Clyde boastfully, but shyly introduces them with a disarming smile, accentuating the bond they share with the country folk – while anticipating (almost as an afterthought) the course that they are committed to pursue – bank robbery:

This here’s Miss Bonnie Parker. I’m Clyde Barrow…We rob banks.

In the late 1960s, Bonnie and Clyde’s sympathetic, revolutionary characters and its social criticism appealed to anti-authority American youth who were part of the counter-cultural movement protesting the Vietnam War, the corrupt social order, and the U.S. government’s role. The restless couple’s robberies of banks, viewed somewhat sympathetically by the rural dispossessed, occurred at a time when the institutions were ‘robbing’ and ruining indebted, Dust Bowl farmers, similar to the wave of foreclosures today.  The robberies of the glamorous, thrill-seeking young couple – mostly innocent and minor at the beginning of their crime spree, unfortunately escalate into more violent and murderous escapades.

Clyde: I might as well tell ya right off. I ain't much of a lover boy. But that don't mean nothin' personal about you. I-I-I never saw no percentage in it. Ain't nothin' wrong with me. I don't like boys. (He bumps his head on the driver's side door.) Bonnie (frustrated and stunned): ...Your advertisin' is just dandy. Folks would never guess you don't have a thing to sell. You'd better take me home now. Now don't you touch me! As she gets out of the passenger side of the car, he follows after her through the front seat and does a pratfall onto the ground, but quickly uprights himself. Diverting her physical arousal, he entices Bonnie into a glamorous life with his own unrealistic, ignorant and childish fantasies of freedom, wealth and fame. He encourages her to think of him as the answer to her dreams - they could make history together

Arthur Penn (1922-2010 )”I think the 1960s generation was a state of mind,” he said, “and it’s really the one I’ve been in since I was born.” He will be best remembered for Bonnie and Clyde (1967), a complex and lyrical study of violent outsiders whose lives became the stuff of myth. The film, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, and based on the exploits of the bank-robbing Barrow Gang in the 1930s, became a cause celebre. It was praised and attacked for its distortion, bad taste and glorification of violence in equal measure. In effect, it was a representation of the seemingly eternal conflict between Apollo and Dionysus that seems particularly magnified in American context. But neither, as Arthur Penn showed, seemed to hold the monopoly on pessimism and variations on tragedy as an option to quiet desperation. Neither choice was that appetizing. So the question begs to be asked: Who was that masked man?

The one that manifests is always a mask, a mask of Dionysus. The perennial outsider.  To start the question with “What is. . . ?” is for Gilles Deleuze the way that metaphysics formulated the question of essence. Through the mask, a dynamic flux of Dionysian raw power carries us away even further outside, outside of the question of essence and truth. The moment of the mask god’s epiphany is the moment of intensity, of intensities. At this moment, there is nothing for us to experience. Our relation to the mask is not that of experiencing subject. Rather, it is a radical non-empirical experience, an experience of presence as outside, as ek-stasis.

Nietzsche:The emergence of the mask god, which is the most terrible and yet the most gentle, happens in the “non-place” of the confrontation. Not to temper violence, nor to gratify it, the epiphany emerges through the cruel and gratuitous instigation of forces. The epiphany as emergence is constituted by the relation of force with force, by a plurality of irreducible forces. Every epiphany is different because the relation of forces undergoes metamorphosis. This power of transformation defines the epiphany as emergence, not according to causality, but by the dice throw, by wandering, by dancing “on the feet of chance”

This ecstatic state of experience is not subjective in origin, nor is it individual. It is fundamentally linked to the unspecified others. It is, in fact, a “theatrical” experience envisioned by Antonin Artaud, in which participants experience “a passionate overflowing, a frightful transfer of forces from body to body.This transfer cannot be reproduced twice.” This theatrical experience will definitely lose its potency if it is translated into representations, into the binary performance of the signifiers and the signifieds. On the stage, the smiling mask of Dionysus conveys nothing but contagious Dionysian laughter which is meant to evoke in us either an affirmative Nietzschean tragic experience or an indescribable ecstasy.

"The Left Handed Gun clearly signposted Penn's continuing preoccupations – family, father figures, the myths of American history and the contradictions they set up with reality. He was particularly interested in disillusioned outsiders in conflict with society and the law (albeit motivated more by emotion than logic), and their ensuing violence and pain, both of which were conveyed in a deeply sensuous way through the powerful performances Penn consistently drew from his actors."

