We watched Polanski’s THE PIANIST last night.
I watched the film obsessively when it first came out, but had no memory at all of the plot; back then I was in a state of such cruel and abject starvation that my whole psyche was taken over by hunger and restraint, and the scenes of Spizlman–by then a skeletal, dull-eyed being of only bone and skin–reduced to a baser animal state by the same crippling force, stumbling through the later scenes was, at the time, overwhelmingly fascinating to whatever conscious shreds of myself remained. I’m not sure why. Regardless, it was strange to screen it from a healthier state, and to remember the fact of my earlier preoccupation without–no matter how hard I try–being able to tap into the subjective.
I get shy about saying this. THE PIANIST is, after all, a film about the
Holocaust, and the torture and genocide one group inflicted upon an innocent
other. My demons were internal, my suffering my selfish own; the fact that the senseless evil portrayed in that film I only relate to via an even shallower evil in myself is embarrassing.
Still, it is humbling how tenuous our humanity is, and how tragically simple it is to shut down that diaphanous portion of being that connects us to some greater and glorious social reality. It might be sick to say but I am glad for having experienced that diminishing–and for having been, as a result, humbled–if bewildered that I cannot remember it subjectively, or first-hand. Of course this makes sense, at least in theory; my ‘I’ had been wholly devoured. Still, it is unnerving to remember, and, even more, to report.
I am not sure why I’m sharing this, aside from that last night was disconcerting, and because I want to reclaim something from those years. Perhaps sharing is the wrong word.
I will never understand myself, much less the world.