Lacan Palestine script
House pan, dreamer, man in bed/car, car into building, dreamer wakes up
Title: Lacan Palestine
Scene 1: Bus
Palestinian boy gets on bus.
1:45: Jerusalem song:
And did the Countenance Divine/Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here/Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Scene 2: Exile
Image: Mike and boy in forest, Moses exiled in desert, black and white figures, flame, Moses and flame, lonely desert walker, old man alone.
2:55 Mike voice-over:
“For some reason I got married a second time, late in life. Well, that didn’t work out. There was a child and that was pretty difficult. I was essentially cast out. It was experienced as disaster, in the etymological sense. One is separated from the star that ought to guide one. One has problems navigating. One finds oneself up against a rocky shoal and the next thing you know you’re in the drink. And then what are you going to do? Everything is gone. All you feel is loss…”
Image: apartment pans, clock, boys swim to the surface, boy runs.
“What that’s called in general is making reparations. Repairing oneself somehow so that you can continue. Or you don’t and maybe you can’t continue. And certainly you think about not continuing?”
“Did I? Certainly did. I was lucky that certain things fell into place at that time to allow me to do something that served as reparation.”
4:42 Title: to make a name
Mike voice-over: What did it mean to sign something? What did it mean to make a name?
5:08 Image: town crier, prayer superimpositions, Palestinian men at checkpoint, desert riders.
Mike voice-over: What the people whose languages are scattered, whose lips are turned – in the Hebrew it says ‘He turned their lips, so that they all spoke a different language and they were scattered across the earth to go and make a name for themselves. The tower of Babel.
5:43 Scene 3: School
Image: soldiers on roof, school, boy plays cards, girl draws missile, abandoned school books on floor, explosion, boys walk through rubble, boy walks with dad beating water jug as drum.
7:18 Scene 4: Barber
Image: repeated image of a boy turning from the mirror, boy haircut, Samson pulls down pillars, head is shaved,
8:05 Scene 5: Snakes and Arabs
Newsreel title: Refugee Immigrants Reach Palestine
Image: young arrivals on truck and in fields
Newsreel voice-over: The immigrants arrive with a cherished idea of what the biblical homeland would be like. What they found was a hostile land full of swamps and snakes and scorpions and Arabs.
Image: Old man alone, key, protestors hosed, puddle step, Palestinian merchants, hand to lens, Abraham and Isaac painting, hooded figures kiss, boy walk, key turns in box, flashlights,
9:05 Scene 6: Apartheid
Image: boy with gun in mouth, shadowy traffic, barbed wire cross, man opens blinds beginning multi-layered superimposition of Palestinians being beaten, arrested, women throwing stones and protesting, checkpoints, camp escape.
Edward Said voice-over: I mean Israel to the Palestinians have shown no compassion whatever. Every corner of their life on a minute to minute basis – whether we talk about torture, whether we talk about the demolition of houses, curfews of the entire population, every form of collective punishment forbidden by the Geneva convention. Mass imprisonment without trial, humiliation by being beaten up, having to carry special cards, discriminations made against Palestinians by virtue of their of their national origin and religion, I mean, all the indecencies and humiliations which alas many Jews in the past have suffered, are now being visited on the Palestinians by the Jewish state.
Image: old man alone, crawling, writing on wall.
10:22 Scene 7: Singularity
Image: fireballs in sky, writing of 10 commandments by fire, books, books on fire, rewriting of 10 commandments, books, writing, Shakespeare close-up, monastic writing.
Mike voice-over: The fact that somebody like Shakespeare or somebody like Sophocles or Melville can directly engage you today — and I would expect 300 years down the road or 3,000 years down the road if we’re still around which I think is highly unlikely but it’s possible I suppose.
Image: street scenes, fiery globe turns into a world, into a stone crushed in hand, ABC’s on blackboard and eye, Talmud readers, Moses in desert, hand then eyeglasses close-up, book turns into bird, drawer opens, blood drips, Palestinian boy stands, whale, Ahab shouts, man writing Moby Dick through lamp.
