Strategic Flows, by Jacek Bartosiak: stream-of-consciousness monologue on geostrategy and geopolitics

Hubert Wala, “Strategic Flows, by Jacek Bartosiak” (Strategy & Future, 11 January 2021)

Strategy & Future is a Polish thinktank founded by lawyer / speaker / writer Jacek Bartosiak dedicated to stimulating and developing geopolitical thought and strategy for Poland and Central Europe. This film on how connections and flows between and among individuals, communities, organisations, nation states and their networks influence and are influenced by geopolitical / geostrategic concerns. At the level of nation states and their relations with one another, connections and flows which Bartosiak calls “strategic flows” (be they movements of people, trade in goods and services, flows of data, information and technology, and transportation logistics) not only determine the destinies of nations and their peoples but have also been subjected to varying forms of regulation including restrictions and outright bans. In his narration (a transcript of which can be found at this link), Bartosiak draws on history, and in particular recent history from 1945 onwards, to emphasise the importance of strategic flows as a major rationale (if not the major rationale) for the decisions that nations and major powers and superpowers especially make and have made in recent times.

Bartosiak flits between the example of Poland and larger powers such as the US to demonstrate how these nations’ physical geographies influence and determine the decisions they make with respect to defence and allocating resources to their militaries. He states that over the past 500 years, beginning with European nation states traversing the Atlantic Ocean to found colonies in the Americas and to open up trade routes to Asia, the World Ocean has become the major foundation over which global power can be exercised by nations. In the past, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Britain and France all vied for influence over the Atlantic Ocean and its networks and then over other oceans and theirs; since 1945, the dominant power that rules the World Ocean is the United States through its Navy.

European and then US control of the World Ocean produced its antithesis in other nations’ conquests of the Eurasian landmass and the construction of railways to strengthen their control of the lands of the Eurasian heartland. Nations such as Britain and France that were sea powers were also keen to dominate trade networks in regions of the heartland (the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia) to link their colonies with both land and sea routes.

In recent times, US control of the oceans, and the political influence exercised by the US by its military projection, has come to be challenged by the rise of China as a major economic power and as an alternative role model, ideologically as well as politically and economically, for other nations, especially Third World nations, to follow. Bartosiak concludes his talk by stating that a new era of power struggle has begun between China and the US, with China challenging the US in creating a new trade network (the Belt and Road Initiative) across the Eurasian heartland and into Africa and even the Pacific ocean, in disputing and undermining the assumptions underlying the international rules-based order, in determining and controlling narratives about who runs the world and how it should be run, and in presenting an alternative model of economic growth and development that is not dependent on understanding and following Western political ideologies.

I must confess that the transcript is not easy to follow – it does have a stream-of-consciousness direction – and the film is even less easy to follow. Bartosiak’s voice-over narration is very monotonous and his narrative would have been better served in being structured in sections organised chronologically and perhaps starting with Poland and then jumping to the US. The narrative would have been much easier to follow. The continuous background music is unnecessary and is unintentionally soporific. At least the collage of films, much of which is irrelevant to the narrative, will keep viewers awake.

My main criticisms of Bartosiak’s talk are that he appears very selective in choosing facts and other information that support his views, and he makes assumptions about China and Russia – two nations that happen to be designated enemies of the US, and by extension enemies of Poland – that are not supported by facts or later political and economic development. He blithely brushes aside the chaos and poverty Russia suffered in the 1990s as a result of President Yeltsin’s leadership. He interprets China’s BRI ambitions and the nation’s move into developing 5G technology as geostrategic moves by Beijing to break Eurasia away from US domination, ignoring the fact that through economic sanctions on China and other nations signing up to China’s BRI, the US is effectively retreating into isolation of a not-very splendid kind. He ignores the possibility that American military dominance of the World Ocean has come at a significant cost to the American people themselves in the form of decaying infrastructures across the US mainland, the loss of manufacturing jobs to China and Mexico from the 1990s onwards, and the destruction of the US middle classes by their politicians, the US financial industry and large US corporations, all of whom, Bartosiak might have noticed, are linked through money flows and shared ideologies.

If USE blog readers are still interested in watching the film, following the transcript is best recommended – unless they’re watching it as a cure for insomnia.

