An Afterthought: Nymphomaniac Vol. I & II (2013, 2014)

If you have watched Nymphomaniac both volumes I and II, good – they are worth having an afterthought.

The afterthought is: why, after everything had been said and done, Joe ended up killing Seligman?  

In a film that lasted for more (or less, I didn’t notice) four hours, Seligman was a well-written character; he was a self-confessed asexual and, somehow, an unlikely or, maybe initially, the perfect sexual opposite of Joe. Honestly, I got the impression that Seligman was a recluse who only knew how to read books, eat rugalach using a cake fork, think of Fibonacci numbers, and someone who lacked vitamin D because he never got enough sunlight living in that apartment of his. He was this character who was critical to Joe and her every “sexual, perverted, malicious, sinful, blasphemous, and unforgivable” acts of fucking every thing with a dick. There were moments, though, where he sympathized with her and seemingly understood her. In the film, I thought he was this one person that could genuinely accept Joe the way she was, without any condition and judgment. I had hoped he was Joe’s saving grace. Using Joe’s words, Seligman was her first friend. By these words, one could assume that Joe was safe, cared for, and on her way to redemption because of him.

BUT I do not know what Lars von Trier was thinking that he ended Joe’s story in an ironic and paradoxical style. Why he needed to burst my bubble at the end caused me to look inside my crazy brain and wonder – was there junk inside my brain? I had to scratch my head after and pulled a “Thinker Man” to grasp an inkling of Seligman’s unexpected betrayal of Joe’s trust and his murder which was basically justifiable given that he was about to rape her. If I were Joe, I’d kill the fucker who tried to rape me in the middle of my sleep too.

The ending was unexpected, yes, and I was sure Seligman died and Joe wanted to die as well but she ran off; however, I wouldn’t say that I was totally unprepared and sat there on my chair shocked. In fact, I already predicted that the story would not end in a happy ending – that it could not and should not end in an ending where Joe was happy. If it did end in a happily ever after, then there was no point to tell Joe’s story the manner it was told at all – there was no need for Seligman and him to symbolize society and everything that Joe had fought against her whole life. And, it was obvious that Seligman was there as a contradiction. So, him walking into the room with his dick in his hand, readying to pounce on Joe was a logical move for the director to make. Controversial, and a bit disappointing, but I agree and believe that the ending was necessary to send a message to the audience and let them ponder on it.

Why did Seligman betray Joe and decide to take advantage of a woman who fucked a thousand men? He guessed she would not mind, right? She was a nymphomaniac after all – she loved to fuck and be fucked. Fill all her holes. In my mind, Seligman was like, “I’m gonna lose my virginity to this bitch. To hell if she was bruised and broken. I’m gonna get laid tonight!” Why kill Seligman and further ruin Joe’s life in the end?

The answer as to why Seligman did the evil thing and got killed by Joe in retaliation was, in my opinion, Lars von Trier’s  proof of human nature’s ugly side.

According to Joe, “the human qualities can be expressed in one word – hypocrisy.”


Let that word sink in and make sure you do not drown in it unnecessarily.

When Joe said those words, unsurprisingly, I understood her; it was not difficult to let the term hypocrisy get to me. It came as natural as the fact that humans should breathe air to live on the planet. Saying that, I am a hypocrite too. Oh boy! That came out as easy as chewing a gum.

However, if I say that people are hypocrites, now that’s something I should not casually claim and accuse people of. Why? Funny because people are in denial. We deny to confront that elephant in the room. We do not want to acknowledge its existence among us and, when we do, we are such sophisticated and complex organisms that we point fingers at the next person and blame it all on him for all his imperfections. We are only human. We make mistakes; we are not perfect. This overused excuse is pretty much a mantra of mankind. A motto, an ideology engraved on every gravestone of the dead, and a way of life for the living. All the arguments over this and morality… nah, I shouldn’t talk about them here. Too much thinking fries my brain to death. My Philosophy teacher can explain it better.

So, as a way to be of unity and harmony to the rest of the world and my fellow earthlings, let me correct myself and say maybe there are only some hypocrites among us. Maybe 5% statistically speaking. I apologize for being so blatantly direct. No offense, people, pardon me for I do not want to lose my head when I go out walking; I will conform. Hide our secrets then. Secrets are fun. They make life livable and bearable. We don’t want to get bored, now do we? We are not hypocrites. We’re hip, hippies, hipsters, and hippos!

Kidding aside, let me finally put it this way – Seligman was a hypocrite. Joe murdering Seligman in retaliation and after she, with so much finality and stubbornness, said that she was happy she didn’t kill Jerome when she first intended to was also hypocrisy. This was all possible because of von Trier’s genius and by a convoluted storytelling of a tired nymphomaniac and a recluse asexual rapist.

The film was ironic, and for it to end the way it began was only fitting. As a nymphomaniac, Joe was doomed. As a zealot of knowledge and supposed morality of the world that only his books could offer, Seligman was doomed. Both of them were humans – hypocrisy ran in their veins. It only took one horny touch to Joe’s ass and properly racking a Walther PPK gun to prove the tragedy.

What’s my thought after the afterthought?

I’d like to remember Joe’s only sin. In the film, she mentioned that her only sin was that she demanded more from the sunset. Here, her demands from the sunset could be anything for all we know.

So, let’s also leave all our demands from the sunset at the open. There at our dirty feet, in the middle of a busy traffic intersection, on a gloomy rainy day, on my grumpy face, beyond the vast expense of the horizon, and inside a  fickle human heart – what demands do we have? Do we even understand these demands?

Whatever it is that Joe demanded from the sunset is also that one precious to us and readily taken from us if we are not protecting it. What do we value in our lives? Why is that when we put our trust to people we open up to and care about we end up used, betrayed, and heartbroken? What kind of demands do I have from the sunset? Ah… I guess they’re the kind that make me hope that when I finally witness a sunset it is beautiful. Even a little piece of it leaving the horizon is still beautiful and worth all colors of light my eyes can see and my soul can remember life by.

When will I finally be able to see a sunset anyway? I’m too busy these days.

Photo credits: GIF:


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