Today’s post is a departure from the usual Science stuff, ‘cos I’ve got to get this off my chest before I walk the plank!
Do you know “Debaser” by the Pixies? You can listen to it below, because it is my favourite Pixies song (in fact, the only one I can stand listening to more than once.)
The chorus is catchy, and he says it so angry-like – YARR! “I am Un CHIEN Andalusia, I am Un CHIEN Andalusia, I am Un CHIEN Andalusia, I want to be, be a DEBASER!”
This song has been in a friend’s head for about a week, and in true friend-fashion he wasted no time in getting it permanently stuck in my head by saying “slicing up eyeballs, woah oh oh oh” to me three times a day. Well it got stuck to the point that I decided I needed to research it to unstick it. I’m not sure this was the best plan of action…
Still, the damage be done. And let me share what I learned with you, as a friend would share a cold, or a drink, or a cold drink.
The song is about an old movie made by none other than Salvidor “watch out for that dripping clock” Dali and Luis Buñuel called “Un Chien Andalou,” which is surreal in the extreme. You can check it out at You Tube (Part 1 and Part 2.) I’m not going to embed it, because frankly it’s just too disturbing.
I’m not a huge fan of surrealism. Life, the universe and everything are unknowable and random enough for me. I like my art to be aesthetically pleasing with clear and unclouded symbolism. Consider the Circe Invidiosa:
She’s pouring green stuff because it represents poison and jealousy, that green-eyed monster beget upon itself, feeding upon itself. The picture is pretty, it says something, and you can analyse the symbols like a puzzle and say “ah ha, of course that’s what it means.” Not so with surrealism. This bizzaro movie is like a dream, with all bits leading to other bits because… well… because they do. There’s no explanation, and no ATTEMPT at explanation. To quote Wikipedia Buñuel made clear throughout his writings that, between Dalí and himself, the only rule for the writing of the script was that “no idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted.”
This wasn’t the only time Buñuel copped out of explaining his films. To quote the wiki again, On one occasion, when his son was interviewed about The Exterminating Angel, Buñuel instructed him to give facetious answers; for example, when asked about the presence of a bear in the socialites’ house, Buñuel fils claimed it was because his father liked bears. Similarly, the several repeated scenes in the film were explained as having been put there to increase the running time. What a nut!
The lead singer of the Pixies said that the song is about how the movie debases standards of art and morality. To me it sounds like a tribute, and anyway, who were the Pixies to set standards of art, huh? The movie was pretty popular when it came out, and Bowie (my favourite musician!) played it instead of having a warm-up band at some of his concerts.
All said, I actually enjoyed the film in a haunting kind of way. From the first scene “slicing up eyeballs” to the last, inexplicably buried in sand, it was an interesting film and made you think. It felt like a dream, to which we grab after with spaghetti fingers and try to squeeze into a ball and explain away, but which sticks stubbornly and evasively to the subconscious and whispers…