A fost sau n-a fost ?i is a shiny contribution to philosophy (moreso than anything the current Wykeham professor of logic ever produced, that's for damn sure), not to mention ethics, sociology, anthropology and everything else (yes, including cinematography). Let's unpack it together.
The clou, the nail it all hangs from is the following observation of the antihero :
Dom'le da' ce v-ati tot facut... ala din contabil nustiuce, tu din textilist jurnalist... trebuia sa ma fac si io... astronaut!
The fellow is utterly folkloric, he's as good as if he had just stepped off a fable, fresh from narrative into phenomenology. That first pass interpretation,
lookit, this moron thinks historical events are like a sort of jokeii, "three drunks found a lamp, rubbed it, and a genie came out asking them what they want" so he reasons he must've asked the histogenie for the wrong thing, haha, we laugh now, for it is timeiii
works well enough for first pass people ; but otherwise, of course there's a lot more in there.
Consider the difference between actually doing something and merely pretending to have done something. What is it ? What would you say the difference is ?
I, like that guy, was there at that historical event. My positioniv, unlike his (and really, everyone's else, at the time or hence) was that everyone should be killed. Everyone, no Nurnberg trial, no "Truth and Reconcilliation" bullshit. Ownership of one Romanian Communist Party card buys the owner a one way ticket to the killing fields, that was my position. One and a half million corpses, and a well fashioned monument (not like the sort of crap the pantsuits produce) resting atop the carnage and clearly making the point : do what they did ; get what they got.
Needless to say, this... extremely minority view did not prevail. Instead of killing everyone, as was right and proper and ethically necessary, the counteroffer came (and was accepted) to kill just the guy (well, and his wife). This was roundly and soundly a mistake ; if anyone should have survived it was the guy, really. They could have made him a little cubby atop that monument, where he could've continued as Nikolai Stilpnicul, for as long as that lasted.
But enough about me ; let's get back to our fictitious antihero. He doesn't have any particular position ; more importantly : he wasn't even fucking there. He's lying about having been there, which is an entirely different thing, and here's what the difference is : I can disavow my actual presence. My deeds I can repent. I can change my mind. I can say I was wrong -- or maintain that I was right. Whatever it is, or rather whatever it was, in being an actual thing it therefore is separate from me, and this separation permits me to exist independently of it (and it independently of me). This is what doing, actually doing, does for you : it provides the exact thing the pantsuits dream to get and go around pretending like they got. The space between thought and matter, the room to say "I am first among sinners" or "Yet I do not repent me", as you choose, as you deem fit. Yes one's actual deeds define him ; but that definition is not immediate. It is mediated, by human reason, plurious and multiform.
Meanwhile pretense enjoys no such separation ; pretense defines one immediately (and not usually in the manner he aims for, either). The fact that this guy is lying about having taken part in the destruction of Romanian Communism, his pretense to hatred of it not to mention opposition to itv defines him in the following unexpected manner : the whole problem of Marxism as an attempt at understanding the world surroundant is the proposition that ownership of the means of production limits the actualization of the human being, wastes human potential and generally is an obstacle in the way of all that's right, good and proper. This is what communism even is, after all : the attempt to remove this perceived historical impediment they call "ownership of the means of production", such that people like our antihero there depicted can realise themselves.
The problem is, he thinks, not merely that he can't be an astronaut for the simple and direct reason of the patent absence of the means of production of astronautcy in the immediate environment such as he can access ; but also that his acquaintance the journalist can't be a journalist. Because he is a textile plant engineer, and that's that. Given the patent absence of the means of production of journalismcy, as patent as the other in any case, it therefore follows the guy's not a journalist, he just (falsely) claims to be a journalist. Which he isn't.
"What of all this gear lying about, then ?" comes the ready question (introduced most subtly in the filmvi -- the old guyvii wants to know, just like an old Romanian guy in that overcoat and hat would want to know -- how much the electricity bill comes to, "with all that gear" ; and then he predictably shudders at the very modest, three figure dollar monthly bill proposed). Well... what of it. Right ? The commie mind can spend a whole life chasing whatever "means of production" it has imagined, all the while leaving actual, present, prevalent opportunities of production to rot unused in the environment. Why not ? The is-ought problem isn't going away just because you're coming at it from a slightly different angle, right ?
