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Eyes Wide Shut essay

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Nov 1, 2008, 4:15:29 PM11/1/08
Contemporary Sexuality and its Discontents:
On Stanley Kubrik's Eyes Wide Shut

Matthew Sharpe

The title of this essay involves a self-conscious echoing of Sigmund
Freud's famous later essay "Civilisation and Its Discontents". In that
paper, Freud asks several of the most intractable questions facing the
human condition, including what is the meaning of life? And: why and
how is it that humans come to suffer? The radicalness of the essay
stems from Freud's postulation that, while our civilised condition
enables us to counteract many sufferings emanating from external
nature and from our own corporeal frailties, a quanta of "discontent"
pertains to the condition of being civilised as such. As is well
known, Freud seeks to explain this suffering by way of even the two
central and inter-linked postulates of his later metapsychology: the
superego and the death drive. "Civilisation and its Discontents"
posits an innate aggressivity to human nature, attaching to the "death
drive": an aggressivity that can be directed outwards, in aggression
towards others and the external world, but which can also- under the
pressures of civilisation- become introverted and directed at the
subject's own ego.

Interestingly, though, in his 1912 piece: "On the Universal Tendency
to Debasement in the Sphere of Love", Freud had raised the same
questions as he later raised in "Civilisation and its Discontents",
and answered quite differently. In so far as sexuality provides us
with our most intense experiences of pleasure, Freud reasoned that
people would seemingly be entitled to look to it as providing the
model and paradigm for all our happiness-es. Yet, in "On the Universal
Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love", without any reference
to thanatos, Freud entertains the possibility that there may be some
elementary imbalance in man's sexual make-up by itself, which
disallows us from finding happiness or fulfilment in love. "This
gloomy prognosis", Freud moreover comments: "rests … on the single
conjecture that the non-satisfaction that goes with civilisation is
the necessary consequence of certain peculiarities that the sexual
instinct has assumed under the pressure of culture." [Freud (1), 259]

What I want to do in this essay is offer a theoretical interpretation
of Stanley Kubrik's Eyes Wide Shut. In reading the film, though, I
want to bring to bear a set of theoretical categories and
preoccupations taken from the psychoanalytic writings of Sigmund
Freud, and Jacques Lacan's provocative interpretation of Freud's work.
My argument at its broadest is that Kubrik's film is a film "of its
time", in at least the two senses of the genitive. Eyes Wide Shut is
of course based on a fin de siecle novella Traumnovelle ("dream-
novel") by the Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler. What I want to
contend, though, is that Kubrik's film is a knowing re-framing of
Schnitzler's narrative. My argument will be that Eyes Wide Shut, in
its singularity as a filmic text, provocatively casts into relief the
malaises haunting our own specifically later capitalist, "permissive"
mode of organising sexuality and sexual difference.

The paper is divided into three parts. Part I deals with what would
traditionally be called Eyes Wide Shut's "content". It is entitled
"the inside is outside", as I will argue that the film can be read as
staging a markedly contemporary universe of social and sexual
relations. Part II is entitled "the outside is inside". The reason is
that in it, I will take up the "form" of the film, or what Derrida
would call its "framing". I will also argue that crucially our gaze
was factored into the construction of the film from the start. In the
concluding Part III, I take up the question of the implications of my
reading for our position of enunciation as contemporary consumerist

I Content: the Inside is Outside

Eyes Wide Shut tells the story of three days and nights in the life of
Doctor Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) and of his wife Alice (played by
Cruise's then-wife Nicole Kidman). At the commencement of the film,
the couple are happily married, living with their young daughter
Helenain a well appointed inner-city apartment. Although Alice is
currently unemployed, Bill is a success in his professional life,
running his own medical practice, and enjoying both the confidence of
his patients and the respect of his staff.

All this is called into question, however, following a Christmas party
Bill and Alice attend on the first night thrown by one of Bill's
patients, the mysterious Mister Ziegler. Three things happen at this
event which become deeply important in the discontents that ensue. The
first thing is that Bill recognises his old friend from medical
school, Nick Nightingale, who is playing piano with the band. Half out
of politeness, Bill promises to drop by soon to see Nick play at "The
Sonata" in the bohemian end of town. The second pivotal thing that
occurs at Ziegler's party is that both Bill and his wife are drawn
into highly sexually charged encounters with members of the opposite
sex. Alice is brazenly "hit upon" by a sleazy Hungarian bon vivante
Szandor Savos, with whom she shares an intimate dance, at times
talking so closely that their lips almost touch. Meanwhile, Bill has
been recognised by a model whom he had once assisted during a photo
shoot on fifth avenue. This model and her friend "Nuala" now appear
only too keen to return the favour to the kind doctor. The third thing
that happens at Ziegler's party is that, while the two models try to
lead Bill away from the party altogether, he is called upstairs by the
host. There he finds a prostitute with whom Ziegler has presumably
been having sex collapsed naked on a red chair. The prostitute, whom
Ziegler calls "Mandy", has overdosed on a mixture of speed and
cocaine. Bill treats her professionally and calmly. He also cautions
Ziegler (whose wife is at the party, and is keen to have "Mandy"
whisked away) that she should rest for at least an hour before being
taken home

On the following night, the transgressive experiences of the couple at
Ziegler's "arrive at their destination" to haunt their conjugal
equanimity. Alice decides that she will "smoke a little pot" that she
keeps stored in the cabinet behind her mirror. Reclining on the bed
half-stoned, she proceeds to question Bill concerning "those two girls
who he was so blatantly hitting on" the previous evening. A long
discussion follows, to which I will return. Its denouement is that
Nicole, in a fit of jealous exasperation, confesses to having
fantasized about dropping everything for the sake of one night with a
naval officer whom she had seen while holidaying with Bill the
previous summer.

This confession is the animating traumatic event of all that follows
within Eyes Wide Shut. It profoundly shocks her husband, who is
rendered dumb by its disclosure. Even as we watch his stunned face,
though, the phone rings, and Bill is called away on an urgent medical
visit before anything can be resolved. As Bill sits in the back of the
cab, we see his repetitive visualisations of his wife enjoying being
coited by some handsome naval officer, framed in a spectral blue. It
is Bill's incapacity to "get his head around" what his wife has
disclosed to him that provokes him after his professional visit to
accept the solicitations of a street prostitute. When this encounter
is interrupted by his wife calling him on his mobile phone, it is
Bill's continuing discontent that leads him to "drop in" on Nick
Nightingale at the nearby "Sonata" bar, and then to insist on
attending the exclusive masked orgy at which Nick will be playing
later that night.

The rest of the film proceeds with a certain inevitability. Despite
the mask Bill buys, he is "found out" as an imposter at the masked
orgy. He is about to be submitted to some nameless punishment, when a
statuesque masked woman intervenes, offering herself to Bill's captors
in order (as she says) to "redeem" him. Bill returns home in the early
hours of the morning badly shaken, and stows away his costume out of
sight of his wife. The following day, Bill spends trying to tie up all
"loose ends" associated with his adventurous night, with a marked lack
of success. Bill returns his costume to the costume shop, where he
discovers that his mask has somehow gone missing. He tries to chase up
Nick Nightingale, whom he discovers has been whisked away from his
hotel at 5am accompanied by two heavies. Bill drops by at the Somerton
mansion- the scene of the previous night's excesses- only to have a
letter silently delivered to him at the gate warning him to desist in
his inquiries. Most disturbing of all, Bill discovers, by way of a
newspaper that he picks up that night, that an ex-beauty queen named
"Amanda Curran"- "Mandy", the hooker from the first night- has been
found dead in her hotel room. Having visited the corpse at the morgue,
Bill is then phoned by Ziegler. Standing over a bright red pool table,
the latter confesses that he "was there" the previous night, knows
what Bill has been doing since, and warns him that he has been in "way
over his head" for the last twenty four hours. Ziegler admits to Bill
that Mandy was indeed Bill's saviour at the masked orgy. Yet he denies
to Bill that there is any connection between her intervention the
previous night and her subsequent death. When Bill returns home that
night, he finds the mask that he had worn the previous night sitting
enigmatically on his pillow, beside his sleeping wife. At this point,
he breaks down and tells her that he will confess "everything".

What cannot but strike even the most unseeing viewer of Eyes Wide Shut
is the absolute centrality to it of the topic of sexuality, if not of
the act of sex itself. [see Part III] It would be difficult to think
of any other contemporary film (although not television series) that
more unabashedly evinces the "constant optimisation and … increasing
valorisation of discourse on sex" that Foucault broached in The
History of Sexuality Volume 1. [Foucault, 23] Kubrik's film seems a
wholly unreflective illustration of what Foucault called:

The pleasure that comes of exercising a power that questions,
monitors, watches, spies out, palpates, brings to light [sexuality],
and on the other hand, the pleasure that kindles at having to evade
this power. The power that lets itself be invaded by the pleasure it
is pursuing; and opposite it, power asserting itself in the pleasure
of showing off, scandalizing, or resisting" [Foucault, 45]

From the first moments of Eyes Wide Shut, the sexuality of the main
couple is incited, excited, provoked and problematized. I have already
mentioned how both Alice and Bill are tempted by members of the
opposite sex at Ziegler's party. But this is only the beginning. On
Bill's doctor's call after Alice's confession to him the next night,
the daughter of his deceased patient starts to kiss him desperately,
confessing her passionate love. As Bill wanders the streets after this
bizarre house-call, he is then pushed about on the sidewalk by a group
of young men who accuse him of being a homosexual ("which team's this
switch hitter playing for?", etc.). Two of the three extended
dialogues in the film, those between Alice and Szandor at Ziegler's,
and of Alice and Bill the following night, are explicitly concerned
with the sexuality of the protagonists, and the supposed deeper Truth
of male and female sexuality as such. The central traumatic moment of
the film, as I commented above, is Nicole's confessing everything
about the supposed truth of her sexuality to her husband, like a good
Foucaultian subject.

The critical question is how this central preoccupation with sexuality
is treated by the film. What I think is more specifically at stake in
Eyes Wide Shut's concern with sexuality is revealed most directly in a
remark Bill passes in his conversation with Bill on the second night
that leads up to her fateful confession. Bill asks Alice what that man
she was dancing with the previous night had wanted. Alice responds:
"mmm … sex … upstairs, then and there". Bill replies calmly that he
can understand why: she "is a very beautiful woman", and "we both know
what men are like". But Alice doesn"t like his responses at all. She
challenges Bill that, according to his own logic, he should have
wanted "to fuck those two models" he had been speaking to at
Ziegler's, since they were also beautiful. Why is he any different
from other men?

Bill's reply to this has two parts. He says that he is "an exception"
firstly because "he happens to be in love" with Alice. But then he
adds "and because we"re married …" The "and" here, I want to argue, is
crucial. I would argue that it stands as something like the "and" in
Heidegger's "Being and Time" or Althusser's "Ideology and Ideological
State Apparatuses". Rather than being a simple conjunction between the
first and second terms, that is, my claim is that the second
explanation Bill "adds on" here actually designates the truth that
under-girds the first.

The crucial thing here is the logic operative in Bill's declaration of
their married status. When Alice protests that Bill's answer to why he
didn"t sleep with the models says nothing about his "real" inner
desires- or what Kant would have called his "pathology"- she is
absolutely correct. Bill does not assert anything concerning what he
may have done had he, for instance, not been married to Alice. What we
are dealing with in Bill's and Alice"s declarations of their married
status, that is to say, is what Lacanian theory isolates as the
symbolic dimension of human existence. To say "I"m married", as Bill
and Alice do when challenged concerning their desire in Eyes Wide
Shut, is of course to say nothing concerning one's "natural"
inclinations or metaphysical essence. It is to do nothing more, and
nothing less, than to declare oneself a subject within the prevalent
order of social convention and exchange: an order which, in Lacan"s
words, "… weaves the texture between generations", even regulating our
access to our sexual objects. [at Zizek, 1996: 78] The claim here is
of the same order as the elementary pledge of allegiance of the
classical subject who says of his or her political position, dumbly:
"I follow the leader, because he is the leader". The point is exactly
that there is a minimally uninformative, tautological aspect in such
statements that can only appear as an index of their irrationality
both for any phenomenological or "realist" position, as for Alice in
her jealousy in Eyes Wide Shut. What is at stake, in a word and in the
words, is a pledge of faith or commitment on the part of the subject
in question: something that will never wholly "show itself from
itself", but which we have- exactly- to take on trust. It is precisely
in and because of the gap in what can be given to our cognition
(conaissance) concerning the Others" desire, Lacanian theory argues,
that the symbolic dimension of our existence is opened up, as the
dimension of re-cognition or reconnaissance of them

My central argument in this piece as a whole is that Stanley Kubrik's
Eyes Wide Shut concerns exactly what happens to human sexuality when
this symbolic order of the pact or "word of honor" is fundamentally
called in to question. I think that the film's animating questions,
and the questions it poses to us, are: what is it that insists when
the provenance of the order of pacts and public-symbolic roles is no
longer held to be unassailable? Is this a recipe for overcoming the
final causes of suffering Freud located in "Civilization and its
Discontents"- those issuing from the 'surplus repression" involved in
civilization itself? Or are the discontents in the sexual life of
civilized humans of such a kind that they insist beyond the seeming
lifting of older, patronymic forms of taboo and prohibition, as in our
later capitalist or "consumerist" world?

The film is actually relentless in its laying out before us of a world
wherein the norms that governed older, more overtly patriarchal ways
of organizing sexual relations in Western societies have manifestly
broken down. In the routine doctor's call that Bill makes just after
Alice has told "all" to him, the old man who lies dead on the bed is
exactly the father of the young woman who proceeds to throw herself
guiltily at Doctor Bill. The owner of the costume shop where Bill goes
to buy his mask and costume- one Mr. Millich- turns out to be the pimp
of his daughter. And the password to the masked orgy that Nick gives
to Bill at the Sonata is "fidelio"/"fidelity".

What manifestly happens to Bill in Eyes Wide Shut after he hears
Alice's confession, I want then to contend in this Part I, is that he
begins to suspect that the symbolic order of social masks, roles and
commitments, might be nothing more than a sham. It is certainly true
that what he goes searching for on his adventurous night is in part a
compensatory reaffirmation of his male virility. Yet my suggestion is
that Bill's odyssey in Eyes Wide Shut also involves a search for the
Truth of sexuality beneath the veils. Alice's revelation of what he
imagines to be the hidden Truth underlying her marital commitment
incites in him a growing anxiety that there might be a deeper level of
sexual experience, beyond that available to him in his stations as a
husband and as a doctor, or indeed in any such social role. Bill
becomes preoccupied with the possibility that, while he may have lived
well, he has not yet had It: that perhaps somehow he has missed
something which others have access to, and that he might be able to
reclaim through his illicit adventures.

It becomes evident, in fact, that Bill at this point has come to
occupy something very like even the elementary position of the
contemporary consumerist subject. As Slavoj Zizek has argued, this is
the position of a subject interpellated by the "plague of fantasies"
issuing from the multimedia telling him/her how s/he could live
better, enjoy more, and experience the truth of his/her Self beneath
the social masks. Equally, from organizing even his "libidinal
economy" by recourse to his symbolic roles at the start of the film,
Bill comes- like a good "pathological narcissist"- to consciously
deploy his symbolic roles as either external obstacles or means in his
individual "pursuit of happiness" and of sexual enjoyment. The
overwhelming demand to enjoy! that Bill newly suffers beneath is
enunciated with typical directness in Eyes Wide Shut by the two models
who hit on him at Ziegler's party, as they lead him towards the exit.
When Bill cottons on to what is happening, he asks them, bemused:
"where are we going?" The models respond, one after the other: "Where
the rainbow ends." "Don"t you want to go to where the rainbow ends?"

In all of what follows, this zeitdiagnosis of consumerist subjectivity
that I have only introduced here, and how Eyes Wide Shut relates to
it, will be the central concern.

II: Form: The Outside is Inside

In Part I, I have put the contention that our "outside" later
capitalist world of liberated sexual mores can be meaningfully read as
the referent of the inside "content" of Eyes Wide Shut. Insofar as
this is the case, though, it could be held to neatly embody an example
of the type of psychoanalytic reductionism that Jacques Derrida, for
example, has critiqued in "Le Facteur de la Verite". Derrida's central
claim in this text is that psychoanalytic interpretations of literary
texts typically over-look their framing as literary artifacts. Derrida
contends that Lacan overlooks the role of the narrator in "The
Purloined Letter", for instance, and in doing so effectively treats
Poe's text as a mere purveyor of the supposed truth of repetition
disclosed by Freud, which is also the truth of the signifier more
generally. [Derrida, 1987] What I want to focus on in Part II of this
piece, in the light of this important criticism, is precisely the
framing of Eyes Wide Shut. My claim will be that, that at least two
levels, the film self-reflexively draws attention to its own
"fictionality" in a way that reminds us of its origins in Schnitzler's
suggestively titled "dream novel".

Let me commence by citing what Slavoj Zizek says concerning Eyes Wide
Shut in his 2001 work: The Fright of Real Tears. To quote:

Recall Stanley Kubrik's Eyes Wide Shut (1999): [in it] it is only
[Alice's] fantasy that is truly a fantasy, while [Bill's] fantasy is a
reflexive fake, a desperate attempt to artificially recreate/reach the
fantasy, a fantasizing triggered by the traumatic encounter of the
Other's fantasy, a desperate attempt to answer the enigma of the
Other's fantasy: what was the fantasized scene / encounter that so
deeply marked her? What Cruise does on his adventurous night is to go
on a kind of window shopping trip for fantasies: each situation in
which he finds himself is a realized fantasy- firstly the fantasy of
being the object of the passionate love interest of his patient's
daughter; then the fantasy of encountering a kind prostitute who
doesn"t even want money from him; then the encounter with the weird
Serb (?) owner of the mask rental store who is also a pimp for his
juvenile daughter; finally, the big orgy in the suburban
villa." [Zizek, 2002: 174]

Provocatively, Zizek goes on to draw our attention to "what many a
critic dismissed as the film's ridiculously aseptic and out-of-date
depiction of the orgy" in the villa. He reads the patent staleness of
this spectacle as not a failing attesting to the limits of the film's
re-telling of a fin de siecle text in today's permissive world. Zizek
argues that it "works to [the film's] advantage", as a deliberate
highlighting of Bill's "incapacity to fantasize" for himself. [Zizek,
2001: 174]

The first contention about Eyes Wide Shut that I want to proffer in
Part II involves a further dialectical twist, beyond the terms of
Zizek's reading of the 'second-handed-ness" of Bill's fantasizing
within Eyes Wide Shut. Recall that, when Bill arrives home after the
masked orgy on the second night, he awakens Alice from what she
describes as a horrible nightmare. In this "nightmare", she was lying
naked in an Edenic garden, when the officer of her fantasy appeared,
laughed at her nakedness, and ravished her. Then, she tells Bill, she
was being made love to by a multitude of different men. Other couples
"were fucking" all around, and all the while Alice was laughing at her
hapless husband, who had impotently gone searching for her clothes.

