The Decalogue

Here are short summaries for each of the ten installments of “Dekalog,” also known as “The Ten Commandments” and “The Decalogue.” I wrote these summaries just now from memory, without looking them up online. I watched them multiple times, most recently about fifteen years ago. “The Decalogue” was directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski in 1988 as a television series. It consists of ten one-hour films, each short film exploring — rarely in obvious ways — a character’s struggle with a moral dilemma related to the episode’s Commandment.

The episodes briefly feature a mysterious young man, sometimes a tram driver, a road surveyor, and so on, who observes each of the key characters at their moral crossroads. He never interacts with anyone, merely watches man freely choose his action. This mysterious character is not explained by Kieślowski. In most interpretations he is said to be an angel.

1. Thou shalt not have other gods before me. The first and most tragic episode of “The Decalogue” is about a man, who is an engineer or something similar, calculating the expected thickness of ice on a nearby pond to be sure that it’s safe for his nine-year-old son to skate on. Though all of his data and methodology are correct, the ice breaks anyway.

The opening scene of Dekalog 1 is one of the reasons why Kieślowski, who died at a fairly young age in 1996, is not merely the storyteller of then-newly reunified post-communist Europe. He is the prophet of the present European cataclysm. This opening scene shows this “angel” character as a drifter or a vagabond. He looks into the camera, directly into the viewer in the most chilling kind of foreshadowing. His gaze penetrates to the soul, commensurately with the the tragedy that this episode covers, as well scaling up to the attempted murder of Europe itself that we are presently living through.

“Thou shalt not have other gods before me” is the first and thus the most important Commandment. It is the key to beating back the demons that swarm about our lands.

2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. An oncologist holds a human life in his hands, in the most unwelcome dilemma. Not his patient’s life, but the life of an unborn child. His cancer patient has a mixed prognosis. The doctor has to tell his patient’s wife what her husband’s odd are, in his medical opinion. She had just confessed to the doctor that she is carrying a child from an affair that her husband does not know about. She tells the doctor that if he expects her husband to recover, she will abort the child but if he tells her that he will die, she will keep the baby.

Kieślowski’s films are inseparable from Zbigniew Preisner’s music scores. It really is a fusing of image and sound, you almost don’t know where one ends and the other begins. They collaborated on 1988’s “Decalogue” and remained lifelong friends and artistic partners, notably in Kieślowski’s later French-language works, “The Double Life of Veronique” and “The Three Color Trilogy.”

This is one of the evocative scenes in “Dekalog 2.” The dying patient, perhaps miraculously, begins to heal. He observes a honeybee that was drowning in a glass of fruit juice dramatically pull herself from certain death. It’s clearly a metaphor for overcoming a terminal disease. What else, on a larger scale, could that small insect’s powerful will-to-life struggle symbolize…

3. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. A family man who goes through the motions of being the dutiful father and husband in a cold marriage is confronted by his old flame. She accosts him on Christmas Eve, which is Poland’s most sacred holiday, manipulating him into spending an entire night in pointless wandering around nighttime Warsaw with her. She has a haunting kind of beauty and is something of a femme fatale, but also lonely and despairing. He must choose between honoring the Holy night and his old passion for this woman, a feeling that is now sublimated into a sense of responsibility for her.

4. Honor thy father and thy mother. A high school girl and her widowed father had always suspected that something is not fully normal between them. She finds herself sexually attracted to him and he, as a man, sometimes can’t help but notice her precocious beauty. What they have always suspected, on a downright instinctive level, is that he is not her biological father. There is a sealed letter his late wife, her mother, had left for the young woman that will resolve the uncertainty.

5. Thou shalt not kill. This is the best-known of the “Dekalog” installments, also made into a full-length film. A young man with sociopathic impulses murders an innocent taxi driver. He is sentenced to death for his crime and executed by hanging. I am not venturing into details and subplots in any of these films, for the sake of keeping this brief. Each episode requires the length of a full blog post to start appreciating. There is a great deal of complexity behind each moral dilemma, as well as in the characters’ personal situations.

