Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Enigmatic Narrative

Meshes of the Afternoon was ahead of the time by focusing on fragments of the subconscious mind’s depiction, referred to as poetic psychodrama. It externalizes disjointed mental processes, drama, and potential dreams through doppelganger figures bringing extraordinary poetic cinematic reenactments. Maya Deren writes and directs the surreal, experimental, and memorable short film; Deren herself plays the enigmatic protagonist.

She enters a dream world where she starts herself in the same actions and places around her house and inside. She chases after a strange, mirror-faced figure in a chilling spiral narrative. We witness flashes of different versions of herself, observing herself. With a few changes, she ritually performs almost identical movements within the domestic chamber. The feeling of doom and fright shifts the camera from the objective to the subjective angle and vice versa.

When the protagonist’s self-representation alternates between the “other” and the “dichotomous,” the domestic space revolves around specific symbolic objects. Through Deren’s interests, everything in the film transforms into interior conditions. Apart from going beyond the limits of self-construction and personality, it gives rise to depersonalization or incongruity. The world’s subjective experience, double life, and self-obsession culminate in a dream story of death.

Transcendent Space

Symbolically, it refers to the non-rational initial stage of a transcendent function. The symbolic confrontation with the unconscious leads to an ego, which also has the integrating effect of neurotic dissociation. On the other hand, it leads to a reconciling separation and liberating mindset between two opposites: the unconscious and the ego. Meshes of the Afternoon lacks continuity in the film’s disjointed dream narrative.

After catching her reflection that distorted the polishing knife, the woman climbed the stairs inside the house. Unexpectedly, she emerges from the window in a caressing, wrapping, and haunting shot of the semi-transparent soft curtain. Strangely, it blows the various directions in the cramped space; the camera follows the motion of the liquid as she crawls up the stairs. She tried to hang on and levitate on the object.

Finally, she hangs in a crucified position on the wall. The moment evokes the concept of out-of-body experiences. With her presence creating a larger-than-life image behind her, the woman sees herself in the first scene through the window. She started to follow the black-robed figure holding flowers outside. Despite not catching up, she enters the house; subjective camera movement switches to a version of herself, and she catches a dark-robed apparition’s glimpse walking up the stairs.

The Act of the Dream

In what seems like reality but turns out to be a dream within a dream, a woman and a man retrace the ghostly steps of the hooded dream character. In femininity, flowers act as a symbol of sexuality and death. The man brought the flower upstairs, leaving it on the bed. It becomes a gesture that echoes the act of the dream. However, we see it in a different context: intimacy rather than a funeral or religious act.

The camera switches to a predatory look on his face. She took a knife and tried to stab his face when he was about to touch her. After snapping the male reflection in the bedside mirror, we see her lying through the male gaze. The men went into the house again to find a dead woman on the couch. She committed suicide by cutting herself with a mirror, breaking the mirror, and the man’s face shattered into pieces.

At such a point, Deren includes another connection between the dream figure and the man, depicting the moment the worlds intertwine as gaps that let the light of the other world shine through. The juxtaposition of objects contributes to feelings of paranoia and fear. The mysterious figure left flowers, a silent record player, and a loose phone.

Spatial Reality

The key and knife are falling, laying the groundwork for transforming familiar environments into something ambiguous and confusing between repeated use, temporal and spatial distortion, duplication, forced repetition, and making dreams a reality. The surface-level association with danger and death has a contrasting effect on femininity. However, death in such a context represents feelings, repression, and trapped confinement.

In contrast, it was possible to escape when the woman took the key out of her mouth. The link between suicide and escape symbolizes death and introspection, with mirror cuts figuratively referring to the disintegration of identity constructs. Deren strongly disapproves of and strongly opposes the psychoanalytic interpretation of her films. Symbolic meanings may revolve around the objects in the film.

Instead, it encourages us to only interpret it in the context of the film’s narrative wholly, beyond conscious intent. The questions and their limitations too deeply carry the unconscious and conscious meaning behind the film. Going too deep carries the risks of having surrealism with an unclose intention but obscure for interpretation. After all, Deren’s art is lyrical in its symbolic nature, influencing many film critics and scholars and creating associations of poetic images before expressing themselves through resemblances in words and thoughts.