The thing that is striking about this dream is that it represents
something exactly akin to what we have to imagine Bill was about to be
submitted to in the "reality" of the orgy, as well as what presumably
happened to "Mandy" as the price for his redemption. A certain
relativisation of truth and fiction, or reality and dream, is thus at
least suggested here. We are reminded, in fact, of Lacan's Freudian
thesis that when we awake from "anxiety" dreams, as Alice does when
Bill returns: "… we are escaping into so-called reality to be able to
continue to sleep, to maintain our blindness, to elude awakening into
the real of our [repressed] desire". [Zizek, 1989: 45] This episode in
Eyes Wide Shut, that is, suggests the possibility that Zizek does not
go far enough in pointing out that Nicole's fantasy has a generative
primacy over Bill's sexual imaginary. What it suggests is that it is
actually Alice whose world, in her "dream within the dream", that is
importantly Real within the film. Correspondingly, we are provoked to
ask: what if Bill's world- the world we are presented with as the
unshakably real one- is importantly "only a dream": a "fantasy-
construction that enables us to mask the Real of our desire"? [loc
cit.] Bill's last declarative statement in the film is certainly
provocatively to warn his wife that "… no dream is ever just a dream".

The second thesis that I want to pose in Part II concerning Eyes Wide
Shut's framing is more radical. This is the contention that, if we are
to ask of Eyes Wide Shut: whose dream then is it, in its manifold
artificality?, the ultimate answer must be: it is ours, the viewers.
In line with Part I, that is, what I want to suggest is that our
fascinated consumerist look- here in the "outside" world- is
importantly "counted in" the framing of the film from the start.

That the sense of vision is crucial to Kubrik's reframing of
Schnitzler's novella is indicated by the very title Kubrik gave to his
film: namely, "eyes wide shut". Reading this title recalls Hegel's
treatment of tautologies as the highest instance of contradiction in
his Logic. [Zizek, 2002: 35-38] The first two words, "eyes wide …"
induce our expectation of hearing the phrase "eyes wide open", which
we use to describe someone in a state of full alertness. Then, with
the signifier "shut", this expectation is shattered. Retrospectively,
our trope "eyes shut" is invoked, which we use to describe someone who
is exactly the opposite of fully awake to what important (as in "he
had his eyes shut to x, y, z…"). What I would indeed suggest is that
the coincidence of opposites condensed in the title represents an
almost literal invocation of the Freudian analysis of scopic
inhibition in his 1910 "Psychoanalytic View of the Psychogenetic
Disturbance of Vision". In this piece, Freud describes such phenomena
as hysterical blindness as resulting paradoxically from an over-
valuation, and more pointedly an over-sexualization, of the visual
sense. As he says:

"Let us suppose that the sexual component instinct which makes us of
looking- sexual pleasure in looking [scopophilia]- has drawn upon
itself defensive action by the ego-instincts in consequence of its
excessive demands, so that the ideas in which the desire are expressed
succumb to repression and are prevented from becoming conscious … the
ego refuses to see anything at all any more, now that the sexual
interest in seeing has made itself so prominent. But the alternative
seems more to the point … The repressed instinct takes its revenge for
being held back from further psychical expansion, by becoming able to
extend its dominance over the organ that is in its service." [Freud,

My second contention for Part II, though, is not simply that we should
directly link this Freudian description of a subject who has his eyes
at once wide open and forcibly shut, to Kubrik's 1999 film. The point
is that Eyes Wide Shut, in its internal concern with visual fantasies
concerning others" jouissance (as in Zizek's reading), is discernibly
also an engagement with, and comment upon, our own "outside" gaze as
contemporary consumers of Hollywood, upon the film.

Recall the way that the film was advertised, or precisely not
advertised, before its release in July 1999. Kubrik insisted on the
strictest silence from all those involved. In order to pique our
curiosity to see more, all we were let in on was that the film was to
be an erotic thriller, and that it was to star Tom Cruise and Nicole
Kidman, then Hollywood's "hottest" celebrity couple. The opening shot
of the film- in what is a brutal gesture of desublimation- is of
exactly what we came to see, Kidman disrobing from behind in
stilettos. Shortly afterwards, as Bill and Alice leave for Ziegler's
party, the music that we had taken to be a soundtrack framing the
scene for us on the outside is revealed to be the music Bill had been
playing "within" the film, which ceases when he turns off his stereo.

The clearest registration of what I am suggesting about the
provocation and inclusion of our consumerist look in the construction
of Eyes Wide Shut is the one promotional advertisement that was
associated with the film's release. It captures an image from the one
love scene between Kidman and Cruise within the film. Provocatively,
even within Eyes Wide Shut, this love scene occurs in front of a
mirror. Bill approaches Alice, and kisses her passionately. Alice,
however, as she submits to Bill's kisses, is markedly distant.
Apparently in order to get a better look at the spectacle in the
mirror, she takes off her eye glasses. At this moment, the scene
abruptly ends, with Alice's oblique look at the camera. It is
virtually the final frame that is captured in the image in the ad.

What is most confronting about this scene within the film, I want to
suggest, is indicated exactly in how this shot is framed in the
advertisement. Alice and Bill appear framed in a mirror, surrounded by
a purple backing. At least ironically, then, this image is being
proffered to us as what we viewers see, or at least visualise,
whenever we look in a mirror. Bill and Alice- or Tom and Nicole- it is
being suggested, are our couple, the perfect embodiment of the Real
Thing of a full sexual relationship that we are incited by the mass
media to imaginatively idealise. The troubling enigma about this
scenario thus comes from how Alice"s gaze, as she apparently looks
back at herself out of the corner of her eye, is also the point from
whence the framed image that we are looking at itself looks back at
us. There can then be few clearer cases of what Lacan called the
object-gaze, in fact: a point within the "objective" visual field that
yet looks back at us, reminding us of our implication, and the
implication of our desires, in what it is we see. Like the skull at
the feet of Holbein's Ambassadors that can only be seen at the cost of
"de-realising" the rest of the content, once Alice's almost-disgusted
glance catches our eye, the fantasmatic frame of Cruise and Kidman,
ideal Hollywood couple, really enjoying the Real Thing, is shattered.
To cite Zizek's sublation of the post-structuralist emphasis on the
"tain" in the mirror of self-reflection, the point of which I want to
argue also applies directly here:

Hegel knows perfectly well that refection always fails, that the
subject always encounters a dark spot, a point which does not return
him his mirror-picture- in which he cannot "recognise himself". It is
precisely at this point of absolute strangeness that the subject … not
the imaginary ego, caught in the mirror-relationship, is inscribed
into the picture … the subject qua subject of the look "is" only
insofar as the mirror-picture he is looking at is inherently
incomplete- insofar, that is, as it contains a "pathological" stain-
the subject is correlative to this stain." [Zizek, 2002: 89]

If my contention in this Part II holds then, we will also have to pass
beyond Zizek's reading of the remarkable close of the film, with Alice
fractiously answering her husband's question about what they should
"do" now with the single word: "fuck!" For Zizek, this "cut" neatly
emphasises how human desire is so deranged that we not only need to
fantasise if we are to have sex, but that ultimately sex itself is the
best defence against the plague of fantasies concerning the enjoyment
of the Other[s]. As Zizek says: "end of film, final credits". [Zizek,
2001: 175] If the film was only ever our dream, staged with an eye to
our consumerist scopophilia, our direct confrontation with the
signifier whose repression allowed us to keep on dreaming could only
be followed by the blank screen of our waking.

III: Conclusion: Traversing the Fantasy

So the contention that I have put here is not simply that Eyes Wide
Shut didactically stages the external truth of our consumerist-
permissive world. My argument in Part II is that its staging as one
more spectacle within the 'society of the spectacle" is also in
question within the film itself. In this concluding Part III, I want
to close the dialectics of inside and outside, and truth and fiction,
that has been introduced in reading the film. The question that I want
to raise is: if Eyes Wide Shut not only stages characters captured in
the consumerist fascination for the sexual Truth behind the repressive
surfaces, but also addresses us in our very viewing of it as similarly
interpellated subjects, what is it that it says concerning our
contemporary regime of sexuality and sexual difference? Does it simply
flatter our post-liberal consumerism, in its "adult" disregard of
older taboos? Is this what Alice's gaze back at us from the looking
glass stands for?

The answer is not difficult to ascertain, as my closing remarks in
Part II indicate. Anyone who goes to Eyes Wide Shut with an eye to
being sexually titillated will be lastingly frustrated. Even the one
love scene between Alice and Bill is unceremoniously cut short. Bill's
visit to Domino ends when "Mrs Dr Bill" calls. When he calls back
Marian dissipately the following day, her fiancee Carl answers, so
Bill hangs up. When Bill goes back to Domino's on the third evening,
her housemate "spoils the mood" by telling him that Domino has that
day been diagnosed with H.I.V. The orgy itself is a spectacle not only
for us, but also for Bill. When it looks as though he is about to be
coupled with a girl, "Mandy" pulls him away to warn him that he "must
go", and that he is in "terrible danger". The artificial slowness of
all dialogue in the film, together with Bill's own incapacity after
meeting Domino to do anything but parrot the words of all of his
interlocutors, all succeed in conveying the most profound impotence.
Domino's dress is a rich purple.

What I would argue Kubrik's film is suggesting about contemporary
sexuality, then is an apparently paradoxical, but actually
dialectical, position. The removal of all obstacles to uninhibited
sexual inhibition in Eyes Wide Shut, when Bill casts off the shackles
of his marital and professional roles, leads only to the most far-
reaching inhibition. Nothing seems any longer to be permitted him. By
the end of the film, Bill is begging Alice to have him back. In this
way, Freud's "On the Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love",
which I invoked at the beginning of the paper, is deeply relevant to
the text. As Freud writes there:

The damage caused by the initial frustration of sexual pleasure is
seen by the fact that the freedom given to that pleasure in marriage
in marriage does not bring full satisfaction. But at the same time, if
sexual freedom is unrestricted from the outset the result is no
better. It can easily be shown that the psychical value of erotic
needs is replaced as soon as their satisfaction becomes easy. An
obstacle is required in order to heighten libido; and where natural
resistances to satisfactions have not been sufficient men have at all
times erected conventional ones so as to be able to enjoy love … In
times in which there were no difficulties standing in the way of
sexual satisfaction, such as perhaps during the decline of the ancient
civilizations, love became worthless and life empty, and strong-
reaction formations were required to restore indispensable affective
values." [Freud, VII: 257]

The dialectic of sexuality and prohibition suggested in Eyes Wide Shut
takes things even one step farther in the culminating orgy scene. The
sex itself here is preceded by a bizarre ritual. As Bill enters, women
dressed only in masks, heels, and black g-strings kneel in a circle
around a man cloaked in a rich red, swinging incense like a Catholic
priest, who is the central point of the ritual. By cracking a tall
staff down on the ground in front of each girl, he passes a kind of
benediction upon each in their sex. The girl then rises and leaves the
circle, choosing a partner by approaching him ceremoniously and
pressing her mask against his. Let me stress again that I don"t think
it can be sufficiently emphasized how misplaced a critique is that
reminds us that this is hardly all that transgressive these days:
since the rise in "sadomasochistic" practices and sub-cultures in the
contemporary world is a well-attested sociological datum. [cf. (e.g.)
Zizek, 1999: ch. 6] This would be the whole Lacanian point. Bill's
journey down the looking glass does not end in the Edenic garden of
Alice"s dream. It ends in the murky realm of the superegoic short-
circuit between law and transgression, administered by a sinister
proxy of the "father of enjoyment" of Freud"s "Totem and Taboo": the
One who had absolute access to all of the women. Even the key to the
Lacanian figuring of perversion is the position that, in the absence
of a prohibition rendering our access to the desired Thing, this
absent Law itself becomes the subject's object of enjoyment, such that
he cannot "get off" without suffering the force of its Law. It is with
reference to this position that Zizek contends we need to understand
the rising incidence in later capitalism of sexual relations premised
on the voluntary attempt to re-establish in the private realm the
types of master-slave relations that are increasingly absent from the
public realm. [Zizek, 1999: ch. 6]

What am I then contending that the film says concerning contemporary
sexuality is that, beyond appearances, Eyes Wide Shut stands as a
calculated challenge to the contemporary sexual dispotif critiqued so
forcefully by Foucault in The History of Sexuality volume 1. Bill's
search for a liberated sex results in frustration, or worse. As
Ziegler says to Bill on the final night: "Do you have any idea who
those people were last night? If I could tell you their names- and I"m
not going to tell you there names- … you wouldn"t sleep so well". In
the epistemological register, Bill's search for It, the Truth
concerning sexuality behind the social masks, ends in a world of
"real" masks and of semblances, where sex is reduced to the most basal
mechanical operation, everyone resembles everyone else, and (perhaps
most terrifyingly) Bill is unable even to establish from Ziegler
whether the whole scene of his being threatened and "redeemed" the
previous night was anything more than a fake staged to "scare the
living shit out of [him]".

Alice's summary remark to Bill about his misadventure in the final
scene is absolutely telling to what I am arguing here. We expect to
hear from her the conciliatory remark that one night can never be the
truth of a whole life, and that therefore their marriage will survive.
Instead, in a wonderfully speculative sentence, she says that she is
"sure that the reality of one night, let alone that of a whole
lifetime, can never be the whole Truth". What is intimated here, then,
is the dimension of what Zizek calls "essential appearance", borrowing
from Hegel. [Zizek, 1989: ch. 5] It is not that we can never get to
the whole Truth in one night, since this is the business of a whole
life. It is that this "whole" is itself never whole. It is always
minimally "not all". What we have to consider at this point, that is,
is not that the social-symbolic roles are there to conceal the Real
Thing of Sex and Truth, that which would render experience whole. It
is that their prohibition of immediate jouissance keeps open the space
for sublimation and desire, and the semblance that such a Real
platitudinous Thing ever existed in the first place. This, certainly,
is the Lacanian formalization of the Freudian speculation in "On the
Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love" concerning the apparent
impossibility of civilised animals ever finding full satisfaction in
any sexual relationship.

In Eyes Wide Shut, at the start of the film, Bill cannot find the
wallet where he keeps all the tokens of his socio-symbolic roles, and
which is the only thing that seems to vouchsafe him any efficacy on
the second night within Eyes Wide Shut and after. Alice knows where it
is, right beside the marital bed. When Bill is being led away to where
the rainbow ends by the two sirenic models, one asks him: "do you know
what is so nice about doctors?" For once, Bill answers decisively:
"Usually a lot less than people imagine".


Derrida, Jacques. "Le Facteur de la Verite", in The Postcard: From
Socrates to Freud and Beyond trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1987).

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality Volume 1 London: Penguin:

Zizek, Slavoj. The Sublime Object of Ideology London: Verso: 1989.

Zizek, Slavoj. The Fright of Real Tears British Film Institute: Great
Britain, 2001.

Zizek, Slavoj. For They Know Not What they Do London: Verso, 2002.

Harry Bailey

Nov 2, 2008, 3:47:47 PM11/2/08
On Nov 1, 8:15 pm, MP <> wrote:
> Contemporary Sexuality and its Discontents:
> On Stanley Kubrik's Eyes Wide Shut
> Matthew Sharpe

Cheers for posting this. Excellent piece, particularly his reflections
on the Gaze via Alice's 'blind spot' in that shot (though this is one
of Lacan's most complex conceptions, and Lacan-Lite ain't no picnic
either) and the very controversial notion of the 'repressive' Law
(paternal superego/patriarchy) as the fantasy support for desire and
sublimation, its absense (the hedonistic 'enjoy' of the maternal
superego [neoliberalism?]) producing pomo 'lack' and emptyness. I've
already read an 'explanation' of the current financial meltdown (the
State having abandoned the Law, resulting in unhinged, delirial
finance capital speculation etc) as an instance of this in the wider
political domain.


Nov 2, 2008, 5:10:45 PM11/2/08

Bog bless Urban for doing his genetic duty. Hail Nicole Mary,
Avatar of the Living Stan in the wider dimensional domain.


Nov 2, 2008, 5:46:54 PM11/2/08
Another essay I had on my harddrive. Now that I have free time, I'm
trying to compile all these notes for the website.



by Darren Hughes

Darren Hughes is a freelance writer in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has
written for Senses of Cinema, Sojourners, and Beyond magazine, and has
also contributed to academic studies of Philip Roth, American war
films, and the history of the American Left

The following was written for a graduate seminar on James Joyce and
W.B. Yeats. Please forgive my incessant psycho-babble. I think it
actually serves a very legitimate reading of this confounding film.

• • •

Sally: You're Bill . . . the Bill? You're the doctor who was here last

Bill: Well, I suppose I am.

As Garry Leonard has recently noted, a Lacanian reading of James
Joyce's "The Dead" would describe Gabriel Conroy's interactions with
Lily, Molly Ivors, and Gretta as three attempts by the protagonist to
"confirm the fictional unity of his masculine subjectivity." His after-
dinner speech, then, serves as an attempted "seduction of the
Other" (Lacan's phrase), a linguistic ploy by which Gabriel confirms
his own identity by "seducing the audience into authenticating it for
him." While he is able to carefully avoid significant fragmentation
during his early encounters with Lily and Miss Ivors, Gabriel is
finally forced — through Gretta's admission of her love for Michael
Furey — to confront the outwardly-constructed fiction of his unified
subjectivity (Leonard, 289-90). For Lacan, Gabriel's epiphany is, in
Joyce's words, that inevitable dissolution of his "own identity . . .
into a grey impalpable world" (224-25).

In Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Arthur
Schnitzler's novella, Traumnovelle (1926), Dr. Bill Harford
experiences a similar dissolution, though the film essentially
reverses the basic plot structure of Joyce's story, thereby turning
its focus on the terrifying consequences of that epiphany rather than
its preludes (and giving us, in effect, a glimpse of the proverbial
"morning after" that has intrigued readers of "The Dead" for decades).
Bill's wife, Alice, confesses in the opening act that, while on
vacation, she had fantasized about abandoning her family in exchange
for even one night with a naval officer who was staying in their
hotel. "I was ready to give up everything," Alice tells her
disbelieving husband. "You, Helena [their daughter], my whole fucking
future. Everything" (49). The admission explodes Bill's imagined
subjectivity, sending him on a dizzying odyssey through the streets of
New York, where he encounters a string of Others, both women and men,
with whom he attempts to recapture the unity that has suddenly become
lost to him.

His search is necessarily in vain, however, as is evidenced by the
film's conclusion. Bill's decision to "tell [Alice] everything" and
Alice's desire to "fuck . . . as soon as possible" are desperate, and
ultimately unsatisfying, attempts to mask Bill's permanently split
subjectivity behind established ideological structures and jouissance.
His inevitable lack of satisfaction, I will argue, is likewise
experienced by the film viewer, who is presented with a story that
steadfastly refuses to tie together its many loose ends. In fact, in
his attempts to force "progression [and] effective closure" on the
source material, Kubrick's co-writer, Frederick Raphael, instead
further exposes the futility of such an endeavor (Raphael, 119). Sean
Murphy's conclusion concerning Gabriel Conroy and "The Dead" can, I
think, be likewise applied to Bill Harford and Eyes Wide Shut: "[He]
will never achieve the unity that the linear narrative supposedly
achieves at the end; he can never illuminate the entire beginning and
middle of his consciousness via some epiphany because his subjectivity
is forever split" (471).

