The "Dangerous Art" of Arthur Schnitzler: Stage & Screen & Stage

Eyes Wide


in c a n n a b i s veritas’?

by Steven L. Reinhart, Ph.D.


An aesthetico-ethical critical essay in Film & Philosophy, on the Rebellious Art of: SCHNITZLER, OPHÜLS, KUBRICK, HARE, and MENDES. As that is exemplified in the Literature of the texts: Eyes Wide Shut (screenplay-adaptation by Stanley Kubrick & Frederic Raphael); Traumnovelle (the novella by Arthur Schnitzler); and the performing-arts in the feature film, "EYES WIDE SHUT" (Warner Bros./Stanley Kubrick, 1999 ); with further thematic critical references made to the stage-plays: "Reigen"(1900) & "The Blue Room" (1999) and to the motion pictures: "LA RONDE" (1950) & "AMERICAN BEAUTY" (1999)

"Life goes on. It always does -- Until it doesn’t. But you know that ..."1

With all the discursive 'buzz' surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s "last film," prior to and at the time of its theatrical release in July 1999 (and again upon the film’s contested video/ DVD release(s) in March 2000), all diversely pursued on the World Wide Web or Creative Writing and Film Studies departments of campuses across the land, one might be tempted to consider yet another essay on this "masterpiece" to be superfluous, or even redundant, at this late date. The following essay, however, is most inspired by those various interviews with Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, and Frederic Raphael (the co-screenwriter of the cinematic adaptation of the Schnitzlerian Traumnovelle), in the sense of their statements expressing that: "maybe it’s not ‘just a movie’." (- Frederic Raphael)2

Herewith I hope to critically expand upon that already noted concerning this and other adaptations of Schnitzler's literary works as plays or feature films. The following, then, explicitly a comparatist's partial consideration, will be that of the Literature to be found in two of the famously employed examples of what is here considered under the rubric of: "The Dangerous Art of Arthur Schnitzler: Stage and Screen and Stage."3

In the hope of not overly murdering to dissect this subtle, sophisticated, final masterpiece produced by Stanley Kubrick, an already broadly acknowledged master of cinematography and the film-arts who's long been critically acclaimed by his peers as "the superb craftsman" (Spielberg, DVD interview), my essay hopes to demonstrate that meticulous attention to detail (not only in this latest film-medial but also in the original author’s use) of a multi-leveled textuality, in these probing visionary artworks. Emphasizing the significance of this aspect, my intention is pursued by analysis and close readings of the above two textual and ultimate filmed versions of one binding vision of human obsession, jealousy and erotic self-knowledge. This pursuit will be helpfully enriched by our like considerations of an indirectly related film of note and adaptations of another -- more infamous! -- Schnitzlerian work: "Reigen"; i. e., in those adaptations thereof, a.k.a.: "LA RONDE" and "The Blue Room").

My provocative subtitle to this essay goes to the core thrust of this artistic vision; that is, to its very gender-studied and existential-psychological re-inscribing within all three of the texts – Dr. Schnitzler’s and Messrs. Kubrick and Raphael’s, together with that of its ultimate performance in the "Kubrick/Kidman/Cruise" (film-trailer) cinematic adaptation of it, as Schnitzler’s trademark "interior monologue."4 This core refers to several unequally layered presuppositions we hold, concerning marital sexuality, male/female sex-drives or our human propensities to promiscuity, to infidelity, and to jealous obsessions in dark, subconscious/ "pre-conscious" (see below) hidden domains of our, seldom unbridled, freedom(s) to lust. Used as a now typical, increasingly popular, Hollywood deus-ex-machina for dramatic effect, often to make a certain sort of non-causal statement on imminent mental states or indirect catalysts to that dramatic effect signaling a forthcoming existential crisis, these modern supplements are also found in the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 1999, "AMERICAN BEAUTY" and the 1998 play, “The Blue Room.” All of Kubrick’s/Hare’s/Mendes’ like introductions of recreational drugs, HIV, etc. are, in themselves, both significantly germane to an overall vision, yet, simultaneously and eo ipso, almost just coincidental, essentially non-diagetic elements. At first glance that is, they are apparently being employed as anecdotal modern lifestyle comments, as modernization supplements (mutatis mutandis), to the so-called "dated" (see below) in Schnitzler’s literature of an existential-psychological vision. The real intoxicant of his Art inherent to this “vision” remains what may be described as a "pre-conscious" (Luprecht 121) and/or "postromantic" (Hare 56) trope of: EROS–as–AMOR!

That "vision" is exactly our chief concern at hand. And it is here to be prosecuted as being one of Art-in-the-service-of-Truth. The very well-known Nietzschean quote: "Truth is ugly. We have Art, so that we do not perish from the Truth,"5 lies at the heart of this art-critique and my commentary. But, before further discussion of the highly successful "first feature film" from Sam Mendes, an already acclaimed director of theater, with all its so clearly vitalist dionysial- Nietzschean tragicomic (that is, optimistic) perspective and aesthetico-ethical moral, Mendes' part in today’s revival and modernization of the good Doctor’s, self-described as "unprintable," original theatrical farce from ca. 1897 (David Hare’s "Preface"), must be noted here. This was the play which, as was widely reported, enabled Nicole Kidman to win her "special prize at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for her ‘unique contribution’ to London theatre." A prize awarded, presumably, based on her more sophisticated acting skills and the deeper understanding of "the craft" she readily admits she'd gained from the near three-year filming of Kubrick's "EWS," and NOT solely due to her having finally acquiesced to her male lead’s persistent requests that they BOTH play fully nude on stage for part of Hare’s (based on Schnitzler’s "Reigen" and Ophüls’ "LA RONDE"): "The Blue Room"! (Kidman's DVD "Special Features" interview: "On Kubrick"; "EYES WIDE SHUT" [EWS] © 2000 Warner Bros)

That that original "unprintable" play was born out of what Mark Luprecht refers to as the circa 1900 "Wert-Vakuum" of Austrian society and a growing Freudian "Pessimism" in Schnitzler’s "most optimistic work" (146), Traumnovelle6 -- a societal atmosphere which repeats itself in the German "Weimar Republic," at the time of the later novella -- is discussed in all scholarly depth in Luprecht’s most useful and highly recommended study: What People Call Pessimism: Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler, and Nineteenth-Century Controversy at the University of Vienna Medical School.7 Before further discussion of the(se) other artwork(s): "Reigen"/"LA RONDE"/"The Blue Room," we then return to the Austrian’s "most optimistic work" (Luprecht 146) and our central consideration of the Stanley Kubrick/Frederic Raphael’s "translation" (Raphael, Eyes Wide Open... 25) of that 1925 "fin-de-siècle" literary piece. A task Raphael described as their “two year” “long, secret … [and ultimately] successful struggle to make a viable movie out of Schnitzler” (F.R., Eyes Wide Open… 184-85), in the form of a screenplay for the final culmination of Kubrick’s “quarter-of-a-century old” desire for the novella’s film-performance in 1999: "EYES WIDE SHUT."

