Tuesday, February 14, 2012

'Passion Will Kill You, But Will Also Give You Life'

For weeks now, I've wanted to write about love, I guess this is a good day to do it. Not only because I need to write this morning, but because last night I went through the rolodex of love in my life and tried to recall, mostly the endings in regard to the extraordinary women that the universe put in my life and my failure to hold onto the women, and love, in all of its complexities. This morning I also received an email from an old girlfriend, who I guess figured today would be a good day to tell me what a horrible person I was during our time together. It wasn't exactly shocking, it was more of like a really hard punch to the lower stomach. If someone punches you in the stomach unexpectedly, its always a little perplexing, especially if you are hurting already and your abs aren’t what they used to be. Still, I'm glad that she was able to express herself, however, (note to the woman) sometimes you write those letters and you hold onto them. You don't send them. I have a file on my computer of letters that I have written that were never sent. They are for you, not for the person you want to kill. In a world where communication has become a monologue or a sound bite, dialogue is sorely lacking. It's the metaphor of assassination, where now it's common to shoot first and ask any questions later. Whatever happened to an up close and personal boxing or wrestling match? Anyway, I guess I can say that I'm glad this person at least felt something enough to take a shot. I was never one to sit on a hill with a rifle and perform character assassinations. So be it.

Today is the second day of the technical rehearsal for 'Lorca in a Green Dress'. We will preview on Thursday, and open on Friday. As I was driving home from a very grueling day, I was also thinking about the obsessive nature I have for theatre and music. I don't even really remember who told me that a theatre project must be approached as if it is the last play you will ever do. How would the world respond if this were your last piece of art? The thing that people would remember you for? I've always approached theatre in this way, and I think because I believe it’s the one relationship I've had that has never lost the bloom of love. However, as I was feeling the day in my body and soul driving home, I wondered if I had approached the whole twenty five years of doing it with a bit of a self-destructive ideology. When I am 'going down the wire' with a play, I will leave EVERYTHING on the field. I will spend my last few dollars on a can of paint. I have luminescent visions of details that go over and over in my head. I know exactly how it is supposed to look and feel, and although I won't hurt people to achieve it, I do often hurt myself in the pursuit of what I think is excellence. Time and time again I have gone back to the book written by John Lahr, 'Astonish Me', which is really a long essay of a book that re-enforces the idea that an audience should be astonished by what they see and experience. If it doesn't change the perspective of those who experience it, then what is the point? Entertainment? Pleasure? See, this is my crisis of faith. I watch other people, (artists) who come into the circle with a compromising attitude from the start, and I think, "I have never compromised when it comes to doing theatre, never once…" There is always some compromise, (and I do understand it) but that only comes at the end, when every attempt at perfection has been exhausted. Perhaps that is why I'm both frustrated, (but exhilarated) the last week of a show before it opens, because I see compromise all around me. Doing art of any genre, in my mind, has always been a pursuit of perfection. The flaws only come at the point of collapse. One of my favorite quotes in understanding both human nature and art is: "Depression occurs when fantasy collapses in the face of reality." Grandeur could be a simile of fantasy, and this has always been an issue for me in regard to the nature of addiction and art, delusions of grandeur. I think an issue because in recovery I've been told that the delusions of grandeur have to be arrested. I understand that in principle, however, I believe if you want to create truly great art, grandeur has to be part of the vision. I believe that in creating art, we create grandeur so that we can experience it in a theatre, gallery, or concert. On a human day to day living, I understand that grandeur cannot maintain itself in a perpetual state of motion, but we have moments that it does, and that is what makes life worth all this boulder pushing. I had a playwright friend who once said, "I don't believe in happiness, I just believe in occasional euphoria." See, this is the dilemma of the artist. Most artists are not wired to achieve grandeur in moderate living conditions. When you see artists crash and burn, (or even die) you see someone whose existence in the flesh has a difficult time adjusting to the mundane ideology of living a life to the extended end. The super-nova is a star that explodes. Once it explodes, it will never ever be the same. The warm and perpetual sunny days have come to an end.

I do understand that my views on the subject are radical. I understand that. But I don't know if I can change it. I'm an astute enough thinker to understand that the majority of people choose moderation, and I can live with that. But to be understand an artist, you first have to understand that many of them are not hardwired that way. I used to teach that the artist had to always be in a state of revolution, and I still believe that. The cause and affect of that revolution changes as the body and experience does, but I believe that it is only the revolution within each one of us keeps us experiencing nirvana. That's why I love my mother so much, she has somehow managed to keep her revolution fresh at eighty years old. When I talk to her, I hear the voice of someone very young, because her thoughts are so FRESH! If you couple that with years of living experience, you get a master. It gives me great hope in what I am beginning to understand in the nature of an eternal spirit. I've noticed as people begin to age, their spirit takes on the nature of a body that is changing back to dust. Society calls those who keep the spirit in a perpetual state of revolution eccentric. So be it. I would rather become an eccentric than an old man with insurance on every thing I've amassed as a human. People, you can't take any of that with you!