Kubrick and Schnitzler

In 1970, Joseph Gelmis asked Stanley Kubrick why he wished to make a
film about Napoleon. Fresh from his recent success with 2001: A Space
Odyssey (1968), the filmmaker claimed to have found in the French
leader a subject that spoke to his own fascination with history and
strategy, while remaining "oddly contemporary — the responsibilities
and abuses of power, the dynamics of social revolution, the relation
of the individual to the state, war, milatirism, etc." Kubrick's
Napoleon project never came to fruition. However, his answer to
Gelmis's question reveals that more than thirty years ago, the seed
for Kubrick's final film had already taken root. Napoleon's life, he
continued, "has been described as an epic poem of action. His sex life
was of Arthur Schnitzler" (29). Kubrick's obsession with Schnitzler's
short novel, Traumnovelle, was fairly well-known by those who had
closely followed his career. In his recent memoir, Eyes Wide Open,
Frederick Raphael recounts how his editor, Stanley Baron, and the
director, Stanley Donen, both correctly guessed the source material
after learning that Raphael had been hired to write for Kubrick.
Donen, according to Raphael, "knew that Kubrick had been trying to
'lick' the Schnitzler" since at least 1972.

Set in fin-de-siecle Vienna, Traumnovelle tells the story of a young
doctor, Fridolin, and his wife, Albertine, who, while attending a
masked ball, are separately propositioned by strangers. The couple
returns home to enjoy an unusually amorous evening, but both wake
feeling troubled by the events of the previous night. "Those trivial
encounters," Schnitzler writes, "became magically and painfully
interfused the treacherous illusion of missed opportunities. . . .
both felt the need for mild revenge" (177). After putting their
daughter to bed, Fridolin and Albertine discuss the ball and other
past indiscretions: Albertine admits her lust for an officer she had
noticed while vacationing on the Danish coast; Fridolin describes his
brief encounter with a "young girl of no more than fifteen, her loose,
flaxen hair falling over her shoulders and on one side across her
tender breast" (180). Though guilty only in mind and not in body, both
are disturbed by the other's admissions. They agree, with measured
assurance, to tell each other of their true feelings in the future.

Fridolin is then called away to the home of a dying patient, thus
beginning the odyssey that serves as the central narrative device of
both Traumnovelle and Eyes Wide Shut. His voyage leads him through a
dream-like world of sexual fantasy in which he plays an increasingly
active role. At each stop along the journey — his patient's home, a
young prostitute's apartment, a costume shop, and a large country
manor — Fridolin escapes without physically betraying his wife, this
despite the unusually forward advances from the young women he meets
along the way. The temptation, however, intensifies as he travels
through increasingly unfamiliar territory. His final destination is a
masked orgy, where he is exposed as an interloper and threatened with
physical harm. But Fridolin is saved — or "redeemed" — by a mysterious
woman who had earlier warned him of the danger. She is ushered from
the room, while he is placed in a carriage and sent away.

Fridolin returns home to discover his wife lying still in bed, "her
half-open lips distressingly contorted by the play of shadows: it was
a face unknown to Fridolin" (237). When he bends down to touch her,
Albertine explodes in a fit of dream-induced laughter. She wakes to
describe the details of the dream, a dream in which she makes love to
the Danish officer while Fridolin is crucified, accompanied by the
sound of his wife's mocking laughter. He determines then to discover
the identity of the mysterious woman from the orgy, so as to "get
even" with Albertine, "who had revealed herself through her dream for
what she really was, faithless, cruel and treacherous, and whom at
that point he thought he hated more profoundly than he had ever loved
her" (247). His search, however, is fruitless. The next day he
retraces his route from the night before, but discovers only greater
ambiguities, the result of which is his gradual dissolution. "He felt
helpless and inept and everything seemed to be slipping from his
grasp," Schnitzler writes; "everything was becoming increasingly
unreal, even his home, his wife, his child, his profession, his very
identity as he trudged on mechanically through the evening streets,
turning things over in his mind" (263).

When Fridolin does finally return home, he finds on his pillow the
mask that had, on the previous evening, concealed his identity at the
orgy. The terrifying sight provokes "loud, heart-rending sobs" from
the doctor and forces him to confess "everything" to his wife (280).
After listening quietly to his story, Albertine suggests that they be
grateful for having "safely emerged from these adventures — both from
the real ones and from those we dreamed about." They then doze off
together, sleeping dreamlessly until the morning, when they are woken
by "a triumphant sunbeam coming in between the curtains, and a child's
gay laughter from the adjacent room" (281).

The "happy" ending of Traumnovelle, however, is problematized by the
sentiments expressed in Fridolin's and Albertine's final lines.
"Neither the reality of a single night, nor even of a person's entire
life can be equated with the full truth about his innermost being,"
she says. To which, he replies, "And no dream is altogether a dream."
Their reconciliation is tempered by their barely-suppressed awareness
of the tenuous nature of their relationship: "Never enquire into the
future," Albertine whispers (281). They have each witnessed a
frightening glimpse of the other, but have chosen — for the sake of
their marriage and as a means of coping with the struggles of daily
life — to ignore it. As Martin Swales says of the scene, "There is no
solution — only a gratefully accepted working arrangement which is of
necessity tentative and reticent in the certainties it offers" (147).

It is precisely that unsatisfying ambiguity, I would conjecture, that
so fascinated Stanley Kubrick for nearly three decades. Each of his
films — from his first feature, Fear and Desire (1953), an ambitious
but almost laughably failed attempt to examine the two greatest
motivating forces in human nature, to Full Metal Jacket (1987) —
dissects socially constructed dichotomies, blurring the boundaries
between good and evil, hero and villain, love and hate, fantasy and
reality, us and them. Traumnovelle offered Kubrick the opportunity to
observe the human animal in its most intimately guarded environment:
the marriage bed. He had broached the subject in several earlier
films, including Lolita (1962), Barry Lyndon (1975), and The Shining
(1980), but none provided a suitably engaging subject for an extended
study. Traumnovelle, however, would allow Kubrick to investigate the
complex dynamics of "married sex," as Raphael describes it, sex that
is equal parts passion and domesticity — "the naked woman at the
refrigerator door as she remembers to put the chicken away before she
goes to bed" (43). Schnitzler's novel negotiates that border zone
where selflessness, responsibility, and commitment meet narcissism,
fantasy, and desire, the product of which is a mutually reaffirming
masquerade: Fridolin and Albertine ultimately return to the
comfortable roles of husband/father and wife/mother, denying all that
would jeopardize their performances. Or, as Leonard has noted, "one
performs masques because the alternative is to have no sense of
destiny at all; one wears masks to keep intact the illusion that
behind them one has a real face that must be protected" (5).
Traumnovelle and Eyes Wide Shut rip away those masks, and force both
the characters and the readers/viewers to confront the unsettling
consequences of doing so.

Lacan's Split Consciousness

Of course, Kubrick may also have been so taken by Traumnovelle because
its plot turns on "one hell of a scene."1 Like Gretta's in "The Dead,"
Albertine's confession provokes the story's epiphanic moment.2
Fridolin is horrified by his wife's secret nature, but only as it
affects the fictional unity of his own subjectivity. Disoriented by
his own sudden fragmentation, Fridolin is forced to begin his journey
of attempted recovery. It is a moment best explained in Lacanian
terms. Jacques Lacan's brand of post-Freudian psychoanalysis
problematizes consciousness by claiming that the subject is decentered
and self-alienated. Instead of being whole, as Freud posits, Lacan's
ego is torn in two, inciting a life-long dance of deception. Leonard

The subject is split between a narcissistic, objectlike total being
(moi) and a speaking subject (je) who tries to validate this
(fictional) unity of being by seducing the objective world (the Other)
into declaring it authentic. Thus the moi is inherently paranoid
because its existence is dependent upon, and solicitous of, outside
validation. The je is controlled more than it can afford to realize
because the moi exerts constant pressure upon the je to complete the
moi's story of self-sufficient autonomy. Beyond this split subject is
the Real subject of the unconscious that cannot be represented in
imagery or signified in language. It is the remainder (as well as the
reminder) of the lack-in-being that the moi is intended to paper over
with fantasies of autonomy that constitute what it perceives as
reality. (6)

Thus, only when the je fails in its task of linguistic seduction is
the subject able to glimpse "the terrifying fact that the moi, the
subject's truth, which it desires to serve, is fiction" (7).

The complex series of steps in this dance is best illustrated in the
masculine/ feminine relationship. For Lacan, "the Phallus" is an
imagined signifier that supposedly bestows unity upon the masculine
subject: he is "all" because he has designated the feminine subject as
"not all." But while the penis is a biological fact, the Phallus is
merely an ideological construct born of psychic necessity. "The sexual
relation," Leonard writes, "consists of two interrelated gender myths:
the myth of psychic unity and coherence that is the masculine subject
and the corresponding myth of the feminine subject as the site of the
otherness and absence that guarantees the supposedly self-evident
unity of man" (9). Woman, as Lacan has famously formulated, is a
"symptom" for the man: "what constitutes the symptom — that something
which dallies with the unconscious — is that one believes in it. . . .
in the life of a man, a woman is something he believes in" (168).
Lacan designates this construct — this fictional woman all men must
"believe in" in order to maintain their supposed unity — as "The
Woman," for the feminine subject can never be "an absolute category
and guarantor of fantasy (exactly The Woman)" (Rose, 48).

Again, "The Dead" serves as a fitting example. Gabriel Conroy
confidently presents himself as one who knows all that he needs to
know: he is highly opinionated and imagines himself the intellectual
superior of all at the party. Yet his unease is repeatedly illustrated
throughout the story, as he bumbles his way through social
interactions, first with Lily, then with Molly Ivors and Gretta. With
Lily, for instance, Gabriel strikes the familiar pose of master/
teacher to her servant/student. They engage briefly in what Leonard
calls "mutually affirming dialogue" — they discuss the weather as she
removes his overcoat — until he casually asks her about marriage
(296). It is a mistake, a very adult question for The Woman he has
constructed as a servant/child. Her world-weary answer — "The men that
is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you" —
interrupts their well-rehearsed performance and threatens his imagined
subjective unity. His je attempts to seduce her once more, but with
little affect. "Just . . . here's a little . . ." he stammers, as he
thrusts a coin into her hand. In order to stave off further
fragmentation, Gabriel escapes, "almost trotting the stairs and waving
his hand to her in deprecation" (178).

Upon escaping from Lily (and later, from Miss Ivors), Gabriel finds
comfort from fine-tuning his after-dinner speech, the ideal platform
for the je to seduce Others into authenticating his subjective unity.
But the speech is of little use when he and Gretta return to their
hotel room that evening. Before leaving the party, Gabriel had paused
briefly to observe his wife, who appeared lost in reverie while
listening to a song. "At last she turned towards them and Gabriel saw
that there was colour on her cheeks and her eyes were shining. A
sudden tide of joy went leaping out of his heart" (213). That joy
quickly fades, however, when Gretta reveals to her husband that it was
Michael Furey, a former love, who had inspired that reverie and not
Gabriel. "What is it that women want? Lacan's answer to Freud's most
famous question is that they simply want; and the man's desire, what
he wants, is to be what he imagines they want, hence the first
question" (Leonard, 303). Gabriel's epiphany is that he is not what
Gretta desires. The Woman he has constructed as "his wife"
disintegrates, revealing the fiction of the role he has been
performing. The story ends as he catches a horrifying glimpse of "the
pitious fatuable fellow" in the mirror and is seized by a "vague
terror," before "fading out into a grey impalpable world" (222, 225).

Eyes Wide Shut

Raphael claims that, when adapting Traumnovelle for the screen, he was
repeatedly encouraged by Kubrick to "just follow Arthur
[Schnitzler]. . . . Track Arthur. He knows how to tell a story" (105,
91). Eyes Wide Shut remains remarkably faithful to the source
material; the most significant change is its movement from turn of the
century Vienna to contemporary New York. Though the move was widely
criticized in the popular press — many of whom claimed that the sexual
moralizing of the film seemed better suited for the Victorian era — it
fits Kubrick's modus operandi. Except for his work as a "hired gun" on
Spartacus (1960), Kubrick spent his entire career in relative
independence, having established himself early on as a filmmaker whose
work sparked critical interest, while coming in under budget and
turning a profit. The consummate businessman, Kubrick knew that a
contemporary vehicle with marquee stars — whom he found in husband and
wife, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman — guaranteed significant opening
week box office returns.

Of course, Kubrick's decision to adapt Traumnovelle to a contemporary
setting was made for more than purely commercial reasons. Like Gabriel
Conroy and the other protagonists of Dubliners, Bill Harford is "a
central everyman character" (Walzl, 18). Raphael claims, in fact, that
Kubrick envisioned his hero as "Harrison Fordish" (hence the name
change from Fridolin), and forbade any reference to the Jewish
elements in Schnitzler's story (59). Harford, like his counterparts in
Traumnovelle and "The Dead," is refused a past; his condition is (we
are led to believe) timeless. He is essentially Man, Husband, Father,
Doctor, a position which nicely serves the central psychological
question of the film: How can the masculine subject survive when all
that defines it is revealed to be fiction?

The opening frames of Eyes Wide Shut firmly establish Harford's
position in the ideal masculine role. He is young, attractive, and
highly successful; his status is reflected by everything with which he
surrounds himself, including his beautiful wife and child, and their
ridiculously opulent apartment "on Central Park West." The first
image, in fact, is of his wife, Alice, slipping her flawless body out
of a black evening dress. As they prepare to attend a Christmas party,
both act as if performing a well-rehearsed domestic ritual. She
applies the final strokes of make-up and asks him how she looks. He
replies mechanically: "You always look beautiful" (6). Lacan would
explain the meaninglessness of their conversation and the
performativeness of their routine as a defense mechanism, a means by
which each avoids confronting his or her own identity confusion. As
Leonard says of the guests at the Morkans' party in "The Dead," "Much
of what they say to one another in conversation is compulsively banal
precisely because what they cannot know is so alarming. . . .
Conversation is dangerous, as Gabriel learns, because it is always an
attempted seduction of the Other, and one's sense of self may be
subverted as easily as it may be confirmed" (291).

Bill Harford is made painfully aware of this danger (and its
consequences) when, on the following evening, he and Alice confront
each other about their behavior at the Christmas party. As in
Traumnovelle, both Bill and Alice had been separately propositioned by
strangers before returning home to make love. In what has become the
film's signature image, Kubrick shows us only Bill's and Alice's
foreplay: she stands naked before their bedroom mirror, while he
approaches from behind and begins to kiss her. As the camera follows
in a slow zoom, Bill closes his eyes. But Alice raises hers to the
mirror, looking away from her husband as if her thoughts are with
someone else. When they discuss the party 24 hours later, Bill is
shocked to discover what we already know: like Gabriel Conroy, Bill
has been guilty of misinterpreting his wife's desires.

Their conversation begins as the age-old and cliche-ridden debate
concerning male and female sexuality. As Alice bluntly puts it,
"Millions of years of evolution, right? Right? Men have to stick it in
every place they can, but for women . . . women it is just about
security and commitment and whatever the fuck . . . else" (46). For
Bill, this simple formulation is perfectly acceptable — "A little
oversimplified, Alice, but yes, something like that," he says.
However, the tenor of their argument changes considerably when Alice
begins to deconstruct those preconceptions. When Alice asks
accusingly, "And why haven't you ever been jealous about me?" his je
attempts to paper over the frightening ramifications of her question
by systematically describing the role of The Woman that he has written
for her.

Bill: Well, I don't know, Alice. Maybe because you're my wife, maybe
because you're the mother of my child and I know you would never be
unfaithful to me.

Alice: You are very, very sure of yourself, aren't you?
Bill: No, I'm sure of you.

Bill's nocturnal odyssey through the streets of New York can be best
described as a series of failed attempts by the protagonist to seduce
the Other and to recapture the subjective unity that has been revealed
by Alice's confession to be fiction. In each instance, he slips on a
familiar role only to discover that it is inappropriate and/or
ineffective. His first stop, for instance, is at the home of a
recently deceased patient. He is greeted by the patient's daughter,
Marion, and quickly establishes himself as the "consoling doctor" to
her "grieving loved one" by first offering his condolences — "I'm
sorry . . . I'm so sorry" — then, in a strangely rehearsed gesture, by
placing his hand on the deceased's forehead (53). But his words and
gestures are lost on Marion, whose conflicted emotions are the product
of her love for Harford rather than, as he incorrectly assumes, the
sudden loss of her father. When she kisses him, Harford again stares
ahead, motionless. The scene paradoxically serves as both a
reinforcement and a refutation of his masculine subjectivity. Marion's
desire for Harford should authenticate his identity, but it fails to
do so because she simultaneously exposes his failure, represented both
by the presence of the body of the patient he was unable to save and
by his "misdiagnosis" of Marion's concern. This becomes a recurring
theme throughout the film, as Harford repeatedly wields his Medical
Board card and assures people, "I'm a doctor," only to then fail in
his attempts to comfort or save them.

Harford's masculine subjectivity is further assaulted when he leaves
Marion's apartment. While walking through Greenwich Village, he is
accosted by a group of male college students who, based on his
appearance, accuse him of being a homosexual. The scene is echoed
later in the film when a gay desk clerk flirts with him. As if to
prove his possession of the Phallus, Harford then follows a young
prostitute home, goaded on by her none-too-subtle offer to "come
inside with me" (63). However, the scene — along with another that
takes place soon after in the costume shop — serves only to further
expose Harford's continued failure in his attempts to recapture the
fictional unity of his subjectivity. The events of the evening have
rendered his je powerless, leaving him able to do little more than
simply repeat the language that circulates around him. For instance,
when the prostitute, Domino, asks him, "What do you wanna do?" he is
unable to answer, instead placing himself totally "in [her]
hands" (65). After they are interrupted by a phone call from Alice,
Domino asks, "Do you have to go?" to which he is able only to respond
by echoing her question, "Do I have to go? I think I do" (69). In
Lacanian terms, Harford's continued failure is inevitable. Leonard

One is never so happy as when one is the triumphant hero of one's own
story, nor so desolate as when one is the suddenly vanquished hero of
the other story that this same triumphant narrative left untold . . .
Lacan posits that some degree of suffering might be alleviated in the
human condition, but the ego itself is necessarily incurable because
it papers over a lack-in-being that can be exposed or denied-but never
satiated. Any sort of cure that a character in Joyce's fiction
imagines undergoing merely serves as a prelude for the next identity
crisis. (7-8)

It is interesting to note that Leonard supports this claim by
referring to Stephen Dedalus's temporary victories in A Portrait of
the Artist as a Young Man. His first visit to a prostitute, which
marks the end of section two and presages his religious conversion in
section three, is remarkably similar to Harford's experience with
Domino. While, in the film, they do not physically consummate a sexual
relationship, Harford is able to symbolically complete the exchange by
paying her the agreed upon amount. The small victory, however, is
necessarily temporary, as he is soon back on the streets, obsessing
over Alice's imagined affair with the Naval Officer, and confronting
even greater danger.

As in Traumnovelle, the final stop of Harford's odyssey is at a
mysterious masked orgy. Kubrick turns the scene into an oddly gothic
ritual, more grotesque than erotic. The pivotal moment of the scene
occurs when Harford is singled out as an interloper and forced to
remove his mask while the other participants look on. He, like
Fridolin, is then threatened with physical harm before being
"redeemed" by a Mysterious Woman who had earlier warned him of danger.
Schnitzler writes of the scene, "It seemed to him a thousand times
worse to stand there as the only one unmasked amid a host of masks,
than to suddenly stand naked among those fully dressed" (228). "The
pain of shame," Michael Sperber writes, "and the inability of the
ego's defenses (typically, avoidance and denial) to neutralize it,
explain its frequent conversion to guilt" (63). Harford's odyssey has
led him to a terrifying awareness of his own fragmentation. As she is
led away and he is placed in a taxi, The Mysterious Woman has, in a
sense, temporarily redeemed Harford by converting his shame into the
guilt that motivates his actions for the remainder of the film.