Jung’s Transcendence

Meshes of the Afternoon deals with an individual’s inner experiences and is relevant and transparent. It does not record events that others can view. Preferably, it reproduces how individuals subconsciously develop; it interprets the ordinary but painless differences in critical emotional experiences. The multiplicity of characters relates to the potential for reintegration, spiritual fragmentation, and alienation.

Passively, the protagonist’ persona observes another, more powerful persona. It holds knives and keys, kills itself as symbolism, and acts as a layer of the dream world peeled off into the real world. When considering the thought, especially Jungian, the film represents a visual representation of Carl Jung’s transcendence. It has an integral effect that combines the manifestations of character dissociation.

However, the process involves frightening instincts, dreams, and fantasies that challenge panic and fear. In short, we know that Deren has a preoccupation with self-transformation. She is fond of attaining higher spiritual levels. According to her, the ritualistic form of treating humans is not a source of dramatic action. However, it’s an element we depersonalize slightly in a substantial setting.

Such depersonalization is not the destruction of the individual and enough enlarges it and transcends the personal dimension of personality boundaries and specialization.

Grand Measure

It becomes part of a dynamic whole. Like all kinds of creative relationships, it endows the passages with a grand measure of meaning. The two often go hand in hand and involve feelings of detachment from reality and one’s thoughts. When someone is experiencing it, they may feel like an outside observer of their mental processes. Such also applies to the film; the protagonist is in a constant trance as she navigates the web of dreams.

However, Deren attracts attention with what he calls a verbal image, an object of literary art that evokes ideas or emotions. It will lead directly to the meaning, mentioning that a chair in a narrative is not just a symbol but a verbal image. The idea that an object cannot exist without its form refers to what Deren considers a prime example of an accurate description of reality. The interpretation must extend to art as a whole, functioning as an intellectual and emotional complex.

Logic forms everything and preserves the components. Thus, she chooses a variety of adjectives in classifying the use of application methodology, formal structure, purpose, and creativity. She prefers experimental films to highlight the works she has produced so far rather than labeling them avant-garde films.

Forming Fictional Structure

Simply put, Deren preferred the experimental use to avant-garde because she considered experimental to be a term that better captured her concept of method. When we fix dreams into a visual form and create a dream experience, it is more important than the image we present inside. As a result, the fantasies that affect us the most are nightmares. Assuming the nature of dreams, Meshes of the Afternoon act to understand a piece of music without being able to translate it into verbal terms.

It creates a story in the narrative sense of the word. Effectively, the impression that nightmares or ordinary dreams construct represents the objects the film depicts, whether knives, keys, or flowers. As a dream, Deren’s film does not have a linear form internal structure to represent the story with fictional words. Thus, the effectiveness of Deren’s narrative manipulates the sequence and change of elements in an anagram.

For example, Deren comments on the film’s first sequence, which concerns the events. However, the woman is asleep, and her dreams consist of manipulating the elements of the incident. Everything has a suggestion in the first order: the knife, the key, the ladder, and the disappearing figure around a bend in the road.

Glimpse of Memory

On her way to someone else’s house, a woman finds a flower in the street and takes it with her. When she arrived, she caught a body’s glimpse disappearing around a bend in the road near her. She attempted to unlock the locked front door. She took out the key herself; it slipped from her hand and fell down the outside stairs. She chases it and climbs the stairs again before finally entering the house.

While waiting, she fell asleep. In her dream, the experience she had just had started to repeat itself. However, it is always in a different but strange way. A tall woman in black disappeared around a corner. She brought the flowers that the woman found but slowly walked. She chased herself but was never able to catch her. When she saw herself coming to the house three times, she slept in the chair too.

Since then, the events that started so directly have become increasingly complex and emotional. Regardless, the lethargy seemed to lighten up throughout Meshes of the Afternoon. When we always see the woman repeating the same movements, the protagonist is training what Deren calls memory eyes.

Complementing the Scenes

Although she never explains the expression, we can conclude that the woman is trying to remember what happened before the incident. In such a way, she constantly revisits the places, trying to reconstruct the crime scenes. The protagonist will develop objects such as knives and others, where the relationship with the inside of herself will describe and interpret events that seem ordinary and simple into critical emotional experiences.

We can take the film as an illustration not only of chess games. However, it is also all board games and even children’s games. In understanding the various complementary sequences of the film and its alternative objects, there are several games for us to play. However, the question is: what’s wrong with the image? It becomes an allusion to the game. The film is a “must-see” because of the anagrammatic arrangement of objects and sequential scenes.


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