The raggedly ragged
A lyric essay on Preparations for Film T, the debut documentary by Milan Klepikov, a film historian and the film programmer for the cinema Ponrepo. The film received a Special Mention at last year’s Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival and is still being screened in cinemas now.
Completely in vain, completely needlessly, terribly much. Non-specific sentential equivalents accompany Preparations for Film T with a symbolic air of meaninglessness. The meaninglessness of time, of hopes, and of desires. The meaninglessness of fear, of life, and of death. Nevertheless, the film very sensitively and playfully portrays the contemporary young generation as a thoughtful generation and tries to give the audience a sense of the difficult task of coming to terms with fatality – not at all with apathy but rather with an understood resignation. Although I feel this vast and seemingly elusive subject is handled superbly, I am not certain it will appeal to the entire intergenerational spectrum with its almost experimental approach.
The end of the world is not a catastrophe. People who already have life experience, who know what they want and expect from life and whose fear of old age prevails over creative thinking, often have little sympathy for rebelliously ironic expression and opinions – and none whatsoever for people whom they do not understand or do not want to understand. Today’s student youth is considered spoiled, selfish, ungrateful, and – most irksome of all for their elders – unburdened by history. And because young people react impulsively, it is no surprise that life values diverge generationally. Again and again. And yet our history should teach us the opposite – that mutual understanding and respect are never a detriment.
The world is growing fuller and fuller – of people, progress, possibilities, ideas. It has been through a lot, and it will go through even more, and we with it. Especially the student youth. And that is why so much is expected of them. We are living in an ungraspable age, which uses a fear of history and of itself to bully everything contained within it. There is too much of everything and too little of everything. Good and evil do not exist. No one knows which way, no one knows where to, no one knows why. And the only direction, the only certainty we can grasp, is death. Extinction. The end of the world. And all this everything and nothing creates an immense pressure. The pressure of a society that has always been here, but which is now empty, falling on every inch of the body. A person, and above all a young person, is thus run completely ragged by this pressure. His faith is ragged, his soul is ragged, his heart and mind are ragged. Not riven like the mind of a schizophrenic, not torn apart like the mind of a soldier. Ragged. Few unbiased people feel it, few people are capable of giving it importance. There is thus a total lack of understanding and support. Everyone is alone, growing more ragged by the day. There is no escape, no defence. Is the futility of life thus the only possible form of survival?
Despite the problematic millions of possible ends of the world, the destructively hopeless attitudes, and the impossible tasks that are lain at the feet of civilization with immense seriousness, the very art of living is being sidelined. Human beings are very fragile. Every social upheaval, every idea pushes against a person like the wind against a lush tree; ideas and leaves gradually fall away to be replaced by others, and this is a part of evolution – there is no other way. However, when the wind is too strong, when it blusters like pandemic fears, it breaks branches, strips entire crowns, fells trunks. But strong gales do not uproot entire hillsides, entire wooded hillocks. So it is necessary for humans, like trees, to be able to adapt to their environment. To consciously anchor oneself deep in the earth. No one can prepare for everything, but that is not the point. It is not about saving the world but rather about wanting to save it, not about having fear but about accepting it, not about desiring happiness but about being happy. And although raggedness is an inherent part of us, as something so fatal and daunting we must not let it control us unchecked. If only because it is our prerogative.
This applies to everyone, not only us young people. Perhaps these chasms of misunderstanding are created by the acceptance of such ideas, or perhaps by their very existence. They are not here to be understood – only for us to be aware of them. And with this awareness, even the end of the world will not be a catastrophe. And who would not want that? On top of all of this, a person has one other fascinating prerogative. Underneath everything, one can hold on to love. However ragged, never insignificant, always rooted and certain. Even if it is alone, even if it is leafless and broken, it loves in vain, it loves needlessly, and it loves terribly much.
Translated by Brian D. Vondrak
This article is a result of the project Media and documentary 2.0, supported by EEA and Norway Grants 2014–2021.