Isn’t that the truth?
I was stalking through the internet yesterday looking for people’s thoughts on 8 1/2 and where “asa nisi masa” was sprinkled about the world (it’d make the ultimate tattoo, body art freaks), I happened upon a blog of a woman whom appears to be a teacher, and she was talking about how she was teaching her students the classic Fellini film that week (the week she posted the blog, back in September of 2007). One of the commenters on her blog mentioned that she should take a gander at the Pauline Kael review of the movie, citing that the venerable critic hated the movie and it’s pretentious intellectualism, saying, “Fellini throws in his disorganized ideas and lets the audience sort out their meanings for themselves.” I think that’s called the Tarantino method, only Fellini is of course a real filmmaker and Tarantino is a fan boy with connections.
Pauline Kael then goes on to quote the film itself, when the wife says to the husband, “If you had any brains you’d take them out and play with them.” Which segues nicely into me saying that this, in the movie, all has to do with a seemingly orthodox fear of onanism and exploring a healthy guilt-free sexuality.
The commenter on that blog who mentioned the Kael review also essentially remarked that anything he said should be taken with a grain of salt after all, because he had only seen the movie once. And then he added, “Einmal ist keinmal.”
Being the third time I’d heard this phrase in the span of a few weeks, my ears (or eyeballs, I guess) perked up. I believe in connections. I don’t really put much faith in sweet little fictions like God, or Jesus as he’s known (I’m sorry, but I find it hard to believe that a carpenter who looked like Barry Gibb who was strolling around in sandals and wowing the hoi polloi with simple street magic should be my messiah), but I do believe in a much higher power in this sometimes breathtakingly beautiful, sometimes surprisingly fucked up universe: Synchronicity.
Yesterday it was asa nisi masa, the anima and the animus, and now it’s synchronicity. Somehow it always comes back to Jung, doesn’t it? Don’t just take my word for it, though I’m pretty sure this happy looking Asian couple will agree with me:
Einmal ist keinmal is a simple German phrase that literally translates as “once is never.” Or, if you want to get much looser: “Once is never enough.” But that has slightly positive connotations, doesn’t it? From what I read, when used in commonplace German conversations (which I imagine involves lots of yelling and screaming because, after all, it’d be Germans having this conversation)(and I know what you’re thinking, cause it’s the same thing I’m thinking when I see a bunch of Germans talking: “Hitler, Hitler, Hitler…”)(If you’re pondering where the humor is there, I don’t mind telling you: It’s in the racism) it pretty much denotes a having to prove something by doing it more than once.
Like I said, the blog comment yesterday was the third encounter I’ve had with this phrase popping it’s way into my life. The second was about a week ago when I was having a conversation with an incredibly smart and strikingly beautiful German girl in a bookstore. She was loud and very domineering (Hitler, Hitler, Hitler!), but in a very wonderfully European way, as was her freeness and her very casual charm. We almost ran into each other on the fiction aisle, both of us not really looking where we were going as we were thumbing through the I’s (that’s almost a meta comment right there). This lead to a conversation about Kazuo Ishiguro. I said I was a fan of his and she said she’d only read one of this books. “It was good,” she told me in a way that didn’t make her accent sound like culture vomit. “Very easy, very free flowing in a nice way, but you know… Einmal ist keinmal.”
And I have to tell you that she was impressed that I actually knew what the expression meant, and I did, because I had seen it a few weeks earlier when I was reading MOME #11. If yo don’t know what it is, MOME is a quarterly literary journal conceived by Gary Groth and published by Fantagraphics that’s primary storytelling medium is sequential art rather than prose, and featuring a lot of stars of the independent, high minded comics scene like Andrice Arp, Al Columbia (who killed Big Numbers), Jim Woodring, Sophie Crumb, Dash Shaw, and many others. It’s typically a fun read and nice for those of us who just can’t fucking afford Kramers Ergot.
Killoffer was the headliner of Vol. #11 with a story called, surprise, surprise, “Einmal Ist Keinmal.” Killoffer is a French artist and writer and one of the co-founders of an independent French comics publisher called L’Association. He doesn’t acknowledge it, but his style is a very experimental take on ligne claire (what that means to you is Hergé and a future Adventures of Tintin movie coming to a theater near you soon, directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Moffat). He only has one book published in America so far, but he’s considered one of the best of the foreign artists being sought for more appearances stateside.
Killoffer’s “Einmal Ist Keinmal” fits in nicely to vol. #11 of MOME with it’s strong focus on visuals rather than text. The black and white 12 page story going about her life, waking up, showering, going to work, dealing with coworkers, going out to eat, dreaming, watching the news, etc. except that every man she sees or encounters looks exactly like Killoffer. Every man she works with is Killoffer. Every man on the street is Killoffer. Every guy on the mass transit system is Killoffer. When she sees the President on the TV, he’s Killoffer. The only deviation from this is in a dream she has where the man she meets has Killoffer’s hair but her face. Things get intimate and when she begins to fondle her potential dream lover’s penis we discover that hiding there in his foreskin is Killoffer’s very distinct head. That’s a striking image in particular, but the stark black and white works nicely with the vague nightmare-ish quality to the story that’s either an interesting take on the male gaze, or the fact that Killoffer loves himself. Or that he has a hard time drawing male figures that don’t look like him (which fits neatly with his English language book, The 676 Apparitions Of Killoffer). I won’t spoil the story’s excellent final mise-en-scène, but it works nicely.
It’s a nice introduction to the artist and at some point, I think I’d like to look at some more of his work, so I should get his book and have a look at it. Einmal ist keinmal!
It would also be a shame of me not to mention that the phrase is used to mean “what happens might as well never have happened” in Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness Of Being. The books falls into the category of those classics that I’ve started and sadly not finished (something the fraulein in the bookstore gave me a good deal of shit about rightfully so), but maybe someday? Maybe. I do remember from it the notion that womanizing is man’s essential es muss sein! and that life basically sucks, full of unbearable lightness, and we all have only one life to live and therefore everything we do or decide is pointless and insignificant. The Prague Spring and super hyper existentialism! Oh, and eventually it made into a movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, Lena Olin, and Juliette Binoche that I’m told has it’s fair share of eroticism in it.
Now I totally want to see a future Counterforce post called “The Unbearable Lightness Of Benjamin,” don’t you? Ha ha!
Some of what you might consider graphic novels are becoming literature.
Sarah Palin is getting her own comic book.
As you may’ve seen an associate of this very blog say in the comments in my previous post, there will be some form of posse from Counterforce at next year’s Wondercon in San Francisco. I’d say we’ve established decent nerd cred for that already, right? Einmal ist keinmal! I’d like to sporatically continue talking about various independent comics and graphic novels here and there, but I believe my next post will probably be about Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the slaying of the manxome Jabberwock. See you then.