastic as a departure from consensus

14 The Fantastic in Modern Theatre reality. She includes in her definition both the supernatural and the uncanny or Freud’s unheimlich.22 The Infernal Machine is rich in fantastic elements. The first fantastic element is Laius’ ghost, which appears on the city ramparts in Act I. Both the Young Soldier and the Older Soldier have seen the ghost before; they tell their officer and the officer summons the queen. When the queen and Tiresias arrive and proceed to question the Young Soldier, the ghost appears again but none of those present can see it. Only Jocasta can hear her name faintly called by someone she cannot perceive. Having learnt from the Young Soldier that the ghost had tried to warn her of a looming danger, the two high dignitaries leave. The pitiful ghost, who still wears his mortal wound, finally succeeds in delivering bits of his message to the two soldiers before disappearing forever. The ghost’s message, which warns Jocasta of a young man approaching Thebes, will never be delivered to her. This brief summary leaves out the comic innuendoes in the soldiers’ discussion of the Sphinx, the funny aspect of the ghost’s ghastly apparition, the ironic gap between the queen’s self-image (she thinks she is still a young woman) and the sad reality, as well as the incongruous physical interaction between her and the younger male, the Young Soldier. Composed as a pastiche with grotesque farcical overtones and functioning as a distantiation device that throws a new light on the mythic figures of Laius, Jocasta, and Tiresias, Act I raises the question as to Cocteau’s reason for borrowing Hamlet’s ghost. According to Cocteau, the ghost, like the dream, belongs to the realm of the dark, an apparition whose mystery one cannot solve. Far from trying to explain Jocasta’s dreams in the light of Freud’s theories, Cocteau relates to them as psychic phenomena that belong to the realm of the mysterious, a realm that man cannot decipher but whose imprint he nevertheless experiences. Jocasta tells Tiresias about her recurring nightmare but Tiresias cannot make it go away, nor can he restore her peace of mind. The reader or spectator, aware of Jocasta’s obsession with the loss of her child, can infer that her nightmare is connected to a traumatic experience of childbirth, but so may Tiresias. On the other hand, it may well be connected to sexual intercourse. The nightmare stays within the realm of the dark, tormenting her soul. However, while dream is a phenomenon lived through by all and can easily be explained as a working of the mind, not so the apparition of a ghost. Like the dream, the ghost exerts the same inexplicable uncanny power over the living. Unlike the dream, it cannot be explained by rationality and the doubt about its real existence relegates it to the domain of the fantastic. While an identical dream is seldom part of the experience of more than one person, the ghost borrows the shape of a recognizable human who passed away and is often reported to be

The Infernal Machine

15

“witnessed” by more than one person. So is the Ghost in Hamlet and that in The Infernal Machine. Far from embracing Freud’s psychoanalytic approach to the Oedipus myth, Cocteau offers instead another interpretation. To this end, he avails himself of the rich ambiguity of the fantastic—the fantastic being a realm not more uncertain than Freud’s psychoanalytical theory. Both the fantastic and Freud’s theory have a hold on imagination and both relate to a creation of the mind—myth—that man weaves and becomes ensnared by. Cocteau does not try to explain the fantastic but accepts its mystery as an unavoidable but enriching part of human experience. Laius’ ghost is apprehended by the dramatic characters as a messenger from the Other World, keen to assist and warn the dwellers of this world. The two worlds interact and it is this interaction that Act II, Act III, and Act IV of the play will display. As a mode, the fantastic has been the object of rigorous scholarly examination during the past few decades, an examination that went hand in hand with the study of postmodernism in the arts. In theatre, the sensorial appeal of the concrete representation or embodiment of the fantastic not only generates emotions but also enhances its import as a rhetorical tool. Cocteau’s version of the Oedipus myth, or so he believed, was bound to reveal a deeper truth by exploiting not only the benefits of the theatre as an artistic medium but also as a public institution.

MONSTER, BEAST, AND OTHER CREATURES After Laius’ ghost, the second fantastic element that we can see and hear in The Infernal Machine is the Chimera/Sphinx, who will go through a series of physical transformations. Next is Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, a man with a jackal’s head. Anubis will finally part with his head for the sake of Oedipus’ histrionic parade before the citizens of Thebes. Both the Sphinx and Anubis are monsters. The play will end with the appearance of still another fantastic character, the ghost of a metaphorically monstrous creature, Jocasta. As a rule, the various definitions of the term “monster” draw attention to one essential feature, the departure from the norm. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a monster is: “Originally: a mythical creature which is part animal and part human, or combines elements of two or more animal forms, and is frequently of great size and ferocious appearance. Later, more generally: any imaginary creature that is large, ugly, and frightening. The

16

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

centaur, sphinx, and minotaur are examples of ‘monsters’ encountered by various mythical heroes; the griffin, wyvern, etc., are later heraldic forms.” The monster, literally or metaphorically, acts as a link between consensually divergent orders, such as the normal and the abnormal, the human and the animal, or the natural and the unnatural. Its use as a trope denotes a particular apprehension of experiential reality, an apprehension based on duality and polarity. The object perceived as a “monster” denotes not only the way in which the perceiver acts and reacts to the object but also how the perceiver considers his or her own self. The monster is a recurrent motif in literature as well as in drama, painting, art, folklore, and myth. The most famous monster on the stage is undoubtedly Shakespeare’s Caliban. In the nineteenth century, another monster captured the imagination of audiences, Frankenstein, as the numerous stage adaptations of Mary Shelley’s novel show.23 Another well-known theatrical monster from that period is the Golem. Less famous are the hordes of monsters that people Flaubert’s La Tentation de Saint Antoine (The Temptation of St. Anthony) (1874). Closer to Cocteau’s time, the Sphinx in Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Oedipus and the Sphinx (1905) was portrayed as a monster, a woman with “hideous limbs” and “polyp arms.”24 As a metaphor, the monster appears in several of Cocteau’s early poems, among them “Les Salomés” (1908), “La Cendre” (1908), and “Quasimodo” (1908) (where it also appears as a synecdoche), and in his collections of poems Le Prince Frivole (The Playful Prince) (1911) and Plain-Chant (1922). But it was in his novel The Potomak, written during 1913 and 1914, that Cocteau turned the monster into a rhetorical figure on which his main argument rests. Before The Potomak was written, Cocteau’s drawings brought to light a gang of grotesque creatures that he named “the Eugenes,” which would be later incorporated in the novel. These are male and female physically distorted humanoids, mostly one-eyed. In a section of the novel, entitled “How They Came,” Cocteau describes the arrival of the first Eugene: “He had in him a little of the priodont, the larvae, the test tube,” with a sealed surface.25 The graphical representation of the Eugenes is, in Cocteau’s words, “the outline of a figure equivalent to their shapeless mass.”26 Still, it is not the mental and physical portrayal of the Eugenes that bewilders the reader of The Potomak, close as it is to caricature, but their appalling actions. Like sticky larvae, they can hardly be kept in one place. Their appetite stirred by troubled bourgeois couples, the monstrous Eugenes gulp down the Mortimers. The satirical Potomak bears personal connotations, since Eugene was one of Cocteau’s baptismal names, his maternal grandfather’s name was Eugene,

The Infernal Machine

17

and his mother’s first name was Eugenie.27 The naming of the crawling monsters was not accidental. While the drawings of the Eugenes offer a cruel critique of the bourgeoisie, not so the Potomak, the novel’s eponymous character. The Potomak is a monster too: he is a jellyfish living in a jar, has one eye, big pink ears shaped like a conch, a flat body, and cold and soft flesh. He feeds on everything, from mandrakes to gloves to a program of the Ballets Russes. And he can smile and write poems. “My confused life and the coherence of my dreams make me akin to this Potomak,” affirms the firstperson hero of the novel. “The same fluid runs through us.”28 He is also akin to the Mortimers, the Eugenes’ victims: Born in a bourgeois family, I am a bourgeois monster. I see the fact and the fact itself compels me to a deferential solitude. The Bohemia, Argemone, alas! I flounder in it. I hurt myself against a blazon. And back I run to the Potomak. And the Eugenes overwhelm me. And I write this book.29

A monster, born of monsters, gobbled up by monsters, the first-person narrator is resigned to his fate, that is, to a solitude that was not deliberately chosen but was imposed on him because of his birth into a certain socioeconomic class. Among Cocteau’s critics, Milorad construes the Potomak as an image of the poet’s subconscious.30 For Serge Linares, the Potomak incarnates love.31 Whatever referent is attributed to these monster-like imaginary creatures, the vivid physical depictions of both the Potomak and the Eugenes are intended to inspire disgust. Whether they are read as allegorical figures of the poet/narrator or of social bodies, they convey a feeling of revulsion, hatred, and inevitability. After World War I, Cocteau used the Eugene’s grotesque graphical shape to illustrate the horrors of the war. Other young writers who took part in this war took a similar stance. As Alfredo Bonadeo shows, they too used the trope of the monster—this time as a verbal trope—to depict the manifestations of the man/beast on the battlefield.32 The monster reappears in a different shape in Cocteau’s play Orpheus (1926) where, as Orpheus declares, he and Eurydice “find [themselves] in the supernatural up to [their] neck,” and nothing and nobody is what he/ she/it seems to be.33 The horse head that keeps the poet Orpheus under his spell is a composite creature, half-horse and half-man. Cocteau’s monster differs from the conventional representation of the centaur. Instead of a

