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cleaned out my basement, that great repository of the past and many, many outfits that I cannot part with no matter how outdated, and we began to discuss people we knew and their various mental afflictions, a favorite subject to be sure, and my friend pointed out that often we love our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
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.