Mike voice-over: This has nothing to do with universality. This is the commonplace. If you read these overweaning dicta about the great books and all this crap, the idea is that the reason we love these books is because they speak in universal terms about universal themes. That’s not the reason whatsoever. The reason these things matter and engage us is because they’re utterly singular. There’s nothing universal about them, they’re the work of singular individuals who, for whatever reason, and certainly we can’t fathom the complexity of reasons why it’s possible for someone like Melville to do what he did, but the thing exists in its abject singularity and it’s possible for all kinds of different, utterly different singularities, to engage it.
Image: Segregation wall construction, onlookers. Wall views, women walks along wall.
Mike voice-over: If we recognize that each subjectivity is this utterly irreducible and unique singularity, then how do we make community? How do we make a community out of that?
Image: 2 men and picket fence, dark and distorted sexual pictures, car starts, night traffic,
13:13 sign: Assigned Parking for American Embassy cars only
Image: car in front of US embassy blows up, cars throng in the street, American revolution fights British troops, British troops around the world, British diplomat’s car arrives at Jerusalem War Cemetery, home movies at cemetery, troops arrive on horseback, crusaders charge, Mongols charge, French foreign legion fires, Moses stands on rise.
Scene 8: Punctum
15:07 title: There stood Jerusalem around us
Image: entering Jerusalem, people’s bags checked by security, Muslim/Christian/Jew prayers, bombed out store, bell ringing, outraged shouters, two boys with flags.
16:27 Mike voice-over: I would agree with somebody like Barthes who would say there’s the meat of the photograph but I’m interested in that over there in the corner, there’s something in the corner of the photograph that grabs me. And what is that thing that he’s always talking about? He calls it the punctum of the photograph, the piercing point.
Image: man at peephole, flower, bicycles, girl protestor, woman in veil.
Mike voice-over: What is that thing that’s over in the corner? It’s not the thing you’re supposed to look at, it’s this other thing that you’re not supposed to look at, it’s not supposed to matter much. It’s always some human thing, it’s always some thing that grabs YOU, not you but the one, the one who is looking at it, not anybody, that one, it grabs you on the basis of your own singularity. It doesn’t grab necessarily everybody, it might be something else for somebody else. Most people would look at the photograph and see what’s there in the centre of the frame.
Image: Son fed by father, cameras in desert sand, crusaders (movie) dead, corpses (documentary) from 1967 war. Candles, light, couple kiss.
17:46 Mike voice-over: That sequence with Phil’s mom wouldn’t grab me in the same way if I didn’t know Phil, if I didn’t know Phil’s mom. Maybe she reminds me of my mom, maybe she reminds me of the position of the mom. Fundamentally, at bottom, when you exhaustively analyze this, you can’t finally put your finger on the why of it. Something grabs you. Why do you love her? Why do you love HER? What is it about her? Why do you love me? You don’t know, you can’t say it. You’re supposed to say it, but the truth of the matter is, it can’t be expressed.
Scene 9: Projections
Image: mom and child in field, person walks on beach, high contrast black and white scenes showing the making of a Hollywood desert castle siege, projector
19:52 title: Savage Desert Tribesman
Image: Mongols on horseback, French foreign legion, Arabs unshot (rise after being shot), Crusaders, British armless soldier in grass: British school boy memories (classroom, sketches), British troops 19th + 20th century, WW1, Ottoman Empire map in Middle East, Arab troops, amusements, treaties sign, painter, canons,
Image: WW2 newsreels, radio listeners, desert soldiers, maps and binoculars.
21:18 Newsreel voice-over: Britain reiterated its interest in establishing a Jewish state when its Prime Minister Campbell-Bannerman announced that it would be important to establish a strong foreign presence close to the point where the Mediterranean was linked to the Red Sea. He added, ‘We should install in this region near the Suez Canal a force hostile to the people of the country and friendly to the European countries.’
