Tag Archives: absence

The Wall

spring morning

she presses her palm against

the wall

.

The Wall (Die Wand), is a film directed by Julian Roman Pölsler (Austria/Germany, 2011)

and based on Marlen Haushofer’s (1963) best-selling eponymous novel. I have not read the

novel, though now that I saw the film, I am going to.

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I mention it here, not only because it is a great film I just watched, but also because it connects

with my own interests and forthcoming collection “In the Garden of Absence.”

It is on the same theme of loneliness and the development(or not) of the capacity to be creatively

alone.

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In the story, right from the beginning, a woman on a trip to the Alps and shortly after she is

separated from the couple she is travelling with, is mysteriously trapped inside a transparent

wall surrounding her hunter’s lodge. While there is a big and beautiful area inside this wall –

including mountain peaks, meadows, a lake, forests – there is no contact  with the outside

world and no way of knowing whether it still exists.

 .

Without human companionship and with only her own resources to survive, her will to live

is tested. Through her sense of responsibility and, I would say, inner strength, she is able to

move towards a realization of the nature of her predicament and acceptance of loneliness,

to an understanding of the human condition in general and the role love plays in it.

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A Robinson Crusoe without happy endings, but with an insight that goes to the heart

of the human condition. I look forward to the book.

 .

The film’s slow-moving, original and atmospheric cinematography enhances the story

and provides the right background for the perfect performance by Martina Gedeck.

A thought-provoking, emotionally demanding as well as rewarding film.

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For a summary of the book see here

and film review here

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spring morning

she presses her palm against

the wall

.

Solitude and aloneness

Do you ever wonder about the difference between loneliness and the capacity to be alone? Between the soul-destroying feeling of utter despondency, emptiness and despair, on the one hand, and on the other, the capacity to be creatively alone, to enjoy the space and freedom aloneness gives and to be productive? I do, often. I have been putting together a small collection of micropoetry, haiku, and senryu on this theme. Titled “In the Garden of Absence,” the collection aims to  reflect on this difference, without, I hope, rushing to answer any questions. Even if I had the answers…

Interested? D. W. Winnicott, the British psychoanalyst and paediatrician originally introduced this concept. If you have access to his work, fine. If not, Jean-Bertrand Pontalis provides the best explanatory note of Winnicott’s concept  (on this capacity to be alone) in the online Gale Dictionary of Psychoanalysis.

Risking oversimplification, I would say here that the capacity to be alone is not the capacity to simply bear being alone until the other person returns, but a capacity to feel and creatively use the space and freedom which being separate from the other person offers. In terms of the child, Winnicott argues, it is the capacity to disentangle herself from ‘mother’s madness’ or the most primitive needs of the mother’s attachment to her own offspring. It is in this sense, I believe, that this capacity, paradoxically, is compatible with the other’s or, in that case, mother’s presence.

I quote from Pontalis here:
“To be able to tell oneself  “I am alone” without feeling forsaken—such is the prerequisite for what Winnicott considers an essential achievement: to be assured of a sense of continuity as between oneself and the other person, or, better still, to perceive discontinuity in a permanent bond, or even its rupture, as the very precondition of that’s bond’s survival.”

Buffling? Visit the whole Pontalis entry when you have a moment… of solitude! Click here