“It’s what you surround yourself with,” Vicky told me. “You surround yourself with people you can’t stand. Actors, philosophers, writers – you always do that.”
I should probably explain something. She was talking about types of people, not specific individuals.
Oh, and she was right.
Here’s the thing. I returned to my philosophy course last night and was more disgusted by it than ever. Let me tell you three stories.
First, there were the two kids arguing about if a chair really existed. There you go, the stereotypical philosophy student. I just want to smack them! We are waging an illegal war and they are wasting their time talking about if chairs exist?! I want to tell them that there are far more important things going on – so cut it the fuck out!
Then, of course, there was my instructor, an unwashed, halitosis monster of mediocrity who is so filled with his own importance… well, again, the stereotype. This was the kind of instructor who initially turned me off to philosophy. As a matter of fact, I took Introductory Philosophy twice with this type of teacher because I kept failing due to sleeping in class! (I was partying more back then…)
Lastly, there was the writer and, again, what a stereotype. “Just wait five years. I’ll write my book and you’ll see it in Barnes & Noble.” I’m not kidding. He said this. Now, listen, I’ve been a writer for many years and I have not once made such a claim. I consider it not just egotistical bragging but nonsensical – to brag about something you haven’t even done, yet! What kind of person does that? I have always played things closer to the vest, so I don’t understand. I will talk about my writing but I’ve always understood the capricious nature of art. Art is casting yourself upon the universe and hoping you’ll stick. Most of us are too oily.
You can imagine how irate I was when Vicky and I were having dinner. I grumbled about the writer, the teacher, the students.
And that’s when she said it.
Now, listen. I love actors. Their ability to open themselves up to a new reality (the good ones, at least) is amazing. Sadly, though, there are so few good ones and even fewer great ones and even those are usually so full of themselves that they can be hard to take. Maybe that’s why those actors I do love, I love so much. Actors I have worked with, such as Stephanie and David Graham and Chris Anzalone (and, for that matter, nearly the entire cast of 40 Carats, Everything Changes, Athiests, and Whatever Happened to Me) (not that I see any of these people any more... which, in itself, may be telling...) transcend their own experience and can connect as completely different people. It’s really a kind of magic. Too bad so many of them are full of shit.
Writers are whiny bitches. Yes, writing is hard work and the payoff is… what’s the word?... oh, nonexistent. But the act itself is as fulfilling as any. Those writers I have known who can create their own realities, just as actors create completely new people, such as Rob Sassone, Tim Clostio, and Richard Lind, amaze me exactly because it is so unlikely that anyone could do such a thing and do it well. (And, yet, most writing is crap, which makes the fortunately constructed tale or book or whatever so amazing.) I just wish they didn’t whine so much. Bunch of pussies.
As for philosophers… listen, if you want to ask me a question, ask it. But ask it honestly and be sure there’s a reason. We’ll never truly know the nature of reality. So, until there’s nothing else on our plate, let’s deal with the important things that are going on. We have an illegal war, a planet going quickly into Fucksylvania, and a human race with no sense of right and wrong. Let’s start with that. And don’t be cute. Don’t take opposing sides just so you stand out and can act smart. If it’s a good idea to help one another, leave your Libertarian bullshit at the door. Assholes. I’ve never met a philosopher I liked. There. I said it. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Robert Pirsig is a philosopher who I consider to be extremely important… I’ve just never met him. I have known philosophy professors who I liked a great deal, however, so maybe you can count that. The rest of you, straighten the fuck up.
So, then, what does that mean, that I consistently surround myself with the types of people I hate? Does it mean I hate myself? After all, I’m an actor, a writer, and a philosopher – and there’s no guaranty that I’m at all good at any of those things.
I spent most of the evening and this morning thinking about this.
Here’s what I think.
Each of these, actor, writer, philosopher, is something that takes a great deal of very hard work to even approach a minimal level of competency. So, I guess the pitfalls along the way will include self-indulgence, some bitching, and a bit of lost focus. In other words, you’re going to end up with a whole lot of people who simply can’t do it. And posers? Oh my god! Tons of them! I can’t tell you how many wannabes I’ve met!
The thing is you never hear someone say, “Those janitors! They’re so fucking full of themselves!”
Wherever we strive for greatness, you’re going to run into some problems along the way.
I’ve been fortunate to know people who strive for greatness.
I guess I shouldn’t complain so much about the problem children.