WAS BORN ON APRIL 3 1943. HE SPENT HIS CHILDHOOD YEARS IN TROGIR, RECEIVED HIS EDUCATION IN ZAGREB, AND TRAVELLED THE WORLD. IN 1972 HE TOOK UP PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN BELGRADE. BY NATIONALITY, A MAN FROM THE SEASIDE; BY PARTY AFFILIATION, A FILM FAN; BY VOCATION, A CRITICUS VULGARIS; BY CONVICTION, A PURSUER OF ALTERNATIVE TRENDS; BY STATUS A FREELANCER, THAT IS A MAN ON THE FRINGE. FROM 1961 WROTE AND PUBLISHED SHORTER AND LONGER PIECES ON FILM, FILM ANIMATION, STRIP, FANTASTIC ART, TELEVISION, AND ACTORS AND ACTRESSES.
HE BELIEVED IN THE RIGHT TO MAKE HIS OWN CHOICES AND IN LIFE TILL DEATH
Should we look back for a moment, this whole passage through the labyrinthine iconostasis of literary and cinematic fantasy may seem to us like a fruitful pilgrimage through some other spaces and a different temporal raster: through spaces akin to our own earthly ones, through times that are also sometimes like our own secular one – yet all this made different and definitely removed from the established and known dimensions
As if on this kind of spiritual journey we discover or discern around us and behind us maps of a detached, alternative geography... As if on this occasion we dive into a current of an alternative, fictional chronology, that is, a prehistory of the humankind... Almost like the characters in the 1958 John Atkins’s novel Tomorrow Revealed, who, from the books by H.G. Wells, Huxley, Orwell, Bradbury, Van Vogt and other such authors, taking them for granted, reconstruct the existence of homo sapiens on earth and in outer space quite independently of the data found in “real” atlases and historical records (which makes it so much more exciting!).
There are, of course, on these alternative maps many of the places from our reality: but here Paris is important to us because of the deductive miracles of C. Auguste Dupin, the passions of Quasimodo and Erik the Phantom, the orgies of the omnipotent Fantômas, and the holographic apparitions of Stéphen Orlac; there is also London, unavoidable because of the battle between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty, between the detective Nayland Smith and the diabolical Fu Manchu, because of the heretical experiments of Henry Jekyll and the nocturnal wanderings of the werewolf Bertrand Caillet; there is Berlin, too, because of Doctor Mabuse; St. Petersburg, known for Anna Fedotovna and the ill-fated Hermann; Prague with Rabbi Loew and his Golem; and New York with Rosemary Woodhouse’s biography and King Kong’s climbs to the top of the Empire State Building... Big on these alternative maps are also much smaller places: Ingolstadt – where doctors Faustus and Frankenstein are university students; Courtempierre – with the tomb of Marguerite Chopin; Holstenwall – with Dr. Caligari’s tent; Bistritz – as a station along the way to Dracula’s castle in the Carpathians... There is also Africa, with the secrets of Opar, Tarzan’s eternal youth, and Ayesha’s immortality; Asia, as the cradle of Aladdin and Sinbad the Sailor; South America, with Professor Challenger’s plateaus; Europe, as a port from which ships of Lemuel Gulliver, Lord Greystoke and the bold snark hunters set off; North America, with the hordes of Poe’s martyrs and Lovecraft’s mutants, and with the biggest factory of dreams made into images in the history of humankind... Scattered between continents, on unknown latitudes and longitudes, are the mysterious islands of Doctor Moreau and Count Zaroff, Lilliput and Brobdingnag, Circe’s Rocks and Skull Island of black king Kong, Aepornis’ atoll, around which Nemo’s Nautilus is diving... There is the multiplied Atlantis, now on the ocean bottom, now on the hot African sand... Under the surface of the earth sprawl Carroll’s Wonderland and Burroughs’ Pellucidar, and travel Verne’s volcano explorers; the invisibles of Maurice Renard inhabit the upper regions of the atmosphere, while a myriad parallel worlds lean on the walls of Earth, from Alice’s looking-glass world, to little Nemo’s Slumberland and Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, to Moorcock’s Planes and Farmer’s pyramidal scenography of the Makers of Universes... Alternative maps encompass all that exists, from earthly houses (Usher, Malpertuis, Bramford, Overlook...), streets (Rue Morgue, Baker Street...) and cities, to seas, lands and continents, to the landscapes and inhabitants of the Moon, Mars, Venus, Tatooine, Trantor, Alderaan, Sith or Yavin, to Lucas’s Galactic Empire and Asimov’s Foundation, to the broadest cosmic wastelands and their natives, visitors and castaways, not to mention all the important star gates, cracks in space and time, or multidimensional corridors leading ever farther or closer, depending on the vantage point... Flashing like lightning in these neo-mythological and neo-fairytale interspatial ranges are different ages and epochs, different and often disparate explosions of the fireworks of the god Chronos, merging slowly into a unique multitemporal magma, where Noah waves from the time of the Flood to Rotwang from the futuristic Metropolis, Odysseus’ ship passes by astronaut Flash Gordon’s ship, while vampires, mummies and zombies mingle with all kinds of little green men... AS ABOVE, SO BELOW, alchemists signaled to us, not without a reason.
