Running the Rapture

Sleep Writing Running the Rapture on Solaris

I just awoke, sleep writing, two and a half hours into my sleep, so delicious, tantalizing, holding sand in my hands, sifting away, have to try to hold some of it.

The Rapture has been on my mind, Christians believing that God will sweep them up into the clouds, will judge them heaven-worthy: and I can just see it happening, provided that God isn’t allowed to speak, that the fundamentalist Protestant ministers will run the show, the way Catholic priests once believed that they would, God not able to get a word in edgewise. Because: if God got a word in edgewise … I believe that Christians would be in for a very rude surprise: if, as I believe, I am more than average in tune with God. Christians to my mind are indistinguishable from the kleptocrats, the Nazis, the self-deceiving liars, the Christ-killers. They claim alliance with salvation but are actually parasites: anti-social, allies of the state.

What I was dreaming was a revisit to my Snatch file, my Invasion of the Mind Snatchers: where my Turing Test fails to detect any humans, any intelligence, among the humans, replicants all. And suddenly I was on Solaris. I was in Solaris, and it was raining indoors. Gotta try to explain:

Solaris is a novel by Stanislaw Lem. Stanislaw Lem is a genius, a creator, weaver, artist who makes other geniuses look stupid. (You want evidence that I’m right, that we’re all stupid? Consider how very little of Lem’s oeuvre has been translated into English!) The 1972 film was concocted by Andrei Tarkovsky. Tarkovsky is a genius, a creator, weaver, artist who makes other geniuses look stupid.


I know some Lem, translated into English, enough to know whereof I speak. I know some Tarkovsky. But the only Solaris I know is the Tarkovsky, and the Hollywood remake of the story. But right now I’m just referring to the Tarkovsky film.

We met the characters on earth before we dwell with them orbiting the planet Solaris. We meet the protagonist, his family, see his home. We see his home in the rain.
The astronauts in orbit are haunted by personifications of their memories: dead loved ones. It seems that Solaris, the planet, is sentient in a sense, is reading their memories, imitating what it reads.
At the end we recognize the scene as earth, as home, it’s raining. It’s raining indoors!
It isn’t earth, it’s Solaris! And Solaris does not have everything right, Solaris is creating a misreading!

And I’m sleepwriting, and I realize I’m tormented by an earth that seems to be an earth, but isn’t, by people who seem human, but aren’t, by people who seem to understand, but don’t.
I’m not on earth, I’m on Solaris.
Or: I live among people for whom I’m on a time delay: they hear what I say — thirty or forty years after I’ve said it. But of course they don’t recognize that I said it, they think they thought of it: but: it’s raining indoors! They don’t get it!
I’m toilet paper trailing from their shoe, they don’t know it’s there, wouldn’t see its implications if they did, won’t be shown, resent (and punish) attempts.

In my sleep all these things wove as one, they were the same. The Christians for the moment control their dream, won’t have any other. The Rapture is theirs, they’re the heroes, they can make up the facts: and God, the bully, will back them.

We must live our own experience, we cannot inherit it.

Solaris, getting things amazingly close but essentially wrong, dominates my cosmology, my theology. What a delicious dream: and the “people” in it, tormenting me, really think they’re people. Some even love me.

PS The image of Hari, Solaris’ recreation of the hero’s dead wife (who’s just killed herself again!) has an unaccountable black-marker smear. Sorry, it’s that way at the source, we’re just borrowing it.

Magical Inexplicability

thanx cca

The phrase is Tarkovsky’s, capturing his essence of film.
2014 10 29 I’m here today to make a point about Solaris. I set up the post, then searched this huge, complex blog and find that I’d already made the point, here. Ah, but of course I find typos to fix: and needed an excuse anyway to quote that wonderful phrase: Magical Inexplicability. And now I look forward to sharing Nostalghia with my beloved Jan.

Raining Indoors

2015 01 06 God bless us, I just finished watching Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev, for the second time. This time it only took me a week: like rereading Shakespeare: each new reading takes days longer than the previous, the more you see the more you see, the more there is to see. At the end, the bell rings, the bullshit proves to be a miracle after all, Russia’s great artist saint Andrei Rublev is freed of his silence, is ready to paint again and three hours of black and white, as painful as Dreyer’s Passion of Saint Joan, the Puritan spending all day Sunday, Protestant Paul sitting on a hard hard pew, that’s his week’s “rest”, and the film flossoms into color: close close ups of Rublev icons: color, pattern, then, slow pan, slow closeup, Christ’s face, ancient, aged, divine: and we hear rain, and it’s raining, rain running over the icon, over Christ’s face, and at last we’re in a meadow, pouring rain, and the horses pace the rich green grass!

God almighty, what an epiphany. One of these days I’ll finish Nostalghia, unbearably beautiful, then rewatch The Sacrifice! slow pan over Leonardo!

The artist exists because the world is not perfect.
Vlada Petric, Harvard film professor on Tarkovsky & Rublev

Protestant Paul

I know film so well, for an amateur, yet I never heard of Tarkovsky before the last couple of decades: so, what I’ve seen I’ve seen “recently”, more like the last ten years than the last twenty or twenty-five. I hope more than one browser is picking up my hints that the naked saint on his bony knees in the hard wood church may be more sensual, more ecstatic than the conventional priest dipped in gold and silver. Bach doesn’t need any colors, other than already come from his organ.

And if that’s now a hard enough pew I’ll watch some more Robert Bresson, and some Pasolini.

I really love Tarkovsky’s metaphor of the bell: bullshit, bluff, luck, chutzpah … but finally, the synergy, the miracle.
And on a trivial plane: I really want to know how Tarkovsky got that horse to fall down the stairs in the raid on Vladimir! The cow on fire, that’s easy.

2015 07 29 OK, I did watch Nostalghia: took a damn long time. And I must say, on Solaris and raining indoors: Nostalghia is full of water, drips, rain, puddles … pools, drained pools … Maybe I’m over-reading, over-interpreting Solaris’s rain: maybe Tarkovsky just uses rain a lot.
But no: I have to be right, no matter what all the water means in Nostalghia.
In all cases, think on this: Nostalghia, the final scene: slow pull-back from a puddle, gothic ruins. a mere puddle!
Who has a better right to insult Commie pretension, to insult God, than a lifer-against-his-will Commie?

Oh, and Yes: since writing this post I have seen more Bresson, Yes, now I must watch more: and the Sacrifice. again. And more Pasolini.
Btw Tarkovsky is always useing “great art, great music” … In Nostalghia, Beethoven’s Ninth, 4th movement comes up: garbbled! Was that in his control?



About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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