The taxi driver is not a sympathetic figure, maybe a little more so than the nasty old woman killed by young Raskolnikov in “Crime and Punishment.” On the other hand, the viewer is drawn to sympathize with the killer in “Dekalog 5.” I’ve had conversations with liberal academics in Boston, who pointed out how this film makes a solid case against capital punishment. I disagreed with them twenty years ago and I still disagree. When I watch the execution scene, I feel sincerely sorry for the kid but I am also satisfied that the punishment redeems his humanity, the victim’s, and ours.

Here is Preisner’s film score for “Thou shalt not kill.”

Here is the execution scene.

6. Thou shalt not commit adultery. A lonely, awkward teenager spies on his neighbor. She is an attractive thirty-something single woman who has many flings and boyfriends. She discovers his spying on her and catches on to his pattern of creepy and nuisance stalker-behavior. She invites him over so that he can consummate his infatuation with her.

7. Thou shalt not steal. A teenage girl and her domineering mother go to extremes in their fight over a six-year-old girl. The child is an illegitimate daughter of the high school girl and the young lady’s handsome teacher, but raised to think that the older woman is her mother. The real mother, understandably for a teenager, originally agreed to that arrangement but then changed her mind.

8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Another way of saying that, is “don’t lie.” Two women meet in Warsaw for the first time since the German occupation of Poland in WWII. One is an older Polish woman, a university professor, if I recall correctly. The other is a somewhat younger visitor from the United States, an affluent Jewish woman who survived the war as a little girl and shortly after emigrated to America. She returns to confront the other woman over her refusal to shelter her during the war. As it turns out, there is more to the story, and the original grievance is misplaced.

9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. I don’t remember the plot of this one too well. I recall that it involves a well-to-do couple’s adultery. There is a sublime subplot involving the husband, who is a charming cardiologist, and his platonic relationship with a young opera singer. She is his patient, being treated for a career-ending heart condition. No doubt, a precursor-thought to Weronika/Veronique in Kieślowski later film.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods. This is a farce/comedy similar to the later “White” of the “Three Color Trilogy,” including the same principal actors. It involves the theft of a priceless stamp collection but I don’t recall it in detail.

The entire series is available on popular to-your-home streaming services, with English subtitles. Also on DVD if interested.

Mia Maria and Ebba

One can only imagine the disgust that young German or Dutch girls feel when they see those middle-aged European hags using brown migrants as their sex toys. As gross as that sounds, that’s in part the basis for ageing feminists’ “Refugees Welcome” posturing.

A new generation is a fresh start and the daughters of Europe want their countries back. The excellent video below is their protest. They claw at the eyes of their illegitimate governments. Never mind any appeals to women’s rights. They don’t want rights. They want to be guided, by force if necessary, to be virgin, then to marry a familiar young man of strong character, and to have many grandchildren and a safe home.

A Communist Manifesto

Last night when I saw this, there were 23 Likes and 31.1 thousand Dislikes. No typo — a ratio of 1 : 1,352. Those likes/dislikes are now deleted.

There’s a lot to unpack in this video. That hate that you feel projecting toward you is downstream of can. When the cat’s away, the mice come out to play. When a nation lets down its guard, the value-extractor revels in his newfound license.

Bucket Lists

“Bucket lists” make a commodity of experiences that would have been best allowed to unfold organically in the course of a life well-lived, not collected to a checklist under controlled conditions for their own sake. For example, a combat jump would be a part of your legacy that your descendants talk about proudly but a commercial skydiving jump is just a more extreme kind of self-amusement. Adrenaline matters when cranked up in service to a higher cause, or when you’re struggling against events larger than you. Chasing novelty for its own sake is fighting ennui with thrills.

Certainly, there might be some place you’ve always wanted to visit that you never got around to, or something you have always wanted to do. That’s normal, as long as you don’t turn those things into a list of activities that are an end in themselves.

Because ultimately, nobody cares that you hiked in Nepal where logistics and safety were not in question. In fact, you might not even care beyond the selfie-value of that trip. In contrast, a farmer who had spent his entire life raising livestock and repairing his equipment and who had never left North Dakota will have had a more satisfying and meaningful life than a bungee-jumper, even by the standards of adventurous people.

Typing the above paragraph just now, I recalled a scene from Kieslowski’s “Blue,” in which Juliette Binoche’s mother was dying in a comfortable hospice. The old woman sat there with that lifeless look in her eyes, blankly watching bungee jumpers on her television. That scene is the apotheosis of meaningless materialism.

