Here’s a diary entry from last week where I tried to continue to break down my heart-brain’s desire for everything to be a tidy little narrative event primed for my diary (where most of my life has taken place). The most direct way to explain how I came to this conclusion is to just type up the diary entries where it started to come together. Keep it #organic #juicecleanse #greenchallenge!
On the rocky train back to NYC. Gray sky + river out the window. “The Kick Inside” in my head. Son of Swords imagery. And Joan of Arc in The Lark,, which Jim told me to read—finally did last night.
Last night: hard. Light of day: sanity, perspective, center of gravity=me. Night: center of gravity=the sky, elsewhere, anywhere but here…all gratitude dissipates, my heart implodes, bleeds out to the edge of my skin, scratching + clawing for CONTACT. Tried to remember how unfathomably lucky I felt to be alive watching yesterday’s sunset from the hill by the cemetery: colors with no name, the depths of the trees, my health—what did it matter if I’d just feel like shit later? I’d gotten too safe in my “closure.” Startled in bed by the realization that whatever’s next could just as easily disappoint as it could satisfy. No, far more easily. Sprang up. Finished Waiting for Godot. I think it’s about emails from exes! Closure is a myth. The sky is infinite but maybe it’s infinite nothingness. Maybe it’s the pitch black mezzanine + balcony when I shout “I love God!” at the end of The Crucible: belief as last resort. Joan of Arc says on page 19 of The Lark:
“They need faith, your soldiers. They need somebody who believes it to say that God is on their side. Everybody says things like that. But I believe it—and that’s the difference.”
I like those lines with regard to belief in oneself, or in the creative muse/leaving room for the divine. You don’t know the audience is all going to “get it,” but what harm is there in assuming, so that you feel safe enough to let go & give a dedicated performance? Tell yourself a white lie so that you can access another kind of truth? Have a conversation with a stranger: assume you’ll be able to get somewhere good instead of pessimistically believing you two won’t connect? But how scary, being vulnerable…
On page 31, when asked what she does if she’s scared, Joan says: “Act as if I wasn’t. It’s that simple. Try it. Say to yourself, yes I am afraid. But it’s nobody else’s business, so go on, go on. And you do go on.”
Maybe it’s less about believing in yourself and more about believing in it…the event, whatever it may become…the feeling, however it may stew or shift…believing in possibility…the absurd! The arbitrary & random. That every second is happening and then leaving.
There must be a way to do this while also being OK with the mundane, predictable outcomes…if you see something as new, does that make it so? Actually, you don’t need to see it as so; it is, factually: that is the essence of time. Harness this knowledge by remaining open, even to ambiguity, uncertainty, and continued discomfort. Remaining open =/= waiting for closure or resolution or satisfaction, ever. Know that these uncomfortable states WILL pass, but that how is not always up to you. Don’t force catharsis by whipping up some grandiose conclusion, especially if it’s based in anger. Metabolize the feeling where you can simply by using your gifts to swim around in the discomfort and find it entertaining/intellectually stimulating. Adopt the short-term memory of a goldfish. See if you can surprise or amuse yourself.
Joan on 39: “He has done both good and evil, and thus twice acted like a man. That makes God happy because God made him just for this contradiction. We are good and we are evil, and that is what was meant.”
I never want to celebrate evil like intentionally hurting people, but maybe, in the context of my masochistic perfectionism & great expectations of life and of myself, I can transpose evil/sin to instead mean: shortcomings. Error. Failure. Embarrassment. Being vulnerable at an inopportune moment. Looking like a fool. Saying the wrong thing. Saying the right thing + remaining dissatisfied. Miscommunication. Misfirings. Mistakes. Not even the sexily dark, hard shit that teaches you a lot + makes you more well-rounded. Just the ridiculously anticlimactic. There’s got to be some delight in that.
Joan on page 45: “What I am, I will not denounce. What I have done, I will not deny.”
53: “I swore against myself. That is a great sin, past all others.”
Reducing the scale of events from Joan of Arc to my toenail-sized tragedies: I just have to be more forgiving of myself. William Blake understood that we are ravenous little devil-monkeys, that all Man does comes from ENERGY, that Energy is not our fault, that Energy is Eternal Delight (tho some indulgences get old). I do think we are born, like animals, with the need to be safe, and primal instincts wired in us to find & keep that safety. We call the safety “love.” Each person is responsible for developing what Blake calls a “circumference” for these Energy-rooted instincts: “Reason.” But who can be blamed for the way genetics, upbringing, power/corruption/lies, and being human (in other words: being animal) make one inclined to act like: a tool, a douche, a starfucker, a liar? I don’t need to be friends with any that come to mind, but I can make life easier (while still protecting myself!) by trying to imagine where they’re coming from. Everyone has internal pain.
