My thoughts about culture and our present conditions. As Dianne Moore says in Learning to Love a Wounded World, "This requires a willingness to feel everything…. the horror and the beauty of what is here…. the fear and the Love.”

Conscience

Recently Roman Polanski was arrested on trying to enter Switzerland, to be brought back to the U.S. to face the sentence he fled in 1978 after pleading guilty to the rape charges of having sex with a thirteen year old girl.  The incident has raised a great deal of hubbub, and I find it not all that surprising to see charges from certain groups of people that not only raise the bar of villification for this incident several notches, but include in the process the condemnation of all those who attempt to in some way this arrest questionable, and perhaps even unnecessary after all these years.  Top of the list in this process is not surprisingly all of Hollywood.  Here is one of the milder versions of this public judgement and condemnation process. I find myself oddly perplexed and fascinated by this social phenomenon.  And I’m inclined now to wonder in a broader sense, perhaps, what this sort of human behavior implies.

I don’t have a particularly great affinity for concepts like
"ownership," but I feel I understand what it means in this instance when people are wont to say that Polanski should own his guilt and therefore own up to it like a man.  In some instances the word cowardice might even be applied to his actions. 

To
me, "ownership" of this sort is another way of referring to acknowledging my conscience. If I act out of my own
conscience I do not attribute my actions to someone or something else.
Therefore, whether Polanski has a conscience he goes by, doesn’t have
one at all, or if it’s at times dormant… such matters are not my
concern, they are his.   So to me this old incidence now come back to the public light is more a matter of an individual’s personal responsibility and a matter of conscience within the self.  Other than that it’s a matter of law.  But in no way do I find it within my domain to stand in judgment of Roman Polanski.

In an effort to clarify what I mean by "conscience," I shall say that my conscience is a major element in a
kind of higher, objective realm of thought in considering my own
actions in the world, either before or after I’ve done them. Mostly before an action when something of an ethical or moral choice is before me to make.  As such, my conscience seems to me to be something more
than my rational thinking mind, or my emotional set that goes with it.
I find that I have to know my
own conscience in a very personal and intimate way, a way that no one
but me can know, but I’m not sure how many words it takes to describe
it to someone, more than I’m able to amass I’m afraid. One thing that’s
important to me about conscience, is tends to be the pervasive basis
for all my struggles with such predominant social forces as
institutionalism, and the question that arises in that form where my
actions sometimes take place, and where I may ask, who’s in charge when
I do something? Should someone else be able to tell me to do something
that violates my conscience? And then with such questions, the rational
nature of "the job" and the institution and my sense of conscience may
come into conflict. Sometimes a very serious conflict, especially if
one happens to be in the military institution and one is ordered to
kill someone.

When I think seriously about dramatic arts and
what they entail, it occurs to me that acting is one those arts that
plays with conscience in a very seductive and dangerous way, especially
for the individuals involved in a play. I think that may especially
includes the director, who plays a kind of god like role in a
production.

I think all the arts involve conscience, and
consciousness, but maybe acting is an art that’s more obviously so than
some of the other arts. Medieval theater, for instance, provided some
very unsettling challenges to the powerful institutional forces of
conscience that thought in terms of controlling consciences of others,
and keeping them in line. The near annihilation of the theater arts
appears, from historical accounts and analysis, to have begun somewhere
about the time Constantine was converted, and :

After
the conversion of Constantine, the lustful and bloody spectacles were
accurst by the church. It was to be expected that the Fathers should
condemn the theater absolutely, since it was–in the sole aspect in
which they had occasion to behold it–unspeakably vile. With the
triumph of Christianity theatrical performances were abolished; and it
must have seemed as though the drama was destroyed forever. It is true
that in some obscure nooks rural farces might linger, forgotten links
in the chain that was to stretch from the Atellan fables to the late
Italian comedy-of-masks. But this doubtful survival seems to have
little significance, and apparently the break in the tradition of the
theater was final and irreparable. When Constantinople supplanted Rome
as the capital of civilization, dramatic literature, which had been a
chief glory of Athens, ceased from off the earth. For a thousand years
and more the history of the drama is all darkness and vacancy; and we
have not a single name recorded of any author writing plays to be
performed by actors, in a theater, before an audience. (source)

Sometimes
in my idle musings I will speculate about this outrage against all that
is vile and corrupt in the idea of the "home of the film institution"
known as Hollywood, which also happens to be located in reference to
right wingers, somewhere on the "Left Coast" (left being an ancient
symbol of evil as well). And in my musings I have speculated that this
"populist" reaction has some latency in form to that long gone era
where a deep seated fear and repression was programmed systematically
into the populace through a form of public, social denial, a denial of
the experience of theater. That was an era sometimes lumped under the
term Dark Ages.

And then we also have this somewhat latent
reaction that seems to have followed along with a body of philosophical
thought emerging out of the Dark Ages, in a period sometimes called the
"Enlightenment" and, well, it’s correlate identity, liberation, which
has recently become the now well re-established evil: liberalism. And,
so, maybe the tea parties will finally shed us of this evil scourge as
the fears of the theater and it’s corrupting effect on "conscience" are
once again brought under control. And the "evil" Polanski will get his
due, maybe even at the stake in a fire as the natives dance around in
glee, or on a rack, ripped apart, sinew by sinew.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s