18

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

human head and torso and an animal lower body, the supernatural creature in this play has the body of a white horse and human legs. The creature communicates with humans both by moving his head and by tapping the alphabet letters with his foot according to a simple code: five knocks mark, for example, the letter E, the fifth in the alphabet. Orpheus feels that this creature, which dictates to him mysterious but poetic phrases, loves him. The monster is introduced in the text as “the horse” and will reappear in a slightly different shape in Cocteau’s film The Testament of Orpheus (1960). Milorad highlights the autobiographical aspects of the use of this mythological creature in Cocteau’s work and identifies this monster as a Minotaur, a phallic symbol of the father’s castrating virility.34 However, as with any open work, the examination of the monster in this play suggests various readings. Thus, in the light of the prevailing cultural perception of the Minotaur in the social, artistic, and intellectual circles that were close to Cocteau in the early 1920s, and according to Cocteau’s own use of the figure in his past works, the Minotaur functions as a sexual symbol. Already in The Potomak, the narrator brings up a myth he “likes,” namely “Theseus in the labyrinth,” and introduces the monster as a man of royal descent. Moreover, he acknowledges the mythical encounter with the Minotaur as a homosexual encounter: There is a myth that I like: Theseus in the labyrinth. He walks with the Minotaur. The Minotaur shows him the merits of his apartment. “A pretty monster probably waits for you at the entrance of yours,” adds this eccentric prince. “You have a thread on you.”35

The thread that serves Theseus in the myth to find his way out of the labyrinth functions here as the symbol of a sexual bond between the Minotaur and the prince. The sexuality embedded in the figure of the Minotaur is echoed by the unexplained attraction exerted on Cocteau’s Orpheus by the horse/monster. A similar figure of lust would be invoked later on by Gide in his play Theseus (1944).36 Cocteau constructs his Orpheus as a human being whose distinctive power lies in his ability to connect with the supernatural. Tennessee Williams, on the other hand, constructs his Orpheus (Val Xavier in Orpheus Descending) as a superhuman hybrid creature, a man whose blood is akin to that of the snakes. The common thread between the two playwrights is their construct of the poet as a being, human or not, whose artistic creativity is bestowed by some supernatural power. But while for Tennessee Williams, the source of artistic creativity is embedded in the artist’s identity, for Cocteau, it is mysteriously connected to external stimuli.

The Infernal Machine

19

Another composite creature appears in Orpheus, the angel Heurtebise. The traditional iconography of the angel combines the human with the divine, while the fantastic creature is represented as an asexual human being with wings. But the wings, symbols of spirituality, denote also a kinship to the animal kingdom. Therefore, the figure of the angel serves as a go-between for different realms such as earth and heaven, man and the supernatural, and man and animal. The angel appears early in Cocteau’s writings, as for example, in his poem “Discours du Grand Sommeil (Speech of the Long Sleep)” (1915). The figure will reemerge in later poems, as in “L’Ange Heurtebise (The Angel Heurtebise)” (1925). The same year, in his essay Le Secret Professionnel (The Professional Secret), Cocteau referred to Rimbaud and Verlaine as his angels. As models and initiators, these were the poets who opened up for the young Cocteau the mysterious and highly regarded realm of poetic creation. In Orpheus, the angel assumes a human shape: this is Heurtebise, a glazier who carries on his back panes of glass instead of a pair of wings. When he first enters the stage, the sun is reflected in the glass and it instantly evokes the image of a mirror. In Cocteau’s mythology, the mirror is the threshold to the Other World. Heurtebise will help Orpheus to find his Eurydice by passing through a mirror into the world of the dead. Heurtebise serves as a go-between for two worlds, this time the world of the living and that of the dead.37 Under the appearance of a young human male, he is a monstrous creature endowed with supernatural powers and can stand in midair like a bird, his wings unseen. A would-be suitor of Eurydice, he ends up as a visible guardian angel, a partner/ butler of a bourgeois ménage à trois (including Orpheus and Eurydice) in an Other World that is a mirror copy of this world. In Cocteau’s poetry, drama, novels, and drawings or sculpture, the figure of the angel appears alternately as an asexual being of unearthly beauty—a familiar representation in Christian iconography—or as a male lover, the source of poetic inspiration. Cocteau’s frequent use of the angel has intrigued his critics and they have dwelt on the role of the angel as a rhetorical tool as well as a personal symbol for Cocteau. Monic Robillard, for example, has discussed Cocteau’s use of the angel as the poet’s double and she maintains that Cocteau first used the angel as a personification of the poet’s creativity under Mallarmé’s influence.38 For Danielle Chaperon, Cocteau employed the angel as the “representation of the representation” of the soul as well as of the body.39 Marielle Wyns emphasizes the angel’s animality in Cocteau’s poetry, its hybrid nature and phallic aspect, as well as its psychological import for the poet.40 Pierre Macris considers the angel as a projection of Cocteau’s own subjectivity, while Serge Dieudonné argues that Cocteau, dissatisfied with his own sexual attraction to beautiful young men,

20

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

elevated them in his writings to the rank of the angel and endowed them with spiritual powers that they did not always possess.41 Cocteau would throw more light on his concept of angels in his Journal d’un inconnu (Diary of an Unknown), a long essay on visibility and invisibility: Graceful monsters, cruel, terribly male and androgynous, this is how I imagined the angels, angles that fly; this was before I had the proof that their invisibility could take the form of a poem and thus become visible without the risk of being seen.42

Thus, for Cocteau the angel is a monstrous creature made up of mysteriously nonopposing parts, at once “terribly male” and androgynous. Cocteau’s late elucidation of his concept is fluid and baffling and no more definite than any other explanation of the monster. Nevertheless, Cocteau’s equation of the angel with the monster is of foremost significance, for it illuminates his idiosyncratic use of the interchangeable figures as well as his subversive blurring of the conventional physical and ethical boundaries between the two. In Cocteau’s play Oedipe-Roi, a composite animal is verbally referred to, though it does not appear as a character nor is it openly designated as a monster. This is the mythical Sphinx. The Sphinx will arrive on Cocteau’s stage a few years later, in another play, The Infernal Machine—this time as a shape-shifting character. Monsters play a part also in Cocteau’s celebrated film The Blood of a Poet from 1930. Here, a mouth that is deeply engraved on the poet’s palm, becomes alive and transforms into a horrible fleshly wound that breathes and speaks on its own—a visual image that recalls Odilon Redon’s nightmarish drawings, like Eye Balloon (1878) for instance. The wound leads to the poet’s physical and mental transformation, for he miraculously becomes endowed with supernatural powers and will move in an uncanny world where statues speak, gravity is absent, and, instead of walking, the poet floats in the air. A second monster is soon in full view: this time it is a hermaphrodite, a creature that Foucault would consider as the paradigm of the transgressive beings.43 Before long, a third monster enters the scene in the shape of a nonnormal humanoid, none other than an angel.44 In a talk delivered in January 1932 at the Théâtre du Vieux Colombier, Cocteau commented on the various figures that inhabit his film: “They are more like coupling monsters, secrets that emerge in the light, a whole equivocal and enigmatic world, quite capable of giving one an idea of the nightmare in which poets live, that makes their lives so moving and that the public so wrongly interprets

The Infernal Machine

21

as exceptional exhilaration.”45 For Cocteau, art is a language that uses signs such as the monster, the angel, or the hermaphrodite—all supernatural beings—to give form to an otherwise inexplicable contents, “the nightmare in which poets live.” Poetically, these supernatural beings function as tropes that embody the poet’s emotions, such as horror or wonder. In a fantastic reading, they are concrete beings that affect not only the lives of the dramatic characters but the emotions of the audience as well. The monster appears not only in The Infernal Machine but also in The Sacred Monsters, a play written in 1939 as a vehicle for the renowned actress Yvonne de Bray. There are no literal monsters in this play, only metaphorical ones. Yet, a literal monster serves as the main character in Cocteau’s film Beauty and the Beast (1946), which has by now become one of the classics in cinema. In the film, a reworking of the eighteenth-century fairy tale, the spoken text alternates between the terms “beast” and “monster” (bête and monstre), the two being used as synonyms.46 That same year, Cocteau wrote The Eagle with Two Heads, choosing for title the emblem that glorifies such a monster, the two-headed eagle. Another literal monster, a new incarnation of the Minotaur, will appear in Cocteau’s film from 1960, The Testament of Orpheus. Monsters and angels would people Cocteau’s work to the end.