Kubrick deviates most notably from Schnitzler's blueprint in the final
act of Eyes Wide Shut, in which Harford retraces the steps of his
odyssey in hopes of uncovering the identity of the Mysterious Woman.
Raphael claims that he and the director often argued about how (or if)
they should lend more cohesion to the story. Raphael writes:

I remained convinced that there had, for instance, to be a link
between the scene at the party at the beginning of the movie and the
orgy and its consequences. Otherwise there would be a catenation of
events, but neither progression nor effective closure. . . . Stanley
jeered at my appetite for plotted neatness, but I returned to the
charge. (119)

Eyes Wide Shut includes only two significant scenes that do not exist
in any form in Traumnovelle: the first occurs at the pivotal Christmas
party, when Bill is ushered upstairs to find the party's host,
Ziegler, standing over a naked, overdosed prostitute; the second comes
near the end of the film, when Ziegler calls Bill back to his home,
ostensibly to "cut the bullshit" and to reveal "what happened last
night," thereby tying up the story's many loose ends. The latter
scene, in particular, has been the subject of considerable debate,
both for its pacing (many critics have even postulated that Kubrick
would have trimmed the scene had he lived) and for the unsatisfying
solutions it provides. Michael Herr, Kubrick's screenwriting
collaborator on Full Metal Jacket, has written, "I don't even know
what [the scene's] supposed to be about, unless, as I suspect, it's
really just about the red pool table" (270).

The pool table scene, for Lacan, is about the impossibility of ever
truly discovering the cohesion and closure that we desire to fix on
our personal narratives. In "Passing Boldly into That Other World of
(W)Holes: Narrativity and Subjectivity in James Joyce's 'The Dead,'"
Sean Murphy defines the "masculine narrative" as the typical, linear
narrative that moves toward an end in order to transform "the reader
in some way, namely by illuminating the beginning and the middle and
thereby unveiling the 'truth' or 'meaning' inherent in the chains of
signification constituting the story" (466). Murphy argues that
readers of "The Dead" have forced a cohesion on Joyce's story where
none exists. "Because critics desire to symbolize their own lack,"
Murphy writes:

they fall prey to Joyce's seductive yet subversive use of the linear
narrative paradigm in their readings of Gabriel and of the supposed
epiphanic end of "The Dead." Joyce's text is seductive because it
allows the reader to indulge in the fetishistic split between knowing
and believing in unity and subversive because he does not provide an
end, does not adhere to the law of linearity that demands an
illuminative moment that makes sense of (totalizes) the fragmented
discourse that precedes it. (469)

Murphy claims that the masculine narrative paradigm became popularized
in the nineteenth century realistic novel and remains "the norm,"
despite the invention of alternative forms by writers such as Joyce
(466). Nowhere has the linear narrative maintained its grip more
firmly than in the classical Hollywood cinema. In a 1987 interview,
Kubrick told Jack Kroll that he wanted to "explode the narrative
structure of movies," a feat he finally accomplishes, with astonishing
subtlety, in Eyes Wide Shut. The final line of the film (the other
significant deviation from Traumnovelle) is ultimately unsatisfying,
like the pool table scene, because it subverts our conditioned
behavior as film viewers. Taught to expect pat answers and firm
conclusions — particularly in an"erotic thriller," as Warner Brothers
marketed Eyes Wide Shut — Alice's desire to "fuck" is jarring. We are
left with considerable questions concerning both the happenings and
consequences of Bill's odyssey and the future of his and Alice's
relationship, questions that, despite Raphael's best efforts, cannot
be resolved. For Lacan, this ending is inevitable. Terrified by their
brief glimpses of truth, Bill and Alice retreat to the familiar roles
of husband/father and wife/mother so as to disguise their unity behind
ideological masks. When they do fuck, it will simply be a return of
jouissance, Lacan's term for the pleasure we find in enjoying our
symptoms. But that pleasure will necessarily be short-lived and
unsatisfying. Like Gabriel Conroy, Bill Harford "will never achieve
the unity that the linear narrative supposedly achieves at the end; he
can never illuminate the entire beginning and middle of his
consciousness via some epiphany because his subjectivity is forever
split" (Murphy, 471).


Presented at Florida State Film & Literature Conference
January, 2001


Nov 2, 2008, 11:45:02 PM11/2/08


To add a little more Mumbo Jumbo to the mix.

Eyes Wide Shut: The Woman Not Seen

Ellie Ragland

The author uses Stanley Kubrick’s film Eyes Wide Shut and Arthur
Schnitzler’s Rhapsody: A Dream Novel, which the film was based on, to
illustrate the difficulties inherent in the sexual non-relation. She
shows the fundamental place of fantasy in creating an imaginary
bridge, where the sexes only appear to meet or to miss each other. Her
paper works both as an introduction to the subject of sexuation and
Lacan’s graph of sexuation, as well as an example that may be helpful
for readers of her latest book, The Logic of Sexuation: From Aristotle
to Lacan, published in 2004:

The hypothesis I will develop in discussing the film Eyes Wide Shut( )
is that Bill’s (Tom Cruise’s) reactions to Alice’s (Nicole Kidman’s)
fantasy and to her dream can be explained in terms of Jacques Lacan’s
sexuation graph( ).. This theory becomes increasingly viable as one
"reads" Bill’s thoughts in Rhapsody: A Dream Novel (Schnitzler 1927)
on which the film was based. Indeed, Kubrick was fascinated by Arthur
Schnitzler’s story long before he filmed Eyes Wide Shut. At points in
the film where Stanley Kubrick has Bill look questioningly or
perplexedly at Alice while seeing her in fantasy in some other lover’s
arms, Schnitzler elaborates the thoughts behind those images: Bill’s
thoughts are vengeful and spiteful, sexist in the most extreme.
If one views Bill’s "falling apart" as his recognition that Alice
doesn’t incarnate, in Lacan’s terms, The Essential Woman as existing
(The Woman qua essence of certain supposedly feminine traits does not
guarantee a consistency to one’s existence), then his determination to
find out more and more about sex becomes a response to his unconscious
fantasy having been called into question. The fantasy that supports
masculine belief in the One woman who will "fill" the void at the
heart of being (Ø/a) is typical of males in Lacan’s sexuation graph. I
would argue that Bill falls apart when his unconscious fantasy is
smashed. Since the operation is unconscious, however, Bill can neither
reason it out nor talk about it with Alice. Indeed, after she
confessed her fantasy, she became his "arch enemy." His acts were then
at the level of wanting to know more about sex as "reality," as a way
to re-calibrate his psycho-sexual being more than some determination
to take revenge on Alice. This thesis makes sense of the complexity of
the film, brought about by the difference between masculine and
feminine sexuation, defined here as identity beyond sexuality or
gender: identity as "masculine" or "feminine." Additionally, viewing
the film from this level challenges the critics who found it to be
little more than a simplistic film about the boredom of bourgeois
Kubrick’s film follows Schnitzler’s novel very closely. The main event
added by Kubrick is a motive for why the woman at the chateau
"redeemed" Bill Hartford at the cost of her own life. Kubrick makes
her Mandy, the same drug-addicted hooker Bill had saved at Zigler’s
party. In Schnitzler, she was some Baroness, and Fridolin (Dr.
Hartford) may have earlier performed for her some act of kindness,
something like removing a speck from her eye. But the differences
between the film and the novel that is the basis for it are noteworthy
enough to render a brief summary of the novel, published in 1927,
useful in promoting my thesis regarding Bill, not just in looking more
precisely at what I propose motivates Bill’s actions, but also in
marking the difference between masculine and feminine sexuality,
regardless of libidinal object choice.
Schnitzler’s story begins with the ball. Fridolin (Bill) is greeted by
two women who seem interested in him. They wear masks and promise to
return without them, although they don’t. Bill’s wife, having just
escaped a man who’d made an offensive remark to her, takes his arm.
Later, at home, their lovemaking is blissful. Yet, the events of the
previous night come up, referred to as "neglected opportunities." As
Fridolin (Bill) and Albertina (Alice) discuss these events, neither is
honest and each seems a bit vindictive, mocking the other’s jealousy
while denying their own. Schnitzler says that each knew that that
night had not been the first time that "the spirit of adventure,
freedom, and danger had beckoned them" (p. 7), although Kubrick leads
us to believe that for his characters it was the first time. As their
suspicions grew, each pushed the other to confess. Albertina asks
Fridolin if he remembered the young man from the previous summer at
the Danish sea shore—an officer: they had exchanged one very deep
look. She explains, based only on that look, that if he had "called to
her," she would have gone off with him, giving up everything she had
with Fridolin, even though Fridolin was dearer to her than ever. But
as events would have it, the officer suddenly received a telegram, he
left and didn’t return. Albertina was relieved, but remained certain
she’d had "an experience"—a true meeting of desire—with the officer
(this is what Lacan would call a rencontre in the real). Fridolin in
turn tells her a story of a young blond girl who had beseechingly
reached out to him at the Danish shore.