With his inimical talent of "telling a story differently than they are usually told" (Spielberg's DVD "Special Features" interview "On Kubrick"; EWS), Kubrick translates the high drama of Fridolin’s/Bill Harford’s "interior" dialogue (between masked self and his adventuresome self), without heavy-handed, typical-of/for-film, affectations such as the "Voice Over" of some meta-temporal diagetic or non-diagetic narrator; although, strictly as a director, he'd have really preferred to do just that (Raphael, Eyes Wide Open... 117). Rather, it was solely through the power of presence in the actor’s (Cruise’s) visual performance and expressions that ideas of the "friends," "Freud and Arthur..." (Raphael, Eyes Wide Open... 32), specifically, however, the author's interiorized trademark narrative style and “beats,” would be "translated."

Briefly told, that was/is the tale of existential conflict and crisis in the duality between the private life ‘mask’ and the public life 'face to meet the faces that you meet', or between the chaos of Fridolin’s emotional life and the "order" of his professional medical one; which is actually, for Schnitzler, that between "dream and waking,". Indeed, "it is [eminently] noteworthy that Schnitzler [has] moved one step further in Traumnovelle than to [merely] posit the over- lapping of dream and wakefulness. At about the same time Freud composed The Ego and the Id, in which he discussed the idea of a pre-consciousness, Schnitzler’s thoughts had alighted upon the same notion." (Luprecht 121) And "EYES WIDE SHUT" is the visual performance of the same epic (melo)drama and tragedy of Dr. Bill Harford’s mask slipping away. It is inevitable that it is "no wonder, then, that Fridolin’s [and the Tom Cruise character’s] last words are, ‘and no dream ... is fully [just] a dream’ ... " (Luprecht 121). Kubrick/Raphael’s very metropolitan doctor-to-’the-rich-and-famous’ and a kind of self-blind sophisticate is one whose neurotic superficiality and reluctance to meet life 'face on' (unmasked) is exactly given expression by his habitual, aggressively non-committal and voyeuristic, speech mannerism of hiding behind the rhetoric of repetitions, in the form of questions, of the last exchanges of each and every one spoken to. But is also marked by the telling facial expressions of one "being [psychologically controlling, yet existentially impotently] behind the camera" on his life (Raphael, Eyes Wide Open... 49). This is Kubrick’s cinematic representing of Fridolin’s (/Schnitzler’s ) "sustained 'interior monologue'." (N4)

Both styles of narration, then, in either medium, lend themselves superbly to this artistic/ intuitive vision of typical victims of those kinds of "value-vacuums" and compassionless "enlightened false consciousness" of any so-called "Modern Age,"8 that feigned self-confidence in which one can only be recognized as leading that kind of 'un-reflected life' Plato so thoroughly condemned as unworthy of living. Ultimately, it is living but one sort of falling through life, with selective-denial for survival, with one's eyes wide shut; that is, as per that ultimate “poetic” title, of Stanley Kubrick’s invention. (Raphael, Eyes Wide Open… 158)

And that was our hero’s life; that is, until his "adventure...whether real or just a dream" and his nightmarish gothic confrontation with those initiated orgiasts who masquerade in carnival-esque costumes at their leisure and for their own amusement – but not out of that psychological necessity for "order" or balance: "the imposition of order through daily routine, through familial and professional responsibility ...[being Dr. Bill’s] only means of defeating the dark instinctual world of humankind" (Luprecht 146). This contrast is most strikingly underscored by the sinister nature of their very decadent, ritualistic foreboding world, in the initiates’ orgy and their cynical, mockingly blasphemous, pagan contempt for the religious or spiritual in a "Faschingskomödie" (Schnitzler, Traumnovelle [N6 i] 48). Our hero plummets from sordid mystery and intrigue to one shocking revelation after another concerning the true "ugly" nature of this "truth." His anchor and safe harbor of what he had up until then believed his marriage to be is poignantly threatened by his ultimate discovery of his wife ("Albertine"/Nicole Kidman/"Alice") sleeping with his mask! That mislaid memento from his horrifying night of masquerade finally causes our good "doctor" to break down sobbing and to tearfully confess all his intended indiscretions to his wife, just as she had confessed her fantasies and her "preconscious" dream to him. Gone, for the moment, is that chivalric "sword in the bed" so requisite to connubial bliss9 in this moment of obliged empathy, and all his acrid jealous obsession and projection of hatred first initiated by Alice’s un-masking of her own erotic (if-but-fantasized) infidelities. We are now pointed toward a "whole ["innermost" (Schnitzler)] truth" that "can never be" "the reality of just one night, let alone that of a whole lifetime...[and] The important thing is we are now awake."10 (Kubrick/Raphael, Eyes Wide Shut [screenplay]) But are they really? For how long?

In order to underscore the psychological acumen of the Austrian author, Luprecht employs the famous quote from "a confession which for my sake I must ask you to keep to yourself," made by Dr. Sigmund Freud in his letter congratulating his "double" upon the occasion of Schnitzler’s sixtieth birthday, May 15th, 1922. Despite Luprecht’s opinion that he might have seriously reconsidered his glowing panegyric, had Freud had occasion to already read the later, more "optimistic," novella, it is worth noting at length. Schnitzler was then still both infamous for his scandal play, "Reigen," and relatively well-known for his own (if "anonymous"-ly penned) self-parodying of and in it.11

Your determinism as well as your skepticism – what people call pessimism – your preoccupation with the truths of the unconscious and of the instinctual drives in man, your dissection of the cultural conventions of our society, the dwelling of your thoughts on the polarity of love and death; all this moves me with an uncanny feeling of familiarity. (E. Freud 339) [Luprecht 1]
I have formed the impression that you know through intuition – or rather from detailed self-observation – everything that I have discovered by laborious work on other people. (E. Freud 339-340) [Luprecht 147]12

It is surely true that "unlike Freud, who possessed a ‘pessimistic and tragic view of life’ (Bettelheim 108), Schnitzler was by nature too much the bon vivant to despair for very long." (Luprecht 146) More importantly, Schnitzler and his literary colleague Hugo Hofmannsthal had been reading Schopenhauer’s ‘prize student’, Nietzsche, early on (as noted in N11). Freud’s philosophical predecessor, mostly as concerned "pessimism, fatalism, determinism," WAS Arthur Schopenhauer.13 The herein determined “Nietzschean corrective” can be clearly discerned in Schnitzler; especially as it concerns his aesthetic-"Art" and all the, here throughout thematic, ethical-rebellions of artists against their eras’ and society’s easy truths.

