No es tu sexo lo que en tu sexo busco sino ensuciar tu alma: / desflorar con todo el barro de la vida lo que aún no ha vivido. El que no ve. Leopoldo María Panero.
We Need to Talk picks up lovers’ words and explores the swirling, irrational, unjust clouds that cast a collective shadow over all love affairs. Behind closed doors,lovers say things they would never dare repeat to anyone else. Film has offered us glimpses of this invisible space. We follow in its footsteps to create a carnivalesque parody where values, laws and manners are cast aside as we enjoy the exciting sexual freedom of simply doing as we please.
THE COUPLE, CANCER OF THE COLLECTIVE (by Roberto Fratini, dramaturg)
- Defining the couple as a cancer or primitive disease of the collective body may not be my idea (merely a product of your evil whim to twist my most innocent statements); it is nonetheless eloquent. Without such disease there would be no collective body, for the simple reason that there could be no collective body without the main organic conse- quence of couples: that is, sprogs (who, as the disease-exception-effect of the disease-exception-effect that is the couple in itself, have always represented the state of health-definition-relapse of that which exists outside the couple). The proof of this is that, across the centuries, the prospect of maternity or paternity has been the crucial point at which every couple have felt obliged to ‘regularise’ their situation. Matrimony (which etymologically means ‘gift of maternity’) is, in this respect, not just the death knell for love, but also the product of thousands of years of institutio- nal struggle to make institutionally lucrative and bring into the daylight the dark night, the genital thickness and the scandalous excesses of the couple.
- Why disease? Because the couple in itself expresses a radical exception to the sum of regulations, apparatus and devices that rule and feed the image of the collective in the way the collective loves to cultivate. In some ways, the night of Eros — “a matter of two” — can be imagined as having been and still being, in every context, the exact nocturnal interface of a daytime version of cohabitation “made up of at least 3” (values, laws, habits). For the same reason, we note, the Ur-szene, the “scene that precedes us” — mummy and daddy fucking like maniacs — is typically “a matter of two” that fortuitously ends up as “a matter of two plus an unexpected other, who should have been sleeping but snuck into the bed”. Let us imagine, not without perversity, that the collective is that child who has slipped into its parents’ bedroom while they were fucking.
- There is no contradiction between the idea of the couple as a clandestine structure and the fact that nowadays having a partner while sharing freely with friends, aquaintances and strangers the avatars of your own sexual life have become essential factors for integration into the collective; in fact, this SOCIALISATION OF THE SEXUAL is also the secret of its terminal trembling, of its secret extinction. The fact that we live in the most pornographic and pelvic society in the history of culture is merely a reflection of that socialisation. WE LIVE IN THE MOST PORNO- GRAPHIC AGE BECAUSE WE LIVE IN THE LEAST SEXED AGE OF ALL. The triumph of pornography, if you think about it, is being the most extreme, radical, terminal (modern) way for the couple to register on or be absorbed into the devices with which the collective produces and weaves its own daydreams, precisely because it places in the realms of spectacular visibility any protocol of intimacy that could have been imagined before the age of porn.
- Think about it: back in the day, going to see blue movies had a patina of mystery. Inside the cinema one was alone while at the same time accompanied by a small, shameful portion of the “outsider” collective (being “an outsider” is truly emblematic of a dynamic exception, of a “being included by your own exclusion”). Porn movies were, in this respect, the state of exception of cinema as a generalised device of collective life (or the collective dreaming itself collectively). It was a matter of course that the privatisation of the cinematic experience (VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, streaming, etc.) should be accompanied by a parallel privatisation of the cinematic “sub-experience” which was the factor of going to a porn cinema. Remember that, unlike a “normal” movie theatre (a black box disseminating a dream that the collective comes to consume as an opiate to counter its lack of action), the traditional porn cinema was a place for “passage à l’acte” (men would go to these theatres to fuck other men in the lavatories, on the stairs and in the corridors): that is, a substantial subversion of the economy of desire established by the cinematic device; a place, literally, of “pollution” (the sterile spending of semen as an act of contamination or poisoning of collective space).