Crying, Albertina asked that they always share such secrets: she’d
previously felt safe when he’d told her of exploits from his student
days, for he’d always assured her he’d been seeking her in every woman
he’d loved before he’d met her. But when Fridolin was shocked by her
revelation regarding her attraction to the Danish officer, she went
on, insisting she had indeed met someone with whom she would have made
love had he asked, and she followed with "Oh, if you men only
knew…!" (p. 15). I think we can fairly describe Fridolin’s (Bill’s)
shock as an encounter with the desolation of the void place in being,
with the raw angst of the barred Ø: S(Ø) which opens onto the real,
the side of the feminine in Lacan’s sexuation graph. Normally this
void place is filled in by phallic objects, demonstrated by arrows
that connect the symbolic order signifiers (_) to the void in the
Other. Such signifiers, such as belief in total marital fidelity, are
the traditional means for keeping angst at bay. At this point in the
novel Fridolin is called away to the home of the dying Privy
Counselor. As he reaches the front steps of his own house, he realizes
that all the regularity of his normal life, all the security of his
existence, is nothing but deception and delusion (pp. 112-113). He
feels that his behavior before the daughter of the Privy Counselor
will be "to betray, to deceive, to lie, to play a part before Marianne
[Mariam], before Albertina [Alice], before the good Dr. Roediger
[Mariam’s fiancé], before the whole world. His new goal is to lead
this sort of double life" (p. 134). But in the room with her dead
father, Mariam tells Fridolin of her engagement to a young mathematics
professor, which makes Fridolin (Bill) feel jealousy, both because she
is engaged and because he isn’t a professor. She then kisses Fridolin
and tells him she loves him and wants only to stay near him, a replay
of Albertina’s fixation on the Danish officer. The scene is
interrupted by the return of her fiancé, Rodiger. Once he is outside,
Fridolin feels incredibly free. He tells himself he already has a wife
and if he can find the time, he may also have affairs. (He might be
said here to typify Don Juan, about whom Lacan advanced the theory
that male sexuation counts itself by the list of lovers taken, whereas
the woman thinks of herself—even if she knows she is on a list—as
special, outside it, as one-minus to the list of lovers) (ch.1,
Encore). He can fantasize having affairs, but Alice can’t.
I would argue that Alice’s (Albertina’s) confession has rattled Bill’s
(Fridolin’s) entire sense of himself as a man. When a male student
jostles him as he leaves the Doctor’s house, Fridolin wants to fight a
duel, but he then decides it would be crazy. Had it, however, been the
Danish officer, he thinks, he would have. Working from the thesis that
an unconscious fantasy of Oneness has been shattered, we might say
that Bill begins to challenge his image of his masculinity given that
his previous unconscious base for a pleasure-principle existence was
based on the assumption of a consistency of his being—homeostasis
Lacan argues—insofar as Woman (be it a wife, a mother, or a religious
figure) must be consistent. Once called into doubt by Alice’s
confession, he then wonders how much of a coward he is. At this point,
a prostitute—Domino in the movie and Mizzi in the novel—comes to him.
He goes into her apartment with her. She undresses and sits on his
lap, trying to embrace and kiss him, and he keeps drawing away. As he
then woos her, she resists and he gets up and leaves. The motivation
for his leaving is not explained by Schnitzler. It is clarified by
Kubrick in the form of a ringing cell phone call from his wife just at
the moment he is ready to succumb. Telling Domino he has to go, he
pays her the agreed upon sum of money anyway, again hinting at the
kindness of his character.
In the film, as in the novel, Bill leaves the prostitute and feels
"homeless, outcast ….ever since this evening’s conversation with
Albertina…he was moving farther and farther away from his everyday
existence into some strange and distant world" (p. 44). In this
context, I’d say his "everyday existence" means that he had never
before encountered the void place of emptiness and nothingness that
dwells in the Lacanian Other (S[Ø])—and, thus, in one’s own being. But
the void is only felt as a concrete place when fantasy and phallic
certainties have broken down. Ordinarily, a male’s clinging to the
phallic stance he has taken—identifying with what he has--and to the
fantasy system he has elaborated around it, protects him from coming
into contact with the void located on the feminine side of sexuation,
where there is greater proximity to the real of loss and lack through
woman’s identification with a logic of the "not (being) all" under the
conventions and obligations of the symbolic order. She is always
somewhat outside the social law (Encore, ch. 7), although she has a
foot in it as well. Arguing this, Lacan says that analytic cure is on
the side of the feminine, because the logic found there breaks up
identifications with totalizations. It is a logic of the "not all."
Men, on the other hand, are typically locked within the social laws of
the symbolic order by identifying with the rules and bonds of the
group whose shared oneness comes from a structural, logical necessity;
which is the supposition that there is one who lives outside the law.
Such a logic must exist in order that law may be conceptualized.
Whether this be the Ur-father of Freud’s Totem and Taboo (Freud 1913),
or any other superhuman figure who is seen as a supreme lawgiver, the
point is a matter of identificatory structure. There can be no law
without the supposition of law. Thus, law begins in myth, at the point
where structure (order, a series) gives a logic to what would
otherwise be chaotic and meaningless (Lacan 1991). And this law
requires an identification with difference away from oneness with the
primordial mother, an identification with the phallic signifier—itself
an abstract third term.
That men and women have different relations to the law—either as One
or as Other—is something Lacan found in Freud. For Freud, law is for
men, based on a matter of shared guilt for murder, while the female
superego is supposedly more flexible. Lacan reverses this proposal and
argues that since women are already "castrated"—i.e., women are not men
—each one is universally free to have a portion of her being outside
the law of social convention. This is only one premise Lacan makes
regarding law in the context of his sexuation graph.
While Bill’s rage at Alice, and his determination to get even with her
before he returns home, can be explained by the shattering of an
unconscious myth he holds vis-à-vis "The Woman not seen," the one he
has chosen as his partner, such a fantasy is a myth kept in place by
unconscious identification with certain fantasies that fill one’s void
with The Woman. The essentialized Woman (essentialized in a totalizing
fantasy, not in terms of biology) becomes a structural construct in a
crossing—and interlinking—of the bar which serves as an unconscious
divider between the sexes (__/Ø). The phallic signifier fills up the
void in the Other for the one identified with the masculine because
there is no universal or essential Woman. She is barred in reality.
After hearing Alice recount her dream, Bill sees her innocence, her
wifeliness, her motherliness, her unflagging fidelity to him, as being
just a sham. But Alice doesn’t think with the same totalizing logic.
She is "not all" enclosed within a rigid symbolic construct of what
The Woman should be as sex partner and she thus has greater freedom
and flexibility toward her sexuality, and toward sexuality in general.
She quite unabashedly tells Bill the story of the Danish officer, just
as later she freely tells him her dream. He does not embody for her
"the essence of the masculine." He is not "the man," but "a" man, she
has stopped from adding more women to his list—in the imaginary logic
of the woman who fantasizes herself as The One who will stop male
desire from wandering. From this perspective, Alice follows the
structural (mathematical) logic of the woman who believes that Don
Juan’s list, even if it does include her, doesn’t include her. Her
"special" properties make her see herself as one-minus on the list,
and not as just one more (Morel 1999). By "counting" this way, women
can have it both ways. She sees that a man makes a list of women that
may include her. But by believing herself to be "unique," "not all"
under the symbolic rule, she can exempt herself from the list and see
herself as the one held outside, the transcendental one.
Thus, while Alice fears no harm from recounting her dream to Bill, he
responds to his unconscious fantasy. He becomes driven by his quest to
get even with Alice, to abandon if not to kill her, in fantasy. This
comes through in Schnitzler’s story more clearly than in Kubrick’s
film. The film covers Bill’s thoughts about Alice by showing him
staring at her while looking perplexed, but imagining her with another
man. In the film, the look Bill gives Alice is more quizzical while in
the novel his thoughts are of hatred and murderous rage, leaving no
doubt as to the content of his thoughts. Given this, it is thus not
surprising that he can’t return home. He becomes the seeker of another
kind of truth, a kind of truth about sex in its links to love and
desire outside love. His fusion of love and desire are no longer
reduced to a totalizing One. When he meets Nick Nightingale, a former
medical school friend who plays piano in a coffee house, he listens to
him with pleasure. This man from his past had been neither serious nor
diligent, but he had at one point paid Bill an eight-year-old debt.
Bill was fond of him and bemused over his roaming the earth in search
of piano jobs while plainly proud that he had a wife and four sons
back in Seattle. In their conversation after the musician’s
performance, Nick tells Bill that he is sometimes privately engaged
"in…circles both public and secret." He is going to play for one such
group that night for the third time. Each time the audience had grown
larger. He knew this even though he played blindfolded because he
could see through the silk blindfold and he saw amazing naked women.
Bill insisted on going along, while Nick protested, saying he was
driven there in secret and you could enter only if you knew the
password. Bill persuades Nick to tell it to him, saying he knows a
masquerade store that may still be open. He goes there and Mr. Millage
agrees to outfit him for an extra $200 above the rental fee for the
costume. He asks only for a dark cassock with a hood and a mask.
Meanwhile, we see another sexual scene as the old man’s young teenage
daughter comes out of a room with two men dressed up as judges. Her
father calls her a whore and a degenerate and threatens the men with
the police. This scene takes its relevance only later in the movie,
although less so than in the novel where Fridolin is again depicted as
kindly, for trying to save the young girl.
Armed with the password "Denmark" in the novel and "Fidelio" in the
movie, Bill gives the cabdriver a large sum and promises more if he’ll
wait for him an hour, or longer. Fidelio is an opera by Beethoven in
which a woman has to dress up like a man to try to retrieve her lost
husband from Hades. In any case, 16 or 20 people dressed as nuns and
monks pass by Bill, while one woman whispers, "Go away. You don’t
belong here. If it’s discovered, it will go hard with you" (Rhapsody,
p. 72). Then Bill sees that the women are wearing dark veils down to
their necks and masks, but they are otherwise completely naked. As
varied couples begin to perform sexual acts, a woman starts to lead
Bill away. At that point, the first woman comes back and again warns
him to leave, telling him she can’t leave with him or they’ll both
die. At this point, Bill is encircled by the group and the leader asks
him for the second "house" password. When he says he’s forgotten it,
the group cries for expiation. When the unknown woman speaks up,
saying she would redeem him, the leader asks her if she knows what
she’s doing and she insists that she does. Bill is then sent away in a
carriage, as his cab had already been dismissed.
What is so dangerous about this masquerade? Clearly the masquerade is
a gesture made to ordinary sexual repression, insofar as denial of
sexuality is demanded by symbolic order codes of acceptable behavior
and desire. The masks represent that, as well as the requirement of
absolute privacy and secrecy that the Other exacts. Yet, this is not
the point of Schnitzler’s story, nor Kubrick’s film. The point has to
do, rather, with why sexual orgies would not be the standard lot for
sexual beings. Bill says to himself that he felt so betrayed by Alice
that only by uniting with all other women could he allow himself to
return to her (p. 96). Such revenge places him within the logic of a
Don Juan who thinks he can prove his masculinity by adding more and
more lovers to his list. Moreover, Bill feels that he can redeem his
lost sense of manhood through sex as well as through a duel with the
rough student. In the film, the students are replaced by a village
gang that mocks him and pushes him around, calling him effeminate. He
asks himself in the novel: "Is one always to stake one’s life just
from a sense of duty or self–sacrifice, and never because of a whim or
a passion, or simply to match oneself against one’s Fate?" (p. 96).
Then, he decides he was having a delirium and had caught diphtheria
from a child to whom he had given medical care. Another way to put it
is that, in encountering the void place of anxiety where there is
nothing but knowledge of loss, he had paradoxically lost the
confidence he had taken for granted when he’d held the unconscious
fantasy of the essence of woman as a safety measure, a guarantee that
all is well and whole.
In the film, the movie starts with the annual party given by Dr.
Zigler. The pianist at the party is Nick Nightingale, which is how
Bill comes to learn he is playing at the Sonata Café. At the start,
Bill is taken away by two young beauties promising to take him to the
end of the rainbow. His wife, standing alone, drinks too much
champagne. An older seductive man asks her to dance. He is Samdor
Salas, a Hungarian. Salas is not in Schnitzler’s story. In the film,
he gives a concrete reality to what Schnitzler describes as some man
who had insulted her. Your husband wouldn’t mind if we danced, would
he, Salas asks. She agrees and tells him that she had previously
managed an art gallery in Soho, but that it had gone broke. He offers
to help her start up again through his friends in the art world. He
then gives her his wisdom on marriage: marriage makes the search for
another lover necessary to each partner. Women used to marry only to
be free to do what they really wanted, with another man he adds. As
these scenes coalesce, Dr. Zigler calls upon Dr. Bill. In a private
room a naked woman lies unconscious, having had a reaction to an
overdose of cocaine and heroin. She is Mandy, the prostitute.
Meanwhile, Salas is offering to show Alice Zigler’s gallery of
Renaissance bronzes, upstairs. She says "no," she can’t go, because
she’s married. She understands that "upstairs" means sex. At the same
time Bill—who is again painted as a kind doctor—is concerned that
Mandy needs rehabilitation and cannot be moved for an hour, after
which someone needs to take her home.
Back at home after the party, Bill and Alice smoke pot before having
sex. She asks him if he had sex with the two girls at the party. He is
astonished by her question and tells her about Zigler. He, then, asks
about the man, and she says he wanted sex, upstairs, then and there.
Bill is not surprised because she’s "beautiful." This makes her angry
and she draws the analogy that Bill wanted to fuck the two beautiful
models he’d been with. No, he says. He is an exception because he
loves Alice and he wouldn’t hurt her. But you still want other women,
she says. When she begins asking how he separates the personal and the
professional in his capacity as a doctor, he replies that women must
not know how to think. When she says, "If you men only knew…!," he
responds with what I am calling the Lacanian underlying theory of the
terms of his unconscious fantasy of an unseen Woman, essence of all
goodness, femininity and support: "You’re my wife and my child’s
mother and I’m sure of you. You’d never be unfaithful. I’m sure of
you." Her response is peals of laughter, at which point she tells him
the story of Cape Cod and the young naval officer: even when she and
Bill made love that afternoon—and he was never dearer to her—she could
not erase the naval officer’s image and said she was ready to give up
Bill, their child and their future for him. When she discovered the
next day that he was gone, she felt relieved.
When Bill receives the call from Mariam about her father’s serious
condition, he’s relieved, because he doesn’t want to "show his face"
after what Alice had just confessed to him. The next scene is the one
in which Mariam tells Bill she has a fiancé, and confesses her undying
love for Bill. This repeats for him the fear of infidelities and the
threat to his fantasy of the unruffled harmonious union between him
and his wife who incarnates The Woman. Mariam portrays another example
of Woman’s infidelity, while Bill, mysteriously, feels jealous that
she has a fiancé and will be leaving to live at the University of
Michigan. When Mariam kisses him, saying "don’t despise me," he
replies that they hardly know each other. This scene, along with the
later scene, in which Mr. Millage’s teenage daughter is a prostitute,
complicate Bill’s feelings about Alice. Is he to place her among these
other women, when he had assumed she was of a different type? After
nine years of marriage, Bill is shaken to the core regarding who and
what his wife is. After leaving, Bill rents a cab to go to the secret
address Nicolas Nightingale had given him. Again, he fantasizes about
his wife with the Danish officer, in Schnitzler’s story thinking his
vengeful thoughts. He thinks "down in the bottom of his heart, he was
through with her, no matter how their surface life continued" (p.
122). At this time, a young girl passes him and presses her breasts up
against him: "They’re all alike, he thought bitterly, and Albertina
[Alice] is like the rest of them – if not the worst. I won’t live with
her any longer. Things can never be the same again" (p. 124).
In the film, Bill goes home after the masked party and hears his wife
laughing in her dream hysterically. "What were you dreaming?" he asks.
She tells him the dream in detail in the story by Schnitzler. They
were in a deserted city and were naked and she was terrified and
ashamed and was angry and blaming him because he’d rushed away. Once
he was gone, she felt great—stretched out naked. A man from the hotel
laughed at her and then made love with her and, then, she was fucking
hundreds of men. She knew Bill could see her and she wanted to laugh
in his face. Having listened to this dream, Bill is even more
embittered. He decides the next day to return the costume and to look
for Nick Nightingale and for the woman who had "redeemed "him at the
masked orgy.
In the dream in Dream Rhapsody, Alice (Albertina) says it had begun in
the house she lived in when she and Bill became engaged. There she
found costumes in her closet, but no wedding dress. Then, slaves rowed
him to her in gold and silver clothes. They went to a chamber and made
love, but, she said "it was filled with a presentiment of sorrow" (p.
105). In an Adam and Eve kind of scenario, she depicts herself as
knowing even before the wedding that the knowledge of sex was filled
with confusion between sin and shame and glorious innocence. In her
dream, they had to return to the world from their chamber and their
clothes were gone. She said, "I was seized with unheard of terror and
a shame so burning it almost consumed me" (p. 105). Curiously, she
blamed Bill and he accepted the blame, saying he knew he should run
and get their clothes for them. While he was gone she told him she
"danced merrily, naked in a city buried a long time ago and
forever" (p. 106). Could this be the Freudian city of childhood
innocence and polymorphous perversity? Meanwhile she lay naked while
the Dane looked at her, but she ignored him, watching Bill buy clothes
for her. The Dane appeared and disappeared and she said she "laughed
seductively as I have never laughed in my life" (p. 108). Then she saw
countless couples uniting and exchanging. She said something at that
point that can only be taken as being on the side of Woman’s
supplemental jouissance, in Lacan’s teaching. Because woman is "not
all" under the symbolic order phallic conventions of law and public
decorum, woman is free to experience her sexuality on the side of the
real in a way Lacan refers to as a supplemental jouissance. This
refers to a jouissance of the whole body, not to just genital orgasm.
The point is that woman already has one foot out of that camp in that
she is not doubly castrated, as are men. While women are as
susceptible to sexual scandal as are men, men, paradoxically, use
social order decorum to hide their libertinage. This is probably
because man is already more fettered by the social order than woman.
By this I mean, the man –to define himself as a male—must first learn
that he is not the same as his mother, a castration of monstrous
proportions. Second, he must recuperate enough enjoyment from his
fantasies and experiences to perform sexually. Often, he has been so
thoroughly castrated by superego dicta, that he undergoes a secondary
castration of impotence. All this adds up to the fragility of what is
referred to as "the male ego." But by the same token women are not
required to identify away from their mothers. Moreover, they never
have to concern themselves with performance anxiety because they can
always masquerade. Yet when women are socially discredited for sexual
indiscretions, the same kinds of adjectives of scorn arise that
characterize Bill’s thoughts about Alice.
Alice continues recounting her dream in the story: "Just as that
earlier feeling of terror and shame went beyond anything I have ever
felt in the waking state, so nothing in our conscious existence can be
compared with the feeling of release, of freedom, of happiness. Yet I
didn’t for one moment forget you" (p. 109). In the dream, he had been
arrested and was to be executed. Her dream carefully follows the
film’s story of the warnings and death threats Bill has received. As
she goes on, he "sees" her in the Dane’s arms, and then, the Queen
(Mandy, The Duchess) comes to pardon him and he is whipped. The Queen
is then suddenly the young girl from Denmark (Cape Cod) of their
previous summer—bathing nude in the morning. He refuses to marry her
and comes toward Alice. She says, "I wanted to make fun of you…because
you had refused the queen’s hand out of faithfulness to me" (p. 113).
"I was laughing shrilly as I awoke because they were nailing you to a
cross" (p. 113).
Bill’s reaction to her dream is as extreme as his previous reaction
had been to her confession of her fantasy. He decides that his own
experiences seem trivial and he would conclude all of them by taking
vengeance on her – as she had revealed herself as "faithless, cruel
and treacherous, and as he now believed he hated more than he had ever
loved her" (p. 114). Once more, he concludes, he won’t live with her
any longer because things can never be the same again (p. 124). After
hearing her dream, he decides he definitely wants to lead a double
life. "And the most delightful part was that at some future time, long
after Albertina fancied herself secure in the peacefulness of marriage—
and of family life—he would confess to her, with a superior smile, all
of his sins in retribution for the bitter and shameful things she had
committed against him, in a dream" (p. 134).
One can see the unconscious structure underlying the sexuation
implicit in sexuality. Unconsciously, Bill still believes in The Woman
who exists, only this time she has taken the form of the woman who had
redeemed him at the ball, a good Woman who has risked her life for
him. He is then determined to find her. He returns to the house where
the masked ball had taken place, and a servant comes out with a letter
for him: "Give up your inquiries…we hope this will be sufficient
warning" (p.129). Later Fridolin picks up a newspaper and reads that
the Baroness D. had taken poison in a hotel room at 4:00 am. He
immediately goes to the hospital and learns that Baroness Dubieski
died there at 5:00 p.m. He begins to put the pieces together, to
realize that the imaginary Woman, the essence of the feminine that
"leads ever on", as Goethe put it, has the feature of his wife’s face.
"He now shuddered to realize his wife had been constantly in his
mind’s eye as the woman he was seeking" (p. 151-152). But he was still
driven to see if this woman was the same one he had helped at Zigler’s
party. He visits the morgue—in the book and the film—and verifies that
it is Mandy who is dead. In Dream Rhapsody, he merely takes the
Baroness’s hands, as if to revive her.
The Schnitzler story develops the theme that, given one woman has died
for him, this gives him the possibility of returning to Alice with his
own story—which is quite a different thought than that he will live
out a life of duplicity. Fridolin will tell Albertina everything he
had experienced, but describe it as if it were a dream. And if she
points out his failure, his futility, he will then tell her it was
real. At this point, he goes home and sees the mask he’d thought he’d
lost when he returned his costume, lying on his pillow. Albertina
awakes and he begins to cry, saying he will tell her his whole story.
Afterward, he asks what they should do now and she says they should be
grateful to have come unharmed out of their adventures, whether real
or dreams (p. 166). Her last line is wise: "Just as sure as I am that
the reality of one night, let alone that of a whole lifetime, is not
the whole truth" (p. 166), and he adds, "And no dream…is entirely a
dream" (p. 166). She ends by saying that now they are awake for a long
time to come (p. 166). He says "forever," and she says, more
realistically, "don’t inquire into the future" (p. 166).
In the film and in the novel, the scene with the prostitute, Domino,
occurs before the masked ball, so we know that Bill has already
decided to get even with his wife, by going to her. After Bill returns
home and hides his costume, his wife tells him her faithless dream.
The next day, he returns the costume and goes in search of Nick
Nightingale. He gets the address of Nick’s hotel and learns that Nick
had been taken away by two strong men and that he had a bruise on his
face. He left no forwarding address. Then Bill goes out to the
chateau, still looking for Nick, or for the woman who had redeemed
him. Once again he is warned. He even calls up Mariam and hangs up
when her fiancé answers. Still unable to go home, he returns to the
prostitute, with a gift for her. A roommate flirts and he opens her
blouse and touches her breasts. But, first, she feels he must know
that Domino learned just that morning she is HIV-positive. He leaves
and begins to realize he is being followed. Shortly after, he reads of
the drug overdose of an ex-beauty queen in the newspaper, Ms. Manda
Curan. Like the Baroness, she died the next afternoon. After having
verified this at the morgue, he is summoned by Dr. Zigler who tells
him all is well, but he is out of his depth. The implication is that
the people at the chateau are famous, heads of states and governments.
The hooker overdosed on her own and Nick is on his way home to his
wife and kids, says Zigler. All is well, except that Bill is not
invited to return to any ball of the sort from the evening before. A
simple costume cannot hide who you are, Zigler tells him. Indeed,
there was no second password. Moreover, Bill had left the receipt for
his rental in his coat pocket, assumedly with his name on it; and he
had arrived in a cab, while the others had come in Mercedes, and so
Back home the end occurs much like it does in the novel. Nick tells
Alice everything. They spend an awkward next day Christmas shopping
with their little girl. Only the following night can they sum up their
interpretations of their faithlessness to one another. Alice adds one
final line that is not in the novel. "I do love you and we need to
fuck as soon as possible." Such a conclusion sounds something like the
sex cure, a refutation of the "no rapport" that Lacan puts forth. But
while it also seems that this movie is about the boredom of the "no
rapport" of a typical bourgeois marriage, Bill’s thoughts of hating
Alice, his overreaction to her fantasy and her dream, reveal that it’s
really about something else. Indeed, it is about the concrete
connection of fantasy and dream to life and to the unconscious.
Bill’s excessive reaction to his wife’s fantasy and dream may be
accounted for, in Lacanian sexuation, by the theory that the man is
all enclosed within the symbolic order except for his reaching across
the bar in the sexuation graph in the sex act, the divided (castrated)
subject reaching out to an object, a beloved ( $---_a), and in his
overall relation to the inexistence of the imagined essential WOMAN,
wherein stereotypical roles and ways of thinking function as phallic
signifiers (symbolic-order conventions) that fill in the void created
by our first experiences of loss of objects ( __-_ S[(Ø]) supported by
The Woman who does not really exist. But more profoundly, man reaches
across the bar of sexual division in order to be attached to the real
of his deeper repressed feelings—sexual, vengeful, all those
constructed by loss and trauma that make up the real—by an indirect
connection to woman. It is myths and fantasies of The Woman, whom he
believes to exist and with whom he identifies at the level of phallic
signifier, taking her as master signifier—wife, mother, Madonna—that
fills the void place in the Other (Ø) through his connection to her as
essential. Thus, the burden of securing existence is placed on the
linkage of the phallic signifier—representing man here—to the void in
the Other (Ø). The myth itself of The Woman who exists fills the void
place in the Other, making him feel emotionally anchored and uniquely
supported in his sexuality.
But what of the difference between Bill, whose whole life is undone by
the shattering of this myth, and the men who go out nightly to a
masked ball where libertinage is the law of the group? At a certain
level one can speculate that they too live by the myth of "The Woman
who exists." The women they take as partners at the masquerade are
masked. Many of them are hookers—non-people to these men. Others are
famous aristocrats, women who retain the mark of honoring "The Woman
who exists" by the secretiveness of their identities. This seems to me
as viable an interpretation as that by which they are all masked
simply because repression demands secrecy when sexual norms are not
observed. There have been many historical examples of sexual orgies
where the people were not masked, such as the Profumo scandal in
England, and others. For each of these men, "The Woman who exists" may
be someone other than their partners at the orgy—maybe a mother, a
wife, a religious figure. Still, the masks of both sexes reveal that
even "unbridled" sexuality must honor repression and secrecy in some
way. Indeed, if this film were a praise to the undoing of repression
Marcusian style, the overtones of danger, threat, going beyond the
pale, wouldn’t be necessary.
The masquerade, like Bill and Alice’s marriage, reveals that there is
no sexual rapport. There is no natural sexual behavior of automatic
harmonious oneness and naturalness that prevails, be it Bill’s or
Alice’s, each of whose partner is the Other sex. Nor is there a sexual
rapport for the people at the ball who reveal that there is danger in
revealing sexual libertinage. It is quite clear that Schnitzler’s
conclusion and Kubrick’s differ. Schnitzler’s story ends with a
reunion of the couple, with the proviso that the jouissance of the One
be observed. Thus for Schnitzler there is rapport between the sexes.
Schnitzler keeps love and sex coupled, although admitting that the
fantasy and the dream bear greater resemblance to reality than one
would like to think.
Kubrick, because he follows the novel so faithfully, can be said to
differ in painting a contemporary picture of the gap between the
typical love/sex marriage and the divide between love and sex that
accompanies much of sexuality. I would conclude that Kubrick’s subtle
emphasis on the constancy of the women in the film, as juxtaposed and
contrasted to Bill who is thrown into emotional disarray, supports
Lacan’s logic of the "not [being] all" contained in symbolic
conventions for sexuation. Briefly put, the logic by which one
identifies as either male or female—not masculine or feminine—is given
in Lacan’s rewriting of Freud’s and Aristotle’s thinking about the
difference between the one and the universal. To become male, the man
must agree with other men that there is one who is omnipotent,
superhuman, uncastrated. As a result, it follows that universally
(except in psychosis) man is castrated because he must defer to the
symbolic laws and conventions which exist in the name of the exception
set up by men in the first place: _x _x _ x _x.

A social order’s laws and conventions regarding the sexual difference
structure the exception in which they, in turn, believe. Women too
share a part of this phallic castration insofar as they have one foot
in the symbolic order: _ S(Ø)

The Woman. Yet, women do not live by the logic which gives rise to the
phallic signifier as a signifier of difference between the sexes, a
signifier without a signified. Rather, women can identify with one
another in there being no exception to the rule of oneness of
identity, based on identification with woman as mother. Lacan writes
that this way in his sexuation graph: _x _x
_x _x.