Corpus Christi: impostor priest story explores redemption, healing and religious hypocrisy

Jan Komasa, “Corpus Christi” (2019)

For some odd reason, Poland has many fake Roman Catholic priests, many of whom must be doing a good job, and maybe even better, of ministering to their unsuspecting flocks as real qualified priests do, and this phenomenon comes under scrutiny in Komasa’s “Corpus Christi”. In another country – France or Italy perhaps – the story of an ex-convict pretending to be a priest, and not only being a very good impersonator but also helping to heal ongoing pain and trauma that are tearing a community apart, bringing people together, encouraging love and forgiveness, and helping people go forward in their lives as a result, might be treated as gentle comedy with themes of redemption, finding purpose and hope, and galvanising others with hope and new energy as well. The resolution might be messy and not turn out too well but nearly everyone becomes a better person. The Polish film however not only addresses the issues of redemption, love and forgiveness, and healing people and communities, it also investigates the nature of morality and spirituality and asks whether people who deceive others by masking their true identities are necessarily less moral and genuine than those who don’t, and whether such impostors’ actions are less genuine and constructive than the actions of others who are genuine. Do we place too much emphasis on people being properly “qualified” for the job they are doing and not enough on their actions while doing that job? Should people not be judged by what they actually do, what the results of their actions are, and what benefits or not those results bring to people and communities? Does the Church in Poland spend too much time insisting that people follow rules that may not be relevant to their lives, does the Church neglect people’s spiritual needs?

Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia), serving time for murder, is released on parole to work at a sawmill in a remote rural part of Poland. He eschews the work and goes to a small village where a church stands empty. He insinuates himself into the villagers’ lives by pretending to be a priest: he gets away with the ruse, having become religious while in juvenile detention and serving as an altar boy for the prison chaplain whose identity he adopts in the village. By working as a priest, hearing confession and officiating at Mass, baptisms, funerals and blessing new ventures, Daniel discovers the village has been traumatised by a car-crash accident that killed seven villagers: six of the villagers are remembered at a sidewalk shrine but the seventh villager, the one who caused the accident, is not only shunned by the villagers but has never been given a religious burial and his widow is ostracised by the village.

Thanks to this mystery and a number of other sub-plots that include a developing romance between Daniel and local girl Marta (Eliza Rycembel), a possible conflict with local village mayor and power broker who owns the sawmill where Daniel was supposed to work, and Daniel’s past coming back to reclaim and expose him as a fraud when a fellow parolee at the sawmill sees him and tries to blackmail him, the film is very brisk and maintains tension right up to the devastating climax and its denouement. The conclusion is very bleak and ambiguous. One expects that while the village, now healed of its trauma, can proceed and progress in a spirit of reconciliation, Daniel will not be shown the same mercy and spirit of forgiveness by society at large that he showed to the villagers.

Bielenia is unforgettable as the young ex-con who fools an entire village with his soulful eyes and a face at once angelic, stoic, expressive and yet hiding a nature capable of brutal violence. Several close-ups concentrate on his face, at times blank yet in deep thought and occasionally expressing tics. Bielenia is ably abetted by a good cast that includes Rycembel as the love interest Eliza, Alexandra Koniecna as Eliza’s dour mother who is also the sexton suspicious of Daniel and who nurses bitterness towards the banished widow (Barbara Kurzaj), and Leszek Lichota as the power-hungry village mayor. The grey-green colouring of the village and the film’s minimal presentation emphasise the isolation and poverty of its inhabitants, which make them vulnerable to imposter priests.

While some subplots such as the budding romance are not well developed and could have been jettisoned, the film is very compelling with good acting, a brisk pace and a mystery to solve. It asks questions about the nature of hypocrisy and where spiritual redemption might come from, and poses a challenge to the Church and other institutions in Polish culture and society.

Loving Vincent: an arresting visual animation style papers over a repetitive and insubstantial formulaic plot

Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, “Loving Vincent” (2017)

Most viewers will probably be bowled over by the use of oil paintings on canvas as animation cels and the directors’ preference for classically trained painters over animators to do the paintings, resulting in a very arresting visual style drawing heavily on 19th-century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh’s vibrant style. For all the distinctive visual style though, the film is not that remarkable in its plotting and I have to wonder why animation was preferred wholly over live action when both animation and live action could have been used. I suspect the animation helps to paper over inconsistencies and flaws in the plot that would have made the film just another ordinary historical biopic about a famous figure.

