Kill me…lying down.
What sounds, and looks, at first glance like an absurd, surreal, and frankly suicidal offer made by the P to an increasingly frantic Number Two, on closer inspection reveals a far more complex set of intentions and motivations at work - anticipating the upcoming reversal in the roles of the interrogator and his victim. The P is beginning to recover his “wits,” and McKern knows it. Fears it. Their original relationship is in the process of re-establishing itself: two men locked in mortal combat; one of them is being held prisoner by the other. These are the basic parameters, and the P is a quick study: I know you. You are an enemy.
McKern, for his part, “recognizes the symptoms” (as Number 58 once did), yet he is powerless to stave off the inevitable. He also recognizes a familiar temptation that is tearing at his own resolve, and it is more than a faint echo of his own earlier technique during the grooming phase of their relationship. His superior knowledge no longer constitutes an advantage; he is losing the battle, literally, with every minute that is passing, while the P’s awareness is growing.
The process of “recovery” set in motion by the quiet - private - realization of I killed just before his incarceration for contempt of court is continuing throughout this sequence, and his offer marks a crucial shift not only in the power balance between the two men, but also in the P’s returning sense of self (awareness). Throughout this sequence, barring the odd rattling of his cage, largely for “effect,” the P is in control. It is he who is asking the questions and providing the answers. McKern, on the other hand, is exhausted. He is becoming jittery, frustrated, and he is seriously tempted by the P’s deceptively “quick” solution.
By offering his complete surrender, the P is in fact demonstrating his (almost) complete control of the situation: he is in control of his own thoughts and feelings, as well as McKern’s. No matter what he decides to do, McKern has already lost because he has admitted as much. I’ll kill you, he growls, knowing full well that he has made a serious mistake by revealing his weakness: he cannot, he must not kill his prisoner. McKern is rattled. It wasn’t he who provoked this crisis. It was the prisoner who created a crisis for his interrogator. The original dialogue, once again, contained more explicit references to McKern’s dilemma:
But you can’t kill me.
I will kill you.
I will kill you.
By contrast, the P’s earlier admission remains an abstraction: far from referring to any individual transgression, I killed points to the abominations of an inhumane system which forces its “members” to surrender their individuality for that elusive goal of the “greater good.” Ironically, while young P thought he was enjoying special freedoms and privileges, he too was receiving and following orders like everybody else. It was this realization, presumably, which caused him to reject “the system” in the first place. When McKern therefore attempts to reassert his authority and reinstate the P’s conditioning by ordering him to Do as I tell you, he is pushing all the wrong buttons - even as he is preparing the scene for the next - and final - final regression fantasy:
But in the war, you killed.
I did as I was told…
"Where you merely see a cute, cuddly vessel of adorableness, I see a prop for the manifestation of volcanic inner states," explains Marina Abramovic, describing her proposed project, The Artist Throws Lambs Off Mountains Like The Poet Tosses Stanzas Off His Brainshelf. Your donations in excess of $121,009.87 will finance protests against the planned 14-day global tour, during which Abramovic plans to toss a lamb off a variety of high places, including ones in Croatia’s Dinaric Alps and the Altai range in Russia. “I hoist the lamb, I feel his or her little squirmy anxieties, and these I translate into human vocalizations, the lamb-hopes and lamb-fears sublimated into keening language the way only a true artist, as in myself, is capable of,” Abramovic says. “Some have asked: Why must I throw the lamb? Why can I not simply loft the lamb, and ululate, perhaps stand there for a while, feeling cool breezes on my face, listening to the wind ruffling through the lamb’s shivering pelt? And to them I say: A lamb hoisted and not tossed is a stillborn idea, and Marina Abramovic is about the gestation of genius, for thine is the power and glory forever, amen.”
#MARFA is also working diligently—via Facebook trolling and inappropriate Instagram comments—to shame the US-based journalists who plan to attend the all-expense-paid, around-the-world junket. “It’s pretty despicable, alright,” admitted a 29-year old print editor who wished to remain nameless. “But then again, I’m fucking broke, and if I go away for two weeks it means I don’t have to pay for my food, and I can also AirBNB my apartment. Also I have to say the overall cuteness of lambs is pretty overrated.”