There is no boundary of law of the symbolic to tell woman she must
fully agree with a symbolic set of rules. All women, being castrated—
lacking the symbol of difference that marks the male—are paradoxically
in the universal, free to identify with the real place of a lack in
the Other, and, consequently, to go one by one in their relation to
the symbolic order strictures placed on men. This interpretation,
paradoxically, makes women psychologically potentially sexually freer
than men. This is particularly true of Alice in Kubrick’s film. She is
the first to break the idyllic union of a fantasized oneness.
A final way to look at the difference between the rigid logic which
undoes Bill when an unconscious set of assumptions is shaken by
Alice’s openness about what women are really like can be seen from the
angle of the possible, impossible, necessary and contingent logics by
which Lacan rewrites the four modes of jouissance. Referring to
Aristotle’s "On Necessity," Lacan takes these as four modes of being
which he rethinks, not in terms of universals and particulars, nor
even in terms of being. Rather, he argues, these are limit points
placed on a person, limit points in a jouissance beyond which one
cannot go and still maintain imaginary ego cohesion. He divides these
between masculine and feminine modes of existence which accompany
sexuation, which explains, for example, why Alice might be thought of
as the "freer thinker" of the couple. He writes these as four modes of
negation: the necessary which does not cease writing itself; the
impossible which does not cease not writing itself; the possible which
ceases not writing itself; and the contingent which ceases writing
itself. In Lacan’s thesis the negations of jouissance yield a modal
logic from universal logical propositions, from truth, and from
existence. Lacan places the necessary on the side of man, as that
which does not cease writing itself (Lacan 1972). What does not cease
writing itself in the symbolic are the terms of an exception to the
rule on which the rule may, then, be based. Given that the masculine
is defined as an exception to the rule of not being feminine, this
logic will remain masculine within sexuation. The feminine takes up
the impossible as that which does not cease not writing itself; that
is, there is always an unfathomable, unspeakable gap at the heart of
the real which will be felt on the feminine side of sexuation. The
possible also charts its course on the side of the masculine in
sexuation. Since no universal can reduce itself to the possible, the
possible is what ceases not writing itself; perhaps castration, the
lack-in-being whole ($). A universal castration, as the terms by which
law can be given, marks the masculine side. Finally, the contingent
marks the feminine as that which ceases writing itself. Something can
step outside the bounds of writing and be known in a beyond-writing, a
beyondsex (horsexe). This supplemental enjoyment is also that which
gives rise to the possibility for change in analysis and for the
growth of love.
If we look at Bill as imprisoned within the necessary and possible,
the possible reducible only to castration and ultimately to the
universal of death, then it makes sense that he be driven within the
realms of the visible and conscious world to re-establish law—even if
it is the law of transgression—and to confront his own castration
which he accepts again at the story’s end. If we think of Alice as
having nothing to lose, insofar as the impossible already writes
intolerable conditions of the real, coupled with the contingent as
that which finds commonality with "undecidability" as well as with
"discordential logic," then it figures that she will not have the
limits bequeathed by social law that her husband has. She has always
already transgressed the symbolic in being on the side of the real
and, therefore, has access to the contingent as one mode of
The basic meaning of Kubrick’s film could thus be said to be that
there is no sexual rapport, neither in the reality of fantasy, dream,
everyday life, nor within the modes of jouissance open to men and
women in different relations to castration and the phallic law—be they
within the strictures of bourgeois morality or within the beyond-
limits of sexual freedom. "Eyes Wide Shut", taken as much more than a
film about sexual reality, is also a film about the limits of
jouissance for men and for women within the larger field of the sexual
non rapport.


Freud, S. (1913) Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement between the
Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics [1912-1913], SE 13, pp. ix-162.

Lacan, J.:
- (1972) « L’étourdit », Scilicet, no. 4 (1973), pp. 5-52.
- (1972-1973) Seminar XX: Encore, ed. by Jacques-Alain Miller, trans.
by B. Fink (New York:
Norton, 1998).
- (1991) Le séminaire, livre XVII: L’envers de la psychanalyse
(1969-1970), ed. by Jacques-Alain
Miller (Paris: Seuil); to appear translated into English by R. Grigg.

Morel, G. (1999), "The Hypothesis of Compacity in Chapter 1 of Encore:
Seminar XX", in Ragland (1999), pp. 149-160.

Ragland, E. (1999), ed., Critical Essays on Jacques Lacan (New York:
MacMillan, 1999).

Schnitzler A. (1927), Rhapsody: A Dream Novel, trans. by O. P.
Schinnerer (New York: Simon and


1)"Eyes Wide Shut," directed by Stanley Kubrick (1999).

2)Lacan (1972-73, ch. 7, "A Love Letter")


I'll present EWS from another perspective in a bit.



Nov 7, 2008, 5:40:31 AM11/7/08
Notes on Eyes Wide Shut and the Bardol Thodol

“O nobly-born, five-coloured radiances, of the Wisdom of the
Simultaneously-Born, which are the purified propensities, vibrating
and dazzling like coloured threads, flashing, radiant, and
transparent, glorious and awe-inspiring, will issue from the hearts of
the five chief Knowledge-Holding Deities and strike against thy heart,
so bright that thy eye cannot bear to look upon them.”

EWS Image

----a brief view of Bill as passing through the Bardos. (Skt.

I find the psychoanalytical Sexuality in EWS a playful Red Herring.

Lemme comment on some of this from a buddhist perspective.

In order to understand it, one has to have some background.

To begin, first a quote from A manual based on the Tibetan Book of
the Dead By Timothy Leary, Ph.D., Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., & Richard
Alpert, Ph.D.

Instructions For Sexual Visions

EWS Image:

O (name),
At this time you may see visions of mating couples.
You are convinced that an orgy is about to take place.
Desire and anticipation seize you,
You wonder what sexual performance is expected of you.
When these visions occur,
Remember to withhold yourself from action or attachment.
Humbly exercise your faith.
Float with the stream.
Trust the process with great fervency.
Meditation and trust in the unity of life are the keys.
If you attempt to enter into your old personality because you are
or repulsed,
If you try to join the orgy you are hallucinating,
You will be reborn on an animal level.
You will experience possessive desire and jealousy,
You will suffer stupidity and misery.
If you wish to avoid these miseries
Listen and recognize.
Reject the feelings of attraction or repulsion.
Remember the downward pull opposing enlightenment is strong in you.
Meditate upon unity with your fellow voyagers.
Abandon jealousy,
Be neither attracted nor repulsed by your sexual hallucinations.
If you are, you will wander in misery a long time.
Repeat these words to yourself.
And meditate on them."

This is explained:

V. Sexual Visions
Sexual visions are extremely frequent during the Third Bardo. You may
see or imagine males and females copulating.

[According to Jung. ("Psychological Commentary" to The Tibetan Book of
the Dead, Evans-Wentz edition, p. xiii),

"Freud's theory is the first attempt made in the West to investigate,
as if from below, from the animal sphere of instinct the psychic
territory that corresponds in Tantric Lamaism to the Sidpa Bardo."

The vision described here, in which the person sees mother and father
in sexual intercourse, corresponds to the "primal scene" in

At this level, then, we begin to see a remarkable convergence of
Eastern and Western psychology. Note also the exact correspondence to
the psychoanalytic theory of the Oedipus Complex.] This vision may be
internal or it may involve the people around you. You may hallucinate
multi-person orgies and experience both desire and shame, attraction
and disgust. You may wonder what sexual performance is expected of you
and have doubts about your ability to perform at this time.

Now the same passages from the original Version of the Bardo Thodol
for reference:

"There are four kinds of birth: birth by egg, birth by womb,
supernormal birth, and birth by heat and moisture. Amongst these four,
birth by egg and birth by womb agree in character.

As above said, the visions of males and females in union will appear.
If, at that time, one entereth into the womb through the feelings of
attachment and repulsion, one may be born either as a horse, a fowl, a
dog, or a human being.
EWS Image

If [about] to be born as a male, the feeling of itself being a male
dawneth upon the Knower, and a feeling of intense hatred towards the
father and of jealousy and attraction towards the mother is begotten.
If [about] to be born as a female, the feeling of itself being a
female dawneth upon the Knower, and a feeling of intense hatred
towards the mother and of intense attraction and fondness towards the
father is begotten. Through this secondary cause -- [when] entering
upon the path of ether, just at the moment when the sperm and the ovum
are about to unite -- the Knower experienceth the bliss of the
simultaneously-born state, during which state it fainteth away into
unconsciousness. [Afterwards] it findeth itself encased in oval form,
in the embryonic state, and upon emerging from the womb and opening
its eyes it may find itself transformed into a young dog. Formerly it
had been a human being, but now if it have become a dog it findeth
itself undergoing sufferings in a dog's kennel; or [perhaps] as a
young pig in a pigsty, or as an ant in an ant-hill, or as an insect,
or a grub in a hole, or as a calf, or a kid, or a lamb, from which
shape there is no [immediate] returning. Dumbness, stupidity, and
miserable intellectual obscurity are suffered, and a variety of
sufferings experienced. In like manner, one may wander into hell, or
into the world of unhappy ghosts, or throughout the Six Lokas, and
endure inconceivable miseries.

Those who are voraciously inclined towards this [i.e. sangsaric
existence], or those who do not at heart fear it -- O dreadful! O
dreadful! Alas! -- and those who have not received a guru's teachings,
will fall down into the precipitous depths of the Sangsāra in this
manner, and suffer interminably and unbearably. Rather than meet with
a like fate, listen thou unto my words and bear these teachings of
mine at heart.

Reject the feelings of attraction or repulsion, and remember one
method of closing the womb-door which I am going to show to thee.
Close the womb-door and remember the opposition. This is the time when
earnestness and pure love are necessary. As hath been said, 'Abandon
jealousy, and meditate upon the Guru Father-Mother.

As above explained, if to be born as a male, attraction towards the
mother and repulsion towards the father, and if to be born as a
female, attraction towards the father and repulsion towards the
mother, together with a feeling of jealousy [for one or the other]
which ariseth, will dawn upon thee.

For that time there is a profound teaching. O nobly-born, when the
attraction and repulsion arise, meditate as follows:

'Alas! what a being of evil karma am I! That I have wandered in the
Sangsāra hitherto, hath been owing to attraction and repulsion. If I
still go on feeling attraction and repulsion, then I shall wander in
endless Sangsāra and suffer in the Ocean of Misery for a long, long
time, by sinking therein. Now I must not act through attraction and
repulsion. Alas, for me! Henceforth I will never act through
attraction and repulsion.'

Meditating thus, resolve firmly that thou wilt hold on to that
[resolution]. It hath been said, in the Tantras, 'The door of the womb
will be closed up by that alone.'

O nobly-born, be not distracted. Hold thy mind one-pointedly upon that

The following is a short film that is a basic, visual travelogue
through the Tibetan Book of the Dead. part 1-5
beginning with part 1c you should begin to understand the connection
with EWS,

Background material for the rest of this ...........................


1b-White Light

1c---Peaceful and Wrathful Dieties---MASKS

1d-Lord of Death, Bardo of Rebith--Sexual imagery

1e-Choosing a Rebirth

The novella is of course associated with Sigmund Freud because
Schnitzler a doctor turned writer, had correspondence with Freud.
Both were very much into sexuality. The film was advertised as a
sexual film. I think all that is a humorous misdirection.

One needs to question the degree of understanding of Freudian
psychology. If Freud or it's offshoots. were truly consistent with a
full understanding of life and sexuality, the various questions would
be answered, but they weren't answered.

In reality however, Freud and it's offshoots have not been able to
answer questions about sexuality or life itself, except with
guesses. he may have been on the right track, but that track ends
far before any definitive understanding is reached.

One thing we find in Freud, which Jung resists, it a fairly
mechanistic or reductionist view attempting to elevate his work to
objective science, but he is unable to achieve this in his dream
research and in that way is as guilty of subjective interpretations as
Jung. While Freud accepted hereditary genetics he did not extend
biological genetics to any degree to hysteria/mental problems, he
blames infantile sexuality for hysteria and goes digging for traumatic
events, rejecting ideas of a pre-natal etiology. Jung on the other
hand believed in a collective unconscious, much like that found in
buddhism, where things can go awry.

Jung's study of Buddhism was a turning point for him, but his views
end up at a dead end and he fell back into his Analytic method he
did help bring interest in Buddhism to the west. His practice of
actual meditation was brief.
While Freud flounderd with his Death theories, Jung floundered in his
own shadow and sexuality.

His experience with Peyote and Psilocybin were equally brief and he
ended up saying his way was better and the psychedelics were

In a similar way we see a similar thing play out in the mind of L Ron
Hubbard. In "Dianetics" he insists "There is no Pre-natal Memory,"
in "Scientology" suddenly there is a way to go back in time before
birth, something Jung would discuss tangentially with talk of Tibetan
Buddhism, co-opting the Eight Consciousness of buddhism the "Alaya
consciousness," and calling it the "Collective unconscious."

Frankly although it is historically significant, IMO "psychoanalytic
theory" and it's offshoots, and Dianetics and Scientology, all costing
large sums of money, to pratice are pretty much the same thing and
fall short of actual yogic meditation and buddhist practice of
individuals. Similarly numerous Gurus also required large donations,
against the spirit of buddhism.


In EWS, it took Alice smoking a joint

EWS Image

to release her inhibitions to make the confession to Bill.

Freud used Cocaine for twenty years, Schnitzlers writes of characters
using Cocaine and no doubt used it himself. Jung used Cocaine and
experimented with peyote and magic mushrooms briefly.

1. Honey, have you seen my wallet?

Isn't it on the bedside table?

(turns off stereo-a. Waltz 2-misidentified on credits and soundtrack---
“Jazz Suite 2 Waltz2”-a Decca Error---
and turns off light)

says goodnight to daughter

2. Arrives at party

passes large white light Sun decorations without noticing

“do you know anyone here?”

“not a soul” (except Victor-The Winner or the Taker..)

AN image

O nobly-born, listen with full attention, without being distracted:
There are six states of Bardo, namely: the natural state of Bardo
while in the womb; the Bardo of the dream-state; the Bardo of ecstatic
equilibrium, while in deep meditation; the Bardo of the moment of
death; the Bardo [during the experiencing] of Reality; the Bardo of
the inverse process of sangsaric existence. These are the six.
O nobly-born, thou wilt experience three Bardos, the Bardo of the
moment of death, the Bardo [during the experiencing] of Reality, and
the Bardo while seeking rebirth. Of these three, up to yesterday, thou
hadst experienced the Bardo of the moment of death. Although the Clear
Light of Reality dawned upon thee, thou wert unable to hold on, and so
thou hast to wander here. Now henceforth thou art going to experience
the [other] two, the Chönyid Bardo and the Sidpa Bardo.
Thou wilt pay undistracted attention to that with which I am about to
set thee face to face, and hold on:
O nobly-born, that which is called death hath now come. Thou art
departing from this world, but thou art not the only one; [death]
cometh to all. Do not cling, in fondness and weakness, to this life.
Even though thou clingest out of weakness, thou hast not the power to
remain here. Thou wilt gain nothing more than wandering in this
Sangsāra. Be not attached [to this world]; be not weak. Remember the
Precious Trinity.
O nobly-born, whatever fear and terror may come to thee in the Chönyid
Bardo, forget not these words; and, bearing their meaning at heart, go
forwards: in them lieth the vital secret of recognition.
'Alas! when the Uncertain Experiencing of Reality is dawning upon me
With every thought of fear or terror or awe for all [apparitional
appearances] set aside,
May I recognize whatever [visions] appear, as the reflections of mine
own consciousness;
May I know them to be of the nature of apparitions in the Bardo:
When at this all-important moment [of opportunity] of achieving a
great end,
May I not fear the bands of Peaceful and Wrathful [Deities], mine own
Repeat thou these [verses] clearly, and remembering their significance
as thou repeatest them, go forwards, [O nobly-born]. Thereby, whatever
visions of awe or terror appear, recognition is certain; and forget
not this vital secret art lying therein.
O nobly-born, when thy body and mind were separating, thou must have
experienced a glimpse of the Pure Truth, subtle, sparkling, bright,
dazzling, glorious, and radiantly awesome, in appearance like a mirage
moving across a landscape in spring-time in one continuous stream of
vibrations. Be not daunted thereby, nor terrified, nor awed. That is
the radiance of thine own true nature. Recognize it.
From the midst of that radiance, the natural sound of Reality,
reverberating like a thousand thunders simultaneously sounding, will
come. That is the natural sound of thine own real self. Be not daunted
thereby, nor terrified, nor awed.
The body which thou hast now is called the thought-body of
propensities. Since thou hast not a material body of flesh and blood,
whatever may come -- sounds, lights, or rays -- are, all three, unable
to harm thee: thou art incapable of dying. It is quite sufficient for
thee to know that these apparitions are thine own thought-forms.
Recognize this to be the Bardo.
O nobly-born, if thou dost not now recognize thine own thought-forms,
whatever of meditation or of devotions thou mayst have performed while
in the human world -- if thou hast not met with this present teaching
-- the lights will daunt thee, the sounds will awe thee, and the rays
will terrify thee. Shouldst thou not know this all-important key to
the teachings -- not being able to recognize the sounds, lights, and
rays -- thou wilt have to wander in the Sangsāra.

