I haven’t been able to write very much in the last several months. So much has happened that getting meta about talking about it actually isn’t as interesting to me right now (which should be quite startling to anyone who knows me).
I keep meaning to write and then I don’t and so all kinds of things fly by me, experiences and realizations, losses, wins, connection and destruction have all been going on, all suitable for blog entries. But for whatever reason, things are actually happening at the same time that I don’t feel up to raising my voice about them.
I’ll tell you one thing and maybe ramble on from there. Today I went to a memorial for Paul Backer, one of my college professors. Paul passed away very suddenly less than a week ago. It was deeply shocking to me and to the rest of his students and of course to the USC School of Dramatic Arts faculty.
Today I listened for a few hours as a stream of students recounted how Paul touched their lives as one of the warmest, most supportive and generous teachers anyone could ever hope to have. I got up and talked, well, rambled and forced my voice to stay on despite the deep sorrow that made it shake terribly, mentioning how seeing Paul could improve my day in an environment (college) that could be, by turns, bewildering and frustrating. How he knew so much about seemingly everything and when he couldn’t solve something with words and wisdom, his hugs were the perfect cure-all.
And I had to tell everyone there, which included his mother, that when I was looking into voice over Paul was one of the people I got in contact with, asking for advice. This was only some five-ish years ago, well over a decade since I’d last seen him at my graduation. I wasn’t even sure he’d remember me. He remembered. He not only took the time to write back to someone who only bothered to write because she needed something, he answered my questions, pointed to professionals he knew and wished me well.
I had to tell them because I had to tell Paul, his vacant body in a casket, his mother in her chair, that I have a career because of him.
Right now I am spending my days creating Spanish narration files for online videos. I’m still in the earliest of early days as a professional voice actor. I am constantly fretting that I’m going to ruin this job, that this is a one-off and I can’t expect to ever find work like it again, that this work is meaningless when it comes to what I ought to be doing with my life…
The one person who could always convince me that I could take on the challenges ahead was Paul Backer. I am such an idiot for never considering contacting him earlier or for staying in touch. I didn’t even ‘friend’ him on Facebook. I can’t believe that I squandered that connection. And now I can’t ask him for one of his hugs that made everything okay.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much, Paul. Fare you well, wherever you may fare.
A lot of stopping and starting, but way more stopping. Altogether waiting for something to give me a reason to move. I had to break things down even if that cost me time and effort. It was an…What came out of it was a lot of planning and finding the amount of items I could reasonably expect to get done in a day. I didn’t get it all done, but I learned more about my work patterns. They need to improve, but now I know what and how instead of giving myself a big general panic attack about needing to do everything with no idea where to start.
So I could get minimums met. Okay, but one step beyond was tough, especially in any career capacity.
Got a mixed bag in the health area, as far as doctors are concerned. Shockingly low bad cholesterol and high good cholesterol. But blood sugar is not so great. Pre-diabetic. Must stick to my diet. Started serious work on mental health. I expect this is going to do/go forward a lot more in 2016. Or *something* is going to happen.
I think I would chalk up a lot of the spots where I fell apart to effects of depression. My inconsistency, my being so easily distracted, my lack of flexibility. I did a lot of what I always do, sit around and stare at space (or get caught up in meaningless exchanges online), but now I have a record. I know roughly which days I thought to myself, “get to work!” and just sat there. I may as well have been saying “quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack” to myself.
Creative fell apart in a lot of areas – obviously I didn’t blog very much. But so much of what I want to do requires reaching out to other people, something I’m not very good at. Any work that lets me keep my head down, nose in a book or poking at my laptop is perfect. But if I need to email someone cold or introduce myself at an event… yikes. So my dream of workshopping some immersive stuff didn’t come true. But I still want to build on that immersive night I managed to have with a couple people. It’s always a great conversation when I talk with people about it… now I want to play with it!
Paying work was rare, as usual, and it came from the oddest places. I helped a friend organize her late father’s receipts ahead of tax time, I cat sat and dog sat and I helped mom with her school busy work. Not particularly lucrative in any way, but it kept my head above water and gave me stuff to do.I did land a fun VO project for a five minute animated piece. The pay was small, but the reason to do it was getting the piece itself done. It was very cute and hope I can share the completed project soon. Obviously I want to do more VO work – for pay – but that’s all business hustle. Which I kinda fell down on this year.
What I’m also not very good at is working on multiple projects at once. I gave a shot to shifting priorities on a week to week basis. The “must get done on a daily basis” list was getting out of control. Which is a major reason for needing to get disciplined about what I wanted to do on a daily basis, and even hourly. I do and don’t want to count my scheduling system as something I did that worked. I don’t because I’ve always been great at writing lists for myself. Big deal. The goal is to get stuff done. But the scheduling system lets me know where I am every day, every week, and even a little bit every month. I can see in detail what day was good and how two good days were almost inevitably followed by bad.
