We Are All In Danger

The last interview with Pier Paolo Pasolini

Furio Colombo

This interview took place on Saturday, November 1, 1975, between four and six in the evening, a few hours before Pasolini¹s assassination. I want to emphasize that the title as it appears was his, and not of my own making. As a matter of fact, at the end of the conversation, which, as in the past found us on opposite sides of certain points, I asked him if he wanted to give me a title for the interview. He thought about it a while, said it was not important, changed topic, and then something brought us back to the subject that had emerged time and again in the answers that follow. "Here is the seed, the sense of everything--he said--. You don¹t even know who, right at this moment, might be thinking of killing you. Use this as a title, if you like: 'Because, we are all in danger'"

Furio Colombo: Pasolini, in your articles and in your writings you have given various accounts of what you detest. You have carried out a solitary struggle against so many things: institutions, trends, people and power. So as to make things easier I will refer to it all as the "situation," by which you know that I mean the whole of which you generally battle. Let me propose one objection. The "situation," with all its evils as you describe it, also contains all that makes Pasolini possible. What I mean is that, even with all your talent and merit, your tools are provided by the "situation": publishing, cinema, organization, even objects. Let¹s say that yours is a magic thought. One little gesture and everything that you detest disappears. What about you, then, would you not be left all alone and without any of the tools you need? I mean, the means or tools of expression, I mean... Pier Paolo Pasolini: I understand. But I not only attempt to achieve that magic thought process, I believe in it. Not as a way to mediate with the world, but because I know that by constantly hitting the same nail on the head one can possibly make a whole house fall down. We find a small example of this among the Radical Party, a motley crew who is able to influence the whole country You know that I don¹t always agree with them, but I am about to leave right now for their conference. Most of all,

hermits and intellectuals. while we are here talking. there are three arguments to make here: what is what you call the "situation. very friendly and polite. choice is always a tragedy. the work that people then too paid with so as to "have a choice. . and it¹s the resistance. for bread and water. that minute in history. someone in the basement were making plans to kill us? It¹s easy. Contestation has always been an essential act. It¹s a beautiful image. describe the "situation" then. We might lose a few friends. Someone might come walking toward you dressed like a friend. at the beginning. even from his interior life (where the revolution always begins). but expect much less than that. What was he lacking then? He did not say "no" right away. What is the tragedy? It¹s that there are no longer any human beings. Eichmann had a good lot of good sense. those few who have made history. wishing only that history would repeat itself. in the newsrooms. the way it¹s done in publishing firms.it¹s history that gives us the best example. How come they crashed like that? Either the engineer has lost his mind. Saints. Let¹s not joke about the blood. and you¹re on the other. are the ones who have said "no. A little for us. The reasoning goes that first of all he needs to make a living somehow." We are particularly pleased with conspiracies because they relieve us of the weight of having to deal with the truth head on. a bureaucrat. "absurd" and not in a good sense. a little for them. a normal man can always reject a Fascist of Salò or a Nazi of the SS. PPP: I thank you for the sun image. Wouldn¹t it be wonderful if." why should we halt it or destroy it." When one keeps one¹s face flat against that hour. it¹s all a conspiracy. Or. And we intellectuals look at old train schedules and say: "strange. newspaper offices. it was easier then. major and total. It cannot merely be on this or that point. even better. and how? FC: Well. I¹m on this side. there are only some strange machines that bump up against each other. but cleanly and beautifully. But he never stopped the machine. shouldn¹t these trains run by there. The effect of time is that it washes thing clean. or he is a criminal." He might have whispered something. like the walls of a house in the rain. contestation must be large. when two stops might have been more practical and economic. But today it¹s different. when he was a mere administrator. Or he might even have objected to the fact that some train had stopped once a day for the deported to do their business. but things are sometimes a little unclear. All I want is that you look around and take notice of the tragedy. don¹t you think? And I know that when they show Paris is burning on TV everyone sits there with tears in their eyes. it¹s simple. but then we¹ll gather our forces and wipe them out. With courage and conscience. the pain. You know very well that your observations and your language are like the sun shining through the dust. And so. in sub-government." not the courtesans and Cardinals¹ assistants. He might have said to some of his friends "I don¹t really like Himmler. but he is a "collaborator" (let¹s say for a TV station). It¹s simple. But let¹s admit it. So as to be meaningful.

