|Never trust the camera|
Are you watching closely?
Enemy (2013) proves that no guy feels emasculated by women. He thinks men, in general, are emasculated by women, but not himself. It shows how, once again, that improving your life requires occupying the overlap of chaos and order - in a garden.
But like every garden, there's a snake at the end.
Not knowing who I am, not knowing what I'm supposed to do next and what I'm not supposed to bother doing next makes us long for characters who know precisely what to do next even if it is the wrong thing. They may be flawed, but they are definite. They exist. Enemy is full of these people. But they are the opposite of role models. Stop looking at them.
The story is simple - and you should watch it. Broadly, Jake Gyllenhaal is a boring professor who discovers by chance another man who looks exactly like him in a b-rate movie. Surprised, he tries to make contact with him(self). They eventually meet up and stuff happens. But the movie isn't about Jake.
Most reviews say (spoiler alert) there is only one Jake. The duplication is a projection of his own subconscious as he tries to cope - Breaking Bad-style - with a life of routine, marriage and a not-yet baby. But that's not the right analysis. The most important characters are Jake's wife (Helen) and girlfriend (Mary) - based on Jake's two projections of himself as actor and professor.
The Enemy is the subconscious, but it's not Jake's.
Try to keep up.
Erich Neumann and Carl Jung said there are two basic "hero stories" directing human lives: the masculine and the feminine.
In the masculine hero story, the man engages in an adventure to overcome a dragon to protect the village and recover the gold. The dragon is a symbol of the chaotic and the gold a symbol of civilisation. Although you can see it in most films, the masculine hero story plays out most vividly in St George and the Dragon.
In the feminine hero story, the woman recognises the need to civilise the masculine entity for the purpose of procreation. The feminine is the archetypal symbol of society, so if the male sticks around only to conquer a female for sex, then society and her offspring cannot be protected. The feminine hero story plays out best in Beauty and the Beast (or 50 Shades of Grey).
So, how are these two basic archetypes displayed? Each time Helen (wife) is onscreen, she expresses fear and sadness, but she doesn't know why she's anxious. Just like 99% of hot girls, she has no idea she is running a 1,000,000-year-old operating system tucked well outside her control. Yet she fully recognises the destructive effect she is having on her husband.
No one seems to notice this tension. And yes, I know exactly why no one noticed it.
Most people seem to think the conflict in the story is "actor" Jake secretly engaging in fetish sex parties with a creepy spider theme (more on that later). I'll admit, there's something powerful about him. But what really got my attention is "professor" Jake's interactions with his mother. Knowing that they're the same person, it felt too real. Like it wasn't a real part of the film:
"The last thing you need is to be meeting strange men in hotel rooms. You have enough trouble sticking with one woman, don't you?"Gee, thanks, every mum ever. Pay attention to that line. Every man has heard some version of that hate speech. It doesn't matter who is saying it, what matters is what's being said.
When the two Jakes finally talk to each other on the phone, the camera positions itself in "actor" Jake's apartment. That's a clue to who's subconscious this story belongs to. When the camera settles, Helen asks:
"Who was on the phone? Are you seeing her? Are you seeing her again?"If that question can be asked at Level 10 with yelling and screaming and pots and pans flying, then I'd say it was asked at about Level 3 - maybe four. I watched her jaw twitch. This is not a story about Jake. No way. Her jaw movement makes just enough noise to become no threat. Just enough for catharsis, but never enough for change. A protest that perpetuates the status quo.
Then the camera shows Helen as pregnant, revealing her question is a female fear of being left alone. Her wellbeing is the primary concern. The narrative is the feminine hero story. And as her story unfolds, both Jake and the baby are seen - by her - as supporting cast. Only a taught narcissistic psychology would see her as heroic when right in front of you and your eyeballs you can observe she is the least heroic of all. But not even the camera will save you.
Helen is a typical girl. Her target is not Jake, but his masculinity. A woman's basic measurement of success is procreation - sex is seen as feminine by the female. Men don't care about their body. Thier sexual actions are frivolous, and women hate it. There are billions of sperm in each shot, so it doesn't matter where they land. But a woman has a fixed amount of eggs and it's not in her nature to be frivolous.
Mum and wife are the same enemies to Jake. Their comments are manipulations to destroy his basic male nature. They are a clash of two hero stories in a zero-sum game. Thier manipulation aims to kill Jake's natural masculinity into a civilised man because they have the power. Every muscle twitch is part of a constant attack, slicing away pieces of Jake. The attack is constant, unrelenting and patient.
Like a spider.
I count four appearances of spiders in the film: first in the sex club where the arachnid is squashed by a prostitute's heel, then as a mask, then as a giant spider above Toronto city, and finally in Jake's bedroom. All are important.
Understand that the spider is the archetypal symbol of the feminine. The masculine transforms into a worker bee drawn to a flower while the feminine is depicted as a spider weaving a web invisible to the bee until it's too late. When a relationship is in harmony, the bee won't notice it is stuck in the web. It will lose interest in all honey except from one flower, and the spider will make the web visible to all other bees.