THE MONSTER AND THE INFERNAL MACHINE In the “Notes for the Programme,” Cocteau describes Jocasta and Oedipus’ wedding as a “monstrous” wedding. Even before the play unfolds before the audience, the reader of the “Programme” is instructed, under the guise of an informative notice, how to assess the wedding. At the same time, the metaphorical use of the monster confronts the reader with the soon visible fictional world of the play. Two distinct orders are brought together here under one marker, the monster: the real and the imaginary, the human and the nonhuman, the lawful and the forbidden, the known and the unknown. In the Prologue of The Infernal Machine, the monster first appears as a synecdoche for the Sphinx, and then, by an act of displaced parallelism, the monster is used as a trope for aberrant horror, illustrating the nature of Oedipus’ incestuous marriage to Jocasta: “a monstrous wedding.”47 Those who did not read the “Programme,” as well as the readers of the play, are now informed and instructed. The incestuous marriage of Oedipus and Jocasta becomes a scourge similar to the Sphinx who decimated Thebes’ youth.

22

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

After the preparatory Prologue, spoken out by the invisible Voice and carrying with it the apparent inexorability of fate, and after Act I, centered on Jocasta and Laius’ ghost, a monster is revealed onstage under disguise. This is the Sphinx, which dwells near the remnants of its traditional iconographic representation, the ruins of a Chimera. Soon to be unmasked as the Sphinx, the Girl in White is reminded of the oracle’s predictions: Laius and Jocasta’s son would be “a scourge,” “a monster, a filthy beast.”48 Cocteau uses the juxtaposition of the three notions—scourge, monster, and filthy beast—not only for the sake of evaluation, linkage and emphasis, but also as synonyms. Together or apart, they act as an infallible affective lever for the manipulation of the audience feelings. When Oedipus encounters the Sphinx under the guise of the Girl in White, he uses the term “monster” as a synonym for “Sphinx,” the horrendous but mysterious creature that he is looking for.49 Indeed, the people of Thebes too refer to the Sphinx as a monster to be destroyed, though no one who ever saw it could live to describe it.50 The term “monster” will soon be used as a metaphor by the Sphinx in its human shape, the Girl in White. In an ironic twist, the enamored Girl will comment on the half-human and half- animal shape that she will borrow in order to serve as Oedipus’ trophy: “I am now ugly, Anubis. I am a monster! . . . Poor kid . . . if I frighten him. . . .”51 Oedipus will carry on his shoulder the dead body of a seventeen-year-old girl whose head is that of a jackal. The term “monster” will next be used by Jocasta as a metaphor to pass judgment not only on Tiresias but also on those who mocked the newlywed royal couple.52 The metaphor is further taken up by Creon, to condemn the sinner whose public exposure would stop the plague in Thebes: “The gods are punishing the city and want a victim. A monster is hiding among us. They demand that we find him and banish him.”53 The monster emerges now as a metaphor both for the evildoer destined to be punished and for the victim that will appease the gods. Oedipus vows to chase “the ideal victim, the hiding monster.”54 He demands that this “filthy beast” be killed.55 After he discovers that it is he who is the monster, Oedipus blinds himself and begs: “Let me be banished, let me be killed, let me be stoned, let the filthy beast be killed.”56 Again, the filthy beast comes as a synonym for the monster, blurring the boundaries between the animal and the human, the apparently innocent (because deprived of self-consciousness) and the guilty. Oedipus’ monstrosity, both moral and physical, uncovered, is now visible to all, and it is all the more repulsive because of his selfinflicted mutilation. “The traditional idea of the monstrous [is] strongly associated with visual display,” comments Chris Baldick, “and monsters

The Infernal Machine

23

were understood primarily as exhibitions of moral vices: they were to be seen and heard.”57 Like the medieval monsters, which were exhibited as signs of God’s powers of retribution, Oedipus functions here as the incarnation of the gods’ warning—a frightening sight, blinded, wounded, and bleeding. A monstrous being, he still fulfills his role as a king even in the newly created situation, in which he is not only the instrument of the gods’ wrath but also the sinner: he is still the go-between for man and the gods. Olivier Biaggini explains: “The monster is but a mediator between the finger that points at it and an ordered and harmonious meaning, of which the monster is only the allusive and improper substitute. The monster then appears both as the detour and the relay point of the emergence of a meaning, of a truth. The monster is certainly abnormal, but it offers in return a particular point of view on the norm and its foundations. No more the monster that is pointed at, but the monster that points at, or rather by means of which one points at. . . . A didactic monster.”58 A belatedly uncovered monster, Oedipus’ self-mutilation and exile elevate and isolate him from his fellow beings; as Cocteau was quick to perceive, the magnitude of his deeds turns him into a mythical figure, the stuff of poetry. Only the poet, the artist, can give an acceptable form to what imagination can barely grasp. In the artist’s hands, the monster becomes the tangible but poetic link between two realms, that of the real and that of the fantastic. But Oedipus is not the only monster that inhabits The Infernal Machine.

This page intentionally left blank

2. The Sphinx Come forth you exquisite grotesque! half woman and half animal! .................................. Who were your lovers? who were they who wrestled for you in the dust? Which was the vessel of your Lust? What Leman had you, every day? .................................. Or had you shameful secret quests and did you harry to your home Some Nereid coiled in amber foam with curious rock crystal breasts? —Oscar Wilde, “The Sphinx”1

M

onsters disturb, the more so when they change their shape not once but often, only to finally vanish in a mist. Such a monster is the Sphinx in The Infernal Machine. Different versions of the ancient myth portray the Sphinx as a bastard daughter of Laius and a claimant to his throne, a woman brigand, or Echidna’s and Typhon’s daughter and sister to such monsters as Cerberus or Hydra. In the ancient world, her statues, made of parts of various animals, were a familiar sight.2 As for the Egyptian Sphinx, a computer reconstruction revealed a few years ago that “contrary to popular belief . . . Napoleon’s troops had not blasted off the nose by using the Sphinx for cannon practice; it had been chiseled off by 15th century vandals. At some point, the beard also fell off.”3 Thus, even after it was erected as a gigantic statue, the monster was and still is shape-shifting, due to time’s and men’s irreverent work. Cocteau’s first visit to Egypt and the Sphinx took place in 1936, two years after The Infernal Machine was first produced, when the Sphinx was still partly buried in sand; his second visit was in 1949.4

26

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

The Sphinx is not one of the characters in Sophocles’ play, but neither was Cocteau the first playwright to introduce the monster on the stage. Prior to The Infernal Machine, the Sphinx played an important part in Joséphin Péladan’s play Oedipe et le Sphinx (Oedipus and the Sphinx) (1903).5 The Sphinx also appears in Hofmannsthal’s Oedipus and the Sphinx (1905). In The Infernal Machine, the Sphinx is first mentioned in the Prologue and its description closely follows that of Sophocles. The Greek Sphinx, represented as a halfhuman and half-animal monster with a woman’s head, is portrayed by the disembodied Voice as “the Winged Girl” and “the Singing Bitch,” a description that openly clashes with the masculine pronoun that the French language uses for the Sphinx. Depicted in these terms, the Sphinx seems an aberration of nature, a case where reproductive sexuality has gone wrong, a creature that shares something with the woman, the bird, and the dog. Like the mermaid, another monster-like creature, the Sphinx seduces its victims by its song. “This monster asks a riddle and kills those who do not solve it.”6 The Sphinx has “the ‘godlike science’ of language, slipping free from its defining functions while mobilizing its persuasive power,” as Baldick underlines when he comments on another monster, Frankenstein.7 In Western culture, the Sphinx itself is considered a riddle. “Horror monsters exist without explanation,” points out James Twitchell. “To explain . . . is to dilute, to make horror into terror and terror into the predictable and the predictable into the reasonable.”8 In Act I of The Infernal Machine, the Sphinx’s shape is a matter of speculation to the Thebans, since the only one who saw it and managed to escape went mad and talked only about its riddle. A rumor, reported by the Young Soldier, goes that it is shy and no bigger than a hare with a tiny woman’s head.9 This particular representation of the Sphinx fits the image of women prevailing in popular culture in Europe before World War I, according to which the woman is a shy creature with a small head and a small and frail body, and her main function is reproduction. This representation implies an animal-like sexuality, increased fertility, and limited intellectual powers. Consequently, for the Thebans in The Infernal Machine, the Sphinx is a creature of vulnerable appearance and dangerous contact. This image fits that of the Girl in White, one of the shapes invented by Cocteau for his Sphinx, but the Girl in White makes her appearance only in Act II. The Young Soldier’s image of the Sphinx is different: he expects it to be a hermaphrodite and admits to being attracted to its ambiguous erotic power: “As for me,” he says, “I believe [he, the male gendered French pronoun of the Sphinx] has the head and the breasts of a woman and sleeps with the young men.”10 The encounter with such a being is perhaps devastating, both physically and psychologically, but the Young Soldier is not sure: “Maybe he asks nothing, he does not even touch you. One meets him,

