Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Roman Signer - 7th February 2008

written by Tom Trevatt

A man fires six rounds from a revolver towards a metal can whilst strapped into a weight loss vibration belt. The gunman’s hand vibrates too violently for his shots to be accurate. None hit their target. This neat vignette is mildly humorous and absurd. One wonders if Signer would have shown the film had any hit their target. If the can had been pierced would this film have worked? If the gunman had been successful then the film would not have been.

Old Shatterhand is a fictional character in sixteen western novels by German writer Karl May and is reportedly the alter ego of the author. His name refers to his ability with a rifle and the character in the books and 1964 film of the same name certainly exhibits an outstanding accuracy. Old Shatterhand was also the inspiration for a character played by Stewart Granger called Old Surehand, supposedly the meaning of sure hand being easier to grasp for its American audience.

Indeed shatterhand invokes stutter, shake, or scatter. Not the image of a western crack shot you expect. Glass shatters, as do plates or crockery. To be shattered is to be tired, exhausted. The gunman’s hand is shattered by exertion on the slimming machine. He stutters at the decisive moment, trembling before the decision to shoot, the decision to kill. The German gunman in Karl May’s novels wouldn’t stutter before taking the shot, Old Shatterhand here implies his hand fires a shattering shot. He shatters his victim. In Signer’s film the shots are scattered about his target, shaken off course by his stuttering, trembling caused by the (non-)exercise machine, the machine that exercises you without you having to work. Is this not exactly Zizek’s Interpassivity? Interpassivity, where something is experienced for you, where, following Marx, “things believe instead of us”. Zizek gives this example:

Is the Western liberal academic's obsession with the suffering in Bosnia not the outstanding recent example of interpassive suffering? One can authentically suffer through reports on rapes and mass killings in Bosnia, while calmly pursuing one's academic career (The Interpassive Subject, Slavoj Zizek)

One can calmly have the exercise experienced for you. Old Shatterhand as the ideal interpassive subject. Impotence lost by interpassivity, the subject supposed to believe has belief believed for them and can’t hit the can. All old heroes have to die.

7th February 2008, London

No comments: