the most vivid sign of life in the wholenfilm. An emptiness invades everyonenexcept the youngest sister, who had beenna baby in 1939, and the man’s aunt andnuncle who have the sturdiness, goodwillnand skeptical good sense that can comenfrom having lived longer than a regime.nThe film treats time as if it had stoodnstill, but also denies it. The countrynhouse of the sisters is full of servants;npeople ride horseback or in buggies; thenfew cars date from the thirties. Therenis plenty of food but the people do notneat. They devour. The children of onenof the sisters are dressed in starchednclothes like Victorians and study piano,nbut their father is in the Party. Everythingnreminds you of Europe before thenFirst World War, except there is nothingnlike confidence, only inertness. Younwonder if you are in any place on earth.nYou do not know how to enter the filmnor how to stay out of it (except by leavingnthe theatre).nThe blatant sexuality in the movientells the most about this ambiguity ofntime, for nobody in such surroundingsnbefore the War of 1939 would havenacted with such desperate shamelessnessnalthough some might have fantasizednabout it. The women act as if makingnlove were nothing more than a physicalnact. (As I watched, I understood whatnAndre Amalrik meant about totalitarianismnin mini-skirts and dungarees.)nThis feelinglessness implies brutality,na brutality everywhere implicit in thisnmovie in which nothing happens.nMore than the women, the main character,nthe man, makes you understandnthe unexperienced desperation in pretendingnnothing has happened, becausenyou cannot understand what has occurred.nHis sensuality mirrors the sensualitynof the women. Indifferent,nconceited, he lets you understand thatnhe has had them all—or could have ifnhe had wanted. His boredom transfixesnhim. Neither innocence nor knowledgengrows when time stands still. Thesencreatures move like domestic animalsnin their well-appointed houses. Theynlook like they are lost in office corridorsn34inChronicles of Culturenwhen they walk out into their gardensnand, worse still, into their meadows. Innthis powerlessness there is unacknowledgednterror which nags at these charactersnlike the last hint of life.nWajda’s own ambiguity is palpablenwhen he photographs the countryside.nHe pretends to look with nineteenthncentury eyes, not the eyes of an impressionist,nbut the eyes of somebody whonmade the impressionists necessary, likenMillet. There are shots of the countrysidenwith the sun barely distinguishablenin the mist, even of the dawn risingnthrough the glowing haze—the kind ofnsight only a Turner should dare. Thenmore Wajda “shot” nature in his unabashednmanner the more somethingntold me it was not shots of nature hentook but interiors. He unwittingly confessesnthat there is no way to go outsidenno matter how much he looks.nThe Poland of this movie is thenPoland of twenty-five years ago lookingnat the Poland of fifteen years beforenOn Human FailingsnA remarkable feat in hagiography hasnbeen achieved in the New York TimesnMagazine which ran a sentimental lifenstory of Sen. Edward Kennedy by a certainnAnne Fleming, next to which Pollyannanseems to have been written by anstreetwise naturalist of the NormannMailer school. As everybody shouldnknow, Edward Kennedy was once expellednfrom Harvard for cheating on annexam. There’s no way Ms. Fleming cannsee this trivial but indicative incidentnother than as a tragedy that reflectsnSen. Kennedy’s greatness of mind, heartnand honor. She writes:n”So, trying not to fail his father in onenway, he failed him in another…”nWhich is meant to say that even if henhad tortured squirrels he would havenLiberal Culturennnthat, not contemporary Poland with itsnnervous trendiness which Wajda addressedndirectly in another recent film.nThe Man of Marble. By showing thatnliving eyes (including his) cannot seenthis contemporary Poland, Wajda meansnwe have been left out, we have left ourselvesnout of our own history, all of us,neven those of us who happen to live innthe West, for we too do not make goodnsense of ready realities nor remembernmuch, although there is nothing stoppingnus—except ourselves.n* * *nThe “Paris-Moscow” exhibitionnshows time brought to a halt when itnshows a generation of painters,nand more, strangled. This exhibitionnalso tells something of what that destructionndid to us.nWajda means this emptiness (whichnI have been calling time standing stillnand which we usually call “totalitarianism”nas if it were something) is an absencenof almost everything, of life, ofnhad no other choice but to do it for thensake of his father. Harvard University,nof course, knowing that there are limitationsnto even a great school’s respectability,nreadmitted young Kennedynsome time later.nThe liberal press’ ingenious methodnof dealing with presidents is to see themnthrough a set of meticulously prescribednlenses. With Sen. Kennedy’s appearancenon the scene as a potential candidate,nthe New York Times gives us andirective for how this statesman shouldnbe perceived. He must be reported to usnonly by worshipers; critics’ opinions ofnhim matter as much as Sakharov’snopinions matter to Pravda. He thus willnemerge as a statue, a synthetic Parsifal,nLittle Lord Fauntleroy, Jefferson andnAlexander the Great. Chappaquiddicknwill no longer make him look suspiciousn—only tragic. After all—everything fornfather… •n