…His films can be seen as vividly allegorical, highlighting the traumas and conflicts of the times through which he and the nation were living. Penn openly admired the French new wave (the influence of directors such as François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard can be seen in his use of elliptical narratives and episodic structures) and Elia Kazan….The Chase (1966) was his first film in colour and, despite its problems, was rightly regarded by many as a (near) masterpiece. It perhaps most clearly enunciates Penn’s stance on violence: “America is a country where people realise their views in violent ways – we have no tradition of persuasion, idealism or legality.” In the film, Sheriff Calder (Marlon Brando) tries to protect an escaped convict, Bubber (Robert Redford), from the mob violence he has stirred up on his return to his home town.

The Chase's portrayal of small-town boredom fostering sexual philandering, racial and class hypocrisy and prejudice and random violence is deeply disturbing and often visually stunning. Penn's ability to give the feel of a wild west town, where the sheriff stands

e against lawlessness (albeit from within the town rather from outside), was impressive.

A relatively simple “continuum of behavior” along an Apollonian- Dionysian axis provides an accessible departure point for these character analyses of culture. An  alternation between obligation and recreation, responsibility and freedom, can be appreciated within larger time frames, which has become increasingly pronounced, since the Beat generation. A standard example is the common  acknowledgement that a “good week” consists of the weekend s reward of Dionysian indulgence, not to say excess following the Apollonian restrictiveness of Monday thru Friday. Similarly, one endures fifty weeks of obligation to enjoy two weeks of vacation, and a near lifetime of attention to business for a few years of golden retirement.

Michael Thro:The legacy of Marlowe s Faustus to later writers is probably greater than that of Shakespeare s Prospero. Goethe s Faust and Hawthorne s Aylmer and Rappaccini provide rich opportunities for students character analyses through comparison and contrast with Marlowe s prototype. As a character in a poetic drama of the German romantic period, Faust is more intent on sensational experience than on the intellectual kind. Thus he is more Dionysian than is Marlowe s Renaissance protagonist. In addition, Gretchen provides redemption for Faust through the harmonizing power of human rather than divine love; the refusal of the latter by Faustus had been a far greater sin than his original pride and blasphemy.

“…The Vietnam war clearly informed Penn’s next – and greatest – film, Little Big Man (1970). Adapted from Thomas Berger’s novel, this wildly comic, profoundly ironic and epic film recounts the memoirs of the 121-year old Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman) who survived the massace of his family and was brought up by a Cheyenne tribe. His story is the vehicle by which the traditional history and myths of white men and Native Americans are completly subverted, along with the conventions of the western genre.”

Helene Deutsch provides a rationale for this eschewal of value judgments when considering these polarities. Seconding Nietzsche, she says of Dionysus: “His ability to perform miracles and to personify whatever the situation calls for, on the one hand, and his ferocity and amorality, on the other, place him outside the mortals conception of good and bad . Nevertheless, its easy to see stereotyping of the most pejorative kind in the “male–female” continuum, but Deutsch is helpful here as well; Dionysus “appears as a great social revolutionary– the first feminist in the history of mankind–in order to help enslaved women” . If anything, she continues, opprobrium attaches to Apollo for his matricide, his “hatred of Mother Earth” . On the other hand, myth does attribute to Apollo the rescue of the “ancient Greek world from the darkness of matriarchy to the light of the rule of the Sun” .

---The Controller is motionless and grim. “Keep doing what exactly?” “You know what I’m talking about.” The Controller remains out of focus and refuses to offer her a way out. “No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “I’m talking about ducking the Apollonian gestapo. I’m talking about making nice with Dionysian assholes. I’m talking about running through the sewers of Vienna, following the neuron trail of Harry Lime and the Vril, and avoiding the wrath of the Mole Men and the lesbian advances of Spider Women who want to go out and die after they’ve had me. And living on gin and Nembutal, and…" The Controller interrupts her. “You’ve always lived on gin and Nembutal.” “That’s not the point.” “So what is?” “I never know if my destination is a womb or a tomb.”----

In his study of Dionysus, Walter F. Otto also urges a balanced view of what the two gods represent and an appreciation of their symbiosis: This feminine world (of Dionysus) is confronted by the radically different masculine world of Apollo. In this world not the life mystery of blood and the powers of earth but the clarity and the breath of the mind hold sway. However, the Apollonic world cannot exist without the other. This is why it has never denied it recognition.