There is also a science-fiction story I read in my adolescence, don’t recall the author. It is set in a future in which man had achieved mastery over all chaos, eradicating all danger and harm. The consequent malaise of spirit created a demand for adventure, for heroism, for self-sacrifice. So in response to a market demand, companies formed to provide their clients with an experience of adventure, heroism, self-sacrifice; all perfectly safe, natch. You could pay, for example, for this service-provider to stage a “boating accident” in which you heroically rescue someone from drowning. The potential victim, who is an actor, was never in harm’s way, of course, but the protagonist got to experience the facsimile of handling an open-ended crisis in which something important was at stake.

Bucket list chasers also forget that inner life is important. It doesn’t require external stimulation and it can be cultivated under the most restrictive conditions. All you need is silence. Just put yourself into the consciousness of that North Dakota farmer. The hours and days that he had spent under the big sky, the sounds of birds as the summer evenings darkened.

Life is to be lived and I’ve always had this restless, risk-taking edge. I’m successful because I made daring moves under apparently hopeless circumstances, doing things that made little sense in terms of conventional wisdom at the time, but they made an inarticulate kind of sense to me as long as I trusted my instinct. And I’ve had a good time along the way, which is why I don’t have a bucket list.

***

Life also has its spices, like on the following list. It’s not the kinds of experiences you’d see on a typical list of things to do before one dies, as they are rather low-key and foolish in some cases. They also give life its flavor if experienced as a byproduct of more consequential endeavors:

neverdone

Things on that list I haven’t done:

  • Broken a bone. Knock on wood.
  • Drugs.
  • Tattoo.
  • Ridden a horse.
  • Gone on a cruise. Hell no never.

Of the things on that list that I did, “No. 1. Skipped school” in high school is the best. My friends and I always hooked school with Ferris Buelleresque panache, never out of mere laziness. There are geographic landmarks where the ghosts of our carefree days had left a mobile palimpsest. You can hear them if you listen closely.

Sentimental Pop Songs

This is about songs I heard on the radio in the 1970s, as well as samesuch from the Eighties I discovered on YouTube in recent years. Viewers on YouTube share my enthusiasm for those kinds of songs, from that time and place. Representative comments that I’m translating into English:

“Anyone listening in 2020?”

“Everything today stinks in comparison. The five-minute celebrities, the actors with no acting school, the silicone tits, all the rest of that television trash.”

“One has to grow up to get this tune. I’ve heard that song all my life but it’s only now, at forty, that I consider it a gem. That’s because you have to have experienced life to understand it.”

“my god, i am 30 years younger”

“The majority of the songs that were recorded back during the People’s Republic have one thing in common. They are perfectly crafted. The arrangement is excellent, no instrument is too much or too little, and so they are (also because of their lovely melodies and performance) truly pleasant to the ear. They connect with the listener. In layman’s language, they are beautiful.”

“I’m almost 60, as a kid I was a fan of the Beatles. They were quite good. With time though, as many years have passed, I’ve come to know the value of our artists.”

“God I love Poland and the Polish language!”

Four such songs. There are so many more, but I limited myself to just these:


Sidewalk Cafes (Irena Jarocka; orig. Kawiarenki). Vocals like honey in this 1975 ballad. Wistful, mellifluous, the sounds melt into synesthesia bliss. Irena Jarocka, the singer, died of brain cancer in her sixties, about ten years ago. She lived the final decade of her life in the United States, continuing to perform here and in Europe. She sang at the Pulaski Day Parade in New York City twenty years ago. Bummer, I was going to go but didn’t.


Two Hearts Like Two Trains (Grażyna Świtała; orig. Dwa serca jak pociągi dwa). Dan Baird’s 1992 song “I Love You Period” is the happiest song of that decade, the happiest video too. Bad feelz impossible after watching. The trope is school-theme lyrics standing in for the teenager’s crush on someone. “Two Hearts Like Two Trains” is a 1987 song with the same idea. My favorite part is the refrain with its buoyantly galloping 4/4 beat like a cowboy song:

Two trains like two hearts set out
From town B to town A
And from town A to town B
I must determine where they meet.

I know their speed, their distance too
I know the cold sweat on my face
Upon the mention of towns A and B
And the professor’s evil eye.


