In Love with Tarkovsky

A few excerpts from the book „In Love with Tarkovsky” translated by Alistair Ian Blyth.

In that small cinema auditorium, the miracle took place: in understanding the film, I had the feeling that I became immortal. In a fundamental way, this is also what the ultimate meaning of art should be. Finding those hidden meanings of art, experiencing art, the individual can be saved, can become immortal. Watching a Tarkovsky film, feeling it and experiencing it with all the intensity of which I was capable, I had a complete sense of immortality. It was not only Tarkovsky who could save himself, but also I, the humble viewer, who, by participating in the artistic act, by understanding and experiencing artistic expression, became immortal. I the unknown, I the talentless, but in possession of that boundless, almost Dostoevskian, desire to be saved at all costs, to find redemption.

I realised that this was a path as certain as that of the creative artist. And that I too could tread that path. Like the anonymous monk in his cell, silent and unknown to all, who ultimately finds the supreme salvation. I left the cinema transfigured. I felt that a genuine ontological transformation had taken place. Beyond the dark and troubling existential problems, I felt that I had become invincible. I had become truly immortal. The supreme self-salvation, individual salvation, there, in isolation, far from the world, without any parade, without any artificialities, without any irony: salvation through the experience of art. This was the authentic experience. It had become the purpose of life, its essence.

I experienced there art in solitude, but I knew very well that what I understood, what I experienced, was a shared experience, a shared meaning. I knew very well and I was aware that there were others like me, who experienced the film or artwork in the same way or that they had previously experienced it in the same way. Connections established and unknown, but essential, between those that share the same experience. Art was and is my freedom: the freedom of lived and shared experiences.

I understand that the art of Pina Bausch, like the art of Tarkovsky, provides me with that feeling that would be sufficient to ground my entire existence: joy. It gives me hope and faith and I think that it is no blasphemy to paraphrase the words of Florensky in this context: “There exists the art of Tarkovsky and the art of Pina Bausch: therefore the Spirit exists.” The “Other” exists, “presence” exists, which gives birth to joy. Like the joy that I felt at the end of The Sacrifice, when the child carries the two buckets of water, one by one, to water the withered tree, the tree of lost faith, but which, with faith, can be brought back to life. It is the joy of hope. Because in the end, it is not suffering, but joy that is the mystery of life, its essence. The words of Prince Myshkin cannot be true, when he puts forward that suffering is a spiritual thirst! I cannot accept them; I cannot accept them any longer! Suffering is vulgar, as someone once said. Joy is life’s miracle! Above all shared joy! This is the purpose and the essence of life and of art in its entirety: the sharing of joy. The joy of experiencing art and sharing that joy with others! To share their joy! Let us therefore take joy in Tarkovsky! 

Bewildered, despairing, perplexed by the stupidities of society in Ceaușescu’s Romania, that chaotic prison camp, an artificial, brutal world, agonisingly situated beyond any means of understanding. I could find no way to get to grips with that world. I could not mould myself to it, because that would have meant making too many compromises. Rather than banal happiness in semi-complicity with an aggressive and stultifying regime, I preferred to attempt to construct a world of my own, as far away as possible from the exterior world. Little by little, I began to take refuge in my own thoughts, in my own imagination, and ultimately in my own memory. For, memory was, I believed, what ultimately remained, the fundament, the firm ground in which I rooted myself when buffeted by disquietudes and desperate lack, by the paradoxes and antinomies that continually assailed me.

But what kind of memory can you construct for yourself in times constrained by fate and by forces beyond your will? Life itself was changed, it had to follow a particular path, flanked on either side by unscalable walls. I had to try to slip sideways through life, eluding life, because I was always aware that I did not have access to life’s most elementary, fundamental aspect: freedom. Only when you live in such wretched, even surreal, conditions, which verge on the ridiculous and the terrifying at the same time, do you begin to appreciate, in your unhappy lucidity, that the right to freedom is perhaps the most important characteristic and necessity of the human spirit. It was then that I discovered what freedom meant: the elementary right to live in an authentic way, to choose the experiences that can lead to the fulfillment of that absolutely necessary sentiment of what it is to be human—the negation of one’s own nothingness. It is probably the authentic and preeminent right to enter the sacred space of spirituality, in other words, the sole chance to live in the presence of a “presence”, regardless of what kind of spirituality it might be: God or the Absolute, the Platonic ideas or Aristotelian essence, Cartesian self-awareness or Kantian transcendental logic, the Hegelian Idea or Heidegger’s Being. It is whatever might be beyond the unbearable constraints of the immanence of my being, of my banal everyday life. But I understood once again that in the communist world even the right to negate one’s other nothingness was utterly forbidden.

Fragmentele traduse în limba engleză au fost extrase din volumul – Îndrăgostit de Tarkovski. Mic tratat de trăire a artei. Acesta poate fi achiziționat de pe site-ul Editurii Meridiane Publishing: https://meridiane.ro/product/indragostit-de-tarkovski-mic-tratat-de-traire-a-artei .

 

 

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