At the same time I see that the academy has its ways of inuring too many of its chosen ones against a compulsion to apply their research and writing to contemporary issues that ought to demand all of our attention. Perhaps it’s that American campuses are so leafy and idyllic, allowing us to pretend that this utopic vision is but the world on a micro-scale.
Early in the hour-long film, “The Judicial Murder of Jakub Mohr,” the central protagonist, a patient in a psychiatric ward, shouts in Czech, “My words are not my own!” [“Moje slova nejsou moje!”]. He is on Kafka-esque trial for saying out loud what is visibly true: a series of wires—“Threads!” rebukes the prosecutor—extend from his back and connect to an ominous box, which is held by a man who in turn dictates in whispers what the patient says. At one point, Mohr lists to the jury in indignation what he has become: a gramophone, a radio, an instrument. He is something between human self and machine, a cyborg, his agency mediated by the state and psychiatric institution.