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The Perfect Mate
Aurora and Fico
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Wikipedia: The Lost City is a 2005 American drama film directed by Andy García. It stars Garcia, Dustin Hoffman, Inés Sastre, and Bill Murray.
Aurora (Inés Sastre) and Fico (Andy Garcia)
Wikipedia: Fico Fellove is the owner of El Tropico, a swank nightclub in late 1950s Cuba. Fico lives for his family and his music, while facing the harsh realities of Batista's dictatorial regime. His brother Ricardo becomes a revolutionary, his brother Luis joins the democratic opposition, and his father Federico, a well-respected university professor, pushes for change by constitutional, peaceful means.
When Ricardo is arrested and threatened with execution, Fico calls upon an old prep school friend Castel, now a police captain, for help. Ricardo is released from jail, and Fico offers to help him go to Miami or New York City, but Ricardo instead joins communist rebels headed by Che Guevara.
Fico is approached by Meyer Lansky, of New York's Genovese crime family, who wishes to open up a gambling room at El Tropico. Fico, who intends for his club to remain a place of music, turns down the offer. When a bomb later explodes at the club, killing Fico's star entertainer (who is also his lover), Fico assumes that Lansky is behind it. However, in the increasingly unsettled climate, he cannot be certain.
Luis becomes connected with a plot to seize the presidential palace, kill Batista, and restore democracy. The plot fails and most of the attackers are killed. Luis escapes but is killed later by Batista's secret police. At the urging of his mother, Fico tries to cheer up Luis’ distraught widow Aurora – Fico and Aurora fall in love.
The Communists seize power after Batista flees the country. Fidel Castro declares there will be no elections and Che Guevara oversees the arrests and summary execution of all those who supported the Batista regime. Among those to be executed is Captain Castel. Fico asks Ricardo, now a high-ranking officer in the new regime, to return the favor that Castel once carried out to save Ricardo's life, but Ricardo does nothing to save Castel.
Ricardo visits his uncle Donoso, a tobacco farmer and cigar maker. Donoso feels that while Castro may be in power now, “the land endures” and says that the farm will next pass to Ricardo. Ricardo announces that the reason for his visit is to appropriate the farm for the state. Donoso, furious, has a heart attack and dies. Ricardo, overcome by grief, commits suicide shortly after the funeral.
The revolution effects Fico in other ways. The musicians' union, controlled by Castro, has declared the saxophone to be an imperialist instrument and forbids its use. The club is eventually shut down on a flimsy pretext. After a chance meeting with Castro, Aurora is declared Revolutionary Widow of the Year and begins to work for the State, and she ends her relationship with Fico.
Fico's parents beg him to leave Cuba and start a new family. Reluctantly, he procures exit visas for himself and Aurora. In a last effort to convince her to join him, Fico barges in on a reception for revolutionary leaders and Soviet Bloc ambassadors, but Aurora refuses to go. He raises a toast to a democratic Cuba, then leaves the reception. He says his goodbyes to his parents and goes to the airport, where most of his money and possessions – including a prized family pocket watch from his father – are confiscated.
Fico begins a new life in New York. Working as a dishwasher and piano player at a Cuban club, he hopes to save enough money to bring his family to America. Meyer Lansky approaches him with an offer of a Cuban nightclub in Las Vegas, but Fico turns him down. He runs into Aurora, who is in New York as part of a Cuban delegation to the United Nations. He now realizes that Aurora is like Cuba: beautiful, alluring, but also damaged and unattainable. He decides now that his cause is to build a new life until he can return to the city he lost. Fico recites a poem by Cuban nationalist Father José Martí and commits himself to someday returning to his "lost city". He later opens a new nightclub in New York.
Elenchus. After seeing this movie, I grieve with the Cuban people for all that they lost with the coming to power of the Castro socialist-communist revolutionaries, better known as common thugs.
Kairissi. Havana was once a tropical mecca for tourists with great attractions. Look at it today, a cesspool of socialistic squalor, a brutal police state, a black hole for human rights.
E. And yet there are those even in the USA today, especially among totalitarian elites, who think what Castro did was just wonderful.
K. By the way, this movie seems to be based on a real person's story. Fico reinvented himself in New York, made himself a big success all over again, having lost everything when he left, with not a dollar to his name. The commies even took his heirloom pocketwatch, a departing gift from his aged father.