- Nothing expresses more efficiently the historic capacity of the couple to place itself beyond the rules of this device than the typical scene (still noteworthy in the eighties, that is, at the beginning of the end) of the lovers choosing a cinema at random in order to sit in the back row and spend the time in kisses, heavy pettings, fumblings, sweats and pleasures. The couple chose the cinema because it was dark, and they chose it NOT TO SEE BUT IN ORDER NOT TO BE SEEN while they engaged more savagely and clandestinely in being a couple.
- Can we say that this long-standing relationship with disappearing from view is part of the insurrectionary potential of the sexual couple? Can we say that, for a few centuries, the couple has represented this area of disappearance that the collective has whole-heartedly feared and that has become a “collective harm” (the disappearance of the masses) just when the masses were taking their first steps in the sexualisation of history and politics? (Fascism is precisely that sexualisation of the socio-political element which the socio-political element currently accomplishes via other channels and with variously effective results, subsuming itself in it not from the rhetoric of the cohesive collecti- ve but from the psy rhetoric of the liberated individual).
- Always remember Lacan’s lesson: the idea of a “sexual relationship” is absurd in itself, because if it is sexual it cannot be a relationship and if it is a relationship it cannot be sexual. In short, we may be the most democratic, modern, egalitarian couple in the world, but in bed treat me like a whore or I’ll die of boredom; between the sheets we’re all a wee bit Fascist. Had we accepted this in time, we could more easily have avoided being Fascist where we should have.
- To sum up, the reason that the couple is “a matter of two” is that this is also the minimum safety measure that allows it to be a delicious hell of irrationality, injustice, inequality, aphasia and lack of arguments WITHOUT bringing about a general disintegration of the structures that support the coexistence of the species. One plus one is too much but not enough. All the sexuality of the couple depends on the instinctive knowledge that the other is a rogue cell of the collective that can be profaned in the invisible lavatories of official values. It’s not just about sex and its abysses, either. A relationship is sexual to the extent by which it places itself beyond the rules that its own compo- nents would proclaim and defend out loud to the collective. When we argue at the top of our voices because you unreasonably declined to wash the dishes, we have abandoned the relational aspect for the sexual (couples who don’t fuck much fight all the time; it’s another means to the same end, that is, the exciting freedom of mutual disres- pect). Debord was aware of this when, in “Panégyrique”, he described his private life, his life with his partner, his domestic routines, as aspects of a clandestineness that appeared completely paradoxical when read in the light of political struggle.
- Remember Romeo and Juliette. It’s possible that the two lovers forced to conceal their crazy love in an unjust world are also emblematic of the structural cynicism inherent to any sexual couple: the conspiracy of lovers against the constituted order. The marvellous, rhetorical flights of communication between Romeo and Juliette are nothing more than the musicalisation of the expressions of lovers, desperately applied to the speechlessness, the babbling, and the contemporaneous panting of intercourse (which is when NO-ONE HEARS US BECAUSE WHAT WE SAY IS INAUDIBLE, AND WHAT WE SAY IS INAUDIBLE BECAUSE NO-ONE HEARS US); an area of non-differentiation, of blurring, of dissolution or evaporation of language that, in the language of couples, is used in the same way that PIXELATION is used in pornographic imagery when shown on television (in effect, when shown to the “public”): a staining of the world.
- From this phantasmagoria (the moving stain, the glutinous mass of shadow and colour), the collective (and the image of the collective) emerges as from a wet, exciting and terrifying dream. In this respect there is no contradiction between the fairytale that says the couple is the basic unit of the collective (and that the working woman loves the working man as much as she loves the party) and the idea (Bataille’s, Lacan’s) that the couple is, in effect, the toxicity from which any collective programme needs to be cured, by blending or by assimilation (that is, by encom- passing or reeducating it). It is simply that everything collective is done by the “definition”, in all senses, of the sexual: fixing the limits of what a couple constitutes; ending its “sexual” excesses with the angelically asexual care of a chld; “defining” its pixels.
