The Revolt Against Order

/, Theatre/Film, Blesok no. 29/The Revolt Against Order

The Revolt Against Order

B. The unrest (rebelliousness)

1. In Tango, the nephew Arthur is the one that expresses revolt with this situation. In this case, which is characteristic for Mrożek’s act, the situation is given in inverse, because Arthur doesn’t object, as we would expect, for more freedom (which is obviously present in abundance, so the situation looks like an anarchy) but, on the contrary, he rises up for order. In this drama, the unrest, the revolution, which usually signifies breaking of the conservative rules and conquering freedom, was already accomplished by the previous generation – Stomil and Eleonore, Arthurs parents. In this established order, the third generation lives well (Eleonore’s mother and uncle). It is only Arthur who isn’t at peace with the situation that blocks his creative forces, and therefore he fights for order, for organized way of life.
2. In the Grand Brilliant Waltz, the cornerstone, the guardian of the order in the institution is the doctor. He has a clear task, to keep the people of the institution within a certain regime, which will enable them to fit in the system, helped by the “specialists for metaphors”. By trying hard not to pressure the patients, the doctor is in a way in a mild opposition with the system, which cannot be called a rebellion in the real sense of the word. But the real rebellion begins when Simon Weber is introduced. He is a historian, who is curiously interested in a Polish rebel Drohojowski, a rebel figure from the period of the Napoleon wars. He reached Slovenia, where his leg was amputated. Because of this interest, Weber is considered a latent rebel, whose behavior has to be controlled. Weber’s rebellion consists of his emphasized self-identification with Drohojowski (On the scene this is illustrated with an external transformation as well: Weber wears a Polish uniform and speaks Polish). And so, he identifies himself with a hero from the times when battle, resistance, faith and purpose still existed.
3. In Unrest in The Retirement House, the leaders of the unrest in the real sense of the word are the elderly. We have an inverse situation here as well, because the rebellion is started by the older generation, a generation that normally respects institutions or at least is at peace with the things as they are. They begin their protest against the change of the order of things (they even connect the hour of the death of the late manager with the change of the diner hour) and the new manager moves them into a new location, which for them is another great reason for objection and discontent. But the protest in initiated because of another thing, as well: The alteration in the text of a traditional story by young theater amateurs. (“On the Balkans a war may start because of a change of a word in a traditional story” – it is said in the text.) Thus, the rebellion takes place because of the need to protect the tradition, the commonalities of the ordinary life, a struggle to maintain the status quo. A symbolic scene of this state of things is the manager’s vision of the large refrigerator where he imagines the young amateurs, hanged as frozen meat, but all the others are there as well. The meaning cannot be other than a sign of the desire for frozen and unchanged situations, way of life, the order and consequently– art.

C. The question of freedom

The question of freedom is, of course, crucial in all three texts, and it is not treated identically.
1. As we already said, the freedom in Tango has already been accomplished by the previous generation. This generation fought for free love and behavior in the thirties (symbolically represented with the freedom to dance the tango, at that time a dance which was marked as immoral) and Arthur is fed up with it, because, as he says himself, when everything is allowed, nothing has a taste of real freedom. He very clearly expresses his attitude towards the inherited freedom on several occasions: “With your freedom, you have already poisoned the generations past and future”4F. And in another instance: “No order, no harmony with the current order, no modesty, nor initiative. One can not breathe here, cannot walk, cannot live.”5F. “In this house lethargy rules, entropy, anarchy”.6F
Therefore, Arthur’s task is very hard. It is because he himself doesn’t know how to accomplish new order of things that he reaches for the old forms of good behavior and order. A symbol of that order is the organization of the wedding. But soon enough, he realizes that that old form lacks substance, a sense to fulfill it. His unsuccessful effort to make a new order out of nothing, in absence of a real idea, a purpose of life, takes him to the idea of power. In a family/ society/ order like this, without a guiding idea, without a system of values, power is the only possible regulator of the relations. Arthur: “Only power can be created out of nothing. Only power exists, when there’s nothing else”.7F
And it seems that this is the crucial idea in this text, with regards to the question of the rebellion:
Arthur: “ Isn’t the power also a rebellion? A rebellion in the form of order, a revolt of the heights against the valleys, a rebellion of the taller against the shorter? I am not analysis, nor synthesis, I am an act, I am will, I am energy! I am power” 8F
With this meticulous definition of power, Arthur realizes that he is unable to execute the power he has defined, that he won’t be able to control the new order, and so as his assistant he accepts the lumpen proletarian, the cruel primitive Edek, who somehow joined the family. (At this point, we should mention some interpretations of this piece, which define it a piece of maturing, where Arthur is compared with Hamlet, but also with Oedipus.)
2. The question of freedom in Janchar’s piece is found in the motto of the institution “The freedom liberates”. The author doesn’t indicate the time of the drama anywhere in the text, he suggests universality, although some situations and conditions sound familiar, i.e. point to the period after the WW II and the totalitarian political system, a system where there is a lot of discussion about freedom, but only about one type of freedom, a certain type of freedom– the one that is proclaimed by the system. As Andrej Inkret says, the motto “freedom liberates” very clearly tells us that freedom doesn’t exist– because if someone needs to be liberated, then that person is not free. This type of liberation is very vividly presented through the case of S. Weber, whose spiritual decay is also shown as physical (method of exteriorization of the problem, which after its exposal, may be eliminated) But in this case, a conflicting effect is reached: after his leg is amputated, he completely identifies himself with Drohojowski, which may be interpreted that the repression only strengthens the spirit of freedom and the revolt. Consequently, he, and his appearance, without a leg and dressed in a uniform of a Polish insurgent, is a living proof of the rebellion.
Apart from the main character, through which the liberation is carried out, we can say that almost all other persons are inspired by some desire for other life, and according to Inkret, the desire itself is freedom. They all live in the empty space of desire and freedom, in the space of madness, which enables everyone to reach their wishes, to be what they think they are. Carried by this crazy vision, bewildered in their crazy wishes, they are lost in their terrible imaginary freedom.
3. The problem of freedom is elaborated in Andonovski’s drama as well. The main leader of the notion of freedom is the new manager in the retirement house, portrayed as a typical broad-minded young intellectual, professor, who asserts this freedom to his students, through his free act on the classes, the free love, etc. In fact, he, just like Arthur’s parents, takes freedom for anarchy, without respect of the values of the order. But he also lacks system for realization of freedom, because he is burdened with the Oedipus complex, and the feeling of guilt, and at the same time– has the desire to dominate the inferior. That is why he gradually decays spiritually, and gives in to alcohol. It becomes clear, that for him, the freedom has been only a mask to hide his human weaknesses. At the end, he also struggles for a conventional order of things, blinded (like Oedipus), he sees– and becomes aware of his mistakes and wishes to marry the nurse Ana. (The act of marriage is a symbol of traditional order)

4. S. Mrožek: Tango. In: S. Mrožek: Drame. Beograd, Nolit, 1982, 87.
5. Ibid. 84
6. Ibid. 84
7. Ibid. 141
8. Ibid. 142

2018-08-21T17:23:35+00:00 November 1st, 2002|Categories: Reviews, Theatre/Film, Blesok no. 29|0 Comments