Danse Macabre

In the closing scene of  Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal, which happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time, one of the characters, the travelling minstrel, has a vision.

I see them! Over there against the stormy sky. They are all there. The smith and Lisa, the knight, Raval, Jöns, and Skat. And the strict master Death bids them dance. He wants them to hold hands and to tread the dance in a long line. At the head goes the strict master with the scythe and hourglass. But the Fool brings up the rear with his lute. They move away from the dawn in a solemn dance towards the dark lands while the rain cleanses their cheeks from the salt of their bitter tears.

The Seventh Seal is about man’s pursuit for meaning. A knight, back from fighting the Crusades, tries to understand his place in God’s plan, but instead of the answers he seeks, he finds the Grim Reaper, misery, and the silence of the great beyond. God, if he exists, does not care for human suffering. The only truth is Death, the inevitable end to everything, and religion, love, and faith are nothing but feverish convulsions of the human mind.

But this post is not about the symbolism and the imagery of the Seventh Seal, one can write a book on that.

It is about the Dance. The Danse Macabre.

There is a duality in dance.

When you are in possession of your own agency, there are few greater expressions of joy, rhythm, and independence than dance.

And when someone else makes you dance, it becomes a perversion of exactly these things.

Like frogs strung out on copper wire and animated by bolts of electricity, you shake your legs and move your hands, at the bidding of a power to whom you have surrendered.

In Seventh Seal, it is death who has dominion over souls. So he does not just make them walk. He makes them dance.

But death is not the only invariant. So is money.

There is something mythically terrifying watching some of the most powerful men and women of the world dance at the Ambani wedding, Because while we may never see Death, or at least an anthropomorphism of him, outside film, in real life we may get to see Money.

For death may make us dance in death, but Money makes us dance in life.

There is no feeling superior here. We all dance.

Hillary, Kerry, Salman, Shahrukh.

Me and you.

All that changes is how much it takes, the price we put on our agency.

Because at the end, as it is in the beginning, and all the way throug, the strict master bids them dance.

 

8 thoughts on “Danse Macabre

  1. Speaking as one of your silent albeit mahority of blog reader / podcast listener, this is a welcome update. As much as the audio podcast is a convenience, I like a nice read. Keep it going.

  2. As if the monstrosity of a building they call home was not tasteless enough, they need to shout out their vulgar tastes in this public manner. I am not sure if this is real life imitating reel life or the other way around!

  3. Weddings are a celebration with family and friends. The Barjatya template got upgraded by the Yash Chopra/Karan Johar template and is quickly getting standardised across the country. The daughter of the richest man in Asia got married and it was celebrated by their friends and family. I am pretty sure the Khans and the Bachchans didn’t charge for this; only Beyonce did. Let’s leave it at that. Why comment about a wedding you and I were not invited to?

  4. Tumbadd hangover

  5. yes money can make whole continents dance

  6. wait ..plz confirm … are those salman and aish dancing next to each other in the pic ?

  7. Could not agree more – and the hubris that must come with the territory. Every one has a price – when met they will dance – the rich, the famous and the presidential hopefuls. He bought them all.

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