Son of Saul – another view
Kozma György /Geo Cosmos (in: magazine Movie World, Hungary – "Filmvilág”, September, 2015)
(The Son of Saul is also a movie by the actor Geza Röhrig. From the point of view of the Hasid tradition we may decipher some until now hidden meanings in this movie.)
My Grandfather was killed in Auschwitz. They say he died already on the train. He was the editor of the greatest German daily then, the Pester Lloyd. But his twin brother fled to Paris and from there to the US. He became a University lecturer and among his students, he met Henry Kissinger, who later became Secretary of State. Then Mr. Kissinger was in his early 20s –an intern in the Oval Office. When he found out that my Great Uncle wrote in the journal "Indigo” edited by Sigmund Freud, he asked him to write daily reports in a Freudist perspective about the Nazi newspapers for the President.
The main conclusion of this analysis was that Nazis are victims of fatherly violence and abuse. For this they hate their fathers – but this must be denied and hidden so this anger will be projected onto the People of the Father, the Jews. This is why in the focus of all extreme rightist views we always find the fear of joy and sexuality, closeness. Because in reality they are attracted to men, who are vicarious fathers for them, having this fathering deficit. The anger stems from this feeling of attraction to men, while they must keep a distance to fathers or men in general, as their only emotional language is violence, so this feeling of love must be hidden.
This points the way to potential therapies (offered by the Budapest analyst Sandor Ferenczi and rejected by Freud in the 1910s and 20s): namely, the non-erotic touch or embrace by the therapist. The "inner abandoned child” (a Jungian concept, probably a hormonal structure) of the client needs this touch and this need is non-negotiable. Non-erotic it must be because the inner child cannot process sexuality as yet - it interprets it as violence. There are statistical data that show that since (in the first decade after the end of the war in 1945 in the US) they started decriminalizing certain sexual relationships, and stopped punishing traditionally prohibited versions such as the same-sex relationships including touch between men – since then there appear fewer and fewer clients claiming they suffer from some compulsive paranoid syndrome in clinical settings.
Extreme racism begins to become more and more marginal and there is less propagation of murderous violence.
Naturally sexuality is a dangerous "drug” for everyone (who has suffered infantile harm), for hetero people too. The essential for all of us is to receive the gestural language expressions (touchings) of parental acceptance, and this would have a recovering effect on the long run for the whole of society. The scientist who summed up the anti-Freudist attacks, Adolf Grünbaum, accepts in his book the fact that these statistics are the only outside (non-clinical) proofs of Freud’s original contention that paranoia (and xenophobia ) is always related to (latent, unwanted, distonic, non-harmonic) trauma-induced (hence non-genetic) homosexuality. This discovery was one of the indirect causes of decriminalization of same-sex relationships.
As I have thus been informed by the Shoah-survivor brother of my grandfather that the only solution against the dangerous escalation of historical debates between violently raised Nazis and extremists with leftists Liberals – I simply cannot imagine that the regular mainstream "enlightening” gestures are sufficient, although they are needed. When people recite again and again (in books and movies) that cruelty was rampant (and only slowly gradually diminishing) in the past, this does not stop hurt souls raised in violence and authoritarianism from becoming homophobic paranoiacs and condemnaholic anger-addicts. They are here to stay (until they join a self-help group anonymously.)
So I went to see the movie "Son of Saul” simply by chance, when someone on Facebook told she had an extra ticket and I went for it. The chair next to me was empty. The lights went out and a shadow slipped into the hall and a bearded man sat on it. It was the protagonist, Mr. Röhrig. When he recognized me as his seat neighbour, he whispered to me: "I saved your blog.”
My blog (www. historicweeklymelody. wordpress.com) is about the Budapest Kabbalah of the twenties and about the book of the Zohar (Radiance). Mr. Röhrig, then a teenager, was the very first person who told me about this ancient Jewish-Muslim-Christian psycho-therapeutic folklore book. The Zohar claims that the Bible is not a historic story but it talks about inner psychic events. The slaves are fleeing not in the real world, but only in our fantasy, in our inner desert. Let us read Ego-point instead of Egypt or Yes-Real instead of Israel. And let us say Mother instead of the Heaven or Desire instead of the Land and so on.
The Kabbalah is a way to change the meanings of words and they use concepts of Body Parts and Family Relations instead of all the main words of this ancient text. ( This is needed because that is a good way to be able to retain the freshness of repetitive daily Bible readings all through the decades or
centuries. Other Kabbalistic trends use numbers for the same reason, as all letters signify numbers in Hebrew and hence it is easy to find similarities and codes.) Freud did have the Zohar on his bookshelf and one of his first clients was the Hasid Rebbe of Lubavich.)
Hence it is not by chance that Mr. Geza Röhrig, the protagonist of the "Son of Saul”, spent a whole month in his twenties in the Lager Museum of Auschitz, to meditate and write poems and to process inwardly the sufferings of his beloved step-grandparents – and then at once he traveled to Israel (and eventually to New York) in the 90s and he converted to become a Hasid, a traditional Jew. Eventually (after finishing the New York theological Seminary) he lost his family in a divorce – but stayed in the city as a corpse washer. Hasids (or Hasidim) are different from modernist Jews (like the Reformists and Conservatives – and among them the Hungarian "Neologs”) in so far as they do not accept or "assimilate” all the Western customs and behaviors. For instance men can dance only with other men and they are obliged to learn ancient text interpretations all day long, singing them while they are sitting close to each other, knees and backs always touching. They focus on the Zohar first of all among the different traditional interpretations of the Bible. (At least some groups do focus on this inner recovery journey.) There are exceptions but statistics indicate that in these groups addictions (among them sexual compulsivity) are rare. It follows that the Nazi paranoid homophobia (stemming from family violence) must turn with a special hatred against these religious (and among them Hasid) Jews, because extreme violence is prohibited in those families and the men are raised in a non-erotic touching by other men (which translates as unconditional fatherly acceptance).
So the movie "The Son of Saul" gets this unexpected success due to its focus on a father who actually does care for his son, if only in death. This zooming in upon the "son” of protagonist Saul – conveyed so authentically by Mr. Geza Röhrig - enhances our feeling of being ourselves at last in the arms of a caring father. We all are constantly yearning for this feeling of unconditional acceptance. To be sitting next to the protagonist during the projection certainly helped me to feel this.