Friday, January 21, 2011

'Swimming in the Water of Subjectivity'

My last entry seemed to have stirred up opinions that in my estimation were the very point of my statements, which tells me that I would rather get back to expressing myself in a partisan way, if there is one thing I've learned in my own personal journey, its that in this day and age, conflict resolution is more difficult than it was when I was younger. As I get older, the demographic that I come more and more into contact with are less likely to change their opinions on issues, and that peoples' convictions are welded into the cracks of their own experiences. As we listen to each other speak or think, the process by which we express ourselves becomes more complex, but in my opinion, more guarded.

Rational thinking on political issues is very clearly divided into two camps of subjectivity, neither one seems to want to want to swim in water that is filled with objectivity, and since I've not been enough a part of the political process, I'll let the people who are passionate about their opinions on all things political speak on the matter. I was not brought up in a household where political discussions were part of the mix, in fact, most of the discussion I saw seemed to be centered around the crisis management that made me a much better dramatist than a politician. I do seem to have some political opinions on gun control and how it relates to the youth in our country, and as I said, I was particularly moved by the latest shooting in Tucson, but I'm well aware that my experience is grounded in expressing myself through art and a subjective kind of reason that is part of my own personal journey.

As I sit here this morning, and contemplate the forms that are in front of me to fill out, like many people, I would rather do anything but fill out forms, but I'm also aware that there are many people in the world whose job is to fill out forms. I'm aware that form filling out is a part of life. However, like politics, I was never raised in a form filling out environment. Its mind boggling to let myself think about all the things I never learned and all the things I never will. We all are products of a certain kind of environment, we all may have the freedom to choose our paths of pursuit, but we are influenced by what we see and learn at a very young age. When I chose the path of a dramatist or writer, (and I'm calling it that this morning instead of a playwright) I was very definitely influenced by what I saw growing up, gleaning what was around me. Thinking about it now, I now understand that psychologically, I was furiously trying to create some order in the chaos that was my life. And I'm still doing it. I'm still trying to organize chaos in an entertaining way, and that is the craft of the dramatist.

I was also brought up in an environment that was rife with delusions of grandeur, so contrary to what the AA philosophy speaks on the matter, that all alcoholics are delusionists, I would argue the point in stating that not all grandeur is delusional, and if human beings did not strive for some sort of greatness, the world would be a pretty boring place. I often oppose that thinking, because I think in a subtle way it is telling people that their drinking is a result of not being able to achieve greatness. The message seems to me to be, "humble yourself and accept the fact that you are never going to be able to accomplish what your aspirations were". Stop thinking such grand thoughts, stop thinking with any kind of complexity and keep everything simple, for if you don't, you will drink again. Imagine my surprise when the AA book uses the metaphor of the production of a play. The book uses a play to illustrate the idea that 'we' are not in control of things. "Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he is more likely to have varied traits." Its evident to me when I read this that Bill W never worked in a theatre. I remember when these passages were brought up in a meeting or in a discussion, I usually stayed silent on the matter, and wished another metaphor could have been used to explain the 'control' issue. For many people, the control issue arises because there is no one in their environment that can take on these specialty jobs. For many people, the support does not exist for them to become the best and brightest, so they do have to juggle the complexity of multi-tasking at a very young age. Running the whole show is a result of circumstances, and not necessarily because of alcoholism. Not all individuals who are asked to 'run the show' at a very young age are alcoholic, and alcoholism doesn't have a monopoly on control. The very nature of art, (even when it is collaborative) is a form of self expression that does demand a great deal of control, tempered by skill and talent.

I think when I am met with moments of frustration, it's easy for me to lament on the initial issues that had such a big impact on my life. Usually, in a one-parent home, or a home that is chaotic, you don't learn the simple things like opening a checking account, or like filling out forms, or how to buy your first car, or how to enroll in school. In my growing up period, there was also an anti-academic philosophy, education was stressed only in the reading of books. I was never expected to go to college, nor was it ever discussed. If I were to get an education, it would have to be privately manufactured, and I would have to 'fill out the forms' and figure out how to finance it on my own. I'm not suggesting that I am the only one who has experienced this situation, what I am saying is that I have fallen through the cracks of education, and have fallen through the cracks of many of the institutions that were readily available to help me find my way. Before I went to Austin this last time, a friend of mine who is a well-known professor at a University, took me to the opening of a play performed by a well-known theatre company here in Arizona. Forty-five minutes before the play, I was meeting people from the ghost of theatre past, and being introduced and re-introduced to many of the players and professors of theatre here in the current theatre community. And no one went out of their way to make me feel this way, but I felt less than and inferior in their presence, still an outsider trying to find my way into the herd. They had jobs, and pensions, and benefits, and families, and seemed very happy to be in this environment. Their opinions snapped from their mouths readily and jovially, and I was silent. My education came out of experience and not academia, and I felt embarrassed.

As I sit here in my brother's house typing this, I can't help but be impressed by his accomplishments, maybe for the first time. I'm realizing he is the one person whose history of growing up parallels mine. I know where he came from, and he knows where I came from. I can say to him, "Remember when Uncle Pole wrecked his truck on those ninety degree turns coming home from Pinaccle Peak?" He knows what I am talking about. He knows the Murray Stingray bicycle we had to share for transportation, and he knows the history with our father. He took the ethic of work from my grandfather, and hung onto it for dear life, because he knew the support for any kind of education or delusions of grandeur would be scant. He made the best of it, and he made the best of his life, in a world and a past that some would say were overwhelming odds. I find myself proud of him, and proud of what he does. He seems glad that I am here as well, so that we can share these brief moments of our history, even though we may have interpreted them in a different way. Oh, life…


Chuckh said...

On higher education:

It is normal to feel you have missed out, but those who work hard can make something of themselves...Here is a liost: High School and Elementary School Dropouts
Dropped Out, But Later Received High-School Diploma Equivalency Status
(months, years, or decades later: equivalency diploma, honorary diploma, admission to a college or university, or other schooling or training of high merit)

Dropped Out of High School, Joined Military, & Eventually Received Diploma Equivalency Status

Total Names: 751
Males: 576
Females: 175

Billionaires: 25
Millionaires: uncounted
U.S. Presidents: 8
Astronauts: 1 (Valentina Tereshkova)
Nobel Prize Winners: 10 (6 Literature, 2 Peace, 1 Physics, 1 Chemistry)
Olympic Medal Winners: 8 (7 Gold Medalists, one Silver Medalist)
Oscar Winners: 63
Oscar Nominees: 104 (includes above)
Other Award Winners: uncounted
Best-Selling Authors: 55
Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients (U.S.'s highest civilian honor): 14
Congressional Gold Medal recipients (U.S.): 12
United Nations Goodwill Ambassadors: 2 (Roger Moore, Angelina Jolie)
Knighthoods: 28
Damehoods: 3

Bohemian Cowboy said...

Chuck, that's really cool information, thanks for stopping and writing down. I actually feel that irregardless of my early education, everything is as it should be. I like the uncounted millionaires. btw, I have some amazing ideas about dinner theatre, it could really be a great lab, and I have a way to market it that was a 'light bulb moment'. We'll meet and talk this week. Our gig last night turned out to be awesome!