The Sphinx

27

one looks at him, and one dies of love.”11 The use of the impersonal mode reveals the Young Soldier’s state of mind: enthralled as he is by his image of the Sphinx, he is not yet (sexually?) ready to go and meet him. In his turn, the Older Soldier too credits the Sphinx with a different kind of sexuality. He believes the Sphinx is an old male vampire: SOLDIER :

A simple vampire! A guy in hiding whom the police can’t get hold of. . . . An old vampire, a real one! With a beard and a mustache and a belly, one who sucks your blood. This is why all the stiffs they bring back to their family carry the same wound in the same spot: on the neck!12

As Nina Auerbach points out, it was Murnau’s silent film Nosferatu (1922) and Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931) that first featured male victims of the vampire.13 It is possible that these films provided Cocteau with this new representation of the Sphinx/vampire’s victims. The wound left by the Sphinx on its victim’s neck is Cocteau’s own invention and provides a sensible basis to the illustration of the Sphinx as a vampire. The vampire of folklore, a human being with animal-like teeth, is a sexual being who chooses his victims among the young, bites them, and draws their blood. Cocteau’s vampire chooses his victims only among the young men (but so did the Sphinx of yore). However, unlike the folkloric vampire who infects his victims but does not kill them (and thereby becomes their initiator in vampirism), Cocteau’s Sphinx does not spare their life. For the Officer—the third character we meet in Act I—the Sphinx is a fiction, a political stratagem intended to increase the power of the clerical clique and to entrap Queen Jocasta. The purpose of this scheme, used by the clerics who work hand in hand with Jocasta’s brother, would be to reinforce their hold on the light-headed Jocasta as well as on the whole city. The visualization of the Sphinx on stage will prove the Officer’s belief unfounded, though it does not preclude the possibility that the clerics might have used its threat for political ends. As for the Matron from Thebes, who makes her appearance in Act II, the mention of the Sphinx reminds her of an incident that happened in her family and involved her brother and his wife. That incident persuaded the Matron that vampires do exist. The connection between the vampire and the Sphinx is now unambiguous, as is the connection of the two notions with sexuality. The Matron believes that her sister-in-law is a vampire, a monster; she also believes that her own sons are prone to fall victims to infernal monsters because of their incredulity. For her, it is the

28 The Fantastic in Modern Theatre appearance of the Sphinx that brought death and confusion in her family. While her eldest son was a victim of the beast and his dead body had a big ugly wound on the neck, her sixteen-year-old son dismisses its threat. As the Matron reports, the latter believes that the Sphinx is a paper tiger, a weapon in the priests’ hands, and a lame excuse for the police helplessness in face of the famine, murders, and robberies that are now so common in the city. In fact, what the Matron describes is a state of anarchy in the city. She does not recognize the Sphinx in the Girl in White whom she tells her plight; she only prays for a savior who would deliver the city from the scourge. Like the multiform scourge imagined by the people of Thebes, so is the Sphinx embodied onstage in different shapes.

THE CHIMERA RUINS The first visible signs of the Sphinx on stage are a wing, a paw, and a rump, the ruins of the Sphinx statue on its socle, placed amidst the ruins of one of the walls of a temple. As the stage directions indicate, what look like the ruins of a Sphinx are in fact the remains of a Chimera, the mythical half woman and half beast.14 The Chimera, a symbol of destructive female sexuality, was a recurrent motif in symbolist paintings at the end of the nineteenth century and so was the Sphinx.15 In the Iliad, the Chimera is a monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a dragon’s tail, and it breathes fire. As seen, for his visual representation of the Sphinx, Cocteau chose the shape by which it was known in classical Greece: the body of a lion with a pair of wings and a woman’s head and breasts, a figure that the audience could easily identify.16 For the play’s first production, designed by Christian Bérard, “there was an azure background and a small stage in the centre of the forestage draped in blue; the dominant colors of rocks and columns were white, gray and brown.”17 About Bérard’s settings and their import, Cocteau would write in 1945: Christian Bérard, to whom I owe the settings of The Human Voice and The Infernal Machine, came at the right moment. I would even say that I had been waiting for him. Without renouncing the splendor and the quasi-human presence of the settings, he brought along his youth and his almost frightening proficiency to illustrate his method of truer than truth and to answer my need of anti-decorative settings, of functional settings which play a role just like the actors, and where no detail was superfluous.18

The Sphinx

29

Cocteau wanted functional but symbolic settings, and Bérard provided them. The text indicated a desert place on a hill overlooking Thebes and bordering the route to the city, and Bérard’s small elevated stage conveyed the necessary information while it also focused the gaze. The location, somewhere on the outskirts of the city of Thebes, fits a pattern long established in myth, legend and folklore, where monsters “live in a borderline place, inhabiting an ‘outside’ dimension that is apart from but parallel to and intersecting the human community,” as David Gilmore shows.19 The choice of the ruins of a temple as a locale is of special significance for the modern audience, because the ruins represent the remains of a work of art as well as a sacred place. In Cocteau’s play, the ruins are brought back to a fictitious and ephemeral life, offered to the gaze during the entire Act II, and constantly reminding the audience of the historic and mythical past. Bound together with the masked figure of Anubis, the ruins onstage construct a visual discourse that operates simultaneously to the divergent but parallel verbal discourse. The visual discourse is a signifier of the past, while the verbal is composed of contemporary colloquialisms. The constant fluctuating indeterminacy between past and present, myth and reality, substance and imagination, and the visual and the verbal, is thus initiated by the first visual manifestation of the Sphinx, which functions as the mediator between the two poles, with myth, oracles, and the fantastic at one end, and reality and sensual gratification at the other. To borrow Roger Schlobin terminology, the Chimera ruins prove to be a geomorphical concept that inflects the audience comprehension of the dramatic place and events.20 When the curtain rises for Act II, which bears the title “The Encounter between Oedipus and the Sphinx” and takes place at night, the Chimera’s ruins are visible together with the figures on stage. The figure seated on the ruins establishes the physical link between the temporal poles, the present and the past, as between reality and imagination, life and art. This seated figure is the Girl in White, the human shape of the Sphinx. The dialogue between her and the man with the jackal’s head, whose head rests in her lap, situates the action in the realm of the fantastic from the beginning of Act II. In addition, the presence of Anubis—the God of the dead and, as we shall see, the Sphinx’s double—marks this well-defined territory (a stage upon a stage) as the Other World, the mythological place of the dead. No male who ever met the Sphinx came back alive; the one who did, went mad. His heart and mind belonged now to another world.

30

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

THE GIRL IN WHITE The second stage metaphor for the Sphinx is the beautiful Girl in White. In this incarnation, the color of her dress is a symbolic white, suggesting that she is a young virgin, pure of heart and body. To the Matron and her children, who pass by at this late hour of the night, this is how she introduces herself: “I am a stranger, just arrived in Thebes. I am going to a relative who lives in the country and I have lost my way.”21 To Oedipus, she tells that she is “a seventeen year old little girl.”22 She behaves like a conventional teenager of the 1930s: she has to be reminded of her duties by an elder person (Anubis in this case) and she falls in love (with Oedipus) at first sight. The first inkling that she is not as innocent as she looks is provided by the scheme she suggests to Oedipus in order to escape the oracle: marry a younger woman—and the reader or spectator understands that she is the woman in question. Oedipus refuses. As we shall see, in spite of her innocent-looking appearance and young age, the Girl in White inspires an inexplicable fear in Oedipus when he first comes near her.

THE SPHINX ON ITS SOCLE The Sphinx, although a divinity, is under the orders of higher powers and will soon display different visual markers. The Sphinx will have the wings, paws and rump of the Chimera and the human head and upper body of the Girl in White, who inhabits now the Chimera ruins. The Sphinx is now a hybrid creature, a monster made partly of stone and partly of human flesh and blood. The stage directions indicate that the Sphinx on its socle wears spotted gloves, visible signs of the animal nature that she shares with the snake and the panther. This visual representation offers a striking resemblance to Fernand Khnopff ’s painting L’Art des Caresses (The Art of Caresses) (1896) which portrays the Sphinx as a hybrid creature, with a panther’s body and a woman’s head. Like the Sphinx in Aléxandre Séon’s Le Désespoir de la Chimère (The Despair of the Chimera) (1892), which has a woman’s head and breasts, a lion’s body, a serpent’s tail, and pale, luminous wings, so has Cocteau’s monster luminous wings, signs of its divine nature. Like its pictorial representation at the fin-de-siècle, the Sphinx’s body is part human, part animal and part divine, and made of bits and pieces. Then again, this is only one in a series of transformations or metamorphoses that the Sphinx, the gods’ agent, undergoes in the play.

