Monday, January 19, 2009

Durante bene placito regis...

So today I will share an old memory from the NY days, so many moons ago. I was running a film event and I was meeting new people from that world all the time. Exciting. I was in my late 20's and had a certain cockiness, but also a certain introversion that I held on to tightly. I recall being very worried about losing my soul in the face of this "coveted" element of my generation's society. My Devil Wears Prada years.

So as the memory goes, I'm at this arranged dinner in a fancy downtown restaurant with some big talent agent, a bunch of other smarmy kiss-ass people, and seated right next to me is a major actor who since this event I can not consider in any unbiased light. Basically he's ON from the getgo. He talked the whole time directly to the agent (a woman with a room-filling cackle and a fake British accent), regaling her with tales of wit and wonder. He's got an enormous head and is very tall. His elbow was in my face a lot. I sat there looking like a squeezed lime I'm sure.

Why am I telling you this? Because I think it's important to articulate the underlying vibe that I felt at that table - one that I've encountered many many times over the years, one that can detract from people's ability to move forward and enjoy life.

There it was: an assaultive in-your-face "whatcha got?" vibe - a sort of vampiric demand to produce your own blood - something fantastic and extraordinary for the benefit/amusement of the celebrated company assembled. "How are you interesting? Show us now or be ignored! Give it to us, and we will consume it down to the marrow and then decide what we will do with you."

With any illusion of power it seems comes the right of the king's pleasure. Durante bene placito regis, "during the pleasure of the king," meaning basically that nobody can take a stance against his will. It is a hideous form of entitlement for a non-king to take, one that always slays me, no matter how often it rears its fat head.

So, go ahead, say it: Poor Pablo, no one paid any attention to him that day. OK, true, it's a pity party I'm recalling here. But how many others have I've seen in this position and felt rage in my heart for the sad dynamic at hand? The viciousness of high school popularity contests is rampant across the competitive marketplace dear comrades. What will you do about it? Well, you'd better stop simpering and produce an exceedingly entertaining and quick persona or be dropped like a puppy with uncontrollable diarrhea.

Or, you can choose not to play. You can write yourself right off the special gilded pages of those who have the power to include you in the glory of their self-satisfaction/hatred. Which is what I ultimately did, and why I now spend my days blogging from a lonely stone tower in on a shrub covered island somewhere in the Pacific, moaning about the greatness that coulda been. You shoulda looked out for me people! You was my brothers and sistas.

When is winter over?


Blogger pigatschmo said...

Something about how we have free will to choose our company... or, like all artists and performers, put the focus on yourself (think Yellowman -- does he care who's at the table as long as all eyes are on him?)

That being sad, show business attracts more ego and more pathologies than all the other professions combined.

6:51 PM  
Blogger ArtSparker said...

Certain people can suck all the air out of the room with their need to be hear or admired, it's true. But most of us have agendas - some to be admired, some to be truly understood, some to control through being very, very helpful. On some level it's existential terror. The enneagram (not a weird religious cult) is an interesting system to look at to see how we all have developed compensatory defenses.

On the other hand, I'm also introverted and not a fan of loud.

8:25 PM  

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