Animalistic humanity, and another experience of synchronicity
At lunch yesterday at a popular soul food place called the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que at the far west end of West 125th Street in Harlem, a friend was telling me about a 1956 French movie she had just seen, Gervaise, based on an Emile Zola novel. It’s about a woman in Paris (played by Maria Schell) who is cruelly mistreated, first by her two-timing lover, with whom she’s had several children, then by her husband, who starts out as a nice guy but turns into a drunkard, then by her neighbors who gratuitously destroy the business she has started, returning her to the lowest level of poverty, while all the people in her world show nothing but cruelty or indifference toward her in her plight. My friend described a scene in which the characters are eating like animals. All this is in keeping with Zola’s Darwinist, materialist-determinist view of humanity.
The restaurant, which I was visiting for the first time, was unusually large, and I stood up to take a quick stroll around the place to see what it was like. A few feet from our table, I passed a booth where a man, his tongue sticking out, was licking his girlfriend’s face. It was animalistic behavior right out of Zola.