- Have you ever considered the incredible similarity to be found between an aerial photograph of a disorganised mass gathering of people (stadium, concert, demonstration) and the pixelated image of sexual intercourse? Have you ever considered the incredible similarity between the deafening roar of a crowd and the uncontrolled purring of lovers frolicking between the sheets? Is there not an incredible similarity between the strange lucidity of the couple emerging from intercourse (that is, their “sexual” moment) with the “relationship” question par excellence: (how was it for you? did you enjoy that?) and the strange lucidity of the collective when awakened from its feature-length daydream (according to Benjamin) and for the first time becoming aware that, while dreaming within the assigned areas (galleries, shopping centres, cinemas) someone was fucking it over and it liked it. Fucking means being temporarily outside time (that is, so SYNCHRONISED with the present moment that its historical meaning becomes completely neutralised): the daydreaming collective is at the same time the collective whose synchronicity with its time is so incredibly accurate that it cannot possibly know that what it is experiencing is called history, and that it will probably pay the price, tomorrow upon waking up, for allowing itself to be fucked by the present without a condom in a fit of passion; for having effectively lent its voice to a sexual act, the script for which has already been written by someone else.
A Hen in the Wind (Yasujiro Ozu) 1948
A Lesson in Love (Ingmar Bergman) 1954
A Place for Lovers (Vittorio de Sica) 1968
A Separation (Asghar Farhadi) 2001
A wedding (Robert Altman) 1978
American Beauty (Sam Mendes) 1999
As if it was a piece of Beckett (Lutz Mommartz) 1977
Bad Timing (Nicolas Roeg) 1980
Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick) 1975
Beauty and the beast (Jean Cocteau) 1946
Blade Runner (Ridley Scott) 1982
Blue velvet (David Lynch) 1986
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola) 1992
Cairo Station (Youssef Chachine) 1958
Call Her Savage (John Francis Dillon) 1932
Carnal Knowledge (Mike Nichols) 1971
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Richard Brooks) 1958
Closer (Mike Nichols) 2004
Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard) 1963
Cruel story of youth (Nagisha Oshima) 1960
El (Luis Buñuel) 1953
Eyes wide shut (Stanley Kubrick) 1999
Fear of fear (R. W. Fassbinder) 1975
Five easy pieces (Bob Rafelson) 1970
Función de noche (Josefina Molina) 1981
Gilda (Charles Vidor) 1946
Gone with the Wind (Victor Flemming, Sam Wood, George Cukor) 1939
Johnny Guitar (Nicolas Ray) 1954
Journey to Italy (Roberto Rossellini) 1954
La ronde (Max Ophüls) 1950
Last tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci) 1972
Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais) 1961
Loves of a Blonde (Milos Forman) 1965
Once upon a time in America (Sergio Leone) 1984
Opening night (John Cassavetes) 1977
Othello (Orson Welles) 1952
Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders) 1984
Passion of Love (Ettore Escola) 1981
Perfect Love (Catherine Breilat) 1996
Portrait of Madame Yuki (Kenji Mizoguchi)1950
Possession (Andrzej Zulawski) 1981
Punch drunk love (Paul Thomas Anderson) 2002
Queen Christina (Rouben Mamoulian) 1933
Revolutionary road (Sam Mendes) 2008
Scenes from a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman) 1973
Secretary (Steven Shainberg) 2002
Short Cuts (Robert Altman) 1993
Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas) 2007
Simon of the Desert (Luis Buñuel) 1965
Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky) 1972
Splendor in the grass (Elia Kazan) 1961
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W.Murnau) 1927
Sweet Dreams (Karel Reisz) 1985
The Arrangement (Elia Kazan) 1969
The Passion of Anna (Ingmar Bergman) 1969
The piano teacher (Michael Haneke) 2001
The Woman Next Door (François Truffaut) 1981
Three Colors: White (Krzystof Kieslowski) 1994
To Joy (Ingmar Bergman) 1950
Two for the road (Stanley Donen) 1967
Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolf? (Mike Nichols) 1966
roger bernat. Dramaturgy: roberto fratini. Research: noel palazzo and arturo bastón. Sound: noel palazzo. Technical direction and video editing: txalo toloza. Legal advice: carmenchu buganza. Coordination: helena febrés fraylich. Thanks to: bruno jordà,ramiro ledo cordeiro and Montse Badia