21:48 Image: title: Dr. Mohsen Salah
titles: Such a foreign body would be dependent on foreign colonialism and the Europeans.
It would be guaranteed survival in return for keeping surrounding states weak.
Image: desolate Arabs, Palestinians in casts, man in cave
22:18 titles: The Europeans also believed/the Jews to be closer to them than the Arabs./A Jewish state would be better for them.
Image: father and son at tree, hand on body under blanket, troops, Churchill and Arab leaders, map, painter, English car drives through London, man gets out of car, two men kiss, two men make out on Union Jack flag, middle east map (showing British administered/French administered lands)
24:18 Richard Murphy voice-over: The Arabs saw Israel through the lens of their history as the latest attempt of the outside world to implant a western state in the middle of the Arab world.
24:38 Palestinian representative: The main case of the Arabs is against the British government’s policy in Palestine, a policy which if continued will surely see the replacement of the Arabs by the Jews.
24:50 Newsreel title: Palestine defies peacemakers
Newsreel voice-over: A direct challenge to the United Nation and its powers of war prevention comes from Palestine. The definition of legal and illegal forces becomes daily more obscure. Haganah, a force first legally raised for the defense of Jewish settlements works hand in glove with Irgun Zevai Leumi, the outlawed terrorist army. Full scale training is underway in a score of camps throughout the country. There is no shortage of arms or ammunition. Though under the British Mandate possession of arms calls for the death penalty.
The cameraman taking these pictures was led blindfolded to the training ground. Few of the men avoided being photographed, only the girls made a half hearted attempt at concealment of their features. Such is the attitude towards the waning power of Britain’s mandate.
Image: Jewish/Palestinians military training, bomb, people in the street.
Scene 10: Jazz
Image: birds, night traffic, John Coltrane+Eric Dolphy+McCoy Tyner+Steve Davis+Elvis Jones play My Favourite Things.
Images: Coltrane band, Israel/Palestine negotiations, maps, five Israeli soldiers torture Palestinian civilians. Prayers and painters.
27:42 Mike voice-over: How do we do anything in concert? How can we live in accord with one another in any way? What are these guys doing in jazz combos, if it’s good? Let’s say we’re talking about Coltrane’s group with Eric Dolphy in the first week of 1961 at the Vanguard. Five guys are playing, each articulating their singular thing on their particular instrument, together.
There’s this problem between the expression of one’s individual singularity, whatever that is, and for each one it’s different. Coltrane doesn’t play like anybody else. Now there’s a lot of pretenders who can play like Coltrane but at that time nobody could play like that. Elvin Jones. Nobody could drive a band like Elvin Jones at that time. Each of these guys was totally different yet somehow they play together in a way that’s… I don’t want to use a musical metaphor like harmony but there’s a coalescence of these quite discrete, quite radically different singular expressions.
Melville’s using English so there’s a restriction there. He’s got one language to write in. But within that there’s an infinite number of combinations of words that he could use and the same is true of improvisation in jazz combos. The same is true. No matter how narrow the range. My favourite things. No matter how narrow the range there’s a million ways to express something of yourself.
30:05 Scene 11: Slavery
Image: Jewish slaves in Egypt, Palestinian human cargo carriers in Palestine, then overloaded Palestinian street cart deliveries. Jewish tourist (feeds Arabs, a mule and a bear).
32:58 Scene 12: Israel
Image: hand paints on map, UN newsreel
Newsreel voice-over: A 55 nation security committee of the United Nations hears Jewish and Arab representatives submit their views on the vital Palestine issue.
33:06 Dr. Hillel Cohen: When the Palestinians were told to take up arms and start fighting, what arms, what fighting? How can we fight them?
Image: David Ben-Gurion waves to a crowd, children inhabit a suit of armour
33:19 Newsreel voice-over: The British Mandate was due to expire on may 15, 1948. A day earlier, as the British were packing their bags, the Zionist leadership convened a meeting at this hall in Tel Aviv. Standing in front of a portrait of Theodor Herzl, at 4pm local time, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the beginning of a new state.