A year after Vincent van Gogh’s death in 1890, young tear-about Armand Roulin (voiced and played by Douglas Booth) is tasked by his postmaster father to personally deliver a letter from Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo after the letter fails to reach the latter and is returned to the post office. Although Armand does not know van Gogh well, his father persuades him to take the letter, telling Armand that van Gogh had suffered mental illness and had been ostracised by others as a result. Armand goes to see Julien Tanguy, an art dealer who sold painting supplies to van Gogh: Tanguy tells Armand to visit Dr Gachet, who had cared for van Gogh in his last days, in Auvers-sur-Oise. Armand calls in at the Gachet residence and learns the doctor is away. The young man whiles away his time visiting people who knew van Gogh (who painted their portraits) and tell him all they know of the painter: their stories form a narrative suggesting to Armand that van Gogh might not have committed suicide but instead had been murdered. In Armand’s mind, everyone including Dr Gachet and his family become potential suspects.

The film does flit over several themes including mental illness and people’s attitudes toward mentally ill people in van Gogh’s time, the painter’s difficulties in coping with his poverty and various demons, and how best to remember someone by seeing the world as he saw it, with all its natural delights, and celebrating what he leaves behind in spite of a painful and undeserved death. Unfortunately the film concentrates too much on a story that tends to go round and round in circles and becomes quite repetitive. Ultimately Armand’s adventure seems rather insubstantial – the whole murder plot building up in his mind eventually goes awry after he’s interviewed all the most significant people who knew or met van Gogh – though he does come to appreciate how special van Gogh was to the people who knew him and he resolves to lead a better life than he has done so far. Even so, the idea of a rank amateur trying to solve a murder mystery that the police have dismissed as a suicide, and using rough-n-ready interview techniques to solve where more sophisticated police methods of the time have failed is hardly new.

The acting is not all that remarkable and seems rather flat – but that may be due to the style of animation used. The action proceeds in a leisurely way and only near the end does it become emotional and moving in parts.

Promoters of the film are very fond of saying how it was made and of how many painters (mostly from Poland and Greece, two countries severely affected by neoliberal economic policies and programs ordained by EU bureaucrats) were employed to create the 65,000 oil paintings that became the basis of the film’s animation. When so much emphasis is placed on the film’s technical aspects, one suspects that so much else within the film isn’t quite as good.

The Kinematograph: a familiar and bittersweet story done better by others

Tomek Baginski, “The Kinematograph” (2009)

Here is a bittersweet story of a lone inventor labouring to produce the first moving picture with sound and colour only to lose both his wife and a claim to take out that first patent and to be forever remembered as the world’s first film-maker. The story is a familiar one – the inventor is so obsessed with his technology and his discoveries, that he forgets to care about his loved ones until too late and he is left with only his lifeless machines and memories, while the world moves on, indifferent to his sorrow and loneliness – and Baginski does it no favours by relying on a sparse and unimaginative dialogue, a flat delivery by his voice actors and trite background music that tugs at the heart-strings in an irritating way.

While the animation is quite good and transitions from past memories to the inventor’s current reality are done well and subtly – the inventor is portrayed as elderly while his wife is shown as always youthful (because the film shows him as living in the past) – it does move too quickly in parts and viewers can feel a bit dizzy from all the dynamic spinning of the point of view of the “lens” which purports to be that of the viewers. The film looks rather like a video game as a result and this detracts somewhat from the sketchy story.

The emotion is very forced and viewers can feel manipulated by the short’s plot and message. The characters are one-dimensional and seem very stereotyped: the wife as self-sacrificing to the point where she refuses to see a doctor about her tuberculosis until far too late, the husband as too obsessed with his work to notice that his wife is unwell.

