It’s another case of utter disbelief. It can be said that disbelief arises, as a primal reaction, before knowledge, rationality, and analysis roll in and suffocate it; attempts to domesticate it, tame the volatile components and explain it away, perhaps even normalizing it. How else to treat something that overwhelms the imagination? At the same measure, probing the sense of disbelief, seems to inevitably result in appeals to nostalgia, giving rise to the grotesque and perverse under the guise of kitsch.To commodify disbelief instead of understanding the unease of the uncanny, and the role of the inexplicable and the excessive.
Below is part of Slavoj Zizek’s famous essay touching on uncanny disorientation, which brought the reader more viscerally and immediately into the sphere of the victim, the twisted ideologies of abuse and hatred as redemption.Although it takes a quasi-ritual turn, desires for idealized fantasies, ultimately we arrive at a brick wall, a kind of Heart of Darkness one found in Joseph Conrad’s novel; where if we stay too long there is the risk incurred of becoming disoriented through excess and overwhelming all conceivable categories such that everything assumed the tag of sublime, from the exhaustion of perception….
The case of Fritzl thus validates Lacan’s pun on perversion as père-version, version of the father – it is crucial to note how the underground secret apartment complex materializes a very precise idelogico-libidinal fantasy, the extreme version of father-domination-pleasure? One of the mottos of the May ’68 was “all power to fantasy” – and, in this sense, Fritzl is also a child of ’68, ruthlessly realizing his fantasy.
This is why it is misleading, even outright wrong, to designate Fritzl as “inhuman” – if anything, he was, to use Nietzsche’s title, “human, all too human.” No wonder Fritzl complained that his own life had been “ruined” by the discovery of his secret family. What makes his reign so chilling aspect of his reign is precisely the way his brutal is that his exercise of power and his usufruct of the daughter were not just a cold act of exploitation, but were accompanied by an ideologico-familial justification (he did what a father should do, protecting his children from drugs and other dangers of the outside world), as well as by occasional displays of compassion and human considerations (he did take the ill daughter to the hospital, etc.). These acts were not breaches of warm humanity in his armor of coldness and cruelty, but parts of the same protective attitude that made him imprison and violate his children. …
…The key fantasmatic scene of the film is the one after the children and Maria return from their trip to Salzburg, dirty and wet; the angry baron first plays the strict disciplinarian father, coldly dismissing them and reprimanding Maria; when, however, he thereafter returns to the house and hears them singing in chorus “The hills are live…”, he immediately breaks down and shows his true gentle nature: he starts to hum silently the song and then joins them singing – after the song, they all embrace, father and children are reunited. Father’s ridiculously theatrical disciplinarian rituals and orders thus appear what they are: a mask of its very opposite, a soft and gentle heart… So what has this to do with Fritzl? Wasn’t Fritzl a fanatical-terrorizing disciplinarian with no soft spot in the heart? This, exactly, is not true: Fritzl’s power was used to enforce his heart’s dream, he was not a cold disciplinarian, but, precisely, the one who was too much “alive with music” and wanted to directly realize his dream in a private space of his own.
In the last years of the Communist regime in Romania, Nicolae Ceaucescu was asked by a foreign journalist how does he justify the constraints on foreign travel imposed to Romanian citizens – is this not a violation of their human rights? Ceaucescu answered that these constraints are here to protect an even higher and more important human right, the right to have a safe home, which would have been threatened by too much free travel… was he not reasoning here like Fritzl, who also protected his children’s “more fundamental” rights to a safe home, where they will be protected from the dangers of the outside world? Or, to use Peter Sloterdijk’s terms, Fritzl protected his children’s rights to live in a safe self-enclosed sphere – while, of course, reserving to himself the right to transgress the barrier all the time, up to visiting the Thai sex tourist places, the very embodiment of the danger he wanted his children protected from. Remember that Ceaucescu also perceived himself as a caring paternal authority, the father protecting his nation from the foreign decadence – as in all authoritarian regimes, the basic relationship between the ruler and his subject was also the one of unconditional love.
In his care for his own house, the city of Bucharest, Ceaucescu made a proposal which strangely recalls the architecture of Fritzl’s house: in order to solve the problem of t:http://www.lacan.com/thesymptom/?p=419