What's wrong about this picture?
|You're being permitted to debate the consequences because |
you've unknowingly accepted the form of the argument
That enormous spider above Toronto is a signifier of not just Jake's mother, but the Great Mother of civilisation. I don't see a hive anywhere, and I feel sick.
All the men below its eight skyscraper-high legs are inferior. She is not crouching poised or devouring the city. The spider is simply waiting, standing. As if governing the city. Her web is the patchwork of roads and highways, apartment buildings and traffic. Who doesn't feel trapped when driving in traffic? Cars are a symbol of human freedom. And yet, the camera shows them lined up, bumper to bumper flowing in an orderly direction. Any driver can leave the road to grasp the freedom of his hero story at any time. But all I is see silence. as if the cars are caught by some invisible web.
The spider is the performance of the feminine hero story by the institutions of the state. Schooling, work, jobs, police, rules, social cues, handshakes, bowing, "good morning, sir." The social contract both completes the female's hero story, but also robs her of the chance to perform it herself. The so-called "bad boys" of today are nowhere near as barbaric as men of previous centuries. Her frustration is naïveté, and it will destroy her in the end.
But the spider's monstrous form symbolises a sickness. The society over which the Great Mother predominates is fundamentally disharmonious. The state as an extension of the feminine hero cancels the masculine story, an imbalance of nature, an illness. The spider represents a feminine assumption of violence: one man may be afraid of another man, but he is more deeply afraid of the existence of a fight. He feels on some level that fighting is wrong, and he could only have learned that from somewhere. It is not natural to a man to think like this. He was taught it.
To get men to be more afraid of fighting, even in self-defence, than the physical pain of an assault takes many years of social contract training. What's most interesting about being taught violence is wrong is that of all the lessons we were taught - no means no, all men are created equal, look left before crossing a road, etc - the violence lesson actually stuck, it becomes part of the male identity. Most men are less afraid of the consequences of violence (pain) than of the violence itself. Fighting itself is bad. Men aren't afraid of getting hurt, they are afraid of there being a fight.
This is a virus. A pathology. The sickness is not that the feminine hero story is victorious, but that the battle for society was zero-sum, rather than a balance. Men aren't being honest in this battle, we aren't acting righteously. The feminine hero story demands that Helen break Jake down, but she's not doing it because she's an asshole - it's just her nature. The reason Jake is unhappy is that he's lying to himself from the beginning about what will make him happy, about what he actually wants from the relationship. And she can smell it on him. It reeks.
What about Mary, the second girlfriend?
Helen and the mother despise Mary because she embodies the feminine archetype of the vessel. From the masculine perspective, the woman is an object to be acted upon and conquered. To be filled.
So in the feminine hero story of Helen, Mary as a symbol of masculine sexual freedom has to die alongside Jake's nature. Mary represents the unnatural - the one who exists only in Jake's hero story. Jake's relationship with Mary is an archetype of victory of his hero story, in direct conflict with Helen's. So Mary has to go.
It doesn't matter to Helen that Mary chooses to be the sexual object. Helen only cares that Mary is a rival sexual partner for whom Jake might choose over her and the baby. This is unacceptable. Helen's narcissism must win. She must be secure. Everyone else is supporting cast.
|I see the ring|
She assumes her nature is correct and the masculine requires change. Helen is sick, ill with the female disease of arrogantly disengaging with anything that threatens her feminine hero story. What a man does is bad, yet everything she does is sweet and lovely.
She's not lying to herself. She is being lied to, by herself.
As she attacks Jake's masculinity, Helen expresses the whisper of existential guilt. Helen knows her actions are wrong, but is unable to process the guilt, displaying shame instead.
Helen's hair is tied in a bun until the final shower scene - a symbol of mourning. Her clothes are mute throughout the film, but the camera remembers to show her red high-heels stored in the wardrobe. She is mourning because her hero story is finishing, killing a side of the man she loves. The death is slow, heart-rending, and seen as necessary by her. But still she feels guilty.
Guilt is the recognition of rules outside and above the individual. These rules exist independently and are discovered, not formed. In a world where such rules are gone, the narcissist manifests guilt as shame - an attack on who she wants to be seen as. She's a good person. How do I know? She told us. Women secretly suspect that how people see them is the true measure of their worth. Breaking pieces of Jake without changing herself is an existential sin. But since there is no god, a quick swim in the pool will cleanse her guilt:
"You should have called. I stayed longer at the pool because...'cause I thought you weren't gonna be home."But her guilt remains because a man's natural state shouldn't be killed, but tamed. He wants sex without giving up time, but she wants time without giving up sex. It's not about winning, it's about finding harmony. Her victory is an existential failure of the relationship and for society.
A female enters this life pre-loaded with meaning and purpose. Her ability to bear a child means she never needs to be caught in the dread of an existential vacuum. That tragedy is strictly male.
