The "Dangerous Art" of Arthur Schnitzler: Stage & Screen & Stage
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 doesnt. But you know that ..."1
With all the discursive 'buzz' surrounding Stanley Kubricks "last film," prior to and at the time of its theatrical release in July 1999 (and again upon the films 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 its 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 authors 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. Schnitzlers and Messrs. Kubrick and Raphaels, together with that of its ultimate performance in the "Kubrick/Kidman/Cruise" (film-trailer) cinematic adaptation of it, as Schnitzlers 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 Kubricks/Hares/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 Schnitzlers 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: EROSasAMOR!
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 todays revival and modernization of the good Doctors, self-described as "unprintable," original theatrical farce from ca. 1897 (David Hares "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 leads persistent requests that they BOTH play fully nude on stage for part of Hares (based on Schnitzlers "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 Schnitzlers "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 Luprechts 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 Austrians "most optimistic work" (Luprecht 146) and our central consideration of the Stanley Kubrick/Frederic Raphaels "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 Kubricks quarter-of-a-century old desire for the novellas 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 Fridolins/Bill Harfords "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 actors (Cruises) 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 Fridolins 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, Schnitzlers 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 Harfords mask slipping away. It is inevitable that it is "no wonder, then, that Fridolins [and the Tom Cruise characters] last words are, and no dream ... is fully [just] a dream ... " (Luprecht 121). Kubrick/Raphaels 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 Kubricks cinematic representing of Fridolins (/Schnitzlers ) "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 Kubricks invention. (Raphael, Eyes Wide Open 158)
And that was our heros 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. Bills] 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 Alices 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 Schnitzlers sixtieth birthday, May 15th, 1922. Despite Luprechts 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
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 Schopenhauers prize student, Nietzsche, early on (as noted in N11). Freuds 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 societys easy truths.
Like a magnet of kinship, the ethical-spiritual artistic revolt in Schnitzlers 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 Schnitzlers LA RONDE," Schnitzlers "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 authors opinion throughout the plays 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 Schnitzlers novella, DOES chose to employ the more media-specific techniques, including the protagonists 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 Hares or many other stage productions, as well as the Kubrick films 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," were taken to the staged setting of the colorful licentiousness of "1900" Vienna. No small feat of artistic vision in black-and-white!
Luprechts appraisal of that Viennese society as one of a "value-vacuum" is attested to by historical reference to the citys 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 Schnitzlers 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 protagonists 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 Ive 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 periods 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 Kidmans 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 Cruises 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 Fridolins identical opinion in the novella -- because "it's NOT the pot" (- "Alice") -- now become the catalyst for his wifes high-dramatic confessing of her adulterous longings. This initiates Kubricks 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 characters search for that "something" he feels he has lost, compensated for by his lust-that-feels-like-true-love towards his daughters 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 Ages self-evident values (or lack of values). It is an adventure his wife assures him he surely "wont 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 Nietzches 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 heros 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:
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 Schnitzlers frustration was with the inevitable impossibility to fully grasp "the essence." (Luprecht 146) That frustration motivated the artists 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, Schnitzlers "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).
While Arthur Schnitzlers "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 Raphaels "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 mans 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 "cant 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 heros timorous recoiling from the harsh cold lights of reason being shed by the morgue physicians 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. Adlers" 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. Schnitzlers "Art." Contemporary supplements, such as: the "HIV"/AIDS references, to deepen the "pre-conscious" shadows of todays "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 todays 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 Hares version of "Reigen" ("The Blue Room") and Kubricks Traumnovelle ("EYES WIDE SHUT"), it is difficult to argue for the apparent lack of something like an Alices 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 Benings critically acclaimed portrayal of "Carolyn Burnham," from Alan Balls "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 Schnitzlers 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 Kubricks film by Nicole Kidman/"Alice" with:
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 artists aesthetic - ultimately ethical - statements of this human "vision"!
As to "the Jewish question" in Schnitzlers works in general, Luprechts 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 -- Ive chosen to follow Stanley Kubricks 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:
ITS NEVER TOO LATE -- TO GET IT BACK!23
S. L. Reinhart, Ph.D.