Antichrist: Chronicles of a Psychosis Foretold

Must a child die for the narrative to proceed? In view of one of the most intractable and widespread of tales, the death of Christ, being central to one of the most widespread of religions, is there any surprise to this? Even the Old Testament has its close analogue, with the near sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. It would appear that such a proto-narrative is deeply engrained in social memory, as much as it’s reverse, patricide/matricide, and resides as a reflection of both biological imperatives as well as those organising social structures. Is this the cautionary tale of what happens to those who do not protect the progeny of the species? In Antichrist, however, there is one final twist. In the epilogue, a repeated telling of this narrative driver, there is a reverse shot structure which does not appear in the prologue: the child walks towards the bathroom and sees his parents in the Freudian “Primal Scene”. There is then an ambiguity in what follows. “She” has seen her child, but does not stop the sex. Has the child’s gaze met hers? This is not made clear with any resultant reverse shot. In a paranoid reading of a demonic progeny of a possessed maternal body, it is entirely possible to construct a narrative where the child, in fact, is following a preordained path, it’s own destruction, an Anti-Christian sacrifice of the child of Satan, in order to put in train the eventual destruction of the mother and the father. This would be a turn-around in the interpretation of the entire narrative. The child then becomes not the innocent cause of the battle between the mother’s psychosis and the father’s paranoia, but joins the ranks of “evil children” of cinema, alongside those appearing in The Bad Seed (Mervyn LeRoy, 1956), The Omen (Richard Donner, 1976) and of course, again, Rosemary’s Baby (and needlessly conveniently for such an argument, is named “Nic”).

Geraldine Chaplin

Geraldine Chaplin

Q: Odd that Charlie Chaplin sends his daughters to a convent. It certainly can’t be said that he has any sympathy with the Church. And why on earth does he send you to a convent?

Geraldine Chaplin: “For the discipline. My father’s fanatical about discipline. Besides I was so wild, when I was ten, that I don’t know what would have happened if the nuns hadn’t brought me up. They were strict, the nuns, as strict as father, but they were so gentle too. And then the nuns gave me something I didn’t have, they gave me religion. You see, we Chaplin kids were never baptized into any religion. That’s the way father wanted and wants it. We’d never heard any talk of God, we’d never heard a prayer and…well, now I’ll tell you a very silly, a very odd thing.

The first day I went into class, all the girls were standing up praying. I didn’t know about praying, you see, and so I thought they were reciting a lesson. But the second day they stood up again and recited the same lesson again, so I thought, that’s odd, didn’t they say the same lesson yesterday? I turned to one of the girls and asked her: ‘What are you doing?’ ‘We’re praying,’ she said. ‘Praying?’ I said. ‘Yes, praying,’ she said. “Praying to whom?” I said. ‘Praying to God,’ she said. ‘God who?’ I said.

Well, the girl looked at me in amazement and didn’t say any more. So then, when the lesson was over, I went to the nuns and asked who God was: was he the head of the school? The nuns said yes, God was also the head of the school. So then I asked the nuns if I could meet this head of the school and the nuns replied that this head of the school was very good and was taking care of me. If I spoke to Him, He would listen and… well, it was like a fairy tale only more beautiful, and I believed it…”

Q: Is it really true that until you were ten you’d never heard religion spoken of?

GC: “No. Never….my father says he’d have liked to be religious, that it would have been a great help to him, but he just can’t be. If he could, he says, he’d put more trust in people. My father is a man with no illusions, and we all grew up without any illusions – except for the early years, when we thought it was Father Christmas who brought us cookies. But by now even the youngest of the children know the cookies come from mother and father, that there is no such person as Father Christmas.”

-excerpted from 1965 interview, published in The Limelighters (Oriana Fallaci, 1967) (photo via)

notes of life

“ Pleasure only starts once the worm has got into the fruit, to become delightful happiness must be tainted with poison.
Georges Bataille.

“ Sex without religion is like cooking an egg without salt. Sin gives more chances to desire
Luis Buñuel

“ Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.
Oscar Wilde

“ I have cultivated my hysteria with pleasure and terror.
Charles Baudelaire.

“ A cat’s rage is beautiful, burning with pure cat flame, all its hair standing up and crackling blue sparks, eyes blazing and sputtering.
William S. Burroughs.

“ You’ve never seen death? Look in the mirror every day and you will see it like bees working in a glass hive.
Jean Cocteau.

“ Here I am trying to live, or rather, I am trying to teach the death within me how to live.
Jean Cocteau.

“ Dreams have only one owner at a time. That’s why dreamers are lonely.
Erma Bombeck

“ The death of a beautiful woman, is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world.
Edgar Allan Poe