The First Day]
O nobly-born, thou hast been in a swoon during the last three and one-
half days. As soon as thou art recovered from this swoon, thou wilt
have the thought, 'what hath happened!'
Act so that thou wilt recognize the Bardo. At that time, all the
Sangsāra will be in revolution; and the phenomenal appearances that
thou wilt see then will be the radiances and deities. The whole heaves
will appear deep blue.
Then, from the Central Realm, called the Spreading Forth of the Seed,
the Bhagavān Vairochana, white in colour, and seated upon a lion-
throne, bearing an eight-spoked wheel in his hand, and embraced by the
Mother of the Space of Heaven, will manifest himself to thee.
It is the aggregate of matter resolved into its primordial state which
is the blue light.
The Wisdom of the Dharma-Dhātu, blue in colour, shining, transparent,
glorious, dazzling, from the heart of Vairochana as the Father-Mother,
will shoot forth and strike against thee with a light so radiant that
thou wilt scarcely be able to look at it.
Along with it, there will also shine a dull white light from the
devas, which will strike against thee in thy front.
Thereupon, because of the power of bad karma, the glorious blue light
of the Wisdom of the Dharma-Dhātu will produce in thee fear and
terror, and thou wilt [with to] flee from it. Thou wilt beget a
fondness for the dull white light of the devas.
At this stage, thou must not be awed by the divine blue light which
will appear shining, dazzling, and glorious; and be not startled by
it. That is the light of the Tathagata called the Light of the Wisdom
of the Dharma-Dhātu. Put thy faith in it, believe in it firmly, and
pray unto it, thinking in thy mind that it is the light proceeding
from the heart of the Bhagavān Vairochana coming to receive thee while
in the dangerous ambuscade of the Bardo. That light is the light of
the grace of Vairochana.
Be not fond of the dull white light of the devas. Be not attached [to
it]; be not weak. If thou be attached to it, thou wilt wander into the
abodes of the devas and be drawn into the whirl of the Six Lokas. That
is an interruption to obstruct thee on the Path of Liberation. Look
not at it. Look at the bright blue light in deep faith. Put thy whole
thought earnestly upon Vairochana and repeat after me this prayer:
'Alas! when wandering in the Sangsāra, because of intense stupidity,
On the radiant light-path of the Dharma-Dhātu Wisdom
May [I] be led by the Bhagavān Vairochana,
May the Divine Mother of Infinite Space by [my] rearguard;
May [I] be led safely across the fearful ambush of the Bardo;
May [I] be placed in the state of the All-Perfect Buddhahood.'
Praying thus, in intense humble faith, [thou] wilt merge, in halo of
rainbow light, into the heart of Vairochana, and obtain Buddhahood in
the Sambhoga-Kāya, in the Central Realm of the Densely-Packed.
[The Second Day]
But if, notwithstanding this setting-face-to-face, through power of
anger or obscuring karma one should be startled at the glorious light
and flee, or be overcome by illusions, despite the prayer, on the
Second Day, Vajra-Sattva and his attendant deities, as well as one's
evil deeds [meriting] Hell, will come to receive one.
Thereupon the setting-face-to-face is, calling the deceased by name,
O nobly-born, listen undistractedly. On the Second Day the pure form
of water will shine as a white light. At that time, from the deep blue
Eastern Realm of Pre-eminent Happiness, the Bhagavān Akshobhya [as]
Vajra-Sattva, blue in colour, holding in his hand a five-pronged
dorje, seated upon an elephant-throne, and embraced by the Mother
Māmakī, will appear to thee, attended by the Bodhisattvas Kshitigarbha
and Maitreya, with the female Bodhisattvas, Lasema and Pushpema. These
six Bodhic deities will appear to thee.
The aggregate of thy principle of consciousness, being in it's pure
form -- which is the Mirror-like Wisdom -- will shine as a bright,
radiant white light, from the heart of Vajra-Sattva, the Father-
Mother, with such dazzling brilliancy and transparency that thou wilt
scarcely be able to look at it, [and] will strike against thee. And a
dull, smoke-coloured light from Hell will shine alongside the light of
the Mirror-like Wisdom and will [also] strike against thee.
Thereupon, through the power of anger, thou wilt beget fear and be
startled at the dazzling white light and wilt [wish to] flee from it;
thou wilt beget a feeling of fondness for the dull smoke-coloured
light from Hell. Act then so that thou wilt not fear that bright,
dazzling, transparent white light. Know it to be Wisdom. Put thy
humble and earnest faith in it. That is the light of the grace of the
Bhagavān Vajra-Sattva. Think, with faith, 'I will take refuge in it';
and pray.
That is the Bhagavān Vajra-Sattva coming to receive thee and to save
thee from the fear and terror of the Bardo. Believe in it; for it is
the hook of the rays of grace of Vajra-Sattva.
Be not fond of the dull, smoke-coloured light from Hell. That is the
path which openeth out to receive thee because of the power of
accumulated evil karma from violent anger. If thou be attracted by it,
thou wilt fall into the Hell-Worlds; and, falling therein, thou wilt
have to endure unbearable misery, whence there is not certain time of
getting out. That being an interruption to obstruct thee on the Path
of Liberation, look not at it; and avoid anger. Be not attracted by
it; be not weak. Believe in the dazzling bright white light; [and]
putting thy whole heart earnestly upon the Bhagavān Vajra-Sattva, pray
'Alas! when wandering in the Sangsāra because of the power of violent
On the radiant light-path of the Mirror-like Wisdom,
May [I] be led by the Bhagavān Vajra-Sattva,
May the Divine Mother Māmakī be [my] rear-guard;
May [I] be led safely across the fearful ambush of the Bardo;
And may [I] be placed in the state of the All-perfect Buddhahood.'
Praying thus, in intense humble faith, thou wilt merge, in rainbow
light, into the heart of the Bhagavān Vajra-Sattva and obtain
Buddhahood in the Sambhoga-Kāya, in the Eastern Realm called Pre-
eminently Happy.

[The Third Day]
Yet, even when set face to face in this way, some persons, because of
obscurations from bad karma, and from pride, although the hook of the
rays of grace [striketh against them], flee from it. [If one be one of
them], then, on the Third Day, the Bhagavān Ratna-Sambhava and his
accompanying deities, along with the light-path from the human world,
will come to receive one simultaneously.
Again, calling the deceased by name, the setting-face-to-face is thus:
O nobly-born, listen undistractedly. On the Third Day the primal form
of the element earth will shine forth as a yellow light. At that time,
from the Southern Realm Endowed with Glory, the Bhagavān Ratna-
Sambhava, yellow in colour bearing a jewel in his hand, seated upon a
horse-throne and embraced by the Divine Mother Sangyay-Chanma, will
shine upon thee.
The two Bodhisattvas, Ākāsha-Barbha and Samanta-Bhadra, attended by
the two female Bodhisattvas, Mahlaima and Dhupema -- in all, six
Bodhic forms -- will come to shine from amidst a rainbow halo of
light. The aggregate of touch in its primal form, as the yellow light
of the Wisdom of Equality, dazzlingly yellow, glorified with orbs
having satellite orbs of radiance, so clear and bright that the eye
can scarcely look upon it, will strike against thee. Side by side with
it, the dull bluish-yellow light from the human [world] will also
strike against thy heart, along with the Wisdom light.
Thereupon, through the power of egotism, thou wilt beget a fear for
the dazzling yellow light and wilt [with to] flee from it. Thou wilt
be fondly attracted towards the dull bluish-yellow light from the
human [world].
At that time do not fear that bright, dazzling-yellow, transparent
light, but know it to be Wisdom; in that state, keeping thy mind
resigned, trust in it earnestly and humbly. If thou knowest it to be
the radiance of thine own intellect -- although thou exertest not thy
humility and faith and prayer to it -- the Divine Body and Light will
merge into thee inseparably, and thou wilt obtain Buddhahood.
If thou dost not recognize the radiance of thine own intellect, think,
with faith, 'It is the radiance of the grace of the Bhagavān Ratna-
Sambhava; I will take refuge in it'; and pray. It is the hook of the
grace-rays of the Bhagavān Ratna-Sambhava; believe in it.
Be not fond of that dull bluish-yellow light from the human [world].
That is the path of thine accumulated propensities of violent egotism
come to receive thee. If thou art attracted by it, thou wilt be born
in the human world and have to suffer birth, age, sickness, and death;
and thou wilt have no chance of getting out of the quagmire of worldly
existence. That is an interruption to obstruct thy path of liberation.
Therefore, look not upon it, and abandon egotism, abandon
propensities; be not attracted towards it; be not weak. Act so as to
trust in that bright dazzling light. Put thine earnest thought, one-
pointedly, upon the Bhagavān Ratna-Sambhava; and pray thus:
'Alas! when wandering in the Sangsāra because of the power of violent
on the radiant light-path of the Wisdom of Equality,
May [I] be led by the Bhagavān Ratna-Sambhava;
May the Divine Mother, She-of-the-Buddha-Eye, be [my] rear-guard;
May [I] be led safely across the fearful ambush of the Bardo;
And may [I] be placed in the state of the All-Perfect Buddhahood.'
By praying thus, with deep humility and faith, thou wilt merge into
the heart of the Bhagavān Ratna-Sambhava, the Divine Father-Mother, in
halo of rainbow light, and attain Buddhahood in the Sambhoga-Kāya, in
the Southern Realm Endowed with Glory.
[The Fourth Day]
By thus being set face to face, however weak the mental faculties may
be, there is no doubt of one's gaining Liberation. Yet, though so
often set face to face, there are classes of men who, having created
much bad karma, or having failed in observance of vows, or, their lot
[for higher development] being altogether lacking, prove unable to
recognize: their obscurations and evil karma from covetousness and
miserliness produce awe of the sounds and radiances, and they flee.
[If one be of these classes], then, on the Fourth Day, the Bhagavān
Amitābha and his attendant deities, together with the light-path from
the Preta-loka, proceeding from miserliness and attachment, will come
to receive one simultaneously.
Again, the setting-face-to-face is, calling the deceased by name,
O nobly-born, listen undistractedly. On the Fourth Day the red light,
which is the primal form of the element fire, will shine. At that
time, from the Red Western Realm of Happiness, the Bhagavān Buddha
Amitābha, red in colour, bearing a lotus in his hand, seated upon a
peacock-throne and embraced by the Divine Mother Gökarmo, will shine
upon thee, [together with] the Bodhisattvas Chenrazee and Jampal,
attended by the female Bodhisattvas Ghirdhima and Āloke. The six
bodies of Enlightenment will shine upon thee from amidst a halo of
rainbow light.
The primal form of the aggregate of feelings as the red light of the
All-Discriminating Wisdom, glitteringly red, glorified with orbs and
satellite orbs, bright, transparent, glorious and dazzling, proceeding
from the heart of the Divine Father-Mother Amitābha, will strike
against thy heart [so radiantly] that thou wilt scarcely be able to
look upon it. Fear it not.
Along with it, a dull red light from the Preta-loka, coming side by
side with the Light of Wisdom, will also shine upon thee. Act so that
thou shalt not be fond of it. Abandon attachment [and] weakness [for
At that time, through the influence of intense attachment, thou wilt
become terrified by the dazzling red light, and wilt [wish to] flee
from it. And thou wilt beget a fondness for that dull red light of the
At that time, be not afraid of the glorious, dazzling, transparent,
radiant red light. Recognizing it as Wisdom, keeping thine intellect
in a state of resignation, thou wilt merge [into it] inseparably and
attain Buddhahood.
If thou dost not recognize it, think, 'It is the rays of the grace of
the Bhagavān Amitābha, and I will take refuge in it'; and, trusting
humbly in it, pray unto it. That is the hook-rays of the grace of the
Bhagavān Amitābha. Trust in it humbly; flee not. Even if thou fleest,
it will follow thee inseparably [from thyself]. Fear it not. Be not
attracted towards the dull red light of the Preta-loka. That is the
light-path proceeding from the accumulations of thine intense
attachment [to sangsaric existence] which hath come to receive thee.
If thou be attached thereto, thou wilt fall into the World of Unhappy
Spirits and suffer unbearable misery from hunger and thirst. Thou wilt
have no chance of gaining Liberation [therein]. That dull red light is
an interruption to obstruct thee on the Path of Liberation. Be not
attached to it, and abandon habitual propensities. Be not weak. Trust
in the bright dazzling red light. In the Bhagavān Amitābha, the Father-
Mother, put thy trust one-pointedly and pray thus:
'Alas! when wandering in the Sangsāra because of the power of intense
On the radiant light-path of the Discriminating Wisdom
May [I] be led by the Bhagavān Amitābha,
May the Divine Mother, She-of-White-Raiment, be [my] rear-guard;
May [I] be safely led across the dangerous ambush of the Bardo;
And may [I] be placed in the state of the All-Perfect Buddhahood.'
By praying thus, humbly and earnestly, thou wilt merge into the heart
of the Divine Father-Mother, the Bhagavān Amitābha, in halo of rainbow-
light, and attain Buddhahood in the Sambhoga-Kāya, in the Western
Realm named Happy.
[The Fifth Day]
It is impossible that one should not be liberated thereby. Yet, though
thus set face to face, sentient beings, unable through long
association with propensities to abandon propensities, and, through
bad karma and jealousy, awe and terror being produced by the sounds
and radiances -- the hook-rays of grace failing to catch hold of them
-- wander down also to the Fifth Day. [If one be such a sentient
being], thereupon the Bhagavān Amogha-Siddhi, with his attendant
deities and the light and rays of his grace, will come to receive one.
A light proceeding from the Asura-loka, produced by the evil passion
of jealousy, will also come to receive one.
The setting-face-to-face at that time is, calling the deceased by
name, thus:
O nobly-born, listen undistractedly. On the Fifth Day, the green light
of the primal form of the element air will shine upon thee. At that
time, from the Green Northern Realm of Successful Performance of Best
Actions, the Bhagavān Buddha Amogha-Siddhi, green in colour, bearing a
crossed-dorje in hand, seated upon a sky-traversing Harpy-throne,
embraced by the Divine Mother, the Faithful Dölma, will shine upon
thee, with his attendants -- the two Bodhisattvas Chag-na-Dorje and
Dibpanamsel, attended by two female Bodhisattvas, Gandhema and
Nidhema. These six Bodhic forms, from amidst a halo of rainbow light,
will come to shine.
The primal form of the aggregate of volition, shining as the green
light of the All-Performing Wisdom, dazzlingly green, transparent and
radiant, glorious and terrifying, beautified with orbs surrounded by
satellite orbs of radiance, issuing from the heart of the Divine
Father-Mother Amogha-Siddhi, green in colour, will strike against thy
heart [so wondrously bright] that thou wilt scarcely be able to look
at it. Fear it not. That is the natural power of the wisdom of thine
own intellect. Abide in the state f great resignation of impartiality.
Along with it [i.e. the green light of the All-Performing Wisdom], a
light of dull green colour from the Asura-loka, produced from the
cause of the feeling of jealousy, coming side by side with the Wisdom
Rays, will shine upon thee. Meditate upon it with impartiality, --
with neither repulsion nor attraction. Be not fond of it: if thou art
of low mental capacity, be not fond of it.
Thereupon, through the influence of intense jealousy, thou wilt be
terrified at the dazzling radiance of the green light and wilt [with
to] flee from it; and thou wilt beget a fondness for that dull green
light of the Asura-loka. At that time fear not the glorious and
transparent, radiant and dazzling green light, but know it to be
Wisdom; and in that state allow thine intellect to rest in
resignation. Or else [think], 'It is the hook-rays of the light of
grace of the Bhagavān Amogha-Siddhi, which is the All-Performing
Wisdom.' Believe [thus] on it. Flee not from it.
Even though thou shouldst flee from it, it will follow thee
inseparably [from thyself]. Fear it not. Be not fond of that dull
green light of the Asura-loka. That is the karmic path of acquired
intense jealousy, which hath come to receive thee. If thou art
attracted by it, thou wilt fall into the Asura-loka and have to engage
in unbearable miseries of quarrelling and warfare. [That is an]
interruption to obstruct thy path of liberation. Be not attracted by
it. Abandon thy propensities. Be not weak. Trust in the dazzling green
radiance, and putting thy whole thought one-pointedly upon the Divine
Father-Mother, the Bhagavān Amogha-Siddhi, pray thus:
'Alas! when wandering in the Sangsāra because of the power of intense
On the radiant light-path of the All-Performing Wisdom
May[I] be led by the Bhagavān Amogha-Siddhi;
May the Divine Mother, the Faithful Tārā, be [my] rear-guard;
May [I] be led safely across the dangerous ambush of the Bardo;
And may [I] be placed in the state of the All-Perfect Buddhahood.'
By prayer thus with intense faith and humility, thou wilt merge into
the heart of the Divine Father-Mother, the Bhagavān Amogha-Siddhi, in
halo of rainbow light, and attain Buddhahood in the Sambhoga-Kāya, in
the Northern Realm of Heaped-up Good Deeds.
[The Sixth Day]
Being thus set face to face at various stages, however weak one's
karmic connexions may be, one should have recognized in one or the
other of them; and where one has recognized in any of them it is
impossible not to be liberated. Yet, although set face to face so very
often in that manner, one long habituated to strong propensities and
lacking in familiarity with, and pure affection for, Wisdom, may be
led backwards by the power of one's own evil inclinations despite
these many introductions. The hook-rays of the light of grace may not
be able to catch hold of one: one may still wander downwards because
of one's begetting the feeling of awe and terror of the lights and
Thereupon all the Divine Fathers-Mothers of the Five Orders [of Dhyani
Buddhas] with their attendants will come to shine upon one
simultaneously. At the same time, the lights proceeding from the Six
Lokas will likewise come to shine upon one simultaneously.
The setting-face-to-face for that is, calling the deceased by name,
O nobly-born, until yesterday each of the Five Orders of Deities had
shone upon thee, one by one; and thou hadst been set face to face,
but, owing to the influence of thine evil propensities, thou wert awed
and terrified by them and hast remained here till now.
If thou hadst recognized the radiances of the Five Orders of Wisdom to
be the emanations from thine own thought-forms, ere this thou wouldst
have obtained Buddhahood in the Sambhoga-Kāya, through having been
absorbed into the halo of rainbow light in one or another of the Five
Orders of Buddhas. But now look on undistractedly. Now the lights of
all Five Orders, called the Lights of the Union of Four Wisdoms, will
come to receive thee. Act so as to know them.
O nobly-born, on this the Sixth Day, the four colours of the primal
states of the four elements [water, earth, fire, air] will shine upon
thee simultaneously. At that time, from the Central Realm of the
Spreading Forth of See, the Buddha Vairochana, the Divine Father-
Mother, with the attendant [deities], will come to shine upon thee.
From the Eastern Realm of Pre-eminent Happiness, the Buddha Vajra-
Sattva, the Divine Father-Mother, with the attendant [deities] will
come to shine upon thee. From the Southern Realm endowed with Glory,
the Buddha Ratna-Sambhava, the Divine Father-Mother, with the
attendant [deities] will come to shine upon thee. From the Happy
Western Realm of Heaped-up Lotuses, the Buddha Amitābha, the Divine
Father-Mother, along with the attendant [deities] will come to shine
upon thee. From the Northern Realm of Perfected Good Deeds, the Buddha
Amogha-Siddhi, the Divine Father-Mother, along with the attendants
will come, amidst a halo of rainbow light, to shine upon thee at this
very moment.
'O nobly-born, on the outer circle of these five pair of Dhyani
Buddhas, the [four] Door-Keepers, the Wrathful [Ones]: the Victorious
One, the Destroyer of the Lord of Death, the Horse-necked King, the
Urn of Nectar, with the four female Door-keepers: the Goad-Bearer, the
Noose-Bearer, the Chain-Bearer, and the Bell-Bearer; along with the
Buddha of the Devas, named the One of Supreme Power, the Buddha of the
Asuras, named [He of] Strong Texture, the Buddha of Mankind, named the
Lion of the Shakyas, the Buddha of the brute kingdom, named the
Unshakable Lion, the Buddha of the Pretas, named the One of Flaming
Mouth, and the Buddha of the Lower World, named the King of Truth: --
[these], the Eight Father-Mother Door-keepers and the Six Teachers,
the Victorious Ones -- will come to shine, too.
The All-Good Father, and the All-Good Mother, the Great Ancestors of
all the Buddhas: Samata-Bhadra [and Samanta-Bhadrā], the Divine Father
and the Divine Mother -- these two, also will come to shine.
These forty-two perfectly endowed deities, issuing from within thy
heart, being the product of thine own pure love, will come to shine.
Know them.
O nobly-born, these realms are not come from somewhere outside
[thyself]. They come from within the four divisions of thy heart,
which, including its centre, make the five directions. They issue from
within there, and whine upon thee. The deities, too, are not come from
somewhere else: they exist from eternity within the faculties of thine
own intellect. Know them to be of that nature.
O nobly-born, the size of all these deities is not large, not small,
[but] proportionate. [They have] their ornaments, their colours, their
sitting postures, their thrones, and the emblems that each holds.
These deities are formed into groups of five pairs, each group of five
being surrounded by a fivefold circle of radiances, the male
Bodhisattvas partaking of the nature of the Divine Fathers, and the
female Bodhisattvas partaking of the nature of the Divine Mothers. All
these divine conclaves will come to shine upon thee in one complete
conclave. They are thine own tutelary deities. Know them to be such.
O nobly-born, from the hearts of the Divine Fathers and Mothers of the
Five Orders, the rays of light of the Four Wisdoms united, extremely
clear and fine, like the rays of the sun spun into threads, will come
and shine upon thee and strike against thy heart.
On that path of radiance there will come to shine glorious orbs of
lights, blue in colour, emitting rays, the Dharma-Dhātu Wisdom
[itself], each appearing like an inverted turquoise cup, surrounded by
similar orbs, smaller in size, more glorious with five yet smaller
[satellite] orbs dotted round about with five starry spots of light of
the same nature, leaving neither the centre nor the borders [of the
blue light-path] unglorified by the orbs and the smaller [satellite]
From the heart of Vajra-Sattva, the white light-path of the Mirror-
like Wisdom, white and transparent, glorious and dazzling, glorious
and terrifying, made more glorious with orbs surrounded by smaller
orbs of transparent and radiant light upon it, each like an inverted
mirror, will come to shine.
From the heart of Ratna-Sambhava, the yellow light-path of the Wisdom
of Equality, [glorified] with yellow orbs [of radiance], each like an
inverted gold cup, surrounded by smaller orbs, and these with yet
smaller orbs, will come to shine.
From the heart of Amitābha, the transparent, bright red light-path of
the Discriminating Wisdom, upon which are ors, like inverted coral
cups, emitting rays of Wisdom, extremely bright and dazzling, each
glorified with five [satellite] orbs of the same nature -- leaving
neither the centre nor the borders [of the red light-path] unglorified
with orbs and smaller satellite orbs -- will come to shine.
These will come to shine against thy heart simultaneously.

