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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Walling in of Images - Tarkovsky

Many years back Tarkovsky took Dead Beat aside and berated him for his lack of understanding of imagery and symbolism:

“We can express our feelings regarding the world around us either by poetic or by descriptive means. I prefer to express myself metaphorically. Let me stress: metaphorically, not symbolically. A symbol contains within itself a definite meaning, certain intellectual formula, while metaphor is an image. An image possessing the same distinguishing features as the world it represents. An image — as opposed to a symbol — is indefinite in meaning. One cannot speak of the infinite world by applying tools that are definite and finite. We can analyse the formula that constitutes a symbol, while metaphor is a being-within-itself, it's a monomial. It falls apart at any attempt of touching it.”

“But doesn’t an image become a symbol if repeated?” Dead Beat had the temerity to ask.

“An image cannot be a symbol in my opinion. Whenever an image is turned into a symbol, the thought becomes walled in so to speak, it can be fully deciphered. That's not what image is. A symbol is not yet an image. Although image cannot be explained, it expresses truth to the end... Its meaning remains unknown. I was asked once what the bird on boy's head in The Mirror meant. But any time I attempt to explain, I notice everything loses its meaning, it acquires a completely different sense than intended, moves away from its rightful place. I could only say a bird would not come to an evil man but that's not good enough. A true image is an abstraction, it cannot be explained, it only transmits truth and one can only comprehend it in one's own heart. Because of that it's impossible to analyse a work of art by utilising its intellectual significance.”


“Sit down Mr. Dead Beat. I have said enough.”

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