Because that's the fundamental misunderstandingviii Marxism, and therefore Communism stem from : there's no such thing as "the means to production", as they understand it. Henry Ford, the personified arch-enemy of all these attempts at realising the neoprotestant city on a hill, notably took a walk through his factory yard one day and upon noticing reddish rusty color on some discard pile pointed out to his yard manager that since there's rust there must be iron, and he can't afford to waste iron, so kindly go through that pile and get it all out. What "means of fucking production" ?
In the very heart of the beast, in the middle of a complexly layered cake made out of that atrocious idea of putting foot-actionated lids on garbage cans and paying anal fingering teams to periodically visit the ("government"-provided) dwellings of the early nucleus of social welfare recipients, and once there anally finger their riper daughters lest they develop independent notionsix, among line upon line of concrete-and-mortar fortification, the lord of the manor walking discovers... what does he discover ?
Did Henry Ford find among "his means of production" the means, or the opportunity of further production ?
Capitalism is built by opportunists, not by purists ; and the problem of our anti-hero isn't so much that "the world" is mean and juicy and won't let him be what he is. His problem is rather that he won't let himself be whatever. Anything, really.
His problem is that his lovestory with communism is so ingrained, so deeply in his blood, so overpoweringly on top of his mind, he'd much rather pretend he himself opposed it rather than deal with the emotional & psychological pain of thinking that I fucked it for him, and it never recovered. He'd much rather drink himself to an agonizing death in an imaginary world where "he" shattered the dream than deal with the (potentially growth-driving, holy shit omg make it stop MAKEITSTOP make it stop!!! make it stop make it stop make it stop) situation where he had a dream and I made a hammer -- guess what happened next.
That is what he's pretending, and that's how his pretense characterizes him. Immediately, inescapably, and as you see not exactly in any way he'd want for himself. In fact -- in the polar and exact opposite of anything he'd want, and for a very good reason. That's how it always goes, after all. That's how it always goes for him.
And for you.———
- 2006, by Corneliu Porumboiu, with Mircea Andreescu. The title is very strong in Romanian for reasons much to do with specifically the way Romanian is strong ; obviously this means it doesn't have a direct equivalent in English, be it the Queen's or just some rando peripheral schmuck's. The producers have chosen a completely unrelated phrase (12:08 East Bucharest), which is about as dumb as they obviously despise you ; a more loving hand would have used "Did we or didn't we ?", barbarically inadequate as that may well be. After all, the difference between doing and being is the entire fucking point, isn't it. [↩]
- More specifically, a Romanian banc. [↩]
- Do you know the one with Sarah Silverman running into a roomful of dudes one day ?
They turn off the light and get to it ; but as there wasn't all that much woman to her to begin with, there's some... problems. Eventually one of the scrawnier dudes turns the light back on and yells at the top of his lungs : "Yo! Let's get the fuck organized over here, it's the third time someone shoves their cock in my mouth!" [↩]
- It hasn't changed an iota in the intervening thirty-one years, incidentally -- for instance it is my considered opinion that the only adequate response to the recent pantsuit hysterics are mass imprisonment of anyone who ever made public statements in support of the hysteria ; and straight-up execution for any politician in any position of power who did or omitted to do any one thing in furtherance of the concerned cuntlets conspiracy. High treason, it's a thing : this thing. [↩]
- No, the two aren't even vaguely related. As simple a lifeform as a slimy slug will readily find things to hate (eg, salt) ; but most people aren't capable of opposing anything, they've not the wherewithal let alone resources to achieve such a wonder as opposition. [↩]
- There's no shortage of subtility -- as a ready forinstance among a large pile, the first time they use the American plan is when the antihero is giving his obolus to his long-chaste wife. The first time, half way through the movie, think about it. [↩]
- Mircea Andreescu's performance in this thing is outright mindbending, you absolutely have to see this damn thing, I don't know character actors ever get this good. Not unless Walken, or Tilly, or Roth are doing them. The flags of the craft fly high, 'twas an honor to see. [↩]
- Understandable, too, seeing how it was sourced by some idiots who never did anything their whole lives, just sat in a garret somewhere and masturbated -- at a time before there was a word available to describe the otaku failure mode. [↩]
- Here's a fun little tidbit : there's no difference in spoken Romanian between iobagi, the plural form of the word for jobbagy, and "i-o bagi", the active form of sticking it into her. Because this is what a powerful language is and does, you see ? [↩]