For a better treatment of a similar theme, viewers are encouraged to watch Andrei Shushkov’s “Invention of Love” which has been reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

The Changing of the Guard: how love conquers social class and restrictions

Wlodzimierz Haupe and Halina Bielinska, “The Changing of the Guard / Zmiana warty” (1958)

A simply made stop-motion animation piece, this little film is a tragic tale of romantic love that crosses social class and conventions, and causes a scandal in the town where it occurs. The characters are matchboxes representing stereotypes of class. An anonymous soldier falls in love with a beautiful princess; he finagles his way into night-watch duty just so he can see her. While on duty, he gazes at her window and she appears; she comes out to him and their love, hitherto unfulfilled due to their respective social roles and the restrictions upon them, literally bursts into the open in flames.

The narrative is carried by the soundtrack and consists of various noises real people might make: snoring sounds when the soldiers go to bed, and the sighings of the soldier and the princess when they see each other and meet. There is martial music during one scene where soldiers are being drilled.

At the film’s end, the town burghers where the soldiers’ regiment was quartered put up signs stating “No Smoking!” in several languages: this is a message to all citizens to repress their real feelings and thoughts and to obey the rules.

The animation which consists of stop-motion cut-outs of match-boxes and cut-outs of props against a bare stage and background throws the emphasis on the story. The plot is easy to follow up to the point where the soldier and the princess sacrifice themselves for love. Although the mood is neutral, the denouement is quite chilling.

It’s a well-made film whose message will be clear to both children and adults on different levels: children will see it as a love story and adults will see it as an allegory about how love can conquer the strictures placed on people by society, albeit briefly. That the town throws further constraints onto the expression of love is an acknowledgement of how powerful love can be.

 

Once Upon a Time (dir. Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica): an oddball pair trying to find their identity and place in an abstract world

Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica, “Once Upon a Time / Byl sobie raz” (1957)

An amusing little cartoon with a circus freak-show organ music soundtrack, “Once Upon a Time” traces the adventures of an egg shape with four sticks for legs in its attempt to find an identity and a partner. It finds a set of feathers and a bird’s-head silhouette and together the unlikely duo encounter various cut-outs and images, and find a temporary home among a collage of live-action film shots and a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting in an art gallery.

The animation style looks crude and childish but the execution is ingenious and cuts across notions of identity, function and narrative. Small children may not really understand what’s happening here: they will appreicate the egg shape drawing a line on the blank page so it can walk over the line but not understand why the set of feathers behaves rather erratically, at once accepting the egg thing’s friendship yet ever ready to abandon its friend. There’s sly humour and the duo of the egg shape and the set of feathers behave like a Laurel-and-Hardy or Abbott-and-Costello pair. There may be an absurdist message in the narrative of the twosome as they eventually find a home and become virtually invisible in it, however comfortable and well-defined their new surroundings are.

The use of collages prefigures Terry Gilliam’s use of cardboard cut-out figures and it’s possible this and similar creations by Borowczyk and Lenica strongly influenced the Monty Python man in his own animated work.

The Adventure of a Good Citizen: a plea for tolerance, celebration of eccentricity and relating to the world in new ways

Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, “The Adventure of a Good Citizen / Przygoda czlowieka poczciwego” (1937)

Experimental film-making got off to an early start in Poland in 1930, the year that the writer-painter couple Franciszka and Stefan Themerson made the first of five short experimental films together before travelling to Paris in 1937 and settling there. “The Adventures of a Good Citizen” is the fifth of these films. There is a strange little narrative in the film: a man discovers that if he walks backwards, the sky won’t fall on him so he adopts his new backward-walking habit into his daily routine. A remarkable adventure results – he collides with two men carrying an empty wardrobe with a full-length mirror on the door and he ends up replacing one of the work-men. The two carry the wardrobe, walking backwards of course, into a forest. Some irate citizens protest at this act, fearing the new gait will become an unwelcome fashion trend, and follow the two men.

There’s a message about how changing one’s routine even in mundane ways can result in a completely new and different way of seeing the world and appreciating its beauty and joy. The centre-piece of the short film is in a series of nature shots for which animals were filmed through a translucent glass covered in paper: the effect is to create lively silhouettes of a squirrel and various birds flapping their wings. Some silhouettes are black against white backgrounds and others are white against dark or changeable backgrounds. The effect is often painterly and abstract. This photogram technique was developed by Stefan Themerson. There is also a general theme of reversal and mirror effect throughout the film as ways of enabling people to step outside their comfort zones, to think laterally and to see familiar things in a new light. Early shots of people walking in one direction, left to right, and their mirror images walking in the opposite direction, often in film negative, illustrate the theme.