And this desire ties us together as sinister brothers of the sinister failure of an entire social system. That¹s why everyone wants the same things and everyone acts in the same way. obligatory and wrong. That¹s the problem. FC: You have been accused of not being able to make political or ideological distinctions. that pushes us . it¹s like a descent into hell. I see quite a lot of them. Well. come toward you aggressively with their ideological blackmail. Nevertheless. They march with flags and slogans. It is said that you have lost the ability of differentiating the sign of the deep difference that there is between Fascists and non-Fascists. There is a desire to kill here. Have you ever seen those marionettes that make children laugh so much because their body faces one direction while their heads face another? I think Totò was quite adept at such a trick. their sermons. sociologists. PPP: That¹s what I was talking about when I mentioned the train schedules before. Another one. This is a different landscape. that¹s what I use. what is power in your opinion? Where is it? How does one cause it to reveal itself? PPP: Power is an educational system that divides us into subjects and subjected. from the so-called ruling class all the way down to the poorest of us. their admonitions. I¹m not saying that there is no Fascism. First tragedy: a common education.. I am merely exercising my virtue-rights. I too see the black sheep. it is an educational system that forms us all. experts and journalists with the most noble of intentions. among the new generations for example. or others. and their heads are turned in the opposite direction.and then because it¹s not like he¹s hurting anyone." Let me reorder things. I am a murderer but I am a good person. as I said to Moravia: given the life I lead. but what separates them from "power"? FC: Well. I¹ll use whatever means to get what I want. I too would like it if it were easy to isolate the black sheep. If I have access to an administrative council or a Stock Market maneuver. and their anathemas that are also threats. I¹m not asking you to believe me. But when I come back-if I come back--I¹ve seen other things. that¹s how I see that wonderful troop of intellectuals. What I¹m saying is: don¹t talk to me of the sea while we are in the mountains. I pay a price. What I wanted to say was "evidence. I see all of them.. more things. And when I use a crowbar. Otherwise I use a crowbar. FC: And what is the truth? PPP: I¹m sorry I used that word. Why do I want it? Because I¹ve been told that it is a virtue to have it. I¹m say ing that you always find yourselves changing topic so as to avoid facing the truth. Things happen here. the groups.

managerial and industrial machine that is in the midst of it all. what¹s left? PPP: Everything. with a sort of magical paleo-catholic and neo. because everyone is a victim. as in Brecht¹s beautiful world." But what I say is that. educated consumers of an intellectual product. or who is the primary guilty party. In this arena we are pushed along like some strange and dark army in which some carry cannons and others carry crowbars. they remained uncolonized. the administrative council or the crowbar to plunder. you need large venues (you are very successful. It has neither the fury of sea. a place to see. being alive. The world becomes bigger. You magically abolish everything. Since they were excluded from everything.. to make puppetry. him first. This gloomy ostentation toward total violence makes it hard to distinguish to which "side" one belongs. for some reason. who want everything at any cost. and are "consumed" avidly by your public). everything is ours and there is no need to use the Stock Market. because everyone is ready to play the murderous game of possession. I am what is left. as such. everyone is weak. but also an extensive technical. But you live from books. FC: Let me go back to the first question then. but the water is innocent. cultured like me or ignorant like me. I am afraid of these Black revolutionaries who are the same as their landlords. If you remove all of this. to listen to the languages. FC: Are you saying that you miss that world? PPP: No! My nostalgia is for those poor and real people who struggled to defeat the landlord without becoming that landlord. in a certain sense. There are hundreds of ways to tell the stories. nor the rage of river current. The others are left with much more.chinese monasticism. Whoever might be taken to an Emergency Ward close to death is probably more interested in what the doctors have to tell him about his chances of living than what the police might have to say about the mechanism of the crime. And everyone is guilty. and the emaciated widow and her children who begged for mercy. work and understand. The water rises. Therefore. We have learned to have." It¹s like it rains in the city and the gutters are backed up.all into the same arena of having to have everything at all costs. it¹s rainwater. Be assured that I am neither condemning intentions nor am I interested in the chain of cause and effect: them first. You see. equally criminal. it rises instead of falling.. But. It¹s the same water of so many adolescent poems and of the cutesy songs like . They can keep pace with me. the first classical division is to "stay with the weak. possess and destroy. in the world that we dreamed about (let me repeat myself: reading old train schedules from either a year or thirty years ago). being in the world. to reproduce dialects. I think we have defined what you called the "situation. and you need intelligent people who read. there was the awful landlord in a top-hat and dollars pouring out of his pockets. You are a filmmaker and.