33:46 Title: Ben-Gurion 1948
David Ben-Gurion: “We declare the creation of a Jewish state in the land of Israel.
Image: Crowds cheer, golden calf celebrations, Moses anger, Moses topples golden calf, fire returns to its source, Palestinian children circle, circles (the revolution goes round), Israelis spin dance, captive man circles.
35:09 Scene 13: Exodus
Smoky landscapes, woman stands/in living room,
35:26 Woman voice-over: I remember the day my father wanted us all to leave Jerusalem because it was not safe anymore. It was right after the massacre at Deir Yassin. This was one of the landmarks of 1948 because at that point Palestinians were afraid for their families and children after the massacre.
Images: fire, soldiers, newsreels destruction.
36:07 Edward Said voice-over: What happened to us in 1948 was not only the destruction of a society but in the case of my family, every single member of my family was made a refugee in 1948. Not a single member remained in Palestine past the late spring of 1948. And this was an experience repeated over and over.
Image: soldier brings dead boy to Pharoah. Many grieve.
36: 36 title: Mighty pharaoh, your son is dead.
37:18 title: This night the lord has killed all the firstborn in Egypt; and against the Gods of Egypt he has executed judgment. Now Pharoah, will you let his people depart?
Image: Egyptians, 2 men wrestle, man wrestles lion, ape approaches bound woman, leopard women whipped, boy parts legs, Moses parts arms, Red Sea parts, interior body cells flow, man pisses in river, water drips from pipes and grates and faces, a slave girl gives water to an Egyptian master while Jewish slaves look on thirsty, his hand unhands hers, a man’s red hand on her belly
Scene 14: Enjoyment
39:15 title: Enjoyment is difficult
Image: Bride, Jewish rites, man on bed and doctor, Israel flag, Israel troops 1967, Palestinian shot.
38:23 Mike voice-over: Enjoyment is difficult and dangerous and not necessarily pleasant. There’s a lot of enjoyment in torturing yourself with your mean spirited self judgments. There must be, otherwise we couldn’t keep doing it. You keep repeating stuff that causes you anguish and discomfort or guilt or pain. Why do you keep doing it? There must be something in it. Some enjoyment.
Image: boy on hill, West Bank street scenes, 2 hooded shapes merge, peephole, boy whipped, man runs on fire, buildings on fire, Israeli workers build war machines, aircraft fire, Palestinian mourners at funeral, fires at night.
Scene 15: Families
Image: women at mosque, archaeologist dig, Native looks up, plagues, Moses leads Jews out of Egypt.
42:40 Paul Robeson sings: When Israel was in Egypt’s land, let my people go. Go down Moses.
Image: women walks down to the street, Palestinian refugee camps, Egyptian preparing dead body. Women mourns her dead daughter. Birds, smoky trees, bent people through glass. Bedouin family, two brothers play and warn each other.
45:32 Title: Possession
Image: airplane, death from the air, aerial battles, barbed wire around ruined buildings, ground rises up, hand buried in sand, bullets, man walks in front of house, wife shows photo of her husband’s terrible scar, he sits in chair worried, Ahmad (boy) plays with gun, girl swings, older woman lies down, girl out of building, Ahmad (boy) slides on a cardboard fragment. Boy and gun.
Scene 16: Bus
Image: sheep herded, boy onto bus, boy leaves bus and pets cat, close-up animal fur, possum fetuses.
Scene 17: Inside is Outside
49:50 Title: that moment, that cut
Image: Men carry kosher meat, baby, man draws on map, hands, writing, UN, explosion, interior body cells, Palestinian faces, Abraham and Isaac painting, Palestinian street mourners, stone throwers, body interior, boy looks, house explodes, newsreel people evacuate, body wrapped in plastic.