Also, April. O.O There is no info for April at all. Barely any notes in my planner and NO tallies in my ledger. At all. I had to check Facebook to make sure I didn’t spend the month in a coma. It didn’t sound like it was too rough – I went to WonderCon and it exhausted me, and then I was caught up in talking about and thinking about the Baltimore riots. Also my niece’s softball team won their championship. I suppose that’s all I did. Weird.
In the end the tallies show a year that was slightly below C average. (I developed a basis for grading how I met my expectations.) June was excellent, and so was October, but August was abysmal. I’m trying to keep my chin up about getting a handle on what _in specific_ I am and am not getting done. But for this former A student, this is rough.
It’s better than I used to be but no where near where I really could be. I’ve spent too much time waiting for my moment.
Everybody and his brother has an opinion on “The Innocence of Muslims” and the intense global protests, deaths and condemnation it has incited. For most Americans it seems to run along the lines of a really jerk-faced way of pissing on people and then hiding behind the First Amendment, anger with a response that has turned murderous, notwithstanding.
I largely agree. I know I love my First Amendment, but I’m likely just as inured to this sort of dipshitery after a lifetime full of art, of high quality and utter crap, taking aim at Christianity. I’m used to writing it off as someone laying bare their own feelings and striving not to take it personally (with varying degrees of success).
But what really infuriates and hurts me is the possibility that the filmmakers got for it under completely false pretenses. Actors were apparently invited to make a movie called “Desert Warrior,” and then the film they made was heavily edited and dubbed to go from being an action/adventure in the desert to a polemic screed against Islam.
It just sickens me to think that someone’s creative efforts were taken away from their intentions and, without their knowledge or permission, reformed to create something far different. It’s horrific. It just doesn’t get worse than finding something you had put your effort to, ideally something you created by tapping into the essence of yourself – your soul or your heart – an effort that would never be identical if anyone else had done it, has been broken apart and put back together to say something other than what you originally expressed. The word for that is “perversion.”
It’s a violation on a level so profound and immeasurable that no wonder there seems to be no real legal recourse. How could anyone quantify one’s inner world, the resources actors and other artists draw on in order to create? Fucking with the creative outcome to suit someone else’s agenda…. It’s gross. It’s wrong. And yet somehow it’s not illegal.
I think it’s bullshit to avoid trying to write laws against this simply because they may be tough to enforce. At the very least, the legal apparatus and the government that stands behind it could note that using someone’s efforts for an endeavor they haven’t agreed to is frowned upon. Musicians get to tell politicians not to use their songs in campaigns they don’t agree with, why can’t actors?
I like the idea of remixing and I’m quite relieved “fair use” laws exist. But there has to be a delineation in the realm of art that applies the old adage “your rights end where my nose begins.”
And for the love all things beautiful and sacred in this world we have all got to let go of our anger.
I’ve wanted to write for the last month but straightforward expression has been failing me a little bit. Dadaism gives me so little to work with I really don’t like turning to it for a mode of expression, even artistic. But I’ve been on such a tear about surrealism, expressionism and the absurd lately that complete sentences with the standard subject-verb-object format feels stilted if not inadequate. I’ll try to make this make sense, but no promises.
Admittedly, the dramaturgy project was many weeks ago and formally ended at the top of this month. But I still have several fascinating books I checked out from the library and I’m rushing to read them before I have to return them next week. Because it’s for my own interest now I returned nearly all the books on Algeria and kept a handful on Genet and related books on arts and drama. It’s the wonder of that era that people like Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre are notable both for philosophy and their literary works. They were tied in to the creative world so thoroughly that it’s difficult to draw a clear distinction between the theories of existentialism and the modes of art that inspired them and were inspired by them, from Husserl’s phenomenology through Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty and inclusive of Derrida’s deconstruction. But, because I’ve approached this round as a dramaturg, I don’t have to hold my investigation to a scientific philosophic inquiry of dates and schools and interaction (though, trust me, a healthy dose of that always helps), and instead I can look for the guiding sense, essence the artists were reaching for. Basically, why paint in a surrealist style? Why muck up a perfectly serviceable language? Why load up scenes with intense insanity, noise, pointlessness, humorous tragedy and filth?
For me, the greatest image that expresses it all so perfectly that talking about becomes a sort of painful superficiality – I can’t tell you anything that the painting doesn’t say for itself, and better – is Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. (If somehow you’ve read this far and you’re not sure which painting that is, by all means, look it up. Right now.) Its anguish is undeniable and immediately it gives a sense of crowding horrors. Noise, chaos and violence have become so de rigueur that bothering to comment on them becomes a sort of absurd act. The pain and misery is so great that it has to be cut up, given edges, boundaries. The madness of it all has led to coping that consists of being able to identify objects and situations – woman, baby, cow, bomb – but not a cohesive comment that rises above the statement of madness itself.