Blake’s description of Hell is, to me, also a picture of compassion & delight at humanity’s ridiculousness. Like Garry Shandling saying everyone thought The Larry Sanders Show was about a bunch of jerks looking for fame, but it’s actually about people looking to feel loved. You could say an actor is someone looking to feel loved, as anyone but herself. You could broaden that to include the way people perform their personalities online, constantly.
“[…] and lo! It was a deep pit, into which I descended driving the Angel before me; soon we saw seven houses of brick; one we enter’d; in it were a number of monkeys, baboons, & all of that species, chain’d by the middle, grinning and snatching at one another, but withheld by the shortness of their chains; however I saw that they sometimes grew numerous, and then the weak were caught by the strong, and with a grinning aspect, first coupled with & then devour’d, by plucking off first one limb, and then another till the body was left a helpless trunk; this after grinning & kissing it with seeming fondness they devour’d too; and here & there I saw one savourily picking the flesh off of his own tail.”
I guess the sin I am trying to feel compassion for, forgive myself for, forgive him for, & forgive all gross people encountered in my newfound “adulthood” for: loving selfishly, inauthentically, impurely. This as it has manifested in my relationships, friendships, self-conscious stage acting. No, it’s not impure; it comes from Energy. Everyone’s just trying to “fill the hole” or whatever. HOLES: A movie starring young Shia LaBeouf OR a meditation on existential lack? Shia LaBeouf: upsetting example of where this search for love, safety, familiarity, gets tangled up with the entertainment industry, which is so random and controlled by money that you cannot secure a till-death marriage with it no matter how much hubris you possess? This craving is animal, the most animal; think about Blake’s constant use of “devour” in relation to what Tony Kushner said about Maurice Sendak’s illustrations, via Amy Rose:
“There’s a lot of consuming and devouring and eating in Maurice’s books. And I think that when people play with kids, there’s a lot of fake ferocity and threats of, you know, devouring—because love is so enormous, the only thing you can think of doing is swallowing the person that you love entirely.”
HEY, what about this: in high school & when I first moved here, my “God”/guiding light/thing I paid most attention to & lived in service of orchestrating & consistently wrote down=“strange magic,” serendipity, beauty. Learned via stage acting that these don’t happen when you force them; you have to let them happen to you; you remain open to them by paying attention to another person and really listening to them, instead of just watching yourself. What if now I also made a point to look for, appreciate + worship (document) mediocrity + human hairiness? The Miranda July stuff, the Kenny Lonergan stuff, the Annie Baker stuff, the Garry Shandling stuff, the Mike White stuff?
Instead of seeing connection as this GLISTENING, life-saving, faith-affirming thing (as it was necessary for me to in H.S.). Instead of looking for/being open to grace only in sweeping, cinematic sequences, what about those when the camera lingers a little too long, or the actor unknowingly shows something of himself, or a painful moment just…plays out? Pay closer attention to failed eye contact, syllables of anxiety, instances where people end up secretly connecting through their failure to connect…the fact that they both want to, and are trying…Description of Warren in This Is Our Youth: “Above all, a trier.”
It’s after the show now, late at night; some moments of it were so odd! Sometimes I felt a twinge of mortification; sometimes I thought, “Ooh, that was new, and it worked, and I don’t know why, and I can’t remember what it was!”
But I continually came off laughing (but not careless!).
[ILLUSTRATION WITH CAPTION: anxious fish trying to build self-esteem by chasing love in cities famous for crushing dreams]
I just reread that poem from the nunnery in Belgium where the women serve what they call Love. I love Love—my friendships—but now I see I must also worship farts + hiccups + voice cracks. Give me the MUNDANE + the ANTICLIMACTIC! Cereal & music videos…underwear…sleep…(depression?? oh no…)
Wim Wenders writes in “Time Sequences, Continuity of Movement”:
“When people think they’ve seen enough of something, but there’s more and no change of shot, then they react in a curiously livid way.”
THIS IS MY JOURNEY! My adventure, if you will. On our Submit page, you will find a more cohesive array of thoughts on this theme from our editors, and we hope that they spark a reflection of some kind in you. Send! It! To! Us! And have a wonderful time, whatever you’re up to.
Love (actually) (god dammit),