Scene 18: Father
Image: Body in plastic, rainy truck into camp, women lights match, boy in pain, boy on swing bullet passes by, boy runs
51:13 Mike voice-over: Nothing came on the street, it wouldn’t boot. And I thought oh my god, and I just started crying in front of Jazzbo. I just thought I’d done something, that there was some inherent flaw in the system that was causing a fault that was blowing the motherboard. And I thought I’d done it again.
51:54 Title: To declare is to become the son of that event.
Mike voice-over: My whole penurious situation just overwhelmed me.
52:05 Mike sync: If I wanted to rigorously analyze it, I would have to say that there’s some kind of jouissance (pleasure) involved in it. It was a sublime experience of abject mortification and I was flooded with an emotional rush of, in this case, tears. It’s a regression. I don’t think I had the opportunity to feel like that when I was a child.
Image: London bombed during world war 2. Buildings burn, rubble, rebuilding.
Mike voice-over: You weren’t supposed to. It had something to do with the way my parents handled me. You had to be gritty because of the blitz. My parents weren’t in the blitz but it was my grandmother in the blitz. You had to keep your pecker up. Quite a bit. And you had to take responsibility for your father’s immanent death. My father had a heart attack in 1958. I would have been six or seven.
53:28 Mike voice-over: I woke up in the morning and he was gone. Gone.
Image: Rubble. Men shovel rubble. A man walks past workers. Man and son with red kite. Painting of Abraham and Isaac.
Mike voice-over: When he returned from the hospital he looked like a different person. And I remember he brought home a kite, and I thought that he had made it in the hospital even though it had “Texaco” written on it. And then, this is what they told me: If you keep doing this, your father’s going to have another heart attack and this time he’ll die. Can you imagine? Saying that? I’m not trying to say that this is the hell hole I lived in, I’m sure that everybody’s parents spoke like this to them. Said these kinds of idiotic things. But that’s what they said and I believed it. So for the next, what seemed like years, I had to tiptoe around because otherwise my father would die. And of course at some level I wanted him to die.
Image: Abraham leads Isaac up a mountain to kill him, Darth Vader and Hans Solo fight, skeletons fight.
55:00 Mike voice-over: I had a power that I could not exercise. I had to go against my desire on that score which I’m sure was unconscious. I wasn’t going ‘I wish my father would die,’ in fact, definitely I was not saying that.
“Why do you say you wanted your father to die?”
“Because I think every boy wants his father to die. Because the father represents the law and you don’t want to have to conform to it. It’s the Oedipal thing. It’s not just every boy, and it’s not necessarily the father, it’s whomever represents the law, there’s a certain level at which you’re in rebellion against that.
Image: Israeli soldier at checkpoint
56:35 Title: Doing something properly is a way of not doing it differently.
Image: Palestinian women at checkpoint
56:47 Title: Only the familiar is ever in disguise.
Scene 19: Animals at war
57: 33 title: There stood Jerusalem around us.
Image: horse eye, horse tethered, horses in war, gold, maps, warships, knights clash, night canons, tanks, prayer.
Scene 20: Bride
Image: bride dances
58: 40 Newsreel voice-over: In 1896 the Zionist journalist Theodor Herzl published his book The Jewish State. But the Jews of Europe were dreaming of immigrating to America, this is why Dr. Max Nordau, Herzl’s right hand man, sent two eminent rabbis to visit Palestine. They sent back a reply of only one line that read, ‘The bride is beautiful but she is married to another man.’
Image: girl walks to mother, mother and child, filling water bottles, woman spraypaints, man sits by wall with graffiti “Paid by USA”,
61:26 chalk writing: “Examine myself”, boys fight, crusaders fight, boy looks, school kids and soldiers, man on balcony, man clears shelf, Israeli soldier motions get back, Arabs run, beach, beach superimpositions.