As an artist Schnitzler felt he could rebel against demoralizing doctrines like determinism. ... [Since] skepticism leaves one constantly open to emotional shock. In discussing the two men’s views of civilized society, Michael Worbs captured the essential difference between the determinist, Freud, and the skeptic, Schnitzler: "what was for Freud a necessary system was still, for Schnitzler, a cause for suffering" (256) [Luprecht 146]

Like a magnet of kinship, the ethical-spiritual artistic revolt in Schnitzler’s oeuvre draws later artists of stage and screen to itself, across this 20th Century's long and troubled history, and in futuristic media our good doctor could scarcely have imagined in his day (1862-1931).

As the acclaimed British playwright David Hare helpfully pointed out in the preface to his play, The Blue Room: "Freely adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s LA RONDE," Schnitzler’s "essential subject is the gulf between what we imagine, what we remember, and what we actually experience."14 This very popular adaptation and actualized modernization, which opened at the Donmar Warehouse in London on Sept. 22nd 1998 and "Off-Broadway" on Dec. 13th 1998 at the Cox Theater in New York, as well as the many current reprisals for the stage of Schnitzler's original "Reigen" in Germany (1999 & 2000 seasons), are testament to the enduring Art in what Dr. Schnitzler explicitly considered his "completely unprintable" and scandalous "Cycle of Ten [sexual/erotic] Dialogues." An editorial fact both David Hare and G. K. Schneider emphasized, as the many other critical commentators have ever and again repeated the author’s opinion throughout the play’s 100-year-long career! (SEE N11)

That it was the director Sam Mendes who asked David Hare to create this latest adaptation, "based" (not on Schnitzler's original per se but) "on" the superb motion picture version of Max Ophüls from 1950 (hence its being so-named "LA RONDE"), is quite critically significant. The fact becomes even more significant in light of Mendes' "first-time" (and so eminently successful, subsequent) "feature film," AMERICAN BEAUTY (Academy Award for "Best Picture of 1999"). That film, unlike Kubrick's adaptation of Schnitzler’s novella, DOES chose to employ the more media-specific techniques, including the protagonist’s ethereal "Voice-Over," perhaps to re-capture one quite original artistic enhancement that Max Ophüls had added to Schnitzler's play in his 1950 film adaptation; namely, the variant Mendes would have been so familiar with through his research for "The Blue Room": an omniscient meta-temporal narrator. Ophüls’ semi-diagetic narrator, in this star-studded film, introduces himself directly: "What am I in the story? I am you. I am, in short, any of you. I am the incarnation of your desire to know everything." (Ophüls "LA RONDE"; Hare "Preface"). Notably, the play is treated as period piece in the French film, rather than like Hare’s or many other stage productions, as well as the Kubrick film’s treatment of "Dream Story," as an adaptation into a contemporary setting. Thus, the manager of this "Carousel of Love," will tell us that he "adore[s] the past. It is so much more reposing than the present, and so very much more sure than the future."15 Seeing, like us, all the players "from all sides ... en ronde," we’re taken to the ‘staged’ setting of the colorful licentiousness of "1900" Vienna. No small feat of ‘artistic vision’ in black-and-white!

Luprecht’s appraisal of that Viennese society as one of a "value-vacuum" is attested to by historical reference to the city’s streets at the turn of the century, as being populated by an here-to-fore unseen number of prostitutes, and of the general apocalyptic atmosphere of a certain Gay 90s "Pessimism," with presumed predilection toward sexual adventures. That later, German, Weimar Republic era, that of our nascent "cynical reason" or "enlightened false consciousness" for the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, may be attributed a like character. This later period was, again, the actual time in which Schnitzler penned his "Dream" novella. And the character of that "era," considering the apparently optimistic atmosphere of a Europe on the rebuild in 1950, might help us explain Ophüls’ choice in favor of the period piece treatment. As to exactly what might further elucidate subsequent returns to contemporary settings, as in David Hare's Sam Mendes-directed play and Stanley Kubrick's ultimate filming of Schnitzler’s novella, we must "look closer"!

That these literary works are originally from the “rebellious artist,” Arthur Schnitzler, and not from the psychiatrist-against-his-will and under-familial-pressure-obliged-to-be-doctor of medicine, one may now seriously consider more closely that symbolic (!) supplement to his novella that Stanley Kubrick felt so crucial to the catalyst scene of "EYES WIDE SHUT" - and what Sam Mendes also felt was symbolically symptomatic of his protagonist’s tragicomically short-lived, lifestyle rebellion in "AMERICAN BEAUTY." My, at first glance provocatively eye-catching (possibly seemingly frivolous), ironic subtitle: "in c a n n a b i s veritas ?," is arguably not to be taken so lightly, as regards these examples of such critically profound, significant, and/or actual artworks-in-the-service-of-truths. Certain truths, that is, which are therein considered to be the sort of ‘higher’ existential ones of just such an ‘existential-psychological’ nature as these supplements imply.

That philosopher of a higher Pessimism and "active Nihilism," Friedrich Nietzsche once again, -- often considered "the first full-blooded postmodernist thinker" in contemporary criticism [Magnus/Stewart/ Mileur, Nietzsche's Case: Philosophy as/and Literature (SUNY 1993) 37] -- once wrote: "Oh, who will tell us the whole history of narcotica? – It is nearly the history of culture, the so-called Higher Cultures" (The Joyous Science/Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, #88). As indicated above, when considering either the psychological or philosophical import of artworks of the stature here considered, one may certainly find, in most, some critically reliable recourse to what I’ve referred to as an aesthetic-ethical "Nietzschean corrective." That is, should one, as this essay demonstrates one certainly may, choose to 'read' these artworks as those of rebel artists' aesthetic attempts at a therapeutic balance to the social psychology and atmosphere of any period’s stifling, self-blind, "value vacuum." Such is the Freudian/Schopenhauerian of many eras’ perennial Pessimism, Fatalism, Determinism!

Whether it was in search of a re-found intimacy, frank openness, and/or any passion in their marriage bed, what Nicole Kidman’s character (EWS) sought by her casual recourse to so-called "mind-expanding" recreational drug use, in hope of a not-so-casual encounter with her husband, it sparks a remark from Tom Cruise’s character that is experienced as a sharp turn-off rather than a turn-on. As she explains, in her interview "On Kubrick," "the [her] husband was expecting some great sex." His "a little stoned," pre-conscious, obtusely sexist and gender-biased, remarks -- as was exactly the same case for Fridolin’s identical opinion in the novella -- because "it's NOT the pot" (- "Alice") -- now become the catalyst for his wife’s high-dramatic confessing of her adulterous longings. This initiates Kubrick’s visual "interior monologue" in the chain of haunted images accompanying some "DANGEROUS and deviant" (Dream Story, "Editors' notes"; N6 iii) compensatory actions; as ("Fridolin"/) "Harford" is caught up in the self-destructive spirals of his own existential erotic obsession, seething jealousy, and the unclear psychological projections of his own "pre-conscious" Id.