There are atlases, chronicles and encyclopedias of this alternative reality, but we usually leaf through them without realizing their real importance.
The alternative fictional geography and alternative fictional chronology of humankind are intertwined within this grand and comprehensive PROJECT OF A UTOPIAN VISION, a fundamentally detached model of being and understanding: appearing within the coordinates of the factual human world and development, like the holes in cheese, or more precisely – like gold fish in a magical spatial-temporal grid, are countless other worlds and different evolutionary cycles. The same as in the case of double exposure on the silver screen, everything exists like a transparent, simultaneously multiplied vision of a bottomless and endless maze.
And this is an extremely passionate and totally SUBVERSIVE PROJECT of creation, because, through widening, deepening and exceeding the given scope of our outside world and existence, it shows and proves how imperfect and insufficient the so-called “real” is and builds better, more alluring and valid realities and universes. Which always (justifiably!) angers both earthly rulers and heavenly supervisors of this world and existence. It also angers all the people around us, who are ready to start believing in the difference and distance between the so-called “real” and “super-real”, between the so-called “objective” and that which we call “subjective”. It angers all those who mock the primeval golden age and the vision of a panbiotic universe as an illusion from a charlatan’s hat or woolgathering in a great-grandmother’s scrapbook...
According to one of the most interesting interpretations, art as a whole emerged as an expression of the need to supplement, correct and meliorate that which “exists”. Therefore, it is only too easy to interpret it as a mere expression of that which “exists”; namely, it expresses whatever that which “exists” lacks, especially if (and this has been fashionable for quite a few centuries) we reduce that which “exists” to the so-called “that which objectively exists.”
This particularly applies to the so-called “fantastic” art.
Especially when we juxtapose the false with the so-called “realistic” art.
And this “fantastic art,” in fact, deals with a very real and massive task – of preserving and restoring through change the preternatural treasure of the entire humankind, confirming and expanding the treasury of eternal proto-images with ever new series of concrete image messages.
What we are dealing with here are archetypes (that which Freud calls “archaic remnants” and Jung calls “symbolic images”, “collective images” and “primordial images”), the collective unconscious (according to Jung, “part of the psyche that deposits and transfers the common psychological heritage of humanity”), in other words, a genetic linkage to the essence.
It is a titanic PLAN and PROCESS that has been going on FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL: first through telling stories that were passed on by word of mouth and from generation to generation, then through writing down the stories that someone had told and writing own stories, and finally through filming and varying ancient stories, motifs and heroes that fit them.
The essence, however, lies in the urge to dig out and bring to light, in opposition to one world, one order of things, one god, and one “self,” all other alternatives to each of these categories. What we awkwardly call “fantastic” is actually a natural and unavoidable quest for other worlds, other gods, other cosmoses, and other selves, which are hidden in all and every one of us, having been archetypally engraved and genetically inherited, and are therefore mandatory and unavoidable.
And allotted to us for ever.
If we reduce it to its fundamental joints, the so-called “fantastic art” is revealed as a spiritual subversion comprising three interconnected iconographic motifs. <BR><BR>
The first of these is the motif of DEPARTURE, of leaving this world and its coordinates, a motif of a SMALL or BIG JOURNEY, as an expression of protest against and rejection of forever staying within the same decor and fate.
The second is the motif of ANOTHER WORLD, which we discover on this journey: a space of a NIGHTMARISH MICROCOSM or STARRY MACROCOSM, in which the MAGICAL and MYTHIC phases of man’s spiritual exodus take place.
The third is the motif of the OTHER SELF, to which we arrive on the same journey, of the DEMONIC or DIVINE ALTER EGO, humanly superhuman or superhumanly human, the motif of the MONSTER, a HELLISH or HEAVENLY BEING.
Protruding from each of these pictorial motifs is a crystalline archetype.
