Saturday, January 01, 2005

So, This is the New Year (And I Don't Feel Any Different)

Thanks Death Cab, for providing with a cliched emo type intro for this year of blogging. I find my relationship with cliche really interesting. I will always point out if something is cliche, and frequently I'll use that as an excuse to ridicule it, perhaps rightly. I could drop the cliche livejournal right here, because I've read a bunch of them, y'know, a lot of whining about how I have no purpose and need to make a change, it's a classic, but even as I ridicule it for the cliche, I can really relate to what is being said. I think we're all searching for the same things, it's just whether you express that in a cliche way or in a unique way.

I'm reminded of a scene from the end of Six Feet Under's second season. Nate and Brenda are breaking off their engagement and having a big fight about it, and she's yelling at him, saying, "Don't throw the ring at me, that is so cliche," which says so much about the character. Despite the fact that she is breaking off an engagement, she's still concerned about not being cliche, which makes it great when Nate just throws the ring at her.

I look at some people, and I just see a cliche, I feel like I can break down everything about them, but the thing is, they all seem to be really happy. At college, I can see stereotypical Frat guy and he seems to be having a great time. Should he feel guilty that he's just a stereotype, or is he beyond worrying about being original, and instead just worries about having fun while he's here in the moment.

Lately, Jordan's been on about the breakthrough he made to live in the now, as discussed in the book, The Power of Now and other places. I'm sort of ambivalent on it, because at once he does seem happier, but the very idea of living just for the now seems to imply neglecting plans for the future. I have a lot of big things that I want to do, and while they frequently get thwarted, I do have goals and a mission in life. I think you can enjoy the ride that is life, but the ride should have some destinations, rather than just being an aimless procession forward through space, living purely for the moment.

I think an essential question is, would I rather be happy and unaccomplished or accomplished and miserable? I feel like being a filmmaker would make me happy, but you look at someone like Kurt Cobain, he achieved a popularity beyond his wildest dreams, and yet he still commits suicide. What more could he want, what is it that he couldn't have? To some extent, it feels like the best art comes out of desperate feelings, and unhappiness. So much of Buffy clearly comes out of Joss Whedon and the other writers' personal problems. If they were happy, would there be a series? Probably not, in fact the series began largely as a way for Joss to come to terms with high school and basically rewrite his experience back then. It's not a stretch to compare playing D&D to the slaying that the nerdy Buffy characters do. As he became more successful the issues under discussion changed radically. Buffy and co. became more powerful and in control of their lives, and, most notably on Angel, had to deal with vast power infastructures that they struggled to co-exist with. You can see the issues that mattered to Joss change as he became more successful.

That's why I think it would be hard for someone like Morrissey to remain relevant. Happiness and success would ruin his image, and reduce his ability to connect with unhappy, unsuccessful people. It astonishes me that Wong Kar-Wai has been married for 17 years, just because his films are about an emotional longing that can never be filled, yet he seems to have filled it in his own life. I guess part of writing is to create characters, and use them to explore aspects of your personality that you might have filed away and left in the past.

So, I know that my theoretical movies or TV shows would probably contain a lot of emoitonal angst and longing, and if I was happy, would I be able to create? I think I would, but it would be a different type of work. I know this is a vast generalization, but you can tell there are certain filmmaers who clearly own life, and have never had any problems. People like Michael Bay, it doesn't seem like they've went through a lot of problems in their personal life, whereas Alan Ball or Whedon clearly have been through a lot of stuff, or they're just really good at faking it.

But, in the end, I think that I would take unhappiness if it meant accomplishment. Making films, making art, is more important to me than simply going through life happy, because out of that creation, even if I have to go through some bad stuff to get it, would come a deeper happiness. Kids are happy because they don't have deep desires, they are content with very little. The older you get, the more it takes to be happy. In Dogma, there's a speech about how faith is like a glass of water. When you're little, the glass is small, so it's easy to fill, but the older you get, the bigger the glass gets, and you need more water to fill it. While this may apply to faith, it also applies to happiness, and I know I need a lot more to be really fulfilled and deeply happy than I did when I was younger. But, this might actually be a good thing because it forces me to do things I wouldn't have done before, and it expands my world.

That's why it's worth it to be a little bit unhappy, because in the long run, if you're content with things as they are, you're not going to make them better. Life has to give you little nudges of unhappiness to get you to change things up. Eventually, you can't ignore the problems, you confront them, and hopefully you resolve them. A lot of the time, it's just recognizing the problem that's tough. Once you do, it's not as tough to find a solution.


JordanRennert said...

Patrick, i am always impressed by your very strong convictions. You definitely stand for things, and stand very strongly for them. I personally, have always had this deep suspicion and disposition that there was something more to the world. Looking at your blog, it seems to me that your whole worldview and religion even is based on the movies that you enjoy and the act of creating. I fear that you are so set on creating some masterful work of fiction, that too many moments of your life will pass and you will never really experience them. With so much concentration on this goal down the line, it is hard to focus and enjoy the beautiful and awe inspiring natural world. Our western culture is so obsessed with progress that the mere idea of stopping to listen is considered a huge waste of time. I decided to give it a listen and found some pretty crazy stuff. Instead of making all your time in your life a means to an end, why not make the moments ends in themselves. Also, once you are in tune with the cosmos, it will become much easier to make this masterful opus that you were born to create.

P.S. to add even more credibility to my scholarly response, I hereby decree that you should most definitely try shrooms. This will give you instant access to a world with out ego. A more peaceful, serene, enjoyable world. This will add a lot of stuff to our discussions too. peace.

Patrick said...

Well, I'd definitely agree that you have to enjoy the journey. Eventually, we're all going to die, so there's no point in racing towards that. And I totally agree that you should enjoy each moment. Every day, even if I do nothing of note, I'm having fun, and doing stuff I like, so it's good.

However, the one problem I see with your theory is this idea that to pursue a goal, and to really deeply want something and go after it inherently means that you can't enjoy the moment. I think you need to have both, because if you spend all your time enjoying the moment, you're not going to achieve any big goals, and simultaneously, if you spend all your time focused on accomplishing stuff, you're not going to be happy even if you do accomplish it.

I'd compare it to the people who spent all of high school trying to get into college. That's not what it was about, it was about enjoying the time you were there, because you're going to get to college eventually. However, making a film or a piece of art is differnet because it's not just going to come to you, like going to college does. It's something you do have to seek out.

With making movies, it's the fact that I have a whole story and script in my head, but can't ever actually film it that's frustrating, and enjoying the moment isn't going to help me make the movie. I'll have fun along the way, and I do have fun along the way, but I think a deeper happiness can come from going after a big goal. It's not an ego thing, it's about finding a deeper happiness than that can be found with just enjoying the moment.

The basic point is it's not mutually exclusive. I'm loving time as it passes, and each day, I'm doing new and interesting stuff, but that doesn't also mean that that means I should just wait for stuff to come to me, becuase it's not. There are some things you have to go out and actively pursue.