Likewise, whether it was in search of the "party" euphoria of his lost youth that the Kevin Spacey character ("Lester Burnham": AMERICAN BEAUTY) sought to enhance, with his opting for "using illegal psychotropic substances" (- "Carolyn Burnham"/Annette Bening), this almost extra-diagetic surface element is used, artistically and aesthetico-ethically, to oblige us to "look closer." That superb character’s search for that "something" he feels he has lost, compensated for by his lust-that-feels-like-true-love towards his daughter’s sixteen-year-old cheerleader/teen-model friend and his rebellious/"irresponsible" quitting his job to return to his summer-job occupation of his youth and "a position with the least amount of responsibility possible" in "fast food," represents our Schniztlerian rebellion; i.e., a stubborn recapturing of a lifestyle at odds with societal expectations or the appropriate comfortable conformity to the Age’s self-evident values (or lack of values). It is an adventure his wife assures him he surely "won’t get away with." He both does and doesn't, in Mendes’ so subtle performing-art of his mind-altering confrontation with The Aesthetic Other: that existential-psychologized and ‘pre-consciously’ highly eroticized: "Love"/"Beauty"/"Something."

That which we have discerned as a "Nietzschean corrective" in the Schnitzlerian oeuvre also becomes strikingly clear in the Kevin Spacey/"Lester"-voiced concluding moral. That moral is powerful paraphrase of Nietzche’s prefatory proclamation -- taken from that thinker who has also been considered "the last romantic"16 and his emphatic prefatory self-appraisal in his hyperbolic autobiographical Ecce Homo.17 Our modern hero’s spectral, transcendently disembodied, Voice Over in Mendes’ suburban and critically celebrated "American gothic," reiterates our philosopher's parting, today even more emphatically spoken, human message:

"And I can’t feel anything but gratitude, for every single moment of my stupid little life.”

Because the works here considered are truly significant artworks, the necessity of any such "close" considerations as the present, within the theoretical context of a tradition of "Aesthetics" stretching from Kant to Adorno, may justify itself without any further comment. That these three films -- and Schnitzler's original play, as well as David Hare's modern version -- demand, like all ‘true Art’, careful and repeated critical considerations -- and are, philosophically, of the character and stature of "NOT 'just a movie'," or play, -- is clear. Arthur Schnitzler’s frustration was with the inevitable impossibility to fully grasp "the essence." (Luprecht 146) That frustration motivated the artist’s rebellion against his society, in the form of his "writing brilliant psychological portraits of the Viennese bourgeois and upper classes of the fin de siècle." 18 His Vienna was a society so self-assured of its own grasp on essential values, or the growing pessimistic invalidity and/or so-called "indeterminacy" of any such ethical or moral values. And, although I have detected clear traces of the ‘Nietzschean (existential-aesthetic) corrective’ in the "art" generated out of that inner revolt, Schnitzler’s "most optimistic work" does not fully subscribe to the sentiment of any Nietzschean "self-overcoming," as that was captured in an elusive favorite quote by his great literary admirer already noted here: Thomas Mann (N 12).

... Nietzsche said somewhere, "I believe that I have guessed some secrets of the highest man’s soul. Perhaps everyone who guesses them is destroyed." -- Thomas Mann’s "Address to the Library of Congress" given on April 29th 1947 (published in Nietzsche’s Philosophy in Light of Recent History).19

While Arthur Schnitzler’s "Art" has turned out to be of an enduring inspiration to like-minded talents of subsequent generations and media, his ultimately ‘pessimistic’ reluctance is to disallow his hero "Fridolin," as is just as true of Kubrick and Raphael’s "Dr. Bill Harford" (Cruise), to live out – with eyes wide open – the existential consequences which the rest of Nietzsche's passage (left un-cited by Mann for reasons of his own) assuredly commands; that is, after this deeply troubling glance into the dark labyrinth of a "highest man’s soul" -- his own: "...but he who has seen it, must help to make it possible."20

Whatever existential-psychological depth of heroic tragedy it was that our philosopher envisioned exactly, whether his "coming Übermensch" or "the Eternal Recurrence" of a life for which one "can’t feel anything but gratitude," that almost hyperbolic tragicomedy of one other great cinematic artwork of 1999, as I have thematically chosen to discuss it in this essay, may be seen to distinguish itself by its inspiring "overcoming." Even our "Lester Burnham," "just an ordinary guy with nothing to lose," CAN resist the pragmatic pessimism of the Schnitzler hero’s timorous recoiling from the harsh cold lights of reason being shed by the morgue physician’s helpful forensics into the cabalistic death of the young woman (from the party and the orgy); i.e., the masked female who had "sacrificed" herself to "save" him, as he was "unmasked" as an intruder by the ‘satanic’ congregation of decadent elite. For Schnitzler, unlike Mendes, these glimpses into “Something,” gained through this "adventure" of momentary artistic abandonment, were both enough and too much.

For Mendes, and for an American aesthetic Beauty, the Nietzschean “overcoming” of an existential-psychological identity crisis remains optimistic in its tragedy. "Fridolin" (/"Dr. Bill") can hardly bear his half-hearted affirmative answer to "Dr. Adler’s" scientific inquiry into her "speedball-" (Kubrick/Raphael) / "morphine-" (Schnitzler) “overdose” and/or "suicide": "Was it her?" He knows this "woman," whatever her actual identity might have been, could only represent "the pale corpse of the past night" (Schnitzler, Traumnovelle (N6 i) 85-86). She must remain one haunting part of his past and his own identity, that we presume, correctly, must surely become insufferable to ever acknowledge, in the end and in everyday consciousness, in any other way than with “eyes wide shut” once again. He, his wife and family, will thus survive – essentially unchanged perhaps -- just as the rebellious literary artist Arthur Schnitzler, quite unwillingly, but ultimately within his own growing, reluctantly Freudian, psychoanalytic convictions, felt we all inevitably must!

