The Turin Horse

The Field of Waterloo exhibited 1818 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

The Field of Waterloo exhibited 1818 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 

Below I’ve posted the monologue from Bela Tarr’s masterpiece, The Turin Horse. Thanks to John Dockus for reminding me of the film in connection to Van Gogh’s Potato Eaters. The brief monologue serves as an epitaph for a dead civilization. :

Bernard: “I’ve run out of palinka. Would you give me a bottle?”

Ohlsdorfer: “Give him some… Why didn’t you go into town?”

B: “The wind’s blown it away.”

O: “How come?”

B: “It’s gone to ruin.”

O: “Why would it go to ruin?”
B: “Because everything’s in ruins, everything’s been degraded, but I could say that they’ve ruined and degraded everything. Because this is not some kind of cataclysm, coming about with so-called innocent human aid. On the contrary, it’s about man’s own judgement over his own self, which of course God has a hand in, or dare I say: takes part in. And whatever he takes part in is the most ghastly creation that you can imagine. Because you see the world has been debased. So it doesn’t matter what I say because everything has been debased that they’ve acquired and since they’ve acquired everything in a sneaky, underhand fight, they’ve debased everything. Because whatever they touch – and they touch everything – they’ve debased.

This is the way it was until the final victory. Until the triumphant end. Acquire debase, debase, acquire. Or I can put it differently if you like: to touch, debase and thereby acquire, or touch, acquire and thereby debase. It’s been going on like this for centuries. On, on, and on.

This and only this, sometimes on the sly, sometimes rudely, sometimes gently, sometimes brutally but it has been going on and on. Yet only in one way, like a rat attacks from ambush. Because for this perfect victory it was also essential that the other side… That is, everything that’s excellent, great in some way and noble should not engage in any kind of fight. There shouldn’t be any kind of struggle, just the sudden disappearance of one side, meaning the disappearance of the excellent, the great and the noble.

So that by now these winning winners who attack from ambush rule the earth, and there isn’t a single tiny nook where one can hide something from them. Because everything they can lay their hands on is theirs. Even things we think they can’t reach but they do reach are also theirs, because the sky is already theirs and all our dreams. Theirs is the moment, nature, infinite silence. Even immortality is theirs, you understand? Everything, everything is lost forever! And those many noble great and excellent just stood there, if I can put it that way. They stopped at this point and had to understand and had to accept that there is neither god nor gods. And the excellent, the great and the noble had to understand and accept this night from the beginning.

But of course they were quite incapable of understanding it. They believed it and accepted it but they didn’t understand it. They just stood there, bewildered but not resigned until something – that spark from the brain – finally enlightened them. And all at once they realized that there is neither god nor gods. All at once they saw that there is neither good nor bad. Then they saw and understood that if this was so, then they themselves do not exist either! You see, I reckon this may have been the moment when we can say that were extinguished, they burnt out. Extinguished and burnt out like the fire left to smolder in the meadow.

One was the constant loser one was the constant winner. Defeat victory defeat victory and one day here in the neighborhood I had to realize, and I did realize, that I was mistaken, I was truly mistaken when I thought that there has never been and could never be any kind of change here on earth. Because believe me, I know now that this change has indeed taken place.”

About trueoutsider

I'm an artist.
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3 Responses to The Turin Horse

  1. johndockus says:

    Stunning, stunning words from The Turin Horse, Bart. A finality about them, a terrible beauty. They’re like words from the other side, which one would like to dismiss as crazy, except for the ring of truth about them, the chilling death-knell felt in them, a giant gong sounded by the shrouded figure of Death from Bergman’s Seventh Seal who swings a human bone against it, and then drops it and calmly walks away. This resonates deeply in both of us, and I think, having gotten to know you a bit, could’ve been penned by you. Good accompanying painting by Turner. I’m thrilled to have participated in this epiphany with you.

  2. johndockus says:

    Hi Bart: I perused many of your posts on WordPress Reader, and you have so much excellent stuff here my heart leaps with joy. I could leave comments all over the place, but don’t worry – I’ll spare you; or if I do comment, when I get around to it, I’ll try to keep it short and in such a way that it not quarrels or sidetracks but actually contributes to what you’ve presented.

    I watched The Turin Horse around a half year ago, but refreshing my memory watching the clip you posted (awful overdub), that character Bernard who appears and gives that monologue, how he’s dressed and his blasé manner is fascinating. I see in him shades not only of Bergman’s Death from the Seventh Seal (a more portly ambassador of Death, who has let himself go in his unfathomable weariness), but with that black frilly around his neck, how he appears, he’s a kind of Luciferian clown too, a fallen angel who has had all the mocking burned out of him by his own past fury rebelling, and now he has given up and doesn’t care anymore, seeing it’s all futile and useless; he’s as burnt out and reduced to inescapable primary element as charcoal, dust and ashes, a bone-dry Memento Mori about him. I also see in this portrayal shades of Emil Jannings as Mephisto, an incredible performance, in F.W. Murnau’s great silent film Faust; – The portrayal also has something of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot about it, but even beyond that, Bernard hopes and waits for no one to save him or humanity anymore, no God, no redemption, not even the fascistic and totalitarian manifestation of God into Big Brother, just a barren wasteland all around hardened incontrovertibly into fact and imprisoning light like the rarest black diamond, and snuffing it out in finality, turning into a black hole, sucking all into it and there’s no escape for anyone; the Apocalypse is real and here, it’s already happened. ”Believe me, I know now that this change has indeed taken place.” (What can we do? – he shrugs). This character Bernard has a link in another sense with the cynical and nihilistic Ivan from Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamozov and the Grand Inquisitor parable he tells his monk brother Alyosha.

    De profundis!

  3. trueoutsider says:

    Yeah. That speech is packed pretty tight. Gotta give it that. The death of civilization is a bitch, that’s for sure…..

    Well…like Joyce said while trying to wake up from the nightmare of history, “For fock’s sake, man, finnekins wake is a best seller in China!”

    Or is this just more of their Commie propaganda?

    By the way we could be at war with China any day now since they’ve refused to do what we say they’re in for some real trouble. With Iran thrown in for good measure… As Global Research informs us: Another U.S. WAR? OBAMA THREATENS CHINA AND IRAN!!!!

    A headline ripped right out of Orwell’s 1984:

    Well, perhaps we’ll end up in Turin Horse land sooner rather than later….

    We can also put the Potato Eaters together with the Turin Horse as Christmas Past and Christmas Future… But will Ebenezer Scrooge wake up in time to smell the coffee before there’s no more coffee left?

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