--- And if that wasn’t bad enough, she finds herself in the perpetual vice between the too-certain, judgmental, goddess-hating Apollolonians to the right of her, and the too-horny, drunken, trigger-happy Dionysian to the left. Meanwhile the middle ground just squirms like a slimy clone vat with the likes of The Unspeakable Zero Brothers, Archbishop Moriarty and his Diamond Dogs, plus all the benighted hick-demons who are too stupid to recognize they're locked in the repeating depression killer-cycles of a Kellogg Rift. And, finally, floating over everything, are the tedious goddamned aliens, with their anal probes, their temporal calibrators, and their deathrays. Marilyn sighs deeply. “How long to they seriously expect me to keep on doing this?”-----

Tragedy is the mirror of human existence. From our position amid the varied events of daily life, just as from our eyes looking out on the world, we can see much, but not our own selves. To see the events of the world, we look at the world; but to see ourselves, we need a mirror.

According to Nietzsche, we look into the tragic mirror, however, not only to view our full reality, but also to set at a remove its rending paradox. Part of the truth of our existence is that nothingness bounds us on all sides; we came crying hither, and we all go into the dark. Yet madness looms if we look too long at our own deaths. . . . We look into the mirror of existence, accordingly, to try to separate our real from our impermanent–to try to extricate our being from nothingness. “The only self-knowledge,” says Leibniz, “is to distinguish well between our self-being and non-being.” We seek ourselves in the mirror of existence. And nothing other than ourselves is there to be found. Tragic drama does not communicate. It teaches us no new truths. It has no message. The artifice of the mirror is to reflect; what it reveals is only what we present to it.

Nietzsche ( Birth of tragedy ) :Dionysian stirrings arise either through the influence of those narcotic potions of which all primitive races speak in their hymns, or through the powerful approach of spring, which penetrates with joy the whole frame of nature. So stirred, the individual forgets himself completely. . . . the chariot of Dionysus is bedecked with flowers and garlands; panthers and tigers stride beneath his yoke. . . . his Apollonian consciousness was but a thin veil hiding from him the whole Dionysian realm.

“The pleasure we receive from all beauty, the consolation which art affords, the enthusiasm of the artist, which enables him to forget the cares of life–the latter an advantage of the man of genius over other men, which alone repays him for the suffering that increases in proportion to the clearness of consciousness, and for the desert loneliness among men of a different race–all this rests on the fact that the in-itself of life, the will, existence itself, is . . . a constant sorrow, partly miserable, partly terrible; while, on the contrary, as idea alone, purely contemplated, or copied by art, free from pain, it presents to us a drama full of significance.” (Schopenhauer “The World as Will and Idea)

----- the Reality Generators fail, the Mugwumps revert to loathsome originality, and the towers do not open fire. I have to warn you if this situation is permitted to continue, I will have no option but to switch my allegiance to The Dionysian Federation, and you all know what that would mean.”The ultimatum causes uproar. The Inner Circle of the Secret Legion vocally protests. “Blonde Goddess, such a realignment would fly in the face of everything you stand for.”At this, Marilyn’s expression is bleak. “Gentlemen, you have no idea what I might stand for.”----

D. H. Lawrence ‘s “The Horse Dealer s Daughter” involves a near death: the Dionysian Mabel, in despair over her loss of family and home, attempts suicide, but the Apollonian Dr. Jack Fergusson pulls her from the primordial ooze of a pond to a symbolic and mutual rebirth. The two resolve to marry, drawing from each other the qualities of head or heart heretofore lacking in each to form a single balanced and harmonious personality.

Among the most anthologized poetry, Keats provides the most complex and paradoxical instances of the thinking–feeling and art–nature spectra. His “Ode to Psyche” is a paean quite unexpected in an early nineteenth century English romantic, and the elevation of art over nature in “Ode to a Nightingale,” “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” “On First Looking into Chapman s Homer,” and “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles” provide exceptional opportunities for students close reading and analysis. Arnold s “Dover Beach” and Browning s “My Last Duchess,” on the other hand, represent Dionysian feeling as antidote to Victorian intellectual disputation and uncertainty, and, in the Browning, as morally superior to cultural and genealogical arrogance. Another Victorian, Tennyson, has Ulysses choose Dionysus in abandoning Apollonian responsibilities of rule, but we can be sure his new adventures are of the intellectual and scientific kind, calculated to enhance imperial pretensions. He is possibly, and successfully, Apollonian and Dionysian at the same time. ( Michael Thro )

Nietzsche:In the same place Schopenhauer also described for us the monstrous horror which seizes a man when he suddenly doubts his ways of comprehending illusion, when the sense of a foundation, in any one of its forms, appears to suffer a breakdown. If we add to this horror the ecstatic rapture, which rises up out of the same collapse of the principium individuationis from the innermost depths of human beings, yes, from the innermost depths of nature, then we have a glimpse into the essence of the Dionysian, which is presented to us most closely through the analogy to intoxication. Either through the influence of narcotic drink, of which all primitive men and peoples speak, or through the powerful coming on of spring, which drives joyfully through all of nature, that Dionysian excitement arises. As its power increases, the subjective fades into complete forgetfulness of self. In the German Middle Ages under the same power of Dionysus constantly growing hordes waltzed from place to place, singing and dancing....


