FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Political Solitude

by RICHARD OXMAN

“One of the definitions of political is ‘involving or charged or concerned with acts against a government of a politcal system’. Like with political prisoners.”

— Pelican Bay prisoner

When eminent Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez received his Nobel Prize for Literature in ’82, the Stockholm audience was treated to a dissertation on solitude. GGM, only the fourth Latin American to have received the award up to that time, said:

“I dare to think that it is…outsized reality, and not only its literary expression, that has deserved the attention of the Swedish Academy of Letters. Poets, and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable. This…is the crux of our solitude.”

He, then, asked for something very special. It was:

“…a new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will really prove true and happiness be possible; and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth.” (1)

Someone mentioned solitude the other day when describing another blessing from Colombia, Maria Full of Grace; Catalina Sandino Moreno has been nominated in the Best Actress category for the upcoming Oscars. She appears in almost every shot of the film.

Amidst many others throughout, she stands as a solitary figure somehow in her journey to escape from unemployment, an exploitive family…and more. She might as well be from any of the myriad places in South America/Central America that Gabriel Garcia Marquez frequented throughout his career. But she is no two-dimensional symbol.

The film focuses on foreclosed opportunities, and writer/director Joshua Marston deserves much applause for his narrative of the drug trade from a female smuggler’s POV, something sorely missing from mainstream products.

We see young women emigrating to Western cities –having to endure capitalist crimes in the process– in singular cinematic fare like Stephen Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things, Julie Bertucelli’s Since Otar Left and Claire Denis’ I Can’t Sleep, but the solitude embodied by Marston’s cinematography begs for acknowledgement. It is a standout among outstanding alternatives.

One thing they all have in common, as Vojislava Filipcevic points out, is “less an echo of feminist liberation…than testimony to the growing number of responsibilities women have taken over in their home countries without corresponding reward.” (2) Italics are mine.

There are other common denominators, but the penetrating loneliness of Maria respecting maltreatment in the workforce/by her partner is particularly poignant. Perhaps the New York setting contributes to this.

There is solidarity shown at special moments, and there’s a documentary-like quality about the proceedings at times; Orlando Tobon, a real-life community activist helped to produce and act in the film.

In the subtitle of the film’s poster we are told that the work is “based on 1,000 true stories.” It harks to Garcia Marquez’ 100 Years of Solitude for me.
North American values juxstaposed with those born South of the Border. What a prescription for injustice and violence, yes? Risk borne on the backs of tortured bones.

Marston is only in his mid-thirties, and the movie is quite an accomplishment as a first, all of its flaws easily embraced; he spent years risking his own life to complete this work.

Luchino Visconti had an enormous influence over me in the late fifties/early sixties. His Rocco and His Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli) put me in a state of solitude for weeks; I could hardly talk to anyone where I grew up in Newark’s Seth Boyden Housing Project. The future cops who surrounded me in the playground were too busy using the word “nigger” –and fingering bats they planned to use in the next gang war– to listen to me about anything I had discovered.

Solitude. I know it’s not the same as loneliness, but they do have some common denominators.

Mira Liehm, in addressing Rocco, provides a touching commentary which includes an invaluable take by Visconti on the subject:

“Drawing not only on Verga and Thomas Mann (he often acknowledged his indebtedness to Mann’s novel Joseph and His Brothers) but also on Dostoyevsky, Visconti elevated Rocco’s story to one of the mythical symbols of conemporary Italy. The saintly goodness of this boxing champion with Prince Mishkin’s soul becomes a mirror that reflects the weariness of a society trapped in the growing emptiness of private relationships. Rocco’s solitude in the middle of a 1959 booming city seems to confirm Fellini’s apprehensions voiced in 1955 in connection with La strada: “Solitude will be the greatest pain of modern man.” (3)

Personally, I am no longer looking for people with whom to march in solidarity. First, I am interested in holding hands with others in solitude.

RICHARD OXMAN, all alone by the telephone, can be reached at: dueleft@yahoo.com.

Notes:

(1) Translated by Patricia Pitchon.

(2) Cineaste, America’s leading magazine on the art and politics of the cinema Vol. XXX No. 1 (Winter, 2004), p. 45.

(3) Mira Liehm, Passion and Defiance: Film in Italy from 1942 to the Present (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), p. 174

RICHARD OXMAN can be found these days reading Joe Bageant’s material in Los Gatos, California; contact can be made at dueleft@yahoo.com. The Ox’s never-before-revealed “biography” is available at http://news.modernwriters.org/Some of his recent writing can be found in his Arts & Entertainment section and Features (under Social) there.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
Dave Lindorff
Right a Terrible Wrong: Why Obama Should Reverse Himself and Pardon Leonard Peltier
Laura Carlsen
Bringing Mexico to Its Knees Will Not “Make America Great Again”
John W. Whitehead
Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey: the Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Mike Whitney
The Trump Speech That No One Heard 
Conn Hallinan
Is Europe Heading for a “Lexit”?
Stephen Cooper
Truth or Twitter? Why Donald Trump Is No John Steinbeck
Binoy Kampmark
Scoundrels of Patriotism: The Freeing of Chelsea Manning
Ramzy Baroud
The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
Josh Hoxie
Why Health Care Repeal is a Stealth Tax Break for Millionaires
Kim C. Domenico
It’s High Time for a Politics of Desire
Shamus Cooke
Inauguration Day and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
More and More Lousy
David Swanson
Samantha Power Can See Russia from Her Padded Cell
Kevin Carson
Right to Work and the Apartheid State
Malaika H. Kambon
Resisting the Lynching of Haitian Liberty!
January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail