Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Letter We Write To The World

A dear friend of mine was talking to me on the phone as I cleaned out my basement, that great repository of the past and many, many outfits that I cannot part with no matter how outdated, and we began to discuss people we knew and their various mental afflictions, a favorite subject to be sure, and my friend pointed out that often we love our sicknesses, that they define us in some fundamental way, a letter we write to the world. I don't know how I feel about this, but I suspect there's a lot of truth in what she says. She's of a religious mindset and pointed out that before Jesus healed anyone, he was always asking them if they wanted to be well, thereby positing desire as a prerequisite for change.

As a rule, I don't watch reality television, mostly because I think most fiction narratives have more truth to them. But I have a confession to make -- I love Danny Bonaduce and will watch him do damn near anything on television from shooting himself up with steroids to downing Vicodan and vodka, from begging his wife Gretchen for sex, to playing with his kids. It's all equally compelling because he comes from a place of such self-torture and sickness. One senses that his entire life is the camera; he becomes real in front of it. And thereby he embodies a fascinating paradox -- he's both completely authentic and always acting. During the last few episodes of Breaking Bonaduce, Danny went through a conversion experience and subsequent baptism. It wasn't that surprising; he's always played the extremes. He's unwell and well all at the same time. He falls and redeems himself over and over. This is what makes him the train wreck we love to watch. Does he want to be well? Not really and most definitely. And so we go to the well with him, waiting for his next move, the endless fight between desire and downward spiral becoming something that try as we might, we cannot deny.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I hate acting. I try to be." Joaquin Phoenix

Cocktail Hour
Drinking poetry suggestion: The Door Margaret Atwood

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday! And many thanks to all the support and input I received when I began writing what eventually became the extended version of "The Ceiling Or The Floor." The Iowa Review accepted the final version (December 2008) so I can't reprint it here, but thanks to all my readers who went along for the ride when I wrote the first two paragraphs of it.


saul of tarsus said...

I agree with Jesus.

Brian in Mpls said...

Congratulations on getting your work accepted:)

the walking man said...

cool now I can start getting fucked up every goddamn day again because then people will want to go to the well with me. Jesus i could put that steroid drunk pill popping punk down just doing shooters.

But then I'd just be another addicted drunken bum because I'm not on TV. Fuck me! You just made my day Michelle, got just enough time and money to get a fifth before the old lady gets home.

eric1313 said...

I'm still writing that letter...

How well you know the journey--down the well, and back up into the world of the living.

And every day more words, names and afflictions are added to the scroll.

It's a language one is born speaking.

Peace out, dark lady.

eric1313 said...

And you know we have you to thank for sharing the ride with all of us who were invited for the ride.

Congratulations of everything.

The Iowa review is is the flag ship everyone wants to be in.

Couldn't you throw it here on the walls after it gets printed?

Tim said...

Congratulations Michelle! That's great news!

Hang in there on this long Tuesday, nine will come eventually. :)

Cheri said...

Congrats!! I'll have to check it out when December rolls around..

And what you said in your first paragraph, about people like their illnesses... its true. I don't know what or who I'd be without my "mental affliction" because it has molded me into the person that I am. I hate it, I love it, it's just like any relationship.

the walking man said...

I apologize for the anger I was so many hours ago....and good going kid on the Iowa review

please forgive me



JR's Thumbprints said...

Congrats Michelle!
The Iowa Review is way beyond my league, yet I continue my torturous route to no where.

R's Musings said...

Congratulations, Michelle! Love the quote... he made a great Johnny Cash! Did you every get that one on DVD?

Michelle's Spell said...

Hi everyone!

Thanks for all the sweet comments and congratulations! And Jim, you're not on the road to nowhere, not even close, and Mark, well, you know I adore you always and forever! And hi Miss R! Yes, I did get the dvd of Walk the Line, but I loved seeing it in the theater with you best. Joaquin was an excellent Johnny and I can't imagine anyone doing the role better.

Sheldon Tannenbaum said...

I aspire to the Yale Review.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've noticed this in myself, when I was young, and in family, the half wish, or unconscious wish, for sickness, perhaps addiction, or some kind of suffering. I no longer have it. All I crave is piece of mind, but I seldom get it. Perhaps I'm still embracing sickness, just have it buried deeper.

Ropinator said...

Did Jopaquin Phoenix act Emperor Commodus in the movie called Gladiator? I wrote a short rant about it on my blog because I can't stand that Hollywood movie makers change History as they wish.