In conclusion to this brief consideration of our group of talented artists and their so creative exchanges, across several generations and media, in variations on one existential-psychological approach to the truth of our human gender-relations and through their unflagging attention to their craft and the "primacy of the (aesthetic) object" produced (Adorno, N 21), a certain sort of relative universality obtains. Clearly artistic spirits, with eyes wide open, will ever and again "rebel" in ages of faltering or non-existent spiritual "values." As artists they will assert themselves against societies of "Pessimism," "Determinism" and their nihilistic "Value-Vacuums" through just such creative and optimistic performative acts of/as an "aesthetics-without-aestheticism" (Schnitzler's; cf. N 4, ff. N6 iii). That is, for self-reflective narratives of rebellious transcendence -- such artworks as those I have chosen to discuss here at length -- it may also here be lastly postulated that "more modern theories of Aesthetics"21 might actually be our only remaining viable sources for any contemporary, or near-future and hopefully post-"postmodern," theory of Ethics.

These most recent "modernizations" of one nearly century-old literary vision, with its profound "existential-psychological" insights into our ‘all too-human’ gender relations, "through intuition – or rather from detailed self-observation –," must validate, in and of themselves, the timeless quality of Dr. Schnitzler’s "Art." Contemporary supplements, such as: the "HIV"/AIDS references, to deepen the "pre-conscious" shadows of today’s "unsafe" erotic adventures -- or urban/suburban elements of the modern casual-recreational use of "illegal psychotropic substances," to effectively enhance the symbolic dramatic signaling of the dreamlike of any lived-out realities, in erotic psychological projections -- can in no way detract from the quality of that enduring "vision."22

It COULD be argued, from the point of view of today’s politically correct "underlying assumptions" (SEE N2), for which the famed "Frankfurt School" (and Jürgen Habermas, et. al.) ought to bear some quite considerable responsibility, that the artists' "detailed self-observation" and the aesthetic as/and ethical insights here considered ARE executed as gender studies, but exclusively only and uniquely from some masculine perspective, considering the five male authors/artists discussed above. Given the very dominant performances of artist Kidman, however, both in the five female roles of Hare’s version of "Reigen" ("The Blue Room") and Kubrick’s Traumnovelle ("EYES WIDE SHUT"), it is difficult to argue for the apparent lack of something like an ‘Alice’s Story’.

As third layer of textuality inherent to these artworks, even after adaptive "translation" of the Schnitzlerian works and his, today uniquely "old fashioned" (See, final scene of EWS) vision based on an existential-psychology, as it has been taken up today from the original texts on into their several modernizations, these female actors’ all-important performances superbly express the feminist voice(s). Annette Bening’s critically acclaimed portrayal of "Carolyn Burnham," from Alan Ball’s "best original screenplay of 1999," as the character of the modernist female, that of an "enlightened false consciousness," adds, for example, a marked and gender-ed ironic voice to his quite comparable artistic rebel vision. Furthermore, it must added that Schnitzler’s representative, and intentionally dramatic, character development of the original text's "Albertine" and her quite expressive performative dialogue concerning the female and/or feminist human condition, is quite powerfully and forcefully transcribed and carried over into Kubrick’s film by Nicole Kidman/"Alice" with:

Millions of years of evolution, right? RIGHT? Men have to stick it in everyplace they can. But for women, WOMEN! -- It’s just about security, and commitment, and, huh, whatever the fuck else! If you men only knew!

On the basis of these feminine "performances" alone, the artworks here considered can thus be recognized as to have not only satisfactorily met any potential imbalance in or of any such feminist representative voice in our consideration of these works as critical "gender studies" with enduring existential-psychological insights. They are necessarily considered aesthetic-critically to be also inherently integral to the “Art” to be found in the variations on our original rebelling artist’s aesthetic - ultimately ethical - statements of this human "vision"!

As to "the Jewish question" in Schnitzler’s works in general, Luprecht’s estimation of its relative importance is well founded. Co-author Raphael's attempts, however, to convince Kubrick that, with their "translation" from his Viennese setting in "Rhapsody" (alternative English title to EWS/Traumnovelle) into that of Manhattan they had a great opportunity to emphasize the "Jewishness" of Schnitzler's novella were summarily rejected. Whether it was to "keep the theme buried (and hence more subtle)" or not, his co-author (but also THE director/boss) was strictly and "firmly opposed to this" (Raphael, Eyes Wide Open... 57). And despite my own politically-correct professional sensitivity to all the possible validity of such considerations for this, albeit pre-Holocaust, Jewish author, most especially in as regards these two works containing so little explicit anti-Semitism -- "Nick Nightingale" as a potential Ahasverus figure, notwithstanding -- I’ve chosen to follow Stanley Kubrick’s artistic sensibilities and reluctance to limit the "vision" or the "Art" of our good doctor's fascinating literature, or "the [aesthetic] primacy of the object," in any such manner. That is, I have chosen to overlook (apart from this mention) the author's mostly secular Judaism, inasmuch as that might be thought to concern such, perhaps overly subtle and/or theoretical literary aspects for this present essay -- uniquely in considering either "Reigen" and/or "Traumnovelle."

Nietzsche ("the first psychologist" – F.N.) would certainly have smiled ironically at our Heideggerian and any such "Critical Theory"-dominated, postmodern épistêmés/world-views: our "losses" of Being, or (gender) Identity, or Authenticity, as fine examples of that "Umschleiertsein" and Eyes Wide Shut-"veiledness" necessary to action, life, and survival (Birth of Tragedy/Die Geburt der Tragödie ; KSA 1.57). But it may also be reasonably presumed that he would surely have also smiled most approvingly at our visionary rebelling artists’, whether implied or expressly voiced, adamant and hyperbolic avowals that:


S. L. Reinhart, Ph.D.
Riverside, CA
July-August, 2000


1 “Ziegler” [Sidney Pollack], as the voice of “zynischen Vernunft”; i .e., that “enlightened false consciousness” of the Modern Age’s “Cynical Reason.” The quote is taken from the film’s climactic scene of confrontation between this decadent orgiast/entrepreneur and the unwitting hero/protagonist, “Dr. Bill Harford” [Tom Cruise], in Stanley Kubrick's “EYES WIDE SHUT.”

2 Frederic Raphael chronicled his experience on the project in Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick and Eyes Wide Shut (London: Orion Media, 1999; © U.K.,Volatic Ltd. 1999). The so very essential passage which most clearly speaks to the actuality of my present thesis, concerning these “Gender Studies” aspects inherent in Arthur Schnitzler’s anachronistic-considered "existential psychology," is found in the preliminary exchanges between Frederic Raphael & Stanley Kubrick; i. e., those concerning the “dated” “problems” of a “translation” of this “fin de siècle Vienna” / novella:

S.K.: Think you can do it? Think it’s dated?

F.R.: That’s part of the ... challenge.

S.K.: Dated in what way?

F.R.: No cars, no phones, but that’s not the problem.

S.K.: What’s the problem?

F.R.: Underlying assumptions. Which are dated, aren’t they? About marriage,

husbands and wives, the nature of jealousy. Sex. Things have changed a lot

between men and women since Schnitzler’s time.

S.K.: Have they? I don’t think they have.