Scene 21: Refugees
61:33 Edward Said: And I got there just after the Israelis had been there and I saw that these people’s tents had been destroyed. They were sitting out in the open exposed, it was a rather severe early spring, it was around February-March. It was raining and cold. There were children running around and dogs and women huddling together. It was a heart rending sight. The men spread this blanket or rug and we sat together and they made me tea and we started to talk. I asked them questions about whether they’ve been helped by anyone and they said, ‘Oh yes the Red Cross came and brought us blankets’ and I said, ‘Very good.’ Then we stopped filming and I told one of the men informally, ‘You know it was really good what you said, that they cared’ and he said, ‘No, no, I just said that for the camera. Nobody’s paid any attention to us.’
Image: man holds his face in hands/friend puts hand to camera (3 X), map, woman walks at checkpoint, dreamy bride, women with veil in desert, people carry light, Palestinians throw stones and wave flag, Israeli military shoot, Palestinian streets under military attack, children running and crying, boys run, watery bride, mother and child,
Scene 22: Strong Poet
64:31 title: to make a name
Image: boy walks in desert, Eduardo’s face supered with Palestinian postage stamps and coins.
64:46 Mike voice-over: The name is somehow at the bottom of language itself. A language names you, you are named by your language. It might connect to the idea that “style is the man himself.’ That one’s style is the aspect in language of one’s singularity.
Image: boy and tree, Moshe Dayan in 1967 war, birth animations, man on fire, biblical plague titles, 1967 Egypt invasion by Israel,
Mike voice-over: I guess the difference between – to use perhaps outmoded terms – the difference between the strong maker and someone who is really just imitative, is that the strong maker’s style evinces something of that person’s singularity, as opposed to being another copyist in the genre. This is someone for whom it couldn’t be different. No one else could have done this.
Image: Palestian mourners at funeral, man reads to young boy at funeral, Moses and Jews in the desert,
65:55 Mike voice-over: If you take the business seriously you are enthralled by someone or ones who have gone before and it’s necessary to make a break at some point and become who you are. And not everybody does that. Not everybody does it. That could be the thing that makes you give up. In Bloom’s theory the younger poet rewrites the strong, definitive poem of the antecedent. He rewrites it, and thus destroys its influence. And then goes on to become a strong poet.
66:58 Scene 23: Jihad on the bus
Image: Jihad in bed woken by mother.
67:03 Mother: Jihad, Jihad. Wake up to go visit dad. C’mon wake up. Wake up so dad can see you. C’mon darling wake up.
67:11 title: Jihad, age 4. Beit Rima. 4:25 am.
Mother: What will you tell dad? Who sends him regards? Tell him mum sends her regards. Lovely, Jihad. Sweet smart boy. Send dad my dearest wishes. Take care of yourself. Don’t burden anyone, and eat your food. Ok darling? You’re a good boy, a hero, a man…
Image: Jihad on bus. Seashore. Two boys.
Image: man speaks and boy repeats after him.
68:10 Man: As a decent human being,
Boy: As a Jew, as a decent human being.
Man: Now this part might be a little hard.
Boy: Now this part might be a little hard.
Man: No (laughs), I mean the next words might be hard for a little boy, but try.
Boy: I can say it.
Man: To advance the ideal of human dignity and freedom in Palestine…
Image: young girl walks past corpses, woman stands on the side of the road, her hand holds out a key.
68:50 Title: Film this
Last image: wind blows sand in desert.
69:13 title: There stood Jerusalem around us
Thanks to Velcrow Ripper, Elle Flanders, Tamira Sawatzky and Dani Leventhal for generously granting their tapes of Palestine and Israel.
Thanks to Mike Cartmell for sharing his words.
Thanks to Phil Hoffman for shooting on the island.
Thanks to thanks to Kika Thorne, Louise Liliefeldt, Scott Beveridge, Eduardo Thomas, Gary Popovich, Karol Orzechowski, Steve Sanguedolce.
Thanks to John Price, Shawn Chappelle and Vincent Grenier for their picture magics.
Thanks to Machinefabriek for the musics.
Thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for making this project possible.