I’ve Been with You so Many Years (Krystyna Giżowska; orig. Przeżyłam z Tobą tyle lat). An adult-themed pop song from the point of view of a woman whose long marriage has been the stuff of normal life. Its ups and downs with its better and worse times. The 1987 song is a reflection on all of it with a peaceful heart.

I’ve been with you so many years
I gave you my whole world …
… Look, our children are all grown up
And only you and I
Haven’t changed at all


The White Sail on the Horizon (Alicja Majewska; orig. Jeszcze się tam żagiel bieli). The 1980 song’s very first notes have you anticipate something cathartic. It’s the xylophone intro hinting to what will, in the latter half of the song, build up to a powerful refrain. The tension grows along a gentle grade, Majewska’s whispers grow in their intensity.

I am not a fan of big-voice female vocalists but she lets the power of the song build on its own with its theme of great hope. The lyrics celebrate woman’s faith in her man, along with her virtues of patience, forbearance, and unshaken faith in her man’s homecoming. It could also be about a mother waiting for her son’s safe return. Partial lyrics:

The white sail on the horizon
Of the boys who sailed away
Persistent hope plays the silent drum
In the chapel of the heart

Because it’s man’s business
To be far, but a woman’s – to wait faithfully
Until another tear is born
Beneath the eyelid, a tear of joy

It’s man’s business – to run and tame
The crests of the waves
Our business – to stand at the shore
Stand and believe, and gaze into the distance


Open thread, bonus if you can tie a sentimental pop song to your story.

A Generation Too Early

Good times made gullible men, which is why the post-war generation of Westerners bought in to cultural marxism and this so-called civic nationalism. Conversely, you wisen up young when growing up in the crosshairs of your enemy. A comment on Gab, related to Twitter posts that follow:

They’re trying to move in for the kill world wide… Them going for broke a generation too early could be the best thing that ever happened to us.

There’s a new version of Ragnarok that came out a few days ago. I don’t really watch anything nowadays, but I like the Norse stuff so I gave it a chance. First episode they made it about faggots, dykes and global climate warming change. Should’ve stopped there, but I gave it one more episode, and I’m not exaggerating here, in episode two Thor literally says that world is dying because of white men. Lol. That’s too much too soon.

The purpose of civic education is to teach the child how to answer the question, “Who am I?” And when your government is not solely yours, when its functionaries in the school systems want you destroyed, they will teach him who they think he is. White kids aren’t buying it any more. See below; poster Dissident American is calling out this Ursula, a teacher who says that despite decades of experience being a “white kid whisperer,” she is no longer adept at lying to them.

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The expression of free vs sublimated conviction

A short comment about the above confrontation, h/t Suburban_elk:

… John Dennis, who is apparently Nancy Pelosi’s challenger. He’s got quite a jaw on him, and he stands up for himself. He’s one of those manly high-t boomers we know so much about, and love.

However, he is well matched by the brown, who maybe is Puerto Rican? They are exactly the same size and height. And by my reading, the brown slightly kind of wins the battle of intimidation, or maybe it can be called a draw. But /our guy/ Dennis repeatedly, slightly, averts his eyes and looks down. He doesn’t back up; but Dennis showed some fear by looking down —

John Dennis was picking up trash in San Francisco as part of his political campaign. That’s according to the comments under the tweet. His antifa-antagonist says: “I want you dead,” “You’re a piece of shit,” and “You’re a racist.” And twice, he makes a specific threat of violence. John Dennis came away from the confrontation looking good, under the circumstances. As a measuring stick, how would Trump have spoken?

Dennis’s hands were tied by the narrow range of politically acceptable conduct, at least by conventional thinking. Applied unconventional thinking is for someone with Trump’s charisma, a rare thing. And absent charisma, for someone with purity of heart, purity of conviction. A saint perhaps, or a patriot who accepts martyrdom like the twelve executioners of Franz Kutschera, whose hearts were made pure by the events of open war.

John Dennis likely lacks Trump’s gift or a martyr’s purity. As do most people. This isn’t a criticism of the righteous boomer, it’s an analysis of contemporary circumstances. The antifa-antagonist was not going to be won-over with kindness. His side’s hatred of Whites and lust for our enslavement is free and primitive. John Dennis’s hatred of Third-World invaders, speaking of him as a symbol of the cause of Western nationalism not him as the individual, is deeply sublimated. That’s the situation at the present time.