The wardrobe and its mirror are distinctive characters in their own right: the wardrobe becomes a companion for the Good Citizen and a portal to another world, as the protesters discover when they pass through the door and see the Good Citizen literally flying high over them.

For its time, the film was highly inventive in plot, filming techniques and visuals. The music by Stefan Kieselowski does not sound very original or experimental to modern ears and can be very intrusive. There’s not much dialogue and what there was, was in Polish with no English sub-titles so a part of the film went over my head when I saw it. It’s worth seeing for the photograms that Themerson used to stunning effect to encourage people to take a renewed interest in familiar objects in nature. There is some animation used in the film as well.

A plea for tolerance of eccentricity, to question old and accepted ways and habits, and to renew and re-energise one’s relationship with the world as a result might well be the film’s ultimate message to viewers.

 

The Eye and the Ear: an assertion of Polish rebirth in an abstract and experimental short film after years of war

Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, “The Eye and the Ear / Oko i Ucho” (1944 / 1945)

Abstract and experimental animation has a long and illustrious history in Poland, to judge from this 10-minute short made by writer-painter pair Franciszka and Stefan Themerson. The short portrays in visual form what four songs composed by Karol Szymanowski (1882 – 1937) of a particular opus “Slopiewnie” (this actually consists of five songs but for some reason only four songs received animation treatment) might be like. The first song “Green Words” shows white silhouettes of twigs and leaves growing across the screen against a background of blurry images on film exposed to light. More images of silhouettes of leaves and branches, black this time, appear over backgrounds of concentric circles rippling over water and blending with one another or more misty clouds of blurred objects. “St Francis” features animations of white lines and geometric shapes moving across the screen while soprano Sophie Wyss’s singing is represented by images of mediaeval singers and musicians. “Rowan Towers” is distinguished by constant shifting and flashing white geometric shapes representing various orchestral instruments over a black backdrop while Wyss’s vocals are portrayed by moving and fluctuating horizontal bars. “Wanda” uses more water ripples and a silhouette of an arm and hand in reference to the subject of the song, a woman who drowned herself in the Vistula river to avoid an arranged marriage.

The music and the singing can sound a bit shaky and shrill at times due perhaps to the age of the film and there may be some wear and tear on the images but the photography and animation work are well done. The visuals and sound coordinate beautifully though I must admit I would have liked to concentrate more on the visual part of the animation: considerable thought and imagination went into the shapes used and the images flow quickly and smoothly. The spoken word introductions to each of the songs and their associated images were the only part of the film that was unneeded as these disrupt the flow of the imagery and music and to an extent dictate to viewers what they must see and hear during the film.

Modern audiences may grouse that the film isn’t in colour, doesn’t make use of three-dimensional shapes and imagery and looks quite cheap and tacky without the wonders of CGI. Bear in mind though that at the time the film was made, Poland was just emerging from a devastating war (World War II) in which nearly all the country’s major cities were destroyed, millions of people died in horrible conditions in concentration camps and the country’s borders shifted dramatically westward forcing thousands if not millions of people to migrate. The film might be seen as an assertion of Polish national identity, defiantly reborn after a harrowing six years of war.

Tango: cycle of life with 36 disconnected characters from young to old playing out in one room

Zbigniew Rybczinski, “Tango” (1981)

Winner of the 1981 Oscar for Best Animated Short, this 8-minute film is a collection of live-action film clips, all of which are repeated over and over in parallel in an artful way. In a plain setting of a room with three doors, a round wooden table surrounded by benches, a cupboard without a door, a bed in the foreground, a window opposite and a baby’s cot to the right-hand side of the screen (from the viewer’s point of view), a ball is tossed through the sole window into the room. A boy climbs through the window to retrieve the ball and then returns outside the same way. The ball then comes into the room again and the boy repeats his action; almost immediately a woman comes through a door to the left of the window into the room to nurse a baby and then place it in the cot before returning to her original spot through the same door. As with the boy and his ball, the woman repeats her action over and over. With each repetition, new people, one by one, enter the room: a burglar climbs through the window to steal a case on top of the cupboard; a schoolgirl comes into the room to dig about in the cupboard; a courier arrives to place the case on top of the cupboard; various workmen arrive; a man balances upside down on one bench; another man stands on the table to touch the light, screams and falls onto the floor, recovers and goes off with a limp; a naked woman enters the room to put on her clothes; two lovers make out on the bed; an elderly woman lies down on the bed; and somewhere in all of that to-ing and fro-ing, two other women enter the room (separately of course), each with a small child in tow.