My favorite painter is Frida Kahlo. I’m tempted to say something obnoxious like I was into her before it became fashionable, but in truth I’m glad she’s popular now because it’s easier for me to get to see her works in person. And furthermore, she’s become well known enough to anchor a fantastic exhibit at LACMA, called In Wonderland.
Goodness, I can’t say enough about this exhibit. It took me well over three hours to wander through and the last hour was slightly rushed as my feet ached and nature called. I want to go back. Overwhelmingly I hadn’t heard of most of the artists on display. And it’s a damn shame because no one should have to wait until the age of 35 to be exposed to Remedios Varo or Bridget Tichenor.
Here’s where language really falls apart. Because I’m still very much under the throes of trying to come up with something that comprehensively expresses all of my thoughts, I want to say something about the exhibit but I have no idea where to start or how to hold to an outline. It’s hard to talk about any one thing without it become something else, bleeding over into a new scene, invading the space of another idea, alluding to another theme, borrowing the colors of a completely different experience. The essence of 20th century surrealism, maybe. Also really sloppy reportage. But really, you have no idea how many times I’ve tried to write this out and had to delete it all because it just chases its own tail.
I wanted to camp out/lay down at the foot of Las dos fridas and stare up at it forever. I wanted to read every piece of ephemera, including Artaud’s Spanish-language article on Maria Izquierdo. I wanted to commit the magic in Leonora Carrington’s Chrysopeia of Mary the Jewess. I was so struck by a piece of text by Julien Levy on Surrealism I had to write it down: “[it] attempts to discover and explore the more real than real world behind the real; meaning which is expansive behind the contractile fact.” And, my God, Dorothea Tanning.
The ideas! That women were their very own muses! That down in Wonderland, long past the rabbit hole, women found themselves bewildered by their own lives! That they didn’t need the madness and belligerent whims of the world at large to see where the disconnects came about! That mystery and identity are facets every woman has for exploring, too sublime to be reliable tools but powerful forces all the same.
Maybe this is what Rationalism has wrought, surrealism, existentialism, et al. When the situation is deprived of its narrative (John killed Bob because Bob murdered John’s parents) and one is only left with the hard facts (Bob is dead; John shot him) the whole thing is senseless violence. The human mind can’t really take that, there has to be some sense in it in order to live with the situation. Even turning away and deciding not to think about it is an option. But we’re hardwired to see if this-then-that in everything. When that falls apart because expectations get foiled again and again (on the way to getting revenge for his parents, John is given governorship over a region far away and he laments his misfortune which inspires Mary, a maid besotted with him, to attempt the revenge herself which fails because Bob falls in love with her first and proposes marriage and when war breaks out a famous ballad makes its way to John’s ears about poor Mary whose betrothed was killed during the war and how she never got what she wanted and John determines that his vengeance will not be foiled if he kills Mary…) we are truly numbed to the present goings on, so goes the praxis in certain plays by Beckett and Ionesco, and put ourselves in a sort of holding pattern, waiting for this nonsensical story to play itself out and for “normal” to return. But the funny thing about life, and reality, is it is no play, it has no narrative, and there is no “normal.”
Maybe the advance of rationalism has been handily or conveniently assisted by globalism and intercultural realities. The more we let go of expecting a certain course of events and allow for alternatives as a measure of our tolerance for other customs, perhaps the less we find our own customs instinctual. We’ve learned to question our customs – to question authority. We’ve raced around the globe and crashed into ourselves on the other side. Recognizing ourselves once again, after all of that can be disorienting and we may never be the people we once were. (As a woman I can’t help but be glad about that.) There’s a new normal hanging around. It doesn’t make any sense but it’s not like you should get used to it.
In closing, if there is any way you can, hie yourself to LACMA’s In Wonderland. In until May 6 2012, but you should go now. NOW. Go, go, go, go!
Have you ever been working long and hard and get to the point that you should change your clothes and wash up but don’t quite want to because the fresh air and scrubbing feel like they’ll bring on an invasion to the mojo you’ve put together? Sure, it’s childish, but you earned that grit why not just press on?
It’s kind of felt like that over the last month and change. I didn’t quite notice August slip by without blog updates, though I had started the month quite gung-ho about getting this site rolling. I even paid for my own URL and everything. But…stuff happened, like it does and I forgot to get back around to this, no matter that this blog is specifically for documenting such …uh…stuff. But as time kept sliding by without writing anything of substance in public I found myself even more reticent to make the time.