unless you too are a destroyer. you seem to be happy when you can tag a murder with its own beautiful description. Since we can¹t prevent certain things from happening. there must be some sort of clue. This to me is just another one of mass culture¹s operations. Let¹s say that I¹ve flung a boutade (but I don¹t think so). the great keepers of this horrendous order founded on the concept of possession and the idea of destruction. to assault. But not what I know and what I see. But the educational system as it is cannot but produce desperate gladiators. for example? I certainly don¹t want to be one of those people who is anguished by the loss of culture more than for people. Closing or abolishing in my language means. Let¹s see then how we can unplug this tub before we all drown. but more so . Luckily. along with the educational system. For example. I want to say it plain and clear: I go down into hell and I see things that do not disturb the peace of others. I say let¹s not waste time placing nametags here and there. how do you animate your world? PPP: I think I already covered this with Moravia. book burning is always the first step in the massacres. as is desperation and rage." But it rises and it drowns you. But be careful. Don¹t be fooled. And you are. The private and risky experience of those who have touched "the violent life" will not be available for long. PP: Which makes me cringe. Of course I try to imagine that such a moment might still be possible in Italian and world history. What really prevents a real dialogue with Moravia. as in Nazism. The best of what I imagine might even inspire one of my future poems. FC: If we don¹t want to fall back on commonplaces. But these people saved in your vision of a different world can no longer be primitive (an accusation often leveled at you) and if we don¹t want to repress "more advanced". television. The masses are growing.. "to change. It¹s true that it dreams its own uniform and its own justification (sometimes). its need to hit back."singing in the rain. FC: And to get there you would want everyone to be ignorant and happy little unschooled shepherds? PPP: Put in those terms it would be absurd. Once you¹ve shut down the schools. we find peace in constructing shelves where to keep them. and abolished television. What happens to the books. what else can you come up with? Of course I lament a pure revolution led by oppressed peoples whose only goal is to free themselves and run their own lives. in science fiction.. FC: But to abolish also means to create. If that¹s where we are. your pacifying newspapers. is strong and wide-ranging." But change in a drastic and desperate manner such as the situation dictates. to kill. Hell is rising toward the rest of you. But it¹s also true that its desire.

and it is not benign. which causes them to grow in a haphazard manner. formatted. I have something in mind for your question. Pasolini did not turn on any lights and it¹s become hard to take notes. Let me think about it. I¹ll give you the notes that I¹ll add on tomorrow morning. this is cancer. one would have to make quite an effort to reestablish the same image. Maybe I¹m wrong. I listen to all the politicians and their little formulas. they are as distant as the Moon. I mean. --translated by Pasquale Verdicchio . They don¹t seem to know what country they are talking about. beautifully written. We look over what I¹ve written. if that¹s how you see life--I don¹t know if you will accept this question-how do you hope to avoid the risk and danger involved? It¹s late. FC: Why do you think that some things are so much evident for you? PPP: I don¹t want to talk about myself any more. For you and them. First of all. even if before he was stupid and unlucky? Before the cancer. Everyone knows that I pay for my experiences in person. FC: Pasolini. but I¹ll keep on saying that we are all in danger. Is a cancer patient who dreams the same healthy body that he had before nostalgic. The next day. I find it easier to write than to talk. cut and titled. Sunday. Then he asks me to leave the questions with him. and it drives me insane. And give me the time to come up with a concluding remark. But there are also my books and my films. for example. Pasolini¹s body was in the morgue of the Rome police station. But what¹s underneath it all? What is missing is a surgeon who has the courage to examine the tissue and declare: gentlemen. we don¹t know the same people. outside of any previous logic. is that somehow we are not seeing the same scene. sociologists and experts of all sorts. let me look them over. And the same goes for the writers. things happen when it¹s news. and that we do not hear the same voices. What is cancer? It¹s something that changes all the cells.with Firpo. PPP: There are some statements that seem a little too absolute. Maybe I¹ve said too much already.

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