When she flippantly tells him that she is “goin’ to work anyway,” they both talk with flirtatious tones during their sidewalk stroll (tracked by the camera with multiple stops and starts) and discover each other’s “line of work” – she’s a cheap cafe waitress and he’s an ex-con for armed robbery:

Clyde: What kind of work do ya do?
Bonnie: None of your business.
Clyde (flattering): I’ll bet you’re a movie star? A lady mechanic?
Bonnie (amused): No.
Clyde: A maid?
Bonnie: (She halts) What do you think I am?
Clyde (realistically and accurately): A waitress.
Bonnie: (Long silence when she grows sullen, and then begins walking again.) What line of work are you in, when you’re not stealin’ cars?
Clyde: Well, I’ll tell ya, uh, I’m lookin’ for suitable employment right at the moment.
Bonnie: Yeah, but what did ya do before?
Clyde: I was, uh, I was in State Prison.
Bonnie: State Prison! (She halts again)
Clyde: Uh-huh.
Bonnie: Well, I guess, uh, some littl’ ol’ lady wasn’t so nice.
Clyde: (expressed as part of a tough guy act) It was armed robbery.
Bonnie: My, my. The things that turn up in the street these days.

In the small, rural, Southwest Texas town where they walk along the empty main street (except for one elderly Negro sitting on a bench in front of a barber shop), Clyde asks her about her dull life after passing the closed-down movie theatre and other mostly-deserted shops: “Whatcha all do for a good time around here – listen to the grass grow?” In a display of unconventional, daring bravado, he points down to his right foot and brags to her that he once chopped two toes off with an axe “to get off of work detail” in state prison. [His awkward limp is evident throughout the film.] She declines to look at his dirty feet when he volunteers to demonstrate, but still wonders: “Boy, did you really do that?”

With a matchstick in his mouth, Clyde guzzles from an upturned Coke bottle (shot at an upward angle as a phallic symbol) that he has bought from a run-down gas station’s soft drink chest up the street. Both of them drink from their Coke bottles in the next shot – emphasizing their growing intimacy and affinity for each other. And then she asks what “armed robbery” is like, instantly intrigued and charmed by his recklessness, but knowing that he is a liar. To prove that he isn’t a “faker,” he takes his gun out from inside his jacket in his right hand, while holding his Coke bottle in his left. Clyde shows her his large pistol pointing upwards at hip level, a second phallic symbol of his manhood, as he bounces the wooden match between his teeth. She looks down at the gun – at first repulsed, but then erotically fascinated, hypnotized and aroused by his assertive show of banditry and dangerousness. After tentatively and suggestively touching (fondling and caressing in a masturbatory way) the barrel of the gun, she goads him on to be her liberating hero by daring him with a sexually-loaded line: “But you wouldn’t have the gumption to use it.” The matchstick stands erect between Clyde’s lips. To spontaneously impress her as part of the sexual dare and to prove his courage, he lets her witness his nonchalant, impulsive robbery of Ritts Groceries in the small town (“You keep your eyes open”) – his first grocery-store robbery. In a long-shot, he strides across the vacant street – the camera remains with her as Bonnie stays outside and watches him from the middle of the street.

Nietzsche:Up to this point, we have considered the Apollonian and its opposite, the Dionysian, as artistic forces which break forth out of nature itself, without the mediation of the human artist and in which the human artistic drive is for the time being satisfied directly — on the one hand as a world of dream images, whose perfection has no connection with an individual’s high level of intellect or artistic education, on the other hand, as the intoxicating reality, which once again does not respect the individual, but even seeks to abolish the individual and to restore him through a mystic feeling of collective unity. In comparison to these unmediated artistic states of nature, every artist is an “Imitator,“ and, in fact, an artist either of Apollonian dream or Dionysian intoxication or, finally, as in Greek tragedy, for example, simultaneously an artist of intoxication and dreams. As the last, it is possible for us to imagine how he sinks down in the Dionysian drunkenness and mystical obliteration of the self, alone and apart from the rapturous throng, and how through the Apollonian effects of dream his own state now reveals itself to him, that is, his unity with the innermost basis of the world, in a metaphorical dream picture.


This entry was posted in Cinema/Visual/Audio, Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Literature/poetry/spoken word, Marketing/Advertising/Media, Miscellaneous, Visual Art/Sculpture/etc. and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>