F.R.: (After thought) Neither do I. ... (page 25)

“It was in many ways a sort of love story. Admittedly, it was not a love story with unmitigated love or with any consummation. In a sense, the relationship between a writer and a director he admires has this strange mixture of fear and yearning and hope and dread” ... “Maybe it’s (EWS) not ‘only a movie’,” [Playing off the well known quip from director Alfred Hitchcock, known to refer to his own films, so ‘modestly’, with the offhand remark: “It’s only a movie.” These other key quotes were also found in the online article:

Sword in the Bed: Eyes Wide Shut, a dreamlike coda to Kubrick¹s brilliant career

By Stephen Pissello

at ;

although numerous web sites, far too many to note fully for the purposes of my present essay were used

(as were the two DVDs, © Warner Bros. 2000), regarding this and other research points concerning the director Stanley Kubrick and his "EYES WIDE SHUT."]

3 I only refer to the acclaimed film of Max Ophüls, "LA RONDE" (1950) and David Hare’s stage adaptation, “a loose” modernization of this film (and the Schnitzler play) which was written upon the specific request of Sam Mendes [who wanted to direct it, and also then did]. Roger Vadim’s 1963 film version, with then wife Jane Fonda (a.k.a., “The Circle of Love”), silent film(s), and too numerous stage versions to note here, are mentioned but in passing. As to Mendes' subsequent artwork:

What's remarkable about Mendes, who is best known for the Broadway revival of Cabaret and the off-Broadway play The Blue Room which starred Nicole Kidman, is that he is English, yet managed to capture the spirit of America in the movie. As predicted, he has personally and publicly received some flack about this. "I think as an outsider I find it much easier to retain a sense of objectivity and distance. I think would I have made it a film about the English suburbs, I would have been much too close to it. When I looked at the movies that had been made about America, a lot of them had been made by non-Americans; and then some of the best movies about England were made by Americans. So, I sort of thought, you can't worry about it, you just have to be objective and bring some visual take to bear on the movie, and that's what I tried to do." [on "AMERICAN BEAUTY"]

4 Biographical Note: Arthur Schnitzler [1862-1931] was born in Vienna..., the son of a doctor. He took a medical degree himself and was a practicing physician for years. Increasingly, however, Schnitzler devoted himself to literature, his first love. The drama Anatol (1893) established him as a playwright; he also wrote novels – of which Der Weg ins Freie (The Road to the Open, 1908) is often considered his best – and short stories, of which “Leutnant Gustl” (1900) [Translated as “None but the Brave,” 1901] and “Fraulein Else” (1924) are two distinguished and well-known examples. “Lieutenant Gustl” is one of the earliest examples in any literature of a narrative that consists of a sustained “interior monologue.” SOURCE: the “Preface” to: "Hands Around: A Cycle of Ten Dialogues" (unabridged standard English translation of "Reigen" by Arthur Schnitzler, 1897; Alan Weissman, Editor. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Thrift Editions, 1995). [Schnitzler, Arthur. Reigen: Zehn Dialogue / Liebelei: Schauspiel in Drei Akten, "mit einem Vorwort von Günter Rühle und einem Nachwort von Richard Alewyn". (Frankfurt/Main, Germany: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, 1984)].

Also, it is thematically significant to note that Schnitzler’s earlier “romanticism” was retained in his later, Traumnovelle/ “Dream Story,” but only in the novella’s “romantic tone and themes.” Schnitzler had abandoned Medicine for a literary life; but that too became ever more “pessimistic” under the influence of Freud’s psychoanalysis. Thus, his “sharp criticism of aestheticism,” evident in the novella, is attributable to his growing “disbelief in the possibility of human change. [cf., Schinnerer, Otto P., Foreword to Dream Story: ©1927, 1955 (N 6iii)] – slr

5 Nietzsches Sämtliche Werke, Kritische Studien Ausgabe, 13.500 [KSA] (Berlin, dtv/DeGruyter ©1967-77)]:

“Die Wahrheit ist häßlich: wir haben die Kunst, damit wir nicht an der Wahrheit zu Grunde gehn.” (- Friedrich Nietzsche, Nachlaß, 1888).

6 i. Schnitzler, Arthur. Traumnovelle, “9.Auflage:September, 1999. Ungekürzte, nach den ersten Buchausgaben durchgesehene Ausgabe.” (S. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, 1992, ©1925).

ii. Schnitzler, Arthur. Traumnovelle, “Die Novelle ... Erstmals in ‘Die Dame’, Berlin, 53.Jhrg., H.6 (1. Dezember 1925) – 12 (1. Märzheft 1926). Erste Buchausgabe: S. Fischer Verlag, Berlin, 1926 (= Textvorlage).” (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlags GmbH, © 1961) / Stanley Kubrick und Frederic Raphael. Eyes Wide Shut, “Das Drehbuch, aus dem Englischen von Frank Schaff.” (Copyright ©1999 Warner Bros.). “Für den Bildteil” (©1999 Warner Bros.) (Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, September 1999).

iii. Schnitzler, Arthur. Traumnovelle, English Title: Dream Story / Arthur Schnitzler; translated from the German by Otto P. Schninnerer. (Los Angeles, CA.: First Sun & Moon Edition, Sun & Moon Press, 1990).

7 Luprecht, Mark. What People Call Pessimism: Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler, and Nineteenth-Century Controversy at the University of Vienna Medical School (Riverside, CA. Ariadne Press, 1991)

8 Sloterdijk, Peter. Kritik der zynischen Vernunft (“Critique of Cynical Reason”), passim. (Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Suhrkampf Verlag, 1983)

9 Wagner, Richard. “Tristan und Isolde.” passim. Specifically, as the metaphor is used in Raphael’s Eyes Wide Open..., p. 42 (N2).

10 “So gewiß, als ich ahne, daß die Wirklichkeit einer Nacht, ja daß nicht einmal die eines ganzen Menschensleben zugleich auch seine innerste Wahrheit bedeutet.” ... “Und kein Traum,” seufzte er leise, “ist völlig Traum.” ... “Nun sind wir wohl erwacht...." - Arthur Schnitzler, Traumnovelle; S. 88 (N6 i.).

11 SEE: : "Zur künstlerischen Umsetzung von Arthur Schnitzlers REIGEN in Europa und den Vereinigten Staaten" by Gerd K. Schneider (New York, nd): …das Gesamtverzeichnis des deutschsprachigen Schrifttums 1700-1900 so angibt:

"Reigen. Zehn Dialoge. [Wien]. 1896-1897 als Ms. gedruckt; nicht anonym (!)."