Oh, I was supposed to be writing about love. Well, maybe I am. And, unfortunately, I am probably doomed to be alone because I don't believe in compromising when it comes to finding it. If I can't have passion or obsession, I would rather put my energy into something that I can have that has those same components, art. I am learning as I age, when the bloom of youth is gone, that the trappings of a capital thinking society is very difficult to overcome. When you are young, you can be a bohemian, a gypsy, and an artist, and it maintains appeal enough to still find love and companionship. But at my age, to most people it becomes slacking and irresponsibility. I find it fairly absurd, however, that we are a society that unabashedly support our politicians with money and capital and call them our leaders. A politician can have a thousand dollar a plate fundraiser to campaign across the country, but when an artist has a fundraiser to support the fragile nature of doing art, the artist is held in suspicion. This is crazy thinking! Take politics out of a society and you have grassroots democracy, take art out of society and you have anarchy. Wake up, America. I am not stupid, I understand that many artists would not make great leaders in regard to passing laws, but without support, you will have not paintings or theatre, or film or music, you would not have delusions of grandeur.

I've had many people tell me recently that maybe I should lower my standards to at least achieve a relationship with someone that will possibly extend my life. (I actually had someone tell me this in the guise of advice). I've reached a point in my life where my standard of life may be sorely lacking in the financial department, but I can sing a song that will give you some goose bumps, and I can write a poem that actually says something given an hour. I can write a play in a month, and I can direct a play that might astonish you. Are these things worth anything anymore? I am sure, but I haven't found a woman who is sure. To my advisors. I understand the whole synergy principle, and trust me, I really think I am ready to have a relationship that works, however, I'm tough, but I'm poor. I'm well read and can think, but my truck has a broken muffler. One last radical thought to leave you. We are a society that has corrupted our values. The absurdity is this: We live our lives as if our bodies will live on forever. They won't. We live our lives as if art is a luxury we really could do without, its not, its as necessary as air. We live our lives as though the end result out there will satisfy us, it won't. The process takes place today, the end result is momentary. We live our lives in moderation so that we can possibly prolong life, you can't, time is the only real luxury. We live out our lives looking for love, when it really is all around us, but it wanes, just like the tide in the sea.

Happy Valentine's Day. I do, however, have a valentine. She is a forty-five pound Australian/border collie mix, and her name is Baby, and she loves that I am an artist and a writer. Love you, Baby.


Gerry said...

I applaud this writing, son. You are a writer! You are what I aspired to be and hope that I have become. Having a son who had great talent was an added bonus. And had good legs besides!

Bohemian Cowboy said...

I can always write 'going down the wire' with a play. This is my favorite place to be, because in this zone, nothing really matters outside of the play. So, I can ride this zone for three weeks more! Yeah! As for my legs, Mom, they don't feel that young anymore. My whole body right now feels completely sore--to the bone. I'm wondering thought, if whether I actually crave the pain. I'm re-thinking lots of things today, although in regard to creating, I don't think I'll be able to change the way I go at art. And, even though I approach a play as though it is my last, I secretly hope it won't be! (shhhh, don't tell anyone!)

Doc said...

Ray, your mom just read your last blog entry to me because I either need laser surgery or a new set of eyeballs. Now I will grant to you that your mother is not the easiest person to understand. You have known her fifty years longer than I have. I want you to know personally that I did hear you sing one time and you did not give me shivers up my spine. Your mother I wil say this for her cough cough to this day I have never read any of her blogs. You may ask why. It is not because of my eyesight, it is because of my foresight. This woman does not like me. Never has liked me and the way things are going she never will. At least she liked you. Thinking back on my life, I have had 4 marriages, a dozen or more step kids to help raise, I never considered myself to be anything more until I hit my fifties, and then I was not only an artisan, but I felt myself to be an artist. Not a singing artist, just a person who liked to put down on paper with pen and pencil and chalks on canvas, stretching my own canvas and putting down acrylics and coming up with ideas I might have seen in the past, but it just felt good to write down what I was experiencing in this particular piece of work, what my idea was when I was creating. The real interesting part is when you start writing underneath your painting or whatever you are working on, 9 out of 10 people will not see what you wanted them to see. It never bothered me that I did not have to make a living painting my own art work, because I am not a perfectionist. There is no such thing. I have been asked many times when do you know when your picture is done? My answer was, it's done, take it for what it is. It's much easier when you do your own art work. Nobody is looking over your shoulder. I like the fact that your mother actually read your blog to me and did not make up stuff that wasn't there and am thinking very seriously about making a video with your mother with you as a featured character. So breeak a leg!

Bohemian Cowboy said...

Thanks, Doc, spoken like a true artist, and an honest one to boot...