The Sphinx

31

The present visual transformation bears multiple meanings. First, it involves the manipulation of time, which is one of the main attributes of the fantastic, and operates on two simultaneous levels, visual and audial. Both for the reader or spectator and for Oedipus, the dramatic character, the act of bringing together the disparate architectural elements of the ruins and the sudden visual reconstruction of an intact body, negates the passage of time. Within the dramatic narrative, Oedipus is bestowed now with a future that the oracle did not predict, a future that seems (for this is an illusion only) to obliterate his past. This manipulation and annihilation of time is soon displayed again by sound, when the Sphinx’s rhythmic chant arrests narrative time (the course of dramatic action) and removes Oedipus to another temporal dimension: he now moves and mumbles as if he were in a trance or asleep. Second, on a symbolic level, it is significant that the Girl in White brings to life a chimera, that is, she creates a fleeting illusion that will soon disappear. Pertinent questions, raised in Act I, about the existence, identity, and sexuality of the Sphinx, are now raised again, targeted this time to the reader or spectator. Third, instead of certainty, the “living” Sphinx introduces ambiguity in the narrative. The question whether female sexuality (embodied by the Girl in White) is destructive remains open, for the Sphinx’s help to Oedipus proves disastrous. So is the question regarding the Sphinx’s gender, given that its female appearance (its head and upper body) may be a chimera, a flight of fancy. Is the Sphinx’s gender not female but male? Its gloved hands may belong to a male as well as to a female, if not to some mysterious, undefined, and indefinable creature. Far from being accidental, these intentional ambiguities inform the playwright’s particular stance toward sexuality/sexualities in the play while, on the other hand, they weave the dense texture of the fantastic and its uncanny presence on stage. It is on its socle that the Sphinx conveys to Oedipus, in a bewitching chant, the fateful answer to the riddle. One version of the Oedipus myth, reported by Pausanias, tells about Oedipus who learns the answer to the riddle in a dream, but it is not clear whether Cocteau was familiar with Pausanias.23 Nowhere in the play is the parallel between the poet’s word and the monster’s as evident as in the chanting sequence. The Sphinx’s chant operates like a magic ritual: Oedipus becomes possessed by its spell, just as the reader or spectator is by the poet’s words. The Sphinx/monster/Girl in White lures its victim into a hypnosis-like state where free will, mental powers, and survival instinct are put to sleep. Entrenched in this state, Oedipus resembles the Sphinx’s other victims, “the youngest, the weakest, the most beautiful” chosen by the priests as an offering to the Sphinx.24 Like them, he will be sacrificed but differently. When he wakes up from the spell, the

32 The Fantastic in Modern Theatre Sphinx asks the riddle and Oedipus provides as a matter of course the right answer. The Sphinx crumbles on its socle, Oedipus cries victory and leaves. Within the dramatic context, the chant serves as a subterfuge for the enamored Sphinx to disclose the answer to the riddle without apparently forsaking her duty as the gods’ messenger, though the disclosure of the secret may also be part of the gods’ plan to destroy Oedipus. The poetic rhythmic chanting sequence provides an inspiring theatrical experience to the reader or spectator, who cannot escape its sensorial hold and affective impact.

WHITE, COLOR OF REVENGE In the Sphinx’s next appearance, the monster reverts to its mortal shape, that is, the Girl in White. It is under this guise, deceitful but already familiar, that her true identity is finally revealed during her conversation with Anubis. The Sphinx is “the greatest of the great,” Nemesis, the Goddess of Revenge who performs her regular duty. She complies with higher authorities in a boundless hierarchical system whose workings no human can apprehend: she is only one of the many parts in a gigantic infernal machine that operates like a time bomb. From an innocent-looking young girl, who sought to entice Oedipus by her charms, she is now perceived by the omniscient reader or spectator as an inexorable, ferocious force, deceitful under its vestal-like appearance. From a signifier of purity and innocence, the white color of the Girl’s dress has come to signify her morbid ceremonial role in a ritual whose outcome was established from its very beginning, as the Voice had announced in the Prologue. A legend has it that Nemesis, an Oceanoid, became the object of Zeus’ desire and, to escape his embrace, she took the form of a fish then of a goose, in which form she was raped by him. Later known as Adrasteia, “the one whom nobody can escape,” the angry goddess was, according to some legends, the mother (or surrogate mother) of Helen. In Western culture, Nemesis has become a synonym for revenge. Karelisa Hartigan points at the significance of the Sphinx as a willful critique of women in general: “Cocteau’s representation of the Sphinx is unique, as is the way he unites her with Nemesis, most dread and unswerving of the divinities. He is not, of course, the first to see the female as the figure of destruction, to ally sex and ruin.”25 Romana Lowe’s feminist reading, informed by Freud and René Girard, considers Cocteau’s Sphinx a figure of monstrous femininity; as such, it functions as the female victim whose sacrifice will restore the patriarchal order.26 These readings do not take into consideration that

The Sphinx

33

the Girl in White/Sphinx is not an emblematic figure. In its human and female incarnation, the Sphinx is a rejected woman who has endangered her own life for the sake of the beloved one. Deeply hurt, she wavers between hope and despair, love and desire for vengeance. She rejoices when Anubis enumerates for her the long list of Oedipus’ past and future calamities but, when Anubis sees Oedipus coming back, she is still hopeful that he loves her and would carry her away. Finally, she tries in vain to save him from the gods’ verdict at the last moment, before the marriage to Jocasta is consummated. Unlike Jocasta, the Girl in White is neither a caricature nor a schematic character but the incarnation of a young woman whose life-saving gift of love has been declined. This gift of love was not the disclosed answer to the riddle but her offer to marry Oedipus and thus to defy the gods’ verdict. It is only after being rejected by Oedipus that the Girl in White transforms into a “real” Nemesis. Facing her in her new but familiar attire, Oedipus accepts her transformation from Sphinx to a human being as a natural and ordinary phenomenon. For him, as for the other dramatic characters, the fantastic is an integral part of consensus reality. Little does it matter to him that the young woman he has just rejected is a supernatural power and that by rejecting her he rejects the love, mercy, and support of divinity. Intent on fulfilling his ambitions, Oedipus needs now a dead body, whatever shape it may assume, and the Girl in White obliges. She disappears behind the ruins and will reemerge, bearing Anubis’ jackal head instead of hers. The Sphinx is dead, but not Nemesis nor the hopeful girl in love.

THE JACKAL HEAD AND ANUBIS The Sphinx’s next incarnation is a new composite figure, half human and half animal. By putting on the jackal head (the change takes place behind the Chimera’s ruins), the Girl in White becomes, as she tells Anubis, a monster. “The young girl with the jackal head comes out from behind the [ruins’] wall. She totters forward, flaps her arms, and falls down.”27 It is in this shape that the Thebans will be acquainted with the dead body of their scourge, the Sphinx. This transformation underlines the complex association between the Sphinx/Nemesis and Anubis, the god of the dead, whose attributes the Sphinx now endorses. In this context, it is significant to note the similarity between some of the tasks of the two gods in ancient mythology. Among Anubis’ duties was the weighing of each person’s heart on the scale of justice,

34

The Fantastic in Modern Theatre

and Nemesis, the goddess of retribution, was the one who gave each his due according to his merits; the one retaliated after death, the other before. In The Infernal Machine, the Sphinx and Anubis complement each other and represent a Janus-like image of one entity that is visually represented already at the beginning of Act II by the blocking of the two figures. As seen before, the curtain rises on the seated Girl in White who holds the jackal’s head in her lap, a grouping of supernatural beings that immediately places them in the realm of the fantastic. Act II will end with a similar physical pairing or juxtaposition—a narrative and visual framing device—when the jackal’s head replaces that of the Girl in White. In fact, by constructing the separate figures of the Sphinx and Anubis, Cocteau used the dramatic strategy of the doubling or the splitting of the initial character—Sphinx/Anubis—in two. This doubling is prompted by the etymology of the term “sphinx,” for the meaning of “sphinx” in Greek is strangler. The physical differentiation between the two characters brings forth the complexity and complementarities of the conceptual entity Sphinx/Anubis as imagined by Cocteau. Anubis is the cynical reasoner, the gods’ messenger and watchdog, and the Sphinx’s aide. He is the factotum, the killer with the dirty hands or, to be more exact, he is the one with the blood-soiled jaws. Dramatically, he also functions as a one-man chorus. The Girl in White embodies enticing female sexuality, Eros in all its splendor and promising appeal—while Anubis is rigor, Thanatos in all its inexorability. She is the seductress and the judge; he is the executioner, armed with the necessary weapon, the jackal’s jaws. To an ordinary man, they seem to operate in unexplainable ways and to mysterious ends. In The Infernal Machine, Oedipus, who is portrayed like an ordinary man, looks for the Sphinx but meets a young innocent-looking girl; little does he suspect that she is the monster. He believes that he solved the riddle by his wit; little does he know or remember how and why the solution came to his head during his sojourn in the territory of the dead. The new incarnation of the Sphinx may have an additional source in ancient Greek mythology, where Hecate, the goddess of the crossroads, who was connected with hell and the dark powers, is described as either accompanied by dogs or having three heads: a dog’s, a horse’s, and a snake’s. The snake’s skin would resurface in the Sphinx’s spotted gloves, the horse in its rump, and the dog (or jackal)—in Anubis’ head, which the Girl in White makes her own in the present monstrous incarnation. The donning of the jackal head materializes another image attached to the mysterious Sphinx and which was mentioned in Act I: the image of the vampire, one of the recurrent figures in the fantastic. The marks left

The Sphinx

35

PALGRAVE STUDIES IN THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE HISTORY is a series devoted to the best of theatre/performance scholarship ...