Der Eindruck entsteht hier, daß es besser gewesen wäre, Schnitzler hätte dieses Werk nicht unter seinem Namen herausgegeben. Gründe dafür gab es genug: die Regierung schritt gegen die Verbreitung erotischer und pornographischer Literatur ein, und die lex Heinze in Deutschland zog Schriften ein, die das "Schamgefühl des Normalmenschen" verletzten. Es nimmt deshalb nicht wunder, daß die ersten Reigen-Parodien anonym verfaßt wurden.


Da das Grundthema dieser Parodie Sex ist, finden wir hier ebenfalls die Gedankenstriche wie im Original. Allerdings wird hier der Sexakt nicht physisch vollzogen, sondern spielt sich nur in der erotischen Phantasie der Beteiligten ab. Der Bezug zum Original wird auch noch durch die direkte Namensnennung des Dichters unterstrichen. Dies in der dritten Szene, in das gefällige Fräulein die junge Frau um Lektürevorschläge bittet. Sie erhält als Antwort:

Die junge Frau:

Nun, Storm und Heine, hie und da etwas Nietzsche - aber auch Schnitzler und Gyp und was sonst erscheint. -

Das gefälllige Fräulein:

Haben gnädige Frau den Reigen schon gelesen, das ist das letzte Buch von Schnitzler?

Die junge Frau:

Nein, mein Mann wollt es mir nicht geben, obzwar er sonst nicht prüde ist. -

Das gefällige Fräulein:

Gott, es ist gar nicht so arg.

Die junge Frau:

Ja, haben Sie es denn gelesen? Erlaubt denn das der Papa?

Das gefällige Fräulein:

Ja, davon reden wir nicht, und dann, das ist doch nicht wie im Theater, wo jeder einen dabei sieht.

Die junge Frau:

Das ist freilich ein Standpunkt.

Das gefällige Fräulein:

Ja, aber den Reigen sollten gnädige Frau doch lesen, nur eines ist dumm dabei, es sind so oft Gedankenstriche und immer bei den interessantesten Stellen, und ich weiss dann nie genau, was er meint.

Die junge Frau:

(Für sich: Oh du ahnungsvoller Engel du!)

-------------------------------------------------- (24 ff)


Zu den zeitgemäßen Betrachtungen, die die Parodie liefert, gehören u.a. folgende: Der Reigen wird hier als letztes Werk von Schnitzler dargestellt; da dieses Werk 1903 erschien, wird die Parodie, deren Erscheinungsjahr bekannt ist, auch im Text datiert. Interessant ist ebenfalls, daß Nietzsche hier erwähnt wird, den Schnitzler und Hofmannsthal gerade zu dieser Zeit gelesen hatten.Und daß der Reigen gelesen und nicht aufgeführt werden sollte, wurde nicht nur damals vermerkt, sondern zieht sich wie ein roter Faden durch die Rezensionen bis in unsere heutige Zeit.


Die Wirkung der Parodie läßt sich z.T. aus der Assoziationstechnik der Psycho- analyse erklären, denn nicht nur hatte Freud sein Traumbuch um 1900 ver- öffentlicht, sondern Schnitzler war ebenfalls praktizierender Arzt, der sich für Psychologie interessierte. Worte können demnach Auslöser für unterdrückte oder nicht gesellschaftsfähige Tabu-Informationen oder Erlebnisse sein. Dies finden wir z.B. schon in der ersten Szene, die zwischen der Frau Rittmeister und der Friseurin stattfindet. Dort wird über die Kundschaft gesprochen, und die Friseurin fragt die Frau Rittmeister: "Gnä Frau, Se kennen do die klane, schwarze Dicke, die allerweil kummt?"(8). Die gleich darauf erscheinenden Gedankenstriche bei der Frau Rittmeister werden wahrscheinlich durch das Wort kommen ausgelöst, bei Hermann Paul definiert als "das Resultat einer Bewegung, welcher Art dieselbe auch sein mag." ... gks

from: Die Rezeption von Arthur Schnitzlers Reigen Pressespiegel und andere zeitgenoessische Kommentare (Hrsg. Gerd K. Schneider 1995).

[NOTE: (certain key-passages from the above):

(cited from the parody:)
“‘Now and again some Nietzsche – but also some Schnitzler
...Already read Reigen (“Hands Around”), that is the last book from Schnitzler?’
...(The parody was published in) 1903
...It is also interesting that Nietzsche is mentioned here, whom Schnitzler and Hofmannsthal had just been reading at this time.” (G. K. Schneider). [Trnsl.-- slr]

12 »Ihr Determinismus wie Ihre Skepsis was die Leute Pessimismus heißen - , Ihr Ergriffensein von den Wahrheiten des Unbewußten, von der Triebnatur des Menschen, Ihre Zersetzung der kulturell-konventionellen Sicherheiten, das Haften Ihrer Gedanken an der Polarität von Leben und Sterben, das alles berührte mich mit einer unheimlichen Vertrautheit. ... So habe ich den Eindruck gewonnen, daß Sie durch Intuition – eigentlich aber in Folge feiner Selbstwahrnehmung alles das wissen, was ich in mühseliger Arbeit an andern Menschen aufgedeckt hat.» -- S. Freud an A. Schnitzler. (14.5.1922)

Whatever Dr. Freud’s opinion of Traumnovelle / “Dream Story” (and its author) MIGHT have been at that later date, other first impressions made by it, on a famous literary figure of the day, were attested to in a different letter to Schnitzler four years later, on May 23rd 1926, from no one less than “Thomas [and Katja] Mann” (a quite unique married couple, who’d each read it, although perhaps not together!): “Dear and honorable Dr. Schnitzler, captivated we’ve read the Dream-Novella here, both of us in a single sitting, breathlessly, and send you greetings full of admiration.” “Arosa, den 23.V.26”: “Lieber und verehrter Dr. Schnitzler, hingerissen haben wir die Traumnovelle hier gelesen, beide in einem Zuge, atemlos, und begrüßen Sie voller Bewunderung.” [Cover-note; Traumnovelle (N6 i)]

13 Freud, Sigmund. Neue Folge der Vorlesungen zur Einführung in die Psychoanalyse (Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, 1978, 1989; © S. Fischer Verlag, 1969) Seite 88:

Sie werden vielleicht achselzuckend sagen: Das ist nicht Naturwissenschaft, das ist Schopenhauersche Philosophie. Aber warum, meine Damen und Herren, sollte nicht ein kühner Denker erraten haben, was dann nüchterne und mühselige Detailforschung bestätigt? - S. F.

14 Hare, David. The Blue Room : “A Play in Ten Intimate Acts” (“Freely adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde”); (New York: Grove Press, 1998). “Preface.”

