klassieker: Vivre sa Vie (1962)


Episode 11 bevat het cafégesprek dat de hoofdpersoon Nana (Anna Karina) voert met taalfilosoof Brice Parain. Nana is prostituée geworden en probeert een klant op te pikken in een café. De man leest een boek, hij geeft geen krimp. Er ontstaat een bizar, genoeglijk gesprek: over onder andere de leugen als middel tot onderzoek naar het juiste woord, en liefde als waarheid in het leven.
 
Reviews
 
“Nana meets an old man in a café. After inquiring about what he is reading, Nana joins him at his table and they have a discussion about the meaning of discourse and one's ability to express oneself. The man is played by the real-life French philosopher Brice Parain, and in this scene, he extends the theory that our ability to express ourselves is directly related to our ability to know ourselves. Language is only as faulty as our ability to think, since thought is inseparable from our vocabulary.”
Source: http://www.criterionconfessions.com/2010/04/vivre-sa-vie-512.html
 
“One of the few scenes that breaks away from Nana and her story on prostitution and is more about her having a philosophical café discussion with Brice Parain (who was a life philosopher). They discuss communication, language and love as Nana questions who she is and her identity.
Nana tells Brice, "It's funny. Suddenly I don't know what to say. It happens to me a lot. I know what I want to say. I think about whether they're the right words. But when the moment comes to speak, I can't say it."  Brice then tells her a story from the Three musketeers and when dissecting the meaning of the character Nana says, "Why must one always talk? I think one should often just keep quite, live in silence. The more one talks, the less the words mean."
Brice answers by saying, "it's always struck me, the fact we can't live without speaking. We must think, and for thought we need words. There's no other way to think. To communicate, one must speak. That's our life. Speaking is almost a resurrection in relation to life. Speaking is a different life from when one does not speak. So, to live speaking one must pass through the death of life without speaking. I don't think one can distinguish a thought from the words that express it. A moment of thought can only be grasped through words."
Nana asks Brice what he thinks about love and if that should be the only truth and Brice says, "But for that, love would always have to be true. Do you know anyone who knows right off what he loves? No. When you're 20, you don't know. All you know are bits and pieces. You grasp at experience. At that age, 'I love' is a mixture of many things. To be completely at one with what you love takes maturity. That means searching. That's the truth of life. That's why love is a solution but on the condition that it be true."
Source: http://www.classicartfilms.com/vivre-sa-vie-1962
 
The divisions of this film are displayed as intertitles on the screen. In English translation:
 
Full text of dialogue in episode 11
·       Nana. Mind if l look?
·       Nana. You look bored.
·       Philosopher. Not at all
·       Nana. What are you doing?
·       Philosopher. l'm reading
·       Nana. Will you buy me a drink?
·       Philosopher. lf you like
·       Nana. Do you come here often?
·       Philosopher. Occasionally. l happened by
·       Nana. Why are you reading?
·       Philosopher. lt's my job
·       Nana. lt's odd. Suddenly l don't know what to say; it often happens to me. l know what l want to say. l think about whether it is what l mean. But when the moment comes to speak, l can't say it.
·       Philosopher. Yes, of course. You've read The Three Musketeers?
·       Nana. l saw the film. Why?
·       Philosopher. Because in it, Porthos, this is really in Twenty Years Later, Porthos, tall, strong, a little stupid,  he's never thought in his life. He has to place a bomb in a cellar to blow it up. He does it. He places the bomb, lights the fuse, then he runs away, of course. But suddenly he begins to think: What about? How it is possible to put one foot before the other?  You must have thought about that, too. So he stops running. He can't go on, he can't move forward. The bomb explodes, the cellar falls on him. He holds it up with his shoulders. But after a day, or maybe two, he is crushed to death. The first time he thought, it killed him.
·       Nana. Why did you tell me that story?
·       Philosopher. No reason, iust to talk
·       Nana. Why must one always talk? Often one shouldn't talk, but live in silence. The more one talks, the less the words mean.
·       Philosopher. Perhaps, but can one?
·       Nana. l don't know
·       Philosopher. l've found that we can't live without talking
·       Nana. l'd like to live without talking
·       Philosopher. Yes, it would be nice, wouldn't it? Like loving one another more. But it isn't possible
·       Nana. But why? Words should express just what one wants to say. Do they betray us?
·       Philosopher. But we betray them, too.  One should be able to express oneself. lt has been done in writing. Think: someone like Plato can still be understood - he can. Yet he wrote in Greek, 2,500 years ago. No one really knows the language, at least, not exactly. Yet something gets through, so we should be able to express ourselves. And we must
·       Nana. Why must we? To understand each other?
·       Philosopher. We must think, and for thought we need words. There's no other way to think. To communicate, one must talk; that is our life.
·       Nana. Yes, but it is very difficult. l think life should be easy. Your talk of The Three Musketeers may make a good story, but it's terrible
·       Philosopher. Yes, but it's a pointer. l believe one learns to talk well only when one has renounced life for a time. That's the price.
·       Nana. So, to speak is fatal?
·       Philosopher. Speaking is almost a resurrection in relation to life. Speech is another life from when one does not speak. So, to live in speech one must pass through the death of life without speech. l may not be putting it clearly, but there is a kind of ascetic rule that stops one from talking well until one sees life with detachment.
·       Nana. But one can't live everyday life with... l don't know
·       Philosopher. With detachment. We balance, that's why we pass from silence to words. We swing between the two because it's the movement of life. From everyday life one rises to a life we call superior. The thinking life. But this life presupposes one has killed the everyday too elementary life.
·       Nana. Then thinking and talking are the same thing?
·       Philosopher. So l believe. Plato said so; it's an old idea. One cannot distinguish the thought from the words that express it. An instant of thought can only be grasped through words.
·       Nana. So one must talk and risk lying?
·       Philosopher. Lies, too, are part of our quest. Errors and lies are very similar. l don't mean ordinary lies, like l promise to come tomorrow, but l don't, as l didn't want to. You see, those are ploys. But a subtle lie is little different from an error. One searches and can't find the right word. That's why you didn't know what to say.  You were afraid of not finding the right word. That's the explanation.
·       Nana. How can one be sure of having found the right word?
·       Philosopher. One must work. lt needs an effort. One must speak in a way that is right, doesn't hurt, says what has to be said, does what has to be done, without hurting or bruising. One must try to be in good faith.
·       Nana. Someone told me: ''There is truth in everything, even in error.''
·       Philosopher. That's true. France didn't see it in the seventeenth century. They thought one could avoid error and what's more, that one could live directly in the truth. lt isn't possible. Hence Kant, Hegel, German philosophy: to bring us back to life and make us see that we must pass through error to arrive at the truth.
·       Nana. What do you think about love?
·       Philosopher. The body had to come into it. Leibnitz introduced the contingent. Contingent truths and necessary truths make up life. German philosophy showed us that in life, one thinks with the servitudes and errors of life. One must manage with that, that's true
·       Nana. Shouldn't love be the only truth?
·       Philosopher. For that, love would always have to be true
·       Nana. Do you know anyone who knows at once what he loves?
·       Philosopher. No. When you're twenty you don't know. All you know are bits and pieces, you make arbitrary choices. Your ''l love'' is an impure affair. But to be completely at one with what you love, you need maturity. That means searching. This is the truth of life. That's why love is a solution, on condition that it is true.
Source: http://depthofreality.livejournal.com/53534.html
 
 
Resources for (early) Godard
 
Resources for VIVRE SA VIE
 
Resources for Godard
 
Some Websites