I once read that Bruckner’s symphonies might not be as beautiful as Mahler’s (?), but that they advance relentlessly, inexorably, almost unavoidably. Sometimes, it seems, against their own will.
I wondered about the music I like and I realised that all my favourite songs and pieces have something in common: an underlying sense of inevitability. My favourite films, too, share this sense of inevitability. A hero that reluctantly accepts his fate. A king who does not want to be king, just wishes to be left alone. A man who enters a dangerous path, almost certain of his own death. And yet, they all do their duty. They follow the design of the Norns, who spin the threads of their fate at the roots of Yggdrasil (sorry, I just watched the 6 seasons of Vikings).
I looked “inevitability” up and it led me, inevitably, to fate. And I wondered what is it I like about fate. I recently read in Jung’s Psychological Types that introverts defend from an eternally changing world by creating order around them, by establishing rules that will allow them (us) to predict what will happen next. An illusion. Maybe that’s why I always felt attracted to films and music that have this undercurrent of inevitability, of fate. Lately, however, I have found myself accepting change much more naturally than I used to. Maybe change is our only fate, at least until time stands still and everything becomes eternal.
I try to understand my own existence, to disentangle it from the rest of the world, trying to see it for what it really is, in its uniqueness. And yet, sometimes I have the feeling that my existence only makes sense as part of the mesh, a small thread in the immense tapestry sewn by the Norns. A blue thread. Or maybe it is all a projection of my own wishes and fears, an illusion.
One of my favourite images in a film, or in a book for that matter, is the hero standing on top of a hill, looking at the void in front, his unavoidable fate. He has not succeeded yet, but he has hope. And that hope in the most difficult of moments is in itself sweeter than any victory. The secret conviction that he will prevail. He’d rather not be anywhere else. That feeling, before the battle begins, pure power, pure being. There it is in front of him: Life. Looking at him, relentless, almost defiant, teasing with a half-smile, almost playing hard to catch.
And with a clarity, an intensity he has never experienced before, the hero realises that tomorrow he must die. Regardless of whether he falls or prevails, the person he is will cease to exist. He looks at Life, understanding. She looks back at him calmly, no more teasing, no defiance. As in ‘see you tomorrow’. A brief thought clouds his mind for a millisecond: are you Life or are you Death? But She’s gone now. The moment passes away and it is already tomorrow. The hero walks down the hill to face his fate, with no fear, knowing that he is no more.
The finest of all symbols of the libido is the human figure, conceived as a demon or hero. Here the symbolism leaves the objective, material realm of astral and meteorological images and takes on human form, changing into a figure who passes from joy to sorrow, from sorrow to joy, and, like the sun, now stands high at the zenith and now is plunged into darkest night, only to rise again in new splendour.Carl G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation
“Luxor the Moonprince stands in the Downs of Shadows looking North to the Tower of the Moon”The Lords of Midnight (ZX Spectrum game, 1984)