Viewers quickly lose track of who goes in and out and does whatever in the meantime. A gorilla could have entered to face the audience, beat its chest with a roar and then exited without being noticed. The crowd of people go about their actions repeatedly without any one of them noticing what everyone else is doing. The courier does not notice that the burglar has stolen his case. The burglar need not have worried about anyone noticing him. The schoolgirl appears to throw something at the burglar but he does not notice. Nobody comments on the naked woman in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. The two lovers go about their business openly. The man who is electrocuted receives no help. No-one laughs at the fellow doing his headstand on the bench. A workman brings a toilet-bowl into the room. What’s significant here is that people are doing outrageous things and everyone else rushes by!

Eventually people stop performing their obsessive actions and it’s only at the very end that something new happens: there is a connection between an action performed by someone and somebody else noticing the result of that action. But that second person does not know who performed the action that led to the result – because the perpetrator has vanished. This might say something about how fragmented and impersonal our society has become.

Mini-narratives might be seen: the burglar and the courier might be two spies vying for valuable secrets in the case; the lovers are interrupted by another character who flees the scene in distress; workmen come and go. The small children might represent the same child at different ages. An entire cycle of life takes place in the room from the tiny baby being nursed and put into its cot, to children at play or home from school, to young adults finding life partners, to adults at work or caring for children, to elderly people being served dinner or put to rest.

There’s no definite narrative – viewers can interpret the short in different ways. Some might see modern society at its most impersonal and robotic, others might simply see people in all stages of a person’s life-cycle going about their daily activities.

Technically the film is no big deal in this age of computer-generated imagery and it does look dated and flat. Still, it’s quite mesmerising in its own way with a rhythm all its own. The film can bear a certain number of repeat viewings until the viewer registers most of the characters and the mini-narratives being enacted to his/her heart’s content.

Reflections: original and beautiful use of black-and-white animation to illustrate a cosmic joke

Jerzy Kucia, “Reflections / Refleksy” (1979)

Black-and-white animation has never been used so well as in this little film about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune on a small scale. A newly formed adult insect struggles to emerge from its cocoon after a long period of pupation, only to be attacked by a predatory ant that has been waiting for its prey for a long time. The insect and the ant struggle but the battle is very one-sided. No sooner does a victor emerge than it too is subjected to another cosmic joke.

Simple though the narrative is, it is beautifully told in the way Kucia changes the viewer’s POV from side-on when the first insect completes its metamorphosis and is attacked, to a bird’s-eye POV when the insects fall into a puddle and fight to the death. The action moves off-screen and all we know is the crackling noise the creatures make and the ripples of black and white waves moving across the screen as the animals struggle. (Animator Kucia originally trained as a painter and his painting background is obvious in the way he uses black and white colours to show the rippling water moving across the screen and to reveal narrative.) The ripples change to show a silhouette of the trilby-hatted man watching the insects and listening to background traffic noises, waiting for a car to arrive. The man ends up playing God to both insects.

Remarkably the action looks as if it could have been done in one take without any editing as it moves from left to right continuously and then to the top right-hand corner of the screen as the ant pulverises its victim and the victim fights in sheer desperation. The final blow occurs off-screen and we have to infer it from the foot-prints left behind by the man as he leaves the puddle. With the action appearing as though in close-up, the viewer is in a position of being voyeur and therefore complicit with the trilby wearer in allowing the first insect to suffer as it does while the ant is attacking it.

As with much other Polish animation, there is grim black humour which arises from the film’s theme of the vicissitudes of Fate and the fragility of life in a particular microcosm. “Refleksy” gains its power from its style of animation, the originality of the way the action is framed, and in the way it leaves out the most significant action which has to be inferred by the viewer. The viewer is then left to ponder as to why the man didn’t act earlier with regard to the insects’ battle.