By Inbar Haft
When asked to predict what my reaction would be to a sudden, untimely death – that is, would it be one of relief or resistance? – my immediate inclination was to first assess my approach to life in order to make a more accurate determination. One's attitude toward life is a likely means of predicting what one's attitude towards imminent death may be on the basis that: life and death are symbiotic, integral aspects of one another. I put my personal translation of this experience into the form of a poem, entitled "debunk", and remaining true to the original spark that fostered it, the poem focuses more on life than it does on death. The short film, which acts as a visual counterpart to the poem, is an abstract, loose interpretation and merely aims to keep in line with the general flow of the original piece. I hoped that the combination of both would be a body of work that could resonate on a personal level for those who viewed them, without necessarily trying to ascertain authorial intent.
The definition of the title of the poem gives a general idea of the aims that it harbors. To "debunk", or in other words, "to reveal the truth about a person, idea, or institution, by stripping away false sentiment, traditions, etc." is concomitantly both a facetious and realistic endeavor. On the one hand, a Derridian analysis would refute the possibility of stripping away false anything without stripping away the person in the process. There is no central core, but rather a limitless construction of layers. On the other hand, we are all, at one time or another, mislead by the false assumption that hidden somewhere inside is our ideal self, waiting to be chiseled into form, much like the process in which a sculptor creates a work of art out of a block.
The poem is a juxtaposition of both of these attitudes, reflecting the ways in which they engage.
My Self said to myself, "keep turning," keep jumping, leaping, crouching. "You're no dummy, or a puppet on a string,” self said. The horizontal strings of others may pull at you, fierce as a tiger, fierce as the stench of a rotten egg frying on the pavement in the heat of the noonday sun. Pull, pull, pull you into the push of others into the undulating tryst of others. At about the time that 4 became 5 those others revealed themselves. No longer the others outside, they became the others inside. And still, I have no choice but to keep skipping, hopping, dragging the keys of an imaginary typewriter beneath my feet, typing the narrative as I go along, spacing myself out in time. And, I guess that I should mention the vertical strings that need no mention. They’re of the kind that don't pull you in any direction apart from your own. Unless the Drone takes on a guise, whereupon the horizontal strings mislead, mis-pull, mis-push you into thinking otherwise. In time, the queen cut, cut, cuts, the strings with her royal scissors. All I can do is keep slinking, swinging, rising, like a wind-up doll with a key in my back, turning...and where it stops nobody knows. Walking down the street – turning – now it is time to cross – turning – and all of a sudden the key STOPS turning. "Well!" says me, the wind-up doll – me, the queen bee: "I've been turning, jumping, leaping, crouching, skipping, hopping, dragging, slinking, swinging, rising – now it's time for me to sleep", says me, the wind-doll, me, the queen bee
At the risk of sounding self-inflated, a line by line analysis of the poem would most likely distort the unified picture that it aims at presenting, just as looking at dismembered parts of a human body would not reveal much about the character of a person. Nonetheless, shedding light on some of the key aspects that are present, and giving background as to why and how certain lines were composed, may help the reader to understand the completed body of work.
There are two main themes that are interwoven into the metaphoric lines of the text; they are movement and self-reflection. Movement is delineated by the ten "active" words that are positioned in various points throughout the poem: turning, jumping, leaping, crouching, skipping, hopping, dragging, slinking, swinging, rising. Together, they are meant to encapsulate a wide range of human experiences. They also reflect a survival instinct that propels us to continue, which is why they are proceeded by such words as "keep...", still I had no choice but to keep..." and "all I can do is keep..."
The movement words are the instinctive or primal forces that are at work, regardless of our intentions and interferences. There is a sense of comfort that accompanies this realization, in that it is an automatic safety net of sorts that remains at work even when our ideally projected self is not properly functioning the way that we would like it to.
aspects of the poem are meant to express the fluctuating interface between
self-deception and self-illumination. So, in other words, "my Self"
says to "myself" in order to emphasize the difficulty in discerning
between the different aspects of ourselves. The "horizontal strings"
are the external factors that manipulate us, while the "vertical
strings" are the internal moral, spiritual, or religious factors that also
motivate us. The "4" that became "5" is a direct reference
The general overtone of the lines are meant to reflect both an existential angst, and the conscious realization that it is precisely that angst that we can come to depend on and which we do not wish to let go. The statement of this realization is first encountered in the lines "In time the queen cut, cut, cuts the strings with her royal scissors." At this point in the poem the transition into death is beginning to take place, and can be met with a sense of equanimity that is a direct result of the conscious realizations described above. The final identification as both the queen bee (a powerful controller) and the wind-up doll (a domicile pawn that is moved by external forces) is the peaceful fusion of these two forces that had hitherto been opponents.
The short film, which is basically a visual translation of the poem, was originally meant to be a word for word, picture for picture equivalent to the original. Luckily, I was advised early on in the production stages, that such an attempt would result in a poor representation and an even poorer film. Therefore, some of the images remain consistent in both mediums, for example: the sequences of movement pictures, the egg frying on the pavement, the swinging feet above a typewriter. Yet, most of the images were conceived independently, such as the parading Jesus/chickens, with their heads cut off, which are symbolic of the different modes of propaganda, both by what they are and by the way that they are visually presented. (The reasons why I chose those specific images as propaganda were mostly because I found them to be striking in terms of their aesthetic appeal). The chase scene, in which I am being followed by the camera, is meant to give off a sense of paranoid fear and anxiety. The final scene, in which the entire sequence is played backwards in fast forward mode, visually unites all of the fragmented shots, and complete things in the same way that the poem ends.
Both in writing the poem and in making the film, I adopted a stream of consciousness method as my guideline. The interpretations that I have included in this paper are a result of thoughts and ideas that arose while making the film, and personal impressions after having read and watched both. Yet, for the most part, the words that I wrote in the poem were not so much chosen as a means to a descriptive end, they are just what sounded right at the time. Similarly, the visual images in the film do not necessarily "make sense" per se, because they represent what I felt were the relevant interpretations to what I was trying to convey, and were decided upon randomly and instinctively to reflect my own specific experience.
Video – Debunk
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