Don Quijote | Chapter 9: The Failure of Listening, Cardenio and the Shrink Interns
Multi-lingual with English, French and Spanish subtitles, 16 channel video installation, 2019
9: The Failure of Listening, Cardenio and the Shrink Interns
That listening is vitally crucial, yet difficult to achieve, becomes clear in this double scene. This scene is based on an inserted novella (ch. I, 26-27). This is the most narrative episode of the installation. Its duration is twice as long, because the story of the wedding that drove the young man to madness is here presented as a prologue. The betrayal by his best friend and the subsequent loss of his beloved has driven Cardenio to madness, while Luscinda is sadly locked into a loveless marriage with her wealthy seducer. We get to see the wedding and the sadness it generates for all concerned. Violence and hysteria threaten, but the pre-story ends in a silent, sad wedding dinner, suggesting the victory of convention.
The second or main part concerns another problem of communication. The central issue for the homeless, disturbed young man Cardenio is to be able to tell the story of how he has been given over to madness, without being interrupted. He simply requests to be listened to. He has become attached to his madness, as a protective shield that saves him from worse. A few bystanders try to help, but they fail because they cannot listen well enough. And he is not the only one.
The well-meaning Priest, who tries to protect the knight from too much reading in the first scene, now seriously wants to help the traumatised Cardenio, but fails, because he is too much invested in his own conception of “doing good” and assumes he possesses the wisdom needed. And so does Don Quijote. They each interrupt the story when it hints at something that they are themselves interested in. This demonstrates a selfishness inherent in social interaction. The therapeutic attempt fails. Violence ensues. At the end, Cardenio himself seems surprised and taken aback by it.
Images: Mar Sáez, José Martínez Izquierdo