Author: Irene Eynat-Confino


1 downloads 9 Views 910KB Size

John Wick Ch 2 - Is Donald Trump - The Spiritual Warrior - Finger of God - Removes Satanic Demons, Deletes the Elite, Cleans the Swamp - Move Bitch, Get out the Way!! Esoteric Movie Review by Satchidanand

The use of Evil, by God, to remove Evil.

In the colours of Purifying Fire

And Pure Gold!!

 "We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." Corinthians 2 4 13


Like "Revolver (2005)" the first cut - by Guy Ritchie, we can see the Underworld, the Meta World of John Wick as a Soul beset by Demons - external Demons representing the Internal Demons. And as all external demons are removed, so the protagonist is seen to remove his ego - the famous lift scene in Revolver - where the ego is seen, and removed.

Like "Fight Club (1999)" we can see that John Wick is divided into the good Soul, represented by his wife, Helen, and his dog given to him by his Wife, and the evil of his previous life as an Assassin for hire living in an evil Satanic World of Assasins, Mafia, Camoro, Ndrgeta with a High Table of twelve Coronated Demons.

As the Demons are removed then the World as Soul becomes purified.

The Wick is lit and the dynamite explodes!!

The Wick is lit to become the Light of the World - the new Jesus Christ!!

John Wick Chapter 2 is the story of you!!

John Wick Chapter 2 is the story of your Enlightenment.

John Wick, this Angry White Male, is being told by God, that he needs to clean the Swamp.

It is very much the story, consciously told, of how, by removing the internal demons by Energy Enhancement Meditation Seven Step Process.

As Within..

So externally, other Agents of God can remove the Demons Externally..

 

 

So Without..

President Donald Trump, like John Wick, being catapulted into a 10,000 years old World of Powers, Demons, of the High Table - Mafia, Camorra, Ndrgeta, Popes, Jesuits, Knights of Malta, Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Soros, CIA created Google and Facebook, Black Nobitity, Central Banks all run by the Vatican Bank, the 9th Satanic Circle of Pedophiles, Human Sacrifice and Cannibalism Rituals.

 

And everyone from Corporate controlled Fakestream Media like Clown Negative News advising Assassination. No wonder all those guns are pointing at him.

And wanting to drain the swamp!!

 

THOUSANDS OF RENFIELDS BUT AS YET, NO DRACULA!!

 

911 was the biggest bank heist in history!! When the two Towers came down 100 Billion dollars in Gold Bars disappeared. When the two Towers came down 100 Billion dollars in bearer bonds disappeared. When the two Towers came down 100 Billion dollars in Diamonds disappeared. And the third tower was not hit and came down all by itself. The wicked wolf said, "And I'll huff and i'll puff and i'll blow your house down!!" That is what happened, really!!

The Communist - Fascist Dialectic - both Sides created by British Intelligence.

The Black Nobility. Privately these families refuse to recognize any right to rule except their own. They are working to use their creations Communism/Socialism and Fascism to create worldwide poverty and a new feudalism to manage the World of the New World Order - the name of Hitler's second book.

1. Communism and Socialism were created by British Secret Services David Urquhart who employed Karl Marx to write Das Kapital from his office in the British National Library in London. Later, Agents Lenin and Stalin used Eugenics and Lysenkoism to kill 60 million people. Communist Mao was taught at Yale, put into power by the CIA and was a 33rd degree Freemason. He killed 80 millions and execution evisceration vans still send organs of religious people and dissenters to rich Oligarchs.

2 Fascism and Nazism was created by Britain and then the Rockefellers ran with it to create Eugenics, Watson at IBM to run Hitler's  concentration camps, Corporatism and Politics to runs the Feudal Society. Into the mix Hitler brought the Old Religion of Valhalla - it is good to die in battle - Sacrifice and Sexual Ritual together with Berserker methamphetamines for the Army.

3. Saudi Arabian Wahhabism was created in 1708 by British Agent Abdul Wahhab and Saudi Arabia was given control of the Oil by the British after Lawrence of Arabia if they made Wahhabism their State religion.  Al Quaeda, Isis rent an Army to destabilise Libya and Syria kill 300,000 Christians and flood Europe and USA with Wahhabist Jihadis is controlled by the British and Americans through their Sabbatean Frankist Saudi Stooges.

4. The French Revolution was Created By British Secret Services

Like Wahabists and the Salafists, Isis and Al Qaeda, British Secret Service controlled Isis Freemasonry was used to destabilise and take over France during the French Revolution.

The speeches of Robespierre were written from London by Jeremy Bentham, "M" of the British Secret Services at the behest of Lord Shelburne prime minister of England previously head of the slave trading, drug running East India Company. Satanist Bentham invented the term, "Free Love" defined as Sex, Sodomy, Pedophilia, and Bestiality..

From the outset, the French Revolution Jacobin Terror was a British East India Company - British Foreign Office-orchestrated affair.

The bloody massacre of France's scientific elite - the destruction of the wealth creation of Science - the satanic anti-science aganda - the Satanic Principle of Poverty - was systematically carried out by French hands, manning French guillotines, but guided by British strings.

British Agent Jacques Necker, a Geneva-born, Protestant, slavishly pro-British banker, had been installed through the efforts of Shelburne's leading ally in France, Philippe Duke of Orl�ans, as finance minister. Necker's daughter, the infamous Agent, Madame de Sta�l, would later run one of Shelburne's most important Parisian salons.

Although Necker had failed to block France from allying with the Americans during the American Revolution, he did succeed in presiding over the depletion of the French treasury and the collapse of its credit system, as in the USA today.

Economic crisis across France was the precondition for political chaos and insurrection, and Shelburne readied the projected destabilization by creating a "radical writers' shop'' at Bowood staffed by Satanic Psychopathic British Agents Bentham, the Genevan Etienne Dumont, and the Englishman Samuel Romilly.

Speeches were prepared by Bentham and translated and transported by diplomatic pouch and other means to Paris, where leaders of the Jacobin Terror, Jean-Paul Marat, Georges Jacques Danton, and Maximilien de Robespierre delivered the fiery oratories.

Records of East India Company payments to these leading Jacobins are still on file at the British Museum.
http://www.energyenhancement.org/Satanic-4th-5th-6th-Generation-Warfare-Battle-For-Your-Soul-Satanism-control-structure-of-falsely-created-religions-philosophies-Economics-Sciences-Thesis-Antithesis-Totalitarian-solution-Orden-Ab-Chao.htm

SATANIST JEREMY BENTHAM'S HEAD WHICH IS KEPT UNDERNEATH HIS STUFFED BODY IN HIS FAVORITE PUB

 


 

The Vast Majority of the Low IQ Public comprising Dumb Sheep and Dogs know nothing of this.

This information is written for the most alert and aware.

It is written for those who are capable of becoming enlightened.

THE REAL NEWS IS RISING
 

The Communist - Fascist dialectic of problem, reaction, solution is to create a feudal poverty-stricken population Worldwide, no middle class - only Oligarchs - who will merge with the transhumanist machine - and slaves.
 

And we know that the High Table sells drugs and pedophile sex worldwide in order to launder black money to fund that legitimate businesses - Cancer, Armaments, Petroleum - which control the World.

The Bushes were always in charge of importation and sales of heroin from Vietnam importing using the cavities of dead soldiers from Vietnam. Later the Golden triangle between Burma, Thailand and Laos. Later Afghanistan after Osama Bin Laden ramped up production to supply 90% of the Worlds heroin and CIA and Nato Planes were transporting heroin to army bases in Europe. A total of one trillion dollars for 50 years = 50 trillion dollars.

Later, the Clintons - a mind controlled bastard of the Rockefellers and the daughter of Hugh Rodham who took over Chicago for the mob after the death of Al Capone - imported one trillion dollars per year of cocaine into Mena, Arkensaw and laundered the money in Miami, New York, Chicago and Europe. A total of one trillion dollars for 50 years = 50 trillion dollars.

100 Trillion dollars!! See..

http://www.energyenhancement.org/ROOTS-OF-SATANISM-FRANKS-MEROVINGIANS-CAROLINGIANS-CAPETS-PIPPINS-CHARLEMAGNE-CATHOLIC-CHURCH-SAINT-FRANCIS-ASSISI-SPIRIT-COOKING-PIZZAGATEe.htm

Back in 1995 seven American Generals proposed to impeach Bastard Bill Clinton for treason because he sold the plans for the F22 Fighter jet to China out of Sandia Labs in New Mexico. The money went into the Clinton Foundation like all the charity money from Haiti and contributions from Putin for selling 20% of USA Uranium to Russia quite recently.

