Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters
socratic

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Long and semi-coherent, a perfect combination.

As I sat in my office and read over that list on Friday I started to realize just how many people there are out there working on making it in a business where there isn't nearly enough room for everyone who wants in. There were tens of small production companies, oodles of support and consulting firms, and a handful of potential financiers. It's not that I didn't know the situation already, in an intellectual capacity, but I hadn't been confronted with it in such a stark and potent way. There's hundreds of them out there, in New York alone, and they all have a head start on me. Everyone believes that they have the talent and skills to produce something of lasting value. A small percentage actually do, and an even smaller percentage actually get a chance to demonstrate that. It's a rough business, to be sure. In some ways writing is kinder, not because there is a greater ratio of openings to people who want to fill them but because it's something that can be done alone and with no financing. One can create a brilliant unpublished novel that ranks up there in quality with anything by Austen or DeLillo. It's much harder to do the same in film, and if one does then it's going to cost an arm and a leg. The short my boss made cost something like $80,000. Kevin Smith's Clerks, which is black and white and technically a mess cost $25K or so in 1994. It's expensive to fail in film, much more so than in writing where the price is paid in hours spent before a computer screen and mental labor.

Film is also a collaborative business, which is something I'm not great at. I saw a bunch of clubs and agencies and professional associations and I realize that I probably ought to join at least some of them, or at the very least look into it. There are also magazines I need to subscribe to, websites I have to start reading, all sorts of stuff I should get moving on. And I dread it. I dread it because I have had virtually nothing but bad experiences from time spent in such pursuits. I tend to do okay in clubs and organizations, but for the most part I find them unpleasant. It's mostly because for every worthwhile person involved in such a pursuit there are 5 to 10 people I can't stand. They range from pretentious pricks to people who can't wait to sell out (I wasn't aware that you COULD sell out if you have no artistic integrity to begin with but these people eagerly assure me that you can and simply can't wait to get their houses in a tony part of town and their hot wives and hotter mistresses and cocaine habits and expensive environment-destroying cars and everything else that constitutes the good life for a person who lacks any sort of moral anchor) to hangers-on and wannabes (A group that some might accuse me of belonging to at present, except that I don't present myself as anything more than I actually am) and well-meaning people who just don't have all that much to contribute.

The usual process to joining one of these groups is that I come in as an outsider, linger at the fringes until I get sort of bored of the banal idiocy that's taking place, then I open my mouth and unleash enough of a new and interesting perspective that people start to get impressed. (I know it sounds pretentious but I can be impressive when I want to be, much moreso than is shown in this journal, which is tailored to my own sensibilities. I can also be grating and overbearing, but I'm not going to admit that now, am I?) Then I start to challenge the hierarchy and things go awry. Sometimes I find myself with support from some quieter folks who've resented the bullshit for awhile and want to reform things and sometimes I'm on my own. Eventually I give up because it's not worth it trying to break folks out of their socially driven semi-functional organizations. I don't tend to learn a whole lot from this process and am left with a small chunk of resentment and an even more cynical misanthropic viewpoint of other people. Now I'm sure that there are such circles and clubs that do not suffer from these maladies but they are generally not open to the public and I am not social enough to be invited to frequent them. I am, very simply, not a joiner. If I'm in on something at its formation and can help shape it and direct it then it tends to be okay, but in terms of coming into established heiarchies it tends to be a disaster. Maybe I should seek out one where this would not be the case, or just shut up and let the pricks prattle on incompetently in hopes that I'll get a heavy enough dose of the competent people to make it worth my while, but I'm not sure I'm up to that right now. My limitations are not just artistic, they are very much aided by my social inadequacies.

Like I said, though, none of this is new information. It's just reinforcement of stuff I already knew. The thing is that the more that I have committed to this particular life path the narrower my future seems, and the larger the potential roadblocks on that path loom. Right now I'm thinking I'll devote the next two decades or so of my life to trying to make a go of it in film and honing my writing skills. If at some point there I figure out how to do either for a living and get my skills up to snuff with the potential I believe I have, then I guess I'll continue that until I die or have a debilitating stroke or figure out something else I want to do more. If I am unsuccessful both artistically and commercially, or perhaps either, then I'll re-evaluate at that point. It's not that useful to project that far into the future. It would be like projecting when I was two years old where I'd be today. I am not a neurosurgeon/cardiologist/famous author/fireman/superhero/football player/tennis player/astronaut/boogerologist. This does not make me a failure or mean that the last two decades have been a waste.