E. Such a great success story.
K. But, Dear, we shouldn’t talk about the disingenuities of socialism here; we’ve done that on the “Economics” page. Right now we have other Caribbean fish to fry.
E. That little reference to fried fish makes me hungry.
K. I think you just want to go out with me, but we can talk about it later.
E. Ok, then. There’s a scene that I think really captures the heart of the whole film.
K. Let’s explore it.
E. The commies are killing people indiscriminately. They’ve confiscated the plantation of Fico’s uncle and have shut down Fico’s night club. While there’s still opportunity to flee the country, he arranges for airline tickets for Aurora and himself to start a new life in New York.
E. Fico confronts Aurora, says that he’s secured an exit visa for her, and they must leave the country within 24 hours, before it is too late. Aurora protests, is too caught up in Fidel’s revolution-cultism, to mentally break free:
there is nothing bigger than us
Fico: “Let's go.”
Aurora: “Fico, wait. I can't leave.”
Fico: “We must leave before it's too late to get out.”
Aurora: “Try and understand. Try to understand.”
Fico: “I understand that I'm lost without you.”
Aurora: “This is bigger than us.”
Fico: “There is nothing bigger than us."
Fico: “Listen to me. Can't you see what's happening? You're being taken advantage of. Is that what you want? You want to be told what to think the rest of your life? Because there's no end to this. This is madness. You deserve more. We deserve more. If you stay, your life will not belong to you. Please. Come with me. Please…”
Aurora: “In time, you'll understand.”
Fico: “There's no more time.”
K. Elenchus, I know you want to comment on Fico’s “there’s nothing bigger than us.” Are his words mere poetry, or something more?
E. It’s not just poetry. I’d like to give a real answer here. Fico’s assertion addresses the cultish mindset that has gripped Aurora. Here are some quotations from Eric Hoffer’s “True Believer” to help us talk about this:
“The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready is he to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”
"We join mass-movements to escape individual responsibility"
“There is a fundamental difference between the appeal of a mass movement and the appeal of a practical organization. The practical organization offers opportunities for self-advancement, [but]… a mass movement … appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self.”
“A mass movement attracts and holds a following not because it can satisfy the desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation.”
“People who see their lives as irremediably spoiled cannot find a worth-while purpose in self-advancement… They look on self-interest as on something tainted and evil; something unclean and unlucky. Anything undertaken under the auspices of the self seems to them foredoomed… Their innermost craving is for a new life – a rebirth – or, failing this, a chance to acquire new elements of pride, confidence, hope, a sense of purpose and worth by an identification with a holy cause."
K. Aurora kept on mouthing platitudes about “the glory of the revolution,” the soon-coming utopia, the new society of justice and equity for all. In a thousand pages, numerous Word Gems articles speak to this propaganda fantasy, but we cannot review it here; however, as we learn from Hoffer’s insights, the psychology of the typical cultish true-believer centers about a certain element of self-loathing, a desire to be rid of a “spoiled self,” a quest to immerse oneself in something larger than self – a self that is judged to be inferior and tainted.
E. And this is why Fico objected so profusely when she began with the “I want to be part of something larger than myself.” No sane person, who senses the “inner life” of the soul, would ever say this.
K. Aurora is a beautiful woman. We look at her and she seems fine, she seems put together, seems educated and sophisticated enough; but then she speaks to reveal all of this “I am worthless” drivel wrapped in the sutras of revolutionaries. What is going on here?
E. Well, we just said it: those who are out of touch with the “inner life,” the “true self,” will fall into a sense of self-loathing. And then they’ll start looking for a “strong father-figure” to help them feel safe and secure.
K. I found it particularly disturbing to see how pleased she was when Fidel awarded her the little trinket medal of Revolutionary Widow of the Year.
E. Well, that is a big deal, I guess; who wouldn’t be so proud; something to write mom and dad about.
K. She beamed like a gushing little girl receiving a gold star from teacher, so willing to please a master.
E. Let’s be clear here that we’re not trying to beat up the deluded Aurora. She’s such a messed up person right now, and represents so many in society today. I want to point out, as we often do, that the problem of cultish thinking is not confined to the sensational examples of Jim Jones’ crackpot religion or Fidel’s glorious revolution. In its essence, it’s a problem as close as the nearest "respectable" neighborhood church, political parties, most corporate cultures -- we could go on.