O nobly-born, all those are the radiances of thine own intellectual
faculties come to shine. They have not come from any other place. Be
not attracted towards them; be not weak; be not terrified; but abide
in the mood of non-thought-formation. In that state all the forms and
radiances will merge into thyself, and Buddhahood will be obtained.
The green light-path of the Wisdom of Perfected Actions will not shine
upon thee, because the Wisdom-faculty of thine intellect hath not been
perfectly developed.
O nobly-born, those are called the Lights of the Four Wisdoms United,
[whence proceeds that] which is called the Inner Path through Vajra-
At that time, thou must remember the teachings of the setting-face-to-
face which thou hast had from thy guru. If thou hast remembered the
purport of the settings-face-to-face, thou wilt have recognized all
these lights which have shone upon thee, as being the reflection of
thine own inner light, and, having recognized them as intimate
friends, thou wilt have believed in them and have understood [them at]
the meeting, as a son understandeth his mother.
And believing in the unchanging nature of the pure and holy Truth,
thou wilt have had produced in thee the tranquil-flowing Samādhi; and,
having merged into the body of the perfectly evolved intellect, thou
wilt have obtained Buddhahood in the Sambhoga-Kāya, whence there is no
O nobly-born, along with the radiances of Wisdom, the impure illusory
lights of the Six Lokas will also come to shine. If it be asked, 'What
are they?' [they are] a dull white light from the devas, a dull green
light from the asuras, a dull yellow light from human beings, a dull
blue light from the brutes, a dull reddish light from the pretas, and
a dull smoke-coloured light from Hell. These six thus will come to
shine, along with the six radiances of Wisdom; whereupon, be not
afraid of nor be attracted towards any, but allow thyself to rest in
the non-thought condition.
If thou art frightened by the pure radiances of Wisdom and attracted
by the impure lights of the Six Lokas, then thou wilt assume a body in
any of the Six Lokas and suffer sangsaric miseries; and thou wilt
never be emancipated from the Ocean of Sangsāra , wherein thou wilt be
whirled round and round and made to taste of the sufferings thereof.
O nobly-born, if thou art one who hath not obtained the select words
of the guru, thou wilt have fear of the pure radiances of Wisdom and
of the deities thereof. Being thus frightened, thou wilt be attracted
towards the impure sangsaric objects. Act not so. Humbly trust in the
dazzling pu7re radiances of Wisdom. Frame thy mind to faith, and
think, 'The compassionate radiances of Wisdom of the Five Orders of
Buddhas have come to take hold of me out of compassion; I take refuge
in them.'
Not yielding to attraction towards the illusory lights of the Six
Lokas, but devoting thy whole mind one-pointedly towards the Divine
Fathers and Mothers, the Buddhas of the Five Orders, pray thus:
'Alas! when wandering in the Sangsāra through the power of the five
virulent poisons,
On the bright radiance-path of the Four Wisdoms united,
May [I] be led by the Five Victorious Conquerors,
May the Five Orders of Divine Mothers be [my] rear-guard;
May [I] be rescued from the impure light-paths of the Six Lokas;
And, being saved from the ambuscades of the dread Bardo,
May [I] be placed within the five pure Divine Realms.'
By thus praying, one recognizeth one's own inner light; and, merging
one's self therein, in at-one-ment, Buddhahood is attained: through
humble faith, the ordinary devotee cometh to know himself, and
obtaineth Liberation; even the most lowly, by the power f the pure
prayer, can close the doors of the Six Lokas, and, in understanding
the real meaning of the Four Wisdoms united, obtain Buddhahood by the
hollow pathway through Vajra-Sattva.
Thus by being set face to face in that detailed manner, those who are
destined to be liberated will come to recognize [the Truth]; thereby
many will attain Liberation.
The worst of the worst, [those] of heavy evil karma, having not the
least predilection for any religion -- and some who have failed in
their vows -- through the power of karmic illusions, not recognizing,
although set face to face [with Truth], will stray downwards.
[The Seventh Day]
On the Seventh Day, the Knowledge-Holding Deities, from the holy
paradise realms, come to receive on. Simultaneously, the pathway to
the brute world, produced by the obscuring passion, stupidity, also
cometh to receive one. The setting-face-to-face at that time is,
calling the deceased by name, thus:
O nobly-born, listen undistractedly. On the Seventh Day the vari-
coloured radiance of the purified propensities will come to shine.
Simultaneously, the Knowledge-Holding Deities, from the holy paradise
realms, will come to receive one.
From the centre of the Circle [or Mandala], enhaloed in radiance of
rainbow light, the supreme Knowledge-Holding [Deity], the Lotus Lord
of Dance, the Supreme Knowledge-Holder Who Ripens Karmic Fruits,
radiant with all the five colours, embraced by the [Divine] Mother,
the Red Dākinī, [he] holding a crescent knife and a skull [filled]
with blood, dancing and making the mudrā of fascination, [with his
right hand held] aloft, will come to shine.
To the east of that Circle, the deity called the Earth-Abiding
Knowledge-Holder, white of colour, with radiant smiling countenance,
embraced by the White Dākinī, the [Divine] Mother, [he] holding a
crescent knife and a skull [filled] with blood, dancing and making the
mudrā of fascination, [with his right hand held] aloft, will come to
To the south of that Circle, the Knowledge-Holding Deity called [He]
Having Power Over Duration of Life, yellow in colour, smiling and
radiant, embraced by the Yellow Dākinī, the [Divine] Mother, [he]
holding a crescent knife and a skull [filled] with blood, dancing and
making the mudrā of fascination, [with his right hand held] aloft,
will come to shine.
To the west of that Circle, the Knowledge-Holding Deity of the Great
Symbol, red of colour, smiling and radiant, embraced by the Red
Dākinī, the [Divine] Mother, [he] holding a crescent knife and a skull
[filled] with blood, dancing and making the mudrā of fascination,
[with his right hand held] aloft, will come to shine.
To the north of that Circle, the deity called Self-Evolved Knowledge-
Holder, green of colour, with a half-angry, half-smiling countenance,
embraced by the Green Dākinī, the [Divine] Mother, [he] holding a
crescent knife and a skull [filled] with blood, dancing and making the
mudrā of fascination, [with his right hand held] aloft, will come to
In the Outer Circle, round about these Knowledge-Holders, innumerable
bands of dākinīs -- dākinīs of the eight places of cremation, dākinīs
of the four classes, dākinīs of the three abodes, dākinīs of the
thirty holy-places and of the twenty-four places of pilgrimage --
heroes, heroines, celestial warriors, and faith-protecting deities,
male and female, each bedecked with the six bone-ornaments, having
drums and thigh-bone trumpets, skull-timbrels, banners of gigantic
human[-like] hides, human-hide canopies, human-hide bannerettes, fumes
of human-fat incense, and innumerable [other] kinds of musical
instruments, filling [with music] the whole world-systems and causing
them to vibrate, to quake and tremble with sounds so mighty as to daze
one's brain, and dancing various measures, will come to receive the
faithful and punish the unfaithful.
O nobly-born, five-coloured radiances, of the Wisdom of the
Simultaneously-Born, which are the purified propensities, vibrating
and dazzling like coloured threads, flashing, radiant, and
transparent, glorious and awe-inspiring, will issue from the hearts of
the five chief Knowledge-Holding Deities and strike against thy heart,
so bright that thy eye cannot bear to look upon them.
At the same time, a dull blue light from the brute world will come to
shine along with the Radiances of Wisdom. Then, through the influence
of the illusions of thy propensities, thou wilt feel afraid of the
radiance of the five colours; and [wishing to] flee from it, thou wilt
feel attracted towards the dull light from the brute-world. Thereupon,
be not afraid of that brilliant radiance of five colours, nor
terrified; but know the Wisdom to be thine own.
Within those radiances, the natural sound of the Truth will
reverberate like a thousand thunders. The sound will come with a
rolling reverberation, [amidst which] will be heard, 'Slay! Slay!' and
awe-inspiring mantras. Fear not. Flee not. Be not terrified. Know them
[i.e. these sounds] to be [of] the intellectual faculties of thine own
[inner] light.
Be not attracted towards the dull blue light of the brute-world; be
not weak. If thou art attracted, thou wilt fall into the brute-world,
wherein stupidity predominates, and suffer the illimitable miseries of
slavery and dumbness and stupidness; and it will be a very long time
ere thou canst get out. Be not attracted towards it. Put thy faith in
the bright, dazzling, five-coloured radiance. Direct thy mind one-
pointedly towards the deities, the Knowledge-Holding Conquerors.
Think, one-pointedly, thus: 'These Knowledge-Holding Deities, the
Heroes, and the Dākinīs have come from the holy paradise realms to
receive me; I supplicate them all: up to this day, although the Five
Orders of the Buddhas of the Three Times have all exerted the rays of
their grace and compassion, yet have I not been rescued by them. Alas,
for a being like me! May the Knowledge-Holding Deities not let me go
downwards further than this, but hold me with the hook of their
compassion, and lead me to the holy paradises.'
Thinking in that manner, one-pointedly, pray thus:
'O ye Knowledge-Holding Deities, pray hearken unto me;
Lead me on the Path, out of your great love
When {I am] wandering in the Sangsāra, because of intensified
On the bright light-path of the Simultaneously-born Wisdom
May the bands of Heroes, the Knowledge-Holders, lead me;
May the bands of the Mothers, the dākinīs, be [my] rear-guard;
May they save me from the fearful ambuscades of the Bardo,
And place me in the pure Paradise Realms.'
Praying thus, in deep faith and humility, there is no doubt that one
will be born within the pure Paradise Realms, after being merged, in
rainbow-light, into the heart of the Knowledge-Holding Deities.
All the pandit classes, too, coming to recognize at this stage, obtain
liberation; even those of evil propensities being sure to be liberated
Here endeth the part of the Great Thödol concerned with the setting-
face-to-face of the Peaceful [Deities] of the Chönyid Bardo and the
setting-face-to-face of the Clear Light of the Chikhai Bardo.

To be continued and imagery added..:)



Nov 7, 2008, 2:12:24 PM11/7/08
The most spectacular effects in EWS is the lights and colors of the

“O nobly-born, five-coloured radiances, of the Wisdom of the
Simultaneously-Born, which are the purified propensities, vibrating
and dazzling like coloured threads, flashing, radiant, and
transparent, glorious and awe-inspiring, will issue from the hearts of
the five chief Knowledge-Holding Deities and strike against thy heart,
so bright that thy eye cannot bear to look upon them.”

These images are only a taste of the colors.

Multi colored Images

Title EWS

2001 Image

“O nobly-born, along with the radiances of Wisdom, the impure illusory

lights of the Six Lokas will also come to shine. If it be asked, 'What
are they?'

[they are] a dull white light from the devas,-RAPTURE REALM

a dull green light from the asuras, -ANGER REALM

a dull yellow light from human beings, -HUMAN REALM

a dull blue light from the brutes, ---ANIMALITY REALM (see Jikkai

a dull reddish light from the pretas, --HUNGER REALM

and a dull smoke-coloured light from Hell.

These six thus will come to shine, along with the six radiances of
Wisdom; whereupon, be not afraid of nor be attracted towards any, but
allow thyself to rest in the non-thought condition.
If thou art frightened by the pure radiances of Wisdom and attracted
by the impure lights of the Six Lokas, then thou wilt assume a body in
any of the Six Lokas and suffer sangsaric miseries; and thou wilt
never be emancipated from the Ocean of Sangsāra , wherein thou wilt be

The "Six Lokas," called the SIX LOWER LIFE STATES penetrate one
another. (See Mutual Possession of the Ten Life States or Mutual
There are predominant life States and Changeling Life States.

In EWS we also see the Clear Light, the Peaceful and Wrathful Dieties,
the Sexual Visions, the failures to "recognize the Clear light"

and the "Wandering through Samsaric illusions,"

Beside the SIX LOWER, we see the TWO Life States of Learning and Self-

The Ninth Life State of Bodhisattva we see in the love and caring
for Bill and Alice's Daughter, Bill's doctoring, his concern about
Mandy and Nick

The Tenth Life State of Enlightenment---easily seen at the end of 2001
a Space Oddysey, is more obscure in EWS. The Tittle "Eyes Wide Shut"
itself can refer to enlightemment

The phrase Eyes Wide Shut and the use of the analogy of waking up and
opening the eyes has a long history of menaing the awakening from the

The phrase "Opening of the Eyes" was used in China by the neo-
confucianist Chu Hsi 1202 AD, in terms of social issues and Sun
Lotus (Nichiren) 1222-1253. His most important writing is entitled "On
the Opening of the Eyes"

Anyone practising Nichiren Buddhism would learn of this writing of the eyes

A general explanation of the title.

"The title The Opening of the Eyes means to enable people to see the
truth, in other words, to free people from illusions and distorted
views and awaken them to an understanding of the correct teaching and
its correct teacher. The work describes the role the Daishonin played
in championing the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra and in spreading its
teachings, as he himself viewed and experienced it. A passage from
this treatise reads: “On the twelfth day of the ninth month of last
year, between the hours of the rat and the ox (11:00 P.M. to 3:00
A.M.), this person named Nichiren was beheaded. It is his soul that
has come to this island of Sado” ( p. 269). It was through the
Tatsunokuchi Persecution that Nichiren Daishonin revealed his true
identity as the eternal Buddha....."

The phrase "Opening of the Eyes" was used in China by the neo-
confucianist Chu Hsi 1202 AD, in terms of social issues and Sun
Lotus (Nichiren) 1222-1253. His most important writing is entitled "On
the Opening of the Eyes"

Anyone practising the Nichiren Buddhism would learn of this writing of the eyes

The Bardo Thodol is only about recapitulating death and learning the
basic meditation principle of the Middle Way to Neither be Repulsed or
Attracted by the events of the death experience and adhering to the
clear light of wisdom.

As a text it is far inferior to the Lotus Sutra or the Buddhism of
Nichiren, which are teachings of both Life and Death and no longer
obscure the ACTUAL Teaching of the Tenth Life State called

to be continued:)



Mar 1, 2013, 12:52:08 AM3/1/13


Mar 1, 2013, 12:56:37 AM3/1/13
On Friday, November 7, 2008 11:12:24 AM UTC-8, kelpzoidzl wrote:
Most of these links still work. Some don't. They work until they don't but you know that.


Mar 20, 2013, 4:12:46 AM3/20/13
> > the eyes
> > A general explanation of the title.
> > "The title The Opening of the Eyes means to enable people to see the
> > truth, in other words, to free people from illusions and distorted
> > views and awaken them to an understanding of the correct teaching and
> > its correct teacher. The work describes the role the Daishonin played
> > in championing the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra and in spreading its
> > teachings, as he himself viewed and experienced it. A passage from
> > this treatise reads: “On the twelfth day of the ninth month of last
> > year, between the hours of the rat and the ox (11:00 P.M. to 3:00
> > A.M.), this person named Nichiren was beheaded. It is his soul that
> > has come to this island of Sado” ( p. 269). It was through the
> > Tatsunokuchi Persecution that Nichiren Daishonin revealed his true
> > identity as the eternal Buddha....."
> > The phrase "Opening of the Eyes"  was used in China by the neo-
> > confucianist  Chu Hsi 1202 AD, in terms of social issues  and Sun
> > Lotus (Nichiren) 1222-1253. His most important writing is entitled "On
> > the Opening of the Eyes"
> > Anyone practising the Nichiren Buddhism would learn of this writing
> > the eyes
> > The Bardo Thodol is only about recapitulating death and learning the
> > basic meditation principle of the Middle Way to Neither be Repulsed or
> > Attracted by the events of the death experience and adhering to the
> > clear light of wisdom.
> > As a text it is far inferior to the Lotus Sutra or the Buddhism of
> > Nichiren,  which are teachings of both Life and Death and no longer
> > obscure the ACTUAL Teaching of the Tenth Life State called
> > "Buddhahood."
> > to be continued:)
> > dc
> Most of these links still work. Some don't.  They work until they don't but you know that.

Run Reddit Run......


Nov 5, 2017, 1:54:02 AM11/5/17
Here is thread I Was trying to point to.

Nov 5, 2017, 1:59:48 AM11/5/17
On Sunday, 5 November 2017 01:54:02 UTC-5, kelpzoidzl wrote:
> Here is thread I Was trying to point to.

Got it:




Nov 6, 2017, 8:07:39 PM11/6/17
This story floating around Nicole Kudman says Sk told her world is run by pedophiles.

Nov 6, 2017, 10:21:13 PM11/6/17
On Monday, 6 November 2017 20:07:39 UTC-5, kelpzoidzl wrote:
> This story floating around Nicole Kudman says Sk told her world is run by pedophiles.

Not sure that 'interview' has ever been sourced to Kidman with supporting audio or video (as it is supposedly from an HBO presser). Yournewswire a spurious source, and "world is run by pedophiles" also an Alex Jones talking point. Seems like hoax news to discredit Kidman.

Which is unfortunate, because nothing gets shut down as fast as when DC sex rings begin making news (e.g. Pizzagate).



Nov 7, 2017, 7:15:35 AM11/7/17
I saw it read on a you tube video and doing a search for it cane up with a bunch of spurios sites reporting it.

Obviously it's not from any video interview that has been available. Gotta figure out where it first came from.


Nov 7, 2017, 7:37:13 AM11/7/17
Russian fake news maybe.

Whether Kidman or Kubrick really said this might be doubtfull but evil elites are capable of any depravity.

Im sure I posted about the late Janice Knowlton considered a kook, claiming she was raped many times as a kid by walt Disney and Gene Autry who "ran a huge pedophile ring."

Easy to dismiss such things. But both my younger sisters were srsly molested by Autrys close buddy, fellow sieging cowboy Monte Hale. that was totally real. Monte Hales wife still runs the Autry Western Museum.

There are also stories about Kidmans father.


Nov 7, 2017, 8:46:30 AM11/7/17
Speaking of Disney. The movie business is really having problems. Also supposedly 21st Century Fox being bought by Disney and then this media war.

Nov 7, 2017, 9:47:03 PM11/7/17
On Tuesday, 7 November 2017 08:46:30 UTC-5, kelpzoidzl wrote:
> Also supposedly 21st Century Fox being bought by Disney

I'm wondering if Fox's theatrical/home video distribution of the original "Star Wars" movies is getting in the way of Disney doing same (only digital releases so far). Fox may also own a great deal of vintage material from the original 1977 release of "Star Wars."


Of course, a boycott on more critical film reviewers leads to Rotten Tomatoes scores in the 90%-range for Disney's superhero CG fests.


Rebecca Proudhon

Dec 3, 2023, 3:34:59 PM12/3/23
best thread ever
0 new messages