Sunday, June 27, 2010
“You do not know who I am”
So says Emma Recchi (embodied by Tilda Swinton) to her husband
at one great plot point of “I Am Love,” which I saw last night.
According to a reviewer: The Italian Director/Writer Luca Guadagnino “calls food ‘a tool to express the utter giving that a lover can display to the other without words.’” At an earlier great plot point, Emma dines on glazed prawns (atop ratatouille with sweet and sour sauce)—a sparse-covered plate looking like prototypical California cuisine, a matter of delicate flavors and textures to be savored, not quantity to fill (but it’s genuinely Italian, evidently: inspired by a well-known Milan chef, advisor to the film). She convincingly conveys an erotic experience of the flavors (seriously, not comical; it’s revelatory for her character Emma) “Ms. Swinton herself calls the moment ‘prawn-ography.’”
Biologists say that olfactory sense is the first mode of intelligence to evolve. Indeed, it’s arguably as primordial as life gets, as cellular “communication” or chemical signaling is, in a sense, smell between cells. Biosemiosis is chemical signalling, and smell is literally a mental translation of chemical sensation intrinsic to cellular bonding.
The point’s not academic. Consider that one’s Self expresses a whole-brain-mindedness (more than a mentality, which a mind contains)—mindality I like to say: Self is The All of “I” flowing in doing whatever, the doing. Savoring another may touch one’s emotional heart in a literal way, thereby seeming to express something eternal, as if tastes weren’t already colored, if not orchestrated, by confabulations of desiring mind: that “you” be so savorable forever.
The modes of Self that we may distinguish as adults emerge from the modes of mindality made possible by the brain growing in prenatal ontogeny. The brain stem generates olfactory sense early on (primal Self), and other senses form later (other capacities of oneSelf), lastly the prefontal cortext that makes a refined palate possible or complex appreciability of each other. Smell and flavors touch the emotional heart of mind, of Self, giving such value to that part of The Sensuous, a primal aspect of our being, as if the savored thing or lover is belongs to oneSelf intrinsically (or one belongs with the other) because s/he is primally appealing—which may be valid beyond the the primal appeal.
But True Love’s savorability, another’s appeal to and of mindally-refined “palate,” is a highly derived phenomenonology of Self conception, though potentially engulfing all of me showing in the Flow of my going on, into the appeal of all the world through another.
So, the heart’s drawn into all its flavors of savoring, perceiving, understanding, comprehending, enjoying—exuberance, ecstasis, awe—according all that may be with my own potential for appreciation, thus to be savored, my full concert, my expansive complement of mental flavors embodied, being delicately or passionately taken into or taking, giving, being given over to, or giving in.
At first, little does Emma know that she’s implicitly longing for an ecstatic synergy of Self in nature (and as a Russian), sensibility, sensuousness, and rapture for/with another who appreciates her for herSelf, rather than class symbolism (a treasure of the industrial collector). The appeal of such synergy is primordial—a thought expressed in a final and lingering shot in the film (after the titles have begun, then fade to show one more scene, barely discernible in its literal darkness)—call it the eerie origin of our folktale of The Garden.
-- gary e. davis --- 6:58 PM