Firstly, the archetype of the ETERNAL WANDERER and the CONTINUAL QUEST for a VISION allotted to him: the sign of the sanctified, CHOSEN MAN as the embodiment of restlessness, heretical curiosity and unquenchable yearning for the unreachable.
Then, the archetype of the PROMISED LAND and its UNCERTAIN LOCATION within the space-time labyrinth: the sign of the sanctified, CHOSEN REGION as a materialized dream of the extremes from genetic memory, of the lost whiteness of paradise and the acquired blackness of hell, of the grayness of the earthly purgatory from which one must go elsewhere.
Lastly, the archetype of the DOUBLE and the MASK, which renders this PRIMORDIAL PARTNER different or more fatal than a reflection in water or a mirror, a mask that is now terrifying, now sublime, which makes the double, like an actor in the theaters of Antiquity, a living model of personal and general fate; the sign of the sanctified, CHOSEN SOUL, crystallized by its dark and lighter glows.
Hence the two basic models of traveling and self-knowledge.
Firstly, “horror”, an offspring of fairytales, an expression of the magic principle and the drama of narrowed consciousness, a space of existence refracted through the prism of the human psyche: the motif of the SMALL JOURNEY, which takes one to the NIGHTMARISH MICROCOSM, to the DEMONIC OTHER SELF as a projection of the ID.
Secondly, “science fiction,” a progeny of myths, an expression of the mythic principle and the epic of expanded consciousness, man thrown into boundless space; the motif of the BIG JOURNEY, which takes one to the STARRY MACROCOSM and the DEMIURGIC OTHER SELF as a projection of the SUPER EGO.
Which is but the eternal confrontation and contest between a human being with the forces within him, one pulling him BACK, DOWN, the other driving him FORWARD, UP.
Jung calls the former force the SHADOW:
The encounter with the shadow, that dark half of the soul, which man has always cast out through projection (Psychologie und Alchemie).
Paracelsus calls the latter force the ASTRAL BODY:
Man’s astral body can be projected outside the physical body through imagination and can act at a distance with a specific aim. No place is too distant for that... (De virtute imaginativa).
The SHADOW BODY is the vertical axis of our “fantastic” iconostasis; the ASTRAL BODY is its horizontal axis.
Each offers swarms of crystallized meanings and iconographic embodiments.
The SHADOW lurks within the knight of darkness, the immortal vampire, the lover who, upright and motionless, appears on the balcony of a beauty’s bedchamber at midnight, a true shadow, a silhouette in contre-jour... The SHADOW peers from Frankenstein’s android as he, like a black doll, staggers down the cobbled streets of a small town that sprang up around a nobleman’s castle; from the clay Golem on his outing through the vedute of old Prague... The SHADOW hollers from the jaws of werewolves, from the silent rot of a mummy’s face, through the mask of the disfigured Erik, through the automatic movements of insensible zombies... the SHADOW can be made out in the figures of Quasimodo and Anna Fedotovna, Carmilla and Alraune, Zaroff and the titanic ape, Norman Bates and Andrew Woodhouse with his mother-of-pearl claws... The ASTRAL BODY assumes human form with equal frequency and is then called Noah, Jason, Hercules, Odysseus, Gulliver, Sinbad, Faustus, Frankenstein, Munchausen, Cinderella, Alice, Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, or astronaut Bowman...
Sometimes the SHADOW and ASTRAL BODIES merge into ONE, especially in the case of the “mixed,” crossover genre called “heroic fantasy” or “swords and sorcery”, a phantasmagorical “middle ground,” actually a modern-day chanson de geste in which ideal magic confronts ideal science, the sword and the magic wand fraternize with the laser and spaceships, whereas time immemorial merges with immeasurable future into a unified extra-temporal alloy. It is the youngest and most challenging cycle of poetic fiction, because it interpolates the psychological probe of “horror” (rooted in atavistic abysses, in the common genetic ossuary) and the technological probe of “science fiction” (propped against utopian projections and the yearning for stars) in a new, “interdisciplinary” fictional organism.
Such then is Jhary, the elfish seer in Michael Moorcock’s 1971 novel The King of Swords, an excellent example of the universal and omnitemporal existence of such entities.
I am a traveler of an unusual kind. Fate transposes me to all times and all Planes... My destiny is that I sometimes look like a certain hero, like part of another man or part of a group of humans who together make up a single great hero. The tissue of our personalities is carried through space by many winds... I have heard a theory that says that all mortals are particles of a cosmic person, that many believe that even gods belong to this person and that all the Planes of Existence, all the eons that come and go are only simple ideas of this cosmic spirit, different particles of its personality... I have seen the past and the future. I have visited many systems and learnt that time does not exist and that space is an illusion... I cannot remember being born and I do not intend to die in the common sense of the word... If my origins are anywhere, that will be in Tanelorn...