15 The Narrator/Ringmaster of the film:

“Je suis vous. Enfin, je suis n’importequel d’entre vous. Je suis l‘incarnation de votredesir. De votre desir de tout connâitre....Moi, je les vois tous parceque je les vois ‘en ronde’ et cela me permit d’être partout ... 1900 ... J’adore la passé. C’est tellement plus reposant que le present, et tellement plus sûr que l’avenir.”

["LA RONDE": (Sacha Gordine production; directed by Max Ophüls ; written by Max Ophüls and Jacques Natanson. France: Sacha Gordine, 1950 ; U. S.: The Voyager Co., © 1995. 1950)]

16 Del Caro, Adrian. Nietzsche contra Nietzsche: Creativity and the anti-Romantic (Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge. 1989).

17 That which was the aesthetico-ethical moral of the story "AMERICAN BEAUTY" voice over-ed by “Lester Burnham” (Kevin Spacey) from the Beyond; and, by implication, what may very well stand for that of “Life” (Itself), perhaps: “Wie sollte ich nicht meinem ganzen Leben dankbar sein?” (- Friedrich Nietzsche, ecce homo. KSA, 6.263)

18 Introduction to “Arthur Schnitzler”; in Dream Story (L. A.: Sun & Moon Classics 6, “Reprinted from the Simon & Schuster edition of 1927”; trnsl. Otto P. Schinnerer for Sun & Moon Press, [© 1927, 55] 1990)

19 Mann, Thomas. Nietzsches Philosophie in Lichte unserer Erfahrung (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, Vorm. S. Fischer, 1948) S. 38.

20 F. N. (KSA 11.216; Nachlaß Sommer-Herbst, 1884):

Zum Titel: “Eine Wahrsagung”. // Ich glaube ich habe Einiges aus der Seele des Höchsten Menschen errathen – vielleicht geht Jeder zu Grund, der ihn erräth. ... aber wer ihn gesehen hat, muß helfen, ihn zu ermöglichen.

21 Adorno’s “primacy of the object,” which may be considered one example of the prerequisite and viable element of “a burgeoning way of thinking” or ‘aesthetic’ model “yet to be actualized by the Philosophy of Technology as well” or “especially by Social-Theory and its popularizers,” refers to Adorno’s (Theodor W., 1903-1969) Ästhetische Theorie. English. Aesthetic Theory. (Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann, editors ; “newly translated, edited, and with a translator's introduction by Robert Hullot-Kentor.” Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, © 1997)]. This exact point was recently made in Sloterdijk’s comments on the future of our “Philosophy of Technology” and/or “The Ethical Situation of Gene-Technology.”

Von der Seite der Humanwissenschaften her hat Foucault statuiert, daß man dem Zwang und der Chance, mächtig zu sein, nie entgeht – er löst auf diese Weise den metaphysisch geknüpften Knoten der Machtkritik. Hier keimt eine Denkweise auf, die in den modernen Kunstphilosophien, insbesondere bei Adorno, vorweg- genommen ist – allerdings noch immer unter irreführenden Titeln wie ‘Primat des Objekts’ -, und die jetzt wartet, auch von der Technikphilosophie und vor allem von der Gesellschafts- theorie und ihren Popularisatoren nachvollzogen zu werden. -- Sloterdijk, Peter.

"Der Operable Mensch: Anmerkungen zur ethischen Situation der Gen-Technologie" (21.5.2000, U.C.L.A., CA, USA) (no longer active, please see instead)

As a related NOTE, see: Geoffrey Nowell-Smith's "How films mean, or from aesthetics to semiotics and half-way back again" ["Part I. Really Useful Theory" in the film-theory critical anthology: REINVENTING FILM STUDIES, Eds. Christine Gledhill & Linda Williams (London: Arnold, 2000 / New York: Oxford University Press, 2000)] pp. 8-17.

22 ... It’s a concession. He cheers up.

Cab Driver Girls all say no.

Au Pair Girls do?

Cab Driver I mean I’m not saying ...

Au Pair All girls say that?

Cab Driver I’m not saying...I’m not saying you’re just any old girl.

But the way I can tell you’re a girl is because you say no.

Au Pair Why do you think I say no?

Cab Driver Tell.

She looks at him a moment

Au Pair Because of the risk. That’s why. Why should I risk? That’s the reason.

It’s not safe nowadays. I’ll only risk if ...

Cab Driver If what?

Au Pair If it means something. If I’m to risk, it has to mean something [emphases, mine. slr].

He takes her in his arms and they kiss. But she pulls away.

Hare, David. The Blue Room. “Intimate Act” II., pp. 8-9.

23 "Lester Burnham" in "AMERICAN BEAUTY," of course. But our final, perhaps even autobiographical, word goes again to the other “playwright,” David Hare, author of the Sam Mendes directed London and “off-Broadway” play. And it is here taken from that notorious “intimate act” scene of full nudity on the London and Broadway stages:

Model Do you have drugs?

Playwright[s] Drugs? I’ve run out. I write about them, of course. They’re one of my defining subjects. But at the moment, no.


Playwright Inevitably, I get labeled, as if I’m part of a movement. They call me postromantic. I know. It’s just a shallow name the press dreamt up.

He thinks a moment.

Playwright Restlessness. Longing. These things don’t go away just because of what we call progress. We still search. We still pursue the ideal. We land. We cast off. With luck, we make waves. But finally we have no control of the tide.

He is lost in thought. He turns.


Playwright What did I say? ...

Hare, David. The Blue Room. “Intimate Act” VII., pp.55-56.

© 2000 Steven L. Reinhart, Ph.D.


This text is an original contribution to cinetext. Presented with kind permission by the author.

About the author:

"From academic verse to academic prose": After many years of residence in Western Europe (7 years in France and more than 10 years in Germany), the published poet, Steven L. Reinhart, returned from independent studies there (Paris: "Langues et Civilisations Orientales"; Duesseldorf: "Philosophie und Literatur") to complete his graduate work in: "Comparative     Literature", at the University of California-Riverside. There he pursued the school's "Interdisciplinary PHD Program" : German & French Literatures (18th/19th C.s) / "Continental Philosophy" & "Post-modernism" (19th/20th C.s), successfully completing his doctoral dissertation: At a Loss for Words (: "A Prolegomenon Towards one Theory of the Esoterics of 'Literature as/and Philosophy'"), June 1999. While doing research assistance and teaching during his studies in Southern California he had the opportunity to gain invaluable extensive experiences in the critical fields of ("Film and Visual Culture" :) media-philosophy and Film-Studies -- making use of his  expansive research profile in "Critical Theory" and contemporary "Culture Criticism." As independent scholar, Dr. Reinhart continues his contribution to international and  interdisciplinary research and scholarship [recently, as the Research Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of the ongoing (Nietzsche's) WORKS: The Complete Critical Edition     (Stanford Univ. Press)]; presently, as lecturer in German & French Lits./ Film Studies).

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