K. How can we make this clear so that people will understand?
E. Well, words alone won’t do it. Aurora could not be persuaded even though the guy who represented her best chance for true love in life was pleading with her. Once the “demons” of self-loathing are released, and they find a home with a charismatic “strong father-figure,” I’m not sure you can compete with that; not right now.
K. She's even ok with banning the saxophone. This kind of smug high-handedness is what cults do in their uber-righteousness. They will try to convince you that their little definitions of reality are the only legitimate ways of thinking.
E. And this is why cults so readily engage in censorship -- today, popularly called "political correctness." They can't win an open debate on the merits of the case so they engage in character assassination, fake news, and a barrage of disinformation in an attempt to control the free-flow of information, which is damning to their argument.
ignoring your own judgment, denying your own faculties of critical thinking - then they've really got you
E. She’ll have to hit bottom and realize that Fico was right all along when he said that she no longer owns her own self, and that she’s being taken advantage of, and made to be somebody’s starry-eyed fool. The moment you surrender your own autonomy, and begin to ignore your own judgment, that is, to deny your own faculties of critical thinking -- then they've really got you -- and it might take a "cult deprogramming hospital" on the other side to bring you back to sanity. Father Benson talks about this.
E. But, if words could heal, I would say this: Cultism is everywhere; anyplace where there’s opportunity to make merchandize of people, to have power over them. Cultism will always, always, tell you that you are no good without the “strong father-figure.” There are a thousand ways they might communicate this to the fearful inner-child.
K. And if one is burdened by self-loathing, you’ll be ok with this "you're no good" assessment, because it’s what you – the “false self” -- already feel inside.
E. And so you stay in the abusive relationship or organization. You want to stay, feel you should, because there you can submerge the tainted self in the aura of the “strong father-figure.” Personal responsibility drifts away, just as Hoffer said.
K. Personal identity, too.
E. Which is not a problem for the cultishly minded, because the self is deemed to be “spoiled,” and needs to be gotten rid of, one way or another.
K. As we said, the sensational examples of cultism are easy to spot, but the ones in your neighborhood, or maybe your family, usually fly under the radar for most people. The “respectable,” the civic award-winning, examples of cultism in society have many ways of respectably making you feel no good. The churches are masters at this, with thousand of years honing their craft of preying on people's fear of death. Their “infallible doctrines” assert that you were born in sin and need the blessing of a Blackrobe to make you right.
E. Ahh, but, you say, the pastor is such a “Nice Young Man,” and he smiles so sweetly, and the kids can play basketball in the church gym, and we can help out with the choir and whatnot.
K. But, in the midst of all this warm and fuzzy society, there remain those dark, psychologically-abusive doctrines from the Middle Ages and before, designed to keep you on a short leash, tethered by fear and guilt, which manumission will not be accomplished, they say, without the right magic words from the man in the pulpit.
E. We could go on about this mayhem all day as there’s so much to say, so much anti-humanistic infraction here, and in every aspect of society. However, each person must come to the light of their own sacredness, in their own time, and by their own choice. However, as long as the inner-child feels “safe and secure” under the mantle of a Blackrobe, or a totalitarian-leaning politician promising "hope and change," or a charismatic thug-revolutionary like Fidel, he or she will be as impervious to reason as was Aurora to her pleading lover. You cannot argue people out of their fears; the inner-child will not, and cannot, listen to logic.
K. Elenchus, you were going to comment on the question of “poetry.”
E. Fico’s words were not poetry. There is nothing bigger than true love, and the lovers supplying it – certainly not a chanting rally by a generalissimo Dear Leader. Here’s the deal. You’ll need to look into this for yourself: Consciousness is the bedrock of reality, not any utopia from a thug in jackboots. See the many quotations from the scientists who discovered quantum mechanics. What does this mean for our discussion? True love, as fruit of the "union of spirits," as per "The Wedding Song," is an expression of Universal Consciousness; and there’s nothing greater than that. Sorry Fidel.
K. There’s too much to say here on this topic, and so we must direct our readers to our four books and major articles on the nature of authentic romance.
E. That’s right.
K. Elenchus, we have to leave this forum, but, on a totally different matter, I’d like to say – I too felt a sense of solidarity with the Cuban people in the loss of their country. And my wish is that, when you and I finally make it to the real world, Summerland, I want us to mingle far and wide, make many new friends from different countries, like Fico and his family, and meet all sorts of people and share and sample the best of their cultures.
E. Could we get some of that fried Caribbean fish.
K. I’m absolutely sure Fico will arrange it for us.
E. I’m all in then.