‘But Tanelorn is a myth
‘All places are a myth somewhere else...
Such is also the necromancer Merlin in John Boorman’s 1980 movie Excalibur, an eternal cosmic spirit for a brief moment materialized in human form in order to help a human biped at a breaking point of his wandering, when the golden age ends and the panbiotic model of the universe falls apart, when Mother Nature loses the power of the omnipresent Dragon, when the cosmological vision retreats before an anthropological vision, and when (according to Ivan Focht) “the endless cosmos, which has no boundaries, gets an invented center, man, and the focus of interest turns to typically human, psychological-ethical-anthropological problems.”
All of this legendary cycle is expressed through several Merlin’s lines.
The sword of power was forged when the world was young and bird, and beast, and flower were one with man and death was but a dream... All around you is the Dragon, a beast of such power that – if you were to see it whole and complete in a single glance – it would burn you to cinders... It is everywhere. It is everything. Its scales glisten in the bark of trees. Its roar is heard in the wind. And its forked tongue strikes like lightning...
For it is the doom of men that they forget. The days of our kind are numbered. The one God comes to drive out the many gods. The spirits of wood and stream grow silent. It’s the way of things.
My days are ended. The gods of once are gone forever. It’s a time for men. You will not see me again. There are other worlds. This one is done with me...
Such is Prothall son of Dwillian in the 1977 novel Lord Foul’s Bane, the High Lord on a parallel Earth that the leper Thomas Covenant visits in Stephen Donaldson’s six-book series.
Do you ask if we reverence the forests? Of course. They are alive, and there is Earthpower in all living things, all stone and earth and water and wood. Surely you understand that we are the servants of that Power. We care for the life of the Land. The Earthpower takes many forms between wood and stone. Stone bedrocks the world, and to the best of our comprehension weak as it is – that form of power does not know itself. But wood is otherwise...
Such also is the knight of the Jedi order by the name of Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi in George Lucas’s 1977 movie Star Wars, a noble warrior of the neo-mythological golden age (“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...”), which establishes among all kinds of different space dwellers and travellers a new form of panbiotic unity, an enormous “energy field” of life and spirituality open to every existing or imaginable species... That which Merlin calls Dragon and that which to Prothall is Power, to Ben Kenobi is Force.
The FORCE is what gives the Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together... You can feel the FORCE flowing from you. It controls one’s acts, yet obeys one’s commands. All you have to do is leave your thinking self and let your body do the thinking. The FORCE will always be with you!
Such also is John Carver/Howland in Borislav Pekić’s 1988 novel Atlantida, a true man, an Atlantean, in a world of fake people and wrong orientations.
Under the multiple sediments of matter and its history, still stirring deep within him is the vague memory of the species of golden times, in which the form and its content, the object and its purpose lived in the peace of the natural community; when under the bark of trees, in the company of insects, squatted a clan of their house spirits, set off from home at night and, assuming the form of an owl or another nocturnal animal, frightened people on crossroads; when a guardian fairy kept watch over every body of water and the hills under a full moon resounded with the inaudible ring dance of spring sorceresses; when, led by the great Pan, the only immortal that has died, strange creatures roamed the earth, creatures that borrowed their appearance from waking and drew their powers from dreams; when every stone was inhabited by life but was dead to those who were cursed to believe in reality alone...
The balance between spiritual and material, soul and spirit, was long disturbed. The wrong way of life spoiled the unity of man’s primary nature, shattered the harmony of the being, forcefully separated its content from form, that which the Hellenes called spirit and body, whose unity they supported by their thought and destroyed by their life. Spirit poured out from that life like the water from the jar poured out by the Indian water-bearer of his apparitions. Matter surrounded the human body, that looked like an empty cocoon, like its own shapes, like an imitation of its dead nature. Handmade objects replicated the emptiness of the human being. Even though it was generally real, because it was visible, tangible, the world, exactly because it had become empty, became an illusion. Something that contains nothing, is nothing...
This is precisely what Jung had in mind in his 1964 text Approaching the Unconscious.