On the other hand, if I'm not successful or I'm latently successful then I'm not sure what I'm going to do for a life. Career is great and all but it probably makes up between 10-60% of what actually makes life worth living, depending on the career and the other parts of your life. Career is not a replacement for long walks in the woods or attending opera or discussions after dark or lovemaking or children or a really great steak. I think I have what it takes to be professionally successful. I've been told that many times by a diverse group of people, all of whom are presumably not setting me up in some sort of obscenely huge practical joke, thought they might be in which case I will probably have some crying to do. I can't believe they gave me a degree and told me I was brilliant and should be a writer just to let me know 20 years later that it was all an elaborate scam. Plus my father isn't really dead, he's just been hiding and it actually WAS a wax statue of him I saw in that coffin. That's pretty harsh. Anyway, assuming that's not the case (if it were I'd have more pressing issues) I have to figure out how to go about the whole having a life thing. I need new friends, that's pretty clear. It's not that the ones I have aren't good for me or fun to be around, it's that there aren't enough of them and I don't spend nearly enough time with them. There are weeks where I hang out with people 3-4 days a week, which feels about right to me, and then weeks where I don't do anything with anybody else, which feels pretty lousy for the most part. I suck at making friends. I can get right up to the "You should ask this person if he/she wants to do something" point and then I balk, because I've been rejected quite a bit in my life and I get derive a psychological payoff from acting aloof. Playing smart and disinterested is something I'm pretty good at. It is a position that means you are never socially beneath anybody because you define your own standards and set yourself apart. The lone wolf is always the alpha of his one wolf pack. That's not healthy, though, and it's something I need to try and fix. I'm not sure how to go about this. I can recognize opportunities after they've passed most of the time. Yesterday I rode up in the elevator with a young man, probably late 20's early 30's. He engaged me in conversation about a lamp and I answered back. I had him almost dropping the lamp from laughter by the time we reached my floor. As I left the elevator I realized that I could have asked him about himself or seen if he was new to the building or just a random guy wandering by. I did not. I just did a little comedy bit and was on my way. That happens far too often and it is a character flaw.

I also have absolutely no ability or experience at hitting on girls, which is a liability at my age. I used to think that I fit perfectly into the stereotype of the lifelong bachelor mixed heavily with the nerd who couldn't get any even if he had $100 million in the bank and a house the size of a small ocean freighter, or a bottle of chloroform and a very sharp knife. Then over the last year, as I started to recover from the bleak depression that gripped me for so long, I began to think that simply being smart and clever would be the best strategy. Establish excellence and let people come to you. That doesn't work, at least not for me. It may be that I appear somewhat unapproachable when I walk in silent and sullen, proceed to dominate a discussion with both intellect and cleverness, and then walk out again. I don't know exactly. In any case I'm certainly not ready to start hitting on girls, even if I knew how, but it's a skill set I'll have to learn sometime, because unless I achieve fame wealth and/or power in short order I am going to need it.

Then there's the most important aspect of having a life, far beyond career women and/or friends, which is establishing comfort and meaning in your daily routine. This is something I don't know how to tackle right now. I know I need to move out of my mother's house, as soon as possible, and that I really ought to move out of this city. I love New York, intensely, but I need to be somewhere greener and less artificial. I feel much more comfortable among trees and rolling hills than high-rise buildings and giant billboards. The advertisements are starting to get to me, making me feel uncomfortable and trapped. The ads drive me crazy. The whole commercialization of culture has been driving me up the wall recently. Everything is money and work and status. Art is kitschy, something left to the deluded and the aggressively counter cultural. Meaning is prepackaged in religion or mutual funds. I know it's something that the disaffected youth are supposed to say, but that doesn't make it untrue. The fact that Bush is leading in the polls drives me absolutely insane because it shows that in America of 2004 spin conquers all. Don't believe everything you read, at least not until you see it on TV, preferably Fox News.

So I need to get out of the city, and I need to start reading more. I used to rely on school to force me to intake enough philosophy and literature, but that's over now and I need some self-discipline. I have been doing some reading, some of it semi-intellectual, but not nearly enough. I'm going to start reading more, and better. It's a necessity for my development as an artist and a person.

I need to get moving. That's one of the reason for these lengthy and tedious discussions of what I need and want. Keep saying, or writing, something over and over enough and it makes it harder to forget it. If you remember it you are more likely to achieve it. Daily affirmations motherfucker. Suck it down.
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