He cannot have children, only father them. His hero story - that which gives him purpose - is the act of conquering. To him, the Enemy is the feminine hero story itself, the female is the monster to be overcome - a dragon or spider. Conquering her is not just sex, but an act of deep meaning. And yet he is told by society these desires are wrong and twisted. Wanting to have sex with many women is "disgusting."
The men scream: I am Jake's splintered soul.
You know why you're unhappy, ladies?
Purpose trickles down from general to colonel to major to private. You don't actually want to be the general. When women are leading, they're miserable because that's not their hero story. A woman's happiness is based on a moment to moment existence. She wants the man to take her to the movies, dinner and then sailing. She's only happy in moments.
Women want to fill their emptiness with meaningful actions, relationships, knowledge and spiritual growth. Men just want the next adventure, even if that adventure is a video game. He may not even remember the adventure, or appreciate the sex - he just acts, competes, overcomes, discovers, cultivates.
|This look is a trap, fellas. Study it|
The social contract dictates that Jake should at least attempt to stay with Helen. But on an innate, natural level, men want different vagina. Women don't need to be mad about this. They just need to offer men something other than their vagina that will make him want to be with her for the rest of her life.
Helen knows her only currency is her body, so she resorts to manipulation, refusing to transcend her vagina. Women are only taught how to force a guy to be with them, taking his teeth and making him say "alright, I guess this is what I'm supposed to do." Their only move is to stop him pursuing his happiness.
Jake fails to lead her on his adventure. I know threesomes sound like a bad idea to most girls. But if Jake is honest about his nature not to want to be with the same girl for his entire life, a healthy relationship can be located and pursued. His infidelity with Mary is a signal that he is being lied to, by himself.
His colour is yellow.
Yellow. Yellow. Yellow.
In killing the masculine side of Jake, turning him into the meek professor with hunched shoulders, Helen is breaking society. Outside the walls is chaos - chaos is order yet undeciphered. Women see chaos as the natural state of men. But the Great Mother spider knows civilised men are rare.
Yellow is the film's colour palette. It is the colour of enlightenment and joy, which civilisation is welcome to feel after the victory of the feminine hero story. But yellow is also the colour of cowardice and deceit.
A male denied his natural state becomes a drone, a tool, a slave. Civilisation allows him to live and build, but it also robs him of his masculine hero story, channelled instead into being a CEO, athlete or rock star. Conquering a manufactured hierarchy. A constant tension. The civilised man may still use his physical power to escape the social contract, but the feminine hero story transforms him into a shell, a vacant lot, a coward. Yellow is his colour.
Yellow is also her refusal to harmonise the two hero stories. She deceives herself that while it's OK to kill the masculine, her femininity must be untouched. Her power over sex insulates her from cooperation. The power corrupts her thinking, and she burns that she should be cultivating.
And still, she will complain "there are no real men anymore."
I wonder why that is?
Women shouldn't want men to tolerate them. Helen should be thirsting to know why she makes Jake sick and why he hates having to deal with her horseshit all day long.
A woman is a tuna and a man a shark.
All the sharks in the ocean have had their teeth pulled out, and then dropped back in the ocean. Now, the tuna are swimming around saying, "we run the ocean, right tuna?" And all the other tuna respond: "yeah, we run the ocean." The sharks are swimming around mumbling about having no teeth. But tuna aren't dentists: men are pulling their own teeth out.
Now the tuna swim around saying, "this ocean stinks, where are all the good sharks?" Tuna aren't supposed to run the ocean. Tuna are supposed to be running from sharks. This is the root of Helen's anxiety. The victory of her hero story is the creation of an impossible utopia ruled by a gigantic spider without a beehive in sight. Helen knows Jake's masculinity will win if he uses his physical strength. If he escapes the web, she doesn't have an option 2.
A happy man is a happy relationship. A happy woman is a miserable man. She wants Jake to be the man. It's a mind thing. All a woman wants is a guy she can look at and blink slow and respect. It's not about beating and subjugating women. It's about building yourself up so a woman can look at you and not feel like she needs to be your mother. That's it. She needs to think her man can support her, can handle his business and achieve his masculinity. The first step is balancing her hero story with yours.
In the final scene, Jake sees Helen for what she really is - a giant, five-metre-tall spider. But it is too late. Her hero story has reached its pinnacle. She has won. The spider captures the bee. He kills the last piece of his masculinity by rejecting the temptation of the key. The female hero story is won by the suicide of the prey. It is an empty power.
The movie ends, but I can tell you what happens next.
I know for a fact that Helen will divorce Jake. It is a marriage divided. She thinks she wants to destroy Jake's nature. But doesn't realise that at that moment, whatever originally attracted her to him, will be gone, replaced with a yellow, arid hue.
And however long it took for her to fulfil her to kill Jake's masculine side is exactly how long she will stay with him to enjoy her victory. And she will tell herself it wasn't her fault it ended, that she did everything she could to make it work. Jake will nod in servile agreement. Disharmony will turn both of them to dust, as it always must.
Yellow will be their colour.