As scientific understanding has grown, so our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos, because he is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional “unconscious identity” with natural phenomena. These have slowly lost their symbolic implications. Thunder is no longer the voice of an angry god, nor is lightning his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree is the life principle of man, no snake the embodiment of wisdom, no mountain cave the home of a great demon. No voices now speak to man from stones, plants, and animals, nor does he speak to them believing they can hear. His contact with nature has gone, and with it has gone the profound emotional energy that this symbolic connection supplied. <BR><BR>
This enormous loss is compensated for by the symbols of our dreams. They bring up our original nature – its instincts and peculiar thinking. Unfortunately, however, they express their contents in the language of nature, which is strange and incomprehensible to us. It therefore controls us with the task of translating it into the rational words and concepts of modern speech, which liberated itself from its primitive encumbrances – notably from its mystical participation with the things it describes. Nowadays, when we talk of ghosts and other numinous figures, we are no longer conjuring them up. The power as well as the glory is drained out from such once-potent words. We have ceased to believe in magic formulas; not many taboos and similar restrictions are left; and our world seems to be disinfected of all such “superstitious” numina as “witches, warlocks, and worricows,” to say nothing of werewolves, vampires, bush souls, and all the other bizarre beings that populated the primeval forest...
Yet it seems that what we call the unconscious has preserved primitive characteristics that formed part of the original mind. It is to these characteristics that the symbols of dreams constantly refer, as if the unconscious sought to bring back all the old things from which the mind freed itself as it evolved – illusion, fantasies, archaic thought forms, fundamental instincts...
The Golden Age, with Merlin’s Dragon, Prothall’s Power and Ben’s Force, is still deeply embedded in our dreams: the so-called “fantastic art” drags them out into the so-called “reality.”
Therefore, dreams are what our primal IMAGINATIVE BODY is made from.
The SHADOW BODY is the sign of the ghostly Charon, who transports the souls of the deceased between worlds. The ASTRAL BODY is the emblem of bold Prometheus, who snatches fire from the heavens and enlightens the human anthill with it. And the so-called “fantastic art,” from its natural, primal, golden spiritual totality to its present-day isolated and unnatural, fragmented, bronze material remnant, is nothing but the self-preservation of a view that is older than all the divisions into “objective” and “subjective,” “real” and “unreal,” “existing” and “non-existing,” a primordial residue from the epoch and experience in which such “extremes” were a single whole. <BR><BR>
The IMAGINATIVE BODY, this our still living unconscious memory, a dream vision projection of the golden age, an odyssey from the SELF, which is stuck in the material world, to the OTHER SELF, which is spiritually liberated, this concealed corpus of the soul that still recognizes the natural and discovers that which is real in the “fantastic” is therefore the emblem of the eternally active, tireless Sisyphus: both the mythical one (who constantly and apparently in vain performs the same task) and the Camusian one (who performs it rejoicing in himself and the world around him).
What we inappropriately and incorrectly call “fantastic” is actually a song of a happy, enlightened Sisyphus: the one who “teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks,” the one who believes “that all is well,” to whom “this universe, henceforth without a master, seems neither sterile nor futile,” because “each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world.” Therefore: The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy... Albert Camus is telling us.
Each of these MINERAL FLAKES OF THAT NIGHT FILLED MOUNTAIN is a GOLDEN ARCHETYPE preserved in the matrix made up of dreams, buried deep but reachable in our collective memory.
Thus it has been since time immemorial – always the same, constantly in a new way.
Noah in the midst of the wasteland of the high seas, the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece or Atlantis, Dracula on the trail of nocturnal immortality, the Beast and Beauty in an everlasting embrace, Alice on a walk from wonder to wonder, Bowman in his flight from star to star...
Thence the galaxies of archetypal images, hammered out in the forges where fire never goes out.
Thence the film of the modern day, through continual retelling, must continue down ancient currents: first of the oral traditions that were polished from generation to generation, then the written literature, snatched from continual change. A hundred vampires, a hundred Frankensteins, a hundred variants of a mummy’s or werewolf’s onslaught; there is not a single right one; what is permanent is only the regeneration and reincarnation of the engraved archetype, the genetic proto-image, the original inscription in the matrix of collective memory. Steven Spielberg rightly states: There are no good or bad authors, good or bad directors! There are only good and bad storytellers!
Thence the multitude of uncanny Neverlands, each and every one true and valuable to man, none of them final – none conclusive. Thence always new Odysseys, journeys in all kinds of directions, towards unknown lands.
Thence so many Monsters – for a whole vast, exalted gallery.
These images captivate.
But they should not be feared.
They should be loved.
For, according to the wisdom of Bardo Thödol, they are from within your own brain, the embodiment of your own intellect.
THE MASTERS OF DEATH – ARE YOUR OWN HALLUCINATIONS...
The voice of the time immemorial is right.
The monsters, both divine and demonic, are we ourselves.