Closure – the deep psychological need to terminate the pending issue, to finish the job, to say goodbye; complicated by the loss of a loved one; complicated by death. Closure: to close. It could be symbolised by the shutting of a door that had been left open. When closure is not achieved it gnaws at us (the Zeigarnik effect), as if we have left home and we have a sneaking suspicion that we forgot to close the door. So closure becomes a necessity, something we yearn for, desperately to quell our troubled souls. As if leaving something unfinished were a crime.
On a macro-psychological level, we have seen this yearning for closure appear in various political and theological models: firstly, as monotheism; secondly, as Imperialism and the yearning for world domination; thirdly, in Marxism; and most recently, in capitalism’s globalising economy, a fantasy most clearly expressed in Francis Fukuyama’s declaration of The End of History. All of these macro-psychological yearnings have been collective desires to escape the vicious circle of historical conflict by imposing a perfect, unquestionable system. But what would happen if the door of history were actually locked?
The end of history would be a limbo, lacking the lack that movement needs in order to recycle ourselves. A world without cycles would be an exterminating angel reality, in which, a new anti-closure need to leave would be continually denied us, in which time had come to a standstill, and the only space was that which enclosed us, and which had suddenly become claustrophobically small. We are referring of course to Buñuel’s Exterminating Angel, which was an anti-bourgeois comment. But since Buñuel our capitalism has progressed to a stage where globalisation has allowed it to spread its suffocating tentacles over the entire planet. With Fukuyama’s fantasy the End of History will not just trap the bourgeoisie and all its discrete charms, but it will swallow us all. All classes. All races. All nationalities.
Spanish film-maker, Álvaro Collar, has envisaged such an end of history, an end of all human cycles, and has taken it a step further than Buñuel, or, in another respect, has created his own cinematic cycle that folds back into Buñuel’s most psychological, Buñuel-Dalí cine-aesthetic, re-vindicating the power of the symbol. And this return to the symbol is deeply expressed in his tour de force series for Internet, The Third Place.
In The Third Place, the dark living room of the Exterminating Angel becomes a sleazy bar, populated not by the bourgeoisie, but by a varied fauna that seems to have seeped in from out of a leaking sewer-pipe: pimps and prostitutes, matriarchal mafiosi and their victims, transvestites and Nazis, innocent fools and two-bit faith healers, gamblers and murderers. The collection itself is surrealism and hyper realism at the same time, it’s not a dream, or is it? It is certainly a worming experience, gnawing into the subconscious. Collar folds his narrative over and around itself, creating a Baroque masterpiece, like a Bach fugue of Caravaggio imagery for the screen and the web.
What could being be at the end of history? What is reality when time has stopped; when the door is locked?
Collar’s story is narrated constantly on the symbolic level. Cycles are cycles of history, determined by planetary cycles. Marcocosmic cycles that we cannot escape from. We may fantasise about human progress but it is impossible to break out of our planetary condition. We are destined to revolve around the sun. We cannot escape that destiny, and if we did, the result would be end of time and history. The earth is not a space-ship, although in Collar’s series there are characters who have the fantasy that it should be, rocketing them away to the centre of the universe. Here we see the vanity of human dreams: that we could escape all cycles with our technology and sciences. Collar leaves us no doubt – The Third Place of human, anti-cycle desire is a nightmare.
In The Third Place the natural cycles have deteriorated: capitalism and human greed have devoured the world, and now their is no place left for expansion. Closure has been reached. The final closure of everything. The end of the task, the absolute end. There will be no new projects now. No more cycles. No renewal. No resurrections. Mother, all mothers, and mother nature herself, has closed her legs. There will be no more births and all foetuses must now perish in the womb.
Or, at least, that is our translation of the symbols. Yours may be very different, but if you are going to ever escape The Third Place once you have entered; if you are ever to hold the key and get out, you will have to translate those symbols yourself. Good luck.