Papa Bush got the contract to Assassinate them and the plane with those seven Generals on board exploded in Alabama.

Bill went mad and fired 200 Generals who failed the test of loving the Constitution more than the Bush - Clinton Crime Family Narco-Trafficers.

Moron Bush fired 200 more in his next Presidency.

Bush Clinton Acolyte CIA cutout Obama fired 500 Generals in his term.

All of those three Presidents are cocaine addicts, the reason why none of their medical records were made extant as the law requires.

And all those fired ass Generals got to talking with their operatives like James Bond Pieczenik who is responsible for at least eight coups of governments worldwide for the CIA, and they formed the America First Organisation.

Donald Trump is their Champion.

It is of alarming concern that Roman Catholic John David Podesta, Chairman of Hilary Clinton�s 2016 presidential campaign, previous Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton and current Counselor to President Barack Obama is a part of her secret Satanic inner circle. He was invited to a �spirit cooking� with Marina � another form of Mary that stands for rebellion and overthrow.

Today, people can see through the VEIL as never before in history. The internet has exploded about 425 pedophile arrests, the freedom of 45 pedophile Sex slaves, Pizzagate, Marina, Posdesta, Witch Hilary Clinton and their links to what is basically the Vatican�s Ninth Satanic Circle.

SATANISM WORLDWIDE FOR 10,000 YEARS - Links from current Satanists to ancient traditions - John Podesta & the DEVIL Lady Gaga AND THE Cult of Marina Abramović Spirit Cooking THE SATANIC

So, the gutless and compromised U.S. Justice Dept. and FBI has announced that they are bailing out of the investigation of Anthony Wiener, Hilary Clinton, Blood Rituals and Pedophilia Sex Rings. It�s a rabbit hole far too heavy, deep, scary and dangerous.

Except they found 425 Pedophile Renfields and freed 45 Pedophile Sex slaves and they are singing like canaries!!

It is very much the story, consciously told, of Finger of God, President Donald Trump starting to clean house, drain the swamp - Move Bitch, get out the way!!

http://www.energyenhancement.org/SATANISM-WORLDWIDE-Podesta-Lady-Gaga-Marina-Abramovic-Spirit-Cooking-BLACK-MADONNA-CYBELE-VICTOR-HUGO-HUNCHBACK-quasimodo-Aset-Pan-Knights-Templar-Serpent-Cult-ninth-circle.htm


The Vast Majority of the Low IQ Public comprising Dumb Sheep and Dogs know nothing of this.

This information is written for the most alert and aware.

It is written for those who are capable of becoming enlightened.

 

 

Yea, bad day. Okay, so what is happening between John Wick and John Wick Chapter 2? Opening John Wick 1, Wick buries his wife, Helen and then he loses his car;

JWC2, Wick gets his car back, then loses his house; why?

John Wick escapes from the Assassin life and gains his Soul - his wife Helen and the dog she gave him but in order to evolve he needs to cut off totally from the Assassin Life and remove the Satanic Demons.

The next step of John Wick's evolution does not come from him. God wants him to evolve and to do that God must stimulate him to act.

Helen dies of Cancer.

Some Demon kills his Dog!!

John Wick cleans house but does not finish the job of killing Uncle Abram - big mistake.

Santino calls him back into the life.

John Wick kills Santino's Sister Gianni.

John Wick kills Santino in the Continental Hotel - he does not make that mistake again.

John Wick does that consciously, breaking all the Assassin Rules, knowing all the consequences, cutting himself off from all Evil.

Knowing the only way out in Chapter three - to totally destroy all the Demons of the High Table - Armageddon!!

The Civil War between the Gods mirrored by that picture of the Civil War and the statues of the Satanic Pagan Gods in the Museum when we first see Santino.

God against Satan with the whole World at Stake!!

That is exactly what happens in JW and JWC2

John Wick needs to remove all external demons, symbolising internal Demons, in order to achieve perfection.

Welcome to the spiritual life, my friend. Every film operates on at least two levels all or most of the time: the physical world and the spiritual world.

Few films, however, are as intensely aware of operating on both levels, and do it so consistently throughout their narrative--and take great pains to communicate to its audience that it is doing so - as John Wick Chapter 2.

Why is this important? Because it validates there is a message within the film, and validates our effort of engagement to decode what that message is. In this particular poster above, for example, all guns are pointed at Wick's head; why?

The head symbolizes our "governing function," such as the "head of government," "The President Donald Trump" whom everybody who is anybody says is targeted for Assassination, just like finger of God, spiritual warrior, John Wick!!

And the head is the most important part of the body and the body of America.

The guns point to Wick's head because Wick has been able to "govern himself," as Abram says in the opening sequence regarding Wick's focus, commitment and sheer will power, and those virtues means the forces of evil can't overcome Wick because Wick has fortressed himself with those virtues.

On the spiritual level, all demons (the assassins) want to kill John Wick because there is a $7 million dollar reward for him; "7 million" is divided into two different symbolic numbers: there is the "7" and there is the "million." Seven always symbolizes perfection, or, in opposite terms, total depravity.

Since John Wick survives to the end of the film, instead of dying, and because he is the hero, then the $7 million contract Santino puts out on John Wick means that Santino recognizes John Wick as "perfection" and it will take "perfection" from the demons to destroy John Wick.

The assassins, of course, are not literal demons, they are, however, metaphorical demons, or "tools" used by Satan to break down John Wick so the devil can collect Wick's soul.

So, what does the "million" represent? Any multiple of "10" is divine perfection, it means the work of God has been brought to completion. By the end of the film, there is a $14 million contract on Wick, which means God has opened another work he He is going to bring to completion (Chapter 3).

Note that John Wick makes two important mistakes at the start of the film:

1. He doesn't kill Abram, the Uncle of the kid who stole Wick's car in John Wick 1.

2. Wick buries his clothes, coins and guns in the basement again. Why? In case Wick needs them again, and that's "an open door policy," in other words, a part of Wick is ready to go back to the life, although he would rather not.

 



 

When Wick makes it to his car, the gestures Wick uses, the way he walks and "gets by" the thugs standing guard, is echoed in Rome after Wick finished with Gianna and Wick gets back to the Catacombs where his escape route is; why?

Because Wick didn't do what he was supposed to do - God's purpose is to bring John Wick to the understanding that his purpose is to purify himself by purifying the World - he did not kill the Demon uncle Abram - note that Abram comes from A - Brahma - not God - as he should have done that being God's Will - and because he did not kill Abram, God sent Santino to bring him back in, to make him kill Gianna and Santino, to start the purge of the Twelve seats on the High Table.

In getting his car back with Abram, Wick now has to endure the far greater trial of killing Gianna, and by mirroring these two scenes, the film makers want us to keep that in mind.

When Wick finds his car, covered with the tarp (lower left image) it's like a body bag covering it; why? Because Wick is dead like a cadaver covered with a body bag in the morgue (don't believe me?

Remember when Wick wakes up after telling Earl to take him to see the Bowery King, and the guys Earl killed are in bags beside Wick, but Wick is alive and bandaged; again, that scene is being played out because Wick fails to kill Abram, so Wick has to go through it all again with Santino.

There are a few important visual elements we have in this opening fight sequence which we must note. First, the assassins working for Abram drive taxis. Wick owns the Mustang he retrieves, it's his car, but a taxi--like a hotel room--is a temporary vehicle you don't own, you just use.

This is one indication that the assassins working for Abram, and hence, working against John Wick, are demons: the world evil builds here on earth is temporary, whereas the world God, the world of the spiritual warrior, is being built in the next world, where there is eternal permanence.

Please remember this point as we discuss Gianna and Santino below, because they have built up a world of temporary power at the expense of their immortal souls (remember, it's Gianna who asks Wick if he's afraid of "damnation," and Wick replies, "Yes".

In this warehouse fight scene, the numerous windows signal "reflection" and meditation, that is, not just Wick's own meditation upon what he's doing, but for us, the audience, to reflect on what is truly happening in the narrative as well.

Then, there is all the water we see, especially on the floor where the character's feet are in the water (again, lower-right image, we can see the assassin and Wick, as well as the yellow taxis reflecting in the ground water).

When Abram tells his right hand man about John Wick, and describes how awesome Wick is, Abram uses the description about Wick's..

"FOCUS, COMMITMENT AND SHEER WILL"

To achieve whatever it is Wick sets himself out upon to accomplish, and these are the same virtues required of the spiritual life - AS WE REMOVE THE ENERGY BLOCKAGES FROM OUR SYSTEMS BY MEANS OF THE SEVEN STEP PROCESS OF ENERGY ENHANCEMENT.

"We are out killing strangers (Demons) so we don't kill the ones that we love (The Soul)"

When the film first opens, we look at the city from numerous angles; we then see what looks to be like an old, silent film playing on the side of one of the buildings, with noise added for the crashing effects, but then we realize that the sound is "off" and the noises aren't aligning with the action sequences,.... then we see the real car chase taking place.

What's the point of that silent film moment?

That's a proper introduction to how to watch the film: part of the film is going to be "off," or not make sense, unless we realize that we are seeing one thing (like the silent film on the building) and hearing something different (the real car chase taking place).

This was a favorite device of Alfred Hitchcock's in some of his mid-career films, such as North By Northwest and Torn Curtain: we are watching one show, like in the art auction in North By Northwest, but the "real drama" is taking place with what is happening to Cary Grant's character.

So, in JWC2, what the "sub-text" denoting the real drama taking place?

First, it's the religious meaning: people are far more willing to "take in" a religious sermon if they don't realize they are taking in a religious sermon.

Indeed only a hidden metaphor can escape the censors, get a movie made, allow it to be popular so that the hidden meanings can be explained later, after everything dies down like with Star Wars - The Force (God) Exists and The Lord of the Rings - there is a constant battle in the World against Satan (Sauron, Morgoth)

I find here that when the hidden subtext is explained before the movie, there is much more meaning and significance from the audience, the kundalini energy of the occasion is enhanced, Everyone enjoys!!

Wick's journey in the film is about the spiritual warfare in which his soul is engaged, yet there is also the additional political commentary we can find, specifically regarding Gianna's coronation and murder by her brother.

Now, we see a car hit the motorcyclist, and a pair of men's feet, in black shoes, socks and pants, get out and walk to the downed cyclist and take out an entry card.
Why is this the first image we see of John Wick? Feet, as we know, symbolize the will, because our feet take us to where we want to go the way our will drives us towards what it is we want in life.

We also know that the color black signifies death: there is good death and bad death.

Good death is being dead to things of the world, not addicted to our appetites and worldly ambitions, but alive in faith, hope and charity.

Bad death is when we are dead in our souls to faith, hope and charity, but we are alive to our worldly ambitions and appetites.

We know John Wick is trying to "get out" of the assassin life where he was the best of the best, so John being "alive" to his worldly appetites isn't a fitting interpretation.

Because of what we do see Wick do, it makes better sense that Wick is alive to the spiritual life, and it's because he is alive to the spiritual life that the demons trying to take down his soul attack him.

It's fitting that we see Wick's feet first because Wick's car, like his feet, symbolizes (somewhat) his will: any vehicle in any time period will symbolize the Holy Spirit "energizing" you to follow your path in life.

In other words, we become the vehicle for the Holy Spirit, so when those thugs steal Wick's car in John Wick 1, what has symbolically happened is that they have stolen the Holy Spirit's ride.

Wick's wife has died, and so Wick is ripe for a spiritual battle because he's down, and the demons come to collect.

The Holy Spirit has a different plan, because Helen was never the Holy Spirit's final reward for Wick, rather, Helen was just the bait, the half way house on the path of Enlightenment.

Did you notice, dear reader how, when Wick drives the car that Wick looks too big for the car? Or, rather, the car looks too small for Wick? That is an incredible detail that all ready tells us what is going to happen: because John Wick has so successfully won the war being waged against him, the Holy Spirit all ready has the next battle prepared because John Wick has "grown" so much during the events we have seen heretofore, so the Holy Spirit can make John Wick an even better man, even as Wick has all ready decided he will establish peace with Abram.

How do we know that the assassins in the film are "demons" and not just assassins? There are two ways: first, the way the assassins themselves are presented, and secondly, because the art exhibit towards the end is called Reflections On the Soul, and it's upon the soul that demons wage war.

If you see only yourself in the mirror then you are ONE.

If you see only yourself in the mirror then you are THE SOUL.

If you see anything else, then that is a Demon.

First of all, the motorcyclist Wick crashes into in the opening sequence has no face: he wears a helmet, covering his identity, and the curse of demons is that, because they were enslaved to their appetites, they lost their identity, as opposed to angels who, because of their love for God being greater than love of self, they enhanced their identity even more so they became even more differentiated from one another, thereby, gaining a greater sense of dignity and individuality (this is important for the very last scene of the film, so please keep this on your back burner).

But not all the assassins are faceless, you object, and you are right in pointing that out; however, art - in all of its forms, especially in film - economizes quite well, which means that the symbolic nature of a character need be established only once, and that is done throughout John Wick and at the start and ending of John Wick Chapter 2.

Remember in John Wick 1 what the tagline was? "That nobody!?" "That 'nobody' was John Wick." "Nobody" refers to somebody with no identity; "John Wick" refers to someone with a singular identity. Do you remember the names of the Russians who stole Wick's car in the first film? No, no one does, but do you remember the name "John Wick?" Of course you do.

In still more other words, the demons in the first film (the ones without a memorable identity) have now becomes demons with no identity because the demons of John Wick Chapter 2 are more severe and difficult to overcome.

As stated above, the devil has robbed Wick of his direction in life (cars and other vehicles are to us what horses were in Biblical and Medieval times when they were also metaphors of the Holy Spirit because the Spirit carries us through life, and provides us with the path we are to take) so when Wick walks into Abram's office and drinks a peace offering with him, Wick "makes peace with his demons" and that is a mistake for which Wick pays throughout the entire film.

You cannot make peace with Demons.

You cannot negotiate with Demons.

You cannot talk with Demons.

How do we know? There are at least two ways: first, because of what the name "Abram" means, and secondly, because Santino accuses Wick of thinking Wick is "Old Testament" towards the end of the film, right before Wick blows Santino's forehead off.

First, "Abram also refers to the Biblical patriarch Abraham before God called him "Abraham." So, "Abram" means "high father," not because the character Abram himself is a "high father," but because that is what Wick would have earned for himself had he vanquished the one who contributed to stealing his car, in other words, by completing the "holy war" in which Wick had to engage to once again get his car, dog, direction in life back, Wick would have "assumed" being the "high father" for himself, so the exact opposite of being assumed to the "High Table" like what Santino wants for himself.

Think of spiritual warfare like this: just as in a video game, the "hero" will get points when the hero vanquishes different degrees of enemy Demons, so, too, in the spiritual life, when we vanquish temptations and demons trying to kill us, which are part of us, this removal purifies us and we gain the spiritual, purified talents of the Demons - we gain strength and resources we can use in future battles against even more difficult demons and temptations.

It's not that life and spiritual warfare mimic video games, rather, video games mimic and codify the real spiritual life and the battles of the Soul.

Because Wick failed to vanquish Abram, he is like King Saul of the Old Testament who failed to vanquish the enemies of God in holy war which is why, as we shall see, that Winston calls Wick "Jonathan," because Jonathan was the son of Saul, the king who was rejected by God.

Aurelio, the car guy who is friends with Wick and helped Wick locate the Mustang, details for the audience everything wrong with Wick's car: "And I don't know if you noticed, but there's a crack in your windshield," because the crack in the car windshield signifies that Wick can't properly see where the Holy Spirit wants to lead him; this isn't Wick's fault, it's human nature to have blockages in the Third Eye.

We tend to resist the incredible journey of transformation, of Enlightenment, which God demands of us all.

But the reality is - We have no choice.

We must learn that we can only make that right choice to do the right and good thing.

John Wick fails his test by not removing Abram, but God immediately sends a greater, harder, test in Gianna and Santino.

THE SATANIC CATACOMBES OF ROME MIRROR THE SATANIC CATACOMBES OF PARIS THE HOME OF DEMONS..

The Persian Empire of Satanic Babylon and Nimrod. The source of Satanism in the World after its defeat by Alexander the Great. The Persian Empire of Satanic Babylon and Nimrod poisoned Alexander through its superagent, Aristotle the Poisoner, and created the Roman Empire.

The Satanic Roman Empire was conquered by Satanic Germans so the Satanic Romans created the Constantine Christian Church to de-Satanise all of Europe whilst maintaining the Satanic Elite at their head for all Bloodline Families, Kings, Emperors, Popes, so they could then re-take all of Europe.

The de-satanising of the German Satanists by Christianity

The Franks - Satanic Dragon Kings from Troy who performed Satanic Blood Human Sacrifices in underground Temples in Paris - lately Princess Diana - catacombes beneath Paris as there are ancient Satanic underground Temples in Rome - beneath the Cathedral of Notre Dame - The Virgin Mary - Pagan Human Sacrificing Cybele and Attis - the State Religion of the Satanic Roman Empire. Beneath Paris' City Streets, There's an Empire of Death Waiting for Tourists..

 

SATANIC CATACOMBE TEMPLE - PARIS

Beneath Paris' City Streets, There's an Empire of Death Waiting for Tourists


The Franks-Pippin forgery-creation of the Catholic Church Religion by paid propagandist, the Venerable Bede, in order to legitimise the Frank would be Kings, Excommunicated by Constaninople as Emperors of Europe, - putting in Pippins own brother as the first Pope, Forging the History of the Popes back to Saint Peter, forging Peters Pence, culminating in Emperor Charlemagne, - who murdered, ritually sacrificed 4000 Satanic German Priests and cut down their sacred tree, Yggydrasil - Charles the First, Emperor of France, legitimised by the Pope of the New Catholic Church.